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

Mar 8, 2017

Kashmiri Onion Chutney (Ganduh Chetin)

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In Kashmiri, ganduh 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!

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.

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.

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.

Jun 16, 2016

Puhtzah Ghanduh Tool (Kashmiri Green Onions and Eggs)

In Kashmir, "putzah ghanduh" means green onions and "tool" means eggs. In this recipe mild spring onions are braised until succulent with tender bits of egg omelet and a wallop of fiery Kashmiri mirch. The result is a deliciously Kashmiri rendition of the humble egg omelet in a richly savory and spicy manner. Traditionally this dish is served for lunch or dinner with heaps of steamed white rice. 

This is one of my husband's signature dishes so he will be doing the cooking today. (Most Indian men are very good cooks.) This is also the last of the spring onions until Fall so I'm posting this now. It's an easy dish to make with the simplest of ingredients but it's really hard describe the process of making it. Therefore I'm letting pictures do most of the talking!

The only similar dish I can think of that Westerners would be familiar with is "egg foo yung." Although this is definitely a uniquely Kashmiri dish the bits of omelet in a savory sauce are very Chinese in flavor to me. Once again pairing eggs with rice seems a bit odd to me but it works perfectly with all that eggy richness contrasting with fiery red Kashmiri mirch sauce and the pungent yet mild spring onions. Despite the heat from all the Kashmiri mirch this dish has been a hit with every guest we've who has eaten at our home! 

1/2kg or 1lb green onions
3 TBS cooking oil
3 eggs
3 TBS Kashmiri mirch (no substituting here)
1 tsp turmeric/haldi
salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1) Clean green onions thoroughly. With the low sanitation and sandy soil we have here in Nepal this requires a 20 minute soak in salted water.

2) Quarter and slice green onions into two inch strips. Rinse the strips in fresh water twice and set aside.

3) Heat oil in heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai for 7 minutes. While oil is heating beat one egg with two teaspoons of Kashmiri mirch, try to make sure there are no lumps.

4) Fry egg and Kashmiri mirch mixture in heated oil. Try to make a thin omelet by spreading the mixture with a spatula.

5) Flip the omelet over and fry until thoroughly cooked. 

6) Repeat this process with the other two eggs and set the mini omelets aside.

7) Place washed and sliced green onions into hot oil in same pan with two teaspoons salt. Stir and allow to simmer for five minutes. The onions will soften and release fluid. 

8) Add one heaping tablespoonful of Kashmiri mirch plus one teaspoon turmeric to simmering onions. Stir well and allow to cook for three minutes.

9) Tear the mini omelets into one inch pieces and add to onion mixture in pan.

10) Add two cups of water to omelet and onion mixture. Stir gently and bring to a simmer. 

11) Allow mixture to simmer until liquid has reduced to about a half inch in pan. Onions should be tender and sauce will thicken a bit. Salt to taste and serve with heaps of steamed rice.

Helpful Hints:
Use the best quality Kashmiri mirch you can find as that's the big flavor component in this dish.

Ramadan blessings to you and your family,

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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