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 saut̩. Add the potatoes to the pan and mix with everything else. Reduce the heat to low and saut̩ 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 Рchaat 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 itâ€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.

Chilli Lemon Cashews

Chilli Lemon Cashwes

Disclaimer : This post is sponsored by wegotnuts.com

Cashews are a favorite nut in our household. From mithai to creamy curries like korma or as a snack, we love them. My kids usually go for the plain salted roasted ones, but him and I and are fond of, you guessed it, the spiced ones. I make a few kinds and in this recipe I experimented a bit and used fresh lemon juice and that tang combined with the creamy and natural sweetness of the cashews was just wonderful.

Spicy, creamy and crunchy – these are so great with a cup of chai. As the cashews slow roast in their own fats in the oven, the natural sugars in them caramelize a bit and the spice coating tends to toast and together just makes the cashews so addictive.

These are a great option for gatherings or cocktail nibbles.You can make them days ahead and store them. The ingredients are few and they just require a little checking while slow roasting. You can use any kind of chill powder, I use the hot variety. If you have Tajin at home, you can add that in or sweet paprika works amazing as well-it gives them gorgeous color and smokiness. Yum.

Spicy Cashews With Chai

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp red chilli powder(use mild or hot or extra hot depending on tolerance)
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder 
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup(it wonâ€t make them sweet, it balances the tang) 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 3 to 3.5 cups wegotnuts raw whole cashews

Method

In a small bowl mix all the ingredients except the cashews. Let sit for 30 mins for the flavors to mingle. Preheat oven to 250F. Pour the spice mix over cashews and combine well with a spatula so that all the cashews are coated nicely. Spread the cashews in a single layer on a large cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Roast for 60-90 minutes(I baked for about 80 mins) stirring every 30 minutes for even roasting. Keep a close eye after 60 mins, they go fast from there. Cool down completely and store in air tight container. Enjoy! 

Stay spicy!

-Tanvi

Hot & Sour Chicken (Indo Chinese)

If you asked me about what eating out during childhood years meant, I would have nothing vivid to recollect about fine dining and celebratory dinners. Except for may be the street foods which we gorged on every other evening at Arun Chaat Bhandar, a tiny one room eatery which had been around ever since I have known,the restaurant trips were rare. More so because my grandmother and mother had this undying wish to recreate all kinds of food in their kitchen and less because eating out was not as big part of the indian culture during the 1980s as it is now-a-days. You can gauge that from the fact that whenever I tell my mother about anything non indian food that my daughter likes her play school, she asks me to look up the recipe on internet and cook it for her. ‘Ghar par hi bana do, accha rahega“, cook at home, it will be far better in taste, she tells me. Well, we will keep it for another day as to how I go about her suggestions (wink!) but coming back to my chidlhood days, other than the chaat corner, the other place that me and my siblings looked forward to was indo chinese food at ‘Sabus‘, a neon red-painted food van permanently situated at the front of the back wall of an old housing complex, itched with graffiti of an indian comic character, Sabu, a monstrous alien from planet Jupiter, huge & strong, bald and muscular,always wearing gumboots. It would be slightly untrue to state that we loved eating at that van just because of the noodles, there was more fun in the form of free stickers, liquid filled transparent chopsticks and cheap stamps if you placed a large order. Unlike the food trucks in the States, that red van without tyres was a lot dilapidated, with a much tamed down kitchen as far as cooking facilities & techniques available, but the food from there made sure that the street infront always smelled of soy & spices. You know that burnt, fermented savory ‘stink’?, when the soy bubbles & splutters when as soon as it hits the hot as volcano wok, that! As I write this, I can still remember the taste of food there from some 20 years ago, of the greasy chowmein and the scarlet colored chilli chicken. “It’s all in the wok”, the little Nepalese guy with golden hair and wrinkly forehead replied whenever questioned about his recipes or where he got his condiments.

My mom has been making this hot and sour chicken for so many years, the only difference being that she serves it with a runny sauce than what we ate at Sabus. I follow her recipe mostly except that I do not deep fry the chicken, rather lightly sear it before proceeding to make the sauce.This recipe is more of for an appetizer or starter course than the mains, however the husband insists on combining it some steamed jasmine rice each time. Any which way, the way that garlic & hot chili laced sauce with hints of tomato, soy and fresh cracked black pepper combines with vinegar soaked succulent morsels of chicken is just too delicious. Try it!

A tangy fusion dish of vinegar soaked chicken stirred with garlic – chili paste, soy and spices. 

  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs,skinless
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tbsp dark soya sauce ((I use Chingâ€s brand)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, fresh cracked
  • 1.5 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoon of oil (for skillet frying)

Notes:

  1. Use tofu, paneer and assorted vegetables for a vegetarian version of this recipe.
  2. If you would like to deep fry the chicken before adding to the sauce, mix 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon corn starch when you marinate.

For the Sauce

  • 6 fresh garlic pods
  • 2 whole fresh Fresno chillies (or any hot chili pepper, adjust to tolerance, de seed if you like )
  • 2 teaspoon dark soya sauce (I use Chingâ€s brand)
  • 2 tablespoon chilli tomato sauce (I use Maggi Hot & sweet, substitute with Sriracha & 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or use 1.5 – 2 tablespoons Sambal oelek )
  • 1.5 tsp honey (or brown sugar, adjust to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon pure, untoasted sesame oil (optional but recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1/2 cup chicken/vegetable stock or water
  • 3-4 tbsp oil (I used sunflower, use any neutral oil)
  • 5 scallion stalks, white & green cut separately
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to tolerance)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 – 2 tbsp white vinegar (adjust to taste, or use a few dashes of balsamic vinegar)
  • For Garnish – chopped scallions(green parts)

Method

Preparation

Clean the chicken, pat it dry. Cut the cleaned chicken into bite size pieces. Rub it with garlic, chili, soy sauce, salt & pepper, vinegar and let sit for about 25-30 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, using your mortar and pestle or mini processor, crush the garlic and Fresno chillies to tiny bits.You could use some water if required for blending.

In a small bowl, mix up the soy sauce, chili tomato sauce, honey and sesame oil(if using). In another bowl, mix the cornstarch with the stock and set aside.

Cooking

In a wide skillet (I used my 12″), heat up 2-3 tbsp of oil on high. Pick up the marinated chicken pieces, shake to release vinegar and layer on the skillet and let sear on both sides, flipping in between. Make sure that the chicken pieces cook all the way through. This may take about 7-8 minutes or more depending on the size of pieces.

Once done, transfer the chicken pieces to a plate and reserve the drippings in the skillet itself.

Add the 3 tbsp oil into the same skillet and heat it up on medium. Add the crushed garlic chili paste  and fry up these for 20-30 second or so till you smell the aroma. Be careful that the garlic does not burn (else it will be bitter). Next add the chopped onions and scallions (white parts) and cook on medium high for 3-4 minutes or till light brown in color. Add the tomatoes next and let cook till they begin to soften. Next, add the ginger along with the soy sauce mix made earlier, let cook for 3-4 minutes till everything starts looking glossy or till you see bubbles on the sides. Next, add the cornstarch mix to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for another 2-3 minutes till the sauce thickens slightly.

Next, taste & adjust the salt in the sauce. Sprinkle the red chili flakes & vinegar to the skillet and stir everything well. Add the chicken & toss so that the pieces are evenly coated.

Garnish with chopped green scallions & serve immediately.

Roasted Flattened Rice & Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda-Matar)

Many times, it really takes a beating to make favorite foods from childhood healthier. I don’t know. I always feel that childhood could absorb all that gluttony of sweets, fat and carbohydrates. Not that now my metabolism won’t permit, but my mind seriously watches goes into my system. When I was changing this recipe of fried chivda(flattened rice), a favorite snack from my years of growing up and an immensely popular street food in the northern parts of india,usually served in soiled newspaper cones, I wanted the flattened rice to make the same crackling cripsy sound between my teeth as it should  but did not want to sink it down in a pool of hot oil. I wanted that rich salty grease from it to drown my tastebuds and coat the roof of my palette but did not want to witness the flakes swimming and popping inside oil. Not really.

You know sometimes, you might feel that the close-to- perfect meals that you see on this blog are easy and I work wonders like michelin chefs in my home kitchen,but truth be told, on few days, there are bundles of failures and wastage (eeeks) associated with experimenting while cooking .It happens al the time with me, I dream of something and the reality of the finished dish is not so awesome. Anyhow,while I turned to my try-new-things idea, out came the cookie sheet and on the lines of making granola, I set out. I tossed the flattened rice in tablespoons of oil and actually used all the patience I could muster at that ungodly hour of the night to lay it in a single layer. I might have gone  a bit too far by actually trying to separate each and every rice flake from the other with help from chopsticks under the dim night kitchen lights. Hmm. Into a low oven for under half an hour and out came the baking sheet. My fears came to life when the rice did not look or smell up to the mark, not like I dreamt it to be. I would not categorize it as inedible but the long story short, the granola procedure failed me.The count of  beating went another notch up. Some other  time,I told myself and retired to bed.

Then another day, in the bright of the noon, I took out the trusted cast iron skillet, heated oil to smoky and sizzled rice flakes in it and then with a lot more patience on my side, watchfully, slow roasted the chivda, stirring it continually with fork to a crispy goodness, sniffing it, observing how the toasted brown to a bowlful, one which crinkled in the mouth and coated the tastebuds with salty fat. I got it.

When we were kids, 5 pm foods were the best.No jokes. From piping hot samosas and jalebi from the neighbourhood halwai (sweets vendor) or instant noodles from neon yellow pouches, curry puffs and puddings, fruit shakes to potato balls, it was real fun everyday to see mom, badi mummy(my grandma) and aunts cook up new things for us.This chivda (flattened rice) is one from those days. During the spring and early summer season, fresh peas were tossed in cumin and green chillies and served along side. The rustic, mish mash snack plate of sorts is a burst of textures – sweet, salty, smoky and hot. The chaat masala and bits of ginger combine with the sweetness of those peas to make up a pleasing bite. I could never get the same taste with frozen peas, you need to make this before the fresh pea season lasts. Whats more? Its gluten free, vegan and tad healthy. Go make some. Now.

 Printable Recipe

Both the components of this recipe can be done ahead. Roast the chivda (flattened rice) and store it in air tight jar for up to a week. I usually make the peas 3-4 hours ahead (they have better flavor if they sit for a while) and warm up later but you can totally make them when ready to serve.

Ingredients (Serves 4-5)

For the Roasted Chivda (Flattened Rice)

  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • 2.5 cups thick poha (flattened rice, available in any indian/pakistani stores)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Optional  – add any nuts or seeds of choice, peanuts, cashews, raisins, sunflower seeds etc

For the Spiced Peas

  • 10oz (about 280 grams) shelled fresh peas, blanched
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (from 1 small onion)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (about 2.5″ piece of ginger)
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • 2-3 Thai green chillies (or adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala 
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chaat masala (skip if you do not have, and add fresh lemon juice to taste)
  • 1.5 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (from 4-5 stalks, optional)

Method

Roast the Chivda

In a wide, cast iron skillet (I use my 10″) , heat up the oil to the point that it about to smoky. Put off the stove. Take a fork in one hand and start adding the flattened rice with the other, continuously stirring else it will burn. Add all of the rice, and stir so that all the flakes are coated in oil. Add the salt and stir to combine. Return the skillet to stove and on low heat, let the rice toast up. Keep on stirring it a lot of times, else it will burn and you will see that the flakes start to change color. You will smell a nutty aroma too. It takes about 8-10 minutes on low heat for the rice to completely roast and turn pale brown. This time will depend on the variety and thickness of flattened rice you are using. Adjust.

Once the flattened rice has roasted, let it cool down completely. Transfer to an air tight jar. Use a clean, dry spoon to serve it. Store up to a week.

Make Spiced Peas

In a wide pan, heat up the oil on medium heat. Once heated, temper the oil with cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle.Add the chopped onions to the pan and let the onions cook till transculent.Don’t brown them.Next, add the chopped ginger & green chili to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the blanched peas next along with garam masala and salt to taste. Stir to combine and let cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Add the chaat masala and chopped cilantro next and stir fry on high heat for 3-4 minutes, continuously stirring.Take care that the peas do not turn mushy.

Put off the heat, add fresh lemon juice.

To serve, plate up the roasted chivda and spicy peas. Add 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar on top along with a sprinkle of red chili flakes. Enjoy with a cup of chai.

Thank you for stopping by!

Stay Spicy.

 

Vegetable Manchurian



If there has to be a dish that I overindulged on during college days, it has to be Manchurian – chicken, cauliflower, vegetable, dry, gravy, sweet,spicy, salty, you name it and I would raise both my hands. With that extra cash at the end of the month, saved from pocket-money each week, I, along with few other girls could be found in all sorts of street side places in and around the college or hopping onto public transport to far away Dilli Haat.There would be plates of greasy noodles, lightly crispy vegetarian(or not) deep fried dumplings coated in spicy manchurian sauce, gossip, laughter, half-finished assignments and a compulsory side of fruit beer for late lunches.

Having said that, indeed my appreciation for this ever so popular indo chinese dish stems from those days. Mum hardly made it, for cooking indo chinese at home is slightly redundant when you are living in India because (almost) always you will end up comparing  it with that fantastic taste from the sloppy joints at street side. So while the hotspots around the city are to be held responsible for  my insatiable  appetite towards indo chinese, I never made it at home, it was only after I moved to States some five years back that I tried recreating it at home. Take chicken in hot garlic sauce or fried rice, talk gobhi manchurian or spicy schezwan noodles,by the end of the first couple of  months here, I started getting there, developing recipes with the memories of how they should taste in my head and trying to replicate that inside the super hot wok. The fact that the husband shares my love for indo chinese fare and we kind of got tired of consuming overly sweet chili chickens & hakka noodles tossed with snap peas & broccoli (yikes!) and accepting the fact that the restaurants here just do not get it(or we like to think so),it was exciting to see those similar tastes turning on our meal tables from our own kitchen.

When you make indo chinese, besides ingredients, bring along a lot of patience to the cutting board. Spend the late afternoon mincing garlic and chopping ginger.Shred those carrots and cabbage finer than you think you would need, sniff and taste that mix of soy sauce with coriander & turmeric and shy away from de seeding those hot chillies, coz boy is this one spicy cuisine or what?This vegetable machurian recipe has stayed in my kitchen for few years now. I often make it on non-meat eating days or when I have a stash of miscellaneous vegetables that need to be used up right away. I would not say that deep-frying them is the best option but then you are not eating fried chicken so its kind of okay.You know what I mean, right?After all, its veggies!

Vegetable Manchurian is a widely popular dish of the indo chinese genre. It is nothing by vegetable dumplings in a  ‘Manchurian†sauce. Do not confuse the origins of  ‘Manchurian†sauce – it definitely has nothing to do with that region in South East Asia. Creatively put together by chinese who lived in eastern parts of  india for centuries, just imagine it to be an amber-colored, tangy and mildly sweet but hot sauce with hints of indian spices. Indo chinese is what it is due to typical indian condiments – I make it a point to use the brands from indian store for the authentic taste. However, you can confidently do few a substitutions (see notes ) and use your pantry to try this recipe.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the Manchurian Sauce

  • 1/2 tbsp dark soya sauce (I use Chingâ€s brand)
  • 2 tbsp chilli- tomato sauce (I use Maggi Hot & sweet)
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1.5 tsp cornstarch +4 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2  tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2-3 small green chili (use any mild/hot variety)
  • 5-7 garlic pods, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, white parts
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne, adjust to tolerance)
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup stock (vegetable or chicken, don’t use water)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar (or to taste)
  • For Garnish – chopped scallions(green parts), ginger, chopped green chillies

For the Deep fried Vegetable Balls

  • 1 cup finely chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4  cup finely chopped green beans
  • 1 small green chilli, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • scant 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Oil for deep frying

Method 

Making the Manchurian Sauce

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

In a wok/pan , heat up the oils to smoking hot. Add chopped garlic, green chillies & ginger and cook for 1 minute or till you smell the aroma. Next add the chopped scallions (white part) & red onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or till light brown in color. Add the coriander & black pepper powder next, stir for 10 seconds and then add the soya sauce mix made earlier.Stir for a minute or so and then add the stock. Simmer for 2-3 minutes  on medium-high heat or till you see bubbles on the sides.Add the cornstarch mix to the wok. Reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for another 2-4 minutes till the sauce starts to thicken.

Next, taste & adjust the salt in the sauce. Add the vinegar to the wok and stir everything well.Remove from heat and add the fried vegetable balls to the pan. Dont stir too much with spoon at this point.

Garnish with chopped green scallions & serve immediately.

Making the Vegetable Balls

In a large bowl, mix together all the chopped vegetables. Add salt, mix(do not squeeze) and let sit for (not more than) 10 minutes. Add the all-purpose flour and corn starch next and gently mix together. If you feel that the mixture is on a dry side add a tablespoon or so of water (ideally you will not be needing it since the vegetables leave water from sitting in salt).

Heat up 2-3 inches of oil in a frying pan on medium high. Shape into small lime size balls and add to the frying pan, Make sure that the oil is not too hot(else the balls will remain raw from inside) or too low (else they will scatter in oil). Fry, turning on all sides to golden dark brown

Drain the fried vegetable balls on a paper towel before adding to sauce (recipe above).

Serve immediately with noodles or fried rice.

Notes :-

  1. Use any vegetables that you like (just do not use potato)coz trust me after frying they will anyhow taste good.
  2. You might be tempted (like me) to use food processor to chop the vegetables but trust me it makes them watery. I recommend chopping them with knife.
  3. Substitute dark soya sauce with tamari (for vegan)
  4. Adding tomato – chilli sauce adds extra heat. I get this sauce from indian stores. You can use just plain tomato ketchup or add mix of sriracha & tomato ketchup for a sweet, spicy tangy flavor to the sauce.
  5. The sauce can be made 2-3 hours in advance. Just fry up the vegetable balls and serve when you want to.
  6. If you forsee leftovers, store the sauce and vegetable balls separately. Toss them together just when you want to serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Fried Fish



My dad loved to entertain and this would mean as the weekend was approaching,mom would be spending most of her time brainstorming dinner menus. End of the week and the house would be choked with family and friends and even after doing it for several years,I loved the excitement in her gait on saturday mornings when we strolled to the bazaar to get groceries.There would be guests with both vegetarian and non vegetarian choices, not many with special diets but definitely all,secretly,looking forward to her deftly spiced dishes. Many from the near family would sometimes call ahead in the day with requests over the phone while others just warmed their hearts thinking of the surprise that she would bring to the table.Each time, she came up with such a fantastic menu, the array of dishes perfectly complementing each other, each course well thought, most of the food homemade and few not.

She did not choose to make elaborate,time-consuming dishes if the number of guests were many but quite a variety so that everyone could spoon a favorite on their plate. All afternoon, the house smelled of few dozen or so of mutton koftas simmering inside the aluminum pot specifically reserved for cooking on such days of big meals, a show stopper as my dad would say, it was the main dish along side puffy rotis, then, there would be dishes made with paneer ,a must on north indian entertaining menus,a slow cooked side of potatoes, another crowd pleaser, her cinnamon spiced red hued dum aloo and the signature rice pilaf, brought together with ghee criped cumin seeds folded in fragrant basmati,thick, nutty dal tarka, tempered with ghee & scattered with cilantro and served with lemon wedges on side of the bowl. On few occasions, she would tend to a pot of boiling kadhi which by the way was a favorite of almost every aunt I know in the family,while quickly frying up ajwain scented onion pakoras on the side stove at the last moment so that the fritters remained crispy till the guests sat down to eat.

If it were winters, there would be fried seafood as starters,a winter tradition, a family favorite,when the fish season peaks in the bazaars, without a miss, fried,crispy pieces of rohu (fresh water carp) fish were served along with vinegar soaked onion rings and smoking hot green chutney.If my dad got a good deal, few kilos of white pomfret were slid into smoking mustard oil for guests. Quite in contrast to here, growing up, we consumed copious amounts of seafood during the colder months and that’s the reason I crave it every now and then. Every region in India has its own fish fry recipe, in the coastal areas of south india,fresh caught smaller fish are doused in a paste of ground coconut and red chillies before deep-frying while in the eastern parts, in a lightly brit inspired ‘fish & chips’, they fry the marinated fish after a coating of egg and bread crumbs.

However, mum uses a batter which she tells is my maternal grandfather’s recipe.The marinated fish is coated in a garlic-ginger laced,turmeric hued marinade and then scantly coated in a mix of rice and besan (chickpea) flours.She fondly recollects that during her childhood, my grandfather used to soak the rice a night before and stone grind it the following day to coat the thick,belly pieces of rohu in it and they would sit around the stove waiting in turn to get the piping hot fritter. If you happen to visit my home, mum makes fried fish the same way, she would soak the rice and hand grind it on sil-batta(stone grinder). I have adapted the recipe and use ready-made rice flour to make it quick and equally delicious.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

For Marinating 

  • 1 lb fish (I used 4 large tilapia belly pieces cut into half or equivalent weight any small whole fish like pompano or pomfret)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • 3/4 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala 
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp mustard oil
  • generous pinch of salt

For Coating

  • 3 tbsp rice flour
  • 1/4 besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • salt to taste (to taste)

For Frying

  • Mustard Oil for frying (substitute with any high smoky point oil)
  • 1/2 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)

For Serving

  • Chaat Masala
  • Onion slices
  • Lemon Wedges

Method

Clean and descale the fish pieces or ask your butcher to do it. Wash under a stream of water and pat them dry with a paper towel. In a flat dish, layer the pieces and add all the ingredients listed under marination. Rub everything with your hands to coat the fish and refrigerate for 1 hour.

15 minutes before ready to fry, take out the fish from the refrigerator and let sit on the kitchen counter. In a bowl, combine the rice flour, besan and chaat masala. Taste a pinch of this mixture before adding additional salt since chaat masala is quite salty, then adjust the salt to taste.

Set 2 inches of mustard oil (or whichever oil your are using) in a heavy bottomed, wide pot or skillet (I use my 10″ cast iron) to heat up on medium flame.While the oil is heating, add the flour mixture to the marinated fish pieces.Mix with hands such that the flour sticks to the fish.Add a light splash of water if needed. We do not want a wet batter. We do not want a thick flour batter to coat the fish, instead just a uneven coating of flour on the fish (similar to coating chicken when deep frying).

Once the oil is hot, about 325 F, add fenugreek seeds to it.Let the seeds crackle.Gently set the coated fish pieces the into hot oil and fry for 3-4  minutes on each side until medium golden brown in color. (this time will be more in case you are using whole fish). Do not fry on very high or very low heat else the fish will get soggy or remain raw inside.
Drain on paper towel and when the fish is still hot, sprinkle more chaat masala. Discard the oil.

Serve immediately with onion slices and lemon wedges and green chutney or any sauce of choice.

Notes

  1. You could use whole small fish (like pomfret,golden pompano,trout, mackerel) or freshwater fish like rohu, katla (indian varieties) or boneless fish fillets ( cat fish, tilapia, cod, mahi-mahi) in this recipe. When using a whole fish, make incisions before you marinate.
  2. Chaat Masala is a hot & tangy blend of spices which is easily available in indian/pakistani stores. If you do not have it, skip and add a little cayenne and crushed black pepper to the flour mix. You could squirt lemon juice for tang once you have finished frying the fish.
  3. Many times, I use the same recipe to fry up fillets and stuff them inside tortillas or roti with coleslaw and serve as fish tacos.

Tandoori Chicken

On evenings coming back from work, when the bus was running terribly behind schedule, I volunteerd to get down way before my stop and walk down home.The side walk still wet from the rain spells an hour or two before smelled of decaying earth and lush green foliage all along looked as fresh as just bathed.The moist breeze of monsoon evenings was a much sought break after spending the whole day in air conditioning.

The fastest way to home get to home was through of busy market surrounded by the yellow government quarters (apartments) which looked like tiny match boxes stuffed on top of each other. In India, such streets are dotted with places to eat and these little food joints have been around for so many years that they turn into local favorites.

There was is a take out restaurant which was one of our favorites for non vegetarian food in the area. All you notice as a passerby were two or three young men wearing colored vests standing in front of the clay oven (tandoor)on one side,their hands stained in spices skewing marinated birds and tikka on to the slender iron bars, and some making rumali roti (paper thin flatbreads) on the other side. The aroma of smoke & cooked dough clinged to the blanket of air surrounding the entrance and the eternal long queue at the coupon station was a common sight.

When we went to Delhi last year, I made sure that the husband tastes the food from there. I remember we ordered garlicy naan, butter chicken and tandoori chicken for home delivery. Its been quite a while and we still talk about the meal from that night so you know what I mean. There must be thousands of places in Delhi serving bestest tandoori chicken but this little restaurant thriving in a tiny pocket of big city is where most of my family memories are woven around – of celebration, of laughter of cheerful Sunday meals around the table.

This recipe  took me quite a few attempts to get together. In India,the tandoori is more charred and blackish in appearance  than the orange hued you see here at restaurants. Infact, if you use good quality turmeric and kashmiri chilli powder, ideally the reddish-orange color should come along on its own during high heat roasting. In India, we do not eat chicken skin, so whenever making tandoori, use skinless chicken, the meat should be succulent and moist on the inside & chewy on the outside (not crispy).

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken drumsticks  (my package weighed total 2 lb, you could use any dark meat cut)
  • oil for basting
  • For serving - Chaat masala, onion slices, lemon wedges, fresh chopped cilantro.

First Marinade

  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder or cayenne (adjust to tolerance)

Second Marinade

  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 black cardamom, seeds only
  • 1 green cardamom, seeds only
  • 2 cloves
  • 8 raw cashews, broken (or use 2 tbsp cashew meal)
  • 1 small twig of cinnamon (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup thick plain yogurt
  • 1″ fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1.25 tbsp chaat masala
  • 2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (this lends the color,not the heat)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
  • scant pinch of ajwain seeds
  • 1 tbsp ghee, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp good quality saffron threads (optional)

Notes:

  1. Indian cinnamon is quite sharp as compared to the sweet cinnamon used in the west, that’s why I have noted a small quantity, adjust as per taste but do not go overboard.
  2. Black Cardamom has no substitute in this recipe. It has a woody, strong flavor and aroma much different that the sweet smelling cardamom. If you do not have it simply skip it.
  3. Chaat Masala is a tangy blend of spices which is used in indian cuisine.In this recipe it makes the marinade thick as well as lends it distinct hints of sharpness & smokiness,if you do not have it, use some lemon juice and a bit of roasted cumin powder in its place. If you want you can order online  or buy at indian/pakistani store. It keeps well for almost a year and can be used in salads, roasted vegetables or meats etc.
  4. You can make the tandoori marinade and immediately freeze it up to a month. When using, thaw it in the refrigerator and mix in the proteins or vegetables you are using.
  5. I recommend not using lean or boneless cuts like chicken breast for making tandoori because the high heat of cooking will immediately make the poultry chewy. You could use whole boneless thighs though.

Method

Skin the chicken and wash it under a running steam of water. Using paper towels, completely pat the chicken dry.Using a sharp knife, make incisions in the chicken and place in a bowl. Thoroughly rub the chicken with lemon juice, salt and chili powder. Set in the refrigerator.

Lightly crush the the black peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cloves and cinnamon in mortar & pestle.Place them into the blender. Add the cashews, yogurt,ginger, garlic, garam masala, chaat masala, kashmiri chilli powder, turmeric, nutmeg, ajwain, ghee, saffron and salt to the blender.Blend everything very very well till a smooth paste is formed. Refrigerate this paste for 30 minutes for flavors to mix.(If its not very hot, you can leave it on the kitchen counter top else in the fridge so that yogurt does not turn sour)

Mix in the chicken and the marinade and let sit refrigerated for 18-24 hours (at least). This time of marination is really important. You could marinate up to 2 days in advance.

Once ready to cook, leave the chicken pieces out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil (this makes cleaning easy) and set a rack over it. Also, preheat your oven to its highest temperature  (600 F in my case). Place the chicken pieces over the rack and roast for 20 -25 minutes or until done, basting liberally with oil. Use a lot of oil for basting, this is very important for a moist chicken. You will need to open up the oven door and brush the chicken 3-5 times, keep on turning it to cook on all sides. Alternatively you could grill the chicken outdoors,basting it at intervals

Serve hot immediately with chaat masala, onion slices, lemon wedges, fresh chopped cilantro.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!