Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Gobhi Musallam

We had our school Fall Break last week. A week full of lazy mornings, where Sonny boy and I lolled on the bed, talking of anything we felt like or just pushing one another and laughing out loud till the need for a cup of tea got strong in me. We watched the Harry Potter movies, he wanted to do a comparison between the books he has read and the visual. The books won, obviously. I am binge watching 'Downton Abbey' and loving it. The hubby has no interest in it and the child too young (though he did stay for a bit and commented, "I don't understand this much, but I like the actors, they're really good". I agree. I love British drama and the actors, they are so polished and dignified. 

I also made all the food my son loves, he likes paneer (every child does) and he specifies, 'orange paneer' so I made this curry base and added paneer cubes to half the portion. A friend gave me an enormous zucchini from her garden and I made koftas  and used the same gravy base. 
The daal makhani is a super hit and it's on my 'demand list' for this week. 

We had plans to go glamping (glamorous camping, for those who are wondering what this word is), but we decided to cancel that, given the crazy surge in COVID numbers. It was a bitter disappointment for me, I was SO looking forward to it. Maybe we will re-schedule it sometime next year... I certainly hope so, if the pandemic scare does not loom over our head like a dark cloud.

Sometimes I wonder, is that all we are going to talk about these days? 

I long for those days when I would casually invite a friend over to lunch (when I was not working) and we would spend the afternoon chatting and catching up until it was time for school pick up. Or the days when my group of friends and I would plan a pot-luck and we would discuss what to bring. 

Last week, I made this beautiful 'Gobhi Musallam' and oh how we all loved it! I hunted around for a recipe I liked and saw a few videos on you tube ranging from a variety of spices to a few that used different sauces (chutney first and tomato-onion sauce after) which I decided to leave for another time, finally arrived at something that was borrowed from here  (but my recipe is not vegan) and there making it a mish mash, but very delicious. 

I wondered if I could use my Electric Pressure Cooker (like the Instant Pot) to partially cook the cauliflower. I was a bit skeptical and so did not risk it, I did not want to end up with  a soggy and mushy cauliflower head, but I cannot help wondering if keeping the cauliflower on a stand / trivet - no water added - except to the bottom of the inner pot-  and pressure cooking it for just 1 or 2 minutes might not do the trick  (for the step where we boil the cauliflower in water till it is nearly half cooked). If you know the trick for that, please do share it with me. 

It made me long for a dinner party where I could place a platter on the table and my guests and I would carve out wedges and enjoy it. 
An entire head of cauliflower is partially cooked and then smothered in a fragrant sauce, which is then baked. Once it is pulled out of the oven, some more sauce (reserved, before baking) is poured on top and garnished with finely chopped cilantro. The effect is very dramatic and visually, very appealing. If the recipe looks daunting, don't let it stop you. It isn't difficult at all and I guarantee, that you will like it. The cauliflower holds it's shape and the silky sauce that envelopes it is mouthwatering. 

Gobi Musallam

1 medium Cauliflower head ( remove all the leaves and carefully trim the stalk, you should not cut the florets)

1 Onion (I used a yellow onion- these are fairly large in size) chopped 

3 Tomatoes ( I grated these)

10-12 Cashews, soaked in warm water

5-6 cloves of garlic (the ones I have are thick and fat, so I used 6, if you have the slim ones, use 10-12)

1 inch piece ginger ( I eyeball this, so a little more is ok)

3 fresh green chilies (reduce the amount if you cannot tolerate heat) 

Salt to taste

1 scant tsp sugar

1 tbsp Kasuri Methi ( dried Fenugreek Leaves)

6 oz (I used a regular  katori)  Heavy cream 

4 Tbs Oil

2 Tbs Butter


1 heaped tsp. Coriander powder/ Dhaniya powder

1 tsp Cumin powder /Jeera Powder

1 tsp Turmeric powder (divided) /Haldi

1 tsp Kashmiri Red chilies powder /Lal Mirch powder

1 tsp Garam Masala powder


1 inch stick Cinnamon (Dalchini)

1 Bay leaf (Tejpatta)

3 Cloves (Lavang)

1 Black Cardamom (Badi elaichi)


Oven proof pan


Wash and trim the cauliflower head, keeping it intact. Cut around the thick stem and carefully remove as much of it as you can, without letting the florets separate.

Grate the tomatoes. You can puree them if you wish.

Slice or chop the onion.

Add ginger- garlic and green chilies to the blender jar and make a paste. 

In a deep saucepan, which can easily hold the entire cauliflower, add plenty of water, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and bring it to a boil.  When the water is about to boil, carefully place the cauliflower in it. If the cauliflower isn't submerged completely, turn it upside down after 2 mins. Cook for 4 minutes. The cauliflower must be 40-50% cooked- no more.

Once done, remove from the water and set aside, I placed it on a tall trivet with a plate underneath. 

In a wok, add oil and as it is heating up, add the butter, once the butter melts, add the whole spices.

Be careful, the clove can splutter in the oil. Once fragrant, add the onions. 

When the onions are cooked soft and browning, add the ginger-garlic-green chilies paste.

Sauté till the raw smell goes. Add the tomato puree, salt and cook till oil starts separating and pools on the outside. Add the dry spices and sauté well till the spices are cooked and the oil has separated. Add kasuri methi and set aside to cool.

At this stage pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Once cooled add to the blender jar along with the soaked cashews, heavy cream  and blend to a smooth puree. Do not add  water, we do not want a runny paste. If the purée looks very thick, add 1/8-1/4 cup water and swish it around and get all the puree stuck to the jar, out. 

 Now comes the final part. Spray oil and coat the oven proof pan, place the cauliflower in it. Now pour the sauce over it.  Reserve some on the side (I saved 1 cup) and pour the remaining over the cauliflower and let it cover the entire head and drizzle down in to the baking tray.

Place the tray in the pre-heated oven and bake for 40 minutes. Oven temperatures may differ so keep an eye on the cauliflower after 30 mins. A knife inserted in it must pierce quickly and smoothly. 

While the cauliflower bakes, in a small wok, heat 2 tsp oil, add 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilies powder and working quickly add the 1 cup gravy sauce and mix and cook for a few mins. Set aside. 

Once the cauliflower is cooked, carefully remove it from the oven and set aside. In a serving plate, ladle some gravy and *very* carefully, using two spatulas lift and place the entire cauliflower  on the serving plate. Ladle the remaining gravy on top and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Carve wedges of the cauliflower and serve with buttery naan. 

** Suggestion: serve with sliced onion and pickle as accompaniments. 

Cauliflower, Gobi, Gobhi

This entrée can make a fantastic center piece on your Thanksgiving table or for other occasions when you have guests. They will be impressed with the presentation and wowed by the taste. 

Try it and let me know in a comment how you liked it.

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Monday, October 05, 2020

Restaurant style Daal Makhni (Instant Pot Method)

It's October, we are almost 7 months from the time the world shut down, almost. Slowly the scare of covid is lessening. I don't know if it is a good thing. I still see the numbers going up and yet people seem to care less. 

That said, I do go into grocery stores and get what I want when the order isn't large enough for a curb side pick up and take care that I maintain a *very* safe distance from people. Specially those who pretend to wear a mask where their nose is not covered, the mask hangs down to under their chins. That's not the point folks! That's like when you see those aggravating men wearing jeans that are sitting near their knees leaving their underwear exposed, waddling uncomfortably, under the delusion they look cool. You want to poke them, sharpish, in the spine with a strong walking stick and whack their bottom and ask them to pull up their pants, even a toddler knows better. Ditto for the masks.

We still stick to our choice of being online where school is concerned. People have scoffed at this choice, but my logic is clear, in 30 years from now, no one will ask my son his scores in grade seven. It is more important for me to keep him safe, that is my priority. Our school opened and shut down in the first 2 weeks with a wave of positive cases (15+). A chill seeped into my heart, friends and coworkers were suffering, there was nothing I could do. I could have been in their position and exposed my family to covid too.

When will we be able to step out without fear, feel normal, go to a restaurant occasionally...? I see people thronging outside restaurants, no masks  and any thoughts I had about eating out vanish. I'm ok.  I prefer cooking at home, even if the boys miss going to a restaurant, specially when they feel like eating chicken (only because I haven't the guts to handle any kind of meat) and I cannot make any. They did get take out, it was unavoidable, the craving was too strong. They were happy while I had silent fits. I watched them anxiously over the next 2 weeks. All was well. Phew! 

Being vegetarian, my cravings are simpler and easy to satisfy at home.  

Every few years I review old recipes and see if I can tweak anything and make some changes. 

Today I decided to revisit  my old Daal Makhni recipe.  I saw a video of Chef Ranveer Brar making Daal Makhni. I like his recipes and how he explains everything, but this recipe had way too much butter for me to want to make it. I just could not... (but I did try another RB recipe with great success! coming up next).

Then I watched this video and the the ingredients were similar and I immediately wanted to try it. But in my Electric Pressure Cooker, similar to the Instant Pot.

The end result was a deliciously creamy Daal Makhni ( without the cream as I did not have any and I did not want to step out to buy just the one item), the Daal would taste better with it, no doubt, but the very fact that we overate was proof that I have a winner on my hands! 

Whole Black Urad and Rajma

Recipe adapted from : BharatzKitchen

 1 cup Whole Black Urad daal

1/4 cup Rajma/ Kidney beans

3 medium Tomatoes

1 medium Onion

4-5 fat Garlic cloves

1 inch Ginger

2 Fresh Green Chilies

1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

1tsp Kashmiri Red chilies powder

2-3 Tbsp Oil

3-4 Cloves /Lavang

1 inch piece Cinnamon /Dalchini 

1 Bay leaf/ Tejpatta

1 Black Cardamom /Badi Elaichi

2 tsp Coriander powder / Dhaniya powder

1 tsp Amchur powder

1/2 tsp Ginger powder

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

1 Tbsp KasuriMethi

4 Tbsp Butter

Salt to Taste


Daal Makhani, North Indian Dal
Serve with that 'little extra' butter cube on top, you won't regret it! 

Wash and soak the beans in plenty of water for at least 8 hours or over night. Discard the soaking water and rinse the beans, scrubbing them a little. You will notice that the water becomes black, this is what you want. Discard the water, Repeat again , once. 

Set the beans aside and  start prepping for the next step.

Finely chop the onion. 

In the blender jar add the garlic, ginger, green chilies and roughly chopped tomatoes. Blend to a smooth puree and set aside. Add 1/4 cup water to the blender jar and swill around  and get all the puree out. Add this water to the tomato puree.

In  a small bowl, mix the dry spices (coriander powder, amchur powder, dry ginger powder- also called saunth/sounth and garam masala) 

Start the Instant Pot / Electric Pressure cooker on Sear/ Sauté mode. Add oil. once the oil is hot, add the whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, black cardamom and bay leaf). Once the spices are aromatic, add the finely chopped onion. Sauté till the onion is cooked. Add the tomato-ginger-garlic-chilies puree. stir and cook. Add salt to taste mix and let the tomatoes cook till oil seeps at the corners. Add the turmeric and Kashmiri red chilies powder and mix.

Add the dry spices, mix  well. 

Add the beans and stir to coat the beans in the tomato mixture. Add water (I did not measure, added enough to cover the beans and a little over the top). Add crushed Kasuri Methi.

Cancel the sauté mode,  put the lid on the IP/ EPC and whistle on seal.

Cook on Manual mode for 30 minutes, Natural Pressure Release. 

Once the pin drops and the IP /EPC can be opened, add butter cubes and stir. 

Add cream and stir it in. 

Serve with buttery naan or Cumin Rice. 

Daal Makhani
Serve with mildly spiced Cumin Rice or Buttery Naan, this daal is a winner.

  • Adding Butter will make this daal taste better, if you are not calorie conscious, go for it! 
  • The daal re-heats beautifully. 
  • Serve with Fragrant Basmati rice (plain or cumin scented). 
  • If you like your daal hot, add a spicy blend of red chilies powder and  a fresh green chili. 
  • You can add water and adjust the consistency, I kept it chunky and thick because it was easy to scoop with a naan.  
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