Monthly Archives: November 2012

Bread Head I am (Baqarkhani Roti)

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One of the great joys of Indian cookery for me is the balance of spices, that dance routine between aroma, taste and colour, that make up the explosion of complimenting flavours that is all that we have come to love in Indian Cuisine.

The key element in that Fandango is the heat in the dish, usually decided by the balance of fresh, alongside dried and ground chillies that you decide is right for the food you are creating. A further vital element for me is a complimentary vegetable or side plate; for many that is rice, for some potato, but for me it is naan and more especially  sweet naan, Peshwari, a Pakistani speciality being my usual naan of choice with something that is spicy hot hot, hot. My senses enjoy that influx of sweet that underpins that chilli heat in what I call that “curry moment”, where all the flavours come together with a sweetness that cannot be denied, bringing forth a fantastic facet to the dish that is sometimes cooling and flavour enhancing, oh yes for me sweet and spicy is the way to go!

A Naan for the uninitiated is a type of leavened oven baked bread in that it contains yeast and usually some yoghurt or milk, generically it is called a flat bread, and is common throughout the Asian and Arabic world , and for the most part and is either cooked in a Tandoor that fantastic oven that creates a lot of the flavours that make up a great curry, or on a Talwa a griddle or flat plate  on top of the stove.

Herein lies the problem, creating naan bread is not hard but for the genuine article you must have  a Tandoor, it creates a unique flavour that is very difficult to produce without a genuine tandoori,  for me digging up the lawn and laying in the traditional clay interior, and then firing that up with hot coals is a bit beyond getting the Barbie lit on a hot summers day and the domestic alternative in my kitchen is a non starter which would require the building an extension to house just to house such a fantastic cooking implement, which I think the wife may frown a little over!

However I am told these days you can buy domestic chapatis, Naan, and roti makers from ebay that claim to be the real deal, for about £60.00, which lets face it balanced against the cost of a Tandoor of around £250-£300 minimum plus the £5000 for the extension to the house, sounds like an option worth exploring!

At this time however I possess neither a tandoor or its cheaper alternatives, but I do possess a western fan oven that is both controllable and capable of producing fantastic breads, so get ready for a recipe that offers a sweet bread that will bring forth that Curry Moment

The following recipe hits the spot for me and is as near as you can get to the tandoori equivalent and for me is just about as good as it gets on the home bake front. Don’t expect to achieve a result in five minutes like all breads it takes time and effort but if you follow the recipe closely I promise you the result is well worth the effort; a semi sweet, and by that not as sweet as a Peshwari but on the way, cross between Pastry and bread, delicious!

“Oh yes let the yum yum fun begin!”

Baqarkhani Roti

500g (1lb2oz) Plain (all-purpose) Flour Plus a little extra for dusting

1 tsp Baking Powder

Pinch of salt

3 tsp Icing (confectioners) Sugar

250ml(8floz)warm full cream milk

.5 tsp Dried Yeast(.5 tsp sugar to activate Yeast)

4 Green cardamom pods ground remove the husks

2 Tbsp Raisins

1 tsp Poppy Seeds

250g(9oz)(1cup) Ghee melted plus extra for greasing

16-18 Almonds(cut into slivers)

Method

Sift the flour Baking Powder and salt into a large bowl, and add the icing sugar and warm milk (Set aside)

Now is the time to activate the Yeast, place the yeast in a small bowl and add 5 Tbsp lukewarm water and the .25 tsp of sugar set aside for at least 30 mins until the yeast has risen.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour and mix together to make a dough using your hands to knead the dough on a flat lightly floured surface, or a dough hook if you must use a food processor.

Transfer the mixture into a lightly oiled bowl cover and set aside in a warm place for at least an hour or until risen.

Add half the Ghee to the dough and Knead again, and then divide into 12 equal portions and shape into balls .

Transfer to a baking tray cover and set aside and leave to rest for at least another 30 minutes

Preheat the Oven to 190 degrees C(375 degrees F) Gas Mark 5 that’s hot!

Flatten the ball into patties of about 18cm/7 inches in Dia and about 5 mm/.25 inches thick

Brush them with ghee and fold them into 4

Roll into balls again and leave for a further 10 Minutes

Repeat this entire process three times , then sprinkle the poppy seeds over bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown!

Because they contain “quite” a lot of Ghee they are best eaten warm, but they can be made ahead of the meal and reheated if the need is there.

Funghi Kari

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Just recently my musings seem to have drifted from the thing that is dear to my heart, that being the food,or more importantly the recipes. A particular joy for me are the recipes that create something very quickly that is memorable to the point where you think I will just have to make that again, or develop that. This is exactly that a development recipe, a work in progress so dont be surprised if you see it change.

The principle reason for this is that I love Mushroom and well it curries so well soaking up the herbs and spices that make its eartrhy flavour sing!

This particular dish is a joy for the vegetarians out there, full of flavour and texture I like to get a mix of different mushrooms where I can, as this can add an edge to an otherwise very simple dish serve it on a Naan of some description and it fits very nicely into that niche that is an easy after work dish that is filling satisfying and tasty

Serves 4

Ingredients

4cm (1½in) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

100g (4oz) onions, peeled and chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

450g (1lb) large mushrooms

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons natural yoghurt

1 teaspoon tomato purée

2 teaspoons ground coriander

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon chilli powder

2 tablespoons chopped green coriander

150ml veg stock, or water

Method

Step One Put the ginger, onion and garlic into the Pestle  Mortar and pound them together until you have a smooth paste, if you wish to take the short cut you can use a blender, and if the paste is a little too thick add a tablespoon or two of water

Wash the mushrooms thoroughly cut them into halves or quarters  and put them aside

Put 3 tablespoons of the oil in a non-stick frying pan and set over high heat. When the oil is hot stir fry the mushrooms for two or three minutes, or until the mushrooms no longer look raw

Empty the contents of the pan into a bowl. Wipe the pan.

Step Three Put the remaining oil into the pan and set over high heat. When hot, add the paste from the blender. Stir and fry for 3–4 minutes until it starts turning brown.

Add 1 tablespoon of the yoghurt and fry for 30 seconds.

Add another tablespoon of the yoghurt and fry for 30 seconds. Do this a third time.

Now add the tomato purée and fry for 30 seconds. Add the ground coriander and stir once or twice.

Now put in the veg stock, carefully avoiding flooding the gravy as this should be a lovely unctious consistency.

Now the mushrooms and their juices, salt and chilli powder. Stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 to 15 minutes or until the gravy reaches the consistency you like.

Sprinkle the green coriander over the top before serving.

Hyderabad Land of the Nizma

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Hyderabad is a region that was once the largest princely state of the indian subcontinent ruled by the Nizma’s shortened from Nizam-ul-Mulk, meaning Administrator of the Realm, was the title of the native sovereigns of Hyderabad State since 1724, through until Indian independence in 1947.

Geographically at its centre is the fantastic city of Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabads’ population consists mainly of Hindu and Moslem, with Arab Turkish, and Persian cultural elements being evident in the food and cuisine of the area, and certainly diverse to say the least, it is stated that the Nizma of the 17th century spent more time on food and culture than battle strategy, and the root of the how and why that is the city of Hyderabad today!

The signature dish of the area is the Biryani that favourite of the western indian Take-away. In Persian Biryani means fried or roasted rice, although that glorious Persian ideal is today fused with the Indian culture that brings meat, spice, and herbs together in the dish as we understand it. There is an art to the cooking of a great Biryani, that said most , and I say most,  fail in its artistry, in that the best in Biryani requires precise timing ; With the marinated meats having to cook in the same time as the part cooked rice, with the two being bought together in the pot,to fuse into the perfection that is the perfect Biryani by uniting the rice with the the flavoured stock so that both rice and meat are considewred cooked at exactly the same moment, no easy feat!

Kid goat is the meat of choice in Hyderabad, with chicken coming a distant second, unfortunately the western versions of the great recipes that feature goat as the meat of choice have been devalued by replacing that Kid meat with Lamb, as Goat is rarely and unfortunately rarely seen on the supermarket shelf.

One of the great local specialities is

Luckmi an appetiser or starter speciality featuring a thin  thin pastry being stuffed with a delicately spiced filling, similar to a  mini samosa.

Another speciality similar to porridge is Halim very nutritious dish common during Ramadan, that most special time of year when eating for the moslem world is not permitted during daylight hours, made with meat, cereal, ghee and spices.

Vegetarian dishes too play a big part in the Hyderbadi cuisine Aloo Gadda Vepuda is a fantastic example of  what you can do with a potato, alongside other regional specialities Bhuni Besan Bhindi, and Dum kathal,  and iit will be my great pleasure to present these recipes in the next few weeks for your delectation.

Hyderbadi cuisine often includes coconut , Tamarind Sesame seed , and peanuts , with a great emphasis placed on the sour elements, alongside the sour is the sweet or should I say the pudding that course that we all love , Hyderabadi’s to love the sweet things in life and especially the sweet porridge Gil E Behisht(Milky Clay of Paradise) what a great name, that is a celebration of dairy produce with a hint of Cardomon; Ort for those that prefer a little fruit  )

 Khoobani Ka Meetha(Stewed Apricots with clotted cream. Whatever direction you go in connection with Hyderabad be certain of one thing food and cuisine is a prime reason for being from the hole in the wall street side eateries through to the very best in Indian fine dining that permeates the best Indian restaurants in the world.

Sarson da Saag…Punjabi Greens

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This is a classic recipe from the Punjab and one of those dishes that is very simple to cook that has a cooking time of three hours, and is stacked through with vegetables that are pretty tricky to get unless you have an Indian grocer to hand. surmount those two problems and the reward is a dish that is a pure pleasure to eat .As with all good cooking like your mum used to make it requires attention and is not the sort of thing that you should just leave unattended. So get yourself a comfortable perch and apply yourself to lavishing the attention this dish requires as in the end it is well worth it and for the vegetarians amongst you a dish that is right up your street, ticking all the boxes and is brilliant with just corn bread(MakkeKi Rotte) to accompany it.Simple food great taste for sure.

Ingredients

750gm(1lb 10 oz) Mustard Greens Chopped

250gm(9 oz) Spinach chopped

100gm(3.5oz) Mooli(daikon) leaves Chopped

30 gm(1.25oz) Amaranthus, washed  well and chopped

8 Green Chillies de-seeded and slit lengthways1 inch of ginger diced

4 tbsp Mustard oil

4 tbsp Basmati Rice

2 tbsp cornflour

225gm(8oz) Butter softened

Salt to taste

Method

put all the ingredientsexcept the cornflour and the butter into a large heavy based pan, season with salt and pour in two litres(3.5 pints) of waterbring it to the boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer for the next 75 minutes.

Remove from the heat and churn or for those of you with a blender, blitz it down to a lovely blended consistency.

Return the mixture back to the heat cover and simmer for another hour, stirring frequently

Remove from the heat after that hor and adjust the seasoning transfer to a serving dish and garnish with oodles of butter!

Makke Ki Rotte…Corn Bread

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This is a fantastic corn bread that goes as a traditional accompianament to Sarson da Saag…Punjabi Greens, and a true Punjabi flatbread, idealy you need a tandoor but how many of us have fot one of those. That said you can make this using the traditional oven and the result is nearly as good as the tandoor produced version, so have no fear get on in there and make some breads!

This recipe makes  8 breads

Ingredients

500gm(1lb2oz) Cornmeal

60gm(2oz)wholemeal flour

25gm(1oz)all purpose flour plus a little extra for dusting

100gm(3.5 o9z Ghee melted , plus a little extra for greasing

Method

Sift the cornmeal, flours and salt into a large bowl and mix in enough water to make a soft dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 mins, cover with a cotton cloth and set aside in a warm place for about 30 minutes

Now divide the dough into eight equal portions, roll them into balls , dust them with flour  and set aside for a further 5 minutes.

Whilst waiting for the dough to finally prove heat the oven to 200c/400f gas mark 6

Flatten each bread between the palms of your hand or roll out on a lightly floired surface to make an 8inch dia disc

Place them in the oven for about 6 minutes when cooked brush with ghee or butter and serve with Sarson da Saag

Punjab the Tandoori Kingdom!

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The Punjab comprises of vast areas of Northern India and Eastern Pakistan, home to the Sikh population, also home to Muslim and Hindu too, but the Sikh is dominant here, with the centre of their faith located in the fantastic golden temple at Amritsar!

The Punjab is an agricultural heartland. Rich and fertile with the name Punjab meaning land of the Five rivers the Jhelum, the Chenab, the Ravi, the Sutlej, and the Beas, all being tributaries to the Indus with the Jhelum being the largest, these rivers being fed by the seasonal rains that make the Punjab such a gloriously rich place to farm

On every road side in the Punjab you will find the Dhabha, literally meaning a restaurant owned by a Punjabi,serving the local community and travellers with the rich and wholesome fare that is Punjabi cuisine.Two types of food are served in the Punjabi Dhabas – the Non Vegetarian cuisine, which is the most popular and the Vegetarian fare, which is termed Vaishno Dhabas where only vegetarian food is cooked in pure ghee or clarified white butter. Dal Makhni, a shining blackish lentil named Urad or Mah is a popular dish of this type of dhaba.

There are certain dishes which are exclusive to Punjab, such as sarson da saag, and the of course one should never forget tandoori chicken an indispensable dish at any family gathering or banquet, cooked in the tandoor with the most ancient ever found of these ovens being discovered in the Indus valley; With the oven in days gone by serving as a community oven serving all providing a focus for village and social life, and as such they could be set up cheaply and become very popular throughout all of india.

One should of course never for get that all time restaurant favourite Butter chicken, essentially a left overs recipe for tandoori chicken but now today a main course dish that the world has come to love. It is a delicate dish made with the aromatics such as fenugreek, cardomon and cinnamon, it is a colourful and easy to eat dish.

Punjabi Cuisine is also very responsive to the seasonal variation, winter brings forth the best in corn Breads Makke Ki Rotte to accompany that Sarson da saag, a highly nutritious and tasty vegetable dish , that is slow cooked and mashed with the addition of a few radishes or turnips and of course lashings of hot butter.

Much of what is loved in the restaurant originates from the heart of the Punjabi menu with Rogan Gosht and Biryani being at the centre of it, so be assured that the food of the Punjab be it vegetarian or meat is at the core of all that is good to eat, and offers many dishes that we in the west eat whenever we can.

Meen Kozhambu(Saucy Fish Curry)

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One of the great pleasures of curry for me is Sauce a truly rich curry well cooked with lashings of sauce that can be soaked up in the rice or naan and still have more to spare is perhaps one of my greatest joys and this recipe is just that saucy!

It will take an hour or so to cook and prepare and will serve 4 to 6 so get your chums round and enjoy this easy to cook and prepare curry explosion!

Ingredients

4 tabsp Veg oil

1tsp Black Mustard Seeds

1 Tsp Fenugreek Seeds

2 or 3 Red Kashmiri Chillies

3 medium Onions sliced

2 tbsp crushed fresh Ginger

2 tbsp crushed Garlic

2 sprigs Curry Leaves, or 10 to 15 dried

1 tbsp ground Turmeric

2 tsp red Chilli powder

4 Tomatoes roughly chopped

1 tbspTamarind paste

1Kg 2.25 Lb firm fish fillets skinned and cut into strips

1 Cup Coconut Cream

juice .5 Lemon

Salt to taste

Method

As usual heat the oil in a heavy pan over a medium heat,adding the Black Mustard seeds and wait for the crackle, that should be about a minute or so, Add the Fenugreek Seeds and stir fry until they turn light golden brown:Now the Red chillies whole, when the chillies turn that deep dark golden brown that only they can do, add the onions, saute for about a minute, adding the crushed Ginger and Garlic and cooking for a further 2 minutes, that should be enough time for them to release their flavours.

Now add the Curry leaves Turmeric and chilli Powder, season with salt and cook for a further 30 seconds or so!

Now is the time to add the chopped Tomatoes which will need about 5 minutes cooking time , or until they soften, adding in the Tamarind paste at this time, and giving it all a good stir

Now is the ti9me to add the fish fillets, now cover and cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through, add the coconut cream, bring the whole dish up to serving temperature

Add the Lemon juice and serve….

and as we say round here jobs a gooden!