Immersed in summer mountain vegetables is happiness. Kashmir is a place that gives me that.
Traveling through this tormented paradise brings out some bittersweet emotions. The consistent source of joy besides the rocking landscape is the produce that feeds the souls. The streets are of full of apples, peaches, and pears freshly picked from the nearby trees and accompanied by so many vegetables that you cannot stop filling up your bags to take home.
Kohlrabi is an important part of the Kashmiri diet and prepared with its leaves and served with a light gravy and eaten with rice. Monji Haakh is a simple dish and packs flavor and nutrition. .The key difference in taste I find comes from the use of Mustard oil. You can always substitute with regular vegetable oil. I used a pressure cooking but you don’t have to, it cooks just fine in a regular pot.
Wash and peel the Kohlrabi and cut into slices. Remove the stems from the greens.
Chop 4-5 cloves of garlic, 1 onion, and 1 round plump tomato.
In a pan use a tablespoon of mustard oil and heat until sizzling.
Add garlic, 2 green chilies, onion and 1 tsp of cumin seeds.
Fry for about 30 secs and add a pinch of hing ( asafetida)
Add the Kohlrabi pieces and fry for about 3 mins or so, add tomatoes, cayenne, turmeric, ground coriander, ground ginger, and salt to taste.
Fry the spices for a couple of mins and then add the greens. Add baking soda and a cup of water. I use a pressure cooker to cook everything at this point for about 4-5 whistles. If using a regular pot, let it cook on medium heat until the vegetable is tender
Note: If using a pressure cooker, open the lid of the cooker immediately to retain green color of the greens.
My love for eggplants keeps me experimenting with new recipes from around the globe. This one is close to my heart and soul and so very easy to make.
Frying eggplants will fill your kitchen with an amazing aroma. I often chow down a few slices even before they make their way to the dish.
This recipe has the flavor of cloves, ginger, and fennel and is a delicate yet strong blend to showcase the eggplants. The tamarind paste is what adds the tanginess. Use it to your taste.
Tip: Be careful not to burn the cloves or the chili powder but adding water quickly.
4 eggplants – long or 8 small
1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 onion chopped
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp ginger powder
2 tbsp fennel powder
2 tbsp red chili powder
4 green cardamoms
4 black cardamoms
1 tsp black cumin seeds
1 tsp tamarind paste
Salt – to taste.
Putting it together:
Soak the tamarind paste in 1/2 cup hot water. Put aside.
Chopped and fry the onion until golden brown and make a paste of the fried onions adding a dash of water
Cut the eggplants lengthwise into 3 to 4-inch lengths – keeping a part of stem on the end pieces.
Heat the mustard oil until smoking and deep fry the eggplants until golden brown. Drain on paper towels
In a wide pan take 3 tbsp of the remaining oil and bring to medium heat
Add the cloves, red chili powder and salt. Add 2 cups of water immediately not letting the red chilies burn. Add the garlic, turmeric and cardamoms fennel powder, ginger powder, onion paste and continue to cook for 10 mins adding 2 more cups of water if needed.
Add the eggplants and tamarind water and cook for 5 -10 mins to get to a saucy consistency.
Serve with a garnish of green chilies with white rice or roti.
I spend a beautiful fall morning bringing out my Kashmiri spices in my American kitchen trying to connect and reconnect with a land so abundant with beauty and an unmatched gastronomical adventure.
Kashmiri cuisine traces back to centuries of tradition, spices and methods of cooking. The cuisine has evolved over the centuries absorbing influences from settlements and migrations. The flavors and spices of Kashmiri cuisine include dry ginger, fennel, cloves, cinnamon and saffron to name a few.
This is a true fusion dish blending the flavors of Kashmir with Persian cooking. The fennel and dried ginger in the meatballs is so delicate yet intense. Good minced lamb is best but you can use any combination of lamb, beef and veal. I added a 1/2 amount ground turkey to make it lighter but you can make it all lamb.
Persian cooking gives us Kalam Polo which is a hearty meal made with white cabbage, beef meatballs and rice. I have been inspired by this and the spices used in Kashmiri cuisine to make this dish.
For readers who follow my blog you know I love saffron and often think of the fields in Kashmir that grow this beautifully purple flower harvested just within a few weeks for its incredible color and flavor. Check out Kashmir Box if you need to buy this right from the fields.
Use white cabbage in this dish to absorb the golden saffron color, you will not miss the rice so this version is carb free. Cut the cabbage finely so it cooks quickly and evenly. The turmeric and saffron with give it the beautiful color and flavor.
This medley of rice and vegetables is inspired by the Kashmiri Pulao that uses morel mushrooms. I did not have the wild expensive mushrooms so used the dried shiitake I hand in my pantry. Soaked in warm water for about 20 mins brings out the earthiness and the umami flavors. Don’t discard the golden liquid from the mushrooms, it adds immense flavor.
I also used cauliflower in this recipe…cut in florets and pan fried with a touch of sea salt.
The basic Kashmiri pulao recipes packs a punch with whole spices…I have used cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, whole pepper, dried ginger and bay leaves.
Saffron is my favorite and it had been used blooming in warm water.
I have also added soaked almond, walnuts and raisins…feel free to experiment.
Once again I am honored to be c0-hosting and feasting with such amazing and talented virtual friends at Fiesta Friday. Our host Angie has done such a wonderful job providing us with this forum and inviting us to a global table. I am also honored to be co-hosting alongside Jhuls and am a big fan :), do check out her blog if you have not already.
Fermented foods are probiotic powerhouses boosting the good bacteria in your gut and helping with overall health and immunity
“Achar” is a form of fermented food in the Indian subcontinent and essentially is a pickling process. It is one of the oldest methods of food preservation, sustaining communities through changing climate and seasons where the life of the crop could be extended by preserving it.
Kashmir with it’s cold winters is very conducive to pickling a variety of vegetables such as Kohlrabi, carrots, radish, peppers etc. There is no vinegar in these pickles. Mustard oil is the main carrier in which fermenting agents like mustard and carom seeds are added. This will last a long while on your shelves.
The basic recipe was for Monji Achar ( Kohlrabi pickle) from which I strayed a bit and added the crunchy turnips and carrots. The Kohlrabi leaves I had already cooked in another dish, otherwise I would have chopped and added them.
The key would be to dry out the cut vegetables in the sun for a day or so just to reduce the moisture. I am in the dead of winter here in Virginia so sunshine is scarce. I left it out for another day….48 hours.
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” in Kashmiri.