Thursday, March 26, 2015

Kesar Seviyan Kheer :Vermicelli Milk Pudding Infused With Saffron

Cooking is love made visible, food is magical. Treat a kid with cupcake and see the spark on his/her face. After a breakup or a hectic day just give a woman scoops of icecream and then see her reactions. After an argument with your partner, make for him/her favourite dish and then see anger melting down. That’s what food does-bring smile to faces, relax the mood and ease down the irritation.

Everyone has their favorite dish, the dish that you can die for. What’s your favourite dish? For me it’s Kheer, milk pudding made with rice or vermicelli. What kheer does for me is what chocolate would do for many women. In summers, on a shiny sunny day I would prefer a bowl of chilled Rice(chawal) Kheer but on cold night I would love to gulp bowls of hot Seviyan Kheer.

Kheer is made my boiling milk with rice (chawal), vermicelli (semiya), sago (sabudana) and many other grains. Basically you need to boil the milk till it gets thick and then sweeten it with sugar, jaggery (gud) or condensed milk. Flavoured with cardamom (elyachi) or saffron (keasar) and garnished with chopped nuts. This is also known as Payasam in south and Payesh in Bengal and is generally made during festivals or special events.

Unlike other Indian sweets such as Gulab Jamuns or Suji Ka Halva this sweet dish is prepared quickly and is the easiest one. Here is how to make Kesar Seviyan Kheer, my way.

1 cup broken vermicelli/seviyan
500 milliliters milk
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ghee/unsalted butter
4-5 green cardamom pods/elaychi
1 teaspoon saffron/kesar
5 tablespoon nuts to garnish (notes)

  1. Heat ghee in a pan and on slow heat roast the vermicelli to golden borwn.
  2. Open cardamom pods and add to vermicelli and let it release the aroma.
  3. In a heavy bottom kadai/wok boil the milk. When milk comes to boil, add pinch of saffron.
  4. Add sugar and vermicelli. Let it cook for 10 minutes on slow flame. Let it boil till vermicelli is cooked.
  5. If you like thick kheer cook for another 5 minutes. I like to have bit runny kheer, so I did not cook more.
  6. Garnish with chopped nuts and remaining saffron.
  7. Serve warm or cold

I used almonds, cashews and raisins, feel free to use any nuts. If you want you can roast the nuts in ghee too.
Please use good quality full fat milk for this recipe.
I like sweet kheer, but adjust sweetness as per your taste.
Saffron gives subtle aroma and nice yellowish-orange colour to the kheer. I used this saffron
For  thicker kheer, use more vermicelli.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Punjabi Dum Aloo: Baby Potatoes In Rich Tomato Gravy

A non Indian friend who follows my blog and loves my cooking always asks-don’t you get bored of Indian cooking, rolling rotis and making curries every day? Ah! No, I don’t. Indian cooking is therapeutic and rejuvenating. Every massala is important, every spice is significant and every step is pure bliss. Cooking Indian food is a magical process, a satisfying experience and an art. You can’t throw or mix anything at anytime; you need to wait for the oil to get hot, for cumin to splutter and for aroma to rise. Oh, only an Indian can understand my words.

Rich curries like paneer butter massala, paneer kofta, daal makhani happens once a month because such recipes are royal in terms of process and ingredients.  There are simple Indian curries which are everyday affair such as gajar mutter, palak bhaji or gobi mutter –straightforward and uncomplicated. So when I have time and good mood, I like to indulge myself into royal cooking experience else I stick to simple Indian cooking-but, no, I never get bored and I never will :-)

Moving on, we have subscribed to Netflix and now we hardly move out of the house. We finished watching breaking bad series (all seasons) in 15 days-yeah we are hooked to our television set. Saturday we had no other plans either, we are now binge watching Homeland. Mr. Husband wanted to eat something nice, I know his ‘nice’.-meaning a subji that has aloo (potatoes). How about sukha aloo (dry potatoes) I asked. No, he said, something spicy that would go with this wintery climate. Dum Aloo, I whispered. He nodded yes with excitement. Dum Aloo is another example of how amazing and creative Indian cooking can be.

Dum Aloo (baby potatoes in gravy) ,takes on different flavours as it travels from state to state throughout the India. Kashmiri Dum Alu is made using yogurt (dahi) and cashews and is sweet in taste. In Bengal, it is known as 'Aloor Dom' and is said to be lightly spiced and simple. Laknawi (Lucknow) style dum aloo has center filled with paneer and later dunked into caramelized onion gravy. Today I am sharing Punjabi Dum Aloo.

In Punjab, its more like restaurant's, with a thick and tangy gravy with tomatoes and yogurt and delicately spiced. This has balance of all the taste buds- sweet, spicy and bit tangy. Lots of whole spices are used to release subtle aroma. We both love and relish Punjabi style of Dum Aloo the most. Don’t stop or hesitate to cook this after seeing the number of steps, like I said, Indian cooking is the best-do try this.

Baby potatoes-10
1/4 tsp asafoetida /hing
1 medium sized onion roughly chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ginger/adrak chopped
4 cloves garlic/lehsun chopped
1 cup of curd/yogurt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder/haldi
1 teaspoon red chilli powder/lal mirch
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves/Kasturi methi
1 bay leaf/tej patta
Oil for cooking and shallow frying
1 tablespoon butter or ghee
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon corn flour
4 tablespoon coriander leaves finely chopped for garnishing
(For Massala/Spice mix)
1 Black cardamom/badi elyachi
2 green cardamoms/hari elaychi
5  peppercorns/kali micrh
1 tablespoon coriander seeds/dhaniya
1/2 teaspoon fennel/saunf
1/2 inch cinnamon stick/dal chini
3 cloves/laung
2 dry red chillies

  1. Dry roast all the ingredients listed under spice mix list on slow heat. Once cooled, grind them to fine powder.
  2. Wash potatoes. In a pressure cooker put sufficient water (just to cover potatoes) with 1 teaspoon salt. Cook on high flame till 2 whistles are released. Peel the potatoes.
  3. Take a fork and start pricking every potato with it (make holes). Heat 4 tablespoon oil in a pan and shallow fry potatoes till golden and crip from all the sides.
  4. Heat oil in a wok/kadai. When hot, add in asafoetida and bay leaf.
  5. Add garlic, ginger. Mix for 1 minute.
  6. Slow down the heat. Add chopped onions and cook till onions turn dark pink in colour.
  7. Add chopped tomato. Mix in salt, corn flour, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves. Cover and cook till tomatoes are soft and mushy.
  8. Mix the dry roasted spice mix with yogurt and beat till smooth. Pour this paste in tomato paste and keep stirring for 2 minutes. When you start seeing oil on the edges, turn the heat to low and cook it covered for 5 minutes.
  9. Blend the above made gravy in the blender with 1 cup of water. Sieve this gravy (chaan le).
  10. Heat ghee/butter in a pan and add gravy to it. Throw in potatoes and sugar, cover and let it simmer on slow heat for 10 minutes.
  11. Garnish with coriander leaves and dried fenugreek leaves.

This can be made all yogurt or all tomato gravy as well. Only the colour will change.
For low fat (healthy) version don’t shallow fry the potatoes, just use the boiled one.
Every pressure cooker is different, so make your own judgement while boiling potatoes.
Dry roasting and grinding the spices can be done 1 week before.
Consistency of gravy is smooth and thick, but, feel free to adjust water as per your choice.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve with naan, roti or any plain paratha. I served with methi theplas.
Goes well with rice or biryani.
It is a royal dish, so do make this to please your guests for parties of get together.
For the complete Punjabi thali serve it with paneer butter massala and dal makhani.