So Sunday, my family and I had plans to go meet my mom on the other side of town and take her out to dinner at a fairly mediocre Italian restaurant in her neighborhood. Her neighborhood has limited options, especially that are vegetarian friendly and she doesnt like to travel too far. We wanted her to relax and enjoy the grandkids and show her our appreciation.
When we arrive, it turns out that she has the day before whipping us up an incredible kashmiri feast.
Morel mushroom pilau: each grain of basmati soaking up the flavor of morel, the whole thing studded with cashews, black cardamom, and whole cinnamon. She had purposely cooked the bottom crisp, so that were was plenty of the crispy portion that my sister and I always fought over as kids, no rice cooker at work here.
Chutney of radish, cranberries, walnuts and chilies: Tangy, slightly sweet, crunchy, with a little fire, this was soooo damn good, that I almost placed the serving bowl in front of my place at the table.
Dum Alu: The signature kashmiri dish. Whole small red potatoes that have to be cooked three separate times. First boiled so that the insides are creamy, the peeled by hand, then deep fried so that they hold together and get crispy, and then finally stewed in an intense sauce of ground kashmiri chile, black peppercorns, and whole cinnamon. If you read Jim Leffs Chow alert you may have seen him mention the kashmiri potatoes at Sajna, this was the dish that is was based on.
Cauliflower in a light turmeric, cilantro sauce. The cauliflower cooked in large florets, was firm, but melted in the mouth, topped with a whole head of cilantro it was fresh sweet and clean
Yakhni of Lotus Root . Yakhni, is a type of stew that is made by creating a base sauce of fennel seed powder, ginger, black peppercorns, cinnamon, and myriad other spices and then making it into creamy goodness by adding blended yogurt to the mixture. You have to watch it carefully and never let it boil or the yogurt will break and the sauce will be ruined. The end result, is a rich, slightly creamy, savory sauce, that is everything you want. Most often this dish will be done with lamb, but with lotus root it was incredible. Usually eaten over rice, we broke out bowls so we could slurp up some more of the sauce.
There were a couple other dishes, but theyre slipping my mind right now.
If you are ever invited into an Indian home for dinner, you will be treated in similar fashion. Almost all of these dishes, which for me are at the heart of Indian food, will never make an appearance at any restaurant.