Sunday, December 21, 2014

gogji mutton | a simple stew with turnips and mutton cooked the Kashmiri way

I don't know if a true blue Kashmiri would approve of this stew but for me this Gogji Mutton curry speaks of winters. This simple stew is so good for a winter dinner, so warming that you would feel blessed if you get good turnips in your part of the world just for this mutton stew if not the vegetarian version called Gogji Nadir. I have adapted this gogji nadir according to my taste but I am sure the soul of the stew is not compromised with.

I have been cooking this gogji mutton for a couple of years and have learnt a trick to make the thin soupy gravy look almost milky in appearance and pack a punch of flavours that feels impossible with just three ingredients. Yes, apart from the mutton, there are only three ingredients that make the flavours so comforting. Mustard oil, green chillies of the thick skin variety (bajji chillies of Bangalore or Rajasthani pakoda chillies) and turnips. These three ingredients create magic in this stew trust me.

It so happens that I always cook this stew for dinners and once it is ready we both can't wait too much to be able to click decent pictures to be shared on the blog. But this time I sneaked a couple of pictures while cooking and one picture of the plate that I served for myself. The pictures are still bad but I wanted you all to create this simple Kashmiri stew this winter if you have not tasted it already.

Note how this recipe helps make an almost milky soupy gravy in this stew. The instructions typed in bold letters are the pointers. But don't worry even if the gravy looks watery, as the taste will not be affected much even in that case.

(2-3 servings, depending on what is served with it)

mutton on bone (curry cut) 200-250 gm
fresh turnips 250 gm
fat variety green chillies (Anahiem or any mild hot chillies) 3-5
mustard oil 1 tbsp
salt to taste
water 1.5 L


Add the mutton and a little salt to the water in a deep stock pot (or handi) and cook on medium flame for an hour or till the mutton is almost done. Or pressure cook the mutton with a litle salt with 1 L of water.

Remove the stalks, clean and chop the turnips in irregular shaped thick slices. Try and not peel the turnips as some of the flavour will be lost if you do so. Chop the chillies in 1 inch long pieces and keep aside.

When the mutton is almost done, heat mustrad oil in a deep pan till smoking point. Now add the chopped chillies and turnips all at once and toss and stir fry till a few blisters appear on the chillies and the turnips look glazed and blemished.

This is the time the cooked mutton along with the hot stock will be poured right into the hot cooking turnips. By adding the hot mutton stock into the already sizzling turnips and chillies will make the stock look milky within seconds. Now check and adjust seasoning and simmer till the turnips are fully don, soft and disintegrate when pressed.

Serve hot with plain boiled rice. Some plain home made yogurt or raita works with it but we don't care about it when we need a hot stew in our hands, preferably served in bowls.

Less rice and more of this stew is my idea of a great home cooked meal on winter nights. Meals that we cook while watching TV and the home smells of a good stew being slow cooked in the kitchen. This stew is so aromatic that the neighbors can often get to know what is cooking, that too with such humble ingredients and not a single spice used. Simplicity brings the best from some foods. Gogji mutton is one of best example of such foods.

Hope you would try this recipe if it is not a family favourite already. There are more recipes of turnips cooked with mutton in the Mughlai way and that has it's own charm, suited for a different kind of meal but gogji mutton will always be my all time favourite light mutton stews.

Shiv Sagar comes to Delhi : our experience of the street food served in a chic ambiance

Shiv Sagar from Bombay is here in Delhi and that too just a 15 minutes drive from home. When we decided to go there for a dinner early this week Arvind was not too keen saying it is a vegetarian place but I was sure that he would like the food there. Being born and brought up in Banaras he is the one who would walk an extra mile for a good kachori or golgappa I know.

The first thing we tried at Shiv Sagar was a Sev Puri that he loved. The juice tasters that come in test tubes was a great idea, fresh juices of mosambi (Sweet Lime), Orange, Pineapple and Watermelon can be ordered from the 'live juice bar' and they also have a few juice based mocktails called Ganga Jamuna and Maramari. One can decide after tasting and according to the mood of the day.

Our mood for good food was set already.

We had great expectations when the Vada Pao came to our table with all it's accompaniments of red lasun chutney and fried green chilly etc but the real test is in the pao (the bun) and the potato bonda inside. I found the Vada pao good on both counts but I have had better Vada Pao on the streets of Bombay so may be some friends from Bombay wouldn't find it good enough.

I loved the Pao Bhaji a lot more, the Pao not too soaked in butter and the Bhaji buttery in texture but not floating in butter, the spicing perfect for me. I found the quality of he Bombay Pao perfect and asked Varun Puri whose team has brought Shiv Sagar to Delhi, he informed that the Pao is in fact brought in from Bombay twice a day for the sake of authenticity. I find this kind of commitment towards delivering authenticity really commendable.

I talked to the Executive Chef Harish Joshi as well and was charmed by his smile that spreads across his face when he talks. Such a happy Chef can never go wrong in bringing great food for the guests.

The Bhel mixture was also good, something that Arvind likes for his evening snack many a times but this one had a Bombay feel to it.

The Bombay Sandwiches were made perfectly too. Sprinkled generously with the thin sev that stay crunchy even inside the sandwich and perfectly grilled bread. Mind that this is coming from someone who is not too find of sandwiches. I took a few bites as we wanted to taste more of the stuff on the menu, the sandwich kept calling me back that I had to ignore with all my will. Good stuff.

I was surprised to see a Delhi special Bedmi Alu on the menu, it looked like a crisp ball with 3 small bowls of brown subzi but I was not prepared for the taste it brought. This is a must try at Shiv Sagar because they have created a very very good Methi ki chutney to go along with the alu subzi that transforms this Bedmi poori from an average to extraordinary. Pour some methi chutney over the alu subzi and dunk a bite of Bedmi into it, this bite would make you feel so good about methi being on your plate. Very crisp bedmi poori is a very good scooping tool for the goodness in those bowls.

While the Pao Bhaji, Vada Pao and Bhel took us to the streets of Bombay, this Bedmi alu brought us back right into the streets of old Delhi.

They have a spread of Indo-Chinese street food as well. The Chilly Idli and Triple Sichuan fried rice we tasted were quite addictive. I better not talk about foodie addictions, I mean this Sichuan fried rice has a base of Manchurian balls, a layer of fried crisp noodles and then fried rice over that creating a medley if taste and textures that is hard to resist.

There was one more thing that felt like old Delhi and that was this Paan kulfi. With a whole paan inside, I finished this kulfi all by myself though I am known for disliking desserts. This kulfi feels like a paan and yet gives all the pleasures of a kulfi.

 I found it better than the famed Kuremal kulfi to be honest. Talking about it, I am craving for this Paan Kulfi on a December midnight. Imagine.

I would be going back to Shiv Sagar for the Bedmi, for the Kulfi, for the Pao Bhaji and for the Chilly idli too may be. Arvind has his choices too, he loved the Triple Sichuan fried rice, the Bhel and pretty much everything we tasted that day. I know he would be frequenting Shiv Sagar quite often now. My gut feeling was right, he wouldn't ever be disappointed with good street food and will forge his love for nonveg for a while whenever it happens.