Categories
Brunch Easy Recipes Indian Curry Non vegetarian Stir-fry

Shrimp Stir Fry With Scallions and Fenugreek Leaves

Cooking with fenugreek leaves-dried or fresh is very popular in India.Infact the typical taste of butter chicken or tandoori chicken is incomplete without dried fenugreek leaves[kasuri methi].Fenugreek seeds are used for tempering lot of dry and wet curries for a typical flavor.Fresh fenugreek leaves are clover shaped and taste slightly bitter [if fully mature].They add a great typical piquant, bitter flavor to curries. You will easily find frozen or fresh fenugreek [methi] leaves in any of the indian store.If looking for a substitute, chopped fresh watercress or celery leaves come close because they also have a biting taste.

Recipe adapted from cookbook, “50 great curries of India”

Ingredients: [Serves 3-4]

  • 14 oz uncooked large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder [adjust to taste]
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 ” fresh ginger shoot, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp oil [sesame/olive or any flavored oil]
  • 2 green chillies [finely chopped]
  • 1 cup chopped scallions,white and green scallion parts,separated
  • 1/4 cup fresh fenugreek leaves,finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped [or parsely]
  • salt to taste

Method:

  • Marinate the cleaned, uncooked shrimp in 1/2 tsp turmeric,1 tbsp fresh lime juice,1 tsp red chilli powder and 1/4 tsp salt for about 15 minutes, refrigerated.
  • Meanwhile,take a wide-mouthed cooking pan/wok/kadhai and put it on low heat.Add the oil along with garlic to the wok and let the oil heat up slowly.The idea is to flavor the oil with garlic.About 3 minutes.
  • Once garlic is crisp,turn up the heat to high and add the white chopped scallions.Saute for about 1 minute and add the chopped ginger and green chillies.
  • Next, add the chopped fenugreek leaves , green scallions along with rest of the turmeric and chilli powder.Saute on high heat for about 2 minutes till leaves start to wilt.
  • Just when about to serve: Add the marinated shrimps [along with the marinade],and cilantro leaves, toss on high heat for about 4 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked.Take care not to over cook the shrimp.Check the salt in the dish at this point and adjust.
  • Squirt some fresh lime juice and serve warm with steamed white rice.

Notes/Tips:

  • Adjust the quantity of fenugreek leaves depending on how bitter they are.
  • To reduce the bitterness of fenugreek leaves, rub whole leaves with little salt and let salt for half n hour, wash the salt away, bitterness will reduce.
  • Another tip which my mom told me was that fenugreek leaves if cooked and left uncovered for 1-2 hours.
  • The cooking time will vary depending upon the size of shrimps that you use.I used large shrimps.

Enjoy!

Categories
Indian Curry Non vegetarian Side Dishes

Indian Style Mutton Stew

What I need:

  • 1.5 lb of  [bone-in ]mutton, cut into medium pieces [or lamb or beef]
  • 1.5 cups of buttermilk [slightly sour]
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, grated
  • 2″ shoot of ginger,grated
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, grated
  • Salt to taste

Whole Spices :

  • 2 cups onions , thinly sliced
  • 10-12 whole dry red chillies
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorn
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 nos black cardamoms, cracked open
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1″ shoot of cinnamon
  • 1 twig mace
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil [I use mustard, you can use olive/canola]
  • 2-3 cups warm water

How I did it:

Marination:

  • Wash and pat dry the mutton pieces.
  • In a ziplock plastic bag, pour in the buttermilk, grated nutmeg,grated garlic & ginger along with salt.Give it a shake to combine well.
  • Next, tip in the mutton pieces into the bag and give it a shake again to make sure that the buttermilk covers all the pieces.Lay the bag flat in a big square tray and let marinate overnight or at least 3-4 hours.

Making the Stew :

[Method 1 : Cooking in an Open pot [with lid]/Dutch oven]

  • Heat the oil in a pot/dutch oven to a smoking point on medium heat.TIP: When using mustard oil, you need to heat it up till the point it starts smoking to ensure the raw smell is gone.For 4 tbsp oil, atleast good 8-10 minutes.If using olive/canola, the heating time will be way less.
  • Once heated,reduce the heat to low and wait for 5 minutes to lower the temp a bit so that spices don’t burn.Add all the whole spices except dry red chillies to the oil and cook until the spices emit their aroma..around 3 minutes.
  • Next add the onions, raise the heat to medium and cook the onions stirring constantly untill they become translucent to light brown.
  • Add the dry red chillies then.
  • Strain the mutton pieces from the buttermilk mixture, retain the marinade.
  • Add the mutton pieces to the pot and on high heat, cook the mutton pieces for 10-12 minutes until all sides of the meat have browned.
  • Next, add the marinade & 2 cups of warm water to the pot, check the salt and cover the pot/dutch oven.
  • Let the water come to a boil on high heat and then reduce the heat to as low as possible.
  • Let the meat simmer in the pot/dutch oven for good 4-6 hours periodically checking to make sure the liquid doesn’t dissipate, and adding warm water if needed.
  • The stew is considered finished when the meat is very tender, just about to fall apart from the bones and the flavor of the gravy is intense. Adjust the salt again if needed.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro & serve with warm khamiri rotis [yeasted flatbreads] and onions.

[Method 2: Using a pressure pan/cooker]

The time taken by this popular Indian method is very less and the taste is slightly different and less intense. The cooking steps remain the same except that you need to cook the meat as per your pressure cooker.To give a rough estimate, the meat will take at least 25-30 minutes with 6-7 whistles on a low heat to become tender.

Enjoy!

Categories
Easy Recipes Indian Curry Side Dishes

Hara Baingan Bharta /Spicy Mashed Roasted Eggplant

This dish formed a quintessential part of the lunch served on Makar Sankrati [an Indian festival] in my grand mother’s house from as long as I can remember.The comfy platter with kaali urad dal khichdi [black lentils with rice],hara baingan ka bharta [roasted eggplant], dahi [yogurt], mooli [parsnips], homemade ghee [clarified butter] and achaar[pickle] are my best kept ways of remembering and celebrating Makar Sankranti till now.

As mentioned before in my previous post,my grandmother’s house has a big vegetable garden. Almost all the winter lunches were served there on a charpai [four legged cot]under the bright winter sun amid the home-grown decor of spinach, methi, cauliflower, garlic, onions,cabbage, radish, carrots etc. I have very fond memories of sitting on the charpai with lunch plate in my hand and picking up fresh leaves of garlic and onions and eating it with the meals. The taste of unwashed, organic stuff was unmatched under the warm rays of sun. I am a survivor of these homemade foods and authentic Indian dishes.A mention of winter lunches still takes me back to my granny’s vegetable garden and the food relished there during all my growing years.

In India,still the sil -batta [type of stone grinder] is used for grinding fresh spices for food, for making the chutneys and for other chores of the kitchens, I saw my mom using sil- batta to grind the herbs for making this dish.Those times were different with machines not being very popular and not widely used,hence the food preparations took more time and effort.You can see images of sil-batta here. Last week,her modern world grand-daughter prepared it in her American kitchen using a blender 🙂 Of course, its difficult to recreate that sil- batta texture even by using a 12 speed blender but I guess that’s what moving and adapting with times is all about!Afterall,its the era of fast and easy food 🙂

Okay coming back to the recipe,this hara baingan bharta was made only once a year on makar sankranti.If you ask me,I do not know why. Maybe because it paired the best with the meal served on that day or maybe its got something to do with nip in the air.Talking. of which , I can really relate to the fact that the best cilantro,mint and other herbs are available in India during winters and since this recipe requires these herbs,may be that’s the reason! I wanted to make this bharta for a long time but was waiting for the temperatures to fall down. As a kid eating these recipes ,I never thought that I would be recreating them some 2000 miles away from home, in a new country, with modern age equipments and serving them to someone who came into my life[aka my husband] much later than I learnt all these things.There are so many times I miss while making all this, the company, the family, the laughs, the warmth, the festivals, home but I guess life takes on its course,for good. I m doing what I am doing right now for some reason! Thts my karmaoh sorry I am deviating … so I should stop now.

Coming back to food,in hindi green color is hara ; eggplant is baingan and bharta is a word used for any sort of mash. So this is green colored mashed eggplant …how easy is that!!!Now you need a lot of fresh cilantro/coriander leaves for this dish.If you are not a cilantro person, use parsley but frankly I havent tried it so I can’t comment on how it will taste.Another shining and irreplaceable ingredient is raw mustard oil which gives the bharta a pungent taste.If you find the taste of raw mustard oil very strong , just cook it slightly beforehand but for the authentic flavor, I recommend raw mustard oil, that’s where the actual bharta taste lies! If you want to use olive oil or sesame oil , go ahead and use it and just don’t call it a bharta then…call it a dip or relish ! The whole point is using a slightly pungent and strong flavored oil.Please refrain from using canola or vegetable oil…it will not work in this recipe.Also, I like my bharta on the spicy side so you will have to cut down the green chillies from what I have mentioned in the recipes if you like less hot.The recipe is darn easy with minimal basic ingredients.

What I need :

  • 1 eggplant, big and fat
  • 1.5 cups of  fresh cilantro leaves [about 1 bunch][clean the leaves properly to remove all dirt and grit]
  • 3-5  green chillies [adjust to taste]
  • 1 ” shoot of fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dry mango powder [anchoor] [can be subsituted with fresh lime juice]
  • 1/2 cup red onions , finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp raw mustard oil for drizzle
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil for tempering
  • Salt to taste

How I did it :

Roasting the Eggplant: Do any one of the following

  • In Microwave : Micro the eggplant in a microwave-safe dish for about 7-10 minutes till the eggplant is tender and spongy to touch.
  • In Oven : Preheat your oven at 400 F. Put the eggplant on a cookie sheet or any oven safe dish and bake for about 40-45 minutes.
  • In Broiler : Heat the broiler to 425 F and broil the eggplant till the skin is charred.You will need to rotate the eggplant in between for even cooking on all sides
  • On Stove Top [This is what I do]:Line the dripping pan of your burner with foil or the aluminium foil drip pans available in stores.Roast the eggplant on high flame on all sides till its soft and the skin is charred.

Making the Bharta :

  • Once cooked ,let the eggplant cool a bit. Once cool to handle, peel off  and discard the skin. Transfer the skinless eggplant to a bowl and using a fork or potato masher , just mash the eggplant thoroughly. [please do not use blender]. Set aside
  • In the blender add the cilantro leaves,green chillies, salt , dry mango powder and make a smooth paste with minimal amount of water [if needed].
  • Next, mix this cilantro paste with the mashed roasted eggplant, 2 tbsp of raw mustard oil  and set aside.
  • In a small pan , heat the 1 tbsp oil on high till it starts smoking slightly.
  • For tempering :Once hot enough, add the chopped garlic and ginger and saute for 1-2 minutes till they start browning. Next add the chopped onions and cook till the onions are dark brown in color but not burnt.
  • Just when you are ready to serve,to the mashed eggplant add the tempering and mix well.
  • Serve warm immediately with chapatis or parathas [flatbreads]

Notes:

  1. The taste and flavor of raw mustard oil is really strong, so adjust the amount of mustard oil as per your palate.
  2. To add more texture, you can add raw chopped onions, bell peppers, cucumbers etc to the mash and use it as a dip/relish.

Enjoy!
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