Monday, November 13, 2006

Mughal flavor in Indian food,curpg-2.cms

12 Nov, 2006, 0125 hrs IST,Vikram Doctor, TNN

Dalrymple’s ‘The Last Mughal’ has been acclaimed for its depiction of the 1857 Rising including rarely used Indian sources. Almost as noteworthy is his use of the same sources to paint a vivid picture of the twilight years of Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s court.

Beset by British demands on one side, by fundamentalist Sunni mullahs on the other, Zafar presided over a shrinking world that maintained the tolerant, syncretic aspects of Mughal rule. Zafar’s mother was Hindu, he celebrated Holi and watched the Ram-Lila at Diwali, drank only Ganges water and in his own faith was a Sufi rather than orthodox Muslim.

Delhi’s food reflected this as well. Dalrymple shows how the British and Mughal worlds, once close in the era of the Anglo-Mughals like Begum Sumru and the Skinner and Gardner families, were now diverging by contrasting their dining habits. The British woke at dawn for a huge breakfast that was heavy on meat: “brain cutlets, beef rissoles, mutton hashes, brawns of sheep’s head and trotters.”

And that was just to start with. By the time the court rose, near noon, for a light breakfast of fruits or a mutton shorba, the British had almost finished their day’s work and were settling down to a light (for them) lunch of grilled chicken.

Nobody did much during Delhi afternoons, but by evening the British were settling down to another vast meat heavy dinner, while the court was preparing for its main meal of the day. Dalrymple writes that Zafar himself rarely had dinner before 10.30 p.m. by when the British were asleep.

His favourite dishes were “quail stew, venison, lamb kidneys on sweet nan called shir mal, yakhni, fish kebabs, and meat stewed with oranges,” though the royal kitchens could also produce a Mughlai feast of 25 types of bread, 25 pulaos and birianis, 35 curries and 50 different puddings.

Zafar liked his food well-spiced, including with the chillies that had only relatively recently become a common ingredient in the Indian kitchen.

Today Mughlai refers to a rich, rather restaurant style of cooking, but this does little justice to the role the Mughals played in the evolution of Indian food. Major shifts in a country’s cooking have always been driven by invasion, as with the Normans in Britain, or by royal marriages, as when Catherine de Medici took her Italian cooks to the then unsophisticated French court of her husband Henri II.

The Mughals did both. When Babur invaded India he brought not just the simple grilled meats of Central Asia, but also a love of fruits and sophisticated food habits picked up in his conquests of great cities like Samarkand.

His son Humayun, while exiled to Persia by Sher Shah Suri, picked up cooking traditions such as carefully constructed rice-based pilaus and the use of fruits and nuts in meat stews. Marriage to Rajput princesses added Indian vegetarian traditions:

Akbar started abstaining from meat twice a week, then for months at a time, and the use of beef was discouraged to allow him to eat with his Rajput allies. Jehangir famously fell for a rich dried fruit and nut enriched khichidi of Gujarat called lazizan, which became one of his favourite foods. The wealth of the Mughals attracted traders from across the Islamic world, then the Portuguese and English, all bringing new foods and ingredients such as the chillies that Zafar liked.

Less often realised is the Mughal influence on the use of onions in Indian food. Onions were well known to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, but find no mention in the Vedas and Upanishads.

By the 7th century AD a Chinese traveller noted that onions were known in India, but not favoured much. Yet today a rise in their prices shakes governments. The change seems to have happened with the Mughals, with the ‘Ain-i-Akbari’ noting much use of onions with meat dishes, such as dopiaza with its onions used twice.

This might reflect the influence of the larger Islamic world. In Ziryab, Farouk Mardam-Bey’s excellent collection of essays on Arab cuisine, he refers to Morocco and India as the great “onion heavens”. Many Moroccan tagines (stews) start with a base of caramelised onions; add ginger and garlic and you have the standard Mughlai base.

The fall of Delhi ended the Mughal influence, but not that of Mughlai food. Where the Mughals at their height gathered together traditions, in their decline they dispersed them. Breakaway kingdoms developed Mughlai traditions in new directions, most notably in Avadh and Hyderabad, but also places like Bhopal and Calcutta.

Meanwhile the core cooking remained intact in Delhi, both in its Mughlai essence and its Kayasth Hindu vegetarian variant. In his exile in Rangoon, Zafar and his family had to survive on Rs 11 a day doled out by the British (with a magnanimous extra rupee on Sunday). Perhaps it might have been some comfort for him to know how the richness of the cooking of his court would long outlive him.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Some Egyptian Dishes

Courtesy my moving to Egypt, (For more info, click on this link) here are some Egyptian Recipes :

Although some dishes are similar to Middle East Cuisine, Egypt is famous for its typical, local specialities such as "Foul" (Egyptian dry beans), "Molokhia" (a soup made of molokhia leaves and chicken), or "Mahshi" (an assortment of different vegetables usually stuffed with rice and minced meat). You can try some of the following recipes :

Drinks Hibiscus (Karkade)
- 1 cup hibiscus petals
- 2 cups sugar

- Remove any stems and leaves from the dried hibiscus petals.
- Soak the petals in cold water for 1-2 hours.
- Boil the soaked petals in the same water.
- Strain water from petals immediately.
- Keep straining until the petals loose their reddish color.
- Discard the strained petals.
- Sweeten with sugar while hot.
- Can be served hot or cold.

Soups : Green Soup (Molokhia)
- 1 pound fresh molokhia leaves (or frozen and thawed)
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- black pepper, to taste
- several garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- juice of one lemon
- cardamom or cinnamon, to taste
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 5 pound chicken
- cooked rice

- Bring the chicken stock to a near boil.
- Chop the molokhia leaves as finely as possible (frozen molokhia is usually cleaned and chopped).
- Add the molokhia, stirring well.
- Stir in the bay leaf, onion and black pepper.
- Reduce heat and leave to simmer for about twenty minutes.
- Meanwhile, grind the garlic, ground coriander and the salt together into a paste and fry in oil until browned (the mixture is known as Ta'liya).
- Add the Ta'liya to the simmering molokhia with any remaining ingredients and stir well.
- Continue simmering for a few minutes and stir occasionally.
- Serve immediately with boiled rice and boiled chicken.

Creamy Risotto with onions (Keshk)
- 1 cup of yoghurt
- ½ cup of flour
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 tsp of cornflour
- 6 cups of chicken stock
- pinch of salt
- 1 onion, peeled
- 1 tsp of butter

- Mix the salt with the yoghurt and then stir in the flour.
- Let the mixture sit for thirty minutes.
- Add milk and corn, stirring constantly.
- Then, add the chicken stock.
- Cook on a low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce is very thick.
- Fry onion on a low heat heat until browned.
- Sprinkle onion over the Kesh.
- Serve hot or cold.

Egyptian Dry Beans (Foul)
- 1 can dried, small, fava beans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
- coriander leaves

- Soak fava beans in cold water overnight.
- Drain fava beans the following day.
- Cook in water on a medium heat for 45 minutes.
- Strain beans then mix with olive oil, salt, pepper, ground coriander, cumin, lemon juice and garlic.
- Serve beans in ramekins and put hard-boiled egg in middle of each one.
- Decorate with coriander leaves.

Vegetables Stuffed cabbage with rice (Mahshy)

- 1 cabbage
- 2 tbsp butter or oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1kg tomatoes, chopped
- chopped parsley
- 4 cups short-grain rice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 cup chicken or beef broth

- Preheat oven (200°C/400°F).
- Trim outer leaves from cabbage.
- Wash and pat dry.
- Prick leaves with fork.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Fry the onion in butter or oil.
- Sauté the onion with the diced tomatoes and parsley.
- Stir in the short-grain rice.
- Stuff the cabbage leaves with the mixed rice.
- Place in a deep oven dish or casserole.
- Pour the broth over the stuffed leaves.
- Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven until rice is done.

Bread : Pitta Bread stuffed with figs and dates
- A Pre-fasting savory ( Eish Bel Balah wel teen)

- 1 cup seedless dates, chopped
- 1 cup chopped dried figs
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1.1/2 tsps baking soda
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

- Preheat oven (200°C/400°F).
- Mix the dates, figs and butter together with the baking soda.
- Add to boiling water and stir constantly for 15 minutes.
- Beat the eggs and sugar together.
- Add the salt and baking powder.
- Beat in the all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour.
- Stir in walnuts with date and figue mixture.
- Pour mixture into greased baking tin.
- Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.
- Serve warm.

Dessert : Baklava (Baklawa)
- 2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
- 2 cups melted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup melted butter, to brush on dough
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 tbsp orange blossom water (mazahar)
- 1 packet phyllo dough (1lb)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice

- Preheat oven (200°C/400°F).
- Beat the sugar and butter together.
- Add walnuts, cinnamon and 1 tbsp orange blossom water.
- Grease a baking tin.
- Brush each layer of phyllo dough with the melted butter.
- Put several layers of phyllo dough in the baking tin. (use about half of the packet)
- Pour all of the walnut mixture over the layers of phyllo dough.
- Continue adding the rest of the phyllo dough in layers.
- Don't forget to brush each one with butter.
- Pour any remaining butter over the last layer of phyllo dough.
- Cut the phyllo dough into little squares.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, lower heat and cook for another 30 to 45 minutes.
- While the Baklwa is baking, prepare the syrup.
- Heat the water with the sugar and stir until sugar dissolves.
- Stir in lemon juice and bring to the boil.
- Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the orange blossom water.
- Leave to cool.

Stuffed Pigeons (Hamam Mahshy)

- 4 pigeons (1 lb each)
- pigeon giblets, chopped
- onion, chopped
- butter
- salt
- pepper
- cornmeal
- mint
- cooked rice

- Preheat oven (200°C/400°F).
- Heat the butter and add the onion, salt, pepper and giblets.
- Then, toss the giblets in cornmeal and mint until golden brown.
- Clean the pigeons and rub them inside and out with salt and pepper.
- Stuff each pigeon with the giblets and the previously cooked rice.
- Place the pigeons in a casserole.
- Add enough hot water to cover the bottom of the casserole.
- Pour the remaining butter over the pigeons.
- Roast in preheated oven for 50 minutes.
- Add additional water when needed.
- Put some of the pigeon stock in a saucepan with the remaining cornmeal.
- Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Serve with the roast pigeons.

Grilled minced chicken rolls (Koftet Ferakh)
Left over chicken or a whole boiled chicken

- Knead the chicken well to make a smooth mixture.
- Form the chicken mixture into small balls.
- Flatten into circles.
- Put the meat in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Fry or roast.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How to Catch Crabs By Hand

How to Catch Crabs By Hand

Crabbing with a Net
Handling A Crab
Blue crabs will get quite large in the Chesapeake, especially in the fall after they have fed all
summer long on bay nutrients.
Photo Credit: Charlie Petrocci
The simplest crabbing method (in terms of equipment required) is the dip net. With a long-handled net you can wade a cove or shoreline, on foot or from a boat. When you spot a crab you dip and net it. Put your catch in a basket or cooler. This method requires greater patience and hand-eye coordination than the line methods.

Drop Lining or Chicken Neckin'
This is catching crabs by hand on a sing line (or string) with bait tied to the end of it - usually chicken necks.

    What you will need:
  • A line (ball of string) - string is easy on the hands to control and pull in - and the crabs really don't care what you use.
  • A small stick - (maybe 8-12 inches long) to tie your line to
  • Bait - raw chicken necks or raw fish heads. Most local grocery stores carry chicken parts you can use for crabbing. Some crabbers swear by bull lips. Others use salted eel. Bait shops and dockside fish markets will also sell you leftover fish heads. Crabs will pretty much eat any uncooked meat but these are what most people use.
  • A small net - to help wrangle those ornery critters
  • A cooler, a tall bucket, or a bushel basket with a lid - for your catch - Some folks keep their crabs in a live well in the water, which helps them to live longer.
  • Gloves - to wear when handling the crabs
  • A buddy - because two sets of hands are better than one - and it is always more fun and safer on the water with a friend along.
  • A ruler - or some other way to measure the size of your catch.
    What to do:
  1. When you get to your crabbing spot, tie one end of a 5-6 foot line on to your stick
  2. Tie a piece of your bait securely at the other end of your line
  3. Drop your bait into the water holding securely onto your stick.
  4. Wait for the tug of the crab eating your bait.
  5. When you feel a nibble, slowly raise the line to the surface. Go slowly and try not to scare the crab. Gently reel in your line wrapping it around your stick until the crab is hanging in the air.
  6. Either drop the crab into your bucket or use your net to grab your prey and then drop it in the bucket from the net.
  7. Crabs should not be without water or air for too long. Crabs can live in coolers with ice because the ice slows down their system. Never cook and eat a dead crab. Eat your crabs the same day that you catch them.

Crab Traps
Collapsible crab traps are used in a similar way to a drop line. They can be purchased at most bait shops or hardware stores on the Eastern Shore. Don't forget, you'll still need something to keep your catch in.
  1. Fasten your bait to the bottom of the trap.
  2. Fasten a sturdy line to the trap.
  3. Lower the trap from a dock or boat.
  4. When a crab goes in to feed, pull the string and trap the crab. Then hoist it ashore and drop into your bucket or basket.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Haldikolyacha Patolis (Turmeric Leaves Patolis)

Turmeric Leaf Patholis are different from Jackfruit leaf patholis.

Mom made some when I was home last week.
Couldn't resist putting the picture up.

For the recipe : Visit

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Turkish Delight

One of my groups had a discussion about Turkish Delights & Vivek gave this link.

Looks kinda like a marshmallow

U can get the recipe at

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Recipe : Pandi Curry - Coorgi Pork Curry

Not too sure how authentic it is. But I got it from an old recipe book of my grandma's :

I have lots of pork recipes. I'm Mangi & we do love pork.

I approximate a lot in my recipes, I don't measure before cooking. so i hope i can give reasonably clear details.

for 1 kg pork

Cut pork into medium size pieces. Wash & smear with 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp chilli powder & salt to taste in a large pot.

grind coarsely together
4 large red onions
8-10 cloves garlic
5-6 green chillies
1/2" ginger

Roast and powder finely (or use powdered versions)
1 tbsp corriander seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsps black peppercorns

Add the ground masala & a cup of hot water to the pork & let it cook well. (Pork needs to be cooked thoroughly to kill any traces of parasites)

When almost cooked, add the masala powders (I also like to add 2-3 bay leaves - large leaves different from curry leaves - at this stage for an aroma, but this is more a Mangi thing than a Coorgi thing)

When well cooked, add 3 tbsps vinegar or Kochampulli according to your choice of sourness. There should be a thick gravy for the curry.

(Note : I add the kochumpulli when grinding the masala, but it turns the curry a darkish black when ground)

(Hint : Soak Kochumpulli for 5 minutes in a little hot water to start the release of flavors which sometimes gets stalled in a thick gravy)

Recipe: Sannas - (Rice Cakes)

Soak separately (at least 4 hours) :
1/2 kg boiled rice
250 gms raw rice

Grind both varieties of rice together with milk of 1 coconut (1 packet of Dabur Homemade coconut milk also works)

Add salt to taste & a little dry yeast. Put in a large vessel with space to ferment. Cover with a cloth & allow it to fement.

Steam in greased moulds around 15 minutes in a steamer. Much less in the microwave. Idli moulds will do fine if u dont have sanna moulds. The shape will be different though

IPB Image

This is what they should ideally look like
They go great with any coconut based curry or pork.

That's Nana's Pork Indad in the picture.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Are you a gourmet snob?

Brilliant Article in The Guardian by Self-confessed gastronome Tim Hayward on 10 tell-tale signs that you love food a little too much.

Friday June 23, 2006
The Guardian

The chef's table
Located inside the kitchen, this concept has been introduced in several restaurants (though Gordon Ramsay's is still considered the ultimate) and throws foodies right in among the fire and knives. Most foodies have never worked in a professional kitchen, so they are oblivious to the deep, psychotic hatred that cooks hold for anyone or anything that distracts them during service. Still, dining sumptuously with a table of yapping sybarites while surrounded by overheated manual workers does display a certain, pre-revolutionary elan. The fact that they hate you and are armed with knives and boiling fat merely adds a seasoning of danger.

Ironic food
Throughout history chefs have amused diners with little culinary jokes: roast suckling pigs with peacock wings, pies full of blackbirds; not, admittedly laugh-out-loud hysterical but enough to enliven a dull banquet. The modern equivalent - "ironic" food - has a far more vital purpose than mere entertainment. Foodies chortle wryly at a foie gras hamburger in a brioche bun for the same reason that people laugh loudly at all the references in Shakespeare in Love - to make sure you're aware exactly how clever they are.

Ordering 'off-menu'
Having managed, by luck or influence, to get a booking at a top restaurant, most people would be happy to choose from the menu. A really high-grade foodie regards the menu as a list of raw materials and, in a jaw-dropping display of arrogance, will discuss with the waiter a completely new combination of the available ingredients. Ordering "off-menu" is the foodie equivalent of skiing off-piste - risky, performed by those with more confidence than ability, but extraordinarily impressive if you can carry it off.

Kitchen slang
Foodies love the arcane patois of the professional kitchen and, whenever possible, use it in general conversation. "Frying off", sounds gratifyingly professional, which, of course, it is, in the right circumstances. "I'll just pour two pints of industrial-grade grease into this metre-square brat pan, fry off 800 battery chicken breasts, slap them under the heat lamps and hope no one dies on my shift." That's professional. "I'll fry off this Marks & Spencer salmon fishcake," on the other hand, is just absurd.

Foodie/chef relationship
Foodies believe that no one appreciates great food like they do, except maybe the person who cooked it. They believe they have a bond with the chef and that making a little fuss in the restaurant, showing the staff that they know what they're about, will result in better service, better food and ultimately a visit by the man in white to meet the erudite fellow gastronaut on table eight. No one has been brave enough to ask chefs how they feel about this "bond" but it's a fair bet that anyone who calls you out in the middle of service to have their ego massaged with a discussion on the provenance of your mushrooms is not going to stay your best mate for long.

A collection of oils arouses little comment these days, (at least three single-estate olive oils and a bottle of Moroccan Argan are currently de rigueur) but extreme foodies also collect solid fats. Pork, duck, beef dripping, rendered pancetta trimmings, are all saved in little jars at the back of the fridge. Sometimes at the end of the meal the host may take a favoured friend over to view this little collection, proudly pointing out the goose fat left over from Christmas. Few civilians, with the exception of mass murderers, are entirely comfortable with this disturbingly forensic display.

Molecular gastronomy
A term coined in 1969 by a French physicist called Hervé This, who was attempting to popularise science through cooking. Foodies have embraced this as the nearest thing to a movement currently available. "Molecular gastronomy" is to blame for foams, food eaten blindfold, liquid nitrogen in the kitchen and desserts served in syringes. Only a real foodie can say "Molecular gastronomy" with an entirely straight face and without making little quotation marks with his fingers.

Outrageous equipment
Now that merely "professional" equipment is available to any oaf with a credit card, "specialist" or "bespoke" kit is a foodie essential. Take knives as an example. Somewhere in a back street in Tokyo there's a brilliant, wizened sashimi chef who was first allowed to slice fish after 20 years of washing dishes for one of the great masters. This sensei has been cutting sashimi for longer than you've been alive. He doesn't need a £900 hand-forged sashimi knife, individually weighted to fit his hand - though, apparently, a foodie who throws the occasional dinner party for friends in Muswell Hill does.

The problem with the UK's culinary renaissance is that it's now too easy to get great food. What was cutting-edge ethnic cuisine five years ago is now available to anyone who can pierce the film and nuke it. For a foodie to maintain distance from the merely discerning, travel and research have become essential. We're not talking about touring France for the 3-star restaurants here - that's for retired solicitors - we're talking Vietnam for the frogs.

Collecting 'restos'
American foodies are in a different league and have taken to gastronomy with a frightening enthusiasm. They began the trend for "collecting" Michelin-starred restaurants, a sort of culinary Munro-bagging which reduces the sublime to the level of "extreme" sport. They're also responsible for the most egregious foodie pretension, just beginning to creep into British usage, using the term "resto" as shorthand for restaurant. Pray God we can pull together as a nation and stop this in its tracks.

· Tim Hayward is UK editor of the website


Related Posts with Thumbnails