Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Baking Easy Recipes Lentils Snacks

Bajri (Millet) Crackers With Chana Dal dip

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

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

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

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

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

Yield – About 2 dozen

Ingredients

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

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

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

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

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Non vegetarian Rice Dishes Side Dishes

Keema Pulao – A Guest Post for Kankana of Sunshine & Smile

Today I m guest blogging at Kankana’s blog Sunshine & Smile. She is a lovely friend and it’s a huge pleasure to share her space today. I have been in touch with kankana via twitter for over 6 months now and she is full of warmth, energy & enthusiasm, which reflects in each of her blogposts. Her blog is full of mouth-watering dishes from different cuisines and whenever I land at her page, I leave hungry and smiling 🙂 Thanks so much for having me here!

I have wanted to share this minced mutton rice pilaf recipe for a long time & knowing Kankana’s liking for non-vegetarian food, this was a perfect opportunity. This recipe combines three of my loves into one – meat, potatoes & rice. It is a super comforting & easy meal, which is usually a weekend special at my home.

Hop over to her blog to see my post here. You can find the printable recipe here.

Ingredients:- (Serves 2-3)

▪                1 cup basmati rice

▪                2 cups water (or as required for cooking your rice variety)

▪                3 tbsp mustard/canola oil

▪                2 bay leaves

▪                2″ cinnamon stick

▪                4 cloves

▪                3/4 cup finely chopped onion

▪                1 tsp cumin seeds

▪                1 tsp coriander seeds

▪                1/2 tsp fennel seeds

▪                ½ tsp black peppercorns (or to taste)

▪                2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)

▪                2 tbsp ginger garlic paste

▪                1 cup finely chopped tomatoes

▪                1 lb lamb/mutton, minced

▪                1 large potato, peeled & cut into cubes

▪                10-12 fresh mint leaves, chopped

▪                Salt to taste

▪                Chopped cilantro/mint leaves for garnish

 

Method: –

 

▪                Pick and clean the rice. Wash under running stream of water. Set aside.

▪                Using a mortar & pestle, coarsely pound the fennel, cumin,coriander & black peppercorns seeds. Set aside.

▪                In a heavy bottomed, wide mouthed pot, heat oil to smoking point on high. Once smoking, reduce heat to medium, wait for 2 minutes and then add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, & cloves to the pot.

▪                Once the spices crackle & you smell the aroma in about 20 seconds, add the chopped onions to the pot. Cook on medium till onions start to turn brown. About 5-6 minutes.

▪                Add the pounded cumin, black peppercorn,fennel & coriander seeds next and sauté for another 30 seconds.

▪                Next add the ginger-garlic paste along with tomatoes & red chili powder. Cook on medium for another 6-7 minutes till you see oil separating on sides of the pot.

▪                At this point, turn the heat high and add the minced meat & potatoes. Cook the meat on high with continuous stirring (not mushing) till it changes color. You will also see fat & water separating from the meat but keep on cooking on high for 8-10 minutes.

▪                Once the meat has browned, add the washed basmati rice along with chopped mint leaves. Add the 2 cups of water (or as required) for cooking. Since the mince will leave more water as it cooks, I suggest less water than required.

▪                Let the rice soak for 30 minutes.

▪                After the rice has soaked, cover the pot and let the contents come to a boil on high. About 8 minutes.

▪                Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let rice cook covered till done. About 10 minutes. After rice is cooked, put the heat off and let the rice sit covered for another 15 minutes, undisturbed.

▪                Open the lid, fluff the rice with fork and garnish with chopped cilantro/mint.

▪                Serve warm with yogurt & salad.

Categories
Brunch Easy Recipes Guest Posts Indian Curry Side Dishes Vegetarian

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients: – (Serves 2-3)

▪                1 large eggplant (about 1lb)

▪                1 tsp oil (for rubbing on the eggplant)

▪                3 tbsp mustard/olive oil

▪                1 cup chopped red onions

▪                1″ fresh ginger shoot, chopped

▪                4 garlic cloves, chopped

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

▪                1.25 cups chopped tomatoes

▪                1 tsp coriander seeds

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

▪                1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)

▪                1/2 tsp garam masala

▪                Salt to taste

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

▪                Cilantro, green chilies chopped (for garnish)

Method: –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Categories
Brunch one pot meals Side Dishes Soups Vegetarian

Saffron & Mint Chickpea Stew

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

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

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

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

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

If using dried chickpeas: –

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

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

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

Method: –

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

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

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

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

Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!

Categories
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!

Categories
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!
Categories
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. 
Categories
Appetizers/Snacks Easy Recipes Side Dishes Vegetarian

Achari Paneer Tikka – Skewered Indian Cheese With Pickling Spices

 

 

Achari comes from the word “Achaar” which means pickle in Hindi. Tikka is any kind of boneless meat or vegetables baked or roasted on skewers. Pickles in India are a serious business involving lots of spices, lots of oil & lots of solar energy. Achari is a method of using the pickling spices to make curries. The spice mix is pungent and resonant with bold flavors from fenugreek (methi dana), mustard (raai) & nigella(kalonji) seeds.These spices are not hot, rather they are pungent, quite bitter and have a very strong aroma.In pickles, they ferment over a period of time & give a tangy taste. In curries, they lend a really unique & piquant taste. Achaari preparations don’t taste like normal curries, the taste is acquired & unusual, but at the same time can be very very addictive. Having said that, this should not stop you from trying these skewers coz they are different and really delish. Give these tikkas a chance – trust me it will take you straight to India.You just need to stock up on few spices which last forever from indian stores.


 

Ingredients (Serves 2-3) 

  • 400 gms /14 oz paneer ( Indian cheese, pierced with a fork,cut into 1” cubes)
  • 1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 10-12 grape tomatoes, whole
  • 1 medium red onion,diced
  • Oil for brushing
  • Lemon Wedges, Cilantro for garnish
  • 10-12 bamboo skewers

Notes:-

  1. Paneer is easily available in Indian stores under different brands.
  2. Paneer can be replaced by extra firm Tofu or Halloumi /Any cheese which can withstand grilling or roasting without melting.
  3. You can use any vegetables of choice here – zucchini,mushrooms work great. Just ensure that the cooking times of vegetable dont vary much.
  4. Dice the vegetables smaller/thinner than paneer, coz it takes less time to cook than veggies.
  5. For the Non vegetarian Version– Use boneless & cubed lamb, mutton, beef, chicken(dark portions) or shrimp.

For the Marinade:-

  • 1/2 tsp each of cumin, fennel, coriander & brown mustard (raai) seeds
  • 1/4 tsp each of nigella & fenugreek seeds
  • 4-5 dry red chillies or red pepper flakes (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 3 tbsp plain, thick greek yogurt, slightly sour
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp mustard oil (preferable for better taste, can be substituted with canola/olive/corn oil) 
  • Salt to taste 

Method:-

  • If using bamboo/wooden skewers soak them in water for atleast 2-3 hours.
  • Soak the cubed paneer in enough warm water seasoned with salt for about 15 minutes.Once soaked, drain and pat dry with a paper towel. 
  • In a small sauce pan, on high heat, lightly dry roast all the seeds under the “For the Marinade”.Roast for about 20 seconds or till you smell the aroma.Remove into a small bowl and let cool.
  • Next, in the same pan, roast the whole red chillies for about 20 seconds.
  • Tip the cooled, roasted spices along with red chillies into mortar or coffee grinder. Grind to a smooth powder to get a achari spice mix.
  • In a bowl (big enough to hold the marinade & ingredients), combine the yogurt, achari spice mix, ginger, garlic,oil,lemon juice & salt.Whisk well to mix.
  • Combine the paneer with the achari marinade,toss gently, cover the bowl with a cling film and set to marinate for 30 minutes,refrigerated. 
  • Add the vegetables to the marinade 5 minutes before ready to cook the skewers. This is important to keep the moisture of vegetables intact.
  • Once marinated, thread the marinated paneer & vegetables on soaked bamboo skewers. Brush with oil on all sides.
  • Cooking the Tikka :- I grilled the skewers on high for 4 minutes each side. You can cook them in my broiler till the paneer edges started to turn brown.About 10-12 minutes.You will need to flip them sideways to cook on all sides. Alternatively you can cook them in a skillet/griddle (about 8-10 minutes)
  • Serve warm with green coriander-mint chutney and flatbreads or rice. 

Notes:-

  1. If using red meat or chicken for making this recipe, marinate the meat overnight or atleast 6 hours to get better flavors.
Categories
Baking Breads/Flatbreads Breakfast Brunch Vegetarian

Masala Buns – Eggless,Whole Wheat Buns with a Spicy Filling

Featured on Foodbuzz Top 9 

Baking is totally sweet.Its therapeutic and always gives me a high.The same is not true when baking with yeast though. I feel that my fears of working with yeast were mostly because of inexperience. The unknown is always baffling.The acme of perfection that I wanted to achieve when handling yeast, mostly met with frustration of it acting foes. My dough would never rise, my yeast would cling to each other and turn into a lumpy mess. Dont even talk about the amount of food I wasted when I wanted to tame it in my own kitchen.The wastage was followed by days of agony. Whenever I wanted to make yeasted breads , I finished making something else. I could not overcome the thought of cups of flour & eggs making their way into the bin.I saw a recipe for a flaky pastry or loaf  in a book, I flipped the page as soon as I read yeast in there. All along my heart felt an overload of running away from the difficult.

Over a period of time, I realized that yeast is not that monstrous as I always guessed it. It needs patience to start with. Half of your battle is won there. The second half is of course practice – lots of it.I am the person who has none of the former but lot of will for the latter. Its like baby steps to learning towards perfecting the fungi. You have to give it attention and love.Even when you knead it, caress it. When it comes to yeast, in my kitchen, my motto is to try simple recipes & make them shine. I dream of baking those perfect  looking breads with visible pores and all. I will make it there someday. Right now, my moment of joy is when my mini buns and rolls fluff up in the warm weather I m blessed with these days  –  so far so good 🙂

I mentioned in my previous post that “Masala” is a generic term for anything spicy in Indian cuisine. Well, on similar lines, masala buns are buns with a spicy filling. I first tasted them in one of the bakeries near my college.I dont even remember how many books I have crammed eating these little beauties…oh boy..did I tell you that they give best(est) company to a cup of sweet masala chai. P calls the combo “double masala” …and it sure is. Spicy filling cushioned within doughy wrap along with sips of sweetish spiced up chai – yum!

I have tried to make these spicy savory buns in the healthiest way possible – using durum atta (whole wheat flour) which is the variety of flour rich is wheat bran.You can get it in indian stores and read about it here. I added Kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)  & ajwain (carrom) which are super aromatic indian flavorings if you can lay your hands on them, else add some fennel or cumin seedsBy the way, Kasuri methi is something which is the secret behind those aromatic indian butter chicken and other curries- It lasts forever in the kitchen so you might wanna stock up! Fill the buns with anything you want, I filled them with a spicy potato & vegetable filling. These eggless buns are great for breakfast or casual snacking. These buns can be baked in advance & pair up with indian tomato soup to make a lazy day brunch.


Method:-

Ingredients (Makes 12-14 buns)

For the buns:-

  • 1.5 cup durum atta (whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 1.5 tsp kasuri methi, fine crushed between palms (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil (substitute with melted unsalted butter)
  • 1.5 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup luke warm milk
  • 1/2 cup luke warm water (or as required for kneading the dough)
  • Melted unsalted butter for brushing 
  • Flour for dusting

For the filling :- (Makes 1.5  cups)

  • 2 medium boiled potatoes, slightly mashed (but with little chunks)
  • 1/2 cup colored bell peppers of choice, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 2 scallions, white & green parts chopped separated
  • 1 fat garlic clove, grated
  • 3 – 4 Thai green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala 
  • tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Method:-
  • In a bowl, add the flours along with crushed kasuri methi. Sift this flour mix once. Add ajwain (carrom seeds) to the sifted flour and set aside.
  • Dissolve sugar in luke warm milk, add yeast and set aside till frothy. Note:-If you dont see foam within 30 seconds of dissolving the yeast,discard the mix & restart.
  • While the yeast is frothing, in a large bowl (enough to hold doubled up dough after rise), tip in the salt.Top it up with sifted flour, olive and foamy yeast paste [ in this order].
  • Start mixing in lukewarm water till everything comes together. Note :- Start with 1/4 cup of water to begin with. Once a loose dough ball starts to come together, transfer the dough to a floured surface, and continue kneading for 5-8 minutes till you get a soft, elastic dough.While kneading , if you feel that the dough is on the dry side, add a tablespoon (s)of water, if you feel it sticky, add some flour to bring it together.
  • Brush some oil on all sides of the bowl, and once kneaded, transfer the dough back to the bowl.Brush some oil on the top of the dough ball, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm, dry place for 1-1.5 hours to rise.
While the Dough is rising 
Make the Masala/Spicy Filling:- 
  • In a pan, heat up the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped white parts of scallions and saute for 4-5 minutes on high.
  • Next, add the garlic along with chopped green chillies.Saute for 30 seconds or till you smell the aroma.
  • Next add all the vegetables along with salt to taste, mix well &  reduce heat to medium and let cook for 10 minutes, uncovered till the peppers and peas are tender.
  • Remove from heat and while still hot, add the chopped green scallion parts, cumin powder, garam masala and lemon juice.Mix well and set aside to cool.
Stuffing the buns & Baking:-
 
Line a baking/cookie sheet with parchment. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and knead again for 3-4 minutes on a floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal balls.Roll out each ball using a rolling pin into a 2″ circle. Spoon about 1.5 tbsp of Masala filling into the centre of each dough circle and pinch all sides to make a stuffed dough ball.Smear the pinched ball all over with oil and line on the baking sheet, pinched side down. Line the balls atleast 3 ” away from each other so that they do not touch each other when they rise. You may use more than 1 baking sheet (if required) to line the dough balls.Let rise in a warm place for 15 more minutes.

While the stuffed balls are rising, preheat oven to 375 F/190 C.Bake the risen balls for 13-15 minutes or till they are light brown in color and you smell the aroma of baked dough & kasuri methi.Mine took 15 minutes. Once light brown, brush melted butter on the balls and bake for another 3-4 minutes till the tops turn golden brown.Pull out the baking sheet and using a pair of tongs, transfer the baked buns to the cooling rack. Cool slightly and serve warm with tomato ketchup. mango mint chutney, green chutney & masala chai.

 
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!
Categories
Desserts Easy Recipes Vegetarian

Rosemary Infused Yogurt Mousse With Fresh Berries

Featured on FoodBuzz Top 9

You can’t beat the taste of homemade yogurt. Its sweetish, grainy and rich. Something, which you are supposed to fall in love with. Eating yogurt is soul satisfying for me- it caters to the senses in the most pure & luscious way. There is something so addictive about the homemade version that I can eat it plain without a speck of salt or sugar. In India, the concept of readymade yogurt or starters/ probiotic cultures & stuff hit the grocery stores only a few years back. Till date, a popular way to get good quality yogurt is from the mithai (sweet) shops – it comes really close to home taste. Still, in most of the Indian families, including mine, yogurt is only bought from outside when there is a dire need to do so. Else, we Indians have all the patience in the world to make our own, at home.

One of my very fond memory of childhood is to eat a big bowl of dahi (yogurt) with lots of seasonal fruits & honey after every meal. We used to have this large, round earthen bowl in which my grandma made yogurt every night. Before going to sleep, her usual regime was to warm up the milk, dip her finger in there to check the temperature, mix it up with a starter from previous day, wrap up the bowl in a old woollen & set aside to set overnight. Everything was plain impulse and approximation – no thermometers or modern gadgets…as inexact as it can get. Nonetheless, her yogurt came out perfect each morning – ethereal white, milky sweet with a tangy note & thick. She said that the earthen pot sucks away the sourness as the bacteria play with the milk overnight. It didn’t make much sense to a 10 year old then.Only when I learnt science, I understood the fundamental about how & what difference an earthen bowl makes. Rarely, I saw her getting irked when her yogurt did not set in the morning ,we were then kicked out of the house with little bowls to get the starters from neighbors or nearby sweet shop.

Having lived on the homemade version half of my life, I never quite liked the gooey, gelatinous, slimy store bought versions. I understand smooth texture but I don’t understand lack of texture! I have my own theories that few of the brands have loads of cornstarch mixed along with emulsifiers & stabilizers. Even though, mostly I make my batch at home but if you should buy, try organic yogurt. Okay, I m not dumping my great ideas about organic milk products on you, but if you are a lazy bum like me at times, organic is certainly the way to go. The day, I discovered my favorite brand at Whole foods, my aversions about store bought yogurt were gone forever.

They say that true happiness lies in simplicity,this mousse highlights that simplicity. This virtually guilt free mousse is a fluffy bundle of joy.It is so airy that you wont realize you are eating a dessert. Such healthy desserts are always delightful – aren’t they? You bet, especially in this hot Vegas weather where the temperatures are still in the hundreds.Not only savory, I am crazy about spices and herbs even in desserts. You may find rosemary intriguing at first in a dessert, wait till you try it, come back & tell me what you feel. The touch of minced rosemary accentuates the feeling of comfort with an added aroma in each bite. Infact, P said that rosemary was the best part about the dessert and called it an “Aromatherapy dessert” Whatever! 🙂 I topped it with a simple mush of fresh berries mixed with lemon juice & sugar. The extra tang from lemon in the topping adds in a layer of flavor. No cooking, No oven, No grill- Just you and the whisk. Top it up with whatever fruit or nuts you are crazy about- I tell you, even chocolate will work wonders.

Home Grown Rosemary 🙂

 

Ingredients:-

For the Yogurt Mousse :- [Makes 4 servings] 

  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1-1/2 cup plain yogurt (just take care that the yogurt is not very sour)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar (or to taste)
  • 1.5 tbsp minced rosemary (adjust to preference)
  • Less than 1/8 tsp of salt
For the topping :
  • 1/2 cup each blackberries & raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice (avoid if you berries are very tart)
  • Sugar to taste
Method:-  
  • In a small bowl, thoroughly mix yogurt with minced rosemary & salt.
  • Tie the yogurt in a clean muslin/cheesecloth.Set the tied cloth on a sieve with a bowl placed below it and let the yogurt sit refrigerated for 4 hours.
  • In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside to bloom.
  • In a large bowl, tip in the thickened yogurt and whisk it for 3-5 minutes to fluff it up.Set aside.
  • In another bowl, with a hand beater/electric mixer start whipping up the cream.While whisking, add sugar in parts to the cream till you get stiff peaks.Set aside.
  • Heat the bloomed gelatin in the microwave for 10 seconds. If you do not have microwave, you can use a double boiler to melt the gelatin.
  • Immediately, pour the melted gelatin over the yogurt and whisk thoroughly to mix.
  • Very gently, fold in the whipped cream with the yogurt until everything has combined well. The mix will be thick and fluffy.
  • Spoon the yogurt mix in bowls or glasses and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours to set.
  • For the topping:- In separate bowls, add berries with lemon juice and sugar. Mush them with a spoon or masher to desired consistency.Top the set mousse with this berry mash and serve chilled.
Notes:
  1. You can increase the quantity of heavy cream and reduce equivalent quantity of yogurt from ingredient list depending on how rich you want your mousse.
  2. If using greek yogurt, since it is already quite thick & sour, reduce the straining time in the refrigerator by half.
  3. Use your mortar & pestle to mince rosemary leaves- add few drops of water if needed as you mince.You can chop them really fine too.


 
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by !