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On the occasion of Mother’s Day, Little India invited several celebrities to share their mom’s favorite recipes. Master Chef Vikas Khanna recreated the recipes.
By:  Kavita Chhibber

Zakir Hussain

Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain says his mother Bawi Begum's was the "man of the house," whose contribution in his life is immeasurable. "She had as much of an input in who I became, if not more so, than my father. I can't imagine where I would be today without my mother. She was an illiterate woman from a small village and yet she managed to raise five kids in a big city like Bombay, single handedly, without another man in the house."

No one could beat her Karela gosht (bitter gourd-lamb), he says. "The bitter gourd becomes sweet in the way she cooks it. I have to date never found any one make it as well she does."

Karela Gosht (Bitter Gourd with lamb)

Serves 6

2 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder,
cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces and patted dry

Salt to taste

2 medium bitter gourds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Salt to taste

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

A 1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Two 16-ounce tomato puree

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1-pound can tomatoes, chopped, including the liquid

In a non-reactive bowl, season the lamb with salt and pepper and keep it in the hrefrigerator for at least an hour, covered with a plastic wrap.

Wash and pat dry the bitter gourds with kitchen towel, and scrape the rough skin. Cut it into 2-inch pieces. Rub the turmeric and salt and let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour.

In a medium skillet add the oil and cook the gourd pieces, until they turn a little crisp and almost black, about 5 minutes. Remove, drain the excess oil on kitchen towel and reserve.

In the same skillet add the lamb cubes in batches and turn the heat to high, and sauté the meat until it is browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to a plate, lined with kitchen towel. Reduce the heat to medium, in the same skillet add the onions, stirring occasionally. Cook until the onions turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add cloves, ginger, curry powder, coriander, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Stir continuously for 1 minute and add the tomato puree and 1 cup water and stir to mix it well. Add the flour to the mixture stirring, for 2 minutes.

Return the lamb to the pan, add the lemon juice, and bring it to boil, stirring, and simmer the curry, covered until the lamb is tender, for 1 1/2 hours. Season it with salt. Add the fried gourds and simmer it for another 5 minutes.

Serve hot as a side dish or an appetizer.


Salman Khan

Actor Salman Khan, whose mother Salma was hospitalized when jailed after being convicted for poaching, is out on bail to even greater support and popularity among his fans, says: "I don't think there is any mother in the world who is not special and mine even more so. She has an immense capacity to love, to give, and an unconditional love for her children. Her warmth is felt by any one who comes into contact with her." He raves about her cooking, "But my favorite dish is something I haven't eaten for a while. Yellow lentils, with plain boiled rice and a slice of pickle on the side."

Moong Daal (Lentils with Boiled Rice)

Serves 4

1 cup (8 ounces) moong daal

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small onion, peeled and sliced

1 green chilli, such as Serrano, seeded and sliced

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon tamarind pulp or juice of 1 lemon

In a large pot boil the lentils with 2 cups water on high heat, covered. Skim the lentils continuously and cook until the lentils are soft and cooked, about 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large pan, heat the oil on medium heat and cook the onions, until transparent, about 4 minutes. Add the chili, cumin seeds, turmeric, and cayenne pepper and cook until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the boiled lentils and cook until the lentil are like pancake batter consistency. Add the tamarind pulp and season it with salt.

Add a little water if the lentils are too thick.

Serve it hot with boiled rice.


Gurdas Maan

Punjabi folk legend Gurdas Maan says his earliest memories of mom's cooking are associated with the love with which she made anything and how extended family members sat around her, discussing music, poetry and spiritual matters while she cooked. "To this day my mother pours her love and hospitality in to each dish that she prepares. She makes everything very well, but it's her saag that is to die for!"

Saag (Mustard Greens with Ginger and Garlic)

Serves 6

1 pounds mustard greens, finely chopped

250 grams spinach, finely chopped

4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

A 2-inch fresh ginger, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 green chilies, such as Serrano, minced

2 tablespoons gram flour

Salt to taste

Boil the mustard greens and spinach on high heat with 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Puree it carefully in a blender.

Heat 4 tablespoons of oil on medium heat in a large skillet, enough to hold the puree. Add ginger, garlic, and green chilies and fry until fragrant, and the garlic turns golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Add the puree and season with salt.

Mix the gram flour in a little water and add to the saag.

Simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes.



Singing sensation Shaan says his mother Manasi single-handedly took care of his sister and him when their father died suddenly and Shaan was barely in his teens. "Her dignity and her determination helped us see through those hard times." His favorite mom recipe? "All my friends are crazy about her Chingri malai curry."

Chingri Malai Curry (Creamy Shrimp Curry)

Serves 6

1 tablespoon ground turmeric powder

2 tablespoons mustard oil

1 1/2 pounds medium-sized shrimp, peeled and de-veined

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cloves

A 2-inch cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Make a paste of turmeric, 1 tablespoon mustard oil, and salt. Apply the mixture to the shrimp. Cover and hrefrigerate for at least an hour.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium-sized sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the marinated shrimp for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring constantly until it is toasted and fragrant-about 2 minutes. Add chopped onions and cook till it is translucent-about 2 minutes. Add cayenne pepper and 1/2 cup water and cook until the oil separates-about 5 minutes.

Lower the heat and add the coconut milk and the sautéed shrimp. Simmer until the shrimp are cooked-about 4 minutes.

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.


Shabana Azmi

Actress Shabana Azmi says her one regret in life is not being able to cook, but her mother Shaukat Azmi is the best cook in the world. "My mother is a remarkable woman in so many ways. She worked at a time women stayed at home, put up with all the hardships because she loved my father, a struggling poet with communist leanings in the early years, and their love story is one dreams are made of. She is a great mom and a fabulous cook. My favorite dish is the Hyderabadi biryani that no one cooks like mom!"

Hydrabadi Gosht Biryani
(Lamb Biryani with Fennel and Ginger)

Serves 4

1 1/4 cups basmati rice

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 pounds very lean lamb, cut into 2-inch cubes

3 tablespoons freshly chopped ginger

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

5 cardamom pods

1 teaspoon cloves

salt to taste

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds

Rinse the basmati rice until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water up to 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions until they are golden brown-about 5 minutes. Add the lamb, ginger, cayenne pepper, garam masala, tomato, fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves, and salt.

Cook over medium heat until the lamb pieces are brown and almost done.

Add the rice, 1 1/4 water, and the milk and bring it to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pan, and let it simmer until the rice is tender and cooked-about 12 minutes.

Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle the ground fennel seeds on top and serve.

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