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July 2005

Goda Masala-Maharashtrian Spice mix

 

Every year my mother would get her years supply of masala from a little old white haired woman who lived on the corner of Fergusson College Road and Bhandarkar road. She ran what was known as the Anand Khadya Vastu Bhandar. As soon as we entered, in fact from well around the corner, we could smell the spices. The building was made of granite stones , typical Pune solid stuff, with wooden balconies running the length and width of the building.The kota floors were swept completely clean and shone,and the spices filled each room.From here we got our Goda Masala, stone ground by a happy, chatty lot of bai's in nine yard sarees.

This is how every mother-in-law made sure her son would always have food 'like mama made it" She gave daughter-in -law the source of her masala.
Many years ago AKVB shut down but goda masala is sold at every general and provision store in Deccan Gymkhana, one of the best being available at P.Y. Vaid on Fergusson College Road.

The main reason why home cooked food tastes different from house to house is the way in which these masalas are made. The amounts of spices and the degree to which they are roasted makes all the difference.

Recipe for Maharashtian Goda Masala

250 gms small green dried dhana / coriander seeds

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp badi or masala elaichi/ cardamom
2 tbspdalchini/ cinnamon
1 tbsp lavang / cloves
6 tej patta/ bay leaf
5 gm badalphool/ star anise
5 gm dagadphool/ lichen
1 tbsp nagkeshar/ Cobra's Saffron-Mesua ferra

1/2 cup jeera/ Cumin seed
2 tbsps hing/ asafoetida pieces ( or powder)
1 tsp dried haldi / turmeric pieces.(or powder)

50 gms dried red chillies
1 tbsp salt.

50 gm til / sesame seeds
1 cup grated copra / dried coconut

Sort and clean coriander seeds.
Heat half the oill and add the cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves , nagkeshar, star anise ,lichen, bay leaf one after the oher. Fry lightly, then add the cumin, the turmeric and asafoetida pieces.Keep aside.
Now roast the red chillies and keep aside. Add the salt to the red chillies.,
Roast the following seperately till light brown in colour- grated copra, sesame seeds.
Heat the rest of the oil and fry the coriander seeds in it till light brown in colour.
Now put the first lot of spices in a blender and grind till fine.Pound the red chillies into small bits and add to the mixture along with the salt.
Take out and grind the coriander seeds till it makes a fine powder.
Add to the other spices and grind/blend all together again.Remove and set aside.
Grind the copra and sesame seeds till it makes a fine paste. Add the paste to the dried maalas and blend with finger tips till it as well mixed. Give the entire lot of spices one final turn in the blender.
Bottle in clean sterilised jars.
This will keep for well over a year.

This recipe was given to me by friend Sudha who makes it regularly from a recipe ( with a few changes according to her taste) by Jayashree Deshpande. Her book "Humkhas Paksiddhi" is published by Nitin Prakashan, Pune email: nitin_prakashan@vsnl.net


How to make Paneer/ Cottage Cheese

 

Home made paneer / cottage cheese is so different from what you buy outside. I am always a bit concerned that shop bought paneer has something added as a thickener. Blotting paper ? That used to be a favourite thickener for kulfi /boiled down milk icecream, or so I was told several years ago.

In any case, if not for reasons of strange additives, then for reasons of taste, you should try making your own paneer for just once in your life. One good reason to do so, in India, is that you can then eat it without cooking . Sliced wafer thin, topped with lettuce or cucumber, with salt and pepper or chaat masala it makes a mouthwatering and healthy sandwich or veggie burger.

Milk products are a haven for bacteria especially here where we get raw milk. Our milk man, who owned a large herd of buffaloes, was known for increasing the daily yield by the simple method of adding water from the garden tap.
He is now our local corporator.

I don't know if this proves anything about milk or corporators but at least he insists on giving all visitors a cup of tea to drink before which he will not attend to any complaints or requests.

Another story about adulterated milk is the one about tankers of milk making their way from farm to city, stopping enroute to be topped up with water and soap suds (of a particular brand of soap, which I shall not name) that had the right milky colour.
A friend who distributes rennit and yeasts to produce different types of yogurt and cheese can keep an evening going with his tales of dastardly deeds done to milk in India and it will make you swear off raw milk forever, unless you have a stomach made of iron, one that will not turn easily.

Okay, so the main issue here is that most commercially made paneer is formed at a degree below boiling point and is therefore bacterially suspect. Not only that, covered as it is with fine muslin, soaked in heaven knows what water, to keep it damp, about which flies hover and dive bomb.....need I say more?

So are you are now ready to try your hand at making paneer at home? If so this is what you do: Get your paneer making tools together.

Paneer making tools

    • Large stainless steel pan

 

    • Slotted spoon

 

    • Paneer strainer

 

  • Measuring cup

Squeeze two lemons and keep the juice ready.Take one litre of cow's or buffalo's milk. Heat is till it boils. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Adding lime juice to hot milk

Very slowly start pouring the lime juice into the simmering milk while stirring it in at very leisurely pace with a slotted spoon.

 

The milk will start to seperate. Continue to stir very gently while adding the lime juice.

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The curds should now form a large mass.When it does so, stop stirring and take the pan off the heat.

Curds sinking

Let the curds sink to the bottom of the pan. Then pour off the whey into another pan. Keep aside for other uses *( see below).

Whey and curds

Turn the curds into a paneer maker or a sieve and let stand without pressing till water is further released from the curds.

Cutting the curds

Cut the curds to release any extra liquid and let stand till well formed.

Paneer chunk

The top of the paneer should remain wet not dry. 1 litre of full cream milk makes about 250 gms of paneer.

Paneer cubes

The paneer can now be used to cook , grill or fry.It can also be used as is, in salads, sandwiches, toppings or in a cheesecake.By the way paneer made from buffaloes milk is white and that made from cows milk is a pale creamy yellow.Homemade paneer must be refrigerated and used within 3 days . If you intend to use it later, keep it covered with water, like tofu, in the fridge, till you are ready to use it which should not be more than 5 days after making in any case.

*The whey of the paneer is full of nutrients and can be added to wheat flour when kneading it for chapathies.This makes the chapathies very soft.It can also be added to the gravy if you are making paneer curry or to any other curry to add flavour.

(Thanks to Leela Broome for her expertise generously shared with me. She began making superb Gouda, Edam, Cheddar and several other cheeses in Pune long before anybody else did.) We now look to Amul for a new range of cheeses.

I used cubes of this cheese, well salted,to make Melissa's yummy Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta -Olive Salad . It was nothing like Feta but tasted good nevertheless.

Paneer Maker
Buy an authentic Indian paneer maker.


Maharashtrian Thali

 

Shabree board

Driving through the madness of Fergusson College Road, where half the road is taken up by parked cars and two wheelers, I caught sight of a little restaurant, behind the temple that has been built plumb on the corner of F.C. road and Ghole Road.It was two in the afternoon and we were starving.The best time to tackle a thali meal.

Cutting across the road in time honoured Poona fashion, through the intertwining traffic made up of vehicles of all shapes and sizes, we found a place to park. What an achievement. Worthy of self congratulation.This was done loudly and with great satisfaction. Lunch loomed appetizingly large on the horizon.

Drenched in perspiration,( with the high humidity levels one swims through the day) we made our way to Shabree.

I like the name so here is the story behind it-Shabree was a tribal devotee of Rama who waited her entire life to meet him. Everyday she picks fruits from the forest and waits for him. Year after year, when all have abandoned the ashram, Shabree waits for Ram to grace her with his presence. When he finally comes , she is old and blind, but still full of devotion . She feeds him berries picked that morning and tasted by her in case they prove to be bitter. Ram eats the berries and by doing so blesses her as a true "Bhakt". (one who reaches God through unwavering love)

Shabree waiters

It was a quiet day for them or we were very late. In any case, attention was showered upon us by a group of waiters, all dressed like the Peshwa's. There is no menu as they only serve a Maharashtrian thali meal here , with typical Pune cooking. It is an 'unlimited' thali and the sweet is included in the price of the meal on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Maharashtrian Thali

We got a typical toor dal / lentil soup made with kala masala, a kadhi / yogurt based soup, a matki usal, / a vegetable curry made with sprouts, palak paneer / spinach and cottage cheese, beetroot raita beetroot in yogurt, Pitle bhaji / a dish made of gram flour with onions and other spices, alu bhaji , kothimbir vadi's /deep fried coriander and gram flour slices , alu pakora / potato dipped in gram flour and fried, a katori of dahi / a small bowl of curd AND 3 types of chapathies PLUS 2 types of rice . I forgot to give a mention to the choice of four pickles.

The matki usal was very chilli hot which led to another outbreak of perspiration, but the rest were a mix of tastes, slightly sweet (kadhi and raita) and slightly spicy.Home cooked pitle and matki is somehat different but what they served was a good approximation.The dal and kadhi were very authentically Pune.

Roti Platter

We loved the bhakri/flat breads, one made of jowar and the other made of bajra. The wheat chapathies just about melted in the mouth. The result of eating all the chapathies made it impossible to even taste the masala rice. We were stuffed to the gills.

On the whole a very filling experience..the food was produced the moment we sat down, with no waiting at all. And it kept coming till we had to throw up our hands in weak protest.

Do not plan on eating for the next 24 hours.

Shabree
1199/1A F.C. Road
Pune-411 004
Tel: 25531511

Thali meals- Rs 70-80( $1.75-$2) per person.