This Anando Mela (home cooked food stalls at Durga Puja Pandals on usually the first day of the festivities, for those who don’t know about it) I planned to do a thematic stall basis a certain kind of cuisine instead of random stuff.
I chose Parsi food as the theme and planned to do three items from the same – veg, non veg and dessert and instantly hit a roadblock. While for both non veg and desserts I had many recipes to pick from I just couldn’t find a veg recipe which would strike a chord. I googled, asked knowledgeable friends and read up recipe books but couldn’t find anything which I could be sure would be appreciated at an Anando Mela Stall…after all it’s the first day of pujas and people would be looking forward to interesting lip smacking dishes a stew or dal wouldn't pass muster.
So after much looking around I did what had to be done and tweaked the initial concept to being Bombay based rather than Parsi and added the absolute hot favorite among Bombay’s street foods i.e Vada Pao to my list of dishes.
Having made up my mind I then started hunting for the recipes from friends, blogs and also some websites. The delicious Sali Boti and Laganu Custard were actually surprisingly easy to make and turned out yummy as well.
The vada pao the simple veg dish took more effort and time …since the vadas needed to be freshly fried and the chutneys that go to make the combination the addiction it is, have to be just right.
Since I was going to make all dishes in bulk I made smaller quantities a couple of days in advance to check out how it works. I tweaked the recipes to suit my tastebuds and of course available ingredients and was satisfied with the results.
The day of the Anando Mela came around and I got down to cooking in a frenzy while the landlord chose the very same day to get repair work done at home making our house resemble a war zone of sorts. Frantic activity happening everywhere and baby and doggie raising hell for having been confined.
The recipe for Sali Boti recommended boneless mutton sadly due to Navratra my usual mutton shop was closed and I had to order in from another one…they said they couldn’t deliver boneless mutton so I had to do with mince instead…however they agreed to send me coarse mince and not the machine made sludge that passes for mince these days.
The mutton got delivered in time and I set to work. One of the things I have learnt with time is to gather every ingredient needed including water in a jug at hand before starting to cook and that’s what I did.
In case you want to try making Sali Boti …here is how you can go about making it.
Ingredients list for Sali Boti:
I have reduced quantities here to make it more in tune with what one would cook for the family, I was of course cooking a large quantity
500 gm boneless mutton cut into small pieces/ coarse mutton keema
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp jeera and green chilli paste
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tbsp oil
4 onions chopped very finely
3 spoons of garlic flavored soup herbs
3 bay leaves
1 tsp of chilli and turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
salt to taste
1 tbsp chopped coriander for garnishing
150 gms sali / fine potato sticks
Marinate the meat in salt, ginger garlic paste, green chilli paste and yoghurt. Cover the bowl and let the meat marinate ideally overnight and a minimum of 4 hours. Marinating is what really infuses the flavors so try and plan a little in advance so that you don’t have to skimp on this important aspect.
In a thick bottomed/ nonstick pan heat the oil and then add the chopped onions. Fry the onions till they are golden pink in colour. Now, add in the tomato puree as well as the garlic herb.
Once it forms a thick gravy add in the marinated meat, all the masalas, vinegar, sugar and bay leaves. Give everything a good stir and cover your pot so that the meat can start slow cooking on a low-medium flame.
The slow cooking will have to be patiently supervised with a once in a while stir, once the mutton starts to look cooked slightly removed the cover lid so that the steam can escape and the dish doesn’t look watery. When the meat becomes tender and the tomato gravy has reduced by almost half its contents then your Sali Boti is ready. Garnish with finely chopped coriander and give it a final stir.
Serve hot with some sali on top and lemon on the side for those who would prefer their’s a little sourer. This dish is good as a snack and also as a lunch dish with chapatti or paratha.
P.S: The Vada pao and Laganu Custard recipes will follow in separate posts.