Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kolmi no Tatrelo Patio - A Lesser Known Parsi Classic

The Parsis have a rich and varied cuisine with a predominance of eggs, meats, fish and sea food. One of my favourite dishes is Kolmi no tatrelo patio. A simple preparation that can be put together in half an hour, the best way to eat it is with ladi pav that is abundantly available in Mumbai. You can also have it with rotis or regular sliced bread.

Kolmi no Tatrelo Patio

20 medium sized prawns
6 spring onions, finely chopped
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 cup fresh coriander, washed and finely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
20 curry leaves
8 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
chilli powder
mustard seeds
1/2 tbsp fresh Parsi garam masala* powder made with pepper, cloves, cassia bark, cardamom, black cardamom, star anise, shah jeera, nutmeg and mace.

Clean the prawns - shell and devein. Wash well, drain and then marinate in salt and turmeric.

Take a flat thick bottomed tava and heat oil on it. Crackle the mustard seeds once the oil is hot, reduce the heat and add the curry leaves, garlic, onions and spring onions. Cook slowly, stirring as you go.

Once the onions turn pink add the green chillies and cook for another couple of minutes. Now add the dry powdered spices and the sugar. Stir well and mix properly. Cook this for another four to five minutes stirring the mix continuously. Now add half the fresh coriander leaves and blend well. After a minute or so add the vinegar. Lower the heat and let it cook for another minute or so, stirring all the time. Add a little salt keeping in mind that the prawns have been salted already.

Now add the marinated prawns and mix them into the onion and spice mixture. Once the prawns are cooked sprinkle the remaining coriander on the top and serve it hot with pav or with dhan daar - plain yellow daal and steaming hot rice.

The word patio evokes a dish that has a thick red gravy that is sweet, sour and spicy, made from a masala paste, and served with dhan daar. That's one version. The tatrelo patio is a dry dish with similar flavours but from different ingredients. In this version the heat comes from green chillies and there is no ground masala paste used. The word patio actually denotes the vessel it is cooked in - a flat, squat, thick bottomed vessel, which looks like a flattened pot. A thick iron tava also serves the purpose for this dish.

*Parsi Garam Masala can be used in a variety of preparations like you would use any other garam masala blend. Make a batch and give a new flavour to your daily curries and side dishes.

Marathon Bloggers Project 52

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Visit to Udvada

Udvada is to the Parsis what Mecca is for Muslims, Kashi for Hindus and the Vatican for Christians. This quiet little village in Gujarat houses the holiest of holy fires, the Iranshah.

When the Parsis first landed in India, at Sanjan on the western coast, they established the first fire temple on Indian soil in memory of Iran and in thanksgiving of their safe journey to India. The holy fire was eventually housed in its current location at Udvada.  It has been tended since then and has never been allowed to go out and has been burning continuously for more than 1,100 years.

Devout Parsis visit Udvada as often as they can, offer worship at the Atashbehram, and then  amble off for some local shopping, and a good meal either at Ashishvang or at The Globe Hotel. You can also book rooms here and stay over. The rooms at The Globe have beautiful four poster beds, and a glimpse of those were enough to make me want to stay!

Lunch at The Globe - Mutton Dhansakh, Papeta Marghi, rotli, tareli boi (mullet), kachuber, brown rice.

I had an impromptu chance to go to Udvada because K was going there for some work. Of course, I tagged along and I took my camera too. This was another opportunity to go around taking pictures, a chance to practice, learn and improve. And a good way to stay out of K's hair too. I got the chance to check out the Irani bakery, to get in and poke around a traditional Parsi kitchen, to have a sumptuous meal at The Globe, and to wander the streets where I also bought some local products.

The Irani bakery is run by a gentleman called Rohinton Irani. He keeps traditional Irani baking techniques and recipes alive and has a limited but classic range of products for sale. Cookies, macrooms, khari, sweet khari, batasa, nankhati, mawa cakes, buns, brun, sliced bread and of course, ladi pav, are available at his shop.

Batasas waiting to be baked.

The Chulavati or hearth is rarely seen in kitchens these days, even in the villages. My mother in law had distinct memories of her great-grandmom Soonamai cooking at such a chulavati. She has written about them in her first book Jamva Chaloji, and I was thrilled to finally see one myself. In the old days the chulavati would be set into the floor but in later times many households had them built at table level to make it easier to use. Since fire is held to be supremely sacred, the chulavati is also revered. It is often decorated with rangoli and pictures of the prophet might also be kept nearby.

Torans hanging at the lintel of every door are a hallmark of Parsi houses and I saw  very pretty torans in Udvada. Traditionally made with glass beads, these days plastic beads are also used. A special frame is used to 'weave' the torans and this is an art that is slowly dying out. How sad.

Leela lasan na papad or papads flavoured with green tender garlic is one of the things every Parsi brings back from Udvada. These are delicious eaten with curry chawal, ras chawal, khichri kheemo, or even as a snack with beer.

Parsi tea must have mint and lemon grass to flavour it and if you're lucky, you might get your hands on fresh peppermint while you're in Udvada. I did!

I also bought embroidered head scarves as little gifts for my sisters in law. Though machine embroidered, the motifs are the same as were hand embroidered on the gorgeous satins and Chinese silk Garas. Parsis cover their heads with caps or scarves when they are in a fire temple and these were being sold at a shop just outside the Iranshah Atashbehram. The shop sells all manner of Parsi knick knacks, pickles, prayer books, kors or saree borders, and torans too. The torans were priced between 1,500 and 4,000 Rupees.

Udvada is not a bustling busy town. It's not a sleepy village either. There's a beach, there's great food, and there's Parsi heritage in every corner. There's plenty for non Parsis to appreciate here so if you do get a chance, go check it out. The Gujarat highway is excellent and it will take you roughly three hours to get there if you're based in Mumbai.

Marathon Bloggers Project 52

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chocolate Ganache - Easy Primping for Cakes

Chocolate ganache - it's one of those things that every home baker and cake lover knows about and loves. We've all seen so many pictures of luscious ganache topped cakes and cup cakes all over Facebook and Instagram  and drooled at each one of them. I've been drooling too but have never made ganache myself.

The thought of heating cream seemed suspect to me. I know. There's no logical reason for my suspicion but I was suspicious anyway. I am like that. I am wary of trying new things and new techniques and find excuses not to try things instead of just leaping in and just doing it. Yes, silly of me but there you are!

For the last few weeks I haven't been in the mood to cook or bake or paint or do any of the things I really enjoy. Blogging has suffered too. Then this morning the hubby was moaning about sticky cakes and puddings and God knows what else and I thought, let's make something new today. Ganache came to mind and I also had all the ingredients - yes, both of them! So I made the usual pound cake, slashed it in half and then slathered the whole thing inside and out with the ganache.

I was chatting with my friend Garima who bakes and cooks a lot and she assured me that ganache was ridiculously easyto make and of course I could make it, and of course it would turn out very nicely too. She explained every nitty gritty detail and I must have asked her every possible question about ganache making. She answered. Patiently. Aren't I lucky to always have a helpful friend at hand, just when I need them?!

Chocolate Ganache

250 gms cooking chocolate. I used Morde's Dark Chocolate
125 ml cream. I used Amul cream

Grate the chocolate and put it in a clean bowl. In a saucepan heat the cream stirring slowly till it begins to bubble. Take the cream off the heat and pour it on to the grated chocolate. Let it sit for a minute and then stir gently to blend the cream and the melting chocolate into a smooth silky ganache.

That's it.

The next time I make ganache I'm going to add a hefty spoonful of coffee. I think it will be magical.

Make any cake that you like and frost it with this delicious chocolate spread. Add sprinkles to jazz it up if you like. You will have a beautiful cake to perk up your tea time.

Marathon Bloggers Project 52

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Slow Cooked Mutton Chops with Caramelised Onions

Mutton chops are of two kinds - the potato covered croquette like ones like these, and the delicious cut of meat that I cooked for dinner.

These babies were lying in my freezer forever. I had marinated them and bunged them in hoping to cook them soon but somehow the opportunity just never came. Today we had nothing on the agenda and dinner was going to be at home. I had these out and thawing and they were ready to be cooked in a few hours. The initial plan had been a sort of gravy and I had planned to fool around with poppy seed paste and other bits and pieces but somehow I wasn't in the mood for something fussy. So the chops ended up being slowly pan fried with a generous handful of sliced onions.

Grilled Chops with Caramelised Onions

Marinate a few chops with curd, ginger garlic paste, salt, turmeric, cumin powder, a good dash of coriander powder, and your favourite garam masala blend. Let it marinate for a good six hours or overnight in your fridge.

Slice a couple of onions finely. In a flat non stick pan heat a couple of tablespoons of any neutral oil. Once the oil is hot add the onions and fry gently till they begin to turn pink. Add the chops and fry on high heat for a couple of minutes turning the chops to sear all sides.

Lower the heat and cover the pan with a lid that fits. Let the chops cook undisturbed for 15 minutes. Turn them over and cover and cook again for another 10 to 15 minutes. Add any marinade that's left in the bowl. Don't add any water.  Let the chops cook on low heat as slowly as possible. Mine took around an hour to cook. Just check occasionally to ensure that nothing's getting burned.

The chops will have no gravy, just the darkly caramelised onions that have absorbed the marinade and the flavours of the meat.

Serve these as a starter on their own. Be sure to add some of the onions to each serving. Eat with your fingers and I promise you, you will lick them clean. A simple no fuss dish, slowly cooked. Poetry on a plate.

Marathon Bloggers Project 52