Indian Curry/Stew

Bhindhi Pyaz Kadhi

Spring is almost here. Yesterday I found the greenest okra at the store and instantly wanted to make kadhi with it. ‘Kadhi’ is a yogurt and chickpea flour based curry made in many ways all over India. The spice selection changes from region to region and each family has its unique way to make it.

Kadhi comes from the word, “Kadhana” which means boiling the yogurt broth long enough so that it attains a velvety consistency. Done, the right way a well made Kadhi is comfort food. Mom is a champion when t comes to adding vegetables to kadhi- from okra to eggplant to spinach to fresh fenugreek leaves to mixed vegetables, she makes many kinds. If you would love to make a traditional kadhi, there is already a recipe on blog here

A few things to be kept in mind when making Kadhi

  • Don’t be tempted to add a lot of chickpea flour all at once when you mix it with the yogurt. Not only will the yogurt be become lumpy but too much chickpea flour results in a very thick kadhi.
  • When tempering, make sure that your oil is not too hot and whisk continuously as you add the yogurt to it else the yogurt will curdle.
  • Use mustard oil for the best taste, if not use ghee.
  • Use full fat yogurt or indian style dahi if you can find it.
  • The yogurt should be lightly tangy, if not place it in a warm place for few hours or 1-2 days to make it sour.
  • The spice selection is for you to decide- I like to make it north indian style with coriander seeds, cumin, ajwain and fenugreek seeds.
  • It important to boil the kadhi on low heat for good 22-25 minutes for the best consistency.
  • Stir fry the vegetables before hand in a tablespoon of oil before adding to kadhi and then finish cooking them in kadhi, gives the best taste.
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Bhindi Pyaz Kadhi

A garlicky yogurt & chickpea flour curry with okra. Serve with rice or rotis.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Cooking pot, Cooking Spoons, Mixing bowls

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup plain whole milk yogurt, slightly sour
  • 5-6 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp  extra hot red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2.5-3 cups slightly warm water
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil
  • 15-18 tbsp okra, ends removed, cut in half if they are too long
  • 1 small onion thick sliced
  • 3 tbsp pure mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • Generous pinch of hing powder
  • 1/4 tsp ajwain seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (coarsely crushed)
  • 3-4 whole dried red chillies
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil

For the Temepring on top

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2-3 thai green chillies , slit open, seeded if you want (optional, adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder

Instructions

  • In a bowl, combine besan, yogurt,turmeric & red chilli  powder, kasuri methi (if using) salt to taste and water to make a lump free smooth mix. Let stand.
  • In a heavy bottomed pot, heat 1 tbsp mustard oil to smoking point.Remove from heat. Add the okra and char for 4-5 minutes till the skin is slightly blistered. No need to cook through. Take the okra out in a plate and set aside.
  • Add 3 tbsp mustard oil to the same pot. Let warm up. Remove from stove and let cool for a minute else spices will burn. 
  • Add cumin, ajwain, fenugreek and coriander seeds along with hing & whole red chillies. Return to stove top. When spices begin to splutter and you smell the aroma, add minced ginger. Let cook for 10-15 seconds.
  • Next,remove the pot from stove again and slowly add the besan-yogurt mixture and mix thoroughly. Return to medium heat and let the kadhi come to a boil.
  • Dont be tempted to rush this else kadhi will curdle. Once you see the kadhi starting to bubble, turn the heat to low, add the garam masala and let the kadhi simmer for about 15 minutes till it thickens slightly and is rich yellow in color.
  • Add the okra now along with sliced onion, add a little water(1/3 cup-1/2 cup) depending on the consisteny you like and let th ekadhi simmer for another 8-10 minutes till the okra is cooked through. Remove from stove and let stand.
  • Temper the Kadhi – In a small saucepan, warm up the ghee and add cumin seeds to it, when they splutter, take away from the heat and add sliced garlic and red chiilies.Return to stove and cook for a minute or so till garlic is slightly browned.
  • Top up the kadhi with this cumin garlic ghee just before serving along side rotis (flatbread) or steamed basmati rice.
Appetizers/Snacks · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Chicken Manchurian

Manchurian is a widely popular Indo Chinese dish in the indian subcontinent. Sold on streets as well as in good restaurants, it is fried vegetable or chicken dumplings in a  ‘Manchurian’ sauce. Do not confuse the origins of  ‘Manchurian’ sauce – it definitely has nothing to do with the region by the same name in South East Asia. Creatively put together by chinese who lived in eastern parts of  India for centuries, imagine it to be an amber-colored, tangy and mildly sweet but hot sauce with hints of spices.

We are huge fans of Indo Chinese food at home. It is a much needed break from the usual daals and curries for dinner. The flavors are enticing and a lovely balance of sweet spicy tangy umami.

Indo chinese tastes best when you use of Indian condiments – I make it a point to use the brands from Indian store for that authentic taste. However, you can very well do few a substitutions and use your pantry to try this recipe. If you have an Indian store near by, do pay a visit and try to stock on these things to try many other recipes already on my blog. There are many condiments and sauces available, but below is a terse list of sauces from the brand “Chings” which will equip you to make some delicious Indo chinese food at home.

  • Chings Dark Soy Sauce – Its thick and dark and has a strong aroma, not your regular soy sauce used for dipping dumplings or tasting. This robust sauce can stand cooking and is full of umami.
  • Chings Green Chili Sauce – This is hot. Its basically green chillies ground with vinegar and it lends a grassy heat to the recipes.
  • Chings Red Chili Sauce – This is red chilies ground with vinegar and it lends more of a smoky rounded heat to your sauce base.
  • Chings Vinegar or Chings Chili Vinegar – You choose! The latter has chilli notes along with tangy.
  • Chings Schezwan Chutney – Amazing way to start the recipe, the chili garlic base when sautéed in oil lends a beautiful fiery garlicky notes to whatever you are making. It can be served as it is on a side or tossed with noodles and rice, its just super delicious.

Here the machurian sauce is little different from the vegetable manchurian or gobi manchurian I shared earlier. The selection and measurement of condiments different because chicken needs a more robust sauce. You can serve it with fried rice or hakka noodles for a lip smacking meal.

Recipe

For the Chicken Dumplings

  • 1 lb ground chicken (dark meat,dont use ground chicken breast)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp red chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
  • Chopped scallions (optional)
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Fresh ground black pepper to tatse
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Oil to spray (if baking) or enough oil to deep fry

For the Manchurian Sauce

  • 1 tbsp Chings dark soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp Chings Red chilli sauce or Sriracha
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp extra hot red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 3 tbsp dark clover honey
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil (its a strong unique flavor, can be skipped)
  • 1 cup+1/2 cup chicken stock (you can use 1/2 stick 1/2 water, dont use only water)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (make a slurry with 2 tbsp cold water)
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1-2 thai bird green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 2 scallion stalks, white & green parts chopped separately
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 tbsp vinegar (or to taste)
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish

Serve with – Fried rice, Hakka Noodles, Chili Garlic Noodles

Notes :-

  • Don’t use flavored oils like olive or coconut oil for making the sauce. Neutral Oils are best for the sauce.
  • Use any diced vegetables like bell peppers or baby corn etc in this recipe. Add them after the onions ginger & garlic have finished sautéing.
  • Add more cornstarch if you like a thickish sauce.
  • If you dont want to make ground chicken balls, you can add chicken breast or breaded fried chicken pieces to the sauce. Works great!

Method

For the Dumplings

Mix all the listed ingredients except oil in a large bowl. Gently mix everything together using spatula first and then if needed with hands without squishing a lot. Let the mix rest fir 10-15 minutes. If you feel its too sticky (depends on water content of your mince, add another tablespoon of cornstarch). Oil your palms and make lime sized balls with the mixture.You should get about 12-15.

If you are baking:- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large sheet with parchment. Place the chicken meatballs in a single layer and spray or brush linberally with oil. Bake for 8-9 minutes until the meatballs are firm and whitish from outside. They will finish cooking in sauce.

If you are deep frying – Heat up 3 inch oil in a frying pan. Fry chicken meatballs a few at a time until golden and crispy on medium heat. Drain on a paper towel.

Set the cooked chicken meatballs aside.

Make the Sauce

In a bowl, mix together soy sauce, red chilli sauce, tomato puree, coriander & red chilli powder, sesame oil and honey. Taste this concoction a tiny bit once (this is a strong paste right now) and you can adjust the heat or sweetness as you wish. Keep it ready.

Also keep all the chopped vegetables and cornstarch slurry ready. Warm up the chicken stock a bit. Keep everything ready to go because this sauce comes together very fast once you start cooking.

In a wide wok or heavy bottomed, heat up the oil on high. Once the oil is smoky, add the chopped onion, garlic, ginger scallion white parts and green chillies all at once. Saute for 2-3 minutes until you smell a nice aroma. If you are using any vegetables, now is the time to add them and saute on high heat for 1-2 mins. Dont cook a lot, they will be perfect by the end of cooking. I did not add any vegetables.

Add the soy sauce mix we made earlier to the wok. Saute for a couple minutes on high heat continuously stirring and then add the warm chicken stock. Add the salt to taste. Reduce the heat to medium and let the stock heat up. You will start to see bubbles on the sides. At this point add the baked chicken meatballs and let them finish cooking for 2-3 minutes or so in the sauce. Dont add the meatballs if you deep fried them (We will add at the end).

Add the cornstarch slurry next and let simmer for 2 minutes until the sauce is a bit thick and smooth. Switch off the stove. If you deep fried the meatball, add them now. Add the vinegar and green parts of the scallions along with some fresh chopped cilantro. Mix together gently and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Indian Curry/Stew

Tamarind Mackerel Curry

A very simple and sour soupy fish curry with fresh ground spices and tang from sweet tamarind and vinegar. I found fresh mackerel at the store and was immediately inspired to make this.

There are no tomatoes or yogurt like most north indian fish curries here. The much needed sour comes from vinegar, the use of which is slightly inspired by how goan fish curries are done, however I didn’t use any coconut or coconut milk in this one.

With a bowl of warm rice and few sliced onions, this is absolute delight to eat. You can use any firm mild fish in this recipe. Fresh ground spices make the aroma of the curry even more bold and I really recommend you grind them fresh, incidentally that is the only time consuming part of this recipe.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 Mackerel, cut into pieces (about 1 pound), cleaned
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/4 th piece star anise
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp hot red chilli powder(adjust to taste)
  • 6-8 curry leaves
  • 1.5 tbsp malt vinegar (less if you like less sour)
  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 1 tsp jaggery (skip if using sweet tamarind)
  • Salt to tatse

Spices

  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 Black peppercorns
  • 4 Cloves
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick

Method

Place the fish in a bowl. Sprinkle the turmeric and salt over the fish and massage nicely. Set aside for 15 mins.

Dry roast all the spices listed under “Spices” and grind them to a powder using your spice grinder. Mix the spices with red chilli & turmeric along with a couple tablespoons of water in a bowl and let stand.

In a cooking pot, add the oil. Once the oil is smoky a bit, add the star anise and saute for 10 seconds. Add the onions next and let them brown. The onions have to be browned nicely for a good flavor. Once the onions are browned, add the ginger and garlic and saute for a minute or so till you smell the aroma.

Next add the curry leaves along with the spice paste, you can add a splash of water (about 3 tbsp) and cook everything together for a few minutes till you notice the oil separating. Dont saute a lot.

Add 1 cup warm water to the pot, add salt and let come to a slow simmer. Add the fish next to the pot and let cook on low heat for 7-8 minutes. Dont let boil. You can cover if you fish but really fish cooks fast.

Once you notice that the fish is white and firm, add the vinegar, tamarind and jaggery. Gently mix everything and let cook for another 2 mins.

Switch off the stove and cover the pot. Let sit for 2 hours before serving.

-Enjoy!

Rice Dishes

Yakhni Pulao


For a long time, I was tricked into thinking that Yakhni pulao is biryani. Most of my family, still, for some reason refers to it as biryani but its not. This is not a layered rice dish, it is a pulao. Yakhni is ” broth” and this dish is basically basmati rice cooked in a delicious made-from-scratch meat broth.

South asian broths have much more depth of flavor due to use of spices. I dont pressure cook the meat, I let it simmer for couple of hours or more depending on the quantity. Slowly the meat releases its flavor into the water along with those of the spices and herbs. The delicious yakhni is full of body and I remember mom would ladle it into teacups and give us to drink as it is as a soup.So comforting on a cold night. You can do the same if you are not in mood for a pulao.

A delicious yakhni needs bone in meat or chicken and time! There are no powdered spices and all the flavor comes from whole spices, dried chilies, ginger and garlic. Caramelizing the onions well before cooking the rice is another important step, do not rush it, brown the onions nicely, they add not only to the taste but also to the color of the pulao.

This recipe is one of my most family’s most oldest. It was cooked winter long and it is a great way to feed big families or when entertaining. You can serve it with a light chicken curry or any side but I really just like it with plain raita.

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the Yakhni

  • 1 lb bone in mutton or chicken, cleaned
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1.5 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2-3 bay leaf
  • 2 whole black cardamom, slightly cracked
  • 2 cinnamon stick
  • half nutmeg
  • 7-8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped 8-10 dried chillies
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water

For the Pulao

  • 1 + 1/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1.5 cup sliced onions
  • Red chili powder to taste
  • 1 tsp shah jeera
  • 2.5 cups liquid (yakhni topped with water)
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro, raita, ginger jullienes etc to serve.

Method

Step 1 Make the Yakhni (Spiced Broth)

Add everything listed under yakhni to a dutch oven. Cover the pot and set on a medium high stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 1.5 hours till the meat is fork tender but not falling apart. You can do the same thing in an instant pot or pressure cooker but slow cooked yakhni is something else 🙂 Meat releases its own juices and water as it will cook so don’t add much water in the beginning. Also please keep in mind that the cooking time of meat will depend on how small or big the cuts are. So adjust accordingly.

Once the meat is cooked, switch off the stove.Pick out the meat pieces using a spoon into a medium bowl and cover the bowl with a cling film to make sure that the meat does not dry out. Set a large colander over another large bowl and drain the yakhni in there. Dont be tempted to mash the ginger or garlic or onions, else the yakhni will lose its soupy texture. Discard the things in the colander.

Yakhni is ready. You can enjoy it as it like a soup when while it is warm with few squirts of lemon and scatter of fresh cilantro. Add a few pieces of cooked meat to make it more filling.

If you make a pulao, follow step 2 below. Keep in mind that do not make the yakhni a day ahead, the taste changes so its best to make it a couple hours before when you want to serve as soup or make a pulao.

Step 2 Make the Pulao

Wash the rice 2-3 times under a running stream of water. Soak the rice for 20 mins in enough water.

Measure the yakhni. The variety of rice I use needs double amount of liquid to cook. So I needed 2.5 cups of liquid to cook the rice. I got 2 cups of yakhni from the recipe above and I added 1/2 cup water to it.

In a wide shallow pot, (I use my braiser) or you can use a kadhai or a 12 inch pan, add the oil. Once the oil is warm, add the sliced onions. On medium heat, brown the onion. It takes about 8-10 minutes but do not rush this process.

Once the onions are dark brown, add the red chilli powder to oil along with cumin seeds and saute for 30 seconds. Add the meat to the pan and stir around with the onions for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. The meat will brown a little, once so, add the soaked rice(discard the water in which you soaked) along with yakhni (+water). Mix gently and taste the salt in the liquid, it should be sharp salty at this stage else adjust it, this makes sure that your rice comes out properly seasoned once cooked.

Cover with a lid and set the rice to cook on medium high heat, once you see that the liquid is bubbling, reduce the heat to the lowest and let cook for 20-25 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft. Switch off the stove and let the pot sit undisturbed for atlest 10-12 minutes.

Uncover and using a rice spoon or a small plate, fluff up the rice from once side. Yahni pulao is ready.Serve as you wish. Taste amazing next day.

This recipe can be easily doubled. Just adjust the cooking times for both rice and meat in that case.

Enjoy!

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Lamb & Potato Stew

Meat and Potatoes. The universal comfort food. A ritual in my kitchen in the midst of cruel winters especially on days when the chilly winds clatter against the window panes, its grey and cloudy outside and inside my kitchen, meat is slow cooked long enough till it almost falls off the bone, the potatoes absorb all the flavor and the aroma of the spices permeates the atmosphere of house. A dish which evokes nostalgia of my mom’s mutton stew and of our first few years in the States.

My first tasting of lamb came in one of the ornate buffets here in Las Vegas in a mellow stew- crimson colored, cooked with carrots, speckled with herbs & tasting strongly of red wine. Since we do not consume a lot of lamb in India (mutton is more popular), we had only been roasting lamb rack ocassionally, completely oblivious of the fact how this meat would behave with spices. The tasting presented an opportunity to try it in my mum’s mutton & new potato slow cooked stouu , one in which the meat is first seared and then cooked for long good hours, often pushing lunch to evening tea time.

There is little match to the slow cooking method, for the meat slowly gives in to heat, the gelatinous flavor of the bone melts in the sauce lending it an unmatched edge over the rushed one.The key is to start ahead, much before meal time so that the stew does not miss a chance to rest for a couple of hours before serving. This stew is comforting, deeply flavorful & delicious with a earthly taste of starchy potatoes. You should give this a try before the winters go away!

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Lamb & Potato Stew

Slow cooked bone in lamb and potato stew with fresh pounded spices and yogurt.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian

Equipment

  • Dutch Oven

Ingredients

For the Stew

  • 1 lb stewing lamb
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil , substitute with cooking oil that you like to use
  • 1 whole black cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 cup onions thinly sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 inch fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp hot red chilli powder adjust to tolerance
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2-3 small gold potatoes peeled
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt slightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • Salt to taste

Coarsely pound together

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 twig mace
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves

Instructions

  • Add the coarsely pounded spices to a bowl. Add the hot and kashmiri red chilli powder. Pour 1/4 cup of warm water, mix the spices into a paste and set aside.
  • In your dutch oven or any heavy bottom pot with lid, add the oil and let warm up for a few minutes until slightly smoky.
  • Add the black cardamom, cinnamom stick and bayleaf to the oil and saute for 10-15 seconds taking care not to burn the spices.
  • Next, add the sliced onions, sprinkle a pinch of sugar and let the onions brown. Keep on cooking them with stirring in between for 7-8 minutes till the onions are dark brown. This is important for color of the stew.
  • Once the onions are browned, add the lamb to the pot. Cook the lamb on medium low heat with onions for 8-9 minutes stirring continously untill you see that the lamb is browned on all sides and the edges are starting to turn dark brown.
  • Add the spice paste next, sprinkle 1 tsp of salt and mix well till the lamb pieces are covered in spices. Let the spices cook with lamb and onions for good 5 minutes. Make sure that they are not sticking to bottom. If you feel so, add a tablespoon or two of water.
  • Slowly you will see that the lamb will release its water and the contents of the pot will be slightly watery. Add 1/4 cup of hot water at this stage and cover the dutch oven.
  • Let the lamb slow cook for a low stove 2-3 hours(time depends on how big or small your pieces are as well as the quality of your meat). You will need to check time to time to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom, if so, add a splash of water.
  • Once the lamb is 90 percent cooked, keeping heat low, add the beaten yogurt and mix well rigrously else the yogurt will curdle. Saute the lamb with yogurt for 5-10 minutes untill you see oil bubbles on the sides of the pot. Check and adjust the salt at this stage. At this stage, lamb will be 95 percent cooked.
  • Add the potatoes to the pot, mix and cover the lid again.Let potatoes cook for 5-8 minutes or untill fork tender.
  • Once the meat and potatoes are done, take off the stove. Add nutmeg and gently mix everything well.
  • Let the stew rest for 2 hours before serving.

Desserts/Baking · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Easy Cashew & Raisins Icecream (Kaju Kishmish)

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)Hi Friends! How have you been?

Things have been so quite here but not so much in my kitchen. Most days, we are eating fresh and home cooked, the kitchen is so busy  but other priorities in life have made me slightly busy that there is less time to set up shoots and hence the lack of posts. But I guess, sometimes in life, you need to cut the routine to see how doing nothing or something different feels. This summer I am involving myself in things which I have not done in last few years, more on that later. It is good to be away for a while. Hope you missed me 🙂 However, I will keep this space buzzing whenever I can.Meanwhile, you can catch me on Instagram & Facebook.

Sinfully Spicy -Ingredients, Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)I grew up eating it in small grey cardboard cups which had a flip lid. You flip away the lid and a couple of chubby brown raisins stared at you on top of blushing pink with soft bits of cashews scattered in. I always used my nails to pick the raisins out first and then the paddle shaped wooden spoon to scoop the rest. One cup disappeared after another in no time, sitting under the shade of   kumquat tree in blazing indian summer heat, sweaty foreheads, dripping cream on our dresses and white foamy mustaches, oh to be a child again!

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)I came up with this recipe fueled by this tradition in my kitchen to come up with an ice cream recipe each summer.It came out amazing, like most homemade ice creams do. I used a subtle flavor of green cardamom but vanilla will work great also. The husband loved it.I loved it and so did our little girl who is fond of all things cashew. I hope you will love it too!

Update 10/03/2015 Recently Sinfully Spicy was included in Top 50 Blogs of India. Link here

Sinfully Spicy - Kaaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)

Recipe

Soak 1 cup raw cashews for 5-6 hrs. Drain. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add the soaked cashews and let boil for 5-8 mins. Drain and let cool down completely. Transfer to a blender and using 1/3 to 1/2 cup evaporated milk (or full fat milk) grind the cashews to a coarse paste. 

Mix 2 cups of heavy cream with a 14oz can of condensed milk. You can add sugar(about 1/4 cup) if you want to adjust sweetness. Mix the cashews paste along with 1 tsp fresh ground cardamom. Combine well, transfer to the dish in which you want to freeze and freeze for 5-6 hours. When the mixture starts freezing and has a pudding consistency,add in handful of dry toasted cut up cashews(optional) along with 1/2 cup of golden raisins. Freeze overnight. Scoop and serve.

Indian Curry/Stew

Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Okra & Potatoes)

IMG_8376-2The first thing to be spotted in markets at the turn of April or May as soon as the short fairytale called winter is over is okra pods. It probably tops the list of summer vegetables in India. I would compare the hue and cry about it to sight of fresh tomatoes here. I would accompany my grandmother to our daily vegetable vendor, leaned over his cart and gazed at the pile of okra that occupied half of the space and observed how my grandmother chose the dark green, soft, slender ones while arguing about how costly he sold his produce. Almost each week, sometimes more than once, okra formed a part of our meals. My mother tells me that it was my grandfather’s favorite vegetable so our family recipe repertoire is packed with a lot of ways to cook it. As the summer progressed, by the months of July and august and with the knock of monsoons and okra slowly losing their crisp texture, only then the focus shifted to other vegetables.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)However, it was not until I met the husband that I cooked okra with potatoes. Kid you not, I had not even heard about it in all my years of living in northern parts. It’s hard to say if his suggestion to do so was driven by his childhood food memories or his obnoxious need to combine potatoes with each and every food group possible, but the deal didn’t get too bad here and these two vegetables worked beautifully the first time I cooked them. We continued discussing for many years, each chance I got to get okra home as to how the recipe can get better and better until I mastered it.

Sinfully Spicy : Okra

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)These emerald looking, slender beauties pair with earthly flavor of starchy potatoes so well. On the lines of stuffed okra, I always add fennel seeds to my okra recipes and you will need to do that to know how deliciously this grassy vegetable braces the liquorice of that spice.Try it. The deal with dealing with all the nuances which people associate with okra is not to go too stingy on oil quantity  as well as not to let the vegetable steam too much while cooking. I cover it for no more than few initial minutes after its added to pan and then continue cooking uncovered till its done, this preserves the beautiful color as well as eliminates the chances of mushy okra.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)

Serve these as a side with daal (lentils ) and rice or with skillet fried flatbreads and chutney. It is good on side as well as on its own.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)

Pickles/Condiments/Spice Powders

Pickled Red Chili Peppers (Laal Mirch Ka Achaar)

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianThe summer mornings at my badi mummy’s (grandma) house started early with preparing for meals ahead that day. By the time I walked down half sleepy to the lobby, the central area of our house where the whole family gathered for chai in the morningsat meal times or just to sit chatting away, the “lobby” with tiny pink and ivory marble pieces embedded in the floor and a fish aquarium decorating one corner of the wall facing the door that opened into the backyard, I would often find her either chopping vegetables,segregating them into what will be for which mealtime, kneading the dough , picking the lentils or just involved in some kitchen chore.A half filled teacup always on her side on top of a newspaper folded in quarters which she read in between of being busy.I inched to sit close to her and see what her keep busy.I would flip a few pages of the newspaper and often she told me ” hamare babuji 25 paise har mahene english padne ke leye jayda dete they”(my father spent extra money each month to let me learn english at school). In the 1930s, many old women of her age in India would not be reading english newspapers or speaking the language at that time.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianWhen it was the pickling season, the attention shifted from regular tasks to raw mangoes, baby limes and chilies.To tell you the truth the pungent smell of strong pickling spices along with the piquant aroma of virgin mustard oil would be the last thing you would want to sniff at 6 in the morning but her dedication and involvement towards this business was contagious. Attention to detail boiled down to sterilizing the knifes and kitchen towels that would or could touch those chilies and mangoes,leave alone the large glass containers and spoons or bowls. In that time of no fancy appliances,magic bullets and all, hand crushing the tough seeds of fenugreek and tiny rai (brown mustard) did not come easy if you lacked sincerity. She often covered her nostrils with the end of her cotton saree, which was especially worn in any other color but white that day to guard against stains and those fragile, slightly wrinkly hands worked energetically in unison with the heavy terra-cotta mortar & pestle. In between, she paused to wipe off the spice dust off her steel framed glasses but continued with double vigor in the next few minutes.I often wondered if there could be anything, anything in this whole wide world right now which could deter her attention.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianFor the next few hours, the coarse ground fenugreek, nigella, fennel and mustard seeds were mixed with copious amounts of turmeric powder and salt and then doused in liters of raw, virgin mustard oil, the pungent oil, which my kitchen still feels lifeless without for I have consumed it right from childhood days. Half of the mixture was separated for the mango pickle to which she would add more chili powder later and the rest was stuffed inside plum,red peppers with slightly shriveled skin from a day or two of sun drying prior to pickling. The jars would be situated in sun to ferment for week or ten days and she found something else to keep her busy like no other.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianHaving lived on homemade pickles all those years of growing up, I could never acquire a taste for the store-bought ones.My tastebuds can make out the slightest hints of those citric acid and preservatives. It is my aim every season to make at least one pickle. Last year it was raw mangoes and prior to that I pickled no oil limes. It was the turn of red chili peppers as soon as I spotted them at Whole foods this time. Over the years, I have slightly changed the recipe to be more like my mom’s. Instead of stuffing the whole red chili peppers, I slit them in half and then stuff the halves. Thats the only change I have made to my badi mummy‘s recipe.

Ingredients (Makes 40 halves of pickled chilies and extra spice (masala) & oil )

  • 18-20 whole red chili peppers (I used Fresno)
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoon rai (brown mustard seeds)
  • 2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon Nigella seeds
  • 1.5 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tablespoon amchoor (dry mango powder, buy online here )
  • 2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 300-350 ml virgin mustard oil, divided (or use olive oil, see notes)

Notes

  1. You could use the same recipe to make whole stuffed red chili peppers.Instead of halving them, simply, remove the seeds and stuff with the spices.
  2. Never under salt the pickle, it will go bad within few weeks.
  3. If you do not like the strong taste of mustard oil, you can heat it up to do away the raw smell, cool down and then add. Or you can use olive oil in this recipe if you do not get mustard oil. The flavor of the pickle is slightly different from traditional but it works.
  4. This is not an instant pickle recipe, the pickle is sun fermented and takes 7-10 days (or more depending on strength of sun where you live to mature and get ready to consume.

Method

Wash and pat dry the chilies. Cut and discard the top stem and the entire green portion, then cut them into half. I discarded the seeds & veins of half the chillies,thats where the heat in the pickle comes from. You can remove seeds for all of them if you want. Layer the chilies on a wide, non reactive shallow dish, sprinkle a scant pinch of salt.

Using your coffee grinder, coarsely pulse the mustard, fennel, nigella & fenugreek seeds separately (this is important).You do not need to make a fine powder, if few specks of whole spices remain, its okay. In a small bowl mix the powdered spices together with turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt and amchoor.Taste the spice mix for salt, it should be slightly more salty than you thinkAdd 2-3 tablespoon mustard oil just so that the spice powder is moistened. This will be make it easy to stuff the chilies.

With dry hands, stuff whole or each half of the chilies with this spice mixture. Place the stuffed chili pepper in a wide glass dish (I use my pyrex). Add 200 ml of mustard oil, any spice mixture remaining and gently mix so that the chilies are coated in oil. At this point, the achaar will have a very strong smell and a bitter taste but that’s okay. Allow it to stand in full sun for two days. Try to stir the achaar once or twice a day with a clean, dry spoon.

On the third day transfer the achaar into a glass or porcelain jar (do not use a metal container) , check and adjust the salt and top with remaining oil and mix well. Cover the mouth of the jar with a muslin cloth, tie with a string and let mature for seven to ten days in sun. (this time will depend on the strength of sun in the area you live).Stir the contents once or twice a day.

At the end of sun fermentation, the skin of chilies would have shrivelled and the strong, bitter taste will go away. Store at room temperature for up to 2-3 months. Always use a clean spoon to serve the pickle.

Thank you for stopping by!

Stay Spicy!

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Matar PaneerI always feel that I end up cooking many dishes just to re-create a special memory, securely nestled in my heart from the years gone by or from days of growing up. Sometimes the sight of the familiar ingredients at the store brings in with itself such a gush of thoughts that I won’t have anyother way except cheering myself up in the kitchen with them,cooking up a storm to recreate those flavors. Fresh peas during spring time, is one of such thing. For less than a second,the sight of exuberantly prized organic sweet peas at the grocer last week made little sense coupled with the effort required to prepare them. But then, I could not walk away without securing a pound in my cart to make some this luscious matar paneer – fresh shelled peas and soft unaged cheese in a spicy sauce redolent of sweet-smelling cardamom and sharp hints of cinnamon and cloves in contrast to the sweetness of the vegetable.

Sinfully Spicy : Fresh Pods Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Paneer (fresh indian cheese)I don’t remember a single time during childhood when we ate frozen peas.Fresh peas were a winter treat and the only way. My grandmother and other women of the family, after serving lunch, geared up for dinner,pulling chairs around the takht (a very old wide wooden bench still going strong in verandah of my badi mummy’s house), settling down with cups of cardamom chai and spent few good hours to shell three or four kilos of grassy, plum pods, gossiping about the neighbors or the relatives, working with remarkable patience, a virtue that comes hard to me when I know there is a ready to use pouch inside the freezer.

Sinfully Spicy : Shelling fresh Pods

Sinfully Spicy : Shelling fresh Pods Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Fresh PeasWhen I am engrossed in such strong weaved memories, at times, it becomes difficult to tear away and lend to the present. The joy continues, the nostalgia gets compelling. When I spent about half hour over the weekend in the company of these fresh peas I got, I felt like a child again, badi mummy teasing me to lend help and just not nibble on the seeds.It was raining outside and I felt like a child again,some eighteen or twenty years back, me wearing hand knitted, red colored socks,running away with fistfuls of matar dana. All laughs, so much fun.

Then suddenly, I feel the warmth of my daughter from behind, trying to lift her body on heels to reach for the bowl of seeds that I just shelled.Her smile breaks the array of thoughts. She is like mommy.

Sinfully Spicy : Matar PaneerMatar paneer is a classic north indian dish. I have always liked it on the spicy side with the creaminess limited to that from the paneer (fresh indian cheese). Each home in india has its own version of it, there is nothing wrong or right become curry are so versatile that way.The curry is naturally gluten free since paneer is a gluten free cheese. You can very easily make this recipe vegan friendly using tofu, or any other vegan substitute. I am sharing my mom’s recipe with a little bit of extra spices added in.

Sinfully Spicy : Matar Paneer

Sinfully Spicy : Matar Paneer

Printable Recipe

Matar Paneer – Fresh Peas & Indian Fresh Cheese in a aromatic and spicy tomato – onion sauce

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 2 medium tomatoes (yield about 3/4 cup fresh tomato puree)
  • 1 fat garlic
  • 6 oz paneer (about 200 grams, homemade or store-bought, cubed, use extra firm tofu for vegan)
  • 1/4 cup mustard oil (or use olive/vegetable oil)
  • 1/3 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 clove
  • 1/4 inch piece of dalchini (cassia bark, substitute with 1/2 inch piece of regular cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust to taste, substitute with 1/2 teaspoon cayenne)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder (this lends the color not the heat, substitute with paprika)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup -1 cup water (depending on the desired consistency of sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi, crushed between palms
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
  • 2-3 tablespoon of heavy cream (optional, I did not use, skip for vegan )
  • Fresh cilantro & ginger juliennes to garnish and serve

Method

If you are using fresh peas, shell the pods. If using frozen, thaw the peas.

Blend the tomatoes along with garlic to a fine puree. Set aside.

Soak the paneer cubes in warm water. Set aside. If using tofu, dry it using paper towels, cube it and let sit.

Heat up the mustard oil in a large pot, wait till you see little ripples on the surface, add the onions along with cardamom, clove, dalchini & cumin seeds.Saute for 5-6 minutes till the onion start to turn light brown.

Add the coriander, turmeric, red chili, kashmiri chilli powder next and sauté for less than a minute. Add the blended tomatoes and reduce heat to low.Let cook slowly till you see little bubbles of oil separating on sides of the pot and the spice paste glistening. At this point, add the peas along with chopped ginger,add salt, stir to combine together with spice paste and on low heat, saute for 3-4 minutes. Add about 3/4 cup water, mix well and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for about 15-20 minutes till the peas are soft (but not mushy).Uncover and add the kasuri methi and garam masala along with paneer cubes. Stir, and again cover and on low heat, let simmer for another 10-12 minutes.

Add the heavy cream (if using) next and simmer (not boil) on very low heat for another 2-3 minutes.Once the sauce has simmered, let sit for at least 45mins -1hour or till ready to serve.

Once ready to serve, warm up the sauce and serve immediately. You can garnish with cilantro, extra cream and ginger juliennes.

Serve with rice or flatbreads.

Thanks for stopping by!

Stay Spicy!

Appetizers/Snacks · Desserts/Baking

Orange Flavored Cashew- Almond Fudge (Peda)

Sinfully Spicy : Orange flavored Cashew Almond Sweet Balls (peda) #glutenfree #veganIt was one of the most important day of my life as we drove through wide but still crowded roads due to evening traffic, long after sun down to Kashmiri Gate, to the university campus in Old Delhi to figure out if I made it to that year’s list of DCE or Delhi College of Engineering. I remember me and mom sat and waited in the car while dad walked out to check the notice board. Those fifteen minutes,that day, might have been the longest of my life, as I sat and observed the varied expressions of cheer and dismay on the faces of others coming out of the red-painted door and then walking towards the crowded parking lot. As many parents passed our car, clear among the noisy chaos of honks and shouting kin, I could hear the conversations of celebrations, as also the consoling whispers of ‘there are few more results left’. Every time those sounds touched my ears, my heart rejoiced for half a second and next moment, the random thoughts weaved an abyss against hope. I might have blinked my eyes lesser than usual, my throat felt dry and itchy but my glances just waited for dad to emerge out of that red-painted door. I could hear mom’s cell phone ringing constantly, every other relative & rest of the family calling in to check if I ‘got through’. She pretended to be normal, but I could segregate the egdy tones of anxiety when she uttered ‘pata nahi‘ (don’t know).

Sinfully Spicy : Orange flavored Cashew Almond Sweet Balls (peda) #glutenfree #veganThe engineering entrance exam system in India gets more tough each year than the actual exam itself mainly due to the exponential increase in number of takers. Colleges in big metropolitan cities are more sought after and it definitely boils down to minute differences in performance to rank you higher or not. I had been preparing for this exam for almost a year and as expected I was nervous on the result day. Badly.

Sinfully Spicy : Orange flavored Cashew Almond Sweet Balls (peda) #glutenfree #vegan

Sinfully Spicy : Orange flavored Cashew Almond Sweet Balls (peda) #glutenfree #veganIt was 7:43 pm. Dad emerged out of the door with a flat face.My heart skipped a beat and I started sweating like a pig. I could feel my ear lobes turning red and my throat choking. We could not keep inside the car anymore and I forced myself and ran to him. Mom rushed after. I looked at him with deer eyes.He still kept a straight face. I don’t remember but for the first time in last fifteen minutes I would have opened my palms to clutch his sleeve. He looked at us and with the most lovely smile spreading across his face that I might have witnessed ever, he said ‘ho gaya, mithai khilao‘ (You got in, get the sweets!). Tears rolled down my eyes. Music to my ears. The world at my feet. I was through!

Sinfully Spicy : Orange flavored Cashew Almond Sweet Balls (peda) #glutenfree #veganMithai or sweets form an integral part of indian culture.Each occasion of life is celebrated with them.The streets and neighborhood of the country are dotted with sweet shops and if you find ever yourself stuck in a desert, you would be less than a mile away from one. ‘Peda‘ is one of the popular sweets from the ‘Uttar Pradesh’, the part of India my mother hails from and these are essentially fudgy, thick, semi soft, sweet chunks made with mava (milk solids)sugar and ghee. However, these fudgy cashew almond peda, I made are dairy free as well as need very few ingredients for preparation.My daughter loves any mithai made with cashews, so these were mainly made for her though we enjoyed them as well. The slight hints from the orange paired very well with the nuts even though the aroma of sweet green cardamom is more prominent. These could get addictive. These gluten-free, vegan balls can be an excellent after school snack. Make some and enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Glutenfree, Dairy Free & Vegan sweet fudge made with cashew and almond meal.

Ingredients (Makes 25 )

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1.5 cup cashew nut meal (or powdered raw cashews)
  • 1 cup almond meal (or powdered raw almonds)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh orange zest
  • 6 green cardamom pods, seeds crushed
  • 1 tbsp ghee (optional, required during kneading, use any vegan substitute)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar to roll

Method

In a wide, heavy bottomed pan (I use my 12″ skillet) or a kadhai, mix up the sugar and water. Set the pan on low flame and let the sugar dissolve. Stir (I use my rubber spatula) the solution once or twice while the sugar dissolves so that the sugar does not stick to bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, grease the surface that you will be using to knead with 1/2 tablespoon ghee.

Once the sugar has completely dissolved, add the cashew and almond meal to the pan. Mix everything and brace yourself for some hard work. Keep on stirring and stirring as the mix cooks on low flame. The process will be slow in the beginning and you will feel that it will take forever but do not worry. Keep on stirring, scraping the mixture on low flame, do not let the mixture stick to the sides of the skillet.

After about 20-22 minutes, you will see that the mixture starts thickening and coming together.We will shortly be getting there, once the mixture is thick, do not bother much about scraping the sides as they will be really dry. Around 24 minutes, the mixture will start resembling a soft, sticky dough and will clump up around the spatula. If you try to bring the mixture together in one place on the skillet, it will try to slowly spread (similar to how a glug of cold honey spreads on a surface). Mix in the orange zest and crushed cardamom. Put off the stove.

Immediately transfer to the greased surface and leave to cool a bit until its safe to handle.Once the dough has cooled slightly, rub a teaspoon of ghee on your hands and very gently knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. Remember that the dough needs to be warm when you knead so just wait till its safe to touch, do not let it cool down completely, else it will not knead and remain grainy.Do not press very hard as you knead else the nuts  will start oozing their oil. You can grease you hands or the dough with ghee in between if it starts feeling sticky.

While the kneaded dough is still warm, pinch small portions of it and roll into a smooth ball. Roll the balls in powdered sugar.

Once cooled, store the peda in air tight container for up to a week.

Thank you for stopping by!

Notes 

  1. The time of cooking noted in this recipe will vary if you are using any other kind of sugar than granulated, since the water content of different varieties of sugar is different.
  2. You can use any kind of flavorings – saffron or kewra (screw pine water) instead of orange zest & cardamom.

Stay Spicy!