The pungent smell of the mustard oil was engrained in the walls of the shop.Over the years, a gleaming fluorescent tube had replaced the flickering bulb above the rusty shutter and a bunch of green chilies & lemon needled in a thread hung below it,the same way as it did years back, grabbing your attention more due to its location even though tactfully situated to be hidden.Its the same dusty clock at the center of the column that I saw years back, looks like no one cared to wipe it, I told myself, waiting.
It was biting cold outside but the inside was surprisingly warm,for it was cramped with people who wanted that crispy fillet, one that just popped out of the bubbling oil in the kadhai.
He sat behind the counter, fluffing thick, spicy besan batter, side by side keeping an eye on the smoky oil and dealing with customers, all at the same time.He looked a lot older than what I could remember. The hair had turned grey and the skin was tanned sitting in oily vapor for years. You could not help but notice the facial expressions which also remained the same – calm & peaceful. Few things are best if they don’t change, I told myself again.
If you ask him the recipe, he would just smile. Maybe he didn’t have any, it was just the magic of hands. This is the taste of fish which stays with you for days – you want to go back and have some more and then more. The kind you want to talk about, spread around the word about and write stories about.
Saying that the fried fish he made sold like hot pancakes would be an understatement. He ran out of the stuff within an hour or so of starting the trade.Wrapped in soiled pieces of newspaper, topped with thin onions rings seasoned with a generous dash of chaat masala and a lime wedge to squirt, the fried fish was better than the best I have ever had in my life.
- 1 lb minced lamb/beef/chicken (I use 80% lean)
- 2 medium potatoes, cubed
- 3 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with canola/vegetable)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 green cardamom pods , cracked open
- 1 ” cinnamon stick
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2″ fresh ginger shoot, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp kashmiri chili powder (adjust to tolerance)
- 3 tbsp plain yogurt
- salt to taste
- To garnish – chopped cilantro
Coarsely grind together:-
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns (adjust to tolerance)
- 4 cloves
- 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
- In a cooking pot with lid,on high, heat up the oil till you see ripples on the surface and it smokes slightly.
- Reduce the heat to medium.Temper the oil with bay leaf ,cinnamon stick and green cardamom pods. Add the onions next.Cook the onions till they turn light brown.About 3-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic & ginger next and saute for about 1 minute till you smell the aroma.
- Next, add the coarsely ground spices to the pot.Toast the spices for another minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes next along with turmeric and red chilli powder.Cook for 3-5 minutes or till you see oil separating on sides of the pan.Add the potatoes next, mix together, reduce heat to low and cover the pot.Let cook covered for 8-10 minutes till the potatoes are almost 70% cooked. Remove the lid.
- Turn heat to high and add minced lamb to the pot & and work it with a spoon for about 8-10 minutes on medium heat.The meat will start separating,changing color, sweating and becoming watery.Do not worry, everything is going as per plan.
- Next, add yogurt, 1/4 cup water and salt to the pot. Mix well.Turn the heat to the lowest possible on your burner, cover the pot with lid and let simmer on low heat for about 22-28 minutes.You ll need to stir and check periodically to ensure that lamb is not sticking to the bottom. Add more water if needed
- Remove the lid,check the salt and cook on high again for 5 minutes till everything comes together.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm with flatbreads & salad.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!