In this exclusive, Chefs Ranveer Brar, Kunal Kapur and Ajay Chopra trace the roots of their favourite Indian foods. On these pages, you’ll find history, geography and, best of all, recipes – so you can make these classic dishes at home
Compiled by AMIT GAIKWAD
CHEF RANVEER BRAR
A television celebrity, restaurateur, author, food film producer, benefactor and a mentor at culinary institutions, award-winning Chef Ranveer Brar became India’s youngest executive chef at the age of 25. A judge on MasterChef India, he avers that cuisine is an extension of culture, and strongly believes that travel makes a good chef better.
CHEF AJAY CHOPRA
Quirky, fun-loving and larger than life, Chef Ajay Chopra lives by the love-pray-cook mantra. Having helmed the kitchens of some of the biggest hotel brands, he is one of the most celebrated chefs in the Indian television and food industry, and is now a “chefpreneur” – he has taken his passion for cooking to the next level with corporate, e-commerce and restaurant associations.
CHEF KUNAL KAPUR:
Indian celebrity chef, restaurateur and media personality, Chef Kunal Kapur has helped all of us get a taste of his cooking secrets through his cookbooks. He has worked with leading hotel chains, and served as an award-winning jury member and anchor on Junior MasterChef India.
Chicken Cafreal by Chef Ranveer Brar
Cafreal, an iconic component of Goan cuisine, is originally believed to be from Mozambique, an erstwhile Portuguese colony. Typically, chicken legs are key, marinated in a spice paste comprising fresh coriander (which gives it the characteristic green colour), ginger, garlic and lime juice along with added spices.
4 tsp refined oil
2 tsp chilli powder
6 chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks)
2 onions, chopped
½ tsp turmeric
FOR THE CAFREAL MASALA
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp cloves
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 piece ginger, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 spring onions (white and green parts), chopped
8 green chillies
2 tbsp Goan vinegar (or use regular vinegar)
2 tbsp sugar
- To prepare the cafreal masala, heat a pan, and roast the cinnamon, cloves, pepper, cumin and coriander seeds together in it. Remove and transfer to a grinder. Add the ginger, garlic, coriander leaves and spring onion to the grinder.
- Dry roast the green chillies and transfer to the grinder. Add the Goan vinegar and sugar along with a touch of water and grind to a paste. Set aside.
- Clean and wash the chicken and strain in a colander. Rub the pieces with the prepared cafreal masala, and marinate for 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a kadai, add the chopped onions and turmeric, and fry well. Remove to a platter.
- Add more oil to the kadai and place the marinated chicken in it. Cover the kadai and cook, stirring in between with a slotted turner, till done.
- Add the fried onion to the pan and mix well. Serve hot.
Note: Alternatively, you could make a thicker marinade and cook the chicken on a grill.
Dal Baati Churma by Chef Ajay Chopra
Dal baati churma is a quintessential Rajasthani dish, a three-in-one treat of baked baati with spicy panchmel dal and sweet, crumbly churma. The dish is known as much for its simplicity as for its delicious taste. And this culinary gem has a fascinating story behind it. Read on…
Legend has it….
Dal baati churma came to be in stages. It started as baati and, over time, it became dal baati, and then dal baati churma. Baati was made by Rajasthani soldiers with camel milk ghee. The soldiers would travel with cooks and camels in the desert, carrying fl our and camel milk ghee because it was in abundance; the baatis were rolled and cooked in hot sand. They would actually leave the baati buried in the ground the whole day and come back by evening to cooked baatis, over which they would pour camel milk ghee to enhance the flavour. When the baati reached the palaces, it was served with the addition of the dal. This was the dal–baati combination. Churma was still a separate dish; legend has it that churma once inadvertently fell into the king’s plate,which he liked, and that’s how the dal baati churma combination
1 cup wheat flour
1 pinch baking powder
2 pinches salt
¼ cup melted ghee
¼ tsp thymol seeds
½ cup water
1½ cup refined oil
FOR THE RAJASTHANI PANCHMEL DAL:
¼ cup split Bengal gram
¼ cup whole green gram
¼ cup dhuli urad dal (split black gram, skinless)
¼ cup toor dal/arhar dal (split pigeon peas)
¼ cup sabut masoor (whole red lentils)
Salt to taste
½ tsp turmeric powder
1-inch piece ginger
2 green chillies
3 tbsp oil
A pinch asafoetida
½ tsp cumin seeds
4 –5 cloves
2 dried red chillies
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
½ tsp garam masala powder
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
- To prepare the baati, mix the wheat _ our, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add three tablespoons ghee and mix well until it reaches breadcrumbs consistency. Add the thymol seeds and water and knead well to make a stiff, pliable dough. Make small balls of this dough.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Drop the balls into the water and simmer until they float to the top. Remove and drain well. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a deep pan over a medium flame. Deep fry the balls until they turn light golden brown. Remove, drain, and set aside.
- To prepare the dal, soak the dals in three cups water for at least two hours. Drain, and cook them in three cups salted water with turmeric powder until done.
- Grind the ginger and green chillies to a paste.
- Heat the oil in a pan, and add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, cloves and red chillies. When the cumin seeds start to change colour, add the ginger-green chilli paste, and sauté for a minute. Add the cumin, coriander and red chilli powders, and saute for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, and sauté till the oil separates. Add the cooked dals, salt and water (if required), and cook for 10 minutes stirring well. Add the garam masala powder, and serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves.
Moong Dal Halwa by Chef Kunal Kapur
This is a classic Indian dessert made with husked moong dal (yellow lentils), ghee, saffron, dry fruits and nuts.
Legend has it… The different kinds of halwas trace their origins to the Mughals and even earlier to Greek traditions. The Mughal settlers who came to India brought these recipes with them, and some of them became ingrained in the local pop culture. While badam (almond) halwa was seen as the rulers’ dessert, moong dal halwa – a classic Indian dessert made with husked moong dal, saffron and nuts – was special due to the simplicity of the ingredients and its place as a winter sweet.
1 cup moong dal (yellow lentils, without skin)
2 tbsp ghee
1 cup cold pressed virgin coconut oil
10 g sooji (semolina)
10 g besan (gram flour)
1 cup water
200 g sugar
Few strands saffron
½ tsp cardamom powder
Handful chopped pistachios
Handful chopped almonds
Handful chopped cashew nuts
½ cup grated khoya
- Wash and soak the moong dal for four hours. Drain the water. Grind the dal to a fine paste (use little or no water).
- Heat the coconut oil in a pan. Add the semolina and besan, cook on a low flame till it turns light brown. Turn the flame to low and let the oil cool a little. Add the ground dal. Cook the dal on a very low flame until it starts to brown. As it gets cooked, it will get a sandy texture.
- Heat the water, sugar, saffron and cardamom powder in another pan. Bring to the boil as the sugar dissolves, turn off the heat, and remove.
- Once the dal is evenly browned, add the sugar syrup. Cook till the dal absorbs all of the syrup. Add the chopped nuts and grated khoya. Stir, remove from the flame, and serve hot.