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 yogurt and tart chutneys.
Rogan Josh is a signature dish of the Kashmiri cuisine usually cooked with lamb. This particular recipe is with Chicken or “Kokur” and therefore the title. The subtle but important difference in the preparation is frying the chicken pieces beforehand which gives it the crispy exterior.
The rest of the spices are familiar with just a slight change is the way they are used in the thecooking process that differentiates it from other curries. The aromatic whole spices are fried in ghee to bring out the oils and aroma. The touch of water further steams through the spices.
I have used Mawal here, which is responsible for the deep red color. Mawal is dried cockscomb flower and is boiled with an equal quantity of water and then strained through a fine mesh. A couple of tablespoons of the liquid are then added towards the end of cooking. A pinch of saffron dissolved in warm milk or water is the last flavor and aroma enrichment.
This dish is cooked with love and the process of cooking it is something to be enjoyed as much and eating it. Many of the traditional ways of using the ingredients have been adjusted in my American kitchen but the uniqueness of flavor still commands the respect of the cook and the guest.
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.
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.
Beautiful crunchy snack food that is a “must ” try. If you are tired of French fries, do try the high fiber content of the unique lotus stems. Also know and Nadur Churma and sold in the streets all over Kashmir is this mouth watering snack that is so very easy to make.
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.
The actual stems at my local Asian market in Virginia look like this:
The recipe is so simple and just takes the lotus stems cut in length, salt cayenne ( Kashmiri chili pepper) and some rice flour. You could also use gram flour. I have fried these in coconut oil here.
I spent the last 2 weeks in the mesmerizing valley of fresh vegetables…enveloped by rich land, mountains and water. The fertile land and the water makes each vegetable so delicious that each variety feeds your soul. The most abundant is the lake green gourd and then there are the eggplants, the spinach, cucumber, nadru, beans and the list goes on. We cooked these everyday and it was still not enough. This beautiful lady sits on the roadside beside the Dal Lake close to Shalimar gardens, has an infectious laugh, a bit heart and the best crop.