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Tag Archives: awadhi cuisine

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

While I was on holiday in India this year, I purchased a couple of cookbooks to add to my collection. And one of the books I bought was ‘Dastarkhwan – e – Awadh’ by Sangeeta Bhatnagar and R.K.Saxena.

A simple cookbook that celebrates the royal kitchens of Awadh with recipes dating back to that golden era!

Awadhi cuisine is not just famous, but one that’s held in reverence. The food that came out of the Awadh kitchens had a royal elegance, a restraint yet so rich and inviting that made it synonymous with royalty. Of course it was made for the Nawabs but today, this cuisine is still held in such high esteem for the techniques, attention to ingredients and complexity of flavours.

The authors, Dr Sangeeta Bhatnagar and R.K.Saxena are both culinary historians and their passion to document the food of Awadh resulted in this book. Drafted after much research and speaking to a wide range of people including Nawabs, Chefs and yesteryear royal cooks, this book is a true tribute to the cuisine of Awadh.

It’s a simple book in appearance; reminds me of the old textbooks we used to have in India. No highly styled photographs of the food, but plenty of visuals depicting the people from the region, ingredients, street food, and also dishes presented in a natural manner.

There’s a brief introduction to the royal era of Awadh (the present day Lucknow), a historical perspective to the cuisine followed by explanation of terms that’s commonly used in Awadh cuisine. For eg: there are unique techniques employed in cooking Awadh food and these are explained along with reference to ingredients and other procedures that are a must know to understand the cooking style and culinary culture.

Clearly this is a cookbook that I would be cooking a lot from, but for that first recipe, I zeroed in on this lipsmacking Kofta Pulao.

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao - thespiceadventuress.com

Pulao is often considered to be second grade in comparison to a biryani. There’s a general attitude that a pulao is made when one does not want to indulge in the extravagance of a biryani. But that is so wrong and an Awadhi style pulao is a prime example of that.

Making a good pulao requires as much skill as a biryani. And it all starts with cooking the rice perfectly. Always made using aged long grain rice which must be fragrant, aromatic and each grain separate from the other yet cooked perfectly. The flavours are much less complex in a pulao when compared to a biryani; there are far fewer spices and aromatics and it is a subtle play of those few spices that make a pulao so delicious.

Just as the name suggests, this is a kofta pulao, literally translated as meatballs and rice.

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao - thespiceadventuress.com

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

The meatballs are shaped small in this recipe, unlike the larger ones that we are accustomed to eating in pasta or as snacks. Though mutton would be used traditionally, I have used lamb mince to make koftas, which is flavoured with just cinnamon and cardamom.

Another important ingredient is ghee or clarified butter. In traditional Awadhi cooking, tempered ghee is used but here I have just used plain ghee to keep things simple. Oil can be used but would hardly provide any flavour, and ghee is way healthier anyway.

The rice and koftas are cooked separately and then layered; the cooking process is then finished using the dum technique. For those who aren’t aware, the dum technique is where all the ingredients are placed inside one pot and the edges sealed using dough. Slow charcoal heat is applied on top and also on bottom and the food is allowed to slow cook with minimal heat.

Now most of us would use a modern dum technique in our homes. You could either place all the ingredients in a casserole dish, seal using a foil and finish cooking at low heat in the oven. Or you could follow my technique – since I don’t like to use foil, I place a tea towel over the pot and then place the lid on top so that it’s really tight and no steam escapes. The pot is then placed on a flat tawa or directly on heat but at its lowest setting. Ensure that the edges of the towel hanging out is scrunched up; we don’t want to start a fire!!

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

So let’s get onto the recipe for this delicious Kofta Pulao;

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms aged basmati (long grained) rice; washed and soaked for atleast 1 hour
  2. 500gms lamb (or mutton) mince
  3. 1 inch ginger
  4. 5 medium garlic cloves
  5. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  6. 10gms roasted gram flour
  7. 1 inch cinnamon stick
  8. 3 whole green cardamom
  9. Salt, to season
  10. Ghee (clarified butter)
  11. 5 medium red onions
  12. 1 ½ tbsp rose water
  13. 1 pinch saffron
  14. 250 ml milk

Method:

  1. Grind the cinnamon and cardamom to a fine powder.
  2. Grind the garlic and ginger to a paste (add a few drops of water if necessary)
  3. Also grind 2 onions to a coarse paste and keep aside.
  4. Finely slice the remaining 3 onions; fry in ghee till golden brown, drain and keep aside.
  5. Into the mince, add half of the cinnamon-cardamom powder, roasted gram flour, 1 tbsp ghee and salt to season. Knead well to ensure that all the ingredients are mixed well and the mince has a fine consistency.
  6. Take small portions of the mince and roll into small balls (slightly larger than marbles). You will roughly get about 30 -35 balls. Heat ghee in a pan and fry the meatballs; keep aside. (Take care not to overcook or the meatballs taste dry)
  7. To cook the rice, heat 1 ½ litres water. Season with salt and add the remaining cardamom-cinnamon powder. Add the washed rice and parboil; drain and keep aside.
  8. In the same pan that the onions were fried (add more ghee only if necessary), add the onion and ginger garlic paste. Sauté on medium heat till the rawness disappears. Then add chilli powder and sauté till the ghee separates.
  9. Add the fried meatballs to this and add 1 cup (250 ml) water. Cook till most of the water has disappeared. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  10. Meanwhile soak saffron in warm milk.
  11. To finally assemble the dish, place a large deep bottom vessel on low heat and add half of the cooked rice. Then layer with the cooked koftas/meatballs, add half of the rose water and saffron milk. Then add the remaining rice followed by the remaining rose water and saffron milk.
  12. Seal the edges (read description above for dum techniques) of the vessel and cook covered on low heat for about 20 minutes.
  13. Open just before serving and garnish with fried onions.
  14. Serve with a raita

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

 

 

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Nalli Gosht (Lamb Shanks simmered in yoghurt and spices)

I sat down to write this post and poof….the mind’s blank!

Words aren’t flowing easily though there are tons of things I would like to share with all of you. On the more positive side, I received a mail from Leon who has created an infographic for rebateszone.com on ‘Top 50 Food Bloggers in Australia’. And ‘The Spice Adventuress’ is right there at No. 30….

Top 50 Food Bloggers In Australia
Getting back to today’s recipe, I am sure most of you would have read the Andhra style egg curry which I had posted a few weeks ago. I wanted to try out another dish from the ‘Indian Kitchen’ and it had to be this rather indulgent Nalli Gosht or lamb shanks simmered in yoghurt and spices.

Nalli Gosht is a traditional and famous Nihari dish.

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Most people confuse the term ‘Nihari’ with a particular recipe. But at a generic level, it actually refers to a particular type of South Asian curry that involves slow cooked lamb or beef cooked on the bones along with the marrow. The term ‘Nihari’ is used as a prefix to denote that the curry is usually served as a meal after the Muslim sunrise (Fajr) prayers which is followed by a long rest before going off to the afternoon (Zhuhr) prayers.

History is a little skewed as to the origins of the Nihari cooking. While some say the practice began during the Mughal times in Old Delhi, others state that these dishes come out of the royal kitchens of Awadh (present day Uttar Pradesh). The latter theory holds more promise and Nalli Gosht is often considered as a Nihari dish from Lucknow.

But over the course of time especially post-independence era, Nihari dishes evolved as an integral part of South Asian Muslim cuisine and today, there are several countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan where these dishes are extremely popular. In fact, the national dish of Pakistan is Nihari Beef.

Nalli Gosht remains an Indian subcontinent favourite. The lamb shanks are slow cooked in an extremely flavourful gravy made from a mélange of spices, aromatics and yoghurt till the meat falls off the bone.

In the olden days, slow cooking was a tedious process especially having to depend on wood or coal fire. To get the temperatures right and prolong the cooking time, special vessels called ‘shab deg’ would be used in which the meat with the spices and stock are left overnight to achieve the right flavour and consistency in time for the morning meal.

Traditionally, the meat is served along with a thin or soup like gravy but I have allowed the gravy to thicken slightly more which is purely a personal preference. Again, adding yoghurt seems to be a matter of much debate. My research has shown that some versions of Nalli Gosht, especially prepared in Lucknow adds yoghurt.

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While in the earlier days, this dish would have been served to the labourers who worked on the massive construction projects of the royals, today it has become an indulgent preparation for special days. The cooking process is never hurried; modern gadgets like the pressure cooker simply do not bring out the flavour enough. Slow cooking is the best way to draw out maximum flavour from the bones and for the yoghurt and spices to transform itself into a rich, deep, dark and flavourful gravy.

Nalli Gosht is well worth the effort and if you eat lamb, this has to be eaten at least once in your lifetime…..

(Recipe adapted from Indian Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1. 2 lamb shanks (around 300 gms)
2. 6 large garlic cloves
3. 1 inch ginger

Find the full recipe here.

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Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

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