Monday, November 26, 2007

Chicken Fry - An India meets China recipe

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Lately in office we have been having a pot luck competition wherein different teams are busy conjuring up specialities and are being judged on this. I happen to be the one to taste and judge it. Now for some it may be envious, but believe you me, sampling so much food and critiquing it is not easy. All said and done, I get this chance to eat really killer dishes and post them here.
The one listed below was prepared by a team member who is a pure vegetarian and has never eaten a morsel in her life, but thanks to her husband who loves non-veg food, she prepares non-veg food. And this one was good.
Also, today happens to be our little one's birthday. He turns 3 today. Hope all the mischief has been left behind with the naughty two's and 3's bring in some peace in this household kind courtesy him.

Chicken - 1 (1 Kg)
Red Chilli Powder - 2 Tsp
Corriander Powder - 3 tsp
Cumin Powder - 3 Tsp
Ginger Garlic Paste - 5 Tsp
Corriander, finely chopped - 50 gm
Mint, fint chopped - 50 gm
Black Pepper - 4 Tsp
Tomato Sauce - 5 Tblsp
Chilli Sauce - 4 Tblsp
Vinegar - 60 Ml
Soy Sauce - 60 Ml
Oil - For Frying
Salt - To Taste

1. Cut chicken into pieces.
2. Wash the pieces.
3. Prepare the marinade by mixing all the ingredients except the oil.
4. marinate chicken pieces in the marinade for 30-40 minutes.
5. Heat oil in a wok. Fry chicken pieces in it till done.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gobi aur Mirch ka Saalan

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My affair with the saalan continues. There are so many saalan dishes that exist in the culinary lexicon that I feel that I have only scratched the surface. Historically, the saalan continues to puzzle me as I have not been able to dig deeper into its origins and the origins of the word. The present one has a nice taste to it and looks good too. I like my gobi dishes usually dry...the punju way...but this one was a pleasant surprise. It looked good, tasted good and was easy to prepare.

Ingredients :

Cauliflower - 1
Capsicum - 1 or 2
Tomatoes - 2
Onion Paste - 1 Cup
Ginger Paste - 2 Tsp
Garlic paste - 2 Tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 Tsp
Cumin Powder - 1 Tsp
Corriander Powder - 1 Tsp
Garam Masala Powder - 1 Tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 1 Tsp
Yoghurt - 2 Cups
Peanut Paste - 1 Tblsp
Salt - To Taste
Oil - 10 Ml & for frying the florets

1. Cut cauliflower into florets. Wash and drain.
2. Chop tomatoes into little pieces.
3. Cut Capsicum into 1-in dices.
4. Whisk Yoghurt and keep aside.

1. Heat oil in a wok. Fry cauliflower florets. Take them out, drain and keep aside.
2. In the same oil, add cumin seeds.
3. Add in the onion, ginger & garlic paste. Cook till they turn amber or light brown.
4. Add in the Cumin Powder, Red Chilli Powder, Garam Masala Powder, Corriander Powder, Peanut Powder and salt.
5. Allow the masalas to cook.
6. Add in the Whisked Yoghurt and cook for 3 minutes.
7. Add in the Chopped Tomatoes and Capsicum dices.
8. Cook for 5 minutes. Add in the florets, a little water and cover and cook till done.
9. Serve hot with rice.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Just Beet It !

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Beetroots ...I've probably had them once in my life, in a salad....when I was a kid. Loved it then but somehow stayed away from them especially the cooked dishes. My wife and son have it once a week. Tells you a lot about parental influences on the children. Beetroots never entered my parents home...thus my aversion to them. Even liking fish took a long time for me as it never entered our house. My mother had a phobia about getting choked on a fish bone. She still has it...I moved on as I entered the food industry and started with continental kitchen. Fish is a separate course altogether in a traditional french cuisine.
Getting back to beetroots, here is one dish that my wife makes and both she and my son enjoy ... I typically stay from it.

Beetroot Fry

Beetroot - 250 gm
Mustard Seeds (Rai) - 2 Tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) - Pinch
Cumin Seeds (Zeera) - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder(Haldi) - 1 Tsp
Corriander Powder - 2 Tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 2 Tsp
Urad Dal - 1 Tblsp
Salt - To Taste
Oil - 15 ml

1. Peel the beetroot and cut it into 1-in dices. Boil in water.
2. Once boiled, drain and keep aside.
3. Heat oil in a wok. Add in mustard seeds. Once they start sputtering, add in Cumin seeds, followed by urad dal.
4. Add in asafoetida, salt, corriander powder, turmeric powder and red chilli powder.
5. Once the masalas are cooked add in the beetroot pieces.
6. Cover and cook till done.
7. Serve with rice/rotis ...and lemme know how it turned out.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Squid ... Frittered away

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A few weeks back, I had asked for a few suggestions on making squid as I was planning to get them from the market and cook them. Apart from one from Angela, nothing poured in, making me think that perhaps squid wasn't in these days ( I know i'm kidding on this one).
Determination is one thing that is in great quantities especially when it has to do with cooking seafood ... I just love it. So I surfed a few pages and came across this nice one on the food network web page ( you can see the original recipe here). It has featured on the food911 program by Tyler Florence, and I decided to try it out. I've always loved the Food network and it was my staple when I working in the US.
Made a few changes, very few can see them down here:

Squid, cleaned - 250 gm
Milk - 3/4 Cup
Egg - 1 No.
basil leaves, dried - 2 Tsp
Curry Powder - 1 Tsp
Oil, for frying
2 cups refined flour
2 teaspoons red chilli powder
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Cut the squids into rings.

2. Mix the milk, egg, curry powder,black pepper powder and dried basil in a bowl with a fork.
3. Put the squid rings in this egg- milk mixture and chill for 10-15 minutes.
4. Heat oil in a wok for frying.
5. Mix the flour and red chilli powder in a plate; season with a fair amount of salt.
6. Dab the squidin the seasoned flour to coat.
7. Fry for 3 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
8. Once done, drain on paper towels.
9. Serve immediately with mayo dip.

Mayo Dip:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tblsp Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
4 garlic clove,finely chopped
3 Shallots, finely chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
Parsley,dried - 2 Tsp

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix.
2. Chill for 15 minutes.
3. Serve as a dipping sauce with the squid.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chicken Whatever ??? ....

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There comes a day in everyone's culinary life when you don't want to cook 'the run of the mill' fare, none of the exotic or different recipes appeal to you, and you really don't know what to do, but yet you are itching to do something new. So you hit the kitchen in full gusto and let your instinct take over, juggling between different spice bottles and flavorants and voila!-well, the result can range from a dish that could make escoffier envious or you could initiate a global movement to ban you from entering the kitchen.
Something very similar happened to me a few days back. You could blame it on the post festival season where you are totally stretched in the kitchen, while office has its own demands. Anyways, the result did not make me proud and make me wanna run to patent the dish, but the dish was good. If only the salt had been kept a little low, but then I always have lesser salt. :-)

Chicken Breast - 2 pieces
Soy Sauce - 5 Tblsp
Garlic Paste - 2 Tbslp
Onion Paste - 3/4 Cup
Oregano, dried - 2 Tsp
Thyme, dried - 2 Tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 2 Tsp
Black Pepper - 2 Tsp
Tomatoes, made into a puree - 3
Salt - To taste ( Go a little easy ...with all that Soy around anyways)
Oil - 2 Tbslp

1. Wash,clean and cut the chicken breast into 2-in dices.
2. Marinate it with soy sauce, garlic paste, 2 tblsp onion paste, oregano, thyme, red chilli powder and black pepper.
3. Heat oil in a wok. Saute the remaining onion paste till it turns translucent.
4. Add in the chicken pieces and let the sear.
5. Once they are done, add in the remaining marinade and tomato puree.
6. Cook till done. Adjust the salt if required.
7. Serve hot with steamed rice.
8. Thank me if you like it ....don't curse me, if you don't.

Note: Please suggest a name ...I can't think of any.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pineapple Calypso - A trilogy of sorts

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With this post I can comfortably say that I have completed a trilogy of fruit desserts... or rather a trilogy of getting fruits drunk :-D
After Pears and Figs, pineapple seemed to be a natural choice. The fruit lends itself so well not only to being cooked, grilled and baked independently but also as the perfect match to a lot of vegetables and meats. It can marry itself to a lot of spices too. After a dull saturday post diwali, i couldn't let Sunday pass me by and had to get myself in the kitchen before Monday caught up with me and office work took over in full flow.
What appeals to me about this dish is the simplicity in making it, the minimal use of ingredients and yet a heavenly taste ideal dessert to finish of summer winter barbeques that you host in these months.
Having said this, my affair with using and amusing myself with fruits does not end here and I still have a few more to go. If you have any particular fruit dessert that you are looking out, do let me know. If its available, it will find its way to this blog.

Pineapple - 1
Rum - 60 ml
Star Anise - 2
Cloves - 3-4
Sugar - to coat
Cinnamon Powder - 10 gm
Butter -30 gm

1. Clean the pineapple and cut it into slices.
2. Keep the shavings aside and make a pulpy puree out of it.
3. Marinate the slices in rum, star anise and cloves. Add in around 30 ml water to dilute it.
4. Before we cook them, dab them in sugar and cinnamon powder mix.
5. In a warm pan on the fire, add in the slices and cook them till they turn a tempting brown.
For the Sauce:
1. In the same pan, add in some butter and melt it.
2.Add in the leftover marinade & the pineapple puree we made from the trimmings.
3. Add in some water and cook till sauce thickens.

Layer the Pineapple slices on a plate. Pour the sauce on top.
Serve either hot or cold.
You can also serve it with coconut ice-cream.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Baghare Baingan

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Now Baghare Baingan is not my idea of a great Saturday Lunch, but when you have a wife who's idea of going to a restaurant is to have Baghare Baingan and you have a son who is in love with "Brinjals", then it becomes a feast.
Baghar comes to the Indian Culinary Lexicon from the sanskrit term Bagharna and is a cooking operation which involves the shallow frying in a fat of spices and flavourings. This fat of spices is not put in together but one after another like for e.g., Mustard seeds followed by sesame seeds followed by onions and the vegetable/meat/lentil product is added later. Also sometimes this procedure can be performed separately and then added to the finished product, linking it to a kind of tempering.

Brinjals (Eggplant) ,small variety- 500 gms
Garlic Paste - 2 Tblsp
Garlic Cloves, Chopped Fine- 5-6
Ginger Paste - 2 Tblsp
Onion, Finely Chopped- 1
Cumin Seeds - 1 Tsp
Corriander Seeds - 2 Tsp
Sesame Seeds (Til) -2 Tsp
Khus Khus - 2 Tsp
Peanuts - 15
Dessicated Coconut - 1 Cup
Chilli Powder - 2 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1 Tsp
Curry Leaves - 5-6
Dry Red Chillies, broken - 2-3
Tamarind Ball - Marble Sized,soaked in a glass of water to extract its pulp
Oil - 5-6 Tblsp
Salt - To Taste

1. Roast Sesame seeds, Peanuts, Khus Khus, Dessicated Coconut, Corriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Onion in 2 Tsp oil.
2. Allow to cool and grind to a paste.
3. Add in Ginger-Garlic Paste, Chilli Powder, turmeric powder and salt to this paste. Keep aside.
4. Slit the eggplants from the top, without separating the eggplant into 4 pieces. Check the eggplants from inside for worms or insects.
5. Fill the slit eggplants with the masala paste.
6. Heat oil. Add chopped garlic, broken red chillies and curry leaves. Fry for 2 minutes.
7. Add in the eggplants. Fry for 2 more minutes.
8. Add in the tamarind extract. Cook covered on slow heat till eggplants are tender.
9. Serve Hot.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Jamun-E-Gul - What's in a name? ...

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Diwali season brings with it apart from different religious rituals and crackers loads and loads of sweets. Over the last few years the tradition of sweets has shifted from classic stuff like burfis, ladoos etc. to the more modern and classy chocolates. I would be lying if I stated that I hated the new modern concept as I have followed the concept of gifting handmade chocolate drops from the last 5 years to friends and family. However, with age comes maturity and the fallback on old customs. Hence, this year, I am shifting from my Choco-focus to the traditional sweets.
Talking of traditional sweets, always reminds of my all-time favorite ...Gulab Jamun. Why talk of it as only my favorite, no banquet in this country ( up north and east that is) is complete without a helping of gulab jamun.
Gulab Jamun ( Pronounced Gul-aab Jaa-mun) historically has been associated as having been a Bengali sweet ( wonder where that came from), though all attempts to trace out its history has proved futile by me, except, one story, that I came across on a foodie discussion forum online, which stated that a king in a princely state, was once presented with jamuns ( fruit) and he loved their taste and ordered they be grown in his kingdom. However, the climate and soil weren't suitable for their growth and the entire crop failed. The King felt very depressed over this. Seeing this, his royal cook conjured up these balls which resembled the fruit and offered them to the king, and voila! the king was happy again. Hence the name Jamun. Gulab was added because the syrup was rose water flavored.
As with a lot of dishes, this one too has its own set of variations associated with it. The variations are regarding the way of making them, to their shapes. In terms of shapes, you can vary between the large balls (lemon sized) to the small balls (marble sized) or move away from the round shape and venture into making them oblong shaped. There is one called Kala Jamun ... a darkish variety. It is prepared in the same way as the regular Gulab Jamun's except that the balls are coated with Castor sugar and then fried. The caramelized sugar gives the Jamuns the dark colour. They are often served garnished with dessicated coconut coating.
Another variation is the Zauq-E-Shahi. This one is associated with awadh cuisine and my exposure to them happened while I was training with the Dum Pukht restaurant brand. Zauq-e-Shahi consists of small marble sized gulab jamuns with a khus-khus and pistachio stuffing, dipped in rabri, a sweet preparation made with milk, and honey dribbled over.
The last one that I am aware of is the Jamun-E-Gul which is the regular Gulab Jamun stuffed with Pistachios and honey. This is the one that I tried out for this Diwali.
Personally, I like the gulab jamuns with Vanilla ice cream, but each one to his/her own taste & preferences.
In the end, this sweet is heavenly,no matter which variation we try out. I might be held accountable by Shakespeare for plagiarising his lines and twisting them to suit my requirements, but one bite of a gulab jamun and he would join me in echoing "What's in a name? That which we call a gulab jamun By any other name would taste as sweet." ( Lifted and tweaked from Romeo Juliet)

Ingredients: For Jamuns:

2 Cups Khoya, grated
5-6 Tblsp Flour (maida)
5-6 Tblsp Milk
Pistachio (Unsalted), finely chopped - 2 Tblsp
Honey - 3 Tsp

For the Syrup:

3 Cups Sugar
Cardamom Powder - 1 Tsp
Rose Water - 1 Tsp
Water -1.5 Cups

Other Ingredients:
Oil for frying
Pista Slivers
Almond Slivers

For the Sugar Syrup:
1. In a large thick bottomed pan dissolve the sugar with water.Add in the Cardamom powder and rose water.
2. Bring this mixture to a boil and simmer till the syrup is of one string consistency.

For the Jamuns:
1. In a bowl, combine the first 2 gulab jamun ingredients and mix well. Knead well adding milk, if required to form a firm dough.
2. Mix the honey & pista together and keep aside.
3. Divide the dough into 25 equal portions.
4. Flatten the portions a little with your hands, put the honey & pista in the centre and cover and roll into rounds.
5. Chill for 10 minutes.
6. Fry these balls in oil on slow flame till they turn golden brown in color.
7. Drain and soak them into the prepared sugar syrup.

Garnish the Jamun-E-Gul with chopped pistachios and chopped slivers of almonds.
Serve warm.

1. Sugar these days comes with its share of impurities. Ensure you take out the impurities with the slotted spoon, once the syrup is made.
2. While rolling the balls, ensure there are no cracks on the surface and that the balls are firm, else they will crack while frying.
3. Please ensure, the oil is not too hot for frying, as then the jamuns will not cook from within and crack either while frying or when they are soaked in the syrup.
4. One test of the oil temp is that, when you drop in a ball, it'll sink and then come right up to the surface.
5. One way of maintaining the temperature of the oil is to continue stirring the oil while frying. This also ensure the jamuns get cooked evenly.

Happy Diwali !!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Baked Figs ...What the Fig did I do ???

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Returning to my commitment of trying new variations with fruits as I had promised on my poached pears post, this time I tried something with figs. More than anything, it was my curiosity. I had always eaten dried figs and used it in my cooking, but had never ventured to even taste fresh figs. Everytime that I went to the grocery store, a pack of fresh packed figs stared me in my face...begging to be tried (:-D).
Verdict - I think figs are an acquired taste ...atleast for me.


Fresh Figs (Stemmed and quartered) - 4-6 Numbers
Sugar - 3 Tblsp
Honey - 4 Tblsp
Whisky - 90 ml
Butter - 1 Tblsp
Ginger - 1 Tsp

1. Melt butter in a pan and add in whisky, ginger, honey and water. Stir till honey dissolves and the mixture thickens a bit.
2. Dip the fig pieces in this liquid :-) . Keep aside. ( This is to moisten the figs ... I typically soak them for a good 5 mins to let them soak in the liquid and retain some of it ).
3. Pour the sauce in a shallow baking dish.
4. Roll the figs in sugar to coat them. Put them in the baking dish.
5. Bake at 200o for 10 mins or till sugar has caramelized and set in.
6. Serve hot or cold with ice cream, with the sauce ladled on top.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The name's 65 ... Chicken 65 !!!

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This has to be by far the most mysterious dish in the world ...thanks to the number 65 (Wonder if it'll inspire a thriller in the future). Click on the search pages and you'll find a dozen explanations of its origins exploding in your face (OK, I'm lying ...there are little under a dozen). Also, accompanied would be the various ways to prepare it, from the ones using corriander (Cilantro) in preparing it to adding sambhar powder, and guess what,... each claims it is THE original. People staying in Hyderabad needn't worry or break their heads...they can hop into the nearest restaurant and order a plate or get a masala mix of the magic potion and prepare it at home ( you only need to add in the chicken and in some cases salt).I was determined to get to the bottom of this mystery dish in terms of how it actually should be made. I tried asking a lot of true blue hyderabadis and they gave me different versions as well. I just took one version and tried it out. Taste wise it was fine...guess I couldn't match it appearance wise :-).I'm publishing a recipe I got from a friend who apparently learnt it from a cook preparing it at a local banquet.
Coming to it's origins, here are a few stories that exist around it's name:
1. It was created in a restaurant in the year 1965.
2. The chicken used for making Chicken 65 should be just 65 days old. (A lot of people have vouched for it).
3. 65 different spices go into the making of this recipe. (Sorry, my recipe doesn't)
4. It is the 65th item on the menu at Buharis hotel on Mount Road Chennai.
5. During a war in 1965, the Indian Soldiers needed something quick and easy to make. This one clicked, hence the name, with 65 denoting the year.
6. Someone used 65 dried red chillies to make it.
7. It took 65 tries to perfect this recipe.
I could go on with all kind of over the head stories to its name, but I guess, I will stop here. If anyone has a better explanation to it's name, please let me know.
Here is the version I got:
1/2 KG Chicken pieces (Bone less) - Cut into 1.5" pieces
Cornflour - 100 Gm
Refined Flour (Maida) -100 Gm
Vinegar - 30ml
Garam masala - 1.5 Tsp
Curry Leaves - 10
Green chilli slit vertically - 10 nos.
Green Chillies - Finely Minced - 2 nos.
Ginger garlic paste-2 Tsp
Red Chilli powder - 2 Tsp
Black Mustard Seeds (Rai) - 2 Tsp
Cumin Powder - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
Soy Sauce - 2 Tblsp
Oil - For frying

1. Make a mixture of Corn Flour, Refined Flour, Soy Sauce, Turmeric Powder, Red Chilli Powder, Ginger garlic paste, cumin powder, garam masala and vinegar. The paste should not be too wet and neither too dry. It should be of coating consistency.
2. Mix the chicken pieces in this mixture and coat them well.
3. Cover the chicken mixture in its marinade and leave in refrigerator for an hour.
4. Remove the mixture from the refrigerator atleast 15-20 minutes before frying.
5. Heat the oil for frying. Add mustard seeds. As they crackle add in the slit green chillies and curry leaves ( you might notice from the photo, I also add in a dry red can experiment too).
6. Add in the chicken pieces and fry till done. The chicken should be cooked through, reddish brown and crispy.
7. Serve hot garnished with lemon wedges.

1. You can also add in 1 Tsp Sambhar Powder in the marinade. A lot of people do that.
2. Some people also add in yoghurt to the marinade.
3. Vegans can substitute Paneer (Cottage Cheese) for Chicken.
4. Almost everyone adds red colour ...I personally do not use color in my foods and have refrained from doing it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dry Fruit Fiesta ....a Shahi Affair !!!

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The Holiday season is almost here. Diwali is around the corner and the entire atmosphere at least in India is getting festive. One of the biggest banes during Diwali is the sweets that you end up getting and the dry fruit that comes along. You really end up having so much, that you do not know what to do with it.
The other day while I was cleaning the Kitchen, I came across a huge supply of dry fruit stashed away (among other things wife stashes away stuff, as if, in preparation for a nuke lockdown or something). Anyways, with Diwali around the corner and the possibility of receiving more such boxes I decided to do something about it.
The choices were fairly limited. Either make a dessert or a snack mixture with cornflakes. I decided to have a third option...make a main course dish. In the end, the dish turned out good..I liked it, my wife liked it, we had folks over for dinner...they liked it. One piece of caution though ...with the richness oozing out of this moderately.
I still haven't come around to naming this one...thought of Dry Fruit Medley ...wife didn't like the ring to it. She wanted some "Dhasu" name ( I'm really bad at this). So feel free, call it what you like. That's the best part of cooking you can really give fancy names to dishes.


Dates, Seeded - 1/2 cup
Raisins - 1/2 cup
Cashews - 12-15 in number
Almonds - 12-15 in number
Figs, dried - 1/2 cup
Pistachio - 12-15 in number

Ginger Paste - 1/2 Tblsp
Garlic paste - 1/2 Tblsp
Zeera (Cumin) - 10 gm
Onion Paste - 1/2 Cup
Tomato paste - 1/2 Cup
Turmeric Powder - 1.5 Tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 1 Tsp
Garam Masala Powder - 1 Tsp
Amchur Powder - 1 Tsp
Salt - To Taste
White Butter / Ghee - 3 Tblsp
Rum - 30 ml


1. Soak Dates & Figs in water for 2 hours. After soaking, chop coarsely.
2. Soak Raisins in water and rum for 2 hrs. Drain after 2 hrs and keep aside. Do not throw away water.
3. Soak almonds in water and blanch.

1. Heat white butter/ghee in a wok.
2. Add zeera and let it crackle. Add in the onion, ginger & garlic paste. Fry till it turns golden brown.
3. Add in the turmeric, red chilli, garam masala and amchur powder. Fry for 2 more minutes till masala is done. (DO NOT burn it)
4. Add in the dates, figs, almonds, cashews, pista and raisins. Stir for 3-4 minutes.
5. Add in the salt, tomato paste and rum water(in which raisins were soaked).
6. Add some water, cover & cook till the dry fruits are tender and a thick gravy is formed.
7. Serve Hot.

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