Green Masala Trout

Sinfully Spicy : Green Masala TroutFish or any seafood is my preferred choice of protein any time of the year but particularly more during summer months. I will not bore you with stories of how lean and healthy and good for you it is, rather lets talk about the green masala that I slathered my fresh trout with.I must have laid my hands on this fresh catch after a decade or so.The last time I remember tasting trout was while on a family vacation to northern Himalayas where grilled trout was a local speciality and a lot of restaurants could be spotted showcasing it.

Sinfully Spicy : Green Masala Trout

Sinfully Spicy : Green MasalaThere are a lot of ways in which this green masala is prepared in different parts of india, depending on the region, but the basic herbs remain more or less the same. Most recipes, on the lines of green chutney, use a bunch of grassy cilantro, few mint leaves and (Thai or any hot)green chillies which are ground to a fine paste and then that green paste is your canvas. Add more flavorings to it. Think fresh desiccated coconut, think grainy brown mustard, think nuts, think capers, think soy sauce or maybe cheese.

Sinfully Spicy : Green Masala Trout

Often,mom would make this.If you are a regular reader here, you would know that we grew up eating a lot of fish, which is slightly uncommon for north indian families, but we loved our seafood. She desiccated fresh coconut and mixed it with that herby, garlicky paste and then slathered it over rohu(indian green carp) steaks, coated in semolina  and pan-fried. The oily, milky shreds of coconut complemented the fatty fleshy protein even though coconut was not a very popular ingredient in her kitchen but somehow it worked in this recipe.The flavors are simple and fragrant.

In my recipe, I changed up things a bit and tried to make it glutenfree and used oven to cooking. The fish comes out moist and clean on the palate with simple, herby flavors.

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 1-2)

  • 1 trout, cleaned and de scaled (weight about 1.5 lb)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, to drizzle
  • 3/4 cup packed fresh cilantro (from 18-20 sprigs)
  • 2-3 fresh mint leaves (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 ” shoot of fresh ginger
  • 1-2 Thai green chillies (or any hot chili, adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 5-6 black peppercorns
  • 1 clove
  • 2 tablespoon finely desiccated fresh coconut
  • 1-2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Few lemon slices to insert while baking (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoon olive oil (optional, only if needed during blending)
  • Oil for frying
  • salt to taste

Note – Make sure that the herbs etc and olive oil are of good quality in this recipe.

Method

Pat the trout dry. Drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle liberally on both sides as well as the slit inside with salt.Set aside for 10 minutes.

In a blender, place all the ingredients listed and pulse to make a fine paste. Do not use water to thin the paste. If needed, use olive or any neutral oil. Brush this paste on both sides of the fish, stuff inside the fish. Layer sliced lemon if using. Let sit for 25-30 minutes, refrigerated.

When ready to cook. Heat up the oven to 400 F. Heat up 2-3 tablespoon oil to smoking high in a cast iron (or any oven safe pan). Put the marinated fish in the pan and let sear for 2-3 minutes. Flip and let sear on the other side. Once the fish has seared, put the pan in the preheated oven and let cook for 8-10 minutes (this time will be more or less depending on the type of fish and the cut & weight, adjust accordingly)

If you do not have an oven, after searing on both sides, put the heat to low, cover the pan and let finish cooking on its juices for 8-10 minutes, flipping once in between for even cooking.

Once the fish has cooked, squirt some fresh lime juice to taste.

Serve with some steamed vegetables of steamed rice.

Thanks for Stopping by.

Stay Spicy!

Lauki-Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)  Each summer, last few days of school before the break started were hectic. Even after the vacations started, I remember going to school for extra classes during the high school year. By the time I returned home around noon, I was welcomed in the verandah of our house filled with the intoxicating aroma that emanated from the khus ki chik, a rustic kind of air conditioner made from reeds and laid in the form of window blinds, using the loo (indian summer winds) as a natural fan to cool the space inside. Clasping the finger numbing cold tumbler of rose sherbet that mom kept ready in the refrigerator, I stationed myself in the lobby to observed ladies of the house sitting on the jute chatai (mat) on the floor. There were all sorts of labelled containers of what is inside what around them and stained brass paraat (wide, shallow plates) infront. Sitting with legs neatly folded on top of each other, very immaculately, they picked the lentils, sometimes arguing teasingly or plainly gossiping about relatives and neighbors,their deft fingers, picking the little stones or unhusked bits all the time.They scanned through minute grains scattered in the shallow dish, separating one from the other, unmistakably picking out the hard inedible parts and segregating the cleaned portion towards the other side of the paraat. 

Sinfully Spicy:Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils)

I guess ‘picking’ the lentils is a ritual followed in many indian homes, even though most of the lentils available in the markets these days are clean and processed. It’s a kitchen habit that is passed from a generation to other, more as a traditional than need. If it’s not an arduous number of hours to be spent, a vigilant scan of the beans and lentils is what I go through each time I am about to wash or soak. Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki, Bottle GourdIn those years, it was dal – chawal for lunch or dinner  everyday. The variety of lentil changed and so did its preparation and tempering but the menu, though a bit monotonous remained comforting. On bright, sunny summer evenings, chunks of fleshy lauki (indian summer gourd) were added to chana daal, slow cooked till the squash softened and then the turmeric hued boiled lentils were topped with a tadka (tempering) of slow caramelized onions & browned garlic, filling the kitchen with aroma of ghee & smoky cumin & green chillies. Fresh dhaniya (coriander leaves), exuberantly priced during summer months was especially purchased from our daily vegetable vendor, to be finely chopped and scattered while the daal was still hot. It did make a lot of difference.

Sinfully Spicy: Tadka, Lentil Tempering

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)  If you know even a little about indian food, you would know that lentils are an everyday part of our meals, be it any time of the year. There are numerous ways of preparing and tempering them, native to each region of the country. The flavorings can vary from coconut, sugar, garlic to tomato based to curried to what not. This daal is my summer favorite. I guess every family has its own twist on it. Some temper it with just cumin, leaving out the garlic or onions, while some prepare it with coconut and mustard seeds. I had the opportunity to taste a variation tempered with curry leaves at one of my friend’s place. There is no right or wrong, just a choice. This is the beauty of indian food, it has no set rules. The same basic ingredients convert to a delicious outcome depending on who is handling them.Here, in my recipe, you could or could not add the squash even though it makes it hearty. Paired with rotis or steamed rice, salad and a dollop of chili achaar, it is such a satisfying complete meal for hot evenings.

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

Cooking the Lentils

  • 3/4 cup chana daal (bengal gram lentils)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (or use oil for vegan version)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped (yield about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped (optional, adjust quantity to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 2-3.5 cups of water (adjust depending on the desired consistency)
  • 1 small bottle gourd (peeled and cut into 2″ batons)
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro to garnish

For the Tadka (Tempering to be added after the lentils have cooked)

  • 3-4 tablespoon ghee (or use oil for vegan version)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small clove
  • generous pinch of hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2-3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 dried whole kashmiri chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (or to taste)

Notes

  • Replace lauki (bottle gourd) with your choice of summer squash (yellow squash is a good choice over green ones). You can skip the squash all together too.
  • The cooking time mentioned in this recipe are for split lentils. If you use whole lentils the cooking time would be more.
  • Hing or asafoetida is a strong, aromatic spice available both in crystal and powdered form.A little goes a long way. It gives a unique flavor to daal but can be skipped if you do not have it.
  • If you are vegan, use any oil in this recipe instead of ghee. Coconut oil might not be a very good choice since the spice selection in the recipe does not go great with it but any neutral oil or olive oil is fine.

Method

Thoroughly wash the lentils under running water 2-3 times. Drain and transfer the washed lentils to a pressure cooker and add 3 cups of water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes,  ginger (if using), hing, ghee, turmeric and salt. Put on the lid and pressure cook the lentils on medium heat for 3-4 whistles (This cooking time will depend on the quality of lentils, so adjust). Take off the heat and let sit on the counter till the pressure releases out of the cooker.

If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a heavy bottomed pot with lid and cook the lentils for around 30-40 minutes or till 95% cooked.

Once you open the lid, with the help of a whisk or a spoon, mash the lentils a bit so that they are chunky-smooth consistency. I like my lentils to have some texture, however you can mash them to consistency desired.

Add the chunks of lauki and return the pressure cooker to the stove. Cover with a plate or a lid and let simmer (not pressure cook) on medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the gourd is completely soft.  If you like a thinner consistency of dal, add a cup or more of water.If you add extra water, let simmer for another 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Ideally, for this kind of daal, once it’s cooked, the grain should be intact in its shape but completely soft or cracked to look at.

While the dal is simmering, make the tadka. In a small sauce pan, heat up the ghee. Add the cumin seeds & clove, let crackle, about 15-20 seconds. Add the whole dried chillies and let them turn darker in color. Lower the heat and immediately add the onions and garlic and let cook till they are golden brown, taking care not to burn.(Tadka can become very hot very quickly, take care that you act fast so that nothing burns.) Put off the heat and add the red chili powder. Immediately add this tadka to the simmered lentils and cover so that the aroma infuses. Let sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes.

Scatter with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

Thanks for stopping by!

Stay Spicy.

Green Mango Granita

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreatSince last year, our indian grocer is bringing to us green mango exports straight from the heart of India. Whats different about them you would ask? They are much smaller in size, fibrous & sour and bring back picture perfect memories of those pickles & sharbat in the kitchen that I have grown up on. I am making chutney with them, as well as adding them to lentils.

Sinfully Spicy - Green MangoesHowever, such special things do always come with a big price tag (I paid $12 for 5 small pieces), so after spending that fortune last week, I made sure to come up with something new. After much thinking, this granita was made to beat the extreme summers that have hit our part of the world.
Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreat

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreatOn a different note, this summer, I have been lucky with homegrown herbs and a little vegetable patch after trying hard for years. Each year my pots fell victim to weeds and heat but this time, so far all looks great. Even a small twig of it feels so rewarding. I used homegrown mint to infuse the refreshing notes in this recipe. Sinfully Spicy : Homegrown MintIt is the tang of the green mangoes enhanced with sweet lemon & tart lime juice and grassy heat of the green chili which makes it special, along with a much-needed refreshing notes from fresh, homegrown mint to a lightly sweet, healthy dessert for summer months. Granita (in Italian also granita siciliana) is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily, it has a coarser texture. It is a very simple thing to make except that you need to stare open at a freezer scraping the bowl every other hour or so.

So if you do not desire to put in the baby sitting it needs, turn the same recipe to a sorbet. It tastes as good.

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreat

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreat

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 4-5)

  • 1 lb green mangoes( about 6-7small )
  • Water for boiling the mangoes
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 5-6 fresh mint stems and leaves
  • 1 small green chili, seeds and veins removed
  • 1.5 tablespoon fresh lime juice (adjust quantity depending on how tart the mangoes are)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (adjust quantity depending on how tart the mangoes are)
  • 1.5 teaspoon black salt (kala namak, reduce amount if the mangoes are really tart)
  • 1/4 teaspoon regular salt ( or to taste)

Method

Wash the mangoes. Bring the water to a rolling boil in a pot and add the whole mangoes. Let boil on high heat for 5-8 minutes or until the skin turns pale and they are slightly soft to touch(take care that the mango skins do not break open). Take the mangoes out of boiling water and leave to cool off. Once cooled, peel off (the skin will separate in a squeeze) and discard the skins.

While the magpies are boiling, in another small pot, combine sugar and water and place over medium heat,cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the stove, immediately add the mint stems and leaves and leave aside to steep for about 3-5 minutes (do not leave for too long else the syrup will turn bitter). Strain the syrup through a sieve and let cool down.

Transfer the mango flesh and green chili( if using) to a blender and pulse to smooth. Take out in a large bowl and add the mint simple syrup, lime & lemon juice, black salt and salt to taste to it. Mix to combine. Strain through a sieve to a smooth mixture.

Pour mixture into a 11 inch by 7 inch glass pan. Cover and let freeze for 1 hour and 30 minutes uncovered. Scrape the icy edges with a fork. Freeze again. Scrape every 45 minutes until completely frozen (about 6-8 hours). Remove from freezer every hour or so; scrape with a fork until fluffy. Once semi solid ice crystals are formed, scrape till fluffy.Cover tightly and freeze. Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep frozen.

Scrape granita into bowls and serve garnished with lime wedges and mint.Dust with a pinch of chaat masala or black salt just before serving(optional).

Thanks for stopping by!

Stay Spicy!

Hot & Sour Chicken (Indo Chinese)

Sinfully Spicy : Hot & Sour Chicken #indochineseIf you asked me about what eating out during childhood years meant, I would have nothing vivid to recollect about fine dining and celebratory dinners. Except for may be the street foods which we gorged on every other evening at Arun Chaat Bhandar, a tiny one room eatery which had been around ever since I have known,the restaurant trips were rare. More so because my grandmother and mother had this undying wish to recreate all kinds of food in their kitchen and less because eating out was not as big part of the indian culture during the 1980s as it is now-a-days. Sinfully Spicy : Hot & Sour Chicken #indochineseYou can gauge that from the fact that whenever I tell my mother about anything non indian food that my daughter likes her play school, she asks me to look up the recipe on internet and cook it for her. ‘Ghar par hi bana do, accha rahega“, cook at home, it will be far better in taste, she tells me. Well, we will keep it for another day as to how I go about her suggestions (wink!) but coming back to my chidlhood days, other than the chaat corner, the other place that me and my siblings looked forward to was indo chinese food at ‘Sabus‘, a neon red-painted food van permanently situated at the front of the back wall of an old housing complex, itched with graffiti of an indian comic character, Sabu, a monstrous alien from planet Jupiter, huge & strong, bald and muscular,always wearing gumboots. It would be slightly untrue to state that we loved eating at that van just because of the noodles, there was more fun in the form of free stickers, liquid filled transparent chopsticks and cheap stamps if you placed a large order. Unlike the food trucks in the States, that red van without tyres was a lot dilapidated, with a much tamed down kitchen as far as cooking facilities & techniques available, but the food from there made sure that the street infront always smelled of soy & spices. You know that burnt, fermented savory ‘stink’?, when the soy bubbles & splutters when as soon as it hits the hot as volcano wok, that! As I write this, I can still remember the taste of food there from some 20 years ago, of the greasy chowmein and the scarlet colored chilli chicken. “It’s all in the wok”, the little Nepalese guy with golden hair and wrinkly forehead replied whenever questioned about his recipes or where he got his condiments.

Sinfully Spicy : Hot & Sour Chicken #indochineseMy mom has been making this hot and sour chicken for so many years, the only difference being that she serves it with a runny sauce than what we ate at Sabus. I follow her recipe mostly except that I do not deep fry the chicken, rather lightly sear it before proceeding to make the sauce.This recipe is more of for an appetizer or starter course than the mains, however the husband insists on combining it some steamed jasmine rice each time. Any which way, the way that garlic & hot chili laced sauce with hints of tomato, soy and fresh cracked black pepper combines with vinegar soaked succulent morsels of chicken is just too delicious. Try it!

Sinfully Spicy : Hot & Sour Chicken #indochineseHot & Sour Chicken 

A tangy fusion dish of vinegar soaked chicken stir fried with garlic – chili paste, soy sauce and spices. 

Printable Recipe Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs,skinless
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tbsp dark soya sauce ((I use Ching’s brand)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, fresh cracked
  • 1.5 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoon of oil (for skillet frying)

Notes:

  1. Use tofu, paneer and assorted vegetables for a vegetarian version of this recipe.
  2. If you would like to deep fry the chicken before adding to the sauce, mix 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon corn starch when you marinate.

For the Sauce

  • 6 fresh garlic pods
  • 2 whole fresh Fresno chillies (or any hot chili pepper, adjust to tolerance, de seed if you like )
  • 2 teaspoon dark soya sauce (I use Ching’s brand)
  • 2 tablespoon chilli tomato sauce (I use Maggi Hot & sweet, substitute with Sriracha & 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or use 1.5 – 2 tablespoons Sambal oelek )
  • 1.5 tsp honey (or brown sugar, adjust to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon pure, untoasted sesame oil (optional but recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1/2 cup chicken/vegetable stock or water
  • 3-4 tbsp oil (I used sunflower, use any neutral oil)
  • 5 scallion stalks, white & green cut separately
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to tolerance)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 – 2 tbsp white vinegar (adjust to taste, or use a few dashes of balsamic vinegar)
  • For Garnish – chopped scallions(green parts)

Method

Preparation Clean the chicken, pat it dry. Cut the cleaned chicken into bite size pieces. Rub it with garlic, chili, soy sauce, salt & pepper, vinegar and let sit for about 25-30 minutes. While the chicken is marinating, using your mortar and pestle or mini processor, crush the garlic and Fresno chillies to tiny bits.You could use some water if required for blending. In a small bowl, mix up the soy sauce, chili tomato sauce, honey and sesame oil(if using). In another bowl, mix the cornstarch with the stock and set aside.

Cooking In a wide skillet (I used my 12″), heat up 2-3 tbsp of oil on high. Pick up the marinated chicken pieces, shake to release vinegar and layer on the skillet and let sear on both sides, flipping in between. Make sure that the chicken pieces cook all the way through. This may take about 7-8 minutes or more depending on the size of pieces. Once done, transfer the chicken pieces to a plate and reserve the drippings in the skillet itself. Add the 3 tbsp oil into the same skillet and heat it up on medium. Add the crushed garlic chili paste  and fry up these for 20-30 second or so till you smell the aroma. Be careful that the garlic does not burn (else it will be bitter). Next add the chopped onions and scallions (white parts) and cook on medium high for 3-4 minutes or till light brown in color. Add the tomatoes next and let cook till they begin to soften. Next, add the ginger along with the soy sauce mix made earlier, let cook for 3-4 minutes till everything starts looking glossy or till you see bubbles on the sides. Next, add the cornstarch mix to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for another 2-3 minutes till the sauce thickens slightly. Next, taste & adjust the salt in the sauce. Sprinkle the red chili flakes & vinegar to the skillet and stir everything well. Add the chicken & toss so that the pieces are evenly coated. Garnish with chopped green scallions & serve immediately. Thank you for stopping by! Stay Spicy!

Pickled Red Chili Peppers (Laal Mirch Ka Achaar)

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianThe summer mornings at my badi mummy’s (grandma) house started early with preparing for meals ahead that day. By the time I walked down half sleepy to the lobby, the central area of our house where the whole family gathered for chai in the morningsat meal times or just to sit chatting away, the “lobby” with tiny pink and ivory marble pieces embedded in the floor and a fish aquarium decorating one corner of the wall facing the door that opened into the backyard, I would often find her either chopping vegetables,segregating them into what will be for which mealtime, kneading the dough , picking the lentils or just involved in some kitchen chore.A half filled teacup always on her side on top of a newspaper folded in quarters which she read in between of being busy.I inched to sit close to her and see what her keep busy.I would flip a few pages of the newspaper and often she told me ” hamare babuji 25 paise har mahene english padne ke leye jayda dete they”(my father spent extra money each month to let me learn english at school). In the 1930s, many old women of her age in India would not be reading english newspapers or speaking the language at that time.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianWhen it was the pickling season, the attention shifted from regular tasks to raw mangoes, baby limes and chilies.To tell you the truth the pungent smell of strong pickling spices along with the piquant aroma of virgin mustard oil would be the last thing you would want to sniff at 6 in the morning but her dedication and involvement towards this business was contagious. Attention to detail boiled down to sterilizing the knifes and kitchen towels that would or could touch those chilies and mangoes,leave alone the large glass containers and spoons or bowls. In that time of no fancy appliances,magic bullets and all, hand crushing the tough seeds of fenugreek and tiny rai (brown mustard) did not come easy if you lacked sincerity. She often covered her nostrils with the end of her cotton saree, which was especially worn in any other color but white that day to guard against stains and those fragile, slightly wrinkly hands worked energetically in unison with the heavy terra-cotta mortar & pestle. In between, she paused to wipe off the spice dust off her steel framed glasses but continued with double vigor in the next few minutes.I often wondered if there could be anything, anything in this whole wide world right now which could deter her attention.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianFor the next few hours, the coarse ground fenugreek, nigella, fennel and mustard seeds were mixed with copious amounts of turmeric powder and salt and then doused in liters of raw, virgin mustard oil, the pungent oil, which my kitchen still feels lifeless without for I have consumed it right from childhood days. Half of the mixture was separated for the mango pickle to which she would add more chili powder later and the rest was stuffed inside plum,red peppers with slightly shriveled skin from a day or two of sun drying prior to pickling. The jars would be situated in sun to ferment for week or ten days and she found something else to keep her busy like no other.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianHaving lived on homemade pickles all those years of growing up, I could never acquire a taste for the store-bought ones.My tastebuds can make out the slightest hints of those citric acid and preservatives. It is my aim every season to make at least one pickle. Last year it was raw mangoes and prior to that I pickled no oil limes. It was the turn of red chili peppers as soon as I spotted them at Whole foods this time. Over the years, I have slightly changed the recipe to be more like my mom’s. Instead of stuffing the whole red chili peppers, I slit them in half and then stuff the halves. Thats the only change I have made to my badi mummy‘s recipe.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indian

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 40 halves of pickled chilies and extra spice (masala) & oil )

  • 20 whole red chili peppers (I used Fresno)
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoon rai (brown mustard seeds)
  • 2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon Nigella seeds
  • 1.5 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tablespoon amchoor (dry mango powder, buy online here )
  • 2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 300-350 ml virgin mustard oil, divided (or use olive oil, see notes)

Notes

  1. You could use the same recipe to make whole stuffed red chili peppers.Instead of halving them, simply stuff the spices into them.
  2. Never under salt the pickle, it will go bad within few weeks.
  3. If you do not like the strong taste of mustard oil, you can heat it up to do away the raw smell, cool down and then add. Or you can use olive oil in this recipe if you do not get mustard oil. The flavor of the pickle is slightly different from traditional but it works.
  4. This is not an instant pickle recipe, the pickle is sun fermented and takes 7-10 days (or more depending on strength of sun where you live to mature and get ready to consume.

Method

Wash and pat dry the chilies. Cut and discard the top stem and the entire green portion, then cut them into half. I discarded the seeds & veins of half the chillies,thats where the heat in the pickle comes from. You can remove seeds for all of them if you want. Layer the chilies on a wide, non reactive shallow dish, sprinkle a scant pinch of salt.

Using your coffee grinder, coarsely pulse the mustard, fennel, nigella & fenugreek seeds separately (this is important).You do not need to make a fine powder, if few specks of whole spices remain, its okay. In a small bowl mix the powdered spices together with turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt and amchoor.Taste the spice mix for salt, it should be slightly more salty than you thinkAdd 2-3 tablespoon mustard oil just so that the spice powder is moistened. This will be make it easy to stuff the chilies.

With dry hands, stuff whole or each half of the chilies with this spice mixture. Place the stuffed chili pepper in a wide glass dish (I use my pyrex). Add 200 ml of mustard oil, any spice mixture remaining and gently mix so that the chilies are coated in oil. At this point, the achaar will have a very strong smell and a bitter taste but that’s okay. Allow it to stand in full sun for two days. Try to stir the achaar once or twice a day with a clean, dry spoon.

On the third day transfer the achaar into a glass or porcelain jar (do not use a metal container) , check and adjust the salt and top with remaining oil and mix well. Cover the mouth of the jar with a muslin cloth, tie with a string and let mature for seven to ten days in sun. (this time will depend on the strength of sun in the area you live).Stir the contents once or twice a day.

At the end of sun fermentation, the skin of chilies would have shrivelled and the strong, bitter taste will go away. Store at room temperature for up to 2-3 months. Always use a clean spoon to serve the pickle.

Thank you for stopping by!

Stay Spicy!

Rosewater & Raspberry Loaf Cake

Sinfully Spicy - One bowl Rosewater & Raspberry Loaf CakeThe idea of this rosewater cake came into being about three years back when I first baked a layered cake with raspberries stuffed in between the layers and covered in floral frosting. I was a novice baker, just wanted to use a newly owned oven in the apartment and experiment. If I remember correctly, I baked it for our second or third valentine’s day and it was a hit. We instantly loved this combination and it was so fascinating to see how a strong floral extract from east and tart berries from the west, from different parts of the world can compliment each other so well and create pure, delicious magic inside the oven. I did not bake it again for many years for no reasons whatsoever.

Sinfully Spicy - One bowl Rosewater & Raspberry Loaf Cake

Sinfully Spicy - One bowl Rosewater & Raspberry Loaf CakeA couple of weeks back when the husband requested a buttery cake, while hunting down the bakery gear, I got hold of a small bottle of rosewater at the back of the pantry and this straightforward, one bowl loaf cake recipe was born. Basically, I substituted vanilla with rosewater in my favorite loaf cake recipe and the flavors came out amazing. Adding raspberries top did not just make look pretty but they recreated the old, known flavors. This is such an easy recipe and I did not have any intentions whatsoever of posting on blog. But, many of you asked for it when I shared an image on Instagram so I baked it again last week. No one else is complaining except my weighing scales because I am feasting on it for breakfast, after dinner snacks and also with evening chai. Oh lord, why is it so good but so fattening at the same time?Ugh.

Sinfully Spicy - One bowl Rosewater & Raspberry Loaf CakeI always find the floral notes in food a bit tricky to work with because it’s difficult to decipher how much of it could be too strong or too mild. And the flavors change equations inside the oven as well so just a plain tasting or sniffing the batter would not help that much. I would recommend to use a tested rose-water brand while baking this cake. Do not pick up a new brand because then you will not be figure out how much is too much or too little.In my first attempt, the rosewater got a little strong so I reduced the quantity in the second.

Sinfully Spicy - One bowl Rosewater & Raspberry Loaf CakeThis one bowl cake recipe is tad buttery and dense, not too sweet and I was surprised at how robust the crumb and the inside of it came out. Floral flavors make one of the most exotic and special gifts and I am pretty sure that my mom would have loved this cake over a bunch of roses only if she lived close by. The cake will travel very well if you want to bake and drive it down to your mom’s house on mother’s day. It makes a great work or school lunchbox option.

You could fold the raspberries with the batter two, but I just think that they look prettier on top. It is more of a tea cake than a soft, gooey dessert cake. However, with a side of whipped cream, raspberry compote and some extra berries you can definitely serve it at the end of meal.

Sinfully Spicy - One bowl Rosewater & Raspberry Loaf Cake

Printable Recipe

Pound cake recipe from Martha Stewart

Ingredients (Makes 1 loaf)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons good quality rosewater (adjust quantity according to how mild or strong the brand is)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries plus more for serving

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 9 inch by 4 inch by 2.5 inch loaf pan. I line it with a sheet of parchment at the bottom for easy removal. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high-speed, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the rosewater and salt. Beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add the flour, beating just until combined (do not overmix).

Pour this batter into the loaf pan. Arrange the fresh raspberries on top, press them lightly as you arrange. Bake in the middle rack, until a skewer inserted in the center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Tent with a piece of aluminum foil if the top starts browning too quickly).

Let the cake cool in pan 15 minutes. Transfer on a wire rack, and turn upright to cool completely.

Slice with a sharp knife and serve.

Thanks for Stopping by!

Stay Spicy!

Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Matar PaneerI always feel that I end up cooking many dishes just to re-create a special memory, securely nestled in my heart from the years gone by or from days of growing up. Sometimes the sight of the familiar ingredients at the store brings in with itself such a gush of thoughts that I won’t have anyother way except cheering myself up in the kitchen with them,cooking up a storm to recreate those flavors. Fresh peas during spring time, is one of such thing. For less than a second,the sight of exuberantly prized organic sweet peas at the grocer last week made little sense coupled with the effort required to prepare them. But then, I could not walk away without securing a pound in my cart to make some this luscious matar paneer – fresh shelled peas and soft unaged cheese in a spicy sauce redolent of sweet-smelling cardamom and sharp hints of cinnamon and cloves in contrast to the sweetness of the vegetable.

Sinfully Spicy : Fresh Pods Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Paneer (fresh indian cheese)I don’t remember a single time during childhood when we ate frozen peas.Fresh peas were a winter treat and the only way. My grandmother and other women of the family, after serving lunch, geared up for dinner,pulling chairs around the takht (a very old wide wooden bench still going strong in verandah of my badi mummy’s house), settling down with cups of cardamom chai and spent few good hours to shell three or four kilos of grassy, plum pods, gossiping about the neighbors or the relatives, working with remarkable patience, a virtue that comes hard to me when I know there is a ready to use pouch inside the freezer.

Sinfully Spicy : Shelling fresh Pods

Sinfully Spicy : Shelling fresh Pods Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Fresh PeasWhen I am engrossed in such strong weaved memories, at times, it becomes difficult to tear away and lend to the present. The joy continues, the nostalgia gets compelling. When I spent about half hour over the weekend in the company of these fresh peas I got, I felt like a child again, badi mummy teasing me to lend help and just not nibble on the seeds.It was raining outside and I felt like a child again,some eighteen or twenty years back, me wearing hand knitted, red colored socks,running away with fistfuls of matar dana. All laughs, so much fun.

Then suddenly, I feel the warmth of my daughter from behind, trying to lift her body on heels to reach for the bowl of seeds that I just shelled.Her smile breaks the array of thoughts. She is like mommy.

Sinfully Spicy : Matar PaneerMatar paneer is a classic north indian dish. I have always liked it on the spicy side with the creaminess limited to that from the paneer (fresh indian cheese). Each home in india has its own version of it, there is nothing wrong or right become curry are so versatile that way.The curry is naturally gluten free since paneer is a gluten free cheese. You can very easily make this recipe vegan friendly using tofu, or any other vegan substitute. I am sharing my mom’s recipe with a little bit of extra spices added in.

Sinfully Spicy : Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Matar Paneer

Printable Recipe

Matar Paneer – Fresh Peas & Indian Fresh Cheese in a aromatic and spicy tomato – onion sauce

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 2 medium tomatoes (yield about 3/4 cup fresh tomato puree)
  • 1 fat garlic
  • 6 oz paneer (about 200 grams, homemade or store-bought, cubed, use extra firm tofu for vegan)
  • 1/4 cup mustard oil (or use olive/vegetable oil)
  • 1/3 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 clove
  • 1/4 inch piece of dalchini (cassia bark, substitute with 1/2 inch piece of regular cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust to taste, substitute with 1/2 teaspoon cayenne)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder (this lends the color not the heat, substitute with paprika)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup -1 cup water (depending on the desired consistency of sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi, crushed between palms
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
  • 2-3 tablespoon of heavy cream (optional, I did not use, skip for vegan )
  • Fresh cilantro & ginger juliennes to garnish and serve

Method

If you are using fresh peas, shell the pods. If using frozen, thaw the peas.

Blend the tomatoes along with garlic to a fine puree. Set aside.

Soak the paneer cubes in warm water. Set aside. If using tofu, dry it using paper towels, cube it and let sit.

Heat up the mustard oil in a large pot, wait till you see little ripples on the surface, add the onions along with cardamom, clove, dalchini & cumin seeds.Saute for 5-6 minutes till the onion start to turn light brown.

Add the coriander, turmeric, red chili, kashmiri chilli powder next and sauté for less than a minute. Add the blended tomatoes and reduce heat to low.Let cook slowly till you see little bubbles of oil separating on sides of the pot and the spice paste glistening. At this point, add the peas along with chopped ginger,add salt, stir to combine together with spice paste and on low heat, saute for 3-4 minutes. Add about 3/4 cup water, mix well and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for about 15-20 minutes till the peas are soft (but not mushy).Uncover and add the kasuri methi and garam masala along with paneer cubes. Stir, and again cover and on low heat, let simmer for another 10-12 minutes.

Add the heavy cream (if using) next and simmer (not boil) on very low heat for another 2-3 minutes.Once the sauce has simmered, let sit for at least 45mins -1hour or till ready to serve.

Once ready to serve, warm up the sauce and serve immediately. You can garnish with cilantro, extra cream and ginger juliennes.Serve with rice or flatbreads.

Thanks for stopping by!

Stay Spicy!

Orange Flavored Cashew- Almond Fudge (Peda)

Sinfully Spicy : Orange flavored Cashew Almond Sweet Balls (peda) #glutenfree #veganIt was one of the most important day of my life as we drove through wide but still crowded roads due to evening traffic, long after sun down to Kashmiri Gate, to the university campus in Old Delhi to figure out if I made it to that year’s list of DCE or Delhi College of Engineering. I remember me and mom sat and waited in the car while dad walked out to check the notice board. Those fifteen minutes,that day, might have been the longest of my life, as I sat and observed the varied expressions of cheer and dismay on the faces of others coming out of the red-painted door and then walking towards the crowded parking lot. As many parents passed our car, clear among the noisy chaos of honks and shouting kin, I could hear the conversations of celebrations, as also the consoling whispers of ‘there are few more results left’. Every time those sounds touched my ears, my heart rejoiced for half a second and next moment, the random thoughts weaved an abyss against hope. I might have blinked my eyes lesser than usual, my throat felt dry and itchy but my glances just waited for dad to emerge out of that red-painted door. I could hear mom’s cell phone ringing constantly, every other relative & rest of the family calling in to check if I ‘got through’. She pretended to be normal, but I could segregate the egdy tones of anxiety when she uttered ‘pata nahi‘ (don’t know).

Sinfully Spicy : Orange flavored Cashew Almond Sweet Balls (peda) #glutenfree #veganThe engineering entrance exam system in India gets more tough each year than the actual exam itself mainly due to the exponential increase in number of takers. Colleges in big metropolitan cities are more sought after and it definitely boils down to minute differences in performance to rank you higher or not. I had been preparing for this exam for almost a year and as expected I was nervous on the result day. Badly.

Sinfully Spicy : Orange flavored Cashew Almond Sweet Balls (peda) #glutenfree #vegan

Sinfully Spicy : Orange flavored Cashew Almond Sweet Balls (peda) #glutenfree #veganIt was 7:43 pm. Dad emerged out of the door with a flat face.My heart skipped a beat and I started sweating like a pig. I could feel my ear lobes turning red and my throat choking. We could not keep inside the car anymore and I forced myself and ran to him. Mom rushed after. I looked at him with deer eyes.He still kept a straight face. I don’t remember but for the first time in last fifteen minutes I would have opened my palms to clutch his sleeve. He looked at us and with the most lovely smile spreading across his face that I might have witnessed ever, he said ‘ho gaya, mithai khilao‘ (You got in, get the sweets!). Tears rolled down my eyes. Music to my ears. The world at my feet. I was through!

Sinfully Spicy : Orange flavored Cashew Almond Sweet Balls (peda) #glutenfree #veganMithai or sweets form an integral part of indian culture.Each occasion of life is celebrated with them.The streets and neighborhood of the country are dotted with sweet shops and if you find ever yourself stuck in a desert, you would be less than a mile away from one. ‘Peda‘ is one of the popular sweets from the ‘Uttar Pradesh’, the part of India my mother hails from and these are essentially fudgy, thick, semi soft, sweet chunks made with mava (milk solids)sugar and ghee. However, these fudgy cashew almond peda, I made are dairy free as well as need very few ingredients for preparation.My daughter loves any mithai made with cashews, so these were mainly made for her though we enjoyed them as well. The slight hints from the orange paired very well with the nuts even though the aroma of sweet green cardamom is more prominent. These could get addictive. These gluten-free, vegan balls can be an excellent after school snack. Make some and enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Glutenfree, Dairy Free & Vegan sweet fudge made with cashew and almond meal.

Ingredients (Makes 25 )

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1.5 cup cashew nut meal (or powdered raw cashews)
  • 1 cup almond meal (or powdered raw almonds)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh orange zest
  • 6 green cardamom pods, seeds crushed
  • 1 tbsp ghee (optional, required during kneading, use any vegan substitute)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar to roll

Method

In a wide, heavy bottomed pan (I use my 12″ skillet) or a kadhai, mix up the sugar and water. Set the pan on low flame and let the sugar dissolve. Stir (I use my rubber spatula) the solution once or twice while the sugar dissolves so that the sugar does not stick to bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, grease the surface that you will be using to knead with 1/2 tablespoon ghee.

Once the sugar has completely dissolved, add the cashew and almond meal to the pan. Mix everything and brace yourself for some hard work. Keep on stirring and stirring as the mix cooks on low flame. The process will be slow in the beginning and you will feel that it will take forever but do not worry. Keep on stirring, scraping the mixture on low flame, do not let the mixture stick to the sides of the skillet.

After about 20-22 minutes, you will see that the mixture starts thickening and coming together.We will shortly be getting there, once the mixture is thick, do not bother much about scraping the sides as they will be really dry. Around 24 minutes, the mixture will start resembling a soft, sticky dough and will clump up around the spatula. If you try to bring the mixture together in one place on the skillet, it will try to slowly spread (similar to how a glug of cold honey spreads on a surface). Mix in the orange zest and crushed cardamom. Put off the stove.

Immediately transfer to the greased surface and leave to cool a bit until its safe to handle.Once the dough has cooled slightly, rub a teaspoon of ghee on your hands and very gently knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. Remember that the dough needs to be warm when you knead so just wait till its safe to touch, do not let it cool down completely, else it will not knead and remain grainy.Do not press very hard as you knead else the nuts  will start oozing their oil. You can grease you hands or the dough with ghee in between if it starts feeling sticky.

While the kneaded dough is still warm, pinch small portions of it and roll into a smooth ball. Roll the balls in powdered sugar.

Once cooled, store the peda in air tight container for up to a week.

Thank you for stopping by!

Notes 

  1. The time of cooking noted in this recipe will vary if you are using any other kind of sugar than granulated, since the water content of different varieties of sugar is different.
  2. You can use any kind of flavorings – saffron or kewra (screw pine water) instead of orange zest & cardamom.

Stay Spicy!

Indo Chinese Salmon Bowl for One

Sinfully Spicy - Indo Chinese Salmon Bowl for OneI adore seafood, as you might already be noticing on the blog and on my Instagram feed. Quite a few seafood dishes popping every other day! I seem to have inherited this love from both my parents. Growing up, unlike may north indian homes, fish and prawns formed an integral part of our meals.Right from purchasing the freshest catch to patiently cooking the bought, mom and dad made sure that through growing years, our taste buds acquired an afffinty for food from the sea . Even though fresh water fish is still more popular with my family members and going by the rules, it is not food from the “sea” but you know what I mean.

Continuing my desire to develop new ways of consuming fish,I am always on a look out for ideas.Talking about ideas, I have been eating this quick salmon bowl for lunch quite a lot these days. It is quick, healthy and does not leave you with that “heavy” feeling kind of meal. I could go for a jog after this, no kidding!

I have talked about Indo chinese flavors at length in so many of my previous post. Here,here and here. These two strong asian cuisines marry again and again inside my wok, always leaving me amazed at the robust flavor of the resulting dishes. We simply adore the flavors in our home, though strict foodies(without being at fault) will dismiss it away categorizing it as unauthentic.

Sinfully Spicy - Indo Chinese Salmon Bowl for One

When you are a foodie, you draw inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. When I visited my local asian store a couple of weeks back, I was drawn towards the teriyaki salmon bowls on display at their asian section. Tad overpriced at first look but then I notched forward and spotted big chunks of orange salmon glazed in a beautiful dark amber colored sauce, spliced with chilies and colorful , glossy vegetables on the side.The meal was indeed mouth watering and made complete sense. Immediately, the idea of playing with indo chinese crossed my mind. Grabbing my grocery bags in both hands, I yearned to get into my kitchen and stir up something. Sinfully Spicy - Indo Chinese Salmon Bowl for One This recipe came up on a whim.I did not even intend to post it but the colors looked so gorgeous once I plated that I took out the camera. It could be a great dinner option too. Just double the recipe for two people and if you have the time and inclination, stir up some vegetable fried rice. The aromatic indian spices, dashes of salty soy sauce & vinegar complement the rich fatty salmon in an excellent way along with the quick sweet tangy pickled vegetables which add that much-needed freshness in contrast to strong savory seasonings.

Sinfully Spicy - Indo Chinese Salmon Bowl for One

Printable Recipe

An easy recipe of salmon chunks stir fried with asian flavors. Use it as an outline and play around with the sauces/condiments used to suit your taste.

Ingredients

For the Salmon

  • 1 no 6oz to 8 oz salmon fillet
  • 1.5 teaspoon dark soy
  • 1 fat garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoon white vinegar (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (this is a strong-tasting oil, substitute with untoasted sesame oil or any neutral oil)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 fat garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small Thai green chili, minced (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
  • Red chilli flakes to taste
  • 1.5 tablespoon Maggi chilli tomato sauce (or use 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup mixed with cayenne)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey (or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • fresh cilantro

Notes

  1. Add any kind of vegetables, scallions, bok choy etc to this recipe while cooking.
  2. You could add dashes of Sriracha or hot sauce for additional heat.

For the Pickled Vegetables

  • 3 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Thai green chilli, minced
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 radish, julienned
  • 1 small persian cucumber, julienned

For Serving

1/3 cup leftover steamed jasmine or plain rice (optional)

Method

Using a sharp knife, cut the salmon fillet in small cubes. In a bowl, transfer the cubes and mix the soy, minced garlic, vinegar and sesame oil with it. Let sit for 10 minutes.

While the salmon is marinating, proceed to make the pickled vegetables. In another bowl, mix up the vinegar, sugar, salt and minced green chili. Mix. Add the julienned vegetables and refrigerate.

In a pan or wok, heat up the canola oil to smoky. Immediately add the chopped shallot, garlic and ginger. Saute for 1-2 minutes till you smell a nice aroma. Add the coriander powder. Saute for 1 minutes. Then add the marinated salmon text along with . Stir fry the salmon on high for 3-4 minutes. They cook up fast so keep a close eye. Towards the last minute of cooking add the chill-tomato sauce,red chill flakes,garam masala, honey and adjust the salt. Also, check the tang from vinegar at the end of cooking. You can some more if you like. Sprinkle fresh cilantro.

Serve immediately alongside some leftover rice and pickled vegetables from the refrigerator.

Thanks for stopping by.

Stay Spicy!

 

Steamed Savory Chickpea Flour Cake (Dhokla)

Sinfully Spicy - Savory Steamed Chickpea Flour Cake (Dhokla) #glutenfreeAnticipating the arrival of guests way before time and instructing our household help to work up things faster than usual, mom would hurriedly pull out the boxes hidden from the back shelves of the kitchen cabinets.Neatly wrapped inside crumpled brown paper with the intricate gold work on the porcelain quarter plates and tea cups waiting to sparkle at the first flash of daylight light, just like today,she never allowed the help of the house to even touch them. The usual dish detergent would dull the shine away,she murmured and used diluted quantities of vinegar and water, dipping the end of thin muslin in the solution and carefully wiping away the rim of each piece. A rinse with hot water and a wipe with clean kitchen towel and they were left on a metal rack where the  children of the house couldn’t reach,to dry out while she tended to other preparations.

Sinfully Spicy - Savory Steamed Chickpea Flour Cake (Dhokla) #glutenfreeIt was rare that someone came for tea at our house,mostly the guests were invited for weekend lunches or saturday dinners. As a kid, I rejoiced at the sound of tea time, how unusual it sounded and indeed contained in itself the possibility of exciting and different food items other than the usual rice,bread lentils and curries. I would hear mom complaining often that menu planning and executing is tedious for tea time gatherings, even though I always felt that she came up with a fantastic line up of what had to be served to guests – from crisp home fried pakoras (fritters) and flaky samosas to fancy bite size sandwiches, fresh melt in the mouth paneer tikkas, pastries from our favorite bakery plus an array of store-bought items. All to go along with masala chai, always brewed her way with sweet-smelling green cardamom, ginger and cloves.

Sinfully Spicy - Savory Steamed Chickpea Flour Cake (Dhokla) #glutenfreeI clearly remember that close to an hour before the guests arrived, I accompanied our help to the nearby halwai (sweet makers in India) shop to get kumquat sized gulab jamun and softer than sponge dhokla.Stepping on the stairway that led to the shop,by the time we reached the counter, I could spot the large, wide thaali (platter) with neatly cut squares stacked one on top of the other, sprinkled generously with green cilantro, lemon slices and green chilies. I still remember the awesome taste of those dhokla, as if I have tasted it an hour ago. Mellow, lemony and sweet. I could barely resist myself from taking a bite at the shop itself and a string of ice-cold syrup ran down my palm to elbow.Then came the chillies,the hot seeds here and there, popping inside the mouth. Yum! The dhoklas were compelling delicious with little holes in them where few of the black mustard seeds got trapped to sum for a bitter-sweet,salty, sour notes on the taste buds. .

Sinfully Spicy - Savory Steamed Chickpea Flour Cake (Dhokla) #glutenfreeMy mom did not start making dhoklas at home until she got this recipe from one of her colleague at work.And then we did not go back to the store-bought ones that often. Sometimes she uses just the chickpea flour and many times both chickpea flour and semolina to come up with delicate steamed goodness.Dhokla belongs to Guajarati (west indian) cuisine and is essentially a fluffy, steamed savory cake which can be eaten as a snack or for breakfast (if you are me). Traditionally, it is made with ground bengal gram lentils which are fermented overnight to develop a light sourness and steamed in flat, wide platters the next morning. But there are so many variations popular all over India, of dhoklas made with moong legumes, with rice and with semolina (sooji). One of the most popular method is to use chickpea flour mixed with yogurt and flavorings like ginger and green chillies. Usually, my mom makes use of Eno fruit salt (an antacid) as the rising agent. But for those of you who do not have access to it, I came up with this recipe inspired by this one from New York Times which uses baking powder and baking soda for the rise.

Sinfully Spicy - Savory Steamed Chickpea Flour Cake (Dhokla) #glutenfreeNot only is this snack and popular street food healthy but gluten-free too. Few of the tips in making and storing dhokla include things like storing it soaked in sweet salty water for not more than 1-2 days after which the taste starts changing because of the fresh elements in the tempering. If you can get coarse chickpea flour (the one which is used for making sweet balls or ladoos), the texture comes out a lot better. But I have used regular bob’s mill chickpea flour in my recipe and it works fine.

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (serves 4-5)

  • 1 cup +1/3 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 3/4 cup thick plain whole milk yogurt (not greek, not fat-free, slightly sour)
  • 3 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup room temperature water (or as required to make a lacy, ribbon like flowing batter consistency)
  • 2 Thai green chillies
  • 1 ” ginger shoot
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Sweet Water for soaking & storing the dhokla  

Play with the quantities of sugar, lime juice and salt to how sweet, salty or tart you want.

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 small lime, juiced (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2-3 tablespoon granulated sugar (adjust to taste)

For Tempering

  • 1.5 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 green chili, chopped
  • 4-5 curry leaves (skip if you do not have)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro

Notes

  1. Avoid using very old baking powder or soda for this recipe.
  2. Even though I used a high dish for steaming it, I realized that it would have been much faster and proper if I used a shallow but wide dish for steaming it (the traditional route). If you have a wide dish which can fit your steamer and hold your batter, go for it.
  3. I found that the taste & texture changed on 3rd day in the refrigerator.

Method

Select the bowl or dish that you will use for steaming the batter. Choose a wide dish (if possible) which holds the batter and allows the rising. You should have at least 2″ of space remaining after the batter had been poured into the dish. Very very liberally, grease the bowl or dish with oil. I use my stock pot as a steamer with a bowl on top of shallow bowl/rack and water at bottom.

In a large bowl, sift the chickpea flour.Add the plain yogurt, oil, hing, sugar and turmeric powders. Mix well. Now start adding water a little at a time and mixing simultaneously to form a lacy batter. The batter should not be thin. Depending on the chickpea flour quality, you may need anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup water. When you try to drop the batter from a 2″ height, it should drop continuously (not flow). Once mixed, let the batter sit for 20 minutes on kitchen counter.

Meanwhile, using your mortar & pestle, mince up the ginger and green chillies.Set aside. Also, separately in a bowl, mix together the water, sugar, lime juice and salt. Let sit.

Ready up your steamer. Or if using a stock pot, fill up the stock pot with water half way below the shallow dish/rack. Let the water come to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the water simmer.

Mix the chickpea flour batter with minced ginger and chillies. Add the baking powder, soda and salt to the batter. Immediately pour in the oiled dish and set in the steamer. Let steam for 15-18 minutes(this time will depend on how deep your steaming dish/bowl is) or until a skewer comes out clean from the center of the cake.Put the steamer/stove off.  Keep an eye, the cake will dry out if steamed more.

Let the cake cool off slightly in the steamer itself. Keep covered at all times. Once easy to handle, run a sharp knife and transfer to a platter. If you feel that its sticking do not attempt to transfer. Proceed to next step.

While the cake is still warm (not hot) to touch, soak it up in half the sweet syrup prepared earlier. Reserve the rest of the syrup for storing.

Prepare the tempering. Heat up the oil for tempering on medium low heat in a small sauce pan.Add the mustard seeds and let crackle. Add the sesame seeds next and put the stove off. Immediately add the curry leaves and green chillies. Scatter this tempering on top of the cake along with chopped cilantro.

Slice the cake and serve cold or warm.

If you have leftovers, store them in a box with lid soaking in syrup, refrigerated.

Thank you for stopping by!

Stay Spicy!

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