Sunday, 29 March 2020

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Palak

Palak - packed with iron!

If you were to research Palak, you'd find all manner of different recipes for Palak curry. This is because 'palak' means 'spinach' and of course we all know how versatile spinach can be as an ingredient. For example 'Palak paneer' is a deep green curry from the Punjab region, made with not only spinach but a rich spinach paste to give a deep green colour and an overwhelming earthy taste so associated with the plant. 

Indeed, many visitors to western Indian restaurants will know spinach to be used in Sag Aloo where it is combined with cooked potatoes to create a delicious accompaniment to a curry.

Here at The Mountains of the Moon our palak dishes are deliciously different. Our  'Palak' mains course uses fresh spinach as our base ingredient adding ginger, tomatoes, garlic and our very own unique blend of spices along the way to provide you with a low to medium (two chilli rating) curry. 

In addition, we offer 'Palak Daal' in preference to Sag Aloo. Palak Daal is a delicious spicy spinach with chickpeas which serves as a great accompaniment to any of our meat or poultry based curries.

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Curry, Gravy or Sauce?

Interestingly the term 'curry' is hardly used in India and barely used in Pakistan. The word 'curry' originated as an Anglicised adaptation of the Tamil word 'Kari' which means 'sauce'. Throughout India you will here the term gravy or sauce used much more frequently. The word Kari was thought to have derived from the frequent use by British Colonials of the British East India Tea Company who traded with the Tamil merchants along the coast of south east India. 

The 'sauce' is usually understood to mean vegetables and/or meat cooked with spices with or without a gravy. Curries were first served in coffee houses in Britain from 1809 onwards, increasing in popularity to the extent that it is now voted as the most popular food in the UK.

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Indian Desserts

Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun  is a true Indian dessert generally associated with North India. It was first prepared in medieval India, and was thought to have been accidentally made for Mughai emperor Shah Jahan by his personal chef.
 
Jamun is taken from the Indian fruit of a similar shape whilst Gulab refers to the words flower and water. It is not surprising therefore that this delicious dish is made using 'rose water'. Syrup and rose water are mixed to give these dumplings a fabulously delicious sweet taste. As for the recipe, well at The Mountains of the Moon that's a closely guarded secret as we add an extra ingredient into our dumpling to give it's uniqueness. 
 

Galar Halwa (Galar ka Halwa)

 
Galar Halwa is again a dessert associated with the Northern area of India. It is also associated with Pakistan and can often be found being served at festivals. The word 'Galar' means 'carrot', whilst the word 'halwa' in Hindu means 'sweet'.  As you can therefore deduce from the name alone, this delicious sweet dessert is made primarily from shredded carrot. Milk, water and sugar are some of the other main ingredients....and a few other ingredients that chef will keep to himself make up the entire dessert. It can be served hot or cold and is usually garnished with pistachio nuts or almonds making a fabulous climax to any authentic Indian meal. 
 
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Samosa

Depending upon where you are in the world, you can probably find the humble 'samosa' for sale...often on the streets from street vendors. But you may have to learn their numerous different names in order to recognise them on a menu. These names vary from Samsa, somsa, somosa, somucha, sambosak, sambusa, samoosa, singada, samuza, sambosa, somasi, somaas. Yes, a pretty mouthful (excuse the pun), don't you think? One thing that these dishes have in common is that, prepared right with the correct blend of ingredients, they are all delicious! 

Samosas are fried or baked pastry with a savoury filling, such as spiced potatoes, peas, onions, lentils, and meats - sometimes they include noodles or macaroni. As for the meats generally it is minced chicken, beef or lamb. Sometimes nuts are added, and the preferred nuts are pinenuts. Typically the dishes are triangular in shape, and once deep friend they are drained on paper to absorb the excess oil. 

Found all over Asia, Indian samosas are often vegetarian, and are served as a popular entrée, appetizer or snack. The flavour and combination of samosas can vary from region to region. As we stated earlier, the samosa can often be found served by street vendors (as seen above) on the streets of every Indian city, along with hundreds of other street dishes.

At The Mountains of the Moon we offer both vegetarian and meat samosas made to a recipe handed down amongst generations within my Indian family. Each and every one is hand-made by chef on the premises, and we pride ourselves on not buying in our produce but going to the lengths of bringing you truly authentic flavours that I grew up with as a kid, and throughout my life. We hope you enjoy our samosas.  

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