Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ramadan-Iftar Snacks

Featured above are foods that are served at Iftar during Ramadan in India.Featured clockwise:Fruit Chaat(Indian Fruit Salad) Dates,Luqmi(curried lamb mince stuffed pastry parcels) Haleem (lentils, wheat and meat cooked in spices) Besan ke pakodey( Chickpea flour vegetable Fritters) Dahi Badey(black gram fritters soaked in tempered yoghurt).In addition to which fresh fruit juices and are also served.

I will delve upon the preparation of some of the dishes like Haleem and Dahi Badey in later posts.Haleem is a dish that has its origins in the Arabic 'Thareed' and 'Harees'.It requires a lot of patience and skill(not everyone can make it to perfection) to prepare this elaborate dish and its prepared specifically for Ramadan.
Luqmi(curried lamb pastry parcels)Just follow the qeema/kheema curry procedure from my archives - february posts.Ensure to make it dry and then use as stuffing in pastry wraps and fold them like a parcel.Then deep fry and remove on to plate lined with kitchen tissue.
Fruit salad:Just cut a variety of fruit of your choice.I've used apples, mandarins,apricots plums,peaches,guava(seedy pulp removed).You can even use grapes, melons, and summer berries.Chop them up, mix with fruit chat masala either commercially available packs or make your own-Add a generous pinch of black pepper, black salt,cumin powder,lime/lemon juice mix well and sprinkle on the assortment of fruit.You could even add a spoon of honey to it
Besan ke pakodey(chickpea flour fritters with vegetables) Mix one cup chickpea flour with a pinch of red chilli powder, salt as required,a pinch of carrom(ajwain) seeds/dried thyme,a teaspoon of hot oil , a pinch of sodium bicarbonate,and a tsp of ginger garlic paste.Add sufficient water a little at a time to make a thick batter(it should not be runny).Now you can use an assortment of vegetables - cauliflower florets boiled (al dente), potato slices, aubergine slices cut lengthwise,bellpepper or any long variety of peppers,green plantain cut lengthwise.Even hard boiled egg slices can be used for a change.Dip them in the batter and deep fry in hot oil till golden brown.Serve with tahini sauce/ barbecue sauce/tomato ketchup.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Perfect Date is Sweet and Delicious(Food and Festivals)

This month kicks off a riot of festivals in India and around the world.I will showcase some of them as the year progresses.First of all 'Ramadan Mubarak' to all.A billion hearts in devotion, thirty glorious nights and 30 days of food and festivities. Although fasting is about abstaining from food and drinks (sunrise to sunset) yet food does become a focal point with so many parties, Iftar buffets and Ramadan food festivals(five star hotels) and not to forget the parties hosted at homes.I will try to portray Ramadan celebrations in the Indian Muslim community in India and Saudi Arabia with a prime focus on food.

No Ramadan is complete without dates.The fasting on any day is ended at sunset with a date...(apart from other reasons)probably because dates are high in simple sugars which the body can absorb to give instant energy.
In Saudi Arabia one of the most beautiful places to be during Ramadan is home to many good quality dates.You can choose from a variety of them the best being - Anbar, Khidri, Sukry, Barhi Naboot Seif, Kholas, Sekki, Agwa etc.they come Fresh, Semi ripe(rhutab) or pressed.You can also find designer dates stuffed with dry fruits, date truffles, chocolate pralines in addition to date drinks, date jams etc.Featured above are khidri dates (like chocolate they melt in the mouth)
In the morning before starting the fast(pre dawn meal -'suhoor')dates are taken with laban(thick butter milk) and in the evening at the end of the fast, dates are eaten with fresh breakfast cream.If you haven't tried dates with fresh breakfast cream then you have missed this Ramadan try the dates with cream.Of course its laden with calories..Enjoy!Also dates are served with qahwah(Arabic coffee) as the coffee which is flavoured with cardamom and brewed in a dallah(coffeee pot)is not sweetened.At every sip biting into a date thats held in the hand with a tooth pick is the custom in Arabian countries.You must try it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dum Ki Gavar Ki phalli(Cluster Beans cooked in Sesame seed paste)

This is a lesser known Hyderabadi dish which is a family favorite. When cluster beans( scientific name is Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba- phew! quite a mouthful isn't it?) are in season I am flooded with little boxes.Although stringing the beans and chopping them is a laborious task, the end result is perfect and delectable.Try choosing tender and green cluster beans that are free from blemishes on the exterior,the mature beans have a slight bitter taste.This is traditionally cooked in the dum technique, about which I had written in a previous post ( veg dum biryani) over a low flame, tightly sealed.However, I achieve the same result with the use of a pressure pan.These beans are considered to be of help in controlling diabetes.

Dum Ki Gavar ki phalli(Cluster beans/Guar beans)

400 gms cluster beans(gavar ki phalli)
4 onions finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp chilli powder
3 tbs oil
2 tsp /coriander(dhanya)powder
salt as required

For the paste:
2 tbs roasted sesame seeds
1 green chilly (optional)
1 inch piece of ginger
3 cloves of garlic

Wash the beans and string them.Top and tail and finally chop them into half inch strips.Now, prepare a thick paste of the ingredients listed under the same caption.(The sesame seeds should be first powdered dry and then the remaining ingredients added with a little water)Now, mix the sesame seed paste, spices, salt onions and oil with the beans, saute for a minute and then pressure cook them in a pressure pan, with 3/4 cup water for about two whistles till the beans are tender.If water remains on opening the pan then, return it to the stove and cook till the oil appears over the edges.The water should completely evaporate, however, the curry should be moist and not too dry.

Variation:You could even try this dish with french beans.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chicken Do Pyaza & Vegetable Do Pyaza

This dish is a popular part of the Mughlai and Punjabi cuisine(Indo-Pak) and I am rounding up the dual delights theme with this one.Do Pyaza refers to the the onions used in two different forms 'do' means two in urdu/hindi and 'pyaz' means onions.Another theory suggests this dish was named in honor of Mullah Do Piaza a scholar and royal advisor who was part of the 'Nine jewels' of the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the Mughal Period was an era of opulence and brilliance in all fields especially Arts and Architecture (Yes! the Taj Mahal was built by his grandson Emperor shahjahan) I hope you will try this dish in your kitchens and please your friends, family and loved ones.So far I have given you four restaurant like dishes to prepare either with vegetables or chicken.However you can make this dish with lamb too.

Chicken Do Pyaza(chicken cooked in onion gravy)
400-500 gms chicken preferably boneless
3 onions diced into large chunks
A paste of three onions and 1 tbs ginger-garlic blended together
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander seed powder
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 tsp garam masala
3 tbs oil
salt as required


Heat the oil and fry the onion chunks till they turn glossy and remove.In the same oil add the onion paste and fry till it turns golden brown.Add all the spices except the garam masala and keep sprinkling a little water to prevent the paste from catching at the bottom of the pan.Add the tomato puree and the chicken pieces toss fora minute then add 1 cup water and let cook till chicken is tender.Now, add the diced onions and mix well and it's ok if the onions separate into layers.Add the garam masala and serve hot garnished with finely chopped coriander leaves.If you wish you can add 1 tbs yoghurt or cream to thicken the onion gravy.

Vegetable Do Pyaza

Like always substitute the chicken with a packet of mixed frozen vegetables.