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Tempt Be Tempted

Like her earlier book, Mittal illustrates the recipes with step-by-step visual and stunning, mouth-watering photographs of the dishes.

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Tempt Be Tempted

Vidhu Mittal’s Pure & Special: Gourmet Indian Vegetarian Cuisine is a companion volume to her earlier work, Pure & Simple: Homemade Indian Vegetarian Cuisine (Little India, April 2010).

As a follow-up work, it does not have quite the same transformative air for overseas Indians that we thought the first book, by nostalgically capturing traditional, home cooked North Indian food, did. In some ways, you get the feeling that this book had its origins in the recipes that couldn’t quite be squeezed into the first work. Nevertheless, as its title suggests, it carries nearly a hundred of the rarer recipes — of the gourmet kind. These are recipes not of everyday North Indian food, but for special occasions, ones that demand that special touch.

You can experiment with moti kamal kabab, kache kele ke kofte, kofta haju malai, taazi mangodi ki sabzi, chatpatte gate, matter paneer fransci, zafrani tahari, pulao baingan bahaar, kacche kathal ki biryani, singhada shatwar pulao, makhmali rumali roti, bajra bathua paratha, pakodi ki kaji, angoori rabadi, kesari makhana kheer, shahi gunjia….

There is even a recipe for khandvi, the popular Gujarati snack, new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reputed to have brought with him to Delhi.

Like her earlier book, Mittal illustrates the recipes with step-by-step visual and stunning, mouth-watering photographs of the dishes.

Khandvi

A specialty of western India, this is a light, delicately spiced dish, embellished with the combined flavors of coconut, cilantro, and mustard seeds.

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

Refined vegetable oil for greasing

1 cup / 200 g Sour yogurt (dahi), set to a firm consistency

1 cup / 100 g Gram flour (besan)

½ tsp / 2½ g Turmeric (haldi) powder

1/8 tsp Asafoetida (hing)

2 tsp / 10 g Ginger (adrak) paste

2 tsp / 10 g Green chili paste

Salt

For tempering

1 tbsp / 15 ml Refined vegetable oil

1 tsp / 5 g Mustard seeds (rai)

A pinch Asafoetida

1 tbsp Chopped curry leaves (kadhi patta)

For garnishing

3 tbsp / 12 g Finely chopped cilantro (dhaniya)

2 tbsp / 30 g Grated fresh coconut (nariyal)

½ cup Green Coconut Chutney (Hari Nariyal)

Lightly grease the underside of 6 large steel plates (thalis) about 12” in diameter with oil and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, gram flour, 2 cups / 475 ml water, turmeric powder, asafoetida, ginger and green chili pastes, and salt to taste and whisk to a smooth consistency.

Place this mixture in a wok (kadhai) and cook on moderate heat, stirring continuously to avoid lumps forming.

Once it thickens, test the consistency of one teaspoon of the mixture by spreading a thin layer on a greased plate. If you can lift the thin strip off the plate without it breaking, you have achieved the right texture. If not, continue cooking and testing the mixture.

Using a flat spatula, quickly spread 2 heaped tbsp of the mixture onto each greased steel plate as fast as possible, while the mixture is still hot.

Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the sheets into 1¼”-broad strips and roll each strip gently with your fingers, making 1”-thick rolls. Arrange the rolls (kandvi) on a serving plate.

For the tempering, heat 1 tbsp oil in a tempering ladle for 30 seconds; add the mustard seeds and when they splutter, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Pour the tempering uniformly over the rolls.

Garnish with cilantro leaves and coconut. Serve at room temperature accompanied with Green Coconut Chutney.

Chattpatte Gatte

This traditional and wholesome dish from the northwestern state of Rajasthan can be served with steamed rice or plain Indian bread.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

For the nuggets (gatte):

2 cups / 200 g Gram flour (besan)

1 tsp / 5 g Fennel (saunf) seeds

1 tsp / 5 g Cumin (jeera) seeds

1 tsp / 5 g Red chili powder

½ tsp / 2½ g Turmeric (haldi) powder

1 tsp / 5 g Coriander (dhaniya) seeds

1 tsp / 5 g Garam Masala powder

1 tsp / 5 g Mint (pudina) powder

1 tsp / 5 g Salt

4 tbsp / 60 ml Refined vegetable oil

For the sauce

1½ cups / 300 g Yogurt (dahi), slightly sour

½ tsp / 2½ g flour

Salt to taste

2 tbsp / 8 g Finely chopped cilantro (dhaniya)

1 tsp / 5 g Garam Masala powder

1 tsp / 5 g Mint powder

For tempering

2½ tbsp / 40 g Clarified butter (ghee) or

Refined vegetable oil

¼ tsp Asafoetida (hing)

2 tsp / 10 f Cumin seeds

1 tsp / 5 f Fennel seeds

2 tsp / 10 g Finely chopped ginger (adrak)

1 tsp / 5 g Finely chopped green chilies

1 tsp / 5 g Turmeric powder

1 tsp / 5 g Red chili powder

3 tsp / 15 g Coriander powder

For the nuggets (gatte), sift the gram flour and mix in the fennel and cumin seeds, red chili and turmeric powders, coriander seeds, garam masala, mint powder, salt, and oil.

Knead into a semi-hard dough, adding water until you achieve the desired texture. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and shape into ½”-thick cylinders.

In a large pot, boil 5 cups water, gently lower the cylinders into the water, and cook on high heat until they float to the surface.

Drain in a colander, reserving the stock for use later in the sauce.

Cool the cylinders and cut into ¼” nuggets.

For the sauce, whisk the yogurt with ½ tsp gram flour and the reserved stock (at room temperature) until smooth; set aside.

For the tempering, heat 2½ tbsp clarified butter in a pan for 30 seconds; add the asafoetida, cumin and fennel seeds, finely chopped ginger and green chilies, turmeric, red chili, and coriander powders and mix.

Add the whisked yogurt mixture and bring to a boil on moderate heat, stirring continuously.

Add the nuggets and salt to taste; bring the sauce to a boil again; simmer for 8 minutes.

Add the cilantro leaves, garam masala, and mint powder and mix gently. Simmer for 2 minutes and serve hot.

Pulao Baingan Bahaar

From the tender eggplants and the nutty sesame seeds, to the tangy tamarind and the fiery garam masala, this pilaf takes you on a delicious, spice-filled culinary journey.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

¼ lbs. mushrooms thinly sliced

4 ozs. cream

1 oz. corn flour

2 oz. butter

Juice of 1 lime

1 tblsp. sugar

Salt and chili flakes to taste

For the seasoning

2 tbsp / 30 ml Refined vegetable oil

1/8 tsp Asafoetida (hing)

½ tsp / 2½ g Mustard seeds (rai)

1 tsp / 5 g Ginger (adrak) paste

1 tsp / 5 g Green chili paste

4 Dried red chilies (sookhi lal mirch), broken

10 Curry leaves (kadhi patta)

¼ tsp Turmeric (haldi) powder

½ tsp / 2½ g Red chili powder

Boil 7½ cups water, add the rice, and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, on low heat until the rice is cooked. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Soak the tamarind in ½ cup hot water for 30 minutes. Mash and strain into a bowl, discarding seeds and any other residue. Set the tamarind extract aside.

Trim the eggplant stems. Slit half of the eggplants vertically, three-quarters of the way down, keeping the vegetable intact at the stem. Slit the remaining eggplants in half vertically.

Pour oil to the depth of 1” in a wok (kadhai) and heat. Deep-fry the eggplants in hot oil, until the skin crinkles slightly and the flesh turns light golden brown. Remove, drain on an absorbent paper towel, and set aside.

For the seasoning, heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok (kadhai) for 30 seconds; add the asafoetida and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, lower the heat and add the ginger and green chili pastes, dried red chilies, curry leaves, turmeric, and red chili powder; mix. Add the tamarind extract and cook on low heat until the oil separates.

Add the deep-fried eggplants and mix. Add the cooked rice, salt to taste, garam masala powder, and sesame seeds; mix well.

Add the cooked peas and cilantro leaves. Cook for 2 minutes on high heat, stirring gently; serve hot.

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Food | Life | Bigger India | June 2014

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