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.



Sunday, April 9, 2017

Kumaoni food at Abbotsford Nainital


Nainital is not just a hill station known for the beautiful Naini lake. This quaint little town is known for the wild life, the wild life conservators, educational institutions, clubs and the lush green pine forests with a blue hue that reflects magically in the Naini lake too.

Naini lake

Incidentally this is my birthplace too and there are many childhood memories attached to the lake, the sepia toned pictures in our family album have kept the memories alive. We have made a few quick trips to Nainital in between but I have been meaning to go and stay there for a relaxed holiday to get more insights into the culture and cuisine.

I got a chance to get a glimpse of the cuisine in the meanwhile, when EatwithIndia organised a culinary tour of Nainital is association with Abbotsford, the heritage home of Janhavi Prasada who graciously hosts guests in the ancestral property that has been converted into a home stay.

Kumaoni food at Abbotsford Nainital

Along with Sonal Saxena of EatwithIndia we reached Abbotsford a little ahead of lunch time few weekends ago and what we experienced was nothing short of an ideal hillside holiday sprinkled with great food.While Delhi had already started getting hot around that time it was great to feel the nip in the air even during noon time.

After a customary welcome teeka, flowers and Rhododendron drink we headed straight to the lunch table set up at the Cafe Chica lawns.

The first thing served to start the lunch was sana hua nimbu and it was the best I had tasted till date. I took the recipe and created at home after I returned in fact. 

I was not particularly hungry but the Kumaoni home style food was so delicious I overate after ages, so much that I skipped dinner that day. The sticky hand pounded rice had come from Janhavi's aunt's farm and the kapha (Kumaoni spinach stew) felt like the best pairing with that flavourful rice. The other dishes like gahat (horse gram) ki dal, alu gutka, ganderi ki subzi, kheere ka raita, bhang ki chutney and bhatt ki chutney were all so flavourful we all took multiple helpings, mopping everything up with mandue ki roti.

We went for a long walk towards the Naini lake after lunch, enjoyed boating, walked around the markets and the mall road after lunch.

Naini lake

Janhavi cooked a country style chicken curry on wood fire for dinner and one of the guests Kunal Mandal conducted a quiz that I participated despite splitting headache. We talked about how and why we need to conserve regional traditional cuisines so the ingredients and cooking techniques are not lost forever. I couldn't stay on for dinner but heard it was as good as the lunch.

Next day Janhavi took everyone for a farmer's market walk and then to the boat club. Once back the lunch was laid down again in it's finery.

Kumaoni food at Abbotsford Nainital

These were all Janhavi's family recipes, cooked expertly by their family cook who takes care of the home stay kitchen too. It's very rare that cooks can recreate family recipes so expertly but Abbotsford has kept the mark high, the food is to die for.

Kumaoni food at Abbotsford Nainital

The mooli ki kadhi, home style mutton curry, methi chaman, khatta meetha kaddu, bhune tamatar ki chutney etc were all great, bursting with flavour and made so well. Thanks to EatwithIndia we got to taste all such homely food from the region, that too from the repertoire of a family. We tasted delicious Singhal, a spiral deep fried sweet pastry made by the cook and it was delicious.

The Cafe Chica at Abbotsford is quite popular among locals and travelers, although it is located at a steep climb but the view is worth it.

Abbotsford Nainital

The alfresco seating is the best as you get to see lot of birds and the cheena peak in the background.

 I stayed in the Juliet room. Here is how the room looks.

Abbotsford Nainital

The full length window opens to this breathtaking view.

Abbotsford Nainital

My stay was short but I resolved to go back really soon to soak in the mountains, Abbotsford will be a natural choice now. All the rooms are different as it has been a private home, it actually adds to the warmth the homely hospitality extended by the people behind Abbotsford.

Abbotsford Nainital

This short weekend trip packed so much and yet left us hungry for more.

Thank you EatwithIndia and Abbotsford for this cherishable experience. The taste of the best Kumaoni food I have had till date, will be etched in my mind forever.




Friday, March 31, 2017

recipe of sana hua nimbu, a Kumaoni recipe


Sana hua nimbu is a very unusual way of eating lemons. Lemon segments mixed with a unique seasoning and fresh yogurt is something you wouldn't experience anywhere else. But in Kumaon region they make this and a few other versions of sana hua nimbu that they call as nimbu saan too as I got to know at Instagram.

The lemons of hill regions all over India are so flavourful and unique that I feel like growing all of them. But the thing is, a fact that has become a philosophy for me now, that the unique geographical location helps retain the uniqueness of the produce.

It wouldn't be the same if I grow it in my Delhi garden, I have experienced it by growing various chili varieties for years, the Dalle of Sikkim, the Bhut jolokia of Assam, the bird chilies from Goa, all of them loose the heat and unique flavour once they grow here. Many other vegetables, fruits and other crops grow well in other geographical locations but most chilies and lemons have their own reservations.

It has been an important lesson in life.

We have to travel to get the best local flavours. We can bring back some of the local goodness back home and enjoy it for a few days more so when I brought back these 2 large hill lemons from kumaon (also called as Galgal) I had to replicate the recipe that I learnt from Janhavi Prasada.

Kumaoni lemons (galgal)

I was in Nainital for the weekend for a culinary retreat at the Abbotsford Nainital, curated by EatWithIndia and Janhavi Prasada who takes care of this beautiful ancestral property of hers. I will share more about the trip but this is to share the sana hua nimbu that we relished sitting in the sun, just the way it is enjoyed by the locals during winters, as a warming snack as Janhavi informed.

I feel it is more of a immunity boosting snack for the winters when more people fall sick in hills. All the ingredients are cooling for the system except bhangira that turns it into a balanced winter snack.

recipe of sana hua nimbu

I have had other versions of sana hua nimbu earlier and all of them were good, but this family recipe of Janhavi is so good I took a 3rd helping, absolutely relished it.


ingredients 
(served 2-3 as a snack, can be served as a cold starter)

one Kumaoni lemon
2 tbsp hemp seeds (Cannabis seeds, bhangira or bhanga as known locally)
1 tsp cumin seeds
one green chili chopped
salt to taste 
3 tbsp grated jaggery
few springs of mint leaves (I used mint powder)
dash of mustard oil (optional but recommended)
3/4 cup thick yogurt

procedure 

Dry roast the bhangira seeds till they start spluttering. Add cumin seeds to the same pan and roast them together till cumin turns fragrant. Add the chopped green chili, take the pan off the stove and mix well. Wait till it gets colder, pulverise to make a powder. The bhangira has a lot of oil in it so the powder will be crumbly. Add the mint leaves and blend again. I used mint powder so this was not required.

Cut the lemon into 2 halves longitudinally. Peel off the rind and separate the segments, discarding the seeds and parchment like skin.

recipe of sana hua nimbu

Mix the lemon segments and the roasted bhangira mix, add salt to taste, jaggery, yogurt in a bowl and mix everything nicely.

Serve right away. The sana hua nimbu stays good for a couple of hours at room temperature in winters. It is a warming food that is eaten sitting in the sun. It definitely is quite nourishing in more ways, great pre and probiotic too.

recipe of sana hua nimbu

After I finished the 2 lemons I brought back, I tried this recipe with Kinnow oranges and it tasted really good. So the sana hua nimbu recipe is going to be a regular in my home, in summers it will be a nice cooling lunch if I keep the bhangira out.



Friday, February 24, 2017

when Tunday's kababs come to town


People have started wasting so much food these days, lamented Mohd. Usman, fondly known as Usman Bhai in Lucknow, when I asked him about the new experimental Mughlai foods. People want more variety so we have to cater to it but no one values food like the good old times when only 3 dishes (known as teen khana) were served for wedding feasts and that was Korma, Sheermal and Biryani. The well to do hosts served 5 dishes which was called as panch khana (five course meal), including the kababs and paratha too, which was considered as the highest limit for the commoners. Now there are hundreds of dishes served in a wedding party and there is so much wastage of food that is criminal, he rued.

Usman Bhai's words ring a bell. We are living in the age of illusionary abundance and we want more. The five dishes he talks about are seeped with the culinary tradition and the flavours embrace you in their comfort like a grandmother, a 13 course meal somehow fails in bringing that comfort zone.

Chef Moh. Usman is the grandson of the legendary Tunday Kababi and is currently in Delhi sharing his food legacy. Tunday's Galawat ke kabab are such a genius that we have been revisiting every time we are in Lucknow but when it comes to Delhi we can't afford to miss it. The spice blends are guarded and the myth is that they use 120 spices in it. Go figure.  

It is at JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity where he is currently hosting the Tunday Kababi Festival at K3, the multi cuisine restaurant. We joined him for dinner last Friday and had our fill of Galawat ke kababs, Ulte tawe ke paranthe, Biryani, Paya Shorba and Nihari.


When I saw Usman Bhai scooping out the mutton mince mix for galwat ke kabab and casually patting it over the mahi tawa using his bare fingers, just like he does at his own place, I knew we are getting transported to Lucknow for a while. The Kababs tasted better than their own place I must add, it might be a case of better ambiance but the silken texture of the kabab held more flavours that day.

The Biryani was exactly the same flavour wise, the same aromatic subtle spicing, each grain of rice replete with the flavour of meat and the meat tender enough to become one with rice in a mouthful. Although the quality of rice was different at the hotel but it didn't make much difference to the flavours that we enjoy at the Tunday's Lucknow.

The Paya Shorba was rustic and unpretentious as it should be, the healthy concoction that it is. The Nihari too revived the taste of Lucknow, the ulte tawe ka paratha was made smaller but the right technique of making it was evident.

The specialties from Tunday's are available as a buffet spread for just a few more days, till Feb 26th so you can go and taste the authentic flavours of the famed Tunday clan. It is worth the commute to the Aerocity I must add, as its not everyday that you get to interact with a legend who wants to stick to those panch khana and keep whipping these all his life.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

sagga pyaz ki subzi recipe | spring onion stir fry UP style


Sagga pyaz is just another name by which spring onions or hara pyaz are know as in UP, eastern Uttar Pradesh to be precise. Sagga pyaz literally means greens of onion or pyaz ka saag and even a saag (stir fried greens) type recipe made with this is known as sagga pyaz.

Spring onions start appearing in the early winters and keep coming to the markets till spring. There are many winter recipes that use spring onions and the alu hare pyaz ki subzi is one of the favourites. Carrot and spring onion paratha is another recipe we love, it is added to our everyday omelets and scrambles by the handfuls. Spring onion and potato soup is a regular too every winter, sagga pyaz ke pakode takes the cake whenever one craves for some pakodas during winters. .

sagga pyaz ki subzi

Someone was talking about sagga pyaz on Instagram when I was reminded of this subzi known as sagga pyaz, a quick stir fry that is replete with the rustic flavour of spring onion, often quite sharp when it is the spring of red onions. But it is a much loved subzi because of this sharpness for some people, we like to tone down the sharpness by adding some new potatoes of the season to sagga pyaz.

ingredients 
(serves 2-3)

400 gm spring onions, preferably small bulbs and fresh green leaves
one small poato
chopped green chillies to taste
1/2 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (optional but recommended) 
salt to taste
1 tbsp mustard oil

procedure 

Clean and chop the spring onions in small bits, keeping the white and green parts separate.

Clean and chop the potato in small bits too. No need to peel the potato if it is clean and unblemished.

Heat mustard oil, add the fenugreek seeds, chopped chillies and let them get aromatic before proceeding. Add the chopped potatoes, salt and turmeric powder and stir to mix.

Cook for 2 minutes before adding the white parts of the spring onion and cook for a couple of minutes while stirring it all.

Now add the green parts of the spring onion, mix well and cook only till the greens get wilted. The sagga pyaz subzi is done. Serve hot or warm or even at room temperature, this subzi is a great side dish for Indian thali meals.

I remember this sagga pyaz subzi used to be our lunch box meal sometimes with parathas, during the school days. I remember eating this subzi with bajre ki roti and white butter too and sometimes just rolled up in a roti to make a quick snack.

We use our subzis in so many ways if we like them.

Sagga pyaz is one of those in my home, although I have met a few people who are intolerant to the strong aroma of the onion in the spring onions and can't eat it at all. Make some sagga pyaz ki subzi if you like it, else capitalise on other greens of the winter season.




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

alu sowa ki bhujia | a warm fragrant stri fry with potatoes and dill leaves


Sowa or Soya is Dill leaves and is also known by the name of Shepu, a fragrant winter herb that is used liberally all over UP. Sowa methi is a popular combination of flavours and works great when making a sookhi subzi with alu, even the sowa methi ka paratha is so good you never get bored of this herb. But the most popular will be this alu sowa ki bhujia and even alu sowa ki subzi with minor variations.

dill leaves or sowa bhaji

We have been enjoying a lot of sowa this season too and had alu sowa in many variations. It will not be fair if I don't share all those alu sowa recipes here.

Here is the alu sowa ki bhujia to start with. It tastes great with Indian meals in general, great with plain hot parathas, dal chawal meals but you would be surprised to see the response when you serve it like a warm or even cold salad. Potato and dill salad like this can be had on its own and can become a sandwich stiffing.

alu sowa ki bhujia

Alu sowa ki bhujia 

ingredients 
(served 2-4 depending on side dishes)
2 large boiled potatoes cooled to room temperature or refrigerated
1.5 cup chopped dill leaves (1 cup is good too)
1 tbsp mustard oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
chopped green chillies to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
amchoor powder a few pinches (optional)

procedure 

Peel and cube the potatoes in bite sized pieces.

Heat oil in a pan or kadhai. Add the cumin seeds and methi seeds and wait till they turn aromatic and pinkish brown. Add in the green chillies and the cubed potatoes in quick succession. Toss and fry on low heat till the potatoes get some brown spots and get dehydrated a little.

Add salt, turmeric powder and toss and stir for a couple of minutes, add the chopped dill leaves and keep tossing and mixing till the dill leaves get wilted completely and coat the potatoes well.

Adjust seasoning.

Sprinkle amchoor powder as per taste if using.

Serve hot right away or serve it cold. It is great any which way.

The other type of alu sowa ki subzi is cooked using raw potatoes and is more of a creamy mash infused with lot of dill leaves. I use all the tender stems of dill in this version too.

Alu sowa ki subzi

ingredients 

2 medium sized potatoes peeled and cubed
1 cup chopped dill leaves
1/2 cup tender dill stems chopped roughly
chopped green chillies to taste
1 tbsp mustard oil
1/4 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp pepper powder
salt to taste

procedure 

Heat the mustard oil and tip in the methi seeds. Wait till it becomes aromatic. Add the green chillies and cubed potatoes, mix salt and turmeric powder, cover with a filling lid and cook on low flame for 6-7 minutes or till the potatoes are cooked.

Now add the tender stems of dill, mix well, add pepper powder and cover again to cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the dill leaves, toss and mix. Thrash with a wooden spatula a few times to make the potatoes mush up a little. The dill flavour will infuse beautifully in the potatoes. 

alu sowa ki subzi

Serve hot or cold, as a subzi or a salad or any which way you want.

Served with some grilled piri piri chicken wings we loved it for dinner last week. The leftover was used in alu paratha the next day and that was great too.

Make some alu sowa ki bhujia or alu sowa ki subzi while the season lasts. Dill freezes well in ziplock bags so you can save some of the season's bounty but the new winter potatoes cannot be saved.

Make some alu sowa now, bhujia or subzi you can decide according to your taste.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

murgh ki tahiri | a one pot chicken and rice dish


Murgh ki tahiri or chicken tahiri is one of the comfort foods we love, sometimes more than Biryani because of the simpler flavours and the fact that the chicken tahiri is more moist than a chicken biryani.


One pot meals are a norm on my table. I love such meals because one gets the comfort of a good meal in just one dish, not much because it involves lesser work in the kitchen but the taste and warm comfort such meal bring. Our tahiris and khichdis are not so simple to cook as they sound most of the times but we love such meals for many reasons other than that.

In fact if you think of it, most one pot meals involves as much work as any other meal if you are including all major nutrient groups in one pot, especially the vegetables. You do all the chopping, you do some sauteing, tempering and whatever needed, only the ingredients are cooked in one pot. And most of the times our tahiris and khichdis are served with an appropriate raita that needs additional work but no one minds that.

ingredients
(2 servings and may be some leftover)

2 legs of chicken cut in 3 pieces each
1/4 cup of rice
1 cup of fine diced onions
1/2 cup of chopped coriander leaves (dhaniya patta) along with the stems
1/2 cup of finely chopped fenugreek (methi) leaves or a handful of crushed dry kasoori methi (optional)
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
chopped green chilies as per taste
everyday curry powder 1 tbsp
special garam masala 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp or lesser
salt to taste
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 tejpatta (Indian bay leaves)
1 tsp lemon juice mixed with 1/4 cup water 

procedure 

Rinse the rice, drain water and keep for 10-15 minutes till you proceed with the chicken and spices.

Heat ghee in a thick base handi or stockpot. Add the cumin seeds and wait till it gets fried and aromatic. Tip in the onion, ginger and garlic and fry on low heat till it starts getting pinkish brown.

Add the fenugreek leaves or crushed dry kasoori methi if using and the chicken pieces. Keep bhunoeing (sauteing) for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the powder spices and salt, stir and cook some more till the spices become aromatic and the chicken looks a little glazed. Add the chopped dhaniya patta and stir to mix.

Now add a cup of water and let the chicken cook covered for 10 minutes. Heat a griddle on the other side of gas stove in the meanwhile.

Add the rice and the lemon juice mixed with water, mix well and cover the pot tightly. Place the hot griddle under the tahiri pot and let it cook on very low flame for 10-12 minutes. Switch off the flame and let the pot sit for another 10 minutes before you open and serve the chicken tahiri steaming hot.


It tastes best with raw onion and pomegranate raita but you can make cucumber raita or any other raita you like. We like it even with a kachumber salad of tomatoes and onions and may be some flame roasted papad too. In fact the chicken tahiri can have many side dishes on the table, have it as simple as you wish or make it elaborate with as many side dishes you wish to have with it.

Chicken tahiri or murgh tahiri will never fail to comfort you warmly and softly like a grandmother. Trust me.

We had it for dinner last month sometime between our back to back travels and the pictures were taken in a hurry to document it. Otherwise I have rarely been able to click pictures of our tahiri meals although we have tahiri quite often.




Thursday, January 19, 2017

sagpaita recipe | urad dal aur palak ka sagpaita


Sagpaita is simply a dal cooked with winter greens. As I mentioned in the bathue ka sagpaita recipe, dals are rarely cooked without greens in winters. Many times the dals are replaced by the various nimonas and sometimes people even replace the everyday dal with rajma or chhole to be had with plain boiled rice. Those are some of the comfort foods for many of us and rajma chawal, chhole chawal, nimona chawal or sagpaita chawal kind of meals bring back the memories from childhood till date.

Urad dal (black lentils) are consumed a lot during winters for all traditional recipes of khichdi, dals and of course the badas and badis of different types.

urad dal (split  black beans)

Mung and masoor are the easily digestible dals chosen for summer meals while chana dal and urad dal are common winter foods. Other dals also keep featuring in various permutation combinations and there are various names for all the dals we eat. A cook's prowess is often measured by how well he/she cooks a dal and there are many old kahavats (sayings) featuring the humble dal, it can be such a homely dish that can be adapted to just about anything.

We used split urad dal with skin for this recipe of urad dal ka nimona and the common greens used for this are spinach, bathua of chenopodium, or a mix of all seasonal greens, each one imparting a new dimension to this sagpaita. I often add a handful of tender carrot leaves or spring onion greens to add more flavour to the sagpaita.

urad dal ka sagpaita

Feel free to add any greens you like but spinach or bathua taste the best with a little added carrot leaves, spring onion, dill leaves or even a bit of fenugreek leaves.

ingredients 
(3-4 servings)

1/3 cup split urad dal with skin (as shown in the picture above), rinse and let it soak for 15 minutes
salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp grated or minced ginger
2 cups of cleaned and chopped spinach leaves (about 300 gm)
3/4 cup of chopped spring onion or dill leaves or fenugreek leaves ( I used spring onion here)

for tempering
1 tbsp ghee or a little more if you wish
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped ripe tomatoes (preferably desi, I don't use tomatoes many times)
1 tsp everyday curry powder
red chili powder to taste

procedure 

Pressure cook the split urad dal with salt, turmeric powder, ginger and a cup of water. It takes about 10 minutes after the first whistle. Lower the heat after the first whistle to let the dal cook. Let the pressure release on its own.

In the meanwhile prepare for the tadka and you can cook the rice etc to go with the dal.

Open the lid of the pressure cooker and add all the chopped greens, mix well and place the lid back. The greens will get cooked in the remaining heat.

For the tadka, heat the ghee in a pan, add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, garlic and onions in that order, waiting in between to let the aromas infuse in the oil. Brown the onions lightly.

Add the curry powder as soon as the onions brown, mix quickly and dunk the chopped tomatoes in it. Add a little salt and cover to cook the tomatoes thoroughly on low heat. This takes about 4-5 minutes.

Now pour the dal and greens mix to the tadka pan, mix well, add some water to adjust consistency and simmer for a couple of minutes before serving.

urad dal ka sagpaita

This sagpaita tastes really good with plain boiled rice and makes hot comfort food in winters. I always remember eating hot dal chawal in a bowl and I still do that. Now I have huge breakfast mugs that I use for me soup meals o dal chawal meals, sagpaita and chawal meals also come in the same category. You really don't need anything else with this sagpaita and rice meal but the traditional bhujias, roasted papad and raita etc are pleasant additions always.

Sometimes I add lot of tomatoes and some green peas too in the tadka and cook them thoroughly before adding to the sagpaita. Variations always feel good in such everyday recipes and sometimes leftover dals can also be turned into sagpaita with just the tadka and some tomatoes and winter greens added.

urad dal ka sagpaita

It always feels good to cook something our grandparents have been eating and most certainly their grandparents ate the same too. It is in the last 2-3 decades that our food habits have changed so much that many of us have forgotten cooking from scratch, using real ingredients and not sauces, mixes and blends.

My motive is to bring back the food wisdom on the table everyday. We need to realise that simpler foods are the tastiest and stay in our memory for ever. A curry loaded with a hundred spices gets lost in the memory lanes. Try recollecting your food memories and you will know what I mean.