Appetizers/Snacks · Indian Curry/Stew

Murgh KaliMirch – Indian BlackPepper Chicken

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh KaliMirch - Indian BlackPepper Chicken

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh KaliMirch - Indian BlackPepper Chicken

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh KaliMirch - Indian BlackPepper Chicken

As the name suggests, the star here is fresh ground kali mirch or coarse black peppercorn. Combined with lots of ginger & garlic, black peppercorns provide an uncomplicated kick to the dish – which turns out to be the highlight. Succulent chicken coated in a thick masala –  I like to serve this as starter or snack with drinks. The particular thing that I absolutely like about this dish is the color from turmeric,which makes it so bright & appetizing. Less oil & easy to cook, this one is sure to delight all those of you who feel that indian recipes are difficult to follow.

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh KaliMirch - Indian BlackPepper Chicken

It is always worth having such special recipes up your sleeve for those lazy supper nights or when you have unexpected guests at home.This one is versatile – you can wrap up inside flatbreads & veggies to make rolls or top your pizza with it.I sometimes shred the leftovers into bits & stuff inside puff pastry dough & bake for a quick brunch.

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh KaliMirch - Indian BlackPepper Chicken

Serves – 2-3

Preparation time – 25 minutes (includes marination time)

Cooking time – 20 minutesIngredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2″ cubes
  • For garnish – chopped cilantro, scallions
  • Fresh lemon/lime juice (to taste)

To marinate :-

  • 2 tbsp thick plain yogurt
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh lemon/lime juice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2″ fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1.5 tbsp black peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For tempering :-

  • 2 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with sunflower/vegetable/canola oil)
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 serrano chillies, chopped (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • salt (to adjust)

Method :-

Marinate the chicken in all the ingredients listed for 20 minutes, refrigerated. Once ready to cook, take out the marinated chicken from the refrigerator & let sit on countertop.

In a thick bottomed, wide mouthed pan, heat up the oil on high.If using mustard oil, heat it to a point when its slightly smoky.For other oils, heat up till you see ripples on the surface. Meanwhile, using a mortar & pestle, coarsely grind the coriander & cumin.Once the oil is heated, reduce the heat to medium & wait for 2 minutes. Add the mustard seeds & let them crackle.About 10-15 seconds. Also, add the chillies next & let them crisp up for another 10-15 seconds. Tip :- Be extra careful, mustard seeds & chillies splutter a lot when added to oil. 

Next, add the coarsely ground spices to the oil & stir for about 30-35 seconds or till you smell the aroma. Start adding marinated chicken 5-6 pieces at a time to the pan and  stir-fry over high heat for few minutes, tossing continuously.Repeat with another batch of chicken pieces. The idea is to lightly brown the outside of the chicken but still keep it juicy inside.Lower the heat once all the chicken has been added.Add the leftover marinade(if any) & stir frequently. Cook on low heat till the oil separates on the sides of the pan and the chicken is cooked. About 12-15 minutes. You can cover the pan for last 3-4 minutes of cooking. Adjust the salt, toss well and remove.Let sit covered for atleast 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish with chopped cilantro or scallions, squeeze fresh lemon juice & serve hot.

Notes:-

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Pickles/Condiments/Spice Powders

Nimbu Ka Achaar – No Oil Indian Lime Pickle

I still have some left in the jar from my last trip to India.Every time I scoop out a spoon ful to serve on to my platter, unconsciously, I drop a few wedges back. Then I smile at the silly thought which crosses my mind. I just don’t want that jar to be empty ever! Is that even possible?Maybe not.Its not just mom’s nimbu ka achaar, its her love,which I want to relish in all my meals.

Store-bought pickles fail to satisfy me. Too much oil, overload of spices, a preservative cloned after taste – if I may complain. At times, I am desperate to make my own.Not much luck with that;I have not been able to find the lemons, raw mangoes or chillies which come close to the ones we get back home.

After almost three years of living here, my happiness knew no bounds when I spotted these baby limes at a south asian store.Can you imagine my stroll as I rushed towards them? Top that with an unbeatable price of a dollar for two pounds. Can you? They were perfect – thin-skinned, spongy to press, acidic, and greenish-yellow.I knew I will be spending few hours with mom on phone to get her recipe & tips.Pickle will be made!

Indian summers present a perfect oppurtunity to sun-aided pickling.Pickles or achaar are an integral part of indian cuisine. A small amount is always served to square home style meals. Some like it for the tang they add & some like them for digestion. Seasonal fruits & vegetables are commonly used along with spices (fenugreek, mustard, nigella, chillies etc) & buckets of oil to make pickle batches which last through the whole year.

Nimbu Ka Achar, Indian Lime Pickle, Sinfully Spicy

Sun cooked pickles are the ones are where the gold lies, I m too fond of them.Unless you put in hours of labour & showcase patience while the pickle cooks in the warmth of the sun, the business is far from over. I have seen everyone in the family slog over them.Not to forget the high levels of hygiene required all through – clean spoons & hands, sterile jars and what not.

This irrestible “no oil” lime pickle is able to perfectly live up to the expectations – tart, succulent flesh & chewy lime skin – what a tease on the tastebuds. The lime wedges pickle in their own juice and a handful of spices. The spices are few but quite typical to

Ingredients :-

  • 3 lbs baby limes/lemons (or any thin-skinned variety)
  • 2 tbsp kala namak (black salt, substitute with table salt)
  • 6 tbsp kali mirch (black peppercorns)
  • 6 tbsp ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 3/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 3-4 tbsp sea salt or as needed (substitute with table salt) (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 10-12 limes)
  • 1-2 tbsp granulated sugar (I have not used it but can be added if you like to add a sweet note to your pickle)
Needed :-
  1. Kitchen Towels
  2. A large, rectangular glass dish (I use my pyrex casserole dish)
  3. Plastic Wrap sheet
  4. Clean, dry Wooden Spoons
  5. Wide-Mouthed, Sterile Canning Jars (preferably with plastic or glass lids).Click here to see how you can sterlize the jars.

Method :-

Preparing the limes

Put all the limes in a colander and wash thoroughly under running water. Let drain in the colander over the kitchen sink for at least 15-20 minutes. Spread the limes over clean kitchen towels and rub to completely dry them. You can put them in sun too for this purpose. Ensure that the limes are completely dry before you start cutting them.

Next, with clean hands, quarter or half the limes (depends on the size you like) and remove as much seeds you can.Once cut, transfer the wedges on to a large glass dish, spread them in an even layer. Sprinkle black salt over the limes and with clean, dry hands, rub the salt with the limes. Cover the glass dish with a plastic wrap, poke few holes in the it & let sit in the full sun for 3 days. You will see that the lime wedges will start to dry (slightly) & there is liquid at the bottom.

Making the Pickle 

On the fourth day, coarsely grind the kali mirch in your coffee grinder. Put the ajwain next & pulse a few times. Take out the mixture in bowl & mix hing powder, red chilli flakes and sea salt (along with sugar, if using) with it. Sprinkle this mix over the lime wedges along with lime juice. With clean hand, thoroughly mix everything together. Again, cover the glass dish with a fresh plastic wrap, poke few holes in it and let sit in full sun for 15 days. You will need to stir the mix once a day using a clean,dry wooden spoon. You will see that as the days progress the skin of the limes starts softening & turning brown along with liquid at the bottom getting thicker than on the very first day.

At the end of 15 days, check the salt of the pickle again & adjust (if required) , mix up the pickle well with clean, dry wooden spoons and transfer to canning jars. Dont full till the top of the jar but at the same time don’t leave a lot of room for bacteria in air to get moldy. Leaving 1/2 inch space from the top is okay. If you are using jars with metal lid, you will need to cover the mouth of jar with plastic wrap to avoid the contact between pickle & metal.Let the jars sit in sun till the limes are totally soft, brownish in color & the liquid is more like a syrup. You will need to shake the jars periodically. In Las Vegas sun, it took about 3 weeks to get that stage.

There is no need to refrigerate.Sun-cooked pickles normally last at room conditions. Always use a clean spoon to serve the pickles, they keep for months or years together.

Serve the pickle as a side to your meals, grind and add to marinade of meats.I like to spread the pickle on top of my crackers as well as on flatbread crisps.

Notes:-

  1. Any thin-skinned citrus fruits will work in this recipe – baby tangerines (narangi), kumquats etc.
  2. Do not under salt your pickles else they turn bad over a period of time.
Desserts/Baking

Cardamom Shrikhand With Mango Saffron Compote

Allow me to call it a beauty.I dont mean fancy or flashy.Neither I want to hint that I toiled over this dessert for hours. It is something hopelessly easy to make, yet succeeds in achieving the delight a dessert is supposed to bring. Softly tart yogurt flavored with freshly ground elaichi (cardamom),topped with a luscious mango saffron compote – as simple as it can get but like a little sunshine on the spoon.

It is hard to believe that something so unfancy & minimal as yogurt & sugar can turn into a creation which appeals to the sweet tooth. I admit that cardamom & cream add more body to the dessert – making it a little more wonderful.Cream is traditionally not used – I like it for the added richness that it lends here. Trust me, never a easy dessert would taste so very spectacular.

Shrikhand is a yogurt based sweet dish originally from western parts of India. But now, it is popular all over the subcontinent. Basic shrikhand recipe is like a blank canvas – some like to add nuts, some combine chopped or pureed fruits with it and some let the melt in the mouth consistency remain unadulterated. Experiment as it pleases you.

I ate shrikhand for the first time prepared by one of my friend’s mom in Pune. She served it along side pooris (deep-fried flatbread) & a spicy bean sprouts curry. The combo was tad odd for me. Supposedly the yogurt is supposed to calm down the spices of the meal as you eat.I m not exactly sure how few bits of that first not-so- appreciable taste testing stuck with me.Eight years down the line & now I immensely enjoy shrikhand with pooris. Just like any comfort food, the sugar & oil overload is quite addictive.

Usually, pureed mango is mixed with hung yogurt & shrikhand becomes amrakhand. My favorite summer fruit is here. I bought season’s first batch last week & they seemed perfect to add a texture to the dessert.The mangoes were ripe & sweet – a compote was definitely on my mind. Addition of saffron to it seemed an obvious decision to accentuate the exotic flavors. The fact that I prepared the dessert with homemade dahi (indian style yogurt) made me a little happy than usual.

Preparation Time :- About 8 hours (includes draining in the refrigerator) 

Cooking Time :- 10 minutes (for both shrikhand & mango compote)

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

For the Shrikhand

  • 1.5 cups whole milk plain dahi (substitute with plain yogurt)
  • 100ml heavy cream, cold
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 8-9 green cardamom pods (or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder)
  • pinch of nutmeg powder
For the Mango Compote
  • 3 tbsp luke warm water
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, cored, diced
Needed:- Colander, Muslin/CheeseCloth,Bowls
Method 
Making Shrikhand
Line a colander with muslin/cheese cloth large enough that you can tie up its ends. Place the colander over a large bowl. Ensure that there is gap between the colander bottom & the bowl bottom to collect the draining liquid. Pour the dahi into the colander,wrap up and tie up all the ends of the muslin/cheesecloth. Let the dahi drain for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight inside the refrigerator.
Note :-Dont leave dahi while it drains outside, else it will turn sour.Discard the whey once drained. Reserve the muslin/cheesecloth.(If in hurry, you can use Greek yogurt to make shrikhand too. Skip this step if doing so)
Transfer the strained, thick, cold dahi into a bowl. Add cream to it and start whisking using a hand beater. Slowly add the sugar and beat until you get slightly stiff peaks.
Again tie the dahi – cream mix in the muslin/cheesecloth & let drain in the colander arrangement (as explained above) for another 2 hours inside the refrigerator.
Break open the cardamom pods & grind the seeds using a mortar & pestle.Tip – Always buy whole cardamom pods.This way of making your own powder saves a lot of money.
After 2 hours, transfer the drained dahi  mix to a bowl. Add cardamom & nutmeg powder and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Let chill for at least 3-4 hours or till ready to serve.
Scoop the chilled shrikhand into serving bowls & top with mango compote (recipe below). Keeps well in fridge for 2-3 days.
Making Mango Compote  
In a medium bowl, dissolve the saffron in lukewarm water till it dissolves. About a minute or so. Stir in the lime juice, sugar and mix till sugar dissolves. Add in diced mangoes. Cover and chill upto 1 day.
Enjoy & thanks for stopping by!
 

 

Indian Curry/Stew

Aloo Gosht – Mutton With Potatoes

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Gosht - Mutton With Potatoes

I can’t seem to forget those Sunday lunches prepared by mom. A steaming pile of basmati rice slathered in curry flavored with fresh ground spices & drippings of meat. Tender, boneless pieces of mutton which you pull apart with fingers & potatoes cooked to the point of crumbling but still retaining their shape till you serve them in the plate. Simple, homey & satisfying – plain  soul food for us. A tradition which conjures up numerous childhood memories.

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Gosht - Mutton With Potatoes

Dad was sent off to the butcher early in the morning with elaborate instructions on the cut of meat he needs to get from there.And mom occupied herself in peeling garlic pods & ginger, seeding the chillies, soaking & grinding the whole spices to prepare her magical curry concoctions.The enticing aroma of freshly ground spices coupled with the patience with which she simmered the meat on low heat were the secret behind the delicious curries she made, I think. While she cooked, we used to wait for hours for the moment when the meats have passed the tooth pick test!

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Gosht - Mutton With Potatoes

It’s difficult to find goat meat or mutton as we call it in Vegas but whenever I do, I have this undying wish to recreate mom’s recipes.I found a suitable stewing variety at a nearby shop couple of weeks back and a meat & potato meal was definitely on my mind. So Sunday lunch was prepared – just like at mom’s. You can add taro root, yams, turnips or beets to this recipe with excellent results. It’s just that I end up making it with potatoes each time else P will not eat it.I recommend using as fresh ingredients for the spice paste as you can find & loads of patience while the meat cooks – it can take a couple of hours.

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Gosht - Mutton With Potatoes

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Gosht - Mutton With Potatoes
Preparation Time :- 30 minutes
 
Cooking time – About 2 hours (Depends on cut, type & size of the meat)
 
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
 
  • 1 lb stewing mutton/lamb/beef , cubed
  • 2 medium potatoes,peeled & quatered (You can use any potatoes of choice)
  • 2 nos indian bay leaves (tejpatta)
  • 1 ” cinnamon stick
  • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne, adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp jaggery (or brown sugar to taste)
  • 1/4 cup mustard oil (substitute with canola/vegetable/sunflower/grapeseed oil )
  • salt to taste
  • 1.5 cups water
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
 
For the spice paste:-
 
  • 10-12 whole dry red chillies (I use kashmiri mirch)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds (dhania)
  • 6 whole green cardamom pods (hari elaichi)
  • 4 cloves (laung)
  • 8 black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  • 5 plump garlic cloves
  • 2 ” fresh piece of ginger
  • Water for soaking the spices (about 1/4 cup)
Notes:-
 
Whole Kashmiri mirch lends a rich, deep scarlet color to the gravy without the heat & they are easily available in indian stores. You can de-seed the chillies to reduce heat further.The actual heat in the dish comes from the use of red chilli powder & black peppercorns. However, you can also adjust the amount to tolerance.
 

Method:-

Soak the chillies, cumin , fennel & coriander seeds, cardamom pods, cloves & peppercorns in 1/4 cup water for about 15 minutes to soften. Drain & tip into a blender. Reserve the soaking liquid. Grind the soaked spices along with garlic & ginger to a smooth paste. Use the soaking liquid if required while grinding.

Marinate the cubed mutton in half of the spice paste for 15 minutes.  While the mutton is marinating, heat up the oil in a heavy bottomed pot with lid on high heat till you see ripples on the surface. At this point reduce the heat to medium & wait for 2 minutes. Temper the oil with tejpatta & cinnamon stick. Wait for 15 seconds till you smell the aroma. Next, add the chopped onions to the pot & cook on medium heat with stirring till they turn golden brown.About 8-10 minutes.

Next, reduce the heat to low & add the chopped tomatoes along with the spice paste, red chilli powder & cook the mixture for about 8 minutes, stirring continously till you see oil separating on sides of the pot. At this point,again turn the heat to medium & add the marinated mutton & salt. Saute for 10-12 minutes till the mutton pieces are slightly browned. You will see water from mutton separating at this point but that’s okay.

Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low & let the lamb cook in its own juices till about 90% cooked. For the kind of mutton I used, it took approximately 40 minutes to reach that stage. You can use your slow cooker or pressure cooker also for cooking the mutton. I prefer to cook it lid on.

Add the potatoes & jaggery next along with 1.5 cups of water. Check the salt. Cook covered on low for another 20-25 minutes till the mutton is tender & potatoes are soft but not mushy.

Switch off the heat & let the curry sit covered for atleast 20 minutes or till ready to serve. Garnish with chopped cilantro & serve warm with salad,plain or jeera rice.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.