Sana Thongba – Manipuri Paneer curry

Was I glad I could find a non-pork, non-momo dish to make from this north-eastern state. I found a simple rustic Panner curry that’s made in Manipur (original recipe here) and I pounced on it. I love it that it’s simple and uses minimal ingredients. Paneer is always popular at home and this Sana Thongba was well received too. Hasini adores Paneer. I dare not keep fried paneer cubes un-supervised while making the curry. While I am busy at the stove, a pair of chubby little hands would sneak in and grab a handful of the paneer cubes and by the time I turn, the little imp would be dashing out. If she’s running out, it’s usually either paneer or sugar that she’s gobbled up. With Yuvi it is bovonto or Coke or jelly. I served the Sana Thongba with Poori. It was perfect. It would be nice with rice too. There is no chilli powder and no tomatoes in this dish. The beautiful yellow of the curry is from the turmeric and milk in it. I wouldn’t change anything in it. You could adjust the heat by adding or reducing the green chillies though. Manipur, one of the seven north-eastern states, lies on the eastern edge of India and shares borders with Burma. I read that many Manipuri homes have little kitchen gardens where they grow their own vegetables and fruits and small ponds where they rear their own fishes. What a rustic setting! It’s giving me ideas. Where are my gardening gloves (do you wear gloves while gardening?) and those pots and seeds? I know zero about gardening but a kitchen garden is really tempting. They also use a lot of fresh herbs and roots in their cooking that are specific to the region. Their staple diet includes rice, lots of green leafy vegetables and fishes. No wonder they all look so svelte. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 15 minsServes: 3-4 Ingredients Paneer – 200 gm cut into cubesGreen Peas – ¾ cupOnion – 1 chopped fineGinger-Garlic paste – 1 tspGreen chillies – 5 chopped fineTurmeric powder – ½ tspMilk – 1 cupWater – ½ cupCumin seeds – ¾ tspCoriander leaves – a handful for garnishingSalt to tasteOil – 2 tsp + 2 tsp Method 1.      Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and after a minute add the chopped onions and sauté till...

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...
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