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.

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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!

Kadhai Paneer & Triangle Paratha (Flatbread)

Thousands of miles away, when you cook food which you ate back home – on family picnics, long drives, with friends, at birthdays parties & weddings, there is a certain sense of overwhelm which grasps me.Does it happens to you too? – tastes which remind you of good times spent.One such memory is eating at dhabas in and around Delhi.Dhaba is indian equivalent of a diner, very popular amongst drivers and long distance travellers for quick & inexpensive food.If you ask me the best places to eat in Delhi, I will recommend most of the dhabas on the outskirts of the city and some in Old & central areas.

The typical setting of a dhaba is not fancy,very basic, you might or might not get cutlery or tissue paper, but you are sure to find food made with love and bursting with authentic flavors.Mostly you would be eating on reusable stainless steel plates, you may get mineral water,there might be mosquitos during summers and monsoons [grin],AC is out of question,if it’s a popular place – you ll get chairs else enjoy seating on a cot & don’t shy away from humming old hindi film songs playing on the radio…the food is glorious,the atmosphere – intoxicating! When my dad used to work outside Delhi, most of our summer vacations were spent on road trips. I remember that we used to plan our visits such that we can have dinner at our favorite dhabas which dotted the interconnecting highways.As I write this, my mouth is already watering at the thought of food served - dal makhani [ lentils], palak paneer [ spinach & cheese curry],  kadhai chicken served along with hot& fluffy butter dunked tandoori rotis [flatbreads] straight out the the clay oven, jeera [cumin] rice & a BIG glass of lassi or chaas [ salty buttermilk] during summers or masala chai during winters.Here you don’t kill yourself over worrying about calories or hygiene, its the zesty experience which matters!! The recipe in this post is one which you will find at almost every dhaba in north india – trust me the very mention still stirs the emotions of best family times :)

“Kadhai” is an indian wok.It is one of the most indispensable utensil in an Indian kitchen..be it for making quick stir fry, curries, shallow or deep-frying or simmering stews.Its shallow & less heavy as compared to dutch ovens and something I just can’t imagine my without.A dish which is made start to finish in a “kadhai” gets its name from there & is Indian answer to a stir fry. However, you do not compulsorily need a kadhai to make this recipe :) The point to keep in mind is that since it’s a quick cooking method, you can make a kadhai with almost anything under the sun.The recipe is very simple, you can prepare & store the kadhai sauce in advance & add whatever you wish to it- from chicken to cauliflower to fish to vegetable medley .Today I chose paneer [Indian Cottage Cheese] which is the most popular of all kadhai preparations in northen India. A typical addition to any kadhai is lots of bell peppers – of all colors, choose any you like.The dish is bursting with indian flavors, mostly made semi dry, is really one of the most colorful curries around & is really simple to whip up.

Although kadhai tastes awesome with naan bread, tandoori roti or even rice, in my home we are used to eating it with tawa parathas or skillet cooked flatbreads.Since childhood , I have known parathas in this triangle shape right from dinner plate to lunch box.Infact my granny was very particular about how neat a triangle you are able to roll out.I hope my pictures of the steps will help you in that regard :) This triangle paratha has layers , is soft & flaky coz its brushed with oil/ghee inside – I can have few of these straight from the skillet on its own- Love the aroma of steam which escapes when you bite the layers. You can add chopped chillies, herbs, spices etc to make your own variations.

Below are both the recipe :-

Printable Recipe

Kadhai Paneer

Ingredients:- [Serves 2-3]

[ You can replace the paneer with any boneless meat or vegetable of choice]

  • 1 lb / 1.5 kg Paneer,cubed or cut in strips  [ Indian Cottage Cheese available in all indian stores, recommended brand "Nanak" or can be made at home.You can refer this recipe for homemade version]
  • 1 tbsp canola/corn/vegetable oil
  • 1 medium-sized each of red & green bell peppers, seeded [ Cut in strips or diced]
  • 1/2 cup onions, thick sliced [ optional]
  • Salt to taste [ if required]
  • Fresh chopped Cilantro for garnish
  • Fresh lime juice
Basic Kadhai Sauce Ingredients [ Can be made fresh or well in advance.For storing, put in dry-air tight containers & freeze.Thaw 1-2 hours before you need]
  • 1/3 cup mustard/canola/corn//vegetable olive oil
  • 3/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 3-4 fresh tomatoes [ any variety which is slightly sour, chopped fine to yield 1 cup]
  • 1.5 tbsp coriander seeds, coarsely ground with mortar pestle or in coffee grinder
  • 7 dry red chillies, coarsely ground with mortar pestle or in coffee grinder [adjust to taste]
  • 3 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp brown sugar [ adjust to taste, do not skip]
  • 2 tsp kasuri methi crushed with hand [ dried fenugreek leaves,do not skip, makes all the difference in the taste, available in all indian stores under "Peacock" brand]
  • 2 tsp salt

Method:-
Make the kadhai Sauce:- [ Makes about 2.5- 3 cups] 
  • In a kadhai or any heavy bottomed cooking pot, heat the oil on high heat.Once the oil is smoking, reduce the heat to medium.If using mustard oil, it is important to cook it to smoky point at the start of cooking to do away with the raw smell.
  • Add the chopped onions and cook on medium heat till golden brown in color.
  • Next,add the grated garlic & ginger and saute for about 2 minutes till you smell the aroma.Next add the chopped tomatoes,coarsely ground coriander & red chillies,green chillies,turmeric and cook on medium heat till you see oil separating at the sides of the pot.About 5-8 minutes.
  • At this point add the kasuri methi, garam masala, salt & brown sugar,stir well cook for 5 minutes more on medium heat.
  • Above is the basic kadhai sauce, if you want to store it for later use, let it come to room temperature and refrigerate for using within 3-4 days or freeze up to a month.
  • Making Kadhai Paneer :- For the stir fry, on high heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadhai or a cooking pot.Add the diced bell peppers & onion slices [ if using] to the oil and saute for 3-4 minutes.This saute time depends on how tender you like the veggies. Next, add the paneer and saute for another 1 minute till paneer sarts to become light brown.Be careful while stirring after you have added paneer because it softens quickly & crumbles easily in heat. Add the sauce and mix well.Check the seasoning and let simmer for 2-3 minutes till everything is heated well.
  • Remove from heat,squirt some fresh lime juice & sprinkle chopped cilantro.Serve warm with parathas [ recipe below] & a salad.

Tawa Paratha
Ingredients  [Makes 6-8 parathas]
  • 2.5 cups whole wheat flour [atta]
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water [ Adjust as required, See notes in the method below]
  • 1/4 tsp Nigella/cumin/ carom seeds [ Totally optional but these give a nice flavor, substitute with any spices or finely chopped herbs you like]
  • 2 tbsp ghee [clarified butter]/ canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup flour for dusting
  • Ghee/Canola Oil for skillet cooking
Method:-
  • In a large bowl, add the flour,salt,nigella & carom seeds and oil.Rub well with your palms & fingers to mix properly. Note:-You can do the same thing in food processor with the flour- knead attachment. Pulse 8-10 times to mix everything.
  • Start with 1/4 cup if water whether kneading by hand or food processor.Slowly mix the water in the flour and keep on kneading softly.Note:- Different brands of flour need different quantities of water.Refer package instructions or eyeball the water quantity.Keep on adding water slowly & knead to make a smooth & pliable dough. Once done, cover the dough with a damp cloth or cling film and let rest for 20 minutes.

  • Divide the rested dough into equal portions and roll between your palms to make smooth balls.Let the balls sit covered while you roll them.
  • On medium heat, put a tawa/griddle/cast iron skillet/non stick pan to heat up.
  • While the tawa is heating, flatten out a single ball on a flour-dusted surface. Sprinkle some flour on top of the ball.Using a rolling-pin, roll the ball into a circle 2.5″ in diameter. Brush a little ghee/oil on the rolled out circle.After brushing the ghee, fold into a semi-circle.

  • Brush the ghee on the semi-circle and fold again to form a triangle.Sprinkle the top with more flour and carefully with the help of rolling-pin, roll out until its 1/8″ thick. Note: While you are rolling out, you will need to flip over, dust flour etc and be gentle to keep the shape intact.

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

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

  • Though these parathas are best enjoyed straight from griddle to plate, store covered until ready to serve.

  • You can enjoy them with a curry, pickle or dollop of butter.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.

Reshmi Chicken Kebab Rolls

 

Ingredients [Makes 6 kebabs]

  • 1 lb minced chicken
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 Thai green chillies
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt to taste

Spice Mix [Dry Roast the below spices and coarsely grind] {Any spice can be increased or decreased to suit your liking}

  • 3 dry red chillies [adjust to taste]
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

For the Rolls :

  • 6 medium size tortilla
  • 1 cup assorted vegetables-I used onions,green peppers & carrots [You can saute the vegetables in 1 tsp of oil and season them with salt and black pepper if you want]
  • 1 lemon
  • Mint & Coriander Chutney

How I did it:

For the kebabs: In a bowl, tip in the almonds with enough water to soak them and micro on high for 2 minutes.Once cooled, peel off the skin and grind them with cream and green chillies to a smooth and thick paste.Mix this paste along with 2 tbsp of spice mix and rest of the ingredients with the minced chicken.Skew the chicken mix on bamboo or metal skewers and refrigerate these kebabs for atleast 30 minutes. [If you want u can add an egg for added moisture and binding].My chicken mince already looked fatty.

To Cook the Kebabs: You can grill the skewered kebabs.I cook them in a pan with 2 tbsp of oil, flipping them sideways to cook on all sides.Once cooked set aside.

For the Mint & Cilantro [green]Chutney: In a blender, tip in 1 cup of cilantro with 1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves, 2 Thai green chillies, 1 fat garlic clove [optional],salt to taste and blend to a smooth paste. Mix in 2 tbsp of plain sour yogurt or lemon juice for added punch.

Assembling the Rolls: Take a tortilla and warm it on a skillet for 2 minutes.Spread the green chutney on the tortilla.Put the chicken kebab on it along with vegetable julians .Squirt some fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and roll up.Serve with Ketchup and Green Chutney.

Notes:

  1. The same marination can be used for making reshmi tikkas with chicken cubes instead of kebabs.
  2. You can  make egg rolls from my previous post and stuff them with these reshmi kebabs instead as a variation.

Enjoy!

Sending this to “Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryRouxbe and ManPans.”

Sending this to Hearth n Soul #33

Chicken Tikka Masala,Paneer-Onion Kulcha & Cumin Rice

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Chicken Tikka Masala [Adapted from bbcgoodfood]

Ingredients: For the tikka

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1 tsp fresh root ginger,grated
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder [adjust to taste]
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp each of ground nutmeg & cinnamon
  • 1/2  cup thick plain hung yogurt
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

For the Masala

  • 3 tbsp melted ghee [clarified butter] or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomato puree [or canned tomatoes]
  • 1″  fresh ginger root, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 dry red chillies
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 green cardamoms cracked open
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground coriander powder
  • 2 tsp dry fenugreek leaves [kasuri methi]
  • 2 tbsp chilli powder [adjust to taste]
  • 4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • Salt to taste

How I did it

  • Mix together the chicken along with all the ingredients below the “tikka”  in a large, non-metallic dish. Cover with a cling film and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours or overnight preferably.
  • Making the Tikka : Remove the chicken from the marinade and thread on wooden skewers.Dont discard the marinade.You can use your oven, broiler or grill to cook the chicken.I used my grill pan over stove top.Cook the chicken cubes turning frequently, for 5-8 minutes until tender. Reserve the drippings. TIP: If using wooden skewers, you need to soak them in water for atleast 1 hour to avoid them burning over the grill or in oven.

  • Making the Masala:Heat the ghee or canola oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the bay leaves,cloves,cardamoms and dry red chillies to the ghee when heated.Next add the ginger & garlic and fry over a low heat, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes until soft but not browned. Next add the tomato puree along with all the red chilli and coriander powder and saute on low heat till you see oil separating on the sides of the pan.
  • At this point add the chicken pieces from the skewers,garam masala, kasuri methi,water, leftover marinade,salt and drippings to the pan and let simmer for atleast 15 minutes on low heat.
  • Next, add the sugar & heavy cream and let simmer[not boil] on low heat for at least 8-10 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro & serve.

Onion Kulcha

For the Kulcha:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder [use aluminium free]
  • pinch of baking Soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk [or as required for kneading the dough]
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter [or canola oil] [Butter gives great flavor]

For the Stuffing:

  • 4 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green chill, thinly sliced [adjust to taste]
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp fine chopped cilantro
  • 3/4 cup fine crumbled/grated paneer [Easily Available in Indian stores]
  • a pinch salt [take care to check the salt in dough first]

How I did it :

  • Place all the dry ingredients for the dough in a bowl and combine well.
  • Next add the melted unsalted butter and work it into the dough for about 5 minutes.
  • Knead the dough slowly adding buttermilk to a smooth ball.
  • Let it rest for at least 1 hour.
  • Mix all the ingredients for the stuffing and set aside.Do not add salt to the stuffing until you are about to make kulchas.It will become watery.
  • Making the Kulchas:Take a small ball of the dough and using a rolling-pin roll into a small circle. Make a smaller ball of the stuffing and put it on top of the dough circle and enclose the dough and pinch it. Flour the rolling-pin and the surface on which you will roll the ball thoroughly.Put the dough ball on the surface and press it down slightly.

  • Roll the ball gently to about a 6″ circle and 1/4″ thick.Do not apply too much pressure while rolling else the stuffing will come out.

  • Place the rolled kulcha on a medium hot greased girddle/skillet.Let it cook on one side.Flip & apply little oil on both sides to cook thoroughly.
  • In the Oven: Set your oven to the broiler mode.When hot,lay the kulcha brushed with little oil on back of your cookie sheet, pizza stone or any flat baking dish.Put it below the broiler.Within 5-6 minutes, you will see small puffs on the surface of kulcha with little browing from sides inwards.This time of puffing will vary w.r.t. thickness of kulcha.
  • Serve warm smothered with butter alongwith chicken tikka masala

Cumin/Jeera Rice


Ingredients

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 1/4 cups water [or as per package instructions]
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp ghee/unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds

Cook the washed basmati rice with the salted water.Let rest for 5 minutes.In a sauce pan, heat the ghee or unsalted butter and let the cumin seeds crackle in it.Mix the cumin ghee with cooked rice, fluffing the rice up with a fork.Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Murg Malai Tikka/Skewered Creamy Chicken Tikka Kebabs

It was yet another Friday evening.The raindrops rattled against the glass window fiercely! It was cold, wet and windy. The tall eucalyptus trees in the park visible across the window besides the dressing table swayed ghastly in all directions. It was beautiful but while sitting by the side of  the window sipping tea, she somehow felt that GOD was sad and he cried!

As soon as the office got over today and she boarded the company bus from Gurgaon, she had decided that she won’t cook today unlike other weekends. Saturdays were when they ate out mostly! But the weather made her lazy and look away all her enthusiasm for cooking today!

After sipping the tea till the last drop, it was time to choose the restaurant from which the she’ll order the food. She had this fascination of collecting the restaurant menus and freebie coupons, which came stapled with the Times of India. She liked keeping her collection of restaurant menus pinned together in a small drawer by the side of the dressing table and on few lazy afternoons, lying on the bed on her stomach, she gazed and flipped through them,compared the prices and thought of ordering from all of them some day ……only to get up half an hour later to cook.But today she had made up her mind!

Hello, Sameer Restaurant, boliye [please tell me] ” the voice cracked from the other side.

Bhaiya, khana order karna tha, aap likh lo, kitni der mein deliver karenge?” she asked [I wanted to order something, how long will it take to deliver?]

haan ji madam, address boliye” [okay madam, please tell me the address]

accha bhaiya, 1 tandoori chicken, 4 rumali roti , 1 dal makhani aur haan pyaz zaroor de dena…fresh to kata hua hoga naa?” [I have to order 1 tandoori chicken, 4 flatbreads , 1 plate buttered lentils and yes gimme some onions too,they’ll be fresh ?]

theek hai madam, par thoda time lagega, aaj mausam kharaab hai,barish se bhatti mein paani chala gaya to koyala sulgaane mein time lagega” [okay madam, but it will take time, today the weather ain't good, all coal of the grill got wet with rain water during the day, it will take some time to get hot]

“aur phir jumma bhi hai, kai ladke aadhe din mein hi chale gaye par main 8 baje tak phauncha doonga” [Its Friday too and few of the workers have left in half day, I ll try to deliver by 8 o'clock]

par bhaiya abhi to 6:30 baje hain , aur aapka restaurant to pass mein hi hai, zara jaldi karva do naa please” [but, its only 6 :30 p.m & your restaurant is nearby, try to get it early]

theek hai madam, koshish karenge” [okay madam, I ll try]

accha , theek hai, thank you” she put the phone down. [thats's fine,thanks]

She choked back the drawer with the menu cards and the wait started amidst the weekend chores of the house.Laundry had to be done, nail polish had to be changed,new bed sheets had to be laid, bonsai to be trimmed ,bank account alerts to be set up for the bill payments,hair to be oiled, couch to be vaccumed, bamboo plant to be watered, etc etc etc. She tried to finish as much as possible before P returned from office which was usually quite late on Fridays so that the next two days are relaxed. Today she had more time because dinner was being delivered. Between doing all her work , her eyes innately checked the time on the clock every 15 minutes.It was already 7:55 and there was no sign of delivery!!!

haan ji bhaiya, maine order diya tha 1 ghante pehle , kya hua, aapne bheja kya?” she enquired [I had ordered 1 hour before,is your guy on the way?]

oh oh madam ji,aapka order bilkul tayyar tha, ladka nikalne hi vala tha par yahan restaurant mein ek dum se dinner ke liye bheed ho gayi to thoda aur time lagega” [oh madam, your order is ready, the guy was just about to start but the restaurant suddenly had a lot of rush for dinner,so it will take some more time!]

kya bhaiya…ye to galat hai, maine to aapko kaafi der pehle bola tha, main bhi paise de kar hi mangva rahi hoon” she irked [what is this nonsense? that's horrible , I ordered long before and I m paying you for the food too"]

madam ji ,agar aapko itni jaldi hai to khud aakar collect kar lo naa, mujhe bhi to apni dukaan chalani hai, yahan customers mere sar par khade hai restaurant mein , abhi time lagega” [madam, if you are in so much hurry , come & collect your order, all these customers are troubling me & waiting outside the restaurant, I also have to run my business"

"apna khaana apne pass rakho,mujhe nahi chahiye"she banged the phone [keep your food with yourself, I don't want it]

She looked at the clock, it was 8:15.Totally irritated by the phone call, she gave up the idea of ordering from outside.Coming back to square one… “Now, I ll make something good on my own”..she thought.”But what?”…she opened the refrigerator …had some boring veggies in the fridge.First she thought of making some parathas [stuffed flatbreads]…but it a was a very tasteless idea as compared to tandoori chicken and  rumali roti.Thinking about the long marination time of tandoori chicken , she had to give it up but there must be an equally tasty substitue…she uttered in her mind. She knew that P wont be back untill 10:30 so she had some time on her hand.

She took out her umbrella, put on her sandals,grasped her purse and took out the car keys.The rain had become slow but the roads were dark,watery and lonesome.The shopkeepers were closing down the shutters and the chai vallas[tea vendors] made brisk business in this weather.

She stopped the car in front of the “Punjab Meat Shop“.Against all hope she peeked from the window to find that they were still open.Somehow, she hated going to the butcher shop…it was P’s job every time they cooked non vegetarian in the house.She hated the sight of all sorts of raw meat piled high around coupled with the dampness in the air.She found all the eyes inside the butcher’s shop piercing her and feared the rawness of the place.But today she had no option!

She entered the shop sheepishly.A strong sniff of rose infused incense hit her nostrils and some qawwali from an old Bollywood movie tingled in her ears.The shop was filled with the smoke of the incense.Just to the right of the entry was the semi-cooked section with all kinds of marinated meats and flatbreads stocked up for lazy cutomers.She hated this semi cooked stuff. It tasted filth! Towards the left was the money counter on which a fat ,half bald middle-aged man sat, updating his daily news reading a newspaper.A photo of some holy shrine hung on the wall above his head next to a dark green cloth with something written in Urdu.The incense was lit in front of the photo.By the side of it, an old mullaji was sitting with a big slotted knife in his hand, a pair of spectacles below his wrinkled forehead and two big heaps of raw mutton and chicken next to him.She wondered what would be motivating mullaji to come to work everyday for years? Mullaji also had a helper, a teenager boy wearing a ganji [vest] and faded jeans, oily hair, surma [kohl]in his eyes and a big taweez [talisman]tied in a black thread around his neck.Looking at the boy she could not help but notice that the dreams in his eyes were different from what he was up to at this point in his life! The place always had a slight depressing feel and the inside was dingy , a typical of a street side local butcher’s shop. Today the humid weather had worsened the rawness inside the shop more!

Mullaji , aadha kilo boneless chicken chahiyeshe said [Mullaji, I want 1/2 kg boneless chicken]

Madam, coupon le lo main abhi banata hoon.seene ke pass ka chahiye ya taang ke paas ka?” mullaji enquired and shouted at the helper [Madam, take the coupon I ll carve it for you...which part do you want? breast or thigh?]

mullaji, acchi quality honi chahiye bas ” [mullaji , it should be good quality that's it]

zaroor madam, hum aapko asli maal hi denge” mullaji smiled and she saw the beetle stained teeth. [I 'll give you genuine stuff only!]

Hurriedly she gave a 100 rupee note to the middle-aged man ,snatched the change and left the shop feeling queasy! She got dinner to be prepared ahead.Once back to the air-conditioned apartment with stylish artifacts and contemporary murals she never felt so much in love with her home ever.

She marinated the chicken pieces in cream, separated the tiny stones from the lentils,kneaded the dough for the roti, chopped the onions and veggies for the sald and while she prepared all these she could not take away her mind from the blank eyes of the mullaji’s helper …maybe an ambtious young guy forced to do this work for few pennies and food thrown at him at the end of the day or maybe he was mullaji‘s son and just accompained him for work or maybe he enjoyed it…her mind won’t stop asking questions and then answering them the next moment! Her chain of thoughts broke when the door bell rang.

The dinner was done by the time P rang the door bell. The food was ready to be relished!

..

..

….

“A busy day in office???”

“Oh ya, extremely….” P answered

“hmmmm…”

“How abt you?”P inquired

“Mine was ok!”

“hmmmm…”

“Did you know I wanted to order food from outside today but…”

“Oh, that’s what I was thinking ,the food doesn’t look like home-cooked ,this  murgh malai tikka  & dal fry look and taste like a restaurant! Good that you took a break today and relaxed in this beautiful weather” P interrupted her !!!!

She spent the rest of the night counting the drops dripping on the collecting pan below the air conditioner !! Its been a long day!

…….

…………

Till date, whenever I make tandoori chicken, I am reminded of the friday delivery went wrong,the events that followed and this murgh malai tikka still embarrasses P to death & makes us share a light moment :)

Murgh means chicken[bone in or boneless], Malai means cream in Hindi.This chicken appetizer is basically boneless chicken marinated in cream and spices , skewered and then cooked in a clay oven (tandoor), grill or broiler.It differs from tandoori chicken in a way that for tandoori chicken, the meat is marinated in yogurt. Below is the recipe:

What I needed:

  • 1 lb  boneless chicken breast , cubed
  • Sliced onions, tomatoes, lemon wedges, cilantro for garnish
  • Butter/oil for brushing

For the marinade

  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp sour cream (optional)
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp dry cumin powder
  • 1 tsp dry coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 1.5 tbsp black pepper powder [adjust to taste]
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1 tsp fresh mozzarella/cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp kasuri methi [dried fenugreek leaves, available in Indian grocery stores]
  • 2-3 drops orange food color [optional]
  • kosher salt to taste

How I did it:

  • Wash the chicken cubes thoroughly & pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least 1 hour.
  • Apply a mixture of one tablespoon lemon juice and salt over the chicken cubes and set aside for half an hour in a refrigerator.
  • In a bowl combine rest of the marinade ingredients and mix well to remove any lumps.
  • Rub this marinade on the chicken cubes .Transfer  the chicken pieces and marinade in a bowl ,cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and marinate overnight for at least 1-2 hours in a refrigerator.
  • You can use any one of the following for cooking the chicken :
  1. This is what I do: Preheat the oven at 450 F broiler mode.Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the chicken skewers on it.Brush the chicken pieces with ghee. Tip the sheet inside the oven on top rack and cook for about 22-25 minutes flipping it after 15 minutes till chicken is done on all sided but still tender.You may get some burnt marks on the chicken but that’s okay!
  2. Grill the chicken for 2o minutes or till done and but still tender.In between keep on brushing with the ghee and the marinade
  3. Heat a large pan/skillet and coat it with ghee. Place the skewers with chicken piece  on the pan and cook medium heat for about 15-20 minutes turning them around and brushing with ghee and the marinade.Cook them till the chicken pieces are tender and you see brown colored spots on the tikkas.

  • Serve with mint & coriander chutney, onion rings, lemon wedges and  sliced tomatoes. You can sprinkle some chaat masala also if you want.

Notes:

  1. The cheese is an uncommon  ingredient in an Indian kebab recipes but Manju Mahi,the renowed british chef & T.V. personality  recommends it here.
  2. The more the chicken marinates, the more the flavor.So, marinate the chicken for as long as you can.
  3. Leftover chicken tikkas can be stuffed into a tortilla or paratha and made into a kathi roll.
  4. Best served warm with tandoori naan.Even paneer [indian cottage cheese]or fish can also be made the same way.
  5. I refrain from using artificial food coloring though I have noted down in the recipe..go ahead and add it to the marinade if you wish.
  6. Make sure you season the marinade well, else the tikka will be tasteless.
  7. You can use iron skewers too in place of bamboo ones.No need to soak them.

Enjoy!

This is my entry to the event “Of Chalks & Chopsticks” hosted by Padmajha this month and originally started by Aqua

Sending this to Hearth & Soul (Vol 15)
H‘nSHungerandThirst

Sending this to Tempt my Tummy Tuesday

Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays

A Rustic Dinner with Chausela/Chickpea flour flatbread

What do you do when you have had a surprisingly disappointing breakfast of gooey, overly sweet & calorie laden pancakes at iHOP ?How ? Because you were too lazy to get up early & cook breakfast in the morning! :( And then you go in with a lot of expectations to the International house of pancakes & end up liking the egg omelette better! Well this is what happened to me last saturday morning  when I had no bone left in me to make breakfast after late night movie show and the husband suggested a quick,tasty american breakfast at iHOP! Not to forget,I adore pancakes but not the ones which I ate there.With all due respect to iHOP fans, I felt really nauseated the whole day & settled in for a very simple, traditional dinner …something which is taste well-remembered from childhood and is so comforting all the time!

So lemme introduce my very own  uttar pradeshi cousin of thepla from western parts of India….the “”Chausela””……clap!clap!clap! :) The only difference between these two being in the thickness of the rolled out dough.

I really have no idea why is it so-called, if you insist maybe I ll call back my mom and let you know.What I know is that it is very easy to make, needs simple ingredients out of the pantry and tastes delightful! Looks very rustic and can be had all on its own without any curry ! The best partner is any pickle…even the pickled jalapenos will pair great!The plain yogurt will be a good buddy too!I am always  reminded of rural women who carry rotis wrapped in cloth for their farmer husbands in a small cane basket whenever I make this. Okay I think this thought is certainly over rated ,sitting on a couch in an air-conditioned room in foreign land while watching peepli live! However..what the heck! Okay …I blabber! Here’s the quick recipe…

What I needed:

Makes 6-7 flatbreads

  • 2/3 cup fine chickpea flour [besan]
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat Flour [atta]
  • 2  Green Chillies, finely chopped [optional]
  • 2 gloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1″ ginger shoot , finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp carrom seeds [ajwain]
  • 1 pinch asafoetida [hing]
  • 1/4 cup dried fenugreek leaves[kasuri methi] or 1/2 bunch fresh methi leaves[finely chopped]
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil as needed for cooking
  • Water to knead the dough

How I did it:

  • In a medium bowl mix  chickpea flour, whole wheat flour,1 tbsp oil, turmeric powder, red chilli powder[if using], asafoetida,carrom seeds and rub softly with hands so that everything comes together .
  • Next add the chopped garlic, chillies, cilantro , fenugreek leaves ,ginger,carrom seeds, asafoetida & salt and together with water make a soft dough .Add the water slowly while making the dough.
  • Knead the dough for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface to make a soft, smooth and pliable dough.
  • Set the dough aside and cover it with a damp cloth. Let the dough rest for at least ten minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal parts.
  • Heat the tava/iron girdle/non-stick skillet on medium high.
  • On a lightly floured surface, with the help of floured rolling-pin , roll the balls roughly into 6 inch circles. The rolled flatbreads should not be too thick or too thin.The sides will be cracked but don’t worry about it.
  • Place the flatbread over the girdle.
  • When the flatbread starts to puff lightly in certain places & slightly change color, flip it.
  • Spread 1 tsp oil on the flatbread and flip it,repeat this process for the other side.
  • Cook the flatbread untill golden brown on both sides.
  • Cool the flatbread on a wire rack so they don’t get soggy.
  • Best served warm with any curry,yogurt or green chilli pickle or any pickle of your choice.

Notes:

  1. Do not make the dough too much in advance else the salt will loosen it and it will be very sticky while rolling.
  2. You can add onions, grated radish[water squeezed out],spinach or boiled mashed potatoes also in the dough.
  3. Flatbreads can be kept outside for up to 2 days wrapped in aluminum foil or in an air tight container. For later use these can be refrigerated for 3-4 days.
  4. Reheat  the flatbread on a skillet or microwave before serving.

Enjoy!

Mutton Biryani

Biryani is a rich, exotic rice based dish traditionally prepared with basmati rice, spices and meat,eggs or vegetables.Originated in Persia, biryani took couple of routes to reach India, popular legends says it to be brought to Indian subcontinent by muslim merchants & travellers. In India, the hyderabadi biryani is most popular which is a savored all over the country.

It is a popular saying in my house that a perfect biryani is one whose aroma reaches 7 houses!:) Now, I am not sure whether my version would have passed this acid test or not.I was not desperate enough to go around and knock on doors of my neighbours to find out if they sniffed it:)

Whenever I prepare this dish, I have my little wish list, though a simple one.The first one being aroma, it should be fragrant with warm aroma of spices.The second one being taste, it should be savoury but not overly spicy.The third & last one being that it meets the age-old test that when a handful of biryani is dropped on a hard floor, no two grains of rice should stick to each other.

The recipe which I have jot down here is the way how this delicacy is prepared in my house with onions & dry spices without tomatoes or garlic, ginger etc.It is not a typical layered biryani &I have prepared it with mutton, however you can use lamb or chicken too.The cooking times of meat will vary in that case.

What I needed:

  • 1 lb mutton[boneless and cut into 1" cubes]
  • 1 1/4  cups basmati rice
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp saffron[kesar] soaked in 2 tbsp milk [optional]
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder [optional]
  • 1 tsp dry coriander powder
  • 4 tbsp oil [ I used mustard, canola or sunflower can be used]
  • Salt
  • 2.5-3 cups water

Dry Spices

  • 7-8 whole dry red chillies[adjust to taste]
  • 1″ stick of cinnamon
  • 6-8 cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 7-10 whole black peppers
  • 2 pods green cardamom
  • 2 blades mace [javitri]
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated

Garnish:

  • Fresh Cilantro leaves
  • Fried onions [ optional]
  • Almonds/Rasinis [optional]

Utensils required :

  • Pressure cooker
  • Tava/ cast iron girdle
  • Wide mouth, heavy bottom pan with lid [it should fit on your tava/girdle]

How I did it:

  • In a pressure cooker,on medium high heat add mutton ,dry spices and 1 tsp salt to 2 cups water.Close the lid and let it pressure cook until the meat is 80% cooked.This can be tested by opening the lid and squeezing the mutton pieces with fingers, it should be just tender & and not falling apart or soft.
  • Once cooked, reserve the stock from pressure cooker into a bowl, separate the mutton from spices and set aside the mutton pieces to cool.Throw away the collected spices.
  • Meanwhile,wash the rice thoroughly and set aside.
  • In a pan , heat the oil till ripples are formed on the surface.Stir-fry the cooled mutton pieces in this oil for about 1-2 minutes.Take the mutton out and in the same oil on medium heat ,add the onions and stir fry them untill golden brown.Once the onions are done, add the cumin seeds, red chilli powder[if using] , dry coriander powder and saute for about 2 minutes.
  • Next, add the washed rice to the pan and saute for about 3 minutes.This gives the rice a nutty flavor.
  • After the rice is sauted, switch off the heat and add the mutton pieces, salt and about 2.5 cups of reserved stock to the pan.Let the rice soak for about 20 minutes.

  • To the soaked rice, add the saffron -milk ,cover with lid and let the rice cook on low- medium heat.The amount of rice I used took around 15 minutes to cook at low heat.You can adjust stock/water as per your rice variety.
  • While the rice is cooking,let the tava/girdle heat up on high heat.Switch off the heat once the rice is done and transfer the pan to the top of heated tava.Seal the edges of the pan and lid with kneaded dough on all sides so that no steam can escape .This process is called dum cooking wherein the dish is slowly cooked on very low heat, mostly in sealed containers, allowing the meats to cook, as much as possible, in their own juices andso thatthe aromas of spices are absorbed within the dish. You can read more about it here and here.
  • After cooking on dum for about 8-10 minutes remove the pan from tava and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  • Thereafter, break the dough seal , transfer to a serving vessel and garnish with cilantro leaves ,fried onions & nuts [if using] .
  • Serve with raita and salad.

Notes:

  1. Seasoning the water in which the rice will cook is very important else the biryani will be tasteless.
  2. Be patient while the biryani cooks.Avoid opening the lid again and again and stirring while the rice cooks.
  3. After dum cooking, it is mandatory to let the biryani rest for some time.Do not skip this step.

Enjoy!

Sending this as a guest post to Lisa’s Indian Dinner Party!

Sending this to Akheela’s Festive rice event!

Sending this to 12 days of Bloggie mass @ A moderate Life

Lucknawi Shaami Kebabs

Lucknow, the city of nawabs is my favourite city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.A vibrant city bustling with the heavenly taste of  awadhi cuisine, the undercurrents of nawabi hospitality showcased in the way people talk and behave, makes it one of the most unusual legendary of beautiful  poetry.Every time I visit Lucknow, I discover something new about the awadhi cusine.I love the city for its laid backness, the chikan embroidery & its cultural heritage which resides in Imambara, British Residency , Chattar Manzil,Rumi Darwaza & the Jama Masjid.Oh I love the city!

Okay coming back to the cuisine ,the Lucknwai kebabs are the world famous.The main difference between awadhi kebabs and muglai kebabs being that while the latter are either grilled or deep-fried, the former are slow cooked [not fried] on a tawa/skillet.The kebabs are served with parathas or roomali rotis [indian flat breads]and onions and are a popular evening appetizer.A versatile dish which is sold on the road side food stalls and served on the dastarkhawans of the rich & royal!The aroma of the dry spices combined with meat & legumes makes it a very delicious snack which can also be served as a side dish.

What I needed:

  • 500 gm boneless mutton [you can use lamb meat too]
  • 3/4 cup Chana dal [soaked in water for about 3-4 hours]
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 2″ ginger shoot , grated
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped [ optional]
  • Cilantro , finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins [optional]
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp canola oil [ for pan cooking the kebabs]
  • 2 cups water

Dry Spices

  • 6-7 whole red chillies [adjust to taste]
  • 2 tsp whole black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 ” cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 black cardamon pod [kali elachi]
  • 5-6 cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg, grated

How I did it:

  • In a pressure cooker at medium high heat add mutton , soaked channa dal ,the dry spices and salt to 2 cups water.Close the lid and let it pressure cook until the meat is tender.
  • Open the lid and drain the extra water [yakhni].This water can be used in meat curries or for making biryanis and this is where the actual taste is.So use it instead of throwing it.There should be no water in the mixture left.This is important, else you will not be able to properly shape them later on and they will start loosing their shape and spreading on skillet while you cook them.
  • Let the mixture cool down.Once cool, discard the cinnamon stick & the bay leaves.
  • Add the mixture to a food processor with the plastic blade. Throw in the cilantro,grated garlic & ginger, raisins, green chilies[if using] and process, without adding any water, until smooth and chunky. About 10 pulses.Do not make a fine paste.You can do this by hand ,that has a far better texture.
  • Wash your hands clean. Smother some oil on your palms. Take the above prepared meat mixture, and shape the mixture into an oblong shaped balls on the palm of . Keep aside on a plate. Continue preparing kebabs until you get the number you need.

  • Cover the plate with kebabs with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
  • On a tawa, pour 1 tbsp of oil and on a very slow heat , cook these until the kebabs crisp dark brown on both sides.Cook these in batches.Add more oil as required.
  • Serve warm with onions,lemon & parathas.

Tip: If  the meat mixture you have prepared for kebabs is very loose and not tight enough to hold a shape, dry roast about 2 tbsp gram flour/besan for a few seconds, and once cool, add it to the meat mixture. Mix well and you will now be able to shape it better. Add more if required.You can use bread crumbs too.

Enjoy!

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