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.

(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


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 

(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)


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


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


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.