Pickles/Condiments/Spice Powders

Nimbu Ka Achaar – No Oil Indian Lime Pickle

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

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

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

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

Nimbu Ka Achar, Indian Lime Pickle, Sinfully Spicy

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

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

Ingredients :-

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

Method :-

Preparing the limes

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

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

Making the Pickle 

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

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

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

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

Notes:-

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

Cardamom Shrikhand With Mango Saffron Compote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

For the Shrikhand

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

 

Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch

Papri Chaat

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

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

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

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

Ingredients

Papri/Papdi  (Yields about 40-50 papris)

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

Method

Making Papris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For assembling chaat  :-

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

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.

Appetizers/Snacks · Lentils

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!

Rice 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.

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

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!

Brunch · Salads/Soup

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 · Indian Curry/Stew

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!

Indian Curry/Stew

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!
Rice Dishes

Tahiri -Slow cooked Basmati Rice With Black Spices

 

Summer might be officially gone in many of the states but in my part of the world, 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 .Usually, its super lazy day with TV or book on the couch, comfort food to fill up and loads of chai.

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 grandmother’s tahiri which is one of my favorite things to make as the autumn sets in. Not missing the chance I got last weekend, this rice dish was our comfort meal. The best part being that it is a one pot meal, it has the perfect amount of spice and 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/papad 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 ground and eating it with tahiri.A mention of those winter lunches takes me back there and brings in the nostalgia of the food relished during those years and times spent with family.

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.These vegetables go so well with the warmth of black indian spices – cumin, black cardamom, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg .The spices are fresh ground into a paste and then rice & vegetable are cooked on along with the paste for long to bring about the depth of flavors. The result is a aromatic pot full of comfort.

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 cook together and finished via dumpukht cooking. 

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Vegetable Tahiri/Tehri

Dum cooked basmati rice & tri of winter vegetables in a fresh ground spice psate of indain black spices.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian

Equipment

  • Wide mouthed, heavy bottomed pot with lid/iron kadhai with lid, Cast iron griddle

Ingredients

Make the Spice Paste

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp cumim seeds
  • 1 black cardamom, pods only
  • 1 tsp corinader seeds
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves

For The Tahiri

  • 1/4 cup mustard oil
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 4-5 whole dried red chillies
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 10-12 cauliflower florets
  • 1 large potato peeled and  cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice washed
  • 1.5 cup water
  • Cilnatro, Ginger Julinnes etc to garnish

Instructions

Make the Spice paste

  • Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend of a paste. Dont make too fine or too coarse paste. Set aside.

Make the Tahiri

  • Heat 2 tbsp Oil in the pot/kadhai. Add the cauliflowewr florets and potatoes and brown them for a few minutes. Take out in a plate and set aside.
  • Add the remainig oil to the kadai and heat up. Temper the oil with bayleaf, whole nutmeg and dried chillies.
  • Next, add the sliced onions. Cook the onions till they are nicely brown. About 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat and add the ground spice paste. Cook the onions with masala till you see oil seperating on sides.
  • At this point, add all the vegetables along with washed rice. Gently combine everything. Remove from heat & pour the water required for cooking the rice into the pot, add the salt and give everything a stir. Let the rice soak for 30 minutes.
  • Once the rice has soaked, place the kadai on medium stove. Cover the pot & bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and let rice cook for 10-12 minutes (or the time required for your rice variety to get 95% cooked). Proceed to dum cooking as mentioned in the next step below.
  • While the rice is cooking, heat up a cast iron skillet or griddle ( large enough to hold the kadai ).Once the skillet is hot, reduce heat to very low, place the kadai 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 & get browned (almost). Dum cook for aboyt 25 minutes or longer depending on how crisp you want the bottom layer.
  • Once dum cooking is over, switch off the stove leave the kadai on griddle undisturbed for another 15 minutes.
  • Fluff up the rice, garnish with chopped cilantro & ginger julinnes. Serve with raita, pickle, papad etc.