Showing posts with label Indian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian. Show all posts

Oct 8, 2018

Tariwala Mutton Curry

curry, easy, goat, gravy, Indian, lamb, Mutton, pushpesh pant, Recipe, simple, stew, tari, tariwala, tariwala mutton, venison,

"Tari" means sauce or gravy and it is traditionally quite thin in this classic Punjabi dish. Mutton or lamb is braised until tender with richly caramelized onions and aromatic spices in this simple home-style recipe.


This recipe is adapted from Pushpesh Pant's weekly column "Food Talk" in the Punjab-based newspaper The Tribune. Dr. Pant is a famed food historian, critic, and travel writer as well as a noted academic. He retired as a Professor of International relations from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi in 2011. He is one of India's leading experts on international relations as well as Indian cuisine. He is the author of several books and has written articles for publications such as Forbes, Times of India, Outlook, and Open. Personally, I think he started India's modern 'foodie' movement!

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As Dr. Pant wrote in his newspaper column back in 2006 this is sort of the "Plain Jane" of mutton curries in northern India. Once standard dhaba and "no frills" diner fare Tariwala Mutton now seems too homely for restaurant menus and has been replaced by fancier dishes. But this is the style of mutton dish I've been served most when visiting Punjabis at home and it is one of my favorites! With the mild spices and thin, almost broth-like gravy you'll find this recipe to be a bit more like what we Westerners call a stew than what we think of as a curry. Caramelized onions are the flavor base of the  "tari" or thin gravy so be sure to allow plenty of time to get them to that deep golden stage. I normally make this dish with goat so I use a pressure cooker. If you are cooking tender lamb a deep skillet or Dutch oven atop the hob would be a better choice for simmering. Despite the humble ingredients, I'm sure you'll be amazed at the richness of flavor in this "Plain Jane" dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 kg/2lbs mutton or lamb, cut into 2-inch pieces, bone in preferred
1/4 C cooking oil or ghee
4 onions, diced finely
4 black cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
4 cloves/laung
1 cassia leaf/tej patta
2-inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini or cinnamon quill
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
12 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
2 tomatoes, diced finely or pureed
1 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
2 tsp ginger/adrakh paste
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika plus 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
1 tsp turmeric/haldi
salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1)  Heat the oil for 5 minutes in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan or 5-liter pressure cooker with 2 teaspoonfuls salt. Add onions to hot oil. Fry on high heat stirring constantly for about 10 minutes and then reduce heat. Continue until the onions turn golden. Don’t rush this as the color of the onions adds more flavor and color to the gravy. Err on the side of slightly under caramelized, if you burn the onions they'll be bitter and you'll have to throw them out and start over.


2) Add the cumin seeds, black peppercorns, black cardamoms, cloves, and cassia leaf and fry for about two minutes. Add tomatoes and fry for about 5 minutes or until oil separates. Now add the coriander, turmeric, red chili powder, ginger paste, garlic paste, and a  tablespoonful of water. Continue to stir-fry for about five minutes or until mixture becomes shiny.


3) Add the mutton pieces and cook on high heat for about 15 minutes. The liquid that comes out of the meat should evaporate and the mutton will become slightly brown.


4) If using pan: add 5 cups of water to the mixture and simmer over medium heat till it becomes tender. If using a pressure cooker: add 4 cups water, seal pressure cooker, and allow to steam for 2 whistles or until mutton is tender.


5) Once the mutton is cooked to desired tenderness there should be about two to three cups of gravy left, otherwise, add some hot water and bring it to simmer. Salt to taste and serve hot with rice, naan, or rotis.


Helpful hints:
If you find your onions are not quite as caramelized as they should be or the "tari" or sauce is not as deeply colored as you'd like- a good cheat is to add one tablespoonful of tinned tomato paste with the tomatoes at step 2. 



Oct 1, 2018

Tips & Tools: How to make Pumpkin Puree in a Pressure Cooker

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It's officially October and therefore pumpkin time! Making homemade pumpkin puree could not be easier than this simple method using an Indian-style pressure cooker. Perfect for use in all your favorite pumpkin recipes!



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Not happening in Nepal!

I live in Nepal so canned pumpkin is rarely (if ever) available at the market. I once saw a can of Libby's for sale at a shop in Kathmandu years ago for about $7USD. Yikes! I used to make my own pumpkin puree when I lived in the US by cooking the Halloween jack-o-lantern every year. So a few years back I decided to try making homemade pumpkin puree here in Nepal.

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Nepali pumpkin or farsi
First, I had to find a suitable pumpkin. Everything from turban squashes to bottle gourds can be called a "pumpkin" in Nepal. The predominantly green, volleyball-sized squash you see above is the closest thing I've found here to what we call a pumpkin in the US. This unique variety never develops a completely orange shell like most American pumpkins. It remains green when fully ripe and keeps amazingly well through the intense heat and humidity of the Monsoon season. They start showing up at markets around late September. I've tried growing American-style sugar pumpkins here in my garden and all they do is rot. The interior flesh of this Nepali pumpkin or farsi is bright orange and slightly sweet just like American pie pumpkins! Nepalis like to stir-fry the shoots of the vine as well as eat the farsi flesh curried or stewed.


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The workhorse of the Indian kitchen
Now how to cook the pumpkin? The gourmet hipsters insist you need to roast the pumpkin in an oven for hours for the best flavor. I only have a little electric toaster oven and an intermittent electricity supply so that wouldn't work. A quick internet search revealed that the quickest way to cook a pumpkin was in an electric pressure cooker called an "Instant Pot." Hmmm..... Why not use my old-fashioned Indian-style pressure cooker that works atop a gas stove instead? I tried it and it worked a treat! A mere ten minutes and I had cooked the pumpkin! I whizzed the cooked pumpkin through the mixie et voila! I had this gorgeousness:

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Homemade pumpkin puree
Homemade pumpkin puree does differ from commercially canned pumpkin in taste, texture, and appearance. The texture is less dense and more like applesauce, the flavor is fresher, and the color is brighter. In savory pumpkin dishes like soup, ravioli filling, and pasta the homemade puree is superior with its fresh, slightly herbaceous notes and smoother texture. In baked goods, we tend to disguise the pumpkin flavor with spices and sugar so texture becomes more important than taste. Homemade pumpkin puree is definitely thinner in consistency than commercially canned pumpkin. I've made cakes, bread, cookies, ice cream, pies, custard, and fudge with homemade pumpkin puree. I really haven't found much difference in baking with homemade versus canned pumpkin. The color of baked products is typically lighter using fresh pumpkin puree. The difference in texture seems to only affect pies. In my famed Pumpkin Custard Pie recipe using commercially canned pumpkin resulted in a firmer filling but the homemade puree made for a velvety filling much brighter in flavor.
Pumpkin recipes will follow. For now, though, let’s get the basic process down. You can start pureeing pumpkin today!

Ingredients:
1 pumpkin, deseeded, destemmed, and cut into 2-3 inch pieces (do not remove the skin as it is easier to remove after cooking)

Here's what to do:
1) Place enough water in the pressure cooker to cover the bottom by at least 1/4 of an inch. (I'm using a 5-liter pressure cooker so I used about 1/2 cup or water.) Place the chunks of pumpkin in the pressure cooker until it is about 3/4 full. If you have a larger pumpkin you may have to cook it in multiple bathes.

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2) Seal pressure cooker and place on stove over high heat. Allow pressure cooker to whistle once then remove from heat. (It usually takes about 10 minutes for my pressure cooker to whistle no matter what I am cooking.)

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3) Let pressure cooker cool for about 10 minutes and then unseal the lid. The pumpkin will be completely cooked. Allow pumpkin pieces to cool further until safe to handle.

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4) Using a spoon or knife scoop or cut pumpkin flesh away from the skin. Place pumpkin flesh in mixie or blender.

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5) Puree in mixie or blender until smooth.

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6) Store puree in an airtight container such as Ziploc bag or sealable tub in the freezer until ready for use. Plastic bags are illegal here so I use these repurposed ice cream tubs. Be sure to label the date and amount of pumpkin in each container.

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7) My little 3 kg pumpkin made about 6 cups of pumpkin puree. That's about the same as three 15 ounce cans of commercially processed pumpkin puree. I've stored homemade pumpkin puree in the freezer for up to 6 months with no change in quality. Liquid from the puree may separate when thawing but just give it a stir and it's fine.

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What sorts of pumpkin goodies are y'all baking this holiday season?
Are you going to make your own pumpkin puree or buy canned?
Tell me in the comments!

Sep 17, 2018

Farida Omar's Chicken Curry

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Farida Omar is the widow of anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela's lawyer, Dullah Omar. Her culinary talents are legendary and her biryanis, curries, and samosas fortified Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Ahmed Kathrada during their incarceration. This is Mrs. Omar's classic recipe for the delicious chicken curry her husband would smuggle into Mr. Mandela while in Pollsmoor prison, Cape Town.

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This recipe is from the 2008 book Hunger for Freedom, the Story of Food in the Life of Nelson Mandela, by Anna Trapido. I found this book while perusing The Guardian  a few years ago. The author, Anna Trepido, is an anthropologist and trained chef as well as a food writer and broadcaster. The book is a brilliantly written gastro-political biography of Nelson Mandela's life. Nelson Mandela's food preferences reveal a multi-racial and multi-cultural anti-apartheid alliance where Thayanagee Pillay made coffee for prisoners awaiting trial, Farida Omar had chicken curry smuggled to Nelson Mandela at Pollsmoor Prison, George Bizos cooked Greek lamb on a spit to celebrate victories, and Ray Harmel served chopped liver in times of trouble. From the corn grinding stone of Nelson Mandela's boyhood to presidential banquets, this book is as much a historical work as a culinary reference. The recipes are all well written and amazing too!

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(via)
I couldn't find much information online about Farida Omar. From a South African pal, I have learned that her parents were fruit and vegetable vendors and immigrants from Gujarat. Her husband, the famed anti-Apartheid activist and human rights lawyer Dullah Omar, passed away in 2004. She is the mother of three children and has two grandchildren also. Mrs. Omar and her children continue to be human rights activists in South Africa and around the globe. In 2017 she received the Masjidul-Quds Lifetime Community Service Award in Century City, Cape Town.

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Looking at the simple list of ingredients this might seem like just another average chicken curry. But Mrs. Omar has a few tricks up her sleeve that set her recipe apart from the rest! For a little extra richness, color, and flavor she adds a tablespoon of tinned tomato paste. I've seen tinned tomato paste used in many recipes of the Indian diaspora in Africa and western countries. Tinned tomato paste is preferred because it is less sweet than tinned tomato puree. It is also quite similar in flavor to "bhuna masala." where the tomatoes are fried down to a rich paste for a curry base. She also adds the fresh ginger and ground spices at the end rather than frying them into oblivion with the onions as is frequently done. The ginger and coriander retain thus a bit more vibrancy giving the curry a brighter flavor.

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All in all this a great basic chicken curry for beginners to try or old pros to add to their repertoire. The only changes I have made are adjusting the amount of liquid and the cooking time of this recipe. I increased the chicken stock or water from 1&1/2 cups to 2 cups because the sauce seemed a bit thick. Mrs. Omar stews her chicken for a good 40 minutes, I find both potatoes and chicken both take about 20 to 25 minutes to braise to perfection on my stove. (Perhaps the African chickens Mrs. Omar cooks are the tougher free-range sorts?)  This recipe perfectly demonstrates the traditional building of flavors and complexity in Indian cooking layer by layer. Yet it is not so overly complicated with long lists of ingredients and numerous intricate steps as to be intimidating. The result is a delectably rich, deep red, and vibrantly savory chicken curry! Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 large whole chicken, portioned & skinned
3 TBS sunflower oil or cooking oil of choice
3 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised with a mortar pestle
2-inch cinnamon stick or piece of cassia bark/dalchini
4 cloves/laung
1 TBS butter or ghee
2 onions, sliced thinly into half moons
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
2 big tomatoes, pureed or finely diced
1 TBS tinned tomato paste
1 TBS grated fresh root ginger/adrakh
1 TBS coriander/dhania powder
2 tsp cumin/jeera powder
1 to 2 tsp red chili powder (I used Kashmiri mirch, use less for less heat)
½ tsp turmeric/haldi
2 C chicken stock/shorba or water
6-8 small potatoes, peeled and halved

Here's what to do:
1) Heat cooking oil in large heavy-bottomed skillet or kadhai for about 5 minutes. Fry the cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves in the oil until they release their aroma.

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2) Add the butter and the onions and fry until translucent. Add the garlic and stir through. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the garlic has lost it's raw smell.

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3) Add the pureed tomato and tomato paste and cook over a low heat for 5- 7 minutes to form a thick sauce.
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4) When you see the oil coming to the top of the sauce add the chicken pieces, ginger, coriander, cumin, chili, and turmeric. Stir well.

5) Add 2 cups water or chicken stock and potatoes and bring mixture to a simmer. Cover and allow the curry to braise until chicken is tender and potatoes are very soft.  (This usually takes about 25 to 30 minutes on my stove.) Serve with rice, rotis, and a few fresh chutneys for a complete meal.

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Jun 4, 2018

Tips & Tools: How to Make a Mughal-Style Shorba (Stock) in a Pressure Cooker

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A flavorful stock or shorba is the secret ingredient that will take your savory South Asian dishes from ordinary to exceptional! Get your biryanis bangin' and your pulaos poppin' with this easy recipe using a pressure cooker. 


A royal feast for the Uzbeks, Mughal, 18th century, National Museum of India
The cooking of the ancient Mughals was a veritable riot of flavors, fragrance, colors, experiments, protocol, table manners, traditions, techniques, and textures. At least one hundred different and exquisite dishes were served at each meal. Each dish was prepared by one cook fiercely seeking favor with the emperor. With techniques taken from the Persian and Ottoman empires, the finest of ingredients were combined in elaborate dishes. One such technique was the making of the shorba or stock to imbue savory dishes with umami-rich flavor. The word shorba comes from the Persian term شوربا with "shor" meaning salty and "ba" meaning stew. In today's modern vernacular a shorba has come to mean any sort of soup, gravy, or stew. But in the days of the Mughals, a shorba was a savory bone or meat-based broth.

The Waza!
The Mughals were prolific documenters but we have our own living historian of Mughal cuisine: the waza! The supreme chef of the Kashmiri Wazwan or traditional formal banquet is our living historian. When you taste the dishes of the Wazwan you are actually tasting history. For generations of wazas the dishes and methods of the royal Mughal court have been passed down. And this is whom I've learned this recipe for a classic shorba from. After the waza has chosen the animals and overseen their butchering one of the first things he does is make the shorba.

Gushtaba- famed dish of the Wazwan made of pounded mutton meatballs in a delicate yogurt sauce
This is because the shorba or bone-based stock is what gives so many Wazwan dishes their full, rich flavor. Yakhni, Rogan Josh, Gushtaba, Rishta, Aab Gosht, pulao, biryani, - just about all savory dishes benefit from the addition of a well-made shorba. I've rarely seen a waza add water to a dish. Mughal cooking isn't just grease and masala as some Delhi restaurants might lead you to believe.


The Waza begins to make the shorba by frying the bones he has chosen to make the stock. This gives the shorba a richer, slightly caramelized flavor and achieves the same effect that western chefs get when they roast bones for a stock. In the tradition of the Wazwan, every part of the animal is used. I save up the bony bits and joints from mutton and the necks and backs from chicken in a box in the freezer to make my shorba. The waza makes gallons of shorba in a huge deg over a fire for a Wazwan.  I find a pressure cooker more suited to my needs as I usually only make a little over a liter.



The Waza does not use any sort of fresh herbs or root vegetables except for possibly a few cloves of garlic in making the shorba.  No French mirepoix, German Suppengrün, Dutch soepgroente, Italian soffritt, or Polish włoszczyzna is used in the making of stocks, soups, sauces, and stews as in western cuisines. No bouquet garni of fresh herbs tied with string or placed in a cheesecloth bundle is used either.



Rather, the Waza uses sabut garam masala or the whole spices you'd find ground into garam masala to season his shorba. Black peppercorns, green cardamom, cumin, cloves, cassia bark, cassia leaves, fennel, coriander, black cardamoms, - the list can vary according to each waza. Sometimes even saffron is included for an especially lavish touch. Our waza also adds a few cloves of garlic to the mix, not all wazas do that though.







The whole spices or sabut garam masala are then tied into a cheesecloth sachet called a potli. The waza then places the potli full of spices into the deg or huge urn-shaped pot with the fried bones and some water.








The deg and its contents are then allowed to simmer over a woodfire for hours until reduced to the desired amount. The urn-shaped cooking vessels you see in the above photo are what is called a deg in Kashmiri cooking, they are made of beaten copper and are quite heavy. The shape and craftsmanship of the deg goes back before the time of the Mughals. I prefer to use a pressure cooker as woodfires and giant degs aren't very practical in my kitchen.


After the shorba is completely cooked the waza strains the liquid through cheesecloth to remove most of the solids and particulates. The spice-filled potli is then discarded. Above you can see the huge blue tub partially covered by cheesecloth that the waza's helper strained the newly-made shorba into. Now the shorba is ready to be ladled out for use in the many dishes of the Wazwan - 36 courses minimum!


Bibi's jugaadi or 'make-do' do straining method requires only a collander placed over a pot with a spout. Not quite as efficient as cheesecloth over a tub but it works, it is reusable, and it is using equipment I always have on hand in my kitchen!


Here is Bibi's shorba. I only make shorba for special occasions like Ramadan, Eid, or an Urs when I'll be cooking lots of savory dishes. Right now during Ramadan I make a special mutton or chicken dish every day to send to the mosque for iftar. About a month in advance of when I wish to make shorba I'll start saving mutton bones and or chicken necks and backs in the freezer. Then once a week I'll make a fresh batch of both mutton and chicken shorba and keep it in the refrigerator until needed. A shorba is a simple, healthy, and inexpensive way to give your curries, gravies, sauces, sooups, biryanis, and an amazingly authentic taste!

Ingredients:
5-7 raw mutton bones or 5-7 raw chicken necks and/or backs
5 liter or larger pressure cooker
2 TBS ghee or cooking oil of choice
2 tsp salt (optional but will help preserve the stock/shorba)
5 C water
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1 tsp fennel seeds/saunf
3 green cardamoms/elaichi
2-inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini or cinnamon stick
2 cassia leaves/tej patta
5 cloves/laung
4 black cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised in a mortar and pestle
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch
3 cloves garlic/lahsun (optional)

Here's what to do:
1) In a 5-liter pressure cooker heat ghee or cooking oil with salt over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add mutton bones or chicken pieces and fry for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.


2) Add 5 cups of water and whole spices to browned bones.


3) Seal pressure cooker and heat for 15 minutes or one whistle. Turn off heat but leave pressure cooker sealed on the burner for 10 minutes.


4) Unseal pressure-cooker you should have a nice, rich, brown stock/shorba! Allow to cool to slightly warmer than room temperature.


5) Strain or sieve finished stock/shorba to remove bones and spices.


6) Place the shorba in a sealed airtight container and keep refrigerated until ready to use. You will see the shorba separate with a layer of fat rising to the top. Keep stock/shorba in the refrigerator in a sealed, airtight container for up to two weeks if you leave the layer of fat or up to one week if fat is removed. (You can use the fat scooped off the top just as you would ghee or clarified butter- I use it to fry onions with.)

Ramadan Kareem!

Bibi ;)

May 7, 2018

Ghurma Aloo (Cumin-Scented Potatoes)

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A ghurma is a thick-sauced, long-simmered spicy stew of Iranian origin. This recipe for Ghurma Aloo is the perfect pairing of potatoes or aloo simmered until tender with earthy cumin and a pinch of red chili for a delicious and beautiful dish. Serve over rice or with naan to scoop up the vibrant sauce.


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We don't usually eat potatoes but when the new potatoes show up at market, I make an exception. (It seems a bit redundant to serve potatoes with the rice we eat daily.) There's nothing quite like the delicate flavor and texture of fresh potatoes and this easy recipe perfectly showcases them. This dish is adapted from Raghavan Iyer's 2008 cookbook, 660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking.


Indian cuisine is heavily influenced by the cooking of ancient Persia. The traditional Persian vegetable stew called ghurma or ghormeh is still a popular dish in Iran today. Many influences of Persia can be found in this recipe. As with most Iranian dishes, this recipe eschews garlic and makes do with onion and tomato for an umami boost. The potatoes are initially fried with turmeric giving them a lovely yellow hue as is typical in Persian cuisine. A generous use of cumin and red chili powder provide the spiciness of the dish. Fresh cilantro or dhania is stirred in at the end for a bit of green brightness - yet another Persian motif.

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This recipe has become our favorite way to enjoy the fresh potatoes of the season! Cumin and potatoes are THE perfect pairing in my opinion. I have adapted this recipe ever so slightly to suit my Kashmiri family's taste. Mr. Iyer recommended soaking the potatoes- I did not find this necessary. The original recipe called for two teaspoons of salt- I'd start with one teaspoon as we found two teaspoons to be a bit much. Mr. Iyer stirs the tomato in last with the cilantro with this recipe. This results in a raw tomato flavor that my Kashmiri clan cannot abide. So I put the tomato in with the water and chili powder to let them cook with the potatoes eliminating any hint of raw tomato. I also used Kashmiri mirch instead of cayenne powder for its brilliant red color, rich chili flavor, and slightly less heat. The color the Kashmiri mirch lends to this dish really makes this one of the most beautiful ways to serve potatoes. I hope you'll try this easy to make and tasty recipe and love it as much as we do!

Ingredients:
4-5 large russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2-3 TBS cooking oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan)
1 to 2 tsp salt
1 TBS cumin/jeera seeds
1 onion, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or cayenne/degi mirch for more heat or paprika for less heat)
1 medium-size tomato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes or pureed
2 TBS finely chopped fresh cilantro/dhania

Here's what to do:
1) Heat cooking oil with 1 teaspoon salt in a medium-size deep skillet or kadhai for 5 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and cook for about 5 seconds. Add potatoes, onion, and turmeric. Stir-fry until the potatoes and onion are lightly browned around the edges or about 6-7 minutes.


2)  Pour in 2 cups water, chopped tomato, and Kashmiri mirch (or chili powder) and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are almost fall-apart tender. This usually takes about 20 to 25 minutes. (If liquid gets too low or mixture begins to stick or scorch- reduce heat and add 1/2 cup of water.)


3) When potatoes are cooked to desired tenderness stir in cilantro/dhania and cover pan. Allow dish to stand for about 2 minutes. Salt to taste and serve. For a thicker sauce, coarsely mash some of the potato cubes with the back of a large spoon.


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