Stewing a colonial gem

Food Talk by Pushpesh Pant

Ishtoo or stew: What’s in a reputation? The author of those traces was born and introduced up in a small kill station the place the chowkidar-cum-cook, Paan Singh, who appreciated to be addressed as khanasama, took nice pleasure within the stew he cooked. He had realized the recipe from a memsaheb whose husband had served a long run of colonial obligation at this outpost. As youngsters we discovered the gem in his repertoire a bit bland and most popular the hen roast or grilled chops he routinely turned out. It was years later once we encountered the desi ishtoo, first in Old Delhi after which in Purana Bhopal, that it dawned upon us that the previous man was rendering a reasonably trustworthy imitation of the Irish stew. In Kerala we’ve got loved a mildly spiced but exquisitely flavourful stew, not ishtoo; it has its personal attract. Let’s not digress although. What is in a reputation?

In this case it isn’t simply the pronunciation that’s totally different, the spicing and the thickness of the gravy additionally varies from place to position. What is frequent although is the aspiration to equal a dish loved by the colonial rulers. The authentic is a one pot dish the place the meat, together with greens, is gradual cooked in its personal juices. Ishtoo in Delhi and Bhopal traces its lineage to do pyaaza and dum pukht. The meats — mutton or hen — are braised and cooked with simply onions (heaps), complete crimson chillies and some black peppercorns. To reduce the sweetness of onions, somewhat curd is used. Those who can’t do with out aromatics could add complete spices like cloves and cardamom. We really feel that this indulgence veers the ishtoo within the path of khade masale ka gosht.

Our good friend Osama Jalai, journalist-turned-food impresario, seems a imply hen ishtoo following the household recipe, a Rampur gharana heirloom. We thank him for treating it to us greater than as soon as and sharing the recipe that we’ve got tweaked just a bit!

Recipe: Chicken ishtoo


Chicken 750 g (with out pores and skin)

Onions 1 kg

Garlic 2-Three cloves

Whole crimson chillies 8-10

Black peppercorns 1/2 tsp

Curd 2 tbsp

Salt to style

Ghee/Oil 1/four cup

Spring of recent mint or coriander for garnishing


Cut the hen into eight-10 items. Wash and pat dry. Peel the onions and slice them not too tremendous. Crush the garlic cloves. Wipe dry the entire crimson chillies. Heat ghee/oil in a thick bottomed pan. When scorching, add the hen items, sliced onions and crushed garlic. Stir effectively to combine and add curd and black peppercorns. Add the chillies fastidiously; these mustn’t break, or else the stew may turn into too scorching to deal with! Sprinkle salt in the long run. Cover the pan with a decent lid and prepare dinner on medium-low flame for about 25 minutes. Uncover as soon as half approach and stir with a lightweight hand. Uncover to examine if achieved to style. It ought to have a skinny, however not watery sauce-like gravy, golden in hue. Garnish with mint or coriander. Enjoy with phulka or steamed rice. You could use the identical recipe for mutton ishtoo. The cooking time will increase by 30 minutes or so. The most popular cuts of meat are shoulder, neck and puth. Enjoy!

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