Showing posts with label Delhi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Delhi. Show all posts

Jul 29, 2016

Delhi Drama

Here we are at the Delhi airport!
 Alas we must take a taxi because Delhi's new public transit system does not connect with the airport yet.

And we were off across the grand metropolis of the nation's capitol in an AC cab in no time.  At every stoplight in Delhi you will see small bands of beggars. They will visibly peruse all passengers of the waiting vehicles in an effort to "spot the foreigner." Granted the beggar situation in Delhi isn't nearly as bad as it was 10 years ago but they are still a common sight. They know foreigners are more generous than the local population so be prepared for the onslaught if you look foreign.

These two youngsters have spotted Bibi in her taxi and are now performing their routine. The girl in blue is playing a little drum and singing while the boy with a painted on mustache twirls a doohickey atop his cap.

Usually Bibi brings a few packets of prepared snacks or some homemade cookies wrapped in cling film to give to these sorts but unfortunately not today. I never give money because I don't want to encourage this activity as a career and these kids should be in school. 

After a few minutes the girl in blue figures out I'm not rolling the windows of the taxi down to donate and am taking her photo. She doesn't seem to happy about this and begins yelling curses at me and calling me a miser.
Oh my.
I think she's a bit angry and truly disgusted with me at this point.

That's it.
She's had it with Bibi and the light is turning green. She's taking her drum and leaving.
"DA FA!" she yells (roughly translated that means "GO TO HELL!")
Oh well, as the kids say nowadays, "Bye Felicia!"

Next stop is Srinagar!

May 8, 2016

Ingredient of the Week: Anardana, Dried Pomegranate Seeds

Anardana being sold in sacks at Delhi's famed spice market Khari Boali
"Anar" means pomegranate and "dana" means seed. Anardana refers to the dried pomegranate seeds used in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines. It is primarily used as a souring agent in Desi cuisines like limes, amchur, or tamarind. The pomegranate seeds are sun dried or pan roasted whole so that bits of pulp remain rendering the seeds a bit sticky with a fruity, slightly sweet and tart flavor.

"Daru" a type of wild pomegranate growing in the Himalayas.
(photo from fruitipedia)
The best quality anardana is said to come from a variety of wild pomegranate trees called "daru" around the Himalayan town of Shimla in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. (Do not confuse the fruit "daru" with the rotgut homemade and often poisonous liquor called "Desi daru.") Anardana is commercially available whole as seen in the top photo taken at Delhi's Khari Baoli spice market or ground to a fine powder as seen in the box below of the popular Indian brand MDH.

According to celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor one can also easily make anardana by dry roasting fresh pomegranate seeds in a non stick pan until all moisture has left them. Since pomegranates are in season here in Nepal I thought I'd have a go at it.

So this is how I started out. I bought a couple of pomegranates from our local fruit and vegetable walla. I'm not sure exactly where these pomegranates came from but they certainly aren't like the pomegranates from my native California. The seeds from the pomegranates in California are a lurid red and stain your hands, mouth, and clothing that same lurid red for days. These pomegranates were a bit pale, didn't stain at all and they didn't have the sweetness that California pomegranates do either. My husband said they weren't very good quality.

At about 9 minutes into the dry roasting the seeds started popping, sort of like Mexican jumping beans. At that point I let them cool and attempted to grind them.

I ended up with this rather sticky glob. I'd say buy it ready-made rather than subject your home grinder to this sort of abuse. There wasn't much flavor to it other than a generic prune or raisin type dried fruit note. This procedure also left my nonstick pan a sticky mess, it might be interesting to do this and deglaze the pan for an interesting fruity flavored sauce for meat. To make anardana commercially in Shimla they dry the seeds and pulp on rooftops for 10 to 15 days. I think that would work much better than this dry roasting nonsense.

What does it taste like?
The commercially prepared anardana I've tasted is aggressively acidic and astringent with a mild dried fruit flavor that increases with cooking. Think powdered dried cranberries for a similar taste. Evidently the smaller wild daru pomegranates used for the commercial version contain far more tannins than the modern large sweeter cultivars grown for eating out of hand. The tannins are what makes for the sourness and astringency of true anardana.So unless you have a wild pomegranate tree or access to some wild pomegranates I'd say don't bother making your own. I've heard the flavor of anardana compared to pomegranate molasses and I can taste the similarities, but Desi anardana is far more astringent.

"Daru" pomegranates from the Himalayas, each fruit is only 2-3 inches across
(photo from fruitipedia)
How to use it?
Anardana is valued in Desi dishes for it's souring abilities and slightly sweet fruit flavor. Other souring agents like limes/nimbu and amchur/dried mango powder must be added at the end of the cooking process to preserve their flavor. Anardana's fruit flavor increases while it's sharpness mellows the longer it is cooked. When used sparingly in legume and vegetable dishes like curried chickpeas, dals, or parathas it can add depth and richness. In chutneys anardana is often used in large amounts and paired with the bracing heat of green chilis for a hot and tangy blast. 

If you can't find anardana?
I'm of the same opinion as Madhur Jaffrey as quoted in an article in The Observer, 2003-

"I have had little luck with anardana in the West. I can buy it all right, but the seeds are dark and unyielding, nothing like the soft brown, melting seeds found in Pakistan or, indeed, in the villages of Indian Punjab. Instead I resort to lemon juice".

Actually I prefer limes/nimbu as a souring agent because I like their floral notes better than the dried fruit flavor of anardana. However, if you're really intent on getting that sweet and sour tang of anardana I'd try a dollop of pomegranate molasses stirred in towards the end of cooking. 

Our little wild pomegranate tree growing on the edge of the corn field.
Yes, that black spot on the left is Ms. Chinger photobombing the Daru tree.

Apr 20, 2016

Karim's Aloo Ghosht (Mughal Style Mutton with Potatoes)

Muslim mughlai goat lamb mutton Indian famous Karim restaurant

Since 1913 Karim's has been the most famous and iconic Mughal restaurant of old Delhi. "Aloo" means potato and "ghosht" is Urdu for mutton. In classic Mughal style, mutton is simmered in a rich blend of caramelized onions, warm aromatic spices, and tangy yogurt until falling off the bone tender. This creates the savory and spicy red gravy so prized by the royals of the Mughal court which perfectly pairs with the creamy and delicate potatoes.

Karim's original restaurant in Old Delhi.
When the coronation of King George V as Emperor of India was held in Delhi in 1911 the son of one of the cooks of the former royal Mughal court, Haji Karimuddin, had a brilliant idea. He opened a small restaurant called a dhaba to cater to all the people coming from all over India to attend the coronation. Haji Karimuddin opened the first Karim's in Delhi stating "I want to earn fame and money by serving the royal food to the common man." The origial Karim's near the historic Jama Masjid mosque served just three items, aloo ghosht, dal, and rumalli roti. This is legendary dish that launched Delhi's most famous culinary destination - Aloo Ghosht.

I first saw this recipe on an Indian television show a few years ago featuring Indian MasterChef winner Pankaj Bhadouria. With a bit of tinkering and some educated guesses as to what was actually implied by the rather vague recipe on her website I have to say this does indeed taste exactly like the original dish as served at Karim's. The key to this recipe is getting the caramelized onions right, brown them perfectly. Not a bit black or the onion's flavor will be bitter and burnt and ruin the entire dish. Err on the side of underdone with the onions if you must. The Mughals and Karim's would leave the cardamoms, cloves, and peppercorns whole, I have chosen to grind them with the yogurt for a boost of flavor. Whether you choose to leave the spices whole or ground this dish is a delicious incarnation of the nostalgic flavors of old Delhi's royal Mughal heritage.

1kg/2lbs mutton/goat, bone in, cut into 3 inch pieces
1 C onions, thinly sliced into half moons
1/2 C ghee
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garam masala
3 large potatoes, boiled until tender, peeled & cut into 2 inch pieces
Grind until smooth for masala:
1 C full fat yogurt/dahi
1 tsp flour/maida (this will keep your yogurt from splitting
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2 TBS ground coriander/dhania seeds
1 TBS ground cumin/jeera
1 TBS Kashmiri mirch ( or 1&1/2 tsp cayenne plus 1&1/2 tsp paprika)
2 tsp black peppercorns/kali mirch
1 tsp turmeric/haldi
9 cloves/laung
9 green cardamoms/elaichi
4 black cardamoms/kali elaichi
1 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) Grind all ingredients listed under masala to smooth paste, set aside.


2) Heat 1/4 C ghee with 1 tsp salt in kadhai or large heavy bottomed skillet. Fry sliced onions over medium heat until a deep golden brown. This will probably take about 12 to 15 minutes. Watch them carefully as you want them browned and caramelized  but not black. If you overcook them to the blackened stage they'll be bitter and you'll just have to throw them out and start over.

3) Set browned onions aside and allow to cool. Be aware that thee onions will continue cooking for a few minutes after you take them off the heat so leave them a bit underdone. When cooled grind browned onions to a smooth paste.

4) Heat 1/4 C ghee in a pressure cooker or large stock pot. Add mutton pieces and ground masala paste. Stir well and allow to simmer for 7 minutes. 

5) Add fried onion paste, 2 tsp garam masala, and 1&1/2 C water to meat mixture. Stir well. 

6) If using pressure cooker, seal and steam until meat is tender. If using stock pot on stove simmer until meat is tender adding 1/2 C water as needed to prevent drying out, this will take about 3-4 hours. If using crock pot or slow cooker transfer meat mixture to cooker and allow to simmer on medium for 3-4 until meat is tender.

7) When meat is tender and oil separates from the gravy stir in potato pieces and allow to heat through. Salt to taste and serve.

Helpful hints:
If you are not fond of mutton/goat this recipe would work well with beef, lamb, water buffalo, venison, or elk shank or stew meat, simply shorten cooking times accordingly.

Do not burn or blacken the onions, you will ruin the entire dish.  Brown is what we want, remember the onions will continue to cook for a few minutes after you've removed them from the heat. Fry the onions over medium heat.

Nov 23, 2015

Delhi Style Chicken Curry

Delhi Style Chicken Curry

A lovely aunty from Delhi taught me how to make this traditional North Indian chicken curry a few years ago. Sumptuously spiced, yet bold and bright with the flavor of fresh cilantro and warm cardamom with a deliciously rich red gravy. So simple to prepare and always a family favorite around here. A great recipe to try if you are new to making curries. 

1 cut up whole chicken, skinless, washed & cut into 8-10 pieces
3 TBS oil
2 onions, thinly sliced into half moons
Grind to paste for marinade-
1 C yoghurt/dahi
1/2 C onions, roughly chopped (optional for thicker gravy)
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp paprika plus 1 tsp cayenne powder)
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 TBS ground coriander/dhania seeds
5 green cardamoms/elaichi
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon/dalchini
1 TBS white poppy seeds/khus khus (or ground almonds or cashews)
1/4 C fresh cilantro/dhania, chopped 
2 green chilies/hari mirch, roughly chopped (optional, for less heat omit)
2 tsp salt

Here's what to do-
1) Grind all ingredients listed under marinade to a smooth paste in a mixie, blender or food processor. Coat chicken pieces well with marinade paste. Allow chicken to marinate for at least 1 hour up to overnight in a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator.

2) Heat oil in deep, heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai, and fry sliced onions over medium heat until translucent & beginning to brown at the edges.

3) Add chicken pieces to frying onions in pan. Be careful as oil may spatter. Fry chicken pieces for 2 minutes on each side. Add marinade to chicken and onions in pan, stir well and simmer for 7 minutes. Add 1 cup water to mixture & continue to simmer uncovered over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Be sure to simmer this dish uncovered, it may boil over if covered. If mixture begins to burn, scorch, or stick, stir in 1/2 cup water and reduce heat.

4) When the oil has separated from the marinade mixture and the chicken is cooked through your curry is ready. Salt to taste and serve.

Helpful Hints:
Never cook chicken in a pressure cooker, it gets a rubbery texture from the extreme, high heat.
Don't have poppy seeds? Substitute 1 TBS ground almonds or cashews.
Don't have Kashmiri mirch? Substitute a mixture of 1/2 cayenne powder plus 1/2 sweet paprika.
Don't have yogurt?  Well, living in Nepal sometimes we can't get yogurt here, so on occasion I've used a 1 C full fat milk with excellent results also!
If you wish to make this dish really posh and rich, substitute cream for the yogurt and ghee for the cooking oil.

And above all.....
Keep calm & curry on.

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