Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Slow-cooked mutton stew

The preparation of this stew requires no water. And no ground spices. You will need: mutton pieces (300 grams or so), one teaspoon (tsp) cumin seeds (jeera), a couple of dried red chillies (lal mirch), a couple of bay leaves (tej patta), two brown cardamoms (badi ilaychi), three-four green cardamoms (chhoti ilaychi), a couple of one-inch sticks of cinnamon (dalchini), five-six cloves (laung), one tsp coriander seeds (dhania), two medium sized onions (pyaaz), a square inch piece of ginger (adrak), two-three cloves of garlic (lahsun), two tablespoons (tbsp) clarified butter (ghee), two tbsp oil (tel), turmeric powder (haldi) and salt (namak). Use a non-stick pan/kadhai.

  1. Chop pyaaz, crush adrak and lahsun. Let the mixer/blender rest. Use a heavy glass bottle to crush the ginger and garlic. You may also use the rolling pin (belan).
  2. Wash the mutton thoroughly and keep it in water for an hour or so. You may need to keep it longer if you are using frozen mutton.
  3. Put the oil in the pan. Put the bay leaves, red chillies and cumin seeds when the oil is hot. [Did I mention the stove and the fire?]
  4. When the seeds splutter, add the brown and green cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves.
  5. Sauté this a little and add the coriander seeds.
  6. Add the chopped onions, crushed ginger and garlic.
  7. Put turmeric and salt into the pan.
  8. Sauté the spices for a couple of minutes before adding the mutton pieces.
  9. Fold the mutton into the spices and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  10. Mix a tbsp clarified butter.
  11. Cover the pan with a lid and let the mutton cook. Keep checking the mutton every five-ten minutes and mix with a ladle.
    It will take an hour or so for the mutton to cook. However, it may take less time depending on the quality of the mutton. Biharis add some chopped raw papaya for the mutton to cook faster. Try it. It works.
    You don’t need water as the onion and the juices from the meat are enough for this stew.
  12. After taking the pan off the fire, add a tsbp of clarified butter.

Serve this stew hot with rice, rotis or puris. You may try this with the unstuffed kachauri, the recipe for which was posted earlier.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The dilemma

Thanks for your e-mails and comments. They will keep this blog going.
When a friend heard of this blog, he asked, "What are you going to put in this blog? What can you put as special and exclusively Bihari?" This friend of mine is a Bihari. I laughed and said, "There are a dozen of things that we take for granted as normal 'ghar ka khana', least realizing that these comprise the Bihari cuisine." As I spoke to him, I thought of adding recipes for pedakias, thekuas, bachkas, kachrees, khaja, shakkarpara, littis, murabbas, and a countless other Bihari delicacies whose names I cannot recall now. However, as promised, I am going to add a recipe as and when I cook something. Needless to say, I will not be posting as often as I would like to, given the lack of availability of desi ingredients in pardes. I cook Indian food almost everyday, but I need to cook Bihari food, that too, authentic, to be able to post it. Hope you will bear with me. Keep writing in to tell me if I should continue with this endeavour.
Let me know if you tried the recipe for the unstuffed kachauri posted earlier.

The unstuffed kachauri

Folks, this one will be called a puri in other places, but Biharis call it kachauri. A namkeen puri is usually referred to as kachauri here. Kachauri-sabji or kachauri-ghoogni is staple Bihari breakfast or supper. I relish this combination, provided someone else makes it for me. It is four times more difficult to make rotis, chappatis, parathas, puris, kachauris than it is to make rice, any kind.

I am surprised I made kachauris for my readership. Well, I was actually craving for them. So, here’s how you make the simplest Bihari kachauri – the unstuffed variety.

Before you begin reading the rest of this piece, I need to acquaint you with two important ingredients of this recipe – ajwain (carom seeds) and mangraila (kala jeera, onion seeds, nigella or kalaunji). The know-all, Wiki tells me that ajwain is also called 'owa' in Marathi, 'vaamu' in Telugu, 'omam' in Tamil, 'ajwana' in Kannada and 'ajmo' in Gujarati. I know it is called ‘jowan’ in Bengali. Get more information on these from here: Ajwain and Mangraila

Mix a spoonful of each with the atta. Add salt to the mixture. Add a couple of spoonfuls of oil. Add water and make a hard dough, like you make for puris. Simple, isn’t it? Use your hands for the right measurements. Less or more does not matter as long as you have all the ingredients in place. However, make sure the amount of salt is appropriate. Next, use the dough to make puris the normal way. You may wonder as to what’s special in these. Taste them and you will know. Enjoy them with any curry you like or with some pickle.

You can use the same dough to make parathas. The parathas are tasteful and less oily. Enjoy the paratha with dahi and achaar.

Monday, January 14, 2008

There is something called the Bihari cuisine too

Hi everyone who has landed here,

I start this blog with the sole purpose of making foodies aware that there exists a cuisine called the Bihari cuisine, which, unfortunately, has not been made popular but deserves to be tasted and appreciated.

In this blog, I will not preach about the Bihari culture or the cuisine. I will not post recipes randomly. What I intend to do is to eat or cook a Bihari specialty and write about it here. With pictures! So you will have honestly written posts on Bihari food. Does it sound interesting? If you do want me to continue with this blog, drop in a comment. If I do not receive a 'yes' from half of the people I will be sending this link to, I will close this blog. Guess that's what happens to the idea of opening a Bihari resturant in any place in the world.

P.S. I guess I will also mention a deadline lest people don't take it seriously!