17 July 2013

Now You're Cooking!

Our Homestay in Varanasi offers homemade food for guests if they choose. Our first night in Varanasi we decided to eat dinner with them, and the food was amazing. We asked the owner, Hamish, if he knew of any cooking classes where we could learn to cook authentic Indian food. He told us that we did not need to take an official class, that his wife, Malika, who cooks all the food for Homestay, would be happy to teach us. Tonight, we joined her in the kitchen and she taught us to make some traditional Indian foods:
Shahi Paneer
Bhindi Masala
Punjabi Curry

Malika is an excellent cook and I wrote down notes as she prepared the food and explained things to us. I am going to share the recipes (and photos!) here:

Paneer -
1L Cows Milk (Raw is best)
2 TBSP White Vinegar
Strain the cream from the milk if possible. Boil the milk at a low heat. Once it's boiling, add the vinegar. The milk will curdle. Strain the curdle from the milk. Wrap the curdle in a muslin cloth and set it on a plate. Place another plate and a heavy weight on top of that for 10 - 15 minutes. It will set.
1L of milk produces approximately 200g Paneer

Shahi Paneer -
1 onion
5 cloves garlic
1 finger-length piece of ginger
3 small tomatoes
Blend the above items into a liquid . Add 2 TBSP vegetable oil to a pan and heat. Once heated, pour in liquid blend from above. Cook at a low boil for approximately 10 minutes.
Add the following spices to the mixture:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red chili powder
2 - 3 tsp gram masala
(If you wish to make the dish yellow, then also add tumeric)
After adding the spices, add 1 TBSP of fresh cream.
Boil approximately 1 cup of poppy seeds (white) and cashews in water for 2 - 3 minutes. Blend it at a low temperature to make a paste.
Mix the poppy seed / cashew blend into your mixture from above. Add crushed fennel greek leaves and water to desired thickness. Allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Bhindi Masala -
Okra (Bhindi)
2 small purple onions
1 TBSP (heaping) Gram Flour / Chickpea Flour
Heat vegetable oil in a pan and add the okra to it. Cook for approximately 20 minutes then add in the following spices:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp tumeric
3 tsp coriander
1 tsp dry mango powder
Remove from heat.
Cook 2 small purple onions in olive oil. Add in the heaping tablespoon of the flour and the okra. Cook for an additional 10 - 15 minutes, or until crispy.

Punjabi Curry -
Make a paste of gram flour, salt, red chili powder, thyme, soda bicarbonate and water. Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil in a pot. Make small dumplings out of this paste and cook them in the hot oil. Remove from oil.
1 cup gram flour / chickpea flour
1 cup plain yoghurt
1tsp salt
1 tsp red chili
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black poppy seeds
Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a pot. Mix the yoghurt and flour using a whisk. Add a pinch of Asafoetida Powder and the seasonings into the oil. Toast the seeds. Add curry leaves and the gram / yoghurt mixture and water to the pot. Cook for 20 - 25 minutes at a low temperature. Add salt and chili powder to season to taste. Put the dumplings into the curry.

Everything that Malika made for us had incredible flavor and we learned so much. It was interesting to see how the food was prepared, the way her kitchen was set up (fact: She has no oven!) and even the tools used. We learned so much from her and are hoping to be able to re-create these recipes in our own homes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Varanasi, India

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