I love watching cookery shows, I can spend hours watching them if I have free time in hand. I love watching Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Rachael Ray..and the list goes on. Each and every cook has their favorite ingredient, own way of presentation, food styling and I learn a lot from their expertise and knowledge. I pick up so many handy tips. Out of the so many recipes that I must have watched, some get inscribed in my brain and two preparations which had left an impression on me were from NDTV good times, from the state of Himachal Pradesh…The name of the dishes and their location had got imprinted in my brain. I clearly remembered they were was called Madra and Babroo , both were the preparations from Himachal Pradesh. The Madra/ Madhra is a recipe famous in Chamba.
If you live in Delhi and you have not visited Ambience mall in Gurgaon, do visit. There’s a Reliance Time Out store there and I loved their collection of books. They even had books which are rarely seen in the market. Other than the books which are famous world wide, I love reading books which are based on a local cuisine. These books give you an insight to what the cuisine is about and the intricacies and variety of the recipes in the cuisine.
One such book that I loved reading was Bhawanee Singh’s Classic Recipes From Himachal Pradesh, I loved reading the book and the recipes in it. Most of them I had never heard or tasted. For me it was a completely new cuisine and I realized the richness of the recipes while reading them. While turning the pages, my eyes hit on the title which said Madra and immediately the name rang bells in my head. I was now even more curious to read the recipe. I had a faint memory that the dish I had seen on TV had raisins and dry fruits in it but this particular recipe had none, nevertheless, I found the recipe and book interesting but I did not buy the book that time. Finally, just before we left Delhi for good, I bought this book fearing that I won’t get it in the new city and I’m glad that I bought it, as the book is very rarely seen these days..
I decided to try the Madra recipe from the book as the author has lived in Chamba and the recipe is from that region. I read the recipe thoroughly and soaked the required quantity of Kidney beans overnight, also made yogurt in large quantity. This is a ginger, garlic and onion free recipe, so even the Jain’s can enjoy and boy..it’s a rich recipe too..laden with clarified butter. The sourness comes from the large quantity of yogurt used in the recipe.
While reading the recipe I also realized that it had no chilies in it, but I could not imagine my curry without the chilies so I did that change and added chili powder. There are recipes which use dry fruits and raisins but I’ve avoided them since this particular recipe didn’t ask for. The madra can be made using the chickpeas/ kidney beans/ black eyed beans but I’ve used kidney beans.
This is a tricky preparation as it needs cooking of the yogurt and if that curdles, the entire dish gets spoilt. So, one needs to be extremely careful while making this dish. When the dish was cooked and I tasted it, I wasn’t too happy as I had not added the chili powder till then and I found it low on salt too. After adding a little more salt to the curry, I liked it to an extent and thought Oh! So much of hard work for not so wow dish, but I was wrong here, after a few hours when I tasted the curry again, it was great and it tasted awesome the next day. I felt good that the hard work paid off.. The kid loved it so much that he took it in his lunch box too and thought of sharing with his Jain friends in school.
Soaking Time: Overnight | Preparation Time: 10mins | Cooking Time: 1hr30mins | Serves:4-6 | Difficulty Level: Needs Skill
250gms Red kidney beans ( rajmah, I used the small Kashmiri variety)
1tsp turmeric powder
1kg fresh yogurt (this comes to about 750ml milk used to make yogurt), do not use the sour yogurt
1-1/2cups ghee/ clarified butter ( the original recipe asks for 2-1/4 cups)
2sticks dalchini/ cinnamon of 2”each
1/2tsp fenugreek/ methi seeds powdered ( I fried and powdered it)
5-6 green cardamom
4-5 black cardamom
1tsp garam masala
4-5 cloves/ loung
salt to taste
3tsp red chili powder (the original recipe does not use it)
Pressure cook the beans with salt till tender. Drain the water.
Whisk the yogurt till smooth.
Heat a thick bottom pan and melt the ghee, add all whole spices and let them crackle (I read some recipes of Madra online, suggesting use of Mustard Oil).
Remove from flame and add turmeric, followed by addition of smooth yogurt.
Put the pan back on fire, keep on medium flame and continuously stir till the yogurt comes to a boil, this prevents curdling of the yogurt. Even if you feel that the yogurt is curdling, keep stirring, it turns out fine at the end. Else you can add 2tsp rice flour dissolved in water to the yogurt, this prevents curdling ( I did not add any rice flour).
Once the yogurt starts boiling, keep scraping the bottom and sides. One can add a tablespoon of water at intervals to prevent scathing. In about 40mins the yogurt thickens, the color changes to brown and the ghee separates. At this point add salt and chili powder. Mix.
Tip in the kidney beans and mix thoroughly. Also add the fenugreek powder. Pour a little warm water and keep the pan on low heat till the water evaporates.
Before taking the pan off stove, mix in the garam masala and cover with a lid.
Before serving, heat a tablespoon ghee and add a pinch of chili powder and pour immediately on the curry (This was my contribution to the curry).
Serve hot with rice or paratha.
- This recipe needs skill as it’s a yogurt based gravy and needs continuous stirring through the cooking.
- It is advisable to add salt after the yogurt has boiled without curdling as salt can cause curdling.
- As it’s a curd based gravy, it needs more salt to taste.
- Adding rice flour to the curds, prevents curdling and also thickens the curry.
- This recipe asks for more ghee but I’ve reduced the ghee quantity.
- Addition of chili powder was my choice which can be completely skipped.