Category: North Indian Cuisine

Kashmiri Dum Aloo

Kashmiri Dum Aloo
North Indian Cuisine

Kashmiri Dum Aloo

Kashmiri cuisine tends to be heavy on meat but the Kashmiri Dum Aloo is one of the few delightfully vegetarian dishes from this northernmost state of India.

This dish is a speciality of the Kashmiri Pandits, a small minority of Hindu scholars and priests and the oldest inhabitants of the state. They usually do not use egg, chicken, garlic, onions and tomatoes in their cuisine instead opting for ingredients like yoghurt, asafetida and turmeric, not to mention the Kashmiri red chilli powder.

For this dish deep fried new potatoes are slow cooked on a low flame which allowing them to absorb the amazing flavour of their unique aromatic spice blend including cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise and bay leaf. All cooked in a sauce made from yogurt and a paste of cashew-almond which give it a slight edge of nuttiness.

Bhutwa

Bhutwa
North Indian Cuisine

Bhutwa

Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas and surrounded by lush forests on all sides, are the villages of Garhwal, where people evolved to live in harmony with the environment — a habitat to thousands different species of plants and animals.

In accordance to this unique way of life the Gharwali cuisine follows a sustainable philosophy of wasting as little as possible making sure every part of any raw material is used. Nothing embodies this philosophy more than the Bhutwa — a dish made of the internal organs and intestines of a goat.

While most cultures around the world consider the insides of an animal as taboo, some others use it in everyday food or as delicacies; the Scottish haggis for example.

To make the Bhutwa the internals of a goat are cleaned very carefully and marinated with regional spices sealed in a clay pot and immersed in sand under the hot morning sun. The dish cooks slowly through the day and is finally ready to serve by sunset.

The Bhutwa is characterised by its unique aroma and flavour imparted by the Timur pepper used in it. It is also an extremely healthy dish providing the people with protein, vitamins and iron in abundance.

Rogan Josh

Rogan Josh
North Indian Cuisine

Rogan Josh

Remarkably popular in the northern Indian state of Kashmir, its is lamb preparation distinguished by its fiery, red flavourful sauce. The dish has the honour of being among the seven permanent dishes in wazwan — a 36-course ceremonial Kashmiri feast.

To the people of Kashmir, cooking is regarded a form of art, almost like a second religion. The authentic Kashmiri cooks, the wazas, perfected signature Kashmiri dishes, such as the Rogan Josh over the years. To them the Rogan Josh is not just a dish, but an embodiment of their culinary skills.

The dish is all about cooking in an oil-based sauce with an intense heat with the words Rogan meaning clarified butter or oil in Persian and red in Hindi, and josh refers to passion — fiery or hot.

The rich red colour so famous in the Rogan Josh is attributed to the addition of an indispensable ingredient in this authentic dish — the Kashmiri red chilli powder

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken
North Indian Cuisine

Tandoori Chicken

A dish of roasted chicken marinated in yogurt and generously spiced, giving the meat its trademark red colour.

The tandoor is thought to have been first used around 5000 years ago in Central Asia and brought to India around 3000 years ago. These first tandoors were never used to cook meat but were used to bake flatbread, a tradition that survives today with the Naan and Roti.

The first record of meats cooked in the tandoor was in the 8th century BC, when the acclaimed Indian surgeon Sushruta talks about how the searing heat and smoke, and moisture-retaining properties of the tandoor, make it equally effective for roasting meat on vertical skewers.

It coincided with the Ayurvedic philosophy of cooking which took a holistic approach to the foods we eat. Food was believed to affect our minds and bodies, and so it needed to be natural and balanced. It also needed to incorporate all six tastes — salty, sour, sweet, pungent, bitter and astringent.

Later in the 16th century, Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal, held the tandoor cooked chicken and lamb in such high esteem that he had a portable metal model constructed to take on his travels.

However it was only brought to the mainstream in the 1950s when the Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi started serving tandoori chicken. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru is said to have loved it so much, he made them a staple of official banquets attended by visiting world leaders.

The rest, as we all know, is history.

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken
North Indian Cuisine

Butter Chicken

Originating from Delhi, this is a dish of butter and tomato, stewed with tandoor-cooked chicken.

Also known as Murgh Makhani in Hindi, Butter Chicken is without question the most popular dish to emerge from India.

Sometime during the 1950s, a man named Kundan Lal Gurjal ran a restaurant in Delhi called Moti Mahal. Kundan was a refugee who had started his business after fleeing from political upheaval in the Punjab region of old India. Moti Mahal was a success, serving many delightful tandoori dishes.

So the story goes, the Kundan realised that the Tandoori Chicken hanging on the skewers above the tandoori oven all day would tend to dry out if unsold. So he would often mix leftover marinade juices with butter and tomato, and immerse the tandoori chicken in it. This helped them regain moisture and become palatable again.

Moti Mahal quickly became a famous attraction of Delhi. In its 1950s heyday, Gujral’s Moti Mahal was extremely popular with celebrities and world leaders, including Zakir Hussain, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

In its more recent times, Moti Mahal was visited by none other than renowned master chef Gordon Ramsay, who even went behind the counter in the kitchen of this really old restaurant.

But back then, little did Kundan know that what he had stumbled upon would once of the most popular dishes in the world. But it is an irrefutable truth of the world that often the best things in life are discovered quite by accident.