Spring is almost here at last! YAY!
Although it rained the whole "birthday" weekend and next 2 days too without a break, it was warm enough and now the temp is in the upper 60s, lawn is green, trees are full of white blossoms and ready for green leaves, birds are chirping, Geese are flying back to the Lake and colorful flowers everywhere. It's wonderful and hopefully, old man Winter will be gone forever or at least until next November! :)
We are visiting Lucknow for RCI this month. I am not familiar with Lucknowi cuisine much and I am assuming here that most Mughlai dishes are included in popular Lucknowi cuisine.
"Lucknow is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, located in what was historically known as the Awadh region. Lucknow has always been a multicultural city. Courtly manners, beautiful gardens, poetry, music, and fine cuisine patronized by the Persian Nawabs of the city are well known amongst Indians and students of South Asian culture and history. Lucknow is popularly known as the The City of Nawabs. It is also known as the "Golden City of the East", "Shiraz-i-Hind" and "The Constantinople of India." Info from WIKIPEDIA.
Mughlai Dum Aloo, Tofu Masala and Lazeez Kulche:
(I had cooked all these and made this post ready to go before kids birthdays came. I knew I would be too tired to cook anything immediately after the b'days! ;D)
These recipes are mostly adapted from Nita Mehta's "Mughlai Khana" cookbook with my changes to the recipes to suit my taste. "Dum" is method where you place all the meat or veggies along with spices in a pot, covered tightly and cooked in their juices on lower heat for a long time on the stove top or in the oven. "Lazeez" literally means "delicious" in Hindi and Urdu, Kulcha is similar to Naan without the tear shape and softer.
To make Dum Aloo:
We usually "Dum" the spices, tomato sauce and Potatoes in this dish but if you don't have the time, you can cook on the stove top, tastes equally good.
Prepare baby Aloos first:
10 round small baby Potatoes,(canned is okay too, easy to saute. If using fresh, cook in the Microwave until they are halfway cooked, dry and saute until you get golden crust)
1-2 tbsp oil to saute or shallow fry, 1/2 tsp salt.
Heat oil in a flat non-stick pan, add potatoes and saute until they are cooked with a reddish crust on top.Add some salt. Keep them aside.
Next, grind the nuts and spices to paste:
3 tbsp of mixed nuts (Pumpkin seeds, Cashews and Walnuts)
1 tbsp Poppy seeds,
1/2 tsp cumin seeds pd.
1/2 tsp Garam masala,
Roast the nuts, poppy seeds and cumin lightly and grind all these mixed Nuts, spices with garam masala and some hot water to a smooth thick paste and keep it aside.
1 tbsp oil+1 tsp Butter,
2 onions, grated or finely chopped,
1" grated Ginger,
1/2 cup Tomato sauce,
1/2 tsp Paprika or Deghi chilli pd,
enough salt and 1 cup or more of water.
Dum in the oven!
1. Heat oil and butter in a deep heavy cast iron pan or Le Crueset or any heavy pan, fry onion until soft and has a bit of reddish color, add ginger, saute for a minute and then add Tomato sauce.
3. Stir fry until you see the sauce thicken and it leaves the sides of the pan. Add paprika, salt and water, simmer for 5 mins.
4. Add Potatoes and nut paste, mix well and cover the pan (Dum) and put it the oven at 300F for about 30-50 mins. Take it out. Adjust the spices and you are ready to go! :)
Tofu masala dish is nothing but cubed extra firm Tofu added to the same Aloo Dum gravy above without the Potatoes. You can use Paneer too. My daughter loves Tofu, so I just took out some gravy from Aloo Dum and added Tofu, heated gently for her. You don't need to "Dum" this dish. Great for everybody, specially for women, as Tofu is a excellent source of Protein. My son hates Tofu though! :D
Kulchas are similar to Naan without the elongated shape and are much softer. You can stuff them to bake them or just press the onions etc to bake or bake without ant spices at all for plain Kulche.
You can also cook the Kulche on the stove top on a tava/griddle instead of baking, which gives them a softer texture than baked Kulche.
You need: Makes about 6-8
2 1/2 cups Plain flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp Baking powder,
2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp yogurt,1/2 warm cup milk.
1/2 tsp Yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tsp sugar.
1 sweet onion, finely chopped, mixed with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp crushed Ajwain, 1/4 tsp chilli pd, few mint leaves chopped. Keep aside. (saute onion until soft if you don't want the raw onion taste)
few tbsp of chopped cilantro.
To bake Kulche:
1. Warm water to 90F and add yeast and sugar, keep aside for 5 mins.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients first and add oil, yogurt and mix. Now add yeast mixture, mix well. 3. Add enough warm milk, mix and knead to a soft but non-sticky dough. Add more water if you need to make the dough pliable if it's too dry.
4. Brush oil on the dough, cover and keep it in the warm place for 30mins. After it swells up, punch down, divide the dough to 7-8 balls.
5. Roll out into 3-4" circle and add 1-2 tbsps of onion filling, cover and roll out or press with your hand again to 5" circle, about 1/4" thick gently. Place them on a cookie sheet, brush some oil on top of each Kulcha, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let them rest for 5 mins.
Preheat the oven to the maximum or to 550F and pretend it's a "Tandoor!" ;D
6. Bake Kulchas 2 at a time for about 3-6mins or until slightly golden or you see dark spots on top. Take them out, place them on the cooling rack, immediately sprinkle chopped Cilantro on them. Or cook them on the stove top on a tava and press cilantro etc on top.
7. When cooled, keep them in the Tortilla warmer until you need them. You can reheat them in the microwave or in the oven quickly just before serving.
"Royal Chicken" or "Chicken fit for a king" is a delicious dish with spices, Raisins and mixed Nuts paste which gives a great aroma and creamy texture to the sauce. Delicious to eat with Naan or soft Kulchas. Photo isn't that great but it's super delicious, as my kids said! :)
about 2 lbs of dark and white meat chicken, cut into 2" pieces,
2 tbsp oil, 2 onions chopped, 3 tbsp Ginger paste, 1 tbsp Garlic paste, 2-3 green chillies sliced, 1/2 tsp Turmeric, 1/4 tsp Chilli pd and salt.
Grind these coarsely:
1/4 cup Almonds, 2 tbsp Sesame seeds, 1/4 cup Coconut, fresh or desiccated, 1/2 tsp Cardamom seeds, 1/2 cup Yogurt or sour cream, pinch of Saffron pd or few strands of Saffron.
1 tsp oil or ghee to roast 2 tbsp Cashews, 1 tbsp Raisins,
1 tsp Garam Masala, chopped Cilantro and mint leaves, 1 tbsp Lemon juice.
1. Heat 2 tbsp oil, add onion and fry until reddish. Add ginger and garlic paste, fry for a minute. Add green chillies, chilli pd, salt and turmeric. Lower the heat.
2. Add coarsely ground Nuts+Yogurt paste, stir fry on low heat until the sauce is thick. Add chicken pieces and stir until chicken is whitish for 3 mins.
3. Add 1 cup or more of water, simmer for 30 mins or until chicken is cooked and sauce is thickish. Adjust the salt, and heat.
4. Garnish with cilantro, Mint, roasted Cashews and raisins, garam masala. Squeeze lemon juice if needed and serve with Kulche.
Fiesta Salsa with Cucumber,Avocado and the kitchen sink!!
Of course most of you know how to make Salsa! This is my version. Salsa is favorite for light Summer lunch, specially when I get loads of homegrown veggies from my veggie patch! In Winter, I rely on store bought fresh and canned veggies! :)
Mix all these and chill in the fridge for one hour and serve on the side with Doritos, Tortilla chips, inside the Tacos, Quesadillas, Enchiladas etc. for healthy and delicious snack.
Peel and chop 1 large cucumber, 1 Avocado, 3 Plum Tomatoes, 1/4 red onion, 1/2 cup Corn (canned is okay), 1/4 cup red bell pepper, 1 Jalapeno seeded and minced, 1/4 cup canned Red beans, 2 tbsp Cilantro, 1 garlic minced, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds powder (get Mexican cumin seeds if you can which a different smoky flavor than our Indian cumin seeds), salt, few drizzles of honey (optional) and 2 tbsp Lemon juice. Dig in with a spoon and enjoy!
A Vegan Taco!
A Mexican delight; I made my vegan Taco with Organic Wheat Tortilla, canned Organic Re-fried black beans, Fresh fiesta salsa and drizzled with Taco sauce! If I wasn't making this dish Vegan, I would add grated Jack or Cheddar cheese and sour cream in there too! Even my daughter, who usually doesn't like veggies, loved this Taco and ate this with me for lunch. So delicious with sweetish Wheat Tortilla, nutritious beans and mouthful of crunchy, tangy, hot and sweet Salsa for refreshing lunch!
To make Taco:
1. Take a Wheat Tortilla, warm it either in the Microwave for a min or heat it on a pan both sides just until soft, not crisp. Place it on a plate.
3. Take a big ladleful of fiesta Salsa, layer on top of the Refried beans and fold the half of Tortilla over and serve as lunch immediately. Slurp! :)
Note: if you don't have canned refried beans, just mash soft cooked red, Kidney or black beans with salt, few chilli flakes, cumin pd, lemon juice until coarse paste and fry in a pan with some oil until thickish paste. Enjoy.
Here are the logos, links and hosts of these events. My thanks to all the event hosts fot taking time! :)
Mughlai Dum Aloo, Tofu Masala with Lazeez Kulche, go to Lavi of "Home cooked recipes", who is guest hosting "RCI-Lucknowi Cuisine" this month, an event started by LakshmiK.
Murg Nizam, goes to JZ of "dessert Pro", who is guest hosting "Go Nuts-Almonds" this month, an event started by Aquadaze.
Vegan Mexican Tacos, goes to Vaishali of "It's a Vegan World" to her event "It's a Vegan World-Mexican".
Cucumber-Avocado Fiesta Salsa, goes to Neha of "Tasty recipes" who is guest hosting "AFAM-Cucumber", an event started by Maheswari.
A quick last minute addition for "Tried and Tasted"!
Ven Pongal and Gosthu, a delicious traditional Tamilnadu combo from Suganya's "Tasty Palettes" blog is my choice to "Tried and Tasted-Tasty Palettes", an event Sweatha of "tastyCurryleaf" is guest hosting this month and this event is started by Zlamushka of "Burnt Mouth" blog. Thanks ladies, enjoy hosting! :)
Ven Pongal with Gosthu:
Very tasty combo to have for lunch and nutritious too, thanks for the delicious recipes Suganya. Only change I made was to add Chana dal to Gosthu instead of Moong dal since Ven Pongal already has Moong dal in it. We make a similar Gosthu/Gojju in Karnataka and is called "Kadale Huli" made with Chana dal, Brinjal, Tomato and Potato to serve as a side dish with Dose.
Movies I watched:
"Rachel getting married"
Good movie to watch with family dynamics and drama, ups and downs and all that. Ann Hathaway was nominated for Oscar for playing the role of Kim, Rachel's sister in this movie, who comes home from rehab for a weekend to attend her sister's wedding.
"The boy with striped Pajamas"
I am sure not many have heard of this movie. I just picked it up out of curiosity. Glad I did!
It's heart wrenching and I almost teared up in the end. It's about a 8 yr old German boy who makes friends with another 8 yr old Jewish boy imprisoned in a concentration camp along with his father and others like him. They develop a innocent friendship and what happens in the end is shocking, saddens you and makes you very angry at the same time at the society which let something like this take place in the past! I know this is just a movie based on a fictional book but still....
Most of you know the story already. My heart goes out to the all the gay community. They still don't have equal rights even after all the struggles for so long. Hope they succeed and at least have the right to get married legally like the rest of us. If you have seen the movie, you know where the phrase "Twinky defense" comes from! :P
Have wonderful week and weekend, see you all later! :)