Dec 20, 2016

Persimmon Cookies

Persimmon cookies recipe spicy soft easy fuyu hachiya nutmeg cinnamon cloves

Spicy, moist, and tenderly soft these persimmon cookies are truly a Fall and Winter treat! Lavishly laced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, raisins, and walnuts this recipe is full of the flavors of the season. So simple to make and the easiest answer to the question, "What do you do with persimmons?"

Fuyu persimmons which can be eaten at the semi soft stage. 

You can use any type of persimmon for this recipe as long as it is ripe. Unripe persimmons are quite astringent and bitter tasting due to their tannic acid content. Ripe persimmons are quite sweet and mild in flavor.  If you are using the round Fuyu type persimmons as shown in the photo above you can use them when they've softened to about the firmness of a ripe tomato. If you are using the oblong, heart or acorn shaped Hachiya type persimmons you'll have to wait until they've ripened to the mushy pulp or jelly-like stage. A quick way to ripen any type of persimmon is to stick then in the freezer overnight. When you allow them to thaw the next day they'll be perfectly soft, sweet, and ripe!
Hachiya persimmons which must be allowed to ripen to mushy, jelly-like stage before they're edible.
This recipe uses pureed persimmon pulp. To make persimmon puree you can simply use a fork to mash them in a bowl or a mixie, food processor, or blender to puree them instantly. If using a mixie, food processor, or blender simply remove the stems and any debris and put them in the appliance skin and all. You might want give the persimmon flesh a bit of a going through before pureeing as there might be seeds. The seeds can be rounded like plum stones or oblong like date pits. Your mixie, food processor, or blender will NOT puree these rock-like seeds. You will hear them quite loudly bouncing off the blades and mixing container of your appliance.


And there you have it! Beautiful orange persimmon pulp ready to be eaten as is, enjoyed as frozen sorbet, or stored for your next baking project. I usually measure the pulp out by cupful and store it in Ziploc bags in the freezer. Persimmons will keep frozen for up to 8 months. You might see some separation or darkening of the persimmon pulp but the flavor will be the same as fresh.

Ingredients:
2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C butter, softened to room temperature
1 C sugar (both brown or white are fine)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg or allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, at room temperature
1 C persimmon puree
1 C raisins or sultanas
1 C walnuts (pecans or dark chocolate chips work well too)

Here's what to do:
1) In a large mixing bowl beat butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices together until creamy. Add egg and persimmon puree to mixture and beat for about 3 minutes or until smooth.


2) Add flour and mix until combined. Gently stir in raisins and walnuts. The mixture should be a stiff batter. Cover batter with cling film and place in fridge while oven heats up. (Chilling the dough makes for cookies that taste and look better. The chilled batter will be easier to work with and less likely to spread. The extra time will also allow the pectin in the persimmon puree to thicken the batter and make it less likely to spread. this will  result in cookies that are round and puffed up rather than flat and misshapen like fried eggs.The spices will have a little extra time to lend their flavor to the batter too.)


3) When ready to bake heat oven to 325F/160C. Place tablespoonfuls of chilled batter two inches apart on baking trays lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. (I used a tablespoon sized scoop.)


4) Bake cookies at 325F/160C for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottoms. Remove cookies from tray using a spatula. Cookies will keep for up to 2 weeks in a sealed airtight container at room temperature. This recipe makes 32 cookies.



Helpful Hints:
For a nut free version of this recipe simply use dark chocolate chips in place of the walnuts. Dark chocolate chips don't sound like they'd work with persimmons but they are delicious in these cookies!

LOOK! It's snowing at the Taj Mahal!
Tacky souvenir begotten at the Taj Mahal by
Mr & Mrs KC&CO on their honeymoon

Alrightey then, so it's BIG FAT DESI WEDDING SEASON over here and we're heading hither, thither, and yon to attend all the festivities until January 2nd! So to all my friends who celebrate I hope you & yours have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


See ya next year,
Bibi


Dec 19, 2016

Ingredients: Persimmons, Kaki, Shizi, Haluuabed

One of the most beautiful fruits of Autumn is the brilliant orange-red persimmon. Persimmons are quite a versatile Fall fruit and work well in both sweet and savory applications. There are over two hundred documented cultivars of persimmons, although it is estimated that there are over a thousand actual varieties. Persimmons begin appearing in markets in late September and are often available through December. 

 The lotus persimmon or date-plum (Diospyros lotus) is native to southwest Asia and southeastern Europe.
 The ancient Greeks referred to it as "the fruit of the gods." 

The English word persimmon is derived from the Native American words pasiminan or pessamin from an Algonquian language of the eastern United States meaning, "dry fruit." 
Modern Greek name for the fruit is λωτός (lotos), which has led modern Greeks to the assumption that this is the lotus referred to in Homer's Odyssey. The botanical name of the persimmon family is Diospyros which is said to mean, "divine fruit." In Nepali persimmons are called haluaabed. In Chinese persimmons are called shizi and in Japanese they are called kaki.

A persimmon tree laden with ornament-like fruits after a frost has killed it's leaves in Fall.

The persimmon is multi-trunked or single-stemmed deciduous tree up to twenty-five feet high and at least as wide.
It is a handsome ornamental with drooping leaves and branches that give it a rather tropical and graceful appearance. Persimmon leaves are alternate, simple, ovate and up to seven inches long and four inches wide. They are often a pale, yellowish green in youth, turning to a dark, glossy green as they age. Under mild autumnal conditions persimmon leaves turn vividly dramatic shades of yellow, orange, and red. Tea can also be made from fresh or dried leaves.

A female persimmon flower.

The persimmon's inconspicuous flowers appear in very early Spring are surrounded by a green calyx tube borne on leaf axils of one-year old wood. Female flowers are single and cream-colored while the pink-tinged male flowers are typically occur in threes. Persimmon trees are usually either male or female, but some trees have both male and female flowers. A tree's gender expression can vary from one year to the other. Many cultivars are parthenocarpic and set seedless fruit without pollination. Some varieties require pollination for adequate production. When persimmon plants that do not require pollination are pollinated, they will produce unique fruits with seeds that may be larger and have a different flavor and texture than their seedless counterparts. Persimmons prefer a deep, loamy soil and require a chill time of at least 100 hours to blossom and set fruit annually. The fruits are technically a berry.

The tiny American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana).

There are many different species of persimmons worldwide. The American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is quite small and native to the eastern United States. The black persimmon or black sapote (Diospyros digyna) is native to Mexico. The mabolo or velvet-apple (Diospyros discolor) is native to the Philippines. The lotus persimmon or date-plum (Diospyros lotus) is native to southwest Asia and southeastern Europe and was known to the ancient Greeks as "the fruit of the gods." The large and fleshy Asian or Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki) is native to Japan, China, Korea, Burma, and Nepal and is the most widely cultivated species. There are several cultivars of Asian or Japanese persimmons each with unique flavors and qualities of fruit.

A hachiya persimmon that must ripen to a jelly-like pulp before it can be eaten.

The two most common types of persimmon found in modern markets are the Asian varietals Hachiya and Fuyu. Fuyus are squat and round, and Hachiyas are long, heart-shaped, and pointed. Hachiyas are tart and bitterly astringent due to their high tannic acid content until they are extremely ripe. Fuyus can be eaten while still firm with a texture much like a peach. Choose Fuyus when their flesh is firm but gently yielding like a ripe tomato. Fuyus are mildly sweet and excellent eaten out of hand or sliced into fresh salads. Unripened Hachiyas are too tannic to eat, but once ripe the fruit becomes jelly-like and pulpy and is wonderful pureed for use in baked goods. Look for Hachiyas with taut and glossy skin, but avoid fruit with bruises as they may rot before ripening. To ripen persimmons simply leave them out at room temperature in a sunny spot until they soften or freeze them overnight and allow to thaw the next day. Store soft, ripened persimmons in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

A firm fleshed and non-astringent Fuyu persimmon.

Persimmons are enjoyed in many different ways around the world. The Japanese enjoy them pickled in lime water or massaged and air dried as hoshigaki. The Chinese love them salted and dried. They can be can be made into purees, fruit leather, candies, sherbets, ice creams, jams, compotes, puddings, breads, cookies, muffins, cobblers, clafoutis, cakes, pies, and tarts. Complimentary pairings include pomegranates, pears, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, mace, vanilla, cream, maple syrup, honey, prunes, dates, citrus zest, almonds, pistachios, vinaigrettes, basil, Thai and Serrano chilis, and hard cheeses such as cheddar-y Manchego and salty Parmesan.

The Japanese specialty hoshigaki, an air dried and gently massaged Hachiya persimmon.

The easiest way to store persimmons is to freeze them. As you can see by the photos of fruiting trees above persimmons are quite prolific. They also tend to all ripen at once. While they are delicious to eat fresh there's usually more than enough from one tree for the entire neighborhood and then some. What to do with all this persimmon largesse? Freeze 'em! You can either freeze the entire fruit for later use by just putting it in an airtight plastic bag or container. (This works really well for fruit that isn't ripe yet. When the frozen persimmon thaws et voila! It's ripe and ready to be eaten.) You can also puree them and put the pulp in an airtight plastic bag or container. Your persimmons must be perfectly ripe if you wish to puree them before freezing though.


Here's Bibi pureeing ripe Fuyu persimmons in her mixie. I just give them a good wash, remove the stems, and put them in the mixie skin and all. You might want give the persimmon flesh a bit of a going through before pureeing as there might be seeds. The seeds can be rounded like plum stones or oblong like date pits. Your mixie, food processor, or blender will NOT puree these rock-like seeds. You will hear them quite loudly bouncing off the blades and mixing container of your appliance. 


See? Beautiful orange persimmon pulp ready to be eaten as is, enjoyed as frozen sorbet, or stored for your next baking project. I usually measure the pulp out by cupful and store them in Ziploc bags in the freezer. Persimmons will keep frozen for up to 8 months. You might see some separation or darkening of the persimmon pulp but the flavor will be the same as fresh.

My favorite treat! Spicy persimmon cookies with walnut and raisins. Mmmmm!
When you're ready to make a delicious treat like these cookies or just enjoy a healthy frozen snack just grab a bag out of the freezer. Hope you enjoyed my little overview of persimmons and stick around for lots of persimmon recipes too!

Dec 14, 2016

Nimbu-Mirchi Totka

If you come to India or Nepal you will see nimbu-mirchi totkas consisting of chilis and limes hanging on a string over doorways everywhere. Nimbu means lime, mirchi means chilis, and a totka is a sort of charm to ward off evils. Displaying the nimbu-mirchi is an ancient Hindu practice that you'll see not only over doorways, but also adorning vehicles and dangling from portraits of beloved ancestors and politicians.

Unknown Bollywood starlet chatting with nimbu-mirchi sellers.
The custom of tying limes and chilis on a thread and hung outside the door or on a vehicle is intended to distract the inauspicious Hindu goddess called Alakshmi or Jayestha. Alakshmi is the older sister of the very auspicious goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Alakshmi is said to bring poverty, strife, mayhem, discord, misfortune, barrenness, strife, jealousy, malice, hardship and ruination where ever she goes. She plants distrust and misunderstanding among family members, friends, and relatives. She is often depicted as a withered hag or a dark skinned woman with pendulous belly and breasts enthroned or astride a donkey and accompanied by crows or an owl. Alakshmi also loves to eat hot, sour, and pungent things. The hope is that the nimbu-mirchi will avert Alakshmi's inauspicious attentions and she'll continue on her devastating way.

Lakshmi the Goddess of Wealth with an owl.
Interestingly, you will often the goddess of wealth Lakshmi pictured with an owl. Owls represent arrogance and willful ignorance in Hindu culture. The owl in Lakshmi's beneficent presence represents a warning that wherever she goes so does Alakshmi and her misfortune. The message is to beware of the potential for calamity that may accompany Lakshmi's blessings if both goddesses are not propitiated properly. It's sort of the Hindu version of the Western proverb, "Pride goeth before a fall." Meaning that if you're too boastful and self-important, something bad will inevitably happen.


You can easily make your own nimbu-mirchi totka! All you need is black thread, a needle, seven green chillies and one ripe yellow lime. Take a needle and the thread and tie a thick knot, a black stone, or piece of charcoal at the end. Pierce the threaded needle through the lime first and then through the seven green chillies. Depending on region the chilis and lemon can be strung in different order but there are usually seven chilis and one lemon per nimbu-mirchi wherever you go.


Preferably on a Saturday morning tie your nimbu-mirchi in center of the main door of your house or establishment. Take care that it does not interfere with the opening or closing of the door and movements of people. On vehicles you may attach the nimbu-mirchi to the front bumper, top center of the windshield, or near the wheel well on motorcycles or bicycles. The following Monday morning take the nimbu-mirchi down and throw it away from your house, establishment, or vehicle near to the roadside. Generally in busy marketplace areas the spent nimbu-mirchi is thrown on the road. This is not a good practice as whomever steps upon the discarded nimbu-mirchi imbibes all the bad effects accrued by it during the week. So when you visit crowded marketplaces beware of stepping on a discarded nimbu-mirchi!
Don't step on that!!!
If perchance you do happen to step upon a discarded nimbu-mirchi there is a special procedure to undo any ill effects. First, pick up the nimbu-mirchi with a piece of cloth or handkerchief. Then take it to a place of your choice and burn it while reciting this mantra to the goddess Lakshmi nine times. You must only touch the totka with the cloth and burn the cloth with the totka. Fire is believed to cleanse the negative energies accumulated in the nimbu-mirchi. The mantra is an appeal to the goddess Lakshmi to counter any adverse effects as well.
Should you feel you need a less perishable totka for your inauspicious problems nimbu-mirchis are available in more permanent forms also. The enameled metal nimbu-mirchi pictured above is featured in an online home furnishing company in India. Plastic, resin, and silicone nimbu-mirchis are  also available as key fobs, luggage tags, earrings, and necklaces. As if that weren't enough you can buy smartphone cases, t-shirts, tea sets, and umbrellas emblazoned with nimbu-mirchis too!

Dec 12, 2016

Sindhi Style Chole (Curried Chickpeas)

Sindh is a province in Pakistan and chole means chickpeas or garbanzo beans. In this hearty vegan recipe chickpeas are cooked until tender in a richly spiced and savory gravy. Spicy but not hot- this dish gets it’s flavors from aromatic spices such as cumin, cloves, black pepper, and brown cardamoms. Serve over toasted bread in the traditional Sindhi manner or with rice and rotis for a delicious vegetarian meal.


This is my absolute favorite recipe for chickpeas. I’ve seen this recipe all over the internet unattributed for many years now. It’s a bit different than other chickpea curry recipes in that the whole spices (brown cardamoms, cloves, cassia leaves, black peppercorns, and cumin seeds) are boiled with the chickpeas rather than fried with the gravy. This allows the mellowed warmth of the spices permeate the dish. If you love spices but not the fiery heat of chilis then this is the dish for you. On a recent trip through Delhi I picked up Camellia Panjabi’s much lauded cookbook, 50 Greatest Curries of India. Lo and behold, this recipe was right in the middle of the book!


This cookbook definitely deserves all the praise it’s gotten since it’s original printing in 2006. Please note the glowing endorsement of one of my favorite television chefs, Nigel Slater, in the lower right corner of the cover. As Mr Slater states, this book will delight, educate and inspire anyone who longs to make authentic curries at home. It is certainly a great book for beginners with brief and concise overviews on common Indian cooking techniques and ingredients utilized. The recipes could have been a bit better written (sometimes things on the ingredient list get left out in the instructions), but overall it’s a wonderful collection of authentic recipes from families all over India. (And one from Pakistan?) So with a bit of Bibi-fication here’s my adaptation of Camellia Panjabi’s recipe for "Chickpea Curry from Sindh." According to Ms Panjabi the Sindhi eat this dish over slices of bread for a delightful twist on classic ‘beans on toast.’ Sounds great to me! Like the Punjabis the Sindhi love a bit of a sour tang in their chickpeas from mango powder/amchur. The Kashmiri contingency in my household does not care for the sweetness of mango powder/amchur so I’ve substituted a zingy pinch of dry ginger powder/saunth for it with excellent results. So, whether you enjoy these chickpeas over toast, alone as a soup, or with steamed rice and rotis - you’re in for a delicious vegetarian treat!

Ingredients:
1&1/2 C dried chickpeas/chole, rinsed and soaked for at least 3 hours, (or two 14oz cans of chickpeas, drained)
1 onion, diced finely
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
7 cloves/laung
2 cassia leaves/tej patta (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon/dalchini)
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
12 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing (optiional)
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 tsp salt
4 C water
For masala gravy:
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
2 onions, diced finely
1 TBS garlic/lahsun
1 TBS ginger/adrak
1 C tomatoes, diced finely or pureed
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp coriander/dhania
1/2 tsp dry ginger/saunth or mango powder 

Here's what to do:
1) In a pressure cooker or a large heavy bottomed stock pot combine soaked or canned chickpeas with 4 cups water, one diced onion, black cardamoms, cloves, cassia leaves or ground cinnamon, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, hing (if using), turmeric, and one teaspoonful salt. If using soaked chickpeas steam in a pressure cooker for 5-6 whistles or bring mixture to a boil in stock pot for 50 minutes. If using canned chickpeas bring mixture to a simmer in stock pot for 20 minutes or if using pressure cooker steam for 3 whistles. 

2) While chickpeas are cooking we'll make the masala gravy.  Heat 3 tablespoons cooking oil or ghee in a kadhai or medium skillet. Fry 2 diced onions until just beginning to brown in pan.

 

3) Add ginger and garlic pastes to fried onions and cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Add diced or pureed tomatoes, garam masala, and ground coriander to fried onion mixture. Fry for 5 minutes or until the oil separates from the mixture. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir well and reduce heat. Set masala gravy aside until chickpeas are done.


4) When chickpeas have been cooked until just tender add the fried masala gravy and dry ginger/saunth or mango powder/amchur to them, stir well, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. While the mixture simmers use a wooden spoon to mash a few of the chickpeas against the side of the pot for a gravy thicker if desired.


5) When liquid has reduced to a thick gravy and chickpeas are completely tender your dish is done. Salt to taste and garnish with chopped cilantro and/or chopped fresh chilis if desired. Serve over toast or with rice, rotis, and a few chutneys for a hearty meal.


Helpful hints:
Canned chickpeas tend to be underdone. The extra simmering as in this recipe renders them soft and deliciously.

Dec 7, 2016

Life and Love: Meet the Tarkari-wali!!!

Yes, it's my favorite local fruit and veg vendor! In Nepali, tarkari means vegetables and wali means a female worker. Every other day for the last 10 years I've meandered down the hill to buy local fresh produce from this delightful lady. Over the years I've watched her little business grow from a tiny rickety table about two foot square to a full size covered cart mounted on bicycle wheels!

So here's her fairly new cart complete with roof and extra storage underneath. As you can see she has quite the seasonal assortment of fresh fruit and veg. Those bananas are to die for! That variety is local and have the most incredible almost custard-like banana-y flavor. The greenish oranges are also local and are surprisingly quite ripe. Their peel slips off easily and they taste like a luscious tart-sweet clementine. In the white sleeves on the left are crisp apples packed for the journey from up high at Shimla. Cauliflower is available year round here as it is grown in the cooler, higher elevations during the Summer. (Those HUGE cauliflower heads you see on the right here are a real treat as they're grown just down the street and are delectably tender and fresh!)



Here you can see what's out front of the cart. The yellow bags on the right contain roasted peanuts in the shell, a popular Winter snack all over South Asia. In the bright green bag are taro roots which are called pidalu. Taro root is another Winter vegetable that is boiled, fried, steamed,  or combined with vegetables and lentils into a nutritious stew. The cabbages on the far left are another Winter staple in Nepal and are often stir-fried or used in tasty steamed dumplings called momos. And of course there's more oranges as always starting late November through January.


And my lovely tarkari-wali weighs out my purchase of those yummy oranges on the same rusty balance she's used for the past 10 years. She's never overcharged me nor shortchanged me like some other fruit and veg vendors I could name. My husband used to insist on driving 45 minutes across town to the big tarkari bazaar (fruit and veg market). Then some very esteemed guests of ours wanted to know where I bought the beautiful fruits we served them after dinner and I said, "From the cart right down the street!" They marveled at the quality and thought I'd bought them at one of the fancy shops downtown. Ever since we've bought all our fruits from my tarkari-wali


I finally got her to smile! This is a very rare occurrence. She's a widow whom I've watched send her children to private school and grow her business from a wobbly little table over the years. Life hasn't been too kind to her (a widow's almost the worst thing you can be here), but she's certainly made the best of it!

Dec 5, 2016

Red Velvet Snowballs

red velvet cookies recipe vegan vegetarian eggless egg free nut free chocolate

Get festive with this recipe for buttery, chocolatey, and meltingly tender Red Velvet Snowball Cookies! An easy to make, eggless, and nut free treat that be made vegan too. The perfect addition to any holiday platter!


This stuff's the bomb-diggety!!!

Most "red velvet" recipes for cakes or cookies have some vague chocolate flavor with a slight tartness that makes them rather "meh" in my opinion. But these Red Velvet Snowball cookies have a rich, deep chocolate flavor with a tender crispness that is amazing! A bit like Oreos in flavor but made insanely better with butter. The inspiration for this cookie comes from this recipe on Delish.com. I tried Delish's recipe but didn't like it as the dough was so crumbly it was almost unworkable and the cookies didn't have much flavor. So, I changed the recipe by increasing the butter to one cup, increasing the cocoa powder to 1/3 cup, decreasing the cookie size to one tablespoonful of dough, and decreasing the baking temperature to 325F/175C. I also used Penzey's Natural High Fat Cocoa to give the cookies that strong, dark chocolate flavor I was looking for. The result was perfection! The dough was easy to work with, the cookies puffed up nice and pretty, and they had all the rich chocolate flavor I was looking for. Penzey's Natural High Fat Cocoa powder is their premium cocoa powder especially recommended for baking. I have to say it really makes a difference flavor-wise. You can certainly make these cookies with any cocoa powder you wish but Penzey's makes them really spectacular.

Ingredients:
1 C butter or margarine, at room temperature
1/3 C cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1&1/2 C powdered sugar
1 TBS red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar
2&1/2 C  flour
1 C powdered sugar for rolling

Here's what to do:
1) In a large mixing bowl combine, butter, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, powdered sugar, red food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar. Beat until thoroughly mixed.


2) Add flour to butter mixture 1/2C at a time and continue beating at low speed. The dough will look a bit crumbly at first but will come together after a few minutes of mixing. The dough is properly mixed when it pulls away from the bowl and the beater(s). If your dough is still crumbly after 5 minutes of mixing please see "Helpful Hints" below for a tip on how to fix it. I'd advise chilling the dough covered with cling wrap or in a sealable plastic bag in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Chilling the dough not only makes for prettier cookies and a dough that's easier to handle but makes for better flavor also. This dough will also keep well in a sealed plastic bag or container in the freezer for up to a month.


3) When ready to bake preheat oven to 325F/175C. Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats. (You could also roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and press them down lightly on the lined baking sheet if you don't have a scoop.) Place the balls of dough about 2 inches apart as they do puff up a bit.


4) Bake cookies for 20 to 22 minutes or until evenly browned on the bottom. Remove cookies from baking sheet with spatula and place on wire rack to cool. If you like, roll cookies in powdered sugar while still warm. Store tightly in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. This recipe makes approximately 24 cookies.

5) If you like, roll cookies in powdered sugar while still warm. Store tightly in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. This recipe makes approximately 24 cookies.

Helpful Hints:
If in step 2 the dough still remains crumbly add a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil. This usually fixes the problem. Unfortunately due to variations in humidity, varying water content in butters, and moisture content of different flours sometimes you have to adjust the amount of fats/oils to get the correct consistency of dough.

Nov 30, 2016

Chicken Rogan Josh

Chicken Rogan Josh kashmiri recipe curry easy authentic indian

In Persian, Rogan means fat or ghee and Josh means intense or boiling. Rogan Josh made with mutton is a traditional dish of Kashmir and was introduced by the Persian speaking Mughals. This recipe uses chicken in place of mutton for a delicious red curry. Although lavishly spiced this dish is more aromatic in flavor than fiery hot. The chicken is seared until golden brown then braised until tender in the rich and velvety sauce. Perfect for a chilly Fall or Winter day served with rice and a few piquant chutneys.

Chicken Rogan Josh kashmiri recipe curry easy authentic indian

As is the traditional Kashmiri manner the chicken is first browned in salted ghee and oil then set aside. Browning the chicken in salted oil gives it a bit of a savory crust as well as leaving delicious drippings for making the sauce. The sauce is then made with layer upon layer of flavors. The Kashmiri mirch, fennel, dry ginger, cassia, cloves, black and green cardamoms are all authentic flavors of Kashmiri cuisine. Tempering the yogurt gives the sauce that velvety texture. Finally, the sauce and chicken are combined to slowly simmer to meld the flavors. The sauce is quite soupy as it is served with rice like most Kashmiri dishes. (If you'd prefer a thicker gravy then grind the onions to a smooth paste before frying.) Kashmiris probably wouldn't use the cassia leaves but I find their delicate fragrance enhances the flavors so I put them in. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces with bone in
2 TBS cooking oil
2 TBS ghee/clarified butter
3 onions, sliced thinly into half moons (or ground into paste for thick gravy)
2 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
2 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2 cassia leaves/tej patta (optional)
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
2 C water or stock
1 TBS dried mint (optional for garnish)
Grind for masala:
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi
5 green cardamoms/elaichi,
6 cloves/laung
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch
2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
2 tsp coriander seeds/dhania
Mix until smooth for sauce:
1 cup full fat yogurt/dahi
1/2 tsp flour/maida (this will keep the yogurt from splitting)
1 TBS Kashmiri mirch (or 1&1/2 tsp paprika plus 1&1/2 tsp cayenne)
2 tsp ground fennel/saunf
1 tsp dry ginger/soonth
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi

Here's what to do:
1) Heat cooking oil or ghee with 1 teaspoonful salt in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet for 7 minutes. While oil is heating mix yogurt together with spices and flour as listed for sauce until smooth and set aside. Grind spices listed for masala and set aside.


2) Fry chicken pieces in hot oil and ghee for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Set fried chicken pieces aside on a plate.


3) In same pan fry sliced (or ground) onions until beginning to brown. Add garlic paste, ginger paste, cassia leaves, cassia bark and spices ground for masala. Fry for about 2 minutes or until raw smell is gone from garlic.

4)  Remove pan from heat and add yogurt mixed with flour and spices to fried onion mixture. Stir well and return pan to heat. Bring mixture to a simmer. (This tempers the yogurt to give it a smooth texture.) Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to scorch or stick reduce heat, add 1/4 cup water and stir well.

 

5) After 5 minutes return the fried chicken pieces to the pan with the onion, yogurt, and spice mixture. Stir well. Add 2 cups water or stock to the spice and chicken mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover pan and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked through and oil separates from the sauce. Salt to taste and garnish with dried mint if desired.


Helpful Hints:
I do find that sometimes chicken can get a bit dry when cooked this way. To prevent that I usually soak the skinless chicken in a brine solution of 3 tablespoons salt to one liter/four cups water for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator. Before fryimg rinse the chicken pieces well  and dispose of the brine solution. This really makes for tender, juicy chicken!

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