Friday, September 28, 2012

Harey lehsun ka achaar | Lehsun-sagga...



Yes, this is the name of an intriguing pickle of Garlic greens. The green garlic shoots or hara lasun as it is called in HIndi. Made into a fresh chutney or a pickled chutney, called as achar as it keeps well for the whole year. A childhood favorite, my grandmother used to make it quite frequently and it was considered healthy being green and being the ever so popular condiment that is Garlic. A good measure of Ginger in it and a lot of aromatic Dill greens, it was the most favored pickle till it lasted. Yes it lasted just a few weeks thanks to a few greedy prying eyes to the glass jar. My Daadi would clean a large bunch of greens once again and chop it, pound it in the stone mortar and pestle to get a nice flaky texture in the pickle.

When I stared pickling, it was a challenge to get it right because chopping the greens finely didn't work to get that texture, blending them in the food processor just chutnified them and killed that achar feel of it. But I was hell bent upon bringing that texture of flaky greens of garlic, macerated well but not too smooth to loose a tangy bite. Got it right with a chopper attachment of my Morphy Richards hand blender. The chopper did a fine job when the green were put into it after chopping them. Later I would do the whole hog of using a stone mortar and pestle too to get the texture right. Long story cut short, I tried every method in the book to macerate the chopped garlic greens well so they seep well into the Dill aromas and the Ginger heat.

I have taken a few step wise pictures last year of the making of this pickle, but couldn't find them in my albums when I started looking for them. Someone on a foodie group on facebook wanted the recipe and I decided to post it without those pictures. I would upload them as soon as I get hold of them, or if I make it fresh this season.



ingredients...


Garlic greens cleaned 200 gm

Dill greens 200 gm

fresh ginger root 100 gm

green chillies 50-100 gm depending on how hot you would like it

salt to taste (ideally 15% of the total weight of the other ingredients to preserve it)

lime juice 1/2 cup

mustard oil 1 tbsp (optional)

an electronic chopper or a stone mortar and pestle so the chopped herbs can be thrashed to macerate




procedure...

 Make a tight bundle of all garlic greens and the dill greens together in your hand and chop them all together on a wooden chopping board or any which way you are comfortable chopping them. Retain the thick but soft stems of Dill greens, just discard the woody stems if it has. Discard the fat white bulb if the garlic greens have it at the base, use it for other recipes.


Make a coarse paste of the green chillies and ginger too if you wish. I prefer the ginger to be chopped very fine. You might like to grate the ginger. Keep these two aside.

Now whiz the chopped greens into a chopper by pulsing action so it doesn't get smooth, just macerated. Or put it all into a stone Mortar n pestle and thrash the whole mixture for about 5 minutes or till the texture is your preference. Adding salt while doing it would help the maceration process. Add mustard oil if using. Mustard oil tastes great when this pickle is consumed within a month, after that the raw mustard oil aroma vanishes.


Now mix everything together in a sterilised glass jar , pour Lime juice over it and secure the lid. No need to sun this pickle, gets ready instantly if you like the sharp flavors. The sharpness gets milder as the pickle ages. More sour, more mild and more dull in color.


This a year old garlic greens pickle, the Lehsun-sagga, turned Olive green in color ans still as fragrant as it was with Dill, the Garlic sharpness has mellowed down.


The green pickle can be used as a chutney, as a pickle in sandwiches and burgers, even in some salad dressings. Sometimes a generous dollop of this pickle is mixed with boiled potatoes to make an instant Aloo paratha.

Don't miss getting some green garlic shoots and Dill greens (Suwaa bhaji or soya ka saag) together and take out half an hour from your busy routine to make this. You would love yourself for making it. Believe me.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Roghan josh and the best way to enjoy it...


What a minimalist platter of Roghan josh, plain boiled rice and Akhrot mooli ki chutney does to you?
Brings you pure bliss.

The simplest of meals can be the most satisfying for me. I see myself gravitating towards the minimalist recipes, minimal processing of the food in terms of cooking for  few years now. May be because life makes you learn a lot of things as it throws different challenges at you. Earlier I used to prepare a full course meal every time and then fuss about how to finish everything right on the table. I would go insane when cooking for guests and prepare a whole lot of things in my frenzy. Loads of leftovers were given as parting gifts many a times and it almost became my identity, and it was not in a very distant past. Say a decade back. A lot has happened since then.

Things are very different now. The approach to cooking food changed, more nutrition per meal and more taste and enjoyment in every bite is the motto now. And that counts cooking the meals in a relaxed way, not to tax myself with too much cooking so I crib later to finish the food right on the table or managing the leftovers. This meal of Roghan josh, Akhrot mooli ki chutney and plain boiled rice explains just that.

The recipe is adapted from Anshie's blog.

ingredients..

mutton cut into 2 inch pieces on bone 500 gm
mustard oil 1/4 cup
pinch of hing
2 tsp sounf (fennel) powder
1/2 tsp sonth (dry ginger) powder
2-3 tsp kashmiri red chilly powder
salt to taste
4-5 green cardamoms
5-6 cloves
1/2 tsp garam masala (mix of green and black cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and a little nutmeg)
1/2 cup thick yogurt

procedure...

Heat mustard oil in a thick base pan and let it come to smoking point. Put the gas off for a while till you add the first few ingredients as to prevent burning of the ingredients as well as any burn injuries on your bare hands.

Add hing and mutton pieces and bring back the gas flame, sear the meat for a few minutes. Add the fennel and dry ginger powders and mix well, keep cooking for a minute or two on medium flame.

In the meanwhile, whip the yogurt with red chilly powder and start adding the yogurt chilly mix in small batches. Stirring and bhunoing the mutton all this while. In three to four batches the yogurt chilly powder mix will be used up and the cooking mixture will be nicely red and glazed. Takes about 20 minutes.

Add about half a liter of water and salt to taste and simmer on low flame for about 40 minutes, covered with a well fitting lid. Check in between to see if there is enough water in the pan to prevent the meat from burning, add more if required and continue cooking till the meat is done and the gravy is thick like a slurry, coating the mutton pieces well.

The mustard oil will be floating on top of the cooked meat, all pigment from chillies extracted and this part of the dish is called Roghan. Serve hot. The dish improves with time and you might like to cook Roghan josh a day in advance if you have to impress someone.


The Akhrot ki chutney is very simple. Just a handful of Walnuts (25 gm) is ground together with a medium sized white Radish (100 gm) slices. Just salt to taste and a creamy tangy, nutty chutney is ready. The combination is made in heaven. The chutney is a nice substitute to raita with rice dishes like Tehri/Tahiri too. I have posted a Tehri recipe with a different version of  Akhrot ki chutney long back.


With radish it becomes a different thing altogether. I can see the digestives in Radish helping the meat to be digested well, but you wont make it for the meat being digested well, it will purely be for the good taste and good companionship on your plate.

Try this combination sometime if you haven't already.

Cheers...



Friday, September 21, 2012

parippu pradhaman | mung daal kheer in coconut milk base..




Long time back when I read this post at Eatwritethink I wanted to taste this kheer immediately.

It had everything that I love.. coconut, jaggery and a lentil base. But as it happens our attention span is so minuscule that it slipped off my mind completely. Though kept knocking at the back of my head whenever I used jaggery for other things. This Onam when I was chatting with Rajani, she talked of this again. And then it was just irresistible for me to wait. Read the recipe again and with some more inputs from her, I started with it right away.

Half an hour later a superbly aromatic dessert was ready and I licked the spoon. It was a revelation.It is not a kheer. Noway related to a kheer of north India but equally great in taste and flavors.I am hooked to it. Made it once more after that as we both just loved it. My mung daal consumption has increased now.



ingredients..
(2-4 servings)

3/4 cup of yellow mung daal (skinned mung beans)
a cup of water
a carton/can of coconut milk (I used a carton of Dabur homemade coconut milk, freshly extracted coconut milk will be absolutely gorgeous)
roughly 1/2 cup of shaved or grated jaggery (not packed)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp of ghee
2 tbsp of chopped Cashew nuts
2 -4 tbsp of chopped bits of fresh coconut
green cardamom powder a pinch if you like, I didn't use it



procedure...

Take a wide base pan and dry roast the mung with a tsp of ghee on medium flame till it turns pink and aromatic.

Put it in a pressure cooker with the water and pressure cook till the first whistle blows and then about 4-5 minutes more on low flame. let it cool naturally till the pressure releases.

Add the jaggery and the coconut milk and cook for about 3-4 minutes, the Pradhaman get thick like a slurry. Taste the pradhaman for sweetness, you might like to add a little more jaggery to it, depends on the brand of jaggery being used as all of them have different intensity, being an unrefined sugar with a lot of minerals in it.


Heat the remaining ghee in a small pan and fry the cashew first and then add the coconut bits to fry till pink. Add this hot ghee mixture to the pressure cooker.

Mix well and serve warm. I just loved it warm. The comfort of a lentil is always nice for me, never knew it would be in this form as well. I am not a dessert person but some desserts like this make me really go week in my knee. Jaggery and coconut, bound to be happy together.


 I chilled the leftovers to see if we like that more. Arvind was okay with the chilled version but for me it will always be warm. Quickly reheated in microwave, my bowl of dessert comfort.

This Parippu Pradhaman is definitely healthier than a rice kheer . Lesser Glycemic load for sure. Provided you don't make it too sweet.

I would recommend milder sweetening of desserts, as it allows the other flavors to shine through. And a pleasant aroma of roasted mung is the USP of this Pradhaman. Jaggery comes next and he Coconut flavors stays in the background. The fried Cashew and Coconut bits add a nice additional flavor and bite.

Just lovely. Try this if you haven't tried this Kerala delicacy yet.

Cheers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Of star Chefs of India and the best kitchens...




I am here to tell you about a rich experience that I had last week. How I learnt that traditional cuisine must be preserved in it's pure form while we go on to experiment with fusion as well. I got an opportunity to talk to Chef Arvind Saraswat and how he insisted that too much experimentation in food can be destructive. More about this discussion later, first let me introduce to this place.

Chefs at Miele experience Center is an exclusive space at Jasola District Center to showcase the state of art kitchen and home gadgets. It is a luxuriously done up place that was buzzing with activity when we entered. Aromas of the finest food being cooked was expected but it was not there as the kitchen area is designed in a way that it doesn't let the cooking aromas linger around. That is a great thing for a home kitchen.  Miele had organised an event with Chef Sabyasachi of Olive Bar and Kitchen in association with Four Seasons Wines and the Bloggers of Delhi were invited to be a part of this experience. It was a live cookout with Chef Sabyasachi (Best Chef of India, Awarded by President of india, National Tourism Award, 2011-12) and his team Chef Astha, Chef Mahima , Chef Kapoor and Chef Gaurav at this buzzing place.


The Antipasti table was already laid out under soft lighting. Beautiful platters arranged creatively. There was a lot to eat here but not much choice for vegetarians. The cheeses and Potato salad was there for them but I found Apeksha Jain looking for options. There were the best Spinach and feta tarts and fresh tomato and mozzarella Caprese on skewers for vegetarians on the circulating menu though. I am not complaining at all.


Us non vegetarians were spoilt for choice. Chorizos, Salami, Crispy fried bacon all dressed up with the best quality Extra Virgin Olive oil and pecans. The different kinds of cheeses, a potato mustard honey salad and an Apple and Sausages salad were all yummy. The smoked chicken and Lettuce salad was something I would like to recreate in my own kitchen.

The place looks perfect with a display of all Miele gadgets. The huge and spacious fridge made me drool big time, designed to perfection, not very deep so everything can be located easily.. And a dream coffee machine that Divya showed us around was something to keep thinking about.


The chefs were busy cooking all the main course and pass around snacks. I loved the Spinach and Feta tarts and the Prawn Gambas. A nicely skewered Caprese with Cherie tomatoes was a refreshing treat.

Bread baskets displayed beautifully on each table with  a Four Seasons wine bottle. The breads on display were Focaccia, mini Baguettes, Lavash and some bread sticks.


The favorite Risotto (mixed mushrooms and black and white rice) of Chef Saby was made for us food bloggers as we had liked it at Olive last time as well. This Risotto is also going to be recreated in my own kitchen. I have some dried black mushrooms and would get some more fresh varieties to make this one. A complex mixed flavor of mushrooms in Risotto is really interesting.


There were  a lot of main course dishes to choose from. Pork belly in honey soy glaze, Chicken confit, a lovely couscous with cherie tomatoes and chickpeas and some great vegetarian dished and the vegetarians were glad here. See a detailed album here at Miele page.

As the time passed we were surprised to see the star Chefs of Delhi arriving at the Miele center. Chef Arvind Saraswat, Chef Devendra Kumar, Chef Maninder Gill and Chef Sibal were there with us. I couldn't believe we could go and have a chat with the best Chefs of India there. I had a relaxed chat with Chef Arvind Saraswat and he came across as a very nice gentleman, very soft spoken and down to earth. I asked him what he thought of food bloggers and was a little surprised by his reply. He said he has no opinion on them as it is a new phenomenon and he is not much aware of any good thing going on with food blogs. I asked isn't it great that foodies and cooks all over he world are communicating so well with each other and exchanging ideas about their food and culture. To this he said it's not always a good thing. He said it so unpretentiously but so convincingly I started thinking. A light bulb moment for me, till now I was all about this communication and exchange between different food cultures.

His interpretation made sense. Too much interaction and experimentation with fusion is disturbing. It can be very disastrous as it threatens to meddle with the authenticity. I understand as a research oriented mind that preserving the gene pool in it's purity is as important as diversifying the gene pool. There can be germplasm banks to preserve cereal and lentil (and all plants in fact) ethnic varieties but how a recipe would be preserved if it gets diluted or polluted by other cultures. New evolved taste is fine but there should always be a baseline of the authentic cuisine that is not bastardised by mixing up. Fusion will be healthier and better if the baseline is clear.

An engaging discussion that enlightened me too. I have always been a great believer in experimentation but now I understand how important it is to preserve a cuisine in it's purity. I try to practice this principle on Banaras ka Khana but that was just because I love all desi food, now it will be with more awareness thanks to Chef Arvind Saraswat.

And Thanks to Chef Sabyasachi for giving me this opportunity as well. We got the opportunity to hear Chef Maninder Gill who shared that his best meal till date was one prepared in an ashram at Rishkesh, a vegetarian meal prepared using Beet greens and such things. How simple it is to enjoy basic food with such love we realise when we these greats talking about it with passion.

Mr. Chaturvedi from Miele introduced us to the brand and how the gadgets are energy efficient and environment friendly, apart from the best contemporary designs. Such a modern design that seems to respect softness in light and an ancient design element that a flower is.


Mr Abhay Kevadkar of Four Seasons Wines spoke about his wines and how they should be paired with Indian foods.

There was a live band at Miele center and we were humming the songs without realising it. Not too loud and intrusive but yet growing onto you kinda music. It was an evening well spent listening to some inspiring people, having incessant chatter with blogger friends and lusting over some of the most luxurious gadgets.


There was a sweet token of love, we were gifted a pack of cookies which were baked by Saby's team at the Miele center itself. The good thing is, these cookies were not sweetened and I loved them. Slightly salted dough and some sweet choco chips in one variety and some nuts and raisins in the other one. What a nice balance of sweet and salt.


We all had a good time as I mentioned. Sushmita, Nachiketa and Apeksha were there from our Delhi food bloggers group. I loved clicking pictures and there were so many that I had to finally decide to make collages  to accommodate all pictures. It happens when there are too many good things happening at a place.. 

Bhindi pyaz ki bhurji | Okra and baby onions stir fry...



I have been making a few really quick kind of stir fry subzis for Arvind's lunch box these days. The morning hours are rushed as I am not an early riser. Preparing the lunch box and the breakfast as well within about 45 minutes is a task sometimes and I have to move my hands quickly in order to pack his lunch in the most possible balanced way. That is within his choice of foods.There were many requests on both my blogs regarding lunch box ideas hence I posted a few pictures of these lunch box ideas on my facebook page. Usually there is some kind of chickpeas, lentils or sprouts box, a dry stir fry veggies box and a box of cut cucumber and baby onions apart from multigrain rotis for him. Sometimes a pulao or tehri too.

This Bhindi-Pyaz is one of those quick stir fries that I make along with a few other things going on at the kitchen platform.

ingredients...

Okra cut into 1.5 to 2 cm pieces 2 cups
baby onions peeled and quartered 1 cup (peel them in advance if in a hurry)
chopped green chillies 2 tsp or to taste
whole cumin seeds 2 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
amchoor powder 1 tsp or to taste
salt to taste
ghee or mustard oil 1 tbsp

preparation...

To make the stir fry quick, I generally place the kadhai on the gas stove with ghee and chop everything together on the chopping board. The okra, cutting off the crowns and holding them all in one bunch and chopping quickly on the board. Chop all the baby onions and green chillies on the same board.

Tip in cumin seeds in the hot oil/ghee, wait till it crackles and add all the okra, onions and green chillies at once in the hot kadhai. Add all the powder spices too and keep stirring it in between whatever you are doing in the kitchen on the side.

Takes about 8-10 minutes on medium flame to cook. Keeping the heat level lower works wen you are working on several things together.

Serve as and when required, hot or at room temperature.

You can use regular red onions too but baby onions give it a distinct flavor. Lightly caramelised baby onions with bhindi is something I can have for a meal. I do that sometimes. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

mutton liver curry with southern flavors...



I work hard to get the taste right for the ingredients I don't like otherwise. Mutton Liver was one such organ meat I never could develop my taste for in the initial days of my non vegetarianism. Later when I realised that Arvind needed to eat mutton Liver frequently, I was petrified to think of the awful smell it emanates while cooking. He would ask me just to fry in salt n pepper with ghee. That was his favorite way of having mutton Liver. A couple of times with the simple salt n pepper Liver fry and I was off with it for ever. Couldn't develop a taste for it, although many of our friends declared that was their favorite way to enjoy any organ meat. I digressed, naturally towards the more flavorful versions of Liver curry. I am happy I did. Many yummy discoveries were made and mutton Liver is no more a horror..

I prefer cooking mutton Liver in a wet gravy or with watery vegetables and not a dry stir fry in ghee or oil. One with pumpkin and a lot of red chilly powder with a tempering of Nigella seeds is quite a favorite.The water content of the vegetables keep the Liver moist even when it cooks for a bit longer, which I prefer as I don't like a reddish flesh inside while biting into it.

So this curry was made in a jiffy, a few ingredients were made into a coarse paste and dunked into oil. Added the Liver after a while and cooked some more. That's it.

The taste is amazingly complex and rich for a simple procedure like this. The ingredients do the magic here. Procedure is almost three step.Read on....

ingredients...
(for 3-5 servings)
Mutton Liver 250 gm

For paste no. 1....
curry patta 10-15 springs (depending on how mature they are)
Ginger root 1 inch piece roughly chopped
Garlic cloves 5 fat ones
Shallots a dozen (do not replace it with regular onions, baby red onions would do)
Dry piece of Tamarind 1/2 inch chopped
Dry red chillies 3-4 or to taste (tamarind balances heat so add a little more than you normally do)
Black pepper corns 6-8
salt to taste

For paste no. 2..
One large red ripe Tomato(about 100 gm)

Sesame oil 1 tbsp

procedure...

Make the paste number one, a coarse paste is intended, so don't worry to make it too smooth. Empty the blender directly into the pan and then blend the tomato in the same without rinsing. Use as directed.

Heat the oil in a kadhai and tip in the first paste that was made. Stir a few times for a couple of minutes till the  oils comes on top. No need to add water.

Now add the tomato paste too and along with it the Liver pieces. Mix well and cook covered for 10 minutes on low flame.

Serve hot.


This is something worth repeating every week. A complex heat from red chillies, black pepper corns and ginger, a complex sourness from tomatoes and tamarind used together and the aromatic curry patta. The flavors are sealed.

This Liver fry with Curry patta is good too if you want to have a dry stir fry with mutton Liver.

Here is another mutton Liver dry curry with Coriander greens. Very flavorful, a little tangy and a bit hot. I just realised I have many more mutton Liver recipes waiting in the drafts, planning to post them one by one while I restore the pictures that I lost sometime back :(

This tangy and hot curry was something I would recommend when you have the fresh curry patta, some Shallots and Tamarind at hand. Any ingredient substituted and you miss the flavors.I am wondering how a vegetarian curry would taste with this quick gravy. May be some soy nuggets or tofu or simply poatoes?
What say?


A taste of Srilanka...



The blogger's table at Chef at Large was invited to sample the Srilankan food fest at Double Tree, Hilton Mayur Vihar. The festival is up till September 23rd and you can consider going there if you like south Indian-Srilankan food.Did I recommend too early? Read on to know more.

For someone who had never tasted any Srilankan food, it was a pleasant invitation and I lapped up happily. My presumption was that it will be like Tamil and Kerala food that I have tasted till now and I was right. Coconut and spices and most importantly the chilly heat is one of my favorite jamboree of flavors. I got all of it here. The above picture is of the Biryani station, the one I didn't try as I normally don't eat rice for dinner, especially when I have to taste a lot of things in one go.

There was a live station for making Prawn fries in spicy Srilankan batter but I didn't have the heart to go for that. Ruchira got some Kothu paratha made and we all had a bite of it. It was nicely done, well balanced scramble of all things yummy...But that was after I had had my salads.


I started with a nice soup of Cashew nuts and curry patta and that was really nice. Creamy and a hint of the herb and very mildly hot. On the side you can see a few salads I picked up, all were pretty good, could make a standalone meal for me.

.
This salad caught my eye first. A pineapple and shallow fried Aubergine salad. a very unusual combination but it tasted nice. More because I love both the components of the salad and they were not mixed to kill each other. Simple seasoning of pepper, cumin  and coriander leaves in the aubergine and the pineapple cubes were just tossed with it.


 Another salad was a shrimp, tomatoes and cucumbers tossed up in Mayonaise. Simply done delicate flavors. This was definitely not Srilankan, there were many more dishes of continental origin on the buffet, so one can pick anything one likes..


Tuna and chilly onion stir fried salad was another very good salad that I had. Balance on flavors again.


There were may more salads on the display and you could choose whatever suits your taste.This one, a Ham and vegetables was a tempered salad that was more of an Anglo-Indian-Srilakan thing. Interesting, but not my taste.


What I liked the most was this Bitter gourd and shallots stir fried salad ... very flavorful, crisp, thin slices of bitter gourd and soft cooked shallots. Mild hot and a little sour. Sweetness of baby onions balancing the act.Yum.


Now you know how much a sucker for salads I am. Can't stop myself once I spot a few good ones.There was this Potato and Chickpea salad tossed up chaat style. A crowd pleaser this one. Loved it, couldn't enjoy as I had to keep some space for the mains too.


Spotted this Acharu counter and just had a bit of everything. These are hot pickles with a sweet tinge, especially the onion one. Very tasty and very different from what we have in North India.


This Pol roti was very new for me and made me curious. Then disappointed me. It was a disaster. Hard cakey rice roti base was just not something you would like to dig your teeth into. On the right is a fried Fish cake balls. That was good if not extraordinary.


For the mains, there was this Mutton rara and Deviled chicken. I was not interested in Mutton rara but this deviled chicken was tried, it was flavorful but I was expecting a softer juicier chicken. Good flavors though.


 Another of my try was this chicken curry in a spicy coconut milk based gravy. A must try, although you would be reminded of the Kerala stew without the vegetables. Still a flavorful curry to enjoy.


I liked a vegetarian fare quite a lot. Most of the places ignore the vegetarians but I loved the way every veggie dish was great tasting and balanced in flavors.

Like this Leeks stir fry was looking mish-mash but I had a feeling it would taste good. And It did. My kind of  a healthy subzi.There was some scalloped potato and an Okra fry but I had no scope for those. They looked promising too.


These paneer rolls were flavorful and soft someone told me. I tried just the sauce and it was quite flavorful. Creamy and rich with Coriander greens and curry patta flavors...


And this cashew curry. I love Cashew and wanted to try. It was nice, but nothing special. Soaked Cashew, some coconut milk probably but nothing standing out. Plain.


This Brinjal Moju was very very tasty too. something I would try in my kitchen soon. Those green beans on the right were nice too, spicy and just well cooked, preserving the crunch.


Sushmita was happy being a vegetarian as there are few places that serve nice vegetarian food on buffets like this. I loved the vegetarian fair equally.

For non vegetarians they had a good variety too. These Chilly Crabs on the left were to die for. Only if you could break the claws with your knife. No Crab cutter was provided and many had a tough time breaking it. I am skilled with knife and got my hands dirty sucking the meat out of those claws. That tasty.


On the right is the Mutton battilco. Not much of my liking. Spice lovers could try, A bit too dry for my liking. Avoidable. There were better options around.

I liked this Prawns stir fry as well. Hot, a little tangy and curry patta rich. Cooked well, plump and soft not at all rubbery.


Most of us, Charis ,Parul, Sudipta and Arvind loved this BBQ Pork ribs as well. I didn't want anything this heavy so steered clear of it.


The hoppers were tried and enjoyed and a very interesting dried fish fry that I liked but couldn't click a picture as I spotted it late. Don't miss that. The Acahru, the Chilly Crab, the dry fish fry, the Brinjal Moju, the bitter gourd stir fry, the cashew soup, the BBQ pork ribs and almost all the vegetarian stuff is worth spending your money for.

For desserts there was not much choice for Srilankan taste, just the Kalu Dodol which I found too sweet for my taste. Other desserts like Panacottas, Brownies and all were not worth trying for me. Some more of Srilanka could have been better for me. Not complaining as you can always ignore a few disasters when you have numerous yummy dishes to dig your teeth into.

The buffet costs INR1500 per person without alcohol. Venue is Cafe on Three, Double Tree, Hilton Mayur Vihar, New Delhi. Timing of the buffet is 7 pm to 11 pm. I would suggest Delhi foodies to try this Srilankan buffet if they like south Indian food.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Karonde ka achar : Instant seasonal pickles..




Some seasonal herbs and vegetables or fruits have their own charm. The way they taste in season is the best and that fresh flavor cannot be replicated when they are preserved for very long. One such extremely tart fruit is Karonda (Natal plum or Carissa) that is in season right now. I made a yummy raw hot and sour Karonde ki chutney with it and a sweet n sour cooked one too. Then one day I was reminded of the achar my Daadi (grand mom) used to make. Those seasonal achars were made for a week or so and we all use to love them. These kind of pickles taste best when freshly made, they loose the flavors when preserved for long and taste just hot and sour. Best made into quick seasonal pickles.

I just needed a small quantity as we both don't eat much achar, and a mere 100 gm of Karonda was good enough for 2 weeks and some for the maid too. It took only about 20 minutes to make this pickle that was ready to eat instantly. Loved it immediately for my lunch that day.


The recipe is simple...you just need the following..

100 gm of Karonda halved or quartered
5-6 green chillies chopped in whatever way you like to bite into them,
about a dozen fat cloves of garlic sliced lengthwise,
2 inch piece of fresh ginger root chopped into small bits
1 tsp of Nigella seeds
1 heaped tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp or more of red chilly powder
salt to taste
mustard oil 1 tbsp
yellow mustard powder 2 tsp

procedure...

Mix the turmeric powder and red chilly powder in about 1/4 cup of water, keep aside.

Heat the oil in a pan and tip in the Nigella seeds. Wait till the Nigella seeds get aromatic. Now switch off the gas and slowly pour the turmeric and chilly powder solution into the hot oil. This is just to prevent burns as the water would splash up when poured into very hot oil. Turn on the gas and cook the mixture till the oil comes on top and it becomes almost like a thin slurry. Add salt.

Now add the chopped bits of everything and stir well. Cook till the oil starts bubbling again around the edges and the mixtures looks glazed. Shiny almost. You don't have to cook it completely, just for 3-4 minutes on medium flame. It should look like this picture in your pan finally.



Take off heat and let it cool a bit. Sprinkle mustard powder on it and mix well.Empty the contents in a glass jar and refrigerate for about 2 weeks.

Goes very well with all kinds of Indian food. I like to mix it in some salads as well, like a chopped mix of cucumbers, red onions and fresh coriander greens gets perked up by this pickle.

You can make pickles with any seasonal vegetables the same way.

Just parboil or blanch some florets of cauliflowers, some diced carrots and even green peas and mix with garlic and ginger etc as per your choice and proceed to cook them the same way as this. A seasonal gobi-gajar-matar ka achar is ready. For tartness you can add thin slices of lime to the cooking mixture or some lime juice after the mixture gets cooked and cooled.

This way you can enjoy Indian pickles even if you don't make them in big batches in season of raw mangoes or lemons.


Turnips, Beets, all varieties of Peppers and Bell peppers, all varieties of Beans and even Yams can be pickled the same way. What vegetable are you going to pickle now?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Haleem : a nourishing meal that tickles the taste buds ...




Haleem is a dish of Arabic origin , popular in many parts of India in it's different avatars. In UP it is made more like a chunky porridge and is called Khichra, everything else is blended well but the meat remains in small chunks. Pakistani, Hyderabadi and Bangladeshi Haleems are all smooth in consistency, so much so that it looks like a thick brown , almost an ugly food. Some people like me, want a little chunkiness and use coarsely ground meat. Others use finely ground (or machine ground in modern times) meat for smoother texture. Flavors remain almost the same though.

You get the taste of the lentils and a mild hint of wheat into it. The fresh herbs Coriander greens and Mint add a nice finishing touch to a deeper flavor of this healthy dish. I find Haleem quite healthy as I don't believe one's body imports Cholesterol from meat or chicken, or even ghee or butter. A carb rich diet is more conducive towards catapulting one's Cholesterol sky high. But that's not the point of discussion here. Haleem is something you cannot overeat. Everything is cooked in a manner hat it soaks up a lot of water and bulks up. Healthy by my definition.

It is a complete meal in itself and probably a main course in most families where it is made and enjoyed regularly. For festive meals it is a part of a starter like they do during Ramjan, the meal starts from a few fruits, dates and then they have Haleem, progressing towards heavier stuff.

I have been making my Haleem loosely based on this Pakistani recipe, I have adjusted the ingredients to my taste and cooking procedure to my liking, as I mentioned, a slight chunkiness of chana daal and mutton mince is relished t my place.

ingredients...

1. to be fried.. 
3 onions thinly sliced

2. to be boiled (pressure cooked) together..
broken wheat 1/4 cup
green mung split 1/4 cup
red lentils (masoor daal) 1/4 cup
split chickpeas (chana daal) 1/4 cup
salt to taste
turmeric powder 1 tsp
mutton broth 3.5 cups or more as required (200 gm bony pieces pressure cooked and liquids reserved)

3. to be made into a paste...
ginger 2 inch piece
10 cloves of garlic (Indian ones)
6-8 dry red chillies or to taste
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 green cardamom
1 large black cardamom
8 cloves
2 inch piece cinnamon
a tiny piece of mace
4 pieces of Tejpatta (scissor cut into bits)
1/2 tsp of siyah jeera

to be bhunoed into a large kadhai..
mutton mince 500 gm
ghee 1 cup ( Only half cup will be used actually, some will be drained after frying the onion)
cumin seeds 2 tsp

Garnish..
ginger julienne as much as you want
chopped coriander greens and mint
lime slices and juice

procedure...

Pressure cook the ingredients mentioned under the 2nd list. Till the pressure builds up and then for 5 minutes more.

Make a paste of the ingredients mentioned under 3rd list. I do in a mixie blender so it is better to grind them all dry first so they become a coarse powder. Then ass about 1/2 cup water and blend again for a few seconds. Add more water if required and blend till smooth. Keep aside

Heat the ghee in a large kadhai and fry the onion slices on medium flame till they all turn golden brown and crisp. Drain and keep aside.



Now take out almost half of the ghee from the kadhai and save it for further use in some other dish. Proceed with the 3-4 tbsp ghee in the kadhai.

Heat the ghee and tip in the cumin seeds. Then add the ground masala paste and bhuno till the ghee separates or the masala paste looks shiny and glazed. To reach this stage you need to stir it frequently and scrape the sides of the kadhai as the cooking mixture sticks to it. This allows a nice uniform bhunoeing.

Add the mutton mince and bhuno it on low flame stirring almost all the time. Within 5 minutes the mince would turn brown and almost dry. This is the time when you add the cooked mixture from the pressure cooker into this kadhai. Mix well and cook on low flame. Keep stirring in between as it has a tendency to stick to the bottom and start burning. You might require to add some water in between to get a consistency you like.

If you like your Haleem very smooth you would like to blend the cooked lentil and wheat mixture with a stick blender before adding. I like the specks of chana daal into the finished Haleem so I don't blend the mixture. Other lentils and broken wheat gets completely blended during cooking itself.

Add water/mutton broth in between if required, the consistency should be almost like khichdi or risotto. Add the fried onions after about 20 minutes of cooking and keep stirring. Save a handful of fried onions for garnish. It will take about 45 minutes of boiling to reach a slurry like consistency. That is the time when it is ready to be served.

Serve hot garnished with the ginger julienne, fried onions and coriander and mint greens. Some Lime slices look good and Juiced onto your serving it gives a nice freshness along with the dhaniya pudina adrak garnish.


Some people like a dollop of ghee over it, just like Khichri.

The dish is utterly yummy, slurp it slowly, relishing the taste well. Some fresh greens and onion salad served on the side is awesome. You don't require anything else with it.