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Aromas of Kashmir: Alla Roganjosh and more

Last updated on: August 04, 2009 

A lawyer by profession, Chandramukhi Ganju moved to the United States in 1993 and lives in Florida. She has a deep interest in Kashmir, be it culture, language or cuisine. In her new cookbook, Koshur Saal: Traditional, Quick and Easy Kashmiri Cuisine, she offers us a taste of traditional Kashmiri Pandit recipes. We excerpted a few popular preparations.

Alla Posh Mond (Pumpkin Flower Fritters)

Serving Size: 2-3 persons

Ingredients

Method

Open the alla posh at the center and remove inner stalk. Put rice flour, salt, cumin seeds and chili powder in a bowl. Mix together well. Add 1/2 cup water and mix to form a thick batter. Heat oil in a frying pan/kadia. Dip flat pieces of alla posh one by one to batter to batter on both sides carefully. Add battered alla posh to hot oil. Fry both sides until alla posh/ flowers turns golden red and crispy. Serve alla posh monji hot or cold with tea as a snack, or as a side dish with lunch or dinner.

Excerpted from Koshur Saal: Traditional, Quick and Easy Kashmiri Cuisine by Chandramukhi Ganju with the author's permission.

You can buy the book online from Shehjar.com, James Rock Publishing or Amazon.

Syuna Pulav (Meat Pilaf)

Last updated on: August 04, 2009 

Serving Size: 2-3 persons

Ingredients

Method

Wash and soak rice for 5 minutes. Drain water and put aside. Soak saffron in 2 tbsp warm milk. Marinate meat in salt, chilly powder, garam masala, and lemon juice, two spoons of oil, chopped half onion and chopped ginger for 5 minutes. Bake or cook the meat. For baking preheat oven to 450 degrees and bake marinated meat for 15 20 minutes. If cooking in a pan heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a cooking pan and cook marinated meat till meat absorbs all liquid and is little tender. Heat oil in a cooking pan. Add asafetida, bay leaves, clove, cinnamon, cumin seed, black pepper, cardamom, and saut . Add cooked or baked meat. Add soaked rice. Add turmeric and salt. Add saffron dissolved in warm milk. Add water and mix well. Boil rice and meat mixture until water is absorbed in cooking pan. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. If cooking in rice cooker put baked or cooked meat in rice cooker then follow rest of the steps as in pan cooking. Cover and turn rice cooker on. Rice cooker will turn off automatically when rice is ready. Pulav is ready to serve.

Kashir Gaadh (Kashmiri Fish)

Last updated on: August 04, 2009 

Serving Size: 3-4 persons

Ingredients

Method

Remove scales of fish by scraping with knife. Clean and wash the fish. Make nice round 4-5 pieces of each fish and rinse again. Put fish in a colander and season with salt and 1 tsp turmeric for 15 minutes. Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a frying pan. Deep fry 2 or 3 pieces of fish at a time. Fry fish until golden brown and take out of fryer and place aside. Fry all pieces in the same way. Heat 3 tbsp of the same hot oil from frying fish in a cooking pan (traditional method) or heat fresh oil and discard the left over oil from frying. Add chilly powder, asafetida and a little water (about 2 tbsp) Saut at low heat. Add 3 cups of water and all other ingredients to chilly mixture in pan. Add fried fish to spicy chili mixture and cover fish completely in the spices. Cover and cook the fish in this masala/spicy chilly mixture for 5 minutes. Simmer for 30 minutes with occasional checking for water consistency. You may add more water if needed. Fish breaks easily when hot, so do not stir while cooking. But shake the pan frequently to avoid sticking to bottom. Fish is ready when you see most of water absorbed by fish. Sprinkle veri masala if available and cover for 5 minutes. Traditionally this dish is served cold with white rice.

Alternative to deep frying: To avoid deep-frying, broil fish pieces by greasing the baking tray with oil and then placing fish back to back with a brush or spray of oil on fish. Broil approx. for 25 minutes or until lightly brown. Or pan fry fish in a flat bottomed pan greased with 4tbsp. of oil.

Cultural and religious importance: Fish is an important Kashmiri delicacy usually cooked on religious occasions like Gaada Bata in the month of December, Shivaratri, Khechi Amavasi and also on cultural functions like Shraan Sundar or the ceremonial bath of a newborn baby, which happens on the 11th day after the birth.

Tabaka Naat Kabar Gaah

Last updated on: August 04, 2009 

Serving Size: 2-4 persons

Ingredients

Method

Put 1/2 cup water to a pressure cooker or cooking pan. Add all ingredients given above to water in a cooking pan or pressure cooker except milk, ghee, yogurt, chili powder, salt and turmeric. In pressure cooker, cook on high heat for 5 minutes then simmer approx. for 5 minutes. Open the lid when pressure drops in pressure cooker. If cooking in pan, cover and cook on high heat for 10 minutes then simmer approximately for 10 minutes. Add milk and cook with open lid until milk is absorbed. Add salt, chili powder and turmeric to yogurt in a bowl. Whisk the yogurt with churner or fork. Add cooked and drained ribs to yogurt batter; mix well and put aside for 5 minutes. Warm ghee in a wide pan. Place chops back-to-back on pan. Fry slowly at medium to low heat. Turn chops and fry other side also. Fry until chops are golden brown. Garnish with silver leaves. Serve hot with Paratha or rice as a side dish.

Alternative to ghee, full fat milk and deep frying: Oil can be used as an alternative to ghee. Low fat half-and-half milk or fat free cream may be substituted with full fat milk. Deep-frying can be avoided by bake/broiling in oven. Place battered chops in a baking tray back to back with a brush of ghee or oil and broil until golden brown or 15-20 minutes.

Alla Roganjosh (Spicy Pumpkin)

Last updated on: August 04, 2009 

Serving Size: 3-4 people

Ingredients

Method

Peel, wash and cut pumpkin into square pieces. Heat oil in a frying pan/kadai. Add pumpkin pieces to oil in a pan and deep fry 2-3 pieces at a time until all pieces are done. Fry until pumpkins are golden brown. Heat oil in a separate pan, add heeng 1/2 tsp zeera and tej patta and saute at low heat. Add red chilly powder and little water (about 2 tbsp). Stir till red paste is formed. Add shonth, badiyan, salt, cloves, water and fried alla/pumpkin. Mix together well and add water. Cook for 5 minutes or until oily masala/gravy is left behind. Grind zeera and sprinkle it over alla/pumpkin roganjosh and cover the pan. This will give alla roganjosh exotic aroma.

Alternative to deep frying: To avoid deep-frying, alla pieces can be broiled by greasing the baking tray with oil and then placing alla back to back with a brush or spray of oil on alla. Broil till golden brown or 15 minutes.

Cultural Importance: Alla Roganjosh is usually prepared on special occasions like birthdays and weddings as part of vegetarian dishes.