Saturday, July 27, 2013

gosht dopyaza or mutton dopyaza (UP style), a simple home style mutton curry...

Dopyaza was a dish made using a lot of onions (apparently double the onions than meat) at my place and it had a few vegetarian versions too. Alu dopyaza was most common as an additional curry and parwal dopyaza was made during summers when we all wanted something spicy yet light. Paneer dopyaza was the easiest paneer curry that tasted yum with just about anything. The good thing is, the basic cooking procedure and spices are the same in all these dopyaza type recipes. Only cooking time changes with the main ingredient used. I must add the nomenclature of a dopyaza is probably disputed as some people say dopyaza is a curry where meat and vegetables are cooked together and there is no link with the amount of onion used. In our family, it was a pyaz (onion) connection only that we knew. So doguna pyaz...double the onion it is for us.

gosht dopyaza or mutton dopyaza recipe

Kathal ka dopyaza is a much loved recipe here on the blog though I cook that rarely. Bhindi dopyaza is a dry subzi that I still make quite frequently and I just checked again to my horror that I haven't posted it yet. Chicken or murgh dopyaza was most common non vegetarian option back home as it cooks faster than mutton probably. I wouldn't know exact reasons as I used to hate all non vegetarian food back then. Yes, I am a convert now and see how :-)

This mutton dopyaza recipe would make a few of my friends happy as they have been asking for more non vegetarian recipes to be posted. I am guilty of infrequent posts and rare non vegetarian recipes already, found these pictures in the old albums and decided to post the recipe quickly. The recipe is slow cooked, so takes about an hour and some more to cook but you don't need to do much preparation for this curry especially if you are chopping the onions in the food processor.

This is a gravy type curry but the gravy is not uniformly creamy. The onion caramelize during the slow cooking process and cook to become a smooth coating around the meat. The fats separate after the long cooking time and the spices lend their aroma to every single fiber of meat. This is the uniqueness of this recipe, the onion rich gravy that is a bit sweetish yet heavy with the aromatic spices. Heat can be controlled by adjusting the quantities of chilies, black peppercorns and ginger. All three provide a depth of heat in this curry, where onion has lend enough sweetness to round up the spices.

gosht dopyaza or mutton dopyaza recipe

(2 large servings)

goat meat/mutton 300 gm (I prefer shoulder pieces on bone)
sliced red onions 400 gm (or 4-5 large Indian red onions)
5 dry red chilies broken or more to taste
ginger julienne 2 tbsp
sliced garlic 1 tbsp
2 black cardamoms
3 green cardamoms
6 cloves
2 tsp black pepper corns, or to taste
2 inch piece of cinnamon broken
a thin sliver of mace
salt to taste
mustard oil or ghee 2 tbsp


The dry red chilies lend a very nice flavor to this onion-centric curry so the use is very important. Do not replace red chilies with green chilies in this recipe and I suggest you use more red chilies than you think will be enough, as the amount of onion neutralizes the chilly heat quite a bit. If you don;t want the heat, just empty all the seeds and discard, the aroma of chilly will be nice that way, without making the curry too hot.

Crush the spices lightly, not disintegrating them in the process. You just need to macerate the spices while cooking, so a light handed pounding will be enough.

Heat oil or ghee in a thick base pan or kadhai.
I normally use my handi shaped pressure cooker pan and do the cooking without using the pressure lid. It is a slow cooked dish so takes about an hour and half, be prepared to do some more chores around the kitchen in the meantime.

Add the red chilies, ginger and garlic to it and wait till everything gets aromatic and the color changes a bit. No more than 30 seconds and then tip in all the onion and the whole spices that you have crushed lightly. Add the salt too and keep stirring on medium heat till the onion starts getting pinkish.

Add the meat, mix well, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir and mix, cover and cook on lowest flame. Keeps stirring after every 10 minutes and place an iron skillet (or tawa) below the cooking pan if you think the curry might stick to the base. It has never happened with me so relax, it's not a possibility if you are using the right pan.

The curry is done once the fats are separated and the meat is cooked through. The onions are almost homogenized by now and make a nice gravy without a drop of water being added to the curry.

gosht dopyaza or mutton dopyaza recipe

Serve with any chapati or paratha or naan. We had it with mixed grain kulcha and a pumpkin and mint stir fry salad. The kulchas were ignored royally until we needed a few bits of it to polish off this dopyaza gravy. This curry is so aromatic that you would start feeling hungry as soon as it arrives at the table, and would would be guilty of tasting a few chink of eat if you are cooking it. A statutory warning.

Do let me know whenever you try this eastern UP style dopyaza. Some people call a similar recipe Ishtoo but they add some more spices in it and make it a bit runny. Ishtoo is made when someone needs a soup like curry during a flu or cough and cold or during rainy season. But no seasonal constraints for healthy people who can have it any time. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

dahi wale achari tindey and another quick recipe of tinda...

Dahi wale tindey or achari tindey as we call this curry, loved by both of us when cooked using baby tindey. What? You can't figure out what tindey is?

dahi waley achari tindey

Tinda (pl. Tindey) is a gourd family vegetable which can be called an Indian summer squash as it comes in summers along with sponge gourds and ridge gourds. Called Apple gourd in English, it is shaped like apples, but the similarity ends here. This is one of those watery vegetables that gets squishy when cooked and most people dislike it for precisely this reason. If made into a hot spicy curry some people like it but we don't like much spices in summers so I go for a lentil based curry or a yogurt based curry for cooking this squash.

The squishy texture is taken care of if you cook it with firm lentils like chane ki daal (split chickpeas) or green peas. This recipe is simple, just boil some chane ki daal with salt and turmeric powder till done but not pasty. Stir fry some chopped red onions in ghee along with cumin seeds, add cubed tindey and tomatoes and stir fry till slightly mushy. Add minced ginger and chilly powder or chopped green chilies, a little bit of garam masala and mix everything well. Add this mixture to the cooked chane ki daal and simmer for a couple of minutes. Keep the consistency thicker than usual daals and have it like a subzi side dish. It can make a meal too if you add a few cubes of paneer to it.

chana dal wala tinda

But the achari tindey or dahi wale tindey is a recipe that requires a bit of accuracy in cooking procedure. Firstly, you need baby tindas for this, secondly they need to be cooked just till they get a bit translucent but retain a bite. Not making it completely mush. It takes about 15 minutes to cook if you are doing 2-4 servings, but take care about the serving size as folks will be helping themselves 2-3 times with this flavorful curry. The consistency of the curry here is laga lipta type as we say in Hindi. That means a coating consistency of the gravy.

(for 2 large servings)

baby tindas (apple gourds) 300 gmm
yogurt 1 cup
one small red onion about 60-70 gm weight
minced ginger 2 tsp or to taste
ginger powder 1/2 tsp (optional)
red chilly powder 1/2 tsp or to taste
yellow mustard powder 1/2 tsp
salt to taste
chopped green chilies for garnish, you can add chopped coriander greens too
mustard oil 1 tbsp or a little bit more

spices to coarsely pound.. (achari spices)
cumin 1 tsp
fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp
fennel seeds 2 tsp
nigella seeds 1/2 tsp
ajwain seeds 1/2 tsp


Clean the tindas, discard the seeded ones. Quarter them all and keep aside. No need to peel the tindas as the baby gourds have very tender skin anyways.

Pound the spices listed under 'spices to coarsely pound' and keep aside.

Make a paste of the red onion and then blend in the yogurt. Keep aside. This can be done while the tindas will be stir fried for a while. Do as convenient.

Heat the mustard oil in a shallow pan or kadhai (I used a copper handi, tinned inside) and tip in the minced ginger. Fry for a few seconds or till it gets aromatic and then add the quartered tindas. Add salt and red chilly powder and stir fry till a few pinkish spots appear.

Now add the blended yogurt and onion, mix well and tip in the pounded spices, yellow mustard powder and the ginger powder if using. Mix again, bring the heat to lowest, cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes. It may get ready sooner if the tindas are really tender. Keep an eye and remove from the stove once it looks like this.

dahi waley achari tindey

The curry looks nice with a coating consistency of a dahi gravy when served. Roti, parathas or any Indian flat breads go really well with this curry. You might like this with a daal on the side or a meat dish may be. Slightly sour in taste, this curry gets a nice aroma of the pickling spices used. The bland taste of tinda gets a new makeover with yogurt and pickling spices. You can make this curry thinner in consistency if you like.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A ghazal evening at Saleem Restaurant : the old world charm gone awry...

It was a spoof on ghazals. Mughlai food was the bait and I fell for it.

Any well cooked traditional Indian meal is something I would go out of my way to taste and experience. Add some old world charm and small town feel to it and I feel like I belong there. That is the reason I keep going to purani dill so often. Lucknow is another place where the food is in limelight. Small basic places doing roaring business and the appeal lies in the no nonsense value they provide in terms of taste and quality of food. Staple food I mean. I Have written extensively about a kachori stall in Haridwar, Tunde kababi of Lucknow, Dastrarkhwan of Hazratgunj, Lucknow, Pizzeria of Banaras, Al Jawahar of Purani dilli and Shyam sweets of chowri bazar area. The common factor being, no nonsense eateries where you don't mind sitting in a cramped table and eat loads of food silently. Yes, you just don't have any inclination to do anything else than just eating when you are having such good food served without a single garnish element. The food has a raw appeal in such places.

I found glimpses of such a raw appeal in food at Saleem restaurant, Kailash colony market. A few of us bloggers at CaL Blogger's table were invited for a ghazal evening which is held every Saturday at the restaurant, for special gatherings of friends and invited guests. I actually regretted stepping up the stairs that lead to a dining hall where all the chairs were directed towards a low stage (typical for ghazal singers) and a lady was crooning in a shrill voice. This was after half an hour of navigation through the neighborhood lanes, the place is not marked well on google maps :-(

And yes, this place looks like a small town eatery with fancy walls and lightnings. I have been to many such places when we used to feel like eating out in Dhanbad. A few of them were just outside our campus, serving a confused version of bong and punju hybrids. But that is another story. Saleem's looked like a promising place where you would get a good taste of mughlai (or Delhi Muslim food to be precise) even if the sounds were not too convincing.

The owner of the restaurant Mr. Saleem Qureshi introduced himself and gave company to us throughout with old world hospitality. Plates of kababs and tikkas kept pouring with drinks and we giggled talking to each other, we needed a distraction from that spoof of a ghazal show. Although we were requested to keep quite and 'enjoy' the ghazal in that piercing shrill voice. The male singer was better and we ended up googling ghazals from male singers and sending requests for them. To our horror we found even those ghazals had some female lines and we ended up with more of that shrill voice. I am not being mean, just reporting a ghazal evening where I was invited. Having not much knowledge about ghazal singing, I just rely on aesthetic sounds and meaningful lines of ghazals. I was disappointed. It was more of a wedding pandal orchestra of a small town that you were tortured from a distance during your board exams. Only this time we were better equipped to laugh at the situation. Arvind kept teasing me, Sid Khullar was enjoying the ghazals, Parul seemed to enjoy while her brother Varun was annoyed. Sushmita and her husband were enjoying the excitement in the air.

I wouldn't crib anymore for the bad music. We actually got to listen to a good singer in the end as well, Mr. Naim Khan who was introduced as Ghulam Ali of India. But then the public around him got louder and a bit meaner for a few firang guests (incidentally ladies). I told you I regretted stepping in.

But the place would have been nicer if there was no ghazal, no drinks and no loud guests around. I quite liked the starters (read kababs, tikkas and chicken chilly types tidbits) they were serving throughout, actually for a surprisingly long time as we waited for the mains, we had to return home too. The hospitality from the owners was perfectly old world, generous and genuine, it's another matter that the whole ambiance of the day was putting me off. Was not my taste.

I had one of the best shami kababs, chilly chicken (Indian style), chicken tikka and seekh kababs available in Delhi there. It is evident that the chefs in this little place know the meats well and treat the meats well too. The starters were actually something that I kept looking forward to, and that build up my curiosity for the main course. I was waiting for some nice qorma, nihari and biryani. The main course was served like a small buffet that was hard to maneuver in the cramped space and the dishes were very mediocre. Very nondescript afgani something and shahjehani something, something with mushrooms and peas and some creamy type paneer. A vegetarian pulav and a chicken biryani that was not. Such great kababs and tikkas and such mediocre main dishes, and the buffet was not refilled knowing well that no one would go for seconds.

I understood why there was an unending stream of tikkas and kababs of all types. These starter type dishes are the specialty of Saleem's and I loved them all.

I tried the desserts too, just for the sake of having a traditional whiff of something I so adore. Mung ka halva reeked of refined oil and Phirni was rubbery. And you would know how phirni gets rubbery if you have cooked it ever.

Would I return to this place? No, never.  I felt like I was invited to a wrong party. But I would love to order the tikka, shami kabab and the seekh kababs from this place if I stayed around this locality. It is a nice take away eatery that should be taken advantage of. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

dhaniya pudine wala hara murgh | chicken curry with mint coriander gravy....

Hara dhaniya pudina wala murgh or chutney wala chicken, these are the names we have given to this green curry I make. Many of my friends have been complaining I don't post everyday chicken recipes much and today even a young daughter of my old friend asked me the same question. She lives and works in Senegal and wanted to have a few quick chicken curries for herself. I found this poor quality picture in my albums but who cares when the recipe works.

Here is a quick recipe of a chicken that has been repeated the most in my kitchen whenever I want a quick and light chicken curry either for the two of us or to serve to a gathering is there are other heavier side dishes. This curry has been loved immensely by everyone who tasted but unfortunately I never got to click a picture ever. The reason is, I mostly make this curry in a hurry or when I am exhausted but want a tasty filling meal for ourselves. This time too I clicked a quick pictures just before serving it without any garnish. Actually this curry wont require any garnish ever.

Since the curry is simple, just a paste to be made, chicken to be marinated for 2-3 hours or overnight and then everything simmered on low heat for about an hour. Yes, an hour is a good time and I say that I cook this curry in a hurry. See I work from home and simmering the curry for an hour on very low heat suits me well. No stirring, bhunoeing or frying involved and the green paste can be made ahead.


3-4 chicken thighs cut into 3 pieces each (preferably with skin)
300 gm of coriander greens along with stem
3-4 fat roots of coriander (reserve from the coriander greens and clean well)
mint leaves 50 gm
green chilies 5-6 or to taste
(this recipe uses many citrus flavors so it consumes more green chilly that normal)
ginger root chopped roughly 2 tbsp
4-5 fat garlic cloves
1 heaped tbsp of cumin seeds
salt to taste
lime juice 1 tbsp or to taste


Make a fine paste of everything except the chicken. Add about 1/2 cup of water to make the paste in your food processor.

Marinate the chicken in this green paste and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. If you plan to keep it overnight, do not add the lime juice as it makes the chicken quite tart. Lime juice can be added at the time of cooking.

At the time of cooking, transfer the ingredients into a thick base pan and simmer or low flame for about an hour. Check after 40 minutes and take off fire if it is done. You can add some more water to the cooking mixture if you feel it can stick to the bottom.

Adjust seasoning and consistency of the gravy and serve hot with other vegetable side dishes and chapatis or rice or pulao.

You can add 2-3 tbsp of thick cashew paste to this curry to make it creamy and a bit indulgent. That version is more rich looking and is liked by all similarly.

The same curry can be made using chicken mince if you really are in a hurry. It cooks in just 15-20 minutes and doesn't need marination time.

How would you like when the chicken recipe doesn't use any oil or ghee? This one is just that and you wont miss any fats in it. But this recipe is for those who like light chicken curries and are fond of coriander greens and mint. This chutney wala chicken is a favorite of many such people I know. For a few people it is just another chicken curry but then you can always make your own adjustments to it.

An everyday chicken curry that fits into your busy schedule is no harm making. The leftovers make nice stuffing for sandwiches. Try that too.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

some meals are meant to be a part of your memories, we had one such dinner at The Pianoman...

I converted to non vegetarianism about a decade and a half ago, stated loving all nonveg food but my heart still lies with the vegetarian flavors. Actually my meat and fish recipe are always laced with vegetable and herb flavors, sometimes even fruit. See this fish with citrus fruits and mutton rogan josh with apricots or this basil infused minced chicken curry. For me it's always the vegetable portion of the meal that makes or breaks the deal, be it with meats or grains or other main ingredients of my plate. 
But when we eat out and want good vegetarian food, the options are very limited and most places serve just run of-the-mill fare especially in Delhi. Vegetarian food would mean either chhole bhatoorey or Idli-dosa or gujrati or rajasthani thalis, all yummy on their own but if you want light and refreshing options you have to think hard. At least I haven't come across many places where you go for a vegetarian meal and keep dreaming about it for months later. One such memorable vegetarian rajasthani thali we had at Kingdom of Dreams, but that was a heavy meal that makes you to skip food the next day.

Think of a lighter refreshing meal and you wont find many options ironically. Let me tell you about one place that holds promise. A cafe where you find many tea infusions, smoothies, shakes and numerous meal options.

So when you decide to go to a cafe that serves only vegetarian food you might feel a bit hesitant but let me tell you this is one place where you would love every morsel you eat. The Pianoman art Cafe is a neat place that promises value for your time and money both. The cafe is located in the Basant Lok market, close to Godrej Nature's basket. 

Artfully done interiors, hand painted walls in abstract and a musical ambiance even if the Pianoman (Arjun Sagar) is not playing jazz. The cafe has glass walls on three sides overlooking the Basant lok market and moods inside the cafe keep changing depending on how sunny or dark it is outside. You will be lucky if it rains when you are there.
Food and drinks are wonderful there. I can tell you after eating there a few times and that the menu is done by none other than Ruchira Hoon. You would be expecting awesome food if you have known the foodie Ruchira even for a second. European, Middle eastern and some American foods, an overall global appeal. 

We at CaL blogger's table were there for a dinner and some of us carnivores were in for a surprise as a meal is incomplete without meat for most of them. Not me I tell you. I was upbeat as I had tasted the food and drinks at this quaint cafe a couple of times before. 

There were three options in drinks. Mojito (non alcoholic), Paan smoothie and Chocolate hazelnut shake. My heart skipped a beat with the mention of a paan smoothie and though I knew a paan smoothie can kill me if done wrongly, you know I can't stand a wrongly done sweet drink or a dessert that too if it is aromatic. I took the risk and was rewarded pleasantly. This was 'the best' paan experiences I have had. One of the best smoothie too. Arvind had ordered the chocolate hazelnut shake and that was another rich and nutty smoothie reminding him of the nutella he loves so much.

But it was the paan smoothie that made me get a spoon and polish off the last bits in the bottom, flavorful, aromatic and pleasantly cooling and sweet, just like a meetha paan from Banaras.

Then came the soup and Arjun asked if someone has nut allergy as the star soup was a Pumpkin and peanut butter soup. He had a Cream of tomato and carrot soup as well on the menu especially set for us, in case someone wanted to avoid either pumpkin or nuts, we all unanimously wanted pumpkin and peanut butter. So promising and unusual it sounded. And it kept it's promise. A rich creamy soup redolent with salty peanut butter. This is going to be a regular in my kitchen for sure. With lightly toasted garlic bread, the soup was something you would love in a large serving. And their servings are really large, though we were tasting small cup sized servings as there was a vast menu planned for us.

The salad was incredibly refreshing green apple and fennel slivers with generous shavings of Parmesan. Crisp slices of apples soaked in juices of fennel bulb. Loved this salad with sprinkling of parsley and Parmesan. Completely my kind of salad.

Appetizers were stunning in appearance. Stuffed mushrooms in nyonya sauce, Mezze platter and Vegan sliders. Stuffed mushrooms were polished off instantly, chewy textured mushrooms with a sticky sauce that was so simple and yet flavorful. The vegan sliders were an interesting mix of walnuts and brown rice. Perfectly puffy pita bread that I like more with the hummus and an aubergine dip.  You would love the moist tabbouleh and the pickled vegetables on the mezze paltter as well.

Perfect for nibbling when you are meeting a sweet lot f friends after a long time. We blogger friends had met really after a long time and the food was making it difficult to converse on subjects other than what was being served. 

Ratatouille, Potato dauphinoise and Wild mushrooms risotto came one after the other.

My love for vegetables is known well, this ratatouille is something both Arvind and I loved. But the potato dauphinoise was something I knew Arvind would take second and third helpings. And he did. Perfectly creamy, cheesy potatoes done to perfection. Risotto with a mix of mushrooms was my favorite. The most creamy risotto with rich mushroom flavors I have had. Every morsel enjoyed.

 The only thing that left a doubt was a Brown rice with maple glazed corn cakes. While I absolutely loved the corn cakes with flavors of lemongrass and galangal, sticky outside with maple syrup. Very nicely done and perfect texture in my opinion for a corn cake made of fresh corn. Aishwarya too loved this corn cake and we both were reminded of a lotus stem cake we had had at The Taj (Blue Ginger) some time ago.

But I could not relate this corn cake to the brown rice it was served with, the rice did nothing to the corn cakes, may be some stir fried bean sprouts would have been great I feel. Parul couldn't taste any lemongrass and galangal in corn cakes though, and probably Sid also found them flat tasting. To me the problem was with the rice.

Among the desserts I absolutely loved the Tiramisu. Deep coffee flavors, almost bitter and very lightly sweetened. Just the way I like my tiramisu. I know many people wont like a lightly sweet tiramisu, so be warned if you like your tiramisu really sweet. For me, sugar kills tiramisu.

This Sea salt caramel chocolate tart was another stunner. I do not like caramel much so a small bite of this rich tart was enough for me, the flavors lingered for quite a long time. This would be your pick if you like your desserts really sweet and caramel laced. Sea salt enhances everything in this tart.

You can see these happy faces after a vegetarian meal. This doesn't happen very often when this group of hardcore carnivores (only Rekha and Sushmita are vegetarians) loves a vegetarian meal and talks about it for days.

Mukta had come with her kids and the evening had become better than ever. Rituparna came after a long time. Himanshu and I sneaked in to the nearby shop called Osaba and bought a few ceramics. The way we connect with food bloggers over everything food and photography is something to be seen to be believed. 

Charis and Sushmita cut a cake that was a nice crack pie done by Ruchira to celebrate their birthdays. Did I tell you Arjun Sagar played Jazz and Babak Moussavi showed us some wonderful card tricks as a bonus entertainment. They keep doing a few stand up comedy shows and such stuff over the weekends. I told you this place is worth your time as well.

I know I will be trying out the apple and fennel salad, the pumpkin and peanut butter soup and that corn cakes for sure. Oh and paan smoothie as well. Just let me me get hold of a nice paan wala :-)