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Everything posted by Episure

  1. Thanks Mark, for your dissertation on Chillies. Has anyone ever thought about grading them by instant heat, slow heat and everything else in between. I find that fresh green chillies kick in and die out fast. Reds are usually in dried form and have a lasting burn. Something to do with the oleoresins being locked in, perhaps? And yes it is a matter of getting used to the heat by experience. Inspite of being used to my Indian cuisine, when I travel to Thailand, it takes me three days in to accustom myself to the real Thal food. Day one is usually in places that cater to tourists, after that...........
  2. I agree with Skchai to some degree for a dish like Roghan Josh where the name itself suggests a layer of oil on top. A fortifying dish for the nippy climes of Kashmir and the northern winter. A few more points to consider: Maybe in old Hindoostan a layer of oil functioned as a preservative as there were no refrigerators. The oil separation stage is not necessarily the sauce cooked stage, rather onion browning is a definite marker. Oil plays a functional role in roasting the onions and spices. Therefore one uses only that much oil as is necessary. On an average a recipe calls for approx 1 tbsp oil per person. I just skimmed through Camelia Panjabi's 50 great Curries of India to arrive at this figure. Jiggs' Prashad recipes call for about twice that quantity of oil and he advocates the oil separation stage which Camellia doesn't. I have not come across many people who find the oil slick appetizing. I'd rather my Gravy stay as a Liasion and not as curdled mayonnaise.
  3. I start this as a new topic sparked off by the Kheema thread where Vikram writes: Stir until the oil starts separating (this is the standard instruction given by Indian cooks, and I have never quite understood what it means. Like Vikram, for years I've tried to figure this one out. A mystery that continues to elude me. The cynic that I am made me do it one day, I carried out tasting tests with dishes prepared, one version where it was cooked till the oil separates and another where it does not. Needless to say nobody could make out the difference, if at all the latter was more aromatic probably because the spice flavours and volatile oils had not been despatched to the angels. Since then I never cook food till the oil separates. Sacrilege? Hardly. Being a self taught culinarian, I am devoid of any academic baggage. And experimenting is what keeps my culinary quest alive. I would like to think of a scenario where in old Hindoostan, the maharaja/nawab comes back from shooting some game; famished, he visits his cavernous kitchen to see what fare has been conjured by his khansama. The cook hearing him approach instantly tosses the masalas into a tadkaish frenzy and continues to vaporize the room with this heady aroma driving the kingpin into a state of complete gustatory surrender. So starts this idea of cooking till the "oil separates". The point that I am trying to make here is that the has dish lost all it's "valuables" before it is served in the dining room. To some degree the diner will have some olfactory hangover from his visit to the kitchen so he may not feel the loss too much. Decide whether you want to tantalise the kitchen or the dining room. Dont believe me, try it yourself. Cooking should be functional like the Maillard reaction.
  4. We Sindhis eat the dried flowers too prepared in a Kheema like style. Young drumsticks( Suwandhro) plucked when 2-3 inches long, can be boiled whole and eaten in a raita or made as a sabji. I also use the regular drumstick as an essential ingredient for making a good vegetarian stock or the pods in a mirepoix. It has a lot of "Umami".
  5. Roopa Gulati for a short while presented a breakfast show on New Delhi TV. She was fairly charismatic, peppy and had good diction. I marvelled at her sense of extempore, improvisation and casualness for exact measurements like 2 1/4 teaspoons of this and 80 ml of that. She was able to put across the recipe in a simple manner and put the viewer at ease, all the hallmarks of a good presenter. I believe she is qualified to take Indian cuisine further. I think she has now taken over where Iqbal Wahhab left - as editor of Tandoori magazine, UK. I have never had the fortune of meeting Suvir but the photograph on his site reveals a good personality.
  6. We pickle lemons/limes in the same way here in India. To get them to tan , treat them like humans i.e., put them out in the sun. Seriously.
  7. Summer time calls for a home made Jasmine flower sherbet. Bring equal volumes of water and sugar to a boil and add cardamoms and a sliver of sandalwood. After another 20 minutes shut of the heat and add jasmine flowers trimmed off their green stem ends. Let it stew overnight, drain and you have a lovely sherbet. Serve diluted with water and ice cubes. Small white Jasmine flowers are worn as a hair braid by Indian women and are also available outside temples. I also use this to make a sorbet to serve between courses. My other favorite is the Bel Sherbet, unfortunately my source of this fruit from Calcutta has migrated elsewhere. I must develop a source for this near Bombay.
  8. As we delve into the apocryphal origins of Chicken 65, let me clarify that my friend( A very large distributor of spirits) used to get it down to Bombay by air from Hyderabad about 15 years ago. I just called him up and he says he used to get it from his friend's restaurant -Raj Bar, who in turn had copied it from Buharis in Madras, so I guess Vikram is right. I recently went to Hyderabad for a day and a half and all I could get as Chicken 65 was the batter version which I would describe as spicy minced Chicken meat balls in a dry gravy. This was more Manchurian or Manjoori as some restaurants call it. I guess the original 65 got 86ed. No offense meant to mongo_jones but maybe the Hyderabadis adopted and adapted it. Any more guntur chilli powder and it would classify as a WMD! A search on Google turns up even more stories about origin of the name: 65 day old chicken 65 spices Highway no. 65 It's elusiveness inspired me to make a concerted effort and recreate the original and the version posted earlier more or less succeeds. Mayfair Rooms and Banquets in Bombay turns out the real Mc coy if ordered as part of the menu for private parties. Come to think of it Chicken 65 would go well as a wrap or enchilada. Enchilada sounds South Indian too. My Souffle fell! The horror, the horror!
  9. Prasad I am sorry but our time zone differences prevents me from giving you the Chicken chilli recipe in time for your Sunday Brunch. This is probably late but here goes anyway: I will skip the measurements as I am sure you will be able to figure it out. Marinate Chicken chunks in Soya sauce and ginger-garlic paste for an hour. In 2 tbsp oil, saute onions chopped into 2 cm square pieces and the drained Chicken chunks till done. Add chopped( about 1 cm) green chillies and a dash of white pepper powder. Add the drained marinade with cornflour and some chicken stock as per your requirement of gravy. Cook till done, taste and add salt if necessary. This depends on your soya sauce. I would also add 1 star anise and a dash of Black bean sauce to make it exotic and different from the restaurants. That way no one can compare it to a standard. The red colour in Chicken 65 comes from the sambar powder and red chilli powder. It is difficult to come across this version even in Hyderabad where this dish originated in a restaurant as item no. 65 on the menu. It would be expensive for a restaurant to sell this version and hence they stretch the meat by batter frying it. Bhasin It's 1 cup drained yoghurt and after marination you just lightly drain the chicken, letting some marinade remain. You could use less than 1/2 cup oil to stir fry and the tadka requires only 2 tbsp. It's 16 tbsps. to a cup. Make sure the green chillies are slit the long side, so they can be dodged easily. Once the tadka is mixed, it must be served immediately. Szimply!
  10. Chicken 65 is from Hyderabad( Andhra Pradesh) and makes a good starter to accompany drinks. This is the original version and does not use batter to increase bulk. 500 gms boneless chicken cut into thick shreds(Approx 1 cm by 2 cm) Marinate for 1 hour in 1 cup hung yoghurt(dahi), 2 tbsps sambar powder, 2 tbsps red chilli powder, 2 tbsps ginger garlic paste and salt to taste. Drain and stir fry in 1/2 cup oil till just cooked, serve with a tadka( freshly sauted garnish) of curry leaves, mustard seeds and slit green chillies. Adjust the chilli powder as per your level of tolerance.
  11. To make 2 cups of masala chai (as we do it here in Bombay): Boil 2 tsps. of robust black tea in a cup of water and a cup of milk, with a sliver of cinnamon, 1 clove, 1 cardamom and sugar. You should boil the tea leaves till just before the brew turns bitter, this can be achieved only by trial and error as it depends on the tea brand. You can also have it iced and makes a nice summer cooler. Ginger, anise, thyme, basil are optional. Then there is the Kashmiri Kahwa tea, which is a lighter brew using green tea and no milk. It is brewed with cinnamon, cardamom, a couple of strands of saffron, sugar and garnished with ground almonds.
  12. My Parsi friends often serve a Raita accompaniment that has shredded beetroot and mint. Probably that's what it is. But that still doesnt explain the purplish Patia. I have had this with their Kharu Ghosht and Prawn Patia. Goes well with Prawn kawabs also. Please note, they call it kawab and not kabab.
  13. Forgive me for responding so late. I cook it differently everytime, my latest version uses Lagavulin whisky and rosemary. I think of Raan as a whole leg( Gigot) of mutton/lamb. I presume you want an indian version, this is one that deserved archiving the recipe: Massage a well pricked leg ( 750g) on the bone with raw papaya and ginger- garlic paste for 15 minutes. Wipe off the pastes and marinate in: In 2 tbsps ghee, lightly fry 10 g cuminseed, 5 g aniseed, 10 peppercorns, 5 g whole garam masalas and a few kashmiri chillies. Grind finely with 1 tomato gradually adding a cup of thick yoghurt and salt. Massage this into the meat and marinate for a few hours. Roast in a slow oven with 1 star anise, a few allspice berries ( I use triphala) and sliced Shalgam( turnips/swedes/rutabagas) for 60-90 mins. or about 75-80 deg internal temperature. Make sure it does not dry out by adding water upto 1" sides. Remove from oven, rest the meat for about 10 minutes, make a gravy from the juices. Deglaze the pan with milk and add to the gravy. Carve at a slant on the bone into 1/2 inch slices and serve topped with the gravy and onion slices which have been fried in ghee. I am afraid I am not much of a recipe writer, if I have left out something please ask me. I fry by the heat of my pans
  14. Papain, the active ingredient in raw Papaya is an enzyme that breaks down proteins. The problem is getting all the factors in sync, viz: cross section of meat, time, temperature and ratio of meat to tenderizer. It's very easy to make a mistake and turn the meat into a mushy mess which has the texture of liver( powdery?). Haroun, one of the first guys to specialize in this had got it right. There is absolutely no need to use a tenderizer if you use the loin section and cook it to about 65 - 70 deg internal temperature which is just enough to do away with M/s E.Coli, Campylobacter, Listeria et al and plate you a nice juicy steak just like in the photos( utterly bovine ). I have used papaya paste to tenderize large cuts like a mutton leg ( Raan) but then it can take more heat unlike beef which gets irreversibly damaged beyond a certain temperature. The cell walls shed all the juices and you get a tough chewy piece of rubber. After cracking the secret of a good steak I now use the same method( slow and low temperature) on Raan and the results are superb( earlier it was an also ran ). Another trick is giving the meat a good hard massage( about 10 minutes) in the marinade. This nugget of knowledge was given to me by Vallibhai Payawallah of Bhendi bazaar and is used by his bawarchi when making a bhuna gosht. This does away with the destruction caused by using a mallet. For good steak meat in Bandra go to the back of Pali market and pick up the first arrivals. Once again I aver that buff is more flavorsome ( not gamey) than beef including japanese wagu which I have had on a few occasions( any more and I will have to sell my wife's jewellery!) I am also quoting relevant Cordon Bleu School guidelines which will still be subjective: "When demonstrating the technique for cooking a steak, the chefs at Le Cordon Bleu hesitate to give students an exact cooking time because there are so many variables to consider. Obviously the thickness of the steak and the degree to which it is to be cooked (very rare, rare, medium, or well done) will have a considerable effect on the timing. The temperature of the meat before cooking (if you like your steak rare or medium rare it must be at room temperature before cooking), the presence of a bone, the method of cooking (sautéing, grilling or barbecuing), and the heat of the stove, grill, or coals will also affect the cooking time. The best way to test whether the meat is cooked is by touch and sight as well as by the clock: as a steak cooks, the meat becomes firmer and the interior colour lightens from a dark purple-red to pink. With experience you will be able to determine when all meats, poultry, and even fish are done, merely by touch. Here are guidelines for cooking steaks to the desired degree: approximate times are given for 2-2.5 cm (3/4-1 inch) thick steaks. VERY RARE (called bleu in French) Sear both sides just until browned (about 1 minute each side) in very hot oil and butter. The steak will feel very soft when touched; the interior colour will not have changed from the purple-red colour of raw meat. RARE (Saignant) Sear for 2 minutes each side and 1 minute on the edge in very hot oil and butter. The steak will still feel soft when touched; the interior colour will be red. MEDIUM (à point) Sear for 3 minutes each side and 1 minute on the edge in very hot oil and butter. The steak will offer resistance when touched; the interior colour will be pink, and pink juices will bead on the surface of the seared side of the steak when turned. WELL DONE (bien cuit) Sear both sides just until browned (about 1 minute each side) and then cook for about 15 minutes in a 170 C (325 F) mark 3 oven. The steak will be very firm when touched; the interior colour will no longer be at all pink."
  15. You are right, Pepper steak is the most common manifestation in India. Tenderizing usually consists of using a meat mallet till the steak resembles a piece of sponge, completely destroying the texture. 9 out of 10 times the steak is never made to the required degree of doneness. The funny thing is, even 5 star chefs will err and offer to replace it, but by then the moment of savoring is lost.
  16. Dear Vikram, Thanks for the good dissertation on the Beef scenario in India. Your perception is accurate. I've found Buff to be more flavoursome than Beef, perhaps as a species the buffalo is wilder( Time Line) than the domesticated cow. If you use undercut from a good supplier( Francois Maison at Kemps Corner, Bombay) and cook it to just done, I think you will be happy with the results. Bear in Mind that this cut is very lean and you can cook it up to medium only. Come to think of it at only 80 Rs ( 1.80 $ ) a kilo you should use only the middle section, also known as center loin and use the ends for braising. This is the way I cook it Chateaubriand style: Trim an entire 2 kg. undercut to a center loin section about 750 - 1000 grams between the tail and the knob. Marinate in 30 ml. worcestershire, 60 ml red wine, 15 ml olive oil(preferably), 2 oxo cubes, some garlic and herbs. Cover and keep chilled for 5-10 hours, turning over in the marinade once in a while. Drain lightly and tightly wrap in foil to a toffee shape, twisting the ends. Cook in a low- medium hot oven till you feel the meat stiffen to your doneness(about 15 - 25 minutes). This part is completely empirical but a couple of times and you will get it right. There are too many variables here so I can't be exact. Remove from oven, let it stand for 15 minutes remove from foil and brown the meat ( couple of minutes only) in some butter. Remove and deglaze the pan with the leftover marinade till you get a thick sauce, finish with a dollop of cream. Slice the meat down bread loaf style almost all the way, pour the sauce over it and serve with your choice of accompaniments. Serves two, halve the quantities for one person. Let me know how it turns out.
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