Categories
Baking Desserts Easy Recipes Vegetarian

Coconut-Cardamom Cookies

I find P rave about those coconut cookies from his hometown quite often.The discussion comes up mostly on weekends when we have the time to sit together for morning tea.  There must be something about them, I often thought to myself. More than the fancy taste, it could be the fact that his mom got them from a bakery near her workplace – making it so special for him.

I took the discussion a little further & asked him last week- after all whats so special about them? Fluffy inside, crispy outside, overly sweet but something with perfect balance of textures – a cookie which  leaves behind a ghee laden,chewy coconut taste in the mouth – his prompt reply made me wonder if he waited all the while to be asked.

I knew what was baking for next few weeks. First few batches were extremely dry, I almost burnt the bottom each time & obviously the ratios went haywire. I felt extremely uninspired to try more.Well, what can terribly go wrong with loads of ghee (clarified butter),coconut & sugar? A question I asked myself all the while – however when the ingredients are few, getting the right outcome is much more difficult.

I greeted P with (yet) another batch this weekend.They came out like a small bundle of festivity.Utterly moist & chewy – that is how I imagined these cookies.These were just like it. Now, I need to dig further about what else reminds of his hometown. Clearly,our weekend tea rituals will need new topic of discussion now on.

Coconut & sweet smelling cardamom are clearly the star here – the ingredients make these cookies enchantingly indian. If you are nuts about coconut (like me & P) – then you need to try these. I started mixing the recipe with pure gut – I ram the mortar till skin separates & I sniff the cardamom pods. I mix the resulting powder with flour till my fingers smell awesome, I play with flour & sugar, I add ghee to the dough till I feet it is just enough. The whiff of air that sways through the kitchen right from when the coconut toasts to when the baking tray comes out of the oven- the challenge came out perfect.Impatiently, I waited them to cool off, I tasted one & I knew it – this is the ticket!

The recipe is real easy & despite a lot of room for error, it runs good in the oven. I always make small batches of 15-18 which are enough for two of us. The best part about the recipe – just five ingredients. Quality of ingredients plays a huge role thereby, try using the best.

Makes 15-18 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried dessicated coconut, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar (or castor sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/8 tsp fine salt
  • 6-8 tbsp ghee, melted (or unsalted butter)

Method

Dry roast the coconut flakes on extremely low heat for about 3-4 minutes or till you start smelling the aroma, taking care that flakes do not turn brown.Transfer to a plate & let cool.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, salt & powdered sugar to remove all lumps. Combine cardamom powder with the sifted flour mix. Mix the coconut flakes to flour next and rub the mixture with fingers to combine everything together.

Start adding the melted ghee 1 tbsp at a time and gently kneading the dough till you get a soft & pliable dough. Do not knead too much, just until everything is combined.

Note:- You may increase/decrease the ghee by a tbsp or more if your mixture is loose/crumbly, the idea is to just use ghee to form the dough.

The dough will be slightly sticky. Wrap the dough in a cling film and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until firm.

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.Take out the refrigerated dough and knead it 2-3 times. Pinch 15-18 equal portions of the dough. Roll each portion between your palms into a smooth ball with no cracks.Line the balls on the parchment paper. Press lightly with the back of fork . Line on the cookie sheet with atleast 2″ space between them. Refrigerate again for 10 minutes.Meanwhile Preheat oven to 300F.

Bake on the middle rack for 18-20 minutes keeping a close eye, these cookies should not change color while baking.Once you see the bottoms turning brown, remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the sheet itself.Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.Store in an air tight container at room temperature for upto 3 weeks.

Categories
Beverages Uncategorized Vegetarian

Jal Jeera – Indian Tamarind & Cumin Cooler

Whats your favorite beverage? I m not much of a beverage person, but am always up fresh fruit & vegetable juices as well as a couple of homemade coolers make it to my list.I distance myself from store-bought beverages, unconsciously.

He doesnt care much – his HUMONGOUS liking for beverages is oblivious of the concept of homemade or store bought.As I write this, our refrigerator is stocked with all sorts of flavored lemonades, coconut water, mango nectar & weird-looking smoothies. I m not joking. This is pretty much the same all round the year – he drinks more than he eats – I seldom tell him. Needless to say refrigerator space is one eternal bone of contention between us.

Jal Jeera is an essential north indian summer beverage, served as a refresher with meals.You will find a lot of street vendors serving chilled jal jeera stored in earthern pots sitting atop their decorated carts in India. It is another show stopper of indian street food scene. I just can’t imagine rounding up summers without it.

My mom makes a mean jal jeera from scratch. She does not use any pre made spice powders, its a a crisp concoction of fresh made tamarind pulp water (jal) & roasted cumin (jeera) flavored with mint, black salt, green chillies & ginger. Each ingredient plays a role – tamarind & mint have cooling properties, cumin & black salt aid in digestion & chillies provide the essential kick. Many people use fresh lemon juice instead of tamarind pulp in their preparation and skip sugar.

There is no written recipe, like most indian moms. It is even pointless to ask for one for all I will get is how many palm fulls and pinches. I have come up with this recipe from memories of taste of her jal jeera. Hers will always be the best though.

Indian Tamarind is quite sharp & fibrous in taste as compared to the Thai variety. You need to soak it for few hours in water & mash to separate seeds & fibre to extract the pulp.Tangy & smoky in taste, jal jeera is usually topped with boondi – puffed, crispy chickpea flour balls (available in indian stores) & crushed ice.

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 6-8 Servings)

  • 1 cup tamarind pulp (see notes)
  • 2 tbsp roasted jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 18-20 fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp kala namak (black salt, substitute with table salt)
  • 1 serrano chilli (de- seeded , if desired)
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes (adjust to tolerance)
  • 3″ fresh ginger shoot, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 5 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Table salt (to adjust)
  • 5 cups water, cold
  • To Garnish – crushed ice, boondi, mint leaves (optional)

Method :-

Tip everything except table salt & water into your blender. Blend on low for 2-3 minutes until you get a semi smooth mixture. Dont make a very smooth paste.

Place a colander over a large bowl & sieve the paste through it. Note – I sieve the paste a couple of times to obtain a clear(er) drink. Place the collected paste into a jug, top with 5 cups of water. Adjust the salt.Chill till ready to serve.

Before serving, stir thoroughly, pour into glasses, garnish & serve.

Jal Jeera keeps fresh for 3-4 days, refrigerated. It can also be served as pani for indian street food- pani puri. 

Notes :-

  1. To see how to extract tamarind pulp at home, click here.
  2. Store bought tamarind paste can also be used in this recipe. The paste is more concentrated and way salty compared to home extracted version.Adjust the quantity to your liking.
  3. You can substitute tamarind pulp with fresh lime/ lemon juice. The taste differs from traditional recipe but still good.
  4. Place cumin seeds in a sauce pan and roast over medium heat.
Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Easy Recipes Indian Curry Non vegetarian

Murgh KaliMirch – Indian BlackPepper Chicken

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh KaliMirch - Indian BlackPepper Chicken

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh KaliMirch - Indian BlackPepper Chicken

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh KaliMirch - Indian BlackPepper Chicken

As the name suggests, the star here is fresh ground kali mirch or coarse black peppercorn. Combined with lots of ginger & garlic, black peppercorns provide an uncomplicated kick to the dish – which turns out to be the highlight. Succulent chicken coated in a thick masala –  I like to serve this as starter or snack with drinks. The particular thing that I absolutely like about this dish is the color from turmeric,which makes it so bright & appetizing. Less oil & easy to cook, this one is sure to delight all those of you who feel that indian recipes are difficult to follow.

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh KaliMirch - Indian BlackPepper Chicken

It is always worth having such special recipes up your sleeve for those lazy supper nights or when you have unexpected guests at home.This one is versatile – you can wrap up inside flatbreads & veggies to make rolls or top your pizza with it.I sometimes shred the leftovers into bits & stuff inside puff pastry dough & bake for a quick brunch.

Sinfully Spicy: Murgh KaliMirch - Indian BlackPepper Chicken

Serves – 2-3

Preparation time – 25 minutes (includes marination time)

Cooking time – 20 minutesIngredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2″ cubes
  • For garnish – chopped cilantro, scallions
  • Fresh lemon/lime juice (to taste)

To marinate :-

  • 2 tbsp thick plain yogurt
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh lemon/lime juice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2″ fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1.5 tbsp black peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For tempering :-

  • 2 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with sunflower/vegetable/canola oil)
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 serrano chillies, chopped (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • salt (to adjust)

Method :-

Marinate the chicken in all the ingredients listed for 20 minutes, refrigerated. Once ready to cook, take out the marinated chicken from the refrigerator & let sit on countertop.

In a thick bottomed, wide mouthed pan, heat up the oil on high.If using mustard oil, heat it to a point when its slightly smoky.For other oils, heat up till you see ripples on the surface. Meanwhile, using a mortar & pestle, coarsely grind the coriander & cumin.Once the oil is heated, reduce the heat to medium & wait for 2 minutes. Add the mustard seeds & let them crackle.About 10-15 seconds. Also, add the chillies next & let them crisp up for another 10-15 seconds. Tip :- Be extra careful, mustard seeds & chillies splutter a lot when added to oil. 

Next, add the coarsely ground spices to the oil & stir for about 30-35 seconds or till you smell the aroma. Start adding marinated chicken 5-6 pieces at a time to the pan and  stir-fry over high heat for few minutes, tossing continuously.Repeat with another batch of chicken pieces. The idea is to lightly brown the outside of the chicken but still keep it juicy inside.Lower the heat once all the chicken has been added.Add the leftover marinade(if any) & stir frequently. Cook on low heat till the oil separates on the sides of the pan and the chicken is cooked. About 12-15 minutes. You can cover the pan for last 3-4 minutes of cooking. Adjust the salt, toss well and remove.Let sit covered for atleast 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish with chopped cilantro or scallions, squeeze fresh lemon juice & serve hot.

Notes:-

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Pickles/Preserves Side Dishes Vegetarian

Nimbu Ka Achaar – No Oil Indian Lime Pickle

I still have some left in the jar from my last trip to India.Every time I scoop out a spoon ful to serve on to my platter, unconsciously, I drop a few wedges back. Then I smile at the silly thought which crosses my mind. I just don’t want that jar to be empty ever! Is that even possible?Maybe not.Its not just mom’s nimbu ka achaar, its her love,which I want to relish in all my meals.

Store-bought pickles fail to satisfy me. Too much oil, overload of spices, a preservative cloned after taste – if I may complain. At times, I am desperate to make my own.Not much luck with that;I have not been able to find the lemons, raw mangoes or chillies which come close to the ones we get back home.

After almost three years of living here, my happiness knew no bounds when I spotted these baby limes at a south asian store.Can you imagine my stroll as I rushed towards them? Top that with an unbeatable price of a dollar for two pounds. Can you? They were perfect – thin-skinned, spongy to press, acidic, and greenish-yellow.I knew I will be spending few hours with mom on phone to get her recipe & tips.Pickle will be made!

Indian summers present a perfect oppurtunity to sun-aided pickling.Pickles or achaar are an integral part of indian cuisine. A small amount is always served to square home style meals. Some like it for the tang they add & some like them for digestion. Seasonal fruits & vegetables are commonly used along with spices (fenugreek, mustard, nigella, chillies etc) & buckets of oil to make pickle batches which last through the whole year.

Nimbu Ka Achar, Indian Lime Pickle, Sinfully Spicy

Sun cooked pickles are the ones are where the gold lies, I m too fond of them.Unless you put in hours of labour & showcase patience while the pickle cooks in the warmth of the sun, the business is far from over. I have seen everyone in the family slog over them.Not to forget the high levels of hygiene required all through – clean spoons & hands, sterile jars and what not.

This irrestible “no oil” lime pickle is able to perfectly live up to the expectations – tart, succulent flesh & chewy lime skin – what a tease on the tastebuds. The lime wedges pickle in their own juice and a handful of spices. The spices are few but quite typical to

Ingredients :-

  • 3 lbs baby limes/lemons (or any thin-skinned variety)
  • 2 tbsp kala namak (black salt, substitute with table salt)
  • 6 tbsp kali mirch (black peppercorns)
  • 6 tbsp ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 3/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 3-4 tbsp sea salt or as needed (substitute with table salt) (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 10-12 limes)
  • 1-2 tbsp granulated sugar (I have not used it but can be added if you like to add a sweet note to your pickle)
Needed :-
  1. Kitchen Towels
  2. A large, rectangular glass dish (I use my pyrex casserole dish)
  3. Plastic Wrap sheet
  4. Clean, dry Wooden Spoons
  5. Wide-Mouthed, Sterile Canning Jars (preferably with plastic or glass lids).Click here to see how you can sterlize the jars.

Method :-

Preparing the limes

Put all the limes in a colander and wash thoroughly under running water. Let drain in the colander over the kitchen sink for at least 15-20 minutes. Spread the limes over clean kitchen towels and rub to completely dry them. You can put them in sun too for this purpose. Ensure that the limes are completely dry before you start cutting them.

Next, with clean hands, quarter or half the limes (depends on the size you like) and remove as much seeds you can.Once cut, transfer the wedges on to a large glass dish, spread them in an even layer. Sprinkle black salt over the limes and with clean, dry hands, rub the salt with the limes. Cover the glass dish with a plastic wrap, poke few holes in the it & let sit in the full sun for 3 days. You will see that the lime wedges will start to dry (slightly) & there is liquid at the bottom.

Making the Pickle 

On the fourth day, coarsely grind the kali mirch in your coffee grinder. Put the ajwain next & pulse a few times. Take out the mixture in bowl & mix hing powder, red chilli flakes and sea salt (along with sugar, if using) with it. Sprinkle this mix over the lime wedges along with lime juice. With clean hand, thoroughly mix everything together. Again, cover the glass dish with a fresh plastic wrap, poke few holes in it and let sit in full sun for 15 days. You will need to stir the mix once a day using a clean,dry wooden spoon. You will see that as the days progress the skin of the limes starts softening & turning brown along with liquid at the bottom getting thicker than on the very first day.

At the end of 15 days, check the salt of the pickle again & adjust (if required) , mix up the pickle well with clean, dry wooden spoons and transfer to canning jars. Dont full till the top of the jar but at the same time don’t leave a lot of room for bacteria in air to get moldy. Leaving 1/2 inch space from the top is okay. If you are using jars with metal lid, you will need to cover the mouth of jar with plastic wrap to avoid the contact between pickle & metal.Let the jars sit in sun till the limes are totally soft, brownish in color & the liquid is more like a syrup. You will need to shake the jars periodically. In Las Vegas sun, it took about 3 weeks to get that stage.

There is no need to refrigerate.Sun-cooked pickles normally last at room conditions. Always use a clean spoon to serve the pickles, they keep for months or years together.

Serve the pickle as a side to your meals, grind and add to marinade of meats.I like to spread the pickle on top of my crackers as well as on flatbread crisps.

Notes:-

  1. Any thin-skinned citrus fruits will work in this recipe – baby tangerines (narangi), kumquats etc.
  2. Do not under salt your pickles else they turn bad over a period of time.
Categories
Desserts Easy Recipes Festival Recipes Vegetarian

Cardamom Shrikhand With Mango Saffron Compote

Allow me to call it a beauty.I dont mean fancy or flashy.Neither I want to hint that I toiled over this dessert for hours. It is something hopelessly easy to make, yet succeeds in achieving the delight a dessert is supposed to bring. Softly tart yogurt flavored with freshly ground elaichi (cardamom),topped with a luscious mango saffron compote – as simple as it can get but like a little sunshine on the spoon.

It is hard to believe that something so unfancy & minimal as yogurt & sugar can turn into a creation which appeals to the sweet tooth. I admit that cardamom & cream add more body to the dessert – making it a little more wonderful.Cream is traditionally not used – I like it for the added richness that it lends here. Trust me, never a easy dessert would taste so very spectacular.

Shrikhand is a yogurt based sweet dish originally from western parts of India. But now, it is popular all over the subcontinent. Basic shrikhand recipe is like a blank canvas – some like to add nuts, some combine chopped or pureed fruits with it and some let the melt in the mouth consistency remain unadulterated. Experiment as it pleases you.

I ate shrikhand for the first time prepared by one of my friend’s mom in Pune. She served it along side pooris (deep-fried flatbread) & a spicy bean sprouts curry. The combo was tad odd for me. Supposedly the yogurt is supposed to calm down the spices of the meal as you eat.I m not exactly sure how few bits of that first not-so- appreciable taste testing stuck with me.Eight years down the line & now I immensely enjoy shrikhand with pooris. Just like any comfort food, the sugar & oil overload is quite addictive.

Usually, pureed mango is mixed with hung yogurt & shrikhand becomes amrakhand. My favorite summer fruit is here. I bought season’s first batch last week & they seemed perfect to add a texture to the dessert.The mangoes were ripe & sweet – a compote was definitely on my mind. Addition of saffron to it seemed an obvious decision to accentuate the exotic flavors. The fact that I prepared the dessert with homemade dahi (indian style yogurt) made me a little happy than usual.

Preparation Time :- About 8 hours (includes draining in the refrigerator) 

Cooking Time :- 10 minutes (for both shrikhand & mango compote)

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

For the Shrikhand

  • 1.5 cups whole milk plain dahi (substitute with plain yogurt)
  • 100ml heavy cream, cold
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 8-9 green cardamom pods (or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder)
  • pinch of nutmeg powder
For the Mango Compote
  • 3 tbsp luke warm water
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, cored, diced
Needed:- Colander, Muslin/CheeseCloth,Bowls
Method 
Making Shrikhand
Line a colander with muslin/cheese cloth large enough that you can tie up its ends. Place the colander over a large bowl. Ensure that there is gap between the colander bottom & the bowl bottom to collect the draining liquid. Pour the dahi into the colander,wrap up and tie up all the ends of the muslin/cheesecloth. Let the dahi drain for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight inside the refrigerator.
Note :-Dont leave dahi while it drains outside, else it will turn sour.Discard the whey once drained. Reserve the muslin/cheesecloth.(If in hurry, you can use Greek yogurt to make shrikhand too. Skip this step if doing so)
Transfer the strained, thick, cold dahi into a bowl. Add cream to it and start whisking using a hand beater. Slowly add the sugar and beat until you get slightly stiff peaks.
Again tie the dahi – cream mix in the muslin/cheesecloth & let drain in the colander arrangement (as explained above) for another 2 hours inside the refrigerator.
Break open the cardamom pods & grind the seeds using a mortar & pestle.Tip – Always buy whole cardamom pods.This way of making your own powder saves a lot of money.
After 2 hours, transfer the drained dahi  mix to a bowl. Add cardamom & nutmeg powder and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Let chill for at least 3-4 hours or till ready to serve.
Scoop the chilled shrikhand into serving bowls & top with mango compote (recipe below). Keeps well in fridge for 2-3 days.
Making Mango Compote  
In a medium bowl, dissolve the saffron in lukewarm water till it dissolves. About a minute or so. Stir in the lime juice, sugar and mix till sugar dissolves. Add in diced mangoes. Cover and chill upto 1 day.
Enjoy & thanks for stopping by!
 

 

Categories
Indian Curry Non vegetarian Side Dishes

Aloo Gosht – Mutton With Potatoes

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Gosht - Mutton With Potatoes

I can’t seem to forget those Sunday lunches prepared by mom. A steaming pile of basmati rice slathered in curry flavored with fresh ground spices & drippings of meat. Tender, boneless pieces of mutton which you pull apart with fingers & potatoes cooked to the point of crumbling but still retaining their shape till you serve them in the plate. Simple, homey & satisfying – plain  soul food for us. A tradition which conjures up numerous childhood memories.

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Gosht - Mutton With Potatoes

Dad was sent off to the butcher early in the morning with elaborate instructions on the cut of meat he needs to get from there.And mom occupied herself in peeling garlic pods & ginger, seeding the chillies, soaking & grinding the whole spices to prepare her magical curry concoctions.The enticing aroma of freshly ground spices coupled with the patience with which she simmered the meat on low heat were the secret behind the delicious curries she made, I think. While she cooked, we used to wait for hours for the moment when the meats have passed the tooth pick test!

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Gosht - Mutton With Potatoes

It’s difficult to find goat meat or mutton as we call it in Vegas but whenever I do, I have this undying wish to recreate mom’s recipes.I found a suitable stewing variety at a nearby shop couple of weeks back and a meat & potato meal was definitely on my mind. So Sunday lunch was prepared – just like at mom’s. You can add taro root, yams, turnips or beets to this recipe with excellent results. It’s just that I end up making it with potatoes each time else P will not eat it.I recommend using as fresh ingredients for the spice paste as you can find & loads of patience while the meat cooks – it can take a couple of hours.

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Gosht - Mutton With Potatoes

Sinfully Spicy : Aloo Gosht - Mutton With Potatoes
Preparation Time :- 30 minutes
 
Cooking time – About 2 hours (Depends on cut, type & size of the meat)
 
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
 
  • 1 lb stewing mutton/lamb/beef , cubed
  • 2 medium potatoes,peeled & quatered (You can use any potatoes of choice)
  • 2 nos indian bay leaves (tejpatta)
  • 1 ” cinnamon stick
  • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne, adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp jaggery (or brown sugar to taste)
  • 1/4 cup mustard oil (substitute with canola/vegetable/sunflower/grapeseed oil )
  • salt to taste
  • 1.5 cups water
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
 
For the spice paste:-
 
  • 10-12 whole dry red chillies (I use kashmiri mirch)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds (dhania)
  • 6 whole green cardamom pods (hari elaichi)
  • 4 cloves (laung)
  • 8 black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  • 5 plump garlic cloves
  • 2 ” fresh piece of ginger
  • Water for soaking the spices (about 1/4 cup)
Notes:-
 
Whole Kashmiri mirch lends a rich, deep scarlet color to the gravy without the heat & they are easily available in indian stores. You can de-seed the chillies to reduce heat further.The actual heat in the dish comes from the use of red chilli powder & black peppercorns. However, you can also adjust the amount to tolerance.
 

Method:-

Soak the chillies, cumin , fennel & coriander seeds, cardamom pods, cloves & peppercorns in 1/4 cup water for about 15 minutes to soften. Drain & tip into a blender. Reserve the soaking liquid. Grind the soaked spices along with garlic & ginger to a smooth paste. Use the soaking liquid if required while grinding.

Marinate the cubed mutton in half of the spice paste for 15 minutes.  While the mutton is marinating, heat up the oil in a heavy bottomed pot with lid on high heat till you see ripples on the surface. At this point reduce the heat to medium & wait for 2 minutes. Temper the oil with tejpatta & cinnamon stick. Wait for 15 seconds till you smell the aroma. Next, add the chopped onions to the pot & cook on medium heat with stirring till they turn golden brown.About 8-10 minutes.

Next, reduce the heat to low & add the chopped tomatoes along with the spice paste, red chilli powder & cook the mixture for about 8 minutes, stirring continously till you see oil separating on sides of the pot. At this point,again turn the heat to medium & add the marinated mutton & salt. Saute for 10-12 minutes till the mutton pieces are slightly browned. You will see water from mutton separating at this point but that’s okay.

Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low & let the lamb cook in its own juices till about 90% cooked. For the kind of mutton I used, it took approximately 40 minutes to reach that stage. You can use your slow cooker or pressure cooker also for cooking the mutton. I prefer to cook it lid on.

Add the potatoes & jaggery next along with 1.5 cups of water. Check the salt. Cook covered on low for another 20-25 minutes till the mutton is tender & potatoes are soft but not mushy.

Switch off the heat & let the curry sit covered for atleast 20 minutes or till ready to serve. Garnish with chopped cilantro & serve warm with salad,plain or jeera rice.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.

Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Brunch Vegetarian

Papri Chaat

As she poured melted dalda (shortening) through the metal beaker spout over the flour mix, her wrinkly fingers & eyes from behind the glasses worked in unison. She knew how to ration every drop of flowing oil to get the right texture of her papris to a flaky wafer. Half teaspoon more and you overdo it, one teaspoon less and you have missed the ratios for sure.I have always know indian pastry doughs made by badi mummy (grandmom) as something which were either done perfect or not done at all.

I still shy away from measuring cups & spoons when making doughs, its something I do with pure impulse & feeling. The moment I start measuring,I start to doubt my dough handling skills. There is no fun left in it anymore. A sort of nervousness takes over.Doing it for years now, I now have a feel of just how grainy the oil moistened flour should feel & can decipher what a difference half a teaspoon here & there can make. At the same time it intimidates me how foolproof this indian way of cooking is. Imperfect yet classy in its own way.

Las Vegas is quite a sob story when it comes to chaat. The less I talk about what they serve at indian restaurants in here, the better.I made papri chaat last week to salvage our month long cravings.From halal food stalls in Times Square & food trucks in LA to Toofani chaat corners in Allahabad & kathi roll vendors in Delhi, me & P  share an endless love. Creative, delicious, affordable, addictive, filling ..I fall short of adjectives to describe the street food experience. Its pure joy, a soul satisfying, deep fried haven for us. Whenever I make it at home, I choose to overlook healthy options, its like stealing the soul of chaat – I feel strongly about it.

Chaat’ is a generic word used for savory delicacies served at roadside stalls in India.The best part about indian street food is that it can be made to please all tastebuds- you decide how spicy, tangy, salty or hot you want it. Papri or Papdi are deep fried,wafer like salted discs which are served with a “to taste”  assortment of chickpeas or dried peas, hari (green) & imli (tamarind) chutneys,chopped /grated vegetables, powdered spices & yogurt. Its messy, crumbly, tangy, crunchy..oh so good!

Ingredients

Papri/Papdi  (Yields about 40-50 papris)

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sooji (semolina)
  • 1/4 cup atta (all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 3/4 tsp fine salt
  • 2-3 tbsp canola/vegetable oil (see method )
  • 1/3 cup+1 tbsp luke warm water (see method)
  • Oil for frying
Note : Ajwain or Carrom Seeds aid in digestion & add a typical aroma & taste to the dough.
You can skip them if you dont have them & still make the papris.
Assembling a Papri Chaat Platter to Serve 2 :-
  • 12-15 papris 
  • 1/4 cup boiled Chickpeas
  • 1 small potatoes, boiled , peeled & cubed
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt whisked with 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp Imli (Tamarind) Chutney
  • 2 tbsp Hari (Green) Chutney
  • Chopped Onion, cilantro (or veggies of choice)
  • 1/4 tsp Kala Namak (black salt, available at indian stores)
  • 1/4 tsp Chaat Masala (available at indian stores)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • Besan Sev (Chickpea flour snack, available at indian stores, optional)

Method

Making Papris

In a bowl, mix together the flours, ajwain & salt. Start with 2 tbsp of oil  and start working it into the mixture. Keep on adding oil a teaspoon at a time & working it into the flour till you are just able to form a firm ball of the flour between your fingers.

Next, slowly add the water (1/4 cup to start with) and start kneading the dough. We are looking for a firm dough here (not soft & pliable).Knead the dough on a hard surface for about 3-4 minutes.Do not over knead.When just kneaded,the dough will appear tight & hard but don’t worry, after resting it will be okay.

Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp cloth & let rest for at least 20 minutes. (do not skip this step)

Divide the rested dough into about 3 equal parts. Take one part and roll it into a thin sheet.The sheet should be rolled as thin as a cotton cloth. Once rolled, if you want you can prick the sheet with a fork to prevent puffing while frying. I prefer papris slightly puffed so I do not prick. Use a round cookie cutter or a jar lid to cut into round shapes. Transfer the rounds to a plate & place covered with damp cloth till you are about to fry. Gather the remaining dough & repeat rolling & cutting till whole of the dough is exhausted.  Repeat the same for all portions of the dough.

Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. The quantity of oil used should be enough to cover the papris completely while they fry. To check the temperature of oil, pinch a little dough & tip it into the heating oil. The dough should sizzle to the top slowly without changing color. If it sizzles immediately, reduce the heat & let the oil temperature come down.

Tip in the cut papris into the heated oil, few at a time. Do not overcrowd or stack the papris in the frying pan. Fry the papris on medium-low heat until both sides are golden brown (about 3-5 minites). Papris should be fried at medium- low heat else they will become soft after cooling.

Remove browned papris with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up excess oil.Fry all the papris in batches.

Cool completely & immediately store in an air tight container for up to 4 weeks.

For assembling chaat  :-

Layer the papris in a plate. You can crush them into bite size pieces if you want or make individual servings. Top with boiled chickpeas & potatoes.Drizzle with yogurt, chutneys & chopped onions. Sprinkle kala namakchaat masala, roasted cumin powder & red pepper flakes if using. Top up with chopped cilantro & sev. Serve immediately.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.

Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Baking Easy Recipes Lentils Snacks

Bajri (Millet) Crackers With Chana Dal dip

A sense of rejuvenation entwines me as I hit the publish button.Being out of touch for more than 4 months, a part of me always felt incomplete,unfulfilled. While I was away, I realized the role of blogging in my life – I missed it. Thank you so much for all your kind emails, tweets & messages. I knew I had to be back in action soon. I am doing better than before & hope to update this space often now.

Last few months have been rough, less of ups, lots of down. Keeping health issues aside, my mind was irrational, loud & restless. I had loads to complain & challenge. I denied the things which came my way, I failed to handle them. Sometimes, life takes its own course and no matter how hard you try to tame it, it does not reciprocate. The very fact that I felt a certain way at that point in my life, I had no choice but to understand that this was meant to be.The sooner I did , the easier it got. The more I questioned : “Why me?”, the difficult it became. There was no force within me that could change the situation, no magic wand or a click of fingers to set it all right, all I  got was inner strength to sail me  through. When faith falters & hopes diminish, its best to reach out for that simmering potential inside to navigate, exactly what I want to do right now.

For long, I wanted to bake crackers at home,or let me put it this way-  I wanted to experiment with savory, whole grain flour baking with an indian touch.I tried the cracker recipe below with a mix of whole wheat & fine wheat flour a couple of times, but it left me wanting for more – something more healthy perhaps? and simple,crispy, spicy too at the same time.Not the most fancy looking crackers around- these are spiced similar to deep fried indian snack – mathri and I think I got what I was looking for this time. Bajri or millet is a gluten free, whole grain widely popular in India to make porridge, flatbreads or pancakes. I did not like it much the first time I ate it but now, its an acquired taste for me especially when I want a break from carbs.

The dip to go along is made with chana (split bengal gram) lentils, which is my new found way to eat them. Rated lowest GI (glycemic index) lentils, these score high when it comes to an earthy, nutty taste.Chana dal yields better amongst lentils to dip-making coz they do not turn into a slimy mush if cooked properly. Easily available in indian stores & tasting similar to garbanzo beans, these lentils are something you would want to stock on.

P,did not care much for the crackers but liked this dip.He polished it off with baked potato chips in the name of healthy food.I found myself snacking on these batch after batch. Somehow the combo is addictive – reminds me of the rajasthani meals at Dilli Haat – bajra roti & masala chana dal.

Yield – About 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine bajri atta (millet flour)
  • 1/2 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp water (or as required for kneading the dough)
Method
Combine all the ingredients except water in a big bowl. Rub with fingers till the mixture resembles grains.
Start adding water slowly & mixing with hands so as to form a soft, pliable dough. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel & let rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 3o0 F / 150 C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
Knead the rested dough for 2-3 minutes and pinch into equal portions. Thinly roll out the equal portions on a flour dusted surface or between sheets of parchment.
With the help of fork, pick the rolled dough so that it does not fluff while baking. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the rolled dough into desired shape.
 Transfer to the cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until done & crisp. You will need to check midway & flip the crackers to ensure even baking.
Cool the crackers on a rack and store in air tight containers for upto 2 weeks.
Chana Dal Dip (Makes about 1.5 cups)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chana dal (split bengal grams)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic,chopped
  • 1 ” fresh ginger shoot, chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, chopped (remove seeds to adjust heat)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more to drizzle
Method
 

Soak the chana dal in water for atleast 6 hours or overnight. Pressure cook the dal along with turmeric powder & salt in the soaking liquid on high for 2 whistles. Alternatively you can cook the dal in a pot with lid (for about 40-45 minutes) till tender.

Transfer the cooked & cooled dal to the food processor along with garlic, ginger, cilantro chili & lime juice. Pulse 10-12 times slowly adding oil until smooth. You can further adjust the consistency using the reserved cooking liquid. Check the salt & adjust if required.
Drain & reserve the liquid (this liquid can be used as stock or to knead savory doughs).Let the dal cool to room temperature.
Transfer to the serving bowl, drizzle some olive oil, garnish with chopped cilantro & serve along with bajri crackers.(recipe above)
Store refrigerated in air tight container for  4-5 days.

Note : This recipe has a strong garlic flavor. You can reduce or omit garlic quantity as per your liking.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Brunch Easy Recipes Guest Posts Indian Curry Side Dishes Vegetarian

Baingan Bharta (Smoky Mashed Eggplant) – Guest Post for Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums

Belated Diwali wishes to all my readers, I was not able to make anything for the blog this year, been lazy & got sweets from store 🙂 How are all my favorite people doing? Its been a while since you guys saw some action on Sinfully Spicy 😦 I apologize for vanishing away! Life is slightly busy & I need to concentrate on few things which cannot be postphoned any further. So, even though I m regularly cooking ,blogging dosent fit the schedule always …hope you all will understand…

I m guest blogging for Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums today while she is on a little break.She is one of the most encouraging & kind blogger around, whom I have been lucky enough to be friends with. Depth of her writing, beauty of her lens & her enthusiasm has always been inspiring. If you havent checked out her blog,do drop by, I bet you will fall in love 🙂 It was a pleasant surprise when she wrote to me for a guest post. Thanks so much Rosa for inviting me to your blog.

I am sharing one of my favorite winter recipes with her wonderful readers today. Baingan Bharta or smoky & spicy mashed eggplant is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant and the only way P eats it . Many of you would have already tasted baingan bharta in indian restaurants, now you can make it at home..How cool is that :)Check out my post on Rosa’s blog here. You can print the recipe here.

Just in case any of you is interested, have a look at a variation called hara baingan bharta which I shared long back here. Both the recipe are way different but if you are eggplant crazy like me, you have to try them all..

Ingredients: – (Serves 2-3)

▪                1 large eggplant (about 1lb)

▪                1 tsp oil (for rubbing on the eggplant)

▪                3 tbsp mustard/olive oil

▪                1 cup chopped red onions

▪                1″ fresh ginger shoot, chopped

▪                4 garlic cloves, chopped

▪                1-2 Thai green chilies, chopped (adjust to tolerance)

▪                1.25 cups chopped tomatoes

▪                1 tsp coriander seeds

▪                3-4 whole dry red chilies (adjust to tolerance)

▪                1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)

▪                1/2 tsp garam masala

▪                Salt to taste

▪                1 tsp mustard/olive oil (for drizzle on top, optional)

▪                Cilantro, green chilies chopped (for garnish)

Method: –

Wash the eggplant and dry the skin with a cloth. Rub1 tsp of oil all over. Use any one of the following methods to char the eggplant: –

1.              This is what I do: – Heat your stovetop on high. Char the whole eggplant, turning with the use of tongs to char on all sides, until the skin has blackened & the flesh is soft. This will take about 20-22 minutes. Keep a watch while you do this.

2.              Preheat a grill to medium heat; you can slit the eggplant into half, grill skin side up for 25-30 minutes. If you plan to use an oven, preheat broiler to 325F and roast the eggplant for about 15-20 minutes until skin is burnt & starts to peel off.

While the eggplant is roasting, pound the coriander seeds and dry red chilies using a mortar & pestle. Set aside.

Once the eggplant has charred, using tongs, transfer it to a plate and let cool down for about 15 minutes. Peel off the charred skin from the eggplant.You can remove seeds if you want. Using a fork, mash the flesh. Set aside.

Heat oil on high in a heavy bottomed pan. When the oil is almost smoky, reduce heat to medium & add the chopped onions. Sauté for about 6-7 minutes or till the onions are translucent but not browned. Next, add the chopped ginger, garlic, green chilies and sauté for 30 seconds or till you smell the aroma. Add the coriander & red chill mixture next and sauté for another 30 seconds. Next, add the chopped tomatoes, set the heat on high again and cook the tomatoes for 7-8 minutes until they soften (but do not mush) and you see oil separating on sides of the pan.

At this point, add the mashed eggplant and salt to taste. Combine everything together, set heat to low and let cook for 3-4 minutes. You will see that the color of the mash deepens & few oil bubbles on the surface as it cooks.

Remove from heat and while still hot, add the dry mango powder and garam masala. Mix well.

Garnish with loads of chopped cilantro, green chilies, drizzle with some raw mustard/olive oil and serve warm with naan/ chapati (flatbreads)

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Brunch one pot meals Side Dishes Soups Vegetarian

Saffron & Mint Chickpea Stew

Soups & Stews are my favorite things about winters. The thought of getting a chance to spend hours in front of the stove coupled with an aroma that fills up the house as spices simmer drives me nuts (in a good way). With nip in the air finally knocking here, I was thrilled while I made season’s first batch of stock & soup few days back followed by this slow cooked chickpea stew.

Store bought stocks & soups never excite me, I m the kind of girl who is crazy about fresh ingredients even if it requires heading an extra mile to get those. Can you believe that I have never bought canned chickpeas or any other beans for that matter? Nothing against them, but having grown up seeing mom soak the beans overnight, boil them next day & then use them in her recipes, even with ready-to-use options available here, I never feel like harnessing them.Somehow..

Anyhow, coming back to the recipe, bean based stews are best options for me when wanting to eat light as well as comforting. Few of you might have already guessed that this stew is heavily inspired by classic moroccan flavors – saffron, cumin, mint & black pepper make it hearty and add the required warmth for the winter season. Saffron & turmeric combined with chili powder is what gives it the lovely yellowish-golden color, nothing less than sunshine during those cold evenings. This is the kind of food, which is perfect for this time of year when I want to curl up in a blanket and watch a movie while eating.Don’t be bogged down by the long list of ingredients, they are mostly available in your pantry 🙂 The stew is incredibly healthy (no meat/less oil) and will leave you satisfied to the tee…trust me

We eat it more as soup with crusty bread than as main dish. For those reasons, I like to keep the gravy slightly thinner (so that we can slurp). However, this can very well serve as a main dish with rice or flatbreads. I particularly like to add starchy  (root) vegetables to this recipe coz those pair up delicious with chickpeas. Choose the veggie (s) you like (carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes etc ). The recipe does not need any baby-sitting while it cooks in. And like ALL stew recipe, I need not mention that leftovers tastes all the way better..try it!

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

If using dried chickpeas: –

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in 3 cups water overnight or at least 8 hours & drained
  • 2 cups water for boiling the chickpeas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil

Note: – Skip the above step if using canned chickpeas and substitute with precooked ones.

  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 3 tbsp mustard / olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2″ fresh ginger shoot, grated
  • 1/2 tsp each fennel, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, lightly pounded in mortar pestle
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tbsp red chill powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2 large roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, slightly sour
  • 2 tsp saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup luke warm water
  • 5-6 fresh mint leaves, chopped fine
  • 2 Thai green chilies, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro/Mint leaves for garnish

Method: –

Boil the soaked chickpeas in 2 cups water + 1 tsp salt + 1 tsp oil in a pressure cooker or in a covered pot until 90% tender. If using a pressure cooker, cook on medium-high for approximately 10 minutes & 2 whistles. If using a covered pot, on medium-high heat, this should take 30-35 minutes. Note: – Chickpeas come in all sorts of sizes; the time that I have given is for the small beans.Once boiled, drain the chickpeas & set aside. Reserve the water & mix it thoroughly with yogurt. Set aside.

Heat oil on high in a 3-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot (with lid). When oil gets smoky, add chopped onions, cinnamon, bay leaves & cloves to the pot. Sauté for about 6-8 minutes or until the onions are translucent but not browned. Next, add ginger, garlic, pounded fennel, coriander, black peppercorns and cumin to the pot.Cook for about 30 seconds or till you start smelling the spices. Reduce heat to medium and add the turmeric & chili powder next along with chopped tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until you see oil separating on sides of the pan. About 8 minutes.

Next, add the potatoes, boiled chickpeas to the pot along with yogurt mixed with water. Check the salt (remember that chickpeas were boiled in salted water) and adjust. Also depending desired gravy consistency, adjust the water in the pot. As a thumb rule, water should be enough to cover the contents as they cook. Cover the pot and let come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low & let cook till potatoes and chickpeas are tender. About 12-15 minutes. You will need to occasionally stir.

Just when the potatoes & chickpeas are fork tender, add the saffron dissolved in water along with chopped mint & green chilies (if using). Cover and let simmer for another 8 minutes. Remove from heat & add lemon juice. Garnish with chopped cilantro or mint leaves.Serve over couscous, rice or with bread.

Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!