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

Lagan Ka Murgh

During my recent trip to Hyderabad, I got to do a lot of things that I had been wanting to do since long. I attended many weddings and enjoyed the traditional food serving there, brought along Lamsa tea mix which is something solely available in Hyderabad city, spices, and a few of the Indian utensils that were missing in my kitchen here depending on the weight limitations. I wish there was a little more allowance so that I could have got more.

Lagan – Indian utensil

Lagan is an Indian utensil that is wide, thick walled with a slightly curved thick bottom. I do not know if this is available and used in other parts of India as well. I brought along a medium sized lagan to use in my daily cooking. Mostly, this utensil is used to prepare dough in it, but it is also used to cook other dishes as well.

Since I had landed here in Toronto, I wanted to treat hubby dear with some special dishes, so I thought to prepare this simple yet exotic chicken curry. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this recipe, but it turned out superb. My hubby was a happy man, he enjoyed several servings of this curry along with rice and licked the plate clean.

Marinating the chicken and then slow cooking it in the masala does the trick. If you do not have a lagan to cook this dish in, you can simply use any heavy bottomed pan instead.

Lagan Ka Murgh ~ Slow-cooked Creamy Chicken curry in Aromatic Spices

White Poppy Seeds/Khus Khus – 1 tbsp
Cashew nuts – 1/8 cup
Warm milk – 3/4 cup
Chicken – 8 chicken leg pieces (or 650 gms with bone or boneless chicken cut into bite size pieces)
Thick Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Canola oil – 4 tbsp
Onions – 3, medium sized, finely sliced
Cloves – 4
Green cardamoms – 4
Dried Bay leaf/Tej patta – 1
Tomato – 1, large, pureed
Garam masala powder – 3/4 tsp
Cilantro/Kothmir – 2 tbsp, finely chopped

Lagan Ka Murgh ~ Slow-cooked Creamy Chicken curry in Aromatic Spices

Method:

1. In a small cup, add khus khus and cashewnuts. Pour in warm milk and let soak for 20-25 minutes. Later puree it into a smooth paste.
2. Marinate the chicken with yogurt, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder. Mix well and keep aside for 30-40 minutes.
3. In a lagan or any thick bottomed vessel at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it is hot, add the sliced onions, two pinches of salt and fry while stirring constantly until they are golden brown in color. Add cloves, cardamoms and bay leaf. Add the marinated chicken along with the marinade and mix well. Add the prepared cashewnuts+khus khus+milk puree, and the tomato puree and mix well. Simmer, cover and let it cook slowly for 30-40 minutes. Keep stirring it every once in a while. You will see the oil will start to leave and the gravy will get thicker. Once done, sprinkle garam masala powder and chopped cilantro. Mix well and serve immediately.

Serve this creamy chicken curry warm along with hot Tandoori Naan, or Parathas or Khushka.

Luv,
Mona

Ande ka Meetha

At the very onset, I wish all my dear Indians, a very happy Republic Day! Mera Bharat Mahaan!

During my childhood, somedays when suddenly cravings for this meetha would tingle my dear Papa’s taste buds, he would roll up his sleeves and get ready to prepare his favorite dessert, Ande ka Meetha (also referred to as Ande ka Halwa or Ande ke Lauz). My Ammi preferred it, because the preperation of this delicious dessert involves a rigorous stirring throughout the process which required a manly strength.

Papa often used to prepare this meetha in the winter months so that we get to enjoy it the season long. Crumbly, sweet with a taste of eggs and milk solids roasted in ghee, this meetha will surely become of your favorites.

So, here’s the recipe for Ande ka Meetha. Today I prepared a small quantity of this meetha, according to the instructions my Papa gave me on phone this morning. Love you Papa, this is for you!

Ande ka Meetha – Crumbly Egg Squares Dessert

Ingredients:

Milk – 500 ml
Home-made Khoa – 200 gms (or equal quantity milk powder)
Eggs – 6, large
Granulated white sugar – 250 gms (1 cup) (you can add more if you want)
Green cardamom/Elaichi powder – 1/2 tsp
Home-made Ghee – 125 ml (1/2 cup)

Method:

1. In a saucepan, boil milk. Once boiling, add the khoa and let it dissolve. Keep stirring continuously and let the milk cook until the amount is reduced to 500 ml, and the khoa has completely dissolved and the milk has slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let it cool.
2. Once the cooked milk+khoa is cool, pour into a mixing bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and whisk using a fork until well blended.
3. In a thick bottomed non-stick saucepan at medium heat, add the above whisked mixture and cook it stirring continuously throughout. It takes about one hour of continuous stirring throughout the process at medium heat to cook this meetha. After every 10 minutes you will start observing the changes, first the mixture becomes thick, then it starts leaving sides and comes together, then it becomes dryer and dryer with a change in color, then it begins to get granular and browner as you keep roasting it.

Ande ka Meetha

Now is the time to remove the mixture into a thali or a flat platter/tray greased with a bit of ghee. Using the back of a spoon, immediately flatten it clean, and cut it into squares using a greased knife of pizza cutter. Garnish with varq and let it cool completely and store in air tight food storage boxes in the refrigerator. It keeps well for a long time.

Luv,
Mona

Doodh ka Sherbat

Rizruby, one of the very regular commentators, participant and reader of my blog had shared with me her recipe for this wonderful and nourishing drink of nuts and milk a few days ago. She also adds that back home in Hyderabad a beautiful aroma of ‘Oodh’ (Oodh ka dhua) is added to the drink that makes it even more flavorful.

Doodh ka Sherbat – Nuts and Milk Drink

Milk – 5  cups (8 ounce size)
Sugar – 1/4 cup according to ur taste
Cardamom/Elaichi powder – 1/4 tsp
Pistachio/Pista – 40, in number (I use samsclub pistachios without shells, I just wash in plain water to remove the salt)
Almonds – 20, in number (I use samsclub whole almonds)
Saffron – 1 pinch
Fennel/Saunf powder  – 1 tsp  (You can get this in indian stores)

Method:

1. Add almonds in a bowl and add water and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Rub off the almonds skins.
2. Grind the peeled almonds and pistachios to a fine powder in coffee grinder. Take this powder in bowl and add some milk to make a paste.
3. Boil the milk on a medium flame. Also add elaichi powder with sugar to milk and stir for a while. Add the nut paste and saunf  powder when milk is ready to be boiled. Stir milk a little. The saunf powder makes the milk taste less sweet, so add sugar now according to your taste. Also add pinch of saffron to boiling milk. Let the milk cool down. Serve cold and store the remaining in refrigerator.

The technique to infuse ‘Oodh ka Dhua’ into milk is as follows:
Place burning oodh onto a small aluminium foil, and invert a large vessel over it so that the vessel collects all the smoke from the burning oodh. In a few minutes, quickly turn the vessel and cover it with a lid. The vessel has all the aromatic smoke from the oodh. Now pour the milk into the vessel and close the lid. Gently swirl and serve.

Recipe and picture belongs to Rizruby

This yummy, creamy and nourishing sherbat is my contribution to Yasmeen’s ‘Healthnut Challenge 3‘ event that is hosting on her super healthy blog ‘Healthnut‘.

Luv,
Mona

Haleem~II:a gastronomic delight

Brr, its cold outside. Curled up on my sofa under a soft quilt and enjoying the season with a bowl of haleem topped with fried onions, fresh herbs, ghee and few fried cashew nuts along with a splash of fresh lemon juice provides me the warmth and nourishment and makes me hopelessly nostalgic.

Haleem, a porridge made with wheat, pulses, meat, ghee is a classic Hyderabadi delicacy which has Persian origins. Back home in restaurants it is cooked in large amounts in huge cauldrons called as degh for hours together along with a range of exotic spices and other aromatics and pounded continually, until it resembles a velvety gruel like consistency. At homes, we use pressure cookers and processors to quicken the process.

This savory Ramadan speciality has a wonderful taste, and a delicious aroma. Haleem is usually prepared during the month of Ramadan(the ninth holy month of the Muslim calender in which Muslims observe fast from sunrise to sunset) and enjoyed at Iftaar and Suhoor, as it has got all the goodness to sustain and nurture a fasting body.

broken wheat and wheat grains

Below is my Ammi’s version of Haleem, I had also posted an another version Haleem here a while back. A yogurt qorma is prepared and mixed with the wheat+dal+meat mixture and cooked until the flavors marry and the desired consistency is achieved. My mother in law always prefers wheat grains over broken wheat for Haleem. I use broken wheat as it cooks faster.

Hyderabadi Haleem – Lentils, Wheat and Meat Porridge

Ingredients:

Boneless Lamb meat – 500 gms (or) Lamb meat with bone – 700 gms [preferably leg] – cut into small pieces
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Chana dal – 100 gms
Broken wheat – 250 gms
For Qorma:
White poppy seeds/Khuskhus – 1 tsp
Chironji nuts – 1 tsp
Chopped almonds and cashewnuts – 1 tbsp each
Canola oil – 4-5 tbsp
Onions – 3, large, finely sliced
Cloves – 2
Cardamom – 2
Cinnamon stick – one 2″ stick
Dry Roasted Kababchini powder – 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Green chillies – 4, each broken into two
Yogurt – 1 cup, lightly whisked
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Cardamom seed powder – 1/4 tsp
Lemon juice – 1/4 cup/60 ml/4 tbsp
For Garnish
finely chopped Cilantro, and Mint leaves
Crisply fried onions
Lemon juice
Ghee
Fried cashew nuts
sliced/chopped Green chillies

Haleem, garnished with fried onions, fresh herbs, green chillies, nuts and lemon juice

Method:

1. In a pressure cooker, add the meat, ginger-garlic paste, 1 tsp red chilli powder, turmeric powder and 1 tsp salt and pour in 1 cup water. Pressure cook until the meat is about 3/4th done.
2. Meanwhile soak chana dal and broken wheat for 30 minutes in fresh cool water. As soon as the meat is done, transfer the meat with all its juices into a bowl. Keep aside to cool.
3. Drain the soaking dal and keep aside. In the same pressure cooker, add the dal and broken wheat and pour in 4 cups of fresh cool water and pressure cook for a few minutes until the mixture is soft. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Meanwhile, shred the cooked meat and put it back into its juices and keep aside in a bowl. Discard bones.
4. Soak khuskhus, chironji nuts, cashewnuts and almonds in 1/2 cup warm water for 15 minutes. Grind them into a smooth puree.
5. In a food processor or a blender, add the cooked dal and the cooked broken wheat along with any remaining water in which it was boiled and process until well blended.
6. In a large thick bottomed non-stick saucepan at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onion and stir fry it until evenly golden brown in color. Using a slotted spoon transfer half of the fried onions onto a platter, scatter so that they cool and crisp up in a while, use these fried onions for garnish later on. Meanwhile, in the pan with the fried onions, lower the heat and add cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, kababchini power, green chillies and cumin seed powder. Stir fry for 10-20 secs. Add the yogurt. Mix well. Add the pureed nuts mixture and mix well. Add red chilli powder, black pepper powder and salt. Half cover and cook stirring occasionally until it leaves oil. Add the blended wheat+dal mixture and the shredded meat with all its juices and mix well. Pour in 2 cups water, and add garam masala powder and cardamom powder. Mix well. Cover and let cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat when the desired consistency of a thick porridge is achieved. Ladle in serving plates, garnish and serve warm.

This is my contribution to the “The Hyderabadi Bakr-Eid Food Festival-’09” that I am hosting on my blog. The event is on and you can all send me your Bakr-Eid special recipes before December 31, 2009. Click on the link or the logo for more details.

Luv,
Mona