KARACHI: The thought of paya alone is enough to excite many a seasoned foodies. A most loved and widely enjoyed local delicacy; Paya is made with the ‘feet’ - usually called hooves or trotters- of a cow, goat or lamb which are stewed over a long period with some spices. What you get is a bowl of bone stew, rich and glutinous, warm and comforting and an absolute delight for the taste buds.
A legacy of the Persians (bless them!), readily adapted into the local cuisine by Muslim cooks of the subcontinent and here we are! Paaye are now widely enjoyed in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.
Certain disrepute surrounds this humble dish, many claiming that it raises cholesterol, yet no evidence has been found to support this hearsay. On the contrary it is a nutrient-rich dish with the benefits of minerals and amino acids to support joint health and strengthen the body immunity. It is also enriched with Collagen which aids in hair and skin as well as digestive health. Paaye enthusiasts would agree with me when I say; a bowl of this glorious broth is an absolute mood lifter.
It all comes down to how you cook it. Traditionally it is cooked for long hours over a stove which is really what brings out the richness and the gelatinous texture but it is possible to achieve brilliant results using a pressure cooker as well. Following is a most sought after Paya recipe of my mother. Tuck in!
1 medium sized garlic pod
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 small Onions
½ cup oil/ghee
Roughly ground garam masala
1 black cardamom
4-5 small pieces cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon whole black pepper
3 teaspoons Cumin seed
1. Rinse the Paaye with garlic water.
2. Rub the Paaye with whole wheat flour and rinse to clean it thoroughly.
3. Grind all the ingredients for the garam masala in a grinder or pestle and mortar until it resembles a coarse powder.
4. Blend all the remaining ingredients except the Paaye with a hand blender to make a thick paste.
5. Heat ½ cup of oil/ghee in a heavy- based cooking pan and add the Paaye, sauté for two minutes then add the spice and onion mixture as well as ½ of the coarsely ground garam masala. Stir and cook until oil separates.
6. Add 2 ½ litres of water and slow-cook, covered, over a low heat for a minimum of 5 hours.The Paaye should have disintegrated and the broth should be sticky, if not cover and cook for another hour.
7. Garnish with the remaining garam masala, coriander leaves and julienned ginger.
And Voila! Dunk in your choice of tandoori naan and get those fingers sticky. Happy cooking!