Category Archives: Hyderabad

Bhare Baghare Tamate (Stuffed Tomatoes)

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SAM_3450 I have been very quiet lately principally I believe if you have nothing to say then do that….. quiet is something that it is very difficult to find in the world that surrounds us all and as such one of the few things that can always one hope be done quietly is eating good food. Todays dish is a traditional one  that is not something you can bring together in ten minutes it will take you at least 90 minutes in the initial preparation and perhaps 30 to 4o minutes in the cooking so don’t undertake this recipe if you are looking for something quick. Its vegetarian all the way and one of those dishes that needs little else to help it along , but if you must have some more protein a fillet of white fish would compliment it for sure

The Whats in it

4 Beefsteak Tomatoes

Salt

For the Filling

Unsalted butter, for frying

150g/5oz (2 cups) chopped mushrooms

250g/9 oz Paneer, grated or crumbled

1 tablespoon chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

4 green chillies, slit in half lengthways and de-seeded

24 cashew nut halves

1 teaspoon black cumin seeds

For the Paste

4 tablespoons peanuts, roasted

2 tablespoons desiccated (dried flaked) coconut

4.5 tablespoons sesame seeds

250g/9 oz (2 small) onions

4 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

For the Sauce

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1.5 teaspoons chilli powder

125ml/4.5 fl oz (0.5 cup) vegetable oil

0.5 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

16 curry leaves

150g/5oz (1 medium) onion, sliced

3 tablespoons Ginger Paste

1 teaspoon Garlic Paste

100g/3.5 oz Fried Onion Paste

0.25 teaspoon Tamarind Extract

The How To do It

Blanch the tomatoes by putting then in a large heatproof bowl of boiling water for 30 seconds, then plunging them in cold water.  Remove the skin and slice off the top neatly with a sharp knife, then remove the core, taking care not to pierce the flesh.

To Make the Filling

Melt the butter in a large, heavy based pan over medium heat.

Add the mushrooms and lightly fry for about 2-3 minutes, or until the moisture has evaporated.

Transfer to a bowl, then add all the other ingredients for the filling, season with salt and mix together.

Put a portion of the filling in each of the blanched tomatoes and set aside, until 20 minutes before you wish to serve

Place in an oven at 180 degrees for as you begin to make the sauce if you prefer your tomatoes cooked through, then add to the sauce and follow the “sauce” part of the recipe

To Make the Paste

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, with a little water if necessary, and process to make a paste.  Set aside.

To Make the Sauce

Put the turmeric and chilli power in a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons water and stir together.

Heat the oil in another large, heavy-based pan over medium heat

Add the mustard and cumin seeds and stir-fry for about 1 minute or until they start to splutter

Add the curry leaves, stir

Add the onions and lightly fry for about 2 minutes or until they are translucent.

Add the ginger and garlic pastes and stir fry for about 5-10 minutes or until the onions are golden.

Add the ground spice mixture to the pan and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes or until the moisture has evaporated

Add the pastes and stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes or until the oil has separated out.

Pour in 750ml/1.25 pints (3.25 cups) water and season with salt.

Bring to the boil then stir in the tamarind extract.

Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is a thin sauce consistency

Place the stuffed tomatoes in the sauce, cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Uncover and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thick.

Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve and enjoy, fantastic with a Naan!

Fish & potatoes……Putting it inconveniently

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Ok I admit it… Yes I do have some weaknesses and sometimes convenience wins over pure gastronomic excellence that my kitchen is reputed to be famous for.  Fish fingers, sausages, burgers and the very occasional pizza too, can also be seen at those times when I or Mrs Demonology just can’t be bothered .  Yep I use convenience foods!

I have a busy life just like you, and sometimes I really can’t be bothered to peel onion and grate ginger; so give me convenience, with something that takes five minutes to eat and even less to prepare, meaning I am also not a stranger to the microwave meal when the going gets really tough.  Although I do draw a line under that one by saying that my microwave meals are, as a general rule, coming from the chiller cabinet and when I do grab an Indian dish at this level it’s always of the fresh variety, and generally of very good quality considering it is daag based!

I don’t make my own pasta either, and can’t stand the dried variety, so confessions over, I am no stranger to convenience food. Fresh pasta bought from the aforementioned chiller cabinet at the local supermarket, boiled for five minutes with a nice sauce microwaved for less than the pasta’s five minutes boil time, a shaving or two of parmesan and job done, convenience food!

I was raised through the fifties and sixties and through that period the introduction of convenience foods became the norm, with the very famous VESTA being a curry that you just needed to add water too – ah I can feel myself salivating at the thought – and in all honesty was probably one of the reasons that I developed a love for the taste textures and myriad delights that are curry.

I am not afraid to say that not all convenience foods are bad or unhealthy, as the years have rolled by and the pressures of modern life have come to the fore; the day of the woman being chained to the stove and cooking her man a meal on his return from a busy day at the coal face are pretty much over with the nuclear family very much the norm today ensuring a place for the “Convenience foods” appearing to be the menu of choice for a great many people.

That said, there are a great number of convenience foods that are simply there as a shortcut in life.  For instance, boil in the bag fish. Stick it into a pan of boiling water as the name suggests and Pow you have a “nice” piece of fish in a sauce, serve that with a pile of smooth buttered mash and a few garden peas and deliciousness awaits you, this is the comfort food of my youth. This plate of food I offer here is an homage to that; and the reasoning for all of the above inane ramblings in that this dish it is essentially fish and potatoes, but it is far from tricky to put together and it is also a long way from convenient, so sharpen your peeler, and dust off your measuring spoons its time to cook inconveniently!

This plate of food is a fusion of flavours from Hyderabad where the fish recipe originates and the potato dish  from Awadhi; uniting together to become the Indian cousin of the fish and potatoes I was rattling on about before, although varied slightly in that the cold water Mackerel, the fish of choice here that is found swimming round the coasts of this great island in its tens of thousands,  which however is not to be found in the Arabian sea or the Indian ocean so the fish I have used is local, and for those of you from pastures other than Northern Europe use any firm oily fish, so its all yours to enjoy as I have already!

This is a recipe for two to three persons, and I have laid it out so that it can be easily followed but as with all my recipes get yourself as prepared as you can before you light the stove!

To give it its Indian name…… for those of you that like to get your gums round that sort of thing

Shai Dum Ki machhali & Aloo Qorma

Preparing the Fish

500 gm Mackerel or similar oily firm fish

Marinade how to! 

1 tblsp fresh chopped Coriander

1 tblsp fresh chopped mint

4 green Chillies de-seeded and slit lengthways

1 tblsp. garlic pasteSAM_3044

1tblsp ginger paste

1 tsp ground turmericSAM_3045

Put all of the above in a blender or pestle and mortar and grind to a fine consistency, rub the marinade into the fish, cover and place in the fridge for an hour minimum and a couple of hours for the best results

Whilst the marinade is doing its thing, it’s time to make up the following paste in which to cook the fishSAM_3046

The Paste Thing!SAM_3049

1 tbsp. roasted and ground cumin

1 tbsp. desiccated coconut

3 tsp sesame seeds

3 tsp Poppy seeds

Place the cumin, coconut, sesame and poppy seeds into a blender or pestle and mortar and grind to a smooth paste use a little water if required ….cover and set aside until required

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The whats in the Aloo qorma (Potato Curry)

1 kg Potato peeled and quartered.. used Maris Piper, a nice fluffy potato when cooked.

1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 inch fresh ginger Peeled

1tsp ground garlic

1tbsp Cashew Nuts

1tbsp desiccated coconut

4.5 fl oz .5 cup Ghee or Vegetable oil

2 green cardamom pods

2 inch Cinnamon stick

2 cloves

4 green Chillies

1 small tin chopped tomato

1/2 tsp Red chilli powder

8 fl oz 1 cup Natural plain Yoghurt

2 tblsp chopped fresh coriander

Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes

After the fish has marinated, and before you are ready to cook the final dish, first boil the potatoes in a saucepan for about 15 minutes with the Turmeric, until just cooked bearing in mind that you will be finishing them off a little later….drain and set aside

Grind the poppy-seed, ginger, garlic, cashew nuts, and coconut in a pestle and mortar and set aside ready to bring the whole potato dish together whilst the fish is cooking

The final stage for the Fish

2 Onions finely chopped

300 ml fish or vegetable stock

1 tsp Turmeric

juice of 1 lemon

Take the two medium onions and some ghee or oil and fry the onions until light brown.  Add a tsp of turmeric and the spice paste and fry for a few minutes longer, drain off any excess oil, add the lemon juice, and vegetable stock bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes until reduced,  then set aside until required…

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F Gas mark 7

Heat the remaining oil in a pan and add the fish and fry lightly for a few minutes

Place the fish carefully into a shallow dish and add the sauce. Cover tightly with a lid or foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the fish is cooked to your liking!

Now the fish is in the oven prepare the potato as followsSAM_3053

Heat the oil or ghee in a heavy base pan.

Add the whole spices and chillies and fry for a minute or two.

Add all the ground spices and fry for another minute or two

Add the chopped tomatoes and the boiled potato and cook for a further minute or two, season with salt.

Add the chilli powder and yoghurt, Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes more to heat the potato right through (ensure the potato is cooked)

Add the chopped coriander and remove the pan from the heat finally adding the lemon juice….

Serve with the fish and think of India on a warm summers evening, oh bliss……

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.

Khageena…..Scrambled egg by any other name

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Interesting Breakfast/Supper for those with the will to open their minds and hearts to the most delicious alternative to the humble Scrambled egg.

Really delicious with  a little fish or Smoked Salmon on the side…or come to that anything else that takes your fancy!

I really love this dish and cook it often its simplicity and its flavours make it a great dish for getting the palate to dance for a while and after a Saturday night out on the lager it is just the ticket to settle the stomach and make the world seem that little less fuzzy?

AQlternatively a great dish if you really can’t be arsed to cook and want something tasty and fast!

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Vegetable oil

2 Small onions sliced

2 small tomatoes  finely chopped

3 Green Chillies deseeded and chopped

.5 tsp Ground Turmeric

.5 tsp Chilli Powder

.25 tsp Ginger Paste

.25 tsp Garlic Paste

6 Eggs well beaten

1 tbsp Ghee or Butter

.5 bunch Coriander

Method

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat , add the onions and fry for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown.

Reduce the heat , add the tomatoes, chillies, ground spices and the ginger and garlic pastes, and stir together over a low heat.

cook this mixture out until the toms have softened and the liquid has evaporated…..

Beat the eggs in a bowl and add them to the melted butter or ghee in another pan over a low heat, chuck in the coriander leaves, season with salt and reduce the heat to low……

Cook the eggs until they begin to reach a nearly solid state , or as near scrambled as you like them, but they should still be moist .

Add the onion and tomato mixture and finish off the eggs to the scrambled consistency you enjoy.

Serve with some hot buttered toast, a naan, or anything else that you enjoy with your scrambled egg!

Phool Makhani Curry

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This is a fantastic little veggie curry that again takes very little time to prepare and cook, Phool Makhani are Puffed Lotus Seeds, which you can buy from your nearest Indian supermarket cooked in a spiced and creamy Coconut gravy, to make something that is both different and tasty.

Prep Time: 10 mins Cooking Time: 20 mins Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
2-3 cups Phool Makhani/Puffed Lotus Seeds
1 large Onion, finely chopped
2 large Tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Garam Masala
1-2 tbsp Sugar (Adjust acc to taste)
Small bunch of Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp Oil + Oil for Deep Frying
Salt to taste
Ground to Smooth Paste: ½-¾ cup Coconut
1 tbsp Cashews
1 tbsp Poppy Seeds/Khus-Khus, dry roasted till light golden
1 inch Cinnamon Stick
3 Cloves
3 Green Cardamoms
1 inch Ginger, peeled
Method:
The first step here is to deep fry the phool Makhani until they turn a light golden brown in colour, if you dont want to deep fry them you can shallow fry in a frying pan with a little oil, adding a little salt and chilli powder at the end. When golden brown place them on some kitchen roll to drain and cool.
Grind the cashews,roasted poppy seeds, cardamom, cloves, ginger and coconut to a smooth paste using and adding a little water to moisten the paste. this does take some time but is well worth the effort for the end Result.
Heat some oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, once they start  to sizzle and pop, add the finely chopped onion, and saute til they turn a rich golden brown.
Now mix in the the ground paste and stir, stir, stir, until the masala paste turns light brown and becomes dry!
Now add the finely chopped tomatoes, garam malasa, sugar and give it all a good stir until tomatoes turn pulpy, that takes about 2-3 minutes.  Now add around 1½-2 cups of water and a little salt to taste.  This is your base gravy and you should continue to cook this on medium-low heat for about 10 mins, stirring every minute or so, until the sauce thickens to a consistency of a thick gravy.
Now you can  add fried phool makhani and mix well,  adding little more water if needed depending on required consistency, continue to cook on low heat for another 3-5 minutes. Mix in finely chopped coriander leaves and serve this delicious Phool Makhani Curry with roti, chapatis or rice of your choice.
Afterthought
I like my curries to have a chilli belt,a smack that lets you know that it is exactly what it says on the label Curry!
 Just add in .5 teaspoon of your hottest red chilli powder into the final mix at the point you add the phool mekhani, gives you that curry heat and rounds off the colour nicely!
And for those of you that like a bit of meat with your food cook yourself some Tandoori chicken  to go with it , a perfect companion