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12-day Punjabi food festival in Mumbai

From lamb slow-cooked in earthen pots to kheer with makhanas, explore the diversity of Punjabi cuisine at an ongoing food festival 

If you thought Punjabi food was all about creamy dal makhani or butter chicken and naan, think again. “These are restaurant dishes that hardly ever make an appearance on the traditional Punjabi table,” shares corporate chef Gurpreet Singh Gehdu, who has curated the Rangla Punjab festival at Punjab Grill. The 12-day food festival will introduce city gourmands to the rich, cultural diversity of the state. The menu includes an almost forgotten beverage known as Kaali Gajar di Kaanji, pickles like Gobhi Shalgam and Meat Da Achaar, and main course dishes such as Kotkapura Atta Chicken (origins in the historic city of Kotkapur), Macchi De Pakode, Pind Da Saag, Harey Chholiya Da Pulao with Maa Chholey Di Daal as well as desserts like Gurh Wale Chawal and Makhane Di Kheer. 

Makhane Di Kheer
Makhane Di Kheer is made from farm-fresh milk, not the packaged variety

“The most important characteristic of the dishes cooked in Punjabi villages is the use of fresh ingredients and the sanjha-chulha concept, which lends smokiness and flavour. Since the recipes have been passed onto me by my family, we have tried to maintain the authenticity in the restaurant setting too,” says Gehdu.

Yummy facts from the menu:
>> The curries of Punjab aren’t soaked in oil or spices. So, the Kunna Meat (named after the kunna or the earthen pot the lamb is cooked in) has been cooked without rogan josh or garam masala. It is slow-cooked with onions, ginger-garlic and green chillies. The pot’s ceramic wall adds the flavour.

>> The star dish, Kotkapura Atta Chicken, is a whole chicken cleaned, pierced, and marinated overnight in yoghurt, vinegar, spices like dry mango powder and black pepper, salt, and red bean stew. The meat is encased in wheat flour dough, and is roasted in a tandoor. It takes about three hours to cook, where the dough hardens and turns black, and locks the juices and the flavours of the meat and the spices within.

>> Makhane Di Kheer is a dessert made from thickened milk with lotus seeds fried in ghee, and is sprinkled with nutmeg for added flavour. It’s made with milk straight from the farm.

Chef Gurpreet Singh Gehdu
Chef Gurpreet Singh Gehdu

Till March 16 AT Lower Parel and Andheri (W) outposts

Makhaane Di Kheer recipie

Ingredients (measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml)
1 cup makhana/foxnuts/phool makhana

2 cups organic milk or 500 ml organic milk

3-4 green cardamom, husked and powdered in a mortar-pestle

10-12 cashews or 10-12 almonds, blanched & sliced

1 tbsp golden raisins

3.5 to 4 tbsp sugar or as required

a pinch of saffron/kesar

2 to 3 tsp ghee/clarified butter

Instructions
Heat 2 to 3 tsp ghee in a pan; add the phool makhana and cashews.

On a low flame, roast 1 cup phool makhana and 10 to 12 cashews in ghee till the makhanas become crunchy. The cashews will also get golden. Stir often while roasting them.

Heat 2 cups milk/500 ml in a sauce pan or a thick bottomed pan.

Whilst the milk is getting heated up, reserve â…“ cup makhana and add the remaining in a grinder or blender jar. add cardamom seeds from 4 cardamom pods along with a pinch of saffron strands.

Add the ground powdered makhana then the reserved â…“ cup makhana.

Simmer till the makhane softens and the milk thickens a bit. About 9 to 10 minutes on a low to medium flame.

Lastly add the golden cashews and raisins

Serve makhane ki kheer hot or warm or chilled.

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