The Night of Food and Phobia

Clearly my secret is out. Well it wasn’t exactly a secret but now everyone knows.

I only get to cook sporadically. Faisal doesn’t like me to be in the kitchen. (Wise cracking Smart Alecs, it’s not my cooking. I asked. It’s not.)

Eids I don’t listen to him. I need to cook.

This time once again I headed over to the search bar on KCH.

There’s a story I was told at my in laws’ that when my husband was a child they were visiting some friends where they happened to be cooking pulaao and this little boy in the midst of a rather formal setting, perched on the sofa in the drawing room of someone else’s house, took a deep breath and said “Pulaao ki khushbu aa rahi hai” (I smell Pulaao)

Needless to say when they got home, he was treated to a different kind of Pulaao but that is how I know his love for Yakhni Pulao and I am always on the lookout for a good recipe.

I found this one by Asna Farid from 2016! And the use of tomatoes intrigued me. Without further ado I was on it.

SOAK RICE FIRST. 3 cups. Okay then you may move on.

Needed the following ingredients.

Mutton 1kg

Rice 3 cups (I could’ve been okay with 2.5 or even 2 cups but this seems fine for now)

FOR YAKHNI:

Prepare yakhni first.

I made my pouch of spices first.

MASALA POTLI/Pouch:

Sabut dhaniya (whole coriander seeds) 4tbsp- I only had coriander powder so I used that instead)

Sabut Saunf (Fennel seeds) 4tbsp

Safaid zeera (White Cumin) 2tbsp

Sabut laal mirch (Round red chilli) 15-16

Sabut garam masala(kaali mirch 10-12, laung 6-8, cinnamon 1inch, badi elaichi 1, choti elaichi 3-4). (Whole Garam Masala- Black peppercorns 10-13, Clove 6-8, Cinnamon 1 inch, Green Cardamom 3-4, Black cardamom 1)

Malmal kapra or any other thin cloth. So this is a fun one. We need one in my AMAZING Nihari recipe that I’m known far and wide for too. For this I’ve actually used unused sock. Or a new unused vest from my husband’s cupboard. This time it was my baby’s Muslin Sheets from infant days. I picked up a lilac one. It seemed so pretty. What if I am EVER surprised with another baby (we don’t intend to have any more.) I will always think of the lilac swaddle sheet I’d have had if I didn’t use it for the Yakhni. Instantly switched for a plain white one.

Tie knots after placing all these in the cloth. Add the bag inside pot.

Add a piece of ginger, one whole garlic as it is (I was out of fresh garlic so I used two tablespoon garlic powder, one whole medium sized onion after peeling in the pot separately.

Fill the pot with water and add mutton pieces. Then drop in your pouch of spices.

So here’s the thing. The original recipe explained the steps of a pressure cooker. Here comes the first phobia of my life tonight. I NEVER use a pressure cooker. Even though I’ve seen it used in my house since I was a little laddu myself. It just scares the life out of me, chugging away. It always seems so angry at life! I don’t want to mess with it. So I used a plain pot and voila. The meat softened within an hour max.

Around the 45 minutes mark start prepping the Masala.

BHUNA MASALA:

Olive Oil 1cup

Onion 2-2.5 medium sized

Tomatoes 5-6 medium sized

Sabut garam masala “Its different here!” (kaali mirch 12-15, laung 6-8, choti elaichi 5-6, cinnamon piece 1, kaala zeera 1tsp, safaid zeera 1/2 tsp, taiz patta 2-3)

(Whole Garam Masala- Black peppercorns 12-15, Clove 6-8, Green cardamom 5-6, cinnamon stick 1, Black Cumin 1tsp, White Cumin 0.5 tsp, Bay leaf 2-3)

Garlic-ginger paste 1tbsp

Yoghurt 1/2 cup beat it until its smooth.

Green chillies 6-8 small ones leave the dandi intact. (This is optional. I left it out because. Faisal and no mirch.)

Salt to taste (what is this bhai. I can never get my head around this one. Which is exactly why I think it’s negligible in my Pulaao. Can someone actually tell me how much salt would go in like 0.75 kg of rice?)

So here goes. Take a separate big pot and fry onions in oil until red. Take out the onion on a paper and leave some behind. On high flame, add sabut garam masala, ginger-garlic paste and shallow fry for a bit.

Take out the mutton pieces from yakhni and add them in.

Add a tablespoon of water every now and hen and keep frying. Until nice and cooked. Wait till the oil surfaces

Add yoghurt and keep frying until the oil surfaces and the milk solids separate.

then add tomatoes and fry until oil surfaces and this is where you add the mysterious amount of salt

Drain the rice and add them in as well.

Squeeze out all the juice from Spice Pouch in yakhni and pour the yakhni as well.

This is so tricky though. How does one squeeze the piping hot Pouh that has been boiling away bobbity bop for over an hour. I managed to squeeze as much juice out of it as physically possible with the acrobatics extraordinaire and two large spoons. Sadly there was no one to take a picture of me trying to squeeze a Baby Muslin Pouch between two cooking spoons with my tongue sticking out! Such an endearing photo op.

The level of yakhni would be one ungal/one finger section above rice.

Add green chillies (if you’re fun and younge at heart. We are buddhaas. Through and through. Sorry)

Now put the lid on and let it cook on high flame. When most of the water has evaporated and only a little bit is left sprinkle the red onions you kept aside on top (you can save some for garnishing as well) and keep it covered on a low flame.

Twenty million times through this entire 2.25 hours I was scared to DEATH by a piece of tissue that would flutter behind me on the floor. I had given this to my toddler to keep her occupied as I balanced masalas, spice pouches and figured salt (all wrong that too).

Such is the bane of cooking at night when your child took an unexpected MASSIVE nap right through the evening. After soaking in the rain and playing around on the terrace with you. Yes. It rained today and it was the nice one. With the nice strong droplets. Not the crazy storm one. Just perfect for Mama Beti rain play.

It looks like this here and Faisal has already dipped in it multiple times. He’s probably the only person in the world I find it endearing about. I would actually be quite disgusted if anyone else would ever do it. But then he’s not just anyone. He’s the man who will do the dishes once I’m done with this and hold the baby while I cook against his wish. Even if he didn’t do any of this, I’d still let him dip in for a morsel as many times as possible. He’s the centre of my universe. Despite a heavenly baby who I love to no end.

RAITA:

Green chillies 4-5 – Yeah you know. I had to leave this one out.

Yoghurt 1.5 cup

Coriander bunch loads of it!

Safaid zeera (White Cumin) 1 tsp

Garlic 1-2 cloves- (I didn’t have this. I replaced it with Khattai powder. Don’t ask why. I don’t know)

Salt to taste (phir vohi baat. I am now convinced I have NO taste. Because I can never figure out the Salt. So here I added kala namak or Black Salt because of course I have to throw in a spinner of my own to potentially wreck a tried and tested recipe)

Whizzed it in the blender and it turned out quite nice. Would’ve been nicer with green chillies though. Sigh.

Along with this I made my gazillion tomatoes vaali Chicken Karahi I’ve shared earlier.

I wanted to make Gulab Jamun but my child was stuffing her mouth with something black and tarred that I had to stick my finger down her throat to clean out completely and that kinda turns anyone off of more food.

Oops! Sorry.

Eid Mubaarak.

I miss the meat duty. All that weighing and making portions and tagging giveaways aka meat and more meat. I’ve been doing it since my teenage and Eid just doesn’t seem like Eid unless you’ve slipped on blood or hidden a good steak behind you from making it into the weighing pile.

I wish I’m able to give my child half as happening Eids as I was blessed with through my childhood.

Aamiin.

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