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!

Seekh Kabab

Seekh kabab could easily be one the most popular street foods across South Asia.A street food that instantly transports me to colorful streets of Old Delhi. We often thronged to Jama Masjid in heart of the walled city to eat seekh kabab rolls which is basically kababs right off the tandoor wrapped in rumali rotis with thinly sliced onions that soften just a bit due to warmth of kabab & rotis. A few squirts of fiery green chutney and made extra smoky with sprinkles of tangy chaat masala to round up the melt in the mouth melange of spicy and smoky. 

It’s a vivid memory hard to overwrite- that of standing on the street side biting into a hot kabab while witnessing the hustle bustle of the city engulfed in aromas from flaming tandoors lined up as far as the sight goes. 

Seekh translates to “skewer” and these kababs are usually made with ground mutton, lamb or chicken, shaped into pipe like kababs and cooked on high heat. This are so delicious served with a flatbreads, lots of onions , lemon wedges and green chutney.

You can always go ahead and buy seekh kabab masala from store, and I myself go for the convenience many times, however if you make your own masala, the depth of flavors and taste is truly unmatched. Besides homeground masala, there are a few other things as noted below to be kept in mind for a great tasting seekh.

  • Use a fine ground mince with a good amount of fat. By this I mean that even if you purchase minced meat or chicken from the store, grind it using your food processor or blender. This ensures that the kababs are not going to break when you shape or cook them.
  • Use mince with good amount of fat. So if you are choosing beef or lamb – go for 85/15 variety. If you are using chicken, do not use ground chicken breast, go for ground dark portion meat. I remember my grandfather asking the butcher to add extra fat separately whenever he bought ground meat for making seekh kababs.
  • Squeeze as much water as possible from the finely chopped onions. Else the mince will start breaking when you try to skewer it after marinating.
  • Cook on high heat. The mince cooks very quickly and if you slow cook it, the kababs will dry out.
  • Grease your palms well when putting mince on the skewer. Also brush or spray oil/ghee liberally when cooking the kababs else they will come out dry.
  • You can cook them on indoor or outdoor grill. If you do not have grill, bake them in a high oven and then slide under the broiler for few minutes for a nice char.

You can use the same recipe for making kababs with any kind of meat. However, if you choose to use beef or lamb or mutton, I suggest adding 1-2 teaspoons of meat tenderizer or 1 tablespoon of fine grated green papaya. Rest everything remains the same.

Recipe

Seekh Kabab Masala (Makes 10-12 kababs)

Ingredients (makes about 1/4 cup of masala)

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 star anise flower
  • 3 green cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 1 black cardamom, pods only
  • Cinnamon – 2 inch
  • 8 whole black pepper
  • pinch of carrom seeds (ajwain)
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 2 twigs mace
  • 3-5 dried whole kashmiri chillies
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp black salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste

Method

Dry roast all the whole spices – cumin, coriander, fennel. star anise. cardamoms. cinnamon, black pepper, dried red chillies, carrom, black pepper, cloves , mace and bayleaf on very low hear for 5-6 minutes taking care not do brown them at all. Take off the stove and let cool down completely. Using a spice grinder, grind the spices to a fine powder. Sieve the ground spices to make sure that no bits remain.

In a bowl, mix the ground spice with rest of powdered spices and salt and mix well. You can double or triple this recipe and keep it in an air tight container for a month.

For Making Seekh kababs

  • 1 lb (1/2 kg) ground chicken, lamb or mutton
  • 3 tbsp roasted kaale chane (unsalted black chickpeas (without the skin), these are easily available in indian stores (substitute with 2 tbsp dry roasted besan (chick pea flour))
  • Seekh Kabab masala (recipe above, I add the entire batch of masala, you can reduce a bit if you wish)
  • 2 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp very finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped onion, squeeze the water out
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2-4 green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • salt (about 1.5 tsp, adjust to taste)
  • Ghee for brushing while cooking/grilling
  • Chaat masala, chutney, sliced onions to serve

Note – Add 1 tsp meat tenderizer or 1 tbsp fresh grated green papaya if using ground meat (beef, mutton or lamb). Everything else reminds the same.

Method

Add the ground meat or chicken to your blender or food processor fitted with metal blade and pulse a 4-5 times to grind the mince finer. Transfer to a large bowl. To take out easily from around the blade, drizzle a little oil.

Grind the roasted black chickpeas using your spice grinder or any small grinder to a fine powder. Sift using a colander over the ground meat/chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients and using your hands, gently mix everything. Do not squeeze the meat but make sure the spices, herbs and salt is evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with a cling film and let marinate refrigerated for 1 hour (for chicken) and 1.5 hours (for meat).

If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water while the mince marinates. Once marinated, take the mince out of the refrigerator. Rightaway, take about 1/3 cup of the mince at a time, oil your hands and pierce the meat through the skewer. It is easier to skewer the kabab mix when the mince is cold. Using your palms and fingers, spread the meat in a cylindrical shape lengthwise on the skewer. Dont make a very thick kabab else it will not come out chewy, if you make very thin, they will dry out while high temperature cooking.

If using an oven, preheat it to the highest temperature. Mine goes upto 500F. Line a large baking tray with foil or parchment paper (this makes cleaning the tray easy) while oven is heating. Place a rack on the tray. Brush the rack with oil. Place the skewers on the rack. Liberally brush with oil or melted ghee. Cook in the hot oven for 6-8 minutes, flipping mid way. Slide under the broiler for a minute or two if you want a charred skin.

You can also grill these on a charcoal or indoor grill at the highest setting. Liberally brush with oil a few times for a moist kababs. Flip a few times for even cooking on all sides.

Once kababs are done, let it cool down on the skewer for a minute or so. Transfer to a plate from the skewers. Sprinkle with chaat masala.Serve immediately with onion, green chutney , flatbreads, lemons etc.

-Enjoy

A Thanksgiving Meal

This post is in collaboration with Ninja Kitchen.

Thanksgiving in 2020 is going to be so different than last years. We rarely stay home during Thanksgiving, either we visit friends or take short family trips. However, things are different this year but that should definitely stop us from celebrating with good food.

Since we are a small family, I love making cornish hens during the holiday which are abundantly available at this time of the year. There are a few simple sides, a minty yogurt raita and doughy naan. We love everything spice and hence the birds get a generous dose of spices in the form of my tandoori spiced compound butter.

Since we are a small family, I love making cornish hens during the holiday which are abundantly available at this time of the year. There are a few simple sides, a minty yogurt raita and doughy naan. We love everything spice and hence the birds get a generous dose of spices in the form of my tandoori spiced compound butter.

This recipe is different from tandoori spice paste recipe which I shared a few years ago. The is a dry rub, a mix of powdered spices which I mix with softened butter and then rub all over the bird and roast it. The bird comes out so so moist, it is incredibly delicious and there is lingering aroma of warm spices in your kitchen.

Since the bird is generously spiced, I keep the sides pretty simple. The garlic, cumin and kasoori methi roasted potatoes and simply roasted brussel sprouts pair well. The compound butter is so amazing and trust me you need to make extra and keep it in your fridge. It will go so well on tofu, paneer, fish or simply roasted vegetables.

Recipes

Tandoori Spiced Compound butter

For the tandoori masala

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom, seeds only
  • 2 green cardamom, seeds only
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 twigs mace
  • 1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), crushed fine between palms
  • 1/2 tbsp kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chaat masala
  • 1/2 tbsp hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Compound butter

  • 1 cup unsalted butter , very soft but not melting
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 tbsp chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
  • Minced garlic & ginger (if you want a pronounced flavor)
  • 1-3 tbsp of tandoori masala (adjust to taste)
  • Salt

Method

Make the Tandoori Masala :- Lightly dry toast the cumin, coriander, cardamom seeds, cloves, cinnamon and mace in a small pan for 2-3 minutes. Cool down the spices completely. Transfer to a spice grinder and make into a fine powder. Sieve the spices to make sure that their are no pieces left. In a bowl, add the spices along with rest of the spices listed. Mix everything very well. This masala can be stored in air tight container for up to two months.

Make the Compound Butter : – In a medium bowl, add the butter, oil, minced ginger and garlic (if using), chilli flakes and tandoori masala. Using a small spatula, mix everything very well. Let sit for atleast 30 minutes before using.

Tandoori Spiced Roasted Cornish Hens

  • 3 cornish hens, fresh or thawed(if using frozen)
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • Tandoori spiced compound butter
  • Oil for basting

Method : Make sure that the hens are properly thawed if using frozen. Using a paper towel, completely dry them. Massage the hens with the compound butter all over.Also massage the cavity liberally. If you are using hens with skin, slide your fingers to loosen the skin and massage the butter on the breast area properly. Once massaged, let the hens sit at room temperature for one hour before roasting. I dont, but if you want, you can fill the cavity with lemon slices or herbs.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Transfer the hens to a roasting pan lined with foil (makes cleaning easy). If you dont have roasting pan, you can use foil trays with a small rack over it. do not place the hens directly on the pan, it prevents circulation of heat and the bottoms will become watery. Roast the hens for 40- 60 minutes until the temperature at the thickest part reads 165F.

If using Ninja Foodi Smart XL grill, preheat the grill on roast with preset Chicken. Once the the grill is heated it will prompt you to add food, place the hens in the roaster tray, insert the Foodi Smart thermometer between the thigh and leg and press start. The grill will automatically set the time need to reach the temperature of 165 F for well done. Once the cooking is over, the grill will shut off.

Let the hens rest covered for 15 minutes and in the mean time you can make the sides.

Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb russet potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tbsp minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Method :- Mix everything together, place on a single layer in a baking sheet and and roast in a 400F oven or 30-35 mins until the potato skins are crisped and they are browned.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb brussel sprouts, washed & prepped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Olive oil

Method:- Toss the brussel sprouts with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a 400F over for 8-10 minutes.

Dahi Gujiya

Festivals are for special recipes and dahi gujiya are very popular during festivals in north indian homes. My grandmother used to make them on Holi and Diwali. The lentil batter is shaped into shape of gujiyas and they are stuffed with , chopped nuts, ginger, green chillies and raisins.

The soft and spongy gujiyas are a burst of tangy, spicy, sweet and salty. They take a few extra minutes than your usual dahi bade and biting into chopped nuts as you eat them is just heavenly.

If you do no want the stuff, you can use the recipe to make vadas as usual, minus the stuffing part, the recipe remains the same.I soak the gujiyas in hing water for about half hour and that makes a lot of difference. You can make ahead and store them for 4-5 days easily. Just fry and keep in the fridge. When you are ready to swerve, soak them in hot water before dunking in the yogurt.

Recipe

Ingredients (makes 10-12 gujiyas)

For the Gujiyas/vada

  • 1 cup split urad daal
  • 1/3 cup split yellow mung daal
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 green chilli, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

For the stuffing

  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 green chillies (to taste)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped cashews
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 1 tbsp chironji (if you can find, I could not)

For soaking

  • 3-4 cups hot water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp hing

For the yogurt

  • 2.5 cups thick yourt
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup cold water (depending on how thick or thin you like the yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tbsp chaat masala (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp kala namak
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • Salt to taste

Garnishes While Serving

  • Tamarind & green chutneys (to taste)
  • Chopped green chillies (to taste)
  • Bhujiya sev (to taste)
  • Pomegranate arils (to taste)
  • Chopped Cilantro (to taste)
  • Extra spices (same as above) for sprinking on top (see notes)

Notes

  • You can adjust the different spices and sugar in yogurt to your taste. I usually mix most spices that I sprinkle on top with the yogurt itself. It tastes a lot better.
  • Skip the stuffing part and make the regular vadas and dunk them in yogurt. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water to the lentil batter in that case and then make vadas.

Method

Step 1 :- Soak the Lentils

Place both the lentils in a large bowl and wash them a few times until the water runs clear. Soak them for not more than 5 hours. I usually soak them right in the morning when I am making chai, and make bade/gujiya at noon. If you soak them for a long time, lentil fritters tend to become oily.

Step 2 Grind the Lentils

Discard all the water from the lentils. Place them in the a high speed blender like Vitamix along with hing, green chillies and ginger. Start the blender slowly and then gradually increase the speed to medium. If you feel that the lentils need water to grind, add 1 tablespoon at a time. Don’t go beyond 2 tablespoon, use a scraper to scrape the sides of the blender. Grind everything to a almost smooth batter with just a little texture. The consistency of the batter has to be thick and pasty for the gujiyas. If you plan to make just vada without the stuffing, add extra 2 tbsp of water to the batter after grinding.

Transfer the ground lentils to a large wide bowl. In another small bowl, add 1 cup water.Keep the small bowl nearby. Start whipping the ground lentils rigorously with your hands in a circular motion. Whip them for 5-7 minutes until they are fluffy. To test if the lentils are fluffy, drop a tiny amount of ground lentils in the water in the small bowl, they should immediately float on the water. If the batter drops and settles at the bottom of water, you need to whip more. If needed, you can use a hand beater to whip the lentils.

Once lentils are whipped, add salt and whip again for 2-3 minutes.

Set enough oil in a large iron kadai or wide pan for heating up on medium low.

Step 3:-Shaping the gujiyas (Skip this step for vada)

Place a slightly thick piece of plastic (like a ziplock bag, don’t use cling film) on a flat surface. Spread a few drops of water on the plastic. Take a lime sized ball of the lentil batter. Place it on the plastic. Dip your hands in little water and flatten the lentil batter into a 3 inch circle, do not spread very thin. Put 1/2 tbsp of nut stuffing on one half of the circle (don’t add too much), lift the plastic and fold over the other half of the lentil circle to make a semi circle ( gujiya). Using wet hands, press the ends to seal nicely and make the shape neater if you wish.

Step 4:- Frying the gujiya

To check the temperature of oil, drop a little lentil batter into the oil, if it sizzles and rises up immediately, oil is too hot, if it drops to the bottom, the oil is cold.The oil should be medium hot. Carefully, peel the plastic away from the gujiya and place them in the oil. For making vada, you can drop little portions of lentil batter with a spoon in hot oil. Fry them in oil flipping once or twice till they are lightly golden.

Fry all the gujiyas/vadas same way and drain on paper towel. Fry in batches, don’t fry more than 2-3 gujiyas or 3-4 vadas at a time.

Step 5:- Soaking the gujiyas

Heat up 3-4 cups of water and add it to a large bowl. Mix in the salt and hing. Add the fried gujiyas to the warm water and press down with the help of a small plate (smaller than the diameter of the bowl). The more the area of the gujiyas will be soaked, they will be softer. Let them soak for about 20 minutes. They will become super soft and will fluff up slightly.

Take them out of the water, gently press between palms of you hands to remove water. Place the gujiyas in a container/plate, put the lid/cover and refrigerate for ablest 1.5 hours till the are chilled.

Step 6:-Make the Yogurt

While the gujiyas are chilling, you can make the yogurt. Beat the yogurt to smooth using a whisk, add water to thin out per desired consistency and then mix with all the spices and sugar. Taste and adjust the spices as you wish. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Step7:- Assemble

In a wide dish, add about 3/4 cup of yogurt that we made. Layer the chilled gujiyas in a single layer. Pour another 3/4 cup of yogurt on top. Reserve the remaining yogurt for when serving. Chill everything in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

Serve the chilled gujiyas as you wish with extra yogurt and garnishes.

Enjoy!

Samosa Pinwheels

These little bites are not only fun to make but super delicious too. A spicy samosa filling laced with smoky cumin and green chillies all rolled up in flaky puff pastry and baked to perfection. I like to serve them with chutney and chai and they disappear in no time.

Because these are baked in puff pastry, you dont miss the deep fried crust, however they are much quicker to put together, can be made a day ahead and kept cold in the fire and baked off right before you are ready to serve.

The filling is my go to samosa filling, a potato and pea and masala smelling of hing and green chillies. Adding a few step by step pictures in this post for easy referral. Make these for your Diwali party and serve them with cocktails or chai.

Step1

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 18-20 bites)

  • 2 puff pastry sheets (thawed overnight and kept cold)
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Melted (but cooled) butter for brushing

For the Samosa Filling

  • 2-3 potatoes, boiled (about 250 gms)
  • 1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp hing
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, coarsely crushed
  • 2-3 green chillies, chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • 1/2 tsp anardana (dried pomegranate seeds, crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Method

First make the samosa filling. Peel the boiled potatoes and using your hands, crumble them into small pieces, don’t mash them. Set aside.

In a medium pan, add the cooking oil and heat it up on medium low. Temper the oil with cumin, hing and coriander seeds, sauté for 20 seconds, do not let the spices burn. Add the chopped ginger and green chillies to the pan and sauté for about 10-15 seconds taking care not to burn anything. Take the pan off the stove if needed. Add peas to the pan, return to the stove and and sprinkle 1/2 tsp of salt. Cook the peas for 1-2 minutes if using frozen, cook for 3-5 minutes if using fresh until the peas are soft. You might need to cover the pan in case of fresh peas.

Add the red chili powder next and sauté. Add the potatoes to the pan and mix with everything else. Reduce the heat to low and sauté on low heat for 3-5 minutes until the potatoes are warmed through and nicely combined with spices and herbs but do not turn brown. Switch off the stove. Immediately mix in rest of the ingredients – chaat masala, anardana, amchoor, roasted cumin powder. Mix, taste and adjust the salt. Mix the cilantro. Samosa filling is ready. Transfer to a bowl or let the filling completely cool down in the pan. You can make the filling a day ahead as well.

Line a large cookie baking sheet with parchment paper. Make a slurry of 1 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp water.

Making the Samosa bites. Flour your working surface and unroll the thawed puff pastry sheet. Using a rolling pin, smooth out the folds of the pastry. Spread the flour slurry on all sides of the pastry.

Add the samosa filling on long side of the pastry leaving a 1/2 inch gap. Do not over stuff. Roll gently (like you would a cinnamon bun roll) but tightly to make a log. Pinch the end gently to close. If at any time you feel that the puff pastry is getting warm, refrigerate immediately and resume work once its chilled.

Using a sharp knife, cut about 2 inch thick pinwheels out of the pastry log. Place the pinwheels on the cookie sheet 2 inches apart, they will spread.Chill the pinwheels in refrigerator for 15 minutes before you bake or you can store them covered until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 400 F (or the temperature indicated on your puff pastry brand). Brush the pinwheels nicely with melted butter. Bake for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown. (start checking after 16 mins so that they are not too browned)

Serve warm with chutneys and chai.

-Enjoy!

Masala Kaju

One must have diwali snack in our house is Masala Kaju- deep fried cashews coated in a spicy tangy masala. It is best if you freshly roast and grind the spices. Also taste the masala and adjust the profiles to your liking. We likes ours tangy and hot.

This recipe has slowly evolved since I have been making it for years. It is a great snack to have around the house when guests are regularly visiting (though that might not be the case this year) however we can treat ourselves. No? My kids love these especially the little one,I reduce the chilli powder for her though. These cashew nibbles go well with drinks and in general a huge hit in our house during the festive season.

The recipe is very easy and its as quick as mixing some spices and tossing with fried cashews. I have never tried roasting the cashews, a little indulgence on festivals is totally acceptable and I make them during that time mostly.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (yield about 1 tbsp roasted cumin powder)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp anardana (dried pomegranate seeds)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1.5 tsp extra hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • 1 tsp kala namak (black salt)
  • 1 tbsp chaat masala
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • fresh ground black pepper (about 1/2 tsp)
  • salt
  • 400 gms raw whole cashews
  • oil for frying

Method

Lightly dry roast the cumin seeds and cloves in a skillet on low heat taking care not to burn or over roast the spices (that will make them bitter). Once roasted, grind to a powder.

Clean your spice grinder and separately, grind the anardana and fennel seeds. I find that the flavor profile of spices is much more promenient if you grind them separately and then mix.

Take a medium bowl and mix together all fresh ground spices along with the rest of the spices listed under ingredients. Taste the masala, it should be sharp and on the saltier side, adjust any spices to your liking. Set the masala aside.

In a heavy bottom kadai, add about 3 cups of oil. I use sunflower oil. Warm the oil on low medium heat, it will take about 4-5 minutes. We dont want the oil to be very hot. Start adding the cashews when the oil is just little warm.Add the cashews all at once or you can do so it in batches. It is okay to overcrowd the oil, since the nuts are dried, they won’t become soggy.

Once the cashews have been added to oil, let the cashews slowly fry in oil, keep on stirring in between so that they dont burn. Slowly the cashews will heat up and start getting crispy. Do not turn up the heat, it takes a while to fry up the cashews but this way they are properly crisped.

Once the cashews are visibly light golden in color, using a slotted spoon, take them out in a bowl. Do not drain on a paper towel, however remove as much oil as possible when you are taking out from the oil. If your remove all the oil from cashews and if they will be dry, masala won’t stick to them.

Immediately, while the cashews are still warm, start adding the masala, I start by adding about 3 tablespoons at first and mix nicely with a spoon to coat all the cashews in spices. Taste and add more masala if you wish. You might have leftover masala, you can store it and sprinkle it on anything – from chaat, kababs to salads to pakoras.

Let the cashews cool down and store them in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.

Enjoy!

Creamy Chutney Chicken Sandwich

Thank god it’s almost Friday. It’s been a super busy week and these sandwiches have saved lunches this week. 

I started playing with this recipe sometime when quarantine started in April and finally I think I got there. If you stroll around streets of Delhi, you will find hawkers selling those creamy vegetables/chicken sandwiches. With truck load of mayo and butter in them, slightly sweetish and really delicious.I love them! 

This sandwich is a huge hit in our home.My recipe doesn’t have mayo or butter, it’s elevated by pudina(mint) chutney and lots of fresh herbs and lemon but I think of those sandwiches when I make it. Needs a bit of preparation- cooking chicken, making chutney etc. And lunch gets so easy to put together from there. 

Some blanched petite peas go in, on somedays it’s shredded carrots or spinach. So amazing between soft white sandwhich bread (kids love that way) I like it between rye or sourdough too. Best eaten room temperature like the ones you find on streets. 

Recipe (Makes 4 sandwiches)

For the chicken

  • 1 chicken breast (boneless. skinless, about 8 oz in weight)
  • 3-4 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Mint Chutney

  • 1 bunch mint (about 20 gms), separate the leaves
  • 1 bunch cilantro (about 25 gms). removed the stalks
  • 2 thai bird green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tso cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor(dry mango powder) or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Creamy base

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt, plain
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
  • 2-3 tbsp of mint chutney
  • 2-3 tbsp of fresh chopped herbs (dill, chives, scallions whatever you have at hand)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha/green chili sauce (optional, leave out for kids)
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
  • Salt to taste

For the sandwich

  • about 1/3 cup blanched vegetables – peas, carrot jullians, spinach leaves etc
  • 8 slices of white bread

Method

Set a pot of water (about 2 cups) to boil on stove. Add 1/2 salt and peppercorns. When the water is boiling, slowly place the chicken in there. Reduce to a low medium simmer, cover the pot and let boil for 8-10 mins. Switch off the stove.Let the chicken breast cook in residual heat. Adjust time depending on the thickness and quality of chicken breast.

Take the chicken breast out, you can use water as stock for soup etc. Dry the chicken and using two forks, on a cutting board, shred the chicken into thin shreds.

While the chicken is boiling, you can make the chutney. Simply add all the ingredients listed to a blender and blend smooth. Use as less water as possible.

In a large bowl, add everything listed under the “Creamy base” Using a spoon, mix very well. Taste and adjust whatever you feel like- sour, salt, sweet etc. Add the shredded chicken and peas. Mix everything very well. The right consistency of the stuffing is soft and spreadable.

Stuff the chicken filling between slices of bread. Serve!

Mutton Kabobs

Grilled meat kabobs that we made over the weekend. My husband loves kabobs so I came up with this recipe using goat meat. They turn out very well, marinated in a herby lemony marinade, you will need raw papaya for tender kabobs, if bimeat tenderizer will work well too. Spicy and juicy with mild notes of fresh pounded spices- these are quite delicious. Green chutney, rice, some doughy naan etc to go along. Simple late summer meal. 

Ingredients

First marinade

  • 1 lb (1/2 kg) boneless mutton, cut in 1.5-2″ chunks
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp raw papaya paste (or use meat tenderizer)
  • 1 tsp salt

Second marinade

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 5-7 black pepper corns
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fine grated onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp birds eye green chilli paste (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1.5 tbsp mixed herbs, chopped super fine (cilantro, mint, parsley)
  • pinch saffron threads
  • 2-3 tsp salt(adjust to taste)

Onions, lime, so serve with

Method

Pat the meat dry and place in a large bowl. Add 2 tbsp lemon juice, papaya and salt. Rub everything nicely and leave to marinate for 2 hours.

Dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds along with pepper corns, pound them fine or grind in a grinder. Add everything for the second marinade in a bowl and mix very well. Pour over the marinated mutton, mix very well till all the pieces are coated, cover the bowl with a cling film and let marinate for at least 6-8 hours.

Once marinated, drain and discard the marinade. Thread the meat on long metal skewers.Brush some oil. Preheat an outdoor or indoor grill to high. Grill for 12-15 minutes for well done kabobs.

Serve warm.