Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dastarkhwaan e Hyderabad: Tamatar ki chutney or Tomato Chutney

This chutney is a good accompanyment to any daal or veg dish eaten with rice. It also goes well with idli and dosa. If you are into desi sandwiches, you could even use it as a sandwich spread chutney. It is complicated to make because there are a few different steps. For this reason, I make large amounts of it and freeze it in small batches. That way I only have to make it a few times a year. It will keep well for a few weeks in the fridge, too.
One good thing about this recipe is that you don't have to chop all of the ingredients because you will blitz them in the blender later.
First you need:
3 tbs oil
15 red ripe tomatoes, puree in your chopper to save time
1 tbs cumin seeds
2 onions chopped roughly,
7 pieces of garlic
5 fresh green chiles
1 heaping tbs tamarind paste (I use Priya brand)
Heat oil and add in the cumin seeds and fresh green chiles. When thecumin seeds sizzle, add in the garlic and onions and cook until the onions have lost most of their moisture and are golden but not browned. Add in the tomato puree and tamarind paste and cook on medium to high heat, stirring constantly, until the oil separates from the tomatos and the tomatos have lost all of their moisture. Set aside and allow to cool.
Next you need:
1/4 cup peanuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Dry roast these together in an un-oiled heated pan. They should darken a bit and that is how you will know they are done, but be sure not to burn them.
Allow these to cool a bit, then toss them in the blender with your tomato paste mixture, add ing a little water (about 1/2 cup) to aid the blending. Add in the salt while blending, about 1 heaping sure to taste because the tamarind paste is often salty.
Return these to your pot. Add a little water to the blender to get out all of the extra paste. Now cook the paste a bit for a couple of minutes to remove the excess water.
Add in 1 tsp of Korean or Chinese roasted sesame oil for extra depth in taste.
Last step, the baghaar:
1-2 tbs oil
5 dried red chiles
8 curry leaves
1 tsp black mustard seeds (optional)
Heat oil and add in red chiles. When these color, add in the mustard seeds. When these pop, add in the curry leaves. Pour this tempering into you pot of chutney. Fold it in.
Allow the chutney to cool, then transfer to a jar or tupperware for storage.

Sprouted Mung Bean Salad

For this salad you have to know how to sprout mung beans. I found this video at the wonderful site Show Me the Curry (I love this site...they have loads of great recipes!!!) which will explain to you how to do this. It is so very easy and simple, and once you know, you will become and addict of sprouted legume salads and curries. Here is one such simple salad.

You need:

3 cups sprouted mung beans

Boil water, submerge the sprouted mung beans, and branch briefly by allowing the water to return to a boil, bubble for a minute or so, and then straining the mung beans. It is okay if the skin and mung beans separate. The mung beans should still be crunchy and raw, not mushy. You've just tenderized them a bit so that they will be easier on the ole digestive system.

You will mix the sprouted mung beans with any medley of colorful vegetables and/or fruit. In the pic above I used blanched baby corn chopped into small rounds, cherry tomatoes halves, chopped carrots, and fresh pomegranite seeds. This is what I had in the fridge that day, so that is what went it. Use about 1/4 cup or so of each ingredient.

I have also used: chopped jalapenos, dried soaked pomegranite seeds, chopped apples, chopped bell peppers, chopped cucumbers, peanuts, chopped blanched water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, walnuts, the list could go on and on. Whatever you throw in should create a crunchy combo of color and flavor. I usually add in some basic salad type veggies, plus something tangy and sour like the green apple or pomegranite.

For the dressing:

1 very small tooth of garlic crushed
1 pinch coursely ground black pepper
1 pinch of salt (taste for salt when you have finished combining your salad ingredients
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbs pomegranite molasses
1 tsp of sugar

Mix well and pour on top of your salad. Taste and adjust for salt, sugar or what have you (some lemons are more sour than others so you always have to check).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Basic mixed vegetable: Mixed sabzi

The trick here is that in this dish, the veggies steam on a bed of onion, garlic, and ginger. There is no stirring involved. Let me explain.
3 tbs oil
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 onion chopped finely
1 tbs ginger paste
1 tbs garlic paste
1 tsp green chile paste or finely chopped green chiles
2-3 small potatoes cut into wedges. I don't peel but desis tend to prefer peeled.
1 carrot peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 cup green beans cleaned and chopped into one inch pieces, such as french beans, gawaar beans, sem, phalian, a mix, or as you like
1 medium head of cauliflower, florets prepared for cooking
1/2 cup fresh tomato roughly pureed (1 large or two small tomatoes roughly blitzed in chopper)
1 heaping tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp mango powder (amchoor)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp or more red chile powder
1 tbs cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 heaping tsp of any good curry powder or Kitchen King Masala that you like
1 tbs dried fenugreek leaves
1/4 cup frozen peas
garnish: roughly chopped fresh green chile and chopped cilantro
optional garnish: toasted sesame seeds

Heat oil in deep pot (must have a lid) and add cumin seeds. When they sizzle, add in onions. Stir fry these until they become translucent. Add in ginger garlic paste and chopped green chiles. Stir to mix well and allow to sizzle. Now add potatoes. Do not stir, add in carrots, beans, and then cauliflower, each one in a layer roughly on top of each other in the pot. Pour in the tomato puree all around the sides of the pot. Now add the salt, mango powder, red chile powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, and coriander powder. Be sure to distribute these spices and the salt pretty evenly over the top layer of veggies. The heat should still be high at this point. Cover the pot, turn down the heat to medium, and keep covered for 25 minutes or so. Test a potato by sticking a fork in it and when it is done, all the veg will be done. Notice that you haven't stirred the veggies at all yet. The onion ginger garlic paste mixture had acted as a beg to the rest of the vegetables, and it slowely caramelizes below them on the medium flame. The tomato puree acts as a flavor agent but also provides moisture so the edges of the bottom of the pot doesn't burn. The moisture within the vegetables themselves also aids the steaming process. It is so simple and easy, no stirring and "bhunofying" until your arm falls off. Turn off the heat. Now add the green peas, curry powder, and dried fenugreek leaves. Keep the lid on for 5 more minutes to allow the peas to steam. Now keep the lid a jar on top of the pot for about 5 more minutes to let everything settle. It is now time to mix everything. Mix and stir well. Add the garnishes. Serve with hot rice and chapattis. Above pic is without garnishes added.

I learned a version of this dish from my excellent cooking teacher, Gehana (see her blog linked in the side bar). She also adds whipped yoghurt and has a few other options. This is a Sindhi style "seyel bhaji" and the no-stir technique is special to that region. Her version is the best, I have just simplified it a bit to be a no-brainer, extra simple home style vegetable dish.

Black Peppercorn Karhai Chicken

This dish has very few spices in it. It is a good dish to serve at a mixed desi and non-desi party because it is not red chile-heat hot, though it is loaded with rich flavor and some heat from the deep fried crushed black peppercorns that lace it. It also contains fresh slit green chiles added in the last few minutes of cooking for a bit more heat and flavor. I have no idea if what I present here is authentic or not, but the original black peppercorn karhai chicken is an Afghan/Northern Areas dish. However, I can assure you that this dish is tasty, authentic or otherwise.
1 heaping tsp black peppercorns
1/4 cup or so oil
1 chicken skinned, bone-in, cut into 8 pieces
1 tbs garlic paste
1tbs ginger paste
3/4 cup whipped yoghurt
salt to taste
5 large sized fresh green chiles (like jalapeno or very small pakora mirch), slit open
Heat oil in a vessel and add black peppercorns. Allow them to sizzle for a few moments. Strain oil and keep aside. Lay black peppercorns on a paper towel to cook and to remove excess oil. When these are cool, crush them coursely. I do this in a coffee grinder. Keep aside a few whole pieces, too. Set your coursely ground black peppercorns aside. In the same oil that you used to fry the peppercorns, brown the chicken. When the chicken looks nicely colored, add in the ginger and garlic and toss with the chicken until the ginger garlic paste is golden. Lower heat a bit and add in the whipped yoghurt and salt (lower the heat to prevent yoghurt from curdling). Allow the yoghurt to come to a gentle boil, then cover your pan and cook on low heat until chicken is done. When the chicken is cooked, turn up the heat for a moment and toss in the slit green chiles and black peppercorns. Gently stir fry to blend the chiles and pepper, and also to remove excess moisture from the yoghurt and chicken. You should end up with a semi-dry gravy, just barely clinging to the chicken pieces. Serve with roti or naan. This dish goes well with a rich, spicy red meat dish or a tomato based vegetable curry, since it's flavors are mild in contrast.

Krazy for karhai?
For 'original' Landi Kotal Shinwari karhai, see here.
For an adaptation of my mother in law's karhai recipe, see here.