Sundried Turnips with Lamb (with step by step pictures)

Apart from being stunningly beautiful, and green, and lush, and surrounded by towering mountains, with lakes and rivers and springs everywhere, Kashmir is also a place where  winters can be pretty harsh. Lots of snow, freezing cold – so basically nothing grows for about 3-4 months. Which sort of explains our fixation with meat – mostly lamb. But it also explains the fabulous variety of sun-dried vegetables that are staples during the winter months. Tomatoes, marrow, aubergines, turnips – we basically sun dry everything that grows during the summer for the long, cold winters. And then we cook them, mostly with lamb, all through those dreary freezing months, in beautiful warming stews. This one I’m sharing now is one of my all time favourites, with *cold-winter-evening* written all over it. Sun-dried turnips with lamb. Now, by now you know that the Kashmiri love for turnips is pretty legendary – on their own, with lamb, with red kidney beans, with red kidney beans *and* lamb – oh yeah. Well our love for Gogjje-aare, or sun-dried turnips, is just as special. And this curry/ stew is a thing of pure joy and beauty. Trust me.

Ingredients:

400gms of sun-dried turnips (these are basically turnips that have been washed, peeled, cut into thin circles, then strung up together and left to dry).

2-3 small shallots – thinly sliced.

3-4 cloves of garlic – finely chopped, or crushed.

500gms of lamb – I used chops, but then I *always* use chops. Feel free to use whatever cut you prefer.

Salt to taste.

Oil for cooking.

Whole Spices:

11 green cardamoms.

3 black cardamoms.

1 teaspoon of cumin.

1 cinnamon stick.

Ground Spices:

1-2 teaspoons of turmeric.

1-2 teaspoons of fennel powder.

1 teaspoon (or more if you like your curry hotter) of Kashmiri red chilli powder.

Method:

Alright so the first thing you want to do is get your dried turnips off of the string, and wash them really well in plenty of running cold water. Then put them in a pan, cover with fresh cold water and bring to a boil. Let the pan boil for a good 5-7 mins. Then take off the heat, drain and put aside.

Next, take a wide bottomed pan and heat up a good glug of oil. Add the shallots and fry till they are soft and translucent. To this add the meat and fry on both sides till golden brown.

Now add the garlic, whole spices as well as the ground spices to the pan and mix everything really well to ensure that the meat is evenly coated. Fry everything together for 1-2 mins, till you can smell all the lovely spices.

At this stage add the turnips to your pan, give everything a good old stir. Fry for another couple of minutes till the turnips are all nicely coated with the spices. Then add just enough water to cover the meat/ turnips. Add salt to taste. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for about one and a half hours till the meat is terribly tender and the the turnips almost melting into the curry.

Garnish, if you want with fresh coriander, and serve with lots of fluffy white rice. Perfection.

 

 

Razmah Gogje (Red kidney beans with Turnips)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, ahem, Kashmiris make the best Raajma (red kidney beans) ever. Ahem. And this blog post is going to prove it. Ahem.

Let me paint you a picture: Red kidney beans, soaked overnight, slow cooked for hours. With lovely sweet turnips. (And lamb of course. Because we put lamb in everything. And because lamb makes *everything* better. But I’m leaving lamb out for this recipe, if only to prove that this works exceedingly well as a fantastic vegetarian dish.) Its the stuff winter dreams are made of. In Kashmir this would be served with lots of rice – yep, like everything else – but ladle it into a soup bowl and dig in if you want. I promise you it’ll warm your hands, your tummy, your heart and your soul.

All fabulous Raajma recipes begin with soaking the beans overnight. Anyone who tells you they taste just as good out of a can is lying. Believe me. Having established that, lets jump right in.

 

Ingredients —

500 gms of Red kidney beans – washed and soaked overnight in plenty of water.

5-6 medium turnips – pick the smaller ones out at the grocer’s, they’re sweeter and cook quicker.

4-5 medium tomatoes (optional – Most Kashmiri recipes are tomato free, and this one works brilliantly without, but I like the slight tang that tomatoes bring to this dish).

2-3 shallots, finely sliced.

4-5 fat cloves of garlic. Leave one clove whole and grind the rest.

1 inch root of ginger, ground (optional).

Bunch of coriander for garnish.

Whole Spices —

5 black cardamom pods.

1-2 teaspoons of cumin.

1-2 teaspoons of coriander seeds (optional – this is not a very Kashmiri ingredient, but I must confess I love the slightly nutty flavour these give to this dish).

1-2 sticks of cinnamon

Ground spices —

1-2 teaspoons of turmeric powder.

1 teaspoon of Kashmiri red chili powder – You could use whatever chili powder you have to hand, but I should mention here that Kashmiri chilies are the reddest, most aromatic etc. Another truth universally acknowledged. Ahem.

Salt.

Oil for cooking – You know by now that I cook *everything* in olive oil, but hey, free world.

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 Method – 

So first of all drain and rinse your soaked kidney beans. And now do that again. Good. Next, put them in a big thick bottomed pan with plenty of water and one clove of garlic and bring to boil on high heat. Cover and simmer till the beans are melt-in-your-mouth soft – anywhere between 2 – 2.5 hours, maybe even longer (make sure to keep adding water to the pan as and when, and to stir the pot every now and then to prevent scorching. That can happen if your pan isn’t thick bottomed enough, or if its on too high a flame). Alternately put your beans in a pressure cooker, and you’ll be done in 20 mins – gotto love science!

While your beans are doing their thing, pour a good glug and a half of oil into another pan. Add all your whole spices and fry till fragrant – about 2-3 minutes (you could dry roast and grind all of these, except the cinnamon, if you prefer more intense flavours). Now add the shallots, and fry till soft and translucent. Next put the ginger and garlic in. Fry some more. Finally the ground spices. If you don’t want to use tomatoes then your tempering (baghaar) is pretty much done. Otherwise now is the time to add your tomatoes to the pan and cook them down and fry them till all the moisture is gone and you can see oil in the pan.

The next thing you need to sort out are of course the turnips. I love turnips. On their own. With lamb (obviously). In this dish with Raajma. It is, after all, yet another truth universally acknowledged, ahem, that Kashmiris are marked as much by their high foreheads and long noses as they are by their near universal love of turnips. True fact.

And here’s what you need to do to these beauties – wash, peel and chop them into chunks. Heat some oil in a pan. Add the turnips. Slight sprinkle of salt. I do what my mum does, (good thumb of rule in the kitchen – do what your mum does. Seriously) which is to give the turnips a good stir on high heat for a minute or two, then cover and bring the heat right down, and let them cook for a good 20-30 mins. The salt and low heat work together to make the turnips sweat. They cook in their own juices and get fried after they’ve softened. All round best result. Mum’s know *everything*! So basically by the end of this step you’re looking at soft, golden turnips.

Okay, time to check on those beans. Once they are done, use the back of a wooden spoon to smush some of them as you stir. This will make your gravy lovely and thick, and you’ll thank me for it. Obviously.

Now what you need to do is to pour your tempering, with or without tomatoes, into the beans. Add salt, keeping in mind that you’ve already put some in the turnips which are going to make their way into that pot pretty soon as well. Give it a good old stir, bring everything to boil again, cover, simmer. After about 5-10 mins, add the turnips, good old stir again, bring everything to boil again, cover, simmer. Patience. You’re nearly there. 10 more minutes. A bit of coriander scattered all over and you’re done.

Go on. Have a taste. You’re welcome. Also, I told you so.