Phew... getting caught up in the excitement of the world cup was really something & the echoes of a hard fought & well deserved win for the boys in blue still reverberate up & down ones spine....anyways, passion is passion in any form & I had to get myself to post this long overdue recipe before the taste buds lost the thrill of sampling this experiment that has undoubtedly worked its way to my list of 'must make on a regular basis' recipes.
As is my practice, I usually test out a recipe (with my twist on it of course) whenever I review a book, because to me books on food constitute a valuable literature survey that I sometimes draw inspirations from. My personal belief as far as creating recipes has not altered one bit from my academic approach to science. There are hypothesis that one may chose to validate from scratch or a touch of applied experimentation from known tried and tested existing work. Either way, in all fairness credit should be given to the source. It may not be rocket science, but food certainly fuels the intellect that creates a rocket scientist!
During the course of reading through Chef Sanjeev Kapoor's latest magnum opus 'How to cook Indian', I came across a couple of north Indian recipes that appeared to completely omit a crucial ingredient, viz 'garam masala'.
Now as much as South Indians chafe under the assumption that the rest of India believes that Southie cuisine is all & only about idli/dosa, Sambhar/Rasam & the quintessential 'thayir saadham', a number of us in turn, tend to assume that North Indian cuisine is all Punjabi food & everything should have onion & garam masala.. (Do I hear some low frequency grumbling & teeth gnashing here? ;-))
Back to the recipe: the gravy is a rich indulgent makhani, which as the name suggests is made with a lot of butter & cream, what is interesting about this dish is that there is no 'garam masala' at all... instead its just cardamom & mace.. when I asked Chef Kapoor about this, his simple reply was.. 'I was just trying out something new & it worked great!' which is absolutely in line with this foodie passion of mine. With this fabulous result as my literature review, I present yet another wonderful candidate for Indian food, the baby artichoke.
I did make my own variation on the makhni sauce, simply because it was hard for me to get myself to use the copious amounts of cream & butter needed in the original recipe, but the spices used were not changed in any way. This dish pairs wonderfully well with oat flour phulka rotis.
For the Makhani sauce you need:
1 large onion chopped
1/4 cup broken cashew nuts
2 clove garlic, minced fine
1 tablespoon each oil & ghee
4-5 pods cardamom
1/2 blade mace ( the orange colored outer frill on a nutmeg)
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1-2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust as per personal taste)
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup half & half
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons toasted 'kasoori' methi' (dessicated fenugreek leaves)
Combine the onion, chili powder & cashew nuts & grind to a smooth paste.
Heat the oil & ghee in a frying pan & add the cardamom & mace, Saute till fragrant. Add the garlic & saute for ~ 1 minute.
Add the onion/ cashew paste & saute till the paste emits a fragrant aroma & the raw onion smell has disappeared.
Add the tomatoes & salt, cover & cook on a medium flame till cooked. Add 1/2 cup water if the mix appears dry.
Lower the heat, add the unsalted butter to the tomato gravy, stirring well to evenly combine the ingredients. and let the flavors combine under a closed lid.
For the Artichoke kofta:
1/2 cup chopped artichokes (for preparing the raw artichoke, I'll refer you to my previous artichoke recipe, you need about 6-7 baby artichokes for this)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 scallion finely chopped
1 tsp each coriander & cumin powder
1-2 deseeded minced green chilli
1 tablespoon cilantro finely chopped
1 tablespoon besan (garbanzo bean flour)
salt to taste.
oil for deep frying
Combine all the ingredients to form a thick mixture. using a cookie scoop (or a tablespoon), roll into a ball & flatten into discs.
Heat oil in a cast iron pan, when it gets hot, fry the koftas in batches on medium heat till golden brown on both sides (~ 2 minutes per side). Remove with a spider skimmer or slotted spoon & place on paper towels.
Add the koftas to the makhni gravy & gently cover completely in the gravy.
Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with chopped cilantro & a dash of cream, and serve hot with phulka oat flour rotis.
For the oat flour roti, simply make a chapati dough with equal quantities of oat flour & whole wheat atta. Roll out as you would for regular rotis.These rotis do not quite have the stretchy texture of regular chapatis, the best way I can describe them is a very mild version of the rustic bajra roti, with a characteristic earthy flavor!