”food is capable of feeding far more than a rumbling stomach. Food is life; our well-being demands it. Food is art and magic; it evokes emotion and colors memory, and in skilled hands, meals become greater than the sum of their ingredients. Food is self-evident; plucked right from the ground or vine or sea, its power to delight is immediate. Food is discovery; finding an untried spice or cuisine is for me like uncovering a new element. Food is evolution; how we interpret it remains ever fluid. Food is humanitarian: sharing it bridges cultures, making friends of strangers pleasantly surprised to learn how much common ground they ultimately share.”
― Anthony Beal
Food is the reason I chanced upon Chef Ajoy’s blog – thoughtsfromajoy and stopped there for quite sometime, to read stories, feel the magic of Indian cooking, learn a few ( more than a few) new things.
Chef Ajoy is an accomplished and a well traveled chef. Founder of the very chic Indian restaurant, Nilgiris in Sydney, Australia and author of quite a few inspiring cookbooks, – A feat that leaves you filled with wonder.
And rightly so. The very first recipe that caught my attention on his blog was the Kashmiri roganjosh. Being a kashmiri, I am always on the fence when people call a dish “kashmiri”. Please don’t get me wrong, but calling anything with raisins and cashews and cardamom in it a kashmiri dish is inaccurate. Wrong ! Not done! But I digress…
So the skeptic in me, gingerly treaded on the blog post called Recipe for Rogan Josh Kashmiri Pandit Style. Intrigued I was, because here was an article heading telling me that the author knew there were different styles of kashmiri roganjosh! Not many people know that. At that moment, I knew this was a unique blog – created by a maestro who had spent years learning the art of Classic Indian regional cooking.
I read on fascinated and loved every bit of the post. It was the quintessential roganjosh with all the right spices, infused in the right order and cooked to perfection . Just the way it is supposed to be.
I had just one word for this blogger – RESPECT!
Fascinated, I looked into a few more blog posts. It was like reading a good book – the one you just can not put down. And I gathered inspirations and learned quite a few new things.
For example, this Dosa recipe. I had been struggling to get my dosa right after I moved to Colorado. And for someone who calls Hyderabad a second home, it was kind of disheartening that my dosa would not be as exquisite as it used to be back home. Sometimes, not enough crisp, sometimes it was not ground right and then sometimes I would lose the battle with the altitude and temperature for the batter to ferment right.
So I tried the Dosa recipe from the blog. Guess what? I don’t think I am ever going back to grinding the batter at home. I made steamed dosa, regular dosa, masala dosa, paper dosa.. I gave the recipe every test I could – and it shined. It couldn’t get any faster and easier than this!
One word for the recipe – ADMIRATION!
And as if this was not enough, I weaved my way through to the recipe for Dum Ka murgh. And as If I was already not a “BIG FAN” I became a big fan all over again.
One word for the recipe – Sheer Brilliance! Ok that was two words. But the recipe is pure Brilliance!
Here is why?
As you know by now, I call Hyderabad my second home, which means I have lived there for many a good years. As a very young person, this is the city I fell in love with at first bite because the food tasted like home. Not the exact taste per se, but I felt there was something comforting.
Not only did I enjoy eating Hyderabadi food, I also enjoyed learning to cook it. My friend and then neighbor, who is a Persian by origin and married into one of the most culturally rich Muslim families in Hyderabad, ensured that I get lessons in the Hyderabadi cuisine at her house. So I would watch while she or her Mom in law cooked, helped when they felt assured that I was not likely to mess up the perfect leg of lamb or sometimes just hopped on over to eat a plateful of biryani.
With lessons from the duo and occasional lessons from their family Khansama, I have quite a collection of time tested Hyderabadi recipes.
And then I found the recipe on Ajoy’s blog. Using Tahini instead of sesame seeds .. why did I not think of that? Substituting peanuts with cashews .. thus making it accessible to people with peanut allergies .. awesome!
I made this dish with the recipe from Ajoy’s blog and it was the best ever Dum ka murgh I made. I am sharing the recipe here with his permission, but for a more detailed step by step instruction, you do need to go visit his blog.
Very rarely do you come across a creative and talented chef, who loves to teach and reach out as Chef Ajoy does. And since his blog inspired me so much, I am going to start a ‘Inspiring Thursdays”‘ Feature on my blog. On One Thursday every month, the day of Brhaspati- the god of wisdom and eloquence, I will introduce a talented blogger/ author/ friend/ on my blog and share what inspired me.