Showing posts with label pressure cooker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pressure cooker. Show all posts

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!

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 15, 2017

Mexican Style Beans (Frijoles)

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Beans are a staple of Mexican cuisine and a favorite element in so many Mexican dishes. This classic recipe for frijoles is easy to make, versatile, vegan, and healthy. Enjoy these beans with warm tortillas, as a filling for burritos, or with rice and rotis as my Indian family does!


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Pinto beans are the most popular bean in the United States and northwestern Mexico. Pinto means speckled or spotted referring to the bean's mottled skin which becomes uniform when cooked. When properly prepared pinto beans have a deliciously creamy texture, mild flavor, and an ability to absorb flavors well. I'm using simi beans which are a local favorite here in Nepal. As you can see in the above photo simi beans are a bit rosier in hue than pinto beans, but their flavor and texture is quite similar.

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A Latina friend in my native California taught me to make these Mexican-style beans or frijoles. Each family has their own unique way of preparing beans with differences in bean variety, the type of pot used, specific seasonings, and method of cooking. Traditionally, an earthenware pot called an olla was used to cook beans. As you can see in the above photo an olla is shaped a lot like the handi used in Indian cooking and serves much the same purpose. I have never seen an olla in use to cook beans in any kitchen Mexican or otherwise. The most common vessel I've seen used to cook beans in both Spanish-speaking and Okie communities is a large heavy-duty aluminum stockpot begotten at the Kmart or the local ACE hardware store. I use my Indian-style pressure cooker to save time.

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I have often read that lard or manteca is the most authentic fat to use in Mexican cooking. In the town where I was raised the cooking fat of choice for Mexican-American families and most other ethnic groups was Crisco. The famed digestible vegetable shortening or manteca vegetal was used for tortillas and tamales as well as pie crusts and fried chicken. I'm not from Butcher Holler but as Loretta Lynn said in the commercial,
"Crisco will do you proud every time." 

Lard was probably the preferred fat before World War II. Possibly the only place to find lard in the 70's and 80's was at a carnicería or Mexican butcher. I've heard lard is making a comeback though. Choose your favorite cooking oil for this recipe. The preferred chilis for Mexican cooking in California are Serranos and their milder cousins, Jalapeños. Spanish-style yellow onions are used exclusively in Mexican cuisine. To soak the beans or not is another choice. Soaking the beans overnight will save you cooking time. I never saw beans soaked in my little community though so I don't soak either. I do use a pressure cooker which does cut down cooking time to about half. My Indian family loves these with rice but you could certainly enjoy them in a more traditional manner atop a tostada, alongside warm tortillas, or as a filling for burritos. Or try them topped with a little queso fresco, chopped tomatoes, and a sprinkle of cilantro as a hearty soup! Off to the recipe:

Ingredients:
2 C dry pinto beans (or dry simi beans)
1-2 TBS cooking oil (scant amount to cover bottom of pot)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 TBS garlic paste or 3 minced garlic cloves
1-3 Jalapeño or Serrano chilis or any green chili you prefer (omit for less heat)
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1) Sort through dried beans and remove pebbles. Rinse the beans in water in a colander and set aside. Heat oil in a large stock pot or pressure cooker and fry the onion until it softens.

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 2) When onion begins to turn translucent add garlic, chilis, and black pepper to frying onion. Fry for about 2 minutes or until chilis begin to blister and garlic loses it's raw smell. Do not brown the onions!

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3) Add the rinsed beans, 2 teaspoons salt, and enough water to cover the beans by about 3 inches to the pot or pressure cooker. If using stock pot: bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Check on the pot every 15 minutes to make sure there's enough water, add more water from time to time as necessary. Make sure to keep adding water so the pot does not dry out. If using pressure cooker: seal lid on pressure cooker and allow to steam until beans are tender. This takes about 40 to 50 minutes in my Indian-style pressure cooker.

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4) The beans are ready when cooked so soft you can press them through your fingers and skins slip off easily. (Cooking time depends on the age and quality of beans, drier ones will require a longer simmering time.) Traditionally the beans are left a bit soupy so you can dip your tortilla in them or mash them to make frijoles refritos. Salt to taste and retrieve chilis before serving. Serve with warm tortillas or rice and rotis like we eat them. Once cooled the beans will keep for up to one week refrigerator in an airtight container.

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Helpful Hints:
You could certainly use other sorts of beans in this recipe such as black beans, kidney beans, Peruano, Mayocoba, Santa Maria, or Flor de Mayo.

Aug 31, 2016

Mutton Do Pyaaza

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"Do" means two or twice and "pyaaza" means onions. As the name implies this classic North Indian dish features a lavish amount of onions. Onions are added in two stages, first slowly caramelized then ground with traditional spices to make a rich brown gravy. The mutton is then braised until tender in this bold mix of rustic flavors. This recipe also works well with lamb, beef, or water buffalo stew meat. Pair with with rotis, parathas, or chapattis for a hearty meal.

Mutton Do Pyaaza beef, mutton, goat, lamb, buffalo, non veg, meat, indian, onions, recipe, easy, mughal, punjabi,

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs mutton/goat or lamb, cut into 3 inch pieces, bone in and lean preferred
1/4 C cooking oil
2 C onions, sliced thinly into half moons
1 tsp salt
2 C water or stock
Grind to paste for masala:
2 C onions, roughly chopped
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
1 TBS coriander/dhania seeds
1 TBS cumin/jeera seeds
1 TBS garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi
3-4 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped roughly
1 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) Grind ingredients listed under masala to smooth paste, set aside.



2) Heat oil in pressure cooker, deep heavy bottomed skillet, or kadhai. Fry thinly sliced onions with 1 teaspoon salt until golden brown, this should take about 10 minutes.



3) Add mutton pieces to fried onions in pan. Stir well and cook until meat is slightly browned.



4) Add ground masala paste to mutton and fried onions. Stir well and allow to fry for 5 minutes.



5) Add 2 C water or stock to the mixture in pan or enough liquid so meat is covered by at least a half an inch.  If using pressure cooker allow to steam for 5-6 whistles or until meat is to desired tenderness. If using skillet or kadhai simmer covered over medium heat until meat is to desired tenderness, adding a half cup more water at a time if necessary (usually this takes at least two to three hours with goat.)


6) The dish should have a thick gravy when finished. If gravy is thin allow to simmer with lid off for a few minutes. Salt to taste and serve.

Helpful Hints:
I'm cooking a Nepali goat in these photos so I'm using a pressure cooker. If you're cooking this recipe with meat that is not as tough such as Kashmiri lamb or American beef you'd probably want to use a Dutch oven or deep skillet and reduce cooking times accordingly.

If you live somewhere that you can't get the pink Desi onions pictured, the yellow onions found in most western markets are the best substitute. Despite the different color they tend to have similar flavor profile & level of  sweetness.  Do not use red onions, 'sweet' onions, Walla Walla onions, or Vidalia onions in place of pyaaz. They tend to be too sugary, scorching easily & often resulting in a burnt taste.

After chopping and grinding all the onions required for this recipe you may find your hands reek of onions. Rubbing a slice of raw tomato on your hands will remove the onion smell immediately.

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