Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cinema, Cuisine and Cocktail : "The Mistress of Spices"

I saw this movie recently and I knew that this would be the perfect choice to pair with a spicy, romantic meal (With a few sweet surprises!) for the newest installment of Cinema, Cuisine and Cocktail.

Synopsis by the Internet Movie Database:

A baby girl is born in a destitute family in India, who regard her birth as a dowry-debt. This child grows up, and her parents realize that she is special with powers to find lost things as well as forecast calamities. Bandits come to know of her existence, and in their quest for wealth, abduct her, but she manages to escape and lands on a shoreline where a woman is teaching young girls how to be mistress of spices. She is inducted into this group, and named Tilo. She is mistress of Sesame seeds, and like all others must follow the 3 Dictums to wit: look after desires of others; never leave the spice store; and never touch anyone else's skin. Tilo is then trained to walk over fire, and control her senses. When she matures, she is placed in charge of a store 'Spice Bazaar' in San Francisco, where she caters to an older Indian man called Dadaji, a male named Kwesi, a woman named Myisha, a taxi-driver named Haroun Rehman, Jagjit and his mother, as well as a man named Doug and his girlfriend. She prepares special spices and mixes them to improve their lives. Tilo starts to get attracted to Doug, breaking the first rule; she also leaves the store to visit Haroun, and she starts to feel - thus breaking all the sacred rules. Watch what impact this has on her customers, and on her very life herself.

Keema Biryani

Recipe Courtesy of Neel's Corner


2 1/2 cups rice, ( half Boiled with 1tsp cumin seeds, salt and bay leaves)
2 lbs mince meat (beef, chicken or lamb)
2 tbsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
1/2 cup oil
2 onions, sliced
1/2 bunch mint leaves, chopped
6 green chilies, whole
2 tbsp garlic ginger paste
2 tbsp whole all spices (black pepper, cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon stick)
5-6 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup dry plums
1/2 bunch coriander leaves, chopped
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp all spices powder (garam masala)
Few Bay leaves


Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions, when they are light brown in color then add whole spices and bay leaves and allow to splutter.

Mix in the minced meat and the ginger-garlic paste and fry for 6-7 minutes over a medium heat.
Once the mince is nicely fried, mix in the tomatoes, plums, salt, cumin powder, red chili powder, all spices powder, coriander powder and cook it covered on low flame till all water dries up and mince is cooked.

In other pan put some oil in bottom and then place cooked mince, green chilies, mint and coriander leaves and cover it with half cooked rice.
Seal the pan with its cover and put the biryani on dum for 5- 15 minutes. Serve hot with khuchoomer salad and raita.

Alu Gobhi

Recipe Courtesy of Pepperfool.com


2 lbs. potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
4 oz. ghii (or 1 stick butter)
1/2 C. oil, mustard (or as little as 1/4 C.)
1/2 tsp rai (black mustard seeds)
1 onion, medium, chopped
2 Tbs. ginger, fresh, finely slivered
2 tsp. amchoor, ground (dried green mango)
1 1/2 tsp haldi, ground (turmeric)
1 1/2 tsp dhania, ground (coriander)
1 1/2 tsp jeera, ground (cumin)
1 tsp. paprika, powder
1 tsp. mirch, lal, powder (cayenne)
1/4 tsp hing, powder (asafoetida)
3 lbs. cauliflower, cut into flowerets
2 tomatoes, fresh, ripe, peeled, diced
salt to taste


In a large wok, heat ghii and brown potatoes lightly. Remove the potatoes and remaining ghii/butter and set potatoes aside, reserving the ghii/butter.

Pour in the mustard oil. [To prepare mustard oil for cooking, heat until oil just begins to smoke, then let cool a bit. Reheat and begin cooking.] When the oil is hot (but not smoking), add the mustard seeds. Almost immediately they will begin to pop. Stir in the onion and toss until lightly browned. Reduce heat and add all remaining spices. Cook, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted.

Add cauliflower and fry a little bit, until cauliflower is to the point that it and potatoes both need the same amount of cooking time to be fully cooked. [After frying the cauliflower just a bit, I add about 1/4 C. water to keep everything from sticking/burning, but this probably wouldn't be necessary if I used non-stick cookware.]

Add potatoes and tomatoes, cover, and cook until done.
Add reserved ghii/butter and salt to taste.

Kesari Phirni

Recipe Courtesy of Monishgujral.com/


Milk (full cream)-1 ltr/ 5cups
Rice flour (chawal ka atta)- 100 gm/ ½ cup
Sugar- 1 cup/ 200gm
Salt a pinch
Green cardamom – chhoti elaichi powder- 3 gm/ 2/3 tsp
Rose water(gulab jal)- 4-5 drops
Pistachios (pista)- 50 gm/ ¼ cup
Saffron (kesar) dissolved in 10 ml milk)-1 gm/1/4 tsp
Rose petals -10


In a heavy pan , heat half milk and bring to a slow boil.
Dissolve the rice flour in the remaining cold milk and slowly add to hot milk .Continue to cook over a very low heat , stirring constantly until the mixture becomes thick like a light custard.
Add sugar and a pinch of salt and cook for 2-3 minutes till the sugar is completely dissolvedcool , add cardamom powder , rose water and mix well.
Pour in a bowl garnish with saffron and chopped pistachios on top.
Chill and serve.

Hot Spiced Ginger Rum

Recipe Courtesy of Laurie Knoop, Heat Magazine

8 ounces water
4 slices fresh ginger
2 cloves, whole
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 ounces of Rum
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch of nutmeg

1. Bring water, ginger, cloves and sugar to a simmer over mediumhigh heat for 3 minutes.
2. Place Rum in mug. Strain the boiling water mixture into the rum glass.
3. Add a pinch of nutmeg and stir together with cinnamon stick.

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