Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Phaldari Kofta aur Ananas Ki Tarri ( Plantain Koftas with Pineapple Gravy)

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Fresh on the success of my watermelon curry and having fresh and juicy pineapples staring at me from the grocery aisles, it was only a matter of time that it found its way into some delicious item on my dining table. Fortunately, there were quite a few curry recipes made from Pineapple that I found on the internet, and some of them were from India - Southern part of India. This was strange since I assumed that I would end up finding some from the North-East part of India, where it is abundantly grown but did not find any from that part. The koftas on the other hand were my tried and tasted Plantain koftas. Plantains (Raw Bananas), unknown to many make for an amazing cooking ingredient. They are cooked and treated the same way as potatoes and are very popular in tropical regions across the world. 

Phaldari Kofta aur Ananas Ki Tarri ( Plantain Koftas with Pineapple Gravy)


For the Koftas:
Plantains, boiled & mashed - 2
Cheese, grated - 3 Tblsp
Red Chili Powder - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1 Tsp
Corriander Powder - 1 tsp
Fennel Powder - 1 Tsp
Amchur Powder - 1 Tsp
Salt - To Taste
Flour - To coat

For the Curry:
Onion, sliced - 1 Cup
Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 Tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) - A Pinch
Curry Leaves - 3-4
Pineapple - 4 roundels
Coconut, frsh & grated - 3 Tblsp (30 gms)
Cloves - 6
Cinnamon Stick - 1 (1 Inch)
Green Cardamom - 2
Ginger, chopped - 1 Tblsp
Red Chilies, dried - 5
Turmeric Powder (Haldi) - 1/4 Tsp
Jaggery - 2 tsp (You can substitute this with honey if you like)
Salt To Taste
Oil - 3 Tblsp
Coriander, finely chopped - To garnish


For the Koftas:
1. Mix all the kofta ingredients with the plantains (Except the flour) well.
3. Divide into equal portions and form round balls.
4. Coat with flour and deep fry in hot oil till they turn golden brown.
5. Drain and keep aside.

For the Curry:
1. Make a paste of grated coconut, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, green cardamom and red chilies. Add in a tsp. of water if required while making the paste. Keep aside for use later.
2. Heat oil in a wok, and add in mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves and hing. Add in the sliced onions.
3. Mix well and cook till onions turn translucent.  
4. Add in the coconut paste. Mix well and cook till the mixture starts to turn brown.
5. Add in 2 cups of water and stir to mix. Add in jaggery and turmeric.
6. Add in the pineapple pieces and cover and cook on medium flame for 10-15 minutes or till pineapple pieces turn soft and mashy.
7. Take off flame and cool. Process in a blender and pass through a strainer.
8. Transfer back to the wok and return to flame. Cook for 5 minutes and adjust seasoning.

To Serve:
1. Add in the koftas and serve garnished with chopped coriander.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kachi Mirch Ka Gosht

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Gastronomically, it was a very satisfying weekend. The start could not be more interesting, with a visit to Aap Ki Khatir near Nizamuddin. I will post a short write-up on the place in a day or two. The remainder of the weekend was spent cooking up a lot of stuff and trying out new things. It all culminated last night with some close friends, a lot of good spirits and an array of food made by my better half and I. The star of the entrees was the Kachi Mirch Ka Gosht and though I did not get to taste it last night, a nice heapful on top of some pulao was heaven this morning.
The recipe has been adapted from Prashad - Cooking with Indian Masters, a gem of a book by Jiggs Kalra, showcasing brilliant recipes from the Masterchefs. I have had my copy for over 17 years now (I bought this in my 1st year college) and I keep going back to it, sometimes for recipes, and, sometimes just to browse through the book and bring back great memories from my kitchen days. I have worked with some of the chefs featured in the book, mostly as a trainee or as a colleague and I love the way the book breaks down each recipe and explains how to go about it.

Kachi Mirch Ka Gosht


Lamb, assorted cuts - 1 Kg
Yogurt - 1 Cup
Coriander Seeds - 4 Tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 Tblsp
Black Cumin Seeds (Shahi Jeera) - 1.5 Tsp
Black Peppercorn - 1.5 Tsp
Whole Garam Masala (5 Green Cardamom, 1 Black Cardamom, 1 Cinnamon Stick, 4 Cloves, 1 Bay Leaf)
Onion Sliced - 250 gms
Ginger,chopped - 2 Tblsp
Green Chillies, deseeded and chopped - 4
Green Peppercorn -1 Tblsp (10 gm)
Cream 3/4 Cup
Fennel Powder - 1 Tsp
Ghee - 3/4 Cup
Salt - To Taste

1. Pound Coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black cumin and black peppercorn. Mix in Yogurt along with salt. Whisk well.
2. Marinate lamb cubes in this yogurt marinade for an hour.
3. Heat ghee in a large vessel. Add in the whole garam masala and saute till it begins to crackle.
4. Add in the sliced onions and fry till it starts to turn golden brown.
5. Add in the ginger,green chilies and fry for a minute.
6. Take off flame and allow to cool. Once cooled process in a blender. Put the processed mixture back on flame.
7. Add in green peppercorns and cook for a couple of minutes.
8. Add in the lamb pieces along with the marinade. Stir for 30 seconds.
9. Add in 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Simmer till lamb is tender.
10. Add in the cream and bring to a boil. Add in the salt and mix well.
11. Sprinkle fennel powder before finishing.
12. Serve hot with roti or pulao.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Korma Ki Biryani

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It has been a really long and busy weekend. Actually the weekend started on Thursday itself, with everyone celebrating Dussehra, the festival celebrating the Indian god Rama's victory over the evil demon king Ravan. The festival is celebrated with large effigies (some of them as huge as 70 ft high) of Ravan, his brother Kumbhakarna and his son Meghnaad, set afire. The festival is also called Vijaydashami and is on the 10th day of Navratri. In the eastern part of India, this day is also celebrated as the day Goddess Durga killed the buffalo demon Mahishasura. In short, the day is celebrated as the day of victory of good over evil. Starting the Navratris the festival season has started in Delhi and many parts of India and will continue till Diwali and then all the way till X'Mas and New Years eve. The weather has also turned much cooler, so there will be a lot of parties and a lot of good food being cooked.
After the hectic Navratras and Dussehra, we decided to take it easy this weekend, as far as cooking at home was concerned. We anyways had the F1 Grand Prix Food Festival to attend at Leela's in Gurgaon and I was saving myself up for a grand evening and I can say now after having been there last night, that it did not disappoint. Taking it easy meant a Biryani lunch. Now Biryani, atleast in our household is the relaxation day food. It is meant for days when you want to laze around in front of the TV, watch a movie, eat food and drink beer. Since I had picked up atleast a dozen movie titles from a sale a few days back, the agenda was to start watching the movies, and enjoy some tasty Biryani alongside chilled Beer (raita, papad thrown in too). 
The Biryani that I decided to cook up this time was a Korma Biryani. Korma and Biryani, both, are extremely popular food items and when we marry the two we get an absolutely brilliant, tasty dish.
Other Biryani recipes on this site:
Bohri Biryani
Lucknowi Dum Pukht Biryani
Khoja Kachi Biryani
Hyderabadi Biryani

Korma Ki Biryani

For the Korma
Mutton / Lamb, assorted cuts - 500 gm
Potatoes, medium sized, quartered - 2
Onions, finely sliced - 2
Caraway Seeds - 1/4 Tsp
Green Cardamoms - 2
1" Cinnamon Stick - 1
Ginger Paste - 1 Tsp
Garlic Paste - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/3 Tsp
Red Chili Powder - 1 Tsp
Yogurt, whisked - 1 Cup
Muskmelon Seeds - 2 Tsp
Watermelon seeds - 2 Tsp
Cashews - 6
Dessicated Coconut - 2 Tsp
Coriander, chopped - 1 Tsp
Mint Leaves. chopped - 1 Tsp
Green Chilies, chopped - 2
Oil - For frying

For the Rice:
Basmati Rice - 250 gm
Peppercorns - 5
1" Cinnamon Stick - 1
Cloves - 2
Oil - 1 Tblsp

For Assembling
Milk - 1/3 Cup
Lemon Juice - 2 Tsp
Ghee - 1 Tblsp
Cream - 1 Tblsp
Saffron, crushed & dissolved in half cup warm milk - 1/2 Tsp
Wheat flour (Atta) - Made into dough with water for sealing the pot
Coriander, chopped - 1 Tsp

For Korma
1. Make a paste of musk melon seeds, watermelon seeds, cashews and dessicated coconut with 1 Tblsp water. Keep aside.
2. Heat Oil in a handi. Fry the potatoes till they turn golden brown. Drain and keep aside.
3. In the same oil, fry the onion slices till they turn golden brown. Remove and keep aside. Once cool, crush the onion slices.
4. Now take, a large pot (preferably a lagan) which can accommodate both meat and rice. Transfer half the oil from the handi to this pot/lagan. Put it on flame.
5. Once the oil is hot, add caraway seeds, cinnamon stick and cardamoms. As the cardamom starts to change colour, add the ginger and garlic paste. Fry for half a minute and add in the salt, turmeric powder and red chili powder (mix red chili powder with a tsp of water to make a paste and add - this will prevent the spice from burning).
6. Add in the meat pieces and fry on high flame for 5 minutes. Lower the fame and add in the yogurt and continue stirring till it comes to a boil.
7. Add in the melon seeds, cashew, coconut paste. Mix well and cook for a minute.
8. Add a cup of water and cover and cook on a medium flame for 20 minutes or till meat is 3/4th done.
9. Add in the fried potatoes and crushed onions. Mix well and cook till potatoes are tender and the meat is done.
10. Add in the chopped coriander, green chilies and mint. Mix well.
11. Cook till meat gravy is reduced to one cup.
For the Rice:
12. Soak the rice for 20 minutes. Drain.
13. In a large vessel (separate from the one used to cook the meat) boil a litre of water along with peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, salt and oil.
14. When water comes to a boil, add in the rice.
15. Cook till rice is 2/3rd done. Drain the water.
To Assemble:
16. Layer the rice over the Korma (Meat gravy).
17. Sprinkle the ghee, cream, lemon juice, saffron soaked in milk and milk on top.
18. Cover with a tight fitting lid and seal the sides with atta dough.
19. Put a tava (Flat plate) on flame and add the Biryani vessel on top. Cook for 10-15 minutes on medium flame.
20. Remove from flame, open pot and garnish with freshly chopped coriander.Serve hot.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sooji Ka Halwa (Semolina Sweet Dessert)

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Today happens to be Maha Ashtami (the eighth day of the Navratri festival) and it is fairly common in the Northern Part of India for households to celebrate Ashtami by doing the Kanjak Ashtami Pooja. Since these nine days of the festival are dedicated to the Hindu goddesses, on Ashtami people break their fast by calling young girls home and treating them as goddesses. These "Kanjak Devis" are called home, their feet are washed and they are offered the ceremonial food, which consists if puri (fried bread), chana (gram) and halwa. Apart from this they are also offered bangles, red chunni and some token amount known as a shagun.
Halwa means a dense sweet preparation and derives its name from the Arabic word Al Halwa meaning "Sweet Confection". Though there are numerous kinds of Halwa, made with different exotic ingredients, the ones made with Sooji (Semolina), Carrot (Gajar), Almond & Moon Dal (Mung Bean) are most common and popular. You also find a pistachio based halwa commonly in India, but people are unware that it is a kind of Halwa. It is called Soan Papdi in most places and its more denser preparation is called Patissa. In fact, if you have anyone going towards Doda in J&K, you should request them to get you some Patissa from a place called Kud. It is like nothing you ever tasted before. Similarly, if you manage to go down South of India or have some one going, Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu is a place to visit. Called the Halwa City, it is famous for it's sweet wheat based halwa.

Sooji ka Halwa

Semolina - 3/4 Cup
Sugar - 3/4 Cup
Ghee (Clarified Butter) - 6 Tblsp
Water - 1.5 Cups (Most suggest using Milk, but I prefer using water)
Almonds - 1/4 Cup
Cashews - 1/2 Cup
Raisins - 1/2 Cup
Pistachios- 1/4 Cup
Green Cardamom Powder - 2 Tsp

1. In a small sauce pan, combine water and sugar to make a light syrup. Keep aside.
2. Also, chop the nuts, keeping some aside for garnish. Fry the nuts in 1 Tblsp ghee. Keep aside.
3. Heat 4 Tblsp of ghee in a wok.
Add the semolina and mix well.
Roast the semolina while stirring consistently (to prevent sticking) till it attains a light biscuit color.
4. Add in the fried nuts and mix well.
5. Add the sugar syrup to the sooji (Semolina) and mix well.
Keep stirring and cooking till most of the water has been absorbed and the mixture has achieved a wet pasty form.
6. Add in the remaining 1 Tblsp of ghee. Mix well and take off flame.
7. Garnish with fried nuts.

Boiled Onion Paste

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Just a few posts ago, I had written on lengths about the cuts of the onions and how it influences the dish. That post was about fried onion paste, this time we talk about boiled onion paste. 
The recipe for this paste is straight out of a Jiggs Kalra book (all of his books, have the same recipe). Incase you love Indian cuisine, you have to possess a Jiggs Kalra book, atleast one if not all.
Now various authors talk about additions of various spices to this paste, but having tried out addition of cloves, black peppercorns, cinnamon etc., I go with Bay leaves and Black Cardamom as they pep up the flavors without overpowering the paste.

Boiled Onion Paste

Onions, peeled, washed & roughly cut - 1 Kg
Bay Leaves - 3
Black Cardamom - 3

1. Add all ingredients in a handi alongwith 200 ml + 4 tsp water. (The onion to water ratio has to be 5:1)

2. Bring this to a boil and simmer till until then onions are transparent and the water has more or less evaporated.
3. Cool this mixture and transfer to blender. Make a puree.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bharwaan Aloo in Tarbuj Ki Karri ( Stuffed Potatoes in Rajasthani Watermelon curry)

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I have been contemplating a fruit based curry for over 2 years. The reason behind this has been a chicken in watermelon curry recipe that I found on a food magazine. I had tried that out and did not really like the way it turned out. So my joy knew no boundaries when I stumbled upon this watermelon curry recipe on the Saveur site. It was a traditional Rajasthani dish made with pieces of watermelon (both the red flesh and the outer white flesh) and the final dish was like a watermelon pieces in a thin curry dish. It's really so amazing, getting exposed to your country's culinary gems by someone in a different continent. The writers in Saveur based their recipe on one that appeared in 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer (Workman, 2008).
My take below was a little different. I turned this into a curry sauce in which I added some stuffed potatoes. Since, it was a very last minute decision to cook this one, the justice done to the stuffed potatoes was not as much as should have been, since I wanted to plate it up before the sun went down. The gravy on the other hand was a different story altogether. It tasted yum! and my better half and I are in total agreement that this is now part of our collection of dishes for the special occasions. I'm tempted to replace the stuffed potatoes with some fish, but for that to happen, we will need to wait till the Navratras (Traditional Hindu festival of 9 days of worship - No meat or egg) get over.
Incase you still want to cook it the traditional way (no stuffed potatoes), then click here for the original.
While you are at it and if you love stuffed potatoes, also check out Bharwan Aloo Churneywaale (Stuffed Potatoes in a chutney gravy) posted a few years earlier on this blog.

Bharwaan Aloo in Tarbuj Ki Karri (Stuffed Potatoes in Watermelon Curry)
(4 Portions)


For the Stuffed Potatoes (Bharwaan Aloo)
Potatoes, Medium, Peeled and cut into barrel shapes - 750 gm (Around 4-5 big potatoes)
Paneer, shredded - 120 gm
Green Chilies, minced finely - 4
Ginger, grated - 1 Tsp
Cashewnuts, crushed - 7
Cheese, grated - 3 Tblsp
Pomegranate Seeds - 1/2 Cup
Salt - To Taste
Oil - For frying

For the Watermelon Curry (Tarbuj Ki Karri)
Watermelon, medium sized - 1
Ajwain (Carum Seeds)- 1/2 Tsp
Cumin seeds (Zeera, whole)- 1/2 Tsp
Nigella seeds (black onion seeds) (Kalonji) - 1/2 Tsp
Dried Red chillies, stemmed - 2
Garlic, finely chopped - 4 Cloves
Turmeric powder (Haldi) - 1/4 Tsp
Oil - 2 Tblsp
Salt - To Taste

2 tsp. chopped fresh coriander, to garnish

Bharwaan Aloo
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.

Tarbuj Ki Karri
5. Trim and discard the green skin of the watermelon, leaving the inner, whitish flesh intact. Separate the white flesh from the red flesh with the knife, discard the seeds and cut both white & red flesh into 1-1.5" pieces. Set aside.
6. In a handi, heat oil over medium heat. Add ajwain, cumin, kalonji and dried red chillies and cook, until cumin starts to turn color (around 2 minutes).
7. Add chopped garlic and cook, until golden brown (around 30 seconds).
8. Add watermelon white flesh, salt, and turmeric and mix well. Cook until the white pieces turn color to light brown and all liquid evaporates. Stir occasionally.
9. Pour a cup of water into the handi, cover the pan, and simmer the curry over medium heat. Cook for around 10 minutes or till the white flesh pieces are tender.
10. Uncover the handi, add the red flesh pieces and any juice that you might have collected. Mix well.
11. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to boil, stirring occasionally for around 5 minutes, until the flesh softens slightly.
12. Switch off the flame and cool the curry.
13. After the curry has cooled down, process it in a blender.
14. Pass through a strainer into the handi.

Bringing it Together
15. Put the pureed curry back on flame and add in the potatoes.
16. Simmer till potatoes are done.
17. Check for seasoning.
18. Transfer curry to a serving bowl. Halve the stuffed potatoes and place with stuffed side up. Garnish with chopped Coriander.
19. Serve hot.

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