Slow-Cooked Mutton Curry


The first two recipes I posted this month were both for baingan/eggplant (Baingan “Bharta” and Baingan-Zeera Masala). And there’s one more to come still. But let’s take a break this week and do the one non-eggplant recipe to crack this month’s poll. This is a recipe for mutton—as we Indians refer to goat meat. If you don’t have easy—or any—access to mutton/goat meat you can make it with lamb shanks or even with beef. You want to make it with enough bones in there though. I last made this with a hind leg from the goat friends and I split at the end of last year and there were quite a few marrow/shank bones in there. I cooked it not in the pressure cooker—as I often do with my mutton curries—but long and slow on the stovetop. It is basically a first cousin, twice removed of the classic Bengali mutton dish known as kosha mangsho. The first step is to marinate the mutton overnight in yogurt and a bunch of spices (you can watch a Reel of the process here). You then saute some whole garam masala and some onions, dump in the meat with all its marinade, add some tomato, cook it down till the oil separates, then add some water, cover and cook over low heat till the meat is almost done. Then you add some halved potatoes and cook till they and the meat are done. All that’s left do is garnish with some dhania and eat it with rice, chapatis or parathas. Continue reading

Baingan “Bharta”


Almost exactly a month ago I was reeling under the onslaught of eggplant from my plot at the community garden and trying to come up with new ways/variations to cook it all. On this particular occasion I started out to make a variation on baingan bharta but things went off track fast. First, I was feeling too lazy to roast the eggplant. So I figured I’d make a version of the recipe I posted last week, for baingan-zeera masala. As I started to make the masala though I kept adding things willy nilly, almost a bit deliriously. These kinds of experiments can often end badly but wouldn’t you know it, this came out rather well: rich texture and big, bold flavour. The only problem was what to call it. Since I’d started out to make baingan bharta, and since the texture of the finished dish was not a million miles from that of bharta, I figured I’d call it that. But as it’s so far away from the canonical versions of the dish I normally think of as baingan bharta, I’ve put bharta in quotes here. If even that seems wrong to you, you can call it what you like. But do make it. I am pretty sure that if you like baingan/eggplant you will agree that it’s very good. Continue reading

Baingan-Zeera Masala


I started growing eggplant in earnest last summer. And I had such a monstrous bounty that even after giving at least half of it away we almost had more than we could cope with at home. Thankfully, eggplant is a very versatile vegetable and can be cooked in all kinds of ways and so we never tired of it. Though my readers may have, as all my recipes last September involved eggplant. And as I planted a lot of eggplant again in my community garden plot this year I find myself in a similar situation, both in our kitchen and on this blog. Four of the recipes on the poll for this month involved eggplant and it’s by a hair that we missed having another all-eggplant September: only three out of four recipes this month will feature eggplant—what a relief! Where to begin? Well, maybe with the one I made first back in August. It featured not just single garden eggplant but single plant eggplant: all of it came from one Chinese String plant in my garden. Chinese String, as the name might indicate, is a varietal that produces long thin fruit. I’d never grown or encountered it before but certainly hope I’ll be able to find it again next year as we really enjoyed it, in this preparation and others. You don’t need that specific varietal, of course—any long eggplant will do. Continue reading

September’s Recipes: A Poll


In case you’re new to reading this blog, I post recipes every Thursday (usually) and at the start of the month I post a poll of the possible candidates and have you vote for up to four of the ones you’re most interested in. As was the case late last summer, my community garden plot is overflowing with eggplant and so this month I have a lot of eggplant-centered possibilities (all vegan). But there’s more than eggplant in the poll below. In fact, there are two shrimp possibilities as well for you to consider, one in which the shrimp is optional and one in which it’s central. And there are also the two holdovers from August’s poll which feature pork and mutton (goat) respectively. Yes, it’s a larger poll than usual which should make for a tighter race. Let’s see how it goes. I will leave the poll up through the weekend but don’t leave it too late to make your picks. Continue reading

Spiced Chicken Liver Mousse


Until early this year we were purchasing all our eggs and chicken from a small farm about 15 miles away from us. Eventually, coordinating times and places to meet for exchange of money and goods became a bit too much of a hassle for both parties and we stopped. But not before I acquired large amounts of various non-standard parts of chicken (from the American grocery point of view). I still have a very large bag of chicken feet in the chest freezer, for example. And I also went through a large bag of hearts and gizzards in the spring (they cooked up very nicely with onions, cauliflower and spices and tasted very good rolled in tortillas). In the spring I also made a spiced mousse with a large bag of livers and served it on bread at a potluck with some friends. It was quite popular, even among some who are not usually very liver-positive. I’ve been trying to get it on the blog since May but it’s only now that it has finally (and I must admit, improbably) made the cut. There are a few people, online and off, who have been asking for a recipe and this goes out first and foremost to them. Remember, kids: don’t let go of your dreams—they’ll come true someday. Continue reading

Purple Potatoes, Red Masala


I’ve previously posted at least three recipes for alur-dom/dum alu (here, here and here). You might think that’s enough but here’s a fourth. Alur dom/dum alu is made in certain broad ways in the parts of India that make dishes by that name. I do like more traditional ways of making it but I also think of the name of the dish as authorizing all kinds of approaches: as long as you cook potatoes, covered, in a thick or thin gravy with masala I think you’ve made alur dom/dum alu. You may disagree but that’s how I see it. Anyway, I don’t know why I’m leading this post off with these observations because this recipe is nothing very wild or unexpected. The only really unusual thing here is the use of small purple potatoes. Everything else is just a matter of plus/minus from ways in which you might already make alur dom/dum alu. You could, of course, make this dish with small yellow or red potatoes as well but I really like the sweet flavour of purple potatoes and think they work particularly well here. Give it a go and see what you think. Continue reading

Mushroom and Cauliflower Curry


I love king oyster mushrooms and buy them every opportunity I get—which is to say, every time I am at a Vietnamese or other East Asian store in the Twin Cities. We cook them up in a number of different ways at home. What I have for you today is a relatively unusual prep for me for these mushrooms but otherwise fairly familiar. By which I mean that this is essentially a take on alu-gobi with the mushrooms taking the place of the potato. A little more gravy than I typically make in alu-gobi and so I’m calling it a curry. There are not very many ingredients and it comes together very easily. I start out by frying the cauliflower and mushrooms till they’re half-done. If you’re short on time you could skip this step. It won’t be quite as good but it will still be very tasty. As with a lot of my recipes, the ingredients list is really a general guideline and not a specific prescription. I used the quantities of cauliflower and mushrooms I had. You could change that ratio and still end up with a very similar dish as long as you stay close to the spice blend. Continue reading

Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Salad


Here is a somewhat unusual recipe from me. It is for a warm salad, a genre I rarely make as the centerpiece of a meal but then when I do I wonder why I don’t make it more often. It’s not the first such recipe I’ve posted—see also this Bean Salad with Artichoke Hearts and this Octopus and Chickpea Salad—but it might be my favourite. It’s very tasty and comes together very quickly with a nice mix of flavours and textures. As always with my bean cooking, I use Rancho Gordo beans. I recommend something like their Ayocote Blanco bean for this but you can’t go very wrong with any of their other white beans or with their Flageolets for that matter. This recipe only uses two cups of cooked beans and rather than cooking them for this recipe, I recommend saving two cups of beans you’ve prepared for another purpose (such as this Lamb and Bean Stew). Good tomatoes are a must. I’ve been using Jaune Flamme tomatoes from my garden: these are roughly ping pong ball-sized and have a wonderful sweet and slightly tart flavour. If you don’t have any at hand substitute the best cherry tomatoes you have. The other important thing is to crisp up the cauliflower nicely. I use a cast iron pan and a hot oven to caramelize the tops of the florets without the whole becoming too soft. The florets are coated in ground cumin first and this adds a savoury warmth. Continue reading

Lamb Shank Curry with Peanuts and Potatoes


After last week’s recipe for a stew of white beans with lamb, here is another lamb recipe to close the month in cooking on the blog. Unlike last week’s recipe—which involved lamb neck—this involves lamb shanks. We get our lamb shanks from the same source as our lamb neck: Goette Farms in southern Minnesota. As with most of my cooking, this recipe was improvised, which is not to say it is wholly original: it draws on taste and texture memories of Indian and non-Indian braises and stews and may possibly evoke for you one that you are familiar with. If so, please write in below. The main ingredient here that rarely goes into my meat curries is ground peanuts—an ingredient with which you have to take some care (see below). I made this for the first time for Easter lunch this year and a couple more times since. Continue reading

Lamb and Bean Stew


Here is a recipe for a delicious stew of lamb and beans that I have made variations on a few times this year. It ends up a sort of hybrid between Indian preparations of dried beans and southern European stews/braises. As always, I use Rancho Gordo beans. My preference is to use large white beans (I’ve made it with Ayocote Blanco and Large White Lima) but smaller beans like their Flageolet or Alubia Blanca will work just as well.  For the lamb I like to use lamb neck. We get our lamb neck (and other cuts of lamb) from the excellent Goette Farms in southern Minnesota. I realize lamb neck may not be easily available everywhere. I like it because the neck bones make for excellent flavour in the stew as the meat slowly becomes tender. If you don’t have lamb neck available use whatever bone-heavy cut of lamb you can. Continue reading

Baingan Masala


Eggplant season has begun to get underway here in Minnesota—I just harvested my first eggplant today, a small Pot Black. If all goes well, we will have plenty of eggplant in August. And as I am growing three different long varieties (Ping Tung, Nagasaki and Chinese String), I am constantly on the lookout for recipes where these will particularly shine. I am happy to say that this recipe—which I improvised at the end of May—is one of them. The secret weapon here is a commercial masala mix. As I may have mentioned before, one of the things I am exploring more this year is the use of commercial regional spice mixes. There are so many of these available now at my local Indian stores and it’s a world I need to spend more time in. One of the mixes I bought back in May was Bedekar’s Malvani Masala. If you can’t find it near you, you can probably find it online. Malvani cuisine is one of the cuisines of southwestern India, the flavours of which I just love. I used this Malvani masala in a beef curry when I first got it and while that came out quite well it is in this dish that I like it even more. I add it at the point at which I would normally add whatever spice mix I would have ground myself. Coconut milk adds some richness and the final result is a dish with a sticky texture and robust flavour. Give it a go. Continue reading

Un-Makhni Dal


The poll to select recipes for July closed on Tuesday. Here are the four recipes that will be posted on Thursdays this month, in descending order of votes received: Un-Makhni Dal; Baingan Masala; Lamb and Bean Stew; and Lamb Shank Curry with Peanuts and Potatoes. I’m particularly happy to see the two lamb dishes make the cut as they’ve been on the poll for a while. But I’m going to start the month with the top vote-getter: Un-Makhni Dal.

The first thing I will note is that this recipe is very similar indeed to a recipe for kali dal that I posted more than seven years ago. There is only one major ingredient that is added here; the rest differ only in proportions. That major ingredient is smoked ham and it keeps this from being a vegetarian or even a vegan recipe. But, as with my earlier recipe for Smoky White Bean Stew, you can fix that by substituting a smoked vegetarian/vegan ingredient of your choice: tempeh or tofu, most probably. I use whole, unpeeled kali urad dal but you could certainly make this quite successfully with Rancho Gordo’s Black Caviar Lentils, if you have any lying around. Those cook much faster and would obviate the need for a pressure cooker. Of course, if you have time and patience you could also slow cook the kali urad dal—which is something I did during the first year and a half of the pandemic, when time was not in short supply. No matter what route you take, you’re likely to end up somewhere tasty. Continue reading

July’s Recipes: A Poll


There were five Thursdays in June and so I posted five recipes. In July there will be only four. Once again you can vote for the four you’d most like to see and the top four vote getters will be featured every Thursday this month. Returning to the poll are the three recipes that didn’t clear the bar in June: lamb shank curry with peanuts and potatoes; lamb and bean stew; and spiced chicken liver mousse. Joining them are a recipe for baingan masala (made with Bedekar’s Malvani masala); what I call un-makhni dal; and slow-cooked mutton curry. Not very many vegetarian options this month, I’m afraid: only the baingan masala (the un-makhni dal contains smoked ham hock). I expect I’ll have a lot more in next month’s poll. Remember: you can vote for up to four recipes. You don’t have to vote for four, of course—I only mention it because there are a lot of people who vote for only one or two each month. Maybe you’re voting strategically or maybe you’re not interested in all the options but just in case the clarification is needed: you can vote for four. Continue reading

Gurda-Kapoora Masala


Here is the recipe for goat testicles and kidneys in a spicy sauce that you have been clamouring for. Some of you in the US will ask, “But where can we buy goat testicles and kidneys?!” What am I, your fucking personal shopper? Look in grocery stores catering to goat-eating cultures. For my part I got the testicles and kidneys used in this recipe from the goat friends and we bought from a local farm at the end of December and had cut up to our specifications. I asked if the testicles could be saved by the processor and they could and I got ’em. Now you may not associate Indian food with the cooking of offal. But liver and kidney are very commonly eaten, be they of chickens or goats. They were always included in the chicken and goat curries cooked at home when I was growing up as were dishes centered entirely on liver. My mother did not, however, cook goat testicles. But we ate them in dhabas in Delhi, along with things like brain curry (a particular treat on my 13th birthday at Kake da Hotel in Connaught Place). In Punjabi cooking these are not particularly exotic items. And nor are they anything very exotic on the plate. Goat testicles, in particular, have a very mild flavour and a pleasant spongy texture; perfect for coating in a spicy masala and that is what I do here. Please keep in mind that mine is not a traditional Punjabi recipe—it may resemble one in some ways but doubtless departs from most in others. Continue reading

Bhindi Masala with Yogurt


Normally, when I make bhindi/okra, I end up without much conscious thought with this excellent bhindi-fry with onions which is a beloved staple in our house. On some occasions, however, I blaspheme and experiment with other preparations. Not all these experiments are successful enough to merit repetition. This one, however, has joined the semi-regular repertoire. Where the bhindi-fry with onions is minimalist, with barely any spices used, this has a bit more going on—which is not to say that it is particularly complicated. And what it adds in ingredients it subtracts in prep time for the bhindi. You don’t have to slice it thinly. Instead, just cut off the tops and then cut each pod in half (or into three pieces for particularly long pods). The onions provide the base, the spices the punch and the tomato and yogurt add tang and turn the masala into a sticky coating for the bhindi. And if you cook it in mustard oil it will add a bit more pungency around the edges. It goes very well with rice and dal but is even better with chapatis or parathas. Continue reading

Thick Chicken Curry


I’ve posted a lot of chicken curry recipes over the years. Keep in mind that the name “chicken curry” doesn’t refer to a specific dish but to a genre: chicken cooked with spices in a thick or thin gravy/sauce. Variations in the spices and proportions and ingredients make for results that are subtly or wildly different. And this is home cooking: while there are canonical forms of many dishes (sliced by region, religion, caste, community etc.) in the home cooking repertoire, there are as many, if not more, that arise out of playing with what is at hand (or what catches your eye as you are cooking). Those of you who’ve made a number of my recipes know that this is the genre in which most of my recipes fall and this recipe is no exception. I improvized it when I first made it and it was a big hit at home. And so here it is for you all to try as well. Continue reading

Rajma, Take 5


Yes, this is my fifth recipe for rajma—what’s your point? I am forever tinkering with my rajma masala. And when I recently saw dried pomegranate seeds on the shelf at my local desi store (here in the southern Minnesota “local” means “20 miles away”) I grabbed some just for this purpose. A good rajma masala needs some sourness and pomegranate seeds are a good way to get it. If your local desi store doesn’t carry them, or if you don’t have a local desi store, you can find them on Amazon [affiliate link] or doubtless at many other online outlets. Or I suppose you could sub amchur/dried mango powder. It’s also true that you could save yourself a lot of hassle and just use a good commercial rajma masala—there is no shame in that. Of course, if you’re going to do that you don’t need to read further as the main thing that distinguishes my rajma recipes from each other is the masala I use for them (well, there are other differences too but this is the one that really counts). Continue reading

Alur Dom/Dum Alu, Take 2


Alur dom/dum alu was the top vote getter in this month’s recipe poll, which closed on Monday. I was not expecting it to be as popular as it turned out to be—I guess it’s a dish with a lot of Indian restaurant name recognition. I have actually previously posted another recipe for alur dom (which is the Bengali name, whereas dum alu is the Hindi name). That recipe—which came to me from one of my aunts—is very good in its own right; of late, however, I’ve been making it more often in this style which adds a few spices and leaves out the yogurt. In both recipes the final dish has a thick, sticky gravy/sauce that clings to the potatoes. The only challenge here is to get it to that point without scorching anything. A heavy-bottomed pan will help tremendously with that and I also have a cheat in the notes below the recipe which will not give identical results, probably, but will probably give you greater peace of mind. Either way, you’re likely to like this. And, oh yes, of course I made a Reel on Instagram the last time I cooked this. And of course you want to watch it. Continue reading