Murgh (Chicken)Tikka

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh(Chicken) Tikka

Spicy, smoky and succulent – you could hardly go wrong when these define the dish you make.Bites of chicken grilled to perfection and instantly sprinkled with chaat masala for that much-needed tang and served immediately. I cannot think of a better appetizer or a side to fragrant rice pilaf. If you think healthy, skip the carbs and serve over a bed of greens and you are good to go.

Sinfully Spicy : Garlic,Chilies& Mint

When cooking chicken, I make sure not to skip the marination part – it does wonders to the otherwise plain poultry. Hours of marination in yogurt and spices not only makes the chicken morsels tender but packs them with so much flavor. I always plan leftovers because these are excellent tucked inside a wrap with some green chutney (or hot sauce), mayo and few fresh veggies.

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh(Chicken) Tikka

It would be false if I told you that I grew up eating home cooked chicken tikka. Every now and then when we had family dinners, tikkas of all sorts were ordered from a barbecue take out place near to our house. In India, home delivery is so common and free if you live in the same area as the restaurant. The tikkas came wrapped in layers of aluminum foil, still warm from the tandoor (clay oven).There used to be pink hued pickled pearl onions, lime wedges and chutney to go along the smoky bites.At times,it did not matter to transfer the contents on to a dinner plate, just spread open the foil and everybody helped themselves – a really informal way of entertaining if you may think so.

Sinfully Spicy : Spices

Tikka (meaning chunks or pieces) is an extremely popular street food back home. All kinds of marinated vegetables, paneer as well as meat and poultry are available readily for a take away or a quick mid evening snack by the road side.

However, these are not to be confused with Chicken Tikka Masala, a spicy curry from the indian subcontinent which could definitely use a tikka like these simmered in sauce. You would find a lot of recipes of making tikka in India, each using almost the same spices in varying quantities.I am sharing what I make every now and then with all kinds of herbs & an essential dollop of ghee that goes into the marinade.

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh(Chicken) Tikka

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh(Chicken) Tikka

Printable Recipe

Murgh Tikka

Morsels of chicken marinated in yogurt and fresh ground spices and then grilled to perfection. You could use the same marinade for paneer tofu or with vegetable chunks.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the marinade

  • 3 tbsp thick plain yogurt
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2″ cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder (this gives the color, not the heat)
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 heaping tsp kasuri methi, crushed between palms(dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tbsp ghee 
  • salt
  • oil for brushing the grill top/skillet

Garnishes – Chopped Cilantro or mint, lime wedges, chaat masala.

Note -

  1. You could use chicken breast too in this recipe. But I find that thighs turn out much more juicy and succulent.
  2. If you don not have all the whole spices mentioned above, trust your favorite tandoori spice powder & use it. Don’t skip the fresh herbs though.

Method

Clean and pat dry the chicken thighs. Cut them into bite size pieces. Rub with lemon juice, minced garlic & ginger,1/2 tsp salt and keep aside for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, tip in cardamom,coriander,black pepper, fenugreek, cinnamon & cloves into your coffee grinder and grind to a (not too fine) powder. Mix this powder in a bowl with yogurt,cumin powder, turmeric, chili, cilantro, green chili, kasuri methi, ghee & mint leaves. Marinate the chicken with this and keep refrigerated for at least 8 hours (overnight is best).

Take the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle salt to taste before ready to grill. I use my stove top grill to cook them, however you can skew them and cook over outdoor grill.These cook very well over a cast iron skillet/tava. Cook the chicken pieces to perfection flipping regularly to cook on all sides.

Serve hot along side onion rings & green chutney.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Pindi Chana – Tea Infused Spicy Chickpeas

Sinfully Spicy : Pindi Chana, Tea Infused Spicy Chickpea Curry003

I don’t remember having Dora or Barbie themed birthday parties with perfectly frosted pretty cakes sitting in the center of the table waiting to be cut wearing those frilly birthday gowns. Yet, it was the most special day and definitely something I looked forward to for weeks.

I pretty much had a black forest cake for most of my birthdays, the indian version being a far cry from the  european marvel, still many of you who grew up in India in the 80s would know how we loved it. As with most indian families any kind of celebration meant lady of the house staying in the kitchen dawn to dusk, making one dish after the other.It started with special homemade samosas for breakfast and aromatic biryani or pilaf for lunch and the best was saved for dinner. Everything the rest of the family did whole afternoon was decorating the living room like a bride with those odd colored, mismatched paper ruffles & shimmering swirls, lacking in cohesion but strings of happiness & celebration running through them for certain.

Sinfully Spicy : Pindi Chana, Tea Infused Spicy Chickpea Curry001

It did not feel like a birthday unless guests had scooped spicy hot chole with yeasty, puffed bhaturas and gobbled down at least a few dozens of warm homemade gulab jamuns. Sometimes, dum aloo and moong dal ki goli were added to the menu but relishing that aromatic, earthy chickpeas curry is what my most fond birthday memory is made up of.You would wonder as to whats so special about chickpeas, but in our  house, chickpeas and other bean curries were limited to special occasions. Given that most of the indian kids I have known in my life LOVE chole-bhature, I was no different.

Sinfully Spicy : Pindi Chana, Chickpeas

Usually, I am not hell-bent on starting traditions in the family but the equation changes when food is involved. A couple of weeks back when we celebrated little A’s birthday, amongst those pink cupcakes & chinese food, I severely yearned to eat chole- bhature and missed the time when we sat in rounds on the floor with food loaded bhojanthaals set in front of us, laughter, greasy fingers and steam emanating from straight-out-the-wok fried bread. Suddenly, it made perfect sense to make chickpea curry for the two of us and relieve those moments for a while.

Sinfully Spicy : Pindi Chana, Tea Infused Spicy Chickpea Curry002

Pindi Chana is a spicy chickpea curry which gets its name from Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan) before India-Pak partition, where it originated.This curry is different from the regular chana masala in terms of the selection of spices and rich color from tea added during boiling the chickpeas.Don’t worry you will never taste the tea here,rather a very unique, earthy flavor,notable to this spicy preparation. Pindi Chana is a dry preparation of chickpeas  coated with the masala (sauce) and is best served with a breadsalad and pickle on the side.

Sinfully Spicy : Pindi Chana, Spices & herbs

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

For Boiling the Chickpeas (skip this step if using canned chickpeas)

  • 1 cup chickpeas, raw
  • 1 no black unflavored tea bag (if you are using a mild tea variety, you can use 2 bags)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tbsp chaat masala

For the Sauce

  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or any neutral oil)
  • 3/4 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1.5 tsp grated fresh ginger shoot
  • 1 fat garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1-2 Thai green chilies (adjust to tolerance)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro for garnish

Grind to a coarse powder

  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 tsp anardana (dried pomegranate seeds, use lemon juice/dry mango powder if you don’t have these)
  • 1 small black cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

Method

Soak the chickpeas overnight in enough water.Drain and discard the water and transfer the chickpeas to your pressure cooker. Add tea bag, salt,soda, oil and 2.5 cups water and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles or till 95% cooked. Please adjust the cooking time & number of whistles depending on your variety of chickpeas. Once cooked, drain the chickpeas, discard the tea bag and reserve the stock. Mix chaat masala & half of the ground spice with the chickpeas and set aside.

In a pot, heat up the oil to smoky on high heat. Take off the stove and add the chopped tomatoes to the oil. Also add ginger and garlic. Cook on medium heat till the tomatoes soften and you see oil separating on sides of the pot. At this point, add the turmeric and rest of the spice powder to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes till you smell a nice aroma. Add the chickpeas to the pot next with about 3/4 – 1 cup of reserved stock and green chillies. Taste and adjust the salt. Cover and let the chickpeas cook on medium low heat for 20-25 minutes or till they  are completely soft but not mushy.

Let sit for 1-2 hours before serving. The sauce will thicken up and develop flavors as the dish sits. When ready to serve, reheat and if you feel that they are too dry, add little bit of reserved stock, simmer again for 5-7 minutes and serve garnished with cilantro.

Serve with bhatura, warm tortillas, pita bread, kulcha, or naan.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Palak (Saag) Paneer – Spinach & Indian Cheese

Sinfully Spicy- Palak (Saag Paneer),Spinach With Indian Cheese001I think that one of the best palak paneer that I have eaten ever is the one prepared with home grown spinach from my grandma’s house. One from the vegetable patch which sprung to life with all sorts of greens under the winter sun. It was so thoughtful how our maali (gardener) was instructed to allocate square patches to vegetables.The cilantro, dill and mint which were used so very frequently throughout the day were sown first, followed by tubers and other root vegetables.To wade away the pests, every now and then badi mummy would keep a lighted incense amongst the large coarse leaves of the eggplant area.And it worked.Last few rows were the leafy greens & other delicate creepers, just so that you go towards them only when you need to.

Sinfully Spicy- Palak (Saag Paneer),Spinach With Indian Cheese002

There were the few aromatic methi (fenugreek greens) with its distinctive bitter sweet smell and the laal chaulai having smooth & shiny leaves.Then appeared the tender garlic & onion scapes which were plucked every now & then to accompany the lunch.As compared to these spinach rows were many and more sought after. During winters, spinach became a sudden favorite in the house, it was added to lentils, tossed in salads, made into fritters with evening chai or simply stir fried with garlic & potatoes.

Sinfully Spicy- Palak (Saag Paneer),Spinach With Indian Cheese003

The juicy, fleshy short stems reminding you how simple yet nourishing mother earth’s bounty can be. The mellow, soft taste of the organic leaves hardly needed a dash of lime juice and salt to become a perfect salad alongside dal – rice.Having eaten homegrown for so many years, that fresh taste is something hard to match with anything I cook from stores.

Sinfully Spicy- Palak (Saag Paneer),Spinach With Indian Cheese004

I was always the child who ate her vegetables. I cannot eat meat for more than two days in a week. I love vegetables and if I don’t eat them for a while,my body starts missing them. On days, when I cook rich & heavy foods for the husband which I am not much in a mood for, I treat myself to palak paneer. Slow cooked spinach gives the dish a beautiful green color and creamy homemade paneer add the perfect richness.This recipe uses very less spices & no cream/butter so that the delicate taste of spinach is not overpowered by them.

Sinfully Spicy- Palak (Saag Paneer),Spinach With Indian Cheese005

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 8 oz organic spinach
  • 2 – 2.5 cups water
  • 1-2 cloves
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or any neutral oil of choice)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/4  tsp fennel seeds, finely crushed
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 fat garlic clove,minced
  • 3/4 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2-4 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • pinch of turmeric
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1.5″ fresh ginger shoot, grated
  • 1/2 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, optional but recommended)
  • 6 oz paneer, cut into cubes (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream to finish off (optional)

Notes - 

  1. Use extra firm tofu in place of paneer and skip cream to make it a vegan recipe.
  2. You can lightly fry the paneer cubes in 1-2 tsp of oil before adding to the curry if you want.

Method

Add cloves to water and bring to a boil.Meanwhile, thoroughly wash the spinach leaves. Roughly chop the leaves if they are too big. Since I use baby spinach, the stems are tender, however you can pick the stems out if they are too hard.Once the water is boiling,turn off the heat & immediately add spinach to it.Let the leaves soak for 2-3 minutes and then drain. Reserve the liquid and transfer the spinach to food processor.Put in the cloves too. Pulse. I do not like to make a smooth puree however you can blend the spinach to desired texture. If needed, the reserved liquid can be used while blending.Set the blended spinach aside.

Heat up oil on high in a kadai or medium heavy bottomed pot.Once the oil is smoky, reduce the heat to medium & wait for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped onions to it along with fennel & cumin seeds (in that order) and sauté till the onions start to lightly brown.Next add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, coriander powder, green chillies, turmeric & cinnamon to the pot and keep on cooking on medium low heat till you see oil separating on the sides of the pot. This may take 8-10 minutes. Add the spinach, ginger, and salt to the pot and mix well. Also add 1/3 cup of reserved liquid.Let the spinach cook on medium heat for about 8-10 minutes and then reduce the heat to low. Let cook on low heat for least 20 minutes. The spinach will bubble a lot during cooking (you can put a lid) and you will need to stir it in between to avoid sticking to bottom. Also the spinach will change color to dull green and you will start seeing glisten on the sides of the pot. At this point, add the paneer cubes and kasuri methi (if using) to the pot along with reserved liquid (quantity depending on how runny you want the dish). Also add the sugar. Cover and let cook on medium low for another 8-10 minutes till the paneer softens.

Let sit for 1-2 hours before serving. When ready to serve, add the cream (if using),reheat and serve alongside hot flatbreads, steamed rice & salad.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.

Warm Chickpea Chaat (Indian Salad)

Sinfully Spicy- Warm Chickpea Chaat/Indian Salad 001

Last weekend was eventful.We celebrated our little munchkin’s first birthday. I made her a smash cake and we also got an adult cake. Her reaction towards both the cakes was the same – she cried. I think the flickering candle frightened her. It’s so funny that they react completely different to how you think they might.

Sinfully Spicy- Ingredients, Warm Chickpea Chaat/Indian Salad 002

Sinfully Spicy- Tamarind(imli Chutney) Chaat

Taking advantage of fading winters, I made this warm chaat this weekend. The weather out here is not yet hot for a crisp cold salad & a bit too warm for soups, this chaat drizzled with imli (tamarind) chutney & tossed with fresh mint leaves perfectly fitted the onset of spring mood.We are huge fan of  textures and multiple flavors in food and that is what this chaat is full of.

Sinfully Spicy- Warm Chickpea Chaat/Indian Salad 002

In India, chaat is a savory preparation which can be categorized as street food. There are few base ingredients which essentially form part of chaat- chopped onions or grated radish/cucumber for crunch,chaat masala (tangy spice powder) for the pungency & heat, tamarind chutney adds that saucy, tart layer while the green chutney & cilantro (or any herb)add the much needed freshness.The yogurt adds the acidity as well as cools down the palate.These are usually the toppings without which a bowl of chaat is incomplete. However, you can pick or drop any as per your taste.Chaat could be layering of fried dough or diced up fruits cut up and mixed together.If you are looking for really heavy options then kachoris (stuffed fried breads) or aloo(potato) tikki are your choices.

Sinfully Spicy - Mint

I like how healthy and filling this recipe turned out. You can also use black chickpeas(kala chana) or mung sprouts in this recipe and it works fine. It can be served as a perfect appetizer as well as a side dish. All the prep work like boiling chickpeas, potatoes, making the chutney, chopping toppings etc can be done a day before and then its just tossing everything together. Sinfully Spicy- Warm Chickpea Chaat/Indian Salad 003

Printable Recipe

I soak raw chickpeas overnight and then pressure cook them in enough water with little salt and a tsp of oil. Drain the chickpeas and reserve liquid for use as stock.

Ingredients (Serve 2)

  • 1 cup boiled chickpeas (or use canned)
  • 1 medium potato, boiled, peeled & diced into bite size pieces
  • 2 tsp oil, any neutral oil of choice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • generous pinch of hing (asofetida)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or to taste)

Other ingredients/toppings

  • Chopped onions – about 1/3 cup
  • Chopped tomatoes/ Grape tomatoes
  • 2 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
  • Black Salt/Kala Namak ( to taste)
  • Chaat Masala (to taste) (available online or at indian grocery stores)
  • Imli/Tamarind Chutney – 2 tbsp or to taste (recipe below)
  • Roasted Cumin Powder- to taste
  • Red Chilli Powder – to taste

You can add cucumber, grated radish, pomegranate seeds, sev, crushed papris etc to add more texture and crunch.

Method 

In a pan, heat up the oil. Add the cumin seeds and once they sizzle add the hing. Once you smell the aroma, add the chickpeas & potatoes. Also add the garam masala, cumin powder and salt. Toss around for 3-5 minutes till the chickpeas look shiny.Remove from heat & add the lemon juice. Mix well.

Transfer to a large enough bowl and add the listed toppings as per taste. Toss well and serve immediately.

Imli/Tamarind Chutney

I soak raw tamarind in warm water for 4-5 hours and then mash it until pulp is separated.Sieve the pulp into a bowl and discard the seeds and thick fibers. You can also use store bought but just keep in mind that its very salty & slightly acidic so adjust seasonings accordingly. 

Ingredients (Makes about 1.5 cups)

  • 1/2 cup thick,tamarind pulp(store bought or homemade)
  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup jaggery powder/granulated sugar (adjust quantity to your sweetness)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of hing (asafoetida)
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin seed powder
  • 1/2 tsp kala namak/black salt [available in indian stores, else replace with normal salt, adjust to taste]
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • salt to taste
  • Up to 1/2 cup water ( you may or may not need it, usually not needed when using sugar instead of jaggery)

Method

In a small sauce pan, heat the oil.Once heated add the cumin seeds, as soon as the cumin starts to crackle, add all the ingredients listed above to the pan except water.Simmer the  for atleast 20 minutes till it starts to thicken. You can adjust water once the chutney has simmered. It will thicken more on cooling. Remove from heat, let cool, transfer to a container.

Let cool completely. This can sit for unto 3 weeks in a refrigerator.

Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!

Chicken With Yogurt & Whole Spices – Sabut Masale ka Murgh

SinfullySpicy - Chicken With Yogurt & Whole Spices 001

A very homestyle, rustic kind of chicken dish where you just need to throw everything together and let it be on its own for some time.The soggy whole spices steeped beforehand in warm water burst open their flavors over slow heat. The dark chicken meat soaks up all of it and gives in,releasing its juices to the sauce and requiring very little care as it cooks.

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If you try to lift up the lid to peek in, a strong aroma wafts out, filling up your senses. Once the steam clears you would see little bubbles in the sauce with holes in the centre and reddish glisten all around from fat of the chicken. You know its going to be good.

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Except whole peppercorns, almost all the spices (including the red chillies which become sweetish) melt away in the gravy.Even though you might be intimidated by the long list of spices but the addition of yogurt perfectly offsets the heat level, not making the sauce too spicy, rather savory.

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I made this dish quite a number of times for few weeks. This is what happens when we like something. We keep on cooking and eating it till we are at the brink of getting bored. Then we nestle the recipe for a while and start our quest for another spice blend, another curry, different flavors.

SinfullySpicy - Chicken With Yogurt & Whole Spices 005

It is not a very saucy dish, when you cook it for a long time it’s almost like a thick coating on the chicken morsels. I just like to moisten some rice it, but you could serve it up with a dal (lentils) or something soupy on the side. All in all, extremely flavorful in contrast to the effort it requires, (think slow cooker here), this recipe would work with both bone in or boneless ( dark meat ) chicken, beef or mutton. Just adjust the cooking time.

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1 lb  chicken thighs, cut into 2″ pieces (use dark meat)
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3-4 tbsp mustard oil
  • 3/4 cup onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
  • 1/3 cup water (or more/less depending on the desired consistency)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro for garnish

In a small bowl, steep the spices below in 1/3 cup warm water for 30 minutes -

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom
  • small twig of mace
  • 1″ piece of cinnamon
  • 6-7 dry whole red chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2″ shoot of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (optional,this primarily lends a beautiful color)

Method

Marinate the chicken in yogurt,turmeric and 1/4 tsp salt for about 2-3 hours, refrigerated.

Once ready to cook, take out the chicken from the fridge and let sit on the kitchen counter. In a large pot, heat up the mustard oil on high till you see its slightly smoky. Reduce the heat to medium and wait for 2 minutes. Add the sliced onions to the pot, also add the tejpatta and cook till onions are lightly browned.This will take around 5-8 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and add the marinated chicken to the pot.Using the cooking spoon, slowly toss the chicken pieces to combine with the browned onions. Let cook for 5-6 minutes.Do not rush else the yogurt will curdle.

Raise the heat to medium and add the soaked spices (along with liquid) to the pot and mix well with the chicken. Let cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add salt to taste to the pot. Next, close the lid, reduce stove to low and let the chicken simmer for 30 minutes. There is no need to stir continuously, you can check 1-2 times in between than the chicken is not sticking to the bottom.

After 30 minutes,check the seasoning and the doneness of the chicken. Raise the stove to medium heat, add 1/3 cup water and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Let rest for at least 2-3 hours before serving.

When ready to serve, reheat, garnish with chopped cilantro & serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!

Paneer Bhurji – Scrambled Indian Cheese

Sinfully Spicy - Paneer Bhurji, Scrambled Spicy Indian Cheese 01

I love paneer recipes of all kinds, dry curried or with gravy, deep-fried or grilled, baked and sautéed with anything or everything. It could be spicy tikka like these or a stir fry like this, it doesn’t matter, it gets my attention when paneer is served. There’s a mellow, sweetish bite which soft morsels of paneer lend to the dish. I can eat it up anytime and in any form.

For good five years of my corporate life, I packed a paneer,onion & ketchup sandwich in my dabba (lunchbox) each and everyday,talk about crazy! Undoubtedly, it was my favorite food growing up. And now when I see how my little girl tries to chew it,I get all excited,I can barely tell.

Sinfully Spicy - Paneer Bhurji, Scrambled Spicy Indian Cheese 02

Paneer is a popular protein equivalent for vegetarians in India, any restaurant you go to, all those tikka masalastandoori, butter chickens & koftas would be having a paneer equivalent in the vegetarian menu.

Sinfully Spicy - Paneer Bhurji, Scrambled Spicy Indian Cheese 03

Once you start living in northern parts of India, particularly Delhi or Punjab, it would be difficult to resist those paneer filled dosas (rice crepes) or tiny bits of paneer in pav- bhaji, paneer batons tossed with chowmein on street sides or for that matter there was a samosavalla near my house who popped small pieces of paneer in the potato filling,need I say how much I loved it? Serious foodies may be annoyed at such weird combinations but Delhi belly that I can fondly talk about for hours is so comforting for such foods.

Sinfully Spicy - Paneer Bhurji, Scrambled Spicy Indian Cheese 04

I am not very strict about making paneer at home all the time. I make my own (should share a recipe sometime) or buy it as time & occasion permit. Unlike India, store-bought paneer is not really soft here, but for this bhurji you are anyhow going to crumble it plus all those tomatoes in the masala make it very mushy & gooey. So go for it.

In India, bhurji is a word used for dishes which are sorta spicy, scrambled with vegetables, poultry or dairy. Any kind of bhurji you make, you barely need spices but lots of fresh herbs & chillies.Here, crumbled up paneer is quickly tossed with lots of onions & tomatoes and spices to form a saucy mash. I like this bhurji with triangle paratha (flatbread), but served up with a side of bread slice,this is a wholesome breakfast for most north indians.I always plan leftovers because your can make some crazy delicious paneer bhurji puffs for brunch or dinner the next day.Serve those puffs along side some soup and done!

Sinfully Spicy - Paneer Bhurji, Scrambled Spicy Indian Cheese Puffs 05

Printable Recipe

Crumbled Indian Cheese tossed with lots of fresh spices & herbs.Can be served as an easy breakfast with few slices of baguette or a quick side dish.Use tofu in place of paneer for a vegan version.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 8 oz (about 250 gms) paneer, at room temperature
  • 1 very small boiled potato
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1/3 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2-3 Thai green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2″ fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 heaping tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala 
  • pinch of chaat masala (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (or to taste)
  • Chopped Fresh Cilantro – for garnish

Note – You could add up some flavorful stock (up to 1/4 cup) to this recipe and simmer for few extra minutes if you feel that its on the dry side. This depends on how soft/watery your paneer variety is. You might or might not need it at all.

Method

Crumble up or roughly grate the paneer depending on how chunky you like it. I just use my fingers to break little bits. Set aside.
Peel the boiled potato & finely grate it. Set aside

In a medium saute pan/kadhai, heat up the oil. If using mustard oil, heat up till smoky & then let cool off for 2 minutes or so.Once the oil has cooled, on medium heat add the onions and garlic, sauté till soft and starting to turn light brown.About 3-5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes next along with the green chillies.Also add the turmeric powder and a pinch of salt.Cook till tomatoes soften and you see oil separating on the sides. About 3-5 minutes.

Add the grated potato & ginger at this point along with kasuri methi. Stir thoroughly and cook for another 2 minutes. You will start smelling the aroma of ginger & methi.

Lower the heat and add the crumbled paneer next along with salt to taste, garam masala & chaat masala (if using). Saute everything for another 1-2 minutes on low heat till the paneer just about softens, put the stove off. Add lemon juice and combine.

Serve warm garnished with cilantro with bread slices or paratha.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Amritsari Tawa Macchi – Pan Fried Fish

Sinfully Spicy : Amritsari Tawa Macchi, Pan Fried Spicy Fish 001

The pungent smell of the mustard oil was engrained in the walls of the shop.Over the years, a gleaming fluorescent tube had replaced the flickering bulb above the rusty shutter and a bunch of green chilies & lemon needled in a thread hung below it,the same way as it did years back, grabbing your attention more due to its location even though tactfully  situated to be hidden.Its the same dusty clock at the center of the column that I saw years back, looks like no one cared to wipe it, I told myself, waiting.

It was biting cold outside but the inside was surprisingly warm,for it was cramped with people who wanted that crispy fillet, one that just popped out of the bubbling oil in the kadhai.

Sinfully Spicy : Amritsari Tawa Macchi, Pan Fried Spicy Fish 002

He sat behind the counter, fluffing thick, spicy besan batter, side by side keeping an eye on the smoky oil and dealing with customers, all at the same time.He looked a lot older than what I could remember. The hair had turned grey and the skin was tanned sitting in oily vapor for years. You could not help but notice the facial expressions which also remained the same – calm & peaceful. Few things are best if they don’t change, I told myself again.

If you ask him the recipe, he would just smile. Maybe he didn’t have any, it was just the magic of hands. This is the taste of fish which stays with you for days – you want to go back and have some more and then more. The kind you want to talk about, spread around the word about and write stories about.

Sinfully Spicy : Amritsari Tawa Macchi, Pan Fried Spicy Fish 003

Saying that the fried fish he made sold like hot pancakes would be an understatement. He ran out of the stuff within an hour or so of starting the trade.Wrapped in soiled pieces of newspaper, topped with thin onions rings seasoned with a generous dash of chaat masala and a lime wedge to squirt, the fried fish was better than the best I have ever had in my life.

Sinfully Spicy : Amritsari Tawa Macchi, Pan Fried Spicy Fish 004

Tawa translates to a skillet or heavy metal pan in Hindi and macchi is fish. Many regions in India have a version of pan or skillet fried fish, varying in the spices that coat the fish. While you will find coconut & tamarind in the southern & western states, in eastern states its the yellow mustard paste which is commonly used.I have the recipe which is more of north indian/amritsari/punjabi style. Lots of ginger, dried fenugreek leaves & garlic in the is what makes this recipe scrumptious, not to mention how mustard oil for frying is a must (well almost)!

Printable Recipe

An excellent crispy fish which can be served as an appetizer or main dish, serve up with green chutney or salad of choice.

You could make the ‘masala‘ from the recipe below and use it over any kind of fish you like.The recipe makes about 3/4 cup of the paste. I suggest not using a very watery fish else it will not crisp up. Instead of pan frying, you could deep fry or bake the fish.Whole pomfret or red snapper,round – belly fish steaks etc are good choices.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 fish fillets ( I used 3 mahi mahi fillets which weighed 1.2 lb total)
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup fine semolina (to coat for pan frying,depends on the size of fillets)
  • Mustard oil for pan frying (as required)
  • Chaat Masala ( to taste, optional)
  • Chopped Cilantro, lime wedges for serving

For the Masala (Spicy Coating)

  • 1 tbsp mustard oil (or any oil of choice)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 fat garlic cloves
  • 2″ fresh ginger shoot, chopped *
  • 2-3 Thai green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • 3/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 heaping tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • salt to taste

*The masala is quite gingery because I like it that way. You could adjust the ginger quantity as per your taste. 

Method

Using a paper towel, pat the fish fillets dry. Place them in a plate, squirt fresh lemon juice over the fillets, sprinkle salt and rub them with turmeric powder. Set aside for 20-25 mins.

Meanwhile heat up 1 tbsp mustard oil in a pan on medium heat , add chopped onions, garlic & ginger to it. Saute till the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes or so. Add the coriander seeds,turmeric, green chillies and kasuri methi to the pan and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Let the mixture cool a little bit and tip it into a blender. Add cilantro, besan & salt to taste and blend to a smooth masala (paste). Avoid adding water, you could add a little bit of lime juice if needed.

Rub this masala on the fish fillets. Place semolina in a wide plate and season with a generous pinch of salt.

In a heavy bottomed pan/skillet  (I use my cast iron), heat up mustard oil on medium. Nicely coat both sides of the marinated fish fillets with semolina. Pan-fry the fillets on low- medium heat turning both sides so that the crust is crisp and the fish is done. If you have a thick fish fillet you can finish it off in the oven. As soon as the fish is done, sprinkle chaat masala on the fillets.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with sautéed vegetables (like I did) or with some steamed rice.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Dum Aloo – Slow Cooked Spiced Potatoes

Sinfully Spicy Dum Aloo - Slow Cooked Spicy Potatoes001

I loved it when it was the potato harvest time at grandma’s house. Those few days when our maali ( gardener) pulled out the tubers from the soil, we were allowed to assist him. I remember that he used to water the garden a day before the D-day so that the plucking becomes easier. Next morning, exchanging chirpy conversations and knee-deep in the moist ground, we dug up aloo (potatoes) for hours. In the afternoon, just before lunch, mom gave us a bath in the house veranda, rubbing mud off our stained fingers, slathering petroleum jelly on them.

Sinfully Spicy - Dum Aloo, Spicy Potatoes002

It was then time to rub off the flaky, paper thin skin off the dug up potatoes. She would soak them in seasoned water for a while and then use a tooth-brush to clean. Just a simple tempering of cumin or fenugreek seeds in mustard oil did the trick.

For weekend brunch it was dum aloo & triangle parathas along with mint- coriander chutney. 

Sinfully Spicy Dum Aloo - Slow Cooked Spicy Potatoes003

I grew up eating dum aloo done with new baby potatoes. However, P does not like the taste of new potatoes. How weird? right? So, mostly I make it with the usual diced up white potatoes.Even though any kind will work here, for authentic taste, use new tots.

Sinfully Spicy Dum Aloo - Slow Cooked Spicy Potatoes004

In hindi ‘ dum‘ refers to slow cooking. Here potatoes are slow cooked with spices and yogurt to make for a scrumptious curry. You will find a lot of dum aloo recipes in India, differing from region to region.In my family, every aunt’s recipe is different from mom’s. But still, all very delicious and comforting , after potato is another name for comfort in the culinary world!

Sinfully Spicy Dum Aloo - Slow Cooked Spicy Potatoes005

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 4-5 medium size white or red potatoes, washed ( or about 1 lb baby potatoes)
  • 3 cups of warm water + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil ( or any oil)
  • 1 small tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
  • 1/2 ‘ dalchini stick (indian cinnamon)
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli ( or cayanne, adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder ( this lends the beautiful color)
  • 3 tbsp plain, slightly sour yogurt, beaten
  • 2-3 medium roma tomatoes, finely chopped ( about 3/4 cup)
  • 1″ fresh ginger shoot,minced
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup water (depending on desired gravy consistency)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro for garnish

Grind together

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 2-3 green cardamom
  • 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds

Method 

Cut up the potatoes in half and in a large bowl, soak them in salted warm (not hot) water for 8-10 minutes. After soaking up, drain the water, peel off the skin (you can skip this for baby potatoes) and quarter them if you like.Using a kitchen towel or paper towel, dry up the potatoes. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat up the oil on medium heat. If using mustard oil, heat it up till its smoky to do away the raw smell. Lower the heat once oil is hot. Wait for 1-2 minutes. Add the tejpatta and cinnamon stick to the oil. Let crackle for 20-30 seconds.

Add the sliced onions and potatoes to the oil. Also add the hing. On medium – low heat, stir around the potatoes and onions and cook for 5-7 minutes.You will see that the onions begin to soften. Next add the coarsely ground spices to the pot along with chilli powders and turmeric. Stir and continue cooking on low for another 3-5 minutes. Next, add the tomatoes, ginger & yogurt to the pot, stir everything and continue cooking on low heat. The potatoes will release their juices and you will see the gravy becoming watery, but do not worry.

After about 20-25 minutes ( this will depend on size and variety of potatoes, adjust accordingly), you will see that the potatoes have almost cooked, the gravy has a nice reddish color and thin oil bubbles have separated on the sides of the pot. At this point, add the water, sprinkle the garam maasala, cover the pot and let cook on low heat for another 8-10 minutes till the potatoes are totally cooked.

Let sit covered for at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

Notes-

  1. Please avoid using starchy variety like russet potatoes here.
  2. The cooking time depends on the quality and the size of cut of potatoes, you need to adjust.
  3. You can substitute the whole spices with ready to use store bought ground spices.
  4. Indian dalchini (cinnamon) is quite sharp in taste, if using the usual ones, you can go ahead and use the whole stick for a pronounced taste.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Namkeen Daliya -Savory Breakfast Oatmeal

Namkeen Daliya, Savory Breakfast Oatmeal001, Sinfully Spicy

I did not grow up eating sweet breakfasts. While a bowl of Mohan Meakins cornflakes soaked in honeyed hot milk was just for the weekends, buttered up parathas either stuffed with vegetables or rolled up with leftover curry from dinner were breakfast most of the week. The only sweet note to ours was that tall glass of cold, hand churned lassi which badi mummy (my grandma) prepared, sitting in the sun-lit veranda.

Namkeen Daliya, Savory Breakfast Oatmeal003, Sinfully Spicy

When she read too many health magazines, mom would make namkeen daliya for weeks. Refusing to eat it was not an option here, so after a while we adapted ourselves to relish it. That runny, warm daliya studded with vegetables was no less than a magic potion. Each day she added a different set of vegetables, lentils,nuts or beans but never forgot to top it off with a big dollop of ghee. It was her way of telling, I love you.

My mornings still start with a savory something and the sugar frenzy is reserved for the weekends.

Namkeen Daliya, Savory Breakfast Oatmeal002, Sinfully Spicy

 

‘Daliya‘ is hindi for dry or wet , sweet or savory porridge made with any kind of whole/broken grains - millet, wheat, oats, barley.

I was introduced to steel-cut oats few years back and was hooked instantly. In addition to the better nutritional facts, they were my foray into recreating recipes from childhood when I could not find indian style daliya. Steel cut oats, barley or bulgur wheat or any variety of robust grains is a better choice for this pilaf like recipe. I sometimes mix in buckwheat groats or quinoa too. If you want to use the indian style daliya, use the most coarse variety you can find.

Namkeen Daliya, Savory Breakfast Oatmeal005, Sinfully Spicy

This is an extremely delicious, diabetic friendly recipe since steel-cut oats have a far lower GI than the instant ones. The nutty oats with vibrant colored, crunchy vegetables lend it a rich texture and there could not be a better way to start your morning. Once made the oatmeal keeps good in the fridge for 1-2 days, either serve at room temperature or warm.

Wash it down with Indian Masala Chai or Indian Espresso Coffee. YUM!

Namkeen Daliya, Savory Breakfast Oatmeal004, Sinfully Spicy

Printable Recipe

Ingredients ( Serves 2-3)

  • 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
  • 2 tbsp quinoa
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • About 1.5 cup of water (or as required to cook the oats)

For the Oatmeal

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1-2 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 cup cauliflower florets, cut very small
  • 3/4 cup tomatoes, diced small
  • 1/2 cup cabbage, fine shredded
  • 1/4 cup bell peppers, cut into small batons
  • Cooked oats & quinoa (from above)
  • Fresh Lemon juice to taste
  • 1-2 tsp of ghee /butter on top – optional
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Optional – Any kind of nuts you like, raisins, dried apricots, dried berries etc for a sweet/crunchy note.

Method

One Night before

Lightly dry roast the oats & quinoa in a warm cast iron skillet on low to medium heat for 3-5 minutes till you smell a nice aroma. Set aside to cool down completely.

In a pressure cooker, tip in the roasted oats & quinoa along with water, salt and oil. Put on the lid and cook on medium heat till the first whistle blows off. Immediately switch off the heat and let sit to cool down. Do not stir the boiled oats till they are completely cold. Using a fork fluff them up, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate overnight.  You need cold, cooked oats for this recipe else everything will be a sticky mess.

You can also cook the oats & quinoa in a pot with a lid till they are thoroughly cooked and all the water is absorbed. Adjust time as required.

Tip – While the oats are cooking, you can cut up all the vegetable before hand so as to save more time in the morning.

Next Morning

In a wide, heavy bottomed pan, heat up the oil on medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and wait till they splutter. Add the peas and corn next, also add the ginger and chillies. Stir around for 1-2 minutes till they look shiny. Next, add the cauliflower, add a pinch of salt and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes till the florets soften a bit.

Add the tomatoes next, stir around and reduce the heat to low, cook for 2-3 minutes till the tomatoes soften and the skin starts separating , increase the heat to medium and add cabbage and bell peppers at this point and mix up everything. Cook for another 1-2 minutes till the vegetables soften a bit but retain the crunch.

Next, add the cold oats to the pan, lightly break up/fluff either using a fork or wooden spoon so as to combine with the veggies. Cook for not more than 1-2 minutes on low heat and switch off the stove. Add the lemon juice,roasted nuts etc and give it a final stir.

Before serving, add a dollop of ghee(optional) on top and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Vegetable Hakka Noodles

Vegetable Hakka Noodles02, SInfullySpicy

‘Lets find some other place to eat ‘, I muttered, annoyingly flipping the waxy pages of the menu before I decided I did not want to eat there. Barely few days after I came to the States, eating at a chinese restaurant which did not serve chicken manchurian or hakka noodles made little sense to me. Hurriedly grabbing the handbag I got up, blatantly asking him to hunt down the Chinatown for a place which serves decent chinese food.

Vegetable Hakka Noodles04, SInfullySpicy

Four year since, as much as I enjoy american-chinese at restaurants out here, when it comes to cooking at home, we settle for indo – chinese. Growing up, I fondly ate noodles  for sunday breakfast or evening snackage. My mom made them slightly greasy, soaking in sauce and tossed them with lots of colorful vegetables, sometimes she added shredded chicken, sometimes couple of runny eggs atop did the trick.

Ingredients, Vegetable Hakka Noodles, SInfullySpicy

Hakka noodles or Veg Chowmein is an extremely popular (indo-chinese) street food in India.Cooke with Chinese condiments and Indian spices, it is an addictive treat.I can picture many of you scratching your heads right now. The way noodles are cooked has nothing to do with cuisine of Hakka in China. It just derives its name from there.Thin noodles are tossed in a spicy sauce and served on their own or as a side.

What is it about these? the sauce? spices? or is it the union of cuisines?

Vegetable Hakka Noodles01, SInfullySpicy

Again, like with most indian cooking, there are no set rules regarding how these have to be made. No two recipes will be the same, everyone makes them the way they like it.On my recent trip to Delhi, I was flabbergasted to see ‘chef’s special’ hakka noodles tossed with cashew nuts and sherry soaked cherries. Now beat that imaginative cooking!

Vegetable Hakka Noodles04, SInfullySpicy

After I posted Gobi Manchurian a few months back, many of you asked what I usually serve it with (if not as an appetizer). Mostly I make hakka noodles alongside.

Printable Recipe

You can add or skip any vegetables in this recipe. Just make sure that the vegetables have similar cooking time and they are cut in almost (similar) sizes.

Ingredients (serves 2 -4)

  • 7 oz thin egg noodles (or any other of your choice)
  • Water for boiling the noodles + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp oil (for rubbing on boiled noodles, use any neutral oil)
  • 5 tbsp oil (use any neutral oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-2 thai green chillies , slit open, seeded(if you want)
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 1/4 cup scallions, white parts
  • 1 cup cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 medium carrot, finely cut into spears
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers (I have used a mix of colors)
  • 1/4 cup scallions (green parts)
  • Salt to taste

For the sauce

  • 1/2 tbsp tomato paste (or puree)
  • 1-1.5  tbsp dark soy sauce (depending on brand you can adjust the quantity, I use this brand)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1.5 tbsp white vinegar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder1
  • 1 tsp pure sesame oil ( optional but recomended for authentic taste)

Update : 01/14/2014 – I added about 1/4 tsp of black pepper powder ( reduced chili flakes to 1/4 tsp & few other changes) to hakka noodles yesterday & they tasted awesome! Maybe you want to try it if you make them. I m updating the recipe for these reasons because it was better.

Method

In a bowl, mix together the ingredients listed under the sauce and set aside for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles in salted water as per package instructions. Drain the noodles, rinse under cold water and rub with 1/2 tbsp oil.Set aside to cool down.

In a wok, heat up the oil on medium – high. Using your mortar & pestle, mince garlic, and green chillies together. Add to the oil and let cook for 5-8 seconds till you smell the aroma. Add the sliced onions, scallions (white parts) and green chillies to the wok and continue cooking till onions start to turn light brown on the edges. Add the sauce mix prepared above to the wok and cook on high for 2-4 minutes till the mixture thickens and gets shiny.

Next, add the cabbage, carrots, bell peppers to the wok and saute for 1-2 minutes(just so they get coated in the sauce but retain their crunch). Add boiled noodles to next along with green parts of the scallions. Toss everything together and check the seasoning,adjust salt if required.

Serve warm with gobi manchurian or chilli chicken/manchurian.

Notes:- I highly recommend letting the noodles sit for 30-40 minutes before you serve them. Warm them up slightly and add fried eggs, tofu to them. If adding a protein (chicken, shrimp), preferably add them cooked at the point when you add vegetables so that they get coated in sauce too.

Enjoy!

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