Thursday, December 4, 2014

Easy Mutton curry

The important part is getting good quality mutton. While I'm no expert, frozen branded meats have rarely brought satisfaction. In countries where a butcher is easily accessible it is important to form a bond with this person.

I bonded with my butcher who runs his operations in Aundh Gaon over dogs and his niece.
It was Christmas afternoon last year (2013) when I first visited his shop. Somehow we got to talking and it transpired that his niece had just been born. She is now called Pari (Angel) but her grandfather insists on calling her Mary.

We also share dog tales-various strays lie on the couple of stairs in front of the shop and it is easy to step on their tails if you do not pay attention. The butcher has a long and moving story about the dogs in his life.

He does his surgeries on a huge log. Particularly fascinating is his way of making mince by mincing the meat with his cleaver on this wooden log. We've rarely if at all been disappointed in the quality of his meat. If a complaint has to exist it is merely that he will not sell liver separately.

Of late I've begun to enjoy liver. For years this was a part of meat that I would go all out to avoid. There is a theory that our nutritional deficits dictate our food choices. And as it stands I am now anaemic, a deficiency which I never thought I would ever have!

Quick and Tasty Mutton Curry
1 kg mutton -some 250 gms worth of liver included would be nice
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp red chili powder
1 Tbsp coriander powder

Curry leaves

1 cup finely sliced onions
1/2 cup oil
1 black cardamom
1 small cardamom
2 cloves
1 small piece of cinnamon
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 or 2 tej pattas

1/2 cup finely chopped tomato
5-6 green chilies slit
1-2 Tbsp garlic paste
1-2 Tbsp ginger paste or juliennes 

A large handful of green coriander, washed and chopped fine

Chop the liver into bite sized bits. Heat a bit of the oil (About a tablespoon or less), saute some onion slices and curry leaves. Add liver and stir fry till the liver changes colour fully.

Wash the mutton and rub in any meat masala that is lying around (I used Shaan Nihari masala). A large tablespoon should do. Add the chili and coriander and turmeric powders. Rub well and set it aside. I cooked it a few days after buying the meat and had left it in the marinade in the freezer.

You can marinate it for a lesser amount of time-anything upwards of an hour. But if you are keeping it raw for longer than an hour, it is better to store it in the fridge.

Heat the oil and fry the sliced onions for some 5 minutes on a high fire (try not to burn them!). Lower the fire and continue until the onions get a bit brown. Keep stirring. Add the cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, pepper and tej patta.

Add the tomato and green chili and fry well for some 5 minutes. Add the ginger-garlic pastes and continue stirring and frying until it forms an unholy gook. Add the meat and fry some more till the meat is well coated.

Add a cup or so or more of water. Depends on how you like it-I love a thin curry.

Pressure cook.

Garnish with green coriander before serving.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pineapple Rasam and Paatholi

I've read that pineapple is good for me. It's touted as a remedy for both osteoarthritis and amoebiasis. So I went and bought one.

Nothing usually goes to waste with me and I used the pineapple peel to make wine.

We ate a part of the ripe pineapple as fruit but a few pieces remained and I could not fob those off on my suspicious family (I share with my late Mother in Law a tendency to pursue family members around the house persuading them to finish off over ripe fruit and other leftovers).

The remaining handful or so of pineapple chunks were used to make Pineapple Rasam.

I did not follow this recipe. Here's what I did:

Pineapple rasam 
Take the amount or part of the amount required to make instant rasam. Boil the pineapple chunks in that water or pressure cook them till they're soft. If you feel so inclined you can add some finely chopped onion too at this stage.Make the instant rasam with the above water and fruit and/or onion. I used a 2 Minutes Rasam paste from indirafoods but cannot find a link to it online.When the concoction comes to a boil add some tomato if you so desire but I did not as it might have become too sour.In the case of some instant rasam mixes you might need to add tamarind. However, this can always be substituted y adding some lime juice to taste when serving.Similarly, I added chopped garlic just before serving as I'm trying to take at least 6 cloves of raw garlic to tackle my tummy problems. Raw garlic is also said to be good for both the osteoarthritis as well as for the amoebiasis. And it tastes incredibly good when added raw, crushed, to a hot clear soup.
Garnish with a little chopped fresh coriander or cilantro leaves.BTW you can grow dhania (cilantro) from the seeds. Just crush them well between your palms before tossing into the mud. My Bai says one has to trample them underfoot.

And then there was some ground Channa dal with which I had intended to make parippu vadas. Since I was not too obedient to any recipe I must have done something wrong (Possibly I let the mixture sit for too long in the fridge after grinding) and the vadas kept breaking up in the hot oil. So I used the miserable mess of failed vadas and the remaining ground Channa dal to make


1 cup Channa dal, soaked overnight or for a few hours and coarsely ground so that there are many large pieces1 or 2 large onions roughly slicedA couple of green chilies or less depending on your tolerance1 t finely sliced fresh ginger1 T or less or omit, cloves of garlic -leave them whole or roughly chop1 t mustard seeds1 t cumin seedsa pinch of hing1 or 2 dried red chilies broken into bits-use according to tolerance1 or 2 T oil (groundnut is what I used)Use at least that much oil if not more-the onion slices should have enough oil to saute in.
Heat the oil. Splutter the mustard, add the red chili and zeera. Do not let anything burn. Add a few curry leaves at this point if you have some fresh ones.Add the sliced onions and the rest of the stuff except the dal and saute till the onions are glazed and translucent.Add the dal and stir vigorously over a moderately hot fire.Add some salt to taste and garnish with chopped coriander.Serve both the dishes with hot sticky rice (make it sticky by using new rice and cooking it in a little extra water and for longer than your normal rice cooking time), and hot ghee.A good pickle served alongside will only enhance the decadence.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Oh Fudge!

While my mother was alive, I was an absolute brat. I gave her incessant grief about many things-the prerogative of the pampered. I cribbed about her cooking. And now that she is no more, I find that she was an amazing chef! With very little at hand and in the hardest of circumstances she could turn out the most mouth watering dishes.
Like many women of the time (I'm sure this is true even now), a lot of her interactions with friends involved cooking and other household tips. It was from one such session with a very sweet lady that Amma got a recipe for what she called Fudge. 
At that time, we were using a coal stove as backup. We had gas but we had to make it last for ages-it was a luxury, We had a kerosene stove which was also rationed fuel for us in those days and now we had a chullah.  It was on this, with its slow fire, that Amma made the most yummy ever fudge.
Whenever I asked her for the recipe she just said:
1 cup sooji (semolina)
1 cup sugar
1 cup ghee
1 cup khoa
1 glass milk.
And I tried and I tried but I think the secret lies in the slow fire. However, even if I find that slow a flame, it's not as if I will acquire my mother's patience to sit over a hot stove and stir and stir and stir. I'd go stir crazy!
Anyway, I tend to add cocoa to the mixture towards the end and a lot of ghee oozes out but my family seems to love that which emerges.
This is the only sweet I made this Holi and I made do with some leftover rabri instead of khoa. I am now going to use up the ghee that oozed out to make another batch.