Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sunila's Parsi Dhansag

I am half parsi from my father's side and so I have grown up eating a fair amount of parsi food. My mother learned how to cook parsi food really well and so we often eat and cook it. I am including her recipe for mutton dhansag and will keep adding my other favourites. Also attached is an article written by Freddy Birdy about eating Bombay Duck at my mother Sunila's house in Delhi.

Ma’s Dhansag
Boil : dhuli mung, masoor, and tur dals ( 1/3 Cups each, or you will have too much dal) with 2 chopped onions, 2 tomatoes, a wedge of (50 gm ) baingan, white pumpkin, yellow pumpkin, a small bunch of methi and a few leaves of palak. If available, put in a green mango. Boil just enough to puree it all roughly.

Marinate I kg of meat in 2 Tbsp. adrak-lassan (ginger-garlic). Fry 3 sliced onions till brown, add meat and stir till it leaves water, add 4 Tbsp dhansak masala, 2 Tbsp. sambhar masala, 2 grated tomatoes and the vegetable puree. Add 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1tsp zeera powder,1 tsp dhania powder , 1 tsp. garam masala powder.

If you haven’t put in the green mango add some tamarind juice at the point when the dal-vegetable puree is added to meat.
A tadka of a few methi leaves crackled in oil with some whole red chillies on the top is nice
Parsis also add a spoon of jaggery after the tamarind juice as they like their food quite sweet but you can skip that.
Of course if you are making veggie dhansag, you follow all the steps except instead of marinating meat in adrak lassan (ginger-garlic) you add 1 tbsp. of adrak-lassan to the fried onions.

Bombay Duck in Delhi.
By Freddy Birdy

Some of Delhi’s most delicious meals can be had outside its restaurants.

If you are ever invited to lunch at Sunila Patel’s, and if you happen to know in advance that she will be serving her crisp-fried, green chilly-stuffed Bombay Duck, then please do drop every pressing engagement and go.

It is an arduous climb up several “ builder-steps” to her second floor apartment, but worth every asthmatic gasp.

You will be seated at a square wooden table, bought in the mid eighties at Taaru’s, that furniture brand that existed when there were no such thing as furniture brands. Behind you will be a wall full of books, leaning against each other unselfconsciously like old friends. The walls will be scattered with delicate Mickey Patel drawings. And a split air-conditioner will lower the second floor summer temperature considerably.

But all this will fade to a blur and your whole, undivided attention will fall on the star attraction, as it is placed simply before you.

The Bombay Duck is not a bird, it does not quack, neither does it come from Bombay. Ours comes a short hop down the road from the Chitaranjan Park fish market. To call the Bombay Duck a fish would be like calling Shabana Azmi an actor. It is much more than that. It is about an inch longer than a 6 inch ruler, slender, firm, yet slightly, nicely, plump. [ Think Aishwariya Rai’s belly in Kajra Re.] It is marinated for a bit in a touch of turmeric, a finger’s pinch of red chilly powder, a tiny hint of ginger-garlic paste, stuffed with an entire small green chilly, dusted in the merest whisper of rice flour and gently placed delicately on an iron griddle glistening with smoking hot oil till it is done to an impossible deliciousness, shatteringly crisp on the outside, the flesh meltingly soft and moist on the inside.

Even though I would include Sunila in my list of favourite conversationalists in Delhi city, her Bombay Duck is best eaten in utter silence, with your fingers, head focused firmly on the plate in front of you, fingertips just slightly scalded by the searing hot flesh, hands used only in pantomime when it is time for your plate to be replenished. You pause midmouthful to rain fresh lime on it, lengthwise, from large half-discs of lemon, or gulp large sips of iced water. It is important to mention here that no other conflicting flavour be served alongside. The only thing that goes well with Bombay Duck, is more Bombay Duck.

The ingredients for this feast to end all feasts, cost a princely thirty rupees. But simply flashing a credit card will not give to access to this extraordinary taste sensation. The Bombay Duck is unlisted on menus in Delhi. It would appear naïve and a little foolish in front of its richer cousins: crabs, lobsters, tiger prawns, mussels. But it is a dish that occupies heartspace, not menuspace. In a sense, this is fast-food, straight from the fish market, into the frying pan and in your mouth. But it is possibly the world’s most delicious fast food. You cannot merely buy your crisp fried Bombay Duck, you have to earn it. And of course, it is never ever too late to get to know Sunila Patel.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Black-eyed pea soup/ Lobia Dal Soup

Black-eyed Pea Soup, Lobia Dal SoupI love lentil and bean soups. I got the idea to make this one from my friend who ate this black -eyed pea/Lobia dal soup quite often while she was on the famous Delhi based dietitian, Shikha Sharma's diet plan. She mentioned how delicious one can make it apart from it being filling and nutritious. However, this recipe is my own variation. In addition to a high protein content, black-eyed peas serve as an excellent source of calcium and are also high in vitamin A and folic acid.


1 cup black-eyed peas/ Lobia
pinch of turmeric
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 teaspoon red chilli powder/paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped spinach leaves
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup spring onions
1 cup stock or 1 soup cube dissolved in 1 cup warm water

1. Soak one cup black-eyed peas/lobia dal overnight
2. Boil in 3 cups water with salt and a pinch of turmeric/ haldi. If in a pressure cooker, 2 whistles on a high flame and 12-14 minutes on a simmered flame are enough.
3. Heat 1/2 a tablespoon of oil in a pan, add chopped onion and garlic and stir. Add 1 teaspoon red chilli powder / paprika (optional)
4. Add tomatoes and stir till they break down and cook completely.
Add the chopped carrots, spring onions, peas, spinach leaves, and stir for 5 minutes.
6. Add one cup of chicken or vegetable stock. One soup cube will do too. If using a soup cube, dissolve it in a cup of warm water and add to the pot.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Add the black-eyed peas/Lobia Dal and the water it boiled in. Boil together till desired thickness and consistency.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mutton Rogan Josh

Mutton Rogan Josh, Kashmiri Mutton DishThis recipe is an adaptation of Camellia Panjabi's recipe from the book 50 Great Curries of India. Its a combination of both the Hindu and the Muslim way to cook it. Serve with plain rice, saffron pulao or serve with hot with rotis !

1 kg mutton ( some bones)
8 cloves garlic chopped or crushed
3 teaspoons kashmiri red chilli powder
1/2 cup thick yoghurt
250 gm small onions chopped, normal onions will do too
1/4 cup ghee/ oil
4 cloves
2 large black cardamom
4 green cardamom
2 cinnamon leaves, tej patta
1 blade of mace/javitri
1 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon fennel / saunf powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder/ sonth
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
salt to taste


1. Boil the mutton with the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 6 cups water for 30 minutes. Remove and strain. Keep stock aside.
2. Make a paste of the red chilli powder by adding a little bit of water.
3 Whisk the yoghurt, set aside.
4. Heat ghee/oil. Add onions and fry till golden brown. Add cloves, green and black cardamoms, mace coarsely ground together. Add the 2 bay leaves. Fry for a minute.
5. Add the coriander, fennel, ginger and turmeric powder and fry. Add chilli paste and a little warm water and stir.
6. Add the meat, saute till nicely coated by masala. If the masala sticks to bottom of pan keep adding a little of the stock kept aside.
7. Add whisked yoghurt and stir well.
8. Add 3-4 cups of the stock kept aside and lower heat. Cover and cook till meat is tender.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Seafood Pasta by Julia Mily

Seafood PastaPlease welcome another one of my favourite dishes! I've ordered it in so many restaurants and tasted so many variations, but this one cooked by Julia at our home was the best. I want to post many recipes of dishes made by Julia who's recently arrived from Munich for 3 months, and seems to be spending a lot of time cooking wonderful meals for us. It really should be the other way around, but we're soon going to make up for it and cook her favourite dish in India so far -Butter Chicken!

The trick to cooking this dish is that the pasta has to be done or at least almost done when you start making the seafood sauce, as once the seafood sauce is ready the pasta must go in immediately.

500 gms of mixed seafood (we had frozen shrimps, mussels, baby octopus and squid)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh garlic paste
1 stock/soup cube
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 dry red chilli or 1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
3 large tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoon white wine
1 packet spaghetti

1. Cook Spaghetti in water with salt and few drops of olive oil and drain.
2. Heat the olive oil and stir in garlic. Add one dry red chilli or half teaspoon of red chilli flakes and stir for 2 minutes or so till the garlic cooks but not browns.
3. Add the seafood and stir on a high flame 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste
4. Lower the flame and add the white wine and stir.
5. Dissolve the stock/soup cube in some water and add to the dish.
6. Add tomatoes and stir. Keep tossing for 5 minutes. The tomatoes don't need to cook too much
7. Add parsley and stir.
8. Add cooked spaghetti toss thoroughly. Add more Olive oil and stir if the spaghetti is too dry.

* This dish tastes much better If you have the option of using fresh octopus, mussels with the shells on, gambas and fresh bits of sea fish.

Tuna Fish Salad

Tuna Fish SaladHere's a simple and wholesome summer salad. Potatoes added to this salad make a nice change from the regular recipes available. Serve chilled.

1 small can tuna, drained
2 medium potatoes boiled
3 fresh tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic, chopped fine or ground
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
paprika to taste
Salt to taste


Boil the potatoes, skin and crumble into large pieces. Chop the tomatoes into large pieces.
In a large bowl, combine the tuna, onion, mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, garlic , salt and pepper. Add the boiled potatoes and tomatoes. Mix well and refrigerate until chilled. Sprinkle with paprika if desired.

Green Masala Mutton Chops

Green Masala Mutton Chops, Mutton ChopsI bought some mutton chops from Metro Cash and Carry at a great price the other day and decided to try this recipe. Turned out fantastic and much appreciated by all at a happy Sunday lunch at the Tulls. Here's how to make this dish.

8 medium mutton chops, washed and drained
3 finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Salt to taste

Blend the following and Marinate chops in:
1 cup yoghurt/ Dahi
4 green chillies
1 teaspoon fresh garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
a pinch of turmeric/haldi
1 teaspoon roasted cumin/jeera powder
pinch of red chilli powder
1/2 cup of fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon of mint/pudina leaves
Juice of half a lime


1. Marinate mutton chops for at least half an hour.
2. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and fry the chopped onions till golden brown.
3. Remove 3/4 of the fried onions and keep aside for the garnish
4. Add marinated meat into pressure cooker with the remaining onions and stir for 5-6 minutes. Add the salt.
5. Close the pressure cooker and cook for 2 whistles on a high flame and 10 minutes on a low flame.
6. Turn the gas off and let the pressure subside.
7. Pour into a dish and garnish with the fried onions.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Clay Pot for setting Yoghurt/ Dahi

Clay Pot for setting Yoghurt, Dahi, CurdI just bought this clay pot from the Dastkari Haat Samiti bazaar that came to Bangalore for a 10 day fair held at Chitra Kala Parishad. Its from the Rajasthani terracotta pottery stall. I was told by the potters that if I thought I was setting good yoghurt/dahi at home, I didn't know how much better it could be if I set it in pot like this ! Sure enough, this mud pot for Rupees 80/- has given me the BEST yoghurt I have ever been able to set at home and it tastes delicious. My friends have since also praised the pretty clay pot and the taste of the yoghurt/dahi set in it.

The clay pot is not glazed or coloured with anything. It helps to wash it gently in water several times before using it to remove any debris.
I also find it useful to fill any clay cooking vessels with left over water in which you have cooked rice, and leave it overnight. It primes the dish and prepares it for cooking, or in this case setting yoghurt/Dahi.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Focaccia Bread with Olives and Habanero Chilli

Focaccia Bread, olives and Habanero Chillies, Italian BreadThis is an easy Focaccia Bread recipe I learned from Mary Berry's Complete Cook Book, a lovely pictorial cookbook published by Dorling Kindersley. I'm still trying out different variations and recipes, but so far, my tried and tested one is this. I used chilli oil made with home grown habanero chillies as a garnish on this bread.

750 grams of flour, plus a little extra for dusting
1 packet or 7 gms of fast acting dried yeast
3-4 tablespoon rosemary ( I use dried herbs) but if you have access to fresh, please use that
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra for greasing
250 ml tepid water
2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped olives
A sprinkle of habanero chilli oil

1. Put the flour in a bowl, add the yeast and the rosemary
Make a well in the middle, add oil and water and knead dough to a soft but not sticky consistency. When its smooth and elastic- shape it into a round and place the dough in a slightly greased bowl, cover and keep away in a warm place for an hour till it has doubled in size.
2. Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured work surface and knock back with your fists. Knead for 2-3 minutes and then roll it out to form a round shape -5 cm and about 2 inches thick. Oil the baking dish lightly and place the dough in it. Cover with cling film and leave for another hour in a warm place.
3. Brush with chilli oil or plain olive oil, sprinkle the olives and sea salt and bake in a pre-heated oven for 25 minutes at 190 degrees C or 375 degree F.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sprouted Dal Moth

Sprouted Dal Moth CurryThis dal, more popularly eaten in its namkeen or savoury form is really delicious when sprouted and eaten as a spicy dal. You can make this semi dry or more liquidy depending on what your meal is like. Delicious and high in nutrition, it has become one of the regulars in our home.

Ingredients and Method
Soak one cup of Dal Moth overnight. Wrap in a muslin cloth and keep it in a strainer to sprout use a sprouting dish.

Heat one teaspoon of oil.
Add a pinch of asafateda.
Add a teaspoon of cumin seeds, when they crackle, add 3 slit green chillies
Add 1/2 a teaspoon of ground garlic and 1/2 a teaspoon of ground ginger, Stir for 1 minute.
Add a pinch of turmeric, 1/ 2teaspoon coriander powder and 1/2 a teaspoon of red chilli powder and stir
Add the pulp of 3 freshly grated tomatoes. Stir and cook till the oil leaves the masala
Add the sprouts and salt to taste. Stir to mix well.
Add 1 1/2 cups of warm water of you want the consistency thin and 1/2 a cup for a more dry consistency to eat with rotis
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and juice from 1/2 a lime.

Stuffed Whole Karela / Bitter Gourd

Stuffed Bitter Gourd/ KarelaIngredients
8 karelas/ bitter gourds
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil/ghee

2 grated onions
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon fennel powder/ saunf
1 tablespoon of the grated skin of the Karela
salt to taste

1. Grate the outer skin off the karela. Keep one tablespoon aside (optional)
Bold2. Slit along one side and remove the seeds.
3. Soak them in salted water for half and hour. Squeeze out water.
4. Heat a little oil, fry grated onions and then add all the other ingredients in the same order as listed. Mix and turn off the fire.
5. Once cooled stuff the karelas and tie with string only if required. The stuffing masala once cooked sticks together in a tight consistency so does not generally fall out.
6. Heat oil, once hot add the karelas, lower heat and roll them around till browned evenly on each side.