Chambray, Til ko Alu and Pakku ~ what - a thali from Sikkim!

Its such a wonder always. Being part of a country, which is a home to many cultures, to people who speak so many different languages, its hard to be familiar with all! So taking part in the Regional Cuisines of India, is such a wonderful opportunity to learn about different cultures, different cuisines. You may never actually visit that place, but by cooking something that's common in that place, sure gets you a feeling of knowing something about them!

I haven't traveled much through North India, except couple of times to Calcutta and both the times, had a great time. But I don't think I would ever get an opportunity to visit other states like Sikkim or Nagaland. So when my dear friend Bhags announced North East India as the cuisine we got to cook this month, I was left clueless. Of course, she was kind enough to give some links. But as usual, this and that kept me quite busy until the very last moment! Infact I was alerting hubby dear to be ready for a feast on North Eastern Cuisine. Still I was so very concerned when to actually get down doing it.

Hubby dear finally came to rescue. He said he would want to have those lovely Momos, he remembered eating while he was in Delhi. Though the steamed Momos famous, he preferred the deep fried ones. Apart from this, I also went through the list that Bhags had given. I finally nailed Sikkim to be the cuisine I wanted to try. Actually all other things sounded so complicated or something not available locally! For all the potato disliker I claim to be, for all RCIs, I end up making something with Aloo. With just 3 days to go, I couldn't postpone it any longer. I decided on a Meat dish with Rice and Aloo.

When I checked I had only Keema, so it was to be Keema curry. Of course, I hope nobody is going to fly down from Sikkim to show draggers at me, for changing their authentic recipes. I marched home with recipe and hoped my pantry will have all the things needed. Rice was quite simple and Aloo was wonderful. This was the first time I was eating Sesame powder in a vegetable. We always use Sesame in Pulihora or in Sweets or Savories. Aloo emerged as a delicious darling all decked up in Til powder!

Only I encountered a disaster with the keema curry. It was to cook on slow for an hour. I knew it wouldn't take that long, so was having an eye on that. But as luck would have it, my twins decided it was their potty time. And rest is history! What was supposed to be a gravy, ended up charred to its base and I had a sukka keema on hand. Hubby dear didn't complain but I was feeling awful! He said it tasted great, so the next time I am going to have both the eyes on that!

Adapted from here

Chambray ~ Fry-Cooked Rice

Basmati Rice - 200 gms (1 cup)
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch
Turmeric powder a pinch
Salt to taste
Bay leaf - 1
Ghee - 2 tsp
Black Cumin Seed - 1/4 tsp
Water - 1 & 1/2 cup

Method to prepare:

Wash and soak rice with bay leaves and cinnamon for 15 min.

Heat ghee in a non-stick wok, add the cumin seeds, let it splutter. Then add the rice without the water. Fry for 2 mins in sim.

Then add the turmeric and salt. Mix well and add water. Cover with lid and cook in sim for 10 mins or till the rice is cooked.

Chambray is eaten with Til ko alu.

Til ko Alu ~ Potatoes with Roasted Sesame Powder.

This is the first time I am cooking with roasted Sesame seeds. It gave a real yummy taste to the roasted potatoes. The recipe calls for boiled potatoes. But since I was using just two medium potatoes, I pan roasted them with the onions. Finally it gave an excellent taste!

Potato - 2 medium
Onion - 1 sliced
Green chili - 4 sliced to small pieces
Sesame seeds (Til) - 10 g
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tsp

Method to prepare:

Roast the sesame seeds in the pan in sim. Once its roasted, remove and grind to a smooth powder once its cool.

Peel the skin of the potatoes and soak in water.

In the same pan, heat oil. Add chillies and onions. Sauté the onions till brown.

Then add the cubed potatoes. Simmer and add a spoon of water.Cover and let it get cooked. After 5 mins, add the roasted til powder. Mix well and again cover it covered.

This gets cooked in about 10 - 15 mins.

This was a good combination with the rice, though you may find it little dry. So ensure you add about 2 spoons of water while its getting cooked.

Pakku ~ Mutton Keema Curry (oops Dry keema)

This curry was without any chilli powder, so I added it. I obviously can't expect hubby dear to eat without that!

Mutton Keema - 250 gms

Marinating paste:

Onion - 1 medium
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Dry Coriander - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp (my addition)
Ginger garlic paste 1/2 tsp
Cloves - 2
Cardamom - 1
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch
Nutmeg powder - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder a pinch
Salt to taste

Method to prepare:

Wash and drain the keema.

Make a paste of all the ingredients. Then mix it with Preparation : Marinate mutton pieces with the paste, add salt and turmeric powder, Chilli powder and keep for 20 min.

Heat a pan with oil and add the marinade and cook it covered, till its done.

My thali is on its way to dear Bhags who is hosting RCI this month featuring North East Cuisine. RCI is an event started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine

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