Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch · Easy Recipes · Indian Streetfood · Indo Chinese · Mains · Side Dishes · vegan · Vegetarian

Vegetable Manchurian



Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochineseIf there has to be a dish that I overindulged on during college days, it has to be Manchurian – chicken, cauliflower, vegetable, dry, gravy, sweet,spicy, salty, you name it and I would raise both my hands. With that extra cash at the end of the month, saved from pocket-money each week, I, along with few other girls could be found in all sorts of street side places in and around the college or hopping onto public transport to far away Dilli Haat.There would be plates of greasy noodles, lightly crispy vegetarian(or not) deep fried dumplings coated in spicy manchurian sauce, gossip, laughter, half-finished assignments and a compulsory side of fruit beer for late lunches.

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochinese

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochineseHaving said that, indeed my appreciation for this ever so popular indo chinese dish stems from those days. Mum hardly made it, for cooking indo chinese at home is slightly redundant when you are living in India because (almost) always you will end up comparing  it with that fantastic taste from the sloppy joints at street side. So while the hotspots around the city are to be held responsible for  my insatiable  appetite towards indo chinese, I never made it at home, it was only after I moved to States some five years back that I tried recreating it at home. Take chicken in hot garlic sauce or fried rice, talk gobhi manchurian or spicy schezwan noodles,by the end of the first couple of  months here, I started getting there, developing recipes with the memories of how they should taste in my head and trying to replicate that inside the super hot wok. The fact that the husband shares my love for indo chinese fare and we kind of got tired of consuming overly sweet chili chickens & hakka noodles tossed with snap peas & broccoli (yikes!) and accepting the fact that the restaurants here just do not get it(or we like to think so),it was exciting to see those similar tastes turning on our meal tables from our own kitchen.

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochineseWhen you make indo chinese, besides ingredients, bring along a lot of patience to the cutting board. Spend the late afternoon mincing garlic and chopping ginger.Shred those carrots and cabbage finer than you think you would need, sniff and taste that mix of soy sauce with coriander & turmeric and shy away from de seeding those hot chillies, coz boy is this one spicy cuisine or what?This vegetable machurian recipe has stayed in my kitchen for few years now. I often make it on non-meat eating days or when I have a stash of miscellaneous vegetables that need to be used up right away. I would not say that deep-frying them is the best option but then you are not eating fried chicken so its kind of okay.You know what I mean, right?After all, its veggies!

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochinese

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochineseVegetable Manchurian is a widely popular dish of the indo chinese genre. It is nothing by vegetable dumplings in a  ‘Manchurian’ sauce. Do not confuse the origins of  ‘Manchurian’ sauce – it definitely has nothing to do with that region in South East Asia. Creatively put together by chinese who lived in eastern parts of  india for centuries, just imagine it to be an amber-colored, tangy and mildly sweet but hot sauce with hints of indian spices. Indo chinese is what it is due to typical indian condiments – I make it a point to use the brands from indian store for the authentic taste. However, you can confidently do few a substitutions (see notes ) and use your pantry to try this recipe.

Sinfully Spicy - Vegetable Manchurian #indochinese

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the Manchurian Sauce

  • 1/2 tbsp dark soya sauce (I use Ching’s brand)
  • 2 tbsp chilli- tomato sauce (I use Maggi Hot & sweet)
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1.5 tsp cornstarch +4 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2  tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2-3 small green chili (use any mild/hot variety)
  • 5-7 garlic pods, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, white parts
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne, adjust to tolerance)
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup stock (vegetable or chicken, don’t use water)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar (or to taste)
  • For Garnish – chopped scallions(green parts), ginger, chopped green chillies

For the Deep fried Vegetable Balls

  • 1 cup finely chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4  cup finely chopped green beans
  • 1 small green chilli, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • scant 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Oil for deep frying

Method 

Making the Manchurian Sauce

In a small bowl, whisk together soya sauce, tomato-chilli sauce & honey. Set aside. In another bowl, mix cornstarch & water and let stand.

In a wok/pan , heat up the oils to smoking hot. Add chopped garlic, green chillies & ginger and cook for 1 minute or till you smell the aroma. Next add the chopped scallions (white part) & red onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or till light brown in color. Add the coriander & black pepper powder next, stir for 10 seconds and then add the soya sauce mix made earlier.Stir for a minute or so and then add the stock. Simmer for 2-3 minutes  on medium-high heat or till you see bubbles on the sides.Add the cornstarch mix to the wok. Reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for another 2-4 minutes till the sauce starts to thicken.

Next, taste & adjust the salt in the sauce. Add the vinegar to the wok and stir everything well.Remove from heat and add the fried vegetable balls to the pan. Dont stir too much with spoon at this point.

Garnish with chopped green scallions & serve immediately.

Making the Vegetable Balls

In a large bowl, mix together all the chopped vegetables. Add salt, mix(do not squeeze) and let sit for (not more than) 10 minutes. Add the all-purpose flour and corn starch next and gently mix together. If you feel that the mixture is on a dry side add a tablespoon or so of water (ideally you will not be needing it since the vegetables leave water from sitting in salt).

Heat up 2-3 inches of oil in a frying pan on medium high. Shape into small lime size balls and add to the frying pan, Make sure that the oil is not too hot(else the balls will remain raw from inside) or too low (else they will scatter in oil). Fry, turning on all sides to golden dark brown

Drain the fried vegetable balls on a paper towel before adding to sauce (recipe above).

Serve immediately with noodles or fried rice.

Notes :-

  1. Use any vegetables that you like (just do not use potato)coz trust me after frying they will anyhow taste good.
  2. You might be tempted (like me) to use food processor to chop the vegetables but trust me it makes them watery. I recommend chopping them with knife.
  3. Substitute dark soya sauce with tamari (for vegan)
  4. Adding tomato – chilli sauce adds extra heat. I get this sauce from indian stores. You can use just plain tomato ketchup or add mix of sriracha & tomato ketchup for a sweet, spicy tangy flavor to the sauce.
  5. The sauce can be made 2-3 hours in advance. Just fry up the vegetable balls and serve when you want to.
  6. If you forsee leftovers, store the sauce and vegetable balls separately. Toss them together just when you want to serve.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

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

Kaju Biscuit – Buttery Cashew & Cardamom Cookies (Eggless)



Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Biscuit, Butter Cashew Cardamom Cookies #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Biscuit, Butter Cashew Cardamom Cookies #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Biscuit, Butter Cashew Cardamom Cookies #indianMemories tied to food is a wonderful thing, isn’t? I say it more often than not but I am an emotional eater. I get bouts of voracious eating depending on if I feel happy or sad that day. Sometimes I just cook and eat solely because that food is supposed to be associated with the season,or only coz a bowl of warm kheer (rice pudding) will see me through that dull, gloomy day or because I got to know about it when I chatted with mom or some aunt in the family last week. You can categorise these cookies as a baking activity that happened on such a whim. I spoke to mum the other evening discussing the picky food habits of my daughter and she happened to mention if I have tried feeding her ‘bakery wale biscuits‘ with milk.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Biscuit, Butter Cashew Cardamom Cookies #indianAll along mixing the dough, the only thought that rattled in my mind was how these should taste of cashew predominantly & not just flour and sugar, just like original ones from a little bakery with blue & white candy cane style painted walls near my house in Delhi.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Biscuit, Butter Cashew Cardamom Cookies #indian

Ingredients(Makes about 4.5 dozen)

  • 3/4 cup cashew meal (I used ready-made cashew meal from Trader Joes you can grind raw cashews to a (not very fine) powder at home if you do not get ready made)
  • 1.5 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.25 cups confectioners sugar/castor sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 green cardamom pods, break open & powder the seeds
  • a generous pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
  • 10 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped raw cashews
  •  1/4 cup oil (any neutral oil will work)
  • 2 – 5 tbsp cold milk (just so the dough comes together, I used 3.5 tbsp)
  • Cashew bits for top (optional)

Method

In a bowl, mix cashew meal, flour, sugar,baking powder, soda & salt together. Dump the flour mix in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the cardamom & nutmeg. Add the butter cubes. Pulse for a minute or so till the butter becomes pea sized.

Remove the metal blade and fit the dough blade in the jar. Add the 1/2 cup finely chopped cashews. Add the oil. Start the processor and start adding cold mix 1/2 tbsp at a time till the dough just comes together. Stop. Open the lid and take out the dough on a clean surface. The dough will be slightly sticky & loose but that’s okay. Knead gently with dry hands for a minute or less and bring it together. Divide into two portions. Wrap the dough portions in plastic/cling film. Make sure that the cling film is large enough since we will be rolling the cookies later in it. With the help of your palm, flatten each wrapped dough portion. Refrigerate for at least 30-35 minutes or till firm. Now, if you plan to bake them later, you can freeze one or both of the dough halves.

Once the dough is firm, roll the flattened dough still wrapped in the cling film to a square sheet about 1/4″ thick. After rolling, refrigerate the rolled out dough again since the heat from your hands and rolling will melt the butter.

Preheat oven to 300F. Line cookie sheet with parchment/ wax paper. You might need a couple of  baking sheets or you can bake in batches.

Once the rolled dough is firm, using a sharp knife, cut very small squares (about 1/4″ by 1/4″) since these cookies will spread quite a bit while baking. Try to cut as evenly sized squares as possible. Press some cashew bits on top and arrange the squares about 2″ apart on the baking sheet. Refrigerate again for 20-25 minutes.

If you do not want to roll the dough, pinch small portions of the dough, shape into balls and press few cashew pieces on top.

Bake the refrigerated cookies in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes till the cookie bases start & edges start turning golden brown and the top cashews changes color. I like my cookies slightly brown so I baked them a few minutes more, about 22 minutes.

Let cool completely on the sheet before storing them in air tight containers for up to 3 weeks. Serve with hot chai.

Appetizers/Snacks · Easy Recipes · Indian Streetfood · Seafood · Side Dishes · Snacks

Fried Fish



Sinfully Spicy - Fried Fish #northindianMy dad loved to entertain and this would mean as the weekend was approaching,mom would be spending most of her time brainstorming dinner menus. End of the week and the house would be choked with family and friends and even after doing it for several years,I loved the excitement in her gait on saturday mornings when we strolled to the bazaar to get groceries.There would be guests with both vegetarian and non vegetarian choices, not many with special diets but definitely all,secretly,looking forward to her deftly spiced dishes. Many from the near family would sometimes call ahead in the day with requests over the phone while others just warmed their hearts thinking of the surprise that she would bring to the table.Each time, she came up with such a fantastic menu, the array of dishes perfectly complementing each other, each course well thought, most of the food homemade and few not.

Sinfully Spicy - Fried Fish #northindianShe did not choose to make elaborate,time-consuming dishes if the number of guests were many but quite a variety so that everyone could spoon a favorite on their plate. All afternoon, the house smelled of few dozen or so of mutton koftas simmering inside the aluminum pot specifically reserved for cooking on such days of big meals, a show stopper as my dad would say, it was the main dish along side puffy rotis, then, there would be dishes made with paneer ,a must on north indian entertaining menus,a slow cooked side of potatoes, another crowd pleaser, her cinnamon spiced red hued dum aloo and the signature rice pilaf, brought together with ghee criped cumin seeds folded in fragrant basmati,thick, nutty dal tarka, tempered with ghee & scattered with cilantro and served with lemon wedges on side of the bowl. On few occasions, she would tend to a pot of boiling kadhi which by the way was a favorite of almost every aunt I know in the family,while quickly frying up ajwain scented onion pakoras on the side stove at the last moment so that the fritters remained crispy till the guests sat down to eat.

Sinfully Spicy - Fried Fish #northindianIf it were winters, there would be fried seafood as starters,a winter tradition, a family favorite,when the fish season peaks in the bazaars, without a miss, fried,crispy pieces of rohu (fresh water carp) fish were served along with vinegar soaked onion rings and smoking hot green chutney.If my dad got a good deal, few kilos of white pomfret were slid into smoking mustard oil for guests. Quite in contrast to here, growing up, we consumed copious amounts of seafood during the colder months and that’s the reason I crave it every now and then. Every region in India has its own fish fry recipe, in the coastal areas of south india,fresh caught smaller fish are doused in a paste of ground coconut and red chillies before deep-frying while in the eastern parts, in a lightly brit inspired ‘fish & chips’, they fry the marinated fish after a coating of egg and bread crumbs.

Sinfully Spicy - Fried Fish #northindianHowever, mum uses a batter which she tells is my maternal grandfather’s recipe.The marinated fish is coated in a garlic-ginger laced,turmeric hued marinade and then scantly coated in a mix of rice and besan (chickpea) flours.She fondly recollects that during her childhood, my grandfather used to soak the rice a night before and stone grind it the following day to coat the thick,belly pieces of rohu in it and they would sit around the stove waiting in turn to get the piping hot fritter. If you happen to visit my home, mum makes fried fish the same way, she would soak the rice and hand grind it on sil-batta(stone grinder). I have adapted the recipe and use ready-made rice flour to make it quick and equally delicious.

Sinfully Spicy - Fried Fish #northindian

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

For Marinating 

  • 1 lb fish (I used 4 large tilapia belly pieces cut into half or equivalent weight any small whole fish like pompano or pomfret)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • 3/4 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala 
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp mustard oil
  • generous pinch of salt

For Coating

  • 3 tbsp rice flour
  • 1/4 besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • salt to taste (to taste)

For Frying

  • Mustard Oil for frying (substitute with any high smoky point oil)
  • 1/2 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)

For Serving

  • Chaat Masala
  • Onion slices
  • Lemon Wedges

Method

Clean and descale the fish pieces or ask your butcher to do it. Wash under a stream of water and pat them dry with a paper towel. In a flat dish, layer the pieces and add all the ingredients listed under marination. Rub everything with your hands to coat the fish and refrigerate for 1 hour.

15 minutes before ready to fry, take out the fish from the refrigerator and let sit on the kitchen counter. In a bowl, combine the rice flour, besan and chaat masala. Taste a pinch of this mixture before adding additional salt since chaat masala is quite salty, then adjust the salt to taste.

Set 2 inches of mustard oil (or whichever oil your are using) in a heavy bottomed, wide pot or skillet (I use my 10″ cast iron) to heat up on medium flame.While the oil is heating, add the flour mixture to the marinated fish pieces.Mix with hands such that the flour sticks to the fish.Add a light splash of water if needed. We do not want a wet batter. We do not want a thick flour batter to coat the fish, instead just a uneven coating of flour on the fish (similar to coating chicken when deep frying).

Once the oil is hot, about 325 F, add fenugreek seeds to it.Let the seeds crackle.Gently set the coated fish pieces the into hot oil and fry for 3-4  minutes on each side until medium golden brown in color. (this time will be more in case you are using whole fish). Do not fry on very high or very low heat else the fish will get soggy or remain raw inside.
Drain on paper towel and when the fish is still hot, sprinkle more chaat masala. Discard the oil.

Serve immediately with onion slices and lemon wedges and green chutney or any sauce of choice.

Notes

  1. You could use whole small fish (like pomfret,golden pompano,trout, mackerel) or freshwater fish like rohu, katla (indian varieties) or boneless fish fillets ( cat fish, tilapia, cod, mahi-mahi) in this recipe. When using a whole fish, make incisions before you marinate.
  2. Chaat Masala is a hot & tangy blend of spices which is easily available in indian/pakistani stores. If you do not have it, skip and add a little cayenne and crushed black pepper to the flour mix. You could squirt lemon juice for tang once you have finished frying the fish.
  3. Many times, I use the same recipe to fry up fillets and stuff them inside tortillas or roti with coleslaw and serve as fish tacos.
Appetizers/Snacks · Indian Streetfood · Indo Chinese · Side Dishes · Vegetarian

Chilli Gobhi(Cauliflower)



Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochineseThe week that went by was such a mixed bag. It started when many of my spice jars came tumbling down on the counter while clumsy moi was trying to fetch something from at the back of the rack. Few of them, brought from Kerala (indian state known for its premium spices),travelled with mum last year and I was almost in tears looking at my counter.Hah, actually not! Thankfully, the jars didn’t break and as of now I am sitting on two or three cupfuls of forced homemade spice mixture of sorts which I need to put to use in future.

Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochineseThen, my tripod started behaving weird.Out and out.The socket to grip the camera & lens got free and the next day the extension arm won’t stay in place.Before clicking next set of pictures, I have to get a new one now.We will see when that happens because tomorrow we are leaving for a family trip after more than a couple of years since I was pregnant. You can tag along on Instagram in case you want.It has been a long stay at home and I am really looking forward to some time away from cleaning & cooking & solo baby watching.!.Couple of trips got booked in between and got cancelled for some reason or the other, so until I set my toe on that plane, fingers crossed lovelies! Right now,while I am sitting surrounded by ziploc stuffed with cherrios & m&ms,scattered diapers,half packed bags and un ironed clothes,don’t ask me why I am writing a blog post instead. Just don’t.

Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochineseMy mum confirmed that she would be visiting us in December this year and I can hardly wait! Then, the weather in the Valley came dropping down. I am loving it since winters are my more favorite of the seasons. I pulled out those leg warmers and those furry, fuzzy coats. Happppy!Then, as always the cold weather succeeded in  pushing me towards heavy deep-fried, robust food and earlier this week, I prepared this super spicy chill gobhi with warm tones of ginger, a strong garlic flavor and kick from chillies for our meatless monday dinner.

Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochineseI have written about indo-chinese a couple of times in my previous posts. I often make indo-chinese in our house since there is not much to order from restaurants here. When making vegetarian dishes,though paneer is more popular in India, I find cauliflower as good an option too.This firm vegetable, usually cornered as bland, when coated in spicy batter, deep-fried and with hot sauce tastes meaty and satisfying. And then, technically you are eating a vegetable,so little less guilt.The dish has got some bold, saucy flavors.

Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochineseThere is not much chinese about this recipe or for that matter any indo-chinese recipe except the use of garlic, soy sauce & vinegar.But certainly it is not a curry and an amazing fusion dish with lots going on- cripsy, spicy, tangy, hints of sweet.Pair this recipe with plain rice, indian fried rice or serve as an appetizer or snack with drinks if you like.

Sinfully Spicy: Chilli Gobhi (Cauliflower) #indochinese

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

For the Sauce 

  • Kashmiri dry chillies (these give a beautiful color and good amount of heat but use any mild or hot chill variety you like)
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 tsp cornstarch +3 tbsp cold water
  • 4 tbsp canola oil (or vegetable or grapeseed oil)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1-2 Thai bird chillies, finely chopped (adjust quantity of taste, de seed if you like less hot)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2-3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (I use Ching’s brand)
  • 2 tsp tomato chili sauce (I use Maggi Hot & sweet,see notes)
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil ((optional, this is a really strong flavoring, do not use if you haven’t tasted it before,skip or substitute with untoasted sesame oil for a mellow taste))
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp honey (use agave for vegan to taste, see notes)
  • 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar (or to taste, see notes)
  • Chopped Cilantro, chopped fresh ginger, chopped green chillies for garnish

For Deep Frying 

  • 1 medium cauliflower
  •  1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 serrano chilli, finely chopped (de seed if you like less hot)
  • 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce (I use Ching’s brand)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 -1/3 cup water (or as required to make the batter)
  • Canola Oil for frying (or vegetable oil)

Method

Making the Sauce

Soak the red chillies in warm water for 5-7  minutes. Using your mortar and pestle, make a smooth paste of the soaked chillies and garlic using with 1-2 tbsp of soaking water. You can de seed the chillies if you like less hot. Set aside.

Mix cornstarch with cold water. Set aside

In a wok/wide mouthed pan,heat up the oil to smoking hot. Add chopped garlic & ginger,green chillies and cook for 1 minute or till you smell the aroma. Do not let burn. Next add the onions & scallion.Cook for 2-3 minutes or till light brown in color. Add the chilli-garlic paste that we made earlier and saute till the raw smell is gone, about a minute or so. At any point you feel that the mix is drying or sticking to bottom of the pan, add a splash of water. Add soy sauce next along with tomato chill sauce and sesame oil. Saute for 1-2 minutes.Next, add the cornstarch mix to the wok. Reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for another 2-4 minutes till the sauce thickens to desired consistency.

Next, taste & adjust the salt. Sprinkle the garam masala, add honey & vinegar and stir everything well. (If you want a thinner sauce add some water right now).Let simmer for another 1 minutes. Put off the heat and let sit while you fry up the cauliflower (recipe below).

Deep Frying the Cauliflower

Cut the cauliflower florets into halves.Do not cut very small else the florets will turn mushy while frying and not hold up in the sauce. Wash thoroughly under running water & let the water drain.Pat the florets completely dry.

In your fryer or in a heavy bottomed wide pan/wok let the 2-3 inches of canola oil heat up. In a bowl, throughly mix all the ingredients listed to make a smooth and thick batter.Dip the gobhi florets one by one in the batter and deep fry on low-medium heat till golden brown.Drain on paper towel.

Note – I do not boil the cauliflower before frying. I want the cauliflower to have a bite after deep-frying. However, do not fry the florets on very high heat either else they will be raw from inside.

Warm up the sauce prepared earlier if it gets cold. Gently add the fried cauliflower florets to the sauce and toss. Garnish with chopped ginger, chillies and cilantro if you like. Serve immediately!

Notes :-

  1. I usually make the sauce first and then fry up the cauliflower.This makes sure that the cauliflower stays crisp.If you are making the fritters first, let them stay warm in a 200 degree F oven while you make the sauce)
  2. You can use little tomato paste and sriracha in this recipe if you do not have tomato-chilli sauce.Adjust quantity to liking. Go light on vinegar at the end since the tomato paste is quite acidic.
  3. Adding tomato – chilli sauce adds sweetness too, you can adjust the level of sweet in this recipe either by adding ketchup or honey/agave/sugar.
Brunch · Festival Recipes · Indian Curry · Non vegetarian · Side Dishes

Murgh Korma – Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce



Sinfully Spicy - Murgh Korma (Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce) #indianfoodA rich and aromatic dish, korma originally belonged to the shahi dastarkhwans (royal kitchens) of Mughal emperors. Deep rooted in aristrocasy, the mughlai cuisine, thus, is redolent of sweet-smelling, unique spices,delicate herbs, liberal use of ground nuts & dried fruit as well as exotic ingredients like saffron & rose petals in cooking.Dating back to the era of invasions and subsequent period of  rule by the Mughals, indian cuisine, particularly north indian evolved and embraced the said style of cooking ranging from extremely spicy to mild curries,rice preparations and bread making.

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh Korma (Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce) #indianfoodWith addition of ghee, nut pastes and dairy (mava (milk solids) /milk/ cream), mughlai cuisine is not your everyday fare. It is once in a while thing in our kitchen but something which we look forward to at mealtime.Those are the days when we don’t care about calorie counting or healthy eating. Nothing can beat the indulgence of soaking up all of that nutty sauce in yeasty naans or ladling it over hot steaming basmati.Nothing compares to the comfort that such hearty food brings.

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh Korma (Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce) #indianfood

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh Korma (Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce) #indianfoodThe most important thing to be kept in mind when preparing mild curries is that you cannot go overboard with your selection of ingredients.That regal flavor of korma sauce needs deft proportions keeping in mind that one ingredient does not overpower the other. On those rare three or four occasions in a year when we dined out at the Karims, a place nestled in lanes of the Jama Masjid in Purani Dilli (Old Delhi), a restaurant with great history and luscious mughlai food delicacies, dad always fondly remarked how perfect this dish was done there ,a single morsel of the sauce tasting of tang from yogurt with pleasant richness from the nuts & dairy and finishing notes of warmth from cardamom, he said.I clearly remember that korma there had this distinct hint of kewra(screw pine essence) and with a simple jeera pilaf, it was all you could want at that particular time and day in your life.

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh Korma (Chicken in Cashewnut & Cream Sauce) #indianfoodIt took a few attempts to come up with this recipe keeping in mind those expectations and the memories.I do not claim to taste like restaurants, but this recipe is definitely a keeper. It came out pretty good, if I say so myself and we really enjoyed it.

I use a bit of  turmeric in mainly for the color and to enhance that hue,I finish the sauce with saffron infused in milk at the end.If you prefer more of a whitish korma, skip the turmeric and just add the saffron strands (without soaking).Another unusual thing in my recipe is the addition of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), a flavor which I really enjoy in creamy curries, you can skip if you like.

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh Korma , Chicken in Nut & Cream Sauce #indianfood

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

Marination

  • 1.25 lb chicken thighs, boneless & skinless, cut into bite size pieces (see notes)
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp plain whole milk hung yogurt (not greek, see notes)
  • 3/4 tsp garam masala
  • scant 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

For the Sauce

  • 3 tbsp oil (any neutral oil)
  • 4 cloves
  • 5-6 green cardamom
  • 1/2″ cinnamon stick (see notes)
  • 1/4 tsp shahjeera (caraway seeds)
  • 2 small blades javitri (mace,a really strong spice, a little goes a long way)
  • 1 large tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow/white onion
  • 1.5 tsp fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2-3 Thai bird green chillies, chopped (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • scant 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 6 tbsp raw broken cashews (or 5 tbsp whole cashews)
  • 2 tbsp melon seeds (skip if not available)
  • 2/3 cup plain whole milk hung yogurt (not greek)
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup water (depending on how thick/thin you want the sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 5-6 tbsp heavy cream (I quantity can up to 1/2 cup, depending how how rich you like)
  • a generous pinch of good quality saffron (crushed between palms to fine dust),soaked in 1 tbsp warm milk
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp golden raisins
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Notes

  1. I like to use dark chicken meat when making curries but you can go ahead and use chicken breast in this recipe too. Even bone in chicken will work.Just remember to adjust the cooking time so that the meat dosent dry out or remain uncooked.
  2. Hung yogurt is nothing but yogurt tied up in a cheesecloth/muslin and hung for 30-40 minutes to let its water drain.
  3. Indian cinnamon is very sharp as compared to western sweet cinnamon. If using the latter, go ahead and add a bit more.
  4. If you prefer more of a whitish korma, skip the turmeric and just add the saffron strands (without soaking in milk) at the end.

Method

Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry using a paper towel. Mix up lemon juice, 3 tbsp yogurt, garam masala, pepper powder, salt, ginger & garlic in a small bowl to a thick paste and rub this paste over the chicken. Marinate the chicken for atleast 4 hours or preferably overnight, refrigerated.

When ready to cook the korma, takeout the chicken from the refrigerator and let sit on the kitchen counter. Soak the cashews and melon seeds (if using) in 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes. Drain and discard the water.

In a heavy bottomed pot or kadhai, heat up the oil on medium high. Add the cloves,cardamom,mace, shahjeera, cinnamon, tejpatta to hot oil and let the whole spices crackle, about8-10 seconds or till you smell an aroma.

Next add the onions, ginger and garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes until the onions starts to turn light brown. Add the soaked cashews and melon seeds(if using) next along with green chillies. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low now and add the coriander, turmeric along with 2/3 cup hung yogurt. Do not stir immediately else the yogurt will curdle. Wait for atlas a minute and then slowly stir around to mix yogurt with everything else in the pot.Cook the yogurt along with the masala for 5-7 minutes on low heat until you see oil separating on the sides.Put the stove off, pick out the bay leaf & cinnamon,about half of the cloves & cardamom and tip rest of the contents into a blender. The mixture is going to be hot so wait for 10-15 minutes before you start blending it.Blend (do not use water if possible during blending).I do not make a very smooth paste, you could decide the texture of the sauce at this point).

Meanwhile,in the same pot or another pot, heat up the 2-3 tbsp ghee on medium. When the ghee is hot enough, start searing the marinated chicken on both sides.You do not need to brown but a light sear is just about enough.  You could do this is batches. Once all the chicken is seared, add all of it together along the blended sauce to the pot. Stir around on and cook on medium- low heat. The chicken will render its moisture and fat as it cooks and the sauce will thicken and deepen in color.Let cook till the chicken is about 95% cooked, about 6-8 minutes.

Next, add the water depending on the desired consistency  of sauce (I add 1/2 cup water)along with crushed kasuri methi. Check and adjust the salt. Let come to a boil on medium. Next add the cream, saffron infused milk, cardamom powder, sugar and raisins. Let simmer (not boil) for 8-10 minutes on very low heat. Once simmered, put off the heat and let sit covered for 2 hours.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Brunch · Easy Recipes · Indian Curry · one pot meals · Rice Dishes · Side Dishes · Vegetarian

Chana Pulao (Spiced Chickpeas & Rice Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita



Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)All I think of at the first sight of pomegranates in the grocery stores is to fold the plump ruby jewels with sweetish velvety yogurt and pair the raita with some kind of a spicy pilaf. To me, pulao/pilaf is a very ‘to taste’ thing in indian cuisine. It is like an assortment of things with any sort of grain, mostly rice in our case – quick, one pot but hearty. On days when mom was not in much of mood to cook, she would make some kind of a pulao – with vegetables, beans, dried lentil nuggets or chicken. There would be pickles, salad and raita to serve along.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)Come November and the knock of winter winds brought with itself a sudden rush of green and fresh produce in the vegetable bazaars of Delhi.After long, humid and harsh summers,the next few months presented a respite and a chance to indulge in cooking and eating.On few Saturdays I would accompany mom to the sabzi bazaar. Wrapped in my favorite pashmina shawl, we walked out of the house for an early evening stroll and later to purchase vegetables for the week.Those few hours were spent inhaling the crisp autumn air and watching how the nip in the air got people out of their homes, the pleasing sights of street food carts beaming with everybody, eating, chatting and sharing a quick snack with families.We stopped here and there to get buy and bargain fresh eggs, bread and dairy before reaching the sabzi bazaar.Most of the faces at the bazaar were known, for it has been a place of trade between the same set of people for decades.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)Mom would patiently listen to household stories of few sabzi wallas(vendors), of their children not studying at school or the gas prices going up. Few complained about government not doing much for the poor and few praising their farms for such fine produce. In India, such is a way of life, so may day-to-day people slowly connect to your life and you do not even realize, it is how the society operates.I always loved to tag along with her for grocery trips just to observe how she would choose vegetables – touching them, sniffing a few, closely inspecting each piece below the flickering bulbs on the stalls of thela-wallas (street vendors with wooden wheeled carts),she took her time to select. If few of the vendors were in a mood, they would slice off a couple of apples or pluck few greens and let her taste before buying.Thick,dark-skinned capsicum to yellowish cauliflower heads to fragrant methi (fenugreek) and soa (dill) bunches to ruby kashmiri anar (pomegranates) and apples, each sample of produce brought with itself an opportunity for deliciousness.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)The onset of winters also meant there would be lots of wholesome,hearty meals in the house full of warm spices and herbs. There would be exotic,rich curries and layered biryanis and indulgent desserts. Mom would make a lot of quick rice dishes to keep our stomachs nourished & satisfied. The house would be enveloped in the pungent aroma of mustard oil and earthy fragrance of basmati rice bubbling on the stove. This is one of her favorite recipes which I have changed to our liking over the years, she did not add bell peppers or potatoes, but I love the combination of both of these with chickpeas and rice so I do it more my way now. A weekly regular in our house with all kinds of variations each time.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Ingredients (Serves 3)

You could use canned chickpeas and cut down the cooking time to half but I recommend starting with dried chickpeas and cooking them in water because the resultant delicious stock will flavor the rice immensely.

For the Chickpeas (Skip this step if using canned chickpeas)

  • 1 cup dried raw chickpeas
  • 2 + 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp oil

For the Pulao(Pilaf)

  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1.5 tbsp plain whole milk yogurt (skip for vegan)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri red chili powder (or paprika, this gives the color not the heat)
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or use canola/vegetable/olive oil)
  • 1/2 ” cinnamon stick (indian cinnamon is very sharp so I use less, adjust if using sweet cinammon)
  • 1 small twig of mace
  • 1 indian bay leaf (or regular bay leaf)
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom, cracked open
  • 1/2 cup heaped chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder(adjust to taste)
  • 1-2 medium potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cubed
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, crushed)
  • 1-2 tbsp ghee to finish(optional, skip for vegan)
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish
  • Optional – golden raisins, silvered almonds, cashews.

Method 

Soak the chickpeas in enough water overnight or atleasrt 8-10 hours.Drain & discard the water and add the chickpeas to the pressure cooker along with baking soda, salt, water and oil. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles on medium heat or till chickpeas are fork tender. The cooking time and number of whistles will depend on quality and size of the chickpeas and alson on pressure cooker. I use small variety chickpeas which pressure cook in about 20 minutes. If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a heavy bottomed pot with lid or your dutch over to cook the chickpeas for roughly 45-50 minutes or till fork tender. Once the chickpeas are cooked,drain and reserve the liquid (stock). Set aside.

Skip the above steps if using canned chickpeas. Open up the can and run the chickpeas under a stream of water, drain and set aside.

Wash the basmati rice under 2-3 times under a running stream of water till the water runs clear. Soak in 1.5 cups of water for 15 minutes. (You can do this while the chickpeas are cooking). Also, mix the yogurt with garam masala and kashmiri red chill powder. Set aside. If making for vegans, skip the yogurt and add these spices when you add the tomatoes.

In a wide bottomed heavy pot with lid (I use my 3 qt dutch oven), heat up the mustard oil on medium till you see little ripples on the surface and the raw smell goes away. Add cinnamon,mace bay leaf and cloves and cardamom. Wait till they crackle and you smell a nice aroma. 10-15 seconds. Add the onions and garlic next. Cook till they are light brown. About 5-6 minutes. Add the tomatoes next along with red chili and turmeric powder. Cook for 2-3 minutes just till the tomatoes begin to soften. Reduce heat to low and add the yogurt mixed with spices. Do not stir immediately else yogurt will curdle. Wait for 30 seconds and gently on low heat(very important) incorporate the yogurt in the masala. Cook for another 1-2 minutes on low heat till the masala starts getting shiny and turning deep reddish- brown in color. Add the potatoes & ginger next and cook along with the masala for another 1-2 minutes.

Next, drain & discard all the water from the soaking rice and add soaked rice and chickpeas to the pot. Do not stir. Measure and add the required quantity of stock (reserved from boiling chickpeas) to the pot. The quantity of stock added should be added as required by your variety of rice(My rice variety cooks in 2:1 ratio of rice to water, I add 2 tbsp extra stock ). (In case you are using canned chickpeas, add chicken/vegetable stock or plain water).

Once you have added the water, check and adjust the salt of the liquid (normally it should be little extra salty at the beginning since the rice will soak up the stock). Also add crushed kasuri methi to. Gently stir now (else the soaked rice will break) and let the rice soak in stock for another 15 minutes.

Once the rice has soaked, cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let cook covered for another 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, open the lid and add the bell peppers to the pot and very lightly mix them in with the help of a fork. Cover and let cook on low for another 2 minutes. After this, put off the stove and let sit for atleast 15 minutes.

Open the lid and add the ghee (if using) along with cilantro, nuts (if using), raisins(is using) on top and gently fluff the rice with fork.

Serve warm with raita(recipe below), salad and pickle.

Pomegranate Raita (Spiced Yogurt)

Ingredients (Serves 3)

  • 1 cup whole milk plain yogurt,cold
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp heaped roasted cumin powder
  • a light pinch of dried mint leaves, crush to dust between hands (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp chaat masala (a tangy spice mix available in indian/pakistani stores or online)
  • 1/2 tsp black salt (this salt is tangy, substitute with regular)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or cayanne, adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (or more/less you like)
  • salt to taste
  • Few fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Method

Beat the yogurt with everything except the pomegranate seeds & salt to smooth. I like the raita thick but if you can thin it with little water if you like. Refrigerate the yogurt for 20 minutes.Just before serving mix in the pomegranate seeds and salt. Sprinkle cilantro. Serve.

Breakfast · Brunch · Easy Recipes · Eggs · Indian Curry · Non vegetarian · Side Dishes

Egg Curry

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Masala #indianfood

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Curry #indianfoodThe thought of eating steaming rice mixed with thick, chili hued masala from the curry fills me with as much joy as that of a kid waiting upon a bowl of macaroni & cheese. In our house, a weekday suddenly turns exciting when its egg curry for dinner. It is not an immensely difficult meal to prepare and trust me it spoils your taste buds given how quick it is ready to serve. I use my basic masala recipe with a few whole spices added in.

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Curry #indianfoodThe husband can live on eggs and for me, particularly at this time of the year when the evenings are colder, diving into a thick tomato gravy with redolent of kasuri methi and warm tones of ginger is enough to drive me hungry out of turn.

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Curry #indianfoodIn India, egg curry is an immensely popular dish. Usually, hard-boiled eggs are thrown in the home specific curry recipe and served as a protein side to the meals. The recipe varies from home to home as well as region to region. The north indians mostly prepare it in a tomato – onion base while the south indian version is done with coconut & curry leaves.Few regions use a mustard paste base and fry up the lightly hard-boiled eggs before dunking them in the sauce.It is commonly served as a side to flatbreads or plain rice.

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Curry #indianfoodMy mum always used to add fresh peas to the gravy but the husband prefers potatoes so I started making it that way. If you get a chance, fresh peas, sweet and tender beautifully balance the heat of the spices but potatoes taste quite delicious and comforting too.You can use just eggs too depending on how you like it. The gravy is very flavorful with normal day-to-day spices used in and comes together quickly while the eggs boil.

Sinfully Spicy- Egg Curry #indianfood

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 5-6 eggs
  • 1 generous pinch turmeric powder
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into halves or quarters
  • 3-4 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with canola/grapeseed oil)
  • 1 green cardamom, cracked open
  • 1/4″ cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 small garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger (adjust quantity to taste)
  • 1 cup tomatoes, finely chopped (slight sour variety)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/8 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • 1/2 cup water (or more depending on desired consistency)
  • 1/2 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, skip if you do not have)
  • salt
  • Fresh cilantro to garnish – as much as you want

Method

Hard Boil the eggs. I use this recipe to get perfectly hard -boiled eggs.

Peel the eggs, slit (but not all the way through) them using a sharp knife  and rub them with a generous pinch of turmeric powder and let sit.

In a heavy bottomed pot, add the oil and heat on medium – high till you see faint ripples on the oil surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat it a little longer till to do away the raw smell.Reduce heat to medium. Add the cardamom and cinnamon stick and let crackle for 10-120 seconds. Add the finely chopped onions next and cook them till golden brown. About 6-8 minutes.

Next, add the garlic & ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling a nice aroma.Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes next along with coriander,turmeric,chilli,garam masala & amchoor powder. Start to cook this masala on low heat. After about 3-4 minutes add the potatoes, cover and cook the masala till you see the oil separating on the sides of the pan. About 8-10 minutes. In between, if you see masala sticking to the bottom of pan, add some water. .This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, do not rush.Allow the masala to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color and the potatoes are 90% done.

Add the turmeric rubbed eggs to the pot, sprinkle the kasuri methi, add more water (if you want a thinner gravy),cover and let cook for another 5-7 minutes. Put off the stove and let sit at least 2 hours before serving.

Warm up, garnish with cilantro and serve!

Desserts · Festival Recipes · Indian Streetfood · Snacks

Jalebi

Sinfully Spicy: Jalebi #indian Come end of September and its time of autumn festivities for Indians.Hindus all over India celebrate Navratri (nine days of fasting & feasting),worshipping Goddess Durga  in nine pristine forms,each form depicting a virtue . Ramlila is a traditional, nine or ten-day long drama staged during these days in northern india to portray the life events of Lord Rama and his victory over the demon king Ravana.The last day which is a celebration of this triumph is observed as Dusherra.

Sinfully Spicy: Jalebi #indian Year after year we looked forward to Ramlila  days. There would be a nip in the air,schools would be off and bazaars all geared up to witness the hustle and bustle of upcoming festivals.Quite a lot of big and small fairs dotted our town,each locality showcasing its grandeur through decorations,much pomp & show,some having lighted displays,other luring crowds with musicals.Before you go into thinking about a fairyland, the ramlila grounds were dusty and crowded, cramped shoulder to shoulder with people,with flashy neon or fluorescent light banners and the music shows – a cacophony of loudspeakers which sore your ears few minutes into listening but, in those days I LOVED all of that. My enthusiasm could be might low if I visit the fair now but in those days,every evening, dressed our best,we left the house together to visit a new ramlila ground.

Sinfully Spicy: Jalebi #indian Walking through the dimly lit,narrow roads and holding each other’s hand, carrying goodies in the other, we would come back home around midnight from the last day at ramlila,after having witnessed the demon effigies burnt to ashes and the fireworks that followed to cheer the triumph of good over evil.Legs aching due to long waits in the queue for almost everything but stomachs stuffed to content with piping hot jalebis fresh from the halwai stalls and our hands full with knickknacks bought from the toy stalls – bubble guns, imitation bows & arrows, helium balloons, pinwheels and candy.All we chatted about were the rides at the fair and how to make next few weeks to Diwali fun!

Sinfully Spicy: Jalebi #indian Sometimes I feel how growing up, for us the means of entertainment were so uncomplicated.I remember playing on terrace for hours with tiny earthen pots and tea cups bought from the potter stalls at ramleela, on few days we played cricket for hours in the aangan (yard),on most evenings we wandered miles and miles in the park chasing butterflies and bees or hopelessly trying to create colorful illusions with pinwheels. Festivals like HoliDusherra and Diwali were longed for, for months. Mum tells me that I had quite a keen interest in all things culture and mythology.

No computer, no DVDs, no play stations, no just dance, no karaoke. Entertainment did not come out of  LCD screens, it was way real. Sorry for sounding like a grandma but I dare not talk about the simplicity of those days!

Sinfully Spicy: Jalebi #indian Jalebi is the one of the popular mithai which was popular in my part of town on Dusherra, which falls on 3rd Oct this year.For me on this day nothing else will suffice as dessert if it’s not jalebi. Comparable to a funnel cake but eggless and fermented,  jalebi is a crisp, deep-fried maida (flour) batter,soaked in sugar syrup long enough to sweeten it but not let it turn soft. The sugar syrup may or may not be flavored with cardamom, saffron or rosewater. As the fermented batter is piped into the hot oil, it swells and comes sizzling up,changing its color to golden. The crisp concentric fried batter are then dunked in warm sugar and served with cold unsweetened milk or rabdi. However, my favorite way to serve hot jalebis is with dahi (plain unsweetened yogurt).

Ingredients (Makes 20-25 Jalebis)

For the Jalebi

  • 1 cup maida (all-purpose flour)
  • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1.5 tbsp besan (fine ground gram flour)
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1.5 tbsp melted ghee (use any neutral oil for vegan version)
  • 2 tbsp whole milk plain yogurt, at room temperature (skip for vegan, see notes)
  • 1/8 tsp saffron powder (crush a few saffron threads between palms)
  • 1-2 drops orange food color(optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup luke warm water + 2-3 tbsp warm water for dissolving yeast (adjust water quantity for right consistency)
  • Canola/Sunflower Oil for frying (You can add 1-2 tbsp ghee to it for a nice aroma)

For the Sugar Syrup

  • 1.5 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 green cardamom pods, cracked open or 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Optional Flavorings – rose water, kewra (screwpine water)

Method

In a small bowl, add of scant pinch of sugar and 2-3 tbsp of warm(not hot) water, dissolve yeast and let sit for 5-8 minutes. Let the yeast bloom (you should see froth on top).If the yeast does not bloom, discard and start the batch again.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, sift the maida, besan and cornstarch. Add the saffron powder.Using your finger, lightly mix the ghee and yogurt with the flour. Add the bloomed yeast mix, orange food color and slowly add luke warm water to make a smooth,lump free batter. Be doubly sure that the batter has no lumps, it is a very important step. Add the water a little at a time and incorporate.The consistency should be like a thick pancake batter. Cover the bowl with a cling film and set aside in a warm place to ferment for 2-3 hours. (The batter will ferment quickly, about 1-2 hours during summer months but could take longer during winters) Do not disturb it during fermenting.

10-15 minutes before you are ready to fry the jalebis, in a medium,wide pot, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Once the sugar syrup is boiling, reduce the heat, add the cardamom and let simmer for 7-8 minutes so that the syrup thickens up  a bit. We are not looking for any string consistency here but if you take a tiny drop of syrup in between your thumb and pointer finger, it should feel sticky and not watery. Once the sugar has simmered and thickened, add lemon juice, stir and put off the heat.Wait for 2-3 minutes and then if you are using saffron or cardamom powder or any other flavorings, add it to the sugar syrup. Let sit near to where you will fry up the jalebis.

Use the widest pot or wok or pan that you have in your kitchen to fry the jalebis. I use my 12″ skillet.Pour 1-2 inches of oil in it and let heat up on medium heat.

At the end of two hours, the fermented batter will not exactly double up in volume but you would see that it is much more light and fluffy than what we started with. Once fermented, do not mix the batter much. We want it to remain airy and fluffy. Just cut and fold once or twice using a spatula (just the way we handle cake frosting) and pour it into a squeezable bottle with nozzle.  Try to squeeze the batter out of the nozzle, it should come out like a tooth paste from a tube. (see notes for other ways of checking batter consistency). If you feel that the batter is thick, add a little water for the right consistency or if the batter is thin, add a couple of tablespoons of flour and mix gently so that there are no lumps.

To test the right temperature of oil, drop a small quantity batter in the oil, it should come up sizzling to the top but without changing color (if batter changes color, reduce heat and let the oil temperature reduce a bit). Squeeze the batterout of the nozzle, applying constant pressure and making 3-4 concentric circles in the oil and sealing them in the middle.Work from outside towards inside. It takes time and experience to get proper shape and it gets better and better batch after batch. Do not fry more than 4-5 jalebis in a batch. Once you have piped the jalebis in hot oil, in 2-3 seconds they will come floating up, flip and let turn golden on the other side too. Once golden, take out of from the hot oil, tilting the spider or frying spoon so that excess oil is drained.

Add the fried jalebis to the warm (not hot)syrup. Let soak for not more than 25-30 seconds and take out again tilting the ladle to drain excess syrup else they will break and turn soggy.

Fry up all the jalebis and soak in syrup. Serve warm with cold unsweetened yogurt.

Few Tips and Notes:

Indian Cooking especially mithai (sweets) making rides on a lot of approximations and tips and tricks learnt through experience. In our homes, rarely gadgets are used to test the oil or sugar syrup temperatures or times.Lets say we trust our sight and smell senses more when cooking.  Mithai making is an art and gets better with practice. Here are few of the things I have learnt from mum and my own trials.

  • In case you are making the jalebis for vegans, skip the yogurt in the recipe and use a little more water to get the right consistency of the batter.
  • Addition of lemon juice to the syrup prevents crystallization of sugar as well as lends it a mild tart flavor which is typical to jalebis.
  • Adding food coloring to the batter is a choice, if you do not want,skip it. I like to add color because my mum always does and I think it looks nice to the eyes.
  • Usually the batter gets a little runny after fermentation, so its better to keep it on the thickish side before you set it out to ferment. You can always add water later to get the right consistency.
  • One of the ways to check the consistency of batter is to take a large quantity in your hands and try to drop it in the bowl from a height, about 1-2 feet, it should fall is continuously, similar to how a lace or ribbon flows.
  • You could use a Ziploc bag with a hole cut up at the end to make the jalebis, but I find using the squeeze bottle much easier since if you keep on pressing the Ziploc bag, after a few batches, the hole becomes large in size and the jalebis become very very thick.I find the ziploc method quite messy too. The squeezable bottles are available in baking aisle for a couple of dollars. They are much expensive to buy online. But trust me, really easy and work with. Attaching a nozzle to a piping bag works fine too, just keep in mind that the thickness of the jalebis will depend on the nozzle size. Do not use a very big size nozzle since the jalebis will not cook properly inside once fried.
  • While frying, if the temperature of oil is too hot, the jalebis will come up sizzling, the batter will tear or have   bubbles all over, it might every scatter in the oil and jalebis will turn over crisp and not absorb syrup properly. If the oil temperature is too low, the jalebis will remain flat and raw inside. Once you start frying, it will take you 1-2 minutes to know the right temperature of oil, the jalebis should come up within few seconds (2-3secs) of piping into oil and swell as you fry but at the same time do not get too brown. Don’t worry I also had few over brown ones, so you will know when its right.
  • Getting the right shape of the jalebis takes time, they do not have to be precise and perfect but as you make more and more, you will get a hang of it. Just keep in mind to squeeze the bottle/piping bag batter with a constant pressure and work in concentric circles, outside towards inside. Again, practice will help.However, whatever shape they come out,they will taste good.
  • The right texture of the jalebis is crispy on outside, if you take a bite, you will notice the tubular crossection filled with syrup. Without getting more technical,just know that they are not meant to be soft.
  • You will have leftover syrup after the jalebis are soaked. I usually dunk baked bread croutons/slices in them and serve as a snack. You could refrigerate it and use to make gulab jamuns if you like. Also, it can be used  in smoothies or for making beverages too.
  • Jalebis can be stored for 2-3 days. Do not refrigerate. Just store at room temperature. I however, do not recommend or prefer storing them. Make small batches and serve rightaway.
Indian Curry · Non vegetarian · Side Dishes

Murgh Saagwala – Spinach Chicken

Sinfully Spicy : Murgh Saagwala (Spinach Chicken) #indiafoodWhenever I pick up a bundle of palak(spinach) at the grocery store -all organic & prewashed & ready to serve and what not, always, without a miss, I think about the vegetable patch(es) in my grandmother’s house,a house where I lived in some 18 years back, having a backyard planted with tomatoes and okra during summers and cauliflowers & potatoes during winters.One where the air would strongly smell of agarbatti (incense sticks) in the evenings which were often lighted to wade away the bugs from the eggplant bush, one which had rows dotted with yellow and orange marigolds & english roses.One where each morning,I strolled along the narrow, wet sidewalks brushing my teeth,bending down to sniff the strong fragrance of tulsi (holy basil) plants.One where I spent a lot of childhood days,counting the ready-to-pluck green beans and tearing leaves apart to spot the cabbage buns. A backyard where you could find us after coming back from school, dressed in printed cotton frocks,bare feet, digging mud and playing hide and seek within the squash creepers.

Sinfully Spicy : Murgh Saagwala (Chicken & Spinach) #indianI visited India last year and everything is the same, the yard still planted with seasonal crop but now more taken care of by maali (gardener) than the family. Mom made dal and she sprinkled a bunch of chopped coriander leaves on top,picked from there. I plucked a few narangi (indian kumquat) from the bush which has now turned into a small tree in all theses years and popped it into my mouth with a pinch of salt, the burst of citrus tang running goose pimples all over my body, bringing memories with itself of the days when squirts of that sweet acid graced our daliya (breakfast porridge) every now and then. I tore up a few spinach and methi (fenugreek) leaves and chewed on them, a wish which I had nestled for so many years to experience that unforgettable earthly, delicate taste all over again.

Sinfully Spicy : Murgh Saagwala (Chicken & Spinach) #indian

Sinfully Spicy : Murgh Saagwala (Spinach Chicken) #indiafoodI wanted our daughter to play  and get her hands dirty in the mud but she could barely crawl at that time, so that fun has to wait till our next visit. But, embraced in all these memories, I made this murgh (chicken) saag (any leafy green) last week and she really loved it. This recipe is a perfect balance of greens and protein to nourish kids and adults alike.You would have seen this dish on indian restaurant’s menus a lot. But it is not something I grew up with. I started making it regularly a couple of years back, mostly around my pregnancy years when I craved spinach all the time. This recipe has evolved a lot from the first time I cooked it.

Sinfully Spicy : Murgh Saagwala (Chicken & Spinach) #indian

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

For the Spice Rub on Chicken

  • 4-5 whole dry kashmiri red chilies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
  • 2 small black cardamom pods, cracked open
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 tsp canola or sunflower oil

Rest of the Ingredients

  • 6-8 oz fresh spinach leaves (~ a little more than 1 cup spinach puree)
  • 5 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf, preferable indian
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 fat garlic clove
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 -1 tbsp thinly Julienne fresh ginger (adjust quantity to taste)
  • salt
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala 
  • 1 tsp heaped kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup water (depending on desired consistency of sauce)
  • 3-4 tbsp heavy cream

Method

Wash thoroughly and pat the chicken pieces completely dry. Set aside. In a small pan, dry roast the kashmiri chilies, coriander seeds, cloves, fennel,methi, cumin and black peppercorns. Transfer to a coffee grinder and coarsely grind. Mix the ground spices with turmeric, nutmeg and salt. In a large bowl, add the chicken, drizzle the oil and sprinkle half of the ground spices and rub so that all the pieces are covered in the spices. Reserve the rest of the spice rub. Cover the bowl and set in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or preferably overnight to marinate.

Once ready to cook,take the chicken out from the refrigerator and let sit on kitchen counter.Bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Put off the heat.Add the spinach leaves to the water and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Drain out the spinach leaves and puree in the food processor using little water if required. You can reserve the boiled water to thin out the sauce later if you want. 

Meanwhile,heat up the mustard oil in another wide, heavy bottomed pot. Add the cinnamon, bay leaf and let crackle. Add the onions and garlic next. Let cook for 5-8 minutes on medium low heat until the onion starts to turn brown. At this point, carefully add the chicken pieces to the pot in a single layer (if possible), and on medium high heat, let the chicken pieces sear on one side. Flip and let sear on all sides. Next, add the tomatoes, ginger and remaining ground spice powder to the pot. Stir around and let cook on medium heat till you see, tomatoes turn soft and oil just starting to separate on the side of the pan.It might take 8-10 minutes since the chicken will also release its juices but keep on cooking.

Once you see that the chicken is about 80% cooked, add the pureed spinach along with the garam masala. Combine and cover till the spinach blends in the sauce, the raw smell is gone, it turns down in color to dark green and the chicken is completely cooked, about 10-12 minutes on medium heat. You will see little glistening spinach bubbles on the top.Open the lid, add the kasuri methi and water (depending on the consistency you want). Let simmer for another 1-2 minutes.Add the heavy cream, check and adjust the salt, let simmer for 2-3 minutes more (but do not boil).

Let sit for 2-3 hours before serving.Warm up and serve.

Notes :-

  1. You can use bone in chicken for this recipe. Use dark meat portions and make incisions in the flesh with a sharp knife before you marinate it.
  2. When you puree the spinach, do not make a smooth paste out of it (that’s why I do not use a blender). Use as less water as possible when grinding spinach.
  3.  If you like a bit of smoky flavor then you can grill the chicken but I prefer searing it in the cooking pot itself.
  4. You could use a mix of greens – kale and spinach work beautifully, so does spinach and methi(fresh fenugreek).
  5. The addition of heavy cream makes the dish a lot tastier and rich but you can skip the cream if you want.

Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!

Brunch · Gluten Free · Indian Curry · Side Dishes · Stir-fry · Vegetarian

Baingan Aloo (Eggplant & Potato Stirfry)

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianEggplant season is here and I am all over it. Biting into that sweet flesh dotted with soft seeds, I always admire how this delicious vegetable absorbs any kind of goodness thrown to it in good measure.Be it the flavored oils or the profusely strong-tasting spices,squirts of citrus or a mellow yogurt dressing, it takes all. Robust yet so simple and earthly to relish, I have been regularly making eggplant pakoras and bharta, roasting it, open fire grilling it and what not.

However, it is with great regret that I tell you that I did not always like eggplant. I totally hated it as a kid and the same was true for most members of our family. Except for pakoras, I rarely touched it. In the real way, I embraced it as an edible item during those couple of years when I turned a pure vegetarian.

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianI always like September for the overlap it brings – the summer bounty is still in the markets but the autumn produce can be spotted on the stands. I am still getting to slice fresh strawberries for my daughter’s breakfast and at the same time I hand over crunchy apples to her as a snack. It is so fascinating how seasons change and that change is first thing evident in the farmer’s markets. I went for grocery shopping the labor day weekend and was surprised how pears and apples have popped overnight on the stands.Can you believe I spotted a few pumpkins and parsnips already! Gosh, where did the summer go.

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianSinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianFor us, especially on the days when like to keep it meat free, a simple meal comprises of lentils, a dry vegetable curry and rice. We sit down to eat together,mostly eat with our fingers, squeezing out that juicy flesh off the peel, smashing the potatoes and mixing it in with ghee smothered dal-rice. Yum! If not with rice, you could roll this up inside whole wheat flatbreads if you like. Go make some before the season goes away.

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indian

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or olive/canola oil)
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut (I use yellow potatoes)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, divided
  • 1 medium globe eggplant or 4-5 japanese eggplants
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes (I use fresh roma)
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, skip or use fresh lime juice to taste)
  • scant pinch of garam masala (optional but lends a nice smoky hint)
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro to garnish

Method

In a kadhai/wok, heat up the oil. If you are using mustard oil you will need to heat it up for up to 1-2 minutes to do away the raw smell. Just take care that is not smoking. Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to low and add the fenugreek and cumin seeds. Let crackle. Immediately add the garlic and hing. Let cook for 5-7 seconds taking care they do not burn.  (You do not want the garlic to turn bitter as it changes the taste of the recipe, take the kadhai off the heat if you feel that its too hot)

Add the potatoes next and let their outer surface crisp up for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder as they brown. Next, add 1 tbsp water, cover and let cook on medium low heat till the potatoes are 50% tender.

Meanwhile, wash the eggplant and cut it up roughly the same size as the potatoes.

Add the eggplant along with tomatoes, rest of the turmeric, red chili and dry mango powder. Also add the salt. Mix well so that everything is covered in spices. Cover and let cook till both eggplant and potatoes are tender. On medium low heat this should take 7-10 minutes.(This time will depend on the variety and size of the vegetables)

Take off the lid and sprinkle the garam masala and  kasuri methi. On high heat, gently toss everything for another 1-2 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro & serve.