Chicken Vindaloo



Sinfully Spicy : Chicken VindalooWhile I mostly wake up to pictures of snow-covered decks and coffee mugs nestled between mittens on my Instagram feed, surprisingly it has started feeling spring-like in here.Spring in January? eh! I know that sounds kind of way too early & weird but its been over a week with temperatures in late 60s and a full sleeve T-shirt is enough to roam around throughout the day.The sky is clear, the air smells crisp & pleasant and I saw many jogging in shorts today at the park.

Sinfully Spicy : Chicken VindalooHowever, early mornings and evenings are still colder. The winter loving person that I am, I am holding on to the season in my stubborn ways. Which,mostly means cooking warm, spicy foods. For dinner, hiding indoors in the warmth of the house, I am still rustling up slow cooked curries and comfort dishes to keep us nourished.A couple of weeks back, I made this chicken vindaloo, one of the husband’s favorite things besides dal. It was a late, cold evening some five years back when we headed to dinner at one of our favorite indian restaurant here, choked with guests, smelling of strong spices and boasting of an elaborate buffet over the long weekend, that his love for all things coconut & curry leaves formed a good part of the conversation. I have been making this red-hot, tangy curry for quite a few years now and it has always hit the right chord with his tastebuds.Vindaloo is something I did not grow eating up but with time I have come up with what we like (and hope you like it too).

Sinfully Spicy : Chicken Vindaloo

Sinfully Spicy : Chicken VindalooWiki tells me that ‘Vindaloo” is derived from the Portuguese dish “carne de vinha d’alhos,” a dish of meat, usually pork marinated in wine and garlic.The Portuguese dish brought it to India (Goan region) and slowly it was modified by the substitution of vinegar (usually palm vinegar) for the red wine and the addition of red kashmiri chillies with additional spices to evolve into vindaloo and it became a curry native to indian cuisine. This recipe here is hot and that’s why I always use potatoes for those earthly,mellow bites in between. I like to de seed few of the red chillies because I do not want it searing hot, however you can use a mild chili variety.Vindaloo pairs best with steamed rice (as with most coastal cuisine). If you would want to try different meats like lamb or pork (if you want to go the traditional Portuguese route) work in this recipe too.

Sinfully Spicy : Chicken VindalooPrintable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 2.5 tbsp distilled white vinegar (see notes)
  • 10-12 whole dry red Kashmiri chilies, broken into small pieces  (or use 2.5 tsp cayenne powder)
  • 5 cloves (laung, buy online here)
  • 1/4 of star anise (break the whole flower and use a quarter piece)
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2″ cinnamon stick
  • scant 1/2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2-3 tbsp warm water (or as required)
  • 5 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2″ ginger shoot, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh grated coconut
  • 1tbsp tamarind pulp (easily available in indian/pakistani grocery stores)
  • 5 fresh curry leaves (easily available in indian/pakistani grocery stores)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed (weighed about 1.35lb, you can use cut up whole chicken or bone-in pieces too, just use dark meat portions)
  • 1/3 cup oil, divided
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 3/4 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 6-8 fresh curry leaves,roughly  torn
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp powdered jaggery (or light brown sugar, adjust to taste)

Notes

  1. In case you do not get tamarind pulp, bump up the vinegar quantity to 4 tbsp.
  2. Fresh curry leaves are not substitutable. Even though the recipe dosent remain the same, you can skip if you do not get.

Method

Deseed all or half quantity of the dried chilies if you want. In your blender jar, add vinegar, dry chillies, cloves, star anise, mustard & cumin seeds, cinnamon. Add 2-3 tbsp warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Once the chilli skins are slightly soft & the spices have soaked, add garlic, ginger, tamarind, coconut & 5 fresh curry leaves to the jar, cover the lid and blend to a smooth paste.You can add more water (1-2 tbsp) if needed but do not make a very runny paste.

In a bowl, add the chicken, add 1/2 tsp salt and add about half of this paste, coat the chicken in the paste and let sit for (not more than 15 minutes). Reserve the remaining spice paste.

While the chicken is marinating, heat up 3 tbsp oil in a heavy bottomed wide pot. Once the oil is hot,add the quartered potatoes to the pot, sprinkle a generous pinch of salt and saute them, stirring on medium heat for 5 minutes till you see that their edges start to brown lightly.Take out the potatoes from the pot on a plate. Set aside. Add the remaining oil to the pot and heat up. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and on medium-low heat, saute the onions till they are golden brown. About 3-5 minutes if the onions are finely chopped. Once the onions have browned, add the reserved spice paste & torn fresh curry leaves to the pot. Stir around and on low heat, saute continually to cook till you see that the spice paste darkens in color and the water evaporates. About 3-4 minutes on medium heat.

Layer the marinated chicken in the pot. Turn the heat to medium high and let the chicken brown.After about 2 minutes, flip the chicken pieces and let brown on the other side. If you see that the heat is getting quite high, reduce it.You will slowly see lot of  liquid in the pot but that’s okay. Once the chicken has browned, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let cook for about 10 minutes on low heat(adjust this time depending on how large or small your chicken pieces are). Once the chicken is about 90 % cooked, add the browned potatoes to the pot, cover and let cook for another 10 minutes on low heat, till the chicken is completely cooked and the potatoes are fork tender (ensure that the potatoes do not turn mushy. Uncover, add the jaggery (or sugar) ,water (depending on how thick/thin you want the sauce), check & adjust the salt. Let simmer uncovered or another 5 minutes.

Let sit for 30 minutes before serving.Serve warm with steamed rice.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Vegetable Manchurian



Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochineseIf there has to be a dish that I overindulged on during college days, it has to be Manchurian – chicken, cauliflower, vegetable, dry, gravy, sweet,spicy, salty, you name it and I would raise both my hands. With that extra cash at the end of the month, saved from pocket-money each week, I, along with few other girls could be found in all sorts of street side places in and around the college or hopping onto public transport to far away Dilli Haat.There would be plates of greasy noodles, lightly crispy vegetarian(or not) deep fried dumplings coated in spicy manchurian sauce, gossip, laughter, half-finished assignments and a compulsory side of fruit beer on the table for late lunches.

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochinese

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochineseHaving said that, indeed my appreciation for this ever so popular indo chinese dish stems from those days. Mum hardly made it, for cooking indo chinese at home is slightly redundant when you are living in India because (almost) always you will end up comparing  it with that fantastic taste from the sloppy joints at street side. So while the hotspots around the city are to be held responsible for acclimatization of my appetite towards indo chinese, it was only after I moved to States some five years back that I tried recreating it at home. Take chicken in hot garlic sauce or fried rice, talk gobhi manchurian or spicy schezwan noodles,by the end of the first couple of  months here, I started getting there, developing recipes with the memories of how they should taste in my head and trying to replicate that inside the super hot wok. The fact that the husband shares my love for indo chinese fare in all unison and we kind of got tired of consuming overly sweet chili chickens & hakka noodles tossed with snap peas & broccoli (yikes!) and accepting the fact that the restaurants here just do not get it(or we like to think so!),it was exciting to see those similar tastes turning on our meal tables from our own kitchen.

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochineseWhen you make indo chinese, besides ingredients, bring along a lot of patience to the cutting board. Spend the late afternoon mincing garlic and chopping ginger.Shred those carrots and cabbage finer than you think you would need, sniff and taste that mix of soy sauce with coriander & turmeric and shy away from de seeding those hot chillies, coz boy is this one spicy cuisine or what?This vegetable machurian recipe has stayed in my kitchen for few years now. I often make it on non-meat eating days or when I have a stash of miscellaneous vegetables that need to be used up right away. I would not say that deep-frying them is the best option but then you are not eating fried chicken so its kind of okay.You know what I mean, right?After all, its veggies!

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochinese

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochineseVegetable Manchurian is a widely popular dish of the indo chinese genre. It is nothing by vegetable dumplings in a  ‘Manchurian’ sauce. Do not confuse the origins of  ‘Manchurian’ sauce – it definitely has nothing to do with that region in South East Asia. Creatively put together by chinese who lived in eastern parts of  india for centuries, just imagine it to be an amber-colored, tangy and mildly sweet but hot sauce with hints of indian spices. Indo chinese is what it is due to typical indian condiments – I make it a point to use the brands from indian store for the authentic taste. However, you can confidently do few a substitutions (see notes ) and use your pantry to try this recipe.

 

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochinese

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the Manchurian Sauce

  • 1/2 tbsp dark soya sauce (I use Ching’s brand)
  • 2 tbsp chilli- tomato sauce (I use Maggi Hot & sweet)
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1.5 tsp cornstarch +4 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp pure untosated sesame oil
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 small green chili (use any mild/hot variety)
  • 3 garlic pods, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, white parts
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne, adjust to tolerance)
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup vegetable/chicken stock (depending on consistency of sauce, stock recommended, if not, use water)
  • 1.5 tbsp white vinegar (or to taste)
  • For Garnish – chopped scallions(green parts), ginger, chopped green chillies

For the Deep fried Vegetable Balls

  • 1 cup finely chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped scallions(spring onions)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4  cup finely chopped green beans
  • 1 small green chilli, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • scant 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Oil for deep frying

Method 

Making the Manchurian Sauce

In a small bowl, whisk together soya sauce, tomato-chilli sauce & honey. Set aside. In another bowl, mix cornstarch & water and let stand.

In a wok/pan , heat up the oil to smoking hot. Add chopped garlic, green chillies & ginger and cook for 1 minute or till you smell the aroma. Next add the chopped scallions (white part) & red onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or till light brown in color. Add the coriander & black pepper powder next, stir for 10 seconds and then add the soya sauce mix made earlier.Stir for a minute or so and then add the stock. Simmer for 2-3 minutes  on medium-high heat or till you see bubbles on the sides.Add the cornstarch mix to the wok. Reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for another 2-4 minutes till the sauce starts to thicken.

Next, taste & adjust the salt in the sauce. Add the vinegar to the wok and stir everything well.Remove from heat and add the fried vegetable balls to the pan. Dont stir too much with spoon at this point.

Garnish with chopped green scallions & serve immediately.

Making the Vegetable Balls

In a large bowl, mix together all the chopped vegetables. Add salt, mix(do not squeeze) and let sit for (not more than) 10 minutes. Add the all-purpose flour and corn starch next and gently mix together. If you feel that the mixture is on a dry side add a tablespoon or so of water (ideally you will not be needing it since the vegetables leave water from sitting in salt).

Heat up 2-3 inches of oil in a frying pan on medium high. Shape into small lime size balls and add to the frying pan, Make sure that the oil is not too hot(else the balls will remain raw from inside) or too low (else they will scatter in oil). Fry, turning on all sides to golden dark brown

Drain the fried vegetable balls on a paper towel before adding to sauce (recipe above).

Serve immediately with noodles or fried rice.

Notes :-

  1. Use any vegetables that you like (just do not use potato)coz trust me after frying they will anyhow taste good.
  2. You might be tempted (like me) to use food processor to chop the vegetables but trust me it makes them watery. I recommend chopping them old school -with knife that is.
  3. Substitute dark soya sauce with tamari (for vegan)
  4. Adding tomato – chilli sauce adds extra heat. I get this sauce from indian stores. You can use just plain tomato ketchup or add mix of sriracha & tomato ketchup for a sweet, spicy tangy flavor to the sauce.
  5. The sauce can be made 2-3 hours in advance. Just fry up the vegetable balls and serve when you want to.
  6. If you forsee leftovers, store the sauce and vegetable balls separately. Toss them together just when you want to serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Gud -Atte Ka Halwa (Whole Wheat Flour & Jaggery Pudding)



Sinfully Spicy: Atta Halwa (Whole Wheat & Jaggery Pudding)The winter season back home always bought with itself a different feeling than the sun -lit mornings I wake up to here in the Valley.I ponder for few minutes and those foggy mornings & biting chilly winter winds come hovering in my mind, that peak of the cold season spread over few days at the end and start of another year which forced enough reasons to wear multiple layers of clothes, those endless cravings of rich, heavy food and the countless cups of hot beverages that comforted me before darting out of the home to get to work. I often recall those evening trips to crappy street food joints to carelessly stuff on piping hot vegetable momos and egg rolls without any guilt or doubt. I remember those cloyingly sweet adrak(ginger) chai & frothy coffee which I snuggled within my palms on cold weekend mornings, lazily fliping through the newspaper on the couch. Suddenly all I can feel is the warmth of those memories in my heart.

Sinfully Spicy: Atta Halwa (Whole Wheat & Jaggery Pudding)What is your fond winter memory? A warm bowl of soup caressing your numb fingers or a strong cup of coffee to relax your clattering teeth? The silence that wraps the streets of neighborhood at five in the evenings or the mellow sun already preparing to call it a day mid-afternoon? The crisp winds which feel the chilliest on the tip of the nose or the beautiful grey that surrounds the snow days?The beholding sight of snow sculptures outside or the beauty of the flickering fireplace inside?

Sinfully Spicy: Atta Halwa (Whole Wheat & Jaggery Pudding)I recall that badi mummy (my grandmother) would often feed us this smooth and rich atte ka halwa during these winter months, sometimes to soothe our sore throats, other times just as a quick after meal dessert . There we sat on a hand-woven couch in the veranda, wrapped in cozy layers of thin shaleen razais (velvet quilts) and oiled hair, clutching stainless steel katoris (bowls) and spooning this comfortingly warm, golden brown pudding into our tummies.She insisted that nothing could benefit the body more than grains & ghee.This halwa is indeed wholesome – whole wheat flour is slow roasted in ghee till its turns glistening golden then sweetened with gud(jaggery), resulting in a rich concoction few spoons of which will instantly make you feel full.

Sinfully Spicy: Atta Halwa (Whole Wheat & Jaggery Pudding)The main ingredient here is atta (durum whole wheat flour) and a fine grind is what gives the halwa a smooth & velvety texture.In case you have some atta leftover from that package of durum wheat flour you bought to make rotis, this is another recipe for you to try. Gud or jaggery, an unrefined sugar made from boiling date, sugar cane or palm juice is an extremely popular sweetener used all over India. It is considered a benefiting to the body in Ayurvedic medicine and is available in blocks, loaves or powdered form.The unique mild taste of jaggery adds a taste comparable to molasses and a light caramel color to the dishes.The color & the sweetness of this halwa depends mainly on the content of molasses in it.

Sinfully Spicy: Atta Halwa (Whole Wheat & Jaggery Pudding)You can ration the quantity of the halwa you eat & serve but I suggest not reducing the amount of ghee when making this recipe else the halwa loses its rustic appeal and gets chewy. It is supposed to be enjoyed in less quantities but essentially with the richness from all that ghee.I like my halwa  mildly sweet and the amount noted in the recipe perfect for that. You can adjust the quantity of jaggery if you like.

Sinfully Spicy: Atta Halwa (Whole Wheat & Jaggery Pudding)

Printable Recipe 

Ingredients (Serves 6)

  • 3/4 cup ghee (homemade or store-bought)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
  • 1 +3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup jaggery, powdered (I scrape jaggery from the block using a sharp knife. Jaggery is easily available in indian/pakistani stores.Use 3/4 cup raw sugar if you cannot find jaggery)
  • scant 1/2 tsp green cardamom powder
  • Nuts & Raisins to serve (optional)

Method

In a heavy bottomed pan or kadhai, heat the ghee on a medium low heat till it melts. Once the ghee has melted, add the clove and wait till it crackles. Next, add the flour and roast on medium- low heat, stirring constantly until the wheat flour gets golden brown colour and you smell a nutty aroma.Do not rush this step else the flour will remain raw.It should take about 10-12 minutes and you will see  golden brown, glistening syrup like melted ghee & flour in the pan.

Meanwhile, on the second stove, in a sauce pan, heat water on high.Put off the stove. Wait for 1-2 minutes. Add jaggery to the warm water and stir until the it completely dissolves. If you have broken jaggery from the block and the big chunks are taking time to dissolve, heat up the water a little bit (but do not let it boil). Let sit near to stove.

Once the wheat flour has turned dark brown and it has roasted nicely,reduce heat to low and very carefully pour in the jaggery water into the roasted wheat-flour. It will splutter so be careful. Add the cardamom powder as well.

On low heat, stir quickly and continuously (to avoid lumps) and cook for a minute or less until the mixture turns smooth.Once you add the water, the mixture will immediately cup up and increase in volume.Do not cook for long time else the halwa will thicken and turn dry. Pick the cloves and discard.

Mix in the nuts and raisins (if using ) and combine.

Serve the halwa warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

Lamb & Potato Stew



Sinfully Spicy - Slow Cooked Lamb & Potato StewMeat and Potatoes. The universal comfort food. A ritual in my kitchen in the midst of cruel winters when the chilly winds clatter against the window panes from outside but inside, meat is slow cooked long enough to warm up the kitchen space till it almost falls off the bone, the potatoes absorb all the flavor like a dry sponge and the aroma from the spices permeate the atmosphere in there. A dish which evokes a lot of food memories from my childhood and our first few years in the States. Years when as a new kitchen owner, I did nothing except cooking the entire day recreating recipes of mum, honing my baking skills to get that perfect crumb on the cake and sampling non indian fare at restaurants over the weekends.

My first tasting of lamb came in one of the buffets here in Las Vegas in a mellow stew, a crimson colored stew, cooked with carrots, speckled with herbs & tasting strongly of red wine. Since we do not consume a lot of lamb in India (mutton is more popular), we had only been roasting lamb rack in our house, completely oblivious of how this fatty meat would behave in a curry. The tasting there presented an opportunity to try it in one of my mum’s mutton & new potato slow cooked curry recipe, one in which the meat is first seared and then cooked over open fire for long good hours,often pushing lunch to evening tea time.

Sinfully Spicy - Slow Cooked Lamb & Potato StewGrowing up, I remember hearing a lot of discussions amongst the family women about not pressure cooking the meat. There were these two different schools preferring one cooking technique over the other.In my own kitchen, I often alternate between the two depending on the time I have to spare, but I must admit here that there is little match to the slow cooking method, for the meat slowly gives in to heat, the gelatinous flavor of the bone slowing melting in the sauce lending it an unmatched edge over the rushed one.The key is to start ahead, much before meal time so that the stew does not miss a chance to rest for a couple of hours before serving. This stew is comforting, deeply flavorful & delicious with a thin blanket of starch from the potatoes enveloping the meat. You should give this a try before the winters go away!

Sinfully Spicy - Slow Cooked Lamb & Potato Stew

 

Printable Recipe

A lamb and potato stew, slow cooked with yogurt and aromatic indian spices.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 2 lb lamb,preferably bone in
  • 4 small potatoes (try using a waxy potato variety, you could use baby potatoes as well)
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6 green cardamom
  • 1 black cardamom (skip you do not have)
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 blade of mace
  • 3-4 whole dried red chillies (preferably kashmiri, or use any mild variety adjust to taste)
  • 3 tbsp plain, unsweetened full fat yogurt (not greek)
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4-5 tbsp mustard oil (or use olive/canola), divided
  • 1 cup onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped (yield about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • Warm water as required
  • Chopped Cilantro to garnish

Method

Clean and pat dry the lamb pieces.Sprinkle them with a little salt (1/4 tsp or so) and set aside.

Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes into halves. Using a mortar and pestle, very coarsely break the whole spices (cumin, cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon & mace). Set aside. Remove the stems from the dried green chillies and de seed them if you want. Whisk together nutmeg and yogurt. Set aside.

Heat the 2 tbsp mustard oil in a heavy bottomed pot/dutch oven (I use my 3qt) to a smoking point on medium heat.If using mustard oil, you need to heat it up till the point it starts slightly smoking to ensure the raw smell is gone. Layer the lamb pieces in a single layer. Sear for 2-3 minutes on each side to get a light brown color. Remove on a plate and let sit. Add remaining 2 tbsp oil to the pot and let heat up again to do away the raw smell.Once the oil is heated,reduce the heat to low and wait to lower the temperature a bit.Add the sliced onions and bay leaf. On medium low heat, fy the onions till they are golden brown. Add the coarse ground whole spices to the oil next and cook for a minute or so till you smell a nice aroma. Do not let the spices burn.Next add the ginger & garlic and saute for another minute or so. Add the dry red chillies next. Stir around.

Next, add the lamb pieces back to the pot, bump up the heat to high and stir around so as to coat the meat. Cook for 8-10 minutes with continuous stirring until you see that the lamb pieces are starting to turn dark brown on the edges. At this point, reduce heat to very low, wait for 3-4 minutes and add the whisked yogurt to the pot. Also add the coriander, red chili & turmeric powder. Do not stir immediately else the yogurt will curdle. Allow 1-2 minutes before combining everything together. You will see a lot of water right now since the lamb also starts releasing its juices, but that’s fine. Cook on open flame for 6-8 minutes and then add the tomatoes. Stir around to combine and cover the pot. Let cook on stove for 30-35 minutes on low heat periodically checking to make sure the liquid in the pot doesn’t dissipate and adding warm water when needed.

Meanwhile, warm your oven to 275F. After 30-35 minutes of stove top cooking, check that there is enough liquid in the pot, I add about a cup of water (do not add too much water at a time) and transfer the pot with lid to the oven. Let slow cook for about 2.5-3 hours (this time will depend on how big or small your stewing lamb pieces are) inside the oven till the lamb is 95% cooked.You can check once or twice in between to see that the stew is not drying out.

Open the lid, you will see a deep reddish colored gravy, stir and add potatoes, add more water depending on the consistency required and check the salt. Cover the lid and again let cook for 30-45 minutes or till the potatoes are fork tender and the meat is very tender, just about to fall apart from the bones and the flavor & color of the gravy is intense.

Let sit for 1-2 hours before serving.Garnish with chopped cilantro & serve with warm rotis (flatbreads) and salad.

Notes 

  1. Use a oven safe pot with lid to cook the stew. I use my 3 qt dutch oven.
  2. If you do not have a oven, you can continue to cook the stew on the low stove with lid, the process remains the same,stir at intervals till the meat is tender. For 2 lb lamb it will approximately take 2-3 hours(this will depend on the size & cut of lamb too, so adjust).

Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!

 

Kaju Biscuit – Buttery Cashew & Cardamom Cookies (Eggless)



Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Biscuit, Butter Cashew Cardamom Cookies #indianBetween folding laundry and mopping our white tile floor clean, I mentally work on a lot of receipes. Can you believe I just wrongly spelled reciepes the second time! Anyhow, as I scrub the floor,I visualize how the end result of the recipe should look like – a reddish hued curry, flaky golden pastry crust, that thickish consistency of the sauce, glistening crunchy look of the vegetable saute and so on and on, then, mentally, all along,I give or take away ingredients and make adjustments down to the level of teaspoons and pinches.All in my mind, no pen, no paper. On few days,it is a pleasant way to spend the mornings like this.Thinking about food, connecting the dots, attaching it to the aromas from back home and creating an (almost) realistic visual of the meal by the time the house is spotfree. Sometimes I just throw the swiffer to a corner, sit back on the couch and get lost in the memories associated with relishing food from tiny roadside eating joints and bakeries serving quick sweet bites back home.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Biscuit, Butter Cashew Cardamom Cookies #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Biscuit, Butter Cashew Cardamom Cookies #indianMemories tied to food is a wonderful thing, isn’t? I say it more often than not but I am an emotional eater. I get bouts of voracious eating depending on if I feel happy or sad that day. Sometimes I just cook and eat solely because that food is supposed to be associated with the season,or only coz a bowl of warm kheer (rice pudding) will see me through that dull, gloomy day or because I got to know about it when I chatted with mom or some aunt in the family last week. You can categorise these cookies as a baking activity that happened on such a whim. I spoke to mum the other evening discussing the picky food habits of my daughter and she happened to mention if I have tried feeding her ‘bakery wale biscuits‘ with milk.Now, if you are an indian, you will know in less than a microsecond that I mean those rustic,crumbly looking cookies which are made of nothing but truck loads of sugar, flour, ghee and universally flavored with black or green cardamom (for it’s the vanilla of the eastern world). As per mum, those biscuits are the most nourishing thing you can feed a child because of their tasty appeal & carbohydrate content.When it comes to nourishment, she belongs to the old school, ‘carbohydrates are as much-needed as protein’ I keep getting from her every now & then. Anyhow, I set out to bake. I had no starting recipe to work on, I did not get much help from the internet or cookbooks, I even did not have an indian style bakery within my reach but, I had a tangible experience of how those kaju biscuits should make that crunch sound between your teeth with little crumbs ruining your cardigan neck down with each bite, staining finger tips while you enjoy the cookie moment and the buttery cracked edges slightly more  golden than the center. In all, with the trust of my taste buds, I decided I could pull it off.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Biscuit, Butter Cashew Cardamom Cookies #indianAll along mixing the dough, the only thought that rattled in my mind was how these should taste of cashew predominantly & not just flour and sugar, just like original ones from a little bakery with blue & white candy cane style painted walls near my house in Delhi.One with glass shelfs stocking eggless butterscotch & black forest cakes,rows of  creamy custard horns on a tray and milky cardamom puddings ready to be picked up in disposable cups.

I do not want to delve into debating if this recipe is an authentic one or not.But I can promise you one thing – you will enjoy these dunked in a cup of chai. You will taste the richness of cashews and the aroma of cardamom and you would not be able to have just one.These were sent to husband’s work as a holiday gift, as per him, the co workers echoed my expectations from these. I made a large batch(the recipe yields more than 4 dozen biscuits) but since they keep good for about 2-3 weeks,go ahead and store them an air tight container & pair them with tea coffee or enjoy as you like. You can make the dough and freeze half of it for later use.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Biscuit, Butter Cashew Cardamom Cookies #indian

Printable Recipe

Ingredients(Makes about 4.5 dozen)

  • 3/4 cup cashew meal (I used ready-made cashew meal from Trader Joes you can grind raw cashews to a (not very fine) powder at home if you do not get ready made)
  • 1.5 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.25 cups confectioners sugar/castor sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 green cardamom pods, break open & powder the seeds
  • a generous pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
  • 10 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped raw cashews
  •  1/4 cup oil (any neutral oil will work)
  • 2 – 5 tbsp cold milk (just so the dough comes together, I used 3.5 tbsp)
  • Cashew bits for top (optional)

Method

In a bowl, mix cashew meal, flour, sugar,baking powder, soda & salt together. Dump the flour mix in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the cardamom & nutmeg. Add the butter cubes. Pulse for a minute or so till the butter becomes pea sized.

Remove the metal blade and fit the dough blade in the jar. Add the 1/2 cup finely chopped cashews. Add the oil. Start the processor and start adding cold mix 1/2 tbsp at a time till the dough just comes together. Stop. Open the lid and take out the dough on a clean surface. The dough will be slightly sticky & loose but that’s okay. Knead gently with dry hands for a minute or less and bring it together. Divide into two portions. Wrap the dough portions in plastic/cling film. Make sure that the cling film is large enough since we will be rolling the cookies later in it. With the help of your palm, flatten each wrapped dough portion. Refrigerate for at least 30-35 minutes or till firm. Now, if you plan to bake them later, you can freeze one or both of the dough halves.

Once the dough is firm, roll the flattened dough still wrapped in the cling film to a square sheet about 1/4″ thick. After rolling, refrigerate the rolled out dough again since the heat from your hands and rolling will melt the butter.

Preheat oven to 300F. Line cookie sheet with parchment/ wax paper. You might need a couple of  baking sheets or you can bake in batches.

Once the rolled dough is firm, using a sharp knife, cut very small squares (about 1/4″ by 1/4″) since these cookies will spread quite a bit while baking. Try to cut as evenly sized squares as possible. Press some cashew bits on top and arrange the squares about 2″ apart on the baking sheet. Refrigerate again for 20-25 minutes.

If you do not want to roll the dough, pinch small portions of the dough, shape into balls and press few cashew pieces on top.

Bake the refrigerated cookies in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes till the cookie bases start & edges start turning golden brown and the top cashews changes color. I like my cookies slightly brown so I baked them a few minutes more, about 22 minutes.

Let cool completely on the sheet before storing them in air tight containers for up to 3 weeks. Serve with hot chai.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

Fried Fish



Sinfully Spicy - Fried Fish #northindianMy dad loved to entertain and this would mean as the weekend was approaching,mom would be spending most of her time brainstorming dinner menus. End of the week and the house would be choked with family and friends and even after doing it for several years,I loved the excitement in her gait on saturday mornings when we strolled to the bazaar to get groceries.There would be guests with both vegetarian and non vegetarian choices, not many with special diets but definitely all,secretly,looking forward to her deftly spiced dishes. Many from the near family would sometimes call ahead in the day with requests over the phone while others just warmed their hearts thinking of the surprise that she would bring to the table.Each time, she came up with such a fantastic menu, the array of dishes perfectly complementing each other, each course well thought, most of the food homemade and few not.

Sinfully Spicy - Fried Fish #northindianShe did not choose to make elaborate,time-consuming dishes if the number of guests were many but quite a variety so that everyone could spoon a favorite on their plate. All afternoon, the house smelled of few dozen or so of mutton koftas simmering inside the aluminum pot specifically reserved for cooking on such days of big meals, a show stopper as my dad would say, it was the main dish along side puffy rotis, then, there would be dishes made with paneer ,a must on north indian entertaining menus,a slow cooked side of potatoes, another crowd pleaser, her cinnamon spiced red hued dum aloo and the signature rice pilaf, brought together with ghee criped cumin seeds folded in fragrant basmati,thick, nutty dal tarka, tempered with ghee & scattered with cilantro and served with lemon wedges on side of the bowl. On few occasions, she would tend to a pot of boiling kadhi which by the way was a favorite of almost every aunt I know in the family,while quickly frying up ajwain scented onion pakoras on the side stove at the last moment so that the fritters remained crispy till the guests sat down to eat.

Sinfully Spicy - Fried Fish #northindianIf it were winters, there would be fried seafood as starters,a winter tradition, a family favorite,when the fish season peaks in the bazaars, without a miss, fried,crispy pieces of rohu (fresh water carp) fish were served along with vinegar soaked onion rings and smoking hot green chutney.If my dad got a good deal, few kilos of white pomfret were slid into smoking mustard oil for guests. Quite in contrast to here, growing up, we consumed copious amounts of seafood during the colder months and that’s the reason I crave it every now and then. Every region in India has its own fish fry recipe, in the coastal areas of south india,fresh caught smaller fish are doused in a paste of ground coconut and red chillies before deep-frying while in the eastern parts, in a lightly brit inspired ‘fish & chips’, they fry the marinated fish after a coating of egg and bread crumbs.

Sinfully Spicy - Fried Fish #northindianHowever, mum uses a batter which she tells is my maternal grandfather’s recipe.The marinated fish is coated in a garlic-ginger laced,turmeric hued marinade and then scantly coated in a mix of rice and besan (chickpea) flours.She fondly recollects that during her childhood, my grandfather used to soak the rice a night before and stone grind it the following day to coat the thick,belly pieces of rohu in it and they would sit around the stove waiting in turn to get the piping hot fritter. If you happen to visit my home, mum makes fried fish the same way, she would soak the rice and hand grind it on sil-batta(stone grinder). I have adapted the recipe and use ready-made rice flour to make it quick and equally delicious.

Sinfully Spicy - Fried Fish #northindian

Printable Recipe

Fried Fish 

Fish marinated in fragrant spices and fried in a gluten-free flour mixture of rice and chickpea flours.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

For Marinating 

  • 1 lb fish (I used 4 large tilapia belly pieces cut into half or use equivalent weight any whole fish)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • 3/4 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala 
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp mustard oil
  • generous pinch of salt

For Coating

  • 3 tbsp rice flour
  • 1/4 besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • salt to taste (to taste)

For Frying

  • Mustard Oil for frying (substitute with any high smoky point oil)
  • 1/2 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)

For Serving

  • Chaat Masala
  • Onion slices
  • Lemon Wedges

Method

Clean and descale the fish pieces or ask your butcher to do it. Wash under a stream of water and pat them dry with a paper towel. In a flat dish, layer the pieces and add all the ingredients listed under marination. Rub everything with your hands to coat the fish and refrigerate for 1 hour.

15 minutes before ready to fry, take out the fish from the refrigerator and let sit on the kitchen counter. In a bowl, combine the rice flour, besan and chaat masala. Taste a pinch of this mixture before adding additional salt since chaat masala is quite salty, then adjust the salt to taste.

Set 2 inches of mustard oil (or whichever oil you are using) in a heavy bottomed, wide pot or skillet (I use my 10″ cast iron) to heat up on medium flame.While the oil is heating, add the flour mixture to the marinated fish pieces.Mix with hands such that the flour sticks to the fish.Add a light splash of water if needed. We are not looking for a wet batter. We do not want a flour batter to coat the fish, instead just an uneven dry coating of flour on the fish (similar to coating chicken when deep-frying).

Once the oil is hot, about 325 F, add fenugreek seeds to it.Let the seeds crackle.Gently set the coated fish pieces the into hot oil and fry for 3-4  minutes on each side until medium golden brown in color. (this time will be more in case you are using whole fish). Do not fry on very high or very low heat else the fish will get soggy or remain raw inside.
Drain on paper towel and when the fish is still hot, sprinkle more chaat masala. Discard the oil.

Serve immediately with onion slices and lemon wedges and green chutney or any sauce of choice.

Notes

  1. You could use whole small fish (like pomfret,trout, mackerel) or freshwater fish like rohu, katla (indian varieties) or boneless fish fillets ( cat fish, tilapia, cod, mahi-mahi) in this recipe. When using a whole fish, make incisions before you marinate.
  2. Chaat Masala is a hot & tangy blend of spices which is easily available in indian/pakistani stores. If you do not have it, skip and add a little cayenne and crushed black pepper to the flour mix. You could squirt lemon juice for tang once you have finished frying the fish.
  3. Many times, I use the same recipe to fry up fillets and stuff them inside tortillas or roti with coleslaw and serve as fish tacos.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

Gajar Methi Matar – Carrots, Peas & Fenugreek Stir fry



Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Methi Matar (Carrots, Peas & Fenugreek Stirfry)I had to pick up a bunch of these slender carrots from the store and combine them with addictively bitter fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves into this delicious stir fry. An otherwise plain-looking side dish which in reality in such a perfect balance of texture and flavors, it formed a part of our winter meals just once or twice in the season because growing up, carrots were usually consumed in preparing luscious halwa or tangy winter pickles. Or mostly mum would simply cut up raw carrots into sticks and squirted fresh lemon juice & dash of chaat masala on top for a healthy snack in between meals.

Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Methi Matar (Carrots, Peas & Fenugreek Stirfry)Not having it often could be the reason it is one of my favorite things to prepare during colder months.Who knows? But this sweet-spicy medley, very popular in north indian parts of India, when served with piping hot yellow dal, few cut up hard-boiled eggs and hot rotis forms a super satisfying home meal in addition to being wholesome and nourishing.

Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Methi Matar (Carrots, Peas & Fenugreek Stirfry)I love the robust choice winter vegetables bring with them. I could go on about my love for produce at this time of the year – fleshy turnips, sweet beetroots and leafy greens.While many people find comfort in meats and poultry at this time when its dull and grey or perhaps snowy outside if you are on the east coast, I need a hearty stock of vegetables to strive and feel energetic through the season.If you are in India, where unlike here, fresh peas make an appearance in the winter months, you could be in for a really treat if you plan to make this along with those juicy, raspberry red carrots, native to the asian subcontinent which I am still to spot here.

Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Methi Matar (Carrots, Peas & Fenugreek Stirfry)In this recipe, you could substitute methi leaves with any bitter greens of choice – kale or turnip, radish greens work wonderfully.To balance out the sweetness from carrots and peas, you do need a bitter element so do not skip the greens. Sometimes I add diced up sweet potatoes or white potatoes for an earthy texture, making it sweet, spicy, bitter and deliciously savory side to go along dal – rice or plain parathas(flatbreads).

Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Methi Matar (Carrots, Peas & Fenugreek Stirfry)Talking of fresh produce, I had a chance to visit the weekly farmers market at the San Francisco Ferry Building during our trip to bay area last week. What a beautiful, fresh and gorgeous spread of produce, meats,bread and condiments it was.We spent almost half a dat there sampling cheeses, raw honey, bread & hot pizza from the stand. Here are a few pictures for you guys.

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

 

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

San Francisco Ferry Building

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market

Sinfully Spicy - Gajar Methi Matar (Carrots, Peas & Fenugreek Stirfry)

 

Printable Recipe

Gajar Methi Matar 

A simply spiced carrots, peas and fresh fenugreek leaves dish with warm tones of ginger & cumin which can be served as a side or a warm winter salad.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 4-5 medium-sized carrots (I used a bunch which had 6-7 small, slender carrots)
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup packed fresh methi leaves, picked
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/4 tsp methi dana(fenugreek seeds)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1  small roma tomato, finely chopped (yield about 2.5 tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or paprika, adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/2″ fresh ginger shoot, finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder to taste, or use fresh lemon juice to taste at the end)

Notes – 

  • Use any bitter robust green like kale (blanched) or radish & turnip greens in place of fenugreek.
  • We like this dish more on the sweet bitter side than with tang. Even though tomatoes & amchoor balance the sweet, depending on how acidic your tomato is, just adjust the amount of lemon or amchoor. You may or might not need it at all too.

Method

Wash and peel the carrots. Pat them dry and dice them if you have the thicker ones, I cut them up into small rounds since mine were slender. Wash the methi leaves under running stream of water and completely dry them before chopping. If you are using fresh pea, shell the pods, if using frozen, thaw them.

In a karahi or heavy skillet, heat up the mustard oil on medium until the raw smell goes away. Once hot, temper the oil with methi dana and cumin seeds. Wait till they crackle. Turn the heat to low and immediately add the chopped garlic and hing. Wait till the garlic changes color to light brown,about 8-10 seconds.Be sure that the garlic does not burn. You can even put off the stove for few minutes if you feel that the oil is already hot enough.Then add the tomatoes & turmeric.Saute for a minute or so on medium till the tomato begins to soften. Add the carrots (and potatoes/sweet potatoes if using) and cover. Let cook for 5-7 minutes on medium low heat till the carrots become tender(or about 80% cooked).Add a little splash of water if you feel that the carrots need moisture for cooking.

Open the lid add the red chill powder along with peas, ginger and chopped methi. Add salt to taste. Stir to combine everything together. Cover again and let cook for another 3-4 minutes till the methi leaves wilt down and peas are tender. I let the vegetables have a bite so I do not cook them for too long.Adjust the time of cooking accordingly.

For the last 1-2 minutes of cooking, bump up the heat to high, add amchoorgaram masala and saute the vegetables for a minute or so.We call this process “bhuno” (saute on high heat) This makes the stir fry glisten and adds a depth of flavor.

Serve warm.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

Chilli Gobhi(Cauliflower)



Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochineseThe week that went by was such a mixed bag. It started when many of my spice jars came tumbling down on the counter while clumsy moi was trying to fetch something from at the back of the rack. Few of them, brought from Kerala (indian state known for its premium spices),travelled with mum last year and I was almost in tears looking at my counter.Hah, actually not! Thankfully, the jars didn’t break and as of now I am sitting on two or three cupfuls of forced homemade spice mixture of sorts which I need to put to use in future.

Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochineseThen, my tripod started behaving weird.Out and out.The socket to grip the camera & lens got free and the next day the extension arm won’t stay in place.Before clicking next set of pictures, I have to get a new one now.We will see when that happens because tomorrow we are leaving for a family trip after more than a couple of years since I was pregnant. You can tag along on Instagram in case you want.It has been a long stay at home and I am really looking forward to some time away from cleaning & cooking & solo baby watching.!.Couple of trips got booked in between and got cancelled for some reason or the other, so until I set my toe on that plane, fingers crossed lovelies! Right now,while I am sitting surrounded by ziploc stuffed with cherrios & m&ms,scattered diapers,half packed bags and un ironed clothes,don’t ask me why I am writing a blog post instead. Just don’t.

Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochineseMy mum confirmed that she would be visiting us in December this year and I can hardly wait! Then, the weather in the Valley came dropping down. I am loving it since winters are my more favorite of the seasons. I pulled out those leg warmers and those furry, fuzzy coats. Happppy!Then, as always the cold weather succeeded in  pushing me towards heavy deep-fried, robust food and earlier this week, I prepared this super spicy chill gobhi with warm tones of ginger, a strong garlic flavor and kick from chillies for our meatless monday dinner.

Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochineseI have written about indo-chinese a couple of times in my previous posts. I often make indo-chinese in our house since there is not much to order from restaurants here. When making vegetarian dishes,though paneer is more popular in India, I find cauliflower as good an option too.This firm vegetable, usually cornered as bland, when coated in spicy batter, deep-fried and with hot sauce tastes meaty and satisfying. And then, technically you are eating a vegetable,so little less guilt.The dish has got some bold, saucy flavors.

Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochineseThere is not much chinese about this recipe or for that matter any indo-chinese recipe except the use of garlic, soy sauce & vinegar.But certainly it is not a curry and an amazing fusion dish with lots going on- cripsy, spicy, tangy, hints of sweet.Pair this recipe with plain rice, indian fried rice or serve as an appetizer or snack with drinks if you like.

Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochinese

 

 

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

For the Sauce 

  • Kashmiri dry chillies (these give a beautiful color and good amount of heat but use any mild or hot chill variety you like)
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 tsp cornstarch +3 tbsp cold water
  • 4 tbsp canola oil (or vegetable or grapeseed oil)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1-2 Thai bird chillies, finely chopped (adjust quantity of taste, de seed if you like less hot)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2-3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (I use Ching’s brand)
  • 2 tsp tomato chili sauce (I use Maggi Hot & sweet,see notes)
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil (optional, this is a really strong flavoring, do not use if you haven’t tasted it before,skip or substitute with untoasted sesame oil for a mellow taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp honey (use agave for vegan to taste, see notes)
  • 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar (or to taste, see notes)
  • Chopped Cilantro, chopped fresh ginger, chopped green chillies for garnish

For Deep Frying 

  • 1 medium cauliflower
  •  1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 serrano chilli, finely chopped (de seed if you like less hot)
  • 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce (I use Ching’s brand)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 -1/3 cup water (or as required to make the batter)
  • Canola Oil for frying (or vegetable oil)

Method

Making the Sauce

Soak the red chillies in warm water for 5-7  minutes. Using your mortar and pestle, make a smooth paste of the soaked chillies and garlic using with 1-2 tbsp of soaking water. You can de seed the chillies if you like less hot. Set aside.

Mix cornstarch with cold water. Set aside

In a wok/wide mouthed pan,heat up the oil to smoking hot. Add chopped garlic & ginger,green chillies and cook for 1 minute or till you smell the aroma. Do not let burn. Next add the onions & scallion.Cook for 2-3 minutes or till light brown in color. Add the chilli-garlic paste that we made earlier and saute till the raw smell is gone, about a minute or so. At any point you feel that the mix is drying or sticking to bottom of the pan, add a splash of water. Add soy sauce next along with tomato chill sauce and sesame oil. Saute for 1-2 minutes.Next, add the cornstarch mix to the wok. Reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for another 2-4 minutes till the sauce thickens to desired consistency.

Next, taste & adjust the salt. Sprinkle the garam masala, add honey & vinegar and stir everything well. (If you want a thinner sauce add some water right now).Let simmer for another 1 minutes. Put off the heat and let sit while you fry up the cauliflower (recipe below).

Deep Frying the Cauliflower

Cut the cauliflower florets into halves.Do not cut very small else the florets will turn mushy while frying and not hold up in the sauce. Wash thoroughly under running water & let the water drain.Pat the florets completely dry.

In your fryer or in a heavy bottomed wide pan/wok let the 2-3 inches of canola oil heat up. In a bowl, throughly mix all the ingredients listed to make a smooth and thick batter.Dip the gobhi florets one by one in the batter and deep fry on low-medium heat till golden brown.Drain on paper towel.

Note – I do not boil the cauliflower before frying. I want the cauliflower to have a bite after deep-frying. However, do not fry the florets on very high heat either else they will be raw from inside.

Warm up the sauce prepared earlier if it gets cold. Gently add the fried cauliflower florets to the sauce and toss. Garnish with chopped ginger, chillies and cilantro if you like. Serve immediately!

Notes :-

  1. I usually make the sauce first and then fry up the cauliflower.This makes sure that the cauliflower stays crisp.If you are making the fritters first, let them stay warm in a 200 degree F oven while you make the sauce)
  2. You can use little tomato paste and sriracha in this recipe if you do not have tomato-chilli sauce.Adjust quantity to liking. Go light on vinegar at the end since the tomato paste is quite acidic.
  3. Adding tomato – chilli sauce adds sweetness too, you can adjust the level of sweet in this recipe either by adding ketchup or honey/agave/sugar.

Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!

 

 

Murgh Korma – Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce



Sinfully Spicy - Murgh Korma (Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce) #indianfoodA rich and aromatic dish, korma originally belonged to the shahi dastarkhwans (royal kitchens) of Mughal emperors. Deep rooted in aristrocasy, the mughlai cuisine, thus, is redolent of sweet-smelling, unique spices,delicate herbs, liberal use of ground nuts & dried fruit as well as exotic ingredients like saffron & rose petals in cooking.Dating back to the era of invasions and subsequent period of  rule by the Mughals, indian cuisine, particularly north indian evolved and embraced the said style of cooking ranging from extremely spicy to mild curries,rice preparations and bread making.

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh Korma (Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce) #indianfoodWith addition of ghee, nut pastes and dairy (mava (milk solids) /milk/ cream), mughlai cuisine is not your everyday fare. It is once in a while thing in our kitchen but something which we look forward to at mealtime.Those are the days when we don’t care about calorie counting or healthy eating. Nothing can beat the indulgence of soaking up all of that nutty sauce in yeasty naans or ladling it over hot steaming basmati.Nothing compares to the comfort that such hearty food brings.

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh Korma (Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce) #indianfood

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh Korma (Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce) #indianfoodThe most important thing to be kept in mind when preparing mild curries is that you cannot go overboard with your selection of ingredients.That regal flavor of korma sauce needs deft proportions keeping in mind that one ingredient does not overpower the other. On those rare three or four occasions in a year when we dined out at the Karims, a place nestled in lanes of the Jama Masjid in Purani Dilli (Old Delhi), a restaurant with great history and luscious mughlai food delicacies, dad always fondly remarked how perfect this dish was done there ,a single morsel of the sauce tasting of tang from yogurt with pleasant richness from the nuts & dairy and finishing notes of warmth from cardamom, he said.I clearly remember that korma there had this distinct hint of kewra(screw pine essence) and with a simple jeera pilaf, it was all you could want at that particular time and day in your life.

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh Korma (Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce) #indianfoodIt took a few attempts to come up with this recipe keeping in mind those expectations and the memories.I do not claim to taste like restaurants, but this recipe is definitely a keeper. It came out pretty good, if I say so myself and we really enjoyed it.

I use a bit of  turmeric in mainly for the color and to enhance that hue,I finish the sauce with saffron infused in milk at the end.If you prefer more of a whitish korma, skip the turmeric and just add the saffron strands (without soaking).Another unusual thing in my recipe is the addition of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), a flavor which I really enjoy in creamy curries, you can skip if you like.

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh Korma , Chicken in Nut & Cream Sauce #indianfood

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

Marination

  • 1.25 lb chicken thighs, boneless & skinless, cut into bite size pieces (see notes)
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp plain whole milk hung yogurt (not greek, see notes)
  • 3/4 tsp garam masala
  • scant 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

For the Sauce

  • 3 tbsp oil (any neutral oil)
  • 4 cloves
  • 5-6 green cardamom
  • 1/2″ cinnamon stick (see notes)
  • 1/4 tsp shahjeera (caraway seeds)
  • 2 small blades javitri (mace,a really strong spice, a little goes a long way)
  • 1 large tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow/white onion
  • 1.5 tsp fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2-3Thai bird green chillies, chopped (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • scant 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 6 tbsp raw broken cashews (or 5 tbsp whole cashews)
  • 2 tbsp melon seeds (skip if not available)
  • 2/3 cup plain whole milk hung yogurt (not greek)
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup water (depending on how thick/thin you want the sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 5-6 tbsp heavy cream (I quantity can up to 1/2 cup, depending how how rich you like)
  • a generous pinch of good quality saffron (crushed between palms to fine dust),soaked in 1 tbsp warm milk
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp golden raisins
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Notes

  1. I like to use dark chicken meat when making curries but you can go ahead and use chicken breast in this recipe too. Even bone in chicken will work.Just remember to adjust the cooking time so that the meat dosent dry out or remain uncooked.
  2. Hung yogurt is nothing but yogurt tied up in a cheesecloth/muslin and hung for 30-40 minutes to let its water drain.
  3. Indian cinnamon is very sharp as compared to western sweet cinnamon. If using the latter, go ahead and add a bit more.
  4. If you prefer more of a whitish korma, skip the turmeric and just add the saffron strands (without soaking in milk) at the end.

Method

Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry using a paper towel. Mix up lemon juice, 3 tbsp yogurt, garam masala, pepper powder, salt, ginger & garlic in a small bowl to a thick paste and rub this paste over the chicken. Marinate the chicken for atleast 4 hours or preferably overnight, refrigerated.

When ready to cook the korma, takeout the chicken from the refrigerator and let sit on the kitchen counter. Soak the cashews and melon seeds (if using) in 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes. Drain and discard the water.

In a heavy bottomed pot or kadhai, heat up the oil on medium high. Add the cloves,cardamom,mace, shahjeera, cinnamon, tejpatta to hot oil and let the whole spices crackle, about8-10 seconds or till you smell an aroma.

Next add the onions, ginger and garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes until the onions starts to turn light brown. Add the soaked cashews and melon seeds(if using) next along with green chillies. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low now and add the coriander, turmeric along with 2/3 cup hung yogurt. Do not stir immediately else the yogurt will curdle. Wait for atlas a minute and then slowly stir around to mix yogurt with everything else in the pot.Cook the yogurt along with the masala for 5-7 minutes on low heat until you see oil separating on the sides.Put the stove off, pick out the bay leaf & cinnamon,about half of the cloves & cardamom and tip rest of the contents into a blender. The mixture is going to be hot so wait for 10-15 minutes before you start blending it.Blend (do not use water if possible during blending).I do not make a very smooth paste, you could decide the texture of the sauce at this point).

Meanwhile,in the same pot or another pot, heat up the 2-3 tbsp ghee on medium. When the ghee is hot enough, start searing the marinated chicken on both sides.You do not need to brown but a light sear is just about enough.  You could do this is batches. Once all the chicken is seared, add all of it together along the blended sauce to the pot. Stir around on and cook on medium- low heat. The chicken will render its moisture and fat as it cooks and the sauce will thicken and deepen in color.Let cook till the chicken is about 95% cooked, about 6-8 minutes.

Next, add the water depending on the desired consistency  of sauce (I add 1/2 cup water)along with crushed kasuri methi. Check and adjust the salt. Let come to a boil on medium. Next add the cream, saffron infused milk, cardamom powder, sugar and raisins. Let simmer (not boil) for 8-10 minutes on very low heat. Once simmered, put off the heat and let sit covered for 2 hours.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

Chana Pulao (Spiced Chickpeas & Rice Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita



Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)All I think of at the first sight of pomegranates in the grocery stores is to fold the plump ruby jewels with sweetish velvety yogurt and pair the raita with some kind of a spicy pilaf. To me, pulao/pilaf is a very ‘to taste’ thing in indian cuisine. It is like an assortment of things with any sort of grain, mostly rice in our case – quick, one pot but hearty. On days when mom was not in much of mood to cook, she would make some kind of a pulao – with vegetables, beans, dried lentil nuggets or chicken. There would be pickles, salad and raita to serve along.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)Come November and the knock of winter winds brought with itself a sudden rush of green and fresh produce in the vegetable bazaars of Delhi.After long, humid and harsh summers,the next few months presented a respite and a chance to indulge in cooking and eating.On few Saturdays I would accompany mom to the sabzi bazaar. Wrapped in my favorite pashmina shawl, we walked out of the house for an early evening stroll and later to purchase vegetables for the week.Those few hours were spent inhaling the crisp autumn air and watching how the nip in the air got people out of their homes, the pleasing sights of street food carts beaming with everybody, eating, chatting and sharing a quick snack with families.We stopped here and there to get buy and bargain fresh eggs, bread and dairy before reaching the sabzi bazaar.Most of the faces at the bazaar were known, for it has been a place of trade between the same set of people for decades.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)Mom would patiently listen to household stories of few sabzi wallas(vendors), of their children not studying at school or the gas prices going up. Few complained about government not doing much for the poor and few praising their farms for such fine produce. In India, such is a way of life, so may day-to-day people slowly connect to your life and you do not even realize, it is how the society operates.I always loved to tag along with her for grocery trips just to observe how she would choose vegetables – touching them, sniffing a few, closely inspecting each piece below the flickering bulbs on the stalls of thela-wallas (street vendors with wooden wheeled carts),she took her time to select. If few of the vendors were in a mood, they would slice off a couple of apples or pluck few greens and let her taste before buying.Thick,dark-skinned capsicum to yellowish cauliflower heads to fragrant methi (fenugreek) and soa (dill) bunches to ruby kashmiri anar (pomegranates) and apples, each sample of produce brought with itself an opportunity for deliciousness.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)The onset of winters also meant there would be lots of wholesome,hearty meals in the house full of warm spices and herbs. There would be exotic,rich curries and layered biryanis and indulgent desserts. Mom would make a lot of quick rice dishes to keep our stomachs nourished & satisfied. The house would be enveloped in the pungent aroma of mustard oil and earthy fragrance of basmati rice bubbling on the stove. This is one of her favorite recipes which I have changed to our liking over the years, she did not add bell peppers or potatoes, but I love the combination of both of these with chickpeas and rice so I do it more my way now. A weekly regular in our house with all kinds of variations each time.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 3)

You could use canned chickpeas and cut down the cooking time to half but I recommend starting with dried chickpeas and cooking raw ones from scratch  because the resultant delicious stock will flavor the rice immensely.

For the Chickpeas (Skip this step if using canned chickpeas)

  • 1 cup dried raw chickpeas
  • 2 + 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp oil

For the Pulao(Pilaf)

  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1.5 tbsp plain whole milk yogurt (skip for vegan)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri red chili powder (or paprika, this gives the color not the heat)
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or use canola/vegetable/olive oil)
  • 1/2 ” cinnamon stick (indian cinnamon is very sharp so I use less, adjust if using sweet cinammon)
  • 1 small twig of mace
  • 1 indian bay leaf (or regular bay leaf)
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom, cracked open
  • 1/2 cup heaped chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder(adjust to taste)
  • 1-2 medium potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cubed
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, crushed)
  • 1-2 tbsp ghee to finish(optional, skip for vegan)
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish
  • Optional – golden raisins, silvered almonds, cashews.

Method

Soak the chickpeas in enough water overnight or atleast 8-10 hours.Drain & discard the water and add the chickpeas to the pressure cooker along with baking soda, salt, water and oil. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles on medium heat or till chickpeas are fork tender. The cooking time and number of whistles will depend on quality and size of the chickpeas and also on pressure cooker. I use small variety chickpeas which pressure cook in about 20 minutes. If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a heavy bottomed pot with lid or your dutch over to cook the chickpeas for roughly 45-50 minutes or till fork tender. Once the chickpeas are cooked,drain and reserve the liquid (stock). Set aside.

Skip the above steps if using canned chickpeas. Open up the can and run the chickpeas under a stream of water, drain and set aside.

Wash the basmati rice under 2-3 times under a running stream of water till the water runs clear. Soak in 1.5 cups of water for 15 minutes. (You can do this while the chickpeas are cooking). Also, mix the yogurt with garam masala and kashmiri red chill powder. Set aside. If making for vegans, skip the yogurt and add these spices when you add the tomatoes.

In a wide bottomed heavy pot with lid (I use my 3 qt dutch oven), heat up the mustard oil on medium till you see little ripples on the surface and the raw smell goes away. Add cinnamon,mace bay leaf and cloves and cardamom. Wait till they crackle and you smell a nice aroma. 10-15 seconds. Add the onions and garlic next. Cook till they are light brown. About 5-6 minutes. Add the tomatoes next along with red chili,turmeric powder. Cook for 2-3 minutes just till the tomatoes begin to soften. Reduce heat to low and add the yogurt mixed with spices. Do not stir immediately else yogurt will curdle. Wait for 30 seconds and gently on low heat(very important) incorporate the yogurt in the masala. Cook for another 1-2 minutes on low heat till the masala starts getting shiny and turning deep reddish- brown in color. Add the potatoes & ginger next and cook along with the masala for another 1-2 minutes.

Next, drain & discard all the water from the soaking rice and add soaked rice and chickpeas to the pot. Do not stir. Measure and add the required quantity of stock (reserved from boiling chickpeas) to the pot. The quantity of stock added should be added as required by your variety of rice(My rice variety cooks in 2:1 ratio of rice to water, I add 2 tbsp extra stock ). (In case you are using canned chickpeas, add chicken/vegetable stock or plain water).

Once you have added the water, check and adjust the salt of the liquid (normally it should be little extra salty at the beginning since the rice will soak up the stock). Also add crushed kasuri methi to. Gently stir now (else the soaked rice will break) and let the rice soak in stock for another 15 minutes.

Once the rice has soaked, cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let cook covered for another 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, open the lid and add the bell peppers to the pot and very lightly mix them in with the help of a fork. Cover and let cook on low for another 2 minutes. After this, put off the stove and let sit for atleast 15 minutes.

Open the lid and add the ghee (if using) along with cilantro, nuts (if using), raisins(is using) on top and gently fluff the rice with fork.

Serve warm with raita(recipe below), salad and pickle.

Pomegranate Raita (Spiced Yogurt)

Ingredients (Serves 3)

  • 1 cup whole milk plain yogurt,cold
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp heaped roasted cumin powder
  • a light pinch of dried mint leaves, crush to dust between hands (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp chaat masala (a tangy spice mix available in indian/pakistani stores or online)
  • 1/2 tsp black salt (this salt is tangy, substitute with regular)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or cayanne, adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (or more/less you like)
  • salt to taste
  • Few fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Method

Beat the yogurt with everything except the pomegranate seeds & salt to smooth. I like the raita thick but if you can thin it with little water if you like. Refrigerate the yogurt for 20 minutes.Just before serving mix in the pomegranate seeds and salt. Sprinkle cilantro. Serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

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