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Sep 30, 2012 10:49 PM

October 2012 COTM: 660 Curries -- Contemporary Curries, Biryani Curries, Curry Cohorts

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Contemporary Curries …. 647-686
Biryani Curries …. 687-704
Curry Cohorts …. 705-756

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  1. Poori (Puffy Whole-Wheat Breads) p. 725
    These are deep fried treats, and once I did a few I figured out how to make them puff up nicely. Mr. Iyer specifies a low-protein flour. I used "00" flour -- it has less protein than all-purpose flour, but is not whole wheat.
    It's simple to mix a little oil and then warm water into the flour, knead it a bit, and let it rest. Small balls of this dough are rolled out into flat rounds about 3-4 inches diameter and slipped into hot oil. You poke and push the pooris into the oil at first to prod them into puffing, the steam inside inflates them. My pictures show both successful puffs and a flatter one. It would be the best of plans to make a favorite legume or potato curry and serve it with these. They cook (puffed and browned) in a blink.

    13 Replies
    1. re: blue room

      Wow, am I ever impressed, blue room.

      I'm chomping at the bit. I've requested the book from the library, it was due last week, and still hasn't been brought back. Grrrrr.

        1. re: blue room

          Those look really professional blueroom. How did you stop them from being too oily? Also, did you hand roll or use a tortilla press?

          1. re: Rasam

            I thought they were pretty oily! But also hot and crispy.
            I rolled them with a rolling pin.

          2. re: blue room

            Ooh, I missed these earlier. Lurvely job.

            1. re: luckyfatima

              I think now I'd rather have a bread I can hold, fold, scoop with, and top. I'll do a different bread from this book soon. Suggestions?

              1. re: blue room

                Why not try simple roti, the daily flat bread? Actually pooris are easier to get right than rotis. Parathas are easier than rotis, too. But if you can master rotis, it means you will have something that suits most meals. You'll have to go to the Indian store and buy proper chapatti/roti flour, though.

                1. re: blue room

                  I suggest roti too, his directions are foolproof and it's healthier than it tastes! Just make sure you eat them right away (though I do put rolled out, uncooked rotis between wax paper and put them in a ziplock bag in the freezer for quick cooking at a future date).

                  1. re: sarahcooks

                    "foolproof" rotis, that got my attention, I'll have to take a second look at his recipe.

                    1. re: qianning

                      Ha, well I am a fool, because I made some today and they wouldn't puff and they were tough. I wasn't meticulous about following directions this time and rolled them out in advance. You can't do that, roll them out as you cook them or they won't puff. I found that it took a little more water than he calls for, but my flour was a bit old and probably extra dry. Just follow his directions to the letter and you shouldn't have any trouble. The first time I made them they worked like magic, I was so impressed. Also, don't freeze them like I suggested above if you care about toughness. You should probably do what he says in the book instead :)

                      1. re: sarahcooks

                        Well, you are making me feel better at least, rotis and chapatis are a real bete noire of mine. After many attempts I did get some malaysian style roti chanai to come out right, once, and never made them again because I was pretty sure I couldn't repeat that stroke of luck! I've never gotten anything other than tough when I try to make roti.

                        1. re: qianning

                          Till today I can't make decent rotis at home, though I love them and prefer them to rice. Too labor intensive for me (though practice would make me much more skilled).

                          Result is I eat store bought WW tortillas which family won't eat. They eat rice. We save our roti longings for restos or India trips where someone else mixes dough, rolls, toasts them :)

              2. OK, for revisions in future publications, don't mean to be too obnoxious but some grammar stuff in curry cohorts popped out at me, I am sure the editors edited for English but not Hindi: p. 709 kala elaichi pulao should be kali elaichi pulao.

                Also on p. 711 kisi punjabi mitr de naal gall kar lo magar I am pretty sure that "mitty" chawal is not dirty rice, but mithi chawal, or sweet rice. Punjabi vich meethi nu mithi kende ne...this is a garam masala-ey rice with sugar added in it, a famous dish of Punjab.

                Also, throughout the book, sabit/sabut is written as sabud. I haven't seen this variation and wasn't sure if this was a Mumbai thing (Mr. Iyer is originally from Mumbai) or a transliteration choice.

                One more: p. 744 hari aur laal mirchi KI achaar should be KA achaar.

                That leads me to the recipe: I made green and red chiles with cracked mustard on p. 744

                This is so extremely easy and is a must try recipe. I am usually too lazy to try homemade pickles, as it sometimes involves doing things like waiting 2 weeks while turning the jar over every day and such. But this pickle is ready in a matter of hours as a new pickle and can be kept for up to 2 months.

                Basically, I had just picked a bunch of red and green chiles from my garden a couple of days ago. The instructions say to slice the crosswise but for some reason my mind went blank when I was looking at the recipe and I couldn't remember if crosswise meant horizontal or vertical. I ended up slicing each chile in half and then slicing it into 1/4 inch pieces. So already I started out diverging from the instructions. I followed the rest pretty well, though.

                Basically, you just heat up mustard (or canola) oil and then add coarsely crushed mustard seed to that. Then you pour this hot oil mixture on top of your sliced chiles. Then you add salt, turmeric, and lime juice. I used a little less salt and a little more lime juice than suggested just because I wasn't really sure how much the suggest 4 oz of chiles would be, I just used a large handful, and added seasonings based on what looked right to that many chiles.

                They are marinating on my counter now and I will be having them with dinner. I can't wait!

                6 Replies
                1. re: luckyfatima

                  Fatima-ji: ekdum sahi farmaaya aapne: your grammar comments are absolutely correct and leave me in awe of your linguistic prowess. Mr Iyer, a Tamilian (Tamil language is poles apart from Hindi) who grew up in Mumbai (known for motley mixed street slang Hindi) has therefore probably not had the best immersion in correct Hindi. No idea what knowledge his editors/proofreaders have had.

                  OTOH: at least he HAS that much info. Many (if not most) Northern Indians have no idea of Southern languages and mores and often adopt an obnoxiously snobbish / pejorative attitude toward anything peninsular, all dubbed erroneously as "Madrasi".

                  Getting the gender wrong in Hindi is a common error: the whole ki vs ka thing.
                  Urk! It is NOT mitti chawal (muddy rice) but meethi chawal (sweet rice) and you are absolutely correct on the Punjabi tinge to the pronunciation = mitthi which may have led to the mistake.
                  And Sabud should indeed be Sabut.

                  And once I saw a book on Indian children's food that had been translated by someone French I think, because "roti" had been translated throughout as "roast" (!!) as in "I come home from school and have a piece of roast for a snack". :) (I know in French roti = roast, but really). Also there were some Sanskrit verses that had been printed upside down so that the line across the top of the Devanagari alphabet appeared on the bottom as a line on which the letters sat (rather than the line from which they hang).

                  Please do tell how the achaar turns out. I have wanted to make achaar for several years now, but not yet gotten around to it.

                  1. re: Rasam

                    One of my best friends from my Dubai years is a Tamil Iyer from Mumbai and she had very excellent Hindi as well as English, and I kind of guessed that Mr. Iyer had a similar "tarbiyat" (Hindi mein tarbiyat ko kya kahenge?) since he came to the US for university. Gender is difficult for a lot of non-native speakers including myself.

                    I actually think being a Tamil from Mumbai is a great background to have as a foodie writing on Indian regional cuisines. Being a minority from the South in that environment, one is raised with a consciousness of difference, and I can just imagine his fascination with his diverse neighbors' family snacks and meals as in the book he describes himself recalling a particular friend's mother's cooking, a Goan neighbor here, a Parsi neighbor there, a Sindhi schoolmate, and so on.

                    My mother in law uses the term Madrasi...very bad, I know. It's just lack of awareness and Northern-centric focus. I am not especially familiar with much of South India myself, nor do I speak any South Indian language. Maybe one day I will get a chance to rectify that.

                    The achaar turned out beautifully, BTW.

                  2. re: luckyfatima

                    I'll respond as the token Punjabi person on this thread. :)The recipe called "Mitty Chawal" in the cookbook is not the punjabi "mithay Chawal". The Mitty Chawal recipe's description states that it is called Mitty chawal because it is the color of dirty rice. Punjabi mithay Chawal is cooked rice mixed with with lots of ghee and sugar (or gur/Jaggery). Depending on who makes it, it may have some whole cardamoms or raisins in it.

                    1. re: boogiebaby

                      Thanks for the correction, boogiebaby. So true, it would have to be mithe and not mithi anyway.

                      1. re: boogiebaby

                        Thanks Boogiebaby. I also had though that mitty=dirty was a mistake in translation (meant to be meethay chawal). So glad that it is accurate.

                        ETA: so is there really a dish called mitty chawal (muddy rice or dirty ) in Punjabi cuisine?

                        RI used to reply on these threads, but have not seen his input for many days. Is he no longer reading, or are the comments not something he wants to respond to? He could also have clarified some of these translation questions ......

                        1. re: Rasam

                          Not that I'm aware of. I'd have to ask my mom or my MIL (she lives in India). As I was going through the book, I did notice that the author gave some dishes his own name. I wonder if he did this for this recipe as well. I tried to google Mitty Chawal and nothing came up.

                    2. Buttery Basmati Rice with Spinach and Onion, page 713

                      This is a lovely rice pilaf with cumin seeds, onion, spinach cooked in ghee before adding the rice and salt. I have to admit, my execution was a bit lacking and I managed to overcook the rice a bit due to distraction. But nonetheless, delicious and loved by all. I am tempted to try it next time with some kale or collard greens which I prefer flavor-wise to spinach. There will definitely be a next time, too.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                        The first time I made this recipe I used chard and it was a huge hit. I've made it with spinach in subsequent times as this is one of my favorite recipes, but I like it a bit more with the chard. I have no doubt kale or collards would also be wonderful.

                        1. re: greeneggsnham

                          Buttery Basmati Rice with Spinach and Onion (palak pulao) - p 713

                          This recipe is proof that a little butter goes a long way! There's a rich, creamy butteriness to this rice dish even though I used less than the 2 tbsp called for in the instructions. It was a welcome side to another very spicy dish I made last night, and fit the bill for something quick that I could get onto the table more quickly on a weeknight.

                          Since I was trying to use up some random ingredients in my fridge last night, and only had about half of the required amount of spinach on hand, I grabbed a half cauliflower that was sitting around, cubed it and threw it in to the pan with the onion. It browned nicely and had a great texture, and I thought the flavour worked well with the greens and cumin. Very easy recipe, and when made with parboiled basmati it cooks up much more quickly (I skipped the soaking stage and cut the steaming time in half at the end).

                        2. Cardamom and Nutmeg-Flavored Baked Custard with Almonds (Lagan Nu Custard) p. 754

                          Not a curry at all, but a nice dessert from the book. Milk, eggs, and sugar are flavored with vanilla and nutmeg. The addition of almond and cardamom make it a little exotic. Perfect after high seasonings in your mouth!
                          (It looks like there are only two desserts in the book, the other being a cheesecake.)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: blue room

                            Cardamom, nutmeg, custars, almonds? That sounds fantastic! And so pretty with the two layers. I'm surprised to see it's served room temp; I bet it's nummy cold, too, and would be refreshing after a hot curry. Those would be tasty seasonings in junket. Or ice cream . . . mmm

                            1. re: juster

                              It's not really two-layered, just a slightly browned skin on top. I too wondered about the room temp (I stuck then in the fridge.)
                              The suggested scoop of vanilla ice cream on top was strange to me -- maybe a scoop of ice cream on a slice of pie would be strange in India!

                            2. re: blue room

                              I love custard, and this one sounds wonderful. You're right that it seems perfect to follow a highly seasoned meal. Hope I can find the time to try this; thanks for pointing it out!

                            3. Nutty Rice with Cashews, Almonds and Fresh Mint (Kaaju Badam Chawal) on page 712.

                              This was a last-minute addition to dinner tonight, which consisted of Sweet Pineapple with Coconut Milk and Coffee from page 645, Cinnamon-flavored black eyed peas, pg. 323, and Chile-Smothered Pork with Vinegar (Pork Vindaloo version 3) on page 229. I was going to make plain basmati rice, but then I realized I had some mint to use up and plenty of nuts in the house, so I figured why not?

                              This recipe calls for the rice to be washed, rinsed and soaked. Ghee is heated and almonds, cashews, bay leaves and an onion are sauteed for a few minutes, then the drained rice is added. Stir, add water, simmer until the liquid on top disappears. Stir once and turn down the heat, cover and cook 10 mins, then let rest. Before serving, stir in fresh mint and cracked pepper.

                              I used up all of my onions while making onion paste so instead of sauteing the onion for this recipe, I pulled out some of my caramelized onions from the onion paste pan and threw them in once the nuts were toasted. I also used coconut oil for the saute, and only about 2 teaspoons rather than the two tablespoons called for. Despite my changes, this rice was WONDERFUL - chock full of toasty nuts and sweet onions, what could be bad about that? It went extremely well with the vindaloo, but would really be delicious with anything. Mr. Iyer's technique also resulted in perfectly cooked rice, which has always been a difficult thing for me to master. Yum.

                              BTW, this recipe states that it serves 6 - that's pretty unrealistic, IMO. Basmati doesn't seem to expand as much as other rice - I think I probably ended up with about 2 cups of cooked rice from one cup of dry, and even with the nuts added, this amount would barely serve four with normal appetites. DH and I almost finished it by ourselves (it is really, REALLY good!).

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: biondanonima

                                I made this tonight and loved it too. The only change I made was to fry the cashews in the butter first, then remove them before continuing with the recipe. That way, I had crisp cashews for the top of the rice.
                                The rice ended up perfectly cooked and I think I had about 3 cups. With other dishes, it may feed 6, but not in my house!

                                1. re: biondanonima

                                  Nutty Rice with Cashews, Almonds and Fresh Mint (Kaaju Badam Chawal) on page 712

                                  I made a half recipe of this last night for 2 and we ended up with leftovers (I served it with paneer). My only change was to chop the nuts a bit instead of serving them whole due to personal preferences. Neither one of us would've minded having the nuts even more finely chopped. Overall, very good rice and worth a repeat.