Qimah Aloo Methi

“..the only one way to learn to cook is through the senses and heart. It turns out it is the only real way to live and to love, as well.” ~ Nani Power

Toronto has four very distinct and picturesque seasons. Among them all, I absolutely love fall. The amazing colors that the trees take on sets my heart to praise its beauty beyond words. The misty mornings, spectacular drives, earthen colors, cozy sweaters, cool winds, falling leaves. Yep, I am in love with the most colorful season of Toronto -Autumn/Fall.

Fall is my favorite season for cooking. This season for me calls for very rustic and traditional recipes like Biryani along with Mirchi ka Salan, or masaaledaar (spicy) curries that I can enjoy along with warm parathas, HaleemNihari and the usual simple soups to warm up the body. Today I prepared Qimah Aloo Methi along with piping hot Khichdi, perfect for the fall season, warm and comforting.

baby fenugreek leaves – choti methi ki bhaji

Qimah Aloo Methi is a usual at most Hyderabadi households. Baby fenugreek leaves, aka choti methi ki bhaji as they are called in Urdu language, is the key to a great tasting Qimah Aloo Methi. You can either grow fenugreek leaves in your own backyards, or buy it from the markets. If baby methi is not available, you can make do with the usual matured fenugreek leaves that are available at grocery stores which is called as badi methi ki bhaji, or use dried methi leaves which is the Kasuri methi, like I did.

We used to enjoy this curry along with warm parathas at breakfast or along with Khichdi, Khatta and Chutney at lunch. Nothing can go wrong with this simple yet nourishing recipe. You are bound to fall in love with it.

Qimah Aloo Methi – Minced meat along with Potatoes and Fenugreek leaves

Ingredients:

Onions – 2, medium sized, finely sliced
Minced Lamb/Veal meat/Qimah – 1 lb
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Cloves – 4
Green Cardamoms – 2
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Tomato – 1, large, finely diced
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Green chillies – 3, each slit in half lengthwise
Fresh baby methi leaves or matured leaves – 3 bunches, root part chopped and discarded, tender stams and leaves finely chopped, washed and drained (or) Kasoori Methi – 2 tbsp
Red/White potatoes – 3, large, quartered

Qimah Aloo Methi – Minced meat along with Potatoes and Fenugreek leaves

Method:

1. Wash the minced meat well in a fine strainer so that the blood drains off. What my Ammi always does while washing minced meat is that she mixes the raw minced meat with sliced onions, and she then puts it in a fine meshed strainer meant specifically for washing minced meat and she then lets fresh tap water run over it while working the minced meat with her fingers until the water runs clear. She says that mixing sliced onions with the meat will help wash the minced meat well and also helps get rid of the smell. Once washed, let the washed minced meat and onion sit in the strainer over a large bowl for a hour or so to let the excess water drain away.
2. In a large frying pan at medium high heat, pour in oil and as soon as it warms up, add the cloves and cardamoms. Now add the ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. Stir fry for a few seconds. Immediately add the diced tomatoes and green chillies. Mix well. Add the drained minced meat and onions. Using a spoon break the minced meat while mixing it up thoroughly with the masala and cover the lid. Keep mixing it and the covering it until you see the color of the minced meat has changed from red to brown. Now add the fresh methi or kasoori methi, quartered potatoes and water to cover and let it cook covered at simmer. Keep stirring it frequently. Once the water has all dried up and the potatoes are done, remove from heat and serve immediately along with warm parathas.

***

On a different note, I have been thinking of announcing an event especially dedicated to the iconic Kacchi Biryani of Hyderabad. It would be wonderful to go through everyone’s recipes for the Kacchi Biryani. What do you think. Will you all participate and join in the fun. Please let me know.

Luv,
Mona

Vegetable Curry Puff

Puffs are one easy to make snacks when ready made puff pasty is available, perfect for tea-time, or at iftaar.

freshly baked vegetable puffs, ready to be eaten

Bakeries in Hyderabad sell puffs that vary in shapes and the fillings used. Egg puffs, chicken puffs, paneer puffs and vegetable puffs are a few examples. You can even prepare puff pasty at home if ready made puff pasty is not available at stores.

Vegetable Curry Puffs

Ingredients:

Frozen Puff Pastry – 1 package (2 sheets) [available in the freezer section of most grocery stores or supermarkets]
For Filling:
Canola oil – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
Black mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fresh Ginger – 1 tsp, finely grated
Potatoes – peeled and chopped, 1 cup
Carrot – peeled and chopped, 1/2 cup
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander powder – 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/8 tsp
Kasuri methi – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Frozen green peas – 1/4 cup
Lemon juice –2 tbsp
Garam masala powder  – 1/4 tsp
Cilantro – 1 tbsb, finely chopped

Method:

1. Prepare the filling just as you prepare for Samosas.
2. Defrost the frozen puff pastry sheets according to directions. Using a pizza slicer, cut a sheet horizontally in the center. Then again cut the sheet vertically into 3 strips. Place a small ball of the filling on one side of each strip. Cover with the other side of the strip and gently seal the sides. Brush with some cold milk and bake according to instructions. Serve warm along with tomato ketchup.

This is my second entry to the The Hyderabadi Ramadan Food Festival that I am hosting on my blog.
For more details about the event, click here.

Luv,
Mona

Aloo kay Samosay

Chai shops, bakeries, mithaiwala shops, cart vendors, chat bhandars along the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent, all sell these magical pastries. Originated and traveled to India possibly from the Middleeast, Samosas are triangular pastries, a popular street food, usually stuffed with minced meat, or a potato mixture. They are the usual appetizers that make their presence at the Nizami Hyderabadi meals, and also enjoyed throughout India and also all over the world by everyone. Samosas are also very famous in Toronto and loved by people here.

Samosas – ready to be eaten

This classic Indian snack food appears in different avatars and types within the Hyderabad city, and also all over India with minor regional variations, some differing in the fillings used, others varying in shapes. For example Luqmi, a rectangular qimah-minced meat stuffed appetizer commonly eaten in Hyderabad, is a royal cousin of samosa. Other regional variants of samosas include the sambusak, samusak or shingara etc.

Today I had prepared some aloo samosas~potato stuffed pastries that are just as good as the Qimah Samosas – minced meat stuffed samosas. You can even bake them if you wish, bit I like to deep fry and prepare them the way they were supposed to be made. The crisp outer texture of samosa is what I love the most.

Aloo kay Samosay – Potato Stuffed Triangular Pastries

Ingredients:

Canola Oil to deep fry
For Filling:
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Fresh Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely grated
Potatoes – 4, peeled and chopped
Carrot – peeled and chopped, 1 cup
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander powder – 3/4 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/4 tsp
Kasuri methi – 3 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Frozen green peas – 1/2 cup (or) Dried green peas – 1/2 cup, soak them in surplus water overnight and pressure cook until soft the next day, drain and keep aside to use
Lemon juice – 4 tbsp
Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro – 2 tbsb, finely chopped
For Covering:
All-purpose flour/Maida – 1 cup
Whole wheat flour/Durum flour – 1 cup
Carom seeds/Ajwain – 1 tsp
Nigella seeds/Kalonji – 1/2 tsp
Canola Oil or Ghee – 2 tbsp
Water
Salt to taste

Method:

1. In a saucepan, heat oil and as soon as it warms up add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and ginger and let them splutter. In a few seconds add the chopped potatoes and carrots. Add water to cover the vegetables and add red chilli powder, salt, cumin seed powder, kasuri methi and cover with a lid. As soon as the potatoes are done, uncover and add the frozen peas or cooked dried peas, garam masala, chopped cilantro and lemon juice. Cook while stirring until the mixture is dry. Keep aside.

2. Now prepare the dough. Add maida, ajwain, kalonji and salt in a mixing bowl and mix. Add canola oil or ghee and mix well using fingers. Gradually add water and knead to form a smooth and pliable dough. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until elastic. Cover with a towel and keep aside for 30 minutes for the dough to rest. Later shape the dough into 8 balls and cover them with a towel.
3. One by one roll the balls into thin ovals. Using a pizza cutter or a knife cut each oval in the center into two halves, thus a total of 16 half-ovals will be produced. Cover the rest with a towel while filling others. Take a half-oval and brush half of each straight edge using your fingertip with water. Fold the second half of the straight edge over the fist half to form into a cone. Pinch close the seam. Hold the cone with the open end up and fill the cone with some of the filling. Cut off any excess dough and use it later. Brush one side of the open end with water. Pinch to seal the top edges enclosing the filling. Prepare all the samosas the same way and keep them covered under a towel.
4. Once all are ready, heat oil in a deep saucepan or kadai. To test if the oil is ready to be used, drop a pinch of dough into the hot oil, the dough should come up within a few seconds. Deep fry the samosas a few at a time until golden. Using a slotted spoon remove them into a strainer. Serve warm along with tamarind chutney or ketchup. Once cool, they can even be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and reheated in the oven.

To Bake the Samosa:
After step 4, place the samosas in a greased or non-stick baking tray. Bake in a pre-heated 220° C oven for 20 minutes or until light brown in color. Serve immediately

Note:
1.If you are finding it difficult to enlcose the filling in the dough this way, please head over to Qimah Samosa-Minced meat stuffed samosa where I have explained an easier way to assemble samosas.
2. If there is any left over dough and the filling has been used up, you can make namakpaare out them.
3. If there is any left over filling and the dough has been used up, use the filling to make vegetable curry puffs.

This month Sailaja is on a chaat spree and she is dishing out varieties of chaat items on her blog. Head over her blog to go though them all.

Luv,
Mona

Pleasing Paneer

During days when I do not feel like having any non-vegetarian meal, I treat myself with some Paneer in a creamy gravy curry. The non-melting attribute and meat like texture of Paneer is favored by vegetarians and is a very good substitute for meat.

Shallow fried Paneer cubes

To add a shahi touch/richness and thickness to the gravy, paneer is simmered in a cashewnut+milk puree along with yogurt and tomatoes. I have used milk instead of using cream, you can go ahead and use cream for the gravy if you want. You will definitely fall in love with this delightful paneer curry which is one my favorites.

You can use home-made Paneer,or store-bought~ easily available at Indian stores in the cold sections. Store brought ones has additives and lacks freshness, but saves time.

Shahi Paneer Masala – A Royal Cottage Cheese Curry

Ingredients:

Yellow Onions – 2, large, roughly chopped
Canola oil – 5 tbsp
Home-made Paneer – 400 gms, cut into cubes (if using store bought, I recommend Mother-dairy brand)
Cinnamon stick – one 2″ stick
Cardamom – 2
Cloves – 2
Black peppercorns – 5
Ginger-Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
Cashewnuts – 1/4 cup, soaked in 3 tbsp warm milk for 30 minutes and pureed to a smooth paste
Yogurt 2% – 1/2 cup
Canned Crushed tomatoes – 185 ml (or you can also use 5 medium sized pureed tomatoes)
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Karuri Methi – 1/4 cup
Milk 2% – 1 1/2 cup

Shahi Paneer masala

Method:

1. Grind the roughly chopped onions in a blender and make a fine paste. Transfer to a bowl and keep aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the canned crushed/pureed tomatoes and yogurt and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a kadhai. Cut paneer into small cubes. Shallow fry over medium heat until light brown on all sides. Using a slotted spoon transfer the fried paneer pieces aside to a bowl.
3. In the same oil, add the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cardamom and cloves. Fry them for a minute and add the onion paste and fry for a few minutes until the raw smell wards off and oil starts separating. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry it along for a minute. Add the cashewnut+milk paste, tomatoes+yogurt mixture, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add kasuri methi to the gravy and mix well. Add the fried paneer pieces and mix gently. Pour in milk and mix well, bring the gravy to boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the gravy becomes thick and oil separates. Serve.

This goes to JFI-Paneer being hosted by Trupti at her blog ‘The Spice Who Loved Me‘.

Luv
Mona

Paneer Butter Masala

Any Indian restaurants are sure to list Paneer Butter Masala on their menu. One of the favorites of any Indian, this North-Indian curry is rich, creamy and pleasing to the eye with its bright orange-red color.

Paneer Butter Masala

I usually prepare my own home-made Paneer at home. But occasionally I get it from the stores to simplify my work. The usual ready made brands that I trust and buy usually are Nanak and Mother dairy. Recently I had got Paneer manufactured under ‘Nanak’ brand name, and it was a totally bad experience for me. The paneer block had bits of egg-shell like pieces in it (which when I had later contacted their Manager, I was told that the pieces were scales of deposited calcium chloride from the surface of the tubes in which the coagulation of milk takes place, which look like egg shells, he also apologized for it and asked if he could replace the product). It was totally unpleasant, and I hence had to discard the curry I had prepared using it, as I did not like the feeling of a crunchy Paneer.

The following is my sisters recipe, which I thoroughly enjoyed eating along with fresh warm Methi wale Naan.

Butter Paneer Masala – Paneer in rich buttery tomato-cream sauce

Home-made Paneer block – 400 gms
Tomatoes – 4, medium sized, chopped
Long green chillies – 2, chopped
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Onion – 1, large, finely sliced
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Kasuri methi – 1 tsp
Tomato Ketchup – 1 tbsp (I used Heinz)
Canned Tomato puree – 2 1/2 tsp
Half and half cream – 1 cup
Salt – to taste
Cashew nuts – handful, whole
Unsalted Butter

Fried Paneer cubes (Paneer is Indian Cheese)

Method:

1. Cut the paneer block into rectangular bite size pieces. Heat Canola oil in a pan, and shallow fry the paneer pieces until lightly browned on all sides. Remove using a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined platter. Keep aside. Also, fry the sliced onions and cashew nuts individually in the same oil until golden brown. Remove using a slotted spoon onto a platter and keep aside.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes and green chillies into a blender and blend into a smooth puree.
3. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a medium sized saucepan at medium heat and as soon as it warms up, add the ginger garlic paste. Fry for a minute. Add the fried onion and mix well. Pour in the pureed tomato+chilli paste. Add coriander powder, garam masala, red chilli powder, kasuri methi, tomato ketchup and tomato puree. Let cook for 5 minutes covered on simmer.
4. Pour in half and half cream and salt. Mix well. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the fried paneer pieces and let it cook for a further 3-5 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and fried cashew nuts and serve.

Luv,
Mona