Appetizers/Snacks · Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Side Dishes · vegan · Vegetarian

Rajma Ke Kabab (Vegan & GF Kidney Bean Kababs)

Vegetarian kababs were sometimes made by mom to use up the beans or lentils she had leftover. These are a great protein rich vegetarian option, these are super easy to make and form a light meal with some rotis and chutney. Or make burgers or wraps with them.

You can easily make a big batch, shape these and pan fry over a few days as and when you want. There are a few varieties of rajma available in stores but I go for the dark skinned ones mostly because they pack a lot of flavor. The darker the kidney bean, the tastier.

There are a few things to be kept in mind when making these so that the kababs are moist (yet not falling apart) and not dry either. If you are not using leftover boiled rajma and boiling beans just to make these, always mash the rajma after it has cooled down. If you mash it while it is hot, they will be quite sticky, difficult to shape and the texture is not going to be right. Don’t use a food processor or blender – it just kills the texture.

You really dont need any binder to shape these, because the beans bind well on their own. I add a potato just for taste, you can substitute with sweet potatoes(though then they will be a little sweeter) or skip potatoes totally. Use any kinds of beans – garbanzo, black chickpeas, black eyed peas or skin on lentils, this recipe will work for all.

Recipe

Ingredients Makes 8-10 Kababs

  • 1.5 cup boiled rajma (see notes)
  • 1 large potato, boiled and peeled
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions ,divided
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp extra hot red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp chaat masala (recipe for my homemade blend here)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder, adjust depending on how tangy your chaat masala is and how tangy you prefer, substitute with lime juice)
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for pan frying
  • Chaat masala, pickled onions, chutney etc to serve.

Notes

  1. You can use canned beans in this recipe.
  2. Make sure that boiled rajma dosent have any liquid. If using canned, drain the beans properly to strain the liquid out.

Method

In a large bowl, mash the cold rajma nicely with hands. It will take a few minutes but avoid using a food processor or blender (it only makes the beans sticky). Try to mash them as fine as possible. Little bits of skins here and there is okay. Separately mash the boiled potato as well. Don’t grate the potato.

On medium heat, heat up oil in a pan (preferably non stick). Crackle the cumin seeds and immediately add 1/3 cup chopped onion, garlic and ginger all together to the pan. Saute for just 30 seconds and add the mashed beans and potato to the pan. Sprinkle all the powdered spices along with salt and mix well to combine. Cook this mixture continuously stirring for 2-3 minutes, you can mash lightly as you go. It will start to clump up into a ball. But will be soft. Dont cook for long else kababs will be dry.

Take off the heat, transfer to a bowl and let cool down completely. Add the rest of the onions, green chillies, cilantro and mint(if using). Combine well gently mixing with spatula or your hand if needed. Knead for a few minutes. Taste and adjust the salt at this stage. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes.

Oil your palms, divide into equal portions and make small patties with your hands. Smooth all around using your palms and fingers. You should get around 8 or 10. Make all the patties and place them on a plate before frying.

Brush 1 tbsp oil on a cast iron skillet or a non stick pan. Once the skillet is hot (not super hot), place the kababs on the skillet and let them fry for 3-5 minutes on a low to medium heat until the bottoms are darkish and crispy. You can add 1 tsp oil at intervals but don’t add lot of oil all at once.

Carefully, using a wide spatula, flip and cook on the other side. These will be soft so be gentle. Cook till browned on other side. Switch off the stove and let the kababs rest on the skillet for 5-7 minutes. This sets them, if you pick up too soon, they will break.

Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Appetizers/Snacks · Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Streetfood · Indo Chinese · Mains · Non vegetarian · Side Dishes

Chicken Manchurian

Manchurian is a widely popular Indo Chinese dish in the indian subcontinent. Sold on streets as well as in good restaurants, it is fried vegetable or chicken dumplings in a  ‘Manchurian’ sauce. Do not confuse the origins of  ‘Manchurian’ sauce – it definitely has nothing to do with the region by the same name in South East Asia. Creatively put together by chinese who lived in eastern parts of  India for centuries, imagine it to be an amber-colored, tangy and mildly sweet but hot sauce with hints of spices.

We are huge fans of Indo Chinese food at home. It is a much needed break from the usual daals and curries for dinner. The flavors are enticing and a lovely balance of sweet spicy tangy umami.

Indo chinese tastes best when you use of Indian condiments – I make it a point to use the brands from Indian store for that authentic taste. However, you can very well do few a substitutions and use your pantry to try this recipe. If you have an Indian store near by, do pay a visit and try to stock on these things to try many other recipes already on my blog. There are many condiments and sauces available, but below is a terse list of sauces from the brand “Chings” which will equip you to make some delicious Indo chinese food at home.

  • Chings Dark Soy Sauce – Its thick and dark and has a strong aroma, not your regular soy sauce used for dipping dumplings or tasting. This robust sauce can stand cooking and is full of umami.
  • Chings Green Chili Sauce – This is hot. Its basically green chillies ground with vinegar and it lends a grassy heat to the recipes.
  • Chings Red Chili Sauce – This is red chilies ground with vinegar and it lends more of a smoky rounded heat to your sauce base.
  • Chings Vinegar or Chings Chili Vinegar – You choose! The latter has chilli notes along with tangy.
  • Chings Schezwan Chutney – Amazing way to start the recipe, the chili garlic base when sautéed in oil lends a beautiful fiery garlicky notes to whatever you are making. It can be served as it is on a side or tossed with noodles and rice, its just super delicious.

Here the machurian sauce is little different from the vegetable manchurian or gobi manchurian I shared earlier. The selection and measurement of condiments different because chicken needs a more robust sauce. You can serve it with fried rice or hakka noodles for a lip smacking meal.

Recipe

For the Chicken Dumplings

  • 1 lb ground chicken (dark meat,dont use ground chicken breast)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp red chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
  • Chopped scallions (optional)
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Fresh ground black pepper to tatse
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Oil to spray (if baking) or enough oil to deep fry

For the Manchurian Sauce

  • 1 tbsp Chings dark soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp Chings Red chilli sauce or Sriracha
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp extra hot red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 3 tbsp dark clover honey
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil (its a strong unique flavor, can be skipped)
  • 1 cup+1/2 cup chicken stock (you can use 1/2 stick 1/2 water, dont use only water)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (make a slurry with 2 tbsp cold water)
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1-2 thai bird green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 2 scallion stalks, white & green parts chopped separately
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 tbsp vinegar (or to taste)
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish

Serve with – Fried rice, Hakka Noodles, Chili Garlic Noodles

Notes :-

  • Don’t use flavored oils like olive or coconut oil for making the sauce. Neutral Oils are best for the sauce.
  • Use any diced vegetables like bell peppers or baby corn etc in this recipe. Add them after the onions ginger & garlic have finished sautéing.
  • Add more cornstarch if you like a thickish sauce.
  • If you dont want to make ground chicken balls, you can add chicken breast or breaded fried chicken pieces to the sauce. Works great!

Method

For the Dumplings

Mix all the listed ingredients except oil in a large bowl. Gently mix everything together using spatula first and then if needed with hands without squishing a lot. Let the mix rest fir 10-15 minutes. If you feel its too sticky (depends on water content of your mince, add another tablespoon of cornstarch). Oil your palms and make lime sized balls with the mixture.You should get about 12-15.

If you are baking:- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large sheet with parchment. Place the chicken meatballs in a single layer and spray or brush linberally with oil. Bake for 8-9 minutes until the meatballs are firm and whitish from outside. They will finish cooking in sauce.

If you are deep frying – Heat up 3 inch oil in a frying pan. Fry chicken meatballs a few at a time until golden and crispy on medium heat. Drain on a paper towel.

Set the cooked chicken meatballs aside.

Make the Sauce

In a bowl, mix together soy sauce, red chilli sauce, tomato puree, coriander & red chilli powder, sesame oil and honey. Taste this concoction a tiny bit once (this is a strong paste right now) and you can adjust the heat or sweetness as you wish. Keep it ready.

Also keep all the chopped vegetables and cornstarch slurry ready. Warm up the chicken stock a bit. Keep everything ready to go because this sauce comes together very fast once you start cooking.

In a wide wok or heavy bottomed, heat up the oil on high. Once the oil is smoky, add the chopped onion, garlic, ginger scallion white parts and green chillies all at once. Saute for 2-3 minutes until you smell a nice aroma. If you are using any vegetables, now is the time to add them and saute on high heat for 1-2 mins. Dont cook a lot, they will be perfect by the end of cooking. I did not add any vegetables.

Add the soy sauce mix we made earlier to the wok. Saute for a couple minutes on high heat continuously stirring and then add the warm chicken stock. Add the salt to taste. Reduce the heat to medium and let the stock heat up. You will start to see bubbles on the sides. At this point add the baked chicken meatballs and let them finish cooking for 2-3 minutes or so in the sauce. Dont add the meatballs if you deep fried them (We will add at the end).

Add the cornstarch slurry next and let simmer for 2 minutes until the sauce is a bit thick and smooth. Switch off the stove. If you deep fried the meatball, add them now. Add the vinegar and green parts of the scallions along with some fresh chopped cilantro. Mix together gently and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Appetizers/Snacks · Condiments/Spice Blends · Gluten Free · Indian Streetfood · Non vegetarian · Side Dishes

Seekh Kabab

Seekh kabab could easily be one the most popular street foods across South Asia.A street food that instantly transports me to colorful streets of Old Delhi. We often thronged to Jama Masjid in heart of the walled city to eat seekh kabab rolls which is basically kababs right off the tandoor wrapped in rumali rotis with thinly sliced onions that soften just a bit due to warmth of kabab & rotis. A few squirts of fiery green chutney and made extra smoky with sprinkles of tangy chaat masala to round up the melt in the mouth melange of spicy and smoky. 

It’s a vivid memory hard to overwrite- that of standing on the street side biting into a hot kabab while witnessing the hustle bustle of the city engulfed in aromas from flaming tandoors lined up as far as the sight goes. 

Seekh translates to “skewer” and these kababs are usually made with ground mutton, lamb or chicken, shaped into pipe like kababs and cooked on high heat. This are so delicious served with a flatbreads, lots of onions , lemon wedges and green chutney.

You can always go ahead and buy seekh kabab masala from store, and I myself go for the convenience many times, however if you make your own masala, the depth of flavors and taste is truly unmatched. Besides homeground masala, there are a few other things as noted below to be kept in mind for a great tasting seekh.

  • Use a fine ground mince with a good amount of fat. By this I mean that even if you purchase minced meat or chicken from the store, grind it using your food processor or blender. This ensures that the kababs are not going to break when you shape or cook them.
  • Use mince with good amount of fat. So if you are choosing beef or lamb – go for 85/15 variety. If you are using chicken, do not use ground chicken breast, go for ground dark portion meat. I remember my grandfather asking the butcher to add extra fat separately whenever he bought ground meat for making seekh kababs.
  • Squeeze as much water as possible from the finely chopped onions. Else the mince will start breaking when you try to skewer it after marinating.
  • Cook on high heat. The mince cooks very quickly and if you slow cook it, the kababs will dry out.
  • Grease your palms well when putting mince on the skewer. Also brush or spray oil/ghee liberally when cooking the kababs else they will come out dry.
  • You can cook them on indoor or outdoor grill. If you do not have grill, bake them in a high oven and then slide under the broiler for few minutes for a nice char.

You can use the same recipe for making kababs with any kind of meat. However, if you choose to use beef or lamb or mutton, I suggest adding 1-2 teaspoons of meat tenderizer or 1 tablespoon of fine grated green papaya. Rest everything remains the same.

Recipe

Seekh Kabab Masala (Makes 10-12 kababs)

Ingredients (makes about 1/4 cup of masala)

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 star anise flower
  • 3 green cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 1 black cardamom, pods only
  • Cinnamon – 2 inch
  • 8 whole black pepper
  • pinch of carrom seeds (ajwain)
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 2 twigs mace
  • 3-5 dried whole kashmiri chillies
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp black salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste

Method

Dry roast all the whole spices – cumin, coriander, fennel. star anise. cardamoms. cinnamon, black pepper, dried red chillies, carrom, black pepper, cloves , mace and bayleaf on very low hear for 5-6 minutes taking care not do brown them at all. Take off the stove and let cool down completely. Using a spice grinder, grind the spices to a fine powder. Sieve the ground spices to make sure that no bits remain.

In a bowl, mix the ground spice with rest of powdered spices and salt and mix well. You can double or triple this recipe and keep it in an air tight container for a month.

For Making Seekh kababs

  • 1 lb (1/2 kg) ground chicken, lamb or mutton
  • 3 tbsp roasted kaale chane (unsalted black chickpeas (without the skin), these are easily available in indian stores (substitute with 2 tbsp dry roasted besan (chick pea flour))
  • Seekh Kabab masala (recipe above, I add the entire batch of masala, you can reduce a bit if you wish)
  • 2 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp very finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped onion, squeeze the water out
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2-4 green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • salt (about 1.5 tsp, adjust to taste)
  • Ghee for brushing while cooking/grilling
  • Chaat masala, chutney, sliced onions to serve

Note – Add 1 tsp meat tenderizer or 1 tbsp fresh grated green papaya if using ground meat (beef, mutton or lamb). Everything else reminds the same.

Method

Add the ground meat or chicken to your blender or food processor fitted with metal blade and pulse a 4-5 times to grind the mince finer. Transfer to a large bowl. To take out easily from around the blade, drizzle a little oil.

Grind the roasted black chickpeas using your spice grinder or any small grinder to a fine powder. Sift using a colander over the ground meat/chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients and using your hands, gently mix everything. Do not squeeze the meat but make sure the spices, herbs and salt is evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with a cling film and let marinate refrigerated for 1 hour (for chicken) and 1.5 hours (for meat).

If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water while the mince marinates. Once marinated, take the mince out of the refrigerator. Rightaway, take about 1/3 cup of the mince at a time, oil your hands and pierce the meat through the skewer. It is easier to skewer the kabab mix when the mince is cold. Using your palms and fingers, spread the meat in a cylindrical shape lengthwise on the skewer. Dont make a very thick kabab else it will not come out chewy, if you make very thin, they will dry out while high temperature cooking.

If using an oven, preheat it to the highest temperature. Mine goes upto 500F. Line a large baking tray with foil or parchment paper (this makes cleaning the tray easy) while oven is heating. Place a rack on the tray. Brush the rack with oil. Place the skewers on the rack. Liberally brush with oil or melted ghee. Cook in the hot oven for 6-8 minutes, flipping mid way. Slide under the broiler for a minute or two if you want a charred skin.

You can also grill these on a charcoal or indoor grill at the highest setting. Liberally brush with oil a few times for a moist kababs. Flip a few times for even cooking on all sides.

Once kababs are done, let it cool down on the skewer for a minute or so. Transfer to a plate from the skewers. Sprinkle with chaat masala.Serve immediately with onion, green chutney , flatbreads, lemons etc.

-Enjoy

Non vegetarian · Side Dishes · Uncategorized

A Thanksgiving Meal

This post is in collaboration with Ninja Kitchen.

Thanksgiving in 2020 is going to be so different than last years. We rarely stay home during Thanksgiving, either we visit friends or take short family trips. However, things are different this year but that should definitely stop us from celebrating with good food.

Since we are a small family, I love making cornish hens during the holiday which are abundantly available at this time of the year. There are a few simple sides, a minty yogurt raita and doughy naan. We love everything spice and hence the birds get a generous dose of spices in the form of my tandoori spiced compound butter.

Since we are a small family, I love making cornish hens during the holiday which are abundantly available at this time of the year. There are a few simple sides, a minty yogurt raita and doughy naan. We love everything spice and hence the birds get a generous dose of spices in the form of my tandoori spiced compound butter.

This recipe is different from tandoori spice paste recipe which I shared a few years ago. The is a dry rub, a mix of powdered spices which I mix with softened butter and then rub all over the bird and roast it. The bird comes out so so moist, it is incredibly delicious and there is lingering aroma of warm spices in your kitchen.

Since the bird is generously spiced, I keep the sides pretty simple. The garlic, cumin and kasoori methi roasted potatoes and simply roasted brussel sprouts pair well. The compound butter is so amazing and trust me you need to make extra and keep it in your fridge. It will go so well on tofu, paneer, fish or simply roasted vegetables.

Recipes

Tandoori Spiced Compound butter

For the tandoori masala

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom, seeds only
  • 2 green cardamom, seeds only
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 twigs mace
  • 1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), crushed fine between palms
  • 1/2 tbsp kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chaat masala
  • 1/2 tbsp hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Compound butter

  • 1 cup unsalted butter , very soft but not melting
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 tbsp chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
  • Minced garlic & ginger (if you want a pronounced flavor)
  • 1-3 tbsp of tandoori masala (adjust to taste)
  • Salt

Method

Make the Tandoori Masala :- Lightly dry toast the cumin, coriander, cardamom seeds, cloves, cinnamon and mace in a small pan for 2-3 minutes. Cool down the spices completely. Transfer to a spice grinder and make into a fine powder. Sieve the spices to make sure that their are no pieces left. In a bowl, add the spices along with rest of the spices listed. Mix everything very well. This masala can be stored in air tight container for up to two months.

Make the Compound Butter : – In a medium bowl, add the butter, oil, minced ginger and garlic (if using), chilli flakes and tandoori masala. Using a small spatula, mix everything very well. Let sit for atleast 30 minutes before using.

Tandoori Spiced Roasted Cornish Hens

  • 3 cornish hens, fresh or thawed(if using frozen)
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • Tandoori spiced compound butter
  • Oil for basting

Method : Make sure that the hens are properly thawed if using frozen. Using a paper towel, completely dry them. Massage the hens with the compound butter all over.Also massage the cavity liberally. If you are using hens with skin, slide your fingers to loosen the skin and massage the butter on the breast area properly. Once massaged, let the hens sit at room temperature for one hour before roasting. I dont, but if you want, you can fill the cavity with lemon slices or herbs.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Transfer the hens to a roasting pan lined with foil (makes cleaning easy). If you dont have roasting pan, you can use foil trays with a small rack over it. do not place the hens directly on the pan, it prevents circulation of heat and the bottoms will become watery. Roast the hens for 40- 60 minutes until the temperature at the thickest part reads 165F.

If using Ninja Foodi Smart XL grill, preheat the grill on roast with preset Chicken. Once the the grill is heated it will prompt you to add food, place the hens in the roaster tray, insert the Foodi Smart thermometer between the thigh and leg and press start. The grill will automatically set the time need to reach the temperature of 165 F for well done. Once the cooking is over, the grill will shut off.

Let the hens rest covered for 15 minutes and in the mean time you can make the sides.

Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb russet potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tbsp minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Method :- Mix everything together, place on a single layer in a baking sheet and and roast in a 400F oven or 30-35 mins until the potato skins are crisped and they are browned.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb brussel sprouts, washed & prepped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Olive oil

Method:- Toss the brussel sprouts with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a 400F over for 8-10 minutes.

Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Curry · Side Dishes · Stir-fry · vegan · Vegetarian

Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Okra & Potatoes)

IMG_8376-2The first thing to be spotted in markets at the turn of April or May as soon as the short fairytale called winter is over is okra pods. It probably tops the list of summer vegetables in India. I would compare the hue and cry about it to sight of fresh tomatoes here. I would accompany my grandmother to our daily vegetable vendor, leaned over his cart and gazed at the pile of okra that occupied half of the space and observed how my grandmother chose the dark green, soft, slender ones while arguing about how costly he sold his produce. Almost each week, sometimes more than once, okra formed a part of our meals. My mother tells me that it was my grandfather’s favorite vegetable so our family recipe repertoire is packed with a lot of ways to cook it. As the summer progressed, by the months of July and august and with the knock of monsoons and okra slowly losing their crisp texture, only then the focus shifted to other vegetables.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)However, it was not until I met the husband that I cooked okra with potatoes. Kid you not, I had not even heard about it in all my years of living in northern parts. It’s hard to say if his suggestion to do so was driven by his childhood food memories or his obnoxious need to combine potatoes with each and every food group possible, but the deal didn’t get too bad here and these two vegetables worked beautifully the first time I cooked them. We continued discussing for many years, each chance I got to get okra home as to how the recipe can get better and better until I mastered it.

Sinfully Spicy : Okra

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)These emerald looking, slender beauties pair with earthly flavor of starchy potatoes so well. On the lines of stuffed okra, I always add fennel seeds to my okra recipes and you will need to do that to know how deliciously this grassy vegetable braces the liquorice of that spice.Try it. The deal with dealing with all the nuances which people associate with okra is not to go too stingy on oil quantity  as well as not to let the vegetable steam too much while cooking. I cover it for no more than few initial minutes after its added to pan and then continue cooking uncovered till its done, this preserves the beautiful color as well as eliminates the chances of mushy okra.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)

Serve these as a side with daal (lentils ) and rice or with skillet fried flatbreads and chutney. It is good on side as well as on its own.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)

Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch · Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Curry · Indian Streetfood · Side Dishes

Hot & Sour Chicken (Indo Chinese)

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

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

Sinfully Spicy : Hot & Sour Chicken #indochinese

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

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

Notes:

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

For the Sauce

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

Method

Preparation

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

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

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

Cooking

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

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

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

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

Garnish with chopped green scallions & serve immediately.

Brunch · Easy Recipes · Festival Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Curry · Mains · Side Dishes · Vegetarian

Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Matar PaneerI always feel that I end up cooking many dishes just to re-create a special memory, securely nestled in my heart from the years gone by or from days of growing up. Sometimes the sight of the familiar ingredients at the store brings in with itself such a gush of thoughts that I won’t have anyother way except cheering myself up in the kitchen with them,cooking up a storm to recreate those flavors. Fresh peas during spring time, is one of such thing. For less than a second,the sight of exuberantly prized organic sweet peas at the grocer last week made little sense coupled with the effort required to prepare them. But then, I could not walk away without securing a pound in my cart to make some this luscious matar paneer – fresh shelled peas and soft unaged cheese in a spicy sauce redolent of sweet-smelling cardamom and sharp hints of cinnamon and cloves in contrast to the sweetness of the vegetable.

Sinfully Spicy : Fresh Pods Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Paneer (fresh indian cheese)I don’t remember a single time during childhood when we ate frozen peas.Fresh peas were a winter treat and the only way. My grandmother and other women of the family, after serving lunch, geared up for dinner,pulling chairs around the takht (a very old wide wooden bench still going strong in verandah of my badi mummy’s house), settling down with cups of cardamom chai and spent few good hours to shell three or four kilos of grassy, plum pods, gossiping about the neighbors or the relatives, working with remarkable patience, a virtue that comes hard to me when I know there is a ready to use pouch inside the freezer.

Sinfully Spicy : Shelling fresh Pods

Sinfully Spicy : Shelling fresh Pods Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Fresh PeasWhen I am engrossed in such strong weaved memories, at times, it becomes difficult to tear away and lend to the present. The joy continues, the nostalgia gets compelling. When I spent about half hour over the weekend in the company of these fresh peas I got, I felt like a child again, badi mummy teasing me to lend help and just not nibble on the seeds.It was raining outside and I felt like a child again,some eighteen or twenty years back, me wearing hand knitted, red colored socks,running away with fistfuls of matar dana. All laughs, so much fun.

Then suddenly, I feel the warmth of my daughter from behind, trying to lift her body on heels to reach for the bowl of seeds that I just shelled.Her smile breaks the array of thoughts. She is like mommy.

Sinfully Spicy : Matar PaneerMatar paneer is a classic north indian dish. I have always liked it on the spicy side with the creaminess limited to that from the paneer (fresh indian cheese). Each home in india has its own version of it, there is nothing wrong or right become curry are so versatile that way.The curry is naturally gluten free since paneer is a gluten free cheese. You can very easily make this recipe vegan friendly using tofu, or any other vegan substitute. I am sharing my mom’s recipe with a little bit of extra spices added in.

Sinfully Spicy : Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Matar Paneer

Printable Recipe

Matar Paneer – Fresh Peas & Indian Fresh Cheese in a aromatic and spicy tomato – onion sauce

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 2 medium tomatoes (yield about 3/4 cup fresh tomato puree)
  • 1 fat garlic
  • 6 oz paneer (about 200 grams, homemade or store-bought, cubed, use extra firm tofu for vegan)
  • 1/4 cup mustard oil (or use olive/vegetable oil)
  • 1/3 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 clove
  • 1/4 inch piece of dalchini (cassia bark, substitute with 1/2 inch piece of regular cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust to taste, substitute with 1/2 teaspoon cayenne)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder (this lends the color not the heat, substitute with paprika)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup -1 cup water (depending on the desired consistency of sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi, crushed between palms
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
  • 2-3 tablespoon of heavy cream (optional, I did not use, skip for vegan )
  • Fresh cilantro & ginger juliennes to garnish and serve

Method

If you are using fresh peas, shell the pods. If using frozen, thaw the peas.

Blend the tomatoes along with garlic to a fine puree. Set aside.

Soak the paneer cubes in warm water. Set aside. If using tofu, dry it using paper towels, cube it and let sit.

Heat up the mustard oil in a large pot, wait till you see little ripples on the surface, add the onions along with cardamom, clove, dalchini & cumin seeds.Saute for 5-6 minutes till the onion start to turn light brown.

Add the coriander, turmeric, red chili, kashmiri chilli powder next and sauté for less than a minute. Add the blended tomatoes and reduce heat to low.Let cook slowly till you see little bubbles of oil separating on sides of the pot and the spice paste glistening. At this point, add the peas along with chopped ginger,add salt, stir to combine together with spice paste and on low heat, saute for 3-4 minutes. Add about 3/4 cup water, mix well and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for about 15-20 minutes till the peas are soft (but not mushy).Uncover and add the kasuri methi and garam masala along with paneer cubes. Stir, and again cover and on low heat, let simmer for another 10-12 minutes.

Add the heavy cream (if using) next and simmer (not boil) on very low heat for another 2-3 minutes.Once the sauce has simmered, let sit for at least 45mins -1hour or till ready to serve.

Once ready to serve, warm up the sauce and serve immediately. You can garnish with cilantro, extra cream and ginger juliennes.

Serve with rice or flatbreads.

Thanks for stopping by!

Stay Spicy!

Appetizers/Snacks · Breakfast · Brunch · Easy Recipes · Festival Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Curry · Indian Streetfood · Rice Dishes · Side Dishes · Snacks · Stir-fry · vegan · Vegetarian

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

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

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indian

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

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indianThen another day, in the bright of the noon, I took out the trusted cast iron skillet, heated oil to smoky and sizzled rice flakes in it and then with a lot more patience on my side, watchfully, slow roasted the chivda, stirring it continually with fork to a crispy goodness, sniffing it, observing how the toasted brown to a bowlful, one which crinkled in the mouth and coated the tastebuds with salty fat. I got it.

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

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indian

 Printable Recipe

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

Ingredients (Serves 4-5)

For the Roasted Chivda (Flattened Rice)

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

For the Spiced Peas

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

Method

Roast the Chivda

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

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

Make Spiced Peas

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

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

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

Put off the heat, add fresh lemon juice.

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

Thank you for stopping by!

Stay Spicy.

 

Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch · Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Curry · Indian Streetfood · Seafood · Side Dishes

Hot & Tangy Pan Fried Fish (Chatpati Macchi )

Sinfully Spicy - Tangy Pan fried FishGrowing up, we ate ridiculous amounts of fish. Friday was precisely the day to turn to our local fish monger, who proudly called a dimly lit, dilapidated tiny room as his shop but boasted of best quality fish in the neighborhood. The place smelled of salt and sweat and was choked with buyers most part of the day. There was the owner and two helpers who sat at the back corner of the room, cleaning and cutting fish at a constant pace, hardly lifting their heads to see what was going on around them. They did not talk to each other or exchange glances, those expressionless faces often left me wondering as to what their motivation could be to come to this job everyday. Anyhow, the owner solely dealt with each customer and maintained level-headed heated & humorous bargains. The regulars, obviously had a better chance compared to everyone else to snatch an unbeatable discount.

On each visit, I saw my dad, inquiring the price of one variety more than a couple of times, smirking, looking at him and then quickly pointing to some other variety in few minutes,repeating the process with all the seafood infornt of him. After good fifteen minutes or so of this (almost) wordless conversation, just looking at  each other, soft smiles and the owner came out with his  best offer. In less than ten minutes, we were headed back home, walking hand in hand, thinking about fish meals later in the day.

Sinfully Spicy - Tangy Pan fried Fish

Sinfully Spicy -Marinated fishThis is usually a way of life in India. Bargaining. Close association with store owners and vendors, knowing a little more than usual about them, discussing with them, arguing with them, saying the hardest, listening the heartiest, it is often enjoyable and seldom effortless. After living in States for all these years, everytime I go to India, I vouch to put forward my best foot when out strolling and shopping in the bazaars, much to the disappointment of mum who thinks I have kind of lost my skills.

Sinfully Spicy - Tangy Pan fried Fish (Chatpati Macchi)Eating fresh water fish is another agenda when visiting. Mom’s fish curry with in season rohu(carp) or fried fish with surmai. This spice rubbed pomfret is another favorite and so is this mustard laced light fish curry. You could get an idea from all these recipesthat I have already shared here about how serious my love is for all seafood.

Sinfully Spicy - Tangy Pan fried Fish (Chatpati Macchi)I am really lazy when it comes to cooking just for myself. If it’s not buttered toast or scrambled eggs for lunch,this quick, pan fried fish is what you will find me pampering myself with for the past couple of months. It is pretty simple and fast to put together and differs completely from another pan fried fish I have posted earlier. This recipe relies on warm flavor of ginger, sharp garlic and the grassy heat of green chillies along with a tang from vinegar & chaat masala to  give the required acidity as well added notes of  heat. I pan fry the fish in virgin mustard oil, you need to try fish cooked in it to know how awesome it tastes but olive oil will work fine too. Also, broccoli or zucchini is my preferred side with seafood, however you can serve some rice pilaf or lentils too.

Sinfully Spicy - Marinated for Tangy Pan fried Fish (Chatpati Macchi)

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1 lb fish, cleaned( I use Tilapia, I asked my butcher to cut in into 4 thick pieces. Or use ready to use thick fish fillets)
  • scant pinch turmeric powder
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughy chopped
  • 2 inch fresh ginger shoot, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1.5 tablespoon oil (grapeseed or canola)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard (or use bottled kasundi sauce)
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon chaat masala (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1.5 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1.5 or 2 tablespoon rice flour (or as needed)
  • salt to taste
  • Mustard Oil ( or grapeseed/canola oil)to cook
  • chopped cilantro, lime wedges to serve

Notes –

  1. If you do have chaat masala, add 3/4 tablespoon fresh lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika to the marinade.

Method

Pat the fish completely dry using paper towel or kitchen towels.Sprinkle with turmeric and set aside.

Meanwhile, using your mortar and pestle, smash the garlic, ginger and green chillies to a coarse paste.

In a medium bowl, add this paste along with all of the ingredients listed except the rice flour to form a marinade.Rub the fish with this marinade. Let sit refrigerated for atleast 30 minutes or not more than 1 hour.

When ready to cook, set the fish out of the refrigerator.

In a heavy bottomed, wide pan (I use my cast iron) , heat up 1-2 tablespoon of oil on medium. Mix the rice flour 1/2 tablespoon at a time with the fish. The liquid in the marinade and from the fish should be enough to moisten the rice flour. We are not looking for any batter or flour dredging here. The flour will scantly stick on the fish here and there. If you feel that you have added too much flour, use 1-2 tablespoon of water. If you feel that the marinade is still runny (this will depend on the variety and water content of the fish), add more rice flour.

Pan fry the fish on medium low heat in a single layer, flipping midway to brown on both sides. It took me about 3 minutes per sides. (If your fish cut is thicker, it will be more time to cook and vice versa).

Sprinkle with some chaat masala and red chili flakes as soon as the fish is cooked, if you would like (depending on how tangy or hot you like)

Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top. Serve immediately with lime wedges, steamed broccoli or choice of steamed vegetables, rice pilaf or lentils.

Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Curry · Side Dishes · Stir-fry · vegan · Vegetarian

Stir fried Arbi (Taro Root)

Sinfully Spicy: Stir Fried Arbi (Taro root)I could go on and on about my love for vegetarian dishes and fresh produce, but there are certain things from my growing years that I stopped cooking after coming to the States for I was unable to find the ingredients. Add to that list a few varieties of squashes, jackfruit and some tropical fruits.No, I am not complaining but there are few dishes from the childhood years that were deep down in the memory, their taste lingering in my mind every now and then as the seasons came and went. Arbi or colocasia or taro root belongs to that category.

Sinfully Spicy: Stir Fried Arbi (Taro root)A starchy vegetable that is reminiscent of the afternoons spent with badi mummy (my grandmother) in the house verandah, below the small window with green frame that opened into the kitchen. While the loo(loo is a strong, hot and dry summer afternoon wind which blows over the plains of north India) gushed outside, seated on the takhat (a wide wooden bench) she constantly greased her palms with strong-smelling mustard oil,the knife too while that small pile of the arbi infront of her was prepped for dinner. Once the plump tubers were diced, who ever, amongst the women in the family was taking dinner making forward was instructed to use copius amounts of amchoor(dry mango powder) while cooking it. A side of warm dal tadka(tempered lentils) with rice, a hot pickle and one of the most satisfying, light vegetarian meal was put together in under an hour.

Sinfully Spicy: Stir Fried Arbi (Taro root)

Sinfully Spicy: Stir Fried Arbi (Taro root)

There are more than one way I have eaten this root growing up, but necessarily in savory preparations. Never saw a sweet prepared with it, quite unlike the way it is used in the rest of south asia – in making puddings and ice creams or even candy.I thronged our asian grocers almost every weekend until last week I spotted these hairy skinned, mud covered arbi tucked inside a grumpy cardboard box in the corner. Oh my! I notched a little closer, one touch between my palms and in a blink I knew they were perfectly ripe and ready to come home with me.

Sinfully Spicy: Stir Fried Arbi (Taro root)This recipe today is very simple, very less ingredients and really you can taste the sweet gummy tuber in this preparation. You would need to get ajwain (or carrot seeds) though, they lend an amazing flavor which enhance the unique taste as well as aids in digestion of this vegetable. A sprinkle of chaat masala and squirt of fresh lemon juice at the end is one of my favorite ways to dress it up.

Sinfully Spicy: Stir Fried Arbi (Taro root)Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1 lb arbi (taro root)
  • 3 tablespoon mustard oil
  • 1/4 heaped teaspoon ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon hing (asafoetida powder)
  • 1-2 green chillies (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon amchoor (dry mango powder or squirt fresh lemon juice at end)
  • salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro – for garnish
  • Sprinkle of chaat masala (optional, to taste)

Notes

  1. Grease your palms liberally with oil or wear gloves when handling raw taro root. It could be quite itchy without.
  2. Finish the dish with some sour element, dry mango powder (amchoor) as in the recipe, vinegary or fresh lime/lemon juice. Sometimes, the cooked vegetable can itch the throat. But not to worry. The sour element only adds to the taste.

Method

Using the peeler, peel off the skins of the arbi. Wash under running water. Completely dry with a kitchen towel. Slice length wise into half. Cut batons from each half.

Heat up the oil in a saute pan on medium. Temper the oil with ajwain, cumin,green chillies and hing powder.Immediately add the arbi and stir around to coat the batons in oil. Sprinkle the red chili powder and amchoor. Also add the salt. Stir again to combine.

Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and let cook for 12-15 minutes till the arbi is soft but not mushy.

On high heat, saute for 1-2 seconds.

Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve.