Showing posts with label mains. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mains. Show all posts

Apr 23, 2016

Bibi's Paruppu (South Indian Style Dal)

Every region of the Indian Subcontinent has their own unique way of preparing dal. South Indian dal preparations often feature curry leaves and coconut. I've tasted various versions of paruppu at restaurants and served as a first course at South Indian weddings. In this dish I've paired masoor dal's velvety texture with rich coconut cream, aromatic spices, and the zing of lime juice. Serve with steamed rice, rasam, papads, buttermilk, or whatever South Indian dish you love.

coconut masoor dal easy simple recipe paruppu

I make no claims that this dish is authentic in any way. It is very tasty though. I made this recipe up after tasting a similar dish at a South Indian restaurant in Delhi. I love anything coconut and the brightness of curry leaves in a dish. Unfortunately, coconuts and curry leaves are rarely available in Nepal. So I've used canned coconut cream in this dal for richness, along with cilantro and lime juice in to brighten up the flavors as fresh curry leaves would do.

3 TBS coconut oil or ghee
1/2 C onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp black mustard/rai seeds
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
1/2 tsp fennel/saunf seeds
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
1 tomato, diced finely
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped finely
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika plus 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 C masoor dal/red lentils, rinsed thoroughly
3 TBS coconut cream
3 TBS fresh cilantro/dhania, leaves and stems chopped finely
2 tsp salt
1 TBS lime juice (optional)

Here's what to do:
1) In a large stock pot heat coconut oil or ghee with 1 tsp salt. Fry onions until just beginning to brown.  Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds. Fry for 2 minutes.

2) Add garlic, ginger, tomatoes, green chilis, Kashmiri mirch, and turmeric. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until tomatoes soften.

 3) Add masoor dal, coconut cream, 1 tsp salt, cilantro, and 4 cups water, stir well and bring to boil.

4) Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 40 minutes to an hour or until dal is to desired tenderness. Stir every 10 minutes or so to make sure dal is not sticking to the bottom. Add water if necessary until dal is to preferred consistency. Stir in lime juice if using, salt to taste and serve.

Helpful Hints:

This recipe can also be made with urad dal or in a pressure cooker also.

I've got a lov-e-ly bunch of coconuts!

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.

Apr 5, 2016

Haak Maaz (Kashmiri Collards with Mutton)

Haak Maaz Kashmiri Mutton with Collards Indian goat recipe sheep

This is the famous staple dish of Kashmir called haak maaz. Haak refers to the unique variety of collards grown in Kashmir. Maaz is the Kashmiri word for the meat of either a sheep or goat. Simply served in a clear broth, the collard greens are braised with mutton and traditional spices until tender. Not something you'd typically think of as a "curry" or even as Indian perhaps. It is more like a soup or stew in Western terms. Ground fennel, smoky black cardamom, rich Kashmiri mirch, peppery cassia bark, and fiery dry ginger provide the warm aromatic notes that perfectly compliment the gamy mutton in this recipe. Traditionally served with heaps of the short grained rice raised in Kashmir, this rustic dish would be excellent served as a hearty meal with a crusty loaf of French bread too. 

Haak Maaz Kashmiri Mutton with Collards lamb

As it is a cold weather sort of dish it would've probably been more appropriate to post this in the Fall or Winter. I am posting this now as the haak or Kashmiri collards will soon bolt in the heat and fall prey to the caterpillars of Spring. Most of Kashmir lies above 5,000 feet in altitude and has a cooler climate than my subtropical valley here in Nepal at 3,000 feet. This year's haak will just be coming up in the warming spring weather of Kashmir after the snows have recently melted. I can only grow haak in my subtropical valley October through March. So here's what Kashmiri haak looks like in both it's cooked and uncooked states. If you'd like to grow a similar variety of haak in western countries I'd recommend "Georgia Southern" collards.

First, the haak is cleaned and rid of any fibrous stems by tearing. Then you basically start making a stock for the dish. Save all your bony, cartilaginous, and or sinewy pieces of mutton for this dish, those are the parts that make the most delicious broth. The mutton pieces are fried to add flavor by caramelization. Kashmiris would add just garlic or asafoetida but I also add a little onion for a richer stock. Remember this has to be a clear broth so the garlic cloves are left whole. The spices are added but not tempered, the mutton is then combined with the haak and left to braise until tender. A pressure cooker makes short work of this and a slow cooker would probably work well too.

1/2 kg or 1lb mutton cut into 3-4 inch pieces, bone in preferred
1/2 kg or 1lb collard greens
2 TBS cooking oil (mustard oil if you wish to be authentic)
2 tsp salt
1/4 C onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic/lahsun, whole or 1/2 tsp asafoetida/hing
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch ( or 1 tsp paprika plus 1 tsp cayenne powder)
2 tsp ground fennel/saunf seeds
1 tsp dry ginger/adrak
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised in a mortar and pestle
12 black peppercorns/kali mirch, ground coarsely

Here's what to do:
1) Strip collards/haak by tearing the leaves away from the stems and woody bits. I cheat and use a kitchen shears.

2) Clean collards/haak of any debris or insects by immersing it in salt water for about 30 minutes. 

3) In heavy bottomed stock pot or pressure cooker fry mutton pieces in cooking oil of choice with 1 teaspoon salt until beginning to brown. Kashmiris called this color red not brown. (This led to a bit of confusion when I was told to fry meat until red. Meat is red when raw. How do you fry it until it is red?)

4) Add onion, garlic, and all spices to fried mutton pieces. Add enough water so that mutton is covered by at least 1/4 of an inch.

5) Add cleaned collards/haak and 2 teaspoons salt to mutton and spice mixture in pot.

6) If using pressure cooker seal lid in place and allow to cook for 5-6 steams for a Nepali goat or 3-4 whistles for a Kashmiri sheep.  If using stock pot add 3 cups water and simmer covered for 3 to 4 hours until meat is tender adding water a 1/2 cup at a time as necessary to prevent drying out. If using slow cooker make sure the meat is covered by at least a 1/2 inch of water and allow to cook covered for 4-5 hours until meat is tender. Salt to taste and serve warm.

Helpful hints:

This dish can also be made with lamb or venison, adjust cooking time accordingly.

This dish can also be made with baby bok choy or kohlrabi leaves instead of collards. In the late Spring and Summer when we can't grow haak I make this dish with baby bok choy, as Summer ends I make it with kohlrabi greens.

Do not make this with turnip greens. I made this with turnip greens once and it was met with resounding disapproval from my Kashmiri family. I know, their neighbors the Punjabis eat turnip greens in their delicious "saag" but for whatever reason Kashmiris will not eat turnip greens unless they are cooked with turnips. Who knew?

Apr 2, 2016

Boba's Baingan Bharta (Spicy Smoked Eggplant)

When my husband says a dish I've made tastes just like his mother made it, I know it's perfect! 

My mother in law's nickname is Boba and this her recipe for bhaingan bharta. "Bhaingan" means eggplant and "bharta" refers to the mashing technique with a wooden spoon. Similar to Middle Eastern "baba ghanoush" the eggplant is first roasted over a open flame or coals. This is what infuses the dish with smoky flavor. The roasted eggplant is then sauteed with a flavorsome blend of traditional north Indian spices. The result is a rich, savory pâté of eggplant almost caviar like in richness and intensity. The final step is a handful of chopped cilantro or mint stirred through just to add a bit of brightness. 

indian baba ghaneoushh aubergines Desi

Despite being from different cultures and not even speaking the same language my mother in law and I always shared a love of cooking and very similar tastes. Boba could neither read nor write nor had she ever left the city of Srinagar in her entire life. She never used any recipes but seasoned each dish to perfection. Boba would have taken the eggplant to the tandoori bakery down the street from her home, the bakers would place them into the tandoor oven to roast in a matter of minutes. Boba said that roasting the eggplant in the tandoor ovens was the only way to get the smoky flavor that was so important to this dish.

We're going to try and replicate the charring effect of a tandoor oven on the eggplant over a gas burner. It's not quite the same, and it does take a bit longer but the end result is still quite delicious. Kashmiris would top this dish with a garnish of their beloved local walnuts and perhaps a dollop of local curd or yoghurt. As eggplant is a notorious oil sop be sure to use an oil that you like in this dish. I seriously considered styling this dish with my nacre caviar spoon due to it's richness. (What else am I going to do with a caviar spoon in Nepal?)  Baingan bharta is traditionally served with rice or chapattis warm or at room temperature.

2 large eggplants, about 1&1/2 lbs
1/4 C cooking oil
1 onion, diced finely
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
1 tsp ginger/adrak paste
1-2 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped finely
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
2 tsp ground cumin/jeera
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika +1/2 tsp cayenne)
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/2 tsp garam masala
5 black peppercorns/kali mirch, ground coarsely
2 tomatoes, diced finely
3 TBS cilantro or fresh mint, chopped finely
5 walnuts, chopped coarsely  (optional for garnish)

Here's what to do:
1) Roast eggplants over a medium gas flame. Keep turning and cooking until outside of eggplant is charred and blackened evenly all over. The eggplant will seem to deflate as the flesh within cooks. Set aside to cool.

2) Peel off charred skin from roasted eggplants. Don't worry about black flecks that remain on the soft flesh as that will help give us the smoky flavor we seek.

3) Heat oil in kadhai or heavy bottomed frying pan. Fry walnut for garnish and set aside if using. Fry onions with 1 teaspoon salt until translucent. Add garlic, ginger and chilis and fry for 2 minutes.

4) Add tomatoes, and spices to onion mixture. Fry until tomatoes begin to soften.

5) Put the roasted eggplants in the pan with the tomatoes spice mixture. Stir and mash with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes.

6) When the mixture becomes smooth and shiny stir through the cilantro or mint and salt to taste. Garnish with fried walnuts if desired and serve warm or at room temperature.

Helpful Hints:
If you don't have a gas burner you could also roast the eggplants over an outdoor charcoal grill,  an indoor electric burner, or on a foil lined baking sheet under a broiler in an oven.

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.

Mar 29, 2016

Masala Scrambled Eggs (Ander Bhurji)

Just another simple everyday dish at our house. Nothing fancy, but oh so delicious. I've been telling you how great the eggs are here in Nepal so I thought I'd better show you how we enjoy them. "Ander" means eggs and a "bhurji" is any sort crumbled or scrambled ingredient. The richness of eggs lends itself perfectly to the "masala" or spicy South Asian treatment. Onions, tomatoes, and green chilis are the Desi "mirepoix" base in this dish, a dash of Kashmiri mirch adds brilliant crimson color and zesty chili flavor. Despite the double wallop of fresh green chilis and Kashmiri mirch this dish is not terribly hot, the richness of the eggs prevents that. We enjoy this scramble with steamed rice for lunch or dinner or in a kathi roll with a dollop of fresh chutney for breakfast or a tea time snack. 

Ander Bhurli eggs Desi easy

Eating scrambled eggs with rice never occurred to me before moving to South Asia, but it makes perfect sense. Rich and spicy eggs go together with rice just like the flour tortillas pair so well with the spicy egg fillings of the breakfast burritos I loved to eat in California.

Eggs Spicy easy recipe

Eggs are a recent addition to the South Asian diet so there really aren't a lot of traditional recipes for them. Hinduism considers eggs to be not suitable for vegetarians and the Mughals tended to only use eggs as a garnish for their lavish meat dishes. Desis don't care for the tender, fluffy, buttery omelets and scrambles of western cultures. They prefer their eggs the texture of neoprene, perhaps even a bit scorched. All I have to say is, it works! Think of spicy blackened Cajun dishes and you'll get the idea.

3 eggs, lightly beaten with fork
3 TBS cooking oil
1 onion, chopped into a 1/2 inch dice
1 tomato, diced finely
2-3 green chilis, chopped finely (if you really don't want any heat use 1/4 C diced bell pepper/capsicum)
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika + 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
pinch of turmeric
2 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) In a deep, heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai over medium heat fry onions with 1 tsp salt until translucent. Add diced tomato and chopped green chilis and fry for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes soften.

2) While the onion, tomato, and green chilis are frying beat eggs with fork until just mixed.

3) Add Kashmiri mirch, turmeric, and 1 tsp salt to the fried onion mixture. Allow to fry for 2 minutes.

4) Add beaten eggs to pan with fried onion and spice mixture. Stir well and allow to cook covered for 4 minutes.

5) After 4 minutes of cooking stir the egg mixture well. Continue cooking until eggs are completely done and possibly sticking to the pan a bit or even scorching a tad.

6) When the eggs are completely cooked your dish is done, salt to taste and serve.

Helpful Hints:

A pinch of turmeric helps cut down on the sulfur flavor in eggs. If you are one of those people like me who don't care for eggs due to their sulfur taste, you have to try this!

Happy chickens make good eggs!

Mar 18, 2016

Mughlai Haraa Murgh (Mughal Style Green Chicken)

Mughlai cuisine began in the splendor and opulence of the Delhi Sultanate during India's age of Islamic rule. Persian and Indian flavors were fused to perfection in the Imperial Moghul kitchens. Meats were marinated, nuts and dried fruits were used lavishly. Mughlai cuisine remains immensely popular to this day in Delhi NCR, Punjab, Kashmir, and Pakistan.

This dish is mildly spiced but bright with the flavors of fresh mint and cilantro. Ground browned onions, almonds, and yogurt make for a rich gravy. Whenever you see a "Mughlai" recipe you know it's going to include lots of steps- chopping, marinating, frying, cooling, grinding, more frying, and probably then some. Here I've minimized the steps using a few modern techniques. But this recipe will still take at least a good three to four hours to complete. Pairs well with rice, pulao, naan, or rotis.

1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces, bone in preferred
2 onions, about 1 C sliced into thin half moons
3 TBS ghee/clarified butter
1 TBS cooking oil
1/2 C pureed fresh tomatoes
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
5 cloves/laung
3 C water or stock/shorba
2 tsp lime juice
15 blanched almonds/badaami for garnish (optional)
1 tsp kewra water (optional)
Grind to paste for marinade:
30 almonds/badaami, ground to fine powder
1 C yogurt/dahi
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
3 green chilis/hari mirch
5 green cardamoms/elaichi
15 black peppercorns/hari mirch
1 TBS ground coriander/dhania
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin/jeera
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/3 C fresh mint/pudina leaves
1/3 C fresh cilantro/dhania leaves and stems
1/4 C onion, chopped roughly
1&1/2 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) Grind almonds to fine powder in mixie or food processor. Then blend powdered almonds, yogurt, garlic, ginger, powdered spices, green cardamoms, black peppercorns, green chilis, and salt together in mixie or food processor until smooth for marinade.
The marinade is mixed
2) Coat all chicken pieces with marinade. Allow chicken to marinate for 2 hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator sealed in an airtight container.

All chicken pieces coated in marinade.
Sealed up tight in my Lock'N'Lock box!
3) When ready to cook, heat oil and ghee over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai for 5 minutes. Add thinly sliced onions and fry for 8-10 minutes until medium brown. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

This is the medium brown we're looking for.
Be sure to let the onions cool before grinding to paste.
4) Grind cooled browned onions to fine paste in mixie, food processor, or blender. Over medium high heat return ground onion paste to skillet or kadhai with fresh pureed tomatoes. Stir well. Add cloves and cassia bark to onion/tomato mixture and allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes or until most of liquid from tomatoes has evaporated.

5) Add marinated chicken pieces to mixture in skillet/kadhai. Reserve marinade. Cook chicken pieces for 2 minutes on each side. The chicken should just be turning white.

6) Add reserved marinade, 3 C water or stock, and 2 teaspoons of lime juice. Stir well. Bring to a simmer over medium to low heat. Stir every 5 minutes to ensure chicken is cooked evenly and gravy does not stick or scorch.

7) Allow to simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes until chicken is cooked through and oil separates from the gravy. Salt to taste, garnish with blanched almonds and sprinkle with kewra water if desired.

Helpful Hints:
Be sure to let the fried onions cool for a full ten minutes before grinding in a mixie, food processor, or blender. Grinding anything hot will cause steam to build up and a geyser of hot greasy onions will either shoot through the small air vent in the lid (or blow the lid off entirely) of your mixie, food processor, or blender. Cleaning up greasy onion spew is no fun. Plus you have to chop and fry the onions over again.

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