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 · Baking · Desserts · Easy Recipes · Festival Recipes · Vegetarian

Chai Spiced Shortbread Sandwiches with Dulce De Leche Filling


Faintly sweet shortbreads encasing a burst of caramelized milky filling. These cookies are filled with aroma of spices in each bite. I used chai spices reminiscent of aromas in my tea masala. The dough is flavored with freshly pounded cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and dried ginger and the shortbread are simply irresistible!

I tried my hands at shortbread cookies this season after a gap of many years. Learning to bake a perfect shortbread has been a journey, I had little clue about the nuances of a perfect cookie when I started baking over half a decade back.

Once a dear friend who also happens to be a pastry chef told me that shortbread is one of the hardest things to master because the dough uses very few ingredients,. And it certainly is. Flour butter and sugar is all you need, what can go wrong, right? It took me many many attempts to master shortbread and it is one my favorite things ever.

Quite certainly a finest cookie- buttery and crumbly and melt in the mouth. These cookies are very addictive and really not that hard to make. Just keep a few things in mind.

  • Use softened butter. Best is if you set it out overnight on the counter or in a slighty warm place to soften. If you cannot, put the stick in a bowl and microwave at 50 percent power for 5-8 seconds until its soft to touch but not melting.
  • Rest the dough. Overnight is best. But you can store the dough for 2 days easily or freeze for a month. For a cookie like this. resting makes the dough so so flavorful because the spices get time to mingle.
  • Take the cookies out of the oven just when they are soft. They will continue to bake for a few minutes after. If you let them brown too much, they will become crispy and hard.

Recipe

Things you will need

  1. Stand Mixer or Hand mixer
  2. 2-3 large mixing bowls
  3. Whisk
  4. Rolling Pin & Pastry board or a large board to roll cookies the (you can use kitchen counter as well)
  5. Spatula
  6. Two large cookie sheets
  7. Parchment Paper

Ingredients (Makes 20-24)

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dulce de leche for filling

Tip: You can use recently purchased ground spices in this recipe. If you want to make your own, simply add 2 cloves ,2 green cardamom, 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp fennel seeds to your spice grinder and pulse to a fine powder. Mix in the ground dried ginger and your chai spice is ready for baking.

Method

In a large bowl, sift the flour. To the sifted flour add all the ground spices and salt. Using a whisk, mix the spices thoroughly with the flour. Set aside.

In the stand mixer bowl (or you can use another large bowl and a hand mixer), add the butter and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy for 2-3 minutes. Start adding flour in parts and mix on low speed. Just when you see that all the flour has binded with the butter, stop mixing and dump the dough on a floured surface. The dough will be little crumbly but dont worry. Gently bring it all together into a soft ball. Divide the ball into two and shape each half into rounds. Flatten the rounds and place each in a ziplock bag(or wrap in a cling film). Refrigerate overnight or for upto 2 days.

Take out the refrigerated cook doughs and place on the counter 30 minutes before you are ready to make cookies. Line two large cookies sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350F.

Place another large sheet of parchment on your work surface and dust the sheet with flour liberally. Flour your rolling pin as well since this dough tends to stick and you want to be able to pick up the cookies after cutting them.

Using the rolling pin, roll the dough into 1/4 inch thickness. Using a 3 inch round or fluted round cookie cutter, cut into cookies. For half the cookies which will go to top of sandwich, you can use 1 inch fluted star or round cookies cutter to cut the center out. Using a floured spatula, transfer the cookies to the baking sheet. Make sure that you count and have even number of bottoms and top cookies.

Gather the scraps and repeat the process until all the dough is exhausted. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until they start to turn light brown on the sides/bottom. Pull the sheets out of the oven and let the cookies cool down for 5-7 minutes on the sheet itself before transferring to a cookie rack.

Let the cookies cool down completely before you fill them. Place 1 tbsp of Dulce de leche on the bottom cookies and sandwhich with the top cookies.

Enjoy!

Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Lentils · Mains · vegan · Vegetarian

Milai Ki Dal (Arhar Urad Mix Dal)

A very cozy daal recipe from my grandma’s kitchen. Indians are known to mix lentils always and this is a unique combination of lacey split urad and earthly archer(pigeon pea lentils). Both the lentils are mixed and cooked together in with lots of hing and ginger and then tempered with mustard oil browned garlic slices and dried chillies. You can vary the quantity of each lentil as per your liking. I love deals when they are creamy lacey as well as have a lot of texture, this daal fits so well in that variety.

I remember making faces at this daal growing up but surprisingly enough it is now one of my favorite with rotis especially.

A few things to be kept in mind when making these. Don’t soak the lentils for more than 20 minutes for the right texture. Make them on the thicker side, they taste better than soupy. If you cannot find mustard oil, you can use ghee to temper them and don’t skimp on the garlic. Lastly, dont add salt when boiling the daal, add it later, it keeps the grains soft.

Recipe

Ingredients(Serves 3-4)

  • 1/2 cup arhar daal
  • 1/3 cup split urad daal
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 1/2 tbsp mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 2-2.5 cups water
  • salt to taste
  • Lemon juice, cilantro( to serve)

Tempering

  • 3-4 tbsp mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 3-4 dried chillies, broken
  • 12-15 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 3/4 tsp hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)

Method

Wash the lentils 3-4 times until the water runs clear. Add them to a pressure cooker along with ginger, hing and oil.Add 2 cups water and let them soak in the cooker for 15-20 mins.

Once soaked, put on the lid and pressure cook the lentils for 2-3 whistles on medium flame. Do not cook for too long else the lentils will lose their texture. Switch off the stove and let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and add 1/2 cup cold water along with salt to taste. With the back of a spoon, mash the lentils for 1-2 minutes, gently so that they are creamy but the grains are not broken. Return to a low stove and cook for 3-5 minutes without stirring much. Take off the stove.

Tempering the Daal:- In a small saucepan or your tadka pan, warm up the mustard oil on low medium heat till its a bit smoky. Add the dried chillies and crisp them for 30 seconds, sliced garlic and cook them for 2-3 minutes until they are light brown. Add the cumin and hing next and sauté for 20 seconds. You will smell a nice aroma.

Take off the stove and add the red chilli powder. Add the tempering to the warm daal and mix well.

Serve warm with lemon juice and chopped cilantro.

-Enjoy!

Desserts · Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Streetfood · Snacks · Vegetarian

Easy Cashew & Raisins Icecream (Kaju Kishmish)

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)Hi Friends! How have you been?

Things have been so quite here but not so much in my kitchen. Most days, we are eating fresh and home cooked, the kitchen is so busy ¬†but other priorities in life have made me slightly busy that there is less time to set up shoots and hence the lack of posts. But I guess, sometimes in life, you need to cut the routine to see how doing nothing or something different feels. This summer I am involving myself in things which I have not done in last few years, more on that later. It is good to be away for a while. Hope you missed me ūüôā However, I will keep this space buzzing whenever I can.Meanwhile, you can catch me on Instagram & Facebook.

Sinfully Spicy -Ingredients, Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)I grew up eating it in small grey cardboard cups which had a flip lid. You flip away the lid and a couple of chubby brown raisins stared at you on top of blushing pink with soft bits of cashews scattered in. I always used my nails to pick the raisins out first and then the paddle shaped wooden spoon to scoop the rest. One cup disappeared after another in no time, sitting under the shade of   kumquat tree in blazing indian summer heat, sweaty foreheads, dripping cream on our dresses and white foamy mustaches, oh to be a child again!

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)I came up with this recipe fueled by this tradition in my kitchen to come up with an ice cream recipe each summer.It came out amazing, like most homemade ice creams do. I used a subtle flavor of green cardamom but vanilla will work great also. The husband loved it.I loved it and so did our little girl who is fond of all things cashew. I hope you will love it too!

Update 10/03/2015 Recently Sinfully Spicy was included in Top 50 Blogs of India. Link here

Sinfully Spicy - Kaaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)

Recipe

Soak 1 cup raw cashews for 5-6 hrs. Drain. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add the soaked cashews and let boil for 5-8 mins. Drain and let cool down completely. Transfer to a blender and using 1/3 to 1/2 cup evaporated milk (or full fat milk) grind the cashews to a coarse paste. 

Mix 2 cups of heavy cream with a 14oz can of condensed milk. You can add sugar(about 1/4 cup) if you want to adjust sweetness. Mix the cashews paste along with 1 tsp fresh ground cardamom. Combine well, transfer to the dish in which you want to freeze and freeze for 5-6 hours. When the mixture starts freezing and has a pudding consistency,add in handful of dry toasted cut up cashews(optional) along with 1/2 cup of golden raisins. Freeze overnight. Scoop and serve.

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)

Desserts · Easy Recipes · Festival Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Streetfood · Rice Dishes · Vegetarian

Zarda – Sweet Saffron Rice

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron RiceA little while away, I got this immense craving to gorge on these sweet saffron rice. It was sparked by the sticky rice pudding that we relished a night before that¬†day. Usually, if you follow me on Instagram or here on the blog, you would have noticed that there is more savory than sweet in my feed. I had this huge sweet tooth in my teens, but somehow it faded away as I grew older. There are certain things I enjoy, a delicious chunk of homemade¬†gulab jamun and a moist slice of butter cake, but usually sugar doesn’t get me too too excited.¬†Only when there is a good enough reason to make them, I retort towards making desserts at home. Buying a single serve slice from our favorite bakery almost always seems¬†to be a superior¬†option than baking and frosting a whole 9 inch round which will then lurk¬†at me in the refrigerator for whole week. Its a bit too logical for some of you who swear by regular¬†dessert making¬†but that’s how I think.

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron RiceAnyhow, that same night, chatting over a Thai food takeout, we delved into discussing new year traditions growing up. My husband recollected coconut sweet balls & rice pudding, both made with palm jaggery, a typical¬†in¬†east indian homes and I could only think of my grandmother’s zarda, only about¬†it. That night, I must have dreamed ¬†about it. The little puffy, steamy bubbles that surface on the top layer when a pot of ¬†basmati is slowly boiled, or of the sniff of saffron which after filling each nook and corner of our big kitchen reached out to those sitting in the verandah through two large, dark brown windows with green painted grille. Next morning this sweet saffron rice was the only thing I could think of. Out of nowhere, in the middle of summer, but I just had to recreate those memories.

Each year, every year at the dawn of the first day of the year, I woke up to a quiet house with busy kitchen. BadI mummy (my grandma) standing right infront of the stove, rice boiling on one side and aroma wafting through a pot of simmering whole milk to which cloves, cardamom and nutmeg had been added. These blonde looking rice, she remarked were an incoming of prosperity into the house. In those days, we lived in a joint family and with few guests added on the new year eve along with distribution to all house help, the quantity of zarda to be cooked would be thrice the amount than usual. Speckled with ground cardamom and streaks of strong-smelling kashmiri zaffran(saffron) all through it, a bowl of it was so delicious garnished with a handful of nuts or raisins. Much like today, in those days saffron was exuberantly priced, so it came to life in cooking a few dishes on special occasions only. New Years day was one.

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron RiceMy mom got me these little packs of saffron from India a couple of weeks back, a delicate virgin variety of this spice, it is sharp and strong. A few strands is what it took to turn rice into a golden looking treat. This recipe can be easily made vegan by using full fat coconut or cashew milk and substituting any neutral oil in place of ghee. Try using a long grain basmati rice and be watchful during cooking period for separated, fluffy grains. I have included a few notes in the recipe which will help making this sweet rice delicacy an easy task.

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron Rice

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 cup long grain basmati rice
  • 1 green cardamom, break open
  • 3-4 cups water to par boil the rice
  • 1 tablespoon¬†ghee¬†(substitute with coconut oil for vegan)
  • 1 cup whole milk (use unsweetened cashew/full fat coconut milk for vegan)
  • 3 tablespoon¬†ghee¬†(substitute with coconut oil for vegan)
  • 2-3 green cardamom,¬†break open
  • 2¬†cloves
  • 1 heaping teaspoon good quality saffron
  • 1 generous pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (can go upto 1 cup)
  • 3¬†tablespoon roasted, unsalted nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews) + more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoon golden raisins +¬†more for garnish

Notes

  1. Use good quality spices in this recipe.
  2. Different varieties of saffron have different sharpness and strength. Adjust the quantity depending on the brand you are using.
  3. To make the zarda more rich, instead of using roasted nuts, you can fry them in a small pan in 1/2 tablespoon of ghee and add on top.

Method

Wash the rice under running stream of water 2-3 times until the water runs clear. Soak the rice for 45 minutes in enough water (add a green cardamom to it) required for parboiling. You can soak rice in the same pot that you will use for cooking.

Once the rice has soaked. Parboil the rice until 80% cooked (takes about 10 minutes).The cooking time will depend on quality of rice.  To check the rice, take a grain and press it between the index finger and thumb. The rice grain will we brittle (break easily) and you will feel & see hard whitish bits in the center of the grain. Once the rice has parboiled, immediately drain it and gently mix a tablespoon of melted ghee in the warm rice.

 While the rice is boiling, add milk, 3 tablespoon ghee, cardamom and clove to a small pot and set it to simmer on a medium low flame. Let milk simmer for 5-7 minutes on low heat and then put the stove off. Once the milk has cooled off a bit and is warm(not hot) to touch add sugar, saffron and nutmeg to it. Let sit.

In the same pot in which you parboiled the rice, add the warm spiced milk sugar mixture. Very gently add the drained rice to the milk. Add the nuts and raisins. Cover and let cook on medium low heat for 10-12 minutes until all the milk is absorbed and the rice is completely done. Put the stove off.

After 15-20 minutes of sitting, gently fluff the rice with the help a fork.Garnish with more nuts and raisins if you want.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Brunch · Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Curry · Lentils · Mains · Vegetarian

Lauki-Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)  Each summer, last few days of school before the break started were hectic. Even after the vacations started, I remember going to school for extra classes during the high school year. By the time I returned home around noon, I was welcomed in the verandah of our house filled with the intoxicating aroma that emanated from the khus ki chik, a rustic kind of air conditioner made from reeds and laid in the form of window blinds, using the loo (indian summer winds) as a natural fan to cool the space inside. Clasping the finger numbing cold tumbler of rose sherbet that mom kept ready in the refrigerator, I stationed myself in the lobby to observed ladies of the house sitting on the jute chatai (mat) on the floor. There were all sorts of labelled containers of what is inside what around them and stained brass paraat (wide, shallow plates) infront. Sitting with legs neatly folded on top of each other, very immaculately, they picked the lentils, sometimes arguing teasingly or plainly gossiping about relatives and neighbors,their deft fingers, picking the little stones or unhusked bits all the time.They scanned through minute grains scattered in the shallow dish, separating one from the other, unmistakably picking out the hard inedible parts and segregating the cleaned portion towards the other side of the paraat. 

Sinfully Spicy:Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils)

I guess ‘picking’ the lentils is a ritual followed in many indian homes, even though most of the lentils available in the markets these days are clean and processed. It’s a kitchen habit that is passed from a generation to other, more as a traditional than need. If it’s not an arduous number of hours to be spent, a vigilant scan of the beans and lentils is what I go through¬†each time I am about¬†to wash or soak.¬†Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki, Bottle GourdIn those years, it was dal Рchawal for lunch or dinner  everyday. The variety of lentil changed and so did its preparation and tempering but the menu, though a bit monotonous remained comforting. On bright, sunny summer evenings, chunks of fleshy lauki (indian summer gourd) were added to chana daal, slow cooked till the squash softened and then the turmeric hued boiled lentils were topped with a tadka (tempering) of slow caramelized onions & browned garlic, filling the kitchen with aroma of ghee & smoky cumin & green chillies. Fresh dhaniya (coriander leaves), exuberantly priced during summer months was especially purchased from our daily vegetable vendor, to be finely chopped and scattered while the daal was still hot. It did make a lot of difference.

Sinfully Spicy: Tadka, Lentil Tempering

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)  If you know even a little about indian food, you would know that lentils are an everyday part of our meals, be it any time of the year. There are numerous ways of preparing and tempering them, native to each region of the country. The flavorings can vary from coconut, sugar, garlic to tomato based to curried to what not. This daal is my summer favorite. I guess every family has its own twist on it. Some temper it with just cumin, leaving out the garlic or onions, while some prepare it with coconut and mustard seeds. I had the opportunity to taste a variation tempered with curry leaves at one of my friend’s place. There is no right or wrong, just a choice. This is the beauty of indian food, it has no set rules. The same basic ingredients convert to a delicious outcome depending on who is handling them.Here, in my recipe, you could or could not add the squash even though it makes it hearty. Paired with rotis¬†or steamed rice, salad and a dollop of chili¬†achaar, it is such a satisfying complete meal for¬†hot evenings.

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

Cooking the Lentils

  • 3/4 cup¬†chana¬†daal¬†(bengal gram lentils)
  • 1 tablespoon¬†ghee¬†(or use oil for vegan version)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped (yield about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger,¬†finely chopped (optional, adjust quantity to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon¬†hing¬†powder¬†(asafoetida)
  • 2-3.5 cups of water (adjust depending on the desired consistency)
  • 1 small bottle gourd (peeled and cut into 2″ batons)
  • Lime¬†juice to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro to garnish

For the Tadka (Tempering to be added after the lentils have cooked)

  • 3-4 tablespoon¬†ghee¬†(or use oil for vegan version)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small clove
  • generous pinch of¬†hing¬†powder (asafoetida)
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2-3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 dried whole¬†kashmiri¬†chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (or to taste)

Notes

  • Replace¬†lauki¬†(bottle gourd) with your choice of summer squash (yellow squash is a good choice over green ones). You can skip the squash all together too.
  • The cooking time mentioned in this recipe are for split lentils. If you use whole lentils the cooking time would¬†be more.
  • Hing¬†or asafoetida is a strong, aromatic spice available both in crystal and powdered form.A little goes a long way. It gives a unique flavor to¬†daal¬†but can be skipped if you do not have it.
  • If you are vegan, use any oil in this recipe instead of¬†ghee. Coconut oil might not be a very good choice since the spice selection in the recipe does not go great with it but any neutral oil or olive oil is fine.

Method

Thoroughly wash the lentils under running water 2-3 times. Drain and transfer the washed lentils to a pressure cooker and add 3 cups of water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes,  ginger (if using), hing, ghee, turmeric and salt. Put on the lid and pressure cook the lentils on medium heat for 3-4 whistles (This cooking time will depend on the quality of lentils, so adjust). Take off the heat and let sit on the counter till the pressure releases out of the cooker.

If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a heavy bottomed pot with lid and cook the lentils for around 30-40 minutes or till 95% cooked.

Once you open the lid, with the help of a whisk or a spoon, mash the lentils a bit so that they are chunky-smooth consistency. I like my lentils to have some texture, however you can mash them to consistency desired.

Add the chunks of¬†lauki¬†and return the pressure cooker to the stove. Cover with a plate or a lid and let simmer (not pressure cook) on medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the gourd is completely soft. ¬†If you like a thinner consistency of¬†dal,¬†add a cup or more of water.If you add extra water, let simmer for another 5-7 minutes on medium¬†heat.¬†Ideally, for this kind of¬†daal, once it’s cooked, the grain should be intact in its shape but completely soft or cracked to look at.

While the dal is simmering, make the tadka. In a small sauce pan, heat up the ghee. Add the cumin seeds & clove, let crackle, about 15-20 seconds. Add the whole dried chillies and let them turn darker in color. Lower the heat and immediately add the onions and garlic and let cook till they are golden brown, taking care not to burn.(Tadka can become very hot very quickly, take care that you act fast so that nothing burns.) Put off the heat and add the red chili powder. Immediately add this tadka to the simmered lentils and cover so that the aroma infuses. Let sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes.

Scatter with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

Stay Spicy.

Desserts · Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Streetfood · Snacks · vegan · Vegetarian

Green Mango Granita

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreatSince last year, our indian grocer is bringing to us green mango exports straight from the heart of India. Whats different about them you would ask? They are much smaller in size, fibrous & sour and bring back picture perfect memories of those pickles & sharbat in the kitchen that I have grown up on. I am making chutney with them, as well as adding them to lentils.

Sinfully Spicy - Green MangoesHowever, such special things do always come with a big price tag (I paid $12 for 5 small pieces), so after spending that fortune last week, I made sure to come up with something new. After much thinking, this granita was made to beat the extreme summers that have hit our part of the world.
Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreat

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreatOn a different note, this summer, I have been lucky with homegrown herbs and a little vegetable patch after trying hard for years. Each year my pots fell victim to weeds and heat but this time, so far all looks great. Even a small twig of it feels so rewarding. I used homegrown mint to infuse the refreshing notes in this recipe. Sinfully Spicy : Homegrown MintIt is the tang of the green mangoes enhanced with sweet lemon & tart lime juice and grassy heat of the green chili which makes it special, along with a much-needed refreshing notes from fresh, homegrown mint to a lightly sweet, healthy dessert for summer months. Granita (in Italian also granita siciliana) is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily, it has a coarser texture. It is a very simple thing to make except that you need to stare open at a freezer scraping the bowl every other hour or so.

So if you do not desire to put in the baby sitting it needs, turn the same recipe to a sorbet. It tastes as good.

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreat

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreat

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 4-5)

  • 1 lb green mangoes( about 6-7small )
  • Water for boiling the mangoes
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 5-6 fresh mint stems and leaves
  • 1 small green chili, seeds and veins removed
  • 1.5 tablespoon fresh lime juice (adjust quantity depending on how tart the mangoes are)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (adjust quantity depending on how tart the mangoes are)
  • 1.5 teaspoon black salt (kala namak, reduce amount if the mangoes are really tart)
  • 1/4 teaspoon regular salt ( or to taste)

Method

Wash the mangoes. Bring the water to a rolling boil in a pot and add the whole mangoes. Let boil on high heat for 5-8 minutes or until the skin turns pale and they are slightly soft to touch(take care that the mango skins do not break open). Take the mangoes out of boiling water and leave to cool off. Once cooled, peel off (the skin will separate in a squeeze) and discard the skins.

While the magpies are boiling, in another small pot, combine sugar and water and place over medium heat,cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the stove, immediately add the mint stems and leaves and leave aside to steep for about 3-5 minutes (do not leave for too long else the syrup will turn bitter). Strain the syrup through a sieve and let cool down.

Transfer the mango flesh and green chili( if using) to a blender and pulse to smooth. Take out in a large bowl and add the mint simple syrup, lime & lemon juice, black salt and salt to taste to it. Mix to combine. Strain through a sieve to a smooth mixture.

Pour mixture into a 11 inch by 7 inch glass pan. Cover and let freeze for 1 hour and 30 minutes uncovered. Scrape the icy edges with a fork. Freeze again. Scrape every 45 minutes until completely frozen (about 6-8 hours). Remove from freezer every hour or so; scrape with a fork until fluffy. Once semi solid ice crystals are formed, scrape till fluffy.Cover tightly and freeze. Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep frozen.

Scrape granita into bowls and serve garnished with lime wedges and mint.Dust with a pinch of chaat masala or black salt just before serving(optional).

Condiments/Spice Blends · Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Curry · Pickles/Preserves · vegan · Vegetarian

Pickled Red Chili Peppers (Laal Mirch Ka Achaar)

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianThe summer mornings at my badi mummy’s (grandma) house started early with preparing for meals ahead that day. By¬†the time I walked down half sleepy to the lobby, the central area of our house where the whole family gathered¬†for chai in the mornings,¬†at meal times or just to sit chatting away, the “lobby” with tiny pink and ivory marble pieces embedded in the floor and a fish aquarium decorating one corner of the wall facing the¬†door that opened into the backyard, I would often find her either chopping vegetables,segregating them into what will be for which mealtime, kneading the dough , picking the lentils or just involved in some kitchen chore.A half filled teacup always on her side on top of a newspaper folded in quarters which she read in between of being busy.I inched to sit close to her and see what her keep busy.I would flip a few pages of the newspaper and often she told me ” hamare babuji 25 paise har mahene english padne ke leye jayda dete they”(my father spent extra money each month to let me learn english at school). In the 1930s,¬†many old women of her age in India would not be reading english newspapers or speaking the language at that time.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianWhen it was the pickling season, the attention shifted from regular tasks to raw mangoes, baby limes and chilies.To tell you the truth the pungent smell of strong pickling spices along with the piquant aroma of virgin mustard oil would be the last thing you would want to sniff at 6 in the morning but her dedication and involvement towards this business was contagious. Attention to detail boiled down to sterilizing the knifes and kitchen towels that would or could touch those chilies and mangoes,leave alone the large glass containers and spoons or bowls. In that time of no fancy appliances,magic bullets and all, hand crushing the tough seeds of fenugreek and tiny rai (brown mustard) did not come easy if you lacked sincerity. She often covered her nostrils with the end of her cotton saree, which was especially worn in any other color but white that day to guard against stains and those fragile, slightly wrinkly hands worked energetically in unison with the heavy terra-cotta mortar & pestle. In between, she paused to wipe off the spice dust off her steel framed glasses but continued with double vigor in the next few minutes.I often wondered if there could be anything, anything in this whole wide world right now which could deter her attention.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianFor the next few hours, the coarse ground fenugreek, nigella, fennel and mustard seeds were mixed with copious amounts of turmeric powder and salt and then doused in liters of raw, virgin mustard oil, the pungent oil, which my kitchen still feels lifeless without for I have consumed it right from childhood days. Half of the mixture was separated for the mango pickle to which she would add more chili powder later and the rest was stuffed inside plum,red peppers with slightly shriveled skin from a day or two of sun drying prior to pickling. The jars would be situated in sun to ferment for week or ten days and she found something else to keep her busy like no other.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianHaving lived on homemade pickles all those years of growing up, I could never acquire a taste for the store-bought ones.My tastebuds can make out the slightest hints of those citric acid and preservatives. It is my aim every season to make at least one pickle. Last year it was raw mangoes¬†and prior to that I pickled no oil limes. It was the turn of red chili peppers as soon as I spotted them at Whole foods this time. Over the years, I have slightly changed the recipe to be more like my mom’s. Instead of stuffing the whole red chili peppers, I slit them in half and then stuff the halves. Thats the only change I have made to my badi mummy‘s recipe.

Ingredients (Makes 40 halves of pickled chilies and extra spice (masala) & oil )

  • 18-20¬†whole red chili peppers (I used Fresno)
  • pinch of salt
  • 4¬†tablespoon¬†rai¬†(brown mustard seeds)
  • 2¬†tablespoon¬†fenugreek seeds
  • 1¬†teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon Nigella seeds
  • 1.5 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1.5¬†tablespoon¬†amchoor¬†(dry mango powder, buy online¬†here¬†)
  • 2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 300-350 ml virgin mustard oil, divided (or use olive oil, see notes)

Notes

  1. You could use the same recipe to make whole stuffed red chili peppers.Instead of halving them, simply, remove the seeds and stuff with the spices.
  2. Never under salt the pickle, it will go bad within few weeks.
  3. If you do not like the strong taste of mustard oil, you can heat it up to do away the raw smell, cool down and then add. Or you can use olive oil in this recipe if you do not get mustard oil. The flavor of the pickle is slightly different from traditional but it works.
  4. This is not an instant pickle recipe, the pickle is sun fermented and takes 7-10 days (or more depending on strength of sun where you live to mature and get ready to consume.

Method

Wash and pat dry the chilies. Cut and discard the top stem and the entire green portion, then cut them into half. I discarded the seeds & veins of half the chillies,thats where the heat in the pickle comes from. You can remove seeds for all of them if you want. Layer the chilies on a wide, non reactive shallow dish, sprinkle a scant pinch of salt.

Using your coffee grinder, coarsely pulse the mustard, fennel, nigella & fenugreek seeds separately (this is important).You do not need to make a fine powder, if few specks of whole spices remain, its okay. In a small bowl mix the powdered spices together with turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt and amchoor.Taste the spice mix for salt, it should be slightly more salty than you think. Add 2-3 tablespoon mustard oil just so that the spice powder is moistened. This will be make it easy to stuff the chilies.

With dry hands, stuff whole or each half of the chilies with this spice mixture. Place the stuffed chili pepper in a wide glass dish (I use my pyrex). Add 200 ml of mustard oil, any spice mixture remaining and gently mix so that the chilies are coated in oil. At this point, the achaar will have a very strong smell and a bitter taste but that’s okay. Allow it to stand in full sun for two days. Try to stir the achaar once or twice a day with a clean, dry spoon.

On the third day transfer the achaar into a glass or porcelain jar (do not use a metal container) , check and adjust the salt and top with remaining oil and mix well. Cover the mouth of the jar with a muslin cloth, tie with a string and let mature for seven to ten days in sun. (this time will depend on the strength of sun in the area you live).Stir the contents once or twice a day.

At the end of sun fermentation, the skin of chilies would have shrivelled and the strong, bitter taste will go away. Store at room temperature for up to 2-3 months. Always use a clean spoon to serve the pickle.

Thank you for stopping by!

Stay Spicy!

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!