Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Palak Gosht ( Spinach and meat)


1 kg of mutton/lamb or chicken
4 onions
1” piece of ginger
6 garlic cloves
4 green chillies
½ cup yoghurt
¼ and then ½ teaspoon cumin powder
200 grams spinach leaves, frozen works fine
1 bay leaf
1 black cardamom
3 cloves
1 teaspoon coriander powder
¼ and then ½ teaspoon cumin powder
3 tomatoes chopped
A pinch of nutmeg


Soak the meat in water. Grind the ginger, garlic and green chillies. Add the yoghurt and ¼ teaspoon cumin powder to this and blend some more. Drain the meat and marinate it in the above mixture for at least an hour.

To cook:

Heat the oil; add the bay leaf, cardamom and cloves. Add onions and fry till brown

Add the coriander and cumin powder and fry till spices cook

Add the marinated meat and cook for 10 minutes

Add the chopped tomatoes with a little hot water and salt

Cover the dish and simmer till the tomatoes get soft and the oil separates from the paste

Add the chopped/frozen spinach at the end and mix in

Sprinkle a pich of nutmeg powder over the dish at the very end.

Habanero Chillies

I have a Habanero chilli tree in my garden. I got the seeds from Coorg, where Anurag and Sujata Goel run an organic farm called Rainforest Retreat. I use one sliver of a chilli in an entire dish and the taste is intense ! I've made chilli oil and have been cooking in it, or pouring it on top of rice, pasta, and bread.

Incidentally, the Habanero is only the third hottest chilli in the world! The hottest chilli is the Bhut Jolokia from Assam. I would really like to know how people in Assam use this chilli.

Panna Kamdar's Neembu Dal and Gobhi Aloo

Panna Kamdar is an old friend from Delhi, who has moved away to America, so its been a while since I've eaten her Neembu Dal and Gobhi Aloo. Its one of the best combinations to eat with plain white rice and some pickle. I asked her to e-mail me the recipes.

Neembu Daal
Making Neembu dal is very easy. Cook a cup of arhar/toor dal in 2 cups water, thin it out according to the consistency that you want and add a pinch of haldi (turmeric powder), 2 finely chopped green chilles and a tsp of freshly ground adharkh (ginger) along with salt and neembu (lime). Let it boil for about 7 mnts. You can add grated coconut if you have it but this has to be fresh one. For the tadka you have to heat the oil add 6 curry patta (curry leaves), a pinch of hing (asoefetida) and 1/2 tsp rai (small mustard seeds) and put it in the dal. Before serving add dhaniya patta (chopped coriander leaves) to it.

Gobhi Aloo
There are two kinds of gobhi aloo - the Punjabi one and the South Indian one. For the punjabi one, you put oil and add 1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)after the jeera becomes a little brown add ground adhrakh (ginger) after a little frying add 1 Tbsp tomato puree and after a minute add a pinch of haldi ( turmeric) 1/2 tsp lal mirchi (red chilli) powder and 1/2 tsp dhaniya-jeera (coriander-cumin) powder. After roasting all this masala for about five minutes add the potato and caulifolwer. Stir all the subji properly so that the masala is coated all over and then cover it. Stir it occassionaly so that it does not stick, add a little water and let it cook. Before serving add dhaniya patta (coriander leaves)

For the South Indian style put oil and add a tsp of rai (small mustard seeds) and once that is done add a tsp of urad dal (split black gram) . Once the urad dal becomes slightly brown add the vegetables. Put salt and cut 2 green chilles and let it cook on slow fire. Before serving add a few drops of nimbu (lime) a little freshly grated coconut and dhaniya patta (coriander leaves) stir it and serve.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mutton Pulao

Try this Pulao recipe when you have 10 or more people coming. I've adapted the recipe so that it works for 2 kg of meat. Its simpler than making biryani and the rice gets all the flavour of the meat curry and stock which is why I often prefer pulaos over biryani.

2 kg mutton
1 kg basmati rice/ count how many cups this is so you can double the amount of liquid
6 onions sliced
6 green chillies, slit
1 cup full of mint leaves

Roast and Grind
8 cloves
3-4 inch pcs of cinnamon
8 cardamom
A whole pod of garlic
100 gms of Ginger
10 dry red chillies

3 bay leaves
2 tsp turmeric
2 cups curd at room temperature and whisked

wash mutton and drain water out
wash rice, soak for 2-3 hours
Heat oil, add bay leaves
Add onions and green chillies. Fry onions till golden brown. Add mint leaves
Add the roasted and ground masala paste. Fry on low heat till the oil separates
Add meat and turmeric powder. Keep stirring till meat browns a bit
Add salt to taste
Add the beaten curd carefully. Keep stirring so it doesn’t split
Add 2 cups of warm water and stir
Cover and cook for 20 minutes till meat is quite tender.
Add the juice of one lime

Once the meat is cooked, remove the mutton pcs with slotted spoon and measure the gravy. The gravy has to be double that of the cups of rice. If the gravy is less then add warm water or stock.
Taste the curry for salt. It should be on the saltier side because you still need to add the rice.
Heat the gravy, and when it boils add the mutton pieces and drained basmati rice to it. Cook covered till rice is done. Alternatively add everything to a rice cooker.

Garnish with fried onion slices and finely chopped coriander leaves.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Kashmiri Wazwan

I feel lucky to have visited Kashmir twice. The first time was when I was 8 years old and I went with my "best" friend Aditi, who's father was an IAS officer posted in Srinagar. Tony Jaitly was a great host and the meals I had at their home are unforgettable. Their cook Bashir made many of the dishes that I have posted recipes of here.
The Kashmiri Wazwan traditionally consisted of 36 courses but there are 7 dishes which form an indispensable part of this feast. They are Tabakh Maaz, Rista, Rogan Josh, Dhaniwal Korma, Aab gosht, Marchwagan Korma and Gushtaba. I have included recipes of all 7.
This is a picture of the saffron crocus flower with the red stigma. The red stigma is what we know as the saffron strands that we use in our cooking.


1 kg meat from the rib cage (the membranous part of the ribs, not the chop, un separated)
27 cups water
4 1/2 tsp ground garlic
3 1/2 tsp salt
12 cups water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry ginger/ sonth
8 cloves
8 black cardamoms
3 1/2 tsp turmeric
2 1/2 cups desi ghee
1. Boil the water, add the ribs. Remove any scum that surfaces. Boil covered till ribs are half done.
2. Add the garlic and mix well. Boil for 10 minutes. Add salt and boil covered, till the membrane between ribs can be peirced with your thumb. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the water. Cool ribs and immerse in cold water. Clean the ribs and remove them. Do not discard the water.
3. Chop the ribs into equal recktangular pieces.
4. Boil water in which the ribs were washed. Add the ribs, salt, dry ginger, cloves, cardamom and turmeric. Mix well. Let it boil till the bones can be extracted from the membrane easily. Remove the pan and take out the ribs. Keep aside.
5. Arrange the ribs in a large frying pan so they don't overlap. Pour the desi ghee over and fry them till they are reddish brown. Turn occasionally. Drain out the ghee before serving.


To make the rista meatballs:
Take 500 gm of boneless meat from the leg of lamb (fat removed) and cut into 1"x 2" cubes, 4 Tbsp fat or unsalted butter, 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder and 3/4 Tbsp salt.
Pound the meat on a smooth stone with a wooden mallet. While pounding, remove any white tough fibre. Keep pounding till the meat changes colour. When its lightened in colour, add fat/butter and cardamom powder. Continue to pound till meat is soft and very light in colour. Add salt and mix well. Wet hands in chilled water and make balls with the meat paste. Keep aside for rista or gushtaba. Each rista should weigh 75 gms.
OPTION- * I would buy the mince ready made from the butcher and finely grind it with spices in a mixie but I thought I should inform you how the experts make rista as well !

Now to make the rista with gravy
10 pcs rista12 cups of stock made with 8 bones boiled in 15 cups of water covered for 45 minutes and then strained
12 green cardamom
6 cloves
3 1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup ghee
1/4 cup/ garlic water
1 1/2 Tbsp onion paste fried
2 tsp/4 gm kashmiri red chilli powder dissolved in 1 cup water
1/4 tsp saffron
1/4 tsp black pepper powder

* Garlic water is made by mincing 1 1/2 Tbsp of garlic and mixing it with 1/4 cup water. Let it stand for 5 minutes and then rub it with hands through a muslin cloth

1. In a pan, add the rista, stock, green cardamom, cloves, turmeric, ghee, garlic water, onion paste, red chilli water and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, Mix well and cook covered till the rista is tender and the gravy is soupy.
2. Add saffron, black pepper powder and salt. Mix well.


1 kg Mutton/Lamb
6 cloves garlic
3 teaspoon red chili powder
1 cup plain Yoghurt
3 onions chopped
4 cloves
2 black cardamom
4 green cardamom
2 Bay leaves
1 blade of mace
1 ½ teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon fennel powder
1 teaspoon dry ginger powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste


Cook the meat in one cup of water and the garlic for 20 minutes
Make a paste of the red chili powder with water and keep aside.
Whisk the yoghurt and keep aside
Fry the onions, and add cloves, cardamoms, bay leaf, and mace and continue frying.
Add the coriander, fennel, ginger and turmeric powders and then the chili paste and keep frying.
Remove the meat pieces from its stock and stir. Then add the stock.
Whisk in the yoghurt and cook on a low flame till the meat is tender.
Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.

DHANIWALI MURGH KORMA (Chicken korma with coriander leaves)

1 kg chicken pieces
6 garlic cloves
10 strands of saffron
2 medium onions chopped
2 cups thick yoghurt
6 green chillies chopped
3 tablespoons oil
4 cloves
6 green cardamoms
4 2" cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
salt to taste
2 cups chicken stock (made with chicken bones/ use soup cubes alternatively)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves

Boil the chicken in 3 cups of water with 2 cloves of garlic for 10 minutes. Strain. Keep the stock.
Pound the remaining garlic and soak it in 1/2 cup water. Strain it to get a garlic infusion. Soak saffron strands in 1/4 cup of water.
Grind onions and green chillies. Whisk yoghurt and set aside.
Heat the oil and fry onion paste till golden brown. Add cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. Add turmeric. Add chicken pieces and the garlic infusion. Fry for 5 minutes. Add the whisked yoghurt. Cover and cook on low flame for 10 minutes.
Add ginger powder and alt and saute. Add enough chicken stock to give you the desired amount of gravy. Simmer till chicken is cooked.
Once the chicken is cooked, add the saffron infusion, pepper and fresh coriander leaves.

AAB GOSHT ( Lamb cooked in milk)

750 gms to 1 kg of mutton
100 gms small madras onions
10 strands of saffron
4 tablespoons oil
1 cinnamon leaf (tej patta)
4 cloves
6 green cardamoms
2 pieces cinnamon 1 1/2 "
1 1/2 litres milk
1 tablesppon cream
1 1/2 teaspoons of fennel powder (saunf)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/3 teaspoon white pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Soak the saffron strands in a little water. Wash the lamb and keep aside
Grind onions and fry in a little oil till golden brown.
Boil meat in 6 cups of water, salt, cinnamon leaf, 1 clove, 1 cinnnamon stick, and the fried onions. When the meat is tender, strain and keep stock aside.
Boil the litre of milk, with the rest of the cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon stick. Once the milk comes to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer till the milk thickens and reduces to half the quantity. Once it cools add the tablespoon of cream and stir.
Add the meat and stock to the milk and cook on a low heat.
Heat oil, add saunf powder, cumin powder and pepper. Fry for a few seconds and add to the meat. Add sugar and stir it in.
Add saffron just before serving.
If you'd like this dish spicy, add slit green chillies to the milk once the meat and stock is added.

MARCHWAGAN KORMA (Red hot meat curry)

1 kg meat
10 cups water
1/2 cup ghee
1 tablespoon garlic paste
10 green cardamoms
4 black cardamoms
5 cloves
1 cup kashmiri red chilli powder dissolved in water
3 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 cinnamon sticks 2" each
2 teaspoon dry ginger powder
1 teaspoon shah jeera (black cumin seeds)
1 teaspoon dry mint leaves

Bring water to a boil, add meat. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain out and retain stock.
In a pan add boiled meat, ghee, salt, garlic, green cardamoms, and cloves. Mix well. Fry till meat is light brown in colour.
Add red chilli water, black cardamoms, turmeric powder, cinnamon sticks, and dry ginger powder. Stir and bring to boil. Lower heat, cover the pan, and cook till meat is tender. If the meat sticks, add small quantities of stock and stir occasionally.
Add roasted shah jeera and dry mint leaves. Mix well.


Make the meatballs the same way as the rista. The gushtaba are made slightly larger than rista. Each meatball could weigh 100 gms each.

10 gushtaba
5 cups cooked yoghurt
2 tablespoons oil/ghee
4 cups stock (made with 5-6 meat bones boiled in water for 20 minutes and strained)
8 green cardamoms
6 black cardamoms
6 cloves
3 teaspoons fennel powder (saunf)
3 teaspoons dry ginger powder (sonth)
1/4 cup garlic water
1 tablespoon onion paste made from fried onions
1/2 teaspoon dry mint leaves
* to make garlic water refer to the Rista recipe.

In a pan, add the gushtaba, cooked yoghurt, ghee and stock. Bring to a boil.
Add green and black cardamoms, cloves, fennel powder, and dry ginger powder. Continue to boil for 15 minutes.
Add the garlic water and salt. and boil for 10 minutes.
Pour in more stock/water if required to keep a soup like consistency in the gravy. Add the onion paste and cook till gushtabas are tender and the gravy has thickened.
Sprinkle the dry mint leaves.

To make cooked yoghurt:
Take 2 cups of thick yoghurt and whisk it. Add 1/2 cup water to it and blend. Boil this mixture and then lower heat and simmer. Keep stirring and cook till the quantity is reduced to half and and the colour changes to off white.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chicken Biryani

This recipe is from the book CURRY, by Lizzie Collingham, published by Vintage. The book tells the history of India and its rulers through their food.
This is not necessarily how we cook biryani today, but it shows us the laborious method and number of ingredients the mughals used to cook biryani which was a ' celebratory dish' eaten at weddings.

1 whole chicken, jointed into 8-10 pieces
2 cm pc of freshly ground ginger
6 cloves garlic crushed
2-3 ground green chillies
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
4 whole green chillies, slit
2 cm cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
salt to taste
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tomatoes, pureed
6-8 prunes (optional)
Mix all the above ingredients and add chicken. All the pieces should be coated in the marinade. Cover and leave in fridge overnight.
350 gm red split lentils
500 ml water
4-6 Tblsp vegetable oil
2 large onions; 1/4 of one sliced, the rest chopped
400 ml yoghurt
1/4 tsp saffron, crushed and steeped in 2 tsp hot milk
500 gm basmati rice, pre soaked in water for 20 minutes
salt to taste
2 cm cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
3 cloves
1 1/2 litres water
6 small new potatoes, boiled until just cooked
3 hard boiled eggs, shelled and cut in half
a few sprigs of mint
100 gm blanched slivered almonds
Put the lentils and water in a large pan. Bring to the boil, Turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat oil and fry the chopped onions until golden brown.
Take the chicken in its marinade out of the fridge, and add the onions and the cooking oil to the mixture.
Add yoghurt and mix well. Pour in the milk and saffron.
Drain the rice and put in a cooking pot with salt, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and 1 1/2 litres of boiling water. Simmer for 10 minutes and drain.
Fry the cooked potatoes.
Take a large casserole and put in the marinated chicken mixture at the bottom of the pot. Nestle the hard -boiled eggs in among the chicken, and sprinkle with sprigs of mint. Spread the red lentils over the meat. Then place the potatoes in a layer over the lentils. Spread the rice over the potatoes.
Fry the slices of onions and the slivered almonds in a little oil and scatter over the rice. Sprinkle a little water over the contents of the casserole. Close lid tightly and put over a high heat for 5 minutes. When the contents begin to sizzle, turn the heat to low and simmer for one hour.

Chicken Pepper Fry

This recipe is from a book called Aharam, Traditional Cuisine of Tamil Nadu, by Sabita Radhakrishna. This must be one of the best cook books I have. My friend Nayantara Patel, a very good cook herself, swore by it and gave it to me as a wedding gift . So I am especially attached to it. I will add many recipes from this book as we go along, but here's the first.

1 Chicken jointed into 8-12 pcs
1 Lime
3 Tsp Ginger-Garlic
1/2 Tsp Turmeric powder
Salt to taste

2 Dsp whole black pepper
2 Dsp Cumin Seeds
4 Cloves
2 pcs Cinnamon

3 Tbsp Oil
10 Curry leaves
2 Large onions thinly sliced
Garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves

1. Marinate the chicken pieces in lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric and salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.
2. Dry roast the ingredients to be powdered, and then grind them
3. Heal oil, add curry leaves, fry onions till golden brown. Add powdered spices and saute.
4. Add the marinated chicken. Fry for 5-8 minutes.
5. Add a cup of warm water and lower heat. Half cover the dish and let the chicken to cook
6. Add coriander leaves. Check the salt.