Hyderabad’s 400-year-old culinary history, like its culture, is unmatched by any other state in India. Of all the Muslim cuisines, Hyderabadi is the only one in the sub-continent that can boast of a major vegetarian section. This has much to do with the local influences. Considering that the elite of the erstwhile Hyderabad state came from the north of India and was almost entirely Muslim, this is a little surprising. The nation’s vegetarians, of course, stand to gain by it.
Some of the salient features of Hyderabadi food are the key flavours of coconut, tamarind, peanuts and sesame seeds. The main spice is chilli, which is used in abundance and is the reason for the one word used to describe Hyderabadi cuisine - fiery!
The cuisine draws its flavour from two rich legacies - the Deccan cuisine of Nizams and the spicy Andhra style of food, laced with mustard, garlic and chillies and eaten with doles of chutney and pickle.
Mix together semolina, khoya, salt, milk and ghee in a bowl and knead to a semi soft dough. Cover and rest the dough for a while.
Heat oil in a non-stick pan, add cumin seeds and once they begin to change colour, add ginger and sauté for half a minute. Add cottage cheese, coriander powder, red chilli powder and garam masala powder and mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer this into another bowl and mix well. Add raisins, cashewnuts, potatoes and salt and mix well.
Finely chop coriander and add and mix well.
Divide the dough into 16 equal portions. Shape each portion into a katori, place one portion of the paneer-potato mixture, gather the edges and roll into a ball. Seal neatly, flatten slightly and shape into an oval. These are tootaks. Arrange them on a baking tray.
Melt saffron in 2 tbsps water in a small bowl in microwave for 15 seconds. Add rose water and mix well.
Brush the tootaks with saffron-rose water and put the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.
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