Tuesday, July 08, 2008

10 Simple Khoja Muslim Recipes

I found the story of Khojas and their conversion to Islam fascinating. From Sindh, the conversion spread to Kutch, through Kathiawar and later to Mumbai. Khoja cuisine, though built around meat, respects the local beliefs and does not include beef. Khojas still retain a large dose of Hindu culture, traditions and beliefs. Their funeral customs involve the sprinkling of holy water to the reading of Das-Avatar, written by the Persian missionary, Hajji Saiyid Sadr al-Din who successfully presented Islam to Hindus in form that appealed to their beliefs and traditions, even making Imam Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law, the tenth Avatar of Vishnu !

This cookbook lists 10 simple vegetarian Khoja recipes. All these recipes in this cookbook are eaten with a variety of pulao, biriyani, naan and rotis. They are greatly simplified so that a first time cook can easily cook them. For detailed recipes, check out Fateema Hooda’s Khoja Khana.

The following recipes are listed in this cookbook.
1.: Batate Ka Salan ( Potato Tomato Curry) Unlike Mogul cuisine, Khoja cuisine uses fried mustard and curry leaves as flavouring, as this curry demonstrates.

2.: Guvar Batata (Cluster Beans - Potato - Tomato curry) is cluster beans, potato and tomato cooked with spices and flavoured by the famous Hara Masala.

3.: Turiya Vatana (Ridge Gourd, Peas & Tomato curry ) is a mix of vegetables flavoured with coriander, cumin , turmeric and Hara Masala.

4.: Kanda Batata (Onion, Potato, Tomato curry) is another combination of vegetables with similar flavouring as above.

5.: Baingan Batata: (Eggplant, Potato Tomato Curry) marries eggplant with potatoes, a combination which is not very common.

6.: Sing Vatana Batata (Drumstick- potato- peas curry) uses drumstick, which is almost never used in Mogul cuisine.

7.: Kachumbar (Vegetable Salad) is an easily prepared salad, eaten with both rice and rotis.

8.: Mint chutney is a blend of mint, coriander and coconut.

9.:. Baingan Ka Bharta is the much loved, grilled and mashed eggplant curry.

10.: Dahi ki Kadi (Yogurt Curry) is yogurt simmered with gram flour and spices. I've modified the original recipe to include Hara masala, which packs quite a punch!

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Okay, let me start from the very beginning. 1500 crore years ago, with a Big Bang, the Universe is born. It expands dramatically. Hydrogen forms, contracts under gravity and lights up, forming stars. Some stars explode, dusting space with the building blocks of life. These condense into planets, one of which is Earth. Over time, self replicating molecules appear, multiply and become more complex. They create elaborate survival machines (cells, plants, animals). A variety of lifeforms evolve. Soon, humans arise, discover fire, invent language, agriculture and religion. Civilisations rise and fall. Alexander marches into India. Moguls establish an empire. Britain follows. Independence. Partition. Bloodshed. The license raj is in full sway. I'm born. India struggles to find its place. Liberalisation. The Internet arrives! I move from Tirupur to Chennai. Start a company. Expand into Malaysia, Singapore and the Middle East. Poof! Dot com bust. Funding dries up. Struggle. Retire. Discover the joy of cooking, giving, friendships and the pleasures of a simple life. Life seems less complicated. Pizza Republic, Pita Bite and Bhojan Express bloom !

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