Dhanshak

I am blogging after a big long gap. All this while however, I was not away from food. I cooked many new dishes and also cooked the same ones many times over. I was plain lazy, sometimes busy and most of the times too hungry to click pictures and upload on the web.

I must have cooked Dhanshak at least 5-6 times in the last few months and I still don’t have a single picture of the final dish. With the realisation that taste is all that matters, I am going to share the recipe with the work in progress pictures I have.

‘Dhan’ means grains and ‘Shak’ means vegetables. Dhanshak is a pure non-vegetarian, Parsi dish cooked with Lamb, lentils and vegetable. Ironically, I tasted it the first time in a Gujrati household as a pure vegetarian food (i.e. without the lamb).

 

There are 3 preparatory parts to the recipe;

1)      Marinate the meat (lamb / chicken).

2)      Cook lentils and vegetables together  in a pressure cooker

3)      Prepare the spice paste

 

Washed lentils

Washed lentils

 

Ingredients;

A.  Marinate;

½ Kg of Lamb / Mutton / Chicken – with bones

½ tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp alt

 

B.  The lentil and vegetable mixture;

1)      Lentils

½ cup Tovar dal (Split red gram)

1 tbsp of whole Green Moong dal (green gram)

1 tbsp Urad dal (white lentil / Black gram skinned and split)

1 tbsp Whole Masoor dal (Brown Lentil)

 

2) Vegetables

1 medium Potato

1 medium Tomato

3/4th cup of Methi leaves (Fenugreek)

4 sticks of Spring onions

½ cup of Dudhi / Lauki (Bottle Gourd)

 

Lentils and the veggies

Lentils and the veggies

 

 C.  The Spice paste;

2 medium size Green chillies (not too dark in colour)

1 ½ tsp Ginger Garlic paste (blend together ginger and garlic in equal portions)

4 cloves

1 tsp of Pepper corns

1 tbsp Coriander seeds

½ cup of Fresh Coriander with the stock

 

The spice paste

The spice paste

 

D. Tampering and Miscellaneous;

1 sliced Onion

Juice of a Lemon

1 tsp Cumin seeds)

¼ tsp Cinnamon powder

½ tsp Cardamom powder

4 tbsp of Ghee / Clarified butter

 

Procedure;

  1. Wash chicken / lamb clean. Apply turmeric and salt and let it marinate for about 30 mins.
  2. In a bowl, wash all the lentils together- B 1).
  3. Peel potato and pumpkin. Wash and roughly chop all vegetables – tomato, potato, pumpkin and spring onions.
  4. In a large tin, add washed lentils (2), chopped vegetables (3) and methi leaves. Add 2 glasses of water and let it pressure cook for about 15-20 minutes. Lentils take longer than vegetables to cook. Make sure that the lentils are fully cooked.
  5. Once the mixture cools, grind to a fine paste.
  6. While the mixture cools, prepare spice paste by grinding all the ingredients (C) together in a blender.
  7. In a separate bowl, heat ghee, add cumin seeds. Let it crackle. Add sliced onions and cook till limp. Add cinnamon, cardamom powder.
  8. Add spice paste and meat and let it cook with the lid on till meat is nearly done. (You can add a little water – half a cup or so to help the meat cook)
  9. Once meat is nearly cooked, add lentil and vegetable paste to it. Mix well.
  10. Add salt to taste and some water if the mix is too dense. Cover and simmer for 5 mins.
  11. Top it with a dollop of ghee while serving.

 

While Dhankshak tastes the best with Lamb/chicken, you can try it without meat. Reduce the quantity of spice paste to half. Serve with steamed brown rice or lachha paratha. Makes it a perfect Sunday lunch.

You can also enjoy it as a stew in winters. Reduce the spice paste to 1/6th of the quantity and make the dish more watery. Serve with Brune.

 

 

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Thandai

My quest for authentic (or close to authentic) Thandai has finally come to an end. Over the past few years, I have tried many methods of making Thandai. They have come from various known and unknown sources. But they all left me disappointed.

This recipe comes from my M.I.L. Why am I sold for this one? Simple, it tastes every bit how Thandai should.

Thandai is essentially a milk based summer drink and has a soothing effect on body. The ingredients that go into it are all gentle. This is the reason I have excluded Saffron (Kesar) and dry fruits.

In fact you can make a winter version of Thandai with a bit of Saffron and powdered Almonds and Pistachio.

Here we go;

Ingredients;

100 grams of Fennel Seeds (Saunf)

1 tbsp of freshly ground Black Pepper powder – (It won’t make the Thandai spicy at all.  Trust me this gives an amazing twist. If u like to add a spicy tinge to the flavor, add a little more)

25 grams of ground Poppy Seeds (Khus Khus)

1 tbsp of peeled and ground Cardamom (Elachi)

25 grams dried Cucumber seeds (Magaj Tari) – You can replace them with Muskmelon seeds in case Cucumber seeds are hard to find.

40 grams of dried Rose petals

Cold Milk

Sugar

 Preparation;

  • If dried Rose petals are not available, you can make them at home. Get 5-6 Roses from a flower vendor, remove petals and dry them in the shade for 3-4 days. Don’t dry directly under the Sun to fast forward the process. The petals will burn and the essence will be lost.
  • Grind the following ingredients separately one after the other into a fine powder.

Fennel seeds

Dried Rose Petals

Cardamom seeds

Poppy seeds (these are very tiny. Add a bit of water when u grind, else the seeds will be all over in the grinder)

  • Have some cold milk ready if you wish to make it right away.

 Procedure;

  1. Add ground Fennel seeds, ground Rose petals, ground Cardamom and ground Poppy seeds to the grinder.
  2. Add Cucumber seeds and Black pepper powder to it. Grind all this to make a fine powder.
  3. That’s it. Your Thandai powder is ready!

It can stay good for around 12 months if stored in a refrigerator.

 Serving proportions;

2 tsp of Thandai powder and 1 tbsp of sugar (add more sugar if you like it more sweet) for a glass of cold milk. Mix well. Let it cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. If you can keep it overnight or for 6-8 hours, nothing like it!

Strain and serve.

Thandai is known for having bhang mixed in it. I have never made or sipped one. If you do, do tell me how you make it.

Potato and Leek Soup

This is a smooth, creamy and filling soup with the most loved and the most consumed vegetable of the world at its heart – Potato. Even those who are not very fond of potato will love it.

Leek belongs to the spring onion family; rather it’s a big brother of spring onion. Less pungent and more tasty.

The first time I had it was at a restaurant in the Irish countryside in company of close friends. I have extremely fond memories associated with this soup.

The recipe I am sharing may not be the most authentic way of making it. But this comes very close to what I had.  Here is how you make my version of the potato and leek soup;

Ingredients

2 medium sized potatoes

1 stem of Leek

1 tsp Pepper

Salt to taste

Water

2 tbsp cream

1 tbsp olive oil

Procedure

  1. De-skin the potatoes, wash them and dice them.
  2. Finely slice leek from the leaf to the stem.
  3. In a small vessel, pour olive oil and sauté the diced Potatoes. Add the sliced Leek and cook it with Potatoes for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add water to the vessel, cover the vessel with a lid and let the Potatoes boil for 5 minutes.
  5. With a fork, check if the Potatoes are cooked. If you are able to cut through the Potato easily, it means it is cooked.
  6. Drain the excess water from the Potatoes. Don’t do away with the water. We will use it later in the recipe.
  7. Grind the cooked Potatoes and Leek in a processor / mixer to a fine puree.
  8. Add this puree to a pan; add the excess water drained from the Potatoes to thin the puree. Cook it for a minute.
  9. Add Pepper and Salt. Stir well.
  10. Stir in cream and cook for a minute.
  11. Serve hot with Croissant / Bread sticks.

Have it on a perfect day with your close friends. I am sure you will treasure the taste. Enjoy!

Measure it up !

It has happened several times that my mom or MIL cooked a mouthwatering dish while I struggled to recreate that magic even when I knew what went in it.

Yes, it comes with practice, experience, skill, expertise…… now, there is more to it.

They get the proportions right.

Well, they don’t have scientific/ standardised measuring equipments and weighing scales to their aid. But they do have their own personalized tools of measurement like eating bowls, spoons or the good old fistful.

Until recently, my food preparations were based on guesstimates. Till I figured out that cooking by approximate calculation of quantity has a hitch – you may or may not be able to recreate the dish the same way.

Besides measuring ingredients in grams, liters and even numbers, there are three important units of measurement in cooking (There are many more. Enough to write a thesis. But these are the ones I follow. Anything more than this confuses me)

–       Tea spoon (tsp.)

–       Table spoon (tbsp.) and

–       Cup

 

 

A Tea spoon is a smallest unit of measurement. Herbs, spices and condiments are mostly measured by a tea spoon. However, certain condiments can be prescribed by a table spoon.

A Table spoon is bigger than a teaspoon. Roughly 1 Table spoon = 3 Tea spoon. Mostly, pastes and purees, medium of cooking like Oil and butter are measured by a table spoon. Again, some of these can be measured by a tea spoon based on the required quantity in the recipe.

Cup is the largest unit of measurement generally used to measure the core ingredient of the dish like flour, water, milk, vegetables, egg whites / yolks, stock.

Some of the other commonly used expressions are – A pinch, a dash and a drop.

A pinch is an approximate measure which means a ‘pinch full of an ingredient’ or – ‘to taste’.

Drop – we all understand.

A dash is approximately 3-4 drops.

Measuring spoons, cups and a simple weighing scale are ‘must haves’ in your kitchen. They are crucial for baking.

If you do not have measuring spoons easily available, here is a simple conversion table for your use;

Tea spoon Table spoon Cup Grams
1 5
3 1 15
48 16 1 240

The stores and the World Wide Web are flooded with a variety of cooking tools, enough to baffle you. Start with the basic ones and go on adding new ones to your wares as and when you need them…

Why this blog ?


I love reading about food that is visually appealing. I love watching people cook and share their experiences without holding anything back. I love travelling and trying local food. Street food is my weakness and I find cooking healing and relaxing.

Food has always been my weakness, just didn’t realise it till a few years back.

Like a typical teenager, I had a very low (read as ‘NO’) interest in cooking / anything to do with the kitchen till my college days. I was happy feasting on delicious food that came my way.

Around the time I met Kartik, my liking for food and cooking came to the fore (food is his weakness too). There began my journey starting from a simple coffee and omelette progressing gradually to every day food and veg/ non-veg delicacies.

I am surrounded by people with great culinary skills – my Mom, Mom-In-law, Father-in-law (yes, my FIL takes great pride in cooking and critically assessing food), aunts, neighbours, friends, their moms/ wives / girlfriends and even my bosses and colleagues.

So, the idea behind this blog is simple.

I wish to share recipes I find ‘yummy’.

I wish to share the intricacies of the dishes that I have cooked and managed to get “How the hell did u make this?” or “I haven’t had anything like this before” from people who have tasted these dishes.

I wish to show that certain unpronounceable (if there is such a word) dishes are not as difficult as they sound.

And finally, I wish to make cooking easier and simpler and provide all the information, I had a tough time finding.

Needless to say, all the recipes that I will post on this blog, will be tried a couple of times in my kitchen first and only the successful ones will make an appearance here.

I hope you like it.

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