Lamb Chops Masala – Without a drop of oil!

I am battling with three issues : 1. Weight management  2. Withdrawal symptoms from quitting cigarettes and 3. Stress. To manage stress I usually cook. But this stress management method sometimes plays havoc with issues 1 and 2. Particularly when issue 2 plays havoc with issue 1. This is a recipe that partially dealt with all the issues.This is a recipe I adapted from two recipes that I read and tried with varying degrees of success. Most importantly, this is a healthy recipe that was a major hit with my guests! The recipe is simple, hassle free and very importantly has no added oil!

Image

Ingredients

24-25 Lamp Chops, cleaned
4 Medium Onions, chopped
4 Medium Tomatoes, chopped
1-1/2 cup Yoghurt
3 tbsp Garlic Paste
4 tbsp Ginger Paste
2 tsp Red Chili Powder
4 tsp Coriander Powder (Dhania powder)
4 tsp Cumin Powder (Jeera powder)
2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
Salt, to taste

For the garnish

Ginger juliennes
Lemon juice
Chopped Coriander (optional)
Garam Masala Powder

Procedure

  1. Clean and dry the lamp chops
  2. In a pan mix the lamb chops with all the ingredients except cumin powder, garam masala powder and the garnish.
  3. Place the pan on the gas and cook on high flame until the mixture comes to a boil.
  4. Cover and simmer until the lamb chops are half cooked. Add cumin powder and garam masala powder. Mix.
  5. Continue to simmer until the gravy thickens, envelopes the lamb chops. Cook until the lamb chops are fully cooked.
  6. Garnish with ginger juliennes and chopped coriander. Sprinkle lemon juice.

Serve hot with rotis/phoolkas/parathas or simply devour as a stand alone protein fest – without the guilt!

Chapter 1

Wind on my head. You on my mind. I travel. An uncertain journey. An arduous path. The mountains. Loom large. Your thoughts. Invade my mind. I wonder. I wander. I seek. The unknown. I crave. A future. I live. A present. I fear. A past.

It was 2007 when I took the decision. I was enraged with myself. I was enraged with the films I was making. My mind was bereft of ideas. Film-making had become a chore, an attempt to portray something meaningless through even more meaningless wide-angle lenses. Distorted images, frantic camera moves and non-existent scripts. I had only myself to blame. I was seeking nothing. I was angry. But the anger was misdirected. I was unable to look back at my own work. I was afraid to reflect.

I decided that it was time to stop. To do nothing. To reflect. To contemplate. To read. To cook. To wander. To leave the city.

It was a selfish decision. It meant uprooting my family. It meant putting them through a period of change. It meant putting them through an uncertain process that did not necessarily have a tangible end. But I had to do it. I had to find myself again.

The last few years have been difficult. Yet they were the best years I have yet spent in my limited life. The shift to a small village on the outskirts of Bombay was pleasant. I was enveloped by silence. There was a calm that took some getting used to. I rediscovered books. I rediscovered music. Love, time, quiet and space were my only companions in the beautiful wilderness. I found solace in oblivion.

It took me nearly 1 year to detoxify myself from the filth that had choked up my mind. I wrote meaningless things. I expressed myself openly. I flushed out my misdirected anger. I worked on stories. I worked on scripts. Every time I finished writing I realized that I was far away from discovering myself let alone delving into story, characters, layers and structure. It was a process of self appraisal. I distanced myself. From the demands of the city. From the narrow confines of ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t work’. From the JW Marriott coffee shop. From Barista. From multiplexes. From malls. No Bombay Times. No Mumbai Mirror. No Mid-Day. No traffic. Just pure solace. There was no rush to make a film. No desperation to be prolific. No compulsion to comply. No reason to conform.

But it was far from meditative. There was chaos in my mind. My mind was filled with fear. I feared an uncertain future. I was warned by many members of the trade that my absence would result in me being out of work. That I should sign a film immediately. That I should start a new film immediately. The greater fear was that I did not want to make a film. And that was scary because there was nothing else I ever wanted to do. Suddenly my calling was slipping out of my hands. An even greater fear was the trouble my family would go through because of this inner turmoil. Why should they bear the brunt of my introspection? I had made very little money from films. Finances were running thin. Soon the patience of people closest to me would be running thin.

My family stood by me during this chaotic period. While frustrated at my doing practically nothing my wife stood by me. She empathized with my confusion. She understood my need to find myself. My parents and children patiently (sometimes unknowingly) waited for that moment of truth to strike.

On hindsight I feel that film-makers are a selfish lot. Their need for self-discovery and self-gratification isolates their nearest ones. Their need for isolation makes their dearest ones lonely, sad and often confused. Film-makers also suffer from the ‘victim syndrome’. They believe that nobody really understands them or their ‘inner turmoil’. The truth is that they are victims of their own need for expression. I am still not sure whether being a film-maker is a lonely profession or whether it is a selfish profession.

There is pain. In my heart. It happens. Every time. I embark. Upon this path. A path. That is agonizing. Yet full. Of ecstasy. My breathing. Gets hurried. My mind. Searches an answer. To a riddle. A riddle. That I call. A story. My heart. Seeks salvation. In a temporary moment. Called creation. I also question. My anxiety. And wonder. Is it worth the pain? I have no answer. Except. My restlessness. Self imposed. Self inflicted. Painful pleasure. I feel privileged. Yet pressured. I ask. Why do I have to be different? Why do I have to persist? Yet I persist. Into an unknown quest. I attempt. A conquest. Of my own demons. I am thankful. And resentful. That I guess. Is life.

Personal circumstances, financial compulsions and the urge to make films again got me back to the city. I journeyed back to the city knowing only this much. I would make a film that I wanted to make. I would make a film the way I wanted to make it. I would make a film with complete honesty. I would make a film with somebody who believed in my story. I would make a film with somebody who believed in me. The process of making the film had to be organic. The story had to be from within me. It had to express something I felt deeply about. The characters, screenplay, structure had to flow from conviction and not compulsion. The shots had to germinate from the scene. The mis en scene had to evolve from a space that belonged to my characters. Nothing would be forced. Nothing fake. Nothing convoluted.  All this was easier said than done. The real battle had just begun.

I did not have a story yet. I had worked on many scripts and toyed with many ideas. Some of them were unrealistic dreams. Some of them were out of date. Some of them were simply terrible. One of them was an idea that I had for nearly 5 years. It was an idea that had consumed me for the longest time. It was a script that I wanted to make but ended up making ‘Woodstock Villa’ instead. It is a script I still want to make. That script is another story. And hopefully another journey.

February 11, 2010 changed my life forever. A tragedy gave birth to a story. A story that had to be told. A story that had to be seen. A journey that had to be witnessed. Finally I had a story to tell… My untitled dream was born…

I closed my eyes. As she flowed past. I tried to focus. On her journey. I tried to block. Thoughts of myself. But the mind. Played its game. Her journey. Got muddled. With mine. Both hindered. Both in turmoil. Yet flowing. Merging. Resting. Flowing. Sometimes rushing. Sometimes calm. Many confused moments later. I opened my eyes. My mind. And me. At peace. Until the next hurdle.

Yusuf’s Kate Masale Ka Gosht

 My father-in-laws secret recipe revealed!

This is a recipe that my father-in-law Yusuf Husain has perfected. It is his secret recipe – one which he rarely shares with others! Even if he does share it you can be sure that he will leave out some important detail.   I have ‘cracked’ the recipe after many unsuccessful attempts and after much cajoling. It was cooked last night and everybody loved it. Yusuf saab approved of the preparation and finally welcomed me to the family secret!

Ingredients

1 kg Mutton / Lamb, big pieces
10-12 Medium Onions, thick slices
12 Garlic cloves,  roughly chopped
3 tbsp Ginger, chopped
2 Bay Leaves (tej patta)
5 Black Cardamoms (badi elaichi)
2  Cinnamon Sticks (dalchini)
15 Whole Black Pepper Corns (kali mirch)
12 Whole Dried Red Chillies
Salt, to taste
75 gms Yoghurt, beaten
4-5 tbsp Ghee or Oil

Procedure

  1. Heat ghee/oil in a saucepan. Take approximately half the quantity of onions and sauté until golden brown.
  2. Add mutton, bay leaves, black cardamoms, cinnamon sticks, pepper corns, red chillies and 1.5 tsp salt.
    Sauté on high flame until the meat changes color.
  3. Add garlic and ginger. Sauté for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining onions. Mix well and sauté for about 1 minute.
  5. Seal the vessel. Cook for approximately 45-50 minutes on low flame. In case you are using a pressure cooker, wait for 3 whistles and then let the meat rest while pressure is totally released from the cooker.
  6. Open the lid and you will see that onions are totally liquefied and the meat has been simmering in the liquefied onions.
  7. On medium heat sauté the meat until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  8. Reduce heat and add yoghurt. Mix well. Cover the vessel once again (not under pressure) and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the meat is totally done.
  9. Let the meat rest for at least 15-20 minute before serving.

This is perhaps one of the most delicate, delicious and wholesome meat recipes I have come across. The cooking of meat in the onion gravy is the key to a successful result.

You can also follow the same recipe for Kate Masale Ka Chicken. With chicken you have to be careful that you do not overcook and that onions, ginger and garlic are chopped into smaller pieces to allow the onion gravy to form faster.

The red chillies and browning of the onions lend this dish its distinct reddish color. Excessive browning will make the dish very dark and some people prefer it that way.  You can add approximately 1 tbsp roasted and roughly pounded coriander seeds after adding the yoghurt. This adds a little extra bite but many people do not enjoy the distinct coriander flavor. Try it or give it a miss, but this is one recipe that you must try!

Enjoy this with rotis, naan or steamed rice. I prefer devouring this recipe without any of these!

Mirchi ka Salan – my style!

Ingredients

10 ‘Bhavnagri’  Green Chillies / Large Green Chillies, sliced or slit lengthwise
1/2 cup Peanuts
1 tsp Sesame seeds (Til)
1 tsp Cumin seeds (jeera)
2 tsp Coriander seeds (Dhania)
1/2 cup Grated coconut
2 Medium Onions, roughly sliced
3 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
2 tsp Tamarind paste
1 cup Yoghurt 
5 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste
Water

Procedure

  1. Roast the sesame seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and peanuts. Keep aside to cool.
  2. Take 1 tbs oil in a pan. Fry the sliced onions until they turn transparent. (Do not let them turn brown). Keep aside to cool.
  3. Blend the fried onions, grated coconut, roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds to a paste. Add some water (approx 1/4 cup) to make the blending easier.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Fry the chillies for approx 4-5 minutes on a medium flame. Keep the chillies aside.
  5. In the same pan heat the remaining oil. Fry the blended masala paste with ginger-garlic paste and tamarind paste for approximately 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add the yoghurt to this and mix. Make sure the yoghurt is completely incorporated into the paste.
  7. Add the fried chillies to this. Mix and add 1 cup of water.
  8. Boil for 5-6 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the pan covered for 5 minutes.
  9. Serve with paratha or rice.

I love the Bhavnagari chillies for their correct amount of ‘hotness’. You can use any other variety of green chillies. You can also de-seed them to make the chillies milder. The real fun though is in the salan. It is tangy, hot and delicious. Replace the chillies with eggplant and you have Baingan ka salan!

I am not sure about the authenticity of this recipe but I know that it is truly delicious. Try it!

 

Non-Spicy Cabbage Poriyal – Simple, light and vegetarian!

cabbage-2Ingredients

1 Medium Cabbage, chopped
3 tsp Oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
2 tsp Urad Dal
8-10 Curry Leaves
2 tsp Turmeric powder (Haldi)
Salt, to taste
1/2 Grated coconut
Water

Procedure

  1. Heat the oil. Add the urad dal to this.
  2. When urad dal turns brownish add mustard seeds.
  3. When the mustard seeds begin to sputter add curry leaves and turmeric powder. Fry for 2-3 mins.
  4. Add the cabbage. Mix well.
  5. Add salt and approx 1/2 cup water. Cook without covering until cabbage is fully cooked.
  6. Add grated coconut. Fry for 1 minute. Serve hot.

So simple. That is what I love about this dish. Quick, attractive, delicious, light and great with hot phoolkas. You can sprinkle lemon juice on this before serving.

Since my mother is unable to tolerate spicy food my recipe does not include red chilli powder and coriander powder. You can add these along with turmeric powder. I still prefer the masale-free version.

Broken Wheat Upma

daliya-upmaIngredients

1 cup Broken Wheat (Daliya)
3 tsp Oil
2 Medium Onions, chopped
2 Medium Carrots, chopped
2 Medium Potatoes, chopped
2 Green Chillies, chopped
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
10-12 Curry leaves
2 tsp Chana Dal
2 tsp Urad Dal
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder (Haldi powder)
1/2 cup Yoghurt, beaten
3 cups Water
Salt, to taste

Procedure

  1. Soak and wash the broken wheat thoroughly. Boil around 5 cups of water. Blanche the broken wheat in the boiling water for approximately 5 mins. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Fry the chana dal and urad dal until light brown.
  3. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  4. When they begin to sputter add chopped onions. Cook until the onions turn translucent.
  5. Add the chopped green hillies,  potatoes and carrots. Fry for around 1-2 mins.
  6. Add turmeric powder. Fry for another 2-3 mins.
  7. Add salt. Stir.
  8. Add 3 cups of water. Mix.
  9. Reduce heat. Add the yoghurt and mix well. Add more water if required.
  10. Cover the pressure cooker with a lid. Cook under pressure for 2 whistles.
  11. Allow the steam to escape. Open lid. Adjust the salt. Cook for approx 2 minutes or until excess water dries up.
  12. Garnish with fresh, chopped coriander, nuts. Squeeze half a lemon. Serve hot!

My variation of a great, hearty breakfast. Healthy, tasty and wholesome. You can add green peas if desired. Adding a spoonful of fresh ghee is also yummy!

Rogan Josh – straight from the valley!

roganjosh

Ingredients

1 kg Mutton, cut into large pieces
1 tbsp Garlic, ground
2-3 large Onions ground into paste
5 tsp Turmeric powder (Haldi)
8 Green cardamoms (Chhoti Elaichi)
8 Cloves (Laung)
5 tsp Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder, mixed with 1 cup water
¾ cup Ghee
2.5 litres Water
a few strands of saffron, mixed in warm water
½ tsp Black Pepper powder (Kali Mirchi Powder)

Procedure

  1. Fry the onion paste in 3 tbsp Ghee/Oil until golden brown. Keep aside
  2. Boil the mutton in water. Keep removing all the scum with a ladle.
  3. Once the water is clean, add salt and ground garlic. Boil until mutton is half cooked.
  4. Remove the mutton pieces from the water and wash in running cold water. Keep aside.
  5. Strain the water through a fine sieve and pour into a fresh pan.
  6. Bring this water to a boil and add meat to it.
  7. Heat the ghee in another pan. Add cloves (laung) to the hot ghee.
  8. When the cloves begin to crackle, sprinkle around 1 tbsp water and immediately cover the pan. (This has to be done very carefully and quickly) . Keep the pan covered.
  9. Now add green cardamoms, clove flavored ghee, turmeric powder and fried onion paste (prepared in step 1) to the mutton.
  10. Mix and bring to a boil. Boil for approx 10-12 mins on high flame.
  11. Now add the kashmiri red chilli mixed in water to this. Mix well. Bring to a boil.
  12. Cover and cook on simmer until the mutton is totally cooked.
  13. Add the saffron and black pepper powder. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 10 mins.
  14. Keep the pan covered and let the mutton rest for approximately 20-30 minutes before serving.

The totally authentic Kashmiri preparation includes the very Kashmiri ingredient mawal (dried cockscomb flower) heated with around 1 cup water. I was unable to find this in the market and hence omitted this. The recipe was a huge success last night. We had our friends Mukul and Shalini over from Delhi. Lots of the excellent Sula Dindori Shiraz and then sumptuous Rogan Josh with simple steamed rice. Wonderful meal that was completed by some amazing gazak that my father-in-law had ‘procured’ from Lucknow. Mazaa aa gaya – kasam se!