Sunday, 26 May 2013

Gulab Jaman

In my part of the world every celebration is accompanied with a dessert. Be it a wedding, an engagement, a birth, a promotion, a graduation, purchase of a house or a new car or festival of Eid, our happy moments are incomplete without sharing of the traditional desserts or Mithais with our friends and family. And nothing is more loved on such occasions than the humble Gulab Jamans. It is one of my favorite Pakistani dessert.

In Pakistan, Gulab Jaman - a methai (sweets) is never made at home. Specialized methai makers called halwayees make these treasured and celebrated sweets. So while celebrating,  one always buys these sweets from the best halwayee (methai maker) in town. My favorite methai maker has been Nirala sweets since as long as I can remember. No one makes better methai than them. I had to learn how to make Gulab Jamans at home after moving away from Pakistan as I could not buy them in market anymore.

I am sharing the recipe that has knowledge assimilation from various resources. Pakistan has just gone through a historic election and I am celebrating hope for a better Pakistan.  Insha Allah – God Willing. Here is the recipe.

For Dough;
Powdered Milk – ½ cup
Yogurt – 2 tbsp
Flour: 2 tbsp
Butter – 1 tbsp (melted)
Baking soda – ¼ tsp
For sugar syrup:
Sugar –  1 cup
Water – 2 cups
Saffron  - 5-6 strands
Rose water – 4 tbsp (I am using Khevra water as I was out of rose water)
Green Cardamom – 6 (crushed)
Oil – for deep frying.

Step 1 : Make the sugar syrup. Add sugar, water, saffron, green cardamom in a saucepan and bring to boil. Let it simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Keep warm.

Step 2: Make the dough. I use a kneading machine to do that. If you have a stand mixer with hook attachment, that can be used as well. Or else just knead the dough the old fashioned way i.e with hand.
Mix all the ingredients(Dry milk powder, Flour, butter, yogurt, baking soda) in the kneading machine. Knead till the butter comes out. It takes about 5-6 minutes. Let this mixture rest for 10 minutes.

Step 3: Fry the dough. Make small (Maltesers sized) balls of the dough with partially wet fingers. Make sure the dough balls have no cracks on the surface. This dough is enough to make 15 balls.

Step 4 : Frying. Deep fry the dough balls on medium to high heat. They should fry gently and become golden brown. Too hot oil will turn them brown from outside but will leave them uncooked from inside. Be careful with the heat.

Phase 5 : Add Rose water to the warm sugar syrup. Now add the fried dough balls to the warm sugar syrup. Mix and cover. I usually make the gulab jamans overnight and let them soak up sugar syrup through the night. They taste heavenly in the morning.  I decided to roll them in dried coconut, but they can be served with or without dried coconut. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Baingan ka Bharta - Pakistani baba ganoush

In Pakistan aubergines - Baingan (in Urdu) are available only in peak summer season. May be thats why unconsciously i have always associated baingan bharta with Pakistan’s peak summer. The word Bharta in Urdu means Mashed. Essentially roasted aubergines are mashed and spiced in this recipe. Bharta was served at lunch with hot chappati - flat bread and salty lassi drink which would automatically put you in a nap mood. The long summer days and intense heat in Pakistan would make everyone lazy and sleepy after lunch. A dark corner or an air conditioned room was all that one needed after lunch. 

Ammi would slowly char the round purple aubergines on her gas stove over open flame. The whole house would smell of it. I roast the aubergines in my oven as i don't have an open flame stove. The result is pretty close to ammi's version except the intense smoky smell open flame charring adds to the vegetable. Here is to the memory of Long Pakistani summers, the open flame cooking, being home for lunch every day and afternoon naps in little cool corners.

Roasted Aubergine  (Baingan) – 250 grams (without skin – see the photos.)
Oil - 4 tbsp
Tomatoes – 1 cup finely chopped
Onions – 1 cup finely chopped
Green chilies – 1 medium chopped (mild)
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp (lightly crushed in a pestle mortar)
Fenugreek seeds (Methi danay) – 1 tsp
Dried red chilies – whole - 2
Red chili powder – ½ tsp
Cumin Powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Salt – 1 tsp (adjust later if needed)
Lemon – Juice for ½ lemon (optional)

  1. Roast the whole aubergines in an oven for 45 mins at 180 degrees. Put them in water for 5 mins while hot. It will loosen the skin and make the flesh easily removable from the skin. Open the aubergine with your hand & scoop the cooked flesh with a spoon. See the photos. Any Turkish grocer will have roasted aubergines sold in a bottle. You can use those as well.
  2. In a pan heat the oil. Add cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds,whole red chilies and cook for about a minute on medium to high heat. Let them crackle.
  3. Add chopped onions and saute for another minute. Do not brown them.
  4. Now add chopped tomatoes and cook for 3-5 mins. Add a splash of water to loosen the tomatoes.
  5. Add salt, chili powder and cumin powder. Cook for a minute more. Don’t let it burn.
  6. Add the roasted (mashed) aubergines. Mix and cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Now reduce the heat to low, add half of chopped chilies and cover with a lid. Let it cook for 20 mins.
  8. Once the oil comes out on the sides in the pan, garnish with fresh chopped coriander and chopped chilies. Serve hot. You can add a bit of lemon juice on the top if you like.