India #2: Recipes by Rita Kapoor

So we ended up in Rita Kapoor’s cooking class in upper Baghsu near Dharamsala. Under her stern instructions (she’s very kind in her very own way, however she knows how things are supposed to be done in her kitchen and sees to it) we mastered the art of cooking a few fast dishes, recipes following. Two things I learned: First, the exactly same amount of chili powder used in nearly the same dish will produce unpredictable spice levels in two consecutive days. Second, I need a gas stove, it’s so much more fun cooking on fire. Also, you can flame chappati.

Rita’s Dhal Makhani

  • 1 cup black lentils, 1/2 cup kidney beans, 3 cups of water, 1 Tsp salt. Cook in a pressure cooker for half an hour.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp butter of ghee, add 1 crushed black cardamom,  2 bits of cinnamon stick, 1/4 Tsp of cumin seed and fry for a minute
  • Add 1 hand of minced red onion and fry until browned
  • Pestle 1 1/2 Tbsp of ginger together with 1 1/2 Tbsp of garlic, add.
  • Also add chili powder to taste (we used 1/2 Tsp), a pinch of paprika powder, 2 Tomatoes in cubes and 1 Tsp curcuma and a little bit of water.
  • Fry this for 10 minutes until it is a thick paste.
  • Add the dhal including the dhal cooking water and 1 Tsp Dhal Makhani Masala or Garam Masala and cook for a bit.
  • Add chopped koriander on top, garnish with cream and a little bit of butter.

Rita’s Palak Paneer

  • Take 500g spinach, cut into stripes, 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 Tsp salt and boil for 20 minutes in a normal pot.
  • Heat reasonable amount of oil (3 Tbsp), add 1/2 Tsp of coriander seeds, and fry a little (until browned).
  • Add 1 Tsp of minced ginger, 1 small minced green chili, 1 handful of red minced onion and fry for about 5 minutes (or maybe until brown)
  • Add 300g paneer in cubes, fry a little
  • Add 1 Tsp minced garlic, fry a little
  • Add 1 Tsp of Kitchen King Masala (! important !) and the drained spinach (Rita blended it in a mixer, but I guess I prefer it to be chopped)

Rita’s Chapati

  • 300g brown wheat flour, sieved
  • Add 1/2 Tsp salt and produce a dough with about 1/2 cup of water
  • Produce small balls, press them in flour from both sides and roll them out flat
  • In a hot pan brown from both sides, and then hold them directly into the gas flame for a few seconds from both sides, that puffs them up nicely

Rita’s remedy for a sore throat

  • 1 cup of water, 4-5 black pepper corns
  • Add 1 pinch of black salt, 1/2 Tsp of pestled ginger
  • Cook for a long time, then add 1 lemon, and cook even longer
  • Add sugar, drink hot

Rita’s Vegetable Pakoras

  • 1 1/2 cups of chickpea flour, 1 Tsp salt, 1/4 Tsp baking soda, 1/4 Tsp curcuma, 1/4 Tsp chili powder, a pinch of paprika, 1/2 Tsp Kitchen King Masala
  • Produce dough with 1/2 cup of water
  • Add vegetables (anything, e.g. sliced onions, thin potatoes, paneer, cauliflower) to dough, leave for 20 minutes
  • Heat oil and deep fry batches of pakora

Rita’s Dhal Fry

  • Heat 3 Tbsp of oil, add 1/2 Tsp of koriander seeds and fry a bit.
  • Add 1 Tbsp of minced ginger and 1 handful of red onion, fry until browned.
  • Add 1/2 Tsp of chili powder and 2 tomatoes in cubes, cook on high heat until thick.
  • Add 1 Tsp of curcuma, 1 1/2 cups of yellow washed dhal, fry for 3-5 minutes.
  • Add 1 Tsp of salt and 3 cups of water and boil lightly covered until dhal is soft.
  • Add 1 Tsp Garam Masala, stir shortly and serve.

Rita’s Jeera Rice

  • Heat 1 Tbsp of oil, add 1 Tsp of cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds
  • Add 2 cups of washed basmati rice, 1 Tsp of salt, fry for a bit.
  • Add 4 cups for regular pot / 3 cups for pressure pot of water, and cook rice
Guess I will try the dhal fry tonight, getting hungry writing this.

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