Julia Child in Delhi – Dr Shirali Raina Makes Her Kashmir’s Leydhar Tschaman and Oluv, Noida Sector 61
The great chef’s life in Delhi.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
She was born in Srinagar. Both her parents were also born in Jammu and Kashmir’s capital. And this was her husband’s birthplace too. But her daughter was born in the city of Jammu, six hours away. She was pregnant when she left the Valley in February 1990, due to what she calls ‘disturbances’.
Shirali Raina is a Kashmiri. The Delhi Walla is at her third-floor apartment in Sector 61, Noida. The apartment complex, with scores of flats, is also home to about a dozen Kashmiri families.
A clinical research specialist, Ms Raina largely grew up in Baramulla, where her father taught English literature in a college. She has sweet memories of the visits she would pay to her Muslim friends in her childhood.
“It was the same food as what we had in our Pandit home, but you could discern little differences. For example, in our house, we would never add haldi in Rogan Josh… Our gravies were not as thick.”
Today Ms Raina has promised to make a dish that we are never to find in Kashmiri-specialty restaurants. Leydhar Tschaman and Oluv, she says, is unique to Kashmir’s Pandits. “It’s my comfort food and reminds me of those days, long ago, when I would see mummy making home-made paneer for this dish…”
The dish’s name means ‘yellow paneer’. “When it’s ready, its sunny yellowness cheers up my heart.”
Potatoes, thick round slices 8-10 slices(1/2 to 1cm thick depending on the preference)
Oil for deep frying: approx 1 1/2 cups
Haldi /Turmeric powder: 1 tsp heaped
Saunth/Ginger powder: 1 tsp flat
Saunf/Fennel powder: 3-4 tbsp
Zeera / Cumin seeds: 1tsp
Bari elaichi/ Black cardamoms: 2-3
Choti elaichi/ Green cardamoms: 3-4
Salt to taste
Milk 1/2 cup
Dry pudina/mint powder: A pinch
Green chillies (optional): 2
Ghee (optional): 1tbsp
Dice the paneer into 1-inch chunks with approx half-inch thickness.
Peel and slice potatoes into thick (1/2 to 1cm) round slices.
Fry the paneer chunks till light brown and transfer to a bowl filled with water. It helps to keep the paneer soft. Care should be taken not to fry it crisp as the gravy does not seep in then.
Lightly fry or saute the potatoes till light golden brown. Keep aside.
Crush the black cardamom, cloves, cumin seeds.
Add 1/4 cup of oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the crushed garam masala. Stir quickly at low flame till it splutters.
Add potato slices, ginger and fennel powder and quickly stir. Add a little water so that the masala mixes well.
Add the paneer and the water in which it was soaked. The water should be enough to cover the ingredients well. Add salt as per taste.
Add turmeric powder, crushed green cardamoms, green chillies. Bring to a boil.
Put on the lid and simmer for eight minutes, till the gravy thickens, paneer is spongy in texture and potatoes are soft.
Add 1/2 cup milk. Give a couple of good boils without putting the lid on (otherwise the milk may curdle).
1 tbsp of heated ghee can be added as an option at the end.
Sprinkle a pinch of pudina powder for additional aroma.
Best served hot with rice.
The taste of her Kashmir