Dum Aloo – Slow Cooked Spiced Potatoes

Sinfully Spicy Dum Aloo - Slow Cooked Spicy Potatoes001

I loved it when it was the potato harvest time at grandma’s house. Those few days when our maali ( gardener) pulled out the tubers from the soil, we were allowed to assist him. I remember that he used to water the garden a day before the D-day so that the plucking becomes easier. Next morning, exchanging chirpy conversations and knee-deep in the moist ground, we dug up aloo (potatoes) for hours. In the afternoon, just before lunch, mom gave us a bath in the house veranda, rubbing mud off our stained fingers, slathering petroleum jelly on them.

It was then time to rub off the flaky, paper thin skin off the dug up potatoes. She would soak them in seasoned water for a while and then use a tooth-brush to clean. Just a simple tempering of cumin or fenugreek seeds in mustard oil did the trick.

For weekend brunch it was dum aloo & triangle parathas along with mint- coriander chutney. 

I grew up eating dum aloo done with new baby potatoes. However, P does not like the taste of new potatoes. How weird? right? So, mostly I make it with the usual diced up white potatoes.Even though any kind will work here, for authentic taste, use new tots.

In hindi ‘ dum‘ refers to slow cooking. Here potatoes are slow cooked with spices and yogurt to make for a scrumptious curry. You will find a lot of dum aloo recipes in India, differing from region to region.In my family, every aunt’s recipe is different from mom’s. But still, all very delicious and comforting , after potato is another name for comfort in the culinary world!

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
  • 4-5 medium size white or red potatoes, washed ( or about 1 lb baby potatoes)
  • 3 cups of warm water + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil ( or any oil)
  • 1 small tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
  • 1/2 ‘ dalchini stick (indian cinnamon)
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli ( or cayanne, adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder ( this lends the beautiful color)
  • 3 tbsp plain, slightly sour yogurt, beaten
  • 2-3 medium roma tomatoes, finely chopped ( about 3/4 cup)
  • 1″ fresh ginger shoot,minced
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup water (depending on desired gravy consistency)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro for garnish

Coarsely grind together

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 2-3 green cardamom
  • 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds

Method 

Cut up the potatoes in half and in a large bowl, soak them in salted warm(not hot) water for 8-10 minutes. After soaking up, drain the water, peel off the skin (you can skip this for baby potatoes) and quarter them if you like.Using a kitchen towel or paper towel, dry up the potatoes. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat up the oil on medium heat. If using mustard oil, heat it up till its smoky to do away the raw smell. Lower the heat once oil is hot. Wait for 1-2 minutes. Add the tejpatta and cinnamon stick to the oil. Let crackle for 20-30 seconds.

Add the sliced onions and potatoes to the oil. Also add the hing. On medium – low heat, stir around the potatoes and onions and cook for 5-7 minutes.You will see that the onions begin to soften. Next add the coarsely ground spices to the pot along with chilli powders and turmeric. Stir and continue cooking on low for another 3-5 minutes. Next, add the tomatoes, ginger & yogurt to the pot, stir everything and continue cooking on low heat. The potatoes will release their juices and you will see the gravy becoming watery, but do not worry.

After about 20-25 minutes ( this will depend on size and variety of potatoes, adjust accordingly), you will see that the potatoes have almost cooked, the gravy has a nice reddish color and thin oil bubbles have separated on the sides of the pot. At this point, add the water, sprinkle the garam maasala, cover the pot and let cook on low heat for another 8-10 minutes till the potatoes are totally cooked.

Let sit covered for at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

Notes-

  1. Please avoid using starchy variety like russet potatoes here.
  2. The cooking time depends on the quality and the size of cut of potatoes, you need to adjust.
  3. You can substitute the whole spices with ready to use store bought ground spices.
  4. Indian dalchini (cinnamon) is quite sharp in taste, if using the usual ones, you can go ahead and use the whole stick for a pronounced taste. 

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Homemade Ghee (Indian Clarified Butter)

The noise of the slotted ladle against the stainless steel milk pot worked like a morning alarm for us. Stepping out after a bath and with the towel still wrapped around her head, she skimmed malai (cream) from the milk that had been boiled and left to cool off in the refrigerator overnight, often complaining how the times have changed, people are no more honest, for the quality of product from the milkman deteriorated each day.

From the malai she had collected for weeks together, the yield was a small bowl of ghee. I never understood the point of slogging over for something you can easily pick up in stores for a few bucks. But badi mummy (my grandma) said that homemade was incomparable in taste and aroma. Not only was the ghee used in the kitchen but also to light up cotton wicks of evening lamp in the mandir of (temple) our home.

In Indian homes, ghee is a comfort, a reverence, a source of nourishment. It is offered to God, massaged on body and hair as a moisturizer, also consumed for healing when sick. It is a way of showcasing love,warmth and indulgence.

It is one of the things that I make sure to keep well stocked in my pantry.Once you make it at home, you will never go back to store-bought.Its tad easy to make. Not only is it good and hearty; best of all, it’s so much healthier! On lazy days, when I do not cook dinner, I leisurely plan to make a lot of homemade stuff , ghee is definitely one of them. Lets just say, with few bottles of ghee in the refrigerator, I sleep better.

Over the years, I have now learnt to make this always perfect, grainy ghee. I’m so in awe of how it tastes when brushed on top of a crusty bread, or dolloped over a bowl of warm dal (lentils),simply added to marinades or basted over roasting meats.It has been doing so much in my kitchen for all these years that its nothing short of it if I choose to call it the liquid gold.

Ghee Toast

Slather liberal amounts of ghee on a crusty bread and toast to perfection on a skillet, sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar or seasoned salt. Pair with chai. Delicious!

Ingredients (Yields about 2 cups of ghee)

  • 1 lb organic, unsalted butter, preferable grass-fed

Also Needed

  • Heavy bottomed, large sauce pan
  • A wooden spoon to stir
  • Your Soup/Tea Sieve
  • Cheesecloth

Notes

  1. A couple sticks of butter yields about 1/2 cup of ghee. You can make as much as you want, adjusting the boiling time in the recipe.
  2. Any kind of spices or dried herbs can be mixed in to make add a robust flavor. You can  alternatively add whole spices during boiling for a mellowed down flavor.

Method

Place the unsalted butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Let the butter melt for 5 minutes. Once melted, you will observe a foam on the top. This takes about 5-7 minutes on. Immediately reduce the heat to low. As the butter melts, it slowly begins to boil and makes a sound. Do not cover the saucepan.Let it boil. The solids settle to the bottom, while a thick layer of oil forms in the center, the foamy layer on top begins to settle.You will hear a spluttering sound while the butter boils away.

Slowly the boiling process will reduce considerably and you will see bubbles reducing and liquid layer having a  clear, golden brown appearance. This can take up to a 45 minutes to an hour. This is ghee. Carefully spoon off the top layer of scum, making sure not to disturb the layer of solids on the bottom.

Line your sieve with cheesecloth, then strain off the ghee into air-tight canisters. Discard the solids at the bottom.

Homemade ghee can be stored at room temperature during winter months for upto 1-2 months, keep it refrigerated during summers.

Use as required for baking or cooking.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Namkeen Daliya -Savory Breakfast Oatmeal

I did not grow up eating sweet breakfasts. While a bowl of Mohan Meakins cornflakes soaked in honeyed hot milk was just for the weekends, buttered up parathas either stuffed with vegetables or rolled up with leftover curry from dinner were breakfast most of the week. The only sweet note to ours was that tall glass of cold, hand churned lassi which badi mummy (my grandma) prepared, sitting in the sun-lit veranda.

When she read too many health magazines, mom would make namkeen daliya for weeks. Refusing to eat it was not an option here, so after a while we adapted ourselves to relish it. That runny, warm daliya studded with vegetables was no less than a magic potion. Each day she added a different set of vegetables, lentils,nuts or beans but never forgot to top it off with a big dollop of ghee. It was her way of telling, I love you.

My mornings still start with a savory something and the sugar frenzy is reserved for the weekends.

 

‘Daliya‘ is hindi for dry or wet , sweet or savory porridge made with any kind of whole/broken grains – millet, wheat, oats, barley.

I was introduced to steel-cut oats few years back and was hooked instantly. In addition to the better nutritional facts, they were my foray into recreating recipes from childhood when I could not find indian style daliya. Steel cut oats, barley or bulgur wheat or any variety of robust grains is a better choice for this pilaf like recipe. I sometimes mix in buckwheat groats or quinoa too. If you want to use the indian style daliya, use the most coarse variety you can find.

This is an extremely delicious, diabetic friendly recipe since steel-cut oats have a far lower GI than the instant ones. The nutty oats with vibrant colored, crunchy vegetables lend it a rich texture and there could not be a better way to start your morning. Once made the oatmeal keeps good in the fridge for 1-2 days, either serve at room temperature or warm.

Wash it down with Indian Masala Chai or Indian Espresso Coffee. YUM!

Printable Recipe

Ingredients ( Serves 2-3)

  • 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
  • 2 tbsp quinoa
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • About 1.5 cup of water (or as required to cook the oats)

For the Oatmeal

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1-2 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 cup cauliflower florets, cut very small
  • 3/4 cup tomatoes, diced small
  • 1/2 cup cabbage, fine shredded
  • 1/4 cup bell peppers, cut into small batons
  • Cooked oats & quinoa (from above)
  • Fresh Lemon juice to taste
  • 1-2 tsp of ghee /butter on top – optional
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Optional – Any kind of nuts you like, raisins, dried apricots, dried berries etc for a sweet/crunchy note.

Method

One Night before

Lightly dry roast the oats & quinoa in a warm cast iron skillet on low to medium heat for 3-5 minutes till you smell a nice aroma. Set aside to cool down completely.

In a pressure cooker, tip in the roasted oats & quinoa along with water, salt and oil. Put on the lid and cook on medium heat till the first whistle blows off. Immediately switch off the heat and let sit to cool down. Do not stir the boiled oats till they are completely cold. Using a fork fluff them up, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate overnight.  You need cold, cooked oats for this recipe else everything will be a sticky mess.

You can also cook the oats & quinoa in a pot with a lid till they are thoroughly cooked and all the water is absorbed. Adjust time as required.

Tip – While the oats are cooking, you can cut up all the vegetable before hand so as to save more time in the morning.

Next Morning

In a wide, heavy bottomed pan, heat up the oil on medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and wait till they splutter. Add the peas and corn next, also add the ginger and chillies. Stir around for 1-2 minutes till they look shiny. Next, add the cauliflower, add a pinch of salt and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes till the florets soften a bit.

Add the tomatoes next, stir around and reduce the heat to low, cook for 2-3 minutes till the tomatoes soften and the skin starts separating , increase the heat to medium and add cabbage and bell peppers at this point and mix up everything. Cook for another 1-2 minutes till the vegetables soften a bit but retain the crunch.

Next, add the cold oats to the pan, lightly break up/fluff either using a fork or wooden spoon so as to combine with the veggies. Cook for not more than 1-2 minutes on low heat and switch off the stove. Add the lemon juice,roasted nuts etc and give it a final stir.

Before serving, add a dollop of ghee(optional) on top and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Mewa Chikki – Nut & Seed Brittle (Gluten & Grain Free)

Paani, cheeni se kam hona chahiye‘, mum replied that the quantity of water should be less than sugar. I had called in to ask the ratio of sugar and water for the syrup before setting out to make this chikki.

Agar ek katori cheeni hai to kitna paani?‘ I re worded the question knowing that if at all, sometimes she measures using katori (small bowl).The reply remained the same ‘Paani kam aur cheeni jyada‘ (more sugar, less water). I gave up knowing that those teaspoons and cups that I am slowly becoming slave to, have no place in her kitchen.

There, lies the beauty of Indian cooking,everything done with accurate approximations, andaza.There isn’t a need to fish through kitchen drawers ahead of cooking to locate cups and spoons, neither to flip through recipe books because there aren’t any written ones. My mum and aunts could cook off an entire meal discussing the neighbour’s daughter in law, it’s just eyeballing,tasting and adjusting the flavors in between. There are no hard and fast rules, the methods are traditional,the food comes out wonderful each time. It’s all about cooking with good impulse and feeling.Though it takes while to learn those techniques and pointers to dish out your bestest recipes, but once you are on it, you can trust your gut for the lifetime.

I never understood the ‘taar‘ or the number of strings method that they use to make sugar syrup for indian sweets. Putting it in a very lame way, after a few minutes of bubbling, you are supposed to squeeze the boiling sugar (ouch! ) between your thumb and index finger and count the number of strings formed to know if the right consistency has been reached.Again, something which comes with experience.

Making this chikki from scratch has been one of the most brave things I have done this summer. Studded with lots of nuts and seeds, edible gum resin (gond), not only is this good for you, but you can play around with the type and quantity of nuts in the recipe. Do  make this delicious snackage for the upcoming winter months, it promises to keep you warm and happy.

In my family, makana or foxnuts and coconut are the main ingredients in making this.Read about foxnuts in one of my earlier posts here.

Edible Gum or gond is an extract from the bark of gum tree and is used a lot in indian sweets. It is either white or brown in color, crystal like. When cooked in oil, it puffs up like popcorn and turns opaque. It provides heat to the body and is usually eaten in cold winter months. In India, it is very much used during postpartum of women since it strengthens the body and helps in lactation of new mothers.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups makhana (foxnuts), roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp gond (edible gum resin)
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut shavings
  • 1/4 cup melon seeds
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3 tbsp ghee, divided
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • few saffron strands soaked in 1/2 tbsp of warm water (optional)

Also needed – Any well-greased plate/thaali or simply line your brownie sheet with parchment.

Notes :-

  1. If you are using edible gum,make sure that it is completely dry (you can keep it in sun for few hours), else it will not bloom well when you roast it.
  2. Feel free to use any kind of nuts or seeds in this recipe. If you cannot find foxnuts or edible gum, you can increase the quantity of coconut, almond or walnut by equivalent amount.
  3. Use sunflower/pumpkin/pepitas in place of melon seeds.
  4. Add crasins, dried cherries, cranberries, dehydrated blueberries or raspberries to this recipe.

Method

In a heavy bottomed pan or kadhai, on low-medium heat, warm up 1 tbsp of ghee. Add the sliced foxnuts and lightly roast on low heat for 2-3 minutes till you smell the aroma. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add another 1/2 tbsp of ghee in the kadhai and add almonds, walnuts and coconut shavings to it. Lightly roast on low heat for 2-3 minutes till you smell the aroma. Take care that the nuts do not change color. Transfer to the large bowl.

Next, on very low heat add another 1 tbsp of ghee and add the gond crystals. Keep on stirring constantly, the crystals will puff up and turn opaque as they roast. This will take  about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to the large bowl.

Add the remaining 1/2 tbsp of ghee to the kadhai and roast the melon seeds on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the raisins. Stir again for 1 minutes or so. Transfer to the large bowl.

Mix all the roasted nuts and seeds well in the large bowl and let sit for 5-8 minutes so that they cool down a bit.

Keep your greased plate or parchment lined dish ready.I used a 9′ X 2′ brownie pan to set the chikki.

Pour water and sugar into the kadhai next and bring to a boil on medium heat. When the sugar starts to bubble around the edges, add cardamom powder, soaked saffron and reduce heat and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes.Remove from heat and immediately pour over the roasted nuts. Stir everything quickly using a spatula so that the nuts are coated in sugar and transfer to the setting plate/pan. Lightly press with hands or spoon to spread out to a uniform thickness. Let sit at room temperature to completely cool down.

Break into desired size chunks or pieces.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping  by!