Recipe – Punjabi Dum Aloo


 

Since the time I came back from my son’s home I had been craving for the scrumptious food he was feeding me. I am also constant thinking of all the dishes learned from various people during my travel or visit to friends’ homes. It’s been tough lately and cooking has been therapeutic just as painting and writing has been. I am trying to keep myself gainfully occupied and eat healthy too. Many times nostalgia makes me prepare dishes I haven’t made in years. I miss my boys and our time together. I miss normal life and the time I lost struggling to find myself while making peace with others at the same time.  Often this is how I feel :

So many roads.
So many detours.
So many choices.
So many mistakes.
So many crossroads.
So many endings.
So many beginnings.
I have truly “lived”
But Now
I have a feeling my soul is spent
and I have nothing more to give to the world.

Then, when the moment passes I think of the food I love, the people who so generously fed it to me and taught me the process and I count my privilege and my blessings.

Dum Aloo is love in whichever way it is cooked from Kashmiri, Bengali to Banarasi but there is something about this Punjabi Aloo Dum that I find hard to resist. It is a favorite. Again, I would never eat this in a restaurant. I find it very heavy to digest and avoid bI have had extremely delicious aloo dum while visiting a few Punjabi friends. Here is a recipe learned from someone long ago. The texture is beautiful, it has a medley of flavors and my favorite kasoori methi. Like garlic this is one of my go to ingredients for many dishes. Baby potatoes deep or shallow fried and added to a rich creamy gravy is love at first sight. Kasoori methi gives takes its taste to another level. Pair it with hot naans, tandoori roti or just plain phulka and you’ve got a winner. 

Here’s how I make it

Ingredients : 

10-15 – Baby potatoes or big potatoes cut evenly in equal size cubes

1- Large Onion Pureed

1-2 – Large Tomatoes Pureed

4 tablespoon- Whisked Thick Yogurt

1 Pinch – Asafoetida

1 tbsp – Ginger Garlic Paste

1 tsp – Coriander Powder

1 tsp – Red Chili Powder

1 tsp – Cumin Seeds

1 tsp – coriander Seeds

1 Black Cardamom Pod

3-4 – cloves

1/4 tsp – Turmeric Powder

1 tsp – Kashmiri Chili Powder

1/2 tsp – Kasuri Methi or dry fenugreek leaves ( toasted and crushed)

1/2 tsp – Garam Masala

Salt to taste

Sugar – 1/2 tsp

Mustard Oil for shallow frying

6-8 – Cashew Nuts ( Optional. I seldom use them)

Chopped fresh coriander green greens for garnish

Method : 

Wash, pat dry and par boil the baby potatoes in water in which a little salt is added.

Peel, prick them with a fork and shallow fry them in hot mustard oil that’s been already smoked. Set these aside.

Grind the whole spices into a dry mix and set aside.

In the same pan add heat a few teaspoons of oil and add a pinch of asafoetida and cumin seeds. When they crackle add onion puree and saute it till light brown then add ginger, garlic paste and stir again. Once the rawness goes away add the powdered masalas ( except garam masala ) and roast for a minute keeping the flame low so that they don’t burn.

Add tomato puree and saute till the water evaporates ans the masala cooks properly. Add salt and beaten yogurt stirring continuously so that the yogurt doesn’t curdle.

Cook this wet masala on low heat till oil begins to separate then add the fried baby potatoes and mix well so that the potatoes get evenly covered with the masala.

Some people add cashew nut paste to this one I don’t.

Let the potatoes simmer in the masala for two minutes or so. Sprinkle kasoori methi and garam amsala evenly and mix. Keep a little to drizzle over the dish later if you wish.

Add chopped coriander greens. I prefer to add them while the dish is cooking as it imparts a flavor to the dish. Adding at the last stage or as a garnish doesn’t achieve its purpose. I also use the tender stems with leaves.

Add 3/4 cups of warm water to the dish and stir nicely to bring it to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for another few minutes till you achieve the desired consistency of the gravy. I prefer it thick enough to be scooped up with a piece of naan or kulcha. You can serve it with good steamed basmati rice too.

Let the Dum Aloo stay in the covered pan for ten minutes and then spoon it in the serving dish. Sprinkle a pinch or two of kasuri methi as garnish if you wish. Have it hot with the Indian breads of your choice.

Recipe – Himachali Chana Madra


A few friends have been asking me for the recipes of the dishes I had been cooking during the lockdown. I am wondering if a separate food blog is needed to catalog all the recipes but till I decided that I will use this space to share them. Excuse me for the photos. I hadn’t thought of blog post while clicking. Will add more later. 

I have been thinking of the hills and our road trips, my trekking years and the local food eaten in homes or local eateries of Himachal and Uttarakhand.

Light and aromatic yogurt based gravies are summer’s soul food. Desi khana or traditional meal made with locally sourced ingredients is something I root for even though I love to explore other cuisines. Summer is also season for nostalgic eating.

I first had madra at the home of a local in kangra during a road trip. A family from the village had a small tea stall and provided meals if possible. Though not as part of the menu. It all depended on what’s available and we were lucky to get madra, kale chane ka khatta and rice.

The slow cooked scrumptious Chana Madra is not just quintessential part of authentic Himachali Dham but also of the wedding menu. The whole and ground spices, creamy tangy curd and the buttery chickpeas fill the dish with melange of flavours. Madra is made with Rajma too. The Chamba rajmah tastes delicious in madra but I love the Kangra version with chickpeas.

Today’s thali had one dish each from a few parts of india to which I belong in some way. Aamras from Maharashtra (Mother’s side), old vintage nimbu pickle from Uttarpradesh ( father’s side), madra from Himachal ( In-law’s side) and kelya upkari from Konkan ( nani’s maternal side). Comfort and love in every bite. I’m thinking of making a few more dishes that are close to my heart in the coming days.

Ingredients :

Kabuli Chana / Chickpeas ( Soaked overnight and boiled) – 2 Cup ( can use canned chickpeas too)

Asafoetida – 2 pinch

Cloves – 3-4

Cinnamon – 1/2 inch stick

Black Cardamom – 2-3

Green Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

Sugar – 1/4 tsp

Black Peppercorn – 3-4

Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp

Coriander Powder – 2 tsp

Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp

Salt – as required

Raisins – 3 tsp ( soaked and drained)

Thick whipped curd – 2 cups

Ghee/ clarified butter or Mustard Oil – 2 tbs

For the Rice Paste –

¼ cup raw white rice

1 cup water

1-2 pods of green cardamom

Soak  ¼ cup rice in 1 cup of water and cardamom. Grind this mixture and set aside.

Method –

In a heavy bottom pan heat mustard oil to the smoking point and then reduce the heat. ( For ghee you just need to warm it)

Add asafoetida, black cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick

Stir and add cumin seeds. When they crackle add coriander and turmeric powder and stir. Make sure the masala doesn’t burn.

Add boiled chickpeas and stir properly.

Add the whisked yogurt and keep stirring continuously. Keep the lame low or the yogurt will curdle. Add salt and green cardamom powder.

Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minute. Stir occasionally.

Once the mixture comes to a boil add he rice paste water and mix well.

Continue to stir and cook for another 20-25 minutes.

I usually add a tablespoon or two of hot homemade ghee on top, stir and let it simmer for another ten minutes thicken the gravy.

Turn off the heat, add chopped fresh coriander greens and mix.

Serve with plain boiled / steamed rice or roti.

Nadru Yakhni ( Lotus Stem In Yogurt Gravy ) – Two Versions


I love Kashmiri cuisine. Shab Deg, Goshtaba, Rogan Josh, Rista, Yakhni , Dum Olav, Modur Pulav, you name it and I can live on it for the rest of my life. Rich in flavors and mild in taste these dishes are to die for. I so want to learn to cook the non vegetarian dishes but seldom get the chance but I did prepare one of my vegetarian favorites Nadru Yakhni.

This was my second attempt and turned out to be delicious though perhaps not so close to the authentic one Kashmiri pandits make. Preparing gravies for Kashmiri cuisine is a labor of love as it involves slow simmering to get the aromatic flavors from the spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, aniseed, fennel powder, cumin and Hing which gives them a distinct flavor and transforms the dish totally. No Onion, garlic is used in these gravies.

The picture is not very good but I will replace it with a nice one next time when I make the dish. The ones below look better. 🙂

The taste is awesome that I can assure you.

Anything with curd is a summer favorite and Nadru Yakhni is such a beautiful dish. Lotus stem / bhen / nadroo or nadru in rich yogurt base infused with cardamoms, clove, bay leaves and dry ginger, fennel makes it a delicacy that is beyond compare. A friend told me that it is usually the part of  Koshur Saal. 

Lotus stem may not be very appealing to look at but from inside it is white and has a lovely pattern. Apart from the nice crunch it has loads of iron, dietary fiber and calcium.

I love lotus stem and prepare it the Punjabi way with fried onions, tomatoes and spices or the Sindhi way which is somewhat similar. I also do a stir fry sometimes and make kebabs which can beat any non vegetarian kebabs.

Now the Nadur Yakhni Recipe  (Kashmiri Pandits’ Version) 

Ingredients :

Lotus Stem / Bhe / Nadru – 1 Kg (Long Thick and preferably closed at both ends)

Ghee / Clarified Butter / mustard oil – 5 tbs

Dry Ginger Powder (Shonth)  – 1 – 1/1/2 tsp

Black Cardamom –  Seeds from 4 (powdered)

Green Cardamom – seeds from 4 (powdered)

Fennel Powder (Baadyan) – 3 tsp

Clove – 4-5

Asafoetida (Yenga) – 1/4 tsp dissolved in a tsp of water

Full Fat Beaten Curd –  3 Cups (Room temperature)

Coriander leaves – For garnish

Cinnamon Stick –  1/2 inch

Sugar – 1/2 tsp

Salt – to taste

Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp

Shahi Zeera – 1 tsp

Water – 3 Cups

Mix whole cardamoms – 2 queen cardamom crushed, 2 green cardamom crushed)

Coriander Leaves – for garnish

Steps –

Wash, scrape and clean the lotus stems. Make sure there is no dirt inside the holes. Use a knitting needle to get rid of that.

Cut them diagonally / Slants   and keep them immersed in lukewarm water or they will lose color and turn brown.

In a heavy bottom sauce pan or pressure cooker put the nadru pieces, 1/2 tsp of salt, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, crushed whole cardamoms, whole peppercorns, salt and two glasses of water. Cook till tender but not mushy. They must retain the crunch. Cooking time will depend on the quality of nadru.

Heat the ghee in a pan and add zeera and asafoetida along with the beaten curd. Keep stirring or the curd will curdle. Let it come to a boil then get a silk like smooth texture.

Add the powdered spices, dry ginger powder, continue to stir. Rub the shahi zeera in palms and add.

Add the boiled nadru along with the spice flavored water.  Continue to boil for at least 10-20 minutes on low heat. There should be thick rich gravy coating the nadru pieces. Check for spices and salt and add if needed.

Remove from heat and spoon it in a serving dish. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves if desired.

Serve with hot rice.

Tips-

You can fry the whole spices in a tablespoon of ghee before adding to the nadru while boiling. Reserve this ghee and pour it on the top of the finished dish before serving.

You can slightly fry the nadru pieces in a little ghee before boiling. They will retain the color and crunch. Do not brown them.

Make sure to blend curd properly so that there are no pieces in it. I usually pulse it in a mixer.

Karusi methi or dried crushed fenugreek leaves are used in the original recipe. Put 1/2 tsp  at the end if using.

Nadru Yakhni With Pran (Onion Paste) – Wazwan style

This nadru yakhni Wazwan style that I made today is fiery and has browned onion paste in it. This is my version and so looks different from the authentic. I think it looks like a cross between a rogan josh and yakhni curry. 🙂 But, it tastes incredible. Put a little less pran and chilies and you will have a light brownish white original curry.

The Muslims of Kashmir add Pran or Kashmiri Onion paste to their version otherwise the cooking process is same.

To make Pran you need to slice about 450gm of small red onions/ shallots thinly and sprinkle some salt so they release water. Keep them for 3-4 minutes and squeeze out the water. Fry them slowly in ghee till golden brown and  take them out on absorbent kitchen paper to remove excess ghee. Put them in a grinder and make a smooth paste. Add 2 tablespoons of Praan after the zeera crackles and saute it before adding curd. I also add Kashmiri red chilli powder and 2 tsp of whole black pepper corns while boiling the lotus stems so it is fiery and aromatic at the same time.

You can make a quicker version by heating the mustard oil or ghee in the pressure cooker and adding the whole spices, raw lotus stem pieces and frying a bit then adding the pran and then the curd mixture infused with ground spices and salt. Add water and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles or till the lotus stem pieces are tender but not mushy. Cook on low – medium flame so that the curd doesn’t curdle. The nadru crunch should remain. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with chapati or rice.

 

 

 

 

Gatte Ki Sabzi| Chickpea Dumpling Curry


I love this delicious gatte ki sabzi from Rajasthan. I have another recipe of the Punjabi version on my blog but this is absolute delight when eaten with hot fresh phulkas smeared with ghee or of course the bajra roti which is traditionally served with this curry. Ghee is healthy and you should use it.  The gattas I made for this recipe are thinner and spicier than the Punjabi ones.

Gatta is chickpea flour dumpling that is steamed or boiled till they float up and become light. One can spice them up or keep them plain. They are so tempting and hard to resist that you may keep munching on them while making the curry and realize that there is more curry than the gattas.

Make some extra dumplings always.  You can use these  gattas or dumplings with other veggies also but this is a basic recipe.

Ingredients : 

For Gatta : 

Besan / Chickpea flour – 1 Cup

Home cultured curd / Yogurt – 1/4 Cup

Fennel seeds powder – 3/4 tsp

Ajwain – 3/4 tsp

Salt – to taste

Ghee – 2 tbsp

Chili powder – to taste

Pinch of hing powder

2 pinches of coarsely ground fresh black pepper corns

For the Curry : 

Ginger and Garlic – 1 tsp each ( grated)

Onion – 1 medium size, chopped fine

Green chilies – 2, slit or chopped

Whole red chilies – 1-2

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Ghee – 2 tbsp

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder – 1 tbs

Besan or  Chickpea flour – 2 tbs

Fresh coriander leaves – chopped – 2 tbsp

Yogurt / Curd – 1/2 Cup

Method :

For Gatta :

Mix the dry ingredients listen under gatta except the ghee and curd.

Pour ghee evenly and rub it in the mixture. Slowly add beaten curd one spoon at a time to make a firm dough.

Divide the dough in equal parts and roll it in your palms to make a cylindrical shape.  You can make it as thin or thick but I have noticed that the thicker ones don’t cook well from the center when boiled.

Making perfect gatta is a bit tricky at times but you’ll get used to it.

Now take a deep large pan and boil enough water. Once the water boils slowly dunk the gatta in it. You can go about doing some other stuff while they cook in the boiling water. It takes a lot of time. Keep checking in between and the moment gatttas rise up and start floating take them out in a plate to cook. Throw away the water.

Once they cool, cut them into 1 inch long pieces.

Now  to make the curry :

Blend the yogurt and add the powdered masalas and salt in it. Remember that you had added salt in the gattas too. Mix well. Roast the besan and allow it t cool. Now, make a paste with  2 tbsp of buttermilk and add to the curd. DO NOT add more than 1-2 tbs of besan or it will become kadhi. You can omit besan too. I use it just to make sure that the curd doesn’t curdle.

Heat a wok or a kadhayi and put ghee in it.  when the ghee melts, add hing and cumin seeds. When they crackle , add red and green chili, stir and add ginger and garlic. Saute and add the onions. Let the onions brown a little then turn off the gas. Add the curd mixture and give it a nice stir.

Put tit back on flame and keep stirring on low medium heat till the ghee separates from the masala.

Slowly add warm water to make a curry till you get desired consistency. The gravy will thicken once you add gattas so keep that it mind.

Adjust salt and spices to your liking at this point.

Let the curry boil for sometime and then dip in the gatta pieces.

Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes and then garnish it with fresh coriander leaves.

Eat it hot with bajra roti or phulka smeared with ghee. It makes for one hell of a satiating meal.