Chicken in Yogurt Cardamom Sauce


This tangy, cardamom scented chicken in yogurt sauce is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. It can get pretty hot in Vegas during summers and I love a good yogurt based sauces, its light but still rich on warm evenings, that how this recipe came into being. You dont need to marinate chicken, if you can use bone in, the flavors come out amazing though this recipe will work for boneless dark meat chicken as well. Honestly, one cannot have enough chicken recipes on hand and this one is good change up from the red ones(though there still is bit of a tomato in here). With rice or rotis and a quick salad, this is a satisfying dinner. The sauce is chunky and thickish, it won’t win many laurels for the way it looks, its not one of your smooth creamy ones, rather delicately aromatic with hints of coconut and freshly ground cardamom in each bite.

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Chicken In Yogurt Cardamom Sauce

A tangy and fragrant dish of chicken in yogurt sauce.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1.5 tbsp ginger garlic green chilli paste ,simply pound 4 garlic cloves with a knob of ginger and 4-5 hot green chillies(adjust to taste, this is the only heat that goes in this masala)
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 medium tomato just grate flesh of tomato using a box grater and discard the skin.
  • 1.5 lb bone in chicken(preferably dark meat)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk thick yogurt, whisked
  • 1/4 cup fresh dessicated coconut
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Cilantro & mint leaves – chopped

Instructions

  • Place a kadai or a shallow pot on the stove. Add oil and let it heat up on medium heat.
  • Add the cardamom and cloves to the oil and saute for 30 seconds, dont let burn. Next add the cumin and let crackle.
  • Next, add the onions to the oil and saute them on medium heat until they start to brown but dont let brown too much.
  • Add the ginger garlic chilli paste and saute for 15 seconds followed by coriander and cumim powder and saute the spices in oil for 30 seconds. Add the tomato pulp next and saute on medium heat till you see oil seperating.
  • Next add the chicken, sprinkle salt and mix well with the masala. On medium heat, saute the chicken for 5 minutes. You will see that the chicken will slowly release its juicies and the masala will become a bit runny.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and let the chicken cook for 10-12 minutes (time will depend on the size of chicken pieces so adjust accordingly). You will need to saute in between a few times so that chicken dosent stick to the bottom.
  • Open the lid, reduce the heat to low and while sauteing add the yogurt over the chicken. Also add the coconut. Mix well and cover again for 10 minutes. Avoid adding any water to the sauce. In 10 minutes you wil see the yogurt is warmed through, thr masala resembles a thick slurry and there are oily bubbles on the top.
  • Remove the lid and saute the chicken for another 5-8 minutes till you see that the color of sauce has deepened and a nice amount of oil is seperating.
  • Finish with cardamom powder and garam masala. Take off the heat and garnish with chopped cilantro and mint leaves.
  • Serve warm.

Instant Olive Oil Tomato Pickle

Delicious, tangy and spicy in every bite, this instant tomato pickle is healthy and super delicious. As soon as warm weather comes knocking and tomatoes start appearing in the markets, I start making this instant tomato pickle. If you don’t want to use cherry tomatoes, you can use regular tomatoes, make sure that they are ripe but firm. Dont use very soft tomatoes else the pickle becomes a chutney 🙂

Picking in oil is the most common way to preserve seasonal vegetables and fruits in India. Though mustard oil is the first choice, with the rise in popularity of olive oil, with time its also a common picking oil now. You can skip or add anything to this pickle, I add sliced garlic, chilies, fresh tumeric and ginger. The combination of these work quite well together. The pickle is so good with anything- with flatbreads, on toasts, with eggs, chicken or fish or even some crackers on a cheese board. It keeps well in the fridge for about 8-10 days and gets better as it sits.

My grandmother used to keep busy entire summer pickling almost every vegetable you can think of and her pickles were the best, no one in our family has ever been able to replicate the taste and I mean it. But we keep trying from what we remember of her pickling process.

This pickle is super heathy- preserved in olive oil which is a heart friendly oil and full of anti inflammatory turmeric and ginger, a tablespoon of this pickle could well one of the best things to pair with your meals. Olive oil pickles are so fruity and here with all the fragrant indian spices, the pickling oil itself turns so flavorful with time, if you are left with just oil, dab it on your sandwiches or use it to cook parathas (yum!).

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Instant Olive Oil Tomato Pickle

A fruity & fragrant pickle made with tomatoes, garlic, ginger and fresh turmeric.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 1.5 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup classic/cooking olive oil (dont use extra virgin)
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1 tsp rai (small brown mustard seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds
  • 3/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp anardana(dried pomegranate seeds, coarsely pounded)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 200 gms (about 8oz) cherry tomatoes (cut in half if too big)
  • 5-7 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh turmeric, cut in thin discs
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger, cut in thin discs
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  • In a pan, on low heat set the olive oil to heat. Dont let it get smoky. If the olive oil gets smoky, it will lose most of its antioxidants and flavor. Also, the spices will get burnt when you add them.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the hing and the whole spices. Keep the flame on low medium. The spices wont crackle immediately and thats what we want. Let the spices infuse for 2-3 minutes on low heat in the oil so that the aroma of spices in infused in oil.Dont leave unattended.
  • The spices will swell and you will smell a very nice aroma as they infuse in the oil. Next, add the curry leaves carefully and let infuse for another 30 seconds.
  • Add turmeric and red chilli powder to the oil, mix and let cook for 10 seconds(they should not burn) followed by the tomatoes, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Sprinkle salt.
  • Mix everything gently and cook for 2-3 minutes till you see that the tomatoes skins are little soft but not falling apart. Take off the stove and let cool down a bit.
  • Transfer to a clean container and keep in fridge for upto a week. Enjoy!

Dilli Aloo Ki Chaat

Aloo chaat from streets of Delhi is one of the best things. Shallow fried potatoes in ghee tossed with powdered spices, drizzled with chutney and served warm with a little bit of grated mooli (daikon)or onions. The chaat stalls selling this chaat can be spotted from a mile away thanks to the aroma of frying potatoes. If you take a stroll in neighborhoods of Delhi particularly in the evening, you will find a chaat corner frying this chaat on every other block.

Traditionally, they fry the potatoes in ghee and hence the aroma is so amazing. Sweet, spicy, sour and deep fried- this is one amazing chaat recipe which can be quickly whipped to satiate your cravings. It can be a quick snack for any time. Just cut up the potatoes, mix the spices and go for it.

I used a mixture of different potato varieties I could find in store. Sweet potatoes(orange & purple) and regular russet/gold and red potatoes. The naturally sweet potatoes really added so much taste to this chaat, they were my favorite, to to forget the beautiful natural colors they added.

A few things to be kept in mind when making this Chaat:-

Soaking the Potatoes:- Even though I say that this is a quick snack for anytime and really you can cut up potato chunks and make this any time, I suggest planning a bit and soaking the potatoes for at least 3-4 hours. Slice or cut potatoes in chunks , I leave the skin on because it adds a nice flavor, and soak the potatoes in sharp salty water for good 3-4 hours. The water will pull out the starches since starches are water soluble and the salt will season the potatoes in the process leading to a super flavorful potato for frying. Soaking also helps in making the potatoes crispy as the quantity of starches goes down.

Fried potatoes are the key. Shallow fried potatoes usually fried to order in the center of a large heavy tawa(griddle) in ghee give the best flavor. However, if you don’t want to use just ghee, 100% ghee, use a neutral oil like grape seed or sunflower and add a tablespoon of ghee for that particular aroma. Shallow fry on both sides with golden crispy edges for the best taste.

Kind of potatoes. Avoid using a high starch content potato like Russet. In India, usually the winter crop potatoes are the best choice since they are waxy and have a good starch to moisture ratio. Here I used a mix of potatoes- sweet potatoes, purple yams, red potatoes, idaho yellow potatoes and a few slices of russet for a great balance of flavors and textures. Bonus point being that it made the chaat super colorful with multitude of natural colors.

Spices and Chutneys– The best time of add the spices is right after the potatoes come out of the oil.The oil helps in sticking the spices to the potatoes and makes them super flavorful. As for the chutneys, you can add any kind but on the streets, they add tamarind chutney. I add the tamarind chutney, lot of it and instead of green chutney, I add a lot of fresh herbs like cilantro & mint and green chilli slices. Biting into leafy herbs gives the chaat another layer of taste.

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Dilli Wali Aloo Chaat

A spicy sweet sour potato chaat from streets of Delhi. Made with multi color potatoes.
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Griddel, Cutting board, knifes, bowls and spoons

Ingredients

  • 3 large size potatoes (1 russet + 1 gold potato+ 1 red potato)
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 medium purple yam
  • Ghee for frying ,substitute with oil+ghee
  • 2 tsp chaat masala
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp crushed anardana (dry pomegranate seeds) ,optional
  • 1.5 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp Black salt
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp Tamarind Chutney
  • 2 tbsp nylon sev
  • Grated Daikon, Sliced Onions,Green Chillies, Cilantro & Mint leaves, Pomegranate Arils

Instructions

  • Thoroughly wash the poatoes. You can peel off the skin if you wish, I dont. Cut into slices (about 1/4th inch). You can cut in chunks as well.
  • Take a large bowl. Place the potatoes and sprinke 1/2 tbsp of salt. Add enough water to the bowl to cover the poatoes. Soak the potatoes for 3 hours.
  • Drain and discard the water and using a kitchen towl dry out the potatoes thorougly.
  • In a cast iron skillet heat up 2 inches of oil. I recommend taking a wide pan instead of a kadai/wok for frying. Heat on medium heat till you see ripples on the surface.
  • Add the poatoes in a single layer in the ghee. Dont overcrowd the pan, fry in 2 or more batches if needed. Fry on medium high heat till you see that potatoes are nicley browned and are crispy. Use a fork to make sure that they are tender and cooked. Dont overfry, The poatatoes should have a soft inside and crispy outside.
  • Take out the potatoes, dont drain the extra oil. Add the spices powders and chutney immediately. Or you can arranged the potatoes on a plate and sprinkle the spices and chutney.
  • Add herbs, cut up chillies, onions and daikon. Scatter some pomergrante arils and serve warm.

Notes

  1. You cam make this chaat with regular potatoes. 
  2. Feel free to add yogurt and green chutneys if you wish. 

Chicken Rezala

A slow cooked creamy, mughlai inspired chicken dish from the east indian cuisine. Chicken rezala is a royal curry of chicken cooked in a white gravy fragrant with spices and creamy due to addition of ground cashew & poppy seeds paste. There is no cream or milk used. In the original form, mutton is used in rezala but I prefer using chicken.

The best thing about mughlai cooking is the use of exotic yet delicate and rich flavors. The gravy is thin, its not saucy, its slightly on the sweeter side, tangy from whole yogurt and creamy from the nut paste. The rezala dish has complex yet mild flavors.

The heat comes from ground white pepper and green chillies, there is no use of turmeric or red chilli powder. The thin layer of fat that separates from yogurt, chicken, fried onions and ghee used in cooking is indicative of its authenticity and rich taste.

I did not grow up eating this dish but after getting married, I really got interested in Bengali cuisine and this is one of the gems of the cuisine. Bengali cooking is complex, it teases your palate and caters to your senses with the use of mellow fragrant spices.

A few things to be kept in mind when making rezala.

  1. Don’t make rezala with boneless chicken. Use bone in chicken and choose to slow cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour till the chicken is cooked rather than pressure cooking it.
  2. Always marinate the chicken.
  3. You can replace the cashews with blanced almonds if you wish.
  4. If you not every finicky about color, use black peppercorns in the recipe, the curry will be less sharp and darker in color.
  5. Use ghee for cooking, it gives an authentic taste.
  6. White peppercorns have a sharp taste compared to the black ones, be sure to check the taste to sauce as you add it so as to not land up with a very spicy sauce. The rezala has a mild sweetish taste.
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Chicken Rezala

A nutty, delicately flavored chicken dish from East indian cuisine.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 6 hours
Cook Time 1 hour

Equipment

  • Bowls, Dutch Oven or Heavy Bottom Pot with lid

Ingredients

Marinate The Chicken

  • 1.5 lb (750gms) bone in, skinless chicken, (choose 1 whole chicken cut in 8pieces OR Chicken legs Or bone in Chicken Thighs
  • 3/4 cup plain full fat yogurt (not greek yogurt)
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper powder adjust to taste
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee

For the Spice Powder

  • 2 black cardamom pods only
  • 8 green cardamom pods only
  • 2 large mace twigs
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns adjust to taste

For Making the rezala

  • 2 tsp white poppy seeds
  • 15 raw whole cashews
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 6 dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup white or yellow onion paste
  • 1 tbsp green chilli paste adjust to taste
  • 1 tsp shah jeera
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp white peppercorn powder optional
  • 10-12 saffron strands, soaked in warm milk
  • 1-2 drops kewra water, optional

Instructions

Marinate the Chicken

  • Add the cleaned chicken pieces to a large bowl and add all the listed ingredients. Using your hands massage the chicken pices nicely with yogurt, ghee nand spices. Cover the bowl with a cling film and marinate overnight (6-8 hours). Dont skip the marination step.

Make The Spice Powder

  • In a small skillet, lightly dry toast all the spices. Place in a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Set aside.

Make the curry

  • Set the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour prior to cooking.
  • In your wet grinder, add the poppy seeds first, add 3 tbsp water and give it a grind. Open and add cashews along with 3 tbsp of water. Grind both the things on high speed to a very fine paste. Add water if needed.
  • In a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, add the ghee and warm it up on medium heat.
  • Temper the ghee with all the whole spices and saute for 30 seconds. Take care that the spices do not burn.
  • Add the onion paste next and on low medium heat saute the onion paste till you its beginning to change to light brown in color and the oil is separating. Dont let the onions brown too much.
  • Add cumin seeds and the ginger garlic and chilli paste next and saute for a minute till you smell a nice aroma.
  • Reduce the heat to low, wait for a minute and slowly add the marinated chicken to the pot. Also add the ground spices we made earlier. Gently stir the chicken continously for 2 minutes. Let the stove be on low while you stir the chicken. This will make sure that the yogurt wont curdle.
  • After stirring for 2 minutes, cover the pot and let cook undisturbed for 10 minutes on low heat.
  • Open the pot, stir the chicken, you will see a gravy forming from water of yogurt and chicken juices. Add the cashew-poppyseeds paste we made along with salt & sugar. Stir to combine , cover the pot and let cook again for 15 minutes on medium low. While the chicken is cooking just check once or twice to make sure that nothing is sticking to bottom of pot since cashew have the tendency to stick.
  • At the end of 15 minutes, open the pot. You will see a layer of fat on the sides and top of the chicken. Make sure that the chicken pieces are cooked through but not falling apart. Depending on the quality of your chicken the time taken can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 25 minutes.
  • At the end of cooking, check and adjust the salt if needed. Add the saffron, kewra and white pepper powder. Mix and let the curry simmer for 2-3 more minutes. Switch off the stove and let stand for atleast 30 minutes before serving.
  • The sauce of rezala is not runny at all so no extra water is added so please dont add any water, it will dilute the taste of the sauce.
  • Serve with rotis. parathas or rice, as you wish.

Notes

  1. Don’t make rezala with boneless chicken. Use bone in chicken and choose to slow cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour till the chicken is cooked rather than pressure cooking it.
  2. Always marinate the chicken.
  3. You can replace the cashews with blanced almonds if you wish.
  4. If you not every finicky about color, use black peppercorns in the recipe, the curry will be less sharp and darker in color.
  5. Use ghee for cooking, it gives an authentic taste.
  6. White peppercorns have a sharp taste compared to the black ones, be sure to check the taste to sauce as you add it so as to not land up with a very spicy sauce. The rezala has a mild sweetish taste.

Sambar (Indian Lentil & Vegetables Stew)

Sambar is an utterly popular slow cooked south indian lentil and vegetable stew which is served with idlis, dosa, vada or steamed rice. It is fragrant, nourishing and very comforting. Lentils form a huge part of indian cuisine and every region has its own speciality. Sambar is an everyday dish of the south indian region and over years because of its delicious taste and nutrient dense value, it has become one of the most popular dishes in India.

However, in our north indian family, south indian food was made once or twice a month. It was a special meal and the preparations started a couple days ahead with mom fermenting idli batter and making chutneys. Her sambar recipe is the best if you ask me. I dont claim it to be the authentic for it differs in the selection of vegetables and the way she tempered it. So unlike the drumsticks and squash loaded ones, I grew up on sambar in which went chunks of capsicum(green bell pepper) and green beans and sometimes okra or eggplant. It was a warming, soul satisfying and a beautiful medley of flavors of sambar powder and taste of vegetables.

I make sambar like mom, with the same selection of vegetables. Be it the contrasting sweetness of jaggery and sour of fresh squeezed tamarind pulp or the chewy pungency of black mustard seeds and a subtle citrus nuttiness of curry leaves, every single slurp rings comfort into my soul..

Mom used store bought sambar powder and I do the same. We have a few favorite brands and I stock up on those whenever I go to India or someone is visiting. I sometimes find it in our indian store as well, its a pretty easy thing to find. However, if you do not have ready to use sambar powder, leave a comment and I will write you a recipe.

Many people like to use a blend of lentils but I make mine with just arhar daal (toor/pigeon pea lentils). Sambar is a easy thing to make and tastes better next day or after resting if you are serving the same day. You can prep the vegetables and make tamarind pup while the lentils are cooking(I pressure cook them) and just temper everything and simmer it for about 10-12 minutes.

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Sambar

A flavorful,south indian pigeon pea lentil & vegetable stew. Best served with idlis, vada, dosa or steamed rice. Can be easily made vegan.
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker, Cooking Pot

Ingredients

For Boiing The Daal

  • 1 cup arhar daal (toor daal/pigeon pea lentils)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2.5 cups water

Vegetables (substitute with your choice of vegetables)

  • 1 small capsicum/green bell pepper cut into bite size pieces
  • 12-15 green beans cut into 1 inch long pieces
  • 1 medium firm tomato quatered
  • 6-8 sambar onions/pearl onions peeled

Tempering The Sambar

  • 3 tbsp oil/ ghee I use avocado oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3/4 tsp chana daal (bengal gram lentils)
  • 3/4 tsp split urad lentils
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 2-3 dried red chilies
  • Pinch methi seeds
  • 12-15 fresh curry leaves
  • 2-3 tbsp thick tamarind pulp adjust to desired sourness
  • 2.5 tbsp sambar powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp jaggery powder adjust to desired sweetness

Instructions

Boil The Daal

  • Wash the lentils throughly 2-3 times under a running stream of water.
  • Place in the pressure cooker. Add 2.5 cups water and turmeric. Soak for 20 minutes.
  • Once soaked, pressure cook the lentils in the same water for 3-5 whistles on medium heat. Switch off and let pressure release naturally. While the lentils are still hot, add salt and using a wooden masher or back of spoon mash the lentils well so that no grain is visible. Set aside.
  • While the lentils are cooking you can prepare the vegetables and tamarind pulp. Keep everthing ready.

Make the Sambar

  • In a heavy bottom pot,warm up the oil. Temper the oil with mustad seeds. Once they crackle, add the hing, chana & urad dal. Cook till the lentils are browned in color.
  • Add the dried chillies and methi seeds next. Saute fo r5-6 seconds till they swell a bit.
  • Add curry leaves to the oil, they will immediatley splutter so be careful. Saute for 2-3 seconds and add all the vegetables that you are using at once. Sprinkle a pinch of salt. Saute the vegeatble for a minute or so with the spices.
  • Next sprinkle the sambar powder and red chilli powder (if using) and saute for 20 seconds.
  • Add the cooked mashed lentils next and mix well. If you feel that they are thickish, add water to thin out as per desired consistency.
  • Mix well and let come to a slow boil on medium heat. Reduce the heat and add the tamarind and jaggery. Taste and adjust the salt. Mix well.
  • Let simmer for 10-12 minutes on low medium heat stirring a bit in between. Initially you will see that there is a layer of foam on the sambar but as it cooks out, the color will deepen so will the flavors. Rest for 30 mins and serve warm!

Extra Tempering (optional but recommmended)

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil or ghee in a pan and add 1/2 tsp mustrd seeds,pinch of hing, 1-2 dried chillies and 8-10 curry leaves. Add on top of the cooked sambar and mix well.

Air fried/Baked Sweet Tamarind- Chilli Chicken Wings

These sticky and tangy chicken wings are juicy, spicy and delicious – a true showstopper. I often make wings at home and this recipe always hits the right spots. If you ask me, you can never go wrong with chicken wings- even when done with minimal ingredients they turn out so yummy.

Back in the day, I always shied away from deep frying wings so I hardly made them at home. We used to eat them once in a while and that used to be at restaurants or take outs. Ever since I started using an air fryer, my outlook towards homemade chicken wings has changed. They can be super easy to make and turn out quite delicious if you keep a few things in mind.

You can use regular tamarind in this recipe and adjust the sugar & vinegar to your liking. I just used sweet tamarind pods because I had a ton to finish and I thought that it would help me cut down sugar in the sauce which it did. Just soak and squeeze the pulp of the pods like regular tamarind. I used chopped Fresno chillies for heat because I happened to have a few on hand but you can use red chilli flakes easily.

Last week I saw this post on Food52 Instagram page by amazing Sohlae who talks about always dry brining the chicken wings before baking them. I was itching to try it and used the same method for brining as she mentioned and viola!, such a revelation. These turned out so crispy outside and juicy inside. I changed her measurements a bit because I was making a lesser quantity of wings. However stick to her recipe if you are making 2 to 2.5 pounds of wings.

  1. Always make sure to marinate/dry brine the chicken wings overnight. I have tried it the quick way it for 2-3 hours myself and truly a longer marination makes a huge difference.
  2. Pat the chicken dry before baking/air frying it. The drier the chicken skin is, the crispier they turn out.
  3. Take the marinated wings out of the fridge for an hour before you plan to bake them, avoid putting cold wings right in a hot oven, it can make them tough.
  4. I also feel that making the sauce a few hours ahead makes a difference- the flavors have time to mingle and it tastes better.
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Air Fried Sweet Tamarind- Chilli Chicken Wings

Juicy, spicy & tangy chicken wings with crisy skins perfect for game day, a quick appetizer for just for snacking.
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American, Indian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 15 wings

Equipment

  • Oven/Air fryer, Bowls, Tongs, Sauce Pan

Ingredients

For Dry Brining the Chicken Wings

  • 1.5 pounds party chicken wings
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

For the Sweet Tamarind – Chilli Sauce

  • 1/3 cup thick tamarind pulp, see notes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp ginger minced
  • 2 fresno chillies finely chopped (adjust to taste, substitute with red chilli flakes)
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2-4 tbsp brown sugar adjust to taste
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar,
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 2-4 tbsp water if needed

For Baking/Air Frying

  • Cooking Spray/Oil

Instructions

Dry Brine the Wings

  • In a large bowl, add the wings and all the ingredients listed under the dry brining.
  • Toss very well using clean hands, cover the bowl with a cling film and refrigerate overnight.

Make the Tamarind Sauce

  • In a medium bowl, mix the tamarind pulp, sugar, soy sauce, cumin, salt, black pepper and vinegar.
  • Heat up oil in a sauce pan. Once warm, add the garlic, ginger and chopped chillies(or chilli flakes) to the hot oil and saute for 30 seconds, dont let burn.
  • Add the tamarind pulp mix all at once to the pan. Add 2-3 tbsp water and mix well. Cook down on low medium heat for 10-12 minutes till its thickish. The sauce wil be runny in the beginning but slowly thicken.
  • Once the sauce is ready, cool down and set aside.

Prepare the Wings for Baking/Air Frying

  • Take the marinated chicken out of the fridge atleast one hour ahead of starting to cook. Using paper towel, pat the chicken dry. Discard the liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Dry the chicken very well.
  • Place the chicken in another bowl and add 2-3 tbsp of the tamrind sauce that we prepared before. Using clean hands, toss and mix to coat all the wings properly.
  • To Air Fry -Preheat your air fryer at 360F. Layer the wings in a single layer in the basket.If needed you can place the drumettes standing up if they are not fitting all at once. Make sure that the wings are not touching each other.
  • Air fry for a total of 20 minutes, flipping using tongs half way at 10 minutes.
  • Bump the temperature to 390 F at the end of 20 minutes let air fry for additional 5-7 minutes until you see that the skins are crispy.
  • To Bake – Preheat oven to 400F. Line a sheet pan with foil and place a oven proof rack on top of the foil. Spray the rack liberally wiuth cooking spray.
  • Arrange the wings in a single layer on the rack.
  • Bake for 40 minutes, flipping using tongs at half the time until the wings are crispy and slightly charred on the edges.
  • Serve the wings warm with rest of the tamarind sauce.

Notes

  1. Just soak and squeeze the pulp of the sweet tamarind pods like regular tamarind.

Skillet Sage Honey Garlic Chicken

Saucy Skillet Sage Honey & Lemon Chicken. This post is sponsored by American Raw Honey. American raw honey is a small business based in Utah and they farm local raw honey. Their honey is sustainably and organically produced and is of superior quality. Do check them out.

I make a lot of chicken dinners though they don’t appear often here. Would you be interested in seeing more of such dinners? 

This is a super hectic week for us (including many of you moms out here) With it being the last week of the school year,my older one has ton of tests and assignment submissions. Evenings are going to be extra busy and the show will be run by easy dinners. 

I marinate chicken(dark bone in portions are my pick) in honey, fresh sage(it’s one of my favorite herb during this season), lemon, garlic, olive oil – few but intense flavors. A major chunk of the meal gets sorted since I have to just make easy sides while the chicken cooks. 

The marinade is so flavorful, it has such bold woody sweet notes. The honey is locally farmed in Utah and it’s such a good quality You can shop their products via their website.

Recipe

  • 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped shallot
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup American raw honey‘s sage honey (
  • Few jalapeño slices(adjust to taste) 
  • Salt to taste 
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 4-6 chicken thighs, bone in 
  • Extra honey, sea salt or lemon wedges – for  serving. 

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust the ingredients as per your liking- if you like tangy, add more lemon, if you like sweetish- add more honey. Using a whisk mix everything together. Keep the marinade on a salty side. 

Add the cleaned dry chicken pieces to a ziploc bag and pour the marinade over it. Close the bag and squish around so that the chicken is well coated in the marinade. Set in the refrigerated to marinate for atleast 12 hours. You can marinate for up to 2 days(it’s just gets better and better) 

Take the chicken out of the fridge an hour before ready to cook. Take the chicken pieces out of the marinade, dry a bit(not completely with a paper towel). Preheat oven to 400F . 

Warm 1-2 tbsp of oil in a cast iron skillet, once nicely warm, add the chicken skin side down in the skillet and let sear for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, flip and sear on the other side. 

Plane the skillet in the oven and let chicken roast for 30-35mins(adjust depending on how big or small your chicken pieces are). If you using a thermometer, chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Let rest for 8-10mins and serve. 

-Enjoy

Lauki-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. 

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. 

In those years, it was dal – chawal 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.

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.

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.

Homemade Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Spice Blend)

Along with garam masala or the hot indian spice blend which got more popular in the west, I find chaat masala equally versatile and quite frequently used in my kitchen. ‘Chaat‘ translates to any snack or food item served on the streets in the northern parts of India and ‘Masala‘ in Hindi refers to any sort of (dry or wet) spice blend. If you happen to hit streets in India for food, mostly everything that you will order will come to your table speckled with generous pinches of chaat masala, of course making it lip smacking good and adding a myriad array of tart, salty and hot flavors all at once.It is essentially the spice blend which you will spot on top of pakoras(fritters), tandoori chicken, kebab platters, murgh tikkachaat items (of course), mixed in with raita (yogurt dip) and sometimes sprinkled over side salads and onions in indian restaurants here.The one which punches all the senses in the first bite and with a tempting flavor profile of tang and heat.

I would essentially compare chaat masala to the movie theatre popcorn seasoning (oh I love those) which come in all sorts of flavors and add the much-needed zip to your treat.The only difference that can be pointed here is that even though the spice blends differ from brand to brand and home to home and cook to cook but all are referred to as just ‘chaat masala‘. If you are buying from the stores, pick up a couple of brands, try, choose your favorite and stick to it. I am using the same brand for more than a decade and its worth all your money. While you will sniff and taste warm and (slightly) bitter notes in garam masala, chaat masala is sour and peppery with a pronounced heat level. It is a strong blend, one with a kick, in aroma as well to taste.

After I  came to the States, like many immigrants starting their life, building bit by bit, accepting the smoothness of life here (trust me it didn’t come easy),I recollect how in those days, we did not own a car and trip to indian grocers was a hardly a once or twice a month activity.Even after making ten lists, I would forget a lot of pantry staples. It was during that time that I delved into making my own spice blends.I found this recipe last month scribbled at the back of an old notebook while I was spring cleaning the garage of old boxes from moving  and with an afternoon to kill ahead of me, I blended up some chaat masala. For those of you who happen to live in a place where indian grocer are quite far away to drive to or simply just to try your hand at homemade blends,this recipe could be a starting point. Play with it. Measure, grind, sniff and taste. Add or take items as per your liking. Let the flavor and aroma of spice that you like shine.

For all practical reasons, almost always,I go and pick up a pouch from the grocer shelf for the heck of convenience but it is less in comparison to homemade.Trust me on that. Make some and sprinkle on anything and everything you want. It goes very well on top of cut up raw vegetables like cucumbers, celery, radishes or baby carrots. Add it to marinades (just be cautious of heat) and salad dressings. Use it on grilled meats or seafood. My favorite way is to dredge a lime wedge in it and slowly savor it, try it, its addictive!

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Makes approximately 3/4 cup)

  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 7-8 whole dried red kashmiri chillies (remove stems, adjust to taste)
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon ajwain (carrom) seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 small green cardamom, whole
  • 1 small clove
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 tablespoons amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon citric acid powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder (or paprika)
  • 1 tsp extra hot red chilli powder
  • 1teaspoon kala namak(black salt, available in indian stores)
  • 3-4 dried mint leaves 
  • 2 tablespoon salt (or to taste)

Method

In a dry skillet, lightly dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, whole chillies, ajwain, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick, each spice one at a time, separately, on low heat. Do not let the spices turn brown. Let cool completely.

Put the roasted spices along with other items into dry coffee grinder or spice grinder and blitz to a fine powder.

Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Dal Makhani – Creamy Lentils



You know I have made these lentils quite a few times in last months.We cooked and we ate, my instagram feed has showcased it a couple of times. But, somehow it is only now in the last week or so of winter that I am getting around to post it. Well, they say better late then never. Right? So while the weather is still cold and snowy make it. Put that pressure cooker to work (or the slow cooker if you want) because I have included both methods in the recipe.

Dal Makhani literally translates to “buttery lentils”. It is a hugely popular dish in the punjabi cuisine.Cooked with whole black urad lentils, red kidney beans, spices and butter, it was not a everyday thing growing up. It was a dish reserved for special occasions. Mom would make it on only on birthdays, anniversary and days of family gatherings. And I can very well understand why.These creamy, melt in the mouth lentils, they need a bit of work. It’s not your usual dump in the pressure cooker and doze off kind of lentils. For that smoky, creamy taste, a rich baghaar (tempering) needs to be prepared. The elements of the tempering are slow roasted on open fire for that superlative yet subtle aroma of spices, sweet – acidic hints of tomato, smoky notes of roasted onions and satiating comfort of butter & dairy. It needs planning and patience. You learn from experience when the lentils have cooked just about right. It took me some time to get a hang of it. Now, after so many years of making it, I can just tell by the look of them if they are perfectly cooked or not.

In our house and indian culture in general, when people host dinners, hospitality is showcased by serving something away from the usual home meals.It is one of mom’s signature recipe.It’s one of the recipes which she has cooked for dozens of guests in our family over the years and handed the method to many. When she visited me few months back here, I saw her making it, the eyeballing the ingredients come naturally to her, she didn’t pick a measuring spoon if I tell you the truth.

It is definitely not your everyday food. It is calorie laden and full of concentrated fats. But it so good. Oh boy! However, the way we prepare it in our homes is different from the restaurant versions, less use of dairy, less sweet, more spicy. Here, you taste the lentils, their creaminess and the warmth of ginger & kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) in each bite. Many people mash or churn the lentils to a baby food consistency, you can do that if you want but I like to keep that extra bite. It works better with my texture -in- food kind of  crazy family.

A lot of steps in this recipe can be done a day ahead. You can cook the lentils, refrigerate them and temper then when ready to serve. You can fire roast the onions and tomatoes one day ahead too. If you plan slightly, it makes the process quick and easy. Serve the lentils with hot off the griddle rotis (flatbreads) or warm fluffy naan and a salad.

Ingredients  (Makes 3-4 servings)

Cooking the Lentils

  • 1/2 cup whole black urad dal (lentils)
  • 2 tbsp red kidney beans
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger (from 1/4″ piece)
  • 1 fat garlic clove, chopped
  • tejpatta (bay leaf)
  • 1/2″ cinnamon stick
  • 1 black cardamom (skip if not available)
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Baghaar (Tempering)

  •  1 medium onion (~yield 1/2 cup when blended )
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 large tomatoes (~yield a little more than 1/2 cup when blended)
  • 4 tablespoon oil(any neutral)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder (or paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (or cayenne, adjust to taste)
  • 2″ fresh ginger shoot, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves, available at indian grocery stores )
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon amchoor (dry mango powder or squirt fresh mime juice at the end of cooking)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2-3 tablespoon butter 
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream (or more depending on how creamy you want, optional)
  • Cilantro to garnish

Method

Cooking the lentils  (This can be done a day ahead)

Stove Top Method 

Soak the lentils and kidney beans in enough water for atleast 8-10 hours. Soaking the lentils reduces the cooking times and gets rid of inedible enzymes in them so it’s a important step. Drain the lentil and beans, add the kidney beans to a small pot of water and let boil for 20 minutes separately.Then add them along with lentils to a pressure cooker along with all the ingredients listed under ‘cooking the lentils’. Pressure cook the lentils on medium heat for 2-3 whistles, then reduce to low and let cook for about 15-20 minutes. Put off the stove and then let the pressure release. Open the pressure  cooker lid and with the help of a spoon, pick and discard the bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom. Mash the hot lentils and beans. Decide how mushy or chewy you want them. If you feel that the lentils are slightly tough to mash, pressure cook for another 1-2 whistles on medium. You should easily be able to mash the lentils with a spoon. If not, let cook a little more.

Slow Cooker Method 

Add the cooked beans along with lentils to slowcooker along with all the ingredients listed under ‘cooking the lentils’. Set to cook for 8-10 hours.Once cooked, pick and discard the bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom.With the help of a spoon, mash the hot lentils and beans. Decide how mushy or chewy you want them.Let sit.

For the Tempering 

While the lentils are cooking, fire roast the onion and tomatoes. Roast them till the skins are charred. I use a small perforated pan but you can roast them on the stove directly. Once roasted,let cool and  peel off the skin of onion and using the food processor, make a paste. Try not to add water while making the paste. Separately, make a paste of tomatoes too.Set aside. (These pastes can be made a day ahead).

In a pot or kadhai(indian wok), heat up the oil on medium heat. Add the onion paste along with cumin seeds and let cook on medium heat till the paste is nicely golden brown. Next add the minced  garlic. Saute for another 30 seconds or so. Then, add the tomato paste along with red chili powder and chopped ginger. Cook the tomatoes for about 8-10 minutes on low heat till you see the fat starting to separate on sides and the color darkening to deep red. At this point, add the mashed lentils to the pot.Adjust the salt and also add some water if you feel that the lentils have thickened in due time. I add about 3/4 cup water. Adjust depending on the desired consistency of the lentils.Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes. The lentils will thicken up and the flavors will develop.

Once the lentils have simmered, add the kasuri methi, garam masala, nutmeg, butter and heavy cream (if using) and let simmer(not boil) for another 10 minutes.

Let sit for atleast 2-3 hours before serving. They get better as they sit.

Garnish with chopped cilantro, green chillies or ginger and serve warm with rotis (flatbreads).

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!