While I mostly wake up to pictures of snow-covered decks and coffee mugs nestled between mittens on my Instagram feed, surprisingly it has started feeling spring-like in here.Spring in January? eh! I know that sounds kind of way too early & weird but its been over a week with temperatures in late 60s and a full sleeve T-shirt is enough to roam around throughout the day.The sky is clear, the air smells crisp & pleasant and I saw many jogging in shorts today at the park.
However, early mornings and evenings are still colder. The winter loving person that I am, I am holding on to the season in my stubborn ways. Which,mostly means cooking warm, spicy foods. For dinner, hiding indoors in the warmth of the house, I am still rustling up slow cooked curries and comfort dishes to keep us nourished.A couple of weeks back, I made this chicken vindaloo, one of the husband’s favorite things besides dal. It was a late, cold evening some five years back when we headed to dinner at one of our favorite indian restaurant here, choked with guests, smelling of strong spices and boasting of an elaborate buffet over the long weekend, that his love for all things coconut & curry leaves formed a good part of the conversation. I have been making this red-hot, tangy curry for quite a few years now and it has always hit the right chord with his tastebuds.Vindaloo is something I did not grow eating up but with time I have come up with what we like (and hope you like it too).
Wiki tells me that ‘Vindaloo” is derived from the Portuguese dish “carne de vinha d’alhos,” a dish of meat, usually pork marinated in wine and garlic.The Portuguese dish brought it to India (Goan region) and slowly it was modified by the substitution of vinegar (usually palm vinegar) for the red wine and the addition of red kashmiri chillies with additional spices to evolve into vindaloo and it became a curry native to indian cuisine. This recipe here is hot and that’s why I always use potatoes for those earthly,mellow bites in between. I like to de seed few of the red chillies because I do not want it searing hot, however you can use a mild chili variety.Vindaloo pairs best with steamed rice (as with most coastal cuisine). If you would want to try different meats like lamb or pork (if you want to go the traditional Portuguese route) work in this recipe too.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
2.5 tbsp distilled white vinegar (see notes)
10-12 whole dry red Kashmiri chilies, broken into small pieces (or use 2.5 teaspoon cayenne powder,adjust to taste)
1/4 of star anise (break the whole flower and use a quarter piece)
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2″ cinnamon stick
scant 1/2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
2-3 tbsp warm water (or as required)
5 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2″ ginger shoot, roughly chopped
1.5 tbsp fresh grated coconut
1tbsp tamarind pulp (easily available in indian/pakistani grocery stores)
5 fresh curry leaves (easily available in indian/pakistani grocery stores)
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed (weighed about 1.35lb, you can use cut up whole chicken or bone-in pieces too, just use dark meat portions)
1/3 cup oil, divided
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
3/4 cup onions, finely chopped
6-8 fresh curry leaves,roughly torn
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp powdered jaggery (or light brown sugar, adjust to taste)
In case you do not get tamarind pulp, bump up the vinegar quantity to 4 tbsp.
Fresh curry leaves are not substitutable. Even though the recipe dosent remain the same, you can skip if you do not get.
Deseed all or half quantity of the dried chilies if you want. In your blender jar, add vinegar, dry chillies, cloves, star anise, mustard & cumin seeds, cinnamon. Add 2-3 tbsp warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Once the chilli skins are slightly soft & the spices have soaked, add garlic, ginger, tamarind, coconut & 5 fresh curry leaves to the jar, cover the lid and blend to a smooth paste.You can add more water (1-2 tbsp) if needed but do not make a very runny paste.
In a bowl, add the chicken, add 1/2 tsp salt and add about half of this paste, coat the chicken in the paste and let sit for (not more than 15 minutes). Reserve the remaining spice paste.
While the chicken is marinating, heat up 3 tbsp oil in a heavy bottomed wide pot. Once the oil is hot,add the quartered potatoes to the pot, sprinkle a generous pinch of salt and saute them, stirring on medium heat for 5 minutes till you see that their edges start to brown lightly.Take out the potatoes from the pot on a plate. Set aside. Add the remaining oil to the pot and heat up. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and on medium-low heat, saute the onions till they are golden brown. About 3-5 minutes if the onions are finely chopped. Once the onions have browned, add the reserved spice paste & torn fresh curry leaves to the pot. Stir around and on low heat, saute continually to cook till you see that the spice paste darkens in color and the water evaporates. About 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
Layer the marinated chicken in the pot. Turn the heat to medium high and let the chicken brown.After about 2 minutes, flip the chicken pieces and let brown on the other side. If you see that the heat is getting quite high, reduce it.You will slowly see lot of liquid in the pot but that’s okay. Once the chicken has browned, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let cook for about 10 minutes on low heat(adjust this time depending on how large or small your chicken pieces are). Once the chicken is about 90 % cooked, add the browned potatoes to the pot, cover and let cook for another 10 minutes on low heat, till the chicken is completely cooked and the potatoes are fork tender (ensure that the potatoes do not turn mushy. Uncover, add the jaggery (or sugar) ,water (depending on how thick/thin you want the sauce), check & adjust the salt. Let simmer uncovered or another 5 minutes.
Let sit for 30 minutes before serving.Serve warm with steamed rice.
If there has to be a dish that I overindulged on during college days, it has to be Manchurian – chicken, cauliflower, vegetable, dry, gravy, sweet,spicy, salty, you name it and I would raise both my hands. With that extra cash at the end of the month, saved from pocket-money each week, I, along with few other girls could be found in all sorts of street side placesÂ in and around the college or hopping onto public transport to far away Dilli Haat.There would be plates of greasy noodles, lightly crispy vegetarian(or not) deep fried dumplings coated in spicy manchurian sauce, gossip, laughter, half-finished assignments and aÂ compulsory side of fruit beer for late lunches.
Having said that, indeedÂ my appreciation for this ever so popularÂ indo chinese dish stems from those days. Mum hardlyÂ made it, for cooking indo chinese at home is slightly redundant when you are living in India becauseÂ (almost) always you will end up comparing Â it with that fantastic taste from theÂ sloppy joints at street side. So while the hotspots around the cityÂ are to be held responsible for Â my insatiable Â appetite towards indo chinese, I never made it at home, it was only after I moved to States some five years back that I tried recreating it at home. Take chickenÂ in hot garlic sauce or fried rice, talk gobhi manchurian or spicy schezwan noodles,by the end of the first couple ofÂ Â months here, I started getting there, developing recipes withÂ the memories of how they should taste in my head and trying to replicate that inside the super hot wok. The fact that the husband shares my love for indo chinese fare and we kind of got tired of consuming overly sweet chili chickens & hakka noodles tossed with snap peas & broccoli (yikes!) and acceptingÂ the fact that theÂ restaurants here just do not get it(or we like to think so),it wasÂ exciting to see those similar tastes turning on our meal tables from our own kitchen.
When you make indo chinese, besides ingredients, bring along a lot of patience to the cutting board. Spend the late afternoon mincing garlic and choppingÂ ginger.Shred those carrots and cabbage finer than you think you would need, sniff and taste thatÂ mix of soy sauce with coriander & turmericÂ and shy away from de seeding those hot chillies, coz boy is this one spicy cuisine or what?This vegetable machurian recipe has stayed in my kitchen for few years now. I often make it on non-meat eatingÂ days or when I have a stash of miscellaneous vegetables that need to be used up right away. I would not say that deep-frying them is the best optionÂ but then you are not eating fried chicken so its kind of okay.You know what I mean, right?After all, its veggies!
Vegetable Manchurian is aÂ widely popular dish of the indo chinese genre. It is nothing by vegetable dumplingsÂ in aÂ Â â€˜Manchurianâ€ sauce. Do not confuse the origins of Â â€˜Manchurianâ€ sauce â€“ it definitely has nothing to do with that region in South East Asia. Creatively put together by chinese who lived in eastern parts of Â india for centuries, just imagine it to be an amber-colored, tangy and mildly sweet but hot sauce with hints of indian spices. Indo chinese is what it is due to typical indian condiments â€“ I make it a point to use the brands from indian store for the authentic taste. However, you can confidently do few a substitutions (see notes ) and use your pantry to try this recipe.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
For the Manchurian Sauce
1/2 tbspÂ dark soya sauce (I useÂ Chingâ€sÂ brand)
1 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne, adjust to tolerance)
3/4 cup to 1 cup stock (vegetable or chicken, don’t use water)
1 tbsp white vinegar (or to taste)
For Garnish â€“ chopped scallions(green parts), ginger, chopped green chillies
For the Deep fried Vegetable Balls
1Â cup finely chopped cabbage
1/2 cup very finely chopped cauliflower
1/2 cup grated carrot
2 tbsp finely chopped scallions
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 Â cup finely chopped green beans
1 smallÂ greenÂ chilli, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
scant 1/2Â tsp Salt
4Â tbspÂ all purposeÂ flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
Oil forÂ deep frying
Making the Manchurian Sauce
In a small bowl, whisk together soya sauce, tomato-chilli sauce & honey. Set aside. In another bowl, mix cornstarch & water and let stand.
In a wok/pan , heat up the oils to smoking hot. Add chopped garlic, green chillies & ginger and cook for 1 minute or till you smell the aroma. Next add the chopped scallions (white part) & red onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or till light brown in color. Add the coriander &Â black pepperÂ powder next, stir for 10 seconds and thenÂ add the soya sauce mix made earlier.Stir for a minute or so and then add the stock. Simmer for 2-3 minutes Â on medium-high heatÂ or till you see bubbles on the sides.Add the cornstarch mix to the wok. Reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for another 2-4 minutes till the sauce starts to thicken.
Next, taste & adjust the salt in the sauce. Add theÂ vinegar to the wok and stir everything well.Remove from heat and add the fried vegetable ballsÂ to the pan. Dont stir too much with spoon at this point.
Garnish with chopped green scallions & serve immediately.
Making the Vegetable Balls
In a large bowl, mix together all the chopped vegetables. Add salt, mix(do not squeeze) and let sit for (not more than) 10 minutes. Add the all-purpose flour and corn starch next and gently mix together. If you feel that the mixture is on a dry side add a tablespoon or so of water (ideally you will not be needing it since the vegetables leave water from sitting in salt).
Heat up 2-3 inches of oil in a frying pan on medium high. Shape into small lime size balls and add toÂ the frying pan, Make sure that the oil is not too hot(else the balls will remain raw from inside) or too low (else they will scatter in oil). Fry, turning on all sides to golden dark brown
Drain the fried vegetable balls on a paper towel before adding to sauce (recipe above).
Serve immediately with noodles or fried rice.
Use any vegetables that you like (just do not use potato)coz trust me after frying they will anyhow taste good.
You might be tempted (like me) to use food processor to chop the vegetables but trust me it makes them watery. I recommend chopping them with knife.
Substitute dark soya sauce with tamari (for vegan)
Adding tomato â€“ chilli sauce adds extra heat. I get this sauce from indian stores. You can use just plain tomato ketchup or add mix of sriracha & tomato ketchup for a sweet, spicy tangy flavor to the sauce.
The sauce can be made 2-3 hours in advance. Just fry up the vegetable balls and serve when you want to.
If you forsee leftovers, store the sauce and vegetable balls separately. Toss them together just when you want to serve.
My dad loved to entertain and this would mean as theÂ weekend was approaching,mom would be spending most of her time brainstorming dinner menus. End of the week and the house would be choked with family and friends and even after doing it for several years,I loved the excitement in her gaitÂ onÂ saturday mornings when we strolled to the bazaar to getÂ groceries.There would be guests with both vegetarian and non vegetarian choices, not many with special diets but definitely all,secretly,looking forward to her deftly spiced dishes. Many fromÂ the near family would sometimes call ahead in the day with requests over the phone while others just warmed their hearts thinking of the surprise that she would bring to the table.Each time, she came up with such a fantastic menu, the array of dishes perfectly complementing each other, each course well thought, most of the food homemade and few not.
She did not choose to make elaborate,time-consuming dishes if the number of guests were many but quite aÂ variety so that everyone could spoon a favorite on their plate. All afternoon, the house smelled of few dozen or so of mutton koftassimmering inside theÂ aluminumÂ pot specifically reserved for cooking on such days of big meals, a show stopper as my dad would say, it was the main dish along side puffy rotis, then, there would be dishes made withÂ paneer ,a must on north indian entertaining menus,aÂ slow cookedÂ side of potatoes, another crowd pleaser, her cinnamon spiced red hued dum alooÂ and the signature rice pilaf, brought together withÂ ghee criped cumin seeds folded in fragrant basmati,thick, nuttyÂ dal tarka, tempered with ghee & scattered with cilantro and served with lemon wedges on side of the bowl.Â On few occasions, she would tend to a pot of boilingÂ kadhiÂ which by the way was a favorite of almost every aunt I know in the family,while quickly frying up ajwainÂ scentedÂ onionÂ pakoras on the side stove at the last moment so that the fritters remained crispy till the guests sat down to eat.
If it were winters, there would be fried seafood as starters,a winter tradition, a family favorite,when the fish season peaks in the bazaars, without a miss, fried,crispy pieces of rohu (fresh water carp)Â fish were served along with vinegar soaked onion ringsÂ and smoking hot green chutney.If my dad got a good deal, few kilos of white pomfret were slid into smoking mustard oil for guests. Quite in contrast to here, growing up, we consumed copious amounts of seafood during the colder months and that’s the reason I crave it every now and then. Every region in India has its own fish fry recipe, in the coastal areas of south india,fresh caught smaller fish are doused inÂ a paste of ground coconut and red chillies before deep-frying while in the eastern parts, in a lightlyÂ brit inspired ‘fish & chips’, they fry the marinated fish after a coating of egg and bread crumbs.
However, mum uses a batter which she tells is my maternal grandfather’s recipe.The marinated fish is coated in a garlic-ginger laced,turmeric hued marinade and then scantly coatedÂ in a mix of rice and besan (chickpea)Â flours.She fondly recollects that during her childhood, my grandfather used to soak the rice a night before and stone grind it the followingÂ day to coat the thick,belly pieces of rohu in it andÂ they would sit around the stove waiting in turn to get the piping hot fritter. If you happen to visit my home, mum makes fried fish the same way, she would soak the rice and hand grind it on sil-batta(stone grinder). I haveÂ adapted the recipe and use ready-made rice flour to make it quick and equally delicious.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
1 lb fish (I used 4 large tilapia bellyÂ piecesÂ cut into half or equivalent weight any small whole fish like pompano or pomfret)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1.5 tsp minced garlic
1Â tsp fresh minced ginger
3/4 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
1/4 tspÂ garam masalaÂ
1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp mustard oil
generous pinch of salt
3 tbsp rice flour
1/4Â besanÂ (chickpea flour)
1Â tspÂ chaat masala
salt to taste (to taste)
MustardÂ Oil for frying (substitute with any high smoky point oil)
1/2 tspÂ methi danaÂ (fenugreek seeds)
Clean and descale the fish pieces or ask your butcher to do it. Wash under a stream of water and pat them dry with a paper towel. In a flat dish, layer the pieces and add all the ingredients listed under marination. Rub everything with your hands to coat the fish and refrigerate for 1 hour.
15 minutes before ready to fry, take out the fish from the refrigerator and let sit on the kitchen counter. In a bowl, combine the rice flour,Â besanÂ andÂ chaat masala. Taste a pinch of this mixture before adding additional salt sinceÂ chaat masalaÂ is quite salty, then adjust the salt to taste.
Set 2 inches of mustard oil (or whichever oil your are using) in a heavy bottomed, wide pot orÂ skilletÂ (I use my 10″ cast iron) to heat up on medium flame.While the oil is heating, add the flour mixture to the marinated fish pieces.MixÂ with hands such that the flour sticks to the fish.Add a light splash of water if needed. We do not want a wet batter. WeÂ do not want a thick flour batter to coat the fish, instead just a uneven coating of flour on the fish (similar to coating chicken when deep frying).
Once the oil is hot, about 325 F, add fenugreek seeds to it.Let the seeds crackle.Gently set the coated fish pieces the into hot oil and fry for 3-4 Â minutes on each side until medium golden brown in color. (this time will be more in case you are using whole fish). Do not fry on very high or very low heat else the fish will get soggy or remain raw inside.
Drain on paper towel and when the fish is still hot, sprinkle moreÂ chaat masala.Â Discard the oil.
Serve immediately with onion slices and lemon wedges andÂ green chutneyÂ or any sauce of choice.
You could use whole small fish (like pomfret,golden pompano,trout, mackerel) or freshwater fish likeÂ rohu, katlaÂ (indian varieties) or boneless fish fillets ( cat fish, tilapia, cod, mahi-mahi) in this recipe. When using a whole fish, make incisions before you marinate.
Chaat MasalaÂ is a hot & tangy blend of spices which is easily available in indian/pakistaniÂ stores. If you do not have it, skip and add a little cayenne and crushed black pepper to the flour mix. You could squirtÂ lemon juice for tang once you have finished frying the fish.
Many times, I use the same recipeÂ to fry upÂ fillets andÂ stuffÂ them inside tortillas orÂ rotiÂ with coleslaw and serve as fish tacos.
I had to pick up a bunch of these slenderÂ carrots from the store and combine them with addictively bitter freshÂ methi (fenugreek)Â leaves into this delicious stir fry. An otherwise plain-looking side dishÂ which in reality in such a perfect balance of texture and flavors, it formed a part of our winter meals justÂ once or twice in the seasonÂ because growing up, carrots were usually consumed in preparingÂ luscious halwaÂ or tangy winter pickles. Or mostly mum wouldÂ simply cut up raw carrots into sticks and squirted fresh lemon juice & dash ofÂ chaat masalaÂ on top for a healthy snack in between meals.
Not having it often could be the reason it is one of my favorite things to prepare during colder months.Who knows? But this sweet-spicy medley, very popular in north indian parts of India, when served with piping hot yellow dal, few cut up hard-boiled eggs and hot rotisÂ forms a super satisfying home meal in addition to being wholesome and nourishing.
I love the robust choice winter vegetables bring with them. I could go on about my love for produce at this time of the year – fleshy turnips, sweet beetroots and leafy greens.While many people find comfort in meats and poultry at this time when its dull and grey or perhaps snowy outside if you are on the east coast, I need a hearty stock of vegetables to strive and feel energetic through the season.If you are in India, where unlike here, fresh peas make an appearance in the winter months, you could be in for a really treat if you plan to make this along with those juicy, raspberry red carrots, native to the asian subcontinent which I am still to spot here.
In this recipe, you could substitute methi leaves with any bitter greens of choice – kale or turnip, radish greens work wonderfully.To balance out the sweetness from carrots and peas, you do need a bitter elementÂ so do not skip the greens. Sometimes I add diced up sweet potatoes or white potatoes for an earthy texture, making it sweet, spicy, bitter and deliciously savory side to go along dal – rice or plain parathas(flatbreads).
Talking of fresh produce, I had a chance to visit the weekly farmers market at the San Francisco Ferry Building during our trip to bay area last week. What a beautiful, fresh and gorgeous spread of produce, meats,bread and condiments it was.We spent almost half a dat there samplingÂ cheeses, raw honey, bread & hot pizza from the stand. Here are a few pictures for you guys.
A simply spiced carrots, peas and fresh fenugreek leaves dish with warm tones of ginger & cumin which can be served as a side or a warm winter salad.Â
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
4-5 medium-sized carrots (I used a bunch which had 6-7 small, slender carrots)
3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup packed freshÂ methiÂ leaves,Â picked
2Â tbsp mustard oil (or olive oil)
1/4 tspÂ methi dana(fenugreek seeds)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tspÂ hingÂ (asafoetida powder)
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Â small roma tomato, finely chopped (yield about 2.5 tbsp)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or paprika, adjust to tolerance)
1/2″ fresh ginger shoot, finely chopped
salt to taste
1/4 tspÂ garam masalaÂ (optional)
1/4 tspÂ amchoorÂ (dry mango powder to taste, or use fresh lemon juice to taste at the end)
Use any bitter robust green like kale (blanched) or radish & turnip greens in place of fenugreek.
We like this dish more on the sweet bitter side than with tang. Even though tomatoes &Â amchoorÂ balance the sweet, depending on how acidic your tomato is, just adjust the amount of lemon orÂ amchoor. You may or might not need it at all too.Â
Wash and peel the carrots. Pat them dry and dice them if you have the thicker ones, I cut them up into small rounds since mine were slender. Wash theÂ methiÂ leaves under running stream of water and completely dry them before chopping. If you are using fresh pea, shell the pods, if using frozen, thaw them.
In aÂ karahiÂ or heavy skillet, heat up the mustard oil on medium until the raw smell goes away. Once hot, temper the oil withÂ methi danaÂ and cumin seeds. Wait till they crackle. Turn the heat to low and immediately add the chopped garlic andÂ hing. Wait till the garlicÂ changes color to light brown,about 8-10 seconds.Be sure that the garlic does not burn. You can even put off the stove for few minutes if you feel that the oil is already hot enough.Then add the tomatoes & turmeric.Saute for aÂ minute or so on medium till the tomato begins to soften. Add the carrots (and potatoes/sweet potatoes if using) and cover. Let cook for 5-7 minutes on medium low heat till the carrots become tender(or about 80% cooked).Add a little splash of water if you feel that the carrots need moisture for cooking.
Open the lidÂ add the red chill powder along with peas, ginger and choppedÂ methi. Add salt to taste. Stir to combine everything together. Cover again and let cook for another 3-4 minutes till theÂ methiÂ leaves wilt down and peas are tender. I let the vegetables have a bite so I do not cook them for too long.Adjust the time of cooking accordingly.
For the last 1-2 minutes of cooking, bump up the heat to high, addÂ amchoor,Â garam masalaÂ and saute the vegetables for a minute or so.We call this process “bhuno” (saute on high heat) This makes the stir fry glisten and adds a depth of flavor.
A rich and aromatic dish, kormaÂ originally belonged to the shahi dastarkhwans (royal kitchens) ofMughalemperors. Deep rooted in aristrocasy, the mughlai cuisine, thus, is redolent of sweet-smelling, unique spices,delicate herbs, liberal use of ground nuts & dried fruit as well as exotic ingredients like saffron & rose petals in cooking.Dating back to the era of invasions and subsequent period of Â rule by theÂ Mughals, indian cuisine, particularly north indian evolved and embraced the said style of cooking ranging from extremely spicy to mild curries,rice preparations and bread making.
With addition of ghee, nut pastes and dairy (mava (milk solids) /milk/ cream),Â mughlai cuisine is not your everyday fare. It is once in a while thing in our kitchen but something which we look forward to at mealtime.Those are the days when we don’t care about calorie counting or healthy eating. Nothing can beat the indulgence of soaking up all of that nutty sauce in yeasty naansÂ or ladling it over hot steaming basmati.Nothing compares toÂ the comfort that such hearty food brings.
The most important thing to be kept in mind when preparing mild curriesÂ is that you cannot go overboard with your selection of ingredients.That regal flavor of korma sauce needs deftÂ proportions keeping in mind that one ingredient does not overpower the other. On those rare three or four occasions in a year when we dinedÂ out atÂ the Karims, a placeÂ nestled in lanes of the Jama Masjid in Purani Dilli (Old Delhi), a restaurant with great history and luscious mughlai food delicacies, dad always fondly remarked how perfect this dish was done there ,a single morsel of the sauce tasting of tang from yogurt withÂ pleasant richness from the nuts & dairy and finishing notes of warmthÂ from cardamom, he said.I clearly remember thatÂ korma there had this distinct hint of kewra(screw pineÂ essence) and with a simple jeera pilaf, it was all you could want at that particular time and day in your life.
It took a few attempts to come up with this recipe keeping in mind those expectations and the memories.I do not claim to taste like restaurants, but this recipeÂ is definitely a keeper. It came out pretty good, if I say so myself and we really enjoyed it.
I use a bit of Â turmeric in mainly for the color and to enhance that hue,I finish the sauce with saffron infused in milk at the end.If you prefer more of a whitish korma, skip the turmeric and just add the saffron strands (without soaking).Another unusual thing in my recipe is the addition of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), a flavor which I really enjoy in creamy curries, you can skip if you like.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
1.25 lb chicken thighs, boneless & skinless, cut into bite size pieces (see notes)
5-6 tbsp heavy cream (I quantity can up to 1/2 cup, depending how how rich you like)
a generous pinch of good quality saffron (crushed between palms to fine dust),soaked in 1 tbsp warm milk
1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
1/2 tsp sugar
2-3 tbsp golden raisins
Chopped cilantro for garnish
I like to use dark chicken meat when making curries but you can go ahead and use chicken breast in this recipe too. Even bone in chicken will work.Just remember to adjust the cooking time so that the meat dosent dry out or remainÂ uncooked.
Hung yogurt is nothing but yogurt tied up in a cheesecloth/muslin and hung for 30-40 minutes to let its water drain.
Indian cinnamon is very sharp as compared to western sweet cinnamon. If using the latter, go ahead and add a bit more.
If you prefer more of a whitishÂ korma, skip the turmeric and just add the saffron strands (without soaking in milk) at the end.
Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry using a paper towel. Mix up lemon juice, 3 tbsp yogurt,Â garam masala, pepper powder, salt, ginger & garlic in a small bowl to a thick paste and rub this paste over the chicken. Marinate the chicken for atleast 4 hours or preferably overnight, refrigerated.
When ready to cook theÂ korma,Â takeout the chicken from the refrigerator and let sit on the kitchen counter. Soak the cashews and melon seeds (if using) in 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes. Drain and discard the water.
In a heavy bottomed pot orÂ kadhai,Â heat up the oil on medium high. Add the cloves,cardamom,mace,Â shahjeera, cinnamon,Â tejpattaÂ to hot oil and let the whole spices crackle, about8-10 seconds or till you smell an aroma.
Next add the onions, ginger and garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes until the onions starts to turn light brown. Add the soaked cashews and melon seeds(if using) next along with green chillies. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low now and add the coriander, turmeric along with 2/3 cup hung yogurt. Do not stir immediately else the yogurt will curdle. Wait for atlas aÂ minute and then slowly stir around to mix yogurt with everything else in the pot.Cook the yogurt along with theÂ masalaÂ for 5-7 minutes on low heat until you see oil separating on the sides.Put the stove off, pick out the bay leaf & cinnamon,about half of the cloves & cardamom and tip rest ofÂ the contents into a blender. The mixture is going to be hot so wait for 10-15 minutes before you start blending it.Blend (do not use water if possible during blending).I do not make a very smooth paste, you could decide the texture of the sauce at this point).
Meanwhile,in the same pot or another pot, heat up the 2-3Â tbspÂ gheeÂ on medium. When theÂ gheeÂ is hot enough, start searing the marinated chicken on both sides.You do not need to brown but a light sear is just about enough. Â You could do this is batches. Once all the chicken is seared, add all of it together along the blended sauce to the pot. Stir around on and cook on medium- low heat. The chicken will render its moisture and fat as it cooks and the sauce will thicken and deepen in color.Let cook till the chicken is about 95% cooked, about 6-8 minutes.
Next, add the water depending on the desired consistency Â of sauce (I addÂ 1/2Â cup water)along with crushedÂ kasuri methi.Â Check and adjust the salt.Â Let come to a boil on medium. Next add the cream, saffron infused milk, cardamom powder, sugar and raisins. Let simmer (not boil) for 8-10 minutes on very low heat. Once simmered, put off the heat and let sit covered for 2 hours.
All I think of at the first sight of pomegranates in the grocery stores is to fold the plump ruby jewels with sweetish velvety yogurt and pair the raita with some kind of a spicy pilaf. ToÂ me,Â pulao/pilaf is a very ‘to taste’ thing in indian cuisine. It is like an assortment of things with any sort of grain, mostly rice in our caseÂ – quick, one pot but hearty. On days when mom was not in much of mood to cook, she would make some kind of a pulao – withÂ vegetables,Â beans, driedÂ lentil nuggetsÂ orÂ chicken. There would be pickles, salad and raita to serveÂ along.
Come November and the knock of winter winds brought with itself a sudden rush of green and fresh produce in the vegetable bazaars of Delhi.After long, humid and harshÂ summers,the next few months presented a respite and a chance to indulge in cooking and eating.OnÂ few Saturdays I would accompany mom to the sabziÂ bazaar. WrappedÂ in my favorite pashmina shawl, we walked out of the house for an early evening stroll and later to purchase vegetables for the week.Those few hours were spent inhaling the crisp autumn air and watching how the nip in the air got people out of their homes, the pleasing sights of street food carts beaming with everybody, eating, chatting and sharing a quick snack with families.We stopped here and there to get buy and bargain fresh eggs, bread and dairy before reaching the sabziÂ bazaar.Most of the faces at the bazaar were known, for it has been a place of trade between the same set of people for decades.
Mom would patiently listen to household stories of few sabzi wallas(vendors), of theirÂ children not studying at school or the gas prices going up. Few complained about government not doing much for the poor and few praising their farms for such fine produce. In India, such is a way of life, so may day-to-day people slowly connect to your life and you do not even realize, it is how the society operates.I always loved to tag along with her for grocery trips just to observe how sheÂ would choose vegetables – touching them, sniffing a few, closely inspecting each pieceÂ below the flickering bulbsÂ on the stalls ofÂ thela-wallasÂ (street vendors with wooden wheeled carts),she took her time to select. If few of the vendors were in a mood, they would slice off a couple of apples or pluck few greens andÂ let her taste before buying.Thick,dark-skinned capsicum to yellowish cauliflower heads to fragrantÂ methiÂ (fenugreek)Â andÂ soaÂ (dill) bunches to rubyÂ kashmiriÂ anarÂ (pomegranates) and apples, each sample of produce brought with itself an opportunity for deliciousness.
The onset of winters also meant there would be lots of wholesome,hearty meals in the house full of warm spices and herbs. There would be exotic,rich curries and layered biryanis and indulgent desserts. Mom would make a lot of quick rice dishesÂ to keep our stomachs nourished & satisfied.Â The house would be enveloped in the pungentÂ aroma of mustard oil andÂ earthy fragrance ofÂ basmati riceÂ bubbling on the stove. This is one of her favorite recipes which I have changed to our liking over the years, she did not add bell peppers or potatoes, but I love the combination of both of these with chickpeas and rice so I do it more my way now. AÂ weekly regular in our house withÂ all kinds of variations each time.
Ingredients (ServesÂ 3)
You could use canned chickpeas and cut down the cooking time toÂ halfÂ but I recommend starting with dried chickpeas and cooking them in water because the resultant delicious stock will flavor the rice immensely.
For the Chickpeas (Skip this step if using canned chickpeas)
1 cup dried raw chickpeas
2 + 1/4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp oil
For theÂ Pulao(Pilaf)
3/4 cupÂ basmatiÂ rice
1.5 tbsp plain whole milk yogurt (skip for vegan)
1/4 tspÂ garamÂ masala
1/2 tspÂ kashmiriÂ red chili powder (or paprika, this gives the color not the heat)
4 tbsp mustard oil (or use canola/vegetable/olive oil)
1/2 ” cinnamon stick (indian cinnamon is very sharp so I useÂ less, adjust if using sweet cinammon)
1-2 tbspÂ gheeÂ to finish(optional, skip for vegan)
Chopped cilantro to garnish
Optional – golden raisins, silvered almonds, cashews.
Soak the chickpeas in enough water overnight or atleasrt 8-10 hours.Drain & discard the water and add the chickpeas to the pressure cooker along with baking soda, salt, water and oil. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles on medium heat or till chickpeas are fork tender. The cooking time and number of whistles will depend on quality and size of the chickpeas and alson on pressure cooker. I use small variety chickpeas which pressure cook in about 20 minutes. If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a heavy bottomed pot with lid or your dutch over to cook the chickpeas for roughly 45-50 minutes or till fork tender. Once the chickpeas are cooked,drain and reserve the liquid (stock). Set aside.
Skip the above steps if using canned chickpeas. Open up the can and run the chickpeas under a stream of water, drain and set aside.
Wash theÂ basmatiÂ rice under 2-3 times under a running stream of water till the water runs clear. Soak in 1.5 cups of water for 15Â minutes. (You can do this while the chickpeas are cooking). Also, mix the yogurt withÂ garamÂ masalaÂ andÂ kashmiriÂ red chill powder. Set aside. If making for vegans, skip the yogurt and add these spices when you add the tomatoes.
In a wide bottomed heavy pot with lid (I use my 3 qt dutch oven), heat up the mustard oil on medium till you see little ripples on the surface and the raw smell goes away. Add cinnamon,mace bay leaf and cloves and cardamom. Wait till they crackle and you smell a nice aroma. 10-15 seconds. Add the onions and garlic next. Cook till they are light brown. About 5-6 minutes. Add the tomatoes next along with red chili and turmeric powder. Cook for 2-3 minutes just till the tomatoes begin to soften. Reduce heat to low and add the yogurt mixed with spices. Do not stir immediately else yogurt will curdle. Wait for 30 seconds and gently on low heat(very important) incorporate the yogurt in theÂ masala. Cook for another 1-2 minutes on low heat till theÂ masalaÂ starts getting shiny and turning deepÂ reddish-Â brown in color. Add the potatoes & ginger next and cook along with theÂ masalaÂ for another 1-2 minutes.
Next, drain & discard all the water from the soaking rice and add soaked rice and chickpeas to the pot. Do not stir. Measure and add the required quantity of stock (reserved from boiling chickpeas) to the pot. The quantity of stock added should be added as required by your variety of rice(My rice variety cooks in 2:1 ratio of rice to water, I add 2 tbsp extra stock ). (In case you are using canned chickpeas, add chicken/vegetable stock or plain water).
Once you have added the water, check and adjust the salt of the liquid (normally it should be little extra salty at the beginning since the rice will soak up the stock). Also add crushedÂ kasuriÂ methiÂ to. Gently stir now (else the soaked rice will break) and let the rice soak in stock for another 15 minutes.
Once the rice has soaked, cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let cook covered for another 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, open the lid and add the bell peppers to the pot and very lightly mix them in with the help of a fork. Cover and let cook on low for another 2 minutes. After this, put off the stove and let sit for atleast 15 minutes.
Open the lid and add theÂ gheeÂ (if using) along with cilantro, nuts (if using), raisins(is using) on top and gently fluff the rice with fork.
Serve warm withÂ raita(recipe below), salad and pickle.
PomegranateÂ Raita (Spiced Yogurt)
Ingredients (Serves 3)
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt,cold
1 tsp granulated sugar (or to taste)
1/4 tsp heaped roasted cumin powder
a light pinch of dried mint leaves, crush to dust between hands (optional)
1/2 tspÂ chaat masalaÂ (a tangy spice mix available in indian/pakistaniÂ stores or online)
1/2 tsp black salt (this salt is tangy, substitute with regular)
1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or cayanne, adjust to taste)
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (or more/less you like)
salt to taste
Few fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Beat the yogurt with everything except the pomegranate seeds & salt to smooth. I like theÂ raitaÂ thick but if you can thin it with little water if you like. Refrigerate the yogurt for 20 minutes.Just before serving mix in the pomegranate seeds and salt. Sprinkle cilantro. Serve.
I can’t remember a single meal in my home when there weren’t homemade flatbreads to eat.Except a few daysÂ when khichdi( gooey lentils & rice) formed dinner, softÂ and steam filled rotisÂ smothered with homemade gheeÂ or Â with grainy white butter were brought fresh off the tawa (griddle) to everyone’s plate.You would hardly count how many you to eat,the ladies of the house took rounds to roll, puff and help each other on occasions like Sunday lunch when the whole family was eating together.Always; there were always plenty for everybody.
My badi mummyÂ made the best rotis and parathas that I have ever tasted.She rolled perfect rounds,as if Â a compass or a cutter has been used with the dough, rotis so soft that you could use just thumb and index fingers to break a bite, perfectly charred with black spots from the high flame on both sides. My mother makes the second best to her, paper-thin and larger rounds but still delicate and slightly chewy.I might already be sounding obsessive with these sorts of descriptions but trust me in indian homes, especially in norther parts,roti making is a serious business.A deftÂ techniqueÂ which is taught to daughters whenÂ their Â wedding day approaches.Â It is the bread of life, something you start and end your day with. Giving away a roti to a needy & poorÂ is symbolic of highest level of ‘punye‘ or good deed in Hindu vedas, it is a thingÂ which subsides the hunger of animals, birds or humans equally. The daily bread is revered.
RotiÂ is a everyday unleavened flatbread in our homes,cooked on stove,Â chapatiÂ is similar toÂ rotiÂ just rolled out much thinner,Â phulkaÂ is another nameÂ used in India forÂ rotis, a Hindi word denoting the puffy look of it.Parathas(skillet-fried dough) or Pooris (deep fried dough)Â areÂ also made from the sameÂ dough, layered or unlayered, stuffed with fillings, rolled in all different shapes.You could see myÂ triangleÂ parathaÂ as an example. But, necessarily, the dough remains the same. It is only the handling and shaping that differsÂ Hoping I have not confused you too much!
It would be really surprising but as compared to the naan, which got more popular in the west, in indian homes, you will found rotis and parathas cooked on a daily basis. Naan, fine all purpose flour (maida)Â flatbread is a once in a while thing, something you order when eating at restaurants or like in my home,when mom made really special exotic curries or we had family gatheringsÂ with lots of guests, she would send us with home-made yeastyÂ dough to the street side guy with the tandoor and we came back with stacks of naan for supper.
Let’s get to making some rotis.Shall we? I have invariably used the word ‘atta’ in my post and recipe. Atta is nothing but Hindi for whole wheat flour (loosely used for both dry, wet flour as well as the dough)
Measure the atta (durum wheat flour) and slowly, start adding (warm) water to it.In India, we use a paraat (a utensil made ofÂ brass/copper/stainless less specifically for kneading roti dough). The one you see in pictures, is some 40 year old treasure from my grandmother, still going strong.
Incorporate water in a circular motion into the atta with your fingers.Start kneading gently.
As the atta absorbs water,it will start clumping up.Â Continue to add water till all the dry flour becomes wet, your hands will be mighty messy but the flour starts to come together.
At this point,ensure that the attaÂ is not very dry,try to squeeze it between your palms as if making a fist and it should be soft and sticky (and messy!). Start using your knuckles to knead the atta next.
Use your knuckles to flatten it out and then pull it all together towards yourself using your palm & fingers,then knead again with knuckles to flatten out. Knead this way (flatten and bring together) repeatedly for 5-7 minutes. At any point you feel that the dough is tight or drying out, add a light splash of warm water.
Towards the last 1-2 minutes of kneading, use both hands to knead for a very smooth & elastic dough (this will work up the gluten really fast).You could add a bit to oil while kneading to make it smoother.
Time to rest those gluten.Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for (not more than) 15-18 minutes.You couldÂ smear a layer of meltedÂ gheeÂ or oil on top but you really do not need it if the proportion of water is correct and you made sure that the dough didn’t feel or look dry when kneading dough will stay moist during rest time but starts losing moisture after 20 minutes. So if you are not planning to make rotis right away, place the dough into an air tight container with lid and refrigerate.
When ready to make rotis, uncover and divide into equal portions.Â Approximately.If you refrigerated the dough, take it out 10-15 minutes before and let sit on kitchen counter.
Take each dough portion betweenÂ palms of your both hands and roll to make as smooth balls as possible. Flatten the balls. GetÂ some loose atta on to the dish. Its time to make rotis!
Roll each ball in the loose atta and place on a smooth rolling stone or pastry board or kitchen surface. Flatten out lightly from edges using tips of your finger. Using a rolling-pin, start rolling the dough to a flat circle.
Dust the board or the roti as and when required when rolling. Initially, you will need to dust moreÂ but it will get easier as you continue.
It takes practice to get the shape. Even if you don’t get perfect rounds its okay,Â doesnt affect the taste.The trick to roll perfect rotisÂ is that when you are rolling the dough itÂ should also be moving in circular direction by itself. If not, you can move it yourself and flatten from all sides to get a 6-7″ round.
Another tip (from my grandmother)Â to get thin edges ofÂ rotisÂ is that towards the last 15-20 seconds of rolling, your rolling-pin should be half on the board and half of theÂ roti.
Meanwhile, place a tawa (griddle), I use 12″ cast iron on high to heat up. Keep the box lined with kitchen towel near by to store rotis. When the griddle is hot, flour one of your hands and carefully, lift the roti.
Place the roti on the hotÂ tawa.Â Â Cook it for 30-40 seconds (this time will depend on thicken of your roti too)Â on first side,just so you see the surface changing color orÂ trying slightly. I would say about 25% cooked.
Flip using kitchen tongs and let cook for another 30-40 seconds on the other side. You might or might not get charred dots but do not cook on griddle for too long else the rotis will dry out.
LiftÂ theÂ rotiÂ with tongs and place it on open flame on the first side directly on fire and very lightly press with tongs to helpÂ it puff.Let puff and get charred on first side. About 10-15 seconds.Flip and repeat for the second side. If you storing rotis, you should not let it brown too much else it will dry up. Some people like crispy and chewy rotis, so you can char them to liking.
In case, you have a electrical stove with no flame, see the recipe on how to puff up the rotis.
Very gently press on when you puff the second side too. Smear with ghee and wrap in a kitchen towel to store.
Typically, you can serve rotis as a side bread with all sorts of things – curries (both dry & wet) to lentils to as a wrap or fried and a chips or any which way you like. One of my personal favorites is warm roti, smothered with gheeand sprinkled with sugar, rolled up. In India, it is normal to consume rotis for all meals,Â two, sometimes three times a day,sometimes in our house we serve roti alongside spicy egg scramble for breakfast or quick lunch too.
One of my close friend once told me a very interesting way to introduce the correct way of eating rotis to the western world.”Use roti as a spoon to eat the curry and laterÂ eat the spoon”, he said.Spot on!
In other news, Sinfully Spicy was featured last week by SBS Australia as a favorite indian food blog in their food section. You could read the featureÂ here.
2.5 cups durum wheat atta (fine ground whole wheat flour made from durum wheat)
1 +1/4 cup warm water or more/less if needed
1/2 tbsp – 1 tbsp any neutral oil (to moisten the dough when it rests, optional)
Ghee to spread on warm, cooked rotis (optional but recommended)
about 3/4 cup dry atta, needed when rolling the rotis
A wide, heavy shallow dish large enough to knead and dough. In India, we use aÂ paraatÂ (a brass or stainless less dish specifically for kneading roti dough). You could use your mixing bowl too but a wide dish will make it a lot easier.
A flat, clean, smooth rolling stone or surface
2-3 kitchen towels (to cover the dough when resting as well as to wrap the cooked rotis)
1-2 sheets of paper towel (I line the kitchen towel with paper towel to absorb the moisture when storing rotis else they turn too soggy)
A wide container (8-10 inch in diameter) with lid to store the wrapped rotis. If you do not have, you could use a couple of dinner plates.
Tawa or cast iron griddle (I use my 12″) to cook the rotis.
A pair of tongs to be used when puffing the rotis on direct flame
There are superior varieties of Indian wheatÂ which are stone ground to make atta (fine whole wheat flour). Largely, you could choose between durum wheat orÂ sharbatiÂ wheat.Â Infact, a lot of leading atta brands in India now have a mix of both. It is important to understand that attaÂ is different from the pastry whole wheat flour available in baking aisles. It is a much fine ground which make the rotis soft and less chewy.You will need to visit indian/pakistani grocery stores to get it.There are multigrain and high fibre atta varieties also available and all are suitable for making rotis. A 10lb pack will usually cost you $7-$8 and it has a really good shelf life of 3-4 months.
In a wide, shallow dish measure andÂ placeÂ the atta. With one handÂ slowly start adding (warm) water and mixing in circular motion with the fingers of other hand. Incorporate water a little at a timeÂ and start to kneading gently.
As the attaÂ absorbs water,it will start clumping up into a ball.Continue to add warm water till all the dry flour becomes wet, your hands will be mighty messy but the flour willÂ come together.Remember not to add too much water at a time.
Once a ball is formed,Â ensure that itÂ is not very dry by trying to squeeze the dough ball between your palms as if making a fist and it should feel soft and sticky. Start using your knuckles to knead theÂ doughÂ next.
Use your knuckles to flatten the doughÂ out and then pull it all together towards yourself, using your palm & fingers, then knead again with knuckles to flatten out. Knead this way (flatten and bring together) repeatedly forÂ 7-8Â minutes. At any point you feel that the dough is tight or drying out, add a light splash of warm water.The dough should not feel or look dry at any point.
Towards the last 1-2 minutes of kneading, use both hands to knead for a very smooth & elastic dough (this will work up the gluten really fast). Once the dough looks and feels really really smooth, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for (not more than) 20-25Â minutes.You could smear a layer of meltedÂ gheeÂ or oil on top but you really willÂ not need it if the proportion of water is correct and you made sure that the dough didn’t feel or look dry when kneading. The dough will stay moist during rest time but starts losing moisture after 30 minutes. So if you are not planning to make rotis right away, place the dough into an air tight container with lid and refrigerate.
When ready to makeÂ rotis, uncover and divide into equal portions.Â Approximately.(Note: If you refrigerated the dough, take it out 10-15 minutes before and let sit on kitchen counter)
Take each dough portion betweenÂ palms of your both hands and roll to make as smooth balls as possible. Flatten the balls. GetÂ some looseÂ attaÂ on to the dish. Its time to makeÂ rotis!
Roll and cover each ball in the looseÂ attaÂ and place on a smooth rolling stone or pastry board or kitchen surface. Flatten out lightly on edges using tips of your finger. Using a rolling-pin, start rolling the dough to a flat circle.Dust the board or theÂ rotiÂ as and when required when rolling. Initially, you will need to dust moreÂ but it will get easier as you continue.
It takes practice to get the perfect circle shape. Even if you don’t get perfect rounds its okay, it doesn’t affect the taste.Â The trick to roll perfectÂ rotisÂ is that when after 1-2 minutes into rolling the dough itÂ should also be moving in circular direction by itself. If its your first time, this might not happen but remember practice will make you better and better each time. If not, you can move the rotiÂ yourself to roll and evenly flatten from all sides to get a 6-7″ round.
Another tip to get thin edges ofÂ rotisÂ is that towards the last 15-20 seconds of rolling, your rolling-pin should be half on the board and half of theÂ roti as you roll.
Meanwhile, place aÂ tawaÂ (griddle), I use 12″ cast iron on to heat up on high. Keep the box lined with kitchen towel near by to storeÂ rotis. When the griddle is hot, flour one of your hands and carefully, lift theÂ roti.
Place theÂ rolled rotiÂ on the hotÂ tawa.Â Â Cook it for 30-40 seconds (this time will depend on thicken of your roti too)Â on first side,just so you see the surface changing color orÂ trying slightly. I would say about 25% cooked.
Flip using kitchen tongs and let cook on the griddle on the second side for another 30-40 seconds. You might or might not get charred dots but do not cook on griddle for too long else theÂ rotisÂ will dry out.When you cook on the second side, you will see that little puffs coming up on the surface.
LiftÂ theÂ rotiÂ with tongs and place it on open flame on the first side directly on fire and very lightly press with tongs to helpÂ it puff.Let puff and get charred on first side. About 10-15 seconds.
Flip and repeat for the second side. If you storingÂ rotis, you should not let it brown too much else it will dry up. Some people like crispy and chewyÂ rotis, so you can char a little longer to liking.
In case you do not have electrical stove, you can puff up the rotis on the griddle itself. Once the second side is cooked, reduce the heat to medium and gently start pressing the roti with a soft kitchen towel on all side. It will puff up.
Smear ghee on the hot rotis and server right away or store then wrapped in a kitchen towel. I line the kitchen towel with a small piece of paper towel, this helps in preventing them from getting soggy.
In case you want to freeze the rotis (yes it can be done), make all the rotis and let them cool down to room temperature wrapped inside the towel. Then stack them on top of each other with a large piece of wax or parchment paper in between.
When wanting to use the frozen rotis, thaw them in the fridge and warm up on high for 8-10 seconds in the microwave.
Roll the dough very well and as evenly thin as possible.This helps in puffing up the rotis.
Store the leftover dough in the refrigerator for not more than 1-2 days in an air tight container.
If you are wanting to serve rotis later in the day, you can make ahead them. In this case, add 2 tbsp of melted ghee while making the dough.They will remain soft.
The thought of eating steaming rice mixed with thick, chili huedÂ masalaÂ from the curry fills me with as much joy as that of a kid waiting upon a bowl of macaroni & cheese. In our house, aÂ weekday suddenly turns exciting when its egg curryÂ for dinner.Â It is not an immensely difficultÂ meal to prepare and trust me it spoils your taste buds given how quick it is ready to serve. I use my basic masala recipe with a few whole spices added in.
The husband can live on eggs and for me, particularly at this time of the year when the evenings are colder, diving into a thick tomato gravyÂ with redolent ofÂ kasuri methiÂ and warm tones of ginger is enough to drive me hungry out of turn.
In India, egg curry is an immensely popular dish. Usually, hard-boiled eggs are thrown in the home specific curry recipe and served as a protein side to the meals. The recipe varies from home to home as well as region to region. The north indians mostly prepare it in a tomato – onion base while the south indian version is done with coconut & curry leaves.Few regions use a mustard paste base andÂ fry up the lightly hard-boiled eggs before dunking them in the sauce.It is commonly served as a side to flatbreads or plain rice.
My mum always used to add fresh peas to the gravy but the husband prefers potatoes so I started making it that way. If you get a chance, fresh peas, sweet and tender beautifully balance the heat of the spices but potatoes taste quite delicious and comforting too.You can use just eggs too depending on how you like it. The gravy is veryÂ flavorful with normal day-to-day spices used in and comes together quickly while the eggs boil.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
1 generous pinch turmeric powder
1 mediumÂ potato, peeled and cut into halves or quarters
3-4 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with canola/grapeseedÂ oil)
1 green cardamom, cracked open
1/4″ cinnamon stick
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 small garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger (adjust quantity to taste)
1 cup tomatoes, finely chopped (slight sour variety)
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/8 tspÂ garamÂ masala
1/4 tspÂ amchoorÂ (dry mango powder)
1/2 cup water (or more depending on desired consistency)
1/2 tspÂ kasuriÂ methiÂ (driedÂ fenugreekÂ leaves, skip if you do not have)
Fresh cilantro to garnish – as much as you want
Hard Boil the eggs. I useÂ this recipeÂ to get perfectly hardÂ -boiledÂ eggs.
Peel the eggs, slit (but not all the way through) them using a sharp knife Â and rub them with a generous pinch of turmeric powder and let sit.
In a heavy bottomed pot, add the oil and heat on medium – high till you see faint ripples on the oil surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat it a little longer till to do away the raw smell.Reduce heat to medium. Add the cardamom and cinnamon stick and let crackle for 10-120 seconds. Add the finely chopped onions next and cook them tillÂ golden brown. About 6-8 minutes.
Next, add the garlic & ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling a nice aroma.Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes next along with coriander,turmeric,chilli,garamÂ masalaÂ &Â amchoorÂ powder. Start to cook thisÂ masalaÂ on low heat. After about 3-4 minutes add the potatoes, cover and cook theÂ masalaÂ till you see the oil separating on the sides of the pan. About 8-10Â minutes. In between, if you seeÂ masalaÂ sticking to the bottom of pan, add some water. .This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, do not rush.Allow theÂ masalaÂ to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color andÂ theÂ potatoes are 90% done.
Add the turmeric rubbed eggs to the pot, sprinkle theÂ kasuriÂ methi,Â add more water (if you want a thinner gravy),cover and let cook for another 5-7 minutes. Put off the stove and let sit at least 2 hours before serving.
Aloo Methi is a classic loved dish in the northern regions of india during the cold months. As soon as the winter knocks in, Â a lot of leafy greens could be spotted in the farmers markets as well as on the cart of the sabzivala,the vegetable vendor who used to bring us fresh produce everyday from his fertile patch.A regular for more than a decade at my grandma’s house, he would bring in a mix of fresh coriander,petite yellowish cauliflowersÂ and slender radishes andÂ potatoesÂ from his patch,also making sure toÂ stop by the mandi (wholesale market) everyday to stockÂ up his cart with a few pounds of tomatoes, onions and other seasonal produce.Then all day long, he went knocking door to door selling his grownÂ and bought to old and new customers. We did not go to grocery stores then, in those days and still such vegetable, fish and poultry vendors are responsible for fresh meals served on our tables. Every now and then if not daily, my grandma and him would have funny altercations, she complaining of the vegetables not being ‘that’ fresh and costly, him arguing that his wife cooked a delicious sabzi last night with the same thing. A lot of time my grandma would haggle for that extra bunch of cilantro or few limes for it was deemed totally legit to get free herbs after a hefty purchase.On most days, he gave in to the sweet old lady, packing in a few ounces of green chillies and fragrant mint along.As the winters ripened, the leafy produce- spinach, methi, beet & turnip greens, radish, mustard became cheaper and cheaper. Needless to say, it would be a green fiesta on our dinner table on most of the days, a garlicky methi aloo to spinach dal to palak paneer or sarson ka saag (mustard curry) Methi (fenugreek leaves) are used a lot in north indian cooking.Here in the States, you can easily find them fresh in the indian/pakistani stores once the autumn starts to knocks. Avoid using frozen if you can. Broadly, there are two varieties of methi– the small one, with round, dark green and extremely fragrant & delicate leaves called the kasuri methi.You would have noticed me using it a lot in my recipes. It has a short season and even during winters it is available only for a couple of weeks. The other variety, the larger one is less fragrant in comparison but has a longer season and can be homegrown easily from methi dana (fenugreek seeds). In indian cooking, seeds as well as leaves, both are used their piquant, bitter flavor. MethiÂ has a unique, tangy bitter flavor which is definitely an acquired taste but trust me it is addictive.My grandma always used to mix fresh dill (sooaa) leaves whenever cookingÂ methi alooÂ (potatoes) in aÂ karahi(indian wok). Even though I never liked addition of dill thenÂ but now in all these years, it has Â changed.However, do not use a lot of dill as it is a strong herb and can overpower theÂ methiÂ taste. Potatoes lend the dish a nice, comforting earthy flavor as well as balance the bitterness of the greens. Do not be tempted to reduce potato quantity coz then the stir fry will come come very bitter. The dish is generously flavored with garlic and dried chillies and is a perfect accompaniment toÂ steamed basmati riceÂ -Â dalÂ and a side ofÂ mango pickle. The dish keeps very well for hours so you could also wrap up the stir fry inÂ triangleÂ paratha(flatbread) forÂ a hearty lunch at work or school. The dish gets better the next day so plan a few leftovers if you like.
Methi Aloo – Fenugreek With Potatoes
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
3 cupsÂ methiÂ (fenugreek leaves)
3-4 tbsp pure mustard oil (mustard oil adds a authentic flavor but olive/canola oil can be used)
heaped 1/4 tspÂ methi danaÂ (fenugreek seeds)
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tspÂ hingÂ powder (asafoetida)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Â 1-2 whole driedÂ kashmiriÂ chilies
1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne)
scant pinch of turmeric powder
1/4 tspÂ amchoorÂ (dry mango powder)
2-3 stalks fresh dill leaves, chopped (about 2 tbsp) (Optional can be skipped)
2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubes ( or 7-8 baby potatoes)
Pick up the tender shoots and leaves from the long, hardÂ methiÂ stems. Wash the leaves under running water to remove all the dirt. On a clean kitchen towel, spread the washedÂ methiÂ to completely air dry for 30-45 minutes. If you are in a hurry, use paper towel to absorb all the moisture. Ensure that the leaves areÂ totally dry once you are ready to cook else the stir fry will come out watery. Chop the leaves and set aside.
In aÂ karahiÂ or heavy skillet, heat up the mustard oil on medium until the raw smell goes away. Once hot, temper the oil withÂ methi danaÂ and cumin seeds. Wait till they crackle. Turn the heat to low and immediately add the chopped garlic,Â hingÂ and dried chillies. Wait till the garlicÂ changes color to light brown and the dried chillies swell, about 10-12 seconds in hot oil. Take utmost care that the garlic does not burn. You can even put off the stove for few minutes if you feel that the oil is already hot enough.
Next, add the red chill, turmeric andÂ amchoorÂ powder. Stir for 3-4 seconds and add the choppedÂ methiÂ leaves. Stir to combine. TheÂ methiÂ leaves will wilt down in 1-2 minutes and you will see they start wilting down and water of theÂ methiÂ separating. Let cook uncovered for 3-4Â minutes on medium low heat and then add the dill along with potatoes. Add the salt next. Stir so that everything is combined.
Cover theÂ karahiÂ with a lid and let cook for 3-5 minutes until everything is cooked through. TheÂ methiÂ will be a darker shade of green at the end of cooking and will stick to potatoes. Put off the heat and let sit for at least 1-2 hours before serving (this is important).
Whenever I pick up a bundle of palak(spinach) at the grocery store -all organic & prewashed & ready to serve and what not, always, without a miss, I think about the vegetable patch(es) in my grandmother’s house,a house where I lived in some 18 years back, having a backyard planted with tomatoes and okra during summers and cauliflowers & potatoes during winters.One where the air would strongly smell of agarbatti (incense sticks) in the evenings which were often lighted to wade away the bugs from the eggplant bush, one which had rowsÂ dotted with yellow and orange marigolds & english roses.One where each morning,I strolled alongÂ the narrow, wet sidewalks brushing my teeth,bending down to sniffÂ the strong fragrance of tulsi (holy basil) plants.One where I spent a lot of childhood days,counting the ready-to-pluck green beans and tearingÂ leaves apart to spot the cabbage buns. A backyard where you could find us after coming back from school, dressed in printed cotton frocks,bare feet, digging mud and playing hide and seek within the squash creepers.
I visited India last year and everything isÂ the same, the yard still planted with seasonal crop but now more taken care of byÂ maaliÂ (gardener) than the family. Mom madeÂ dalÂ and she sprinkled a bunch of chopped coriander leaves on top,picked from there. I plucked a few narangiÂ (indian kumquat) from the bush which has now turned into a small tree inÂ all theses years and popped it into my mouth with a pinch of salt, the burst of citrus tang running goose pimples all over my body, bringing memories withÂ itself of the days when squirts of that sweet acid graced our daliya (breakfast porridge)Â every now and then. I toreÂ up a fewÂ spinach andÂ methiÂ (fenugreek) leaves and chewed on them, a wishÂ which I had nestled for so many years to experience that unforgettable earthly, delicate taste all over again.
I wanted ourÂ daughter to play Â and get her hands dirty in the mud but she could barely crawl at that time, so that fun has to wait till our next visit. But, embraced in all these memories, I made thisÂ murghÂ (chicken)Â saagÂ (any leafy green) last week and she really loved it. This recipe is a perfect balance of greens and protein to nourish kids and adults alike.You would have seen this dishÂ on indian restaurant’s menus a lot. But it is not somethingÂ I grew up with. I started making it regularly a couple of years back, mostly aroundÂ my pregnancy yearsÂ when I craved spinach all the time. This recipe has evolved a lot from the first time IÂ cooked it.
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
For the Spice Rub on Chicken
4-5 whole dryÂ kashmiriÂ red chilies (adjust to tolerance)
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
2 small black cardamom pods, cracked open
2 tsp black peppercorns (adjust to tolerance)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1.5 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2″ pieces
1 tsp canola or sunflower oil
Rest of the Ingredients
6-8 oz fresh spinach leaves (~ a little more than 1 cup spinach puree)
1/4- 1/3 cup water (depending on desired consistency of sauce)
3-4 tbsp heavy cream
Wash thoroughly and pat the chicken pieces completely dry. Set aside. In a small pan, dry roast theÂ kashmiriÂ chilies, coriander seeds, cloves, fennel,methi, cumin and black peppercorns. Transfer to a coffee grinder and coarsely grind.Â Mix the ground spices with turmeric, nutmeg and salt. In a large bowl, add theÂ chicken, drizzle the oil and sprinkle half of the ground spices and rubÂ so that all the pieces are covered in the spices. Reserve the rest of the spice rub. Cover the bowl and set in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or preferably overnight to marinate.
Once ready to cook,take the chickenÂ outÂ from the refrigerator and let sit on kitchen counter.Bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Put off the heat.Add the spinach leaves to the water and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Drain out the spinach leaves and puree in the food processor using little water if required. You can reserve the boiled water to thin out the sauce later if you want.Â
Meanwhile,heat up the mustard oil in another wide, heavy bottomed pot. Add the cinnamon, bay leaf and let crackle. Add the onions and garlic next. Let cook for 5-8Â minutes on medium low heat until the onion starts to turn brown. At this point, carefully add the chicken pieces to the pot in a single layer (if possible), and on medium high heat, let the chicken pieces sear on one side. Flip and let sear on all sides. Next, add the tomatoes, ginger and remaining ground spice powder to the pot. Stir around and let cook on medium heat till you see, tomatoes turn soft and oil just starting to separate on the side of the pan.It might take 8-10 minutes since the chicken will also release its juices butÂ keep on cooking.
Once you see that the chicken is about 80% cooked, add the pureed spinach along with theÂ garamÂ masala. Combine and cover till the spinach blends in the sauce, the raw smell is gone, it turns down in color to dark green and the chicken is completely cooked, about 10-12 minutes on medium heat.Â You will see little glistening spinach bubbles on the top.Open the lid, add theÂ kasuri methiÂ and water (depending on the consistency you want). Let simmer for another 1-2 minutes.Add the heavy cream, check and adjust the salt, let simmer for 2-3 minutes more (but do not boil).
Let sit for 2-3 hours before serving.Warm up and serve.
You can use bone in chicken for this recipe. Use dark meat portions and make incisions in the flesh with a sharp knife before you marinate it.
When you puree the spinach, do not make a smooth paste out of it (that’s why I do not use aÂ blender). Use as less water as possible when grinding spinach.
Â If you like a bit of smoky flavor then you can grill the chicken but I prefer searing itÂ in the cooking pot itself.
You could use a mix of greens – kale and spinach work beautifully, so does spinach andÂ methi(fresh fenugreek).
The addition of heavy cream makes the dish a lot tastier and rich but you can skip the cream if you want.