Mutton Rogan Josh – Kashmir special

I broke the cardinal rules of making rogan josh but still managed to make a top notch mutton rogan josh and I am mighty pleased with it. Mutton Rogan josh is a kashmiri delicacy, a spicy, deep and flavourful mutton curry that must undeniably be one of the best mutton curries around, a pride of India. This is probably why it features in most restaurant menus. There are many versions of mutton rogan josh but I liked the authority and confidence with which ecurry proclaimed its rogan josh and I can now vouch for it. I went ahead and added onions because I wanted more body to the gravy and I guess its ok ‘cos I am not a Kashmiri Pandit (who don’t include onions). Onions were not part of the original recipe. I substituted fresh ginger for dry ginger powder because I couldn’t find the stupid thing in the cupboard although I found 2 boxes of it 2 weeks later when I organized the kitchen. I always seem to have more of the rarely used ingredients but I am never able to find them when I need them in a recipe. Sounds familiar? Kashmir is famous for its apples, pashmina shawls, silk carpets, dum aloo and mutton rogan josh and militancy. Kashmir the much fought over state, at the northern end of India, one of the most picturesque places in the world and probably one of the bloodiest too features in Roja (directed by Mani Ratnam) an all-time hit and a classic. Mani Ratnam makes everything stylish. Suddenly engineers were sexy and romantic, patriotism was cool and chinna chinna aasais (little whims) were cute and adorable. There’s no girl who didn’t fall for Arvind Swamy in that movie. What a stunner! Ahem.. It’s Kashmir and Mutton Rogan Josh we’re talking about. Everybody wants a piece of Kashmir. Don’t know if everybody can have Kashmir, but everyone can have this mutton Rogan Josh. Follow the recipe exactly and it’s yours. Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time: 1 hour Serves: 4 Ingredients Mutton – ½ kilo cut into 2 inch piecesOnions – 3 large thinly sliced (not part of original recipe)Yogurt – 3/4 cup yogurt + 2 tablespoon yogurtLemon juice – from 1 lemonAsafoetida – ½ tspKashmiri Red chilli powder – 3 tbspGaram Masala powder – 1 tspDry ginger powder – ½ tbsp. (I substituted fresh ground ginger because I couldn’t...

Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken Vindaloo was the first thing that came to mind when I thought of Goa although I didn’t taste Vindaloo when I went to Goa a couple of years ago. I did taste a Goan fish curry which was quite remarkable too. This month being the statewise blogging marathon month, I and my fellow blogging marathoners will be posting a dish from each of the Indian states – one state a day. Today it’s Goa. Vindaloo was originally a Portuguese curry made out of pork marinated in wine. We ingenious Indians substituted chicken for pork and vinegar for the wine and included potatoes for good measure. So the Vindaloo of today is very much an Indian curry – hot, spicy and lip-smacking. I am always game for new ways to cook chicken and Chicken Vindaloo sounded just about perfect. I used the recipe from steamykitchen. I found that the curry tastes even better with rice than rotis. You’ll have to start a day early though. The chicken needs to marinate overnight for the Vindaloo. The Vindaloo was quite sour from all that vinegar and I thought it could do with a bit more heat. But a vindaloo is not a vindaloo without the vinegar. So don’t skip the vinegar if you’re making vindaloo. If you do, don’t call it a vindaloo.  Goa is a nice place, I loved their markets. They sell really cute shorts, pretty hats and beautiful coloured glass lamp hangers. I wasn’t as enthusiastic of the beaches as the beaches were crowded and hot (don’t know if it was the wrong time of year) and I’ve experienced enough of hot, crowded beaches right here in Chennai. I really wish I’d tasted more of their local cuisine which is actually my number one agenda when visiting any place. Number 2 is of course shopping. The next time I am in Goa, I am going to have to taste their Vindaloo and Bebinca, no excuses. Prep time: 15 minsMarinating time: OvernightCooking time: 30 minsServes: 5 Ingredients Chicken – 750 gmPotatoes – 2 medium cubedOnions – 2 large chopped fineOil – 2 tbspCumin seeds – ½ tspMustard seeds – ½ tspWater – ½ cupSalt to taste Marinade Vinegar – ¼ cupWhole Red chillies – 15 soaked in the ¼ cup vinegarGarlic cloves – 10Ginger – 3 inch piece chopped roughly Dry spice Mix Cinnamon – 2 inch pieceCloves – 5Cardamom – 3Cumin – ¾ tspMethi/Fenugreek seeds –...

Ghugni – Bihari Potato-pea gravy

Today’s special is Bihari Ghugni, a warm, hearty potato-pea gravy that’s easy to make and fantastic with pooris or rotis. This is the way our canteen Bhaiya makes Ghugni and he is from Bihar. Many a days we’ve been wrenched from our excel files by the ghugni aroma that wafts up from the ground floor kitchen to our cubicles on the third floor. We love watching Bhaiya in action especially when he’s making samosas. Once he even let me try making a samosa and I just about finished making the samosa when our boss arrived. I innocently walked out of the kitchen hoping he’d not seen what I was doing. He’d deport me to the canteen kitchen permanently (which I wouldn’t really mind). I was surprised that the ghugni was as simple as he said it was. But the taste is awesome. What’s more, it’s a one-pot pressure cooker gravy that’s quick and easy. Once you dump ‘em all in the pressure cooker, your job is done. While deciding the dishes for this state-wise menu, my most important criterion was that it should meld with our everyday cooking (as much as possible) and my family should be able to enjoy it. This ghugni is all that and more. The authentic version on the internet seems to use black gram but I am happy with the version that my canteen friend gave me. I’d lost my only chance of visiting Bihar when I didn’t make it for a Bihari friend’s wedding in Bihar. I wish I had. Bihar sounds like just the place for a hungry food blogger – litti chokha, kebabs, Rabri Jalebis.. Oh my, love it all. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 25 minsServes: 4-5 Ingredients Dried green peas – 1-1/2 cups soaked overnightPotatoes – 2 medium peeled and cubedOnions – 2 medium chopped fineTomatoes – 2 medium pureedGinger garlic paste – 1 tbspRed chilli powder – 1 – 1-1/2 tspCumin powder – ½ tspTurmeric powder – ½ tspGaram Masala powder – 1 tspSalt to tasteWater as necessaryCinnamon stick – 1 inch pieceGreen Cardamom – 2 wholeOil – 2 tsp Method 1.      Rinse dried green peas in 2-3 changes of water. Soak overnight. 2.      Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add the cinnamon stick and green cardamom. When the cardamom is nice and plump, throw in the rest of the ingredients. Add the chopped onions, ginger garlic paste, soaked...

Paneer Tikka Masala

This is no internet researched rehashed recipe. My grandmother did not hand me this recipe. She never made Paneer Tikka of course, she made adhirasam, urundai kuzhambu and kola uzhundai.   ‘Cos we’re hip-hop Tamizha. Still this Paneer tikka masala tastes absolutely fabulous and is as close as it can get to the Paneer Tikka that I’ve tasted in really good restaurants. I used Madhur Jafferey’s recipe for the marinade from her famous curry nation book. The gravy, I made up by myself and it’s not rocket science but I was thrilled to be able to replicate the restaurant style perfectly rounded, creamy gravy. You know how the restaurant gravies have that well rounded taste that’s ever so slightly sweet with no jagged spicy edges – well this paneer tikka masala fits that bill. It’s brilliant. I served this paneer tikka with poori (that’s because of a strange family handicap that makes poori ok, but roti/chappathi not okay) but it goes best with chappathi/phulka or pulav. Marinate the paneer for 4 hours or overnight for the best results. I just toasted the paneer pieces on a tawa before adding them to the gravy. You could grill them in an oven or in a barbecure if you wish. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 30 minsMarinating time: 4 hours or overnightServes: 4 Ingredients Paneer/Cottage Cheese – 200 gm cut into cubesRed chilli powder/Degi mirch powder – 1-1/2 tspCumin powder – ½ tspTurmeric – ¼ tspSalt to tasteGaram Masala powder – ¾ tspSugar – 1-1/2 tsp (adjust)Cream – 2 tbsp (optional)Oil – 3 tbsp Ingredients – gravy Onions – 2 large chopped roughlyTomatoes – 2 large chopped roughlyGinger – 1 inch piece choppedGarlic – 6 large clovesCinnamon stick – 1 inch piece Ingredients – Marinade Fresh Cream – 3 tbspGinger-Garlic paste – 1 tbspRed chilli powder – 2 tspTurmeric – ¼ tspGaram Masala powder – ½ tspCumin powder – ¾ tsp Method 1.      Whisk together all ingredients under marinade in a bowl. Drop in the paneer cubes and mix well so that the paneer pieces are nicely coated in the masala. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. 2.      In a kadai/wok, heat 1 tbsp oil and when hot add the cinnamon stick. Then add the ingredients under “gravy” – ginger, garlic and roughly chopped onions. Fry till the onions turn translucent. Then add the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes turn soft –...

Chicken Rendang – Malaysian Chicken curry

I am now squinting through my puffed up, watery, half sized eyes as I write this post. I’ve caught Madras Eye (conjunctivitis) and a whole lot of other things on the side as well. Fever, horribly painful sore throat and chills in the evening. I’ve not felt this weak and sick in a long time. I’ve returned to work today after 2 days of sick leave (the only nice thing about this whole sickness thing, I got to  spend a lot of time with Hasini and Yuvi) and I feel slightly better than the past few days. I’d wanted to post this Chicken Rendang right after Pongal because Chicken rendang uses whole turmeric and turmeric leaves and during Pongal we use these turmeric plants (the leaves and all) in the pooja.  And it is only during this time of the year that I’ve seen them in markets in Chennai. They may be available at other times, I don’t know. If they are, then you should definitely try this recipe for Chicken Rendang. I noted this down from the “Taste off” show on TLC the rare day when I fought off Jagan and the kids for the TV remote. Actually I think the kids were asleep that day and Jagan was on his phone. Anyways, I got a rare chance to watch a cookery show and me being a sucker for curries, I noted this down as soon as I saw it. I made this right after Pongal but never got around to posting this. The Rendang made a wonderful side with parotta – fresh, spicy and flavourful. I used the fresh turmeric sparingly as fresh whole turmeric is extremely pungent. You could break up a small piece of it and check. The original recipe called for much more if I remember right but I wasn’t taking chances. You’ll be using the leaves as well. The turmeric leaves are not as strong as say the lemon leaves you use in the Thai curries but they add a mild flavour. You could chop up those turmeric leaves and drop a few of them while the curry is simmering to turn up the flavour some more. You’ll be seeing a lot more delayed, postponed un-seasonal, in-appropriate recipes in the coming days as I catch up with my blogging. Prep time: 15 mins Cooking time: 45 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients Chicken – half a kilo...

Chettinad style Pepper Chicken | Pepper Chicken Masala

This chettinad style pepper chicken can give any restaurant pepper chicken a run for its money. It’s absolutely fabulous and minus the restaurant style oil spill on top. This pepper chicken is loaded with the flavour of freshly ground peppercorns, shallots and garlic rounded out by the fried coconut. The fried coconut provides excellent texture and that lovely scoopable body to the curry. I love this with rice and Sambar or rice and rasam. It would also make a really nice pair with chappathi. I served this chettinad style pepper chicken with rice, Arachivitta sambar and Paneer fry. I altered my mother’s mutton chops recipe to arrive at this chettinad style pepper chicken.  If you feel like Chettinad food, don’t pick up the phone, pick up the karandi instead – this is so much better and definitely safer for your tummy. I almost always end up with an upset stomach the day after we eat hotel chicken. I love the RealGood Chicken that sells in department stores. It’s always fresh and it’s already cleaned, cut and neatly packed which means absolutely zero prep-work with the chicken. Cooking chicken just got even easier. Ours is a chicken crazy family and every weekend it is chicken at home and I need to find new ways to spin it. Not that our family will ever get bored of chicken. It’s just that I’d be bored of cooking it the same way every time. But there is a wonderful charm in making that familiar oft-repeated dish which comes so naturally, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, stir, mix, done. You don’t measure, taste or adjust seasoning. You just know. The only thing that I make that confidently is the vegetable biryani and maybe bulls eye. Everything else, I still like to check. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 30 minsServes: 4 Ingredients Chicken – ½ kiloTurmeric powder – 1 tspSalt to tasteCurry leaves – 1 stemOnions – 2 medium slicedOil – 5 tbsp + 1 tbsp Masala Ingredients Grated Coconut – from half a coconut (3/4 cup)Whole Black peppercorns – 2 tbspSambar Onions/Shallots – 6Curry Leaves – 1 stemCumin – 1 tspGinger – 1 inch scrapedGarlic – 5 cloves peeled Method 1.      Wash and clean chicken. Pat dry and set aside. 2.      In a Kadai/skillet, add 1 tbsp oil and all masala ingredients other than grated coconut and sauté for 2-3 minutes...

Thai Red Curry

You’ll want this one. This is the best Thai red curry out there and this recipe is absolutely fail-proof and you don’t have to import Kaffir lime or Galangal ginger from Thailand. You have my guarantee. What’s my guarantee? If it doesn’t turn out good, you can come here to my blog and swear/complain all you want and I wouldn’t retaliate. But you really wouldn’t have to. Just follow the recipe and don’t skip any of the ingredients and you’ll be on your way to a stunning restaurant grade Thai red curry. I say this with confidence because I’ve messed up before and spectacularly. I’ve not been to Thailand and I don’t know if Thai red curry is different there. I am talking about the Thai red curry in good Thai restaurants (Benjarong, Lotus and the likes) here. So purists who cannot tolerate substitutions, this may not be for you. I love a good substitution and this curry has a few beautifully apt substitutions. For those new to Thai cuisine, Thai red curry is a beautiful, aromatic curry (could be vegetarian or non-vegetarian) that is traditionally served with long grained steamed rice. The crux of the red curry is the red curry paste which is fried and then simmered in coconut milk. The ingredients that go into this curry paste are plain beautiful. We’re familiar with most of these flavours in Indian cooking but not in this combination or intensity. Lemon leaves, coriander root (or stems, the stuff we discard usually) fresh ginger.. Can you imagine how divine this must smell? The guy who thought of this combination is a genius. If you didn’t make out by now, I am a huge fan of Thai cuisine and I am not the type who orders the same thing every-time I go to a restaurant (I like to experiment, screw up), but with Thai food, it’s always Thai red curry for me.      I followed my instincts this time and didn’t follow any one recipe but combined and edited a few recipes (which among others includes a Goodfood magazine recipe and a Nita Mehta recipe) to arrive at my Thai red curry recipe. If you do have Kaffir lime, galangal ginger and birds eye chillies (cute looking little red chillies) by all means use them. I’ve listed both the original and the substitutes below so that you can use whatever you have...

Spicy Ground Coconut Chicken curry

The marinated chicken in this curry turned out so soft and juicy that even the kids loved this curry. Even Yuvi who usually turns away from spicy food, enjoyed this chicken. The curry was thick, fragrant and flavourful and the chicken had soaked up the wonderful fresh flavours. The chicken was as flavourful as the curry unlike many restaurant curries where the chicken is stringy and bland, a stranger to the curry it sits in. This dish was actually an accident. We had originally planned to barbecue the chicken for which I prepared the marinade. But then Jagan (my husband) changed his mind at the last moment and wanted a curry instead. So marinated chicken it had to be for this curry. I am happy I did it this way. In fact, I think I’d even go as far as to say, marinate the chicken first irrespective of what you’re going to do with it. But marinate sensibly according to the dish you’re going to make. And there’s something about lemon juice however little you may use, it adds a lovely citrusy freshness to the dish. The chicken is marinated in a fresh ginger-garlic-green chilli marinade seasoned with red chilli powder and lemon juice. The marinated chicken is cooked in a ground coconut masala which gives the curry nice body and a wonderful aroma. We had this curry with Chappathis and it was a hit combination. Prep time: 10 mins + 30 mins marinating time Cooking time: 20 mins Serves: 5 Ingredients Chicken – ½ kilo cleaned and cut into bite size piecesOnion – 1 large chopped fineTomato – 1 choppedCloves – 3Cinnamon – 1 inch stickCardamom – 1Oil – 2 tbspWater as necessary Ground Masala Grated Coconut – 3/4 cupFried Gram dal/Pottu Kadalai – 2 tbspFennel seeds/Sombu/Saunf – 1 tspWhole dry red chillies – 3-4Cardamom – 1Cinnamon – 1 inch stick Marinade Ginger – 2 inch piece peeled and roughly choppedGarlic – 6 cloves peeledGreen chillies – 3 chopped roughlyLemon juice – 1 tsp (from half a lemon)Red chilli powder – 2 tbspSalt to taste Method 1.      Clean chicken well and cut into bite sized pieces. 2.      Grind together the ingredients listed under marinade except red chilli powder, salt and lemon juice to a fine paste. In a bowl, dump the ground marinade, add lemon juice, chilli powder and salt and mix well. Throw in the chicken pieces and...

Dum Aloo – Baby potatoes in a tangy, yogurt gravy

This Dum Aloo recipe is loosely based on Tarla Dalal’s Banarasi Aloo recipe. Why loosely based and not exactly copied is because I have terrible memory and I don’t recall everything and also I wanted to use yogurt (you see this is yogurt theme week for me at Blogging Marathon) but this particular Banarasi Aloo recipe doesn’t include yogurt. So yogurt it will be for this Dum Aloo, like it or not. Just like they make movies – Endhiran is loosely based on I, Robot because we need comedy, sentiment and songs in a movie even if it is (attempted) science fiction. But my Dum Aloo turned out really good, much better than Endhiran. The baby potato is the hero here. They were incredibly soft and succulent with a lovely crispy exterior and the gravy was fragrant, ever so slightly tangy and delicately spiced. I enjoyed this dum aloo for lunch today with chappathis. They’ll go great with pulav as well.  The gravy was refreshingly delicate and flavourful and I really loved it that it wasn’t too heavy or overly spiced. In this recipe, we boil the masala ingredients before grinding them. I found this technique really novel and I think this sort of mellows down the whole dish while still retaining all the lovely flavours. That’s my ordinary lay-woman’s explanation. The yogurt you use would have to be fresh and thick. If your yogurt is runny, strain using a cheese-cloth and use the strained yogurt. I didn’t include cashewnuts, I forgot. I wish I had though; I think it would have added body and would have offset the tanginess nicely. I am sending this recipe to Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon for the theme – “Cooking with curd”. Prep time: 20 minsCooking time: 40 minsServes: 4-5 Ingredients Baby potatoes – 1/2 kilo boiled and peeledYogurt – 1/4 cup (fresh and thick)Kashmiri Whole dry red chillies – 8Tomatoes – 2 large chopped roughlyOnion – 1 medium roughly choppedGarlic – 7 cloves peeledGinger – 1 inch piece peeledFennel seeds/Sombu/Saunf – 2 tspCumin – 1 tspCardamom – 1Cinnamon stick – 1 inch pieceSugar – ½ tspOil – 3 tbsp + 1 tbspWater as necessarySalt to taste Method 1.      Boil potatoes in salted water till cooked through but firm about 10-15 minutes. Drain water, peel the potatoes (you can leave the skin on if you wish), pat dry and set aside. 2.      In a pan,...

Meen Kuzhambu

Meen Kuzhambu is TamilNadu’s pride. It is something we can safely call ours, originally conceived and prepared (and being prepared) in TamilNadu. No fusion-confusion here. I am recent convert. I wasn’t a Meen Kuzhambu fan earlier. In fact I am not a huge fan of Kuzhambu in general. But I have slowly started to appreciate the nuances of a well-made Meen Kuzhambu – soft, flaky perfectly cooked fish drenched in a wonderful medley of hot, tangy and spicy kuzhambu.  Meen Kuzhambu tastes best with hot steamed rice and hot pan fried fish fillets. It also goes splendidly well with Idli or Dosai. Making a good Meen kuzhambu they say is an art, not everybody can do it. I’d like to disagree. A good Meen Kuzhambu is a piece of art but I think if you can master the 3 important components of making the Meen Kuzhambu, you can make some beautiful art too. The first, most important component of it is the cleaning part. If you’ve cleaned the fish well, you’re kuzhambu will not smell fishy. Make sure to scale the fish thoroughly by scrubbing the fishes, skin side down on a coarse stone. Once scrubbed properly (you should see whitish scaly stuff run out), the skin side should be a wee bit coarse and not as slippery and smooth as before being scaled. Rinse well in 2 or 3 changes of water. The second component is extracting the tamarind juices. Now, this seems too trivial but it isn’t. The proof of the kuzhambu is in the puli (tamarind). Soaking the tamarind in water for about half an hour makes it easier to extract the juices. Once you’ve extracted the first juices, add water in small increments (half a cup at a time) squeeze and extract the juices and strain. Repeat till you have the strained tamarind juice which is roughly the same amount as the amount of Kuzhambu you’ll finally end up with. By adding small increments of water, you extract better without diluting too much. The third component is about getting the consistency right. Meen Kuzhambu is not a very thick kuzhambu, but it shouldn’t be too runny either. Usually when the kuzhambu boils, it is time to drop in the fishes. At this stage do the back of a ladle/karandi test to check if the kuzhambu lightly coats the back of the ladle/karandi. If it doesn’t, then...

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