Monday, July 30, 2012

Niramish Mangsho, “Vegetarian” Mutton Curry, Fit for the Gods

Year after year, we would wait for this mutton curry on every Navami (ninth day of Durga Puja).

IMG_3594Every Navami, our neighbours in Patna would offer a sacrificial goat in their village to Goddess Durga. After that the goat meat would be brought to the city and “Uncle” would cook it himself on a clay oven or chulha.


What was a custom in our neighbour’s family, become a ritual of sorts in ours! To wait for this mutton curry sans onion and garlic to arrive at the stroke of eight every Navami night. Onion and garlic are essentially non-vegetarian ingredients according to Hindu culinary culture. Hence, what must be offered to the Gods and Goddesses must not have these ingredients. Thus started the use of other ingredients, which were “vegetarian” to cook the sacrificial goat!


That night of Navami, Mum would only have rotis made and some salad on the side. The sight of Kanchha, the neighbour’s help with a Borosil bowl of Niramish Mangsho sent all four of us in a tizzy of mutton ecstasy. We would do a quick Joy Ma Durga dance and run to greet Kanchha. We would thank him profusely and carry the warm bowl of mutton curry to the dinner table, where our Mum would be waiting with a hot case of countless rutis. After that there would be 30 minutes of revered silence as all of us got busy eating ruti after ruti with the Niramish Mangsho. And no, no one missed onions or garlic in this dish.


Ingredients for Niramish Mangsho are:

1 kg baby goat meat, bone in
3 tablespoons posto/khus khus/poppy seeds
3 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
2-3 green chillies, chopped
1 heaped teaspoon red chilli powder
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
10 + 10 cashews
10+ 10 raisins
4 green cardamoms
2 black cardamoms
4-5 cloves
1 inch stick of cinnamon
Pinch of grated nutmeg
2 bay
2 tablespoons melted desi ghee/clarified butter

IMG_3571Start by heating the ghee in a pressure pan/thick bottom pan.

IMG_3577Add the cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, bay and nutmeg. Let them sauté for a few seconds, add a big pinch of sugar, let it dissolve in the ghee and then add the mutton.

IMG_3580IMG_3581Sear the mutton on high till all the pieces get browned. Then add about 10 each of cashews and raisins to the browned meat along with the chopped green chillies. Mix everything well, reduce the heat to low-medium, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.

In the meantime, make a thick, smooth paste with the poppy seeds, cumin seeds, ginger, and the remaining cashews and raisins. Start by dry grinding the poppy and cumin seeds and then add the ginger, cashews and raisins. Add little water to grind. (You can throw in a couple of green chillies too to this paste, to add extra heat.)

IMG_3583While the mutton is cooking in its juices along with the whole garam masala and cashew, raisins and green chillies, add the red chilli and turmeric to it now. Keep the flame on low-medium and continue stirring the meat so that the spices don’t burn at the bottom.

IMG_3585IMG_3587After about five minutes, add the wet spice paste and mix well. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes on low heat. Posto paste has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan, make sure you scrape the pan and get all the paste coated well on the pieces of mutton.

Cover and slow cook the mutton for 15 minutes moving it from time to time. Add salt and sugar. Cover and cook again. A mutton dish like this requires patience and slow cooking. Don't hurry up the cooking process.

You will notice the posto mixture turn into a brown hue now. Continue on low-medium heat for another 10 minutes. When the mutton starts releasing ghee, you will notice it line around the sides of the pan. Add a cup of water and mix well.


Cover and cook the meat for another 20 minutes. At this point, you can even decide to pressure cook the meat. I gave it two whistles and removed from fire. Once the pressure releases, open the pan and dry up any extra gravy by cooking the meat on high.

IMG_3597This dish should have the gravy clinging onto the pieces of the meat. Do a taste test and adjust the salt and sugar accordingly.

IMG_3599Niramish Mangsho is best eaten with flully rotis and with your HANDS. O, are you listening?


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Golda Chingri Rises With Narkel-Shorshe

I must tell you that this was made on the spur today. I pretty much decided at the nth moment that this is what I wanted for dinner tonight. For my hasty decision, the pictures for this post have suffered and I have really *beep* photos today.


I have made this same recipe with headless shrimps, and I do notice the difference good old Golda can do to a recipe. So if you can, please use large prawns with heads for this recipe.


Ingredients for Narkel-Shorshe Chingri are:

12 large prawns/Golda Chingri with head, deveined and head cleaned
Half cup grated fresh coconut (just the white portion)
4 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds (shorshe)
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds (rai)
10 green chillies, slit lengthwise
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
5-6 tablespoons extra virgin mustard oil
Banana leaves (not necessary but important)

IMG_3246Line the banana leaves in a microwaveable bowl. Lay the prawns/chingri on them in a way that all fit in the bowl. Sprinkle half a teaspoon turmeric powder on the prawns and keep.


In a blender, dry grind the two kinds of mustard seeds until coarse. Add the remaining half teaspoon turmeric, throw in a couple of green chillies and add the grated fresh coconut little by little. Grind this mixture to a coarse paste. Add little water while grinding.

Now slather the mustard-coconut mixture on the prawns till all of them are coated well. Top the ingredients with the slit green chillies, drizzle the mustard oil, and season with salt.


Now add another sheet of banana leaf on top of the prawns. Tightly wrap a cling film/wrap on the bowl to cover the banana leaves. Leave for 30 minutes.

Then microwave the whole thing for 12 minutes. Make sure you time it well and do it just before you eat your meal.

IMG_3256Remove the cling wrap and the top layer of banana leaf just before serving.

Serve the Narkel-Shorshe Chingri with plain white rice.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aman Kahlon’s Paneer Bhurji, The Morning Star of Indian Breakfasts

By now you must have realised that I have exhausted on my recipe repertoire. Hence I am borrowing recipes from other people. And these I realise are culinary stars.

Today is one such day when I am happy making Aman’s Paneer Bhurji, something that I instantly desired to have. Hence I got four liters of milk yesterday and made some homemade paneer to bring Aman’s bhurji recipe to life in my own kitchen.

Bhurji is a North Indian word for anything that is “scrambled”. Egg bhurji and paneer bhurji being the most common. A paneer scramble like this for breakfast brings order back in many homes in India.

I fondly recall how my Mother would make scrambled eggs with lots of seasonal vegetables and serve them for breakfast on school days. The same variation would be made with homemade paneer too on other days. Being a Mother of two school going girls who wouldn't want repeats in their breakfast or school “tiffin” was a very high-pressure job for my Mum. In her long and distinguished career as a working mother, Mum would never give us stale, frozen, store-bought or leftovers for school lunch. Every day was a new meal. Day after day. Year after year. Until one day we went to college and decided that the food in the college canteen was more interesting!

IMG_3217Aman’s Paneer Bhurji is my dedication to Mothers all over the world who wake up every morning and make fresh, nutritious meals for their families every day. They, for me are the real persons of substance. A notch higher than the Nigellas and Giadas of the glamorous world of food.

IMG_3177The ingredients for Aman Kahlon’s Paneer Bhurji are:

500 grams fresh, homemade paneer, hung for about 5-10 minutes
1 medium size red onion, finely chopped
3 medium size ripe red tomatoes, grated and skin discarded (I retained the skin for an instant face pack!)
Handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
4-5 green chillies, finely chopped (Don’t add if kids are eating)
Half teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
A generous pinch of turmeric
1 small stick of butter (salted or unsalted)
2 tablespoons Canola oil

Keep all your raw ingredients ready. Chopped red onion, coriander and green chillies.


And the grated tomatoes.


Begin by heating the oil and butter in a pan.

Don’t let the butter burn. As soon as it starts melting, add the chopped onions and sauté on medium-high till they become translucent.

Next add that red chilli powder and pinch of turmeric.


Mix everything around, and add the chopped coriander and green chillies. Cook them for 2-3 minutes.


Now add the grated fresh tomatoes to the pan. Season with salt.

Cook the tomatoes on low-medium heat for 8-10 minutes till you see a line of oil at the sides of the pan. Add the paneer at this point in time.


Break the paneer down and mix well with the tomato-onion mixture. Move it around in the pan and watch as it releases some of its own moisture. Let the moisture dry out a bit, but not completely. Else, the paneer will parch and leave you with a completely dry bhurji. Turn the heat off, do a taste test, season with salt if necessary.


IMG_3209Add leftover garnish if any and serve the paneer bhurji with parathas or rotis. You can even sneak a thick layer of this leftover bhurji in a sandwich the next day.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Miss Mahua’s Kolhapuri Murgi

So Mahua put a gun to my head yesterday and made me make her Kolhapuri Chicken. Here is the result.


Now for the process…

Make a spice blend by heating oil (I used mustard), and adding cumin seeds, whole cinnamon, cloves, black and green cardamoms, dry red chillies (Mahua suggests fresh green chillies), pods of garlic slices of ginger, slivered onions and freshly shredded coconut.

Making the Kolhapuri Masala, Mahua’s way.



I even added a pinch of turmeric and red chilli powder for extra love!


Cool the ingredients and then grind them to a smooth paste.

Start by heating some oil, and adding the pieces of chicken. Brown well and add the spice paste.


Cook on low-medium heat till you see oil surfacing. I even covered my Indian wok and slow cooked for about 30 minutes on low-medium to get the spice cooked with the chicken.

There! See that slick oil on top? That’s the look Mahua, my muse wants in her Kolhapuri Chicken.





Serve Mahua’s Kolhapuri Murgi with chapatis, paratha or plain white rice. Thank you, Mahua. You shall be remembered at dinner time tonight.