Saturday, October 25, 2008

Makai mirch ka salan

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If there is one thing that my better half will miss from Hyderabad it is undoubtedly the famous mirch ka salan. Over the last year or so,I posted many Salan recipes including mirch ka salan. This one is my variation on the famed mirch ka salan.
My other salan recipes are as under:
Mirch ka Salan
Gobi aur mirch ka salan
Tamatar aur Chana Dal Ka Salan
Lasan Ka Salan
Dry Fruit Salan

Makai Mirch Ka Salan

American corn - 1 Cup
Bhavnagari chillies, deseeded & sliced thickly - 5
Onions,roughly chopped - 2 Cup
Peanuts, roasted- 2 Tblsp
Sesame seeds (til) - 2 Tblsp
Desiccated coconut- 2 Tblsp
Fennel seeds (saunf) - 1 Tsp
Nigella seeds (kalonji) - 1 Tsp
ginger-green chilli paste - 2 Tsp
garlic paste - 1 Tsp
Red chilli powder- 1 Tsp
Coriander seed (dhania) powder - 1 Tsp
Turmeric powder (haldi) - ¼ Tsp
Tomato Paste - 1 Cup
Tamarind (imli), Lemon ball sized, soaked in ¼ cup of water
Oil - 4 Tblsp
salt to taste

1.Deep fry the Bhavnagri chillies in hot oil for a few seconds. Drain on absorbent paper and keep aside.
2.Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion paste and saute till it turn golden brown in colour. Add the ginger-chili paste, garlic paste and saute for 3 more minutes.
3.Add chili powder, coriander seed powder, turmeric powder, tomatoes and salt and cook till the tomatoes soften. Cool completely.
4. Grind this to a smooth paste.
5.Roast the peanuts, sesame seeds, desiccated coconut, fennel seeds and nigella seeds over a slow flame till all the ingredients are lightly browned. Powder this and keep aside.
6. Heat oil in a handi. Add in the first paste. Saute for 3 minutes.
7. Add in the second paste (Peanut, sesame, coconut, fennel seeds, nigella seeds).
8. Cook for 3 minutes.
9. Add in the american corn and cook till it is done. Add in the Bhavnagari chillies. Cook for 5 minutes.
10. Add in the tamarind pulp and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer till oil separates.
11. Serve hot.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Murg Navratan

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When Dheeraj (my golf buddy) and I planned to spend my last weekend in Hyderabad cooking something up, I was clueless on what to cook up. He luckily took more time to land up home thanks to a big traffic jam in the city due to the airport expo. That was enough time for me to make my cooking plans.This one has been taken from a cookbook and has been contributed by Chef Arvind Saraswat from the Taj group of Hotels. I interacted with Chef Saraswat while I was doing my Industrial Training at Taj Palace in New Delhi. I was a beginner getting initiated in the culinary arts and he was a master at that time. I was deputed to him for 2 weeks to help him out in his trials for new dishes. My only job at that time was to ensure all the mis-en-place is done and the utensils for cooking are ready.
The dish is rich and mild. It look regal and tastes regal too. Dheeraj loved it and took some home too for his wife. By the time you see this post I would have left this city and would be flying to Delhi, leaving this house, this city and the people we had grown to love and taking some wonderful memories with us.

Murg Navratan


Chicken, Cut into pieces- 1 Kg
Yogurt - 1.5 Cups
Ghee - 3/4 Cup
Whole garam masala- 2 Spoonfuls
Onion Paste - 1.5 Cup
Ginger-green chili paste - 2 Tblsp
Green Chilies, chopped finely - 2
Turmeric- 1/4 Tsp
Red Chili Powder - 2 Tsp
Cream - 1/2 Cup
Green Cardamom Powder - 3/4 Tsp
Mace Powder - 3/4 Tsp
Poppy Seeds - 2 Tblsp
Almonds, blanched and skinned - 1/4 Cup
Cashewnuts - 1/4 Cup
Melon Seeds - 2 Tblsp
Pistachios - 10

1. Marinate chicken pieces in whisked yogurt and salt.
2. Soak poppy seeds in water for 30 minutes. Make a paste out of poppy seeds, blanched almonds, cashewnuts, melon seeds and water.
3. Heat ghee in a large pan. Add in the whole garam masala and saute.
4. As the garam masala starts to crackle, add in the onion paste. Saute for 5 minutes.
5. Add in the ginger and green chili paste. Saute for a minute.
6. Add in turmeric & red chili powder dissolved in 2 Tblsp of water. This will prevent the powder from burning.
7. Bhunno for 2-3 minutes. Add in green chillies and saute for a minute.
8. Add the chicken along with the marinade. Put in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
9. Simmer till chicken is tender.
10. Add in the poppy seeds, melon seeds, cashew & almond paste. Mix well and bring to a boil.
11. Add cream and stir. Sprinkle the cardamom & mace powder on top.
12. Add salt to taste. Add in half the pistachios. Cook till gravy thickens and the fat comes to the surface.
13. Serve hot garnished with pistachios.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bharwan Aloo Chutneywale (Stuffed Potatoes in a Chutney gravy)

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The last week has been busy. As my innings in Hyderabad come to a close, almost every day has been a mad rush. Day before,I went to the golf course and then Dheeraj (My golf Buddy) and me decided to catch up on some exciting meal. By the time we got through the meal, it was already 7 PM and I had to go for my farewell dinner which had been organized by my peers. Early next day morning we went to Srisailam and it was a hectic but wonderful trip. We managed to have the Abhishekam done and I could touch and pray to the Jyotirlinga. You cannot imagine the spirituality and calmness it provides. The aura in the sanctum has to be felt. Last night, my managers had organized a farewell dinner. So after driving back to Hyderabad,I straight away headed there. It felt both good & bad to meet them. Bad since I was leaving them and good, for the fact that I was leaving behind a real professional group of folks.
Coming to the recipe, this one's a sure killer. Potatoes occupy a special place in our house given my better half's love for them. This ensures that I am forever scouting for new potato recipes. This one immediately caught my attention.The richly stuffed potatoes, the tangy and spicy gravy all made for a star dish. We made it last to last week, the busy schedule prevented me from posting it earlier.

Bharwan Aloo Chutneywale


Potatoes, Medium, Peeled and cut into barrel shapes - 750 gm
Paneer, shredded - 120 gm
Green Chilies, minced finely - 4
Ginger, grated - 1 Tsp
Cashewnuts, crushed - 7
Raisins - 15-20
Coriander - 150 gm
Raw Mangoes, peeled & chopped- 30 gm
Mint - 75 gm
Boiled Onion paste - 1 Cup
Ginger-Garlic Paste - 4 Tblsp
Cumin powder - 1.5 Tsp
Red Chili Powder - 1.5 Tsp
Garam Masala Powder - 2 Tsp
Tomatoes, Pureed - 1/2 Cup
Yogurt, whisked - 1.5 Cup
Cashew Paste - 4 Tblsp
Salt - To Taste
Oil - For Deep frying
Ghee - 2 Tblsp

1. Heat Oil in a Kadhai (wok). Deep fry potatoes till three-fourths done.
2. Remove and cool the potatoes. Scoop out the centre leaving around 1/4' from the sides.
3.Keep Aside.
4. Now prepare the filling by mixing the grated paneer, finely chopped green chillies, grated ginger and crushed cashews & raisins. You can also add in some of the scooped potato after frying it a little & mashing it.
5. Stuff this filling in the potatoes.
6. Put the mangoes, mint and coriander in blender and process.
7. Heat ghee in the kadhai. Add in the boiled onion paste. Stir for a minute.
8 Add in the ginger-garlic paste. Stir for 2-3 minutes or till fat separates.
9. Add in the cumin powder, stir for a minute.
10. Add in the mango-mint-coriander paste and red chili powder. Stir for 30 seconds.
11. Add in the whisked yogurt, a cup of water and mix well. Bring mixture to boil.
12. Lower the heat, add in the potatoes and simmer till potatoes are done.
13. Add in the pureed tomatoes. Stir for a minute.
14. Add in the garam masala and cashew paste. Bring to a boil.
15. Add in the salt and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
16. Serve hot with naan or roti.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vatral Kozhambu (Vegetable Stew)

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Having been married to an Iyer Brahmin,exposed me to a very different cuisine altogether. A cuisine which was simple and mild yet marrying so many flavors. After having seen my grand mother-in-law cook and after really pestering her for recipes (she still doesn't understand the presence of a male in the kitchen), I have now built up a nice collection of Iyer recipes for all ocassions.
So what is a Vatral Kozhambu ? Vatral means dried vegetables and includes eggplant, gourd,onions, shallots etc. Kozhambu (Pronounced KoolAMbu) is a gravy/ stew dish from Tamil Nadu that is made without lentils in it.Typically it can have a tamarind base or a buttermilk base. Other variations too exist. Literally translated it means "Boiling Paste". I tried digging in deeper to find its origins but could not go far. Any other inputs are welcome.

Vatral Kozhambu (Vegetable Stew) Ingredients:

Tamarind, lemon sized ball,soaked in 2 cups of hot water
Eggplants,small, cut into small cubes - 4
Shallots, peeled - 8-10
Mustard seeds (Rai) - 1/2 Tsp
Dry Red Chillies - 2
Asafoetida (Hing) - A Pinch
Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Seeds) - 1/4 Tsp
Chana Dal - 1.5 Tsp
Sambar Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Turmeric (Haldi) - 1/4 Tsp
Rice Flour - 1.5 Tsp
Jaggery, powdered - 1.5 Tsp
Curry Leaves - 8-9
Salt - To Taste
Oil - 1 Tblsp

1. Extract the tamarind pulp and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a thick bottomed vessel. Add the mustard seeds.
3. Once they start crackling, add in the dried red chillies, asafoetida, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Saute for a minute.
4. Add the chana dal and saute it till it starts to turn golden brown. Add in the eggplants and shallots. Fry for a minute.
5. Add in the sambar powder, turmeric powder and tamarind extract. Simmer on low flame for 10 minutes.
6. Make a paste of rice flour with little water (thick paste without lumps).
7. Add this paste to the simmering mixture and bring it to a boil.
8. Add jaggery and salt and mix well.
9. Serve hot with rice.

Note:Readers willing to try out new things can also read my older post on Mutton Chops Kozhambu .

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sambar Powder

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The last few weeks have been extremely lazy. I have been enjoying my month long leave by covering up on much needed sleep, reading a few books which had been kept for a later date and sorting out the household stuff before the packers and movers drop in. I have also tried calling up a few property brokers in NOIDA to fix up place but I guess they are lazier than me.
As I leave the southern part of India, nostalgia seems to be setting in. So, I have been trying out various southern cuisines and delicacies. One thing that hits me is the relative ease by which we get all ingredients required so easily these days. Sambar powder is one such thing. Gone are the days when the women of the house would make their own masalas. The huge mortar and pestle was a family must. It was huge and sometimes required 2 people to grind the masalas. Another interesting thing was the variation each household had, hence the same dish would taste differently in different houses. Even something as simple as Sambar. Since, I would be using a lot of sambar powder in the days to come, I decided to post one on how to make your very own. These are different versions from different regions and communities that I have come across. Anyone else with more different versions of this magic powder, please shout out ... I would love to collect as many as possible.

Sambar Powder - My Mother-In-Law Version


Dried Red Chillies - 1 Cup
Coriander Seeds- 1 Cup
Black Peppercorns- 2 Spoons
Chana Dal (Yellow Split Peas)- 1 Cup
Dry Curry Leaves - 2

1. Separately dry all the ingredients in the sun for 2 days.
2. Dry powder them together.
3. Mix well and store in an airtight container.

Sambar Powder - The Tamil Version I


Dried Red Chillies - 350 gm
Coriander Seeds- 350 gm
Black Peppercorns- 40 gm
Chana Dal (Yellow Split Peas)- 1/2 Cup
Tur Dal (Red Gram Dal)- 1 Cup
Turmeric Root - 7-8

1. Separately dry all the ingredients in the sun for a day.
2. Powder the red chillies separately and powder all the rest together.
3. Mix with the chili powder and store in an airtight container.

Sambar Powder - Tamil Version II


Dried Red Chillies - 2 Cup
Coriander Seeds - 1 Cup
Chana Dal - 1/4 Cup
Urad Dal - 1/4 Cup
Fenugreek Seeds - 1/4 Cup

1. Dry roast all ingredients separately. Allow to cool.
2.Grind all together.
3. Store in an airtight container.

Sambar Powder - Andhra Version


Dried Red Chillies - 10
Coriander Seeds - 3/4 Cup
Black Peppercorns - 1 Tblsp
Chana Dal - 1 Cup
Fenugreek Seeds - 1/4 Tsp
Asafoetida - A Pinch
Oil - 2 tsp

1. Heat oil.Fry all ingredients on low flame.
2. Allow it to cool down a little.
3. Powder in a grinder.
4. Store in an airtight container.

Sambar Powder - Kerala Version

Dried Red Chillies - 50 gm
Coriander Seeds - 100 gm
Chana Dal - 1 Tsp
Fenugreek Seeds - 1 Tsp
Asafoetida - 50 gm
Coconut Oil - 1 tsp

1. Heat oil over low flame. Add asafoetida followed by red chillies. Fry for 2 minutes stirring continuously.
2. Add in the coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds and finally the chana dal. Fry till the chana dal turns golden brown. Keep stirring continuously all this while.
3. Allow it to cool down a little.
4. Powder in a grinder.
5. Store in an airtight container.

Sambar Powder - Karnataka Version


Dried Red Chillies - 8-10
Coriander Seeds - 3 Tblsp
Cinnamon - 2 1" Sticks
Asafoetida - 1/4 Tsp
Chana Dal - 2 Tblp
Fenugreek Seeds - 1/8 Tsp
Dessicated Coconut - 4 Tblsp
Curry Leaves - 15
Oil - 2 Tsp

1. Heat 1 Tsp of oil on low flame. Add in the coriander seeds, asafoetida, fenugreek seeds & cinnamon. Once done empty in a bowl and allow to cool.
2. Add the red chillies in the same pan and roast until they start to darken. Take off the flame and empty in the same bowl.
3. Add the remaining oil in the pan. Add in the chana dal and fry till it starts to turn golden brown. Empty it into the same bowl.
4. Add in the coconut and curry leaves to the pan and roast till coconut starts to turn brownish. Empty in the same bowl.
5. Mix all the roasted and fried ingredients in the bowl and grind them together.
6. Store in an airtight container.

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