Monday, January 24, 2022

Bhaditraka.......An Ancient Sanskrit Name For Delicious

I love old cookbooks, always have. I think it started when I found my great grandma's Native Daughters Of The Golden West Cookbook. It's now nearly 100 years old and what I loved about it as a kid was there were recipes for squirrel in it. The squirrel and other delicacies were in a section of the book devoted to Early Californio recipes, and usually talked about a hot fire or a hot oven with no discernible temperatures or real times given, just HOT, and For A While. I loved trying to figure them out as a kid, and practiced on my mom's stove. But wait, there's more.

   I've experimented, and I've cooked ancient Roman Cheesecake.

I've baked Emily Dickinsons Gingerbread...

...and Virginia Woolfe's Cottage Loaf, because I like, no, love old recipes, and when I find one I just have to try it.

People have been writing down favorite recipes since the development of writing. Ancient cookbooks exist almost everywhere in the world, and are wonderful windows into along, long ago past. They're found on every continent, and in many languages. Some ancient texts, are written in cuniform on clay Like the Yale Tablets from 1700 BC that have lasted since the fall of Babylon, or De Re Coquinaria the Roman cookbook of Apicius. There's the Medieval Islamic Kitab al-Ṭabīḫ from 900 AD, Le Viandier, a French cookbook from 1300 AD, a Catelonian cookbook Llibre de Sent Sovi, from 1324, and from China Yinshan Zhengyao from the Yuan dynasty in 1334.

Some recipes have been treasured  over ages and just recently collected such as In Bibi's Kitchen, Recipes and Stories from Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries That Touch the Indian Ocean  

Chef Freddie Bitsoie's book The New Native Kitchen :Celebrating Modern Recipes of The American Indian

And from the University of Texas at San Antonio: 200 Year old Mexican Recipes downloadable for free 

Now that it's cold and wet up here in Northern California, I'm firing up my  Homdor Tandoor oven to do some Winter Kitchen Cooking, and what better to start with than a recipe from one of the oldest cookbooks the Mansollasa a 12th century Sanskrit text put together by the Kalyani Chalukya King Someshvara lll who ruled South India. The book is a guide to EVERYTHING: dance, astrology, horticulture, medicine, government ethics, games, painting, poetry, music, and FOOD! My sister-in-law, could have probably told me reams about this book since she reads Sanskrit...but she's in New York and I'm here so I went digging.

The book and it's recipes still exist and I decided to cook one of them. It's a simple recipe, easy to prepare and can be done on a BBQ, but it was created for a Tandoor Oven. It's a simple marinade, and most ingredients you may already have.


Here's What You Need:

2 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs mashed raw papaya

1 Tbs Ginger paste (grind fresh chopped ginger w/ a tiny bit of water in a food processor or blender until you have a paste )

1/4 cup onion paste (made the same way as above)

1 tsp Green chili paste (serrano chili done the same way)

* Note:

I bought a wet/dry grinder a few years back  it's a mighty little machine perfect for preparing pastes etc. and a great kitchen asset.

2 Tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp[ ground cardamom

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

3 Tbs vegetable oil

1 tsp salt.

2 lbs of boneless lamb leg cut into chunks for skewering aka tikkas. Make cuts in the meat with a sharp knife so the marinade can penetrate the meat.

A couple of new potatoes

Here's What To Do:

This is super simple. Just take all the ingredients above  (EXCEPT THE SALT) and mix them together in a bowl. 

Put everything in the fridge and let it sit at least 8 hours or better yet, overnight.

Add the salt to the marinade 15 minutes before cooking, and mix everything again.

Cut your potatoes into chunks, you'll be using them as stoppers for your skewers.

Rub your skewers with some oil.

 Then thread the meat chunks on the skewers, sticking a chunk of potato on the end as a stopper...

Like so...

Brush them with the left over marinade...

...and let them sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes or so while you get your tandoor oven nice and hot.

This dish cooks at about 480 degrees.

When the temperature has reached around 480, put your skewers into the tandoor oven and cook for about 10 minutes.

Take them out , stand them upright against the tandoor to let the drippings fall for about 5 minutes.

Then, back into the oven for another 5 to 8 minutes depending on how done you like your meat.

Remove the meat from the skewers and serve it up, sprinkled with a bit of fresh cilantro.

Among the many cooking implements Paula Wolfert has passed along to me, was this beautiful tagine, inlaid with metal.

She told me it was a serving tagine, not meant for the oven so I decided to use that for my presentation.

I served the Bhaditraka with Basmati rice with saffron, sultanas, and almonds, Indian Creamed Spinach ...

...and a fresh Papaya Raita.

So there it is, direct from the 12th century right to your modern kitchen.

 Coming up next....How to do this.... and some other stuff.

 Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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