Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Pindi Chana – Tea Infused Spicy Chickpeas

Sinfully Spicy : Pindi Chana, Tea Infused Spicy Chickpea Curry003

I don’t remember having Dora or Barbie themed birthday parties with perfectly frosted pretty cakes sitting in the center of the table waiting to be cut wearing those frilly birthday gowns. Yet, it was the most special day and definitely something I looked forward to for weeks.

I pretty much had a black forest cake for most of my birthdays, the indian version being a far cry from the  european marvel, still many of you who grew up in India in the 80s would know how we loved it. As with most indian families any kind of celebration meant lady of the house staying in the kitchen dawn to dusk, making one dish after the other.It started with special homemade samosas for breakfast and aromatic biryani or pilaf for lunch and the best was saved for dinner. Everything the rest of the family did whole afternoon was decorating the living room like a bride with those odd colored, mismatched paper ruffles & shimmering swirls, lacking in cohesion but strings of happiness & celebration running through them for certain.

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It did not feel like a birthday unless guests had scooped spicy hot chole with yeasty, puffed bhaturas and gobbled down at least a few dozens of warm homemade gulab jamuns. Sometimes, dum aloo and moong dal ki goli were added to the menu but relishing that aromatic, earthy chickpeas curry is what my most fond birthday memory is made up of.You would wonder as to whats so special about chickpeas, but in our  house, chickpeas and other bean curries were limited to special occasions. Given that most of the indian kids I have known in my life LOVE chole-bhature, I was no different.

Sinfully Spicy : Pindi Chana, Chickpeas

Usually, I am not hell-bent on starting traditions in the family but the equation changes when food is involved. A couple of weeks back when we celebrated little A’s birthday, amongst those pink cupcakes & chinese food, I severely yearned to eat chole- bhature and missed the time when we sat in rounds on the floor with food loaded bhojanthaals set in front of us, laughter, greasy fingers and steam emanating from straight-out-the-wok fried bread. Suddenly, it made perfect sense to make chickpea curry for the two of us and relieve those moments for a while.

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Pindi Chana is a spicy chickpea curry which gets its name from Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan) before India-Pak partition, where it originated.This curry is different from the regular chana masala in terms of the selection of spices and rich color from tea added during boiling the chickpeas.Don’t worry you will never taste the tea here,rather a very unique, earthy flavor,notable to this spicy preparation. Pindi Chana is a dry preparation of chickpeas  coated with the masala (sauce) and is best served with a bread, salad and pickle on the side.

Sinfully Spicy : Pindi Chana, Spices & herbs

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

For Boiling the Chickpeas (skip this step if using canned chickpeas)

  • 1 cup chickpeas, raw
  • 1 no black unflavored tea bag((if you are using a mild tea variety, you can use 2 bags)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tbsp chaat masala

For the Sauce

  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or any neutral oil)
  • 3/4 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1.5 tsp grated fresh ginger shoot
  • 1 fat garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1-2 Thai green chilies (adjust to tolerance)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro for garnish

Grind to a coarse powder

  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 tsp anardana (dried pomegranate seeds, use lemon juice/dry mango powder if you don’t have these)
  • 1 small black cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp kasuri methi(dried fenugreek leaves)

Method

Soak the chickpeas overnight in enough water.Drain and discard the water and transfer the chickpeas to your pressure cooker. Add tea bag, salt,soda, oil and 2.5 cups water and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles or till 95% cooked. Please adjust the cooking time & number of whistles depending on your variety of chickpeas. Once cooked, drain the chickpeas, discard the tea bag and reserve the stock. Mix with chaat masala and half of the ground spice powder with the chickpeas and set aside.

In a pot, heat up the oil to smoky on high heat. Take off the stove and add the chopped tomatoes to the oil. Also add ginger and garlic. Cook on medium heat till the tomatoes soften and you see oil separating on sides of the pot. At this point, add the turmeric and rest of the spice powder to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes till you smell a nice aroma. Add the chickpeas to the pot next with about 3/4 – 1 cup of reserved stock and green chillies. Taste and adjust the salt. Cover and let the chickpeas cook on medium low heat for 20-25 minutes or till they  are completely soft but not mushy.

Let sit for 1-2 hours before serving. The sauce will thicken up and develop flavors as the dish sits. When ready to serve, reheat and if you feel that they are too dry, add little bit of reserved stock, simmer again for 5-7 minutes and serve garnished with cilantro.

Serve with bhatura, warm tortillas, pita bread or naan.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Palak (Saag) Paneer – Spinach & Indian Cheese

Sinfully Spicy- Palak (Saag Paneer),Spinach With Indian Cheese001I think that one of the best palak paneer that I have eaten ever is the one prepared with home grown spinach from my grandma’s house. One from the vegetable patch which sprung to life with all sorts of greens under the winter sun. It was so thoughtful how our maali (gardener) was instructed to allocate square patches to vegetables.The cilantro, dill and mint which were used so very frequently throughout the day were sown first, followed by tubers and other root vegetables.To wade away the pests, every now and then badi mummy would keep a lighted incense amongst the large coarse leaves of the eggplant area.And it worked.Last few rows were the leafy greens & other delicate creepers, just so that you go towards them only when you need to.

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There were the few aromatic methi (fenugreek greens) with its distinctive bitter sweet smell and the laal chaulai having smooth & shiny leaves.Then appeared the tender garlic & onion scapes which were plucked every now & then to accompany the lunch.As compared to these spinach rows were many and more sought after. During winters, spinach became a sudden favorite in the house, it was added to lentils, tossed in salads, made into fritters with evening chai or simply stir fried with garlic & potatoes.

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The juicy, fleshy short stems reminding you how simple yet nourishing mother earth’s bounty can be. The mellow, soft taste of the organic leaves hardly needed a dash of lime juice and salt to become a perfect salad alongside dal – rice.Having eaten homegrown for so many years, that fresh taste is something hard to match with anything I cook from stores.

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I was always the child who ate her vegetables. I cannot eat meat for more than two days in a week. I love vegetables and if I don’t eat them for a while,my body starts missing them. On days, when I cook rich & heavy foods for the husband which I am not much in a mood for, I treat myself to palak paneer. Slow cooked spinach gives the dish a beautiful green color and creamy homemade paneer add the perfect richness.This recipe uses very less spices & no cream/butter so that the delicate taste of spinach is not overpowered by them.

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Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 8 oz organic spinach
  • 2 – 2.5 cups water
  • 1-2 cloves
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or any neutral oil of choice)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/4  tsp fennel seeds, finely crushed
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 fat garlic clove,minced
  • 3/4 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2-4 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • pinch of turmeric
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1.5″ fresh ginger shoot, grated
  • 1/2 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, optional but recommended)
  • 6 oz paneer, cut into cubes (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream to finish off (optional)

Notes - 

  1. Use extra firm tofu in place of paneer and skip cream to make it a vegan recipe.
  2. You can lightly fry the paneer cubes in 1-2 tsp of oil before adding to the curry if you want.

Method

Add cloves to water and bring to a boil.Meanwhile, thoroughly wash the spinach leaves. Roughly chop the leaves if they are too big. Since I use baby spinach, the stems are tender, however you can pick the stems out if they are too hard.Once the water is boiling,turn off the heat & immediately add spinach to it.Let the leaves soak for 2-3 minutes and then drain. Reserve the liquid and transfer the spinach to food processor.Put in the cloves too. Pulse. I do not like to make a smooth puree however you can blend the spinach to desired texture. If needed, the reserved can be used liquid while blending.Set the blended spinach aside.

Heat up oil on high in a kadai or medium heavy bottomed pot.Once the oil is smoky, reduce the heat to medium & wait for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped onions to it along with fennel & cumin seeds (in that order) and sauté till the onions start to lightly brown.Next add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, coriander powder, green chillies, turmeric & cinnamon to the pot and keep on cooking on medium low heat till you see oil separating on the sides of the pot. This may take 8-10 minutes. Add the spinach, ginger, and salt to the pot and mix well. Also add 1/3 cup of reserved liquid. Let the spinach cook on medium heat for about 8-10 minutes and then reduce the heat to low. Let cook on low heat for least 20 minutes. The spinach will bubble a lot during cooking (you can put a lid) and you will need to stir it in between to avoid sticking to bottom. Also the spinach will change color to dull green and you will start seeing glisten on the sides of the pot. At this point, add the paneer cubes and kasuri methi (if using) to the pot along with reserved liquid (quantity depending on how runny you want the dish). Also add the sugar. Cover and let cook on medium low for another 8-10 minutes till the paneer softens.

Let sit for 1-2 hours before serving. When ready to serve, add the cream, reheat and serve alongside hot flatbreads, steamed rice & salad.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Chicken With Yogurt & Whole Spices – Sabut Masale ka Murgh

SinfullySpicy - Chicken With Yogurt & Whole Spices 001

A very homestyle, rustic kind of chicken dish where you just need to throw everything together and let it be on its own for some time.The soggy whole spices steeped beforehand in warm water burst open their flavors over slow heat. The dark chicken meat soaks up all of it and gives in,releasing its juices to the sauce and requiring very little care as it cooks.

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If you try to lift up the lid to peek in, a strong aroma wafts out, filling up your senses. Once the steam clears you would see little bubbles in the sauce with holes in the centre and reddish glisten all around from fat of the chicken. You know its going to be good.

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Except whole peppercorns, almost all the spices (including the red chillies which become sweetish) melt away in the gravy.Even though you might be intimidated by the long list of spices but the addition of yogurt perfectly offsets the heat level, not making the sauce too spicy, rather savory.

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I made this dish quite a number of times for few weeks. This is what happens when we like something. We keep on cooking and eating it till we are at the brink of getting bored. Then we nestle the recipe for a while and start our quest for another spice blend, another curry, different flavors.

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Sabut (Khade) Masale ka Murgh- Chicken with Whole Spices & Yogurt

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1 lb  chicken thighs, cut into 2″ pieces (use dark meat)
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3-4 tbsp mustard oil
  • 3/4 cup onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
  • 1/3 cup water (or more/less depending on the desired consistency)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro for garnish

In a small bowl, steep the spices below in 1/3 cup warm water for 30 minutes –

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds 
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom
  • small twig of mace
  • 1″ piece of cinnamon
  • 6-7 dry whole red chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2″ shoot of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (optional,this primarily lends a beautiful color)

Method

Marinate the chicken in yogurt,turmeric and 1/4 tsp salt for about 2-3 hours, refrigerated.

Once ready to cook, take out the chicken from the fridge and let sit on the kitchen counter. In a large pot, heat up the mustard oil on high till you see its slightly smoky. Reduce the heat to medium and wait for 2 minutes. Add the sliced onions to the pot, also add the tejpatta and cook till onions are lightly browned.This will take around 5-8 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and add the marinated chicken to the pot.Using the cooking spoon, slowly toss the chicken pieces to combine with the browned onions. Let cook for 5-6 minutes.Do not rush else the yogurt will curdle.

Raise the heat to medium and add the soaked spices (along with liquid) to the pot and mix well with the chicken. Let cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add salt to taste to the pot. Next, close the lid, reduce stove to low and let the chicken simmer for 30 minutes. There is no need to stir continuously, you can check 1-2 times in between than the chicken is not sticking to the bottom.

After 30 minutes,check the seasoning and the doneness of the chicken. Raise the stove to medium heat, add 1/3 cup water and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Let rest for at least 2-3 hours before serving.

When ready to serve, reheat, garnish with chopped cilantro & serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!

Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Amritsari Tawa Macchi – Pan Fried Fish

Sinfully Spicy : Amritsari Tawa Macchi, Pan Fried Spicy Fish 001

The pungent smell of the mustard oil was engrained in the walls of the shop.Over the years, a gleaming fluorescent tube had replaced the flickering bulb above the rusty shutter and a bunch of green chilies & lemon needled in a thread hung below it,the same way as it did years back, grabbing your attention more due to its location even though tactfully  situated to be hidden.Its the same dusty clock at the center of the column that I saw years back, looks like no one cared to wipe it, I told myself, waiting.

It was biting cold outside but the inside was surprisingly warm,for it was cramped with people who wanted that crispy fillet, one that just popped out of the bubbling oil in the kadhai.

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He sat behind the counter, fluffing thick, spicy besan batter, side by side keeping an eye on the smoky oil and dealing with customers, all at the same time.He looked a lot older than what I could remember. The hair had turned grey and the skin was tanned sitting in oily vapor for years. You could not help but notice the facial expressions which also remained the same – calm & peaceful. Few things are best if they don’t change, I told myself again.

If you ask him the recipe, he would just smile. Maybe he didn’t have any, it was just the magic of hands. This is the taste of fish which stays with you for days – you want to go back and have some more and then more. The kind you want to talk about, spread around the word about and write stories about.

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Saying that the fried fish he made sold like hot pancakes would be an understatement. He ran out of the stuff within an hour or so of starting the trade.Wrapped in soiled pieces of newspaper, topped with thin onions rings seasoned with a generous dash of chaat masala and a lime wedge to squirt, the fried fish was better than the best I have ever had in my life.

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb minced lamb/beef/chicken (I use 80% lean)
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with canola/vegetable)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 green cardamom pods , cracked open
  • 1 ” cinnamon stick
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2″ fresh ginger shoot, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp kashmiri chili powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 3 tbsp plain yogurt
  • salt to taste
  • To garnish – chopped cilantro

Coarsely grind together:-

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns (adjust to tolerance)
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds

Method

  • In a cooking pot with lid,on high, heat up the oil till you see ripples on the surface and it smokes slightly.
  • Reduce the heat to medium.Temper the oil with bay leaf ,cinnamon stick and green cardamom pods. Add the onions next.Cook the onions till they turn light brown.About 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic & ginger next and saute for about 1 minute till you smell the aroma.
  • Next, add the coarsely ground spices to the pot.Toast the spices for another minute.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes next along with turmeric and red chilli powder.Cook for 3-5 minutes or till you see oil separating on sides of the pan.Add the potatoes next, mix together, reduce heat to low and cover the pot.Let cook covered for 8-10 minutes till the potatoes are almost 70% cooked. Remove the lid.
  • Turn heat to high and add minced lamb to the pot & and work it with a spoon for about 8-10 minutes on medium heat.The meat will start separating,changing color, sweating and becoming watery.Do not worry, everything is going as per plan.
  • Next, add yogurt, 1/4 cup water and salt to the pot. Mix well.Turn the heat to the lowest possible on your burner, cover the pot with lid and let simmer on low heat for about 22-28 minutes.You ll need to stir and check periodically to ensure that lamb is not sticking to the bottom. Add more water if needed
Note : The cooking time will vary if you are using beef or chicken. Also, do not add too much water at the beginning because ground meats leave moisture as they cook.Add water at intervals as per the consistency you want.At the end of about 20 minutes of cooking you will see that oil separating from and change in color of the ground meat. Check that the potatoes are cooked through at this point. 
  • Remove the lid,check the salt and cook on high again for 5 minutes till everything comes together.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm with flatbreads & salad.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Laal Maas – Rajasthani Red Mutton Curry

SinfullySpicy - Laal Maas, Rajasthani Red Mutton Curry001I feel unusually excited about curries at this time of the year. Generously spiced, red hued, boldly flavored curries are a different beast during winters, just waiting for rotis to be dunked in or rice to be mixed.These are the months that I reserve for time-consuming meat stews and long cooking processes. There is comfort in standing beside the stove preparing meals which warm up the heart and soul.

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Couple of years back, I saw a chef talk about and prepare this fiery curry on a food show. All I remember is that he used simple day-to-day spices,grated in lots of garlic & doused the masala in yogurt to tame down the heat from all those dry chilies. Only after making it, did I realize what he meant when he said this curry is not for the faint hearted.

SinfullySpicy - Laal Maas, Rajasthani Red Mutton Curry003, hot chili

I did not grow up eating it, so I came up with from what I remembered & what suits our tastebuds.The sauce is fiery, though beautifully hued and the dash of ghee towards the end must.You really need mellow side dishes with this meal – plain dal tadka and lot of kachumber (sans the green chili) to wash it down. The intense flavors open up your appetite but you won’t want to stop 🙂

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The dish can be made a hot as or not as you want. I use a mixture of kashmiri chili powder for less heat but the intense color. You could go ahead and use super hit red chilli powder if you want it fiery!.Now, it is something which I would not make every now & then.Maybe once or twice a year – the flavors are excellent but hot! We drank so much water during dinner time but what a nirvana!

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Ingredients – Serves 2-3

  • 3 tbsp mustard oil
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom (buy online here) 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1.5 lb mutton (cut into 1″ pieces)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1″ ginger shoot, minced
  • 10-12 whole dry kashmiri chillies (see notes)
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder (or cayenne)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup thick curd/plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • 1.5 tbsp ghee
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • cilantro to garnish

Notes

  1. The dish can be made a hot as or not as you want. If you use store bought kash miri chill powder, the taste is mild but its lends a beautiful color.So the dish will come out less hot.
  2. If you powder whole dried kashmiri chillies like I do, the fresh ground chilies are hot and bring in the beautiful red color too! 

Method

In a heavy bottomed pot with lid, heat mustard oil till it smokes and immediately turn off the heat. Wait for about a minute or so to let it cool to medium hot. Return to the stove and  add the cloves, black cardamom and bay leaf. Wait for them to crackle.

Add the sliced onion to the pot and cook on medium till they turn brown. Once the onions have browned, add the mutton pieces,kashmiri chili,red chili & turmeric powder to the pot and sauté uncovered for about 20 minutes till you see the sides of mutton getting brown.

Add the minced ginger and garlic to the pot next and sauté for another 5-8 minutes. Next, reduce the heat to low, wait for 2 mins and add the yogurt to the pot. Also add the salt and slowly stir around so that the yogurt combines with spices and coats the mutton pieces. Saute uncovered for another 2 mins.

Add the water, ghee and grated garlic to the pot next and increase the flame to medium, cover the pot and cook till the mutton is done. It took me about 40 minutes for the meat to be thoroughly cooked.If you intend to use a slow cooker, adjust the cooking time, for pressure cooker, it might take 3-4 whistles for cooking through.

Let the curry rest for about 3-4 hours before serving.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with flatbreads or steamed rice.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Dum Aloo – Slow Cooked Spiced Potatoes

Sinfully Spicy Dum Aloo - Slow Cooked Spicy Potatoes001

I loved it when it was the potato harvest time at grandma’s house. Those few days when our maali ( gardener) pulled out the tubers from the soil, we were allowed to assist him. I remember that he used to water the garden a day before the D-day so that the plucking becomes easier. Next morning, exchanging chirpy conversations and knee-deep in the moist ground, we dug up aloo (potatoes) for hours. In the afternoon, just before lunch, mom gave us a bath in the house veranda, rubbing mud off our stained fingers, slathering petroleum jelly on them.

Sinfully Spicy - Dum Aloo, Spicy Potatoes002

It was then time to rub off the flaky, paper thin skin off the dug up potatoes. She would soak them in seasoned water for a while and then use a tooth-brush to clean. Just a simple tempering of cumin or fenugreek seeds in mustard oil did the trick.

For weekend brunch it was dum aloo & triangle parathas along with mint- coriander chutney. 

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I grew up eating dum aloo done with new baby potatoes. However, P does not like the taste of new potatoes. How weird? right? So, mostly I make it with the usual diced up white potatoes.Even though any kind will work here, for authentic taste, use new tots.

Sinfully Spicy Dum Aloo - Slow Cooked Spicy Potatoes004

In hindi ‘ dum‘ refers to slow cooking. Here potatoes are slow cooked with spices and yogurt to make for a scrumptious curry. You will find a lot of dum aloo recipes in India, differing from region to region.In my family, every aunt’s recipe is different from mom’s. But still, all very delicious and comforting , after potato is another name for comfort in the culinary world!

Sinfully Spicy Dum Aloo - Slow Cooked Spicy Potatoes005

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
  • 4-5 medium size white or red potatoes, washed ( or about 1 lb baby potatoes)
  • 3 cups of warm water + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil ( or any oil)
  • 1 small tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
  • 1/2 ‘ dalchini stick (indian cinnamon)
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli ( or cayanne, adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder ( this lends the beautiful color)
  • 3 tbsp plain, slightly sour yogurt, beaten
  • 2-3 medium roma tomatoes, finely chopped ( about 3/4 cup)
  • 1″ fresh ginger shoot,minced
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup water (depending on desired gravy consistency)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro for garnish

Coarsely grind together

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 2-3 green cardamom
  • 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds

Method 

Cut up the potatoes in half and in a large bowl, soak them in salted warm(not hot) water for 8-10 minutes. After soaking up, drain the water, peel off the skin (you can skip this for baby potatoes) and quarter them if you like.Using a kitchen towel or paper towel, dry up the potatoes. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat up the oil on medium heat. If using mustard oil, heat it up till its smoky to do away the raw smell. Lower the heat once oil is hot. Wait for 1-2 minutes. Add the tejpatta and cinnamon stick to the oil. Let crackle for 20-30 seconds.

Add the sliced onions and potatoes to the oil. Also add the hing. On medium – low heat, stir around the potatoes and onions and cook for 5-7 minutes.You will see that the onions begin to soften. Next add the coarsely ground spices to the pot along with chilli powders and turmeric. Stir and continue cooking on low for another 3-5 minutes. Next, add the tomatoes, ginger & yogurt to the pot, stir everything and continue cooking on low heat. The potatoes will release their juices and you will see the gravy becoming watery, but do not worry.

After about 20-25 minutes ( this will depend on size and variety of potatoes, adjust accordingly), you will see that the potatoes have almost cooked, the gravy has a nice reddish color and thin oil bubbles have separated on the sides of the pot. At this point, add the water, sprinkle the garam maasala, cover the pot and let cook on low heat for another 8-10 minutes till the potatoes are totally cooked.

Let sit covered for at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

Notes-

  1. Please avoid using starchy variety like russet potatoes here.
  2. The cooking time depends on the quality and the size of cut of potatoes, you need to adjust.
  3. You can substitute the whole spices with ready to use store bought ground spices.
  4. Indian dalchini (cinnamon) is quite sharp in taste, if using the usual ones, you can go ahead and use the whole stick for a pronounced taste. 

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Everyday Chicken Curry

Everyday Chicken Curry,Sinfully Spicy

There is a reason I call it the everyday curry. Every family has its own recipe and in Indian homes, normally chicken is cooked with spices and a tomato/yogurt/coconut base to make a curry. It is not everyday that we cook or eat curries doused in cupfuls of cream or dyed in  food coloring or mellowed down with loads of sugar.

Even if you have bare minimum spices in your rack, you can still turn chicken into this gratifying curry. Utterly delicious and redolent with spices, it is what I cooked for P almost four years back for the first time and he admitted that he could eat hundred rotis (flatbreads) with it.

Though I have been cooking it religiously every week since then, I still try to tweak it. Sometimes I make it more yellowish in color as he likes it, at times I double up the whole spices to spike it up and many times I  have mixed in thick coconut milk for a luxurious flavor.Give or take, my husband will polish it off.

Everyday Chicken Curry,Sinfully Spicy

That, I guess is the versatile nature of curry, add or skip ingredients at your free will, keep on tasting all the while and in the process develop your own kind – soupy, saucy, spicy, sweet. Curry can mean different to different people, for P its that deep flavored gravy he looks forward to, for mom, it’s the bite of coarse ground spices in the masala, for dad, it needs to be way soupy than the usual.When I make chicken curry for P’s friends it’s the creamy- sweetish kind that they like.

For me, each time I cook and sit down to eat, it’s as if I have plated memories.

Everyday Chicken Curry, Sinfully Spicy

However, it disappoints me when I see how the enormous popularity of curry has in fact done it a disfavor. Not only in terms of ingredients but also regards to the effort involved, people find making curry a daunting task and resort to shortcuts, when in real, there aren’t any. I always presume that a good curry needs time and patience. If you are short on any, then probably it’s not your cup of tea.

I posted a  picture on facebook and instagram feed few weeks back and many of you asked for the recipe. Since then, I have made Papa’s recipe thrice.With the kind of slow cooking involved, the recipe works best with bone in – dark chicken meat – thighs or drumsticks. Even if you decide to go boneless, opt for dark meat.That said, you can put your slow cooker to good use here.

Everyday Chicken Curry,Sinfully Spicy

Ingredients 

  • 1.25 lb bone-in chicken, dark meat,de skinned (I used 4-5 drum sticks)
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with olive/sunflower/vegetable oil)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup thin sliced red onions
  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes, roughly diced
  • 3 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1″ fresh ginger shoot
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Up to 1 cup water (depending on the consistency of gravy you want)
  • Chopped Cilantro for garnish

Spices for Marinade

  • 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 whole green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeeds
  • twig of mace
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole dry red chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (this lends curry the beautiful red color, not the heat)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup water

Notes : In the spices for marinade above, you can substitute whole seeds with lightly dry roasted coriander, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, cardamom powder.

Method

Wash the chicken pieces thoroughly & pat dry using a paper towel.Set aside.

In a small sauce pan, on low heat,dry roast all the whole spices for marinade [except turmeric, kashmiri chilli powder & salt] till you smell the aroma.About 3-4 minutes.Let the roasted spices cool down a bit.Once cooled, tip into your coffee grinder or using mortar & pestle,grind the spices. You don’t want them to be powdery. Add turmeric, kashmiri chilli & salt to the ground spices. Mix this with 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl to make the marinade.

In a Ziploc bag or a bowl, place the cleaned chicken along with the marinade and rub a little so that all the pieces are covered in the marinade. Set aside for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator to marinate.

Take out the marinated chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. Once ready to cook, heat up oil in a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat.Once the oil is just smoking, lower the heat & add the chopped onions to the pot.Add the bay leaf too. Cook the onions till golden brown. About 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, yogurt, garlic, ginger to your food processor and pulse to a smooth mixture. Once the onions have browned, reduce the flame to low and add the tomato-yogurt mix to the pot, stir to combine well with onions. Also add the 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Cook on low-medium heat with constant stirring to avoid curdling of the yogurt. Initially, you will see yogurt releasing water, but that’s okay. Increase the heat to medium and keep on stirring till you see oil separating on the sides of the pot.

Add the marinated chicken to the pot next. Add salt to taste. Keep on stirring around the chicken pieces so that they do not stick to the bottom of the pan. They will slowly start releasing their juices. Keep on turning around and cooking the chicken pieces on medium heat for good 20-25 minutes or till they are 95% cooked. Add water to the pot now depending on the desired consistency of the gravy, check the salt again, cover the pot with a lid and cook the curry for another 10 minutes or so till the chicken is completely cooked.You will need to stir in between once or twice.

Once the curry is cooked, remove from heat and let sit covered for at least  45 min – 1 hour before serving.

Garnish with cilantro & serve warm. Whether you serve with flatbread or rice, I highly recommend making kachumber (indian salsa) alongside.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

How To · Indian Curry/Stew · Lentils

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!

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Fish Curry

Spicy Fish curry01, Sinfully Spicy

While he walked down the road, we ran like hooligans to reach the market. It was well past 6 pm and the catch of the day would be sold out in an hour or so, papa told us before leaving home.The earlier your reach the shop, the robust the choice. Making our way through narrow streets, lot of traffic and chaotic roads, you could not help but inhale the stench fishy smell which filled the shop, once you reach. There sat the machali vala (fish vendor),his forehead lit up by the hanging bulb, wearing a yellowish vest, sweat drops glistening on his cheeks, arduously handling the bargains with adamant customers. On his left lay piles of fresh fish to choose from and on the right were hand-held metal scales to weigh.

Papa would choose rohu (green carp),one of the most loved fresh water fish in my family. He had his own ways as to check if it was fresh and that took time. Meanwhile, we gulped down  glassfuls of sugarcane juice or nimbu pani, playing outside.

Spicy Fish curry02, Sinfully Spicy

The vendor would throw the fish towards them, shouting ‘ chotey,jaldi se tayyar kar de‘ , asking his boys sitting behind the curtains to quickly clean up and cut papa‘s fish selection.Since majority of the population flocking the market were vegetarian Hindus, butchering fish or meat in open wasn’t a pleasant sight for them.

In my grandma’s home, the utensils for cooking non vegetarian food were separate from the rest of the kitchenware. They still are. I clearly remember the grey and dark blue stained tamchini (enamel ware) which is used to (again) clean up and wash the fish at home, not in the kitchen sink but outside in the yard. ‘Thoda besan aur haldi jaroor laga dena‘, mom reminded every time to massage the fish pieces with turmeric & chickpea flour after washing, while she sauted masala in the kitchen.

Well past 9 pm,the noises in the houses settled, everyone devoted their energy to eating fish curry, taking their time to separate the bones, sniffing the hints of aroma from kasuri methi in the gravy, mixing it up with steamed rice – comforting & delicious.

Dried Fenugreek leaves, Spicy Fish curry, Sinfully Spicy

When I came to States, I did not eat fish for a couple of years, the idea of fillets simply did not appeal to me. Even though I m better now, but still fillets feel like eating potatoes. It was only a year ago that I spotted an oriental market which sells fish steaks that I started making those nostalgic curries again.

The only two things fancy about this fish curry are that its cooked in pure mustard oil and the liberal use of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) in the masala. Both lend the curry a deep, rich aroma and make it taste tangibly authentic.

Before we hop on to the recipe, let me highlight that kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) is an aromatic herb used to flavor a lot of north indian curries and marinades. It is what makes those tandoori & butter chickens taste the way they do. Pleasantly bitter, strong-tasting but addictive, it is a great herb to add to your spice rubs, sauces and gravies. Available for a couple of dollars both online as well as at all indian stores, it has a long shelf life (more than a year or so). Trust me you REALLY need it in your pantry!

Ingredients

  • 3- 4 fish steaks (I used Tilapia steaks ,select any mild, white fish of choice)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 tbsp pure mustard oil (substitute with cooking olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 3/4 cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, finely chopped (yield about 1 cup)
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • 1.5 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mango powder (amchoor, substitute with lemon juice to taste)
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/4 cup of water (this depends on how watery your fish is and the desired consistency of the curry, adjust amount accordingly)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Method

Rub the fish steaks with 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

When ready to make the curry, take out the fish from the fridge and let sit at room temperature.

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 minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling the aroma.

Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes and grated ginger  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. 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.

Add the marinated fish steaks next to the along with kasuri methi & dry mango powder. Also add salt to taste. Stir around gently so that the fish steaks are coated in the masala. Cover the pan and let the fish cook on low for 5 -8 minutes. This cooking time will depend on the variety, cut and thickness of steaks. Adjust accordingly. When the fish is just about done, add the water and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes

Once the fish is cooked through, let the curry sit covered for at least 30-40 minutes, undisturbed.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with steamed basmati rice. (You can warm the curry before serving)

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Indian Curry/Stew

Punjabi Kadhi Pakora – Chickpea flour Fritters in a Spicy Yogurt Gravy (Glutenfree)

Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully SpicyOn those summer evenings, while we laid our folding beds in the veranda to prepare for a  sleepover under the starry sky, in the kitchen, potfuls of kadhi simmered on one of the stove tops, rice to go along with it on the other. After filling up the water koolers to the brink and in anticipation that maybe light (electricity) will come back later in the night, we waited for supper as the whole house smelled of  daintily spiced, turmeric loaded yogurt broth.

Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Depending on who cooked it, it would be sweet & tangy, thick or thin, spiced up or muted. My grandmother always divided the kadhi pot into two and added loads of sugar to one. Like many things, she was particular about the pakoras done right. Standing beside the sandstone countertop, her cotton saree tucked to the waist,she rigorously fluffed up cups of besan with water, stopping every few minutes to drop the batter into a katori filled with water, if  the batter drop rose to the surface, it was ready to fry up in the pungent smelling, hot mustard oil else more toil was needed. The pakoras came out perfect each time – gooey in the centre but retaining their shape in the warm broth. In those times, there were no stand mixers, hand beaters or french whisks but she had an out of the world devotion  to make delicious food for her family – fresh and filled with love.

Spices, Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Summers in northern parts of India are harsh, unlike the western parts, monsoon are mostly a cycle of few days of rain followed by dry spells for weeks. There were long power outages and at least once in a while the area transformers conked off, overworked. Kitchen was the last place anyone wanted to be in on such evenings. When nobody in the house was in a mood to cook, kadhi was made.It was a quick and easy dinner rescue.

Making Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Kadhi is basically a slightly sour, gluten-free yogurt based gravy which is thickened with chickpea flour. Fritters (pakoras) can be added to the broth or cut up vegetables (okra, spinach, aubergines) or sometimes it can served as it is.

These days, with a fussy, demanding little one around, I make kadhi quite more than often. It is an immensely satisfying meal. I like mine brothy, loaded with lots of cumin flavored ghee but this is optional. You can skip the garnish part from the recipe. Using pure mustard oil gives kadhi an authentic flavor, however any kind of oil can be used.

Kadhi Pakora – Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Note :- This recipe yields a soupy kadhi, if you like yours thick, just add extra 1-2 tbsp of besan.

Ingredients(Serves 2-3)

For the Pakoras 

  • 3/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Enough water to make the batter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Mustard Oil for frying (or vegetable/canola oil)

For the Kadhi 

  • 1.5 cup plain whole milk yogurt, slightly sour
  • 6 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp crushed kasuri methi, dried fenugreek leaves (give a great flavor but can be skipped if not available)
  • 2.5 – 3 cups water
  • 3 tbsp pure mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Generous pinch of hing powder
  • 1/4 tso ajwain seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (coarsely crushed)
  • 2 whole dried red chillies
  • Salt to taste

Note :- It is very important that the yogurt is sour when you make kadhi, else t will not taste good. You can leave the yogurt overnight at room temperature or inside the oven to let it sour. Garnish

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of hing
  • 2-3 thai green chillies , slit open, seeded if you want (optional, adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder

Method

Making the Pakoras

In a medium bowl, mix up besan, hing and turmeric powder.Slowly start adding water and with the help of a handheld beater or whisk, whip up to make a thick batter. Once properly whipped the batter will be fluffy and pale yellow. Add more or less water as needed to make a batter similar to how thick you would make for dipping hot dogs when making corn dogs.

Meanwhile, heat sufficient oil in a wok or deep fryer.When you see ripples on the oil surface,mix the salt with the batter and drop small portions (about 1/2 tbsp or so) of it into the fryer, either with a spoon or help of your fingers.Deep fry in small batches on medium heat till pakoras are golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

Note :- You can make pakoras as big or small as you like. Just note that these expand a little once added to the warm broth. Chopped onions, par boiled potatoes or any kind of herbs can be added to the batter for extra flavor.

Making the Kadhi

In a bowl, combine besan, yogurt,turmeric & red chilli  powder, kasuri methi (if using) salt to taste and water to make a lump free smooth mix. Let stand.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat mustard oil to smoking point.Remove from heat and let cool for around 1-2 minutes else spices will burn. Add cumin, ajwain, fenugreek and coriander seeds along with hing & whole red chillies. Return to stove top. When spices begin to splutter and you smell the aroma, add minced ginger. Let cook for 10-15 seconds.

Next,remove the pot from stove again and slowly add the besan-yogurt mixture and mix thoroughly. Return to medium heat and let the kadhi come to a boil. Dont be tempted to rush this else kadhi will curdle. Once you see the kadhi starting to bubble, turn the heat to low, add the garam masala and let the kadhi simmer for 10-15 minutes till it thickens and is rich yellow in color.Let sit till ready to serve.

When ready to serve, warm up the kadhi on medium till you see bubbles on the sides of the pot. Add the pakoras and let simmer (not boil) for about 5-8 minutes.

For Tempering

In a small saucepan, warm up the ghee and add cumin seeds to it, when they splutter, take away from the heat and add sliced green chillies.

Top up the kadhi- pakora with this cumin ghee just before serving along side rotis (flatbread) or steamed basmati rice.