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Oct 272015
 
Pumpkin curry
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A piece of flaky fried bread turns into a scoop as you dip it into a pipping hot bowl of pumpkin curry, the action languorous. The pumpkin pieces look plump & juicy and hold a promise of being sweet & tart, the flavors scrumptious. To the onlooker you are but eating a humble pumpkin, the thought incredulous. To the omniscient, the crescendo is just building up, the excitement palpable.

Pumpkin Curry

 

The kaddu ka ambal – sweet and tart pumpkin curry is sweet, tart, spicy, hot and is a great example of balance in flavors. An important part of the Dogra cuisine (Dogras are the indigenous people of the Jammu region of Jammu & Kashmir), it is a dish served at almost all feasts when in season.

Pumpkin Curry

A gentle simmer to infuse the pumpkin with the spices, a gentle coaxing of the pumpkin to release its sweetness into the sauce, a touch of tartness from the tamarind to cut into the sweetness and you have yourself – kaddu ka ambal. Served over rice for a gluten free meal or along with crispy roti or even a fried puri for a more indulgent meal. Sometimes, a great dish doesn’t have to be slogged over for hours. It just needs to look like you did.

Pumpkin Curry

 

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We are Celebrating Pumpkin With the #Progressive Eats Group where our Host,  Jeanette from Jeanette’s Healthy Living chose pumpkin as the theme for this month. Here are some fabulous pumpkin dishes to choose from when deciding what to do with all those pumpkins!

Savory

Sweet

Pumpkin curry

 

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is all about Pumpkin and is hosted by Jeanette Chen who blogs at Jeanette’s Healthy Living. With Autumn’s arrival, it’s the perfect time to start using fall’s harvest in our menus. We have some great ideas this month to use pumpkins in all sorts of dishes, both Savory and Sweet.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.

We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.

 

Kaddu Ka Ambal – Sweet and Tart Pumpkin Curry

Kaddu Ka Ambal – Sweet and Tart Pumpkin Curry

Ingredients

  • 3 tbs oil
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3- 4 dried red chillies
  • 3 Cups peeled and diced pumpkin ( 2 - 3 inch cubes)
  • Salt to taste (1 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp Hungarian paprika (good quality)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne ( only if you want it hotter)
  • 1 C water
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste or 1/4 C seedless tamarind soaked in 1/2 C water
  • 4 tsp molasses or 2 tsp jaggery or 2 tsp brown sugar or 2 tsp sugar

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot on medium heat.
  2. Add in the fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds. As soon as the fenugreek starts to crackle and turn a bit red, add in chillies and then the diced pumpkins.
  3. Add in the salt and stir to coat.
  4. Add in the turmeric and the Hungarian paprika and the cayenne (if using cayenne).
  5. Stir to mix well and then cover and cook on medium heat for a few minutes. Add the 1 C of water, cover and cook on medium heat until the pumpkin is tender - about 10 minutes.
  6. While the pumpkin is cooking, prepare the tamarind
  7. If you are using the seedless tamarind soaked in water, using your hand, massage the pulp into the soaking water. once the tamarind and water are sort of mixed in, using a strainer, strain out the water to filter out any seeds or shoots . Reserve the water discard the debris.
  8. If you are using a paste then mix it in half a cup of water and keep it aside.
  9. Once the pumpkin is soft and tender but still holding its shape, add in the tamarind water (now filtered) and also the molasses/sugar/jaggery ( whatever you are using)
  10. Mix it all in, cover and cook for another 5 minutes on medium heat. The oil will float up to the top and the pumpkin will look a bit glossy when its ready.
http://www.spiceroots.com/kaddu-ka-ambal-sweet-and-tart-pumpkin-curry/

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 Posted by on October 27, 2015 at 12:01 AM  Tagged with: ,
Sep 292015
 
Tsunth Monji - Green Apple Fritters
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Tsunth Monji - Green Apple Fritters

I have been waiting for this month’s Progressive Eats party day to arrive with bated breath! And it’s because I am sharing a dish from Kashmir that is virtually unknown to those who did not grow up there. It’s not a main stream dish in the sense that when I was growing up this was saved for and served on a very special occasion – Lord Krishna’s Birthday. In most Hindu families this was a dish served on the day of fasting (feasting). Although you abstain from eating grains, meats, and most vegetables – fruits are allowed and why not! The festival arrives in peak summer, so fruits are in abundance and hence during a fast, one could eat copious amounts of fruits. Interestingly the only cooked foods allowed on those fasting days are foods that have been fried. One may not eat anything boiled if they are observing a fast. Hence the Tsunth Monji – Green Apple Fritters were a big deal on those fasting days.

Tsunth Monji - Green Apple Fritters-13

Apples are Kashmir’s pride and joy. Any Kashmiri worth her salt knows her apples. Though an indigenous Kashmiri loves her Ambri apples which are native to Kashmir, we have grown used to our Benoni, Irish Peach, Ambri, White dotted Red, American Apirouge, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and the Maharaji. And now in my adopted country I love my Granny Smith, Gala, Honey Crisp, Braeburn and everything in between.

Tsunth Monji - Green Apple Fritters-13

So pardon me my extreme enthusiasm to share this recipe with you. The recipe requires tart apples – so granny smith are a perfect fit, but if you are in India and can get hold of Maharaji apples – there is nothing better for this dish than those. The medium heat cooking brings out a nice tartness to the apples. Paired with spices and chestnut flour batter the combination of crisp, hot, warm, sweet, sour, salty is a taste you won’t forget easily.

Tsunth Monji - Green Apple Fritters-17

And if that was not enough to entice you  with apples, we at the Progressive Eats have a mouth watering line up of “apples”. Fall is here and it’s all about the apples because this month, our host is Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake and she chose apples! I do love her for choosing apples this month. Thank you, Liz for hosting.

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These Sweet and Savory Apple dishes are

Savory Dishes:

Sweet Dishes:

Tsunth Monji – Green Apple Fritters

Tsunth Monji – Green Apple Fritters

Ingredients

  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples
  • a medium bowl filled with water to soak sliced apples in
  • 3/4 C chestnut flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds ( 1/2 tsp ground cumin)
  • 1 tsp Hungarian paprika ( or kashmiri chilli )
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper ( for heat - use as per your taste)
  • 1/2 C to 3/4 C water
  • 1/4 C chestnut flour for dredging
  • Oil for frying
  • Chaat masala and Chutney for serving ( optional )

Instructions

  1. Core the apples. Slice each apple into 8 to 9 slices.
  2. Keep the apple slices in the bowl of water to prevent discoloration while you get the oil hot and mix the batter.
  3. Heat oil in a medium kadai ( preferably ) or any heavy bottom deep saute pan. ( use medium heat)
  4. while the oil is heating, mix the 3/4 C chestnut flour, cumin, salt, paprika, cayenne and half cup of water to make a batter. The batter should look like a pan cake batter. Add more water if needed.
  5. Put the flour for dredging on a plate.
  6. Now make an assembly line - take the Apple slices out of the water, on to the four for a quick dredge, then into the batter and then into the pan for frying. Fry until brown and crisp on both sides. Remove and drain excess oil before serving.
  7. Serve with chutney or a dash of chaat masala.

Notes

Ensure the temperature of the oil is between 325 and 360. No thermometer? Check if Oil is ready for frying by inserting a DRY wooden spoon into it. If it is ready, bubbles will form around it.Maintain the oil temperature to avoid soggy fritters. Do not let oil smoke.. Bad juju for flavor and safety. Do not overcrowd the pan.

http://www.spiceroots.com/tsunth-monji-green-apple-fritters/

 

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.

We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.

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Jan 102015
 
Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash-3
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Quinoa and black bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

 

A couple of weeks back, I bought small acorn squash to recreate a recipe from one of my favorite restaurants for stuffed squash.  I have eaten the dish so many times that I felt it was only proper to make a cheat recipe. Then, as luck would have it, the influenza struck and took me on a spin. The last year has been that kind of a year – where I have been more in the house than out because of health or injuries. At times it felt like I was not going to catch a break. EVER! But it was fleeting feeling. I did catch a few good breaks though they were intercepted with challenges.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash-4

Anyhow, since the energy levels were low all around, and shopping for ingredients was not a possibility, I decided to just make something for dinner with whatever I had at home. Turns out, there is a lot you can make with things in your home. That is something my friend Karen from Savoury Table has been blogging about for a while. Her Something from Nothing series was an inspiration for this dish.  I just took a deep look into my pantry and the squash and deep corners of the fridge and voila! Thanks Karen, for inspiring me! Xo!

 

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash-2An excellent combination of carb and protein, quinoa black bean stuffed acorn squash is a great make ahead dish. The best part is that since it looks so ‘cool’, the teen did not mind packing it for her school lunch. A quick zap in the microwave and warm, home cooked delicious lunch was ready amidst an ever so busy school day. The best part I like about it is, how easy and quick it is and yet so full of flavor. I used quite a bit of spice in the recipe and it worked really well with the sweetness from the acorn squash. I topped it with a little melting cheese for the comfort factor. It is after all really frosty here in Colorado these days.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash-4

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

  • 3 Acorn Squash Small size
  • 3/4 Cup Cooked Quinoa
  • 3/4 Cup Canned Black Beans (reserve the liquid)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tbs chopped cilantro
  • 3-4 Tbs finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 C chopped tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs Melting cheese ( I used Fontina)
  • 1tsp oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400*F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  3. Slice the top off the acorn squashes to make an opening to scoop out the seeds. Keep the tops aside for later, don't throw them. Once the seeds are scooped out of the squash, sprinkle some salt inside the squash, place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile heat the oil and add cumin seeds. Cook for a few seconds and then add the onions to sautee. Add in the cumin powder, coriander, cayenne,salt and tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are cooked through. Add in the beans along with some liquid that you reserved from the can.
  5. Mix it all in and add the quinoa.Stir to combine.
  6. Scoop the quinoa bean mixture into the squash, top it with some cilantro, then some cheese and close with the cut out tops. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes and serve hot with some chunky salsa or soup and a salad.

Notes

If you don't have precooked quinoa, you can cook it while the squash is baking. Take equal parts quinoa and liquid (water/ broth) ; wash the quinoa, bring the liquid to a boil. Add the quinoa in and bring it to a boil again, then bring the heat down to where the liquid is simmering, Close the lid on the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Allow it to rest for another 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and add into the recipe.

http://www.spiceroots.com/quinoa-black-bean-stuffed-acorn-squash/

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Dec 222014
 
Sarson Ka saag
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Sarson Ka saag

Sarson Ka Saag – Mustard Greens in Punjabi style is a winter time, huddle around the fireplace and eat sort of dish. Fresh from the farm Sarson Ka saag ( mustard greens) paired with Palak ( spinach) and Bathua ( chenopodium ) are slow cooked to a creamy consistency and served with freshly churned butter and hot off the griddle Makki ki Roti ( Corn Flatbreads).
This is another dish that Biji of The Punjabi Chole and Dal Makhni fame taught me to cook. As long as we stayed neighbors, I would get my fix of sarson ka saag at her place. On the days she cooked it, she would wait for me to return from my work. As soon as I would turn my car off in the driveway, her gentle voice would confirm from the other side of the fence, “aa Gaye beta?” ( Are you home, child). “Haan ji, Biji” (Yes, Biji). And then she would hand me a container full of sarson ka saag and makki ki roti to go with it. And just like that, dinner used to be taken care of. A dinner made with love and good ingredients.

Sarson Ka saag

I have modified this recipe a bit because all the greens used in Sarson ka saag are not available at my grocery store. Chenopodium is sort of hard to find here and until I can grow my own, I am sticking to the recipe that I quite like. Enjoy the Sarson Ka saag with some warm corn tortillas or if you want to go truly traditional, with some Makki ki roti.
Remember to make it on a day when you can truly allow it to develop the texture and flavor. A good sarson ka saag needs time, fresh greens, delicious butter and a lot of elbow grease.

Sarson Ka saag

 

Sarson Ka Saag #Meatless Monday

Sarson Ka Saag #Meatless Monday

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Mustard Greens
  • 1 pound Spinach ( not the baby spinach)
  • 5 Tbs Corn Meal ( Made from Yellow Corn - Go for "Makki Ka Aata" from an Indian Grocery store)
  • Tempering
  • 2 Tbs Ghee
  • 2 Tbs Chopped Garlic
  • 1 Tbs Chopped Ginger
  • 2- 3 Chopped Thai Green Chillies ( Add More if you like it hot)
  • 1 tsp Hungarian Paprika
  • To Serve
  • A Dollop of Fresh Butter and Some Makki ki Roti
  • Good to Have
  • A Pressure cooker to Speed up the process

Instructions

    1st Stage of Cooking!
  1. Assuming you have washed and rinsed the greens - Trim the stalks of the mustard and spinach. If the stalks are tough, you may need to trim off the stringy exterior, but don't discard the stalks.
  2. Using a Pressure cooker, cook the greens with very little water ( about 1/8 C). I usually wait for the greens to cook down a bit before putting the lid on.
  3. Once the steam builds up the greens should be done in about 5 minutes. If you don't use a pressure cooker, Cook the greens until tender.
  4. When the steam releases, put the pressure cooker back on the heat.
  5. I usually take a big wooden ladle and stir the greens rigorously until the greens are mixed in and creamy without turning them into a paste.
  6. But in times of great hurry, I have been known to use a hand blender and give the greens a whirl with that. Not too much though, Just enough to make them blended in.
  7. Now add in the corn meal and stir until the liquid from the greens dries up and the corn meal is cooked through. At this stage the greens splatter a LOT. So be sure to use a long spatula stir constantly. The saag is ready when the liquid is no longer separate from the greens.
  8. Second Stage of Cooking
  9. Just before serving, Reheat the Saag.
  10. In a small pan, ghee and add the ginger, followed by garlic and green chilli. Cook until aromatic and then add the Hungarian Paprika. Quickly transfer this on top of the Saag and serve with a Dollop of butter on top.
http://www.spiceroots.com/sarson-ka-saag-meatless-monday/

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Sep 302014
 
Vegetable Fajita-3
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Vegetable Fajita

“Fajita. A Tex-Mex dish made from marinated, grilled skirt steak…served in a wheat tortilla. The word derives from the Spanish faja, for “girdle” or “strip” and describes the cut of meat itself.” Source —Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 125)

Oh dear! By the above definition, my vegetable fajita stands no chance of being an original Tex Mex fajita. So, I am going to let you imagine that the portobello mushrooms in the Vegetable Fajitas are somewhat like the skirt steak.  Since I really love love love (repeating words makes the feelings come through) fajitas, I made it just for me.  So no meat in my fajitas! Though the teen was a bit grumpy when she heard there wasn’t going to be any shrimp either. But this was my dish and I was not going to make it any other way.

To make them as authentic as the Tex Mex fajitas I did follow the rule ; “ If they don’t come to the table sizzling from the grill, they are not fit to be called fajitas”  – “Fajitas,” Barbara Hansen, Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1985, (p. K1)  . My vegetable fajitas were smokin and sizzling!

Vegetable Fajita-4

Despite the long list of ingredients, it is a quick dish to put together provided you plan a bit ahead. When everyone is ready to eat, bring a sizzling pan of the vegetable fajitas to the table and let everyone make their own. With a home made pico de gallo and freshly made guacamole, this is my dish for the September edition of  Progressive Eats.  Check out the impressive line up of Tex Mex dishes that the Progressive Eats Bloggers have come up with.

Vegetable Fajita-7

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Appetizer

Salad

Soups

Main Course

Bread

Sides/Veggies

Beverage

Desserts

 

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.

We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.

This month’s theme is Tex-Mex, hosted by Milisa of Miss in the Kitchen.

Vegetable Fajita-5

Vegetable Fajitas

Vegetable Fajitas

Ingredients

  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red/yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 2-3 Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 big yellow onion
  • for marinade
  • 1/2 ground cumin
  • 1/2 Serrano pepper
  • 2-3 tbs chopped onions
  • 2- 3 tbs cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • To serve
  • Guacamole
  • Pico de gallo
  • sour cream
  • Tortillas (flour or corn )

Instructions

    Prep the vegetables
  1. Wash and pat dry the veggies
  2. cut into thin strips and keep aside
  3. Make the marinade
  4. Blend the ingredients for the marinade into a smooth paste
  5. Marinate the Veggies
  6. Mix the marinade into the vegetables and let it stand for at least 20 minutes
  7. Final steps
  8. Cook the vegetables in a cast iron pan, reserving the liquid from the marinade. While the vegetables are cooking, place a fajita pan / cast iron pan on the stove to heat.
  9. Once the vegetables are cooked - 3-4 minutes , place them on the fajita pan, drizzle the pan with the leftover marinade and bring it sizzling to the table.
  10. Alternately, remove from the grilling pan into a serving bowl.
http://www.spiceroots.com/vegetable-fajitas/

 

 

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Sep 192014
 
Monji Haakh
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Monji Haakh-Kohl rabi cooked in Kashmiri style

Writing about Roth – the sacred cookies from Kashmir made me realize just how much I miss the beautiful Valley of Kashmir. I was born there. I sort of grew up there. I can’t say I have all happy memories of the place. It was after-all the place from where I left one dark night in the back of a truck. Crouching amidst whatever belongings my Uncle’s family and a couple of neighbors could load into it in a span of a few hours. If we got caught leaving, our lives could end. The terrorists were threatening to kill Hindus and rape Hindu women in Kashmir. They had already attacked important members of the minority community. So our families hurriedly sent young girls out of the valley with a few belongings.

My youngest sister and I were living with my grandparents at that time. My parents lived and worked in a village a few hours out from Srinagar. We had lost all communication with them. So my grandpa packed a few of my clothes, a few of my school certificates, handed me some money and told me to go live with my aunt in Jammu.

It was difficult leaving them back. But he would have none of it. He wanted me, the young teenage girl, out of harms way. He had to stay back to make contact with my parents and then decide if he wanted to move from the valley or move to a safer place within the valley. My little sister was to stay with them and my uncle and aunt stayed back too.

In less than a night, the big old house that housed 5 families, was housing 5 members of my family. They were all waving silent goodbyes to me and my cousins. Urging us to leave, pleading us to just go and not cry.

It took me days to stop crying. At first because I was constantly worried about my family, especially my grandparents and my little sister. I wasn’t sure if they had averted an attack by sending us away or invited it by sending us away. Then I began to feel the pain of being uprooted from the place I called home. I cried. And prayed. And cried. And I had no idea if my family made it alive. And for the first time in life I felt alone.

It was after a few weeks that news came in that my parents and grandparents were united and safe. My little sister had made it to safety. Relief spread over me and for the first time in days I cried tears of relief.

I did go back to Kashmir a couple of years later because my family still lived there. It was different and deserted. The streets were full of Army bunkers and uniformed men were posted everywhere. It felt odd to know the place yet not recognize it.

But I still have more happy memories of the place than sad, terrifying ones. I choose to remember my home for how beautiful its people are, how gorgeous its mountains are, how youthful the rivers and how delicious the food is.

From the simple people of Kashmir comes this simple yet comforting dish of Kohlrabi, rice and lassi. It’s an everyday dish like the haakh. Comforting and nourishing. Not only does it comfort the senses, it heals the soul. It is my go to dish when I need a piece of home. A home where my roots are and perhaps always will be.

 

Kohlrabi

 

Monji Haakh – Kohlrabi cooked in Kashmiri Style

Monji Haakh – Kohlrabi cooked in Kashmiri Style

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Kohlrabi with greens (1- 1.5 pounds)
  • 2 tsp mustard oil ( or any other oil )
  • 1/2 tsp asafetida
  • 2- 3 dry red chillies
  • salt to taste
  • 4 Cups water

Instructions

    Prep the Kohlrabi and the greens
  1. Remove the greens from the bulb of the kohlrabi. Cut out the long stems and keep the greens aside to be used in the dish. Discard the stems.
  2. Peel the kohlrabi and cut the root side of the bulb and discard. Any woody feeling portions you simply discard.
  3. Chop the greens and slice the bulbs. Give everything a generous rinse.
  4. Cooking
  5. Heat oil until it smokes (mustard oil)
  6. Add the asafetida and then add the kohlrabi slices. Saute for a few minutes, then add the water, chillies and bring it to a boil.
  7. Add in the greens and cook until the kohlrabi and the greens are tender (about 30 - 40 minutes)
  8. Alternately you can pressure cook it for 5 minutes after the steam builds up in the cooker. In that case reduce water to 2 cups.

Notes

Serves 4- 5 as a side dish

http://www.spiceroots.com/monji-haakh-kohlrabi-cooked-kashmiri-style/

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