Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hyderabadi Marag

Hyderabadi and Mughlai cuisine has always attracted me with their rich aroma, taste and history. This attraction turned into a passion when I was able to replicate the taste of certain dishes on my own. With a target of documenting as much as possible Mughlai and Hyderabadi recipes in my blog, I am discovering new recipes everyday. This particular state's food culture is heavily influenced by Mughlai, Arabic and Turkey cuisine which was then infused with its local South Indian cooking process and ingredients. Some very famous meat dishes has their own variation there and has become popular with the city's native name.

"Hyderabadi cuisine could be found in the kitchens of the former Hyderabad State that includes Telangana, Marathwada region (now inMaharashtra), and Hyderabad Karanataka region (now in Karnataka). The cuisine also contains city-specific specialities like Hyderabad(Hyderabadi biryani) and Aurangabad (Naan Qalia), Gulbarga (Tahari), and Bidar(Kalyani Biryani).The cuisine emphasises the use of ingredients that are carefully chosen and cooked to the right degree and time. Utmost attention is given to picking the right kind of spicesmeat, and rice. Therefore, an addition of a certain herbspicecondiment, or a combination of these adds a distinct taste and aroma. The key flavours are of coconuttamarindpeanuts and sesame seeds which are extensively used in many dishes. The key difference from the North Indian cuisine is the use of dry coconut and tamarind in its cuisine.

Traditional utensils made of copperbrass, and earthen pots are used for cooking. All types of cooking involve the direct use of fire. There is a saying in Hyderabad, cooking patiently (ithmenaan se) is the key; slow-cooking is the hallmark of Hyderabadi cuisine. The Slow-cooking method has its influence from the Dum Pukht method used in Awadhi cuisine.
Hyderabadi Cuisine has different recipes for different events, and hence is categorized accordingly, like banquet food, for weddings and parties, festival foods and travel foods. The category to which the recipe belongs itself speaks of different things like the time required to prepare the food, the shelf life of the prepared item, etc."

Hyderabadi Marag is a spicy and thin mutton soup which is served as a started in the Wedding ceremonies with roti or naan. Although a variety of spices and nuts and cream is used in preparing Hyderabadi Marag it is subtle in taste and is appropriate as a starter.  However if you are not preparing this for a crowd, this alone can be a power packed diner with naan. 

Hyderabadi Marag
Serves 4

  • 750gm mutton/lamb  with bone (I used boneless lamb, so in the cooking process I separately used some bones. This makes the gravy more rich and tasty.)
  • 5-6 large cloves of garlic - paste
  • 3 inch ginger - paste
  • 1 medium onion - sliced
  • 2-3 green chilies - paste
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander leaves - chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint leaves - chopped
  • thick beaten yogurt - 1/2 cup
  • milk - 1/2 cup
  • cream - 1/4 cup
  • paste of dry coconut - 2 tbsp
  • 6-7 almonds/cashew  - ground into a fine powder / paste (I always use almonds. If its unavailable use Cashew)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 7-8 peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup ghee / oil /half and half ghee and oil
Note: If you want your soup to be green in color rather than using chopped add the paste of coriander and mint leaves.

  • Heat ghee in a pan and add star anise, green cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves and peppercorns.
  • When the ghee becomes fragrant add the chopped onion.
  • When the onion has started to become golden add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté till the raw flavor is gone. By the time the onion will be fried completely and will be golden brown.
  • Now add the mutton and salt. Fry until the the mutton has changed its color to dark brown.
  • Now add the yogurt, coriander powder, cumin powder, black pepper powder. Cover and cook until the meat has been 80% cooked. If you are slow cooking, cover and cook, adding a little water in between when it tends to dry a little. Stir in between, to prevent it to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • If you are cooking in a pressure cooker, do not add water right away and put it on pressure. Cook until all the water that the meat has released is dry. Now add water and put it on pressure until it blows 15 whistles. If you want a soupy consistency add 6 cups of water, and if you want a thick consistency like mine, add 3-4 cups of water.
  • Let the steam come out on its own, open the cover and add milk, cream, cashew/almond paste, scraped coconut, chopped coriander leaves, chopped mint leaves and green chili paste.
  • Cook until oil starts to ooze out. 
  • Add garam masala, simmer for 3-4 minutes and put off the flame.

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