This is a traditional Onion Chutney that accompanies many a feasts and dinners in Kashmir. Kashmiri food, the whole playbook of amazing dishes often overshadows the humble accompaniments that elevate the flavors of the meal. The side kick here is truly kick ass, simply made with sliced onions that are marinated in vinegar, dried mint and red chili powder. The process is a quick pickling process which is very simple bringing out the tart, spicy and savory flavors.
The recipes call for dry mint but fresh would be fine if you are out of stock. I dry my mint in summer and fall and it lasts me at least 6 months. Dry mint does have a unique taste that it imparts to many Kashmiri dishes.
I serve it as a side to rice and savory dishes but you will find that it was be used in many other ways such as sandwiches, kebabs and burgers.
Gand Chetin Kashmiri Onion Chutney
A pickled spicy onion chutney
2 cups of organic red onions sliced thin
3 green chilies sliced thin
1/2 cup of green coriander/cilantro chopped
1/2 tsp black cumin ( different form regular
1/2 tsp dry mint
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 cup of organic vinegar ( i used rice
sea salt to taste
Salt the onions and keep aside for an hour or
so and then wash and drain. You will need to squeeze the water out.
Mix all the other ingredients ( you will not
need additional salt) and cool in the refrigerator before serving as a
Kashmiri Phool Yakhni is a vegetarian version of the sublime yogurt based Yakhni that is traditionally mutton based in Kashmir. Cauliflower is the shining star in this recipe
The Cauliflower florets are par-boiled in turmeric, fried and then simmered in yogurt infused with spices like cardamom, fennel, ginger and cinnamon. These are the quintessential spices used in Kashmiri cuisine which date back to centuries.
Modern Kashmiri cuisine tracks its history to 15th century when Timur ( a Turco-Mongol conqueror) invaded India which led to the migration of 1700 skilled woodcarvers, weavers, architects, calligraphers and cooks from Samarkand to the valley of Kashmir.
Ok so here is the diversion from the traditional in my American kitchen….This is my recipe and I have used a coconut based yogurt to experiment with a vegan version. It was beyond my expectations, and dancing taste buds kind of delicious. I used the So Delicious unsweetened coconut yogurt. Please free to use your choice of unsweetened yogurt.
Continuing to break the tradition, I decided not to fry the cauliflower after boiling but it can be done just to get a crisp browning. Not necessary in my opinion.
This recipe also uses lots of turmeric simply because I love it!
Before the recipe begins, I am leaving you with verse of Habba Khatoon and 16th century Kashmiri poetess and peasant queen. These verses remind me of the beauty and uniqueness of Kashmir that translates to its cuisine.
• Mustard or oil of choice ( 2 tbsp and additional for frying the onions)
• Organic Yoghurt ( Regular or plant based) 3 cups or 1 24 oz container
• Add 1 tsp of turmeric to boiling water. Add a sprinkle or salt and boil the florets for about 2-2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
• Chop and fry onions until golden brown. Remove onions from oil, crush in a mortar pestle and set aside
• Heat the leftover oil from the onions and add more if needed in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the yogurt and start whipping. You have to continue whipping the yogurt until it is boiling. Your hand cannot leave the stirring/whipping or the yogurt will curdle. This is a critical step in making a smooth sauce. It will take about 10 minutes.
• Add the rest of the spice ingredients ( except for mint and onions)
• Keep the stirring going for 5 mins or so.
• Add the cauliflower. If the suace is thick, add some water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered until the cauliflower is tender.
• Add the Fried onions and Mint for a beautiful flavor.
Here is another food story inspired my the memories of many winters in spent in Lucknow, India in my grandfather’s house and the houses of my uncles and aunts throughout the state of UP.
Somehow the archives of food snapshots in your mind brings a nostalgia filled smile and some strangeness. The simplicity of meals prepared in my grandparents house still seems so pure to me. There was a large family to feed so little ingredients went a long way. The laughter and the joy of togetherness at the lunch table in Hussaingunj with a simple meal of Dal and Vegetables is instilled in my memory to this day. There was always the abundance of “romali” (paper thin) roti that our “bua” ( god bless her) cooked in bulk over on a sawdust stove in a dark kitchen.
Bringing one of those vegetables to life in this blog is homage to the lady who cooked our meals, “bua” and my grandparents who also inspired us to be creative, smart, simple and good humans.
The house was defining and built character in every child, teenager and adult that spent time within its walls. The picture is recent but a fossil of an amazing before.
It is an honor to be to hosting the Fiesta Friday this week where I can showcase the beautiful memories of food. Looking forward to the dishes that you all will bring to the party so please join us!!
Let me explain by a trip down memory lane…Throughout childhood, my family embarked on the winter trip from the icy cold winter in Srinagar, Kashmir to the weirdly uncomfortable winter in Lucknow, UP to bask in the sunshine of my grandparents.
Once winter descended in Kashmir and school wrapped up for winter vacation, it became bitterly cold, electricity was a novelty for the most part and activity was limited to playing in the snow or running around the house making up games. We would then prepare to make the trek to spend the winter with our grandparents and extended family in Lucknow.
Lucknow houses were big and open which reluctantly welcomed a moderate winter but full of warmth and laughter from the cousins, uncles and aunts that waited anxiously for our arrival each year.
My siblings and I absolutely loved the adventurous trip… so I am getting to my story that ties to the recipe….The yearly adventure first involved getting to the city of Jammu from Srinagar which could be a long bus or car ride ( airplane in later years). Then the famous “express” train which would take 2 days from Jammu to Lucknow. A day in life in trains in India was sweet, surreal, seductive, scary, inspiring, dismal, reflective and never ending all at the same time. To this date if I close my eyes, I can feel the wind (and the dust) through the grilled train windows.
The train ceremoniously stopped at numerous railway stations during this journey at strange hours of the night and day and I would eagerly await the one that called out the potato curry and puris (fried bread).
That gets me to the point of Station Wale Aloo. The simple potato curry being served for a couple of pennies through the grilled train windows at indistinct stations is a memory that is deep rooted.
Food memories reside deep within your soul and can be recreated through flashbacks and visuals and the sense of smell and taste through time and experiences. I have not been on a train in India for about 25 years but this is my version in my American kitchen weaved together from magical childhood memories
It is essentially potatoes in curry with no onions or garlic. You can omit the oil as well if you like.
A simple vegan dish that will nourish your soul.
Station Wale Aloo
4 -5 Boiled potatoes
2 tomatoes – pureed or 1/2
canned tomato pureed
2 green chilies
1 tsp methi (
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 inch grated ginger
5-10 curry leaves ( optional)
1/4 tsp Hing (
Oil if using ( 1 tbsp)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Boil the potatoes until tender. You can remove the skin if thick
or leave it on depending on the potato. . I use my hands to break the
potatoes into chunks ( 1 inch or so) and set aside. You can chop if you
Soak the methi (
Fenugreek) seeds in warm water for about 20 mins and grind.
Heat oil in a heavy
bottomed pan. If not using oil you can add the spices directly to the pan
and monitor that they do not burn.
Add cumin, Hing, curry
leaves and green chilies and sauté for a minute
Add the ground methi
seeds and fry for a few second and then the pureed tomatoes and ginger.
Cook everything for 5
minutes and add the rest of the spices.
Add vegetable broth and
then the potatoes.
Cook everything until it
gets to a thick gravy consistency
Garnish with lemon juice
I have served with this
with sprouted wheat and lentil roti…but the choice of puris(fried bread)
or rice would be great too.
I make this every week but have never really photographed it or posted the recipe until now, not sure why and this is totally something you want to share with everyone.
This is good for you…. for the gut and general healing. It is fermented and There is heat in the turmeric and ginger so adjust the quantity based on your own body type and digestive system
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which is anti inflammatory. Ginger happens to be a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Lemon is naturally detoxifying boosts the immune system. Allof it together is one solid health shot!!!
I normally add water to a 1/4 cup of the fermented tonic and drink it every morning with a dash of lemon juice
Beautifully healing from all things evil and toxic for the body especially for the gut.
The fermentation process needs some sugar, I have used both honey and a vegan option of rice or coconut syrup. Please adjust to your liking.
The tamarind is key to bring on the tartness. Please do not omit ( I guess you could but it would not be the same). Tamarind pods can be found in the local Asian stores.
So here is the recipe:
This recipe is not precise, please do adjust as you wish.
10 fresh turmeric pods
1 pod of ginger ( about 4 inches)
7 dry tamarind ponds
2 tablespoon coconut nectar or honey or rice syrup
Remove the shell of the tamarind pods and bol them in water on low heat covering just barely. This takes about 10 mins. Cool and them use your hands to removes the shells and strings until everything is a pulp.
Chop the fresh turmeric and ginger and boil for 20 mins until golden brown. Cool to room temperature.
Blend the turmeric ginger in a high speed blender. Add tamarind, nectar and lemon juice until everything is smooth and combined. If it is thick you can add some water.
Pour into glass containers, cover with muslin and ferment in a dark dry place for 2 days.
Once fermented you can cover the bottles and move into the fridge.
You can strain into a glass, add some lemon juice and drink once a day!
Kashmiri culture and
ways of preparing the food lends to its exquisite and unique taste. An art form
which is then accented by how the food is served….in copper dishes, with
flavorful white rice, rich yoghurt and tart chutneys.
In the series of
Kashmiri chutneys, this one is a little unusual and delightful. Made with
boiled bottle gourd (Lauki), yoghurt and a dash of honey, it brings a slight
sweetness to the table of spicy food.
In my version I have omitted the honey and the raisins but do add them if you prefer the sweetness. I also made a vegan version by using coconut milk instead. Either way it will come out just superb.
These are images of Bottle Gourd growing and being sold in the floating vegetable gardens on the Dal Lake in Kashmir. A visit to the pre-dawn vegetable market on the lake is a memory that does not leave your soul.
From the land of dreamers, poets, artists,
emperors and saints comes a cuisine that inspires all your senses.
Modern Kashmiri cuisine tracks its
history to 15th century when Timur ( a Turco-Mongol conqueror) invaded
India which led to the migration of 1700 skilled woodcarvers, weavers,
architects, calligraphers and cooks from Samarkand to the valley of Kashmir.
The descendants of these cooks, the Wazas, are the master chefs of Kashmir. Thus
came an elaborate feast preparation called Wazwaan. “Waan” refers to a “shop”
Nadru or Lotus stems/roots
are a delicious curious vegetable very popular in Kashmir (India). They are
often fried and served as a street snack food. For the dinner table, the 2 most
popular recipes are Nadru Yakhni (yogurt sauce) and Nadru Palak ( Spinach). This recipe is a
variation of the latter but you can try our the delicious yogurt recipe in my
earlier post or my step by step guide on wikihow
Lotus Stem is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C.
this recipe I have the closest I could find to Vost Haakh or Wousta Haakh (red kashmiri spinach). Our local
international market carries an abundance on “Shen choy” and I have
fallen in love with it. These are Amaranth leaves and need to be washed through
and picked off the stems. They impart this beautiful red color to your broth.
The ingredients are simple and the recipe is simple. I always use a pressure cooker with root vegetables as it locks in the ingredients and saves time but you can use a heavy bottomed pan.
I have served it with white rice and red onion chutney with cilantro and mint ( will post the recipe).
Take the time to make this and you will love it.
Ingredients are as follows, please adjust to taste
2-3 mid size lotus stems
I big bunch of Shen Choy ( red spinach)
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp fennel powder
2 black cardamoms
4 green cardamoms
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili powder ( adjust to taste)
5 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp mustard oil
1 chopped shallot
Salt to taste
Heres how to cook it:
Pick the leaves of the spinach from the stems and wash thoroughly
Scrape of lightly peel the tope layer of the lotus stem.
Slice the Lotus Stems in 1/4 inch slices and wash thoroughly
Add 1 tsp of mustard oil to a pressure cooker and heat until smoking. Add the lotus stems with some salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Add 1 cup water and pressure cook for about 5-6 whistles. Remove from cooker ( liquid and all) and keep aside.
Using the same cooker, add mustard oil and heat until smoking
Add chopped shallots and the garlic
Fry of a minute and add the greens
Add salt and Fry the green until completely wilted
Add cardamoms, ginger powder, fennel powder cumin and cloves
Pressure cook for about 2 whistles
Remove the cooker cover and add the turmeric and chili powder and fry a little
Add the cooked lotus stems and about 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook for 10 mins.
This has a beautiful and unique flavor and is best served with rice.