Sunday, 13 October 2013

Mutton Dum Piyaza

Each Eid reminds me of the happy Eids I celebrated as a kid at my maternal grandparent’s house in Rawalpindi some 20 or more years ago. It was the hustle and bustle a day before Eid which I found more exciting. Being the eldest grandchild, I believed my job was the most important one.  Which was to make sure that the Mehndi – Henna was prepared well in advance by nagging ammi & khalas (maternal aunts).  Mind you this was not the instant cone mehndi era. A lot of time and effort was put in preparing dry Mehndi with brewed tea and mustard oil. It was left to sit for hours before it could be applied on the hands.

The kitchen was the most happening & exciting place where Haleem and Kheer was prepared a day before Eid. 6-8 kilos of Kheer – Rice pudding was prepared on the outdoor firewood stove as the big cooking pan - Daighcha (Similar to a Giant stock pot) was too big to fit on the conventional gas stoves in Barri Ammi’s (Nani – Maternal Grandmother) kitchen. The Kheer would take 5-6 hours of physical labor to become thick, creamy and gently pink in color. The trick to perfect Kheer was to stir it constantly for 6 hours to ensure it does not get burnt at the bottom of the pan spoiling the taste and smell of Kheer. That much labor was not one man’s job. So ammi, Khalas, mamoos(maternal uncles), sheeda-the cook, Shayra- The cleaner, Jan Bhai – The driver and Mali Baba –the live in Gardener all took turns to stir the kheer for 6 hours. Barray Abbu(Nana – Maternal Grandfather) was the final authority & quality control to sign off on the Kheer before it was cooled, ladled in to serving bowls and decorated with silver leaf, slivered  almonds and pistachios.  

Those who contributed their muscle power in stirring the Kheer were the first ones to be offered to enjoy the Kheer on Eid day. I find myself smiling as I recall those cherished Eids I had spent at my grandparents’ house. Technically I should be sharing the recipe for that very Kheer but ET had asked me to write a savory, meaty post for Bakra Eid. Hence I am sharing the Mutton Dum Piyaza recipe from ammi’s Eid Menu which was a favorite of everyone and befits Eid Dastarkhuan perfectly.  The expat Pakistanis in Far East like me will celebrate Eid on Tuesday- 15th.  Eid Mubarak to everyone back home. Please pray for peace, stability and harmony to return to Pakistan and let’s not forget to include the less fortunate ones in our celebrations.

Cooking Utensil – Pressure cooker & a nonstick pan with lid. This dish is served best with Naan.


Mutton – ½ kg
Onions – 3 Large - sliced
Tomatoes - 4 medium sized– chopped
Ginger paste – 1 tsp. Heaped
Garlic Paste – 1 Tsp. Heaped
Oil – 5 tbsps. (I prefer sunflower oil)
Cinnamon Sticks – 2 (1 ½ inch long)
Black Cardamom – 2 whole
Roasted cumin seeds (zeera) – 1 tsp. (Heaped - slightly crushed in pestle mortar).
Roasted whole coriander seeds – 1 tsp. (Heaped- slightly crushed in pestle mortar)
Dried red chilies whole – 4
Cloves – 6
Black Peppercorn – 8-10 (whole)
Salt – 1 tsp. (adjust to taste)
Water – 1 ½ cup
Garnish for Dum (steaming):
1 Large Onion – sliced in rings
2 Medium Tomatoes – sliced in rings
1 green chili thickly cut.
Ginger –Julienne – 1 tbsp.
Oil – 2 Tbsp.
Roasted Cumin seeds – 1 tsp. Heaped – crushed.

  1. Heat 5 tbsps. of oil in a pressure cooker and add the mutton. Sauté it on high heat for 3-4 mins till it changes color on all sides.
  2. Add ginger/garlic along with all the whole dried spices to the meat (Cumin, coriander, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, and cinnamon). Fry for 1-2 mins. Don’t let the garlic burn.
  3. Add onions and fry them till they are translucent. No need to brown them. Deglaze the pan as per need with ¼ cup of water and cook the onions further. Ensure nothing gets burnt at the bottom.
  4. Add salt and chopped tomatoes. Cook further for 1 minute. Add about a cup of water. Mix and put on the lid to pressure cook the meat. The meat I use takes about 15 mins of pressure cooking resulting in 3/4 of the meat tendering done. The rest is cooked in dum(steaming).
  5. Once the pressure cooking has been done, remove the lid and check the tenderness of the meat. Once the meat is tender to your liking then proceed with shifting the meat and the liquid in to a nonstick pan to dry the water over high heat.
  6. Watch out for the aggressive boiling bubbles jumping out of the boiling liquid. It will splatter on the stove and hands. Protect your hands, stove can be cleaned later.
  7. Once ¾ of the liquid has dried, add 2 tbsps. of oil and cook further till all the water dries up and the oil comes out on the sides.
  8. Lower the heat to the minimum. Now add layers of sliced onions, green chilies, Julienne ginger & tomato slices. Also sprinkle the crush cumin seeds.
  9. Close the lid lightly and let the raw vegetables steam cook over low heat for 15-20 mins.
  10. Open the pan and mix it. Serve it with a garnish of fresh coriander and green chili.
  11. It pairs beautifully with Roghni Naan.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Chicken Haandi

My recent work trip to Pakistan took me to Multan (Located in the South of Province Punjab), a city I have only passed through as a kid while my father was posted at Bahawalpur many years ago. So I took this opportunity to go all touristy in Multan and did some serious sohan halwa, multani chappals, blue pottery shopping binging. What joy! 

As a kid I remember our house always had a continuous supply of Multan’s famous sohan halwa and Kushaab’s dooda. It was regularly served with tea & shami kebabs to the guests visiting us. Somehow these two items were so much part of my childhood while growing up in Pakistan. Which explains why I bought a ton of sohan halwa from Multan.  I also visited the shrines of Bahauddin Zakaria & Shah Rukhn- e – Alam and was in awe of the architectural marvels these shrines are despite their age. The city indeed was a pleasant surprise. I also ended up having the best ever Karahi at Ramada Multan. I am still in the process of reverse engineering it and will share the recipe if I succeed. I look forward to going back to Multan and enjoy some more sohan halwa in near future.

On my arrival at my base camp - Rawalpindi, my mother in law had prepared an incredibly delicious chicken Haandi for me. She was kind enough to show me this simple and delicious recipe in her kitchen. This dish is cooked in a traditional Pakistani clay pot called Haandi. This can be served with Chappati - Flat bread or Naan.

(I have not used clay haandi- traditional Pakistani clay pot for cooking this recipe simply because of the difficulty in photographing the food inside a haandi.)

Chicken – ½ kg (boneless)
Onions – 1 cup (make a paste in blender)
Garlic – 1 tsp. (paste)
Ginger – 1 tsp. (paste)
Oil – 4 Tbsp.
Salt – ½ tsp. (adjust to taste)
Chili powder – ½ tsp. (Adjust to taste while keeping in mind the use of green chilies in the recipe)
Cumin – 1 tsp. (crushed)
Dried whole Coriander – 1tsp (crushed)
Water – ½ cup
Lemon Juice – ½ lemon (large)
White Vinegar – 1 Tbsp.
Green Chilies – 1
Fresh Coriander for Garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a pan & add the onion paste.
  2. On high heat let it change color to pink. It will take 5-7 minutes.
  3. Now on medium heat add half of ginger & garlic. Also add cumin & coriander. Cook for another 1-2 mins.
  4. Add boneless chicken, half of the green chili, salt, red chili powder, remaining ginger/garlic and mix. Cook till it chicken changes color. Lower the heat.
  5. Now add ½ cup of water and let the chicken simmer for 1-2 mins.
  6. Now add the vinegar and lemon juice. Mix and cook till the water reduces to half, the oil has separated on the side and the smell of vinegar has disappeared from the food. It will take about 5-7 minutes on low heat.
  7. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and green chilies. Pair it with Tandoori Roti and Mint Chutney.