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The Food Legacy of India
There's more to Indian food than the perennially popular Butter Chicken. Traditional Indian cuisine varies from region to region. With food ranging from mild and creamy, to packing a proper spice punch, one thing you can be guaranteed – it's never a dull eating experience!
Cooking is cultivated as a skill learned by daughters at a young age in the family home. Family favourites, signature lamb recipes, Mum’s best saag aloo; these are all an opportunity to demonstrate skill to outsiders and remain a heirloom passed on between generations.
Indian Influences
India's history has detailed invasions from many outside nations. This has influenced the food in a myriad of ways.
Mughal: Persian and Arab invaders of ancient times led to the Mughal style of cooking, including thick and rich gravys, almonds and dry fruits being used in dishes.
Aryan: This style of cooking focuses on the mind and body enhancing properties of food.
British: The British colonisation put a European twist on some dishes and made the dishes slightly more mild and palatable to western tastes at the time. Also, they introduced tea into India to compete with the then biggest producer, China.
Portuguese: The colonisation of areas in southern India by Portugal, led to an amazing fusion of flavours and the popular and notoriously hot Vindaloo.
Northern India
The hot summers and cold winters of the north, mean that there's plenty of seasonal vegetables and fruit to be found. This is where Kashmiri and Mughlai styles of curries are prevalent. This includes moderately spicy, gravy-based curries with dried fruit and nuts used during cooking. Also tandoori rotis cooked in a clay tandoori oven, are incredibly popular here.
Southern India
Southern Indian food is super-hot, just like the balmy climate. Areas like Kerala have Malabari cooking, succulent seafood dishes. Meals are centred on rice, rasam (a hot and sour lentil dish); dosas (lentil and rice pancakes); daals coconut chutneys, and poppadums (deep fried lentil pancakes).
Eastern India
Home to beaches, mountains and lots of rain fall, this area of India is where plentiful rice, green vegetables and fruit grows. Consequently, the cooking features an abundance of rice. Also, because of the border with China, there's a strong influence from Mongolian style cuisine. Simple is the way they cook here. They also produce a lot of great desserts here like Gulab Jamun.
Western India
The hot and dry region of Rajasthan, has a comparatively smaller selection of fresh vegetables. Therefore, this gave rise to the art of pickle and chutney making. The mostly Hindu population here is vegetarian. In the coastal region of Goa, there's an abundance of fresh seafood. Vindaloo and Xacuti are dishes from here, that were influenced by Portuguese colonisers.  
There is a true patchwork of variety contained within India’s cookery heritage; whether you want to sample something spicy, sour, creamy or zesty, Indian cuisine has something to offer…

 

 

 

 

LAMB ROGAN JOSH          (serves 4-6)

 

(1.5 Ib) lamb

 8 oz bones for adding flavor (optional)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

½ lb onions, chopped

3 tsp chili powder

3 large black cardamoms

5 green cardamoms

2  cinnamon leaves

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp fennel powder

2 tsp ginger paste

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

½ cup whole yoghurt

salt to taste

 

  • Boil the lamb and bones with the garlic and 1/2 tsp salt in 6 cups of water for about 20 mminutes. Remove from the heat. Remove the meat and set aside. Skim off the scum and strian and reserve the cooking liquor.

  • Make a paste of chili powder by mising with a little wter. Whisk the yoghurt and set aside.

  • Fry onions until lightly browned (about 8 min)

  • Add garlic cloves, ginger paste, cardamoms, cinnamon leaves and fry for 1 minute.

  • Then add the coriander, fennel, and turmeric powders, and the chili paste and 2 tbsp water and stir continuosly.

  • Afer 2 minutes add the meat. Saute for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add the yoghurt, stir well and saute for a few minuts.

  • Add salt to taste, 4 glasses ow water, Cook until the meat is tender.

  • Before serving remove the cinnamon or bay leaves, large cardoamoms if intact.

LAMB CURRY WITH TURNIPS            (serves 6)

 

2 Ib4 oz/1 kg lamb, with bones

½ cup yogurt

2 tsp garam masala

4 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

½ tsp chili powder

salt to taste

1 big onion, finely chopped

4 green cardamoms

2 bay leaves

3 fresh green chilies, chopped

1 tomatoe, chopped

1 tbsp tomato paste

 ¼ cup vegetable oil

3 cups water

3 turnips

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves to decorate

  • Cut the lamb into small pieces.

  • Mix the yogurt, garam masala, ginger-garlic paste, chili powder and salt together in a large bowl, stirring to mix well. Put the meat to the yogurt mixture. Marinate for 1 h.

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottom pan. Add the onions, cardamoms, green chilies and bay leaves and fry until the onion is golden.

  • Add the marinated meat to the pan and stir fry for 20 minutes.

  • Add the chopped tomato, and stir fry for 5 minutes stirring constantly.

  • Add the water, cover and let slimmer over low heat for 1h.  (If the sauce it too watery them remove the lid, increase the heat slightly and cook until the sauce has thickened to the correct consistency).

  • When the lamb is soft finally add turnips. Cook for 20 minutes or until turnips are soft.

  • Transfer the curry to to serving plates, garnish with cilantro. Serve hot with rice.

LAMB BIRIYANI         (serves 4)

 

(2 Ib 3 oz)1 kg lamb

1 cup basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for 2 hours

2 tbsp grated coconut

¼ cup whole cashew nuts

1 tbsp chopped mint leaves

1 tbsp fresh ginger, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 green chilies, sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

½ cup yogurt

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp biriyani masala

1 tsp ground coriander

salt to taste

leaves from 2 spring coriander

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp milk

cashew nuts, almonds, sultan raisins to decorate 

 

 

 

 

  • In a liquidizer, blend the coconut, cashews, mint and coriander leaves to make a smooth paste.

  • Stir in the ginger, garlic, green chili, onion, yogurt, lemon juice, biriyani masala, ground coriander and salt.

  • Turn the lamb in this mixture to coat and leave to marinate for about 10 minutes.

  • Put the lamb in a heavy-bottom pan, pour 2 cups boiling water, cover and cook over a low heat for about an hour, or until tender.

  • Meanwhile, drain the rice and put into in 3 cups boiling water for 10 minutes , until half-cooked. Drain.

  • In a large oven proof casserole, heat the butter, then add the meat and rice and mix thoroughly. Cook, covered with foil or lid, in the oven at 150 C/300 F for 10 min.

  • Sprinkle on the milk and decorate with coriander leaves, cashew, almonds and raisins.

 

CHILLY LAMB MEAT STUFFED WITH BOILED EGG     (serves 4)

 

1 lb/450g kg lean ground lamb

3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)

2 green chilies (finely chopped)

2 red chilies (finely chopped)

1 tbsp lemon grass

2 tsp coriander powder

4 boiled eggs

¼ cup vegetable oil

½ cup bread crumbs

3 tbsp tomato puree

¼ tsp ground black pepper

salt to taste

  • Heat the oil in the pan and sauté the garlic in it.

  • Add lemon grass, chilies, tomato puree and salt.

  • Add lamb mince. Mix well. Add coriander and black pepper. Cook until the mixture turns dry.

  • Let it cool.

  • Then coat the boiled eggs with the lamb mince mixture and roll it in bread crumbs. Deep fry and serve hot.

     

Lamb Keema

LAMB KEEMA              (serves 4)

 

(1 Ib)450g kg lamb

1 cinnamon stick

4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

1 curry leaf

4 cloves

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 tsp ginger-garlic paste

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

2 green chilies, sliced

½ cup yogurt

1 tbsp dried fenugreek

salt to taste

2 tbsp vegetable oil

cilantro and peas to garnish

 

 

 

 

  • Heat the oil in a preheated wok, or large pan,

  • Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until light brown.

  • Add the cinnamon stick, cardamoms, curry leaf and cloves and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute then stir in garlic-ginger and cook for 1 additional minute.

  • Add the ground lamb and sprinkle over the ground coriander, cumin, and chili powder.

  • Cook for 5 minutes, or until the lamb is lightly browned.

  • Stir in the yogurt and fenugreek and season with salt. Cover and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes, or until the lamb is tender. Ladle into serving dish and garnish with chopped cilantro.

 

DAL KEEMA

 

 

2 oz or 1 lb. chana dal (gram pulse) washed and set aside

1 cup minced lamb (keema)

4 tbsp yogurt

1 tsp. turmeric powder

2 tsp. coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 large onion (chopped fine)

1/2 tsp. garlic paste

1/2 tsp. ginger paste

4 green chilies

1/2 bunch coriander leaves

2 tbsp vegetable oil

pinch of chili powder

Salt to taste.

This is an excellent dish for those seeking to cut down their intake of red meat and hence cut bad cholesterol. (Need a pressure cooker for this dish)

 

  • Heat ghee in the pressure cooker pan and fry the onions until golden brown.

  • Add cleaned and washed minced meat and garlic paste, and chopped green chilies.

  • When the meat turns brown, add chana dal to the meat and stir in the turmeric, coriander, chili powder, salt and ginger paste.

  • Fry for a minute, add yoghurt, 3 cups of water, close cooker and place on medium heat.

  • After 3 minutes pressure-cook on low for 10 minutes.

  • Then remove and cool the cooker for five minutes, open cooker and garnish with cilantro.

Photo: Marzena Saigal

LAMB SEEKH KABABS          (serves 2)

 

(1 Ib)450g kg lean ground lamb

1 tsp meat tenderizer

1 onion, finely chopped

2 green chilies, chopped

2 tbsp plain yogurt

1 tsp finely chopped fresh gingerroot

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garam masala

to serve

1 lemon, cut into wedges

cilantro to garnish

 

 

 

 

  • Place the lamb in a bowl, then add the meat tenderizer and mix in well. Reserve for 3 hours.

  • Preheat the broiler to medium. Finely chop the cilantro. Mix the onion, green chilies, and cilantro together in the bowl.

  • Mix the yogurt, ginger, garlic, ground cumin and coriander, salt and chili powder, garam masala in separate bowl. Blend with the onion mixture.

  • Add the combined mixture to the lamb and mix together.

  • Divide the mixture into 10-12 equal portions. Roll 2 portions around each metal skewer with your fingers, pressing all around.

  • Broil the kebabs under the hot broiler for 8-10minutes, turning and basting occasionally with oil.

  • Serve with lemon wedges and a raita of your choice. Serve in pita bread.

  • The cooked meat can also be chopped into a salad.

GOAT CURRY             (serves 6)

 

2 Ib4oz/1 kg goat, with bones

1 cup yogurt

2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger

2 tsp crushed fresh garlic

1½ tsp chili powder

salt to taste

2 onions, finely chopped

4 green cardamoms

2 bay leaves

3 fresh green chilies, chopped

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp tomato paste

 ½ cup vegetable oil

1 cup water

2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves

  • Using a sharp knife, cut the goat into small pieces.

  • Mix the yogurt, garam masala, ginger, garlic, chili powder and salt together in a large bowl, stirring to mix well. Put goat to the yogurt mixture. Marinate for 1 h.

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottom pan, add the onions, cardamom, green chilies and bay leaves and cook until golden stirring constantly.

  • Add the marinated mixture to the pan and stir fry for 3-5 minutes.

  • Add the tomatoes, and the lemon juice and stir fry for 5 minutes.

  • Add the water, cover and let slimmer over low heat for 35-40 minutes.  (If the sauce it too watery them remove the lid, increase the heat slightly and cook until the sauce has thickened to the correct consistency).

  • Transfer the curry to to serving plates, garnish with cilantro. Serve hot with rice.

 

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