Spicy and sour , a traditional recipe , a must during the festival times. This is a bit tricky to make , but surely a winner amongst the lot and a sure to be on the menu , for every occasion , festival. I cannot remember a time when it was not cooked¬† and I cannot remember a time , when I didn’t stamp my foot in anger and walk away because it was “this” dish again !

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Khejur gur er Payesh

Bong Mom’s Cookbook needs no introduction in the blogosphere. Her food is always spiced up with the wonderful stories she tells us about home and bengali food. A couple of months ago , while browsing the isles of a local asian store , K came across Khejur gur ..err.. Palm Jaggery. Trust her and me, if you taste it once, you will never get back to cane jaggery. The flavour is hard to describe, but I can assure you its the best.¬† If you are a regular on this blog , by now you must have realized how much I resist , detest sweets , but this one is a keeper in my pantry forever.

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Hyderabadi Qaabooli and Mirchi ka salan with Bell Peppers

According to me Hyderabad is one of India’s finest cities where cultures mix and blend wonderfully. Hyderabad a cosmopolitan city on fast track somehow still retains its leisure. I can still recollect Laad bazaar in my mind’s eye where pearls, the famous hyderabadi glass and stone bangles, the smells of attar and of course Madina hotel which was opened in 1947. Those days we would go shopping for clothes and other goodies near the madina hotel, eat the hyderabadi qabooli with mirchi ka salan and of course the famous sweet double ka meeta and come home happy with bagfuls of goodies and the purse still half full.

Hyderabadi Qabooli is made as dum ka biryani is made, but there are no vegetables used and instead chana dal is used.Onions are used for garnish though.

Ingredients :

1 cup of uncooked basmati rice
1/3 cup of chana dal
1 tsp of finely chopped ginger
1/2 teaspoon og garlic
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
A pinch of turmeric
3 tablespoons of yogurt
1 green chilli finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon of chilli powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon of milk
1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
A few sprigs of cilantro
Mint leaves for garnish
Oil, Salt to taste.

Method :
1. Pick the chana dal. soak in water for at least half hour and cook until the grains are tender and whole
2. Cook the basmati rice in the microwave for 2o minutes or in a rice cooker by adding a pinch of salt and oil so that the grains seperate.
3. In a wok , heat oil and saute the onions until brown and keep aside
4. In the same oil, saute garlic and ginger for a minute and add 1 tablespoon of yogurt first until the water is evaporated, keep adding one tablespoon at a time and add green chilies, garam masala, chili powder,salt to taste, cooked chana dal and saute until the dal is coated with the masala.
5. In a large oven proof baking dish , first layer the rice and then pour this mixture and then again cover with another layer of rice and pour milk and lemon juice.
6. garnish with mint and cilantro and cover first with an aluminium foil and then with the baking dish cover .
7. Pre-heat the oven to 375F and bake the rice and mixture for 15 minutes and the dum qabooli is ready.
8. remove the cover and garnish with the brown onions and serve with your choice of raita or Mirchi Ka salan , the best combination you can ever eat!

Mirchi Ka salan with Bell Peppers :

Well, it was ok to give it a shot with sweet bell peppers . There are 2 reasons I would go for this, I love the combination of sweet and sesame and secondly, it looks beautiful. its not at all hot and spicy. Its a mildly sweet dish.

Ingredients :
3 bell peppers
1 cup roasted and ground sesame seeds
1 tablespoon of roasted and coarsely ground peanuts
1 tablespoon of dessicated coconut
1 medium sized finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon of dhaniya powder
1 tablespoon tamarind juice
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
Oil, salt to taste

For the tadka/popu/seasoning
1 teaspoon of Kalonji( nigella seeds)

1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds

Method :
1. De seed the bell peppers and chop into medium sized chunks, heat oil in a wok and fry until crisp and done .
2. In a wok, heat the oil again and add the nigella and cumin seeds and then add the onions and fry until translucent.
3. Add the bell peppers and then add the sesame peanut and the coconut powder, mix well.
4. Add a cup of water, red chili powder, salt to taste and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
5. Add the tamarind extract and simmer for another 5 minutes
6 . Remove from heat and serve hot.