Mutton/ Lamb Kolhapuri

kolhapuri Mutton

As much as I enjoy cooking, I don’t really dream about food. Yes, I think about it at odd times and places, anything that triggers an idea or concept about food, does get me thinking. But never in my dreams. Oh..Never say ‘never’ right?

It happened! This one time I dreamt of Mutton Kolhapuri. Now, to be honest I have a sweet tooth and I love baking. But why on earth of all things did I dream of Mutton Kolhapuri? *rolls eyes* Even I don’t know. I lived in Mumbai for the major part of my life but guess what…and to make things more perplexing… I have (been acquainted with Kolhapuri cuisine but) never had Mutton Kolhapuri, ever!

How could I even dream of something I really don’t know what it tastes like? Not even in my dream. When I had just served myself and was about to eat it, I woke up. Somethings in life, you just have to let be.. I guess, sigh!

Then on a usual weekly hangout with my cousin, she mentioned she felt like eating mutton. And since Mutton Kolhapuri was playing on my mind ever since, I decided to give it a go. I checked out a couple of recipes to retain the essence but have made some changes to suit my circumstance and convenience.

Kolhapuri cuisine is known for its bold fiery flavours. Although the curry looks vibrant, the spice wasn’t overpowering for my Indian palate. Also, when I made it, I served it with a mild pulav and a cooling mint raita. I trust you to use your judgement likewise.

 

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Kolhapuri spice mix:
Dessicated coconut (Khopra)- half a cup
Dried kashmiri red chillies – 4-5
Coriander seeds – 2 tbsp
Cummin seeds – 1 tbsp
Sesame – 1 tsp
Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
Cinnamon stick – half a stick
Black peppercorns – 5-6
Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp

Grind the above (WITHOUT ADDING WATER) to a dry spice mix. You can prepare this mix in advance and store it refrigerated in an airtight container for upto 2-3 days.
Kashmiri chillies provide a nice fiery red colour to the dish without the extra heat. Avoid using any other variant.
Note: Use only dessicated coconut and not fresh grated coconut. Many recipes I came across use an addition of poppy seeds as well to the above list of ingredients. However, since it is banned in Dubai, I had none at hand and skipped it. Nevertheless, I am completely satisfied with the way the curry turned out even without it.

Marinate the mutton/lamb:
Note: In India, we use goats meat,generally referred to as mutton to prepare this dish. My supermarket labeling here mentioned lamb.

Mutton/Lamb (stew cut) – 650 gms rinse under running water to clean
Garlic-Ginger paste – 2 tsp
Turmeric – 3/4th tsp
Lemon Juice – juice of 1&1/2 – 2 small indian lemons
Salt to taste (1 tsp)
Mix all the above ingredients and keep it aside for 40 mins – 1 hr.

Prepare the Kolhapuri curry:
Ghee/ Clarified butter – 1 & 1/2 tbsp
Black peppercorns – 4-5
Cloves – 4-5
Cinnamon stick – half a stick
Bayleaf (dried) – 2-3 slightly crushed
Onions – 2 medium sliced
Garlic – 2 cloves chopped
Kolhapuri spice mix – the entire qty from the above mentioned spice mix recipe
Salt – to taste/half a tsp
Tomatoes – 2 medium chopped
Marinated mutton/lamb
Coriander leaves – chopped – for garnishing

  • In a pressure cooker, add ghee. When it starts to heat up, add peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and bayleaf.
  • After a minute, add onions and garlic and saute till the onions turn golden.
  • Once the onions turn golden, add the kolhapuri spice mix, tomatoes and salt.
  • Saute the tomatoes for a min and add the marinated mutton along with any water residue from the marination.
  • Give it a good stir and pressure cook it for about 4-5 whistles for well done and tender meat.
  • Once done, turn off the heat and allow the cooker to cool down a bit. Check and adjust the salt to taste and add chopped coriander to garnish.

Rediscovering the joy of baking

‘You only need to see, feel and act from the heart. Let the heart guide you to your peaceful enlightenment’.   – (from the movie) Kung Fu Panda

Baking with sheer pleasure

It seems like ages ago, the time when I found absolute joy in baking. The idea of baking seemed so exciting, purely based on novelty, because back then baking still wasn’t a part of cooking the regular meals in most Indian households. Cakes, for celebrating occasions like birthdays, were only bought from stores. I loved being able to make a happy moment special by baking (a cake). As my hunger to learn more about this art thrived, I found myself reading several blogs, clipping recipes from magazines, buying cookbooks, all in an attempt to improve my baking skills, to learn other baking techniques and trying different things apart from cakes.

The smiles on the faces of loved ones as they walk into a room engulfed with the heady aroma wafting out of the oven. The happiness reflecting in their eyes, something that if it could be put into words it would express the gratitude they felt on realizing that I would take the trouble of going an extra mile, to give from the bottom of my heart and let them know they mean a lot to me. Baking was heartfelt. Like a personal handmade card, however imperfect, giving away signs of amateurish craftsmanship, but enveloped with immense love. That joy gave me a high.

Along the way, I discovered blogging. There were so many blogs that I was learning from, I wanted to share the lessons I learnt, as well. So that someone, somewhere may not make the mistakes I did, that they may be inspired to try something new, and partly for me to document my journey.

The Lull

But slowly, numbers occupied the thoughts which were once only reserved for ideas. Disappointment crept in when I felt ‘left behind’. Those that started after me were far ahead now. Inspiration for ideas turned into an ugly competition analysis. I was angry with myself for not doing enough when others posted every week. I consoled myself in the most pathetic manner of justifying that others had ‘benefits’ that I did not. Support, either to take pictures or style, while I am here all by myself, baking, writing, taking pictures, juggling a full time job and a social life. These thoughts were exhausting, it drained out all my enthusiasm which also led to not feeling motivated enough to even attempt anything new.

Moment of Epiphany

All this only reinstated how my blog just wasn’t where it was supposed to be. But where am I/ my blog supposed to be? For a person blogging with ‘x’ number of years, what does the growth chart look like? Monetizing the blog? Growing in number of followers? Expanding horizons to x, y, z other things related to baking?  Yes, but who defines all this for me? Why?

I respect bloggers, whose sheer hard work has helped them scale and achieve things for themselves. But I was wrong to compete or compare myself to them or try to walk in their path. To be well known/ established like other renowned bloggers is not the reason I started baking or blogging. We may be in the same genre of the blogging world but we are different, our vision and mission for our blogs are different, our ideas and circumstances are different. The only way to move forward is to leverage our strengths and stay true to our purpose, to ourselves.

I am where I am meant to be. I still have everything on my side, the advantages in fact even more than that I once had, in my happily baking and blogging phase. I have drowned out the noise that distracts me and zoned out of the things that don’t matter to me. I am no longer in a race to chase numbers or beat myself up for not making it to any awards list. I have decided to stay true to my purpose and let things fall in place. For me, rediscovering my passion is success. Getting myself together and blogging again is an achievement. Sharing a recipe worth inspiring you to bake/cook is an accomplishment.

Today, as I bake, I am happy to try out something new. I am happy to linger on in the moment with hands covered in flour. I feel the supple dough ready to be transformed. The house is filled with the aroma of bread again. My thoughts float towards thinking of his reaction when he returns home. I hope he likes it too.

I have written this to serve as a reminder to myself, lest I forget the joy of baking.


P.S: I didn’t know ‘slow blogging’ was a thing until I found these articles. If you enjoy the thrill of being under constant pressure and do not agree with this, it’s ok. Maybe that’s what drives you. We need not all fall in the same category, right?
Slow blogging for creatives by Jen CarringtonSlow blogging for creatives by Jen Carrington
Slow blogging and Simple living by Dan Erickson

3 Easy steps + 3 Tips for a creamy Blueberry Shrikhand

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Nutella, peanut butter, Dulche de leche, Speculoos, jams, lemon curd, flavoured butters or cheese, when it comes to spreads/dips, the list is indeed long. But I root for Shrikhand. A little dollop spread out on a chapati and rolled up along with a hot cup of tea makes a simple breakfast to fill my day. Shrikhand is basically sweetened hung yoghurt that has flavours added to enhance it. In India, the most popular ones would be Kesar-Pista Shrikhand (Shrikhand with saffron and pistachios) or Amrakhand (Mango Shrikhand).

While yogurt with fruit has been a fad lately, Shrikhand has been a part of the Indian culinary heritage. For breakfast with rotis or for lunch/dinner with Puris, or as an accompaniment – something cool and sweet along with the hot and spicy food, the perfect Yin-yang of Indian meals. Or just a little scoop for dessert.

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On a regular I’m missing home kind of a day, an expat like me, would probably rush to Lulu or Al Adil to get our comfort fixed. I did that once. But unlike in India, here in Dubai, you get the big packs for store bought Shrikhand. And since I’m the only Shrikhand consumer in my household, the pack stays longer in my fridge than it should. The next time I shared the thought of wanting to have some Shrikhand, I received an ultimatum that we won’t be buying it any more because a lot just gets wasted. Seemed right to me, but I had to find my way out. And so I decided to make it at home. That way I could not only make it in a smaller quantity, with the flavours I want, but I could also make it anytime. Win-Win situation right?

The recipe is so simple, that I actually found it funny. I don’t know why I had always thought of it as something so complicated. All you need is a little patience (since you need to strain the yogurt overnight). Here are 3 easy steps for making the Blueberry Shrikhand, followed by 3 tips that will ensure you have a nice deliciously creamy Shrikhand.

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Blueberry Shrikhand

Ingredients:

  • Hung yogurt 160 gms (I used 400 gms of regular yogurt, strained in a muslin cloth for 24 hours in the fridge that yielded around 160 gms of thick hung yogurt – See note)
  • Sifted Icing sugar 55 gms
  • Blueberries 80 gms

Method:

  • Whisk the hung yogurt and the icing sugar together, to get a smooth creamy Shrikhand base. Whisk it gently but firmly, you essentially need a lump free, thick and smooth texture. You can use the hand blender in short bursts. The important thing is not to over beat the yogurt, else it will be too runny.
  • Pulse or puree the blueberries in the mixer. Gently fold the puree in the Shrikhand. Serve chilled. Fruits which are sweet and slightly tart go well.
  • You can add chopped nuts of your choice. Add the nuts only before serving to retain the crunch.
  • You can store this Shrikhand in a clean, airtight jar, refrigerated for up to 7 days.

Note: For preparing the hung yogurt, I referred to this guide which has step by step pictures. I referred to it ONLY for the preparation of the hung yogurt, nothing other than that.

3 Tips for a deliciously creamy Shrikhand

  1. Use regular (non-sour) yogurt. The packaged ones we get in Dubai are anyways not sour. But local Indian dairy shops have really sour yogurt. The mass manufactured and packaged one is less sour so I suggest you use that.
  2. Use sifted icing sugar. This ensures two things – a) That the sugar is lump free, so that you wont have to whisk it much at the risk of making the yogurt runny. b) Icing sugar dissolves quickly compared to other sugars, again ensuring that you don’t have to whisk way too much than required.
  3. Gently fold in the fruit puree till well combined.

Mawa Cakelets (a tea cake recipe)

Mawa cakelets

It’s a fascinating thing about memories. How even the most insignificant and ordinary part of our daily lives, gets etched on our minds. And all without a trace, till one fine day, something, by mere remote association makes you travel back in time, reminding fondly of the days gone by.

It was late in the evening and I had just finished making Gajar ka halwa (carrot pudding). As I cleaned the kitchen counter, I quickly put away all the leftover ingredients in the fridge – a bit of mawa (milk solids) and some condensed milk. Too tired to even think of anything else, I resigned from my kitchen duties for the day. The following day, I was back in action to prepare our meals. I opened the fridge to get some things out. Another look and I made a mental note to use these leftovers.

Mawa milk solids

Mawa/Khoya/ Milk solids

Leftovers…yes, strangely something like leftovers took me back in time. Grandmom grew up during the hard times. Probably, that’s why it was so very important to not throw away things that could be reused. Something she had learnt, something she taught us as well. Leftover food would get a new avatar the next day so that we would find it interesting enough to eat it again.

I find no shame in being frugal. It’s not like we cannot afford to go and buy a whole lot of stuff to cook whatever we want, whenever we want. It means we should respect the value for things and not be callous about it.

Mawa cakelets

Don’t waste, I told myself, like my grandmom would tell me. But these ingredients would probably only be used for desserts and having made one just the previous night, I wasn’t too keen. What can I use mawa for?! Not that I did not already know, Mawa holds its royal kingship in most Indian desserts. But I wasn’t in a mood of anything really sweet. A little search online and I saw… Mawa cakes! Why didn’t I think of mawa cakes before! As a kid I had eaten plenty of mawa cupcakes. Subtly sweet, with the slightest lingering of cardamom that are perfect for tea time. While most recipes use sugar, I intended to use the leftover condensed milk instead. If you have some leftover condensed milk and want something light, here is the recipe for the Mawa cakelets.

Mawa cakelets

Mawa Cakelets
(The quantities mentioned in this recipe makes around 8-10 regular sized cupcakes)

Ingredients:

Mawa 100 gms
Condensed milk 120 gms
Egg 1 medium
Butter 50 gms

Flour/Maida 160 gms
Cardamom powder 1/2 tsp
Baking powder 1 tsp

Milk 6-7 tbsp

Almonds, slivered for garnish

Method:

  • Preheat the oven at 175 degrees C for 10 mins.
  • In a bowl, take mawa, condensed milk, egg and butter. Whisk till smooth and runny.
  • In another bowl mix the dry ingredients together. Flour, cardamom powder and baking powder.
  • Add half the dry ingredients to the smooth and runny batter and fold in till well combined.
  • Add in the milk and mix well to incorporate. Fold in the remaining flour mix.
  • Add the batter to a lined cake tin, top with slivered almonds and bake for 25-30 mins (time mentioned is for cakelets and for cupcakes, a loaf may take a while longer)
  • To test the doneness, insert a skewer or a clean knife. If it comes out clean, its ready.

Note: The cake, although baked will look white. For a golden hue on top, increase the temperature and bake on top rack with top side heat for 3-5 mins. Condensed milk gives a slightly dense texture like a blondie. Because it is subtly sweet, it may not come through with the first bite itself, but the second bite onwards you will be assured of its sweetness.

Bottle gourd Curry (Doodhi/Lauki kadi)

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There is immense joy in putting your heart and soul to offer your love to someone.

There is immense joy in putting your heart and soul to offer your love to someone. And I offer my love through food. It was way back somewhere in early 2011 that I started making soups. For my cousin who had just delivered a couple of months ago. For me healthy soups were essentially about boiling vegetables, adding flavours and pureeing them to a smooth soupy consistency. It was well received. But she moved out and then I completely forgot about it. It was only when my dad was back home after a series of surgeries that I wanted to make something for him. Mom was quick to suggest that the doctors mentioned bottle gourd being good for him. And I made the bottle gourd and tomato soup. Time passed by, dad was well and I completely forgot about soups, again!

Only until recently, when I was in the home-cooks dilemma of what to prepare for the next meal, utterly bored of just adding chopped bottle gourd to daals when I suddenly thought of soups. But to include it in our family meals it just had to be something more. So off I was to give the humble bottle gourd another avatar. I hope you will find it as comforting as I do.

I am growing quite fond of the Bottle gourd. I find its simplicity charming. What attracts me is its versatility, such that with utmost ease it can be made into a sweet or a savory dish. Previously, I have blogged about baking the Bottle gourd and clove tea cake and this time I chose to cook something savoury. What makes this recipe different is that cooked bottle gourd itself is pureed to make it into a thick gravy.

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Bottlegourd Curry:
(Serves approx. 4)

Ingredients:

Oil 1 tbsp
Cumin Seeds 1/2 tsp
Onion 1 medium
Garlic -Ginger paste 1/2 tsp
Tomato 1 medium
Turmeric 1 tsp
Bafat Powder 1 tsp
Coriander powder 1 and 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder 1/2 tsp
Bottle gourd 1 (approx 360 gms when peeled, deseeded and chopped)
Salt to taste (approx 2 tsp)
Water 2 cups (for pressure cooking)
Coriander leaves chopped (approx 1 tbsp) for garnishing

Method:

In a pressure cooker, add oil. When it is hot, add cumin seeds. When it sizzles, added chopped onion and garlic-ginger paste. Saute it till the onion is translucent. Add all the spice powders and saute for 30 secs. If it sticks to the cooker, add 1 tbsp of water. Add tomato, salt and allow it to cook. After a minute or so when the tomatoes are soft, with the back of the spoon gently mash the tomatoes. Add the bottle gourd and water, pressure cook it for 1 whistle. After a whistle immediately switch off the gas and allow it to cool for 10-15 mins.

Once it has cooled, transfer some of the bottle gourd and onion/tomato mix into a blender. Leave some pieces behind. You can take little of the soupy water as well and blend it to a smooth puree. Add the puree back to the soupy liquid. Prepare for tempering.

For Tempering: (OPTIONAL)

Oil 1 tbsp
Mustard Seeds 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 6-8
Garlic 3-4 small pods crushed
Dried red chillies (small round/ boriya mirch) 2

Take oil in a tempering dish. Add mustard seeds, when it begins to splutter add curry leaves, garlic and dried chilles. When the garlic browns a little, add this to the curry and cover for about a min.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve with steamed rice, papad and pickle.

 

Introducing: Indian meal recipes + Granny’s Green Masala Masoor daal

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My journey in the culinary world started with Baking. Yes, BAKING! Neither chopping vegetables, nor with a simple salads. Nope, I did not help in cooking. I dived straight into baking, head first. And I loved every bit of it.

I was young, naive and also not the one responsible for preparing our daily meals. Our meals did not involve baking. It was mostly rice, curry, vegetables and something fried on the side, like fish. It was simple and nourishing. I couldn’t be intrigued, it was the food I grew up eating. I honestly didn’t find it interesting to even attempt to understand it better. I said I was young and naive, so just stay with me here and don’t roll your eyes.

At that time, I was still studying and Baking was my ‘extra curricular activity’. A hobby that I engaged in to keep occupied in my spare time. Although a hobby, it meant a lot to me, A LOT! and still does.

As I continued this journey, I discovered the world of blogging. I connected with bloggers. I also met people who blogged about regular/ daily home cooking. Simple soul-food, comforting and nourishing. Back then I wouldn’t have used these words to describe it. But anyways, I wondered why would someone blog about Indian home cooking, don’t we all know it already. Truth is, I didn’t. And what I didn’t know is that years later I would be the one struggling, frantically making calls back home and jotting down recipes and going back and forth these blogs to prepare a meal. Blogs, which feature regional Indian curry, rice and vegetables, turned out to be my lifesaving grace.

Initially, it was just to put some food on the table and later to beat the monotony, that I started trying out different recipes. Who knew there would be a thousand different ways to make daal? Ok, that’s exaggerating, but you get the drift. Indian food, as complex as it may seem in terms of flavours, is equally challenging in terms of techniques. How thin in consistency should the neer dosa batter be ? or how long should you leave the idli batter to ferment? These are somethings you learn only by doing. It all takes time and practice to get it right.

So while I have started stalking family members in the kitchen each time I visit my country, I am also going to share with you some of these recipes here. These are mostly my family heirloom recipes, recipes that they adopted from other sources, some traditional manglorean recipes, recipes that are successful attempts of my experiments, recipes that might help someone somewhere stuck in a dilemma regarding what to cook for the next meal. I will document these recipes under the ‘Indian Meals’ tab.

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Since you have been so patiently reading, I will leave here the first recipe. It’s something my grand mother used to prepare often and one of my favourites.

Green Masala Masoor Daal

Step 1: Cook the Daal

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Whole masoor daal (Whole red lentils)  1/2 cup
Onion 1 medium, chopped
Tomato 1 medium, chopped
Oil 1 1/2-2 tbsp
Salt to taste

In a heated pressure cooker, add oil and saute the onions till translucent. Next, add the tomato, salt.Add the daal and sufficient water (almost 2 inches above the daal). Cover the lid, top it with the whistle and pressure cook it for 4 whistles. Once done, allow the cooker to cool for 15 mins before you remove the whistle and open the lid. Once done, add the green masala paste.

Step 2: Prepare the Green masala paste 
(This paste can be prepared in advance and stored in the freezer for upto a week. Just thaw it to room temperature before use. Do not confuse this with Green Chutney, it’s different)

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Coriander leaves with stalk 1 bunch ( 3/4 cup when chopped)
Ginger 1 inch
Green chillies 2 (spicy ones)
Cumin seeds (Jeera) 1/2 tsp
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Bafat masala 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt to taste

Roughly chop the coriander and ginger. In a mixer, grind all the above ingredients to a paste. Avoid water, if required add very little water only to aid the grinding process. Add the green masala paste to the daal and simmer on low-medium heat for roughly around 7-8 mins. The raw dark green colour of the masala should change to a bit brownish olive green or mehendi green. Once done, take it off the heat and temper it (add the tadka).

Step 3: Tempering/ Tadka

Oil 1 tbsp (sunflower oil)
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) a pinch
Curry leaves 5-6
Garlic cloves 3-4 (crushed)
Dried red chillies ( small, round ones) 2

Heat oil in a tadka pan. Add mustard seeds. When the seeds start to splutter, add the asafoetida, curry leaves, garlic and dried red chilles. Allow it all to sizzle for a minute and quickly transfer it to the daal and masala mixture and cover for a minute or two. Serve hot.

Tastes best when consumed with steamed rice, vegetable and something crispy on the side like papad or along with steamed rice and a fried fish. 

green masoordaal

 

Our Favourite Green Chutney

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On a random occasion, just to beat those ‘in between meals’ hunger pangs, I thought of making chutney sandwiches. I grew up in Mumbai so the spicy chutney sandwiches available street side was on my mind. I looked up a recipe from an old book, mostly on Manglorean cuisine. The ingredients being commonly used in Indian households, I had everything I needed at hand.

That evening, the hungry monsters glorified chutney sandwiches beyond my expectations. So much is this chutney popular in my home, that sandwiches or no sandwiches, just the plain chutney is devoured as condiment with lunch or dinner instead of the pickle. It is a pantry staple made every week. You can also tweak the spiciness or tang as per your liking. And the best part? I can make a big batch and store it in the fridge for the coming week and can easily make toast sandwiches anytime.

Slather it on buttered toast slices with cucumber and tomato stuffed sandwiches like we do or even add it to wraps. I will try and share more recipes with you to use this chutney. For now, here is how you can make it.

Time taken: 5-8 mins if you have all the ingredients at hand.

Ingredients:

  • Coriander leaves a bunch
  • Green chillies 2-3 (spicy ones)
  • Garlic flakes 5-6
  • Ginger half an inch
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Roughly chop the coriander leaves, green chillies, garlic and ginger. (I prefer chopping them as it makes the grinding process easier since I refrain from adding water – see notes)
  • Add all ingredients in a mixer. Grind till it forms a thick paste.
  • Store refrigerated in an airtight container. Stays good this way upto a week.

Notes:

Refrain from adding water while grinding. The lime juice and the water remaining on the coriander after washing it is sufficient for grinding. Adding salt, also makes the ingredients release water. Adding water will only make the chutney very runny which is not the desired consistency.