Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dal Baati Choorma and The hot ,hot summers of Rajasthan

Mharo Rajasthan.
The sands of time rise up to meet you here.
I may not be born and brought up here, but I chose it to be my home.  Along with the sand and the stone and the stories they  tell you, there's the food that is even better.
My favourite is the Dal Baati and Choorma.
The dish is simple and hearty.
And every household has their own additions but the binding factor is the liberal use of ghee.
Summers are not generally the time when I would make this dish but #goodfoodmag July issue was too tempting. 
Yes I made these last month, but was unable to blog about it. 

Traditionally served in leaf pattals or plates made of leaves, these are so tasty ,your are always in danger of over eating.
Traditionally the dal is made with Arhar, Chana ,Urad and or Moong Dals.
Boiled and cooked till pulpy ,they may or may not be tempered. Served generously with you got it ,ghee.
And the Choorma is a side dish or a dessert.

All you need is a gas tandoor or oven and some plain dough.
Summers are good for Baati, the heat of the sun bakes them in pits dug up in the sand.
They keep well and can easily be carried and freshened by dipping in ghee.

For the

Dal Baati Choorma and the Hot, hot summers of Rajasthan...

You need

500 gms whole wheat flour
150 gms semolina
150 mils plus some extra fresh dedi ghee or clarified butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ajwain seeds
2 pinches bicarbonate of soda or baking soda
You will have read about my aversion to kneading dough with my hand by now ,only because it makes taking pictures difficult.
Start with the whole wheat flour and semolina, salt, ajwain ,bicarbonate of soda or baking soda and 150 mils if the ghee in the food processor.

Knead to a hard dough using warm water and allow it to rest
On a lightly greased baking tray make small lemon sized balls of the dough and place till the oven pre heats to 180C.

Pop them in for 30 minutes, turn once and another 10 minutes will do.
If you are using a gas tandoor, you need to be around to monitor the baati.
Once the tandoor is hot enough, keep turning the baati ,it will take 20 minutes at least to cook.
Try one on the way and you'll be able to judge how much longer they need.

These are soft enough to be had without dunking in ghee, they already have a lit within.
You can also dip them in ghee and enjoy.

For the Choorma, just pound them with ground sugar ,cardamom powder and some nuts and enjoy.
Again more ghee or not is relative.
Any dal will do. Just ensure that the dal is not too heavily spiced and is a wee bit free flowing to be mopped up by the baati.
The Semolina makes the Baati soft and tastier.
And healthy.

This is a better snack in winters as compared to the pakoras or farsan, easier to make and digest and they warm your soul. A leftover Baati is an excellent accompaniment to your morning cuppa too...

So what are you baking today???

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kashmir and Wazwaan- Rishta/Rista Meat Balls in a Spicy Red Gravy

Meatballs in a spicy flavourful gravy that has no tomatoes?
Theses dishes are part of my childhood, but I dont remember anyone making it at home. The best Rista/Rishta(Whatever the spelling)  and other wazwaan dishes came from the JKTDC Restaurant in Jammu.

And then of course when hubby dear was stationed in the Kashmir Valley, and I was visiting my taste buds would be indulged. However, what does one do in places where there are no Wazwaan or Kashmiri friends to treat your taste buds?
One cooks, that's what one does.
So with some inputs from the Aunt in Jammu who is a store house of information of Dogri and Kashmiri cuisine. ..Rista, on the table.
The biggest challenge is the texture of the meat balls . The spicy gravy is always manageable.
I almost got the texture and taste and the friends over for dinner were rightfully impressed.  The best compliment came from Sweet Child who demanded that the next time I make Rista, there should be no friends, Romans or Country Men invited.

For the

Kashmir and Wazwaan- Rishta Meat Balls in a Spicy Red Gravy...

500 gms fresh lamb mince with 50 -100 gms fat
3or 4 black cardamom
2 tbsp gram flour or besan
2 tbsp dry ginger powder
2 tbsp  saunf or fennel seed powder
Salt to taste
2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
Optional spices-
A few cloves, green cardamom and pepper corns,  cinnamon, coriander seeds, cumin and a square of cheesecloth for the boquet garnis
3 tbsp fried onions fried in mustard oil and cooled to be made into a paste
150 mils mustard oil

Start with the mince and fat. Place in your food processor. Remember, these meatballs are better processed than sausage meat. The Wazas or cooks pound the meat for hours with a wooden mallet. 

I liberally used the pulse button and the mince changed colour after a while. One has to be careful else the fat will stick to the jar and the blades and not meld with the meat.
While the mince rests time to use the muscles.  Peel the black cardamom and powder the seeds fine.
So fine ,they can be sieved.
The mince in a bowl with the gram flour, salt, black cardamom seed powder and about 50 mils of the mustard oil. . Mix well by squish, squish and squishing through your fingers.  With wet hands form the balls, big balls ,I made 6 ,4 will be fine too.
They have to be halved or quartered to serve. Let them rest in the freezer.
Now bouquet garnis.
Dried Methi leaves or kasoori methi,  green cardamom, coriander seeds ,pepper corn, cumin seeds ,fennel seed and dry ginger powder and black cardamom tied in a thin Muslin cheese cloth.
Place a litre of water or plain meat stock to boil and add to the boiling water the bouquet garni and the meat balls.
Let them simmer for about 15 minutes.
In another pan, smoke the mustard oil...heat till the smoke hurts your eyes ,turn off the heat and cover till it cools.
When cool ,reheat, and add the green cardamom and pepper corns.
Add in the red chili powder and a few teaspoon of water  or else the chili will burn.
To this add the boiling water and meat balls and some salt and simmer covered for at least one hour. You need to remove the boquet  garnis and allow it to cool. Once cool enough squeeze whateever liquid with al your might into the cooking gravy. .Add the dry ginger and fennel seed powder and mix well.  They flavour the gravy and act as thickeners.

Fried onions can be stored in a bottle in the fridge and used whenever.  Just grind them with some water .
This is the fried onion paste.

Add the paste to the Rista and check the seasoning and thickness. 
If possible, cool and you will see the oil floating on top.
Let the flavours rest and heat just before serving. 

The gravy should be thick and not napping the meat ball. Before you serve , halve the meat balls and serve with plain boiled rice or naan to mop the flavours. Mint is the best garnish along with the Chinar Patta Kashidakari( Traditional Kashmiri Silk Embroidery in the shape of the Chinar Leaves).

I tried a variation in my standard Mutton Yakhni after my aunt's suggestions. 
Instead of using fried onions whole I used the paste and I used whole wheat flour instead of gram flour and mint for garnish. 
This is the taste of my childhood and the memories of family outings and my maternal grandfather and various cousins and soft squishy rice. The aunt incharge of the kitchen could never get the rice right and it was always soft and joint-called bhathu.

Spicy or not , the aromas of the Rista and Yakhni were soul satisfying. And the compliments made the effort worth the while. 
As they say, anything that you make with love tastes awesome. 
Chamge the tastes of your palette once in a while .
Adventure is always good.
Try the Wazwaan.

So what are you experimenting with today???


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