Brinjals

Ingredients :

Brinjals : 500 Gms.

Fresh Grated Coconut : 200 Gms.

Coriander Seeds : 60 Gms.

Dried Red Chillies : 10-12 nos.

Sliced Onions : 2 nos. large

Green Chillies : 3-4 nos.

Garlic Cloves : 8 nos.

Sesame Seeds : 4 Tbsp.

Turmeric Powder : 1 Tsp.

Tamarind Paste : 100 Gms.

Jaggery : 2 Tbsp.

Curry Leaves : 10-12 nos.

Black Mustard Seeds : 1 Tsp.

Chopped Coriander Leaves : 2-3 Tbsp.

Vegetable or Peanut Oil : As Required

Salt : To Taste

Method :

Cut the brinjals lengthwise almost into quarters; make sure you do not cut off the stem so as to keep the brinjal whole with a cross cut running the entire length.

In a Kadhai add enough oil to fry the brinjals till brown.

For the Bagara Masala Paste :

In 1 Tbsp. oil saute the sliced onions, coriander seeds, red chillies. Add these to the coconut and garlic. Dry roast the sesame seeds and add to the coconut mixture. Also add the turmeric powder and tamarind paste to the coconut. Make a paste of all these ingredients.

In a Tbsp. of oil add slit green chillies and add the paste and saute till the fat leaves the sides. Than add the brinjals, jaggery and salt to taste. Add water as required to get a sauce-like consistency. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. This masala tends to stick to the bottom of the pan, so make sure that you keep stirring the pot every few minutes. Then add the chopped coriander leaves and remove.

Tadka :

In a small pan add 1 Tsp. oil and when hot add mustard seeds. When they start to crackle add the curry leaves and pour this over the curry. Mix well.

This can be served with Rice or Parathas.

P. S.Vegetable Variation – You can make a tadka of mustard seeds, green chillies and curry leaves. To this add mixed vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, green peas etc. Then add the bagara masala and salt to taste. Cover and cook till the vegetables are done. Then add chopped coriander on top.

Dum Pukht cuisine is one of the oldest and very popular cuisine which started off in India some 200 years ago. Dum Pukht literally means choking off the steam. It allows the meat to cook on low heat so the meat cooks in its own juices. This is especially useful in cooking a biryani where the meat juices and the resulting steam cook the rice, allowing the rice to absorb the flavour and aroma of the meat. The end result is a flavourful and fragrant biryani which is incomparable to any other biryani.

Ingredients :

Chicken : 1 Kg.

Curd : 250 gm.

Chilli Powder : 1 tsp.

Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp.

Garam Masala Powder : 1 tsp.

Ginger Garlic Paste : 1 1/2 Tbsp.

Shahi Jeera (Black/Royal Cumin Seeds) :  1 tsp.

Onions : 5 medium-sized

Chopped Coriander Leaves : 2 Tbsp.

Long-grained Rice : 750 gm. (preferably Basmati)

Cinnamon : two 1 inch pieces

Cloves : 4 no.

Black Peppercorns : 5 nos.

Black Cardamon (Masala Ilaichi) : 1 no.

Green Cardamom : 4 nos.

Bay Leaf : 1 no.

Chopped Green Chillies : 1/2 tsp.

Lime Juice : 1 tsp.

Salt : to taste

Milk : 2 Tsp.

Saffron :  A few strands

Ghee ( Indian Clarified Butter) :  2-3 Tbsp.

Refined Flour (Maida) : 200gm

Method :

Finely slice the onions and they fry them in ghee till browned. The sliced fried  browned onions  are known as Barista which is an essential part of any Indian biryani.

Soak the rice in plenty of water. This is very important as the Basmati rice tastes better when you have soaked it for at least half an hour.

Warm the milk and add the saffron to it to infuse it with the saffron flavour.

Make a dough of the refined flour and water.

Clean, remove skin and cut the chicken into 12-14 pieces. To the chicken add the curd, ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, half of the barista, half of the chopped coriander, shahi jeera and salt to taste.  Keep aside for 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile heat plenty of water at least a 4 times the amount of rice. When it starts to boil, add the cinnamon (one 1 inch piece), cloves (2 ), peppercorns (5 ), black (1/2) and green cardamom (2) and salt to taste to the water. Drain the rice.  Then add the rice to the boiling water and let it cook till half done.Then drain the rice and spread it on a plate to cool it done and stop the cooking process.

Heat the ghee in a heavy(thick) bottomed pan (Handi) and add the remaining cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and the bay leaf. Then add the marinated chicken and saute for a few minutes. Then layer it at the bottom of the pan. Then layer the rice on top of the chicken and sprinkle the remaining barista, chopped green chillies and the chopped coriander on the rice. Pour the saffron infused milk and lime juice on the rice.

Cover the mouth of the pan with the dough and press down the lid on top so it completely seals the mouth of the handi. Let it cook on low heat for about 45 minutes.

Using a knife separate the lid from the handi and remove the dough. Then mix the rice lightly with the chicken and serve with cucumber raita.

Sambar Masala Ingredients Photo by Alaivani @ flickr

Sambar Masala Ingredients Photo by Alaivani @ flickr

No South Indian feast is complete without the Sambar. The Sambar, according to Wikipedia, is a lentil and vegetable stew or a chowder based on a broth made from Tamarind and Toovar Dal.

The Mumbaiites are believed to have been introduced to the Udupi cuisine in the early 1930’s with the opening of Cafe Mysore in Matunga, a suburb of Mumbai.The owners are from proper Udupi, as opposed to most other ‘Udupi’ restaurants, which are run by Shettys from or around Mangalore.

The difference in the Sambar from these Shetty-run restaurants is that the sambar has been modified to suit the taste buds of their local clientele. They have created a sort of sweet vegetable dal that is suitable for their local clientele. As a result, it has lost its authentic flavor. The Sambar that you get in Udupi is a lot more pungent, aromatic and flavorful.

In my house, sambar is made in a large quantity so as to last atleast 2 days. The first day is spent eating it with idli, dosa etc. The next day the taste of the sambar develops (matures) and all the subtle flavours come to the fore and vie for you attention. This makes it the perfect accompaniment to a plate of steaming white rice.

This is going to be a two part series as first I will put up the Sambar masala and then explain how to make the sambar.

So here goes –

Sambar Masala

Ingredients :

Coriander Seeds : 250 Gm.

Dried Red Chillies (Sankeshwari + Bedgi = 50:50) : 250 Gm.

Turmeric Powder : 25 Gm.

Asafoetida (Hing) : 15 Gm.

Cumin Seeds : 75 Gm.

Black Peppercorns : 50 Gm.

Mustard Seeds : 50 Gm.

Split Black Gram / Black Lentil (Urad Dal) : 100 Gm.

Split Bengal Gram (Chana Dal) : 100 Gm.

Raw Rice : 50 Gm.

Fenugreek Seeds (Methi) : 20 Gm.

Curry Leaves : one bunch

Method :

Dry roast the ingredients individually and then powder them. Keep the masala in an airtight jar and use as required.

A friend of mine gave me this masala recipe. I had been on the look out for this recipe for quite some time. Earlier I saw the recipe for this bottle masala in a book but it had only about 10 ingredients, but I had it on good authority that the original recipe has more than 20 ingredients. So I was very happy to finally lay my hands on this recipe. Hope all other gourmets on the look out enjoy this as well.

Ingredients :

Dried Red Chillies : 2 Kg.

Coriander Seeds : 500 gm.

Whole Turmeric : 50 gm.

Cumin Seeds : 125 gm.

Mustard Seeds : 50 gm.

White Poppy Seeds : 125 gm.

White Sesame Seeds : 125 gm.

Fennel Seeds : 25 gm.

Black Peppercorns : 125 gm.

Green Cardamoms : 75 gm.

Taj (Ceylon Cinnamon) : 125 gm.

Cloves : 50 gm.

Black Cardamoms : 25 gm.

Nagkesar ( Casia Buds) : 25 gm.

Mace : 25 gm.

Nutmeg : 2 no.

Maipatri (Mugwort) : 25 gm.

Badian / Badalphool (Star Anise) : 25 gm.

Trifal (Sichuan Pepper) : 25 gm.

Tamalpatra (Tejpatta / Indian Bay Leaf ) : 25 gm

Dagadphool ( Lichen) : 25 gm.

Kababchini (Allspice) : 25 gm.

Shahi Jeera (Black Cumin) : 25 gm.

Whole Asafoetida (hing) : 25 gm.

P.S. Dagadphool. This is a dried lichen used in Indian cooking. (Latin: parmelia perlata.)

Method : Saute the masala ingredients individually in little oil to let them release their flavours and then mix them together and grind to a fine powder. Alternately you can also dry roast the ingredients. Take care to crush the asafoetida, turmeric and nutmeg into smaller pieces before sauteing or roasting them.

Garam masala is one of the main ingredients in Indian cuisine. A meal, especially a North Indian meal, can never be complete without the sprinkling of garam masala at the end.
The first thing you notice about the masala is the aroma. It has a sort of hot pungent heady aroma which lingers in the air long after you have closed the container of the masala powder.
Garam masala is a blend of spices usually used in Indian cooking not only for flavour but for the aroma it lends to the dish as well. A simple biryani or pulao with whole garam masala added for its unique aroma is something to be experienced as it cannot be described. “Heavenly” comes close.
Here is a blend that can be used for everyday use. There are other, more aromatic blends, but those will be posted later.

Ingredients : –

Coriander seeds – 8 tablespoons
Cumin seeds – 4 tablespoons
cloves – 10
black peppercorns – 3 tablespoons
cinnamon – 3-4 inches
black cardamom – 3-4
turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
green cardamom – 4
dried red chillies – 6-8
bay leaves – 2-3

Method : –

Roast the ingredients separately on a griddle til they release their unique aroma. Then powder them together.