Dum Aloo – Slow Cooked Spiced Potatoes

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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!

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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

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‘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.

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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?

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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!

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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!

Punjabi Kadhi Pakora – Chickpea flour Fritters in a Spicy Yogurt Gravy (Glutenfree)

Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully SpicyOn those summer evenings, while we laid our folding beds in the veranda to prepare for a  sleepover under the starry sky, in the kitchen, potfuls of kadhi simmered on one of the stove tops, rice to go along with it on the other. After filling up the water koolers to the brink and in anticipation that maybe light (electricity) will come back later in the night, we waited for supper as the whole house smelled of  daintily spiced, turmeric loaded yogurt broth.

Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Depending on who cooked it, it would be sweet & tangy, thick or thin, spiced up or muted. My grandmother always divided the kadhi pot into two and added loads of sugar to one. Like many things, she was particular about the pakoras done right. Standing beside the sandstone countertop, her cotton saree tucked to the waist,she rigorously fluffed up cups of besan with water, stopping every few minutes to drop the batter into a katori filled with water, if  the batter drop rose to the surface, it was ready to fry up in the pungent smelling, hot mustard oil else more toil was needed. The pakoras came out perfect each time – gooey in the centre but retaining their shape in the warm broth. In those times, there were no stand mixers, hand beaters or french whisks but she had an out of the world devotion  to make delicious food for her family – fresh and filled with love.

Spices, Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Summers in northern parts of India are harsh, unlike the western parts, monsoon are mostly a cycle of few days of rain followed by dry spells for weeks. There were long power outages and at least once in a while the area transformers conked off, overworked. Kitchen was the last place anyone wanted to be in on such evenings. When nobody in the house was in a mood to cook, kadhi was made.It was a quick and easy dinner rescue.

Making Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Kadhi is basically a slightly sour, gluten-free yogurt based gravy which is thickened with chickpea flour. Fritters (pakoras) can be added to the broth or cut up vegetables (okra, spinach, aubergines) or sometimes it can served as it is.

These days, with a fussy, demanding little one around, I make kadhi quite more than often. It is an immensely satisfying meal. I like mine brothy, loaded with lots of cumin flavored ghee but this is optional. You can skip the garnish part from the recipe. Using pure mustard oil gives kadhi an authentic flavor, however any kind of oil can be used.

Kadhi Pakora – Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Printable Recipe

Note :- This recipe yields a soupy  kadhi, if you like yours thick, just add extra 1-2 tbsp of besan.

Ingredients(Serves 2-3)

For the Pakoras 

  • 3/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Enough water to make the batter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Mustard Oil for frying (or vegetable/canola oil)

For the Kadhi 

  • 1.5 cup plain whole milk yogurt, slightly sour
  • 7 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp crushed kasuri methi, (dried fenugreek leaves, give a great flavor but can be skipped if not available)
  • 2.5 – 3 cups water
  • 3 tbsp pure mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Generous pinch of hing powder
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (coarsely crushed)
  • 2 whole red chillies
  • Salt to taste

Note :- It is very important that the yogurt is sour when you make kadhi, else t will not taste good. You can leave the yogurt overnight at room temperature or inside the oven to let it sour.

Garnish

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 Thai green chillies , slit open, seeded if you want (optional, adjust to tolerance)

Method

Making the Pakoras

In a medium bowl, mix up besan, hing and turmeric powder.Slowly start adding water and with the help of a handheld beater or whisk, whip up to make a thick batter. Once properly whipped the batter will be fluffy and pale yellow. Add more or less water as needed to make a batter similar to how thick you would make for dipping hot dogs when making corn dogs.

Meanwhile, heat sufficient oil in a wok or deep fryer.When you see ripples on the oil surface,mix the salt with the batter and drop small portions (about 1/2 tbsp or so) of it into the fryer, either with a spoon or help of your fingers.Deep fry in small batches on medium heat till pakoras are golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

Note :- You can make pakoras as big or small as you like. Just note that these expand a little once added to the warm broth. Chopped onions, par boiled potatoes or any kind of herbs can be added to the batter for extra flavor.

Making the Kadhi

In a bowl, combine besan, yogurt,turmeric & red chilli  powder, kasuri methi (if using),salt to taste and water to make a lump free smooth mix. Let stand.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat mustard oil to smoking point.Remove from heat and let cool for around 1-2 minutes else spices will burn. Add cumin, fenugreek and coriander seeds along with hing & whole red chillies. Return to stove top. When spices begin to splutter and you smell the aroma, add minced ginger. Let cook for 10-15 seconds.

Next,remove the pot from stove again and slowly add the besan-yogurt mixture and mix thoroughly. Return to medium heat and let the kadhi come to a boil. Dont be tempted to rush this else kadhi will curdle. Once you see the kadhi starting to bubble, turn the heat to low and let the kadhi simmer for 10-15 minutes till it thickens and is rich yellow in color.Let sit till ready to serve.

When ready to serve, warm up the kadhi on medium till you see bubbles on the sides of the pot. Add the pakoras and let simmer (not boil) for about 5-8 minutes.

For Garnish

In a small saucepan, warm up the ghee and add cumin seeds to it, when they splutter, take away from the heat and add sliced green chillies.

Top up the kadhi- pakora with this cumin ghee just before serving along side rotis (flatbread) or steamed basmati rice.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Pasta in Creamy Bell Pepper Chutney Sauce

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I have been trying to write this post for the past few weeks, I type, erase & retype.I don’t know where to begin and how to put the last few months into words.Its been so exciting.

Me and P were blessed with our baby girl, Alisha, earlier this year. Spring had just started to reach and she came in on a lovely evening, the 14th of February. On Valentine’s day, when everything around was painted in red and the air was filled with love, I could not have thought of a better gift for him.

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Sounding really cliché here but she is the best thing that could ever happen to me. The essence of motherhood is slowly sinking in, its gets a wee strong each time I look at her. It’s a new memory each day, something unfamiliar to learn, some fresh expressions to click. Each day she seems a little bigger, a little cuter and a little heavier. It’s difficult to describe how infatuated I feel looking at her dimpled cheeks and toothless smiles. I just want to eat her up when she yawns and oh dare I talk about those baby sounds? Almost 5 months now,our little bunny started her semi solid foods few weeks back. Time really does fly.

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Pasta in Creamy Bell Pepper Chutney Sauce, Sinfully Spicy

Meanwhile, how have all of you been? I hope you did not miss me too much. Thanks for everyone who kept checking on me, for your love & best wishes.I missed being here.

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My mom & aunt were here with me since the beginning of the year and I hardly entered the kitchen.They came here for the first time since I left India and cooked up a storm.The meals they cooked made my pregnancy more special.It was so cheering to eat the same tasting food like my growing up years.Cooking with family always manages to engage me. Not only does it evoke comfort,it reminds me that family, cooking and memories are so closely interwoven in my life.

Anyhow, lets talk about it, it is the first ever pasta dish on the blog.It took me long to bring it to the table here on SinfullySpicy. Do not underestimate my love for it though. It’s just that pasta is something which rarely makes an appearance in my kitchen. And whenever it does, it is usually a fusion recipe with lot of indian things thrown in. If a meal involves pasta, it’s comforting for me. But the same doesn’t hold for P, who dislikes it with all his will. Weird, Right? In the most funny ways, he will go lengths to avoid eating it. Huh!

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I craved pasta every other day during my pregnancy. Lets just say that I got a good reason to cook it up during those months.And he  bowed. Needless to say, this recipe has stood the test of those cravings and  I need to admit that it took a few trials to make a spot on sauce, which by the way can be bottled up to last for few weeks in the fridge. This  sauce is sorta indian style bell pepper chutney.Once ready,a hearty meal is a matter of few minutes.

Pasta in Creamy Bell Pepper Chutney, Sinfully Spicy

Juicy, sweet red bell peppers are the star here. Sometimes,I add them raw,at times I grill  or char them to add a smoky hint to the sauce.You have the liberty to make it as you wish. May I also add that this chutney is as good as a spread on baguette slices or for dipping some chips in. Its tangy & spicy with hints of sweetness thrown in.Try it.

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

For the Bell Pepper Sauce (makes about 1.5 cup)

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 ” fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 large red bell peppers, washed, seeded, finely chopped
  • 3 medium Roma tomatoes, washed,finely chopped
  • 2  garlic cloves
  • 1 -2 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2-3 tbsp peanuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste

For the Pasta (Serves 2-3)

  • 2 cups whole wheat fusilli (or any pasta of choice)
  • Enough salted water for boiling the pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 whole garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped ( or 1/4 cup red onions)
  • Bell Pepper Sauce (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Any cut, blanched vegetables of choice (I used asparagus & broccoli, optional)
  • Any protein of choice(I used shredded chicken, optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Handful of Parmesan Shavings, Chopped Parsley to serve (optional)

Method

Making the Bell pepper sauce

  • In a medium sauce pan, heat the oil till you see ripples on the surface.Once the oil is hot,take off the pan from flame and add mustard seeds, cumin, ginger and chilies to it. Wait for 10 seconds and return the pan to the flame. Be careful while doing so since mustard seeds splutter a lot. Saute for about a minute or so till the seeds crackle and the chillies and ginger turn light brown but do not burn.
  • Next, add the garlic, chopped red bell pepper and tomatoes to the pan and saute for about 8-10 minutes on medium heat till soft but not mushy. Turn off heat and cool.
  • Tip the cooled pepper & tomato mixture to a blender or a food processor along with the peanuts, cilantro, sugar and salt. Blend to desired consistency ( smooth to chunky) to make a sauce. Set aside.

Making the Pasta

Cook the fusilli in salted water as per package instructions. Drain and set aside. Reserve about 1/2 to 3/4  cup of  cooking water .

In a heavy bottomed pan, add olive oil+ butter along with whole garlic clove and red chilli flakes. Cook on extremely low heat so that garlic & chilli flakes don’t burn but release flavor for about 3-5 minutes.

Continuing on low heat, add the chopped shallot and saute for 2-3 minutes till translucent. Pick up and discard the garlic clove at this point from the pan.

Add the prepared bell pepper chutney to the pan along with about 1/4 cup of reserved pasta cooking water and warm everything up on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low next and add heavy cream to the pan along with salt to taste and ground black pepper. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Next, add the cooked fusilli along with blanched vegetables and shredded protein (if using) to the pan. Toss everything together. At this point, you may add more of the reserved pasta cooking water (depending on how thick or thin you want the sauce). Remove from heat, check and adjust the seasoning.

Serve the pasta warm with a generous sprinkle of parmesan shavings and chopped parsley (if you like).

Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!

Mutton Meatball Soup

Indian Mutton Meatball Soup, Sinfully Spicy

Cold & rainy – the weather has been like this for few days. Although wanting to stay in bed all day with a novel & tea mug on the side, this afternoon, I yearned to walk outside the apartment. After a week of grey, the warmth of sun rays glistening through the rain drops still sticking on the window were calling me. I put on the boots and walked out, shivering, looking for a cozy corner. It was fiercely windy but sitting on the bench cornered as to block the gusts, the sun soaked me up. As the rays percolated through thick knits of my gloves, I felt a magical sense of rejuvenation and warmth.The clean feeling after the rains always draws me, the blue skies softly feathered with clouds, the biting humid air,wet cobbled pavements, the vivid green of fauna. ..It felt as if everything had been renewed, repainted on nature’s canvas ..all over again.

Mutton Meatball Soup, Sinfully Spicy

I walked back to the apartment, constantly admiring the crispness around me. Sun was fading behind the cloud cover, the dullness was getting an upper hand again. Stepping inside, I quietly settled myself in the kitchen, soup was the only thing on my mind. Whenever I have a desperate longing to nestle myself in a cozy blanket slurping on a steaming bowl of broth, this meatball soup is what I resort to. Not only is it comforting but intensely flavorful. I do not have big number of soup recipes in my repertoire but whatever handful are there, they are immensely satisfying. The only thing I am fussy about “my” kind of soups is that have to be clear & brothy.The thick, blended up, cream laden versions do not work for me.

Indian Spiced Mutton Meatball Soup, Sinfully Spicy

Dad always insists that this soup tastes better the next day. Amid cooking the meals to be eaten within in the next few hours, I saw mom mixing spices with the mince, pinching the meat, squeezing the balls, murmuring all the while about the non ending kitchen chores. Her kitchen was overly busy during winter evenings, soups were prefixed to regular meals, any one coming back from work or school wouldn’t settle without a bowl.

The soup preparation takes a little extra work, but since you will be making a pot full, it will last you for at least a day or two and yes dad is right, it tastes much best the next day. With a rolled chapati (indian flatbread) to dunk in, this can even make a super supper.

Mutton Meatball Soup

The recipe can be used with a variety of minced meats, I have tried it with mutton,lamb as well as chicken. Chicken balls cook the fastest and dry out if you don’t keep an eye, I personally did not prefer the taste much with lamb mince, the broth became too oily for our palate even after using a 80% lean mince, mutton worked the best- moist & most flavorful.

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

For the meatballs (Makes about 15 balls of the size shown)

  • 1 lb minced mutton (You can use minced lamb, chicken, pork or beef)
  • 3 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2″ fresh ginger shoot,finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1 medium whole egg

For the Soup

  • 1.5 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup onion paste (I add roughly chopped red onion to blender & make a smooth paste adding little or no water)
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste( I use microplane to quickly mince 2-3 cloves of garlic & fresh, peeled shoots of ginger)
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 1 small tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 tsp kashmiri mirch powder (or paprika, adjust to tolerance)
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes, pureed in a blender
  • 3 tbsp thick dahi (plain yogurt)
  • 3.5-4 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • Garnish – fresh cilantro leaves, fresh lemon juice (optional)

Method :-

In a bowl, place all the ingredients  for the meatballs. Using your fingers, lightly combine everything. Spread some oil on your palms and pinch balls of the mixture and line them on a plate. Cover with a cling film and refrigerate till ready to use.

Using a mortar & pestle or coffee grinder, coarsely grind black peppercorns, cloves, coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Set aside.In a wide-mouthed,pot (pot should be large enough so that all the meatballs can be placed in a single layer), on medium,heat oil to smoking point. Temper the oil with cinnamon stick & tejpatta. Wait for 10 seconds. Add the onion, garlic-ginger paste next, reduce heat to low,fry till you see it getting thick and changing color till the raw smell is gone,about 5-7 minutes.

Next, continuing on the low heat add the ground spices along with tomato puree, dahi and salt.Mix everything and fry for another 8-10 minutes or till you see oil separating on the sides of the pot. Add water next and on medium heat, check the seasoning and bring the broth to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat to low again and add the refrigerated meatballs into the simmering broth one by one. Cover the pot and let cook for 10-12 minutes.

Note:- I like meatballs  cooked through and hence the cooking time.You will need to adjust the time depending on how rare you like your meatballs or the tupe of mince meat used. To check whether the meatballs have cooked to your liking, after 5-7 minutes of simmering in the broth, using a fork take out one ball and cut into half. You will be able to decide on extra cooking time depending on how pink it is on the inside. 

Once done let sit covered for at least 1.5- 2 hours, undisturbed. Whenever ready to eat, reheat on low, discard the tejpatta & cinnamon stick, garnish with cilantro, squirt of fresh lemon juice and serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Mung Dal & Edamame Salad

Hope all of you had a lovely 4th of July. We took a little vacation to LA and Malibu.It was our first road trip ever & could not have been more fun.We spent a lot of time on beaches, sun bathing, chatting and eating fresh seafood. A visit to botanical gardens and theme park rounded off  the trip. All in all, LA was definitely a respite from the over the top hot weather in Vegas right now. Its 113 F/45 C as I type this :(

Breaking loose from almost a perfect vacation, our car refused to behave a couple of times in the middle of Mojave desert while driving back. Being 4th of July and with everything closed, we almost reached a point when we decided to stay over in nearby town for the night. However, thanks to few God sent personnel at gas stations,we managed way back home.

I normally don’t binge during vacations,still all the outside food makes me want to eat simple, clean meals for the days that follow. I came home wanting just that. This salad is my go to recipe for those days.

Yellow Mung lentils (dal) are de skinned whole mung bean and have a very mild taste. I have grown eating them in this dryish preparation either as a side with flat breads or mixed with ghee & rice as well as salad. Since yellow mung lentils are quick to cook, this salad can be fixed in no time.Once you cook the lentils, it’s just a matter of chopping the veggies and tossing everything together with lots of lemon juice. I added a handful of ready to eat edamame beans & there it was – a hearty, protein packed salad which is so light & summery. And yup..so healthy!

Did I tell you..this is my 150th post…kinda feels good :)

Lentils form a big part of indian cuisine – meals are far from complete without them – soups, fritters, flat breads, stews, patties…you will find them used in all ways imaginable. India being a vegetarian country, we get our daily protein dose from them. I cook lentils daily in some way or the other. P is more of a lentil soup person, I enjoy them either way.

I was introduced to edamame after I came to USA. I did not care for them much initially but knowing how good they are, now I try to include them in our diet as much as possible.I am still away from eating them all on their own but have found a perfect way to eat them this way – overshadowed by earthy taste of lentils & crunch of fresh vegetables – hardly making their presence felt.

There is no dressing as such in the salad. Just few squirts of fresh lemon juice, dash of salt & red pepper flakes do the trick. You can drizzle olive oil for added richness,if you like.Wrap up in a flatbread, fill a pita pocket or mix with leftover rice/quinoa, there are many ways to enjoy it.

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1/2 cup yellow mung dal, split
  • 2 cups water (for soaking)
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with any oil of choice)
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin)
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3- 4 tbsp water (for cooking)

For the salad

  • 1/4 cup each chopped red onion,cucumber, tomatoes (use any veggies of choice in any quantity you like)
  • 1/4 cup edamame (I used ready to eat, if using raw, see note in method)
  • 4-5 fresh mint/cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 green chillies, finely chopped
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh lime/lemon juice (or to taste)
  • Olive Oil (to drizzle)
  • salt to adjust

Method

Cooking Lentils – Thoroughly wash the mung lentils 2-3 times under stream of water. Soak the lentils in 2 cups of water for at least 2.5 -3 hours. Once soaked, drain out the soaking liquid. Set aside.

In a medium pot with lid, heat the oil on medium. Once you see ripples on the surface of the oil, reduce the heat to low. Temper the oil with jeera & hing. Wait for 10-15 seconds till the jeera crackles & you smell the aroma of hing. Add the minced ginger & turmeric powder next & saute for another 10 seconds.

Next, add the soaked lentils and salt to taste. Stir well to coat the lentils in the tempering. Add 3 tbsp of water to the pot and cover. Let cook on low heat for 8-12 minutes till the lentils are thoroughly cooked but retain their shape. You need to check 1-2 times in between to see that the lentils are not sticking to the pot bottom, if so, add a tbsp of water. Dont peek too much while the lentils cook, the idea is so steam them slowly on low heat.

Note :- If using fresh edamame beans, add them to the pot towards the last 3-4 minutes of cooking, so that they steam with the lentils.This will ensure that they remain green & crunchy. 

Once cooked, put the stove off and let the lentils sit covered for another 5-8 minutes till they cool down a bit. Fluff gently using a fork and let them cool off completely. At this point, if you want to make the salad later, you can refrigerate the lentils in air tight containers for 1-2 days. 

Assembling the Salad – In a medium blog, toss the cooled lentils & edamame with the chopped vegetables, mint, cilantro & green chillies. Squirt lemon juice, add red pepper flakes, olive oil (if using) and salt to taste. Combine well and serve at room temperature.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Beetroot Tikki


Root vegetables with a soothing,earthy taste are one of my favorite. I m not talking potatoes here – everybody likes them without a doubt. I want to point towards taro, sweet potatoes, turnips, radishes & ofcourse – beets. The array of colors and textures inspire me to try out different ways to enjoy them.When beets are involved, I normally start dreaming of all kinds of pink hued curries, especially my dad’s version.It takes me back to all those special meals he cooked.

I did not enjoy beets much in salads or slaws much, I have grown to enjoy them in many other ways. Being the only one at house who likes them, I have the freedom to mend & devise my own uncomplicated ways to cook them. After gulping down lots of juice glasses over the week (yup, at this age too, I dream of rosy cheeks (sigh)),I was left with a last batch of this pink bounty to be turned into these thin, crispy, pan-fried cutlets.

There is always a feeling of accomplishment & satisfaction when I am able to come up with ways to prepare vegetables without cooking them much.I dont think I can describe it.It just needs to be felt.The beets were overly sweet, I did not roast them.Finding a way to balance out the sweetness was when spices jumped into the picture. Inspired by the ever so popular potato tikkis – tangy chaat masala , green chillies, ginger, garlic & cilantro – I found myself  shaping these babies within few minutes. To start with, I was slightly nervous about the taste but after I tasted the mix, the excitement took over- for that first bite.

Tikki, a popular north indian snack is nothing but small patties or croquettes, deep or shallow fried. They are served with an assortment of chutneys, ketchup, yogurt or just as it is with hot steaming masala chai or coffee. .

These are vaguely sweetish, utterly moist to bite with semolina coating adding a texture.The intent was to keep the beet taste as unadulterated as possible. Serve these with green chutney as appetizers, over lettuce leaves to make a yummy salad or even slide them inside the buns to make a vegetarian burgers Overall, I think I will be making these a lot many times.

Printable Recipe

Makes 6-8 tikkis

Ingredients

  • 2 cup finely grated beetroot
  • 3/4 cup finely grated par boiled potatoes (substitute with leftover rice)
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 1″ fresh ginger shoot, minced
  • 2-3 Thai green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp chaat masala (to taste, chaat masala is a tangy spice blend available in indian stores or online)
  • 1/8 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp white poppy seeds
  • salt to taste
For Coating 
  • 2 tbsp semolina
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne)
For Pan Cooking 
2-3 tbsp canola/vegetable/olive oil (or as required for even cooking)

Method

Press grated beetroot between your palms to squeeze out as much juice as you can.

Tip in the squeezed beetroot along with all ingredients except salt into a large bowl & mix  lightly with a wooden spoon to combine everything.Dont overwork the mixture. Dont add the salt unless ready to cook.Refrigerate the mixture until then.

Mix the ingredients of the coating, tip into a shallow dish & set aside.

When ready to cook, heat up a heavy cast iron skillet/pan on medium. You don’t want the pan to be searing hot. While the pan heats up, combine the salt with the beetroot mix. Make small patties of the mix, about 2 inch diameter & 1/2 inch thick. Roll the patties in the semolina mix to cover both sides.

Lightly brush 1 tbsp oil on the heated pan. Place 2-3 patties on the pan and fry them on medium-low heat,adding 1 tsp oil at a time. Cook the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side, flipping gently with a spatula & flattening them with it slightly as they cook & turn brown.

Repeat till all patties are fried. Serve warm with green chutney, ketchup or salad greens.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Gobi Manchurian- Fried Cauliflower in Spicy Sauce

Indo Chinese cuisine is an exciting break from the everyday meals I make at home.It cuts the boredom of rolling flatbreads, boiling lentils & picking rice – the sizzling wok replaces the whistling pressure cooker. The kitchen suddenly beams with warmth of sesame oil, tang of vinegar and smoky soya sauce.The bliss is rounded off with the kick from indian spices like red chilli powder or garam masala- you have a marriage of cuisines.A cuisine which occupies an  emotional space in the heart of every Indian & which greets them with a promise of satisfaction. The concept may sound little weird to few but for me its indulgent & addictive – I am yet to meet an Indian who doesnt like it.

Talking about Indo Chinese I tend to travel back in time to ol’ college days – I fondly think of the little hangout near college – ‘ The Yak’.  A dimly lit room, walls adorned with red & gold cloth hangings and a seating capacity of just ten – the place eternally smelled smoky & was jam packed. I have lived so many of those silly yet cute occasions of college life there, particularly the sunday evenings  when the hostel mess was off. Right from exchanging those inquisitive glances when the love birds walked in as we snacked on vinegar soaked chillies to hideous gossips that followed over slurps of steaming thupka or taming chopsticks to behave, everything was so much fun.There were no contemporary interiors or ornate themed furniture, no uniformed waiters or elegant cutlery & serveware, I doubt there was an AC even – but it was one time of life with good friends & good food.

A widely popular vegetarian dish of the indo chinese genre, Gobi Machurian is nothing but batter fried cauliflower florets in a ‘Manchurian’ sauce. Do not confuse the origins of  ‘Manchurian’ sauce – it definitely has nothing to do with that region in South East Asia. Creatively masterminded by chinese who lived in eastern parts of  india for centuries, just imagine it to be an amber-colored, tangy and remotely sweet sauce with hints of indian spices. Indo chinese IS what it is due to typical indian condiments – I make it a point to use the indian brands for the authentic taste. However, you can confidently use your pantry to try this recipe.

You will find streets of India dotted with vendors selling robust Indo Chinese (sometimes better) than what we prepare in our homes. Just drop the calorie bug off your mind when you hit the streets though. From traditional chowmein, chicken lollipops, chilli noodles to chop suey –  everything has the essential indian tadka. It is difficult to resist the aroma emanating from their woks when garlic & ginger saute in turmeric hued seasme oil or when soya sauce simmers with generous pinches of garam masala. Even more mouth-watering is the way those carts look – neatly arranged rows of shredded vegetables, oiled noodles and odd colored sauce bottles – promising that everything is made FRESH!

Coming back to the recipe, manchurian sauce can be dry or wet – it’s totally your call. I prepare the consistency somewhere in between. It coats the cauliflower florets thoroughly but is not runny. Anything from deep-fried cauliflower, paneer (indian cheese), chicken strips, breaded tofu, shrimp or vegetable balls can be combined with this sauce to make lip smacking appetizers or main course. This dish cannot be made in advance, it tastes best when the cauliflower is crispy (freshly fried).

Printable Recipe

Ingredients Serves 2-3

For the Gobi Fritters

  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Serrano chilli, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 fat garlic pods, minced
  • 1 tsp dark soya sauce (I use Ching’s brand)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup water (or as required to make the batter)
  • Canola Oil for frying (or vegetable oil)

For the Manchurian Sauce

  • 2 tsp dark soya sauce (I use Ching’s brand)
  • 4 tbsp chilli- tomato sauce (I use Maggi Hot & sweet)
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp cornstarch +4 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp pure sesame oil
  • 2 tsp ginger, chopped
  • 3 garlic pods, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, white parts
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1.5 tbsp white vinegar (or to taste)
  • For Garnish – chopped scallions(green parts)

Method 

Making Cauliflower Fritters 

Cut the cauliflower florets into halves or quarters. Wash thoroughly under running water & let the water drain.

Meanwhile, in your fryer let the oil heat up. In a bowl, throughly mix all the ingredients listed to make a smooth batter . Dip the gobi florets in the paste and deep fry on low-medium heat till golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Set aside. (Tip :- Let the fritters stay warm in the oven while you make the sauce)

Note – I do not boil the cauliflower before frying. Do not fry the florets on very high heat else they will be raw from inside.

Making the Manchurian Sauce

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

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

Next, taste & adjust the salt in the sauce. Sprinkle the garam masala & vinegar to the wok and stir everything well.Remove from heat and add the fried cauliflower to the pan & (very gently ) toss so that the florets are evenly coated. Dont stir too much with spoon at this point, else cauliflower gets mushy.

Garnish with chopped green scallions & serve immediately.

Notes :-

  1. Substitute dark soya sauce with tamari.
  2. Adding tomato – chilli sauce adds extra heat, you can substitute with plain tomato ketchup of choice.

Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!

Jal Jeera – Indian Tamarind & Cumin Cooler

Whats your favorite beverage? I m not much of a beverage person, but am always up for a glass of water – slightly warm during winters & at room temperature during summers.Other than that, fresh fruit & vegetable juices as well as a couple of homemade ones make it to my list.I distance myself from store-bought beverages, unconsciously.

P doesnt care much – his HUMONGOUS liking for beverages is oblivious of the concept of homemade or store bought.The need to quench the thirst comes above all the calorie counting that I do. At times, it makes me think that men have evolved to be way carefree than women in few regards.Anyhow.

As I write this, our refrigerator is stocked with all sorts of flavored lemonades, coconut water, mango nectar, soda cans & weird-looking smoothies. I m not joking. This is pretty much the same all round the year – he drinks more than he eats – I seldom tell him. Needless to say refrigerator space is one eternal bone of contention between me and P.

Jal Jeera is an essential indian summer beverage, served as an appetizer or as an accompaniment with meals.You will find a lot of street vendors serving chilled jal jeera stored in earthern pots sitting atop their decorated carts in India. It would not be inappropriate to say that Jal Jeera is another show stopper from food & drink paradise which adorns indian streets. I just can’t imagine rounding up summers without it.

A crisp concoction of tamarind water (jal) & cumin (jeera) flavored with mint, black salt, chillies & ginger. Each ingredient plays a role – tamarind & mint have cooling properties, cumin & black salt aid in digestion & chillies provide the essential indian kick. Many people use fresh lemon juice instead of tamarind pulp in their preparation and skip sugar. I like to mix spicy, sour, sweet in the version I prepare at home.

Indian Tamarind is quite sharp & fibrous in taste as compared to the Thai variety. You need to soak it for few hours in water & mash to separate seeds & fibre to extract the pulp. Now a days – readymade tamarind paste is also available in indian stores. Quite  tangy & smoky in taste, jal jeera is usually topped with boondi – puffed, crispy chickpea flour balls (available in indian stores) & crushed ice.

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 6-8 Servings)

  • 1 cup tamarind pulp (see notes)
  • 2 tbsp roasted jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 18-20 fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp kala namak (black salt, substitute with table salt)
  • 1 serrano chilli (de- seeded , if desired)
  • 2 tsp red chilli flakes (adjust to tolerance)
  • 3″ fresh ginger shoot, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 5 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Table salt (to adjust)
  • 5 cups water, cold
  • To Garnish – crushed ice, boondi, mint leaves (optional)

Method :-

Tip everything except table salt & 5 cups of water into your blender. Blend for 2-3 minutes until you get a smooth but runny paste. Place a colander over a large bowl & sieve the paste through it. Note – I sieve the paste a couple of times to obtain a clear(er) drink. Place the collected paste into a jug, top with 5 cups of water. Adjust the salt.Chill till ready to serve.

Before serving, stir thoroughly, pour into glasses, garnish & serve.

Jal Jeera keeps fresh for 3-4 days, refrigerated. It can also be served as pani for indian street food- pani puri. 

Notes :-

  1. To see how to extract tamarind pulp at home, click here.
  2. Store bought tamarind paste can also be used in this recipe. The paste is more concentrated and way salty compared to home extracted version.Adjust the quantity to your liking.
  3. You can substitute tamarind pulp with lemon juice. The taste differs from traditional recipe but still good.
  4. Place cumin seeds in a sauce pan and roast over medium heat.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.

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