A smoky flavour is all the rage nowadays. Often associated with gourmet food like salmon, cheese and fancy ice cream, smoked food is not something most people would knock out at home. But why not? It’s easy enough.
You can actually smoke your dinner in your own kitchen with just a tiny piece of charcoal. This method comes from Sapna Anand’s New Indian Kitchen cookbook, so we asked her to show us how simple and clever the technique really is.
Charcoal smoking adds a smoky taste to your meal without actually cooking it. Unlike barbecues or hot grills, which cook and smoke the food at once, you can use charcoal smoking on raw food, and add flavours (e.g. cinnamon) to the smoke.
Smoked food is popular in northern India. Its influence can be traced back to the golden Mughal period (1526-1707). Known as “dhungar”, smoking is used to flavour meat, paneer, dhal and raita. It is found in the Awadhi cuisine of the region, famous for elaborate dishes like briyani, korma, kebab, roomali roti and the dum pukht style of (slow) cooking.
“My earliest memories of smoked food was when my grandmother smoked lamb trotters over coals for a week to make paya, a nutritious bone soup,” says Sapna, who hails from Goa, India but now lives in Petaling Jaya, Selangor where she runs cooking classes.
“During the Mughal days, cooks would use oud or different types of wood to give food distinctive flavours. While the method is easy, beware that over exposure or using synthetic coal will leave an overpowering bitter taste.”
For extra tips from Sapna to ensure you get the perfect smoked dish every time, plus recipes for cinnamon smoked spiced salmon, smoked butter chicken masala, smoked spiced eggplant mash, and smoked lamb patties with saffron, rose water and rose petals, click here: Star2.com: Charcoal, an easy way to smoke food.