Today, I want to write about certain signature foods from the restaurants we grew up frequenting in India.
I am a hard-core carnivore but whenever I visit my home-town in Indore and we go out to a restaurant to eat, the first thing I order is ALWAYS ‘Cream of Tomato soup’. Believe me, the cream of Tomato soup at the restaurants in India is insanely delicious. I can’t explain it in words but somehow, that soup has just the right balance of sweetness, tangyness and creamyness and I just can gobble up bowl after bowl of it. Yum! I make a pretty mean Tomato soup myself, but when I make it at home, it jussssst falls short of matching upto that nostalgic taste which I am shooting for.
So, this is the kind of a thing I am going to write about.
Have you ever noticed how there is almost always a standard template of what a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian orders in an Indian restaurant. I mean, a non-vegetarian will almost always order Tandoori chicken or Amritsari fish fry for starters and then maybe opt for a creamy gravy like butter chicken or go for a spicy mutton curry with Naans and Raita for mains. (Remember guys, I am saying ‘almost’ again and again. Don’t troll me or attack me as I am aware that everyone is free to order whatever their heart desires)
Similarly, vegetarians are also partial to some standard dishes in an Indian restaurant. There’s Palak Paneer, Paneer tikka, Malai kofta etc etc etc and thennnnn…. there’s that steaming handi full of flamboyant “Mixed Veg” curry!
A mixed veg curry in Indian restaurants is another thing that the restaurants prepare so well that it’s impossible to fully replicate it in your own kitchen. The vegetables are crunchy yet perfectly cooked, the gravy is silky, flavorful with just the right hint of sweetness to it and together the flavors just seem to sing in your mouth.
This week as a part of the FoodieMonday bloghop group, we all had to cook up a dish belonging to the state of Maharashtra, located in Western India. Maharashtrian cuisine has given many incredible dishes to the Indian food scene, most famous of which are street-foods like Misal pav, Pav Bhaji and Ragda Patties. It is an extensive cuisine and choosing a dish from this region was both fun and exciting. I wanted to prepare a main-course dish this time instead of a snack or a street-food. So, I decided to make a very famous variation of Mixed veg curry for the theme that is fondly called as –KOLHAPURI MIXED VEG CURRY.
A thick curry with loads of vegetables, coconut-based gravy and a variety of spices, this is a popular Maharastrian dish originating from a city in Maharashtra called Kolhapur. This city is famous for the farming of fiery red hot chillies. Thus, it comes as no surprise that this dish named after the city involves dry roasting of red chillies with coconut and some whole spices before going ahead with making the main gravy base of this dish. It is spicy, flavorful and extremely tasty. This dish is my mom’s favorite thing to order in a restaurant as it is spicier than the normal Mixed veg curry. This is where the idea of making it for the theme came from.
This restaurant style dish is a winner recipe to make at a dinner party for all your Indian food loving friends. It has a goodness of a lot of different elements which come together to make an explosive main course dish to steal away the show.
Try it friends, and if it reminds you of the restaurants you visited as a child, enjoy basking in the foodie nostalgia like me! xx
For the dry Kolhapuri spice powder-
- 4-5 dry red chillies
- 1/4 cup grated coconut
- 1 tbsn coriander seeds
- 1 tbsn white sesame seeds
- 1 bay-leaf
- 4-5 peppercorns
- 3-4 cloves
- 1 black cardamom
- 1/3 cup cashews
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 large piece of ginger
- 2 large onions
For the curry–
- 1/4 cup french beans
- 1 capsicum, sliced
- 1/4 cup cauliflower florets
- 2-3 baby potatoes, sliced
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh Paneer cubes (cottage cheese)
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, grated
- 1 tbsn tomato paste
- 2 tbsn fresh cream
- 1 tsp+ 2 tsp+ 3 tbsn vegetable oil
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsn kashmiri red chilly powder
- 1 tbsn coriander powder
- A pinch of garam masala
- 1/2 tsp crushed Kasuri methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)
- 1 small onion cut in cubes
- Start by making your home-made Kolhapuri spice powder. In a sauce-pan, dry roast the red chillies, grated coconut, sesame seeds, coriander seeds and all the whole spices on low flame, till crisp and aromatic. Transfer to a plate.
- In the same sauce-pan, heat 1 tsp oil. Add the onions, cashews, garlic cloves and ginger. Cook on medium-low flame until the onions turn pink and translucent and switch off the gas. Cool completely.
- In a blender, combine the roasted spices and the onion-ginger-garlic tempering. Blend to a fine powder. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Your Kolhapuri spice powder is ready!
- Now, heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan. Keep the flame on high.
- Add the beans, potatoes and carrots. Saute on medium-high heat till half-cooked (7-8 mins) and transfer to a plate. You can add a little water if the veggies start sticking to the pan.
- In the same oil, pan-fry your paneer pieces till evenly browned. Add to the fried vegetables on the plate to cool. Instead of pan-frying, you can also choose to deep-fry or steam your vegetables until almost cooked.
- Now, to make your yummy curry. In the same pan, heat 3 tbsn of oil.
- Add the cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds.
- Add the grated fresh tomatoes and also throw in your turmeric and salt. Mix well and cook covered for around 5-6 minutes or until you see the oil leaving the sides of the tomatoes.
- Add your Kolhapuri powder and tomato paste to the tempering. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes more.
- Add around 1/4 cup of water and all the dry spices. Mix well.
- Add the cubed onion pieces and capsicum slices. Cover and cook for a few minutes till they sweat nicely.
- Now throw in all the crunchy veggies and your paneer pieces. If the gravy seems thick, add more water to get the desired consistency.
- Finally, add the cream. Mix well and simmer covered for around 7-8 mins on low heat.
- Switch off the gas and add lots of chopped Coriander. Your delicious Kolhapuri mixed veg is ready! Serve hot with chapattis or rice! Enjoy!