Pakistan – Brain Masala/Bheja Fry


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by Dahiza Umar

INTRODUCTION TO THE DISH

This is a special dish cooked by adding a special ingredient that is not common. This dish is brain masala that means brain in gravy. Gravy for brain masala is different from the usual gravy cooked by adding any meat and vegetables. This is a special dish from Punjab famous for being an easy and quick recipe. The brain is very easy to cook. But the time needed to clean it and make it free of veins and blood clots. To clean the brain required much more time than to cook. This dish is cooked by using beef or either mutton brain. The brain is very small in size it can be cooked in large amounts if you are planning a dinner for the family. One brain is good for one person or on one plate. In order to cook a dish for many people, you have to make at least 10 to 12 brains together.

Sometimes in the home when nothing is cooked, we simply fry the onions add some spices, and crack two-three eggs to make a masala omelet. Brain masala is also a go-to dish in which simple gravy or masala is prepared and add boiled brain into it for cooking brain masala. It is very easy to cook the brain in any form. But in Pakistan, this dish was rarely cooked. And the addition of brain in few dishes are found. When moving towards the picky eater, brain masala is never in their choice. But old traditional people loved this dish. The brain is added into the dish very umami flavor.

NAMING OF THE DISH

The name of this dish comes from its main ingredient, BRAIN. The brain of cow, lamb, the goat, camel is usually cooked here in Pakistan. Masala is a word used for any gravy or thick curry like texture.

This dish is known as simple

  • Bheja/brain Masala
  • Brain curry
  • Bheja fry

COMPONENT OF THE DISH

There are two main components of the dish :

BRAIN/ BHEJA

This is the special organ and assumed to be the best in getting energy and sharpen the mind. The animal organs that sometimes smells bad are need to be washed properly and have best to cook without any raw smell and essence of blood. Any organs that can used in making these dishes like kaleeji, brains, heart, etc.

It is a very tasty and delicious food and considered a healthy food as well. Prepare a spicy brain gravy all we need to add traditional spices and herbs with some vegetables to add texture and more flavor to this dish. Like all the dishes masala is cooked and then cleaned brain is added into the masala. Brain needs almost 10 to 15 minutes to cook.

To clean the brain and make it smell free, soaking it in water, vinegar and salt reduces the smell and keeps it fresh. But brain need more attention because we have to remove the veins and nerves so flesh is remain for the cooking procedure.

CURRY/MASALA

To cook a nice and spicy gravy, all we need to make the mixture of vegetables like onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger and some green chilies. We have to fry these vegetable mixture into the oil or butter with spices and let them cook for a while. Spices are infused to this mixture and make a nice thick consistency of masala/gravy.

The use of spices that makes the gravy even more aromatic and good in color with amazing taste. Spices are those used on daily basis in the Pakistani kitchen like : cumin, coriander, turmeric, crushed red chilies, garam masala, etc.

The use of oil and butter in dishes of Pakistani and even in Punjabi cuisine is humangous.

HISTORY OF THE DISH

This dish has no such history background but it is very clear that all the dishes had come across the border when India and Pakistan are united. All the traditional dishes are from the time of MUGHAL EMPIRE, Royal kitchen and Indian Subcontinent. Dishes that are cooked by adding animal organs are commonly cooked dishes at that time. Two most commonly cooked dishes from the animal organs are Liver and Brain.

It is the ritual even now when EID-UL-AZHA is celebrated, breakfast is the masala liver and lunch would be brain masala. When animals like cow, goats are sacrificed. All the part of that animal will be consumed as the dinners, bar be qued parties, lunch and even more.

ORIGIN OF THE DISH

The history of any Pakistani cuisine most probably traditional dishes are originated from the Indian Subcontinent.

This dish is popular in different regions of Asia are given below

  • Indian Sub-continent
  • Pakistan
  • Turkey
  • India
  • Bangladesh
  • Central Asia
  • South Asia
  • Afghanistan
  • Iraq
  • Iran

DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF BRAIN MASALA IN PAKISTAN

  • Lamb brain masala
  • Beef Bheja fry
  • Brain taka tak
  • Maghaz fry
  • Maghaz Masala

PUNJABI CUISINE

Punjabi cuisine is very famous among other cuisines of Pakistan. Pakistan has other cuisines according to the cultural difference like Sindhi cuisine, Balochi cuisine, Pakhtoon cuisine, etc. The dishes from Punjabi cuisine is like full of happiness and aromatic. The use of fresh spices and herbs in the dishes with addition of pure clarified butter makes the dish to another level. Dishes from Punjabi cuisine are full of fat content.

The cooking style of Punjabi cuisine is different because they usually used homemade stoves and woods for fire. Their cooking pots are made up of clay. Wood fire and stone ovens are best combination when it comes to the delicious dish. Tandoor cooking is the best way to cook and amazing dish because the aroma of woods and cooking in clay pot makes the dish even more delicious.

CONDIMENTS SERVED ON THE TOP OF BRAIN MASALA

GREEN CHILIES

Any Pakistani dish is incomplete without addition of green chilies. Green chilies paste is added while dish is cooking and in the the end, Green chilies are served over the top of the dish on the plate for fresh color, the hint of spiciness and garnshing.

There are different form of green chilies can be added like :

  • Long slices of green chilies
  • Half slit green chilies
  • Julienne cut green chilies

GREEN CORINADER LEAVES

For nice color and good presentation green coriander leaves are best way to serve over the savoury dish. Green fresh coriander leave are very nice and looks amazing over the dish.

The fragrance and taste of coriander are also very good when served. This is also added while cooking the dish and added before serving for green color and good taste.

LEMON WEDGES

For dry gravy dishes, lemon is serve with them to have good tangy flavor. Lemon juice is also added in the dish while cooking but the lemon slices and wedges are serve for goof presentation and sour flavor.

Some prefer the tanginess in their dish and some don’t.

SERVED WITH

This is a dish served with bread, roti, like the given below :

  • Sada roti
  • Laccha Naan
  • Khameeri roti
  • Phulka
  • Paratha
  • Paneer Naan
  • Pudina Naan
  • Roghani naan
  • Roghani roti
  • Sada Naan
  • Butter Naan

COMPLEMENTARY SIDE ITEMS

  • Onion Chutney
  • Green chili chutney
  • Tamarind chutney
  • Onion tomato chutney
  • Hari chutney
  • Mint chutney
  • Zeera yogurt
  • Garlic Chutney

TIME REQUIRED

  • Preparation time : 20 minutes
  • cooking time: 20 minutes
  • Total time : 40 minutes

NUTRITIONAL ASPECTS

  • Calories : 151
  • protein : 21 grams
  • carbohydrates : 5 grams
  • Fat : 11 grams
  • fiber : 20 gams

CLEANING OF THE BRAIN

Firstly we have to wash this brain before moving to further step of cooking. First thing to do with the whole brain is washing it with tap water. After washing we have two methods of cleaning :

  1. The first method is to boil this meat in water, salt and vinegar for 5 minutes and then wash it again with cold water.
  2. Second method is soaking meat for 15 minutes in 1 bowl of warm water having 5 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. After soaking, wash it amd move to next step.

INGREDIENTS OF THE DISH

  • Mutton Brain : 1/2 kg
  • Desi ghee : 4 tbsp
  • Onions : 2 large (chopped)
  • Garlic paste : 2 tbsp
  • Ginger paste 2 tbsp
  • Tomatoes : 4 large (chopped)
  • Green chilies paste : 4 tbsp
  • Yogurt : 1 cup

Spices

  • Salt : 1 tbsp
  • Red crushed peppers : 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder : 1 tsp
  • Cumin : 1 tbsp
  • Coriander powder : 1 tbsp
  • Black pepper cones : 3

CONDIMENTS

  • Lemon : 1
  • Green chilies : 4 thinly cut
  • Green coriander : 2 tbsp

COOKING METHOD

  • Take a cooking pot and add butter or oil into it, when butter melts, add chopped onions into it.
  • When onions are soft enough and changes it color, add garlic ginger paste into it.
  • Mix it well for 5 minutes on medium low flam than add tomatoes and all the spices.
  • Add almost 1 cup of water and cover the lid with low flame.
  • When water is dried out and mixture is soft enough, start up frying it on high flame.
  • In mean while boil the brain and remove all the nerves and vein in them
  • Cut the boiled brian into small pieces and add into the vegetable mixture with yougrt.
  • Now we have a gravy of brain in our pot but the consistency is quiet thin. Let it rest on low heat for 10 minutes.
  • So the flavors of gravy infused with brain pieces to serve.
  • Enjoy with roti or naan.
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