Category Archives: Kashmir

Lamb Pasanda the REAL Moghul McCoy!

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SAM_3432Walk into any high street Curry House and one of the stock bulk standard Daag dishes you will find on the menu is a popular North Indian and Pakistani Pasanda, originating from a dish served in the Courts of the Moghul Emperors. The word is derived from  Urdu word “pasande,” or “the favorite one,” which refers to the prime cut of meat traditionally used within, and the fact that everyone loves this dish it is a catch all so this is a true no risk curry creamy that is  low’ish on the chilli heat front, so if your looking for the hot and the dangerous I suggest you go elsewhere, as this is a dish of subtleties and flavour variations and is truly delicious, and does not require the fiery heat of chilli to make it memorable….

Pasanda was originally made with the steaks cut from the  leg of lamb, then beaten to tenderise it  flattened into strips and marinated before  cooking. In the present day, in most restaurants the Pasanda comes as fish, chicken, prawn or any other protein that can make the restaurant a shilling or two; make no mistake though this is a princely dish and one that traditionally uses the finest cut of lamb so being the lover of tradition that I am if it was good enough for the moghuls its good enough for me.

There’s a fair few ingredients but the essence of this dish is the marinade once that is assembled and together its all easy from there

The first and most important element is of course the marinade and this can really be anything that is the essence of what you like to taste in my particular example I like the sweet and the sour so my marinade reflects that. I have also used Coconut cream but you can just as easily use yoghurt or sour cream, feel free to flex you creative muscle here as the end result is really about the Lamb that if you follow the cookout will be soft melt in the mouth succulent surrounded by an unctuous sauce that you will want to cook time and time again.

1 Tomato

6 dried apricots

1 small onion

3 cloves garlic

2 green chilli inc seeds

1inch fresh ginger

150ml coconut cream

1 tbsp. white vinegar

1tsp turmeric

1 tsp amchoor

2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp red chilli powder…..

Assemble that little lot in a blender and blitz to a smooth paste…..this will make enough marinade for at least 2 persons

Now for the meat you should have some nice leg steaks here to place them between some sheets of clingfilm and flatten to about 10 mmm thickness using a steak mallet or a rolling pin.

when that’s done coat the steaks in the marinade, then cover and refrigerate for no less that a couple of hours, overnight is probably best!

the only other Ingredients your going to need is

1 heaped tablespoon of Ghee

2 inch cinnamon stick

2 black cardamom

1 tsp whole Coriander

1 tsp garam masala

Now for the cooking, you have a couple of options but essentially you need a pan that you can seal, traditionally a karahi with a lid that you seal with a dough paste made of flour and water…. too much hassle/

then use a large heavy based saucepan with a tight fitting lid that you can further seal with a tin foil cover over the pan before you put the lid on……..

melt the ghee in the pan and add the Cinnamon, Cardamoms, Coriander and fry for a few moments before adding the meat and all the marinade spread the meat out over the base of the pan cover as tightly as you can and cook on a very low heat for One hour. Five minutes before you serve sprinkle in the teaspoon of Garam Masala then all that’s left to do is dish it up, and gobble it down! SAM_3433SAM_3434

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Sali Murgi….Chicken & Apricot!

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 SAM_3289I am reliably informed that this is a traditional Parsi dish, and is a recipe for those special occasions that make life a pleasure. I do also have to admit that it had me when I saw the ingredients list there was never a single moment that was going to pass without me having a go. Sorry but I am like that with any  curry dish that contains fruit, that chilli juicy sweetness that fruit brings is for me very special indeed; and is a feature of many Arab influenced dishes with this particular example featuring Apricots!

It’s my mums fault dating from the 60’s when I was growing up, my mum used to make what she called curry, using a curry powder, God bless her. At the time the curry powder that was available commercially was the product of post war colonialism mixed with the idea that real indian flavours were far too much for the soft British Palate. The truth was that curry powders of that time were not very good, but they were just good enough over the years for us Brits to fall in love with, and completely adopt the cuisine of India.  My mums recipe  included some raisins or currants which up until the time I first tasted them in curry I believed belonged in cake. Her curry was in reality a stew with some madras mild curry powder with some raisins or currants thrown in to add that extra Indianess, and the reality of the day was probably that even if she had wanted to use turmeric and coriander she would not have been able to get it, even if she could have worked out what it was.

I am now a little older, and not much wiser but from that moment I was hooked on curries which included the sweet and sometimes the sour of fruits, see my recipe for Pineapple & Vegetable Curry(click) which I love with the saltiness of Gammon.

Fruit is not a rare thing in curry and there are many recipes that feature a few lumps of banana or even pomegranet although one does have to say they are usually the product of someone’s imagination, this dish however has a fine pedigree and is one that you can trust as a genuine dish and worthy of the name and traditions it carries.

The whats in IT bit

For the chicken

200gm dried apricots

2 large fresh tomatoes

4 tbsp. Ghee/ Oil

2x2cm Cinamon sticks

2 onions finely sliced

6 garlic cloves crushed

2inch Ginger

0.5kg chicken breast

juice of 1 lime or lemon

3tbsp Chopped Coriander

For the Masala

4 Dried Red Chillies

1.5 tsp whole cumin seeds

1tsp whole coriander seeds

1inch cinnamon stick broken into pieces

For the potato straws

2 large potatoes peeled and cut into fine juliennes

salt

.25 tsp turmeric

vegetable oil to fry

.25 tsp chilli powder

1tsp finely chopped coriander

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The how to!

First things first, soak the apricots in 250ml of warm water. After about three hours blitz half of them in a processor or blender with about 15oml of the soaking water to a a fine puree……/

set the remainder aside for later use….

Also soak the juliennes potatoes with two tsp of salt to leech out the starch this will help them become nice and crispy when you get round to frying them.

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Next take all the masala ingredients and grind them together in a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder if the pestle and mortar is too much work for you

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Add the ghee or the oil to your karahi or heavy based pan and heat until hot add the cinnamon sticks and allow to sizzle for a few minutes.

Add the onions, the garlic and ginger and cook until the onions turn that lovely golden brown, then add the masala and sauté until the oil begins to separate out

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Be aware though that the mixture can stick and as always all you need yo do is add a dash of water and stir stir stir using your wooden soon to scrape the sticky bits off…..

continue to cook for a few minutes more then add the tomatoes

Now you can add the chicken cut into nice bite sized chunks and also add  the pureed apricot and sauté for about five minutes

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 Add the remaining apricots and the water they are soaking in bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender  and cooked through.

stir in the coriander and adjust the seasoning…….

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Drain the potatoes and put on some kitchen roll and pat as dry as you can get them, cut them into very thin strips, remember you want to deep fry these to a crispy finish so thin is good.

mix them with the turmeric.

Heat the oil for deep frying to the point where the potato straws will fry to crispy golden brown in a matter of moments,  fry them off in small batches sprinkle with the chilli powder and the chopped coriander

serve the Sali murgi and sprinkle the fries over the top…….. serve with some lime and mango chutneySAM_3288

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…….Have a Go{}at Masala….

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SAM_3023I have got to say it my experience with goat is limited. I have probably eaten it two or three times in my life and cooked with it even less. Traditionally it isn’t something that seems to crop up on the average Indian restaurant menu, with Lamb or mutton being the meat of choice. If you look around on the internet again there is not much to be seen on the recipe front, and the ones that are there are for the Caribbean version…., surprised I am!

My thoughts and I admit they could be very wrong but goat is something that I thought of as perhaps more common in India than lamb, so why no recipes …………uh hu not so clever clogs, India is one of the largest producers of lamb and mutton on the planet not far behind Australia so I am told.

I kid you not if you will excuse the goat based joke.Boerbok Categorie:Afbeelding geit

Goat is of course a top meat and one that you find in a lot of  Asian, and eastern cultures that’s not of course forgetting the home of the goat curry the Afro Caribbean islands where goat curry is part of the everyday food, and often shares a table with that great chilli dish Jerk chicken, featuring that chilli of choice the hottest of the lot “Scotch Bonnet” handle with care.

That said goat can also be found on the table of the African and Arab nations although it is rarely if ever found on the average English or western table as a meat of favour, preference or choice. Lamb seems to hold that position in the nations affections but knowing what I do we are missing something that is delicious and healthy, well as healthy as meat gets!

My conclusion is that it’s main problem is that it is not freely available with the large chain supermarkets of the UK not appearing to stock it, and is only available from the local butcher on special order, I find this really strange as 75 percent of the world’s population eats goat meat.It is low in fat, cholesterol, calories, and saturated fat. In fact, goat meat is over 50% lower in fat than beef in some cuts, and is about 40% lower in saturated fat than chicken, even chicken cooked with the skin off, so why no “commercial sources of supply, well you tell me as I have no idea, although I suspect its cooking time is a bit of the answer but more of that later.

So where do you need to go to get this fantastic meat?

Well the Hal Al butcher is the place it is on offer all day everyday, and therein I suspect lies the problem; you will generally only find these gentlemen in their own communities serving their own communities, that’s not to say you can’t go and buy………..Of course you can, it’s just that bit more strange, unless you live in that community. If you don’t know where to find one just check out the local Indian supermarket and ask them, they will be happy to point you in the right direction.

What I can tell you is that the meat you get if you ask for diced goat, is lean and rich in colour , it doesn’t come in a shrink-wrap plastic container  and at Mr Khans cost me about £9.00 per kilo, so great value too…

500 gm was enough for this dish to feed two.

This recipe is one of my creations, that is if any recipe can be claimed as ones own and is included here as an Indian dish in that  it offers much respect to the masala spice mixes, hence the name, I have also thrown in a few mushrooms at the end to make it that bit more interesting but the reality of the recipe is that it is about the goat not the veg, so if you don’t like the fungi don’t put them in…..

There is a long list of ingredients but don’t let that put you off the great majority are spices for the marinade. This is essentially a one pot cookery dish and very simple in its execution once its on the stove its a stir it every twenty minutes job, just to check its not sticking and that’s it….just sit and await the deliciousness, and yes be prepared to wait as goat is not a quick cook, long and slow is a must so don’t be in a rush, patience is a virtue, your efforts will be amply rewarded…..

The Marinade

Combine all the following

Plain Yoghurt

1  onion finely chopped and fried to translucent in a single tablespoon of Coconut oil

In a flat based pan dry roast the following until they offer up the aromas of india …. you know what they smell like?

1 tsp fennel seeds,

1 black cardamom

2 green cardamom

2 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seedsSAM_3011

1  Kashmiri Dried red

When roasted to their aromatic conclusion no more than a couple of minutes I suggest consign to a pestle and mortar and grind to a fine powder…..

then

add the following ground spices

1tsp garam masala,

1 tsp each of turmeric,

.5 tsp Red Chilli powder

large pinch asafoetida

.5 tsp Black salt

finally add the ground spices to the yoghurt… and then add to the spicey marinade

5 cloves garlic, crushed

and

1.5 inch Ginger, finely sliced, and chopped….

that’s the marinade done so…..

Cover the meat in the marinade, then get your hands in there and massage the marinade into the flesh, then set aside in a fridge to work for a minimum of 4 hours and overnight if you can!

Some hours later…tick tock tick tockSAM_3017

You will need to seal the meat before you go to the main cooking event so when you are ready remove the meat from the marinade and scrape as much of the marinade as you can of it back into the bowl, once done, set the marinade aside for later use….

Roll the meat in a tablespoon  of flour ensuring it is lightly coated, and then fry for a few minutes until you have some colour on the meat, once this is achieved set the meat aside and commence on making the sauce…..

The cooking sauce

1 onion, peeled & sliced

1 small tin chopped tomato

½ tsp salt to taste

1tsp Nigella seeds

1 tsp cumin seedsSAM_3019

10 curry leaves

1 tsp chilli powder

3 tbsp coconut oil

300 ml water/Lamb stock cube

1 tsp tomato paste/Puree

2 Green chillies, seeded and roughly chopped.

1 tbsp Jaggery or Brown sugar

1 cup coriander leaves

Heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the curry leaves, cumin and Nigella seeds. Stir with a wooden spoon until the seeds begin to pop and froth

Add the onion and fry until golden brown.

 Add the jaggery after about 5 minutes to help the onion caramelise, until golden brown.

 Add the green chillies and cook for a further minute or two

Then add in the goat meat with all of the marinade.

Cook, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes.Add the tomato puree and continue stirring,

finally add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil, cover, reduce to a low simmer and cook for about two and a half  hours or until the meat is soft and tender. SAM_3022Add more stock or water as you go if you think the sauce is getting too thick or sticking.

10 minutes from the end I threw in a handful of mushrooms as I like mushrooms but they are optional, other than that serve with rice or Naans but above all enjoy…..

Shahi Tukra Sweet Morsels for the Prince

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shahi-tukdaA life without sweet things, is no life at all, and when puddings are the order of the day, my experience is less than vast where the puds of India come to mind. One of my great favourites in British cuisine however is Bread and Butter Pudding, that milk and dried fruit hot sweet that comes usually after a large Sunday Roast of Beef and Yorkshire puds.

Shahi Tukra my research tells me comes from Pakistan, and the translation  Morsels for the Prince, which I love as an idea that this dish emanates from a royal palace at some point. That said today my sources tell me this dish can be found all over India and Pakistan and is a special treat for Eid and festivals. Wherever it comes from and whatever the ingredients are as it is a much varied dish as you are free to choose which dried fruits and nuts you include, so feel free to sprinkle and adorn the recipe with the nuts and fruits that you enjoy!

Putting all that aside when you do get to eat this dish you will understand that it could very easily be confused with the Traditional Bread & Butter Pudding of my mums traditional British cookbook, without the glorious scents and aromas of rosewater and cardamom……

Ingredients

35g / 1¼oz (¼ cup) raisins
pinch of saffron threads
2 tablespoons rosewater
2 teaspoons ghee or vegetable oil
4 slices white bread
2 tablespoons condensed milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kewra water or rosewater
½ teaspoon lime juiceSAM_2505
250ml / 8fl oz (1 cup) milk
¼ teaspoon ground green cardamom
1 teaspoon blanched almonds, silvered
1 teaspoon unsalted pistachio nuts, blanched and silvered
4 edible silver leaves, to decorate (optional)

Method

Soak the raisins in a bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes, to rehydrate them, drain them and set them aside, also place the Saffron in a small bowl and soak in the two tablespoons of rosewater until required.

Next heat the ghee in a flat heavy based pan a frying pan is ideal and fry off the bread pieces that should be cut into diagonal quarters and de-crusted. Fry the until they are an even rich golden brown all over, press them well with a fish slice to get as much ghee out of them as possible, being bread their inclination is to soak up whatever they can,before placing them on some kitchen towel to drain.SAM_2512

With  the condensed milk in a bowl place in 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the single teaspoon of rosewater and mix well together, with the remaining sugar add this to a cup or two of water, in a small saucepan and warm until all of the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and reduce to a one string consistency syrup( See Gulab Jamun recipe), then add in the Lime Juice!

SAM_2515Now place the fried bread slices back into the cleaned frying pan and add the Milk, warm it gently then add the sugar Syrup, and cook over a low heat for at least 10 minutes, or until the milk has thickened and begun to change colour, you will need to stir but be very gentle as the bread will be soaking up the milky sweet mixture, and the slices will be inclined to break, you will also need to turn the slices, take care again you have come so far. You can now add the fruits nuts and Saffron, and a sprinling of the cardamon before finally spreading the condensed milk mixture onto the slices apply it evenly over both sides of the bread pieces, a thin coat is all you will need as this is already a very sweet dish. Now is the time to remove from the pan and serve utilising the Silver to add that extra touch of luxury to a fantastic sweet dish that will be loved by all with a sweet tooth, and that includes your mother!

kashmir

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Myth tells it that the Valley of Kashmir emerged from a great lake when the wise man and sage Kashyap put to death the villanous demon who was getting his kicks with some wide-ranging anti social behaviour which included draining the lake by creating a dip to its western side, this dip or valley being known as Kashyap -Mar, and latterly came to be known as Kashmir!

Kasmir is an area of outstanding natural beauty, it also is a region famed throughout the world for some of its fabulous architecture , houseboats , mosques and fantastic gardens. It is an assault upon the senses with the valleys of Kashmir being resplendent with carpets of Saffron Crocuses, being at the foot if the Himalayas offering a multitude of potential agriculture and crops that include mushrooms,honey, floriculture,dairy-farming  poultry and sheep for meat production.

Kashmiri Cuisine is unique and quite different from the rest of India, owing essentially to the influences of Asia and Tibet. There are two main cooking styles Hindu and muslim, with a preferred meat of Lamb, whilst elsewhere in the country goat is seen more on the menu.

The Hindu Pandit style of cooking completely does away with onions and garlic, replacing them with Ginger and Aniseed powders , and is in greatly influenced by vegetarian foods and dishes, which are prevalent and seen during Religious festivals.

Kashmir is most famous for the Waaza where sitting in Groups of Four , an auspicious and lucky number in Kashmir, the traditional chefs of Kashmir The Waaza, who claim their ancestry from the 15th Century, when Timur invaded India who were all immigrants from Samarkand in central Asia offer banquets to those groups consisting of some of the most fantastic dishes to be found in India, a full banquet consisting of up to thirty-six courses;With seven courses making up the indispensable part of the feast

Tabakh Maaz Ribs to us in the west

Rista, delicious meatballs in a saffron Gravy

Rogan Josh, a fantastic curry bearing little resemblance to the dish you will mind on most curry house menu’s

Aab Gosh, a lamb dish cooked in a gravy of Dairy milk

Marchwagon Korma, meat again flavoured with aniseed and dry ginger powder, and hot hot hot with 50+ chillies

Ghustaba, another meat ball dish cooked in yoghurt, a really tricky and complex dish, usually served as the final dish and the crowning glory!

Firin, and Kahwah ,The drink of choice for this banquet being green tea

These dishes are the creations of the Waza family and can be regarded as the fine dining, or Michelin star dishes that grace the very best of tables.

I have all of these recipes and at this time have no intention of posting them as the list of ingredients are sometimes a little tricky for we that don’t live within the Kashmiri Valley. Try asking your local supplier of indian goodies for Dried Cockscomb flowers and see what he says to you, an ingredient used a lot within the Waszwaan Dishes, and as such tricky in the extreme!

For the average family the prospect of Bheja is a more likely dish, Brain curry, not something that we in the west would generally have on our daily table, but once cooked not something that is recognisable as the basic ingredient

I mention this as it should never be forgotten that much of the food eaten by everyday folk who are working very hard at the life that is before them does not allow them to waste any rich sources of protein and as such the slaughter of a goat will mean that all is eaten. With Chuste, being a curry of Goats intestines.

My personal favourite though is Gurde Kapure,commonly called  Taka tak these days, a curry of Kidney and testes, yum yum I hear you say.

Again I have this recipe and unless there is a demand I wont be publishing it.

In Finishing I am sure that you all can now see that Kashmir is rich in culture and dishes that will constantly surprise , so fear not get stuck in and enjoy Kashmir is as near to the gods as you can get in culinary terms, from the very basic of Dals and vegetarian dishes using the very best of local ingredients through to the fine dining of the WAZAAN; Whichever is your choice you will be certain that you have been well fed.