Kashmiri cuisine, to the rescue...
There was a time ..not very long back..just a few months, actually..and still kindof ongoing in many parts of our country, where onion brings tears to our eyes not coz of peeling..but..more.....coz, of its rapidly rising price.
It did make headlines.
And that was when, i started looking into non-onion based recipes and came across the Kashmiri vegetarian style of cooking in which neither onions , nor garlic is used. And more interesting, was that , it was very much in lines to one of my previous post here, on cooking with yogurt as the main base without curdling.
Read the post here - "Yogurt & Heat - dont you worry"
It's said that Kashmiri Pandits or the vegetarians refrain from the use of onions and garlic, and depend on the fat of the milk products that are available to them in plenty to protect themselves from the biting cold of the region
And a very common dish in their cuisine is the "Kashmiri Dum Aalo". I have adapted a similar recipe, but done it with paneer and mix veggies (optional) and have added some coconut milk too to the very end (again, this is not typical authentic Kashmiri..but, just a slight tweek from my side)
· Paneer – approx. 200g ms (cut to 1 and ½ cm cubes)
· Butter – 4 tbsp
· Bay leaf – 1
· Yogurt – 1 ½ cups
· Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
· Cashewnuts - a handful, soaked in water and ground to a paste
· Cardamom powder – 1/4 teaspoon
· Fennel and cumin seeds powdered together – 1/2 teaspoon
· Coriander powder – 1.5 tbsp
· Kashmiri Red chili powder – 2.5 tbsp
· Tomato puree – 1 .5 tbsp
· Salt – to taste
· Cooked green peas, carrot cubes (optional )
· Coconut milk – 1/2 cup (again, this is optional too, and a tweek from the regular authentic Kashmiri cuisine )
Add the cubed paneer to a bowl filled with salted boiling water for 10-15 minutes. If using store bought paneer, it helps to soften them by briefly soaking them as said. Once the paneer is softened, drain and set aside.
Into a wok, drop in 2 tbsp of butter.
Slightly toast the paneer in the butter till light golden brown. Take a small pinch of fennel and cumin powder from the said ingredient list and sprinkle above the paneer while it gets toasted in the butter.
Soak a handful of cashew nuts in hot water for about 5 minutes and ground to a fine paste. (* -ref. notes)
Now take yogurt in a bowl. Add to it, ginger paste, the ground cashew paste with all the spice powders (cardamom powder, fennel and cumin powder, coriander powder and kashmiri chili powder). Mix well in ONE DIRECTION only and keep aside. (* - ref. notes)
Into the same wok used to toast the paneer, add 2 tbsps of butter.
Once hot, drop in a bay leaf and sauté for about 30 sec.
Add the yougurt –spice mix. Stir immediately and keep stirring till it starts to boil.
Once the sauce boils and the raw taste of the spices leave, add in the toasted paneer.
Add a cup full of cooked green peas and cooked cubed carrots. (can add these if we need it as a mixed veggie dish. Else, can stick to paneer alone)
Add the tomato puree to the mix, salt to taste and keep closed for the gravey to be absorbed by the paneer. Keep stirring once in a while. It may take about 10-15 minutes.
The yogurt gravey is too absorded by the vegetables that it ends up like a very thick sauce around the vegetables. So, to keep the dish with a thich gravey while serving, you need to keep it at a very loose gravey consistency to the end of the cooking.
You can add 1/4 cup of coconut milk too to make the gravey more diluted. (you don’t add coconut milk in authentic Kashmiri dum recipes, but as I said…its optional )
Serve hot with roti, paratha, naan or even pulav.
(notes : You can avoid mixing the chillie and coriander powder to the yogurt and directly add it to the wok after the bay leaves . Slightly fry the powder in butter and then add the yogurt mixed with just the remaining spice powders as in the ingredient list.
It is common that yogurt made of cows milk curdles when heated. To avoid this, we add the cashewnut as powder or as paste (as in here) to stabilize the yogurt. We can also stabilize yogurt by whisking-in any starch before cooking in ONE DIRECTION only to prevent it from separating. Add one teaspoon of cornstarch, or 1½ teaspoon of other flours (Atta, Maida, or Besan) to one cup of yogurt)