At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

AGAR FIRDAWS BAR-RU YE ZAMIN AST.....

The Raisin, who was on the corner of Sansome Street when I came out today, asked me what I planned to do for lunch - he's only just begun working in the Financial District again, and has not yet grasped that in this neighborhood, lunch is something to dread - especially if one avoids certain foods.

This may be an exaggeration, but, "THIS NEIGHBORHOOD BITES!"


At least as far as lunch is concerned.

Scant choice, scant variety, no imagination. Suburbanite office droodges have no sense of adventure.


The Raisin still remembers when every two weeks I'd dragoon co-workers for a dash to the Jamaican restaurant for some curry-goat. So, in reference to those days, he asked me if I'd had any goat since I stopped working in Menlo Park (7 years ago).

Of course I have.

When the Halal market around the corner from me first opened, I went ape. Bought some nice tender goat at least once a week. Goat has a particularly tasty meat, dense and flavourful, that can very well be cooked with spices that would overpower some other meats. And who could turn down a nice roast kid, on a bed of rice with saffron and raisins?

Or a nice dish of goat-chops seethed in coconut-milk and tomato, with cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and a cinnamon stick?

[In mittn drinnen, some poskim state that coconut-milk has the same halachic status as dairy, and is therefore proscribed in meat cooking. Respectfully, I have to state that, alas, they are blowing steam out of their ears on that one. The coconut is a nut, coconut milk is not dairy, and it is utterly unlikely that anyone would be misled by someone else’s example.]

Goat-chops with pomme frites?

Goat and yellow dhal with hot sauce?


The Raisin also asked what, food-wise, I have been up to since we worked together. This, then, is in partial answer thereto.



KABILI PILAW
[A robust tribal pilaf]

One large onion, chopped.
One and a half pounds of goat, cut in 1 inch cubes.
Two carrots cut into matchstick size pieces.
1 cup dark seedless raisins.
2 Tbs. blanched almonds.
1/2 tsp. each: ground cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and cardamom.
Pinches of turmeric and dry ginger (optional).
1/8 tsp. saffron (firm pack), soaked in a two tablespoons of warm water.
2 cups long grain rice (Basmati) - soaked, rinsed, and drained.
1 Tbs. sugar.
Oil
Water or broth
Salt


1. Heat four Tbs. oil in a heavy pan and fry onion golden.
2. Add meat and brown.
3. Add two and a half cups water, 1/2 tsp. salt and the ground spices. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender. Take out meat and set aside. Leave cooking juices in pan, which remove from heat and set on backburner.
4. Heat four Tbs. oil in a saucepan. Add the carrots and cook until well gilded, remove from pan and set aside.
5. Add 1 cup dark seedless raisins plus couple of tablespoons of blanched almonds, and cook until the raisins swell up. Remove and set aside.
6. Bring the meat juice in the first pan to a boil and add the rice, 1 tbsp. sugar, and 1 tsp. salt, with sufficient water to bring the liquid one and a half inches above the rice. Cook till water is absorbed.
7. Mix the oil in which the carrots were cooked and the saffron-water into the cooked rice. Add the meat, cover and set in a 300 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.
8. Mound meat and rice in the center of a large platter. Sprinkle with carrots, raisins, and almonds.


Note I: Afghans tend to use oil, grease, or clarified butter for this dish much more liberally than in the recipe above. But then it sits heavy on the stomach.

Note II: Qabili = tribal, regional. From Arabic 'Qabila' = tribe. Hence 'qaba'il' for tribesman, and 'qabaili' for the North West Frontier Province.
'Cabal' may also come from this root, though dictionaries standardly give an acronym as the derivation.

----------------


MUTANJAN
[Semi-sweet meat and rice]

One and a half cups Basmati rice - washed, soaked an hour, drained.
One and a half pounds goat, chunk cut.
One onion, minced.
Half a cup sugar.
Half a cup water.
One lemon.
Six green cardamom pods.
Two black cardamom pods.
Two smallish pieces stick cinnamon.
Two blades of mace.
Two bay leaves.
One teaspoon whole peppercorns.
Six TBS ghee (or substitute vegetable oil).
Two TBS rosewater.
Two TBS kewra water.
A very generous pinch of saffron.
Pinch salt.


1. Mix saffron, rosewater, and kewra water, and let stand to colour.
2. Make a syrup by dissolving the sugar in the half cup water in an enamel saucepan. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon, and remove from heat.
3. Fry the onion in the ghee till glazy-golden. Add the half of the whole spices, stir, add the meat and a small splash water. Fry till the oil comes out and the meat is browned. Cover with water, simmer till nearly dry. Remove the whole spices, and set the meat and onion mixture aside.
4. Bring a pot of water to boil with the remaining whole spices. Boil fiercely for five minutes to aromatize the water, then use your kafcha or kafgir to skim out the whole spices, and add the rice. Parboil till the rice starts to puff, then strain.
5. Mix the rice with the meat and onion in a casserole, add the syrup. Pour the rose-kewra-saffron water spiral-wise over the mixture, cover well, and use tinfoil or dough to really seal the edges and prevent much steam escaping. Set in a 300º oven for half an hour. Remove and up end on a platter.


Note I: Rosewater is available at Middle Eastern stores, Kewra water can be bought at Indian stores. Kewra, kewda, or keora is pandanus - the fragrant screwpine, which has a semi floral grass-like aroma. One can substitute a jigger of pandan extract (available in S.E.Asian markets) for the Indian or Paki product.

Note II: This version of Mutanjan is not nearly as sweet as some Indians would make it. Some Indians have a phenominal sweet tooth - that is why some Indian women end up looking like the Goodyear blimp. "Have another laddoo, sweety-ji, and some more chai... you look a little peaked".

----------------

ANANAS KA MUZAFFAR
[Electric yellow rice with syrup, pineapple chunks, and ghee!]

One cup basmati rice.
One and a half tsp saffron.
Two cups sugar.
One cup pineapple juice.
2 TBS lemon juice.
5 cloves.
5 green cardamom.
5 drops yellow foodcolour.
5 fresh pineapple rings, chunk cut.
Quarter cup ghee.

1. Rinse and soak the rice for 2 hours. Drain.
2. Soak the saffron in two TBS warm water.
3. Boil sugar with half a cup water, pineapple and lemon juices; stir until the syrup becomes thick. Reserve.
4. Heat four cups water in a pot with the cloves, cardamom pods and yellow food colouring added. Boil fiercely for five minutes, skim out the spices with a kafgir, and add the rice. Cook till puffy and half way done. Drain.
5. Heat the syrup over low heat to boiling, add the rice, mix well and remove from the fire when heated through, whereupon stir in the pineapple chunks and the saffron water.
6. Transfer the rice mixture to a shallow casserole, place the lid on tight and set the casserole in the oven at 300 degrees for half an hour.
7. Melt the ghee and pour it in a circular motion all over the rice.


Note I: The dish as given above is not nearly sweet enough for some Indians, who would more than double the amount of sugar (I have seen Indians adding half a dozen packets of sugar to a small dish of pudding at the restaurant).
If one of those insulin mommas is your guest, you might want to serve the dish with maple syrup or honey on the side. Plus extra ghee.

Note II: Muzaffar means yellowed. Which, thanks to liberal use of both food colour and saffron, it will indeed be.

Note III: This dish can also be done with mango (Aamb Ka Muzaffar) or even jackfruit (Kathal Ka Muzaffar).

----------------


MIRCHI KA SALAN
[Green chilies in curry sauce - Andhra version]


Half a pound of long green chilies (Paprika in Europe, Anaheim or Mild New Mexico in US).
One onion, minced.
Three or four cloves of Garlic, minced.
A thumb-length of ginger, minced.
Quarter cup roasted Peanuts.
Two TBS Sesame seeds, lightly toasted.
Three Tsp. ground Coriander.
One Tsp. ground Cumin.
Half Tsp. Cayenne.
Half Tsp. Turmeric.
A generous pinch of Sugar.
A pinch of ground Cinnamon.
Pinch Salt.
One and a half cups Water.
One and a half cups Coconut milk.
Half cup strong Tamarind water (2 - 4 TBS Tamarind paste in hot water).
Half cup chopped Cilantro.
Quarter cup chopped Basil.
Quarter cup chopped Parsley.
Quarter cup Olive Oil.
A hefty squeeze of Lime juice, added at end of cooking,


1. Grind peanuts and sesame seeds to a fine paste.
2. Blanch whole chilies briefly in boiling salted water. Drain, deseed, chop into large pieces.
3. Heat oil in a large frying pan, fry chilies to gild, remove and set aside.
4. Fry onion golden, add garlic and ginger. When the garlic has gilded, add the spices, salt, sugar, and stir-fry till the fragrance rises.
5. Add the peanut and sesame paste, plus the coconut milk, water, and chilies. Simmer, stirring, till the sauce is thick and the oil separates.
6. Add the tamarind water, bring back to boil and cook a short while longer.
7. Stir in the fresh herbs and remove from heat, add the hefty squeeze of lime juice.
8. Garnish generously with two or three chopped Roma tomatoes.

----------------


MIRCHI KA SALAN
[Green chilies in curry sauce - personal variation]


One pound of Mulatto Isleño chilies (or substitute any other large mild chili, such as Poblanos or Anaheims).
One onion, minced.
Three or four cloves of Garlic, minced.
A thumb-length of ginger, minced.
Quarter cup roasted Peanuts.
Two TBS Sesame seeds, lightly toasted.
Three Tsp. ground Coriander.
One Tsp. ground Cumin.
Half Tsp. Cayenne (or more).
Half Tsp. Turmeric.
A generous pinch of Sugar.
A pinch of ground Cinnamon.
Pinch Salt.
One and a half cups Water.
One and a half cups Coconut milk.
Half cup strong Tamarind water (2 - 4 TBS Tamarind paste in hot water).
Quarter cup chopped Cilantro.
Quarter cup chopped Basil.
Quarter cup chopped Parsley.
Quarter cup Olive Oil.
A hefty squeeze of Lime juice, added at end of cooking,


1. Grind peanuts and sesame seeds to a fine paste.
2. Roast whole chilies over a flame till the skin blackens. Peel, deseed, chop into large pieces.
3. Heat oil in a large frying pan, fry the onion golden, and add garlic and ginger. When the garlic has gilded, add the spices, salt, sugar, and stir-fry till the fragrance rises.
4. Add the peanut and sesame paste, plus the coconut milk and the water. When it boils, add the chilies. Simmer, stirring, till the sauce thickens and the oil separates.
5. Add the tamarind water, bring back to boil and cook a short while longer.
6. Stir in the fresh herbs and remove from heat. Now add the hefty squeeze of lime juice.
7. Garnish generously with two or three chopped Roma tomatoes.

Serve with flaky flatbread and rice.
Serves four.


Note I: Instead of grinding peanuts and sesame, one can substitute a quarter cup (four tablespoons) of smooth peanut butter. The taste will not be much affected.
Note II: There will be some wastage when peeling the chilies.
Note III: The hue of this dish should be a lovely speckled vert emeraude. It should be semi-scoopable, and not soupy.
Note IV: This is like the Hyderabadi Mirchi Ka Salan. But better. And not as greasy.

----------------


GHEE / RAWGAN-E ZARDA
Ghee is clarified butter, which can easily be made at home. Melt unsalted butter in a saucepan, and keep it on low to medium heat for a while. Skim off the scum which floats to the top, and make sure the crap that sinks to the bottom doesn't burn. Once all the H2O that was in the emulsion has evaporated, pour the melted butter carefully through a fine mesh strainer, leaving the last bit along with the solid particles in the pan. Once cooled, it will keep a very long while - especially if refrigerated. Ghee has a higher smoking temperature than butter, and a nuttier flavour. Awadhis usually add a brisk jigger of kewra water to the melting butter, to subtly perfume the resulting ghee. Personally I think that's a waste of kewra water.

MEASURES: CUP, TBS, Tsp.
One litre equals four measuring cups almost exactly. There are sixteen tablespoons (TBS) in a cup. There are three teaspoons (tsp) in a tablespoon. So there are 48 teaspoons in a cup, and sixty-four tablespoons in a litre.

A pound is slightly less than half a kilogramme, there being roughly 2.2 pounds to a kilo.


----------------



AGAR FIRDAWS BAR-RU YE ZAMIN AST, HAMIN AST, U HAMIN AST, U HAMIN AST!
[If there is a heaven on this earth, it is here it is here it is here!]

The line of poetry quoted here originally referred to some garden somewhere, but in the city who has a garden?
One the other hand, we all have kitchens.

Labels: , , , ,

3 Comments:

  • At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Back of the hill is an absolute heretic and nobody should read his writings.

    Anybody that reads this will be reading apikorsish garbage.

    This is BITTUL TORAH.

     
  • At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    No, this is more like bit of goat.

     
  • At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Too much sugared goat. Not enough bittel toorah.

     

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

 
Newer›  ‹Older