Chicken Manchurian

Manchurian is a widely popular Indo Chinese dish in the indian subcontinent. Sold on streets as well as in good restaurants, it is fried vegetable or chicken dumplings in a  â€˜Manchurian†sauce. Do not confuse the origins of  â€˜Manchurian†sauce – it definitely has nothing to do with the region by the same name in South East Asia. Creatively put together by chinese who lived in eastern parts of  India for centuries, imagine it to be an amber-colored, tangy and mildly sweet but hot sauce with hints of spices.

We are huge fans of Indo Chinese food at home. It is a much needed break from the usual daals and curries for dinner. The flavors are enticing and a lovely balance of sweet spicy tangy umami.

Indo chinese tastes best when you use of Indian condiments – I make it a point to use the brands from Indian store for that authentic taste. However, you can very well do few a substitutions and use your pantry to try this recipe. If you have an Indian store near by, do pay a visit and try to stock on these things to try many other recipes already on my blog. There are many condiments and sauces available, but below is a terse list of sauces from the brand “Chings” which will equip you to make some delicious Indo chinese food at home.

  • Chings Dark Soy Sauce – Its thick and dark and has a strong aroma, not your regular soy sauce used for dipping dumplings or tasting. This robust sauce can stand cooking and is full of umami.
  • Chings Green Chili Sauce – This is hot. Its basically green chillies ground with vinegar and it lends a grassy heat to the recipes.
  • Chings Red Chili Sauce – This is red chilies ground with vinegar and it lends more of a smoky rounded heat to your sauce base.
  • Chings Vinegar or Chings Chili Vinegar – You choose! The latter has chilli notes along with tangy.
  • Chings Schezwan Chutney – Amazing way to start the recipe, the chili garlic base when sautéed in oil lends a beautiful fiery garlicky notes to whatever you are making. It can be served as it is on a side or tossed with noodles and rice, its just super delicious.

Here the machurian sauce is little different from the vegetable manchurian or gobi manchurian I shared earlier. The selection and measurement of condiments different because chicken needs a more robust sauce. You can serve it with fried rice or hakka noodles for a lip smacking meal.

Recipe

For the Chicken Dumplings

  • 1 lb ground chicken (dark meat,dont use ground chicken breast)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp red chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
  • Chopped scallions (optional)
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Fresh ground black pepper to tatse
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Oil to spray (if baking) or enough oil to deep fry

For the Manchurian Sauce

  • 1 tbsp Chings dark soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp Chings Red chilli sauce or Sriracha
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp extra hot red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 3 tbsp dark clover honey
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil (its a strong unique flavor, can be skipped)
  • 1 cup+1/2 cup chicken stock (you can use 1/2 stick 1/2 water, dont use only water)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (make a slurry with 2 tbsp cold water)
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1-2 thai bird green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 2 scallion stalks, white & green parts chopped separately
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 tbsp vinegar (or to taste)
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish

Serve with – Fried rice, Hakka Noodles, Chili Garlic Noodles

Notes :-

  • Don’t use flavored oils like olive or coconut oil for making the sauce. Neutral Oils are best for the sauce.
  • Use any diced vegetables like bell peppers or baby corn etc in this recipe. Add them after the onions ginger & garlic have finished sautéing.
  • Add more cornstarch if you like a thickish sauce.
  • If you dont want to make ground chicken balls, you can add chicken breast or breaded fried chicken pieces to the sauce. Works great!

Method

For the Dumplings

Mix all the listed ingredients except oil in a large bowl. Gently mix everything together using spatula first and then if needed with hands without squishing a lot. Let the mix rest fir 10-15 minutes. If you feel its too sticky (depends on water content of your mince, add another tablespoon of cornstarch). Oil your palms and make lime sized balls with the mixture.You should get about 12-15.

If you are baking:- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large sheet with parchment. Place the chicken meatballs in a single layer and spray or brush linberally with oil. Bake for 8-9 minutes until the meatballs are firm and whitish from outside. They will finish cooking in sauce.

If you are deep frying – Heat up 3 inch oil in a frying pan. Fry chicken meatballs a few at a time until golden and crispy on medium heat. Drain on a paper towel.

Set the cooked chicken meatballs aside.

Make the Sauce

In a bowl, mix together soy sauce, red chilli sauce, tomato puree, coriander & red chilli powder, sesame oil and honey. Taste this concoction a tiny bit once (this is a strong paste right now) and you can adjust the heat or sweetness as you wish. Keep it ready.

Also keep all the chopped vegetables and cornstarch slurry ready. Warm up the chicken stock a bit. Keep everything ready to go because this sauce comes together very fast once you start cooking.

In a wide wok or heavy bottomed, heat up the oil on high. Once the oil is smoky, add the chopped onion, garlic, ginger scallion white parts and green chillies all at once. Saute for 2-3 minutes until you smell a nice aroma. If you are using any vegetables, now is the time to add them and saute on high heat for 1-2 mins. Dont cook a lot, they will be perfect by the end of cooking. I did not add any vegetables.

Add the soy sauce mix we made earlier to the wok. Saute for a couple minutes on high heat continuously stirring and then add the warm chicken stock. Add the salt to taste. Reduce the heat to medium and let the stock heat up. You will start to see bubbles on the sides. At this point add the baked chicken meatballs and let them finish cooking for 2-3 minutes or so in the sauce. Dont add the meatballs if you deep fried them (We will add at the end).

Add the cornstarch slurry next and let simmer for 2 minutes until the sauce is a bit thick and smooth. Switch off the stove. If you deep fried the meatball, add them now. Add the vinegar and green parts of the scallions along with some fresh chopped cilantro. Mix together gently and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites

The crust is made with buttery ginger snaps and the filling is cream cheese spiced with warm ground spices- cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and ginger . It all works so beautiful together and the balance of cheese and spices is just so wonderful.

I am so fond of mini cheesecake bites (more than the entire cheesecake itself) and played around with my recipe to make it holiday friendly. These are much simpler to make than an entire cheesecake and they are super easy. All you need is a block of cream cheese, an egg, sugar and spices for the filling. For the crust I used ginger snaps but you can use cinnamon grahams or chocolate cookies or anything you like.

It took me a while to wake up to gingerbread since the first time I tasted it. Even for someone like me who adores spices, a few bad baked ones spoilt my palate for it before I took matters into my hands and came up with the right ginger spice blend for us 🙂

Make sure that the cheese and egg are room temperature else the filling won’t be smooth. This is important for the cream cheese to blend well.

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 10-12)

For the Crust

  • 12-14 ginger snaps
  • 1.5 tbsp butter melted
  • 1 tsp sugar

For the Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese (please dont use low fat or no fat), softened at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • Toppings – whipped cream or caramel, nuts, melted chocolate, toffee sauce etc

Method

Line your 12 muffin/cupcake pan with liners and preheat oven to 350F.

Add the ginger snaps to a food processor fitted with metal blade, add butter and crust them to a fine powder. Put a heaping tablespoon in each liner and press down using back of a cup or spoon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add all the ingredients under the filling (except topping) and using a hand mixer, beat until smooth and fluffy.

Add about 1/4 cup to the cupcake liners filling with crust. You can add the filling in a ziplock bag and pour too. So I had planned for 12 cheesecakes but ran out after 11th one was filled 🙂 Once filled, tap the pan a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until set, little jiggly in the centre is fine. Once baked, switch off the stove, open the door and let the cakes be there for a 10 mins. Pull out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool down completely.

Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight before serving. Add toppings as you wish.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Shrimp Toasties

Buttery white bread topped with juicy fiery masala shrimp. A simplistic yet an elegant appetizer. These toasties are so wonderful with some drinks as starters or even as a snack anytime of the day. They are a blast of textures – crisped bread, succulent shrimp and fiery bite of green chillies.

I make the shrimp topping north indian style in a onion tomato ginger garlic masala but take this an as idea and cook your shrimp any way you like. On different occasions, I have tried south indian style with curry leaves and desiccated coconut as well as goan style with little kokum. If you have sea food lovers in the house these flavorful toasties will be a huge hit.

I wanted to use small or medium shrimp but could not find any so I used large sized.If you use a larger size shrimp as well, cut it up in bite size pieces. The recipe is pretty simple and quick. Make sure that the vegetables are finely chopped since the cooking times is not too long. Also if you are using frozen shrimp, thaw them properly and make sure that they are dry before adding to the pan.

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 12 toasties)

  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chillies(or to taste)
  • 2 tsp tomato paste (or use 1 tbsp tomato puree)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • pinch of sugar
  • 18-20 large size raw shrimp, deveined and tail removed (cut into bite size pieces or if you can find smaller sized shrimp, use those)
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp toasted bread crumbs
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 white bread slices (sides removed and cut into quarters)
  • 2-3 tbsp melted butter (to brush on bread)

Notes

  1. If you are using frozen shrimp, thaw them properly and make sure to pat them dry before adding to the pan. we dont want any extra liquid while cooking.
  2. Add chilli flakes instead of green chillies if you wish.

Method

In a pan, heat up the oil. Add onions, ginger and garlic to the oil all at once and saute for 2 minutes on medium heat. We dont want to brown these but the raw smell should go away. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and green chilies next along with the spice powders & sugar. On medium heat saute for 4-5 minutes, stir a few times in between to make sure nothing is sticking to the pan. Let cook till the tomatoes cook down and you see little oil separating on sides of pan.

In the mean time, place the bread quarters on a baking tray and liberally brush with butter. Toast in a preheated 375F oven for 6-8 minutes until the bread is golden.

Once the masala has cooked nicely, lower the heat and add the shrimp and salt. Gently mix so that all the shrimp is coated in masala and let cook for 3-4 minutes till the shrimp are white and cooked through. Dont rush cooking the shrimp else they will turn rubbery. Cook and make sure that ALL the liquid has dried and the shrimp are coated in masala.

Switch off the stove, mix in the lemon juice, chopped cilantro and bread crumbs. You can add a pinch of garam masala as well if you wish.

Spoon the shrimp on toasted bread. Add few cilantro, green chillies or scallions and serve warm.

Enjoy!

Spiked Pomegranate Ginger Slushie

A drink so perfect for the holidays, both with its gorgeous color and the flavors. Unsweetened pomegranate juice (you can press your own too for its pomegranate season mixed with homemade ginger syrup. Ginger syrup is one the most warming things to have on the kitchen counter or in home bar at this time of the year. It is so simple to make and takes only a few minutes.

You can switch up the spirit depending on what you fancy, but vodka or gin pair quite well. However a touch of rum might go as well. This is one of my favorite things to make during holidays and sip on near the freplace. We dont have snowdays in Las Vegas but the temperatures can get quite chilly and this drink is just so warming for those days.

Recipe

Ginger Syup

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sliced fresh ginger (you can leave the skin on if its organic)

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a slow boil. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes so that the flavor of ginger steeps. Switch the stove off and let stand until the syrup cools down. Strain into a container in store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. You can use the ginger in baking if you wish.

Pomegranate Ginger Slushie

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

  • 4 cups ice
  • 2 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (not too tart, if you can blood oranges use those)
  • 1 cup ginger syrup
  • 1/3 cup Gin (or more if you wish)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • Fresh pomegranate arils (to serve)

Method

Place all the ingredients in jar of a high speed blender. On smoothie mode or if your blender has a slushy side, pulse until the drink is slushy.

Pour into serving glasses, garnish with pomegranate arils or as you please.

Enjoy!

Parmesan Rosemary Shortbread

My first taste of parmesan crackers was many years ago through a holiday cookie basket we received and I loved them instantly. Could have something to do with the fact that I dont have a huge sweet tooth and I love love savory biscuits(cookies) of any kind.

These shortbread need a handful of ingredients. Flour butter, parmesan cheese and cashews is all of you need besides rosemary if you want to use, though it can be skipped altogether.

These are super crumbly, very cheesy and with some crisp wine, an absolute delight on the holiday table. You can use a mix of parmesan or romano if you want, but you do need a combination of sharp tangy cheeses.

Add a savory touch to your cookie boxes with these or use them on your cheeseboards, they are great for snacking as well.

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 22-24 crackers)

  • 110 gms salted butter, softened but not melting
  • 110 gms flour
  • 100 gms grated parmesan cheese (grated super fine)
  • 25 gms fine powdered cashews (use your spice grinder to grind raw cashews, you can use almonds as well, sieve to make sure powder is fine)
  • 1 tbsp fine chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp sugar

Method

Place all the ingredients in your food processor fitted with dough(plastic) blade. Please make sure that the butter is soft else the dough will not form. Since we are not using any wet ingredients, butter helps in binding the dough.

Start the processor on low speed. Slowly everything will mix together and in about a minute or so, a soft (but not sticky at all) dough will form around the blade. You can pulse a few times towards the end once it starts clumping around the blade.

Dump the dough on your work surface and gently knead it for half a minute to form into a ball. Dont knead too much. Dont squeeze the dough. Please keep in mind that if you working with dough during summers or in warm regions, you will need to refrigerate it frequently if you feel its getting too soft.

Divide the dough into two and shape each half into a log. Wrap each log in a cling film and refrigerate for atleast 2 hours. The longer you refrigerate, the better the flavors are. These logs can be kept in the fridge for 2 days and frozen for a month.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 F. Take the logs out of the fridge and using a sharp knife, slice into 1/3 inch rounds. Place the rounds on a cookie sheet and refrigerate again for 10 mins.

Bake for 11-12 minutes till they are just beginning to brown. Pull the cookie sheet out and let cook for 10 mins on the sheet itself before transferring to a rack. Store in an air tight container for 2-3 weeks.

Enjoy!

Skillet Sage Honey Garlic Chicken

Saucy Skillet Sage Honey & Lemon Chicken. This post is sponsored by American Raw Honey. American raw honey is a small business based in Utah and they farm local raw honey. Their honey is sustainably and organically produced and is of superior quality. Do check them out.

I make a lot of chicken dinners though they don’t appear often here. Would you be interested in seeing more of such dinners? 

This is a super hectic week for us (including many of you moms out here) With it being the last week of the school year,my older one has ton of tests and assignment submissions. Evenings are going to be extra busy and the show will be run by easy dinners. 

I marinate chicken(dark bone in portions are my pick) in honey, fresh sage(it’s one of my favorite herb during this season), lemon, garlic, olive oil – few but intense flavors. A major chunk of the meal gets sorted since I have to just make easy sides while the chicken cooks. 

The marinade is so flavorful, it has such bold woody sweet notes. 😍The honey is locally farmed in Utah and it’s such a good quality😍 You can shop their products via their website.

Recipe

  • 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped shallot
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup American raw honey‘s sage honey (
  • Few jalapeño slices(adjust to taste) 
  • Salt to taste 
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 4-6 chicken thighs, bone in 
  • Extra honey, sea salt or lemon wedges – for  serving. 

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust the ingredients as per your liking- if you like tangy, add more lemon, if you like sweetish- add more honey. Using a whisk mix everything together. Keep the marinade on a salty side. 

Add the cleaned dry chicken pieces to a ziploc bag and pour the marinade over it. Close the bag and squish around so that the chicken is well coated in the marinade. Set in the refrigerated to marinate for atleast 12 hours. You can marinate for up to 2 days(it’s just gets better and better) 

Take the chicken out of the fridge an hour before ready to cook. Take the chicken pieces out of the marinade, dry a bit(not completely with a paper towel). Preheat oven to 400F . 

Warm 1-2 tbsp of oil in a cast iron skillet, once nicely warm, add the chicken skin side down in the skillet and let sear for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, flip and sear on the other side. 

Plane the skillet in the oven and let chicken roast for 30-35mins(adjust depending on how big or small your chicken pieces are). If you using a thermometer, chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Let rest for 8-10mins and serve. 

-Enjoy

Chai Spiced Shortbread Sandwiches with Dulce De Leche Filling


Faintly sweet shortbreads encasing a burst of caramelized milky filling. These cookies are filled with aroma of spices in each bite. I used chai spices reminiscent of aromas in my tea masala. The dough is flavored with freshly pounded cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and dried ginger and the shortbread are simply irresistible!

I tried my hands at shortbread cookies this season after a gap of many years. Learning to bake a perfect shortbread has been a journey, I had little clue about the nuances of a perfect cookie when I started baking over half a decade back.

Once a dear friend who also happens to be a pastry chef told me that shortbread is one of the hardest things to master because the dough uses very few ingredients,. And it certainly is. Flour butter and sugar is all you need, what can go wrong, right? It took me many many attempts to master shortbread and it is one my favorite things ever.

Quite certainly a finest cookie- buttery and crumbly and melt in the mouth. These cookies are very addictive and really not that hard to make. Just keep a few things in mind.

  • Use softened butter. Best is if you set it out overnight on the counter or in a slighty warm place to soften. If you cannot, put the stick in a bowl and microwave at 50 percent power for 5-8 seconds until its soft to touch but not melting.
  • Rest the dough. Overnight is best. But you can store the dough for 2 days easily or freeze for a month. For a cookie like this. resting makes the dough so so flavorful because the spices get time to mingle.
  • Take the cookies out of the oven just when they are soft. They will continue to bake for a few minutes after. If you let them brown too much, they will become crispy and hard.

Recipe

Things you will need

  1. Stand Mixer or Hand mixer
  2. 2-3 large mixing bowls
  3. Whisk
  4. Rolling Pin & Pastry board or a large board to roll cookies the (you can use kitchen counter as well)
  5. Spatula
  6. Two large cookie sheets
  7. Parchment Paper

Ingredients (Makes 20-24)

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dulce de leche for filling

Tip: You can use recently purchased ground spices in this recipe. If you want to make your own, simply add 2 cloves ,2 green cardamom, 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp fennel seeds to your spice grinder and pulse to a fine powder. Mix in the ground dried ginger and your chai spice is ready for baking.

Method

In a large bowl, sift the flour. To the sifted flour add all the ground spices and salt. Using a whisk, mix the spices thoroughly with the flour. Set aside.

In the stand mixer bowl (or you can use another large bowl and a hand mixer), add the butter and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy for 2-3 minutes. Start adding flour in parts and mix on low speed. Just when you see that all the flour has binded with the butter, stop mixing and dump the dough on a floured surface. The dough will be little crumbly but dont worry. Gently bring it all together into a soft ball. Divide the ball into two and shape each half into rounds. Flatten the rounds and place each in a ziplock bag(or wrap in a cling film). Refrigerate overnight or for upto 2 days.

Take out the refrigerated cook doughs and place on the counter 30 minutes before you are ready to make cookies. Line two large cookies sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350F.

Place another large sheet of parchment on your work surface and dust the sheet with flour liberally. Flour your rolling pin as well since this dough tends to stick and you want to be able to pick up the cookies after cutting them.

Using the rolling pin, roll the dough into 1/4 inch thickness. Using a 3 inch round or fluted round cookie cutter, cut into cookies. For half the cookies which will go to top of sandwich, you can use 1 inch fluted star or round cookies cutter to cut the center out. Using a floured spatula, transfer the cookies to the baking sheet. Make sure that you count and have even number of bottoms and top cookies.

Gather the scraps and repeat the process until all the dough is exhausted. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until they start to turn light brown on the sides/bottom. Pull the sheets out of the oven and let the cookies cool down for 5-7 minutes on the sheet itself before transferring to a cookie rack.

Let the cookies cool down completely before you fill them. Place 1 tbsp of Dulce de leche on the bottom cookies and sandwhich with the top cookies.

Enjoy!

Milai Ki Dal (Arhar Urad Mix Dal)

A very cozy daal recipe from my grandma’s kitchen. Indians are known to mix lentils always and this is a unique combination of lacey split urad and earthly archer(pigeon pea lentils). Both the lentils are mixed and cooked together in with lots of hing and ginger and then tempered with mustard oil browned garlic slices and dried chillies. You can vary the quantity of each lentil as per your liking. I love deals when they are creamy lacey as well as have a lot of texture, this daal fits so well in that variety.

I remember making faces at this daal growing up but surprisingly enough it is now one of my favorite with rotis especially.

A few things to be kept in mind when making these. Don’t soak the lentils for more than 20 minutes for the right texture. Make them on the thicker side, they taste better than soupy. If you cannot find mustard oil, you can use ghee to temper them and don’t skimp on the garlic. Lastly, dont add salt when boiling the daal, add it later, it keeps the grains soft.

Recipe

Ingredients(Serves 3-4)

  • 1/2 cup arhar daal
  • 1/3 cup split urad daal
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 1/2 tbsp mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 2-2.5 cups water
  • salt to taste
  • Lemon juice, cilantro( to serve)

Tempering

  • 3-4 tbsp mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 3-4 dried chillies, broken
  • 12-15 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 3/4 tsp hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)

Method

Wash the lentils 3-4 times until the water runs clear. Add them to a pressure cooker along with ginger, hing and oil.Add 2 cups water and let them soak in the cooker for 15-20 mins.

Once soaked, put on the lid and pressure cook the lentils for 2-3 whistles on medium flame. Do not cook for too long else the lentils will lose their texture. Switch off the stove and let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and add 1/2 cup cold water along with salt to taste. With the back of a spoon, mash the lentils for 1-2 minutes, gently so that they are creamy but the grains are not broken. Return to a low stove and cook for 3-5 minutes without stirring much. Take off the stove.

Tempering the Daal:- In a small saucepan or your tadka pan, warm up the mustard oil on low medium heat till its a bit smoky. Add the dried chillies and crisp them for 30 seconds, sliced garlic and cook them for 2-3 minutes until they are light brown. Add the cumin and hing next and sauté for 20 seconds. You will smell a nice aroma.

Take off the stove and add the red chilli powder. Add the tempering to the warm daal and mix well.

Serve warm with lemon juice and chopped cilantro.

-Enjoy!

Tamarind Mackerel Curry

A very simple and sour soupy fish curry with fresh ground spices and tang from sweet tamarind and vinegar. I found fresh mackerel at the store and was immediately inspired to make this.

There are no tomatoes or yogurt like most north indian fish curries here. The much needed sour comes from vinegar, the use of which is slightly inspired by how goan fish curries are done, however I didn’t use any coconut or coconut milk in this one.

With a bowl of warm rice and few sliced onions, this is absolute delight to eat. You can use any firm mild fish in this recipe. Fresh ground spices make the aroma of the curry even more bold and I really recommend you grind them fresh, incidentally that is the only time consuming part of this recipe.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 Mackerel, cut into pieces (about 1 pound), cleaned
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/4 th piece star anise
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp hot red chilli powder(adjust to taste)
  • 6-8 curry leaves
  • 1.5 tbsp malt vinegar (less if you like less sour)
  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 1 tsp jaggery (skip if using sweet tamarind)
  • Salt to tatse

Spices

  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 Black peppercorns
  • 4 Cloves
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick

Method

Place the fish in a bowl. Sprinkle the turmeric and salt over the fish and massage nicely. Set aside for 15 mins.

Dry roast all the spices listed under “Spices” and grind them to a powder using your spice grinder. Mix the spices with red chilli & turmeric along with a couple tablespoons of water in a bowl and let stand.

In a cooking pot, add the oil. Once the oil is smoky a bit, add the star anise and saute for 10 seconds. Add the onions next and let them brown. The onions have to be browned nicely for a good flavor. Once the onions are browned, add the ginger and garlic and saute for a minute or so till you smell the aroma.

Next add the curry leaves along with the spice paste, you can add a splash of water (about 3 tbsp) and cook everything together for a few minutes till you notice the oil separating. Dont saute a lot.

Add 1 cup warm water to the pot, add salt and let come to a slow simmer. Add the fish next to the pot and let cook on low heat for 7-8 minutes. Dont let boil. You can cover if you fish but really fish cooks fast.

Once you notice that the fish is white and firm, add the vinegar, tamarind and jaggery. Gently mix everything and let cook for another 2 mins.

Switch off the stove and cover the pot. Let sit for 2 hours before serving.

-Enjoy!

Yakhni Pulao


For a long time, I was tricked into thinking that Yakhni pulao is biryani. Most of my family, still, for some reason refers to it as biryani but its not. This is not a layered rice dish, it is a pulao. Yakhni is ” broth” and this dish is basically basmati rice cooked in a delicious made-from-scratch meat broth.

South asian broths have much more depth of flavor due to use of spices. I dont pressure cook the meat, I let it simmer for couple of hours or more depending on the quantity. Slowly the meat releases its flavor into the water along with those of the spices and herbs. The delicious yakhni is full of body and I remember mom would ladle it into teacups and give us to drink as it is as a soup.So comforting on a cold night. You can do the same if you are not in mood for a pulao.

A delicious yakhni needs bone in meat or chicken and time! There are no powdered spices and all the flavor comes from whole spices, dried chilies, ginger and garlic. Caramelizing the onions well before cooking the rice is another important step, do not rush it, brown the onions nicely, they add not only to the taste but also to the color of the pulao.

This recipe is one of my most family’s most oldest. It was cooked winter long and it is a great way to feed big families or when entertaining. You can serve it with a light chicken curry or any side but I really just like it with plain raita.

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the Yakhni

  • 1 lb bone in mutton or chicken, cleaned
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1.5 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2-3 bay leaf
  • 2 whole black cardamom, slightly cracked
  • 2 cinnamon stick
  • half nutmeg
  • 7-8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped 8-10 dried chillies
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water

For the Pulao

  • 1 + 1/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1.5 cup sliced onions
  • Red chili powder to taste
  • 1 tsp shah jeera
  • 2.5 cups liquid (yakhni topped with water)
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro, raita, ginger jullienes etc to serve.

Method

Step 1 Make the Yakhni (Spiced Broth)

Add everything listed under yakhni to a dutch oven. Cover the pot and set on a medium high stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 1.5 hours till the meat is fork tender but not falling apart. You can do the same thing in an instant pot or pressure cooker but slow cooked yakhni is something else 🙂 Meat releases its own juices and water as it will cook so don’t add much water in the beginning. Also please keep in mind that the cooking time of meat will depend on how small or big the cuts are. So adjust accordingly.

Once the meat is cooked, switch off the stove.Pick out the meat pieces using a spoon into a medium bowl and cover the bowl with a cling film to make sure that the meat does not dry out. Set a large colander over another large bowl and drain the yakhni in there. Dont be tempted to mash the ginger or garlic or onions, else the yakhni will lose its soupy texture. Discard the things in the colander.

Yakhni is ready. You can enjoy it as it like a soup when while it is warm with few squirts of lemon and scatter of fresh cilantro. Add a few pieces of cooked meat to make it more filling.

If you make a pulao, follow step 2 below. Keep in mind that do not make the yakhni a day ahead, the taste changes so its best to make it a couple hours before when you want to serve as soup or make a pulao.

Step 2 Make the Pulao

Wash the rice 2-3 times under a running stream of water. Soak the rice for 20 mins in enough water.

Measure the yakhni. The variety of rice I use needs double amount of liquid to cook. So I needed 2.5 cups of liquid to cook the rice. I got 2 cups of yakhni from the recipe above and I added 1/2 cup water to it.

In a wide shallow pot, (I use my braiser) or you can use a kadhai or a 12 inch pan, add the oil. Once the oil is warm, add the sliced onions. On medium heat, brown the onion. It takes about 8-10 minutes but do not rush this process.

Once the onions are dark brown, add the red chilli powder to oil along with cumin seeds and saute for 30 seconds. Add the meat to the pan and stir around with the onions for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. The meat will brown a little, once so, add the soaked rice(discard the water in which you soaked) along with yakhni (+water). Mix gently and taste the salt in the liquid, it should be sharp salty at this stage else adjust it, this makes sure that your rice comes out properly seasoned once cooked.

Cover with a lid and set the rice to cook on medium high heat, once you see that the liquid is bubbling, reduce the heat to the lowest and let cook for 20-25 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft. Switch off the stove and let the pot sit undisturbed for atlest 10-12 minutes.

Uncover and using a rice spoon or a small plate, fluff up the rice from once side. Yahni pulao is ready.Serve as you wish. Taste amazing next day.

This recipe can be easily doubled. Just adjust the cooking times for both rice and meat in that case.

Enjoy!