MILK.. We are fed milk right from day one of our life, mothers milk and then weaned on to cows milk. For thousands of years human beings have grown up consuming cow milk. That is why a cow is treated like a mother in all parts of India, in fact a cow is considered very holy and sacred for all Hindus. Milk has a very important place in all cuisines worldwide. Desserts from all over the world are mainly made from milk.. from ice creams to kulfis, mithais to toffees, cheese cakes to kalakhand. Milk is incorporated in many forms in Indian cuisine, it forms the very basis for our ghee and butter, and of course yogurt or dahi. No Indian home can function without milk, the average Indian man has at least 2 or 3 cups of milk tea or chai on a daily basis. Tea vendors can be found on most streets in India doing a roaring business at all times of the day, it is not unusual to see small groups of people holding impromptu discussions with their cuppa of chai . Most Indian households also make their own yogurt or dahi at home.
Milk also gives us Paneer or home made cottage cheese which is the strained residue left after the milk has been curdled. Paneer based dishes are a must in most family gatherings especially amoung the sindhi, punjabi and bengali communities.Normally when the milk is curdled ,the remaining clear liquid , which is called whey, is discarded. Whey actually has a lot of nutrients, and there are many households who will put the whey to some use like kneading the bread or roti dough with it.
Todays recipe is based on milk which has been curdled, this easy to make dish is based on a long lost memory. Years ago milk was delivered early in the mornings by the milk man, it used to come in glass bottles. Even then the aluminium cover was an indication of low fat and full cream, the blue cover was for full cream milk and the green colour for low fat milk. I remember my grandfather collecting the milk at 5.30 am from the doorstep as he was an early riser. Baba then took the blue topped milk bottle and gently kept tilting it back and forth for a good 15 to 20 miniutes . Ater that when the bottle was opened, the milk had already separated with the fat rising to the top and forming a layer of white butter at the top, which mummy used to scoop out into a bowl for our breakfast. The remaining milk hence turned into fat free naturally.I remember once my mother was in the kitchen boiling milk and the milk happend to curdle, but she coolly went on boiling it and when the whey had reduced considerably, she added some green masala paste to it and lo behold it had turned into a delicious sabji..So based on that is todays recipe, the milk sabji or as we say in sindhi, kheeraji bhaji.. It is a very simple dish and is delicious at the same time, best eaten with phulkas and a side dish of potato sabji.
MILK sabji/ kheeraji bhaji
2 ONIONS.. FINELY CHOPPED
3 MEDIUM TOMATOES …THINLY SLICED
1 TBSP FINELY CHOPPED GARLIC
1 TBSP GRATED GINGER
FINELY CHOPPED CORRIANDER LEAVES
12 CURRY LEAVES
2 TBSPS OF DRY KASOORI METHI
1 TBSP CUMIN SEEDS
1 TSP AJWAIN ..( CAROM SEEDS)
RED CHILIE POWDER, TURMERIC POWDER , GARAM MASALA AND SALT TO TASTE.
FEW DROPS OF VINEGAR
1 LITRE OF FULL CREAM MILK
1.. HEAT 3 TBSPS OIL IN A BROAD SAUCEPAN AND ADD THE CUMIN AND CAROM SEEDS( JEERA AND AJWAIN). WHEN THE SEEDS STOP SPLUTTERING, ADD ONIONS, GARLIC, GINGER AND CURRY LEAVES.. SAUTE TILL ONIONS START TURNING A GOLDEN BROWN, TAKE CARE NOT TO BURN THE ONIONS.
2.. ADD THE TOMATOES, RED CHILIE POWDER, TURMERIC POWDER , GARAM MASALA POWDER AND SALT . MIX GENTLY TILL EVERYTHING COMES TOGETHER AND FORMS A THICK GRAVY.. AT THIS POINT ADD THE DRY KASOORI METHI AND SOME CORRIANDER LEAVES.
3.. POUR THE MILK DIRECTLY INTO THE GRAVY AND STIR GENTLY , BRINGING IT TO A BOIL. ADD FEW DROPS OF VINEGAR AND CHECK IF THE MILK CURDLES , IF NOT ADD FEW DROPS MORE. BY THIS TIME THE MILK SHOULD HAVE SEPARATED INTO SMALL GRAINS…
4.. KEEP THE MILK ON A ROLLING BOIL , UNCOVERED FOR ABOUT 15 MINS, AND THEN CONTINUE COOKING ON A MEDIUM FLAME UNTIL THE WHEY HAS REDUCED TOTALLY AND YOU ARE LEFT WITH A VELVETY GRANULAR MIXTURE.. ADD SOME MORE CORRIANDER LEAVES AND SERVE HOT..