Vasundhara Chauhan generously shares her cousin Neetu's Kashmiri Roghan Josh recipe, and more
Despite a lifetime of eating curries - especially chicken and mutton - based on a masala of onions, garlic and ginger, there comes a time when O, G and G will just not do. Health is one reason: to saute a paste of Onions (and Garlic and Ginger) till it reaches the appropriate golden brown colour requires a generous pool of oil or ghee.
Old fashioned cooks use a heavy bottomed degh, add a sprinkling of water every few minutes, and scrape and stir all the time so that the masala is an even and attractive colour with no scorching and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
In the end, when the dish is ready, a shimmering layer of fat floats to the top, and the pity is that we've been brought up to appreciate this oily red roghan as the mark of a dish worth serving. Minimising the use of fats is one reason to cook without onions, but the other is time saved.
Years ago, back in the days of Food in the Time before Cholesterol, I worked long hours away from home and was head cook and bottle-washer when I came back. No one wanted sandwiches or take-away every night; we did want gosht-roti at least a couple of times a week. But the thought of peeling, scraping, grating and grinding was enough to make me weep and go to bed without dinner.
Then a Good Fairy, aka my cousin Neetu, gave me a couple of recipes that were sub-continental enough to satisfy our desi taste buds and simple enough to make quickly without the schlep. She was brought up in Kashmir and then in Jammu, in a family renowned for its table, so these were authentic too - not a bastardised kind of fusion-confusion made up of packaged ready-to-eat spice pastes. That was my introduction to Kashmiri Pandit cuisine and the concept that onions, garlic and ginger were not prerequisite to cooking meat curries.
Asafctida, hing, is the dried, gummy resin from the herb Ferula, and its flavour - unpleasant when raw - is transformed when fried into a flavour reminiscent of garlic and leeks. We're not used to hing in non-vegetarian cooking, but it is characteristic of Kashmiri Pandit cuisine. The rest of us sprinkle crushed, dried hing into oil or a pot of boiling food, but in Kashmir, they dissolve the crushed stuff in water in a little bottle, shake it up and refrigerate. A few drops of this solution, when added to hot oil, don't get burnt, and add a smooth and distinctive flavour to the food.
Twenty years on, her recipe for rogan gosht is not just a family favourite, but a "party dish" too because it has a smooth gravy, dark red, fragrant with hing and sabut garam masala, and looks striking on the table between snowy white rice and a dark green vegetable. Some friends have said that Kashmiri cooking doesn't use tomatoes - which this recipe does - but since I'm not going to procure and use petals of mawal, the cockscomb flower, that impart a deep red colour, tomatoes will do.
Neetu's Kashmiri Rogan Gosht
--500g mutton pieces (with bone) from dasti (foreleg)
--2 cups dahi
--2 tsp coriander (dhania) powder
--1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
--2 tbsp mustard oil
--4 green cardamoms
--2-inch piece cinnamon
--1 bay leaf
--2 tbsp tomato puree
--Few drops of dissolved asafctida (hing)
--1-2 tsp red Kashmiri chilli powder
--1/2 tsp saunf (fennel) powder
--1/4 tsp sonth (dried ginger) powder
Wash and dry mutton pieces. Beat dahi with salt, dhania powder and haldi till smooth. Mix with mutton pieces and keep aside for an hour or two. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf and peppercorns. After 1-2 minutes, add tomato puree. Stir in hing and red chilli powder. When oil separates, add mutton with dahi marinade, all at once. Cook uncovered, on high heat. The mutton will start sticking to the bottom of the pan, so stir frequently and scrape if needed. When the mutton is a nice reddish-brown, add a cup of water into which saunf and sonth powders have been mixed. Cook, covered, until mutton is tender. Add a little water if necessary. The gravy should be smooth and thinnish but not watery.
This is best served with plain boiled rice and a green vegetable.
If sonth isn't available, use a teaspoon of ginger juice.
--1 kg large green leaves of haak (collard greens are a perfect
sustitute, failing which, spinach)
--3-4 tbsp mustard or other vegetable oil
--1 pinch asafctida (hing) dissolved in 1tsp water
--4 cups water
--1 tsp salt
--4 green or red chillies, broken into two
--1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Wash the leaves and stems thoroughly and drain. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Cover with a lid (this is important), leaving a little opening away from you. Pour in the asafctida and water through the opening and close the lid. The oil will sputter and hot steam rise furiously, but the lid will take care of it. When the water boils, remove the lid and put in the salt and chillies. Add the haak leaves and the bicarbonate of soda, stirring and turning the leaves frequently, so that each leaf is coated with the oil in the water. Cook till tender on high heat. To retain the fresh green colour, do not cover. Turn off heat when a little watery juice still remains - it goes well with rice.
The writer is a food writer based in New Delhi, India.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
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Page 18 of 174
The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
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