The Joy of Cooking. Good Food, Good Health, Good Life
Author: Recipes from Parsi Cuisine
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You may have heard of the American Red Indian Dance for Rains, but have you heard of the Parsi Custom of bringing in rains by an community effort of collecting Rice, Dal and Ghee to make Khichri?
In Navsari (a small town in the Gujarat State of India) often referred to as the “Dharam Ni Tekdi” Parsis has many of the traditional customs and practices that have over time been forgotten in other cities and town. The Ghee Khichri ritual on Bahman Mahino and Bahman Roj is one of them. Boys go from house to house, asking for rice, dal, oil, ghee and other uncooked products. The ladies pour generous portions in the collection bags. The boys are also splashed with water, which the boys have to dodge carefully.
Later this uncooked food is gathered at one location and is cooked into a collective feast.The whole endeavor is to ask the rain gods to come and bestow Mother Earth with water, after the long summer months in India.
A folk song is heard from moholla to moholla in Navsari:
GHEEE KHICHRI NO PAISO
DORIYAA NO RUPIYO
VARSAADJI TOH AAYEGA
DUMRI SHER LAAYEGA
DUMRI TAARI OAT MAA KHARA PAANINET MAA
OTTI KE POTTI
REL AAVI MOTTI
ALLAA GOCAL PAANI MOKAL
VARSAADJI NU PAANI TOH MITTHU NE MITTHU
Another song in Gujarati song for welcoming rains after a hot summer:
Bhakhras are fried cakes and can be savored with a hot cup of tea or coffee.
Please use Caraway Seeds not shah jeera or any substitute. The flavor of caraway seeds is different. I get so many inquiries for where to get these. Many grandmothers in Ahmedabad swear by this flavor but they are hard to find.
I find Caraway seeds in Whole Foods, or a regular Super Market in USA in the spices aisle. Caraway is used in baking British dishes and have an European origin.
A parsi favorite of mine, I take any chance to make them for my family.
While travelling to India, the first chance I get get I head down to the Parsi Industrial in Ahmedabad to get some of their freshly made bhakhras.
In Udvada, I buy them from a small shop opposite the Atashbehram. These bhakhra are made with “Taari” (fermented toddy from a palm tree) an with caraway seeds.
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose bleached flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fine semolina (Ravo)
1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1 egg, beaten
125 ml toddy mixed with 1 tsp sugar and 125 ml warm water (Beer can be substituted for toddy)
1 tsp Caraway Seeds (optional)
Water as required
1 tsp powdered cardamom and nutmeg mixture
1/2 tsp salt
Oil for deep frying
Powdered Sugar for dusting (Optional Christmas Look)
Sift flour, semolina, spices and salt together.
Beat sugar and ghee together.
Add egg and mix well.
Add flour mixture, mix well with caraway seeds and add toddy.
Beat to a stiff dough, adding water if necessary.
Cover with cling film or damp cloth and keep in a warm place for about 2-3 hours, till dough has risen.
Roll out about quarter-inch thick and cut into one-and-a-half-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter.
The theory of Evolution of Universe has been discussed by Darwin, Einstein, Hawking and others. Evolution has proved the existence of the Creator beyond doubts, but it still remains a mystery to be solved. However we can feel and behold HIM through his manifestations such as Air, Water and Energy (Fire) and other elements on the earth. Through his Spiritual Grace, the Earth and Sky turn around regularly.
It is said that the “Study of Mankind is Man” and the “Study of Man is his Mind, Soul and Body”. Energy in Body creates hunger and therefore, great search for Food was done in ancient ages, man to satisfy hunger depended upon vegetations but subsequently became carnivorous (flesh eating). Thus the necessity of food started the Evolution of Cooking, instead of eating raw materials.
Cooking differs in each country and even in each society and community. Every one says Mother’s food is the best. There are reasons behind it. In old days, the mother puts her heart and soul for preparing food for her family. She used to get up in early morning, take a bath, pray and then she enters the kitchen and kindles the fires for cooking meals. Her dedicated work makes food more delicious. For a family of five members, she always prepares for seven to eight persons. This is not a waste at all, because she always keeps in mind unexpected guest’s, servant’s and even dog’s needs.
In old days, cooking was hereditary, methods, techniques and proportions of a dish were passed on by cooking together, but now-a-days the ladies avoid entering the kitchen and depend on market food and try to learn cooking by reading books and attending cooking classes, this is in name of “Modernity”. Hand-made food binds family members cordially and brings the family together at the dinner table.
Recently, Chinese and Western food has taken place instead of traditional, but is heartening to note the Parsis have still stuck to their Dhanshak and Sali-Boti. Therefore Rita has rightly chosen to write about Parsi Cuisine. I from the bottom of my heart congratulate her for compiling this colossal work successfully. I hope and trust that not only Parsis but other communities will appreciate her work of home-made and hand-made food recipes.
I sincerely, pray to almighty God to bestow blessing and inspiration to my loving daughter Ritu.
Loving Homi Pappa.
Rita’s father Homi Bhikhaji Munshi who holds a MA LLB, was the Managing Director of the Union Bank of India in Gujarat, Ahmedabad, India.
I believe if you are going to have a guilty indulgence go all the way. But have small portions. No Egg or Flour, I know there are short cuts but this is a labor of love as my husband loves.
2 liters half and half
2 liters. Cream
2 cans 28 or 30oz each Alphonso Mango Pulp
2 cans 390 gm each Condescended Mango Creamer (or Condensed milk)
3 tblsp Sugar (optional if using condensed milk)
10 strands of saffron (Soaked in very little mild)
4 green cardamoms
In a thick based sauce pan, put milk, cream and cardamoms on low heat stirring continuously for about
1 ½ hours. Remove cardamoms. Add sugar and condescended Mango Creamer and stir on medium for a further 15-20 min. Add soaked saffron to mixture. Stir in 2 cans Alphonso Mango Pulp. Pour mixture into mould and freeze.
Note: I do the coat the back of the spoon test or “Nappe” to check for the consistence. Place a spoon wooden works well, in the mixture. Remove, and run your finger through the middle of the sauce/custard. If a clear path is left and an even run-less film is left on the spoon, the mixture is ready.
Twenty-six-year-old chef-manager Anahita Dhondy is working to popularize Parsi cuisine through a rapidly expanding chain of restaurants – SodaBottleOpenerWala.
In “Soda’s ‘chilled out’ boss,” August 7 issue, she reveals that she is off in October to Gujarat to “all the small cities which are populated with Parsis to do some research, get some old recipes and talk to as many people as I could about food.” She lets on with a chuckle that she would love to get inputs from Parsiana readers on what she should not miss out.
Fathers, mothers and grandmothers still figure in the new wave of Indian restaurants showing up around metro Atlanta. But family tradition is a touchstone rather than a millstone, nowadays. And please don’t bring up those bad old memories of face-stuffing buffets set to wailing sitar soundtracks, or you just might elicit a bout of laughter mixed with embarrassment.
What you’ll find at Bhojanic in Buckhead and Chai Pani in Decatur are creative takes on Indian food that offer brighter, fresher flavors in varied portion sizes, all kinds of current beer, wine and cocktail options, and settings that are decidedly contemporary.
Indian with a difference
Archna Becker opened her second Bhojanic location in the Shops Around Lenox a little more than a month ago. The menu, the same as you’ll find at her original restaurant in Decatur, is the first thing that distinguished Bhojanic when it opened some eight years ago, with a selection of small plate “Indian tapas” designed for sampling and sharing.
“The main thing I hated was that you had to buy a lot of large portions,” Becker says of more typical Indian restaurants of the time. “You either ate at a nasty buffet or you ended up buying $200 worth of food and eating it all week.”
At Chai Pani in Decatur, you can find Sloppy Jai — spiced lamb hash simmered with tomatoes, ginger and spices; it’s … Read More
Bhojanic’s mostly Northern Indian, Punjabi-style cuisine comes from Becker’s homeland and is cooked homestyle, without butter or cream. The kitchen sources local and seasonal ingredients, and freshly roasted spices are ground daily.
Specialty cocktails, wine and draft craft beer, and an energetic atmosphere, often punctuated with the sounds of live jazz, underscore that this is Indian with a difference.
“I took my family’s food, my grandmother’s food, my dad’s food, and presented it in a different manner,” Becker says. “Our thing is traditional food in a nontraditional atmosphere. We don’t change the recipes. We make alu gobi the way my grandmother makes it.”
The new Bhojanic location in Buckhead offers small plates such as Alu Tikki (crispy potato patties topped with chickpea curry, cilantro, … Read More
Becker’s disdain for old school Indian restaurants is what compelled her to get into the business, starting with a catering company, then a small shop at Emory, before finally coming up with the full-blown Bhojanic concept.
“I wanted something different. I wanted it to look different. I wanted the music to be different. The concept is everything I like. I like to eat a lot of different things, and I like to drink a lot of different things. I like jazz and I wanted to have live music.”
Becker’s other guiding principle is hospitality, which she defines as treating customers with respect.
“We don’t think our customers are dumb,” she says. “We’re not the stereotypical place, where the guest is doing a favor by being there. That makes me cringe. We appreciate our guests coming in. They’re the reason we’re there.”
In Buckhead, the design includes a trellis-covered entryway patio, an open dining room and a roomy L-shaped bar, all accented with a bazaar of dangling lights, pillows and curtains fashioned with Indian fabrics.
Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the restaurant hosts the get-happy “Khush Time” with food specials and live music.
“It’s been a great first month,” Becker says. “It’s been very, very busy. It took us seven years at the other one to get that busy.”
3400 Around Lenox Road, Suite 201, in the Shops Around Lenox. 404-841-8472.
A friendly tug of war
At Chai Pani — a Bollywood-meets-contemporary-cool spot that opened in March in happening downtown Decatur — executive chef/owner Meherwan Irani is assisted by chef de cuisine Daniel Peach in creating what he calls “mindblasting” Indian street food.
That means sourcing produce from local purveyors and farmers and making their own spice blends, chutneys and sauces. That good stuff shows up in dishes like okra fries tossed in lime and spices, a Sloppy Joe take, “Sloppy Jai,” with spiced lamb hash, and even cocktails such as a whiskey sour mixed with fresh lime and Kashmiri chili powder.
Irani, who grew up near Mumbai and learned to cook from his mother, came to the U.S. to earn an MBA, then worked in sales and marketing before opening the original Chai Pani in Asheville, N.C.
Peach, a young, blond-haired, blue-eyed South Carolina native who is fluent in Hindi, immersed himself in Indian cuisine by living, studying and cooking all over India, including in Irani’s mother’s kitchen.
Together, Irani and Peach are offering another generation’s side of the ongoing argument over what constitutes “authentic” Indian cuisine, drawing on its Portuguese and Iranian influences, and refining dishes with classic French techniques.
“For a long time, Indian food was stuck in the same place that Italian food was 20 or 30 years ago,” Irani says. “Most people thought of Italian food as pasta and some sort of red sauce. The Indian equivalent of that is naan and tandoori chicken.”
Like many Americans, Peach’s intro to Indian food was in a buffet line. But his time in India opened his eyes and quickly reset his palate.
“Indians are very quick to adopt a new thing and turn it into something uniquely Indian and make it work,” Peach says. “It’s like MacGyver. That really happens a lot with food. In Bombay (now known as Mumbai), you can get a griddled version of a club sandwich on white bread with chutneys and a potato patty. To me, it’s almost more uniquely Indian than rice and lentils, because it embodies that spirit.”
Irani and Peach like to give the MacGyver treatment to Southern staples, adding Indian spice to shrimp and grits or fried green tomatoes, or making kale pakoras or roasted sweet corn bhel.
“We’re not Americanizing Indian food,” Irani insists. “If anything, we’re Indianizing a lot of American ideas and concepts. That’s in the true spirit of what India is.
“It may seem to some people that we’re taking Indian food and sort of curating it in a trendy, hip fashion. But there are super hip, cool restaurants in India now. There’s an entire generation, millions upon millions of people, that have grown up with a very Western sensibility.”
For that reason, reactions to the Chai Pani menu tend to be generational, Irani says. “Older Indians come in and they love my grandma’s dal. At the same time, young Indians who have grown up with Western pop culture come in and love what we’re doing with our cocktails or our kale pakoras.”
But even in the Chai Pani kitchen, Irani and Peach sometimes engage in a friendly tug of war, drawing the line between tradition and innovation.
“It’s a funny juxtaposition,” Irani says. “Daniel’s immersion in India as a Westerner really made him more of a traditionalist. Going to India was a revelation where he really embraced it and wanted to come back and represent the villages and the countryside and the real food. I’m constantly trying to push the envelope on traditional Indian food. Chai Pani is what it is because of that.”
Chai Pani 406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-378-4030.
Link: Botiwalla, Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta. botiwalla.com/
Udvada Where The Fires Are Always Burning The holy town of Udvada is where the sacred fire of the Iranshah Atashbehram is burning since Zoroastrians came to India, writes CYRUS H. MERCHANT. And outside, in small Parsi homes and a lonely bakery, a different kind of fire burns, keeping the community’s cuisine alive, says MARK MANUEL.
The 20th day of the Zoroastrian calendar is not just another day, but a date with Victory. For, it belongs to the angel Behram Yazata who presides over triumph, success, and victory of all and any sort. Small wonder then that this day sees more bent knees and lowered heads, petitions and pleas… and more than anything, kept promises to Iranshah, as there is little else that beats the Heaven and Earth combo of Behram and Iranshah; McParadise indeed!
Passed down to a generation of us from folklore and the folds of our grannies’ sarees, Behram roj and Udvada together signal the arrival of good times, changing times, a turn in a devotee’s tide. All through the month you pray around this landmark day, a crescendo of wishes or one single wish which if Behram, favours clashes with cymbals within the keblah room as a bell is rung ten powerful times. So auspicious is this day that there are more Behrams in the community than there are, say, Cyruses.
There are regular Behram Roj-Iranshah goers, so regular in fact that legend has it that the railway tacks leading to the coastal town of Gujarat are familiar with their names. The pathway to good fortune indeed is a familiar friend to those seeking it.
For over 20, 25 years they go every single Behram Roj, not a roj is missed. I know them by face, name even, but some part of piety is pricked when the privacy of a worshipper is invaded. They have their train pass, their pudhina-chai flask, their faith. Armed with these three and little else, they board at 5.40. Mostly from Bombay Central, full of vim even at that hour, eagerly awaiting Dinshaw from Dadar Parsi Colony to join them in ten minutes at the next stop. Some doze through the ride, many pray, most eat.
There is something about Parsis and food; even on a pilgrimage. The pora (sorry, omelette is no substitute for the onomatopoeic rendition of this word), the akuri sandwich, the baffela ida (boiled eggs), the appetite! Compartments resemble Cusrow Baug, as throngs make the journey to what Nairyosangh Dhaval established as the most anointed fire in the world. One that takes within it’s golden flames all the lusts, longing and unspoken shadows of the human mind and heart. The Fire that burns, also cleanses.
More than Behram Roj, on Adar Mahino Adar Roj (which is the jashan day of Fire and the birth anniversary of the miraculous Iranshah), and on the biggest calendar day of November 24th, additional trains, a genial legacy of the late Homi Taleyarkhan, carry these faithful and their breakfasts. A quick shower and off we go into the sanctum sanctorum. From next door’s Globe Hotel and around the globe, they come for even an hour in front of the King Of Fires.
On Behram Roj there is little standing place while the Machi is being performed, chants of Behram Yashts and litanies to Ama Yazata the co-angel of Courage, tan-dorastis, a golden Fire leaping and reaching out to the angels above. It is mesmerising. The evening Aiwsiruthrem Geh even more beautiful as it allows no electricity (quite like Boyce Agiary, Tardeo, Bombay), there are only burning divos and the Iranshah.
Never mind if a prayer is answered or not, but on Behram Roj in Iranshah, a heart finds its peace, a lover, it’s beloved and a dreamer his or her dream. You are renewed. Refreshed and you trouble trouble with prayer!
Troubles, like a mistress that haunted you just because you spent some time with her, are finally discarded. All evil is eliminated, as you raise the special Udvada garland of pink roses and white (I-don’t-know-their-name) flowers.
You can’t beat the magic of this day, the memories associated with it. Of love and family and rare togetherness. Fanta bottles, mothers in garas, children running around on the red carpet in their frills and whites, the elderly bent into the blue Avesta books, good-looking young boys in jeans keeping the Parsi gene alive, pretty girls with scarves tied across their faces like Italian maidens on breezing Lambrettas, the NRI Parsis so easily distinguishable with their accents and flow of philanthropy. But above all, you see people with faith. Eyes with faith. Yes, it will be done, Behram Yazad and Iranshah will do it for us, they have done it for countless before. More than the perfume of sandalwood, you smell Faith.
Hope. Peace. For anyone who erroneously believes that the community is dying, you need to be in Udvada on Behram Roj.
Having fed the soul, you return to your Ratanshah Katila Lodge, amidst gleaming trees in the monsoon and easily the prettiest place to stay in Udvada, you call for the boi and the rickshawallah (who knows every visiting Katy and the prowess of her haggling) and you head back home, always but always by the 3 o’clock train. And turning right towards the walls of the Atash Behram in an ancient symbolic gesture of returning, with eye and heart gazing at the calendar you wait for another calling, on another Behram Roj because like Life, like Iranshah, somethings just have a date with destiny.
The more things remain the same, the more they change. Yes you are alarmed, yes you are worried, yes you feel regret and an ineffable sadness and wonder what will happen to your community, your religion. Then on this day, or any other day, you go to Iranshah and you look and you see and you feel, that all is not lost as yet, that in some recess of every mind is a loyal seed waiting to sprout under the splendour and strength of Behram. That like the Gujarat Mail that no matter how late, comes to it’s platform, the lost will return home… to a waiting Father who knows that as far as bad times go, always is not forever.
– Cyrus Merchant
IN a ramshackle old Zoroastrian bungalow before the Udvada Market, Jahanbux Motiwala, baker to the coastal town, stoked his woodfire ovens and produced the day’s quota of Nankhatais and Coconut Macaroons. It was a Sunday morning, 9 o’clock or thereabouts, but he had been baking since dawn. A lot of Parsis come to the Iranshah Atashbehram on Sunday. And, after their visit, they stop by at Jahanbux’s to buy Nankhatai. It is the tradition in Udvada.
I was on my way out of Udvada. But the aroma of biscuits in the oven and a faint wisp of smoke rising from the chimney over the bungalow led me to Jahanbux’s bakery. From outside, it looks like any other Parsi residence in the old township. A house that is falling apart. “Is this a bakery,” I asked him disbelievingly, looking at the ancient furniture lying about the place. Jahanbux wiped the flour off his hands onto a dirty apron around his waist and led me out into the sunshine. “Look,” he said proudly. I looked. An old signboard dangled from a pillar. ‘Hormuzd Bakery,’ it said.
The bakery was started on this premises in 1931 by his grandfather, Hormuzdji Nasserwanji. Jahanbux’s father, Marzaban, continued the business. And now he seems resigned to the fact that it will die with him. The next generation, his son Eric, is not keen on running a bakery. So Jahanbux, who learnt baking and confectionery from his father, slogs here himself from morning to night. He opens at 6 a.m. and shuts at 8 p.m. And he bakes biscuits, Khari biscuits, Bhakras fermented in toddy and mawa cakes as well. But not bread. I watched him at work. A dusty old man in a dusty old bakery, fuelling his fires with wood, waiting for his first customers that morning.
I have mixed feelings about Udvada. The previous evening, I had walked around the holy town, trying to figure out where the young Parsi boys and girls go on Saturday night. Forty-five minutes later, and that’s all the time it takes to explore this tiny coastal village, I had the answer. Firstly, there are no young people in Udvada. Secondly, there is nowhere to go. No pubs and discotheques, no restaurants even. There is nothing for entertainment in Udvada. No nightlife. Or life after sunset. And there are no people to entertain. Only ancient Parsis who sit in the verandahs and stand by the windows of their whitewashed mansions, waiting for the sun to set on the Iranshah in whose shadows they live the sunsets of their own lives.
As the Vatican City is to Catholics, so might Udvada be to the Zoroastrians, but what a sorry state it has become. Neglect has ruined its charm, a lack of money and soul has reduced it to a pilgrim centre the Parsis visit only occasionally in a year. The old houses are falling apart. Some have been sold, others pulled down and replaced by modern structures that look incongruous in the old township with their modern, indifferent architecture. Nobody wants to stay in Udvada anymore. Except the old and original residents who have nowhere else to go.
They are quaint people with an old world charm and a curiosity borne out of loneliness. Their children have left them to go to colleges in cities and jobs abroad. And now their children and their grandchildren come visiting Udvada like the rest of the Parsis do, on an annual pilgrimage. Very sad. Farzana Contractor, Meher Heroyce Moos and I walked through the Udvada village around the Iranshah that Saturday evening, our hearts making for our shoes, as we took the twists and turns of the narrow lanes and got our first real experience of old age and loneliness.
Hearing our footsteps on the quiet streets, hearing the growl of our car engine and the clanking of changing gears, the old residents in the ghostly village hobbled to their perches by the verandahs and windows to see what fresh breath of life the evening might have brought. That was all the life we encountered in Udvada at 5 o’clock on Saturday evening. No sounds came out of the mansions. No music played on old gramophones. No television sets blared in living rooms. No aromas of Parsi cooking wafted through open kitchen windows. No news from the radio. Nothing but the sounds of silence. As we drove away, we saw malnourished cows and scavenging dogs feeding out of garbage dumps.
But, next morning, what a transformation. Udvada village was bustling with the hurly-burly of activity and life. Buses and autorickshaws drew up and unloaded dozens of Parsis all headed for the hotels and a bath, and then the Iranshah. The marketplace sported a new look. Inside, fisherwomen haggled with Parsi housewives over the price of mullet. This is the Parsi fish boi. It costs Rs. 60 a kilo and in that, you get ten to 12 fish. Later, for lunch, it would be cooked in tangy curries and pan-fried after being dusted with rava. And the butcher in the meat shop saved the offal, the liver, kidneys, heart and gizzard of his produce for special customers who might use them in the Aleti-Paleti at home.
In the village, small windows opened up in homes, and little old men and women popped out to sell sandalwood and home-made sweets, biscuits and other goodies. Some enterprising couples, like Zarine and Pervez Unwala, convert the front portions on their homes into fast food joints and snack bars. Others, like Behram Maneckshaw Fitter sell pickles, sweets and biscuits made by the widows of Navsari outside the gates of the Minocher N. Pundole Adran-e-Iranshah, a fire temple which stands in the shadows of the Atashbehram itself. And in the lane outside the Iranshah, small shops selling prayer caps and holy books and a timetable on the wall announcing the trains to Bombay.
There are Parsi families from Bombay, Pune and neighbouring cities that have homes in Udvada that they come to over the weekend for a holiday. Like Jimmy and Sarosh Panthaki and Aspi and Shernaz Marker. They drive over on a Saturday, have lunch at one of the Parsi hotels in Udvada, like the Ashishvang Hotel, Mek Hotel or Globe Hotel, where the menu is always Boi and Dhansak supplemented by toddy, they spend the evening at the beach and do dinner at Daman which is 20 kilometres away. Sunday mornings, they visit the Iranshah, have lunch and then depart for home.
And what they like about their little weekends is the ice-cream man who comes around selling home-made, hand-churned, sancha ice-cream in fruit flavours. For Rs. 10, you get three large, generous scoops. Likewise, there is a lady from Udvada village who in the winter months comes with the Parsi Doodh Puff. A little sweetened milk is kept in an earthen pot covered by cloth on the terrace at night. Early morning, it is collected heavy with dew and whipped to make a light, airy, cloud-like puff. This is settled onto a glass of chilled, sweetened milk that has been garnished with cardamom, nutmeg and little almond. It is the kind of taste you will not get anywhere else in the world because few people would take the time to make this kind of delicacy.
1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and finely julienned
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tbsp. canola oil, plus more
2 cups dried apricots
2 cups unsweetened apple juice
6 chiles de árbol, stemmed
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 (2″) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
½ tsp. cumin seeds
5 whole cloves
3 green cardamom pods
2 sticks cinnamon, halved
1 large yellow onion, sliced
¼ cup madeira
1. Soak potatoes in salted water 1 hour; drain and dry using paper towels. Heat 2″ oil in a 4-qt. saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. Working in batches, fry potatoes until crisp, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season with salt.
2. Bring apricots and juice to a simmer in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until apricots are plump, about 10 minutes. Transfer apricots and half the juice to a bowl. Place remaining juice in a food processor; add chiles, garlic, and ginger and purée into a paste.
3. Wipe pan clean and add 2 tbsp. oil; heat over medium-high. Season chicken with salt; cook, flipping once, until skin is crisp, 6–8 minutes, and transfer to a plate. Add reserved paste to pan; cook until golden, 2–3 minutes. Add cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon; cook until seeds pop, 1–2 minutes. Add onion; cook until caramelized, 10–12 minutes. Add reserved apricots and juice, plus ¼ cup water, and salt; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and return chicken to pan; cook, covered, until chicken is cooked through, 18–20 minutes. Stir in madeira; cook 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter; garnish with fried potatoes.
This recipe first appeared in the SAVEUR Magazine August/September 2014 special India issue with Lyla Bavadam’s story Persian Roots.
Brain used to be a delicacy while I was growing up, to be cooked only on occasions. I was the official raw food taster which meant I would taste the balance of spices and seasoning before the kebabs or cutlets were cooked. Some may go ewwww … But honestly with masala it is one of the best tastes. Just for argument the steak tartare (raw beef mince patty) is one of the delicacies in fine dining.
Coming back to brains I remember my mamaiji (my grandmom) making brain cutlets and popping some in my mouth when no one was looking and gleefully chuckling at my delight!! Lol!! We were the most incongruous partners in crime .. A 7 year old and a 70 year old .. She passed on her love for food to me among a lot many things ..this is her simple recipe.
2 brains cleaned and cut into three sections
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp green chilli paste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp dhansak masala (u get it readymade or you can substitute with readymade garam masala or put 1/2 tsp each coriander, cumin and garam masala additional)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp fresh green garlic (optional on availability)
2 slitted deseeded green chillies
Marinate brains in salt and all the spices and masalas except fresh coriander, green chillies and green garlic. Leave it for 30 minutes.
In a pan medium heat some oil add the green chillies. Once they are fragrant add the green garlic if using and the fresh coriander.
Sauté for 20 secs and add brain. Cook it covered occasionally stirring on low heat for 10 minutes or so. It does not need long to cook.