Piri Piri Paneer Tikka



Sinfully Spicy - Piri Piri Paneer TikkaIn hindi, ‘Tikka’ typically means a morsel of food (meat/cheese or vegetable) which charred to crispy on intense heat  and served as an appetizer.The spices vary from preparation to preparation,it could me meat or chicken, paneersoy or fruit chunks but that strong smoky taste and aroma of the burnt spices over fire is a irrepraceable.The concept of sizzling fatty meat chunks over charcoal fires is popular across the country, particularly in the north indian parts during the to extreme winter season when the flames spin around a cozy atmosphere apt for eating and meeting in a commonplace.


Sinfully Spicy - Ingredients,Piri Piri Sauce
You walk out of the home and the streets are dotted with numerous eateries, smelling of coal and decorated with hanging metal skewers, presenting options of all sorts to please your taste buds. These are the days when you do not care much about home cooked food because the essence of the food is far superior there. Sitting on dilapidated metal benches or around plastic chairs and hand-woven cots neatly arranged around the bonfire,under the cold starry sky, with air smelling of smoke and spices, loud conversations, juicy tikka on the plate, hot chutneys on the side – an experience unmatched to the culinary creations of the best gourmet restaurants around.I miss it.

Sinfully Spicy - Piri Piri Sauce

Sinfully Spicy - Piri Piri Paneer Tikka I found some amazing looking, scarlet red Fresno peppers at Whole foods the other day and could not think of anything but the spicy paste that my mom used to make with them.Ok I will not lie, I also did think of the stuffed chili pickle that she makes but lets rest that for some other day. The stone ground, coarse, hot paste, studded with chili seeds was not called ‘piri-piri’ but it was essentially on the same lines.We would eat greasy homemade potato chips tossed in it, so addictive!Sometimes drumsticks were tossed around and deep fried later for a crunchy hand food or else it was more of a laal (red) chutney along side meals.



Sinfully Spicy - Piri Piri Paneer TikkaFor the uninitiated, ‘Piri Piri’ is an african bird’s eye chili and is used for making an extremely hot sauce after combining it with citrus peel, onion, garlic, lemon juice,paprika and few herbs. I made a batch of Piri Piri and as I write this, it’s been siting in my refrigerator for over three days and getting better, and is being lately used for all sorts of things in my cooking. It makes a lot of sense when added to grilled chicken or seafood, or to gravy bases and salad dressings, it comes in so handy when you are looking for instant flavors – talk garlic, talk herbs, talk heat, talk yum! Hopefully, I will be able to share a couple of more recipes of using it with you.

Sinfully Spicy - Piri Piri Paneer Tikka I have used paneer in my recipe but you could use tofu or halloumi cheese for that matter. These tikka are grilled are taste best when served immediately. And they are super hot. These plump chilies are a game! Add any kind of vegetables as you want to that marinade- zucchini, button mushrooms, bell peppers. Wrap up the grilled paneer in a  roti with green chuntney or serve as a side with rice.

Sinfully Spicy - Piri Piri Paneer Tikka

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Piri Piri Sauce (Makes about 1 cup)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large fresh Fresno peppers(or use any hot pepper,see notes)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder (or paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (3-4 stalks)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 garlic gloves
  • 1 .5 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (or as needed during blending)

For the Paneer Tikka

  • 6 oz paneer (~200 gms) (homemade or store bought, cut into batons or 2″ by 2″ slabs)
  • 1/2 cup piri piri sauce (recipe below, adjust quantity to desired heat level )
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • scant pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3-4 tablespoon oil for cooking
  • sliced onions, lime wedges, chaat masala, cilantro for serving

Notes – 

  1. Piri Piri is an extremely hot sauce. I usually de seed and de vein half the quantity of Fresno peppers to reduce the heat level.You could reduce the quantity in marinade too.
  2. If you do not get use any red colored peppers, just ensure that they are hot.

Method

Piri Piri Sauce

In a sauce pan, heat up the 2 tbsp oil. Add all of the ingredients except the garlic, lime juice, water & olive oil(needed for blending) & stir for a minute or so. Add the water and cook covered over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until the pepper skins are soft. Remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature. When the mixture has cooled, put into a blender, add the garlic cloves, lime juice and blend drizzling the olive oil to a smooth blend.Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer. Pour into a clean glass container and cover with a lid. Let sit for at least a couple of days before using.

For the Paneer Tikka

Marinate the paneer in piri piri sauce, garam masala, salt to taste and sugar. Add the oil and combine so that the paneer pieces. Skewer the paneer if you want. Let sit for 30 minutes, refrigerated.

Heat up your grill pan or outdoor grill and grill the marinated paneer for 1-2 minutes on both sides. Paneer does not need much cooking so this should be fast. Brush liberally with oil while you grill. Take off the grill as soon as you get grill marks and sprinkle with chaat masala (optional)

Serve immediately with green chutney, onion slices, cilantro & lime wedges.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

Lamb Rogan Josh



Sinfully Spicy: Lamb Rogan JoshMany days I need something different, not the usual preparation but an equally aromatic and meaty curry but without the typical onion-garlic- tomato masala. The rogan josh delivers. Rogan (fat) from the lamb and josh (intensity) from the kashmiri red chillies, combined with the warming flavors of ginger, fennel & hing, each morsel of this kashmiri dish with origins in Persia is a true delight.The spice selection is different than the usual turmeric or coriander and its a much needed change at dinner time.You can easily do it wrong by choosing a lean meat (like chicken) for making rogan josh.It is not rogan josh unless the meat cooks in its own fat plus the aromatic & bold infusion of whole black cardamoms, bay leaf and sharp indian cinnamon or cassia bark to develop a robust, distinctive taste.

Sinfully Spicy: Lamb Rogan JoshThis recipe comes from my aunt, a true blue Kashmiri. To tell you the truth, I had eaten it all wrong before I ate rogan josh prepared by her. My first time was some six years back, and while the meat cooked on the stove, I could tell that it did not smell like the usual curries which we are used to eating in our homes,the strong liquorice aroma of fennel & smoky chillies permeating the atmosphere of the house till quite a few hours later.The vibrant red hue of the dish was indicative of  its essential character, of royalty, of feast. Last month, I tried the recipe she told me over the phone twice, it didn’t come out great the first time. I over did the ginger, but the second time it was insanely good. ‘You could use a few spoons of thin dahi (yogurt) if you like, but it’s not necessary, water will do’, she tells me.In addition, she briefs me about using ground fennel the way I would use coriander powder in day today north indian recipes.Using mustard oil is the authentic route but since its not a popular oil in the west, I would say substitute with any neutral oil in this recipe if you do not get it.



Sinfully Spicy: Lamb Rogan Josh No tomatoes, no garlic, no onion and no ready to use garam masala (please). These are not used in kashmiri rogan josh. The finished braised dish is more of meat chunks coated in oily flavors than a thin gravy or sauce.It is supposed to have oil separating on the plate from the meat chunks when you serve.Mop that oil with roti or soak some basmati in it.It taste unique and smells fragrant. Your tastebuds will take a while to adjust to the fennel if you are a heavy coriander eating person like me, but then it gets addictive. Many a times, dried kashmiri chillies are soaked in water, ground to a paste and then used to make rogan josh but I think, the dry kashmiri chill powder works fine too. Traditionally,ratanjot spice is used for the intense red color but trust me it’s not easy to find outside India.

Sinfully Spicy : Spices, Lamb Rogan Josh

Sinfully Spicy: Lamb Rogan Josh

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serve 2-3)

  • 1.5 lb (boneless) lamb shoulder, cut into 2 ” chunks
  • 1/2 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2.5 tbsp plain whole milk yogurt (not greek)
  • 5 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • scant 1/2 tsp hing (asafoetida)powder
  • 1 small tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
  • 5 green cardamom, cracked open
  • 1 black cardamom, cracked open
  • 1.5 – 2 tbsp kashmiri mirch powder (or use paprika)
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1.5 tsp powdered fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne, adjust to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • scant pinch of saffron (optional)
  • fresh cilantro for garnish

To be dry roasted

  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cardamom
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon (cassia bark)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 small blade mace

Notes :

  1. Fresh ground fennel is really strong. I usually grind the fennel a day ahead and leave covered on countertop. If you use fresh ground do not use more than 3/4 tsp or maybe less.
  2. The rogan josh is supposed to have little or no gravy. So do not add too much water. It is supposed to have an oil separating from the meat chunks when you serve.You will need a soupy side dish or gravy if you plan to serve it with steamed rice.
  3. Substitute mustard with any neutral oil.

Method

Rub the lamb pieces with 1/2 tbsp mustard oil and salt. Set aside for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, thin out the yogurt with 2-3 tbsp of water. Mix to a smooth consistency. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat up the mustard oil.Mustard oil needs to be heated more than the usual oil to do away the raw smell. Heat till you see that the oil turns pale from its deep golden color. Reduce heat to low. Add the cumin, bay leaf and hing. Wait for the aroma. About 5-7 seconds. Add the marinated lamb.Bump up the heat to medium. Stir around so that the lamb pieces are coated in oil. You will seed that in 1-2 minutes the lamb will start changing color. Add the green & black cardamom. Stir for another 1-2 minutes.

Now, reduce the heat to low. Add the kashmiri chilli powder a teaspoon at a time and immediately add a splash of thin yogurt.Stir around gently.Do this till all the chili powder and yogurt are exhausted, adding yogurt at the last. Continue on low heat so that the yogurt does not curdle and the chili does not burn.If you feel that the pot is way too hot, take off the stove for a while and return back.After about 2 minutes, bump up the heat to medium and add the ginger powder, ground fennel, red chili powder and salt.Str around, you will see a lot of liquid in the pot but that’s okay. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Let simmer covered on low heat for about 1 hour and 10 minutes (or more, depending on how big the meat pieces are) till the lamb is almost 95% cooked.  You will need to check the pot 3-4 times in between to ensure that it is not sticking to the bottom, you can add a splash of water if needed.

While the lamb is cooking , in a small pan dry roast the spices listed under ‘to be roasted’ for a minute or less. Transfer to a coffee grinder or mortar & pestle and coarsely grind. Once the lamb is 95% cooked, add these spices to the pot, add about 1/2 cup water and cover again. Let simmer for another 20 minutes till the lamb is cooked through.

Let sit for 40 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methi Ke Parathe (Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)



Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)I love hot,straight from the griddle flatbreads.With a dollop of butter and chai (tea) on side, the taste is better than the best foods around. Growing up, in my badi mummy’s (grandma) house, winters were a season for parathas of all sorts.On few days we would just feed on stuffed parathas for dinner with home churned white butter and pickled vegetables.It was a simple meal, yet very satisfying. My grandmother used to make parathas with dough kneaded just when it was time to roll the bread,sometimes stuffing the stretchy, gluten layers with shredded mooli (daikon) or spiced crumbled cauliflower, and, a lot of times with the winter greens mixed in to hide but form a robust & flavorful dough. All the greens and vegetables came from the house grown patch, of which I have talked about a lot in my previous posts.On days when the power was out, she would ignite angithis (small clay containers of fire) in the verandah,repeatedly waving old newspapers in front of the glowing coal pieces. If the potatoes were plenty from the yard, they were put as it is inside the gusto of the brazier. We sat around the heated fire,wrapped in sweaters and shawls,our faces lighted by the flickering candles,soaking warmth of the burning charcoal, chit chatting and tearing bites from the fresh made hot parathas. A few potatoes were taken out, smashed with fork, a drizzle of ghee, salt & chill powder and a rustic side was ready.With each morsel,wafted a aromatic steam smelling of garlic, fenugreek and warm spices. Many winter evenings were spent like this, no invertors or generators, a pre convenience era you would say.

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)Making rotis or parathas is such an everyday thing for me. I make flatbreads of some kind each single day, it never feels like a chore, it is such a happy routine. I fail to understand when people say its too much work.They say when you love something you embrace it as joy. Maybe because I am used to it that I secretly enjoy it or I cook because I care.If you have dough in the refrigerator,its a matter of minutes to get the bread together.

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)

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Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)The approach of spring season is usually indicative of the end of methi season.To me it leaves behind a similar departed feeling of sorts when fresh tomatoes start vanishing at the knock of fall. I love methi leaves, I am addicted to them, sometimes I specially go to the store just to pick them, they are part of our weekly menu- they are so flavorful, addictively bitter and so good for you. I am yet to spot fresh methi leaves in non- indian grocers here in the States so you will have to make a visit to indian grocery to get these.However, few of my friends compare its taste to fresh watercress sometimes.I haven’t tried the substitution but this recipe can very well be used for any kind of greens you like – think finely shredded rainbow chard, think tucson kale or think good ol’spinach (the cooking variety).

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)I roll the flatbreads both as triangles as well as well in the usual circle shapes. The triangle one needs more oil to be brushed inside layers and definitely comes out much more soft & flaky.You can refer to a previous post on step by step for making triangle paratha. The husband prefers those. But you could do any way. Circles or triangles – they taste awesome!

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)These methi parathas are so easy to make.Throw everything together and knead the dough.They are soft, flaky and packed with taste and nutrients. Let the dough sit in the refrigerator for no more than a day or two and make them to go along with meals or just enjoy rolled up like a cigar all on its own with a cup of chai. I would recommend making them before this winter season goes away.

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)

Sinfully Spicy : Methi Paratha (Skillet Fried Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 8)

  • 1.5 cup packed fresh methi (fenugreek leaves )
  • 1.25 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
  • 1/3 cup besan (fine chickpea flour)
  • a generous pinch of hing (asafetida powder)
  • 1/8 tsp ajwain (skip or substitute with celery seeds)
  • heaping 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3-4 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 scallion(spring onion) stalk, green & white parts finely chopped
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup water (or as required, see recipe)
  • Canola Oil for griddle frying (about 2 tbsp per paratha)

Notes 

  1. You can refer to a previous post on triangle paratha on how to shape the flatbreads.
  2. If you want to roll parathas in circles, refer to previous post on rotis on how to do that.
  3. If you do not get fresh methi leaves in the area you live,look for the freezer aisle. They stock frozen methi there. You can use that in this recipe after thawing it and squeezing excess water out.
  4. Important :- Make small batches of this dough.Its gets sticky and soft as it sits and the vegetables start leaving water from the salt. I do not keep it for more than 2 days. The taste changes after a couple of days. You can half the recipe if you want.
  5. This recipe can very well be used for any kind of greens you like – think chard, think tucson kale or think good ol’spinach (the cooking variety).

Method

Pick the methi leaves from stems. Discard the stems and wash the methi leaves under running water so that all the dirt is washed away. Rinse the leaves well. Drain them completely.You don’t need to dry them out but ensure that the are not watery. Use a paper towel if needed. Finely chop the methi leaves. Set aside.

In a wide dish or paraat, mix together flours, ajwain, hing and turmeric. Start adding oil a tablespoon at a time and working in the flours to incorporate. Add the chopped methi leaves next along with onions,scallions, garlic, cilantro, ginger and green chillies. Mix together.

Add little water at a time and knead to a smooth dough. As the flour absorbs water,it will start clumping up into a ball.Continue to add water till all the dry flour becomes wet, your hands will be mighty messy but the flour will come together.Remember not to add too much water at a time.Use your knuckles to flatten the dough out and then pull it all together towards yourself, using your palm & fingers, then knead again with knuckles to flatten out. Knead this way (flatten and bring together) repeatedly for 7-8 minutes. At any point you feel that the flour is tight or drying out, add a light splash water (but not too much)Towards the last 1-2 minutes of kneading, use both hands to knead for a very smooth & elastic dough (this will work up the gluten really fast). Once the dough looks and feels really really smooth, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for (not more than) 20-25 minutes. Keep in mind not to make a very loose dough because as it sits, it will turn softer and sticky. Once kneaded, let rest for 15-20 minutes.

If you are not planning to make parathas right away, place the dough into an air tight container with lid and refrigerate.

When ready to make parathas, uncover and divide into equal portions. Take each dough portion between palms of your both hands and roll to make as smooth balls as possible. Flatten the balls. Get some loose atta on to the dish. Its time to make roll!

Roll and cover each ball in the loose atta and place on a smooth rolling stone or pastry board or kitchen surface. Flatten out lightly on edges using tips of your finger. Using a rolling-pin, start rolling the dough to a flat circle.Dust the board as and when required when rolling. Initially, you will need to dust more but it will get easier as you continue.Using a rolling-pin, roll the ball into a circle 2.5″ in diameter. Brush a little ghee/oil on the rolled out circle.After brushing the ghee, fold into a semi-circle.Brush the ghee on the semi-circle and fold again to form a triangle.Sprinkle the top with more flour and carefully with the help of rolling-pin, roll out until its 1/8″ thick. Note: While you are rolling out, you will need to flip over, dust flour etc and be gentle to keep the shape intact.You will not get a neat triangle shape but thats how it is.

Spread some oil on the heated tawa/griddle.Carefully lift the rolled out dough with your hands and place on the tawa.Let cook for 2 minutes on medium heat and then flip over using a spatula.Using a spoon,spread 1 tablespoon oil thoroughly on the first side while the second side is cooking.Flip again and repeat brushing oil on the second side.Cook both sides till you see small brown specks and smell the aroma of cooked dough. In some cases the paratha will fluff up while cooking.Dont worry you did a good job if that happens. Be careful of the escaping steam though.

Once cooked & golden brown on both sides, remove from griddle using a spatula & transfer to cooling rack to cool slightly so that they don’t become soggy , later you store them in a box lined with dry cloth or paper towel.

Serve warm with pickle, curries, salad or raita.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Aloo Jhol-Poori (Spicy Potato Curry & Fried Puffed Flatbread)



Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Jhol Poori (Spicy Potatoes & Fried puffed bread)Long railway journeys.Picnics.Lunch.Festivals.Breakfast.Street Side Eating.Snacks.Dinner. Name the occasion and ‘poori‘, this deep-fried,unleavened bread has been my companion. Thin, thick, staining fingers with oil, flavored with ajwain(carrom seeds)or not,crispy, soft – this little puffy bread  has been a steady thing in our kitchen, bringing us comfort and gluttony(sigh!).I could trade saturday pancakes for these, for they will bring the same deliciousness to the table.

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Jhol Poori (Spicy Potatoes & Fried puffed bread)Poke your finger to puncture that crispy skin on top, bloated from the heat of deep-frying and chew on it. Combine it with a spicy potato slurry or jhol and you have an overdose of carbohydrates,but, trust me you could feel bad before eating these or after, but, never ever while eating jhol-poori.It is not a that healthy,’superfood’ thing, but most good things in life bring a fraction (or more) of guilt with them! Or so I think.

Chopped or pureed vegetables like spinach and methi (fenugreek) leaves are many times added to the dough as variations. You could add a lot of or less powdered spices as per your liking. You could even mix up flours – semolina, cornmeal or all-purpose flour to whole wheat flour and fry up. The tastes and texture changes but the dough takes all for there is hardly anything deep-fried which tastes less than lavish. You get what I mean,right?

Sinfully Spicy : Making Pooris (fried puffed bread)

Sinfully Spicy : Making Pooris (fried puffed bread)

Sinfully Spicy : Making Pooris (fried puffed bread)

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Jhol Poori (Spicy Potatoes & Fried puffed bread)

A hot cup of chai, stale pooris slathered with chutney or pickles rolled into a cigar in hand is how enjoy it the most but traditionally pooris are served with a side – usually a spicy potato based dish(though in many parts they serve with meats and fruit purees too) and essentially achaar(pickle), mango or lime in my grandma’s house.In my family, the side curry is cooked without onion and garlic and I still make it the same .However there are no rules, if my grandma was short on time, she would sometimes slice a few sweet mangoes or so with them. Basically, you get the idea – its is delicious with just about anything.

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Jhol Poori (Spicy Potatoes & Fried puffed bread)Jhol Poori is a combination which makes an appearance atleast once a month in our house if not more. In my mums house, this forms Sunday breakfast, every other sunday. While I knead the dough, the pressure cooker hisses and the potatoes boil inside.A quick tempering with simple aromatics-pungent hing(asafoetoda),smoky cumin & turmeric hit the hot ghee followed by tomatoes, green chillies & ginger,awkwardly crumbled potatoes join the pot, simmer for under twenty minutes or so and done. While traditionally jhol is a term used for much thinner, almost water like consistency, we like ours on the thickish gravy side, just go stingy on the amount of water that you add, everything else remains the same.

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Jhol Poori (Spicy Potatoes & Fried puffed bread)

Printable Recipe

Poori (Deep Fried Puffed Bread)

Ingredients (Makes 12-14 pooris)

  • 1.5 cups atta (durum wheat flour)
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain (carom seeds,optional)
  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (required while rolling the dough)
  • Oil for deep-frying

Method

In a ‘paraat’ or wide dish, mix flour, salt and ajwain. Adding little water at a time, knead until smooth, 1–2 minutes to make a stiff dough. You can refer to step – step method on kneading  roti dough in my previous post.The dough for poori has to be more firm so add lesser quantity of water.

Once kneaded, there is no need to rest the dough.Divide into equal portions.Roll each portion between palms to make balls(about the size of a lime).

Pour 1/4 cup canola oil in a small bowl. Set about 2 inches of canola oil  for deep frying to heat up in a kadhai or a wide skillet.

Start with 1 ball at a time, dip the ball in bowl of oil,  flatten it lightly on the rolling board and with the help of a rolling-pin, roll into a 3″ or 4″ circle, about 1/8 thick.When you are rolling, you could slather some oil if  dough sticks. It takes practice to get the shape. Even if you don’t get perfect rounds its okay, doesn’t affect the taste. When you are rolling the dough you can lift it and move it around to get a round of uniform thickness.

To check the temperature of the oil, pinch a small portion of dough and add it to the oil, it should quickly rise to the top without changing color. If the dough rises slowly or remains at the bottom,wait for the oil to heat up.

Once the oil is hot, fry rolled up rolled dough one at a time, flipping once, lightly pressing with a slotted spoon (else it will not puff up), until puffed and golden brown, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer the fried poori to paper towels to drain. Serve hot with aloo jhol(recipe below)

Printable Recipe

Aloo Jhol

Ingredinets (Serves 2-3)

  • 3 medium yellow or gold potatoes ( yield about 1.5 cups after crumbled)
  • scant 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2.5 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 2-3 thai green chillies, slit (adjust to taste, deseed if you want)
  • 3/4 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes (I use roma)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3/4 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, or use fresh lime juice at the end)
  • salt
  • 1/8 tsp garam masala
  • 1 to 1.5 cups water (depending on the consistency you want)
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Method

Boil the potatoes. Peel and let cool. Roughly crumble into chunks or cut into bite size pieces.Set aside

Coarsely grind the fenugreek & coriander seeds. Keep aside.

In a medium pot, heat up the oil on medium. Once the oil is hot, temper with cumin and let crackle. Reduce heat to low to ensure that they do not burn. Immediately add the asafoetida powder,ginger and green chillies.Let saute for a 30 seconds or so till they sizzle and immediately add the tomatoes. Also add the fenugreek & coriander seeds. Saute for 1-2 minutes till tomatoes start to soften. Add the turmeric, red chili powder, amchoor and salt to taste to the pot along with the crumbled potatoes. On medium heat, stir around gently to coat the potatoes. Saute for another minute or so.

Next, add the water and on medium heat let come to a boil. Once boiling, cover with a lid, reduce heat to very low and let simmer for 15-18 minutes. Add the garam masala next (if using) and chopped cilantro. Serve with hot pooris.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

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 1 tbsp 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!

 

 

 

 

 

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