Kashmiri Dum Aloo


This is a classic potato curry with a beautiful red color with a spice that will warm you through a cold Kashmiri winter, but as I mentioned on the podcast, this turned out just a little spicier than I intended – and I say this as a person that can take some heat. Kashmiri chili is not that spicy in theory (meaning everything I’ve read on the web and in cookbooks), but in practice I’ve found it a little spicier than these claims, especially in a dish like this where you’re using a lot of it, so adjust the to your taste. Alternately, you can use a mixture of paprika and cayenne – paprika will give it that smokiness and the same lovely color, and cayenne can take the heat to the level you want.

Kashmiri Dum Aloo

Adapted from Veg Recipes of India

  • 2 pounds red potatoes
  • salt
  • oil (ideally mustard oil, which when using you will need to bring to a smoking point to kill the raw flavor and then reduce the heat back down. Canola oil is fine too, you just won’t have quite the same flavor)
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, grated
  • Whole spices: 1 cinnamon stick, 6 cloves, 2 black cardamom, 2 green cardamom
  • Ground spices: 2-4 teaspoons kashmiri chili (or a mixture of paprika and cayenne that you can adjust to your spice level), 1 tablespoon ground fennel, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, few turns of fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup yogurt, whipped smooth

Peel the potatoes, cut them into large, even-sized chunks, and in a pot cover them with generously salted water. Bring water to a boil, and boil until potatoes are 1/2 to 2/3 done. Drain and dry on a towel, and poke some hole in each with a fork.

In a pan, heat 1/2 inch of oil, and fry the potatoes in batches, turning, until they are lightly golden. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Now make the curry: pour out all but 2-3 tablespoons of the oil, and heat the ginger and garlic pastes, stirring, for a minute or two. Add whole spices, and stir until fragrant. Add ground spices and stir for just a minute, then add yogurt and 2 cups water. Mix well.

Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Add the potatoes back into the pot, mix gently, then cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are fully cooked and the sauce has started to thicken.

Serve hot with rice or naan.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 30: Fanaa

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Creamy Pumpkin Soup


For the Hunger Games, unless you’re really into fried squirrel or nettle tea, the best food is going to be found in The Capitol. Obscene feasts are thrown regularly from the wealth of resources flowing in, which I imagined includes spices, so when I set out to make the creamy pumpkin soup sprinkled with slivered nuts and black seeds that Katniss samples, that’s exactly what I imagined.

I used canned pumpkin (LAZY! Like Capitol people) and a whole can of coconut milk (RICH and DECADENT! Like Capitol people).

Paanch phoran, or five-spice powder, is made from cumin, fenugreek, fennel, mustard, and black seeds called kalonji (or nigella seeds, or onion seeds, or black seeds, etc. It’s the seed of many names), so that’s what I used as the flavoring for my soup. I much recommend seeking out the curry leaves (NOT bay leaves, even though they look similar) at your local Indian market, they will give your soup a delicate and delicious fragrance and really take it to Capitol level fare.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil (or flavorless cooking oil)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cumin, fenugreek, fennel, mustard, and kalonji seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili
  • 3 tablespoons ground almonds or almond meal
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 fresh curry leaves
  • sliced almond and a sprinkle of kalonji for garnish

Heat the oil and saute onion until it just starts to turn golden. Add ginger and garlic and stir for a minute or two, then add all seeds and cook until they start to sizzle (be careful not to burn). Add turmeric and red chili, stir for a minute, then add almond meal, pumpkin puree and a cup of the chicken broth. Heat through.

Blend the mixture thoroughly and return to the pot along with the rest of the chicken broth, the coconut milk, cinnamon stick, and curry leaves. Mix well, gently heat and cook on a low simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with sliced almonds and kalonji.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 25: The Hunger Games

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Besan and Almond Ladoo

Mithai are India sweets, and go hand and hand with celebrations such as weddings – which we get in countless Bollywood films including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge!

Ladoo are made from flours or grains, sugar, and either fried or mixed with ghee. They are shaped into balls and can be eaten in a couple bites – or fed to your loved ones as is a happy tradition! They can have nuts mixed in, or different flavorings like cardamom, ginger, or coconut. These particular ones are made with besan (chickpea or gram flour) and ground almonds, and flavored with my favorite, if overused, combo of cardamom and rosewater.

As I mentioned on the podcast, I was a little apprehensive making these because I didn’t know what I was aiming for, but the final product turned out quite nice so I feel confident sharing this recipe. The things I would tweak for next time would be to try extra hard to obtain coarse-ground besan (although the fine-ground wasn’t a disaster at all), and to cook the mixture just a little longer until it deepened in color just a bit more. Otherwise I was happy (and relieved!) with the final product.

Besan and Almond Ladoo

Adapted from Easy Food Smith

  • 2 cups besan (chickpea flour, coarse-ground if possible)
  • 1/2 cup ghee (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and ground (you can make them either chunky or fine to your preference)
  • seeds of 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • optional: sugar mixed with a small pinch of well-crumbled dried rose petals for rolling, dried rose petals for garnish

In a large dry pan or wok, on low heat, toast besan until it smells fragrant, about 15 minutes. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Add ghee and cook, stirring, another 20 minutes or so until the mixture smells nutty and fragrant and has deepened slightly in color.

Stir in sugar, almonds, cardamom and rosewater. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, shape approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons into small balls. Mine were still a little melty and didn’t hold their shape well, so you can stick them in the fridge and try again.

Optionally you can roll in sugar and rose petals, and garnish with rose petals, but only if you are obsessed like me and like eating food that tastes like perfume.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 12: DILWALE DULHANIA LE JAYENGE

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