Categories
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
Appetizers/Snacks Brunch Easy Recipes Gluten Free one pot meals Salads Side Dishes Snacks Vegetarian

Warm Chickpea Chaat (Indian Salad)

Sinfully Spicy- Warm Chickpea Chaat/Indian Salad 001

Last weekend was eventful.We celebrated our little munchkin’s first birthday. I made her a smash cake and we also got an adult cake. Her reaction towards both the cakes was the same – she cried. I think the flickering candle frightened her. It’s so funny that they react completely different to how you think they might.

Sinfully Spicy- Ingredients, Warm Chickpea Chaat/Indian Salad 002

Sinfully Spicy- Tamarind(imli Chutney) Chaat

Taking advantage of fading winters, I made this warm chaat this weekend. The weather out here is not yet hot for a crisp cold salad & a bit too warm for soups, this chaat drizzled with imli (tamarind) chutney & tossed with fresh mint leaves perfectly fitted the onset of spring mood.We are huge fan of  textures and multiple flavors in food and that is what this chaat is full of.

Sinfully Spicy- Warm Chickpea Chaat/Indian Salad 002

In India, chaat is a savory preparation which can be categorized as street food. There are few base ingredients which essentially form part of chaat– chopped onions or grated radish/cucumber for crunch,chaat masala (tangy spice powder) for the pungency & heat, tamarind chutney adds that saucy, tart layer while the green chutney & cilantro (or any herb)add the much needed freshness.The yogurt adds the acidity as well as cools down the palate.These are usually the toppings without which a bowl of chaat is incomplete. However, you can pick or drop any as per your taste.Chaat could be layering of fried dough or diced up fruits cut up and mixed together.If you are looking for really heavy options then kachoris (stuffed fried breads) or aloo(potato) tikki are your choices.

Sinfully Spicy - Mint

I like how healthy and filling this recipe turned out. You can also use black chickpeas(kala chana) or mung sprouts in this recipe and it works fine. It can be served as a perfect appetizer as well as a side dish. All the prep work like boiling chickpeas, potatoes, making the chutney, chopping toppings etc can be done a day before and then its just tossing everything together. Sinfully Spicy- Warm Chickpea Chaat/Indian Salad 003

I soak raw chickpeas overnight and then pressure cook them in enough water with little salt and a tsp of oil. Drain the chickpeas and reserve liquid for use as stock.

Ingredients (Serve 2)

  • 1 cup boiled chickpeas (or use canned)
  • 1 medium potato, boiled, peeled & diced into bite size pieces
  • 2 tsp oil, any neutral oil of choice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • generous pinch of hing (asofetida)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or to taste)

Other ingredients/toppings

  • Chopped onions – about 1/3 cup
  • Chopped tomatoes/ Grape tomatoes
  • 2 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
  • Black Salt/Kala Namak ( to taste)
  • Chaat Masala (to taste) (available online or at indian grocery stores)
  • Imli/Tamarind Chutney – 2 tbsp or to taste (recipe below)
  • Roasted Cumin Powder- to taste
  • Red Chilli Powder – to taste

You can add cucumber, grated radish, pomegranate seeds, sev, crushed papris etc to add more texture and crunch.

Method 

In a pan, heat up the oil. Add the cumin seeds and once they sizzle add the hing. Once you smell the aroma, add the chickpeas & potatoes. Also add the garam masala, cumin powder and salt. Toss around for 3-5 minutes till the chickpeas look shiny.Remove from heat & add the lemon juice. Mix well.

Transfer to a large enough bowl and add the listed toppings as per taste. Toss well and serve immediately.

Imli/Tamarind Chutney

I soak raw tamarind in warm water for 4-5 hours and then mash it until pulp is separated.Sieve the pulp into a bowl and discard the seeds and thick fibers. You can also use store bought but just keep in mind that its very salty & slightly acidic so adjust seasonings accordingly. 

Ingredients (Makes about 1.5 cups)

  • 1/2 cup thick,tamarind pulp(store bought or homemade)
  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup jaggery powder/granulated sugar (adjust quantity to your sweetness)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of hing (asafoetida)
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin seed powder
  • 1/2 tsp kala namak/black salt [available in indian stores, else replace with normal salt, adjust to taste]
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • salt to taste
  • Up to 1/2 cup water ( you may or may not need it, usually not needed when using sugar instead of jaggery)

Method

In a small sauce pan, heat the oil.Once heated add the cumin seeds, as soon as the cumin starts to crackle, add all the ingredients listed above to the pan except water.Simmer the  for atleast 20 minutes till it starts to thicken. You can adjust water once the chutney has simmered. It will thicken more on cooling. Remove from heat, let cool, transfer to a container.

Let cool completely. This can sit for unto 3 weeks in a refrigerator.

Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Breakfast Easy Recipes Lentils Salads Side Dishes Vegetarian

Mung Dal & Edamame Salad

Hope all of you had a lovely 4th of July. We took a little vacation to LA and Malibu.It was our first road trip ever & could not have been more fun.We spent a lot of time on beaches, sun bathing, chatting and eating fresh seafood. A visit to botanical gardens and theme park rounded off  the trip. All in all, LA was definitely a respite from the over the top hot weather in Vegas right now. Its 113 F/45 C as I type this 😦

Breaking loose from almost a perfect vacation, our car refused to behave a couple of times in the middle of Mojave desert while driving back. Being 4th of July and with everything closed, we almost reached a point when we decided to stay over in nearby town for the night. However, thanks to few God sent personnel at gas stations,we managed way back home.

I normally don’t binge during vacations,still all the outside food makes me want to eat simple, clean meals for the days that follow. I came home wanting just that. This salad is my go to recipe for those days.

Yellow Mung lentils (dal) are de skinned whole mung bean and have a very mild taste. I have grown eating them in this dryish preparation either as a side with flat breads or mixed with ghee & rice as well as salad. Since yellow mung lentils are quick to cook, this salad can be fixed in no time.Once you cook the lentils, it’s just a matter of chopping the veggies and tossing everything together with lots of lemon juice. I added a handful of ready to eat edamame beans & there it was – a hearty, protein packed salad which is so light & summery. And yup..so healthy!

Did I tell you..this is my 150th post…kinda feels good 🙂

Lentils form a big part of indian cuisine – meals are far from complete without them – soups, fritters, flat breads, stews, patties…you will find them used in all ways imaginable. India being a vegetarian country, we get our daily protein dose from them. I cook lentils daily in some way or the other. P is more of a lentil soup person, I enjoy them either way.

I was introduced to edamame after I came to USA. I did not care for them much initially but knowing how good they are, now I try to include them in our diet as much as possible.I am still away from eating them all on their own but have found a perfect way to eat them this way – overshadowed by earthy taste of lentils & crunch of fresh vegetables – hardly making their presence felt.

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1/2 cup yellow mung dal, split
  • 2 cups water (for soaking)
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with any oil of choice)
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin)
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3- 4 tbsp water (for cooking)

For the salad

  • 1/4 cup each chopped red onion,cucumber, tomatoes (use any veggies of choice in any quantity you like)
  • 1/4 cup edamame (I used ready to eat, if using raw, see note in method)
  • 4-5 fresh mint/cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 green chillies, finely chopped
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh lime/lemon juice (or to taste)
  • Olive Oil (to drizzle)
  • salt to adjust

Method

Cooking Lentils – Thoroughly wash the mung lentils 2-3 times under stream of water. Soak the lentils in 2 cups of water for atleast 2.5 -3 hours. Once soaked, drain out the soaking liquid. Set aside.

In a medium pot with lid, heat the oil on medium. Once you see ripples on the surface of the oil, reduce the heat to low. Temper the oil with jeera & hing. Wait for 10-15 seconds till the jeera crackles & you smell the aroma of hing. Add the minced ginger & turmeric powder next & saute for another 10 seconds.

Next, add the soaked lentils and salt to taste. Stir well to coat the lentils in the tempering. Add 3 tbsp of water to the pot and cover. Let cook on low heat for 8-12 minutes till the lentils are thoroughly cooked but retain their shape. You need to check 1-2 times in between to see that the lentils are not sticking to the pot bottom, if so, add a tbsp of water. Dont peek too much while the lentils cook, the idea is so steam them slowly on low heat.

Note :- If using fresh edamame beans, add them to the pot towards the last 3-4 minutes of cooking, so that they steam with the lentils.This will ensure that they remain green & crunchy. 

Once cooked, put the stove off and let the lentils & edamame sit covered for another 5-8 minutes till they cool down a bit. Fluff gently using a fork and let them cool off completely. At this point, if you want to make the salad later, you can refrigerate the lentils in air tight containers for 1-2 days. 

Assembling the Salad – In a medium bowl, toss the cooled lentils & edamame with the chopped vegetables, mint, cilantro & green chillies. Squirt lemon juice, add red pepper flakes, olive oil (if using) and salt to taste. Combine well and serve at room temperature.

Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Brunch Salads Side Dishes Vegetarian

Bharwaan Tamatar-Indian Style Stuffed Tomatoes

Living in Las Vegas is so much fun.I call it my second home.A city,I personally feel everyone should see once in their lifetime for it’s a different ball game altogether when it comes to defying the meaning of entertainment.The first time I went to the strip,the only thing I was doing for initial one hour was to swing my head in all directions possible to catch the glimpse of the glitz while sipping on the yard long glasses which were the additional wonder of that day.You walk into a casino and there’s this sudden thrash of loud music,gaudy yet ornate decor and lots and lots of people.I call it the MAD crowd…mad about enjoying life, about letting their hair down and experimenting with their fortune.Walking into a casino is a great stress buster on the other hand, every time I have walked in with a cluttered mind, feeling low,I seem to forget my worries for some time, its like a magic wand erasing all the tensions for a while when you see everyone around letting down with a common mission-to enjoy!

P always says that the downside of being a local is that we wont be able to enjoy the stay in luxurious hotels here.It is our secret wish to lock our house for 2 days sometime, take a cab, grab few clothes and stay over at one of the casino resorts and experience the king size life for few days out there.But did I tell you that locals enjoy discount rates at casinos and shows?I love the pace and quality of life in this city.Love the landscape which is all about tall,lush palm trees and succulents but still a drive through the valley is bound to leave you asking for more.I do not miss sky scrapers here; I like the homely feel of apartment homes and condos.The weather is extremely hot & dry,I have humidifiers in the house and battling the scorpions during summer months becomes a challange.The ONLY thing I miss a lot is the rains!With almost 340 days of full sun, I strive hard to save my little home garden from the gusty winds and aridity.Sometimes it just feels so dry that I have a hidden fear of not getting enough water to drink.

 

Tomatoes remind me of all those summer evenings at home when mom used to quarter them,sprinkle some salt and gave us a bowl each before dinner.Let me confess I do not like raw tomatoes all on their own. I need bread,cheese or some other veggie paired along to eat them raw.Another point of stark contrast from P who pops them into his mouth like a candy.This is one of my summer favorites, stuffed tomato recipe which my mom used to make during the times when abundant tomato produce hit the market.You can put any kind of stuffing – this is my indian way of doing it.Normally, paneer [ indian cheese] is widely used for stuffing, I like the tang of cheddar more instead.I usually like to serve them as appetizers, you can make a gravy and serve them as a main dish.Pair great with cheese puffs or a dry side with lentils.Recipe below:-

Ingredients:[Serves 2-3]

Printable Recipe

  • 6 medium size, firm tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil mixed with 1/4 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp white poppy seeds to sprinkle on top
Stuffing:
  • 3 medium size potatoes, boiled
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup frozen yellow corn
  • 1/4 cup mild cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 green chillies,chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp red chilli flakes [adjust to taste]
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds,crushed
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1 /2 tsp dry mango powder [ amchoor]
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp golden raisins [optional]
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Method:-
Preparing the tomatoes:-
  • Wash the tomatoes, pat them dry and using a sharp knife cut off  a about 1″ thick slice on top of the tomatoes.Reserve the tops.Note :- Just check that all the tomatoes rest on their bases, if not cut a thin slice from bottom to balance them.
  • Run a sharp knife all around the edge of the tomatoes and using a melon baller or scoop,take out the seeds and pulp. Tip:-Do not discard the pulp, refrigerate/ freeze it,can be used in curries or gravies later.
  • Using a paper towel pat dry the inside of the tomatoes and rub them with seasoned olive oil inside and outside.Set aside in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Making the stuffing :-
  • Thaw the peas and corn if using frozen.Mash the boiled potatoes thoroughly so that only tiny bits remain.
  • In any heavy bottomed utensil, heat the oil on medium and add cumin seeds and green chillies to it, fry for 30 seconds.Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for 1 minute.Add the chopped onions next and cook until they turn golden brown.About 7 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the turmeric powder, red chilli flakes and crushed coriander seeds.Cook for 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the spices.
  • Turn the heat high and add the mashed potatoes, peas ,corn and combine everything.Add salt and let cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.The mixture should be ready when you can smell the aroma.
  • Remove from heat and add garam masala, grated cheddar cheese,raisins.Combine well.Let the stuffing cool down for 5-8 minutes.

Making the tomatoes:-
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C.
  • Make balls out of the potatoes mixture and fill it into the refrigerated tomatoes.Do not press down.
  • Transfer the stuffed tomatoes to a greased baking dish or cast iron skillet,cover stuffed tomatoes with the tops and bake for 15-18 minutes or until the skins start to shrivel and the tomatoes are soft to touch.Towards the end of baking , sprinkle the poppy seeds and continue to bake till done.Note that for the last few minutes you need to keep a watch to avoid tomato skins from rupturing.
  • Serve warm.
Notes:
  • Instead of baking, you can cook the tomatoes on stove top covered over medium -low heat.You will need to separately toast poppy seeds and sprinkle before serving.
The composition of main dish pictures is inspired by White on Rice Couple.The beautiful setting in their pictures stuck in my memory for days.
Enjoy!