Thursday, July 3, 2014

Recipes from Kashmir, Pakistan

We're not going very far this week, in fact we're actually staying in the same region that we were in last week. What's more, the region has the exact same name as the one we were in last week, except instead of India it's Pakistan.

Now, to Pakistan, Kashmir is pretty much all Pakistani. They refer to Indian Kashmir as "Indian Occupied Kashmir," and India refers to Pakistani Kashmir as "Pakistani Occupied Kashmir," so that gives you some indication about the general neighborliness of the two areas. The two nations have actually fought three wars over Kashmir--one in 1947, one in 1965 and one in 1999--and they still don't seem to have settled the matter.

 Ramkot Fort, Mangla, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. Photo by
Pakistani Kashmir is known as "Azad Kashmir," which means "Free Kashmir." It was established in 1947 after the first war, and though it is protected by and economically linked to Pakistan, it has its own government and is not considered a province. In size it is roughly 650 square miles, which is just a little bit larger than Oklahoma City. So it's not a huge area and it has a lot of similarities with its Indian cousin--in particular its preference for mutton, which I couldn't really avoid this week.

Yes, it seemed like every recipe I found for Pakistani Kashmir was mutton based, or contained mutton. Now, of course you can't get mutton here in the US, or at least not in the standard supermarkets found in Grass Valley. I'm betting you can get it at the Indian markets in Sacramento, where I bought goat meat last year--but I'm going to pretend like you can't and just say that lamb is a perfectly acceptable substitute. It's the same animal, after all, just a younger version. So I did choose one mutton-based recipe and yes, I used lamb instead. I'm happy to say, though, that the main course actually called for lamb. Here's my menu:

Rogan Josh
  • 1 tbsp whole fennel seeds, freshly ground
  • 3 1/4 cups plain yogurt
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 inch stick of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch asafetida
  • 3 lb lamb, cubed
  • 4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried ginger
  • 3 2/3 cups water or beef broth
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
Qeema Pilao
(also from
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 lb mutton, minced
  • 1/2 cup dahl
  • 2 inch piece ginger, chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp paprika 
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 cups rice, soaked for 20 minutes
  • 1 tsp saffron, soaked in 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup pine nuts, toasted
Kashmiri Naan
(from Evernew Recipes)

For the dough:
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • Oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
For the filling:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 cup maraschino cherries, drained
OK let's do the lamb rogan josh first. Start by heating the oil over a high flame, then add the cinnamon and cloves, followed by the asafetida. Stir for a few seconds, then add the meat and the salt. Cook for five minutes, then add the paprika and cayenne pepper.

Stir, and slowly add the yogurt, stirring continuously.
Continue to cook over high heat until the sauce boils down and the meat is brown. Add the fennel and the ginger and stir to combine. Add the water or broth and cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar. Cook over a medium flame for 30 minutes, then cover the pot completely and cook for an additional 45 (stirring occasionally), or until the meat is tender.

Now I will add here that I don't think you should use beef broth. I did, and my rogan josh was waay too salty. I attribute this to the fact that I used a beef bouillon instead of a broth, so if I'd used the broth I might not have had the same problem. But that 2 1/2 tsp of salt is plenty, in fact it may even be a little too much all by itself. Probably a good idea to err on the side of conservative salt use.

Now on to the rice. First cook that lamb, I mean mutton, over a medium heat until just starting to brown.

Add the garam masala, coriander, salt, ginger and paprika and give it a good stir. Now add the dahl and keep cooking until the meat is brown.

Add the rice and stir until coated with oil, then pour in the milk and water.

Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.

Stir in the pine nuts and transfer the rice to a casserole dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until done.

Finally, the naan. Now, this is a sweet naan and I admit that I don't know how it is usually served in Pakistan. For what it's worth, I served it as a dessert. Here's how to make it:

Mix all the dough ingredients together with your hands. Add one to two tablespoons of water and keep mixing until you get a smooth, stretchy dough. Cover and let sit in a warm place for two or three hours.

Meanwhile, put all the filling ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you get a paste.

Divide the dough into 14 equal-sized balls. Roll each one to make a thin circle. Place some of the filling in the center.

Now fold the edges of the dough over, pinching to seal. Now reshape the dough into a circle. Note--I made mine half-moon shaped, like calzones. The reshaping thing wasn't working for me and I figured they weren't going to taste any different, even though they might like sort of Italian.

Turn on your broiler and place the naan breads under it. Let cook for five or six minutes, checking frequently (they'll go from almost there to burnt in no time if you don't keep your eye on them). When the naans are a golden brown, they're done.

It was a shame about the rogan josh. I could tell it had great flavor, but it was overwhelmed by all that salt. I definitely want to try making it again because I feel like I didn't do the recipe justice.
The rice I loved, of course. Have you ever heard me say, "I did not like that rice?" No. It never happens. I always like the rice.

The naan was really tasty. I love these new takes on my old favorites and I'm definitely going to make this again. It was really sweet and fruity/nutty, not anything like I'd expect to find in that part of the world, where rice pudding seems to be the favorite dessert (though a good rice pudding is pretty yum). This recipe made for a great change and wasn't at all difficult, plus the results were unique and interesting. Two of my favorite things!

Yay I got the blog up on Thursday! Patting myself on the back. Let's see if I can manage two weeks in a row.

Next week: Kazakhstan


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