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*August 2010 COTM - COMPLETE ASIAN: India & Pakistan

Our cookbook for August is The Complete Asian Cookbook, by Charmaine Solomon.

Please use this thread to discuss recipes from the chapter INDIA & PAKISTAN

There are a variety of editions and publishers of The Complete Asian Cookbook, although it appears that the recipes for the most part are unchanged between them. Please mention the edition you are using along with the page number when you report on recipes.

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Alu Chat (Potato Slices), Pg. 102, 1992 Edition

    This recipe calls for small potatoes which are cooked then spiced but since we had the tiniest of carrots, some not bigger than my little finger, and very small potatoes I decided to combine the two. This dish is supposed to be a snack but for us it made a fantastic side dish. Small potatoes are sliced then cooked in their skins. Drain and set aside to cool. A spice mixture of salt, ground cumin, chili powder, and garam masala is then sprinkled over the vegetables and fresh lemon juice is drizzled over all. Toss gently to coat and serve. Absolutely addictive. I couldn't stop eating the little cuties. Although the potatoes are supposed to be peeled after cooking I didn't. Neither did I peel the baby carrots. Just a good scrub was all that was needed. Make this dish. You'll love it!

    Dinner was left over spicey meatloaf, the above dish, Tamatar Salat and Khira Raita both on pg. 85.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      Still drizzling lemon juice are we? This dish sounds really good, and like one I could easily sneak by the non-Indian food lovers around here. Thanks for pointing it out. Will try it tonight.

      1. re: clamscasino

        Yum, lemon juice. No rickets gonna get me. NB: No EVOO.

        BTW: I didn't slice those tiny potatoes. Just halved the bigger ones, left the teensy ones whole.

        1. re: Gio

          Hi there, the recipe sounds great. I think you are thinking of scurvy, though. Rickets is caused by lack of vitamin D or severe malnutrition during early childhood.

          1. re: crema

            Hi Crema.. of course you're correct! I got my vitamin deficiencies mixed up.
            Lack of C = scurvy. Thanks.

      2. re: Gio

        I was just looking at that last night. Will add to the list!

        1. re: Gio

          Alu Chat (Potato Slices), Pg. 102, 1992 Edition

          This was a huge hit. At first, I was unsure whether or not I liked it. It seems dry to me and I thought it needed to be crisped up. C loved it though. But, the more I ate it, the more I liked it. I found that I really enjoyed it as cold leftovers the next day. The flavors are fantastic together.

        2. Tamatar Salat (Tomato Salad with Mint and Spring Onions), Pg. 85

          Easy peasy, sprightly flavored, and very refreshing this dish. We had wonderful tomatoes from The Farm to use but no mint. So.... I used cilantro. Still the dish was very nice. Tomatoes are sliced into thin wedges, (I didn't peel them), the scallions are thinly sliced and the herb is chopped. The dressing is: lemon juice, salt, sugar and chili powder. I placed the tomato wedges on a platter strew the cilantro over then drizzled the dressing on and tossed to coat. So good...we liked this very much.

          1. Khira Raita (Cucumber with Yoghurt), Pg. 85

            This the last of the accompaniments to our main course last night. Quite a refreshing raita with a hint of garlic and ginger. It's a pretty straightforward recipe: Peeled and diced cucumber (salted then drained), crushed garlic (I pressed 1 small clove), grated ginger, thick yoghurt, lemon juice. Most of us can make this without a recipe but I thought the addition of garlic & ginger a bit different. I can't remember if I ever used those two ingredients in the past...but then I can't remember why I've entered a room sometimes. Anyway, there it is. A quick and easy hot Summer's eve dinner. Now I'm off to read the Burma and Korean chapters...

            1. Do pyaaza, pg 67

              I followed the recipe but used 1.5 lbs of chicken parts (legs and thighs) for this dopyaaza. Solomon gives a good explanation on some thoughts about what the 'dopyaaza' title means. Do=2, pyaaza is a reference to pyaaz, or onions. There are many ways to make this dish. It also goes by the name Stew Dopyaaza in Pakistan. Most recipes I see involve two types of onions (one red-fried and one cooked till the rawness is gone), plus whole and/or ground garam masalas. The main difference from family to family is whether or not tomatoes are added. My in-laws are from U.P. India originally, so they are no-tomato dopyaaza people, and I usually use my MIL's recipe. Panjabis do put tomatoes in their dopyaaza. That Urdu-speaking vs. Punjabi Pakistani line is usually drawn along the tomato or absence of tomato in many recipes. So it is in dopyaaza, and Solomon's recipe is a no-tomato recipe.

              The recipe required red-frying some onions and keeping them aside to add in at the end of the cooking. I crushed the fried onions so that they would melt well into the gravy, though Solomon doesn't specify this. The second onion appearance is a puree of yoghurt, masalas, and raw onion, plus cilantro. I was a bit afraid that the cilantro would turn my gravy green and make it like a similar cilantro chicken gravy dish, and it kind of did look olivey brown even after I allowed the reddened onions to melt down at the end of the dish. The recipe specifies that paprika be added to the wet masala, and I didn't have any paprika, so I am guessing that this is why I didn't get the best color. I defatted the gravy before adding in the garam masala at the end.

              I enjoyed the dish very much. he gravy was yummy, and it tasted different from my daily Pakistani gravies. My husband said it was very good, but when I told him it was supposed to be a type of dopyaaza, he said it didn't seem like dopyaaza. I did like the recipe, but next time I will omit the cilantro in the wet masala. Or I could up the cilantro and turn this into a cilantro-chicken gravy dish...I will definitely keep this recipe in my repertoire either way.

              We ate dopyaaza with chappati, basmati rice, vegetable raita, and a homestyle mixed sabzi.

              EDIT: in the pic the dopyaaza looks exactly reddish brown the way it should, I am not sure why...but in real life it looked paler and vaguely hazel colored. I wish the gravy would have looked this color for me at home!

              1 Reply
              1. re: luckyfatima

                luckyfatima: I love dopyaaza dishes (especially with lamb) and I love the statement that your family is "no-tomato dopyaaza people". I laughed out loud.

                I haven't been able to get ahold of this book yet, but am looking forward to finding it.

              2. No 1 Garam Masala p. 35.
                Same Ka Bhaji (2) Spicy Fried Beans p. 72
                Kesar Murgh Saffron Chicken p. 52

                Getting out of my comfort zone and cooking some new cuisine. I am happy to report our meal was a great success and excited to try more.

                GM-Toast all spices separately (coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves and nutmeg). and grind. Wonderfully fragrant. My fiancé said it smelled like Christmas. I think it was the cinnamon and nutmeg.

                Fried Beans- cut green beans in thick pieces. I used Roma beans from my garden. Then, heat ghee and fry finely chopped onion until golden, then add tumeric, chili (I used cayenne) and garam masala. Then add beans and salt and cook 5 minutes and cover and cook on low until tender. This was not a subtle dish. It was boldly flavored, but delightful. It definitely wakes up the mouth. We quite enjoyed the flavors and the spiciness. It worked well with the chicken which was not as aggressively seasoned.

                Saffron Chicken- cut chicken into small serving pieces. We made a half recipe and used 2 thighs and a split chicken breast. We cut the thighs in half and the breast into quarters. Heat ghee and cook onion until golden (I tried to make it more golden than I would based on a different CH thread about Indian food) add saffron pounded in a mortar with hot water, add cardamom and chicken. Heat chicken to golden for about 5 minutes and season with salt, cover and cook 10 minutes until tender. The chicken turned out extremely moist and although flavorful, it was not as strongly flavored as the green beans. It was subtly sweet and rich from the onions, garlic and ginger. This subtle seasoning turned out to be a good thing so the two dishes were not competing against each other. It was also eye opening for me as I typically think of Indian flavors to be bold. This was delicate and subtle, but delicious. Would definitely make again. We served the dishes with brown rice. With teamwork, it came together nicely for a great after work meal.

                3 Replies
                1. re: BigSal

                  Happy team work in the kitchen is so satisfying, isn't it? Fun too. That saffron chicken is calling me. Thanks for reporting on it, Big Sal.

                  1. re: Gio

                    Yes, I love bonding over a flame in the kitchen.:) I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

                  2. re: BigSal

                    I love that saffron chicken recipe, too. It freezes well and I've made it a few times for new moms or others who needed a meal or two in the freezer. Rice, dal, and saffron chicken is a nice change from lasagna (not that I have anything against lasagna!).

                  3. Sounds like a great combo. I may try the Saffron Chicken next time as well. By the way, roma bean looks very similar to what a "sem" bean looks like (I believe they are sword beans in English) so you did good with your roma rather than a slim green bean.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: luckyfatima

                      I'd love to get your opinion on the Saffron Chicken, because I am a novice to this type of cuisine. I'd be curious to get your thoughts on the flavors. Also, nice to hear that the the Roma beans were not a bad option. Thanks!

                    2. Kashmiri kofta kari, p. 65 (curried meatballs, kashmiri style)

                      We get ground lamb in our meat CSA, and ever since I tried this recipe I keep going back to it. Ground (or minced) lamb is mixed with ginger, fresh chilies, ground coriander, chili powder, garam masala, salt, and a bit of yogurt. Shape into small ovals.

                      i usually just fry them like meatballs, because I can't quite figure out the cooking directions: heat ghee in a saucepan, add dried milk powder, sugar, yogurt, garam masala and salt. Fry for a bit then add the koftas and some water; cover and simmer until the liquid is gone. Turn the koftas, add more water and some ground pepper, cover and simmer again until the liquid is gone. Sprinkle with ground cardamom and serve.

                      I've never had these at a restaurant, so for all I know i'm doing everything correctly and it's supposed to look this way! But what happens is, the sugar and milk/yogurt separate out from the ghee and the lamb fat. There really isn't a sauce, just an oily mess. It would probably help if I used lean lamb and minced it, instead of ground lamb. So I just fry the koftas in a little oil, and they are super yummy. The flavor is great - I'll never go back to lamb burgers :-) When i make these for dinner, they rarely make it onto the table - myself, hubby and the kids tuck into them while I'm preparing the rest of the meal.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gimlis1mum

                        Oh wow. That sounds so amazing. And I'm so envious you get ground lamb in your CSA!


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Yeah, me too! We get mostly EARLY GIRL TOMATOES!!! Aghhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

                          Actually, that's an exaggeration, but we do get lots of those EGs.

                      2. Cucumber Raita p. 85 I made this with fat free FAGE. It was a delicious way to use cucumbers and tames some of the spicy dishes. It also works as a palate cleanser like gari.

                        Gobi Paratha (Parathas with Cauliflower Filling) p.32
                        I made half a recipe. Mix roti flour and salt with water and knead 10 minutes and rest for 30. I like the fact they were made out of whole wheat flour. The dough is rolled out into 4 inch rounds, the filling is added, then pinch together to enclose the filling. Next, roll out into a circle the size of a breakfast plate. I ended up with about 6.5-7 inch rounds. I patted it down with my hands and then used a pastry rolling pin. A gentle touch was the key to me rolling this out without having the filling escape. Solomon advises to only make the filling when ready to fill. The filling is grated cauliflower, ginger, salt, garam masala and chili powder, which is optional (will add some next time). Before I made these I watched a YouTube video of someone making this. In the video, they squeezed the filling to get rid of the excess liquid. And after making the dish, I realize that you should not make the filling in advance, because it will be too wet and make it very difficult to roll out the paratha.
                        Next, melt ghee, add paratha, add ghee to the top and cook to brown on both sides. Serve with raita. I made the first one with ghee and the others with cooking spray. The one with ghee was richer and flakier - the others were ok, but not as flaky or tender. This was delicious solo and with the raita. Yummy. The video I saw suggested adding cilantro and cumin to the filling. I may try that, next and I would squeeze the cauliflower filling too.

                        Same Ka Bhaji 1 (Spicy Fried Beans 1) p. 72
                        Very similar to version 2, but this includes tomatoes and lemon juice. I made this with roma beans.

                        Gooda Bartha (Zucchini Puree ) p. 81
                        Peel and chop zucchini, seed and cook in water until soft. Drain and mash. As I was reading the recipe to write this, I discovered that I was suppose to mash the zucchini, oops, I just drained and did not mash the zucchini. Heat ghee in pan and fry cumin and mustard seeds, add fresh green chilies and finely chopped onions until soft. Add zucchini, salt and cook until it evaporates. Even though I neglected to mash the zucchini, I enjoyed the flavors. Will try the correct recipe next time.

                        Taaza Masala (Green Masala) p. 36
                        Soak fenugreek overnight, in a blender add garlic, ginger, mint, cilantro, vinegar, and salt. Once blended add turmeric, ground cloves, and cardamon. Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil until hot, then add spices, bring to boil and turn off heat. The sesame oil is much lighter in color and the aroma is very subtle unlike the Japanese toasted sesame I am used to. This is one of the ingredients in the Masala Murgh.

                        Masala Murgh (Grilled Masala Chicken) p. 49
                        Chicken (we used thighs) is scored halfway through bone. Combine tandori mix (we used Penzey's mix), green masala, salt, sesame oil, ground rice , garam masala and water. Rub into chicken and marinate 30 minutes. Grill. Now that I have some green masala made this can be a quick after work recipe. I find it hard to describe the flavors. My SO described the flavors as earthy (warm flavors that are comforting, but flavorful, not hot spicy like the green beans). We liked the dish.

                        This was quite a day of cooking on Sunday, but enjoyable. I was also able to use a number of vegetables from the garden (roma beans, tomato, cucumber, and zucchini) next up…eggplants.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: BigSal

                          Wow, I'm REALLY impressed, especially with the parathas. I have a fear of frying that I need to get over - I would love to make these.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            The parathas were the most rewarding of the lot to make and they are really not fried. I used a non-stick pan, added a bit of ghee to melt (one could use butter or oil) put the paratha in the pan add added a little more ghee for the top. You could put one side of the paratha in the melted ghee to coat and flip to get the other side coated.

                            1. re: BigSal

                              I'm still very impressed. I'm sure watching the online video about it first helped a lot.

                            2. re: LulusMom

                              LulusMom: There are a number of videos by competent Indian cooks online. I've found them very useful, especially in the area of breads and fritters. You can find them by googling

                          2. Keema Mattar Pilau (p. 28) - Minced meat (ground turkey) and peas with rice

                            This one didnt' read as anything spectacular, but it really was very tasty, especially with raita and lemon chutney on the side. Just kind of good, homey food. My F-in-L's favorite food is mince (he's Scottish) and I said to my husband "this sort of reminds me of mince" and he replied "mince with flavor!" Basically you saute chopped onion, garlic, cumin seeds (I added more than the recipe says - I like cumin), ginger and whole cloves until the onion is soft. Then add the meat (she suggests either minced lamb or beef) and brown. Then add peas and some water and let cook until "half done" (me: ??). Then add 2 cups of rice, bring to boil, put lid on and cook on low for 10 minutes, uncover and add garam masala without stirring (I thought that was weird, but it worked), and cook another 10 minutes or until rice is cooked through. This isn't company food, but I liked it a whole lot. Lulu has reached the inevitable picky stage and said "I don't much like this" but then ate about half of what was on her plate, so it couldn't have been too bad. The raita she cleaned up - one of her favorite foods.
                            Side note to Greedygirl: Lulu said "Oh, Indian food? Remember Lesley? She was so much fun in London" and she had this far away look in her eyes.

                            39 Replies
                            1. re: LulusMom

                              Why would keema NOT be "company food", by which I'm assuming you mean it's not suitable some how for serving to guests?

                              1. re: ZenSojourner

                                Not meant as an insult. Its kind of like I wouldn't serve tacos (a food I LOVE) to guests (unless somehow we'd decided to make it a taco party). Just seems very homey and wonderfully cozy; maybe I aim too fancy with guests, dunno. I should probably lighten up on that.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  Ah. Well everyone has their own ideas about that sort of thing. I don't do ANY formal "entertaining", so if folks come for dinner they're going to get whatever I feel like cooking. Which has, on occasion, included tacos, LOL!

                                  I didn't take it as an insult, I just wondered.

                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                    I started thinking about this after reading your response, and I guess I ended up coming to the conclusion that maybe it was the ground turkey part of it that made it "not for company." I really did totally enjoy it (and when I came home this afternoon and smelled the leftovers being heated up, my mouth watered), but somehow serving ground meat doesn't seem company worthy. This is my own little problem, and I think one I should probably get over. After all, this was delicious, and oh my, those asian turkey burgers in Gourmet month would be a hit with almost anyone.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      I love this dish made with ground lamb.

                              2. re: LulusMom

                                I make have made qeema pullao for guests or go-to functions (That was even in my CH profile go-to food for many months a couple years ago). It is actually a favorite food of mine. Glad the recipe worked well for you. Lulu sounds like a cutie, BTW.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  Tell her that I am VERY disappointed that the adventurous eater I met in London has gone all picky! Bet she's still a cutie though.

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    Oh yay, I'll be sure to tell her. Hearing it from you will make a difference I'm sure. But I do think it is an inevitable part of establishing her own identity. I can tell you that last weekend in DC she ate lamb sausage with lentils, jambon, escargot, a nice stinky blue cheese and many other things most 4 year olds wouldn't touch. I also had to fight her off my belgian beer for some reason. It was getting embarrassing.
                                    A few nights ago when I made the indonesian tofu, she said "Indonesian food isn't good" (now, she eats stuff like this out all the time), but then cleaned her plate. There is great happiness to be gotten in just saying things to annoy one's mother.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Oh god, I sooo miss escargot! Nowhere around where I live to get it for almost 15 years.

                                      I don't know if I can get it here anywhere (currently staying with my son while dealing with health problems)

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        "There is great happiness to be gotten in just saying things to annoy one's mother" -- LOL! As true when you're 40 as when you're 4.

                                        Your little Lulu is very lucky to have a mom with such a great understanding of the dynamics of the 4-year-old psyche. The stories you tell about her crack me up.

                                        1. re: mebby

                                          Isn't it just too true??? I'm only *just* learning to bite my tongue with my mother. SO glad you get it!

                                          Ah, you're too kind. I do love the little sweetie, and she makes me laugh much more than she makes me grit my teeth. Her dad is going away for another week, so it's a week of dinners out for the two of us (although we did manage to pick some figs off our tree, so that fig and pasta recipe from last month is sort of calling out to me).

                                    2. re: LulusMom

                                      Keema Mattar Pilau (p. 28) - Minced meat (ground beef) and peas with rice

                                      Thanks LLM for the report. Based on it, I made this last night for dinner and we loved it. Such comfort food for a cool rainy evening. I used ground beef and frozen peas. I skipped the part where it said to add the peas and water and cook until half done. I just through the sort of defrosted peas in and then went to the next step of adding the rice.

                                      So delicious and easy. I served this with the eggplant puree on page 80. Perfect complementary dishes.

                                      Note: this makes a huge pot of rice. I agree with LLM about this not quite being company food on it's own. It's too homey. But, I think it would be a nice addition if you were making many courses for a meal.

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        Keema Mattar Pilau (Minced Meat and Peas with Rice), Pg. 28

                                        Last night we made this dish with ground lamb and it was delicious. I had to use EVOO instead of ghee, used a bit of chicken stock instead of water and used leftover brown basmati rice. We loved it and will definitely make it again, in fact as DH was at the stove working with the onion an garlic he said it was very familiar... we may have made something like it during "Indian" month.
                                        I served the recommended raita and pickles along side.

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          I would never use EVOO for Indian food, personally. The flavour profile is wrong. I'd say it's worth buying ghee if you can find it - it's shelf stable and lasts for ages. :-)

                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                            LOL... are you tapping me on the back of my hand? I could not discern any off flavor note from the oil at all. I just haven't got around to making the ghee...yet. Probably could have used canola now that I think of it.

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              I use olive oil in Indian cooking all the time to tell the truth. With the spices I don't detect any off-flavors.

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                I don't have the book with me now, but I believe that CS Does give "oil" as an alternative...

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    Not olive oil though. Apart from anything else it's a bit of a waste. Sorry if I sounded like I was telling you off!

                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                    Yep, I think I used canola oil. And I have absolutely no issue with using regular old butter when it calls for ghee. But then, I'm a little harried sometimes ; )

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      You could use peanut oil or light sesame oil (NOT the dark stuff used in Chinese cooking) if allergies are not an issue.

                                                      Or whatever is sold in regular grocery stores as "vegetable oil", and you can toss in a chunk of butter to get some of the taste. But, as pointed out downthread, making ghee is quite easy.

                                                      1. re: Rasam

                                                        I figured canola (being one of the healthier - I *think* - oils) would do since she said a neutral oil could be used.

                                                  3. re: buttertart

                                                    I OCCASIONALLY use a mild olive oil in indian cooking, when I dont want to use ghee. Its not for every dish by any means, but it works for some of the vegetable sautees, for example. I really dislike most of the "neutral" veg oils and tend not to have them around.

                                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                                      I'm with you, it depends on what falls to hand. I buy decent olive oil but not highly-flavored ones, some of the Turkish ones taste a bit buttery anyway. Not talking about the oil equivalent of a super-Tuscan here!

                                                  4. re: Gio

                                                    My father switched to EVOO when we were kids because of the supposed health benefits. Although our palates were not terribly discerning the children were revolted at the funky tasting kheema and dal he was making. Just the thought brings back terrible flavor memories to my palate of fruity ekuri and dirty tasting biryani. Quality EVOO definitely changes the flavor of food; I can see a more neutral oil working with dal, but then what is the point of flavorless olive oil?

                                                    1. re: JungMann

                                                      Wow... that's really something. Thanks Jungman. I'll have to retry the recipe using ghee then.

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        Well I use canola oil for kheema. My father didn't use ghee either (again, the health factor) so we grew up with vegetable or canola oil which let the flavor of the spices and ingredients stand on their own without a rich assist. Usually I also finish kheema with cilantro and lime juice, which, now that I think about it, might make for an interesting compound butter to add to the mix.

                                                        1. re: JungMann

                                                          I've read that because ghee is lower in fat than butter it's actually a healthier choice.

                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                            Ghee is made by removing everything but the fat (i.e., the milk solids and much of the water) from butter, so it is almost pure fat and higher in fat, measure for measure, than whole butter.

                                                  5. re: greedygirl

                                                    Making ghee is simplicity itself - take unsalted butter, melt it over a low heat, and cook very slowly until it's a nice light nut brown. If you cook it too fast or over too high heat you can burn it. Then filter out all the solids, which should be kind of crispy at this point.

                                                    My ex says he used to eat those brown crispy bits (bleah! like eating straight butter!) when he was a kid.

                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                      Actually, it's better to carefully ladle the top layer, which is the ghee, out of the pan rather than disturbing the "brown crispy bits."

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        I make it the way my mother-in-law made it. I'm not sure how straining it "disturbs" the brown crispy bits any more than dipping a ladle into it.

                                                        That's straining it through muslin, btw. This removes all solids so it actually will be safe to store "for months" without refrigeration.

                                                  6. re: Gio

                                                    I liked it a lot too - and it is SO easy. It is one of the recipes I'll be taking along when we go away for a couple of months, because it is so simple and there aren't any hard to find ingredients.

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      Now that would be an interesting thread. SImple recipes you take on the road with you!


                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        I'm definitely going to start one when we get a bit closer to the date of our departure! I have no idea what kind of kitchen (or kitchen equipment) we'll end up with. That will also make a difference to what kind of recipes I can bring along. Nothing that needs a cuisinart, etc.

                                                  7. re: LulusMom

                                                    Keema Mattar Pilau (Minced meat and Peas with Rice) p. 28

                                                    I'm terrible at cooking rice on the stove and this was no exception. Impatient as always, I left the room and so it ended up boiling for a few minutes before I remembered to turn it down. Flavors were good (especially with the Khira Raita on p.85), but it was overcooked. It made such a big bowl of rice, and I hated to waste it so I made "arancini" for lunch today. I added a couple of eggs, formed it into balls, chilled for a few hours, and then rolled in flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs before frying. It turned out to be a hit today, including E and his son. I served it with more raita (cucumber, cilantro, garlic, yogurt, shallot salt). I'm hoping they freeze well because I have quite a few and they were so good.

                                                    1. Brinjal Bartha/Eggplant Puree (pg. 80)

                                                      Another delicious dish and fortuitious since I had extra eggplant and tomatoes. This went beautifully with the rice with meat and peas.

                                                      I only made half portion of this, but I kept the spice levels at the full portion. I do wish there was a better guide of how big the eggplants and tomatoes are. I suspect our vegetables are much bigger than when the book came out.

                                                      Chop up eggplants, tomatoes, onion, and ginger. Heat up ghee and fry up the onions and ginger until brown. Then add tumeric, chile powder (I used cayenne), and salt and mix it with the onion mixture. Lastly, add the eggplant and tomatoes, stir well and cover. (oops, just saw the cover part now). Reduce the heat and stir until the vegetables are tender.

                                                      My consistency may not have been what was required. My eggplant softened up nicely and the tomatoes disintegrated into a sauce that dried up. But, since I didn't cover the pan, my eggplants were probably a little underdone then the dish required. No matter because this had so much flavor and went really well with the rice dish.

                                                      Happy noises all around for dinner and leftovers for lunch today.

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                        Eggplant used in Indian cooking is much smaller than European eggplant - it's the long thin oriental varieties that are used. They're tastier anyway.

                                                        Did the recipe not call for roasting the eggplant first? I've never seen a recipe for Baingan Bharta that didn't roast the eggplant first, so that it's already more or less puree-ish.

                                                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                          Nope, no directions for roasting. But it's brinjal bartha not baingan bharta. Not sure if it makes a difference.

                                                          I prefer the skinny asian eggplants but these bit ones came in the CSA box so into the dish they went. The dish was still delicious and I liked the chunks.

                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                            Baingan - Brinjal. Same dish.

                                                            Roasting the eggplant first gives it the smoky taste that's characteristic of baingan (brinjal) bharta. It's supposed to be a smooth puree, not chunky, but my outlook is if it tastes good, then the recipe was a success.

                                                          2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                            Ooh! I wouldn't say that only the long thin oriental ones are used in Indian cuisine. Yes, there are recipes where those are preferred - like they very addictive "vangyache kaap" from Maharashtrian cuisine. Or the small golf ball sized ones for the stuffed brinjal curry. But particularly for baingan bhartha, the larger globe kind are preferred for ease of roasting on the stovetop.

                                                            The fact that the recipe in this book did not involve roasting confirms my doubts that baingan bhartha served in most restaurants in the U.S. that serve Punjabi style cuisine does not involve roasting at all. We always note the missing smokiness when we dine out. I wonder if any Punjabi can vouch whether this is true of baingan bhartha cooked in Punjabi homes as well?

                                                            1. re: sweetTooth

                                                              India's a big place, I can only speak to that part I am familiar with. Also things may have changed in the 25 years since I've been there. But you couldn't even find European style eggplant in the markets back then. At least in the south; I've no idea what you could get further north.

                                                              I've made Baingan Bharta with Euro-style eggplant but I get much better results with the oriental style. It's just a lot harder to roast those big fat globes all the way through.

                                                              Actually now that I think about it, I would have to say I really had no success with Baingan Bharta until I quit trying to use the globe style eggplants, because I never really got them roasted all the way through. Whenever I had to use the big fat ones, it came out chunky instead of smooth because it didn't cook all the way through. Trying to split them didn't seem to work well either, as I recall they came out tough.

                                                              Possibly I'm just not talented enough at roasting eggplant - plus having to do it in the oven - but the oriental style does work far better for me for this dish. I also find the oriental styles to be much sweeter in flavor and to have a different, finer, less grainy texture than the euro-style eggplant.

                                                              And yeah, there are the little egg shaped eggplants that get used too, I just can't get them here unless I grow them myself.

                                                              1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                Well, like Rubee pointed out below, I was only addressing what came across as a generalization, "Eggplant used in Indian cooking is much smaller than European eggplant - it's the long thin oriental varieties that are used." I simply wanted to set the record straight, lest people unfamiliar with Indian cooking feel compelled to buy a certain type of eggplant for all Indian recipes.

                                                                You are very right in guessing that the produce available in the south and north varies quite a bit. I now have family in both parts of the country and even now with improved infrastructure than in say the 70s or 80s, I see a difference in type and quality of produce. I grew up in central India where we had access to all three shapes/sizes of eggplant. My mother always roasted the globe kind for bharta. Mind you, she would try not choose very large or heavy ones, as they were thought to be more mature and have more seeds. They also become unwieldy on the stove top as they start cooking and turning softer.

                                                                If you have a gas stove top, you can easily roast globe eggplants on it. Just go with low to medium low heat and keep turning every 3-4 minutes. I prefer not to roast in the oven so as to get that nice char on the skin from flame roasting. The smoky flavor is way more pronounced when done this way.

                                                                1. re: sweetTooth

                                                                  I WISH I had a gas stove!

                                                                  Nope, sadly, it's electric, and likely to stay that way until the day I finish my doctorate and get a real job again. Which seems like never sometimes.

                                                          3. re: beetlebug

                                                            I made this tonight as well - to go with the keema mattar on page 69. Liked it a lot, although would probably ramp up the spices a bit next time.

                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                              That's what I did - ramp up the spices. I made a half portion but kept the spice ratio for a full portion. So flavorful and it heated up nicely as leftovers.

                                                          4. Keema Mattar, page 69 (1993 edition)

                                                            I thought I was making the same dish as Lulu'sMom and beetlebug, but it turns out I made a slightly different one! I liked it a lot. You heat ghee and fry a sliced onion until soft. Then add garlic and ginger and fry until onion is golden brown. Add turmeric and chile powder, stir, then add ground meat - beef in my case although I would prefer lamb I think. (I also messed up a bit here and added the turmeric and chile powder too soon, but it didn't seem to affect the finished dish). Fry the meat and then add yoghurt and peas, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add garam masala and cook until all is tender - another 5 mins or so in my case. Serve garnished with coriander leaves and fresh sliced red chilli.

                                                            Very tasty. I enjoyed it a lot with rice and the aubergine dish and some chutneys.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                              Sounds very similar. No tumeric in the one BB and I made, but otherwise, a heck of a lot alike. Really good, huh? I used lemon chutney with mine, and it was really tasty.

                                                            2. Alu Bartha (2), p. 82

                                                              Neither of us have had this dish before and we both thought it was delicious with a nice balance of flavors. I did a bit of Italian fusion and served it for lunch on crostini garnished with cilantro. I made the half portion, though wish I had made the full amount. For ingredients, I used mashed potatoes, black mustard seeds, serrano chili, onion, turmeric, Penzey's Garam Masala, cayenne and lemon juice.

                                                              1. Just wondering - all the dishes I've seen discussed here are North Indian cuisine.

                                                                Are there no dishes from the Southern tradition in this book?

                                                                15 Replies
                                                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                  There are 100+ recipes in the Indian chapter, featuring dishes from both Northern and Southern India (sambar, dhal rasam, thosai/dosa, mysore pak, etc.)

                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                    Now I'm wondering what leads to the selection of a preponderance (well 100% so far) of North Indian dishes.

                                                                    Is it familiarity with the dishes, or with ingredients, or something about the cooking techniques?

                                                                    Just wondering. For many years all the Indian cookbooks I could find included either only or mostly N. Indian dishes.

                                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                      Hmmm...Interesting. I just flipped quickly through Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking" (considered one of the go-to references for Indian cooking) which came out 30 years go and saw quite a few southern Indian dishes.

                                                                      For this chapter, I'm just flipping through this book (there are 800 recipes from 16 countries) and marking ones that sound good. It doesn't really matter to me what region of a country it's from, I like everything! I'm making the Keema Mattar Pilau (Northern) this week because I have some ground beef to use up and the reports make it sound good.

                                                                      Also, I noticed that above you mentioned that eggplant used in Indian cooking are the long thin Oriental eggplants. I've seen different types of eggplants called for depending on the recipe. For example, Sahni actually specfically mentions the "pear-shaped eggplant with its deep purple color" in her bartha recipe.

                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                        I don't have that book, though I do have her Classic Indian cooking, though not handy.

                                                                        Because I was learning to cook Indian food in the SEVENTIES, not the 80's, there were few cookbooks available to me in English at any rate. Pardon me, I guess I should have said thirty-FIVE years ago, age is creeping up on me.

                                                                        One of the few cookbooks I had, and the only one I found to be actually useful, was Flavors of India: Vegetarian Indian Cuisine by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff , which was a very good cookbook. I think it's been reissued recently.

                                                                        I had a handful of other cookbooks - actually just one or two as I recall - that were written by men and were in regular paperback format, and concentrated on meat dishes and the mogul style cooking. They were published in Great Britain.

                                                                        If you knew the name of a cookbook you could probably ask for it specifically, but if you didn't (remember this was pre-internet), it was unlikely you would be able to find it unless a bookstore actually had it on the shelves. Which, where I lived, in the midwest, they did not. I was lucky to find Flavors of India. In fact I had to order one cookbook I had from Great Britain because even the bookstores here couldn't get it - I don't remember the title anymore, a friend had a copy (an INDIAN friend) and she thought it was a good book so I wrote the publisher and got a copy. Cost me $30, a lot of money for the late 70's.

                                                                        I don't know about the cookbook you are talking about, but I have the Classic Indian cookbook by the same author, and in that she is writing for a western audience. You don't think she might have modified those recipes according to what might be typically available? Because (though I don't have the book) I'm pretty sure she specifically says that she did. It was early to mid-90s, btw, before I came across that book, though according to Amazon it was written in '85

                                                                        Therefore I learned virtually all of my cooking not from cookbooks, but from my ex-husband, his relatives, his friends, and exchange students. I spent time IN India and learned a lot of cooking there. I did not find big fat eggplants in the market in Vijayawada in the early 80's - I think I was there in '83 or '84. My ex's family did not cook with big fat eggplants, but only the little oval ones and the long thin oriental style. Again, what was available elsewhere may have varied. Baingan Bharta is actually part of the northern cuisine so maybe in the north they DO have big fat eggplants and expect to use them for the dish; however I personally have not had success making it properly with other than the longer, thinner eggplants.

                                                                        Again, perhaps that is because of my lack of skill at the art of roasting an eggplant in the oven, and, as I said before, what's available in the North may be very different than what's available in the south. Heck, what's available TODAY in the market in India may be very different than what was available 30 years ago, when I was there.

                                                                        At any rate I had better luck using the oriental style eggplant than the european style, and it just plain tastes better to me. YMMV.

                                                                        BTW, there are pear shaped eggplant - which are about the size of large pears - which my ex's family did cook with. I don't have the book you're talking about, I can't even lay hands on Classic Indian Cooking right now - so I can't look and see what she says about "pear shaped eggplants". But as I recall, they used the little green eggplants and the pear-shaped ones to make pickles and relishes, something I don't make and never have. I'm sure there are other uses for them, depending on the time of year and which part of the country you're in. Indian cooking is some of the most varied on the planet.

                                                                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                          I don't want to take this off on a tangent but you obviously feel very strongly about Indian food and seem a bit defensive. I was just responding to the viewpoint that you seemed to read into this topic - Northern vs. Southern. I took the time to answer the questions you posed. As I have mentioned, no, I don't limit myself due to "familiarity with the dishes, or with ingredients, or something about the cooking techniques", or countries for that matter. I simply choose what sounds good to me.

                                                                          This current COTM (Cookbook of the Month) "The Complete Asian Cookbook" we're reporting on has one chapter on Indian and Pakistan, so there are 14 other countries to explore; so far, I've done some Burmese, Indonesian, Korean, and Chinese - tonight I'm making Thai Kai Yang on p. 308. Chowhounds who are involved in the COTM are pretty well-versed in a variety of cuisines, open to learning, trying new things, researching and buying unfamiliar ingredients. Next month's books focuses on a past favorite - Middle Eastern - though I have to admit my favorite so far has been the month we did Sichuan. It's no secret on this board that I love to cook, and I love to eat everything ; ) http://www.chow.com/profile/10271/photos

                                                                          I mentioned the eggplant as your comment to use Oriental eggplants read as a hard and fast rule ("eggplant used in Indian cooking is much smaller than European eggplant - it's the long thin oriental varieties that are used") and I didn't want others to think that was the case. Hence, the example of what Sahni uses for her Bharta (p 305) "the pear-shaped eggplant with its deep purple color and shiny skin". She recommends the tiny white and purple eggplants for her Baigan Masaledar (a Southern Indian dish).

                                                                          As you seem to be more focused on Indian, you should check out the month we chose Sahni's and Jaffrey's books. Lots of good info on Indian cooking here. Also, Chowhound LuckyFatima is always a wealth of information.

                                                                          October 09 COTM: Indian - Madhur Jaffrey's "Indian Cooking" and Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking":

                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                            I only noted that all of the recipes discussed here so far are of the Northern cuisine, and wondered (and still wonder) why they seem more attractive. Since I don't have the cookbook you guys are using I can't see what's in it. But I'm still curious about the preponderance of Northern style recipes that have been selected so far.

                                                                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                              I agree that there is generally a North-centric focus on Indian food for Westerners; we know what is available to us in terms of restos and books (probably with the exception of thosai). I personally would like to learn more about S. Indian cooking. Solomon's book has a fair number of S. Indian recipes, I believe Tamilian...nothing Telengana or anything...once again whenever we do get South it tends to be Tamil-Centric. Although she doesn't always clarify this for readers, one can tell that some of her recipes are clearly Bengali from the panch phoron, and there are a couple of Goan, Parsee, and Gujarati recipes as well. Although these technically fall into the Northern camp, one does get a diverse picture of Indian food from Solomon. Personally when I talk about recipes, I try to be specific with my language, clarifying that I am using the Urdu-Hindi name for a dish, and specifying the region. I chose Solomon's N. Indian/Pakistani recipes (and I love the fact that Pakistan is not left out of this book and it is implicitly acknowledged that the PK and Indian cuisines are intertwined) cuz I didn't have to buy anything special to use it. Maybe I will do more South stuff now. I know many South Indians really dislike the Hindi-centric North Indian focus on India, both within India and in representations of India abroad, especially in cuisine and the arts/entertainment. So it is a fair question to wonder about North-centricity.

                                                                              1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                My ex is from Andhra Pradesh, which has a different style of cooking from Tamil Nadu. I see very little of what is familiar to me even in cookbooks that purport to having a lot of "south Indian" dishes in them. And restaurants seldom have much in the way of "typical" south Indian cuisine. I went to one locally a few weeks ago that was supposed to be serving some South Indian items and what they had was some idli, which seemed not quite right to me somehow but I couldn't tell you why, and some "Masala Dosai" that weren't remotely acceptable. The Dosai were tough (I'd never had anything dosai-like that could be described as "tough", but these were), and the filling was bland and skimpy. They didn't have rasam, and the sambar was thick and kind of grainy.

                                                                                I don't know if there's a southern state where sambar like that is the norm, but it's not like mom-in-law used to make.

                                                                                There are good South Indian restaurants but for some reason I've only come across them in places like Chicago and New York. Actually there's one in Columbia, MO that serves some S. Indian dishes on weekends that are about as good as you should expect.

                                                                                I just don't get why Northern dishes are so much more popular than Southern. Except maybe that there are more non-vegetarian dishes? But there are meat dishes in the south, too.

                                                                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                  I think the popularity of Northern food has to do with the history of Northern dominant migration from India (and Pakistan and Bangladesh) and who introduced Indian food to the UK and later to the US, and which ethnic groups dominate the Indian resto industry. There are a lot more South Indians in the US now...even in my smallish hometown we have several S. Indian restos, as well as a handful of South Indian groceries, although they are all Tamil owned/focused. I think things may change and familiarity with and popularity of South Indian food may expand in the future...I mean, I think the popularity is growing as we speak, though Northern Mughlai-Punjabi type stuff is clearly still dominant.

                                                                                  I have a really interesting cookbook from Andhra, if you are interested: it is The Essential Andhra Cookbook with Hyderbadi and Telengana Specialties by Bilkees I. Latif. I got it because I am highly interested in Hyderabadi Muslim cuisine, but the Telengana recipes are extensive as well. The book gives good and interesting recipes, but also a lot of cultural information about which foods are for which auspicious events or holidays and seasons and all (for both Hindu and Islamic events). I don't know much about Telengana food to analyze or comment, but the Hyderabadi Muslim recipes include all of the standard favorites as well as some more very old and very traditional recipes, it is a great resource on Hyderabadi cuisine. It is really a gem of a book.

                                                                                  I bet you the sambar you had was from a mix. That was why it was grainy.

                                                                                  1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                    I've ordered it.

                                                                                    There are so many more cookbooks out there now than when I first started exploring Indian cuisine.

                                                                                    Have you seen a book called Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India? I've had it on my list of possible cookbooks for like a year.

                                                                                    It's at Amazon:


                                                                          2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                            Bless you, ZenSojourner, for calling my country Great Britain. It makes us sound so grand!

                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                              Aw, shucks ma'am. I've been told in the past never ever to refer to GB as England, and that England is not the same as GB. So I try to use GB instead of calling the whole thing "England". Jess tryin' to be politically correct, LOL!

                                                                              1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                Then just say "United Kingdom" or UK ....

                                                                                GB smacks too much of the Empire to be considered PC these days ...... :)

                                                                                1. re: Rasam

                                                                                  Well that's what I get for being old, LOL!

                                                                                  1. re: Rasam

                                                                                    Strictly speaking, there's a difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom. The first refers only to the main island, ie doesn't include Northern Ireland.

                                                                    2. Murgh Tikka Skewered Barbecued Chicken (half recipe) p. 50


                                                                      Chicken (we used 3 boneless, skinless thighs) is cut into bite-size pieces . Marinade is made of onion, garlic and ginger (blended until smooth), a little lemon juice, ground coriander, ground cumin, garam masala, yogurt ( Fage 2%) and salt. Refrigerate overnight and skewer (we did not skewer). We cooked this on the indoor grill. Extremely tender and gently spiced. The seasonings did not overpower, but added a nice depth of flavor. This was a good recipe for my husband who sometimes shies away from some of the bolder Indian flavors.