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.
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!

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.

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!

Brunch · Guest Posts · Indian Curry · Side Dishes · Stir-fry · Vegetarian

Paneer Jalfrezi – A Guest Post for Prerna of India Simmer

Well the season of guest posts continues on Sinfully Spicy 🙂 Welcome to another one..this time at one of my super favorite indian cuisine blogs – Indian Simmer!

Prerna from Indian Simmer is one person who never fails to fascinate me with her warmth & energy. Always full of excitement, I would say that she is one of the most cheerful lady I have met in the blogging world. They say that you need an eye for beauty, as much as I have known her, I feel that the kind of emotions & personality you carry around in life tend to reflect in everything you do – be it words, lens or recipes. Beautiful people make beautiful blogs – Indian Simmer is a testimonial of exactly that! Her lens is what personifies indian cuisine to the root  – Vibrant, colorful & mouthwatering!

I was honored when she asked me to guest post on her blog. Thank you so much, Prerna. Among many of her creative ideas, she came up with this series where she wants to feature her favorite blogs; well the thought of kick starting the series is jaw dropping for me. To make the series fun, she posed me with a little questionnaire, which I tried my best to answer.

Read my little chit chat & recipe for Paneer Jalfrezi on her blog here. You can find the printable recipe here.

Ingredients  (Serves 2)

  • 3 tbsp canola/olive/sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1″ fresh gingershoot, minced
  • 2 Thai green chilies, chopped
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes, quartered & sliced
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tbsp red chili flakes (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 cup sliced bell peppers (use any colored peppers of choice)
  • 7 oz / (200gm) paneer (Indian cheese), sliced into 2” batons
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1.5 tbsp white vinegar / fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • Chopped Cilantro for garnish

Method: –

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet or pan /wok/kadhai on high. Once smoking, add cumin & coriander seeds and fry for 30 seconds or so till they crackle.

Next, add the minced ginger & garlic along with green chilies and cook for another 30 seconds till you smell the aroma.

Reduce heat to medium and add sliced onions next to the pan and fry till soft and translucent. About 2-3 minutes.

Add sliced tomatoes, turmeric powder & red chili flakes to the pan next and fry for 5-7 minutes till tomatoes begin to sweat & soften but do not turn mushy. You will see oil separating on sides of the pan. Stir frequently to prevent tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the sliced peppers next, stir and fry them for 5-8 minutes so that they cook slightly but still hold their shape & are crunchy.

Add the paneer next along with salt, increase heat to high and cook for 2-3 minutes with gentle tossing so as not to break the cheese.

Remove from heat, sprinkle the garam masala, sugar & top up with vinegar. Combine well. Garnish with chopped cilantro & serve with steamed rice or Indian breads.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Guest Posts · Indian Curry · Non vegetarian · Side Dishes

Chettinad Chicken –

Sinfully Spicy - Chettinad Chicken

Me & Kulsum always joke & tell each other that we are long-lost sisters, sisters who have never met or knew each other before our food blogs happened. We took off around a similar time frame in the blogging world and have been in touch for almost 2 years now. Sharing an unadulterated love for all things Indian – food, spices, culture & lifestyle, whenever we communicate via twitter or mails or comments, mostly, we end up saying “oh..I was thinking the same way too” :)..It’s like you read my mind & speak my heart! These are the reasons I adore blogging. You touch people & they form a beautiful part of your life.

Sinfully Spicy - Chettinad Chicken

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

Marinate for 20 minutes:-

  • 2 lb/ 1 kg chicken drumsticks or thigh portions, skinned (use any dark meat portions, bone in pieces recommended)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Spices to be Dry Roasted :-

  • 1.5 tsp white poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 10-12 dry red chilies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 4 whole green cardamom
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
  • Water for grinding (about 1/4 cup)
For the Sauce:-
  • 4 tbsp mustard/canola/vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sambhar onions, chopped
  • 2″ cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 tbsp each grated fresh ginger & garlic
  •  8-10 curry leaves (available at indian stores)
  • 1.5 tsp red chili powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1.5 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 3-5 Thai green chilies, chopped fine (adjust to tolerance)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (adjust to taste)
  • Fresh grated coconut (for garnish)
  • Chopped cilantro / curry leaves ( for garnish)

Notes:-  

  1. Sambhar Onions can be  substituted with shallots or equivalent quantity of chopped red onions.
  2. Fresh coconut can be substituted with unsweetened grated coconut.

Method :-

  • In a medium saucepan, first dry toast all the spices except fresh coconut for 2 minutes on low heat till you smell the aroma.
  • Next, add the grated coconut to the pan and toast till the coconut starts to change color lightly and drying out. About 8-10 minutes.
  • Once done, remove pan from heat & allow cooling. Grind the cooled spices & coconut to a paste using 1/4 cup of water or as required for grinding. The paste doesn’t have to be silky smooth. Set aside.
  • In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil on medium till it starts to smoke lightly. Add, chopped onions and cook with regular stirring till they are translucent but not browned. About 5-7 minutes.
  • Next, add the cinnamon stick & star anise and cook for 18-20 seconds till you smell the aroma of whole spices.
  • Add in the grated ginger and garlic, curry leaves & ground spice paste and red chili & turmeric powder. Cook for 2 minutes.
  • Next, reduce heat to low, add the chopped tomatoes, mix in & cook uncovered for at least 12-15 minutes with regular stirring till oil starts separating on sides of the pot.
  • Add in the marinated chicken & chopped green chilies next, mix, check the salt & adjust, increase heat to high and let cook for 3 minutes. Next, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot & let the chicken cook with the spices & its own juices for 12-15 minutes or till tender (This cooking time will depend on size of your chicken pieces)
  • Uncover the pot, check if the chicken pieces are tender else cook for another 2-3 minutes. Once chicken pieces are cooked, turn off the heat, add the lemon juice to liking, cover & let sit covered till ready to serve.
  • When ready to serve, garnish with chopped cilantro/ curry leaves/fresh coconut.Serve with warm rice.
Enjoy & Have a lovely week ahead everyone!
Brunch · one pot meals · Rice Dishes · Vegetarian

Tahiri -Slow cooked Basmati Rice With Black Spices

                                            Featured on Food Buzz Top 9Summer might be officially gone in many of the states but in my part, the temperatures are still in nineties.Though the sun sets early now & morning sun has started to feel cozy and relaxing, days are still quite sunny & hot. However, it rained last weekend. We hardly get any rains out here, I think the last bit was long back in May, so whenever it comes pouring down, its time to rejoice in my house.Usually, its super lazy day with TV or book on the couch, comfort food to fill up and loads of chai which I enjoy while sitting beside the window as rain drops rattle against the glass. Thats one corner of the house which keeps me alive amongst the gloom from cloudy skies in the rest of the apartment, especially when I m alone.

I literally wait for the summer to end to make some dishes.The wet & cold weekend (yup the temperatures dipped to 64 ),made me crave my grandmom’s tahiri which is one of my favorite things to make since the autumn sets in to the finish of winter. Not missing the little chance I got last weekend, this rice dish was our comfort meal. The best part being that this is a one pot meal, has the perfect amount of spike to it, is loaded with satiating goodness of starchy vegetables and leftovers taste all the more better! Just few minutes of preparations & you are all set for a soul satisfying meal.It really need no side dish even coz its so much flavorful on its own, just a bowl of plain yogurt or green chutney/pickle will be more than enough. If you really want to indulge, add a dollop of cold butter or ghee over the steaming bowl of rice, let it melt and find its way right to the bottom on its own & you are good to go! The best part about this dish is the bottom burnt layer of rice which is achieved by a technique called  dumpukht  (see recipe).

My best memories of eating tahiri are of Sunday lunches when we sat on charpai(cot) under the bright winter sun amid the home-grown decor of winter vegetables in my grandmother’s vegetable garden. I remember picking up fresh stalks of young garlic and onions right from the soil and eating it with tahiri. The taste of unwashed, organic stuff was unmatched.I am a survivor of such homecooked authentic Indian dishes.A mention of these winter lunches still takes me back there, of the food relished during those growing years, times spent with family amid laughter & gossip.

The trio of vegetables that go into tahiri which is a speciality dish of  state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) is standard – white potatoes, cauliflower & peas.Called by the same name, this dish is quite similar to a non vegetarian rice recipe popular in south indian states – where it is made with minced meat.These vegetables go so well with the warmth of black indian spices – cumin, black cardamom, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg & cinnamon. The spices are fresh ground into a paste and then rice & vegetable are open cooked on low heat along with the paste for long to bring about the depth of flavors. The result is a aromatic pot full of comfort- the rice is not hot but has the right amount of spice kick for soothing the senses.

Tahiri is not pilaf, its cooked low & slow by a technique called dumpukht or indirect slow heating. What differentiates it from biryani is the fact that unless you make kacchi biryani, the rice & meat/ vegetables are separately half cooked, layered & then cooked to perfection. In tahiri, rice & vegetables cook start to 95% doneness in the spicy broth and finished via dumpukht cooking.  I hope all these techniques make sense 🙂

Utensil Required : A wide mouthed, heavy bottomed pot with lid/kadhai with lidIngredients (Serves 4)1/4 cup oil (canola/vegetable/any unflavored oil)3/4 cup thinly sliced red onions 2 bay leaves2″ cinnamon stick2 black cardamom, cracked open (substitute with 5 green cardamom)3/4 cup peas (fresh or frozen)3/4  cup cauliflower florets1 large russet potato, peeled and  cut into 1/2″ cubes1 cup basmati rice1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg1/2 tsp garam masala Salt to taste2.5 cups water (or as required for cooking your rice variety, check package instructions)Chopped cilantro for garnishNote:- Cut the potato & cauliflower florets such that they cook perfectly in the time it takes rice to cook. 
Spices to be soaked in 1/2 cup water for 30 minutes:-
2 tbsp whole black peppercorns 4 whole dry red chillies (adjust to tolerance)1 tsp whole cumin seeds1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds4 whole cloves2 ” fresh ginger shoot, peeled & crushed roughlyMethod:- Pick & wash rice 2-3 times under running water. Set aside. Thaw the peas if using frozen. Tip the soaked spices above into a blender jar & churn to make a smooth mix. We dont want a too fine or too coarse textures here, just ensure that the black pepper seeds are crushed properly.Transfer to a bowl & set aside.
Heat oil in pot/kadhai on mediumOnce the oil is smoking, add the sliced onions. Cook the onions till they are light brown. About 8 minutes. Next, reduce heat to low & add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, black cardamom & the ground spice mix to the pot.
Cook the spices with regular stirring till you see oil separating on sides of the pot. About 6-8 minutes. At this point, add the vegetables along with washed rice to the pot. Gently combine everything to mix well.Remove from heat & pour the water required for cooking the rice into the pot, give everything a stir , add salt to taste & let the rice soak for 15 minutes.Once the rice has soaked, transfer the pot to medium heat. Cover the pot & bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and let cook for 10-12 minutes (or the time required for your rice variety to get 95% cooked). Turn off the heat, open the lid, add the grated nutmeg  & garam masala, gently mix with a wooden spoon & leave to steam on its own over the stove for another 5-8 minutes, undisturbed.
While the rice is steaming, heat up a cast iron skillet(enough to hold the cooking pot).Once the skillet is hot, reduce heat to very low, transfer the rice pot over the skillet & let the rice cook for another 10 minutes on dum (indirect slow cooking technique).We want the bottom layer of rice to crisp up & burnt (almost). After 10 minutes, fluff up with a fork , garnish the rice with chopped cilantro. Serve with plain yogurt & salad. 
Indian Curry · Non vegetarian · Side Dishes

Keeme Ke Kofte-Mutton Meatballs Curry

Given a choice,I prefer brothy, spice laden curries over the thick,sweetish,creamy ones.I like to sip the spiced broth which hits the back of tongue.Spices which do a happy dance in your mouth and leave behind a “gimme me more” feeling.There is something really addictive about spice blends unadulterated by sugar & cream.You start eating, and you don’t want to stop.There’s a rush of signals to the brain wanting you to have more of it.I have experienced this kind of feeling especially with fiery curries as the one I m sharing in this post.With P,it’s the opposite.For him, the creamier the better.He prefers spices in a creamy base,preparations which give him a rich, full feeling after the meal.Not that he doesn’t like, in fact I have hardly seen him not enjoying any kind of indian food but he is little partial towards the creamy ones.At home,we have struck a deal now.We alternate “his” & “my” kind of curry preparations.Its a win win situation for both of us.

Anyhow,the very sound of this dish reminds me of the bylanes of Jama Masjid area in Old Delhi where they the little eateries run by muslims chefs by the road side serve it with tandoori roti, warm ghee cumin rice & pickled onions.The koftas keep on simmering in a big metal handi[pot] with aromatic steam trying to escape from the sides of the lid.Me and P used to throng that place quite often before marriage.That area in Old Delhi is house to the world-famous Moti Mahal & Karim restaurants.But the sheer joy of eating at those streets is unmatched in front of these decadent places.The hustle-bustle of people, the narrow lanes, the rattling of vendors, everyone seems to be in a hurry during evening hours.But you wanna stop to relish the foods there. The aroma of spices mixed with the incense burning in those eateries was enticing.Sitting on an old, depleted wooden bench, dunking roti into the warm, spicy gravy served in a plain china dish,eating with hands and licking the fingers thereafter.No cutlery,no napkins..simple yet blissful moments of life.Ah,I miss those times.

This is my mom’s recipe who recreates it closest to the Old Delhi taste.One of my dad’s favorite things to eat,this was our supper almost every Saturday.There are two things which give this curry the “fiery ” element.First of all is the use of mustard oil.Now, if you have been reading my blog, you would have noticed that I innately use it in my cooking.Mustard oil, of course produced from mustard seeds has a pungent taste & a sinus irritating aroma similar to wasabi or horseradish.Its an acquired taste and can be very addictive.I cant imagine my kitchen without it.The second thing is the green chilies which make their way into the balls and the red chilli powder in the gravy.Yes, its the double amount of chillies.Though you can drop the ones in the mince if you want.

Kofta” is a term used for balls made out of minced vegetables or meat.If you like spicy, curries, this is just the one for you.It will take you to a virtual trip to those bylanes of Old Delhi.Succulent balls of mutton in a onion-sour yogurt base curry.I normally do not like to add tomatoes to red meat preparations,you can if you want.Try the recipe with minced lamb,beef or chicken and keep on adjusting the cooking time accordingly.Another thing I highly recommend is making this curry at least 4-5 hours in advance of your eating time, the longer the balls sit in the gravy, the tastier they get.Make sure to prepare extra because left overs taste AMAZING!Below goes the recipe, see the notes at the end:-

Mutton Kofta Curry [Serves 3-4]

Printable Recipe

For the Koftas or Meatballs: [Makes about 25 balls of the size shown]

  • 1 lb ground mutton/lamb/beef/chicken [I use lean mince]
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, grated
  • 1″ fresh ginger shoot, grated
  • 2 Thai green chillies, chopped finely
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp clove powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold plain yogurt [slightly sour] to dip the koftas
For the Curry Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup thick onion paste
  • 1 fat garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder [If available else substitute with cayenne]
  • 1.5 tsp red chilli powder /cayenne [Adjust to taste]
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil [substitute with any oil of choice]
Whole Spices:-
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 4 pods green cardamom, break open
Required – A wide, heavy bottomed pot with lid big enough to layer the koftas in a single layer without having to stack on top of each other.

Method:-
Making the Koftas/Meatballs:-
  • Mix all the ingredients listed for the koftas except yogurt.Grease your palms & make medium balls of the mixture.I prefer to keep the size little.Do not make very big balls because the koftas swell while cooking.
  • Line the Koftas on a plate and refrigerate for at least 2 hours[Very imp step, do not miss]
  • Add 3-4 tbsp of water to the yogurt and thin it out if required.Keep refrigerated until you begin cooking.
Making the curry sauce:
  • In the pot, heat the oil on high heat.Once the oil is smoking, reduce the heat to medium.It is important to cook mustard oil to smoky point at the start of cooking to do away with the raw smell.
  • Add the onion paste along with the whole spices and cook on medium heat till golden brown in color.
  • Next,add the grated garlic and saute for about 2 minutes.Next add coriander, turmeric , chilli powders, salt and cook the spice mix on medium heat till you see oil separating at the sides of the pot.About 8-10 minutes.
  • At this point add 1.5 -2 cups of water to the pot, stir well cover with lid and let the gravy come to a boil on high heat.
  • Once the gravy is boiling,lower the heat to the minimum possible on your stove.Take out the refrigerated koftas, dip them in cold ,thinned out yogurt one at a time and start tipping to the pot.Do not stack the koftas on top of each other, and do not overcrowd the pot because they will swell up as they cook.
  • After you have added all the koftas to the pot, add the yogurt [if remaining] to the pot too.Check the seasoning of the gravy at this point and adjust salt.
  • Cover the pot and let simmer.It takes about 20-25 minutes for the koftas to be fully cooked.Do not increase the flame/heat else the yogurt will cuddle.While they are simmering, you will need to come in between and gently stir the contents for even cooking,either stir using the handle of the pot or cover with lid,lift the pot wearing gloves in your hands and move the pot.Preferably, do not use spatula or spoon.
  • To check the doneness of the koftas- Take one out and cut it into half, if you see pink inside,more cooking is required.I usually cook the koftas totally, if you like rare or medium rare, adjust the cooking time.
  • At the end of cooking, you will see that the oil is floating on top of the pot & the gravy has thickened slightly.Adjust the consistency of the gravy at this point.If you are adding water, you will have to simmer the diluted gravy for extra 5 minutes.
  • Let the koftas rest for about 2-3 hours in the gravy for them to absorb flavors.I make them in the early to be eaten for dinner.The more they rest the more the flavor.
  • Serve warm with roti or cumin rice.

Notes:

  1. Test a single kofta first in the boiling gravy to make sure that it’s not spreading or crumbling away..In that case u need to add a binder [egg or cornstarch or flour] to the mix.I didnt need any.
  2. Take care not to overcook the koftas, they become hard.

Sending to Hearth n Soul #48