Food talk
Dhania does the trick

Freshly ground coriander seeds lend character and body to this
meaty delight, writes Pushpesh Pant

Clothes, they say, make a man. As far as recipes go, in our experience, it is the name that makes or mars their fortune. Call some non-descript dish a qorma Jehangiri or Shahjehani and the diners are bound to take it seriously. The most delectable mutton curry will always be meted out the treatment reserved for the Ugly Duckling or poor long suffering Cinderella before their transformation. This has been the fate of many home-style recipes that have provided unalloyed joy to generations of food lovers. The true blue gourmet is not impressed by titles for him or her what matters is the taste. What is in a name? "A rose is a rose is a rose", as Gertrude Stein famously put it long years ago. We were reminded of all this when had more than a mouthful of delicious dhaniawali tari ka gosht. A friend, who had accompanied us to the generous host uninvited, kept showing off his half-baked knowledge by chipping in repeatedly, "Oh this is the dhaniwal qorma of Kashmir, isn’t it?" He was also obviously disappointed by the absence of fresh coriander leaves as garnish. Flavour was not his concern — appearances shouldn’t be so deceptive was his main grudge. Why is the shorba not green? The hostess quetched him by suggesting that if emerald was his birthstone he should stick to saag gosht.

What lent character and body to the stuff was freshly ground at home dhania seeds. One was glad that the gifted cook had renounced the temptation to accent the spice with garnish. The recipe is not even distinctly related to the gem from the Kashmiri repertoire. The gravy is neither watery nor thick like a creamy sauce. And, above all this was not a curry, including all the available spices at home masking the meat. We recommend the recipe strongly to our readers.

Chef’s corner


Lamb/kid (from the shoulder or hind leg) 500gm

Bay leaf one

Brown cardamom two

Cloves two

Peppercorns 1 tsp

Onions 100 gm

Garlic and ginger paste 1 tsp each

Dhania powder (freshly ground) 3 tbsp

Haldi powder 1/2 tsp

Whole red chillies (dried) two

Oil 150 ml

Salt to taste


Wash pat dry and trim the meat. Cut in small pieces. Peel and slice the onions. Wipe clean and shred the chillies. Heat oil in a pan to smoking. Reduce heat to medium add the bay leaf and whole spices. When these begin to splutter add onions and stir-fry till these are translucent, add the garlic, ginger paste continue to stir-fry till onions are brown. Add meat and the dried red chillies along with salt and the powdered spices dissolved in 1/2 cup of water. Stir-fry till moisture evaporates. Continue to brown the meat on medium heat till the spice paste begins to leave side. Pour 3 cups of hot water bring to boil reduce heat and cook covered on low medium heat for about 20 minutes or the meat is done to taste. Equally enjoyable with rice or roti.