It’s been so long since I have done a book review. In fact, I was planning to put up this post during the last week of January. Somehow, it fizzled down in between and I couldn’t schedule it. Happens, isn’t it? 🙂 Somehow, I restarted my guest post series last month, so hoping that I will be able to keep the book reviews and guest posts every alternate month, InShaAllah… I thought of treading the path carefully and slowly and concentrate on one at a time. Let’s see how it goes… 🙂
I chose this book truly by chance, not knowing what to expect from it. The name “Spice Sorcery” did do some sort of sorcery on me, that I ended up picking it through Amazon.in a couple of years ago. 😀 The book written by Husna Rahaman and published by Harper Collins, concentrates on sharing recipes of the Kutchi Memon community. The Memons are said to be a group of South Asian Muslims, mainly concentrated in the norther India and Pakistan, whose main interests is in business and philanthropy. The Memons who speak the language Kutchi are the Kutchi Memons – obviously, and other sect are Sindhi Memons. They are a very indigenous community and only marry within themselves. A marriage is what starts off as the theme to the book.
Yes, the story of a marriage proposal is what is the crux of the book. Now you may be wondering, how come a cookbook has a story? That is the beauty of this book. The book takes you through the journey of the protagonist, Razia and what food she cooks up to satisfy the other characters that surface as you read through. You can get a gist of the whole book from the back cover shared above. I am making my life easier… 😉
You won’t find it to be the cookbook that is in your thoughts – with an index, with starter, mains and desserts separated. The mainly used spice powders are first shared and then all the recipes that follow do use up them in quantities. The recipes are mixed up in between, depending upon the situation the main character is in. It may be the first book I have seen which feels like a novel but is a cookbook. The plot is quite interesting and even more intriguing, is how the food play a very important role in a Kutchi Memon kitchen. The recipes are very similar to Hyderabadi fare, I feel, but isn’t as rich. They appear to be simple fare but with a spice punch. She has shared the recipes of the basic spice blends they use and constantly refer back to those in her recipes. So it is always better to keep your eyes open, if you are looking to try the recipes.
The recipes in the book are written in a very interesting manner, but at times I did feel that certain steps maybe overly exaggerated. 🙂 There are times when you expect your cooking to behave like how she has written but it just wouldn’t. So I advise not to get carried away. There are odd pictures for most of the dishes in the book as well. The clicks are inserted into drawings of pots and pans, so it doesn’t really give you an idea of how the dish looks.
I chose to make the mutton biriyani from the book. It has been so long since I had made biriyani with mutton. So when HD got some really fresh tender ones, my eyes went on this recipe. The recipe is really easy to make. There is not much slicing or cutting involved and the biriyani comes together pretty easily. I was actually a bit confused if the biriyani would taste good, while reading through the ingredients. Like I mentioned earlier, there is a chance to get carried away with the way the steps are described. So it is best to keep your heart in its place and go by your normal cooking intuitions. 🙂
The biriyani came out very well. Not like our masala types, but a very mild on the tummy and tongue type. My girls loved it for the fact that they hardly had anything to throw out of it! HD enjoyed the biriyani and commented that it was close to the Pakistani style. I would have loved to add the boiled potatoes in the biriyani as is in the book, but I had none on hand. The book also asks it to be served with boiled eggs, which I didn’t bother with. 😀
How can I only talk about the biriyani and not the chutney? That green chutney is “marana maas”! I wasn’t sure what to expect but I ended up licking the whole pan. It was amazingly flavorful and the bites of onions in between just made it amazing. If you are making any biriyani or even parathas, do accompany it with this chutney. I can’t explain how much I loved it more than the rice itself. 😉 I hope you enjoyed the book review after such a long break. I hope to get back to this as a once-in-two-months affair, InShaAllah… Not promising anything as of now, though… going on to the recipe…
- 750 gm mutton
- 3 large onions, sliced thinly
- 1 inch pc cinnamon
- 2 cardamom pods
- 3 cloves
- 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- ½ tsp red chilli powder
- ¼ tsp cardamom powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
- ⅛ tsp clove powder
- 1 bunch coriander leaves
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- 6-8 green chillies
- ½ cup yogurt
- A fat pinch of saffron soaked in 2 tbsp milk
- 3 to 4 tbsp oil, as required
- FOR RICE:
- 3 cups basmati rice, washed and drained
- 1 inch pc cinnamon
- 3 cloves
- 2 tbsp mint leaves
- Salt to taste
- FOR GREEN CHUTNEY:
- 1 cup yogurt
- ¼ cup coriander leaves
- 2 tbsp mint leaves
- ½ onion, minced
- Salt to taste
- Heat two tbsp of oil in a pressure cooker and add the sliced onions. Saute till wilted.
- Add ginger garlic paste and saute for five minutes, sprinkling water to avoid sticking to the pan.
- Add all the powders and salt. Saute for a couple of minutes.
- Grind the coriander, mint and chillies to a paste and add to the sauteed onion mixture. Saute till raw smell is gone.
- Add in the meat, toss well. Close the lid and cook for three whistles or till the mutton is done.
- If there is too much fluid in the mutton, drain the mutton and keep on high flame till reduced to ¼. Add the mutton back along with the thick curry, and then toss up. Switch off.
- Meanwhile, heat a lot of water along with all the spices and mint leaves along with salt. Add the rice and cook for around 10 minutes, or till the rice has a bite in between. Immediate drain and wash the rice.
- In a large saucepan, sprinkle some rice. Add the mutton masala, top with the rest of the rice. Sprinkle the saffron milk on top.
- Seal the lid and close tightly. Cook on dum for 15 minutes. Switch off and allow it to stay as such till serving time.
- At the time of serving, mix well and serve with green chutney.
- For the green chutney, grind the yogurt with coriander and mint leaves. Mix with onion and salt. Serve with the biriyani.