Bund Gobi kay Pakoday

Its been drizzling here since the last few days, bringing everything that was in sleep back to life.

Frozen Moment #6 – April Showers

I was craving for some deep fried pakodas. During a recent visit to the grocery market, I had bought a beautiful green cabbage which was lying the refrigerator waiting to be cooked up into something delicious. It was so large that after making some gobi gosht for the meal, there was enough left to make a few pakodas.

cabbage batter

We enjoyed them along with tea in the evening today.

Bund Gobi kay Pakoday ~ Cabbage Fritters
(Note: Cabbage is called as Bund Gobi or Patta Gobi in Urdu language)

Ingredients:

Thinly Sliced Cabbage – 4 cups
Ajwain – 2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Besan – 1 cup
Corn fluor/Rice flour – 1/4 cup
Water – 1/2 cup

band gobi kay pakoday ~ cabbage fritters

Method:

In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and mix well using hands. Heat oil to deep fry in a kadai. Once the oil is hot, gently drop small amounts of mixture using your fingers into the hot oil. Deep fry them on both sides until golden brown in color. Using a slotted spoon remove into a paper towel lined platter or into a wire mesh strainer for the the excess oil to drip away. Enjoy the pakoday along with chutney.

Luv,
Mona

Chicken 65

A quick, yummy and irresistible chicken stir fry~Chicken 65 is a famous Hyderabadi appetizer served at parties and easily available at most of the restaurants and food stalls in Hyderabad city. Please do not ask me why is it called Chicken 65, I have no idea about it.

There exist many versions of this dish, and today I am posting my version. I also make a dry version with no sauce, and just the baghaar/tempering. Inshallah I will post it in the future sometime. For now, you can prepare this simple dish and impress your loved ones.

Chicken 65

Serve Chicken 65 along with Rumali rotis. If you cannot buy or prepare Rumali roti, just heat a thin tortilla on a flat griddle until nicely toasted on both sides and enjoy.

Note: Normally, the chicken 65 that is served back home in Hyderabad is fiery red in color, that is because red color is added to it. I do not add color to food and hence the different color.

Chicken 65

Boneless Chicken – 500 gms, cut into bite size cubes, washed and drained (you can also use chicken with bone if you want)
For Batter:
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 1/2 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
Egg white – 1, large
Cornflour – 1 tbsp
Canola oil – to deep fry
For Baghaar:
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black Mustard seeds – 1/2 tbsp
Green chillies – 10, small, each slit into two
Curry leaves – 20-25 fresh
Yogurt – 1/3 cup, lightly stirred until smooth
Tomato Ketchup – 3 tbsp
Soya sauce – 2 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
For Garnish:
Fried cashew nuts – roughly chopped
Cilantro – roughly chopped
Onion rings
Baby carrots
Sliced cucumbers
Shredded lettuce leaves
Lemon wedges

Method:

1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for the batter except egg and cornflour and and mix well. Add the chicken cubes and gently combine. Cover and let the chicken marinate for 1 or 2 hours. Later, bring the chicken back to room temperature and add cornflour and egg. Mix well. Deep fry the chicken pieces in hot oil for not more than 3 minutes in batches. Drain the fried chicken in a wire mesh strainer for the extra oil to drain off  and keep aside until all are done.
2. In a mixing bowl, add yogurt, tomato ketchup, soya sauce and red chilli powder and mix well. Keep aside.
3. For baghaar/tempering, in a frying pan at medium high heat, add oil and as soon as it is warm add the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds. As the seeds begin to pop, remove the pan from heat and add the green chillies and curry leaves. Stir fry and let the pan cool down. Once the pan is slightly cool, add the stirred yogurt mixture and mix well. (if you add curd in hot pan the curd will curdle). Transfer the pan to the stove and keep stirring continuously at medium heat. Once boiling, add the fried chicken and mix well. Cover with a lid and let cook for 5-10 minutes. Keep stirring ever once in a while. Serve Chicken 65 on a platter garnished with fresh cilantro, fried cashew nuts, lemon wedges, lettuce leaves, cucumber slices, baby carrots and onion rings.

Luv,
Mona

Sir-e-Paaya ki Nihari

It snowed here very heavily this year on Eid-ul-Adha, and I thought it would be best to cook a warming and nourishing brunch for the next day in the morning. My father in law recalled his good old times while we were having Nihari as our breakfast. He recollected that when he was a school going kid, his father would ask him to get up very early if he would like to join him for a breakfast of Nihari at Shehran Hotel, beside Charminar in Hyderabad. He also added he always loved the Nihari at Shahran and devoured it and still remembers the scrumptious taste. Always so many memories associated with food.

Some of the traditional dishes prepared by muslims just after Qurbani on Eid-ul-Adha are Nihari, Maghaz MasalaOrgan meat and various kinds of the red meat preparations from the Qurbani ka gosht.

Nihari, also sometimes referred to as Nahari or Sir-e-Paaya (plural is Sir-e-paaye) (sir means head and paaya means legs), is a rich broth, made out the bones and meat of a sheep or lamb’s cheek and head bones and the tongue meat and shanks. It has a special mention in the must-taste list of travelers visiting the city around Eid. In Hyderabad, after the Qurbani, my father would take the sheep’s head and feet to the butcher for further preparations so that we could prepare Nihari. The butcher used to roast the ‘whole head with skin and hairs on’ (sir) and the legs (paaya) in open fire to kill all the disease-causing agents if present, and to burn the hairs, and roast the skin to intensify its flavors. The butcher would then scrape off the burnt hairs, discard the waste parts and whack them all up into small pieces. The meat from the sheep’s cheeks is substantial and most tender and delectable. Its tongue takes a longer time to get cooked, but is a delicacy. The butchers here in Toronto do sell the head and legs of the sheep, but with the skin removed. The real taste of the Nihari is due to the fire roasted skin which is not available here, so I really enjoy the true Nihari whenever I visit my parents in Hyderabad.

Nihari prepared using fire-roasted lamb trotters and head pieces with skin

Nihari is prepared by boiling or slow cooking the sheep bones and meat along with a range of ambrosial spices and herbs. Earlier, people used to slow cook it on coal in large pots the whole night long, until the broth was thick and flavorsome by morning ready for the breakfast, the the bones so soft you can literally chew them. Today, women use pressure cookers to save time.

The Hyderabadi Potli ka Masala or bouquet garni for Nihari contains a mixture of around 20 or more aromatic herbs and exotic spices which are tied in a muslin cloth and tossed into the saucepan to infuse wonderful flavors and a beautiful fragrance into the boiling broth. The Potli ka Masala contains but is not limited to spices such as:

1. Coriander seeds  (Dhaniya)
2. Bayleaf  (Tej Patta)
3. Sandalwood powder (Sandal ka powder)
4. Stone Flowers (Pathar ka Phool)
5. Star Anise (Dagad Phool)
6. Dried Rose Petals (Sukhe Gulab ke Phool)
7. Roots of the Betel plant  (Paan ki jad)
8. Black Peppercorns (Sabut Kali Mirch)
9. Chinese Cubeb (Kawabchini)
10. Spiked Ginger Lily (Kapoor Kachri)
11. Black Cardamom (Badi Elaichi)
12. Salt (Namak)
13. Garam Masala
14. Cinnamon sticks (Dalchini)
15. Fennel seeds (Saunf)
16. Cloves (Laung)
17. Mace
18. Cumin seeds (Zeera)
19. Roasted Chana Dal (Phula Chana)
20. Dried Vetevier roots (Khas ki Jad)

Ready made Potli Ka Masala from a store in Hyderabad,
containing various aromatic dried herbs and spices

You do not have to go searching for all these herbs to make your own Potli ka Masala. It is available ready made at many specialty stores in Hyderabad, especially in the Old city, a 25 gm potli ka masala costs around 10 Indian Rupees per packet. This Potli ka Masala or Nihari masala is also easily available in Indian grocery stores. I do not recommend buying the ‘Nihari powder’ from the market, instead go for the one that also contains the whole spices. Use any of the brands that you get your hands on. In the ready made Potli Ka Masala packets available in the markets, there is again a small packet inside called as the Nihari Masala powder, which consists of the powdered masala  used in the second stage in the cooking process for Nihari.
What I do is, whenever I visit Hyderabad, I buy many packets from Hyderabad and get them with me here, so that they last me a long time, and freeze them to store and use whenever fancied.

Almost every household in Hyderabad prepares Nihari as breakfast or brunch at the second or third day of Eid. Nihari is enjoyed by sousing soft and warm Kulcha or Naan or Paratha, or by dunking in crusty breads into the highly flavored and nourishing broth containing all the goodness.

Nihari, prepared using deskinned lamb trotters,
served along with warm Parathas in the Hot-Pot

Nihari is always prepared out the head bones, tongue & cheek meat and the shanks or trotters of a lamb or a sheep. The traditional Nihari is never prepared of boneless lamb meat or chicken. However people add the same Nihari masala to chicken and boneless meat broths to simulate the dish in other simpler forms.

Sir-e-Paaye ki Nihari – Aromatic Slurpy Broth of Lamb Shanks and Cheek Meat

Ingredients:

4 legs and a head of a sheep – cleaned (and fire roasted if using the trotters with skin), and whacked into pieces + a sheep’s Tongue/Zabaan – cleaned (or) Lamb Shoulder meat with bone cut into big chunks – 1 kg
Potli ka Masala – half the quantity in a 25 gm packet
Red onion (or) Yellow Onion – 1, large, roughly chopped
Cornflour/Gram flour – 3/4 cup, mixed with a small amount of water to make a smooth paste
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 1/4 tsp
Turmeric/Haldi – 1/4 tsp
Small green chillies – 6, each slit into half

For Tempering, Baghaar:

Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Yellow onion – 1, large, finely sliced
Ginger garlic paste – 1 1/2 tsp

For Garnish:

Cilantro – 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Ginger juliennes – 2 tsp
Lemon wedges – 1 cup
Saffron threads – a pinch
Lemon juice – 1/3 cup

Method:

1. Wash the sheep’s head bones, tongue and trotters or the shoulder meat in surplus water. Put them in a strainer for the water to drain away. Meanwhile, in a pressure cooker, add the roughly chopped red onion, the washed bones, tongue and trotters or the shoulder meat from the strainer and pour in 1.5 liter of water, red chilli powder and green chillies. Make a bouquet garni of the required amount of potli ka masala (not the powdered masala from the small packet, read about it above). Add this bouquet garni along with salt and turmeric and close the lid to pressure cook until the meat is tender. Later, open the lid and add corn/gram flour paste. Half cover the lid and let it slow cook for 15 minutes more. The broth is ready. Cover with lid and keep aside
2. During that time, prepare the baghaar. Take a medium sized non-stick frying pan at medium high heat and pour oil into it. Throw in the sliced onions, and stir fry them until they are golden brown in colour. Now add the ginger garlic paste to the fried onions and fry it along for about 2 minutes more stirring continously. Remove the pan from heat and keep aside.
3. Just before you are ready to serve it to everyone, add half the quantity of the nihari masala powder from the small packet of the store brought potli ka masala, and the baghaar to the broth in the pressure cooker and bring to a boil. Lift out the bouquet garni and squeeze it thoroughly. Discard it later. Let it cook half covered for 15 more minutes. Close the heat and pour the Nihari into a large serving bowl. Add lemon juice, saffron threads and ginger juliennes. Serve the lemon wedges in a separate small cup if anyone wishes for an extra zing. Enjoy!

Suggested Accompaniments: Enjoy Nihari along with warm Parathas or Naan for a sumptuous breakfast.

Luv,
Mona

Butter Chicken with no Butter – Makhani Murgh

Butter chicken is one of the famous North-Indian dishes that made its way on the menu card of almost every Indian restaurant all over the world. Each person/household has their own style of cooking this delectable dish, but I prefer this procedure, its simple, healthy and gets prepared soon, and its delicious.

Butter Chicken – Makhani Murgh

Butter Chicken can be enjoyed along with parathas, naan or with plain rice.

Butter Chicken – Makhani Murgh
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

For Marinade
Chicken – 1 (large) whole, cut into pieces
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Yogurt (thick) – 1/2 cup
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
For Curry
Cloves – 3
Green Cardamom – 4
Cinnamon stick – 2 inch long stick
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Fresh tomato puree – 5-6 cups
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Half and half – 1 1/4 cups (or) equal amounts heavy cream or light cream
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Kasoori methi – 1/4 cup
Canola oil

Method:

1. Mix all the ingredients under the heading ‘for marinade’, and keep aside for 2-3 hours or overnight. Bring it back to room temperature before you start cooking. Heat a stove top grill pan and grill the marinated chicken pieces until lightly charred on both sides. Baste with canola oil whenever needed.
If using boneless chicken, marinate them as above directions. Skewer them onto bamboo skewers and grill them both sides until charred as shown here.
You can even grill the chicken on a charcoal grill for best flavors.
Cover and keep the grilled chicken aside in a bowl.
2. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a saucepan, add cloves, cardamoms, and cinnamon stick. As the spices begin to sizzle, add ginger garlic paste and stir fry for a few seconds. Add pureed tomatoes, red chilli powder, salt. Cover and let it cook until the puree is thick. Give a stir every once in a while. Add half and half or whatever using and let it come to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat and add the grilled chicken, kasoori methi, garam masala and water according to the consistency of the curry you desire. Cover and let cook until the chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with drizzles of cream.

Suggested Accompaniments: Parathas, Naan, Basmati Chawal, Pulaos.. or even in between toasted bread as sandwiches.

Luv,
Mona