Thursday, 26 December 2013

Lamb Pasanda

Pasanda is a Mughlai dish which was prepared for the royal families. Traditionally it was prepared using only the best cuts of Lamb but these days one finds pasanda recipes with Chicken and even Prawns. I remember accompanying my father to the butcher, where my dad would order pasanda meat. The family butcher who knew my dad well for his finickiness would first show the meat cut before preparing. It looked the best, but remember I was only 7-8 years old and every piece which my dad approved would be the best! Once the meat pieces were approved the butcher would then slice the boneless meat into strips about ½ inch steaks and tenderise them first with the sharp end of the cleaver then the back of it. While he was preparing the meat my dad would tell me how delicate the process was, as while the butcher is beating the meat he at no point should cut it through. I think this tale was not only for me, but loud enough so that the butcher could hear it as well, so that he made no mistakes.

I have had pasanda in restaurants and have been disappointed as the meat is in no way tenderised. Here I will give you an old family recipe, hopefully you would like it and notice the difference. For preparation of the steaks I went to a butcher, who knew exactly how to prepare the pasanda meat, just like what I remember from my childhood days!

Pasanda Meat
  • Lamb Pasanda 750 gms (for pasanda we need boneless leg meat which is sliced into ¼ inch thick steaks. These are then flattened and beaten lightly with a meat cleaver, ensuring that the meat is not cut through, one could use the meat tenderising mallet)
  • 1 ½ inch Cinnamon
  • 10 Green Cardamon
  • ½ tsf Peppercorns
  • 12 Cloves
  • ½ tsf Cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Oil 4-5 tbsf
  • 5 small Onions grated
  • 1 bulb Garlic
  • ½ tsf Poppy seeds (khas khas)
  • 1 ½  tsf Salt (to taste)
  • 2 tsf Chilli powder
  • 3 tbsf Yogurt
Pasanda with all spices
  1. Soak the Poppy seeds in small amount of water for 15 minutes.
  2. Grind the soaked Poppy seeds, ¼ tsf peppercorn, 1½ tsf salt  and 6 garlic in a paste and then mix it with 3 tbsf of yogurt.
  3. Put the pasanda pieces in this marinade and leave it for 4 hours in the fridge.
  4. Grate the onions.
  5. Coarsely grind cinnamon stick, remaining peppercorns, cardamon and cloves (this is my version of garam masala).
  6. In a heavy wok heat the oil. When hot add my version of garam masala, cumin seeds and bay leaves. Let them splutter.
  7. Add onions and brown them.
  8. Add the pasanda with all marinade and mix well so that the whole yogurt mixes with the browned onions. 
  9. Add chilli powder and mix. Fry the meat till slightly brown.
  10. Add 100 mls of water, bring it to a boil and lower the heat and let the meat cook for another hour stirring it from time to time. Keep checking the meat for readiness as different meat cuts have different cooking times. May need extra water if meat catches at the bottom. In the end the pasanda should have thick gravy and the meat should be tender almost breaking with a spoon. 

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Palak (Spinach) Karhi

When we were young I can only remember having Karhi made with Pakoris. However, as I have travelled and tasted cuisines from other parts of India I realised that one could add many different things in Karhi. Here I have picked a tasty and a healthier option in Palak (Spinach) as the accompaniment.  

The recipe like the Pakori karhi is in two stages. Don't be daunted with this recipe as it is easier than the pakori karhi, a recipe which will be posted later in my blog. One has to half cook the Palak before adding to the karhi.

  • 250 gms of Palak (Spinach) coarsely chopped
  • 2 pinches of Asafoetida (Hing)
  • 2 Whole dried red Chillis each broken into two
  • ½ tsf Cumin seeds
  • 400 gms Yogurt (for that tangy flavour to your karhi, keep the yogurt in a warm place for 4-6 hours when it becomes sour)
  • 1/4 cup of Gram Flower (Besan)
  • 1 Chilli powder
  • 1 Turmeric (Haldi)
  • 1 ½ tsf Salt
  • 1 tbsf Oil
For Tempering (Optional)
  • 2 tsf of Ghee 
  • Pinch of Asafoetida (Hing)
  • ½ tsf Cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsf Chilli powder
  1. Make a mix of Gram flour Yogurt and 300mls of water. One can do it in a blender. Keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok, when hot add asafoetida, cumin seeds and whole red chillis. Within a couple of minutes the chillis will brown and cumin seeds will turn dark brown.
  3. Add the chopped palak, cover and cook for 1-2 mins till the contents wilts and then uncover the wok to let the water evaporate and spinach becomes dry.
  4. Add the gram flour and yogurt mix. Keep stirring so that yogurt doesn’t become lumpy.
  5. Add chilli powder, salt and turmeric and keep stirring.
  6. Once the karhi starts to boil reduce the heat and let it cook till the gravy becomes slightly thick and right consistency.
  1. Heat the ghee in a small pan.
  2. When ghee is hot add asafoetida, cumin seeds and red chilli powder. Within a few minutes the cumin seeds will turn brown.

We generally add the ghee temper when serving rather than adding it to the whole Karhi. 
Karhi goes well with both rotis and rice.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Dill (Suva) Aloo Sabzi

Dill or Suva as it is known in India is a seasonal green grown in the heart of India. Though it is not as popular a green as Fenugreek, Spinach or Coriander, it is however, as tasty an additive which can be added to various vegetables and dals. It is more popular in Bihar and UP.

This is one vegetable which can be prepared  very quickly. Good one to add on to the main dishes when someone comes unexpectedly. That doesn't mean it is not nice. If your guests haven't had it it before it could be a guessing game and topic of conversation over dinner!


  • 250 gms Potatoes chopped into small pieces
  • A bunch of Suva, chopped coarsely
  • A pinch of Asafoetida (Hing)
  • 3 Whole dried red Chillis
  • ¾ tsf Salt to taste
  • ½ tsf Turmeric powder (Haldi)
  • ½ tsf chilli powder
  • 3 tbsf Oil


  1. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat.
  2. Add Asafoetida and red dry chillis and brown till the chillis are dark brown and crisp. We call this step as ‘Chonk’ in hindi.
  3. Add the potatoes and cook till they are half cooked.
  4. Add the chopped suva and mix well with the potatoes.
  5. Add chilli powder and turmeric powder and cover the wok and cook till the the potatoes are done.
  6. Uncover the wok and cook to dry the vegetable.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Fish Curry Didi Style

Where ever you go in India, if fish is available easily, then there would a recipe for a fish curry. Each recipe would be slightly different in different areas. My sister has lived in Kolkata but still makes fish curry which would perhaps be more in tune with one prepared in the Old Delhi style. This version of Fish Curry is her style. It is lightly different from the one I have written about in the past but I quite liked it.

In Delhi, one mainly gets river fishes. The common fresh water fishes that are generally available in Delhi are Singhara, Surmai, Sole, Rahu and Betki. The first three are easier to fillet as there is only a single central bone, whereas, Rahu and Betki have many small bones. People who don't mind bones may well find the later fishes tastier. 

In preparing this we bought Surmai, which was filleted and cut into 2-3 inches wide pieces. 


  • 1 Kg Fish cut into small 2-3 inch pieces
  • 4 Small onions chopped or grated.
  • ½ tsf Fenugreek (Methi) seeds
  • 2 tsf Chilli Powder
  • 3 tsf Coriander powder
  • ½ tsf Turmeric (Haldi) powder
  • 1 tsf Salt to taste
  • 2 tsf Mango (Amchoor) powder
  • 3-4 tbsf Oil for cooking


  1. Heat the oil in a wok. When hot put the Fenugreek seeds.
  2. As soon as the fenugreek seeds turn brown (not black) add onions, chilli powder, coriander powder, salt and Turmeric powder. Brown these over medium heat.
  3. Add Mango powder and mix well.
  4. Add the pieces of fish and lightly fry in the masala.
  5. Add 300 mls of water and mix well. Let the fish cook on open wok so the gravy becomes slightly thick as well. However, this preparation requires thin gravy.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Besan Chilla (Spicy Gram Flour Pancake)

I have been in Delhi for a few weeks now and have tasted so many preparations, which were just memories from childhood, not-so-long-ago! In my journey of exploring new and old dishes during my stay in India, I have picked chilla as my first entry. What better dish than chilla - which is like a pancake, both salty and spicy and is eaten for breakfast!
Chillas can be made from moong dal or besan (gram flour). I would imagine that Chilla - like many-a-besan (gram flour) dishes, originates from Rajasthan. However, Moong dal chillas are more popular amongst families in general, as well as on cookery programmes, whereas I can only remember eating besan chillas for weekend breakfast in our house. I don't remember having chillas at anyone else’s homes either…but this may well be, because it is mainly eaten for breakfast and one doesn’t often get invited for breakfast!
Chillas need to be prepared fresh and eaten straight from the pan. It is usually eaten with chutney and I would specifically recommend eating it with green spicy coriander chutney.
  • 250 gms Besan
  • 1 tsf Ajwain (Carrom seeds)
  • 1 ½ tsf Salt
  • ½ tsf Chilli powder
  • ¼ tsf Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsf Garlic paste
  • 1 tsf Ginger paste
  • Hand full of chopped methi (Kasori)
  • 1 medium onion chopped finely
  • Oil for shallow frying
  • Batter Mix
    Ingredients mix


  1. Mix all the ingredients except oil with approx 200 mls of water into a batter which should similar consistency to pan cakes batter. Keep aside.
  2. Heat a flat frying pan over medium heat. When hot spread some oil and wipe it with a tissue.
  3. Now put a ladle full of batter in the middle the frying pan and spread it into a pancake.
  4. Put some oil on the pan cake and let it cook it on lower heat till the under surface of the pancake is lightly brown.
  5. Now turn over and cook the other surface till that is also lightly brown. You may want to press the pancake with a flat ladle so the whole pancake is heated evenly.
  6. Eat it with chutney.