Under my byline

Jam and Kashmir

Posted in Diet, Foodie, Profiles by Rrishi on 20 April 2008

Linnet Mushran, maker of the famous Bhuira jams, cooks us a delicate Kashmiri raan

Born in New Zealand and raised on a Somerset farm by English and German parents, married to a Kashmiri Pandit, sister in Switzerland and two children in teaching and film-acting, flourishing business in rural Himachal Pradesh… No, Linnet Mushran is neither globetrotter nor multi-national: she’s multi-local.

When in Delhi, she’s local to Friends Colony, a house radiant with young foliage in April sunshine. It’s a visual treat to precede the edible one: Mushran is making us Kashmiri raan, the way her mother-in-law taught her.

“The first recipe my mother-in-law taught me was kedgeree,” she says. In 1971 Saraswati Mushran published a no-nonsense little cookbook still used in many Kashmiri homes — Ruchika: Kashmiri Khane Banane ki Vidhiyan. Linnet Mushran says she’s now translating and updating her mother-in-law’s book.

In India, Mushran had to leave her childhood food behind: “There was no way I could make my own food,” because with Indian ingredients nothing English tasted right. But this changed when she bought a house in the Shivaliks, in a village called Bhuira.

Today, Bhuira is a famous brand. Its seasonal fruit jams, preserves and jellies fly off the shelves in upmarket grocery stores.

“Everything is hand-done,” Mushran says, and “cooked in small batches” by her women employees, all Bhuira villagers. But the recipes are not Himachali — she owes them to her mother, an expert jam-maker, and to years of experimentation.

Bhuira Jams has done so well and struck such deep local roots that ICICI Bank recently picked it to develop as a star small enterprise.

“Entrepreneurs are creative people who don’t know anything about business,” Mushran says. “The whole of last year [ICICI have] done my marketing. Suddenly they’ve upped my demand — now I need three factories! Left to myself, I would never have made another factory, but if it’s going to go on without me” and continue to benefit the women who work for her, change and professionalisation is inevitable. “I have a sort of gut feeling that what I’m doing is right.”

That instinct is critical to the making of raan. The making is quite spectacular, what with all the stabbing and the pool of hot, spitting ghee. Still, with apparently minimal effort the delicate dish is done, and we attack it with soft khamiri rotis. It is very, very good.

FAVOURITE RECIPE

RAAN

1 kg haunch of lamb (butcher should remove white membranes and fat)
4 heaped tbsp yoghurt
250 gm mixed ghee and oil
1 pinch heeng

For raan masala
1 tbsp khas-khas (poppy seed)
4 whole Kashmiri mirch, de-seeded and soaked
1 small piece raw coconut
50 gm peeled fresh ginger
1 small onion
4 pieces cinnamon
3 badi elaichi
8 chhoti elaichi
2 cloves
2 nutmegs
2 heaped tbsp saunf
2 tsp zeera powder
2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
4 bay leaves
1 tsp salt

Grind masala ingredients together for raan (lamb) masala, finely but not too wet, and set aside. Stab raan with fork repeatedly until meat becomes completely loose. Using hands, rub in two heaped tbsp yoghurt and one tsp salt. Rub in masala and continue stabbing meat for a total of about 40 minutes. Tie raan securely with narrow cotton strips to keep meat on bone. Leave in fridge overnight.

To cook, heat large degchi, and put in ghee-oil. Dissolve heeng in three tbsp water and add to degchi. Beat two tbsp yoghurt and add. Place raan carefully in degchi. Cover and weight lid. Use low fire. Periodically spoon oil and masala over raan; don’t allow masala to stick.

Flip raan carefully to brown evenly. Add a little water at a time and baste until well-cooked and tender. When done, place on platter and remove cloth strips. Pour remaining masala over raan. The meat should be tender enough to spoon off the bone.

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2 Responses

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  1. john said, on 15 February 2009 at 9:31 am

    Your jams were good but as of Nov 2008 the quality has fallen. I notice since the logo of earthygoods has appeared the standard has dropped.
    I was an avid buyer but now no longer. very sad

  2. Rrishi Raote said, on 15 February 2009 at 11:50 am

    That is sad to hear — funny thing is, I tasted Mrs Mushran’s jams, etc., only after the Earthy Goods association began, and I thought they were delicious. Why don’t you visit the company’s website — http://www.earthygoods.co.in — and tell the marketers (and maybe the maker) what you think? If you’re a lost customer, they should want to hear about it, and I doubt they’ll look here. Good luck, and thanks for your comment.


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