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Condiments/Spice Blends Easy Recipes Gluten Free How To Indian Streetfood Pickles/Preserves Salads Seafood Vegetarian

Homemade Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Spice Blend)

Sinfully Spicy - Homemade Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Indian Spice Blend) RecipeAlong with garam masala or the hot indian spice blend which got more popular in the west, I find chaat masala equally versatile and quite frequently used in my kitchen. ‘Chaat‘ translates to any snack or food item served on the streets in the northern parts of India and ‘Masala‘ in Hindi refers to any sort of (dry or wet) spice blend. If you happen to hit streets in India for food, mostly everything that you will order will come to your table speckled with generous pinches of chaat masala, of course making it lip smacking good and adding a myriad array of tart, salty and hot flavors all at once.It is essentially the spice blend which you will spot on top of pakoras(fritters), tandoori chicken, kebab platters, murgh tikkachaat items (of course), mixed in with raita (yogurt dip) and sometimes sprinkled over side salads and onions in indian restaurants here.The one which punches all the senses in the first bite and with a tempting flavor profile of tang and heat.

Sinfully Spicy - Homemade Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Indian Spice Blend) RecipeI would essentially compare chaat masala to the movie theatre popcorn seasoning (oh I love those) which come in all sorts of flavors and add the much-needed zip to your treat.The only difference that can be pointed here is that even though the spice blends differ from brand to brand and home to home and cook to cook but all are referred to as just ‘chaat masala‘. If you are buying from the stores, pick up a couple of brands, try, choose your favorite and stick to it. I am using the same brand for more than a decade and its worth all your money. While you will sniff and taste warm and (slightly) bitter notes in garam masala, chaat masala is sour and peppery with a pronounced heat level. It is a strong blend, one with a kick, in aroma as well to taste.

Sinfully Spicy - Homemade Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Indian Spice Blend) RecipeAfter I  came to the States, like many immigrants starting their life, building bit by bit, accepting the smoothness of life here (trust me it didn’t come easy),I recollect how in those days, we did not own a car and trip to indian grocers was a hardly a once or twice a month activity.Even after making ten lists, I would forget a lot of pantry staples. It was during that time that I delved into making my own spice blends.I found this recipe last month scribbled at the back of an old notebook while I was spring cleaning the garage of old boxes from moving  and with an afternoon to kill ahead of me, I blended up some chaat masala. For those of you who happen to live in a place where indian grocer are quite far away to drive to or simply just to try your hand at homemade blends,this recipe could be a starting point. Play with it. Measure, grind, sniff and taste. Add or take items as per your liking. Let the flavor and aroma of spice that you like shine.

Sinfully Spicy - Homemade Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Indian Spice Blend) RecipeFor all practical reasons, almost always,I go and pick up a pouch from the grocer shelf for the heck of convenience but it is less in comparison to homemade.Trust me on that. Make some and sprinkle on anything and everything you want. It goes very well on top of cut up raw vegetables like cucumbers, celery, radishes or baby carrots. Add it to marinades (just be cautious of heat) and salad dressings. Use it on grilled meats or seafood. My favorite way is to dredge a lime wedge in it and slowly savor it, try it, its addictive!

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Makes approximately 3/4 cup)

  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 5-6 whole dried red kashmiri chillies (remove stems, adjust to taste)
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon ajwain (carrom) seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 small green cardamom, whole
  • 1 small clove
  • 1/4 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2.5 tablespoons amchoor (dry mango powder, buy online here)
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon citric acid powder
  • 1 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder (or paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kala namak(black salt, available in indian storesskip if you do not have)
  • 2-3 dried mint leaves 
  • 2 tablespoon salt (or to taste)

Method

In a dry skillet, lightly dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, whole chillies, ajwain, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick, each spice one at a time, separately, on low heat. Do not let the spices turn brown. Let cool completely.

Put the roasted spices along with other items into dry coffee grinder or spice grinder and blitz to a fine powder.

Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
General How To Vegetarian

How to Make Paneer (Fresh Indian Cheese)

SinfullySpicy - How to Make Paneer/Panir, Indian Cottage Cheese 001

Okay this is long due. This post is in my drafts for more than two years. I was trying a lot of ways all this time but something wasn’t right with the texture & taste of paneer I made at home.As simple as it sounds but just splitting the milk,tying up & weighing it down was not as easy as it looked. Sometimes the curds didn’t pull together or the taste was off, on few days I was left with dryish, crumbly blob.

SinfullySpicy - How to Make Paneer/Panir, Indian Cottage Cheese 002

Once you get a hang of it, making paneer could be the easiest thing you do in your kitchen. The steps are simple and there are just a few things you need to keep in mind and viola you are a cheese maker! I am sharing a recipe which I have developed to suit our tastes.Its moist, creamy and mildly chewy.The cubes hold up their shape when added to curries or grilled on high heat.

SinfullySpicy - How to Make Paneer/Panir, Indian Cottage Cheese 003

SinfullySpicy - How to Make Paneer/Panir, Indian Cottage Cheese 004

Paneer/Panir is something you cannot imagine north indian cuisine without.From curries to flatbreads to desserts, there is hardly any course where paneer is not served if you sit down for meals.Back in India, freshest paneer is easily available at every nook and corner of the neighborhood having unmatched quality.This mild tasting cheese could be one few of the best indian things you can put into your mouth. It is a popular substitute for vegetarians in India and if you ask me,sometimes I choose paneer dishes over chicken or meat.

SinfullySpicy - How to Make Paneer/Panir, Indian Cottage Cheese 008

SinfullySpicy - How to Make Paneer/Panir, Indian Cottage Cheese 006 SinfullySpicy - How to Make Paneer/Panir, Indian Cottage Cheese 007

There are many ways of splitting the milk which differ from recipe to recipe. I personally don’t  like to use lemon juice because no matter how much I wash the curds, I still taste the citrus note. If you are in India, sour indian style curds (khatta dahi) works great but I was not able to find it here & yogurt is not as good a substitute. I have known few recipes using  buttermilk but again indian mattha/chaas is made from dahi so it was not a choice for me.

SinfullySpicy - How to Make Paneer/Panir, Indian Cottage Cheese 008

SinfullySpicy - How to Make Paneer/Panir, Indian Cottage Cheese 0011

SinfullySpicy - How to Make Paneer/Panir, Indian Cottage Cheese 009

This recipe can be halved,doubled or tripled. Please use this recipe as a basic guideline to make paneer. The timings mentioned in the recipe will differ on stove settings and milk/cream quality.

Ingredients (Makes about 8oz block of paneer)

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar (this quantity of vinegar can go up to 1/3 cup)

Other things that you will need :-

  • A heavy bottomed pot to boil the milk& cream
  • A wooden spoon or plastic spatula to stir the milk while boiling
  • Cheesecloth/muslin (large enough so that it can be tied up)
  • Soup Strainer/Colander
  • A bowl to collect the whey (which is extremely nutritious and can be used to knead doughs or as stock).
  • Few rubber bands or string to tie the cheesecloth

Method

Line the strainer with double layer of cheesecloth/muslin. Set it over the bowl to catch the whey such that there is gap between the bottom of strainer and the bowl. Keep rubber bands or string nearby. I recommend setting this up near your sink so that once you have strained the curds you can hang the cheesecloth on the tap.

Add milk to the pot. Let the milk warm up on medium heat for about 5-6 minutes. Once the milk is warm, add the heavy cream to the pot and bring the whole mixture to a boil. This will take 12-15 minutes on medium heat, you will need to intermittently stir the mixture so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Keep a close eye because the milk can boil very quickly.

Once the milk has boiled, put off the heat. Wait for 3-5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the boiled milk. Immediately you will see that the milk starts to coagulate and a greenish liquid separating (this is whey). This green liquid will be clear, if it’s still whitish, you might need to add more vinegar. Add vinegar 1 tbsp at a time till you see clear green liquid.

Pour the curdled milk over the strainer lined with cheesecloth. The whey will collect in the bowl. Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and fasten with the help of rubber band/string. Hang this for maximum 5-7 minutes so that the liquid drains away. Stop as soon as the water stops dripping in a continuous string. At this point use you hands to squeeze the cheesecloth bundle a little bit.Don’t apply too much pressure. 

Place the cheesecloth on a plate and keep another plate on top of it to flatten down to a block. Next keep a heavy weight on top of it. I fill up my 3 quart stainless tea kettle with water and use it to weigh down. You could use tomato/bean cans. Keep the curds weighed down for at least 30-45 minutes at room temperature. Drain the liquid that has collected in the plate and unwrap the cheesecloth to take out the block.

Carefully, keep he paneer block in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before cutting through,though I find that it much better if I wait up to 36 hours to cut a piece.

Store paneer refrigerated for 4-5 days. It could be frozen for up to 2 weeks.

Few other tips & suggestions-

  1. Be sure not to add the vinegar when the milk is boiling and do not heat the milk once you have added it, else the curds will become rubbery. (see recipe for when to add vinegar)
  2. Do not let too much water drain from the curdled milk once you have tied it up in the cheese cloth else your paneer will be dry and the curds will never pull together to form a block.
  3. It is better to cut paneer when the block is cold. Use a sharp knife. 
  4. I recommend storing the paneer block in little bit of water (like we store fresh mozzarella) in the refrigerator. Cut out pieces as you need.
  5. You could skip addition of heavy cream in this recipe but it does make a difference in the softness.

Happy Cheese making & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
General How To Vegetarian

Homemade Ghee (Indian Clarified Butter)

Sinfully Spicy- HomeMade Ghee (Clarified Butter)The noise of the slotted ladle against the stainless steel milk pot worked like a morning alarm for us. Stepping out after a bath and with the towel still wrapped around her head, she skimmed malai (cream) from the milk that had been boiled and left to cool off in the refrigerator overnight, often complaining how the times have changed, people are no more honest for the quality of product from the milkman deteriorated each day.

From the malai she had collected for weeks together, the yield was a small bowl of ghee. I never understood the point of slogging over for something you can easily pick up in stores for a few bucks. But badi mummy (my grandma) said that homemade was incomparable in taste and aroma. Not only was the ghee used in the kitchen but also to light up cotton wicks of the evening lamp in the mandir (temple in the house).

Sinfully Spicy- HomeMade Ghee 002 (Clarified Butter)

In India, ghee is a comfort, a reverence, a source of nourishment. It is offered to God, massaged on body and hair as a moisturizer, also consumed for healing when sick. It is a way of showcasing love,warmth and indulgence.

Sinfully Spicy- HomeMade Ghee 003(Clarified Butter)

It is one of the things that I make sure to keep well stocked in my pantry.Once you make it at home, you will never go back to store-bought.Its tad easy to make. Not only is it good and hearty; best of all, it’s so much healthier! On lazy days, when I do not cook dinner, I leisurely plan to make a lot of homemade stuff , ghee is definitely one of them. Lets just say, with few bottles of ghee in the refrigerator, I sleep better.

Sinfully Spicy- HomeMade Ghee 004(Clarified Butter)

Over the years, I have now learnt to make this always perfect, grainy ghee. I’m so in awe of how it tastes when brushed on top of a crusty bread, or dolloped over a bowl of warm dal (lentils),simply added to marinades or basted over roasting meats.It has been doing so much in my kitchen for all these years that its nothing short of it if I choose to call it the liquid gold.

Ghee Toast
Ghee Toast

Slather liberal amounts of ghee on a crusty bread and toast to perfection on a skillet, sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar or seasoned salt. Pair with chai. Delicious!

Sinfully Spicy- HomeMade Ghee 006(Clarified Butter)

Ingredients (Yields about 2 cups of butter)

  • 1 lb organic, unsalted butter

Also Needed

  • Heavy bottomed, large sauce pan
  • A spoon to stir
  • Your Soup/Tea Sieve
  • Cheesecloth

Notes

  1. A stick of  butter yields about 1/2 cup of ghee. You can make as much as you want, adjusting the boiling time in the recipe.
  2. Any kind of spices or dried herbs can be mixed in to make add a robust flavor. You can  alternatively add whole spices during boiling for a mellowed down flavor.

Method

Place the unsalted butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Let the butter melt for 5 minutes. Once melted, you will observe a foam on the top. This takes about 5-7 minutes on. Immediately reduce the heat to low. As the butter melts,it slowly begins to boil. Do not cover the saucepan. The solids settle to the bottom, while a thicker layer of oil forms in the center, the foamy layer on top begins to settle.You will hear a spluttering sound while the butter boils away.

Slowly, the boiling process will reduce considerably and you will see a middle layer having a  clear, golden brown appearance. This can take up to an hour. This is the ghee. Carefully spoon off the top layer of scum, making sure not to disturb the layer of solids on the bottom.

Line your sieve with cheesecloth, then strain off the ghee into air-tight canisters. Discard the solids at the bottom.

Homemade ghee can be stored at room temperature during winter months for upto 1-2 months, keep it refrigerated during summers.

Use as required for baking or cooking.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Easy Recipes How To Indian Curry Lentils Side Dishes Vegetarian

Mangodi – Sun dried Lentil Nuggets

SinfullySpicy - Mangodi (Sun Dried Lentil Nuggets)I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen this week. I baked a cake after two years, cooked dum biryani for the first time, sprouted whole red lentils and I made mangodis.

For last few years I wanted to make mangodis .Where I live has the perfect sun for making these – crisp, dry heat. But, each year the summers passed by and I just sat on the idea. There is a particular variety I like from back home, mom sent me the quota with whoever was coming here. I survived.

This year, I ran out of my stock earlier than usual. With summers still far from over in my part of the world its a good excuse to make my own, right?

SinfullySpicy -Ingredients Mangodi (Sun Dried Lentil Nuggets)

In my home, we make a soupy curry with mangodi and potatoes. It is then served with dal tadka (tempered lentils) and rice. I never really cared for these growing up. In fact, I did not understand why would any one want to turn lentil into a curry and then eat it with lentils again. Confusing.

Logics aside, I think my palate was not ready was for it then. Now, when I think of traditional home cooked food, mangodi-aloo definitely comes to mind.

Mangodi , Moongbadi or Mungwadi are small,spicy lentil nuggets which are sun-dried in indian households during summer months. Variety of lentils ( yellow, red, split green or urad ) can be used to prepare these. Depending on the region of India, they could differ in texture and taste. The lentil batter is like your blank canvas – keep it plain, add your own choice of dried herbs or spices, some people add garlic and ginger too. Mangodis are inedible on their own but once lightly sautéed in a teaspoon of oil, they can be used in curries or combined with different vegetables & leafy greens to make stir fries. Crush the shallow fried ones between palms and add as a topping on salads. Other than that, they can be soaked in warm water for few minutes and then added to your vegetarian soups, stews or rice pilaf.

SinfullySpicy - Mangodi 02 (Sun Dried Lentil Nuggets)

Ingredients  (Makes little more than 2 cups of mangodis)

  • 1.5 cups split yellow mung lentils
  • 4 cups of water to soak the lentil
  • 3/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, crushed
  • Oil to grease

Also Needed – Plates/thalis/cookie sheets/ plastic sheets- Any one of these to sun dry the nuggets.

Note – I use unpolished, organic yellow mung lentils from Whole foods, so I added turmeric powder for a nice yellow tinge. Turmeric does not add any flavor to the mangodis. The turmeric quantity in this recipe can be varied as per you lentil quality.

Method 

In a large bowl, thoroughly wash the lentils 2-3 times till the water runs clear. Soak the lentils in about 4 cups of water preferably overnight or for at least 4 hours.

Grease the plates or thalis with oil where you want to drop the lentil nuggets.Set aside.

Drain the water, give lentils another wash and tip them into a blender. Blend the lentils to smooth without water.

Transfer the ground lentils to bowl and add hing, black pepper and turmeric powder to it. Mix well.

Put the lentil mix in a piping bag fitted with plain/star nozzle, or a Ziploc bag (with cut out corner), squeeze it and pipe out small dots on a greased plate/ thali, about 1/8 inches apart. For the quantity of batter from this recipe, I used 6 dinner plates.

Keep the piped out mangodis in sun for at least 2 days or more till they dry out.

Once dry, these will be hard. Using a metal spatula, scrape them from the surface of the plate and store in an air tight container up to 8-10 months.

Make mangodi- aloo masala curry.

Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
How To Indian Curry Vegetarian

Masala – Everyday Indian Curry Paste

Indian restaurants in the western world have brought about a drastic conceptual change in the way people decipher Indian recipes – particularly the “curry”. Curry has transformed from being healthy & brothy to oily and thick. How many of you avoid restaurant food on those days when you desire light dinner and don’t want to ogle at the pool of oil, which will welcome you when you order curry? As much as Indian food opens your appetite and makes you want to eat more, I m sure most of you would be eating the non traditional version of curry at restaurants,feeling sluggish, thereby putting it off on certain days. I do not intend to dismiss restaurant curry as devilish but it’s a far cry from what home-style Indian version is. Even though I love thick, creamy restaurant curries with all my heart, I will certainly not categorize it as something I want to cook in my home daily or healthy. So for all of you who share curry love with me, I decided to post the basic Indian curry paste or masala in this post – the way we Indians make it in our homes – sans the calories & full of taste!

Onions Tomatoes & Garlic – The Veg Trio

Masala” is a very generic term used to describe any blend of spices in Indian cooking. Masala can be dry or wet, chunky or smooth, hot or mild, thick or brothy. In curry making it is a pasty, spice mixture, which forms the base. You add water or broth to the masala and make a ‘sauce’ or ‘curry’. Curry is not a dish by itself in India, it is a sauce. You prefix the name of meat or vegetable before “curry” to derive the name of the dish…chicken curry, potato curry, cauliflower etc.

Chili, Coriander & Turmeric Powder – The Spice Trio

Traditional home-style north Indian masala is not cream laden, not made with curry powder, does not have cashew or almond pastes & is not silky smooth in texture. It is chunky, healthy & light to eat. The way onions, peppers & celery start any stew or soup in the western cuisine, the Indian masala has equivalent trio of onions, tomatoes & garlic or OTG.The basic trio of spices being coriander, turmeric & red chili powder which lend it the distinct consistency, color & heat. The beautiful, deep orangish-red color is from the combination of red from chili & yellow from turmeric. This color depends on the quality of spices used and the slow cooking.In everyday cooking,Masala is not churned in food blenders or pureed through a sieve, it is cooked on low heat so that the onions & tomatoes soften but do not become mushy, and the natural sugars in them are caramelized. Garam Masala & Amchoor (dry mango powder) are added to masala to give it smoky and sour tastes respectively. Though rare,  but sometimes, addition of both these items depends on what is it that you are making curry with. As an example, I wont add both of these when making a fish curry, garam masala will overpower the mild taste of fish & citrus will be a better addition than amchoor. I hope you get an idea of what I m trying to say.

This masala has a lot of uses, you can whisk it in boiling water while making rice for an instant curried flavor, use it as spread on tortillas, buns or wraps, mix it with some mayo & make a curried dip, beat with yogurt, mix some veggies & make a side to the main meal. I even use it as a pasta sauce sometimes ..I m weird 🙂 Another way which I absolutely love this masala is on top of triangle paratha  – absolute bliss! Or maybe devise your own way of eating it & let me know.



Please note that this recipe does not substitute the whole spices in Indian cooking.This recipe is to be used as a base in curry making.

Ingredients: – [Makes about 1 cup, can be doubled]

  • 4 tbsp mustard/olive/canola oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced (We like masala more garlicky than usual, adjust as per liking)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes (slightly sour)
  • 4 tsp coriander powder
  • 4 tsp red chili powder/cayenne  (We like masala hot , adjust quantity to tolerance depending on mild or hot you want the sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, available in Indian stores)
  • 1tsp salt

Method: –

  • In a heavy bottomed pan, add the oil and heat on high up till you see ripples on the surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat it till its smoking to do away the raw smell.
  • Reduce heat to medium.Add the finely chopped onion and cook them till golden brown. About 6-8 minutes.
  • Next, add the cumin seeds, minced garlic & ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling the aroma.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes next along with chilli, coriander, and turmeric powder. Cook this masala on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the pan. About 10-12 minutes. If you see masala sticking to the bottom of pan, add some water. Cook thoroughly to reduce water. This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, please do not rush.Allow the masala to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color.
  • Remove the pan from heat and mix in the salt, garam masala & amchoor.
  • Allow the masala to cool and transfer to jars for storing. The paste sits for up to 5 days refrigerated and 2 months in the freezer without losing flavor.
  • How to Use:– Whenever you want to use this masala for making curry, add the desired quantity of water to it,check the seasoning & bring to a boil. Next add the meats or vegetables, boiled beans, lentils and cook covered or in pressure cooker till tender.
Notes: –
  1. Although you can freeze this masala and save for later use, in Indian homes, it is prepared whenever needed. I recommend making a fresh batch everytime too.
  2. You can add anything and everything under the sun to the basic masala from coconut milk to cream to tamarind paste to yogurt to flavor it up depending on what you want to use it for.