Kaju Katli – Fudgy Cashew Thins


A Happy and Prosperous Diwali to all of you!

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianAs I sit down with a cup of chai after having washed a truck load of dishes and mopping the floors spot free, all I can think of is how back home,my mum would barely have a luxury of five minutes to relax,drink tea and breathe today. It is the largest of Hindu festivals -Diwali in India – a celebration that lasts for at least five days.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianEarly in the morning she would have soaked rice to make rangolis(decorations)on the floor of the puja (prayer room).The flowers would have been plucked from the garden and tucked inside moistened cloth to keep them fresh till evening.The water soaked diyas(earthern lamps)would be sun bathing by now and she would be busy taking out fancy serve ware and cutlery for evening dinner from the boxes stacked below the bed.By noon, aromas of cardamom and ghee from the kitchen would be permeating the air of our house.There would be some kind of tangy chaat,stuffed dahi vadas resting inside the fridge and spicy jal jeera to greet the guests.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianDiwali or Deepawali,the festival of lights is celebrated by most indians as an autumn festival signifying the victory of good over evil.According to legend,Lord Rama returned home after fourteen years of exile and defeating the demon kind Ravana on this day. People lit their homes with diyas to celebrate his homecoming and from then the day became a reason for celebration each year for the Hindus. Typically, the goddess of wealth & prosperity, Lakshmi is worshipped on this day, gifts are exchanged with friends and family, there are get togethers, much pomp and show, food, fun and fireworks.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianI would lie if I told you that mum made Kaju katli at home. She didn’t. Never. She didn’t need to because the streets of Delhi are dotted with amazing halwaiwallas (sweet vendors) making and selling this best tasting confection with cashews.Instead she would be making besan ladoos, warm, nutty chickpea flour balls with ghee and sugar.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianI have always been intimidated by mithai making at home. They are an art. The ingredients are few and most of them look plain but taste so heavenly if you get the texture right. It took me a lot of pushing by the husband to take up making this fudge treat this year. I was most certain that I would end up messing it up. You could perceive my confidence from the fact that I had planned a few things with the cashew sugar paste if everything did not come out the way it should. But, trust me I was in disbelief of how perfect katli came out.My daugheter, who would not eat any other indian mithai ate these little diamonds like candy,one after the other.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianTo me kaju katli has always been something really exotic. Fudgy,nutty thins of ground cashews sweetened plainly with sugar, its one melt-in-the-mouth confection. It is one of the most popular mithai in northern india. I always thought that it was a difficult thing to make but no, I was wrong. It is so easy, there are so less ingredients and few things to be kept in mind while you do it. Hopefully you get to make these delicious, gluten free & vegan treats for your family this year. Wishing all a Happy & Safe Diwali again!!

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indian

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 20-22 diamonds)

  • 1.5 cups broken raw cashew pieces (Yield 1 cup +3/4 cup cashew powder)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1-2 drops rose essence
  • 1 tbsp ghee (Optional, required during kneading, use any vegan substitute)

Sinfully Spicy - Process, Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indian

Method

Use cashews at room temperature. If you store your nuts in the fridge, take them out a night before and spread on the kitchen towel to air dry. The cashews should be at room temperature and completely dry before you start powdering them. Transfer the cashew pieces to a dry blender jar and in one go powder them as fine as you can. We need a loose, smooth powder. Take care that the cashews do not become pasty or release their oils and clump up or become sticky (this is very important). If you feel that there are few big pieces in the cashew powder, pick them out or sift the powder using a sieve, but do not overwork the blender to grind the cashews.

In a wide, heavy bottomed pan (I use my 10″ 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. While the sugar is dissolving, rub about 1/2 tbsp of ghee on a kitchen board (or the surface where you will knead) and set aside.

Once the sugar has dissolved, add the powdered cashews 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 18 minutes, you will see that the mixture starts thickening and coming together.Add the rose essence (or any other flavorings) now if using and incorporate. 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 22 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). It took me exactly 24 minutes to reach that stage. Depending on the flame settings and water content of the sugar, you can approximately look at 22-28 minutes to reach that stage.

Immediately transfer to the greased surface and leave to cool a bit until its safe to handle.Once the cashew dough has cooled slightly, rub a teaspoon of ghee on your hands and very gently knead the dough for 5-7 minutes to form a ball. 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 cashews will start oozing their oil but there should be enough pressure so that a small ball is formed. You can grease you hands or the dough with ghee in between if it starts feeling sticky.

One you get a smooth ball, flatten it out slightly. Place a  large and wide sheet of wax or butter paper on the dough and using a rolling-pin, roll it out to a 1/3″ thickness, or you can roll out as thin or thick as you like. Using a sharp knife  (or a ravioli cutter, like I did), cut into diamonds or squares or any shape you like.

Serve or store in an air tight container at room temperature for 5-6 days.

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 – cardamom, saffron or kewra (screw pine water) instead of rose essence .
  3. This recipe can be use for almond powder too.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

Rasmalai

Sinfully Spicy : Rasmalai #indian #mithai #diwaliWhile you will hardly see me baking a cake or decorating elaborate desserts, every year during Diwali I try to make a few fresh mithai (sweets) instead of buying something from the store. We do not like the taste of mithai that we get in the stores here so over the years I have taught myself to make a few favorite ones.During Diwali, the unbeatable freshness of homemade mithai and the taste keep me busy in the kitchen, which is how a time of festival and celebration should be!

Growing up, one of the mithai which we always had on Diwali was Rasmalai.These are soft and spongy chenna (coagulated milk) patties soaked in rabdi or thickened milk sauce. They melt in your mouth, with a nutty and not overly sweet flavor and are served chilled. It takes a bit of practice to get the right texture for the Rasmalai at home but once you make them a couple of times, it’s worth all the effort. I have tried to write the recipe as in-depth as possible, including little tips that I’ve learnt over the years. I hope that you get to make it for your family and guests! Sinfully Spicy : Rasmalai #indian #mithai #diwaliI shared this recipe on The Society, a south asian lifestyle magazine launched couple of months ago. You can check my guest post here. While you are there, you can check out the wonderful ideas they have for table settings as well as Diwali decorations. Printable Recipe Ingredients (Makes 12 servings) For the Chenna Patties

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3-4 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 +1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 cups water

For the Rabdi (thickened milk sauce)

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 10-12 raw cashews
  • 1/2 tsp green cardamom powder
  • Nuts to garnish

Method For the Chenna Patties Line a strainer/colander with double layer of cheesecloth/muslin. Set it over the bowl to catch the whey in such a way that there is gap between the bottom of strainer and the bowl. (If you do not want to collect the whey, arrange the colander directly over the kitchen sink) Bring the milk to a roaring boil.You will need to intermittently stir so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Once the milk has boiled, put off the heat. Wait for 3-5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the boiled milk. Immediately you will see that the milk starts to coagulate and a greenish liquid separating (this is whey). As you add more vinegar, this green liquid will turn clear, if it’s still whitish, you might need to add more vinegar. Stop adding vinegar once the liquid is clear. Pour the curdled milk over the strainer/colander lined with cheesecloth. The whey will collect in the bowl.Remove the bowl and pour a jug of cold water to wash the curdles milk (chenna) in the colander. Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth hang this over a bowl so that the liquid drains away. This may take 15-25 minutes. Stop as soon as the water stops dripping.Squeeze a little but not too much.Taking the right amount of water out from the chenna the  is the most important part of this recipe.You don’t want to completely dry it out and ensure that the chenna is soft and moist.

Mix water and sugar in another wide, heavy bottomed pan and put on stove to boil. Meanwhile, place the chenna on a clean, dry work surface. Knead the chenna. You will need to push it away from yourself using the bottom of your palm, collected it with yours fingers and repeat again. This takes up quite a bit of effort, keep on kneading until the chenna turns into smooth dough (but it should not be stretchy).If you pinch a small portion,it feels like a soft paste (similar to softened cheese) and your palm feels as if you have rubbed oil over it (it actually means that the fat has evenly distributed itself) It took me about 18-20 minutes to reach that stage. Divide the dough into 10-12 equal portions. Make balls out of the portions. Lightly press to make a flat patties. Do not make too big in size since they will further puff up & almost double in size while cooking.

Add the discs to the boiling sugar & water. Keep the highest heat on your stove so that the sugar solution is roaring boiling.Cover the lid and let cook for 3-5 minutes. The patties will start puffing up.In between, open the lid and if you feel that the sugar solution is thickening, add 1/4 to 1/3 cup or so of water. It is very important to not let the sugar solution turn into a syrup else the patties will come out hard and not spongy. Take out the patties from the sugar solution and let cool a bit, squeeze them lightly,and set aside.

For the Flavored Milk/Rabdi (You can start cooking this while you are making the chenna patties) In a large pot, bring the milk to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 25-35 minutes on medium heat, stirring continuously till the milk reduces to half its volume. Meanwhile crush the cashews to a coarse powder. When the milk has reduced, add the sugar, cardamon and cashew powder to the milk. Let simmer for 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Immediately add the chenna patties to the warm milk.Cover and let sit.Once the rasmalai has cooled completely, refrigerate it for 3-4 hours. Garnish with sliced almonds and pistachios(or any nuts of choice) Serve Chilled. Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Egg Curry

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Masala #indianfood

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Curry #indianfoodThe thought of eating steaming rice mixed with thick, chili hued masala from the curry fills me with as much joy as that of a kid waiting upon a bowl of macaroni & cheese. In our house, a weekday suddenly turns exciting when its egg curry for dinner. It is not an immensely difficult meal to prepare and trust me it spoils your taste buds given how quick it is ready to serve. I use my basic masala recipe with a few whole spices added in.

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Curry #indianfoodThe husband can live on eggs and for me, particularly at this time of the year when the evenings are colder, diving into a thick tomato gravy with redolent of kasuri methi and warm tones of ginger is enough to drive me hungry out of turn.

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Curry #indianfoodIn India, egg curry is an immensely popular dish. Usually, hard-boiled eggs are thrown in the home specific curry recipe and served as a protein side to the meals. The recipe varies from home to home as well as region to region. The north indians mostly prepare it in a tomato – onion base while the south indian version is done with coconut & curry leaves.Few regions use a mustard paste base and fry up the lightly hard-boiled eggs before dunking them in the sauce.It is commonly served as a side to flatbreads or plain rice.

 

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Curry #indianfoodMy mum always used to add fresh peas to the gravy but the husband prefers potatoes so I started making it that way. If you get a chance, fresh peas, sweet and tender beautifully balance the heat of the spices but potatoes taste quite delicious and comforting too.You can use just eggs too depending on how you like it. The gravy is very flavorful with normal day-to-day spices used in and comes together quickly while the eggs boil.

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Curry #indianfood

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 5-6 eggs
  • 1 generous pinch turmeric powder
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into halves or quarters
  • 3-4 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with canola/grapeseed oil)
  • 1 green cardamom, cracked open
  • 1/4″ cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 small garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger (adjust quantity to taste)
  • 1 cup tomatoes, finely chopped (slight sour variety)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/8 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • 1/2 cup water (or more depending on desired consistency)
  • 1/2 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, available in indian stores, skip if you do not have)
  • salt
  • Fresh cilantro to garnish – as much as you want

Method

Hard Boil the eggs. I use this recipe to get perfectly hard -boiled eggs.

Peel the eggs, slit (but not all the way through) them using a sharp knife  and rub them with a generous pinch of turmeric powder and let sit.

In a heavy bottomed pot, add the oil and heat on medium – high till you see faint ripples on the oil surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat it a little longer till to do away the raw smell.Reduce heat to medium. Add the cardamom and cinnamon stick and let crackle for 10-120 seconds. Add the finely chopped onions next and cook them till golden brown. About 6-8 minutes.

Next, add the garlic & ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling a nice aroma.Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes next along with coriander,turmeric,chilli,salt garam masala & amchoor powder. Start to cook this masala on low heat. After about 3-4 minutes add the potatoes, cover and cook the masala till you see the oil separating on the sides of the pan. About 8-10 minutes. In between, if you see masala sticking to the bottom of pan, add some water. .This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, do not rush.Allow the masala to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color and the potatoes are 90% done.

Add the turmeric rubbed eggs to the pot, sprinkle the kasuri methi, add more water (if you want a thinner gravy),cover and let cook for another 5-7 minutes. Put off the stove and let sit at least 2 hours before serving.

Warm up, garnish with cilantro and serve!

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Methi Aloo – Fenugreek Leaves With Potatoes

Sinfully Spicy - Aloo Methi (Potatoes and Fenugreek Leaves Stirfry) #indian  Aloo Methi is a classic loved dish in the northern regions of india during the cold months. As soon as the winter knocks in,  a lot of leafy greens could be spotted in the farmers markets as well as on the cart of the sabzivala,the vegetable vendor who used to bring us fresh produce everyday from his fertile patch.A regular for more than a decade at my grandma’s house, he would bring in a mix of fresh coriander,petite yellowish cauliflowers and slender radishes and potatoes from his patch,also making sure to stop by the mandi (wholesale market) everyday to stock up his cart with a few pounds of tomatoes, onions and other seasonal produce.Then all day long, he went knocking door to door selling his grown and bought to old and new customers. We did not go to grocery stores then, in those days and still such vegetable, fish and poultry vendors are responsible for fresh meals served on our tables. Sinfully Spicy - Aloo Methi (Potatoes and Fenugreek Leaves Stirfry) #indian  Sinfully Spicy - Aloo Methi (Potatoes and Fenugreek Leaves Stirfry) #indian  Every now and then if not daily, my grandma and him would have funny altercations, she complaining of the vegetables not being ‘that’ fresh and costly, him arguing that his wife cooked a delicious sabzi last night with the same thing. A lot of time my grandma would haggle for that extra bunch of cilantro or few limes for it was deemed totally legit to get free herbs after a hefty purchase.On most days, he gave in to the sweet old lady, packing in a few ounces of green chillies and fragrant mint along.As the winters ripened, the leafy produce- spinach, methi, beet & turnip greens, radish, mustard became cheaper and cheaper. Needless to say, it would be a green fiesta on our dinner table on most of the days, a garlicky methi aloo to spinach dal to palak paneer or sarson ka saag (mustard curry) Sinfully Spicy - Aloo Methi (Potatoes and Fenugreek Leaves Stirfry) #indian  Methi (fenugreek leaves) are used a lot in north indian cooking.Here in the States, you can easily find them fresh in the indian/pakistani stores once the autumn starts to knocks. Avoid using frozen if you can. Broadly, there are two varieties of methi- the small one, with round, dark green and extremely fragrant & delicate leaves called the kasuri methi.You would have noticed me using it a lot in my recipes. It has a short season and even during winters it is available only for a couple of weeks. The other variety, the larger one is less fragrant in comparison but has a longer season and can be homegrown easily from methi dana (fenugreek seeds). In indian cooking, seeds as well as leaves, both are used their piquant, bitter flavor. Sinfully Spicy - Aloo Methi (Potatoes and Fenugreek Leaves Stirfry) #indian  Methi has a unique, tangy bitter flavor which is definitely an acquired taste but trust me it is addictive.My grandma always used to mix fresh dill (sooaa) leaves whenever cooking methi aloo (potatoes) in a karahi(indian wok). Even though I never liked addition of dill then but now in all these years, it has  changed.However, do not use a lot of dill as it is a strong herb and can overpower the methi taste. Potatoes lend the dish a nice, comforting earthy flavor as well as balance the bitterness of the greens. Do not be tempted to reduce potato quantity coz then the stir fry will come come very bitter. The dish is generously flavored with garlic and dried chillies and is a perfect accompaniment to steamed basmati rice – dal and a side of mango pickle. The dish keeps very well for hours so you could also wrap up the stir fry in triangle paratha(flatbread) for a hearty lunch at work or school. The dish gets better the next day so plan a few leftovers if you like. Sinfully Spicy - Aloo Methi (Potatoes and Fenugreek Leaves Stirfry) #indian  Printable Recipe Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 3 cups methi (fenugreek leaves)
  • 3-4 tbsp pure mustard oil (mustard oil adds a authentic flavor but olive/canola oil can be used)
  • heaped 1/4 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  •  1-2 whole dried kashmiri chilies
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne)
  • scant pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • 2-3 stalks fresh dill leaves, chopped (about 2 tbsp) (Optional can be skipped)
  • 2 medium potatoes, boiled,peeled & cubed ( or 7-8 baby potatoes)
  • Salt

Method

Pick up the tender shoots and leaves from the long, hard methi stems. Wash the leaves under running water to remove all the dirt. On a clean kitchen towel, spread the washed methi to completely air dry for 30-45 minutes. If you are in a hurry, use paper towel to absorb all the moisture. Ensure that the leaves are totally dry once you are ready to cook else the stir fry will come out watery. Chop the leaves and set aside.

In a karahi or heavy skillet, heat up the mustard oil on medium until the raw smell goes away. Once hot, temper the oil with methi dana and cumin seeds. Wait till they crackle. Turn the heat to low and immediately add the chopped garlic, hing and dried chillies. Wait till the garlic changes color to light brown and the dried chillies swell, about 10-12 seconds in hot oil. Take utmost care that the garlic does not burn. You can even put off the stove for few minutes if you feel that the oil is already hot enough.

Next, add the red chill, turmeric and amchoor powder. Stir for 3-4 seconds and add the chopped methi leaves. Stir to combine. The methi leaves will wilt down in 1-2 minutes and you will see they start wilting down and water of the methi separating. Let cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes on medium low heat and then add the dill along with potatoes. Add the salt next. Stir so that everything is combined. Cover the karahi with a lid and let cook for 3-5 minutes until everything is cooked through. The methi will be a darker shade of green at the end of cooking and will stick to potatoes.

Put off the heat and let sit for at least 1-2 hours before serving (this is important).

Warm up and serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Jalebi

Sinfully Spicy: Jalebi #indian Come end of September and its time of autumn festivities for Indians.Hindus all over India celebrate Navratri (nine days of fasting & feasting),worshipping Goddess Durga  in nine pristine forms,each form depicting a virtue . Ramlila is a traditional, nine or ten-day long drama staged during these days in northern india to portray the life events of Lord Rama and his victory over the demon king Ravana.The last day which is a celebration of this triumph is observed as Dusherra.

Sinfully Spicy: Jalebi #indian Year after year we looked forward to Ramlila  days. There would be a nip in the air,schools would be off and bazaars all geared up to witness the hustle and bustle of upcoming festivals.Quite a lot of big and small fairs dotted our town,each locality showcasing its grandeur through decorations,much pomp & show,some having lighted displays,other luring crowds with musicals.Before you go into thinking about a fairyland, the ramlila grounds were dusty and crowded, cramped shoulder to shoulder with people,with flashy neon or fluorescent light banners and the music shows – a cacophony of loudspeakers which sore your ears few minutes into listening but, in those days I LOVED all of that. My enthusiasm could be might low if I visit the fair now but in those days,every evening, dressed our best,we left the house together to visit a new ramlila ground.

Sinfully Spicy: Jalebi #indian Walking through the dimly lit,narrow roads and holding each other’s hand, carrying goodies in the other, we would come back home around midnight from the last day at ramlila,after having witnessed the demon effigies burnt to ashes and the fireworks that followed to cheer the triumph of good over evil.Legs aching due to long waits in the queue for almost everything but stomachs stuffed to content with piping hot jalebis fresh from the halwai stalls and our hands full with knickknacks bought from the toy stalls – bubble guns, imitation bows & arrows, helium balloons, pinwheels and candy.All we chatted about were the rides at the fair and how to make next few weeks to Diwali fun!

Sinfully Spicy: Jalebi #indian Sometimes I feel how growing up, for us the means of entertainment were so uncomplicated.I remember playing on terrace for hours with tiny earthen pots and tea cups bought from the potter stalls at ramleela, on few days we played cricket for hours in the aangan (yard),on most evenings we wandered miles and miles in the park chasing butterflies and bees or hopelessly trying to create colorful illusions with pinwheels. Festivals like HoliDusherra and Diwali were longed for, for months. Mum tells me that I had quite a keen interest in all things culture and mythology.

No computer, no DVDs, no play stations, no just dance, no karaoke. Entertainment did not come out of  LCD screens, it was way real. Sorry for sounding like a grandma but I dare not talk about the simplicity of those days!

Sinfully Spicy: Jalebi #indian Jalebi is the one of the popular mithai which was popular in my part of town on Dusherra, which falls on 3rd Oct this year.For me on this day nothing else will suffice as dessert if it’s not jalebi. Comparable to a funnel cake but eggless and fermented,  jalebi is a crisp, deep-fried maida (flour) batter,soaked in sugar syrup long enough to sweeten it but not let it turn soft. The sugar syrup may or may not be flavored with cardamom, saffron or rosewater. As the fermented batter is piped into the hot oil, it swells and comes sizzling up,changing its color to golden. The crisp concentric fried batter are then dunked in warm sugar and served with cold unsweetened milk or rabdi. However, my favorite way to serve hot jalebis is with dahi (plain unsweetened yogurt).

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 20-25 Jalebis)

For the Jalebi

  • 1 cup maida (all-purpose flour)
  • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1.5 tbsp besan (fine ground gram flour)
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1.5 tbsp melted ghee (use any neutral oil for vegan version)
  • 2 tbsp whole milk plain yogurt, at room temperature (skip for vegan, see notes)
  • 1/8 tsp saffron powder (crush a few saffron threads between palms)
  • 1-2 drops orange food color(optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup luke warm water + 2-3 tbsp warm water for dissolving yeast (adjust water quantity for right consistency)
  • Canola/Sunflower Oil for frying (You can add 1-2 tbsp ghee to it for a nice aroma)

For the Sugar Syrup

  • 1.5 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 green cardamom pods, cracked open or 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Optional Flavorings – rose water, kewra (screwpine water)

Method

In a small bowl, add of scant pinch of sugar and 2-3 tbsp of warm(not hot) water, dissolve yeast and let sit for 5-8 minutes. Let the yeast bloom (you should see froth on top).If the yeast does not bloom, discard and start the batch again.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, sift the maida, besan and cornstarch. Add the saffron powder.Using your finger, lightly mix the ghee and yogurt with the flour. Add the bloomed yeast mix, orange food color and slowly add luke warm water to make a smooth,lump free batter. Be doubly sure that the batter has no lumps, it is a very important step. Add the water a little at a time and incorporate.The consistency should be like a thick pancake batter. Cover the bowl with a cling film and set aside in a warm place to ferment for 2-3 hours. (The batter will ferment quickly, about 1-2 hours during summer months but could take longer during winters) Do not disturb it during fermenting.

10-15 minutes before you are ready to fry the jalebis, in a medium,wide pot, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Once the sugar syrup is boiling, reduce the heat, add the cardamom and let simmer for 7-8 minutes so that the syrup thickens up  a bit. We are not looking for any string consistency here but if you take a tiny drop of syrup in between your thumb and pointer finger, it should feel sticky and not watery. Once the sugar has simmered and thickened, add lemon juice, stir and put off the heat.Wait for 2-3 minutes and then if you are using saffron or cardamom powder or any other flavorings, add it to the sugar syrup. Let sit near to where you will fry up the jalebis.

Use the widest pot or wok or pan that you have in your kitchen to fry the jalebis. I use my 12″ skillet.Pour 1-2 inches of oil in it and let heat up on medium heat.

At the end of two hours, the fermented batter will not exactly double up in volume but you would see that it is much more light and fluffy than what we started with. Once fermented, do not mix the batter much. We want it to remain airy and fluffy. Just cut and fold once or twice using a spatula (just the way we handle cake frosting) and pour it into a squeezable bottle with nozzle.  Try to squeeze the batter out of the nozzle, it should come out like a tooth paste from a tube. (see notes for other ways of checking batter consistency). If you feel that the batter is thick, add a little water for the right consistency or if the batter is thin, add a couple of tablespoons of flour and mix gently so that there are no lumps.

To test the right temperature of oil, drop a small quantity batter in the oil, it should come up sizzling to the top but without changing color (if batter changes color, reduce heat and let the oil temperature reduce a bit). Squeeze the batterout of the nozzle, applying constant pressure and making 3-4 concentric circles in the oil and sealing them in the middle.Work from outside towards inside. It takes time and experience to get proper shape and it gets better and better batch after batch. Do not fry more than 4-5 jalebis in a batch. Once you have piped the jalebis in hot oil, in 2-3 seconds they will come floating up, flip and let turn golden on the other side too. Once golden, take out of from the hot oil, tilting the spider or frying spoon so that excess oil is drained.

Add the fried jalebis to the warm (not hot)syrup. Let soak for not more than 25-30 seconds and take out again tilting the ladle to drain excess syrup else they will break and turn soggy.

Fry up all the jalebis and soak in syrup. Serve warm with cold unsweetened yogurt.

Few Tips and Notes:

Indian Cooking especially mithai (sweets) making rides on a lot of approximations and tips and tricks learnt through experience. In our homes, rarely gadgets are used to test the oil or sugar syrup temperatures or times.Lets say we trust our sight and smell senses more when cooking.  Mithai making is an art and gets better with practice. Here are few of the things I have learnt from mum and my own trials.

  • In case you are making the jalebis for vegans, skip the yogurt in the recipe and use a little more water to get the right consistency of the batter.
  • Addition of lemon juice to the syrup prevents crystallization of sugar as well as lends it a mild tart flavor which is typical to jalebis.
  • Adding food coloring to the batter is a choice, if you do not want,skip it. I like to add color because my mum always does and I think it looks nice to the eyes.
  • Usually the batter gets a little runny after fermentation, so its better to keep it on the thickish side before you set it out to ferment. You can always add water later to get the right consistency.
  • One of the ways to check the consistency of batter is to take a large quantity in your hands and try to drop it in the bowl from a height, about 1-2 feet, it should fall is continuously, similar to how a lace or ribbon flows.
  • You could use a Ziploc bag with a hole cut up at the end to make the jalebis, but I find using the squeeze bottle much easier since if you keep on pressing the Ziploc bag, after a few batches, the hole becomes large in size and the jalebis become very very thick.I find the ziploc method quite messy too. The squeezable bottles are available in baking aisle for a couple of dollars. They are much expensive to buy online. But trust me, really easy and work with. Attaching a nozzle to a piping bag works fine too, just keep in mind that the thickness of the jalebis will depend on the nozzle size. Do not use a very big size nozzle since the jalebis will not cook properly inside once fried.
  • While frying, if the temperature of oil is too hot, the jalebis will come up sizzling, the batter will tear or have   bubbles all over, it might every scatter in the oil and jalebis will turn over crisp and not absorb syrup properly. If the oil temperature is too low, the jalebis will remain flat and raw inside. Once you start frying, it will take you 1-2 minutes to know the right temperature of oil, the jalebis should come up within few seconds (2-3secs) of piping into oil and swell as you fry but at the same time do not get too brown. Don’t worry I also had few over brown ones, so you will know when its right.
  • Getting the right shape of the jalebis takes time, they do not have to be precise and perfect but as you make more and more, you will get a hang of it. Just keep in mind to squeeze the bottle/piping bag batter with a constant pressure and work in concentric circles, outside towards inside. Again, practice will help.However, whatever shape they come out,they will taste good.
  • The right texture of the jalebis is crispy on outside, if you take a bite, you will notice the tubular crossection filled with syrup. Without getting more technical,just know that they are not meant to be soft.
  • You will have leftover syrup after the jalebis are soaked. I usually dunk baked bread croutons/slices in them and serve as a snack. You could refrigerate it and use to make gulab jamuns if you like. Also, it can be used  in smoothies or for making beverages too.
  • Jalebis can be stored for 2-3 days. Do not refrigerate. Just store at room temperature. I however, do not recommend or prefer storing them. Make small batches and serve rightaway.

Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!

Murgh Saagwala – Spinach Chicken

Sinfully Spicy : Murgh Saagwala (Spinach Chicken) #indiafoodWhenever I pick up a bundle of palak(spinach) at the grocery store -all organic & prewashed & ready to serve and what not, always, without a miss, I think about the vegetable patch(es) in my grandmother’s house,a house where I lived in some 18 years back, having a backyard planted with tomatoes and okra during summers and cauliflowers & potatoes during winters.One where the air would strongly smell of agarbatti (incense sticks) in the evenings which were often lighted to wade away the bugs from the eggplant bush, one which had rows dotted with yellow and orange marigolds & english roses.One where each morning,I strolled along the narrow, wet sidewalks brushing my teeth,bending down to sniff the strong fragrance of tulsi (holy basil) plants.One where I spent a lot of childhood days,counting the ready-to-pluck green beans and tearing leaves apart to spot the cabbage buns. A backyard where you could find us after coming back from school, dressed in printed cotton frocks,bare feet, digging mud and playing hide and seek within the squash creepers.

Sinfully Spicy : Murgh Saagwala (Chicken & Spinach) #indianI visited India last year and everything is the same, the yard still planted with seasonal crop but now more taken care of by maali (gardener) than the family. Mom made dal and she sprinkled a bunch of chopped coriander leaves on top,picked from there. I plucked a few narangi (indian kumquat) from the bush which has now turned into a small tree in all theses years and popped it into my mouth with a pinch of salt, the burst of citrus tang running goose pimples all over my body, bringing memories with itself of the days when squirts of that sweet acid graced our daliya (breakfast porridge) every now and then. I tore up a few spinach and methi (fenugreek) leaves and chewed on them, a wish which I had nestled for so many years to experience that unforgettable earthly, delicate taste all over again.

Sinfully Spicy : Murgh Saagwala (Chicken & Spinach) #indian

Sinfully Spicy : Murgh Saagwala (Spinach Chicken) #indiafoodI wanted our daughter to play  and get her hands dirty in the mud but she could barely crawl at that time, so that fun has to wait till our next visit. But, embraced in all these memories, I made this murgh (chicken) saag (any leafy green) last week and she really loved it. This recipe is a perfect balance of greens and protein to nourish kids and adults alike.You would have seen this dish on indian restaurant’s menus a lot. But it is not something I grew up with. I started making it regularly a couple of years back, mostly around my pregnancy years when I craved spinach all the time. This recipe has evolved a lot from the first time I cooked it.

Sinfully Spicy : Murgh Saagwala (Chicken & Spinach) #indian

Sinfully Spicy : Murgh Saagwala (Chicken & Spinach) #indian

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

For the Spice Rub on Chicken

  • 4-5 whole dry kashmiri red chilies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
  • 2 small black cardamom pods, cracked open
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 tsp canola or sunflower oil

Rest of the Ingredients

  • 6-8 oz fresh spinach leaves (~a little more than 1 cup spinach puree)
  • 5 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf, preferable indian
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 fat garlic clove
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 -1 tbsp thinly Julienne fresh ginger (adjust quantity to taste)
  • salt
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp heaped kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup water (depending on desired consistency of sauce)
  • 3-4 tbsp heavy cream

Method

Wash thoroughly and pat the chicken pieces completely dry. Set aside. In a small pan, dry roast the kashmiri chilies, coriander seeds, cloves, fennel, methi,cumin and black peppercorns. Transfer to a coffee grinder and coarsely grind. Mix the ground spices with turmeric, nutmeg and salt. In a large bowl, add the chicken, drizzle the oil and sprinkle half of the ground spices and rub so that all the pieces are covered in the spices. Reserve the rest of the spice rub. Cover the bowl and set in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or preferably overnight to marinate.

Once ready to cook,take the chicken out from the refrigerator and let sit on kitchen counter.Bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Put off the heat.Add the spinach leaves to the water and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Drain out the spinach leaves and puree in the food processor using little water if required. You can reserve the boiled water to thin out the sauce later if you want.

Meanwhile,heat up the mustard oil in another wide, heavy bottomed pot. Add the cinnamon, bay leaf and let crackle. Add the onions and garlic next. Let cook for 5-8 minutes on medium low heat until the onion starts to turn brown. At this point, carefully add the chicken pieces to the pot in a single layer (if possible), and on medium high heat, let the chicken pieces sear on one side. Flip and let sear on all sides. Next, add the tomatoes, ginger and remaining ground spice powder to the pot. Stir around and let cook on medium heat till you see, tomatoes turn soft and oil just starting to separate on the side of the pan.It might take 8-10 minutes since the chicken will also release its juices but keep on cooking.

Once you see that the chicken is about 80% cooked, add the pureed spinach along with the garam masala. Combine and cover till the spinach blends in the sauce, the raw smell is gone, it turns down in color to dark green and the chicken is completely cooked, about 10-12 minutes on medium heat. You will see little glistening spinach bubbles on the top.Open the lid, add the kasuri methi and water (depending on the consistency you want). Let simmer for another 1-2 minutes.Add the heavy cream, check and adjust the salt, let simmer for 2-3 minutes more (but do not boil).

Let sit for 2-3 hours before serving.Warm up and serve.

Notes :-

  1. You can use bone in chicken for this recipe. Use dark meat portions and make incisions in the flesh with a sharp knife before you marinate it.
  2. When you puree the spinach, do not make a smooth paste out of it (that’s why I do not use a blender). Use as less water as possible when grinding spinach.
  3.  If you like a bit of smoky flavor then you can grill the chicken but I prefer searing it in the cooking pot itself.
  4. You could use a mix of greens – kale and spinach work beautifully, so does spinach and methi(fresh fenugreek).
  5. The addition of heavy cream makes the dish a lot tastier and rich but you can skip the cream if you want.

Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!

Schezwan Noodles With Shrimp

Sinfully Spicy - Schezwan Noodles With Shrimp #indochineseIf you would have dropped by on Sunday mornings in our house, you would have seen us, happily sitting with stainless steel plates nestled in the lap,with forks in our hands and stuffing little noodle bundles into our faces. If it were the winter season,mom asked us to camp on a cot in the backyard, where first morning sun rays touched t,otherwise,during the summers, we sat on the veranda in front of the kitchen eating noodles that mom would have made early in the morning for breakfast or brunch.There is something really yummy (and flavorful) about cold noodles, I love it, do you? For few hours in the Sunday morning, the house smelled of garlic and eggs, much to the irritation of my grandmother but it was a day reserved for noodles and we would not have it any other way. Except eggs, I never saw her adding other protein to her recipe,(still) boneless meat or poultry is not very popular in our house and I had not even heard of seafood being added to noodles or pasta till a few years back.

Sinfully Spicy - Schezwan Noodles With Shrimp #indochineseShe would start out by flavoring the oil with desi lahsun (really sharp garlic which sometimes came from the house vegetable patch), fresh ground red chili paste and then would add a lot, and a lot of vegetables. Long string beans thinly cut up to resemble match sticks, thick grated sweet red carrots (which is a winter speciality in Delhi), shredded cabbage and slender,mild tasting spring onions (scallions), always cut at an angle into oval rings. When she made noodles, she added a few indian spices too, something I guess every indian mother does once in a while.In those days(I mean the 80’s) we barely got more than a variety or two of noodles in the market and an evening earlier, she would walk down to a bakery cum confectionary a few miles away from the regular market. She would get eggless ‘Tops’ noodles brand and our favorite jeera biscuits from there.Those noodles were pale yellow hued, thick and doughy, also they needed quite a lot of flavorings to up their plainness, but made each Sunday morning special for us.

Sinfully Spicy - Schezwan Noodles With Shrimp #indochinese

Sinfully Spicy - Schezwan Noodles With Shrimp #indochineseNow, that the times have changed and I am spoiled for choice, I go to my grocery store and spend time reading labels, comparing price and then picking my deal. I find asian stores the best for picking up noodles because I find the product quite authentic. The other day I picked up these ‘Hong Kong Egg Noodles’, a thinner variety of noodles  along with dried sichuan peppers and played around with my mom’s noodles recipe which warmed our stomaches growing up,a recipe inspired by schezwan style of noodles which is extremely popular in India.

Schezwan noodles is another favorite indo chinese food. The noodles mostly get their flavor from red chili and garlic paste as compared to soy sauce doused hakka noodles.The resultant noodles are way spicy and flavorful. The heat and color of the paste (and so the noodles) depends on the variety of dry chillies (kashmiri chili is the best) and once you make that sauce, it can be used in a lot of ways.

Sinfully Spicy - Schezwan Noodles With Shrimp #indochinese The kitchen smelled like mom’s that morning, of aroma when that fiery paste laden with red chilies, garlic and sichuan peppers hit the oil. Consider it something which swells your senses, choking them with its heat and piquancy. These noodles taste good warm and cold. The husband LOVES them for lunch and so do I. I use dry red chilies (seeds & veins everything) and they lend the heat which is perfect for our palates, but you can cut them down or use hotter chillies variety if you want. Your call. This schezwan sauce is an extremely flavorful condiment for your kitchen,once made, you can refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks and then use for making fried rice, dips or stir fries.

Sinfully Spicy - Schezwan Noodles With Shrimp #indochinese

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

For the Schezwan Sauce (Makes about 1/3 cup)

  • 15-18 dry red chillies
  • 3 tbsp pure sesame oil, divided
  • 1 small whole serrano chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • 8 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2″ fresh ginger piece, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sichuan peppers,crushed
  • 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1.5 tsp sugar (or to taste)

Note – The color and heat of the schezwan paste (and the noodles) depends on the variety of dried chilies. If you use kashmiri chillies, the color would be perfect deep red.

For the noodles (Serves 2-3)

  • 6 oz noodles
  • 1 tbsp oil, divided (to be added while boiling the noodles as well as after straining)
  • 2 tbsp canola oil +1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 5-6 scallions, green & white parts chopped separately
  • 1.5 – 2 cup chopped/shredded vegetables (I used cabbage, bell peppers & beans)
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2-4 tbsp schezwan sauce (or to taste, recipe above)
  • 10-12 medium shrimp, precooked
  • 1 tsp white vinegar or fresh lime juice (to taste)
  • Salt
  • Chopped Cilantro, Scallions, chillies, sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

Method

For the Schezwan Sauce

Soak the red chillies in 1/3 cup warm water for 20-25 minutes. Transfer the soaked chillies to a blender (reserving the water) along with 1 tbsp sesame oil, garlic, ginger, serrano(if using), tomato paste, sichuan peppers, vinegar,soy sauce, salt and black pepper. Blend to a smooth paste. You could use the reserved water from soaking the chillies if needed but do not use too much.

Warm up the remaining 2 tbsp sesame oil in a small sauce pan.Add the onions to it, sauté till they soften. Add the blended chilli paste and cook for 8-10 minutes on medium low heat till you see that the paste changes color to deep red, glistens and oil separating on the sides of the pan. Add the sugar, mix and cook for another minute or so. Put off the heat. Let cool down, transfer to small jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

For the Schezwan Noodles

Cook noodles as per package instructions. Add 2 tsp of oil and salt to the water when you are boiling the noodles. After you have drained the noodles, rub them with remaining oil and let sit. This is so that the noodles do not stick while you make the sauce.

In a wok, heat up the 3 tbsp oil. Add the garlic and let cook till you smell a nice aroma (take care that it does not burn). Add the white scallion parts next and sauté for 1-2 minutes till they soften.Next add the vegetables along with a pinch of salt. On medium heat cook till the vegetables soften a bit but are still crunchy.

Next, add the dark soy sauce along with schezwan sauce (it is hot so add the quantity depending on your taste). Saute for a minute or so. Add the noodles and salt next and toss everything together.

Add the cooked shrimp, scallion green parts and vinegar (or lime juice) next.Combine everything and let cook for a couple of minutes more.

Serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baingan Aloo (Eggplant & Potato Stirfry)

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianEggplant season is here and I am all over it. Biting into that sweet flesh dotted with soft seeds, I always admire how this delicious vegetable absorbs any kind of goodness thrown to it in good measure.Be it the flavored oils or the profusely strong-tasting spices,squirts of citrus or a mellow yogurt dressing, it takes all. Robust yet so simple and earthly to relish, I have been regularly making eggplant pakoras and bharta, roasting it, open fire grilling it and what not.

However, it is with great regret that I tell you that I did not always like eggplant. I totally hated it as a kid and the same was true for most members of our family. Except for pakoras, I rarely touched it. In the real way, I embraced it as an edible item during those couple of years when I turned a pure vegetarian.

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianI always like September for the overlap it brings – the summer bounty is still in the markets but the autumn produce can be spotted on the stands. I am still getting to slice fresh strawberries for my daughter’s breakfast and at the same time I hand over crunchy apples to her as a snack. It is so fascinating how seasons change and that change is first thing evident in the farmer’s markets. I went for grocery shopping the labor day weekend and was surprised how pears and apples have popped overnight on the stands.Can you believe I spotted a few pumpkins and parsnips already! Gosh, where did the summer go.

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianAnd since it is still September, it also means that I get to make this stir fry with fresh tomatoes. This makes me immensely happy because I do not like the acidic canned stuff. The flavors in the recipe are few but strong – garlic, fenugreek (seeds and dried leaves), hing (asafetida).  Usually, I do not shy away with the quantity of oil in eggplant recipes because it needs that fat to swell up and turn succulent. I grew up with potatoes added to this recipe so would not have it another way, they definitely up the earthly taste of the stir fry and also make it edible for fellas like the husband who would otherwise not touch it :)

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianFor us, especially on the days when like to keep it meat free, a simple meal comprises of lentils, a dry vegetable curry and rice. We sit down to eat together,mostly eat with our fingers, squeezing out that juicy flesh off the peel, smashing the potatoes and mixing it in with ghee smothered dal-rice. Yum! If not with rice, you could roll this up inside whole wheat flatbreads if you like. Go make some before the season goes away.

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indian

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or olive/canola oil)
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut (I use yellow potatoes)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, divided
  • 1 medium globe eggplant or 4-5 japanese eggplants
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes (I use fresh roma)
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, skip or use fresh lime juice to taste)
  • scant pinch of garam masala (optional but lends a nice smoky hint)
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro to garnish

Method

In a kadhai/wok, heat up the oil. If you are using mustard oil you will need to heat it up for up to 1-2 minutes to do away the raw smell. Just take care that is not smoking. Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to low and add the fenugreek and cumin seeds. Let crackle. Immediately add the garlic and hing. Let cook for 5-7 seconds taking care they do not burn.  (You do not want the garlic to turn bitter as it changes the taste of the recipe, take the kadhai off the heat if you feel that its too hot)

Add the potatoes next and let their outer surface crisp up for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder as they brown. Next, add 1 tbsp water, cover and let cook on medium low heat till the potatoes are 50% tender.

Meanwhile, wash the eggplant and cut it up roughly the same size as the potatoes.

Add the eggplant along with tomatoes, rest of the turmeric, red chili and dry mango powder. Also add the salt. Mix well so that everything is covered in spices. Cover and let cook till both eggplant and potatoes are tender. On medium low heat this should take 7-10 minutes.(This time will depend on the variety and size of the vegetables)

Take off the lid and sprinkle the garam masala and  kasuri methi. On high heat, gently toss everything for another 1-2 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro & serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Dal Tadka – Tempered Yellow Lentils


Sinfully Spicy- Dal Tadka, Tempered Yellow Lentils

Sinfully Spicy- Dal Tadka, Tempered Yellow LentilsIf you ever chance upon a dinner or lunch in India, dal or lentils is a must thing on the meal table. In north indian states it could be a choice between kaali dal (black lentils) or dal tadka (the yellow ones) but in other parts, quintessentially, it has to be the yellow one. Generously tempered with a fat (ghee, coconut,mustard or sesame oil) &  the crackling spices – cumin, asafoetida, curry leaves or mustard seeds, it is further flavored with garlic, ginger, tomatoes, onions, chilies (both green & red),turmeric and even jaggery (sugar).Essentially dal is quite an aromatic and soul nourishing food.

Sinfully Spicy- Dal Tadka, Tempered Yellow LentilsI like to compare dal preparation in Indian homes to the roasted chicken in the west. It is such a simple thing to make but the taste of dal can vary easily between two cooks.Comforting and satisfying food compounded with warm, smooth texture and laced with hints of spices. Every home has its own way of making it and that recipe is no doubt the best, certainly better than how it is done in your home (in case we get into an altercation ever!). We eat dal on days when we are sick as well as on days when we want to feast.Mostly severed with a spicy pickle (green mango in our house) and dollops of ghee on top, steamed basmati rice is the best vehicle for dal. In India, dal sums up the daily protein chunk for majority of indians who are pure vegetarians especially the ones who refrain from eggs also.

Sinfully Spicy- Dal Tadka, Tempered Yellow Lentils

Sinfully Spicy- Dal Tadka, Tempered Yellow LentilsBetween me and the husband we are poles apart when it comes to a favorite dal. For me its the black lentils which, at some point, I could eat every day with rotis (flatbread) but he is more of a chawal (rice) – dal kind. Since I mostly lost a knack for lentils after my pregnancy (its both amazing & weird what giving birth does to you!), he is having it his way in the house now.I usually mix a couple of lentils whenever cooking and the toor/arhar (split pigeon pea lentils) are an important ingredient here. Sadly I haven’t spotted it in regular or bulk grocery stores here so you might want to visit an indian/pakistani store to get it.

Sinfully Spicy- Dal Tadka, Tempered Yellow Lentils

 

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

  • 1/3 cup arhar/toor dal (pigeon pea lentils, husked split variety)
  • 1/3 cup masoor dal (red lentils,husked split variety)
  • 2 tbsp moong dal (golden lentils,husked split variety)
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped onion (I use red onion)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes (I use Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 fat garlic clove,finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp ghee, melted
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt
  • 3 cups water +more
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder, substitute with fresh lime juice to taste)
  • Chopped Cilantro

For Tadka (tempering)

  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 whole dried kashmiri red chilies
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)

Notes -

  • The cooking time mentioned in this recipe are for split lentils. If you use whole lentils the cooking time could be more. Also keep in mind that you use either all split or all whole when choosing lentils for this recipe
  • Hing or asafoetida is a strong, aromatic spice available both in crystal and powdered form. It aids digestion & is used more often than not in indian cooking, also a little goes a long way. It gives a unique flavor to dal 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 you can use any neutral oil.

Method

Thoroughly wash all 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 10 minutes. Add chopped onion, tomatoes,garlic, ginger(if using), hing, ghee, turmeric and salt. Put on the lid and pressure cook the lentils on medium heat for 1 whistle (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 completely tender.

Once you open the lid, add amchoor to the dal. With the help of a whisk or a spoon, thoroughly mash the lentils so that they are creamy. If you like a thinner consistency of dal, add a cup or more of water.If you add extra water, return to the stove and let simmer for another 5-7 minutes on medium heat.

While the dal is simmering, make the tadka. In a small sauce pan, heat up the ghee. Add the cumin seeds and let crackle. Also add the whole dried chillies and let them turn darker in color. Lower the heat and immediately add the garlic and let it cook for 30 seconds or so taking care that it does not 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 close the lid so that the aroma infuses. Let sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes.

Top with chopped cilantro and serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

 

Kesar Kulfi

Sinfully Spicy : Kesar Kulfi Late Summer. The days are filled with blueberries and peaches and cherries before the seasons changes.This year we had an overdose of summer bounty in the house since most of our produce shopping was from Costco, there was hardly a day when we were out of fruits.May sound impatient, but I want those crunchy sweet tart apples and soft pears and ruby-red  pomegranates and rest these berries till next summer. In lieu of new, I picked up my first fresh figs this summer (yup, it took me five odd years to do that since I moved to the States) and kind of liked them but still didn’t understand the craze. The ones I ate though sweet,had a slightly slimy aftertaste so maybe they were unripe? Sinfully Spicy : Kesar Kulfi Anyhow, the evenings turn up sooner and are much cooler than a past few weeks back.We are having a few rain spells every ten days or so which I am liking a lot since those are rare in this part of the world. I am barely able to decide if the air conditioning should be turned on or not all night even though I am waking up cold for last few days.

Sinfully Spicy : Kesar Kulfi Talking of few weeks back, I broke my blender jar, it came shattering down on our tiled floor.The following day my year old Panini maker gave in as soon as I plugged it in. I smelled smoke and saw a spark. Short circuit. Dang. In the latest, every time I use it, I hear a scratchy sound while our food processor runs,looks like it will join that gang soon. Good lord. Just wondering if all the universe has joined hands against my kitchen equipment or is it really a coincidence?

Sinfully Spicy : Kesar Kulfi The only good thing that happened was this kulfi, laced with saffron threads and sweet cardamom aroma.I badly needed to make something comforting to calm me down.A childhood ice cream treat from the streets,as kids we licked a few sticks each afternoon from the kulfiwalla(vendor) who visited our neighborhood. Needless to say, it was dirt cheap (may be few cents if you convert the currency) but came with huge flavor and texture. Traditionally, whole milk is simmered for hours and hours till it reduces to half its volume, the fat goes up and so does the sugar and protein content.Flavors are then added and its frozen immediately, no churning or custard business needed here.   Sinfully Spicy : Kesar Kulfi As time and occasion permits,these days it also depends on how cranky the toddler is, I use either ways to make kulfi, sometimes I start with whole milk and sometimes with cans of evaporated milk or half and half to shorten the process.  This time, the husband offered to watch the little one and I took the traditional route – just like how mum used to make it at home filled with toil and sweetness of love. Sinfully Spicy : Kesar Kulfi Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 6)

  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup mava (milk solids, see recipe here to make your own, omit if you do not have)
  • 1 no 14oz sweetened condensed milk can
  • 2 tbsp fine rice flour + 2-3 tbsp whole cold milk (to dissolve)
  • 1/4 cup almond meal (or any nut of choice)
  • 1 tsp heaping saffron threads+ 1.5 tbsp warm whole milk (to dissolve)
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
  • Silvered almonds to serve

Notes

  1. This recipe yields a lightly sweet kulfi (which is how it should be) but you can add more condensed milk or sugar as per taste.
  2. Addition of mava lends the kulfi both richness and a chewy texture but it can be skipped.
  3. Ideally, kulfi is not creamy, rather lightly chewy and grainy.
  4. You could use cornstarch in place of rice flour
  5. Substitute almonds with any kind of nuts (pistachios, cashews)

Method In a heavy bottomed pot, bring milk to a boil. Once the milk is boiling, reduce heat to low and let cook down with constant stirring. You do not have to stand by the stove but check and stir every 10-12 minutes so that the milk does not stick to the bottom or sides of the pot.You will need to keep on scraping the side of the pot while you stir.  Depending on fat/water content of the milk it could take 3-5 hours for the milk to reduce to half of its volume.

While the milk is cooking, crumble or grate the mava (if using),there should be no lumps. Set aside. Dissolve the rice flour in cold milk and let sit. Crumble up saffron threads between palms of your hands and dissolve in warm milk. Set aside.

Once the milk has reduced, it will be light brownish in color, much thicker in consistency. Add the rice flour slurry to the pot with continual stirring (so that no lumps are formed) and let cook for 5 minutes on low heat . The mixture will thicken further and become smooth. Add the mava next and cook for another 5-8 minutes so that it softens a bit.

Remove from heat. Add the condensed milk, almond meal, dissolved saffron and cardamom powder to the milk mixture and combine well. Let sit to cool down.

Pour into kulfi moulds or popsicle moulds. Freeze for 24 hours with lid on.

Once ready to serve, use a sharp knife to loosen the edges and unmold the kulfi. You could run the mould under a stream of water to loosen it. Serve as it is or sliced up with nuts and falooda (recipe here)

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,028 other followers

%d bloggers like this: