Showing posts with label Kashmiri. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kashmiri. Show all posts

Feb 25, 2018

Soachal (Kashmiri Mallow)

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Mallow or soachal is a much-loved vegetable in Kashmir. Simply sauteeing with a bit of garlic and red chili is the Kashmiri way of rendering this common weed into a delicious dish.

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Common mallow (Malva neglecta)
What a  surprise it was when I saw my Kashmiri sister-in-law washing and prepping a pile of leaves from this weed on our last trip to Srinagar. This plant is called cheeseweed or common mallow in my native California. You'll often see this pretty little weed growing wild along roadsides or in newly disturbed soil around the world. I had no idea it was completely edible nor that it tasted so good! Most wild greens I've tried have been bitter, sour, fibrous, metallic, or earthy to the point that they required a lot of cooking and seasoning. Mallow leaves or soachal (pronounced tsot-zall) in Kashmiri are tender with a delicately green flavor thus requiring minimal cooking and seasoning.

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Common mallow (Malva neglecta) in my garden
 So now I have soachal (mallow) growing alongside Kashmiri haak (collards) and gogji (turnips) in my winter garden here in Nepal.  The plant freely reseeds and suffers minimal pests. About once a week I pluck leaves from the little plot of soachal (mallow) in the morning to prepare for lunch or dinner. If you are interested in learning more about mallow I've written a post about it here.

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Common mallow (Malva neglecta)
This recipe is for the simple yet delicious saute my sister-in-law prepared that day. Garlic and Kashmiri mirch add just enough umami boost and spicy heat to perfectly compliment the mild flavor of the mallow leaves. Mallow is in the same family as okra and has a similar mucilaginous sap. Allowing the mallow leaves to completely dry before sauteing prevents them from getting gooey. Leaving the pan uncovered while sauteeing keeps steam from causing slime too. The leaves turn slightly crisp when cooked in this manner giving the dish a unique and interesting texture. The Kashmiris also do another tasty dish that combines soachal or mallow leaves with nadroo (lotus root). If I can find some fresh lotus root/nadroo here in Nepal I'll put that recipe up too! Until then, off to the recipe:

Ingredients:
4-5 C mallow/soachal leaves,
2-3 TBS cooking oil, or just enough to cover the bottom of your pan
2-3 garlic/lahsun cloves, minced finely
1-2 tsps Kashmiri mirch (or red chili powder of choice)
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1) Rinse fresh mallow leaves with cold water and allow to dry for three to four hours. Pick out any damaged or diseased leaves or woody stems.

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2) Heat cooking oil in kadhai or shallow skillet over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes. (Oil should be hot but not smoking). Place clean mallow leaves and minced garlic in hot oil in pan. Stir so that leaves and garlic are coated with hot oil. Some liquid will come out of the leaves. (Do not cover the pan or the leaves go a bit slimy- I learned that the hard way.)


3) Allow mixture to fry for about 3-4 minutes then add salt, Kashmiri mirch/red chili powder, and turmeric. (I usually add about a scant teaspoon of salt) Stir well. Continue frying for about 4 minutes more or until garlic is cooked through. Salt to taste and serve hot or warm with rice.

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Helpful Hints:
When asked the Sheikh (my husband) how long to cook the soachal he said, "Until it is done." Duh.  So basically I figured out that when the garlic is limp and cooked through the soachal is probably "done" too.


Feb 19, 2018

Ingredients: Mallow, Soachal, Malva, Lapha, Khubeza, Chalamit

mallow, malva, soachal, lapha, ebegümeci, khubeza, chalamit, cheeseweed, buttonweed, edible, wild, Kashmiri, forage, weed,

Mallow is common plant renowned for its medicinal and culinary uses. You'll most often see mallow growing wild as a weed but it is also cultivated as an ornamental. Its leaves, flowers, stems, seeds, and roots are all completely edible. The mallow plant is known throughout the world by various names: malva, soachal, lapha, auk, dōngháncài, ebegümeci, khubezachalamit, cheeseweed, and buttonweed.

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Kashmiri soachal or sauteed mallow leaves

Imagine my surprise on my last visit to Kashmir when my sister-in-law served me a tasty saute of mallow leaves simply seasoned with garlic and Kashmiri mirch (red chili).  I had seen her preparing the dish of this common roadside weed earlier but was completely shocked at how mild and tasty it was. It was not at all bitter, sour, earthy, metallic, or alkaline tasting as some wild greens can be. I had no idea that mallow was completely edible!  Mallow leaves are a much-loved vegetable dish in the north Indian region of Kashmir and are called soachal in Kashmiri. (The pronunciation sounds like tsot-zall to my ear.) 

Common Mallow (Malva neglecta)
A little research revealed that mallow has been a common foodstuff since ancient times around the Mediterranean, China, and northern India. The plant was popular in ancient Rome: Horace, the Roman poet, said his modest diet was made up mainly of olives, endive, and mallow. Mallow is also mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Job where the plant was called chalamit

If the word “mallow” reminds you of marshmallows, it’s no accident! Before marshmallows were made out of sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin the ancient Egyptians made them from the pounded and boiled roots of the marshmallow plant (Althaea officinalis). Which is a kind of mallow! The pounded and boiled roots would produce a mucilaginous substance with the consistency of egg whites. This was whipped and sweetened with sugar and rose water to produce the prototype of the confection we now call marshmallows. (Personally, I think the Egyptian version sounds light years better than the synthetic abominations we call marshmallows today.) 

Distribution of Common Mallow (Malva neglecta) : Red= native habitat Blue = non native habitat

Mallow is a member of the family Malvaceae and the genus Malva. There are about 30 species of herbaceous annual, biennial, and perennial plants in the genus Malva. All are completely edible. The broader family Malvaceae includes hibiscus, okra, cotton, cacao, and durian. Cotton is the only poisonous member of the Malvaceae family. The genus Malva is now widespread throughout the temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Several species are widely grown as garden flowers, while some are invasive weeds, particularly in the Americas where they are not native.

Mallow nutlets on the left and dried seeds on the right
The name "mallow" is derived from Old English "malwe", which was imported from Latin "malva" a cognate with the ancient Greek word malakhēMauve, the shade of pale purple which took the fashion world by storm in the 1890's was named after the French word for mallow flower. Common English names for mallow include buttonweed and cheeseweed as English-speakers thought the nutlets and seeds looked like buttons or wheels of cheese. The Arabic word for mallow is khubeza as the Arabs thought the nutlets and seeds resembled the traditional round bread called khubz. The Hebrew word for mallow is chalamit because the seeds and nutlets look like a little challah or loaf of bread.


What does mallow look like, and how can you identify it? There are quite a few different types of mallows and each of them has a slightly different appearance. Mallow leaves are fan-shaped with rounded lobes, obut can be slightly pointy. Sometimes, even the same plant can have leaves that are shaped differently. All mallow leaves have veins radiating from a central point, with lots of tinier veins branching off of those veins. Each leaf has a slightly reddish, brownish, or darker colored center where it meets up with its stem and is covered with minute hairs. The mallows' flowers all have 5 symmetrical petals radiating from one central point. They can be pink, purple, or white or any combination thereof.  Most of the wild mallows have a low, mounding habit and all mallows freely reseed.

Mallow cultivars L to R: Zabrina, Maria's Blue Eyes, Braveheart
Amazingly beautiful strains of Malva sylvestris are available as ornamentals for your garden. The mallow can be a perennial, annual, or biannual depending upon region. Mallow likes a well-drained soil, even slightly dry and poor. Plants dislike transplanting, so do not move them and only grow from seed. Mallow appreciates full or part sun and moderate temperatures. Although mallows are drought tolerant they tend to get rangy and ratty looking in hot weather. An ideal place for mallows in the garden is the back of a sunny border. I always planted the variety Zabrina in my California garden picturing swathes of mauve-y spires in my cottage-style garden. The seeds would all pop up almost immediately. However, when the seedlings got to about six inches high without fail the deer would come and nibble them down to the root. ARGH! Nonetheless every Spring I'd see gorgeous photos in the catalogs promising 3 months of neverending flowers in swoon-worthy shades of pink and purple and I'd plant them again. Those darn deer wouldn't eat the wild mallows growing by the road but they'd munch my expensive plants!

The poisonous Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
The only poisonous lookalike I've found for mallow is creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens). Creeping buttercup leaves have deeper clefts and are shinier with a lighter green coloration. Mallows have slightly fuzzy leaves like a geranium while creeping buttercup has a smooth, shiny leaf like a strawberry plant. If you aren't sure about a plant, wait a few weeks to see how the plant matures. If it develops yellow flowers and sharply cleft leaves then it is the toxic creeping buttercup. Mallows also tend to concentrate nitrates so if they are growing near a place where chemical fertilizers are in use (i.e. lawns) they're best avoided.

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Fresh picked soachal or mallow from our garden
You can use mallow leaves as you would any other green like spinach or chard. Their flavor is mild so they can be paired with pretty much anything. The fresh flowers and leaves make lovely a salad when mixed with other sturdier and sharper flavored greens. Because it's a weed that grows plentifully in neglected areas, mallows have been used throughout history as a survival food during times of crop failure or war. There are many different species of mallow all over the world that differ in size, shape, and taste. Don't expect to see mallow leaves at your local grocery store or even farmer's market. They're best eaten the same day they're picked. Mallow leaves tend to wilt and turn to mush after picking in about a day. I have found that you can prolong their freshness by rinsing the leaves with cold water then refrigerating them in a paper towel lined and airtight container for 2-3 days. I have heard of freezing the leaves for future use but have never tried it. Mallow is also a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Best of all, they're about the easiest green you could possibly grow or forage.

Dolmas made with mallow leaves
Kashmiris certainly aren't the only ones who eat mallow! The Bodo people of northeastern India cultivate a species of mallow called lapha and use it extensively in their traditional cuisine. Mallows are mostly used as a stewing green in Greece, Turkey, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Morocco, and the Piedmont region of Italy. The slightly mucilaginous sap of mallow leaves acts as a thickener much like okra when boiled or stewed. Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Grains and Greens is the best source I've found for mallow recipes. In Turkey and Greece, larger mallow leaves are also used to make dolmas or dolmades, also known as stuffed grape leaves. The Moroccans make a sort of tapenade out of stewed wild mallow with olives called bakoola du rif  enjoyed as a spread on fresh bread. Malva verticillata is grown on a commercial scale in Korea and China for use as an herbal infusion. The recipe for the Kashmiri sauteed mallow dish is here and a new recipe that a Palestinian friend sent me for mallow will be up soon!

Have you ever seen mallows growing in your area? 
Have you ever tasted any form of mallow? (tea, soup, dolmas)
Would you feel confident enough to go and forage mallow after reading this post?

Mar 8, 2017

Kashmiri Onion Chutney (Ganduh Chetin)

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In Kashmiri, ganda means onion and chetin means chutney. This authentic recipe is a savory relish that often accompanies meals and street foods like kebabs in Kashmir. A simple pickling process and marination with traditional herbs and spices brings out the piquant and zesty flavors typical of Kashmiri cuisine.

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This is a favorite chutney or chetin that regularly graces our family dinner table. It's so easy to make and we most always have all the ingredients necessary on hand. We usually enjoy it as a condiment alongside our rice based lunches and dinners. Be forewarned, this chutney is quite fiery and a bit tart so it is definitely not for the timid of palate!

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The red chili powder or Kashmiri mirch, dried mint, and shahi jeera or black cumin are all hallmark flavors of Kashmiri cuisine. The locally grown and brilliant red Kashmiri mirch chili powder is what gives this condiment its color and rich flavor. If you don't have Kashmiri mirch a mix of half paprika and half cayenne powder makes a good substitute. Dried mint is very much a signature taste in Kashmiri dishes but fresh mint is often used in a lesser amount when available. Shahi jeera or black cumin is a spice native to Kashmir with a uniquely herbaceous and mild cumin-like flavor. A reasonable substitute for shahi jeera or black cumin is a lesser amount of regular cumin. Anyway you choose to make this recipe, if you love hot and spicy foods you'll love this!

Ingredients:
2 C onions, thinly sliced into half moons
2 tsp salt
3 TBS vinegar or lime/nimbu juice
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp paprika plus 1 tsp cayenne powder)
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped finely
1 TBS cilantro/dhania or fresh mint/pudina leaves, chopped finely (or  2 tsp dry mint/pudina)
1 tsp black cumin/shahi jeera (or 1/4 tsp cumin/jeera)

Here's what to do:
1) Mix together sliced onions with 2 teaspoons salt and place in sieve or colander over plate. Allow mixture to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Some liquid may or may not come out of the onions.

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2) After 20 minutes transfer salted onions to a plastic, glass, or stainless steel container that can be sealed airtight. Mix salted onions with vinegar or lime juice, Kashmiri mirch, chopped green chilis, chopped cilantro, dry mint, and shahi jeera.

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3) Seal container with mixture airtight and place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Stir well before serving as a condiment alongside savory dishes. Makes a great sandwich or salad topping as well as a relish with kebabs. Keeps for about 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Helpful hints:
If the chutney is just way more heat than you can handle try adding a couple of tablespoons of yogurt to it to cool it off.

Jan 18, 2017

Kashmiri Rajma Gogji (Spiced Beans with Turnips)

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In Kashmiri, rajma means beans and gogji means turnips. We're talking true Kashmiri comfort food in this hearty dish of delicately spiced beans and tender turnips. A truly authentic recipe that can easily be made vegetarian or vegan. Pair this traditional dish with heaps of steamed rice for a delicious meal on a chilly day. 

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Turnips or gogji are a favorite Winter treat in Kashmir. The turnips you see in the photo above are grown in our garden from Kashmiri seeds. As temperatures drop in the valley root vegetables become a plentiful Winter staple. I have never seen anyone get so excited about turnips as my Kashmiri family. The Kashmiris have many dishes combining turnips with everything from lotus roots (nadroo) to their beloved mutton. Pairing beans with turnips isn't a combination I would have ever thought of but it works! 

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The dish starts by frying the turnips in salted oil. This is an step many recipes miss. The resulting caramelized salt crust really gives the turnips a bit of extra flavor, texture, and authenticity. The browned turnips are then set aside while a masala base of traditional spices is prepared. A mutton bone is often included in this base for extra flavor. (If you don't have a mutton bone or wish to make this dish vegetarian or vegan just leave it out. There's more than enough flavor in this dish without it.) Then the beans are stewed until soft with the masala making a rich gravy. The fried turnips are then returned to the pot for a final simmer until rendered deliciously tender. Traditional Kashmiri rajma are a tiny variety of kidney beans quite similar to the beans used in the famed Creole dish of red beans and rice. Here I'm using a local Nepali variety of red beans that have a similar rustic flavor and soft texture. Regular kidney beans or pinto beans work well with this dish too. In Kashmir, heaps of steamed rice are served with rajma gogji as well as other Winter dishes like haak maaz(collards with mutton), monji haak (kohlrabi greens), tao mooj (fried daikon radish chutney), and baby potatoes (dum aloo).

Ingredients: 
1&1/2 C dry kidney or pinto beans soaked in 4 cups water with 1 tsp salt for at least 4 hours up to overnight then drained and rinsed (or two 14 oz cans of kidney or pinto beans with liquid)
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
1/2 C onion, diced
1 mutton bone (optional) 
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste or 1/2 tsp asafoetida/hing
2 brown cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
3 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
4 cloves/laung
2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
2 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika plus 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
1 tsp dry ginger powder/soonth
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/2kg or 1lb turnips, peeled and cut into approximately the same size

Here's what to do: 
1) Peel turnips and mix with 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl and set aside. Some liquid will come out of the turnips. Heat oil or ghee in pressure cooker with 1 teaspoon salt or deep, heavy bottomed pot for 7 minutes. 

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2) Rinse salt off turnips and pat dry. Fry turnips in salted oil until browned on all sides. Set fried turnips aside.

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3) To the same hot oil add diced onion and mutton bone if using.  Cook for 5-7 minutes or until onions are just turning brown. Add garlic paste or asafoetida to onions and fry for 2 minutes stirring well. Add brown cardamoms, green cardamoms, cloves, and cumin seeds to fried onion mixture. Stir well and fry for 2 minutes.

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4) Add soaked or canned beans, ground fennel, Kashmiri mirch, dry ginger powder, and turmeric to fried onion and spice mixture. Add enough water so that beans are covered by 2 inches of liquid in pot. If using pressure cooker and soaked beans: seal lid and allow to steam until beans are tender. If using pressure cooker and canned beans: seal lid and allow to steam for one whistle. If using soaked beans and stock pot: bring to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, top up water if necessary. If using stock pot and canned beans: allow to simmer covered for about 20 minutes stirring frequently.

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5) When beans are tender add fried turnips to them. Allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes or until turnips are cooked through. Add 1/2 cup water if liquid gets too low or mixture begins to stick or scorch. For a thicker gravy take a large spoon and smash some of the beans against the side of the pot. The dish is done when turnips and beans are to cooked to desired tenderness. Salt to taste, garnish as desired and serve with mounds and mounds of steamed rice!

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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!

Nov 4, 2016

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry recipe curry indian authentic kashmir

From the beautiful vale of Kashmir comes this recipe for a brilliant red chicken curry. The warmth of traditional aromatic spices and crimson Kashmiri chilis are melded in a velvety yogurt based sauce. Crisply seared chicken is then simmered until meltingly tender in this richly aromatic sauce. The Kashmiris enjoy this dish garnished with dried mint or perhaps sultanas and cashews stirred in on special occasions.

Kashmiri Style Chicken Curry recipe curry indian authentic kashmir

This is our everyday chicken curry recipe. No, it not sweet, nor does it have any sugar in it, or coconut, or pineapple, or dried apricots like most of the abominations called Kashmiri chicken you'll find in restaurants. As is the traditional Kashmiri manner the chicken is first browned in salted oil and set aside. Browning the chicken in salted oil gives it a bit of a crispy salt crust as well as leaving delicious drippings for making the sauce. The sauce is quite soupy as it is served with rice like most Kashmiri dishes. The flavor is more aromatic than spicy hot with a bit of a tang from the yogurt. If you want to make it really fancy you can toss a handful of cashews or sultanas in about ten minutes before serving.

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces with bone in
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
2 onions, sliced thinly into half moons
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
7 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised with mortar and pestle
5 cloves/laung
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
2 tomatoes, diced finely or pureed
2 C water or stock
2 TBS sultanas (optional)
2 TBS cashews (optional)
1 TBS dried mint/pudina (optional for garnish)
Mix until smooth for sauce-
1 C 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 powder)
2 tsp ground fennel/saunf
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1 tsp dry ginger/soonth
1/4 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 gravy until smooth and set aside. Fry chicken pieces in hot oil or ghee for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Set fried chicken pieces aside on a plate.


2) In same pan fry sliced onions until beginning to brown. Add garlic paste, ginger paste, green cardamoms, cloves, cassia bark, black peppercorns, and cumin seeds. Fry for about 2 minutes or until raw smell is gone from garlic.


3) Add finely diced tomatoes and fry for about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add yogurt mixed with flour and spices to fried tomato and onion mixture. Stir well and return pan to heat. Bring mixture to a simmer. Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to scorch or stick reduce heat, add 1/4 cup water and stir well.


4) After 5 minutes return the fried chicken pieces to the pan with the onion 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. (If using sultanas or cashews stir them in after the chicken has simmered for about ten minutes.) 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 frying rinse the chicken pieces well  and dispose of the brine solution. This really makes for tender, juicy chicken!

An illustration of market boats on Nallah Mar canal in Srinagar from Francis Younghusband's 1917 book Kashmir.

Oct 20, 2016

Doon Chetin (Kashmiri Walnut Chutney)


Doon Chetin Kashmiri Walnut Chutney recipe

In Kashmiri, doon means walnut and chetin means chutney. Kashmiri walnuts are famous for their superb quality and rich flavor. This authentic recipe blends traditional spices of Kashmiri cuisine with walnuts into a creamy and piquant chutney. Serve with kebabs, curry, tandoori, or any rice based meal as a tasty and nutritious accompaniment.

Doon Chetin Kashmiri Walnut Chutney recipe

My Kashmiri husband is a very good cook when it comes to Kashmiri cuisine but not the best teacher. Writing down recipes is not a Desi tradition. So when I ask him how to make something his usual reply is a series of vague comments recommending a little of this, a little of that, and often leaving out important bits. Watching my husband and mother-in-law cook is like that too, they wander about the kitchen repeatedly adding a little of this or that spice, tasting, then adding a little bit of something else, tasting again, then maybe a bit more of whatever they added initially, and so on. UGH. I learned to make this watching one of my sister-in-laws in Srinagar using a mortar and pestle as pictured below. 


This is Bibi's big ol' Kashmiri mortar and pestle. The mortar is made out of Himalayan granite and weighs a good 10lbs/5kgs. That pestle is made of lathe-turned Kashmiri walnut wood. It works a treat. You sort of kneel on the floor with your knees bracing the heavy mortar to keep it from rocking while you pound away. The extremely lightweight but rock-hard walnut wood pestle is easy to use and effective. It took my sister-in-law about 45 minutes of pounding to render a cup of chutney the traditional way with this mortar and pestle. Do you think Bibi's going to do that? NAH. I ran this recipe through the marvelous modern mixie and had it done in under 5 minutes! To get about the same texture with a few coarse bits as you would using a mortar and pestle just pulse the mixie for 2-3 minutes.


When I first heard what was in this chutney my reaction was, "Raw walnuts, yogurt, onion, and spices in a chutney? That couldn't possibly taste good." But I was wrong! It tastes rich, creamy, and refreshing with a delicious hint of savory spices, onion, chilis, and mint. A great way to get healthy omega-3 fatty acids into your diet and a wonderful pairing with spicy meats and curries.

Ingredients:
1/2 C walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 TBS onion, chopped roughly
1 TBS dry mint/pudina (or 2 TBS fresh mint/pudina or cilantro/dhania)
1/2 tsp Kashmiri mirch
1-2 green chilis/hari mirch
1 tsp shahi jeera/black cumin seeds (or 1/2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera)
1 tsp salt
1/4 C yogurt/dahi
Here's what to do:
1) Blend or grind all ingredients to a smooth emulsion in mixie, blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle. You may need to pulse the mixie, blender, food processor if you prefer the traditional coarser texture.


2)  Salt to taste and keep in refrigerator in airtight container until ready to serve for up to four days.


Helpful Hints:
If you fear your mixie, blender, or food processor is not powerful enough to grind walnuts you might have to grind them to powder in an electric spice grinder or mortar and pestle first. After grinding the walnuts to powder then blend them until smooth in your mixie, blender, or food processor.

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