Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hyderabadi food and my first food event(s)!

Think Hyderabadi cuisine and its hard to go beyond the Biryani. And its for a good reason too. The spicy meat and rice dish cooked Dum style deserved every single bit of its stellar reputation. I remember staying in Hyderabad for 3 months and every day was pretty much a kebab and biryani day. Of course we had to drink copious amounts of beer to wash it all down. I can only thank God that I was there only for 3 months because by the end of it I could hardly walk my pudgy self to the nearest restaurant.

I have such great memories of the city, romantic dinner at the Waterfront restaurant overlooking the beautiful Hussain Sagar, sweating through the Paradise Special Biryani in the non AC section, the best punjabi food ever in Angeethi, the unlimited-beer-chinese buffet in Mainland China, and the best were the countless small places serving everything from puri-subzi to one memorable kebab of chicken leg stuffed with mutton kheema! I spent endless days traipsing through the local markets, simply to look at the lustrous pearls. And when I say 'look', I mean buy! By the end of it I could bargain like a local and keep a straight face through it too. I loved the peculiar Hindi the locals spoke, the Nizami hauteur of not waking before the sun blazes in the afternoon sky, the effortless mix of small town charm with big city comfort, the winding roads of Banajara Hills, the rocking boats on the way to the Giant Buddha...the list is endless. I loved my time there and would definitely visit again.

When I saw an announcement for RCI Hyderabad, I thought it would be a good time to revisit my memories there. So reading up about hyderabadi cuisine on Wiki, I came across Lukhmi, a savory patty filled with minced meat. It sounded easy enough and definitely something I haven't tasted before. I read up on it and got an idea of the recipe. Keema, dough, deep do you go wrong with that? I used boneless chicken thigh meat in all my recipes since I didn't have mutton.

Whatever I read on the net was enough to give me an idea about making the keema. So I just followed my own recipe and eye balled most of the spices. It turned out pretty good, very very hot with addition of green chillies and chili powder.


Lukhmi was not really difficult to make so while waiting for the keema to cook, I thought I had the time to cook something else too. So I searched a little more and found this fantastic looking recipe of Karen Anand's. It was little labour intensive but completely worth it. The spicy chicken mixed with the delicate yogurt, poppy seed and cashew nut paste, folded around a sharp chilli-coriander-onion chutney was one yummy dish. The end product was so subtle and sophisticated, it was hard to believe that it originated from my kitchen. You can find the complete recipe here.

Shikampur Kebabs

Since I still had some energy and a little bit of minced meat left, I made the easy-peasy Sheekh Kebabs, Debu's favorite. Here's the recipe I used.

1 cup of minced meat
1 medium onion
1/2 inch piece of ginger
2 cloves of garlic
2-3 green chillies

a sprig of fresh coriander leaves
1 egg
a palmful bread crumbs
salt to taste

Dry Spices
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2-3 cloves
2-3 green cardamom pods
1/2 inch of mace
1/2 inch piece cinnamon

Grind the dry spices together and mix with the minced meat. Chop the onion very fine or you could grate it and add that to the mixture. Grate the ginger, garlic and chop the coriander leaves finely and add. Quickly knead everything together, try not to overwork the meat. Oil your palms and form patties. The traditional method is to put them on a skewer and form a cylindrical shape. My mixture was a little loose and it refused to form anything kind of shape on a skewer, so I shaped it into round patties and baked them in an oven on 350 degrees for about 40-45 mins. I turned them over after 45 mins and baked for another 5-10 mins.

After the Lukhmi and Shikampur kebabs, these were not so impressive but but still nice in a familiar kind of way. The onion, ginger and garlic kept the meat really moist and fork tender.

Sheekh Kebab

All of this heads over to Mona for her RCI:Authentic Hyderabadi Cuisine. I'm pretty excited to participating in my first event and I do hope this happens more often.

And to Here I cook for the Non-Veggie Recipe Event.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Happy Birthday to Ganapati Bappa!

Puja thali- Curried potato and cauliflower, capsicum subji with chickpea flour, cucumber- tomato salad, dal, puri, peas pulao.

It was my favorite birthday of the year. I have a deal with the elephant headed God, I study only the night before my exams and he takes care of the passing grade. This system has worked smoothly most of my high school. Now the stakes are higher and bribes need to be too. And who could resist modak!

And these are 'Ambyachya ukdiche modak'. For the uninitiated, making ukdiche modak is a daunting task in itself, undertaken only when you have earned your spurs under the watchful eyes of a mother-in-law. Making ambyachya ukdiche modak was sheer madness. But I did it and lived to tell the tale, thanks to Suniti, without whose infinite patience and sunny optimism, this would have never happened. These mango scented, steamed dumpling were totally worth it and how! When we made our first batch, the entire house was redolent with the smell of mango, coconut and ghee. We broke into the first one tentatively, and were soon sighing in contentment. The mango pulp gave the modak a beautiful yellow-orange color and simply took the already heavenly offering to another level. Needless to say, this one will be a yearly delight in my home.
I pretty much followed the traditional recipe and added 2 cups of mango pulp to water. I boiled the mixture and then slowly added in the rice flour.

Filmy Breakfast

Every time I hear 'Mooli ke parathe', I simply cannot resist saying it again and again in a Nirupa Roy voice. I simply have to go 'Beta, maine tumhare liye, tumhari pasand ke mooli ke parathe/gajar ka halwa banaya hai'...with a couple of wheezes and some dry, hacking cough for effect. This goes on for some time to much annoyance on Debu's part :). My funny bone was seriously tickled when I realized that I had some Gajar Halwa in the fridge to go with my Parathas! Yeah, it doesn't take a lot to amuse me. Between doing those voices and actually eating this filmy breakfast, I don't know what was more fun!

Mooli ke parathe

For the filling
1/2 grated radish/daikon
1/2 teaspoon ajwain(carom seeds)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2-3 green chillies, chopped
a pinch of turmeric
a pinch of hing (asafoetida)
salt to taste

For the dough

2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon oil
radish water

Add some salt to the grated radish and keep aside for some time. Squeeze the radish and collect the water in a cup. Use it for kneading the dough. Use more water in needed and cover with a soft, damp cloth. Heat some oil in a pan, add the turmeric, hing and grated radish. Saute quickly till the mixture is dry. Cool it, add the chillies, ginger and follow the usual procedure to make a paratha.
White radish is quite an acquired taste. If you want a milder paratha, leave out the radish juice and make your dough with plain water. If you get hold of the leaves then chop them up and use them in the paratha too.

For the Gajar Halwa, check out Vishakha's recipe here.

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