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

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.

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.

Apr 4, 2016

From Srinagar With Love...

My sister in law in Srinagar sent me some supplies! For those who don't know Srinagar is the largest city in Kashmir and it's ancient capital. Now without further ado, these are the flavors of Kashmir:

red chili deggi

Despite all the different names on the package ranging from "Kashmiri Deggi" to "Red Chilly Powder" this is genuine, primo Kashmiri mirch. This is what you want to use for that brilliant scarlet color in your dishes as well as rich chili flavor. The brand "Kanwal" is the always of best quality and is located in Kashmir. Absolutely essential to most savory Kashmiri dishes.

fennel ground kashmiri

"Saunf Powder" is ground fennel. I've actually never seen it packaged this way. It usually is sold in bulk in Kashmir at spice dealers and called "green masala." Dear husband says it it a dry roasted blend of fennel  and a little anise but this package doesn't list any ingredients. Another essential for savory Kashmiri dishes.

yellow masala ginger shaheen

I'm not sure if this "dry ginger powder" is the same as the "yellow masala" that is sold in Kashmir. Dear husband says the yellow masala has a little galangal in it as well as dry ginger. The ingredients aren't listed on this package either.  I can attest that this dry ginger is as flamin,' fiery, and white hot as the yellow masala we buy in Srinagar.  This is the spice that completes the triad of flavors in Kashmiri dishes- the warm and rich red Kashmiri mirch, the aromatic and sweet fennel, combined with the zesty heat of dry ginger.

mutton wheat kashmiri

This is a pail of "harissa." Harissa is a sort of confit of mutton meat and fat pounded with wheat and spices. It is a traditional Muslim dish thought to be easy to digest.  It is therefore deemed to be an excellent breakfast food for all as well as a restorative dish for the sick or frail. "Butt" is a common surname in Kashmir, not what YOU are thinking.  "Zaafrani" means that this is really posh and flavored with saffron.  So this is Butt brand saffron flavored meat & wheat paste. Any takers out there? I thought not.

That Chinar leaf is a common symbol and motif of Kashmir. Chinar trees are similar to the sycamores we have in the US only about three times as large. Chinar leaves are huge, like about 6-8 inches across. In the Fall the Chinar trees' foliage in Kashmir turns to gorgeous autumnal hues of gold, orange, and crimson red.

kashmiri harissa confit saffron mutton

This is what harissa looks like in the pail. Note the very posh yellow tinge due to the saffron. You have to heat it up sort of like canned corned beef hash in a skillet. Dear husband made me some harissa for me when I was ill not long after we were first married. When he brought it to me I nearly lost my cookies. I'm not much of a carnivore and any sort of tinned meat sends me running. I can't even be in the house when he heats this stuff up. It is that bad. 

Here dear husband is heating the harissa to share with guests for breakfast. See how the fat separates out as it is warmed. The delightful aroma of slightly rancid mutton fat and potted meat fills the air as Bibi runs from the house. Why anyone ever even thought pounding suet, meat, and wheat into something with the texture of oatmeal is beyond me. This dish is eaten by itself with a spoon and a cup of "noon chai" (Kashmiri salt tea).  I'll just pass on this one, dear hubby.

Many thanks to my sister in law in Kashmir for her CARE package and I hope you enjoyed this brief insight into Kashmiri cuisine and culture.

Calmly currying on,

An interesting aside:
I have been notified that I have been nominated for the "Best Food Blog"  AND "Best New Blog" awards on the  nepaliaustralian blog so get on over there and vote for my blog if you choose at:

Be sure to check out all the other amazing blogs in all the different categories and vote for all your favorites!!! Winners will be announced in May.

Jan 10, 2016

Ingredients: Kashmiri Mirch

From the westernmost Himalayan vale of Kashmir comes the brilliant red chili essential to many a Subcontinental savory dish, Kashmiri mirch:

Here you can see the dried red peppers known as Kashmiri mirch in large sacks being sold in Kashmir.
The salesman looks a lot like my brother in law, complete with cigarette in one hand and cell phone in the other. The baskets in the lower left hand corner contain a variety of Kashmiri shallots that are commonly dried for use called praan. Looks like my brother in law's clone is selling garlic and possibly some pants too.

This Kashmiri beauty is spreading the brilliant red peppers out to dry in the unused parking lot of a derelict sports stadium in Srinagar. As you can tell by the poplar trees on the left which have lost most of their leaves, this drying process takes place during the early autumn season. 

ingredient kashmiri mirch indian chili red spice

By now you're probably wondering what is so unique about this chili pepper? Well, in a nutshell it's milder in heat than cayenne but richer in flavor than paprika. Kashmiri mirch is not only flavorsome, but is what imparts the vibrant red color desired in tandoori dishes, curries, and some savory chutneys. The mild, almost Mediterranean climate of Kashmir's valleys give these peppers their unique flavor.
ingredient kashmiri mirch indian chili red spice

The Mughals spent their summers in Kashmir's famed lakeside gardens of Shalimar and Nishat bringing their rich and royal cuisine with them. Portuguese traders introduced chili peppers to the Subcontinent in 1498. Chili peppers became quite popular across Asia even supplanting the use of the native black pepper. The Mughals loved hot and spicy dishes flavored with the exotic crimson chilis from the New World. Much of Kashmir's cuisine is directly from the Mughal court and therefore is quite different from most of the regional cuisines of India.

What to look for when buying Kashmiri mirch:
There are several good Indian brands of Kashmiri mirch. "Kanwal" is the best, as it's actually made in Kashmir, but you probably won't find that in western countries easily. The Delhi based brands "MDH", "Everest", and "Catch" are also excellent quality and are readily found in most Indian markets in western countries. Do not confuse Kashmiri Mirch with what is called Deggi mirch, it looks similar but is a different type of chilis that's more like cayenne powder.

ingredient kashmiri mirch indian chili red spice
Helpful hints:
If you can't find Kashmiri mirch or don't have any on hand a good substitute is a blend of half paprika and half cayenne powder.

Kashmiri mirch burns easily and when scorched it has an unpleasant bitter flavor. That is why Kashmiri mirch is usually mixed with yogurt or water before adding to a dish, or added towards the end of cooking a dish to prevent burning.

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