Wednesday, August 30, 2017

bhindi ka raita | crisp fried okra in yogurt


Raita is so simple why would someone need a recipe for it, be it cucumber raita or okra (bhindi) raita. We anyways customize our raita recipe depending on how simple or heavy or spicy the other dishes on the table are, the recipe is not so rigid and keeps changing according to the seasons too. The intrinsic beauty of Indian cuisines, especially home cooking, is that we use each produce in just the right way to suit ourselves.

Bhindi ka raita is often made with a little mature okra (bhindi) that has not turned fibrous but has lost the tenderness. The mature fibrous okra is also used in some curries I will share sometime, right now it is about bhindi ka raita. I had shared this bhindi ka raita on instagram and many had asked the recipe. I hope you like it when you make.

bhindi ka raita

In the traditional recipe the bhindi slices are deep fried to make the raita but I never do that. Slow cooking in very little oil in a shallow wide pan works wonderfully to crisp up the bhindi slices to make a great textured bhindi raita.

ingredients 
(2 large servings)
about a dozen large slightly mature okra or 20 small tender ones
2 green chilies chopped finely
4 springs of curry leaves chopped finely
1 tsp cumin seeds (sometimes we use ajwain seeds)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
2 tsp mustard oil
pinch of asafoetida (optional)
1 cup whisked home made cultured yogurt

preparation 

Rinse the okra and pat them dry. Remove the crowns and hold them together over the chopping board. Slice them all together in very thin roundels.

Heat the mustard oil in a flat base and tip in the asafoetida and cumin seeds and let them splutter and get aromatic.

Now add the chopped chilies, curry leaves and the sliced okra, mix well and lower the heat. Spread out the okra slices over the surface of flat base pan and let them brown slowly and dehydrate a bit. Stir after every 3-4 minutes and let it cook for about 10 minutes on very low heat so the okra becomes almost crisp. Add the salt, pepper and roasted cumin powder and take off the heat.

You can bake the okra in the oven after mixing all the ingredients too. 

Now pour everything over the whisked yogurt, adjust seasoning and serve chilled or at room temperature.

bhindi ka raita

We serve this bhindi ka raita mostly with dal chawal meals but any roti or paratha subzi meal also feels great with this raita. The heat level of the raita is always adjusted according to the type of subzi and dal made for the meal.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

doodh wali guwar subzi | cluster beans cooked in a milky curry


Doodh wali guwar subzi or cluster beans cooked in a milky curry  is a discovery I made recently. I love it when my readers interact with me on my social media pages and exchange recipes too. I would admit I don't try those recipes always but some of those ideas are so good that I work on them immediately. Doodh wali guar ki subzi was one of them.

Guwar is one vegetable that can grow for almost all through the year I realised. A good news for me as I keep experimenting with this vegetable a lot. The mild bitterness and the fleshy texture is what I like but I think my mind starts preferring whatever is healthy for the body, I have some conditioning since childhood for sure. I remember how we used to get only a certain variety of guwar in Banaras as no one eats it there and it is used mostly for the animal feed, the beans are considered great for milch animals. 
The variety available in those days was smaller in size and used to get very fibrous if mature, everyone else in the family hated that fibrous guwar and my father always insisted it is so good for the body, him being the seasoned agronomist and seed technologist. Even I didn’t like that  in those days but now that we have started getting the bigger, softer and fleshier varieties of guwar I have started liking it a lot, much to my husband’s displeasure. Thankfully, this milky curry with guwar became his favourite too, just like the guwar with peanuts and guwar dhokli subzi.

The idea of this doodh wali guwar ki subzi came from a client who is on my regime to treat a few health problems of hers, she follows me on my Facebook page and it was there that she suggested a recipe of guwar with added milk. I was intrigued and cooked the guwar that way, and since the addition of milk reminded me of this doodh wali lauki, I decided to keep the flavours a little similar. The mild bitterness of methi seeds lends a really good flavour while the guwar changes its texture to a creamy softness so unlike guwar if you ask me. 

Such recipes leave me wondering how a humble ingredient can take a new identity if cooked differently. Such a wealth nature has given in our hands.

Ingredients 
(2 servings)
300 gm guwar beans chopped in 1 inch bits (remove stalk but retain the tail) 
½ tsp methi seeds 
2-3 whole dry red chilies 
1 tsp chopped garlic 
1 finely chopped green chili
¼ tsp turmeric powder 
Salt to taste 
1tsp mustard oil 
1 cup of milk 
2 tsp ginger juice (just grate an inch piece of ginger and squeeze it into the curry when required) 

Procedure 
Heat the oil, tip in the methi seeds and dry red chilies. Wait till they get fragrant and then add the garlic and chopped green chilies. Fry them till fragrant again, keeping the flame medium so it doesn’t burn.
Add the chopped guwar, turmeric powder and salt, mix well and cook covered for 5 minutes. 

Add the milk, mix well and cook covered for 2-3 minutes or till it becomes soft and the flavours blend well. Add the ginger juice and mix well before taking the curry off the stove. 

You can add more milk to make the curry a little more saucy or cook a bit more to make it dry, I like it both ways and have been cooking it almost every week this season. 

Please try this doodhwali guwar ki subzi and let me know if your family likes it too. 




Saturday, August 19, 2017

recipe of malai tinda | apple gourd cooked in a creamy curry


Malai tinda is one recipe that will convert a tinda hater for sure. I have witnessed it myself and I think the key is in making the food look good even if it has a bad reputation regarding taste and texture.



Every tinda hater I came across wouldn’t even touch a regular tinda subzi if served along with other foods but when it is in the form of Malai tinda or shahi tinda that I make, they won’t even bother asking what subzi is it. They will pick up, eat, take second helpings and rarely realise it was tinda, more because one bad experience with tinda turned them off for ever and they really don’t know how it taste like.

Many punjabi homes cook tinda with loads of tomatoes and onion and though I like that recipe too, my favourite will this malai tinda and the achari tinda that I make sometimes. The shahi tinda is great too but I cook it rarely. Tinda chana dal is made when I have to make a quick meal that tastes great too.

In fact tinda takes the flavour of its cooking medium quite well, if seared for a few minutes and then cooked with whatever flavour you want to infuse it with. And yes, there are some flavour that don’t go well with tinda, the doodh wali lauki or lau shukto when cooked with tinda was a big failure. Imagine similar sounding vegetables have such finer nuances in terms of flavour pairings.

There are many versions of malai tinda made in punjabi families and some of them are quite rich with cashew paste and loads of malai (cream). This recipe of malai tinda has been adopted to my family’s taste and has undergone a few changes over the decades it is being cooked in my home, the original recipe came from some family friend as much as I remember.

Ingredients
(2 large servings)
300 gm tinda (tender apple gourds)
1 medium onion (70 gm approximately) diced finely
2 green chilies slit lengthwise
Pinch of red chili powder or yellow chili powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp everyday curry powder
¼ tsp special garam masala
1 tsp fine ginger paste (preferably juice of ginger)
Pinch of green cardamom powder
2 tejpatta
Salt to taste
1 tbsp mustard oil
1 cup milk
1 tbsp malai (fresh home made clotted cream)

Procedure
Clean the tinda surface, no need to peel them, and chop each one of them in quarters.
Heat the oil, add green chili, chopped tinda and onions at once. Stir fry at high for a minute, lower the heat and add the tejpatta. Keep stir frying till the tinda quarters get a little brownish patches around the edges.
Add all the powdered spices and stir fry for a minute so the spices turn aromatic, pour the milk, lower the heat to minimum and cover the pan to cook for 8-10 minutes or till the tindas are cooked through. The cooking time depends on how tender the tindas are.
Once cooked, add the malai, stir gently and empty the malai tinda in the serving bowl. Adding the malai at the last step brings out the creamy colour beautifully.

To make the malai tinda richer, you can add 1-2 tbsp of cashew paste along with the malai or just increase the quantity of malai.

Some people like to add kasoori methi to the malai tinda but I like it plain. But I make it hot many a times with an extra dose of chili, ginger juice and pepper sometimes, you might try doing that if you like hot curries.

The best thing is, that malai tinda taste great with our multigrain rotis and multigrain sourdough kulchas that is regular in my home. It is great with any type of roti, paratha or even poori I suppose, though I have never tried it with pooris.

Do try the recipe and let me know how malai tinda treats you.



Thursday, August 17, 2017

okra and baby potatoes with butter garlic sauce


This okra (bhindi) and baby potatoes with butter garlic kept ringing in my head until I made it at home the very next day after meeting Bridget White Kumar. This Anglo Indian recipe is being served at the J W Marriot Aerocity right now where she has curated a menu around this cuisine, I loved it so much that I had to share it with you all too.

okra and baby potatoes with butter garlic

Note that this version of okra in butter garlic is my recreation after tasting it at the festival and not the authentic way Bridget makes it, there might be a minor variation in her original recipe of okra in butter garlic.

ingredients
(2 servings)

300 gm tender okra (bhindi), caps removed and cut in one inch pieces diagonally
300 gm baby potatoes, boiled, peeled and halved
100 gm or a large onion sliced
one large tomato chopped finely
50 gm butter
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup milk (optional) 

preparation

Heat a pan and add the butter and garlic together, let them sizzle while stirring till the garlic gets aromatic.

Add the sliced onions and baby potatoes and toss well to coat evenly. Keep cooking for a couple of minutes.

Add the chopped okra, salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Keep tossing or stirring lightly for 5 minutes, add the tomatoes, mix well and cover to cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat. The okra should be cooked by now, the onions a nice shade of pink and the tomatoes completely mushy.

Cook a few minutes more if the okra is not cooked well. Add milk, stir and cover to cook for a minute, adjust consistency by adding a little more milk if you wish. Check and adjust seasoning.

Serve hot with soft rotis or bread rolls.





Wednesday, August 16, 2017

daab paneer recipe | paneer in mustard sauce steamed in tender coconut shells

You must have heard about daab chingri  and that is one of my favourite prawn recipe too. Inspired by the classic recipe, I recently cooked daab paneer and loved it so much that it has become quite regular on my table.

Tender coconut is a great thirst quencher, a delicious blend of electrolytes that nature has packaged so wonderfully for us. Daab, as tender coconut is called in Hindi and few other regional languages, has been the favourite drink whenever we can get it. Few decades ago we used to get daab only when we traveled to coastal towns but thankfully it is available in cities like Delhi fairly easily.
tender coconut

To me it feels like a wonder every time I sip from a tender coconut, right since my childhood. Each tender coconut packs a different flavour if you consider the minor variations of sweet and salt, the mineral taste and of the course the malai (tender coconut meat) that lines the inner wall, like a surprise unfolding gently. 

Tender coconut was our saviour last year when both of us were hit by chikangunia together. We had asked the neighbourhood daab wala to deliver 2 tender coconuts every morning and evening and that helped us a lot in recovering from the most annoying sickness we have had. But then we made friends with this daab wala and he is always ready to deliver at home, he will come with his cleaver sometimes and cut open the daab so we can eat the malai as well. All those tender coconut shells went into my compost heap but then I decided to make a raised bed using them, the next garden project. About that some other time as I am sharing a daab paneer recipe with you right now. 

daab paneer recipe

 I had eaten daab recipes in hotels and restaurants in the past but never had bothered to cook anything with them at home, apart from adding the tender coconut meat to some of my kheer recipes. When I saw a daab chingri recipe by Ipshita Bhandari on a facebook group I felt tempted to try that at home. After all I have easy supply of daab and the daab wala ready to cut it into convenient halves. 

The Bengali daab chingri is a popular dish, easy to cook but the daab is such an exotic ingredient that everyone serves the daab chingri with a certain sense of pride. I am a sucker for easy recipes with clean flavours, thankfully this recipe was appreciated by everyone who tasted it. 

In fact for a week I was on a spree to cook with daab malai and found the right balance that works for my type of palate. The balance of mustard, green chilies and tender coconut meat, the three crucial ingredients of this secret sauce is a distinct personal choice according to the extent you can take the pungency of mustard mixed with the heat of green chilies. The fresh daab malai (tender coconut meat) renders a unique sweetness to this dish and that’s where lies the specialty of this dish. 

Take care to ask your daab wala to chose a daab with soft but generous malai in it, if it has lesser malai just consume it as is, if the malai has turned meaty you can snack upon it as we need the firm yet jelly like malai for this recipe. If you are making daab chingri or daab paneer for a crowd you can use a mix of tender and not too tender coconut meat as that will maintain the flavour. 

Ingredients 
One whole daab (tender coconut) with generous amount of soft jelly like meat 
200 gm paneer 
2 tbsp yellow mustard 
2 cloves of garlic 
3-4 green chilies or more if you like 
1 tbsp or more mustard oil (depending on your liking of pungency)
¼ tsp of turmeric powder 
100 ml coconut milk (optional but recommended)

Equipment of choice, depending on whether you want to bake the mix or steam it
Both halves of the tender coconut if you are using them for baking 
Or a baking dish of 1 litre capacity with lid  
Or a steel dabba big enough to accommodate the mix and fit inside a pressure cooker
Or an earthen pot and 3-4 fresh tender bottle gourd leaves, to be baked in a conventional oven or a microwave oven

Procedure 
Separate the water and the malai of the daab, save the water and chop the malai in small bits.
Make a paste of mustard, garlic cloves and green chilies along with turmeric powder. Powdering the mustard seeds first and then adding some water and other ingredients helps make a smooth paste. 
Chop the paneer in small bits too.
Slit 1-2 green chilies.
Mix all the other ingredients together, along with half of the mustard oil. Add some of the coconut water to make the consistency as required. You need a mix with saucy consistency. I added coconut milk from a carton for this step every time as I can’t not drink the coconut water. I found the coconut milk made this recipe even better.
For cooking the daab paneer you can follow any* one of the following procedures.

*Transfer the mix to the emptied halves of daab, cover with aluminium foil and bake it for 25-30 minutes at 180 C. 
*Transfer the mix in an earthen pot lined with bottle gourd leaves or fresh turmeric leaves, cover wit the same leaves, fix the lid and bake for 20 minutes at 180 C.
daab paneer in gourd leaves recipe

*The earthen pot can be placed in the microwave oven and cooked at high for 5-7 minutes.
 
*Transfer the mix to a steel dabba, cover with lid, keep the dabba in a pressure cooker which has ½ cup of water in it and pressure cook till the first whistle blows. Cool the pressure cooker on its own and open the lid.

After cooking with any of the above process, open the lid and garnish with a few slit green chilies and a drizzle of the remaining mustard oil. 

Serve hot with steaming hot rice, preferably short grain rice like gobindobhog or jeerabatti. 

daab paneer recipe

I was suggested by Ipshita that it is better to cook it in the daab shell to bring the rustic flavour but I found it good even when I cooked the mix in a steel container or an earthen pot lined with fresh bottle gourd leaves. This is a recipe that one can adjust according to personal choice of the cooking vessel used, but please don’t distort the golden trinity of mustard paste, daab malai and green chilies.

This daab paneer recipe will become a family favourite if you like the flavours of mustard. In this recipe the pungency of mustard is quite sublime due to the daab malai used. Please try the recipe and let me know.



Monday, August 14, 2017

some lost recipes revived at The Great Kabab Factory


I feel really glad when I see homely flavours in a five star hotel. I know most of the people go to the star hotels to have lavish meals served with pomp, something that can’t be created in home kitchens and no doubt that even I love to explore all the rich cuisines and cooking techniques both for the flavours as well as for the academic interest. 
But the most comforting meals are always the ones that revive homely comfort for me. Imagine my pleasure when I find a well made muli besan, a thick kadhi with pieces of radish in it, one of my favourite foods that I cook at home regularly. 

This is what happened when we decided to go to The Great Kabab Factory at Radisson Blu Plaza (Mahipalpur) this Sunday. They have a festival going on, showcasing some of the lost recipes introduced into their regular menu, Chef Vakil Ahmad has brought some intriguing recipes to the table this time.
The Great Kabab Factory

Although the new dishes being showcased are not lost from the cuisines, the dishes were definitely something people have started forgetting slowly. Apart from the muli besan I mentioned, the keema stuffed karela, the kheibari murgh ke parchey and murgh kabab gorkhar made us bow to the skill and hard work of Chef Vakil’s team. 

The menu was impressive with numerous starters, the signature galouti kabab, pathiya sekiya kukkad (chicken grilled over cow dung cakes, a Patiala specialty, recreated in tandoor), silbatte ke kabab (kababs made of stone ground meat), mahi kasoondi tikka (fish tikka in mustard marinade), murgh kabab gorkhar (stuffed and roasted whole chicken), kheibari murgh ke parchey (schnitzel style chicken kabab) and some impressive vegetarian kababs like subz galouti kabab and taza phalon ki chaat. 

The main course had the signature dal panchmel and dal makhni, the delicious muli besan being the new entrant. The sakora gosht (meat curry slow cooked in earthenware) and Kallu miyan ki raan from Lucknow were done to perfection, the biryani made of seviyan was one of the attraction as this type of biryani is made rarely now. Seviyan biryani takes some skill and expertise to be done right and Chef Vakil’s team had done a wonderful job. 

The desserts included the dahi halwa from the kitchen of Sailana, gulab ki kheer and UP style malai chaap apart from TGKF signature kulfi and jalebi. 

My most favourite pick from this menu is the keema stuffed karela and besan muli as I mentioned above, the galaouti kabab has always been great at TGKF and the rotis have always made us feel indulgent. In the menu you would get the exotic foods as well as the homely comforting foods, the best of both worlds.
TGKF is a place where we take our guests who want to eat good kababs and biryani in one place, served in traditional Indian style, where the menu is fixed and the wait staff bring everything to the table insisting you to take more servings, just like it was done in wedding parties few decades ago. 

The Great Kabab Factory gives a glimpse of the traditional Indian hospitality in this aspect.



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Colonial Anglo-Indian food to celebrate Independence day at J W Marriott Aerocity


We are always awestruck by the variety we have in our country in terms of food and produce, whenever we chance upon something new in a far corner of the country or even sometimes in our own backyard. The foreign cultures have influenced the cuisines of India and have added more layers of flavours on them, each one worth exploring whenever you get a chance.

So when I got to know that Bridget White Kumar is in town to curate a colonial Anglo-Indian menu at K3, the all day dining restaurant of J W Marriott Aerocity I decided to go and meet her as I have been following her work for quite some time. Bridget has authored 7 books on the subject of Anglo-Indian cuisine and has been helping many hotels and clubs to create special menus around the cuisine. 
 
She has been sharing recipes on her blog as well, a really warm and affectionate person I must add.
 
Bridget White Kumar and Chef Vivek Bhatt

Chef Vivek Bhatt has collaborated with Bridget to bring Anglo Indian food to the capital for the first time, to celebrate Independence day week, and his team has done a wonderful job of recreating the fusion of flavours beautifully. I was there for lunch yesterday sharing the table with Bridget, Rohit Sharma, Nikhil Nair and Chef Bhatt and we ended up discussing the present day politics and how we have performed (not) as a country in the last seven decades of being free of foreign rule. We decided anonymously that Dak Bungalow Chicken comes to comfort in such a scenario as none of us are keen to join politics to bring any of the changes we want in the leadership. 
 
Food is a great tranquilizer, or equalizer too. Let's go to the table.

The Anglo-Indian food is served in a beautifully laid out buffet, the menu changes everyday for lunch and dinner but a few signature dishes are constant. I loved that the menu has not been made too extensive with dozens of dishes, one can taste and savour every single dish and come back with the flavours still teasing the memory of the palate.

The starters appeared to have jumped out of a high tea party of a memsahib, all wonderfully made. The Mushroom scramble on toast, the Lamb mince chop (Bengali style) and the Panthras were delectable, though not my kind of food, the husband would have taken several helpings of these I know. I had my eyes firmly focused on the main course that looked like homely comfort so I took care not to fill myself up with the starters. 

Anglo Indian food at K3, J W Marriott Aerocity
 
The Kedgree needs a special mention as this was the first time I was tasting an authentic kedgree, though I have mentioned it on this blog earlier. This was made of mung dal and rice, cooked perfectly so each grain was separate yet cooked well, the taste and the texture reminded me of a similar dish I have had at an Oriya friend’s place but I have forgotten the name of the dish as it has been almost 15 years to that dinner. I wonder if there is a connection between the two. The usual garnish of boiled eggs was missing as the kedgree was to be made suitable for vegetarians too, you won’t miss any garnish because there are much more flavourful food to devour. 
 
Check my main course plate here on Instagram

I have had many versions of the Dak Bungalow Chicken but the one served at this festival was so light and flavourful with a thin yogurt based gravy that it will be the benchmark from now. The Lamb Country Captain, the Pork Devil Fry and the Prawn Temperado were a delight to discover. 

Each one had its own identity in terms of flavours and appearance, the Lamb Country Captain felt like a light homely curry we make at home, the Pork Devil fry had green capsicum and garlic flavours, the Prawn Temperado with a pleasant caramelised onions and tomato flavour and a hint of tartness to balance.
 
A special mention to the Okra in Butter and Garlic, the vegetarian main course that I loved so much that I tried to recreate the dish today. I knew it was something the husband would love and I was right, this recipe is going to be repeated frequently all through the bhindi season. More about this in the next post. 

The desserts were the classic Trifle and a Roli Poli pudding which is a steamed jam cake so light you can easily over eat. Better take a small proration and eat small bits of it, take your time to finish if you are sensible or save some space for desserts. 

More than the food, it was a delight to meet Bridget in person. I have been connected with her on social media for a long time but was meeting her for the first time in person. She has done a lot of work in discovering and preserving the family recipes and she has been doing it ever since she took voluntary retirement from her banking career. She found her mother’s and grandmother’s recipes hand written and filed along with knitting and embroidery patterns and revived all of those classics meticulously converting the weights and measures as most of the recipes written by the women had measures written in the form of a housewife’s manual, 2 anna’s coriander leaves and 3 anna’s onion must have been difficult to convert to grams and tablespoons. Anna was a unit of currency during British period.

I admire Bridget to have done such wonderful work of documenting the recipes and bringing the flavours to us, each fusion and progression in the history of cuisine is an important link with the older history as well as the changing times I believe. Food reflects the society at so many levels, each recipe brings a new story sometimes. 
 
Bridget is here for just one week so go soon and discover these stories and flavours. You would love to meet the humble and cheerful lady behind this food too. 


Thursday, August 3, 2017

how to make bhujia : recipe of karele ki kurkuri bhujia


There are a few simple things that can bring as much joy as some kurkuri bhujia served with dal chawal or khichdi. But you won't understand if you haven't had bhujia ever, you might end up thinking the hand cut potato fries are the best kind of fried veggies.

While I love the nice hand cut potato fry especially if it comes with a generous sprinkling of herbed salt, the potato fry is not my favourite. I vote for bitter gourd fry or crisp karele ki bhujia. You have to try this kerele ki bhujia to know what I mean.

The other day I was at the neighborhood salon to get my pedicure, and the lady next to my chair was talking about how the kids these days don't want to eat vegetables. The pedicurist started grinning when I asked the lady ow much vegetables the adults in her family ate, to which she admitted they eat minimal vegetables but wanted their kids to eat more. The problem starts at the root obviously.

Then I got curious what this 20 something pedicurist eats as he works almost 10 hours a day and all such boys live on their own as they have migrated to big cities for work. I asked him and he said he cooks his food twice a day and that is paratha bhujia in the morning and dal chawal bhujia or dal chawal chokha for dinner when he reaches home. I can't tell you how happy I felt to hear this.

Anyone who cooks everyday and enjoys cooking as a de-stressing activity has my heart.

It reminded me of a few lovely people on Instagram who have been asking for my bhujia recipe they see with my khichdi or dal chawal. Some of them point out that it's always either karele ki bhujia or bhindi ki bhujia with my dal chawal meals.


Yes I love my karele ki bhujia a lot. As much as I love the karele ka chokha.

Karele ki bhujia is the simplest thing to make but you need some patience as it demands slow cooking. The good thing is that it doesn't demand much chopping and there is no peeling involved. The cooking is done by just stirring the bhujia a few times while it is on lowest possible flame of your gas stove.

ingredients 

300 gm bitter gourds (karele)
2 tbsp mustard oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder or a little more
1/2 tsp amchoor powder
salt to taste (1/2 tsp and little more to adjust if needed)


preparation 

Clean the gourds, remove the stalk, cut into 2 inch pieces and halve eac pice longitudinally. Then slice into thin strips of 5 mm thickness.

Heat mustard oil and tip in the karela slices along with salt. Stir to mix and spread the slices evenly in the pan so they crisp up for about 5 minutes on lowest possible flame.

Stir and arrange in an even layer again to make them brownish all over. Once you get the desired colour and crispness you add all the powdered spices, cook for a minute and take off the stove.

Serve hot with dal chawal meals or parathas and bless the bhujia. You would satart loving karela after eating this bhujia trust me.
















































Monday, July 17, 2017

kundru alu tamatar ki subzi

 
I like kundru (Ivy gourd or tendli) a lot although my mom used to cook it only like this kundru ki lehsuni bhujia. I remember my research guide Dr. Maya Goyle used to bring a really nice kundru ki subzi and as she would always pack a lunch box for me as well, I have enjoyed a lot of her cooking too. A senior in my lab also used to bring some Tamil style food and that also had some kundru sometimes, the reason was that everyone cooked whatever was in season back then. I have been blessed indeed in matters of food. 

Later when I made some other versions of kundru in my own kitchen, the flavours were the reminiscences of those lunch boxes we enjoyed together, exchanging recipe notes most of the times. 

Recently when I tried adding kundru to the potatoes my husband loves in his lunch box, I thought of adding some tomatoes to make it a saucy subzi that can be eaten on its own with boiled eggs. He has stopped taking rotis or rice in his lunch box to keep it light, he thinks a full meal makes him feel sleepy in the office. I agree to that.


The saucy kundru ki subzi turned out to be so flavourful that I have been repeating it whenever I see some fresh kundru in the market. 

Ingredients 
(2 large servings) 

250 gm kundru sliced thickly 
One large potato (100 gm or so) boiled, peeled and diced
2 large tomatoes (150 gm approx) diced 
2 tsp minced garlic 
1/2 tsp red chili powder or to taste or paprika powder
Salt to taste 
1/4 tsp turmeric powder 
Pinch of pepper powder 
1 tbsp mustard oil 
1/2 tsp seeds of fenugreek 

Procedure 

Heat the mustard oil in a deep pan and tip in the fenugreek seeds. Add the minced garlic as soon as the fenugreek turns deep brown and aromatic, tip in the sliced kundru over it and toss to mix. 

Now add the cubed potatoes, toss to mix well. Add the salt, turmeric, pepper and chili powders and mix. Keep tossing for 3-4 minutes till the vegetables look glazed. Now add the tomatoes, mix and cover to cook for 5 minutes on low flame. 

The tomatoes should get pulpy by the end of 5 minutes. Mix well and sprinkle some water if you need to make it more saucy. 

Serve as desired. It makes a nice subzi to be served with roti or dal chawal meals, we usually eat it with boiled eggs as a salad for our lunch. The instagram picture will give you an idea how we prefer eating many of subzis.

Kundru ki subzi with potatoes and tomatoes is the simplest of recipes I have made till date. Sometimes I just add everything together and cover for 8-10 minutes and give it a good stir in the last step. The subzi tastes great every time. The garlic, chili or paprika and tomatoes make a flavourful base for kundru, which is a slightly tart vegetable and has a great texture too. 


Saturday, July 15, 2017

how to make arbi ki kadhi


Arbi (Colocasia) corms are not a frequent ingredient in my kitchen though we love Arbi leaves pakodas known as rikwachh. I get some arbi whenever I see fresh and plump corms as this arbi ki sookhi subzi and ajwaini arbi helps break a routine of an overload of greens everyday.


arbi (colocasia)

Arbi (colocasia) ki kadhi can also be called as dahi wali arbi but since the consistency and taste of the final dish is similar to a regular kadhi, it is known as arbi ki kadhi. I guess this dish has a Marwari origin but I am not sure, it could be a Kayastha traditional as well. I don't know where did I pick up this recipe as I have been making it for almost two decades. It is quite possible that the recipe was different when I started cooking it and it changed with my own preference. 
 
arbi ki kadhi

I know at least one family in Banaras who makes alu ki kadhi in a similar way and we make a version of dahi wale alu too but that recipe is quite different in taste and feel.

I had stopped making this arbi ki kadhi as well for some reason. The preference is always some green seasonal vegetables so the root vegetables get ignored in my kitchen. Recently I realised the cook who works part time for me is always happy making kadhis and makes nice Sindhi kadhi, tamatar ki kadhi, punjabi kadhi and my version of Banarasi kadhi as well. 
 
I was reminded of this arbi ki kadhi because of her and then I decided to teach her this version too. I have been teaching her the simplest of recipes so she can cook my kind of food, else the cooks make some punjabi mishmash most people like and have become dependent on ready made masala and sauces. 
 
Coming back to the arbi ki kadhi, it is made without any besan (chickpea flour) in it mostly. But you can add a teaspoon of besan or wheat flour dissolved in water to prevent the yogurt from curdling if you feel so, this process was called as Aalan lagana in older times. 

Ingredients 
(2-3 servings) 
200 gm arbi (colocasia) boiled and peeled
1 cup yogurt, preferably sour 
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder 
1 tsp coriander powder 
Salt to taste 

For tempering 
1 tbsp mustard oil 
Pinch of asafoetida 
1/4 tsp fennel seeds 
1/4 tsp small mustard seeds (Rai)
10-12 seeds of fenugreek 
2 dry red chilies broken in 3 pieces each 
3 cloves 
1/2 inch piece of cinnamon 
1 lightly crushed black cardamom 
1 tbsp of crushed Kasuri or Nagori methi (optional)
slit green chilies (optional)

Procedure 

Chop the boiled and peeled arbi in thick slices and keep aside. 

Whisk the yogurt with turmeric powder, cumin and coriander powder, salt and keep aside. 

Heat the oil, add asafoetida and other tempering ingredients one by one in that order, keeping the flame low. Once the tempering is aromatic add the sliced arbi and stir to mix. 
 
Cook while stirring and mashing some of the arbi so it becomes a little pasty. Note that you want only some of the arbi to get mashed and keep most of the arbi slices intact. The mashed part of the arbi will help thicken the kadhi. 
 
Add the crushed Nagori methi and mix well.

Now add 1/2 cup of water and let it come to a soft boil. Keep the flame low and pour the yogurt mix slowly. Simmer for 10 minutes, adding some water if required. 

arbi ki kadhi

Serve hot with a little ghee on top and a few slit green chilies if you wish.. You can finish the kadhi with a final tadka or red chili powder heated with ghee. 

This arbi ki kadhi tastes great with plain roti or boiled rice and makes a great side dish for elaborate Indian thalis. 


Monday, July 10, 2017

royal cuisines of India : an introduction to the cuisine of Bhainsrorgarh (Rajasthan)


That's a pulao and not biryani, Hemendra Singh Ji corrected me when I called it biryani, almost in a slip of the tongue. I knew instantly that the food is considered kosher in this household. A pulao is much more delicate than a biryani and needs more precision in the cooking process. And this pulao was a real treasure, infused with fresh rose petals and mild hint of aromatic spices, the meat not spicy and the rice that imbibes the flavours of the meat, and yet the rose petals shine through.

cuisine of Bhainsrorgarh

The kind of food one eats with all the senses and remembers for ever, that's the food you will get when you are dining with Bhainsrorgargh royals. Bhainsrorgarh is a principality located along the river Chambal, another river Bamani flowing along the other side of the Bhainsrorgarh fort, which has an interesting history dating back to 2nd century BC. The present day fort is now a heritage luxury hotel, built in 1740s and run successfully by the erstwhile royal family to which Hemendra Singh Ji belongs. 

We had attended a grand dinner at ITC Maurya last month, called as the royal high table, celebrating some of the royal cuisines of the country where the royal families of Kangra, Sailana (Madhya Pradesh), Akheraj (Rajasthan), Bhainsrorgarh (Rajasthan), Rampur (western UP), Salarjung Hyderabad), Kashmir (Dogra cuisine) had showcased their cuisines and it was such a sensory delight. Chef Manisha Bhasin and her team had curated this high table and the royal family members had cooked all the food themselves, the guests were seen licking their fingers and talking about the food endlessly. 

One of the most intriguing cuisines that we came across at the ITC Maurya royal high table was the Bhainsrorgarh cuisine which has taken influences from Mewar and Marwar regions of Rajasthan and is essentially a Rajputana cuisine depending heavily on game meats and local vegetables and grains. The makai ka soweta (main course) and makai ke kan (dessert), the safed Maas with green chilies and pulao had me smitten and luckily I got an opportunity to be hosted by Hemendra Singh Ji and his better half Vrinda Kumari Sigh last month.

cuisine of Bhainsrorgarh

It turned out to be such a treat that we will remember for a long time to come. The food and the family stories interwoven together, the flavours and how they came into the cuisine, the family rituals around food were shared generously by the royal couple, leaving us mesmerized.

cuisine of Bhainsrorgarh

The dining table was laden with so much food I wondered if we will be able to taste everything and do justice to the taste, but among the family stories, food fables and recipe discussions the time just flew past and it was midnight before we realised. Hemendra Singh has a legacy of great cooks in his parents and grandparents but the most interesting fact is that he has done some improvement to the traditional recipes in terms of balancing the flavours and presentation etc., and the result is spectacular. He still takes pride in cooking all by himself and all the food was made by the couple themselves with little help from their staff. 

I will talk about the most uncommon foods that we tasted at their home first. The Chakki ke sule were actually pure wheat gluten marinated really well, skewered and grilled to perfection, retaining its meaty and moist texture intact.

chakki ke sule

The Bakre ke chaap I remembered from the ITC Maurya buffet, very well marinated and wonderfully grilled, establishing the fact that skillful grilling enhances the flavour of meats.


bakre ki chaamp

The Sabut Bakre ki Raan was a delight to dig in, marinated with an aromatic blend of spices along with figs paste that gave it a wonderful texture and earthy sweet flavour too.

bakre ki raan

Makai ke kan (a dish like makai ka kees, almost like upma, made with fresh corn) is a breakfast dish, served as a snack sometimes, made a wonderfully light main course dish too. The same fresh corn was used to make makai ke meethe kan, a dessert that is a rustic dessert distinctly different from other Indian kheer recipes. 

The guwar phali ki subzi, made with tender guwar and lots of garlic and coriander etc. was a delight to taste. Guwar grows a lot in Rajasthan and it is cooked like a staple vegetable, I was glad to see guwar being included in the menu as a representative of local flavours.

Jackfruit was cooked in a milky stew without spices and tasted nothing like I have had with jackfruit before. Served in a heirloom brass handi this Doodhiya Kathal was something to remember.

doodhiya kathal


The safed Maas with Hari mirch was another dish that I can't stop raving about. Subtle flavour of green chilies, mildly hot and so flavourful, this safed maas was my favourite at the ITC Maurya showcase as well. This is absolutely my kind of meat curry.


safed maas

A chicken curry that was made in the ghutwa (pulled meat) style was another gem, we were told it was named after the Nawab whose recipe it was, called as Nawab Narendra Baksh chicken.

Nawab chicken

The simple looking yellow dal called as Dal Bidwal was such an unsuspecting gem on the table. Perfectly cooked, ghutwa (slow cooked and completely disintegrated) dal redolent with garlic and ghee made for a lovely pairing with the Batiya roti, made perfectly by their kitchen help. 

Jholdar desi Maas is an everyday meat curry and we were told it is eaten in a specific way for homely meals. The Batiya roti (a rustic flaky roti) is kept at the base of a shallow bowl called as Tasla and the meat curry is poured over the roti directly. One starts breaking the roti from the sides while it keeps soaking in the centre and gets even more delicious by the time one eats the last morsel. Such simpler traditions are rarely talked about at royal tables and I admire Hemendra and Vrinda Singh for keeping alive such homely traditions.

jholdar maas

Last but not the least, the Gulabi Pulao where every grain of rice soaked with the flavours of meat and roses, both blending in perfectly along with mild spicing.


gulabi pulao

The dessert, along with the meethe makai ke kan, was an intriguing dish called as Amrit Ghutka. It was a chana dal halwa, made in porridge consistency and the name was given by Hemendra Singh's father who was a poet and very fond of naming dishes poetically. Amrit ghutka is something heavenly that slides down the throats quickly. 

Hemendra Singh has definitely taken his Rajpootana cuisine a few notches higher with his own inputs, the good news is that they are into the business of catering too and deliver their Rajpootana Kitchen food all over Delhi and NCR, on prior booking. 

I was told they serve the same food at the Bhainsrorgarh fort Hotel as well, tempting me to plan a visit to the idyllic destination it looks like. I will tell you more when I visit Bhainsrorgarh which is quite close to Kota. The pictures of the majestic fort by the deep gorge of Chambal tempts me more. 

Stay tuned for more stories about Bhainsrorgarh. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

recipe of methi papad ki subzi


What if I say methi (fenugreek) seeds make a great subzi and it is not bitter at all? Very few believe this and I know a few who make this subzi after removing the soaking water, boiling it in pressure cooker and removing even the cooking water to 'remove' the bitterness. Trust me you are not supposed to discard the soaking water at all and the methi seeds do not taste bitter in this subzi. 
 
Sharing a methi papad ki subzi today, a unique flavour that brings a just a light hint of methi bitterness and the alkaline taste of raw urad dal papad that gets balanced with yogurt. 
 

Methi papad ki subzi was not made in my parents home ever. I know my mother would have scoffed at the idea of methi seeds in a subzi though she would love papad in any form. We occasionally used to make papad ki subzi with the sour buttermilk sometimes just to finish the weekly stock of buttermilk that was leftover after the ghee making excercise back home, normally used for making kadhi or dahi wale alu. 
 
But that was the end of anything to do with papad in a curry, methi was used in the tadka though, just 1/2 tsp of it. The hint of bitterness methi seeds bring into a dish when used in the tadka is quite a subtle flavour that enlivens many a curries in the eastern part of India I must add. 

Using methi seeds in bulk to make the curry was not something my family would have taken to. One of my Marwadi friend during school used to talk about this subzi but I am sure in that age we are not too sure to serve such unusual food to guests, so I never got to taste methi ki subzi while I loved the kanji vadas and the kair sangri pickles and many types of sweets that her mom made. 

I was actually surprised to taste methi papad ki subzi in a roadside dhaba in Rajasthan couple of years ago and it was not bitter at all. I was so intrigued that I asked the dhaba owner and he shared a useful tip to make this subzi. He told me not to touch the methi once it is soaked, just tip them directly into the cooking pan when cooking the subzi. 

He mentioned if the methi seeds are punctured after soaking they turn bitter, else they remain good. I tried the subzi as soon as I was back home and this subzi has been a regular since then. Even the husband likes it, probably more because he tasted it in a roadside dhaba for the first time but that is good for me. 

Ingredients 
(for 4-6 servings)
1/4 cup methi seeds 
5 urad dal papads broken into bite size pieces
1 cup yogurt 
1 cup water 
1 tbsp coriander powder 
1 tbsp cumin powder 
1 tsp red chili powder or to taste 
Pinch of asafoetida or hing 
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 
1 tbsp mustard oil 
Salt to taste 
Generous amount of chopped coriander leaves

Procedure 

Soak the methi seeds overnight in a cup of water.  Do not disturb once soaked. Remember you are not supposed to touch the soaked methi seeds and puncture its mucilage layer.
 
Whisk the coriander and cumin powders in the yogurt, add water and whisk again to make it smooth. Keep aside.
 
Heat the oil in a deep pan, add the asafoetida and let it get aromatic. Not take the pan off the heat and add turmeric powder and chili powder, mix well and let them get aromatic. 
 
Pour the yogurt spice mix slowly into the pan and whisk, take the pan back to the stove and whisk to keep it cooking evenly. 
 
As soon as the curry starts simmering, pour the soaked methi seeds along with the soaking water and simmer for 10 minutes. 
 
Add the broken papads, simmer for a couple of minutes and take the pan off the stove.
 
Sprinkle coriander leaves and serve hot with chapatis or parathas. The best combination with methi papad ki subzi is ghee soaked bajra roti if you like, this methi papad ki subzi makes a great side dish for a big Indian spread as well. 

Make this methi papad ki subzi next time when you are entertaining guests. Add some raisins and may be some fed cashews to make the subzi a bit rich. Raisins actually give methi papad ki subzi a nice dimention. 
 
It is great for diabetics, is a very good alkalising food but most of all it tastes great. The traditional recipes that have survived the test or time are here to stay. The only grudge is that we don't know them all. It is good till I keep getting acquainted with them one after the other. A slow learning curve is better that never getting exposed to such great food. 




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

everyday subzi : raw papaya stew | kachhe papeete ka ishtoo


Raw papaya is an interesting vegetable. While it becomes a table fruit once ripe, the raw fruit makes wonderful salad, raita, paratha, chutney and even curry. The neutral taste of raw papaya makes it a perfect candidate for any flavour you want it to acquire.

raw papaya stew | kachhe papeete ka ishtoo

This kachhe papeete ka ishtoo is actually a stew that everyone loves with all types of Indian breads. I remember we used to love it with do pad ki roti, poori or crisp parathas. Kachhe papeete ka ishtoo is spicy, aromatic and yet very light so it can be a part of light meal with thin chapatis and makes a paratha meal comparatively light too.

ingredients  
(3-4 servings)

500 gm raw papaya peeled, seeds removed and chopped into big chunks
250 gm red onions sliced thinly
100-200 gm potatoes peeled and cubed (optional)
4 green cardamoms
2 black cardamoms
12 cloves
2 sticks of Indian cinnamon
1 tsp pepper corns
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds 
3 tejpatta leaves
4-6 whole dry red chillies
12-15 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
1 tbsp thin julienne of ginger
2 tbsp mustard oil
salt to taste 

preparation 

Heat the oil in a deep pan keeping the heat low, a handi or pressure cooker that can be used with or without the pressure lid. Add the whole spices, dry red chilies and smashed garlic at once and wait till they all become aromatic. It takes less than a minute.

Add the sliced onions and potatoes, mix well and cook till both look a little glazed. It takes just 2-3 minutes. You don't need to brown the onions but a few brownish streaks are okay.

Add the papaya chunks, toss to mix well. Add salt and mix. Cover with a well fitting lid and let it cook on dum till everything gets cooked well. The papaya chunks will start disintegrating and the onions will almost dissolve. You can add a few spoons of water in between to keep the dish moist at all times. This dum cooking can take about 30 minutes but if you pressure cook it gets faster. Take care to switch off the gas just after the first whistle blows.

raw papaya stew | kachhe papeete ka ishtoo

The onions and raw papaya has enough water in it to make this stew watery enough but you can add up to 1/4 cup water to make the cooking easier.

This kachhe papeete ka ishtoo is quite aromatic and delicious and can be made with bottle gourds too. Some people like it just with potatoes but use more onions in that case if you try.

The kathal ka dopyaza is a similar recipe with minor differences but the taste of kathal ka dopyaza is very different from this one. Some people call it kachhe papeete ka dopyaza as well.

Do try this recipe and serve with any regular chapati or roti you eat. This stew pairs well with light flat breads and not too much with millet breads but we like it with our mixed grain rotis too.

I have shared a basic recipe of this kachhe papeete ka stew with dal bhari poori here. It is actually a versatile subzi and can be served with whatever you like.


Friday, May 19, 2017

sama ke chawal ka bhakka | barnyard millet porridge



A few foods we start loving just because our parents are always raving about those. I have witnessed this tendency of kids even in recent times when I see them following their parents in the choice of foods, especially the junk type. There is no other way small toddlers would start loving junk carbonated drinks and instant noodles.

We had no such influence in my times, the only choices we had were home cooked food as our parents always preferred home cooked food unless we were traveling. I would add that my parents were very fond of good food and since they kept traveling a lot and we all lived in many cities all across the country, the food repertoire at home was quite rich.

One of the dishes I remember we all loved just because my father was too fond of it, is this sama ke chawal ka bhakka. I had never seen it being made in other homes till then, not even now, and the name sama ke chawal ka bhakka was so uncool that we never talked about this dish outside of our home. The taste was nothing special as it tasted just like any other daliya or porridge we ate for breakfast, nothing to feel elated about.

Same ke chawal ka bhakka was not even garnished before serving like we do for sama ke chawal ki kheer, though I felt like garnishing this time when I made it just for the sake of pictures.


ingredients 
(2 breakfast servings)

1/2 cup sama ke chawal (barnyard millet)
600 ml full cream milk 
1 tbsp sugar or more to taste
garnish of choice

procedure 

Soak the sama ke chawal in the milk overnight, preferably in the same pot you will use for cooking the porridge in the morning.

Place the pot on gas stove and bring to a soft boil while stirring in between. Lower the gas and let it cook for 10 minutes. Add sugar, mix and cover for 15 minutes till it absorbs all moisture.

Serve hot, warm or cold. Make ahead if you want to serve it chilled.


Garnish if desired.

It tastes like a porridge that has a hint of kheer. The sama ke chawal ki kheer is a richer version of sama ka bhakka, which was served either as a breakfast dish or a snack any time of the day.

Such a healthy snack for anyone who has a sweet tooth.




Sunday, May 7, 2017

gudamma or gudamba, a dessert recipe with raw mangoes


Mangoes are celebrated in several ways in India. While the ripe mangoes are made into countless number of desserts and even some curries the raw mangoes keep tingling the taste buds with aam ka achar and relishes like kuchla, chhunda, aam ka khatta meetha achar and aam panna etc etc.

Apart from all these uses of raw mangoes, the most uncommon use is in a halwa like dish called as gudamma that my grandmother used to love so much that she would make a small batch almost every week during summers. The consistency is like lapsi or smooth oats porridge, I think technically gudamma is a raw mango lapsi and nothing else.

gudamma or gudamba

Gudamma or gudamba is difficult to categorize into a dessert or something else, as I never saw it being served as a dessert. Gudamma was always a part of the thali, served along with the dal and subzi and one used to keep having it in between. It was one of the best palate cleansers if you ask me. I saw my grandmother (dadi) having it like a warm comforting snack sometimes.

The most disturbing thing with gudamma is that I never saw it being made into other homes and always thought that it was something my grandmother had invented to satisfy her sweet cravings at a ripe age of 90, when her digestion was not so good and she couldn't eat much halwa, from the time I remember this dish. My dadi went on to live for another 12-15 years after that and gudamma was lost into the deeper folds of memory, till I discovered a gudamba recipe in the book Cooking Delights of The Maharajas by Digvijaya Singh of Sailana.

Gudamba was made using semolina in the Sailana kitchen while my grandmother would make it with regular whole wheat flour, recipe simpler, not sure whether it was to make a short cut to the recipe which was unlikely knowing her zeal for cooking but I do remember my mother's disdain towards gudamma as she considered it to be worthless. My mother loved atte ka halwa loaded with ghee and loathed anything like lapsi. Lapsi was a term used to describe badly cooked food, devoid of all texture or taste.

Dadi would always make lapsi alone in the kitchen, I remember peeking into the pan sometimes and getting a ladleful of gudamma to taste, it was not something the others would relish understandably. I didn't care much about the dish but the taste was never forgotten, possibly because dadi was so adorable always.

I tried recreating gudamma a few times last year and even before that but somehow the taste was not the same as my dadi would make. Then I realised I was using much less sugar while my dadi was a sugar junkie, she used to keep Poppins (flavoured candies) in her pocket back then.

Gudamma is an acquired taste for many, I like it in small doses at a time but can keep on getting second helpings. Gudamma grows on you.

gudamma or gudamba

ingredients
(2-3 servings)
1 large raw mango, peeled and cubed or sliced the way you like
3 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp ghee for cooking and 1 tsp ghee for serving
4-5 tbsp sugar or jaggery, taste and add more if required
1 cup water 

procedure

Heat ghee in a kadhai and tip in the mango pieces. Shallow fry briefly and add the flour. Lower the flame and roast the flour along with the mango pieces till the flour turns brown and aromatic. This needs a little patience so keep calm and stir continuously.

Add sugar once the flour is aromatic and brown, mix and add water, stir vigorously to make a homogeneous lapsi or porridge. Add little more water if it gets thicker than porridge. Stir for a mnute and it is ready to serve.

Pour in serving bowls and top with ghee. The subtly flavored sweet and tart gudamma or gudamba can be served with a topping of coconut cream or fresh cream too.

I am sure you will find more ways to serve gudamba if you like it. 




Thursday, April 27, 2017

recipe of alu ke gutke, let the simplicity rule


There are some recipes so simple that the experts miss the point. You know how simplicity is always misunderstood, people want to add more value to the things they do to create something good and miss the greatness in the simpler things. In the case of alu ke gutke recipe something similar happened.

I had posted pictures of alu ke gutke on instagram recently and had been getting requests for the recipe after that. I intended to write the recipe here but since the alu ke gutke is quite simple I gave a quick recipe to one of my friends. She went on to google the recipe to make it, not realizing someone can screw up such a simple almost one and a half step recipe, she forwarded me the link and I was aghast to find a recipe with all the spice powders and hing-jeera and what not.

Alu ke gutke needs to be shared here I decided.

alu ke gutke

So here is the unpretentious recipe of alu ke gutke that is the best representative of the frugal ife in mountains. Alu ke gutke is made in every pahadi home in Garhwal and Kumaon region, potato being the main crop and not much variety of vegetables available to them at higher altitudes.

Writing this, I am reminded of a small trek we did in the hills of Sattal few years ago, we just followed a track that started with a faded signboard with a name of some nondescript temple and after an arduous one hour trek reached a temple surrounded with a well tended garden. We met a baba (a saint) and got to know he is from Banaras who went there several decades ago and has settled down in that temple, we were offered a plate of this alu ke gutke with hot ginger chai, free of cost. One of the most satiating meals I must say.

Alu ke gutke is available in the hills at almost every chai shop, served with a cup of hot chai if you wish and often topped with mooli ka raita. A very unusual combination but works wonderfully when trekking or even driving in the hills.

The frugality of alu ke gutke is such that it uses all dry ingredients, just 6 ingredients including salt, apart from the occasional chopped dhaniya patta when it is in season. It tastes best with the pahadi potatoes, cook it in the plains only with the new potatoes or forget about alu ke gutke, it is not alu ke gutke if the alu is not right.

The second important, non-replaceable ingredient is jakhia that imparts a subtle flavour and a delectable crunch that stays even if the alu ka gutka is cooked hours before you eat.

jakhia seeds

Jakhia (Cleome viscosa) is a herb that grows in the foothills of Himalayas as well as in the tropics throughout the world, the leaves are used as a vegetable and all parts of this plant as medicinal ingredients, the use of the seeds in a tadka like this is seen only in Uttarakhand.

Jakhia is antipyretic and anti-inflammatory and is used for many minor health issues, the spices in Indian kitchen have been known to be curative and healing, their usage has evolved over several generations if not centuries.

If you don't have jakhia, make jeera alu instead. Alu ke gutke needs good quality potatoes, preferably baby potatoes and jakhia, the other ingredients can vary minimally. Like you can use green chilies instead of red dry ones and dhaniya patta can be a choice, no other changes please.

ingredients
500 gm boiled, peeled and cubed potatoes
2 tbsp mustard oil
3 broken dry red chilies
1 tsp jakhia seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
chopped coriander leaves for garnish

procedure

Heat mustard oil, tip in the red chilies and the jakhia and let them crackle for a couple of seconds.

Add the turmeric powder and immediately dump the potatoes over it, add salt and mix everything nicely. Keep stirring and cooking for 5 minutes, sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and it is done.

Serve hot or cold.

alu ke gutke

It tastes great as a side dish with meals or as breakfast starch if you want some potatoes, it is better than any fries or hash browns trust me.

Served with tea it has a unique way of satisfying you. The potato lovers would agree but the simplicity of this alu ke gutke does the wonders if you ask me.
 



Monday, April 17, 2017

everyday subzi : alu parval ki rassedar subzi


Alu parval is a summer time subzi that is on our table at least once a week. Alu parval bhujia is a popular recipe on this blog and even the parval ki mithai gets great feedback but strangely the alu parval ki rassedar (with a thin gravy) subzi has not been shared on the blog as yet, even though I make a few versions of it.

A few people pointed out at this lapse a few months ago but it was not parval season back then, though it was available in the markets, we don't eat any vegetables out of season as a rule so this recipe also comes when parval is well in season.

parval or pointed gourd

This version is alu parval ki patle rasse wali subzi (आलू परवल की पतले रस्से वाली सब्ज़ी) is suitable for summer dinners, keeping it light and soupy, to be consumed with thin rotis.

alu parval ki rassedar subzi

Made in pressure cooker, this one is a simple recipe inspired by the subzis made by the poori subzi stalls where the vegetables are not fried before currying keeping it light yet flavourful, frying the vegetables and bhuna masala separately is a normal practice in home cooking.

ingredients 
(2-3 servings)
300 gm small sized parvals (pointed gourd), preferably heirloom variety
2 small potatoes boiled, peeled and crushed by hands (not mashed)
1 tbsp everyday curry powder 
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp ginger paste or minced ginger
1/2 tsp chopped green chilies
1/4 tsp red chili powder (optional)
couple of tejpatta 
1 tbsp mustard oil
salt to taste
1/4 tsp amchoor powder (optional)

procedure 

Scrape the parvals using a paring knife, removing just the waxy layer, not peeling the green skin. Cut into halves length wise if the parvals are small, else crosswise.

Heat mustard oil in the pressure cooker pan, add all the spices, except amchoor, at once and stir to mix and cook. Wait till the spices get aromatic, add the parvals and toss and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the crushed potatoes and salt, toss to coat everything together. Pour 300-400 ml water, depending on how thin you want the curry, cover with lid and pressure cook till the whistle blows.

Switch off the gas and let the pressure release on its own. Open the cooker, adjust seasoning and add amchoor powder if needed.

alu parval ki rassedar subzi

Serve hot with thin rotis, some tomato chutney and some raita or plain dahi. This alu parval ki rassedar subzi is mildly spicy and very flavourful. We generally don't add coriander leaves but you can add if desired.

These subzis never need a garnish as I feel the herb garnish changes the taste. Some people like a sprinkle of bhuna jeer powder topped over this subzi over each individual serving. Try that and let me know if you like it.