Along with garam masala or the hot indian spice blend which got more popular in the west, I find chaat masala equally versatile and quite frequently used in my kitchen. ‘Chaat‘ translates to any snack or food item served on the streets in the northern parts of India and ‘Masala‘ in Hindi refers to any sort of (dry or wet) spice blend. If you happen to hit streets in India for food, mostly everything that you will order will come to your table speckled with generous pinches of chaat masala, of course making it lip smacking good and adding a myriad array of tart, salty and hot flavors all at once.It is essentially the spice blend which you will spot on top of pakoras(fritters), tandoori chicken, kebab platters, murgh tikka, chaat items (of course), mixed in with raita (yogurt dip) and sometimes sprinkled over side salads and onions in indian restaurants here.The one which punches all the senses in the first bite and with a tempting flavor profile of tang and heat.
I would essentially compare chaat masala to the movie theatre popcorn seasoning (oh I love those) which come in all sorts of flavors and add the much-needed zip to your treat.The only difference that can be pointed here is that even though the spice blends differ from brand to brand and home to home and cook to cook but all are referred to as just ‘chaat masala‘. If you are buying from the stores, pick up a couple of brands, try, choose your favorite and stick to it. I am using the same brand for more than a decade and its worth all your money. While you will sniff and taste warm and (slightly) bitter notes in garam masala, chaat masala is sour and peppery with a pronounced heat level. It is a strong blend, one with a kick, in aroma as well to taste.
After I came to the States, like many immigrants starting their life, building bit by bit, accepting the smoothness of life here (trust me it didn’t come easy),I recollect how in those days, we did not own a car and trip to indian grocers was a hardly a once or twice a month activity.Even after making ten lists, I would forget a lot of pantry staples. It was during that time that I delved into making my own spice blends.I found this recipe last month scribbled at the back of an old notebook while I was spring cleaning the garage of old boxes from moving and with an afternoon to kill ahead of me, I blended up some chaat masala. For those of you who happen to live in a place where indian grocer are quite far away to drive to or simply just to try your hand at homemade blends,this recipe could be a starting point. Play with it. Measure, grind, sniff and taste. Add or take items as per your liking. Let the flavor and aroma of spice that you like shine.
For all practical reasons, almost always,I go and pick up a pouch from the grocer shelf for the heck of convenience but it is less in comparison to homemade.Trust me on that. Make some and sprinkle on anything and everything you want. It goes very well on top of cut up raw vegetables like cucumbers, celery, radishes or baby carrots. Add it to marinades (just be cautious of heat) and salad dressings. Use it on grilled meats or seafood. My favorite way is to dredge a lime wedge in it and slowly savor it, try it, its addictive!
7-8 whole dried red kashmiri chillies (remove stems, adjust to taste)
scant 1/2 teaspoon ajwain (carrom) seeds
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 small green cardamom, whole
1 small clove
1 inch cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons amchoor (dry mango powder)
scant 1/4 teaspoon citric acid powder
1.5 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder (or paprika)
1 tsp extra hot red chilli powder
1teaspoon kala namak(black salt, available in indian stores)
3-4 dried mint leaves
2 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
In a dry skillet, lightly dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, whole chillies, ajwain, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick, each spice one at a time, separately, on low heat. Do not let the spices turn brown. Let cool completely.
Put the roasted spices along with other items into dry coffee grinder or spice grinder and blitz to a fine powder.
Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.
As we drove to indian store a few weeks back, I told the husband “Oh I doubt they would have any more”, though secretly,I desired that they had ordered more of these chubby, tart green mangoes which are gateway to aroma and taste of indian summer into my little kitchen. I approached the mango carton first thing though I was there to stock up on green chilies, baby eggplants and curry leaves. I hurriedly tore the plastic bag and started my selection.”She’s a little too excited about them”, I overheard the husband telling the store keeper whose reply made me smile ear to ear,” Will be getting more in few days”.
This summer has been rather good as far as seasonal produce goes. Except the blueberries which I climbing the price ladder each week, we are enjoying the bounty a lot. I bought squash and first cherries home over the weekend but I am more happy that the supply of raw mangoes exported from India will continue in our local store. After pickling, adding them to lentils and chutneys, I also made this drink last week.
While the raw mangoes were boiling and the cumin was slow roasting, I plucked up few leaves from my potted mint, tore them from the twigs, bathed them in the kitchen sink and set on the counter. My hands started to smell of the herb and a strong aroma filled up the nostrils only to be replaced a few moments later by the sweet-smelling cardamom as I broke open the pod. Suddenly, the kitchen was engulfed in the perfume of herbs and spices. I was at once transported to being a child again, drinking aam pana first thing from the jug in the refrigerator after getting back from school.
Aam (mango) pana/panna is tart, sweet and spicy drink popular in India during the cruel summer months.The recipe is very simple and quick.You could roast or grill the mangoes for a smoky flavor instead of boiling them. Just keep in mind not to overdo the mint, cardamom or cumin since the pronounced taste has to be of the mango here.
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
5-6 green mangoes,unripe
(scant) pinch of hing (asafetida,optional)
2 cups water
1/3 cup sugar (can be increased to 1/2 cup or to taste)
6-7 fresh mint leaves
1 very small green chili (any mild variety will work)
1 green cardamom pod
1/2 tsp (scant) roasted cumin powder
1 tsp kala namak (black salt, adds tang but substitute with salt if you don’t have)
Salt to taste
Crushed ice, mint leaves to garnish
Wash the mangoes and remove their tops, peel them. Place them in a pressure cooker along with hing and 2 cups of water.Close the lid and let cook on medium heat for 1-2 whistles. If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can boil the mangoes in a pot till the flesh is soft. Take off the heat and let cool down till okay to touch.
Meanwhile, finely chop the mint leaves and green chili. You can seed the chili before chopping. Break open the cardamom pod and crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle.
Once the mangoes have cooled a bit, add the sugar to the pot and using your hands squeeze the mangoes till all the flesh falls off and you get hold of the seeds. Discard the seeds and any tough membranes. Add finely chopped mint and chili and using your immersion blender, blend everything. Ideally, the consistency of pana is not smooth, there is mango flesh and bits of mint & chili suspended in the liquid.
Add the cardamom,cumin, kala namak, red chili powder. Mix thoroughly, taste and adjust the salt. Transfer the contents to a beverage holder or a jug and add top with water depending on how dilute you like it.
Chill thoroughly and serve with ice and mint leaves.
Should I eat it? How will it taste? Will it be okay to eat it in public? Similar to hesitations when trying anything new, I was a bit reluctant when I ate lamb first couple of times. It was a red wine stewed lamb T- bone at one of the elaborate buffets here and the husband was all over it. I could not help but stare at his enthusiasm. If I remember correctly, it was only lamb that he ate all night. Eventually I fell prey to his company and gave in. No points for guessing that I did not quite like it at first, you know how clingy we can get to childhood tastes- firstly the lingering taste of mutton I grew up with & secondly I am not quite up for wine sauces – not yet.
During the initial years, we never really cooked it at home.I scurried through the supermarket aisles just looking at the the wide variety of cuts available but never really bought it.
However, once I did (thinking I will empty my spice box while cooking to layer ‘that’ taste),there was no going back. Lamb paired so beautifully with those cardamons & turmeric in my kitchen and as I cooked it more, adding indian flair to recipes, we slowly embraced it as a regular in our meals. Even though mutton mince ispopular back home, after eating it more and more, we have as much love for lamb dishes in our household now as poultry & seafood. Due to its easy availability, I have substituted all mykeema recipes with lamb mince & there is hardly anything not to like. Equally good, equally satisfying & equally delicious is all I can say.
This lamb burger is for those days when we are looking for a change & feeling lazy to cook but still want to eat at home. It is hearty. It is big, spicy and juicy. It is something which is a quick every now & then dinner for us.
I like to stuff my buns with lots of tomatoes, and with that mint laced, garlicky yogurt or whatever salad leaves at hand, however the husband keeps all that at bay. His meaty version is indulgent in itself with just the mince patty & lots & lots of onion slices and kettle chips on the side (which by the way are a must out here).
Ingredients (Makes 5-6 burgers)
1 lb lamb mince (or use mutton/beef mince)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1″ ginger shoot, minced
3 tbsp chopped mint leaves
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2-3 Thai green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 green cardamom
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/8 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
For the Yogurt Mayo
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 fat garlic clove
2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
1/2 tbsp Lemon juice (or to taste)
Salt & pepper to taste
For assembling the burgers
Sliced Onions, Tomatoes
Pepper Jack, Colby or any easy melting cheese
To serve alongside
Fries, Chips, Onion rings, beer, hot sauce,pickles etc
In a small bowl, mix up the mayo & yogurt. Mince the garlic clove using your microplane and add the mint leaves to the yogurt. Add lemon juice, salt & pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Using your coffee grinder coarsely grind black pepper, fennel, cloves, cumin and cardamom.Set aside in the grinder itself. In a bowl, add the lamb mince. Add the garlic, ginger, mint, cilantro & green chillies. Add the ground spices over it along with nutmeg,cinnamon & olive oil.Using a fork (or your hands), lightly mix up the mince with all the herbs and spices. If you have time, you can cover the bowl with a cling film & let it sit in the fridge for 1-2 hours or else you can use it right away.
Heat up a cast iron pan. Divide the lamb mince into six equal portions.(We do not like very thick patties, so I could make 6 out of these, however if making thicker patties, divide into desired portions). Brush a tsp of oil on the pan and cook the patties on moderately high heat until well-browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip the patties and cook on the other side, about 3-4 minutes more. When cooked, add the cheese on top and cover with a lid, the cheese should melt in under a minute. Note – We like our burgers cooked through and the times are noted for that. If you like your burgers pink in bewteen, please reduce the cooking time.These burgers grill beautifully, you can use your outdoor grill to good use for cooking these.
While the patties are cooking, you will see the mince releasing a lot of fat and juice, soak it up by warming up the bun halves on the same pan.
Assemble the burgers by slathering the yogurt mayo on both sides of the buns,add in the onion & tomato slices, lettuce and place the cooked patties.
Spicy, smoky and succulent – you could hardly go wrong when these define the dish you make.Bites of chicken grilled to perfection and instantly sprinkled with chaat masala for that much-needed tang and served immediately. I cannot think of a better appetizer or a side to fragrant rice pilaf. If you think healthy, skip the carbs and serve over a bed of greens and you are good to go.
When cooking chicken, I make sure not to skip the marination part – it does wonders to the otherwise plain poultry. Hours of marination in yogurt and spices not only makes the chicken morsels tender but packs them with so much flavor. I always plan leftovers because these are excellent tucked inside a wrap with some green chutney (or hot sauce), mayo and few fresh veggies.
It would be false if I told you that I grew up eating home cooked chicken tikka. Every now and then when we had family dinners, tikkas of all sorts were ordered from a barbecue take out place near to our house. In India, home delivery is so common and free if you live in the same area as the restaurant. The tikkas came wrapped in layers of aluminum foil, still warm from the tandoor (clay oven).There used to be pink hued pickled pearl onions, lime wedges and chutney to go along the smoky bites.At times,it did not matter to transfer the contents on to a dinner plate, just spread open the foil and everybody helped themselves – a really informal way of entertaining if you may think so.
Tikka (meaning chunks or pieces) is an extremely popular street food back home. All kinds of marinated vegetables, paneer as well as meat and poultry are available readily for a take away or a quick mid evening snack by the road side.
However, these are not to be confused with Chicken Tikka Masala, a spicy curry from the indian subcontinent which could definitely use a tikka like these simmered in sauce. You would find a lot of recipes of making tikka in India, each using almost the same spices in varying quantities.I am sharing what I make every now and then with all kinds of herbs & an essential dollop of ghee that goes into the marinade.
Morsels of chicken marinated in yogurt and fresh ground spices and then grilled to perfection. You could use the same marinade for paneer tofu or with vegetable chunks.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp salt
For the marinade
3 tbsp thick plain yogurt
1 green cardamom
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/8 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2″ cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp kashmiri chili powder (this gives the color, not the heat)
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to tolerance)
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1 heaping tsp kasuri methi, crushed between palms(dried fenugreek leaves)
1 tbsp ghee
oil for brushing the grill top/skillet
Garnishes – Chopped Cilantro or mint, lime wedges, chaat masala.
You could use chicken breast too in this recipe. But I find that thighs turn out much more juicy and succulent.
If you don not have all the whole spices mentioned above, trust your favorite tandoori spice powder & use it. Don’t skip the fresh herbs though.
Clean and pat dry the chicken thighs. Cut them into bite size pieces. Rub with lemon juice, minced garlic & ginger,1/2 tsp salt and keep aside for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, tip in cardamom,coriander,black pepper, fenugreek, cinnamon & cloves into your coffee grinder and grind to a (not too fine) powder. Mix this powder in a bowl with yogurt,cumin powder, turmeric, chili, cilantro, green chili, kasuri methi, ghee & mint leaves. Marinate the chicken with this and keep refrigerated for at least 8 hours (overnight is best).
Take the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle salt to taste before ready to grill. I use my stove top grill to cook them, however you can skew them and cook over outdoor grill.These cook very well over a cast iron skillet/tava. Cook the chicken pieces to perfection flipping regularly to cook on all sides.
Hope all of you had a lovely 4th of July. We took a little vacation to LA and Malibu.It was our first road trip ever & could not have been more fun.We spent a lot of time on beaches, sun bathing, chatting and eating fresh seafood. A visit to botanical gardens and theme park rounded off the trip. All in all, LA was definitely a respite from the over the top hot weather in Vegas right now. Its 113 F/45 C as I type this 🙁
Breaking loose from almost a perfect vacation, our car refused to behave a couple of times in the middle of Mojave desert while driving back. Being 4th of July and with everything closed, we almost reached a point when we decided to stay over in nearby town for the night. However, thanks to few God sent personnel at gas stations,we managed way back home.
I normally don’t binge during vacations,still all the outside food makes me want to eat simple, clean meals for the days that follow. I came home wanting just that. This salad is my go to recipe for those days.
Yellow Mung lentils (dal) are de skinned whole mung bean and have a very mild taste. I have grown eating them in this dryish preparation either as a side with flat breads or mixed with ghee & rice as well as salad. Since yellow mung lentils are quick to cook, this salad can be fixed in no time.Once you cook the lentils, it’s just a matter of chopping the veggies and tossing everything together with lots of lemon juice. I added a handful of ready to eat edamame beans & there it was – a hearty, protein packed salad which is so light & summery. And yup..so healthy!
Did I tell you..this is my 150th post…kinda feels good 🙂
Lentils form a big part of indian cuisine – meals are far from complete without them – soups, fritters, flat breads, stews, patties…you will find them used in all ways imaginable. India being a vegetarian country, we get our daily protein dose from them. I cook lentils daily in some way or the other. P is more of a lentil soup person, I enjoy them either way.
I was introduced to edamame after I came to USA. I did not care for them much initially but knowing how good they are, now I try to include them in our diet as much as possible.I am still away from eating them all on their own but have found a perfect way to eat them this way – overshadowed by earthy taste of lentils & crunch of fresh vegetables – hardly making their presence felt.
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
1/2 cup yellow mung dal, split
2 cups water (for soaking)
1 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with any oil of choice)
1 tsp jeera (cumin)
1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
3- 4 tbsp water (for cooking)
For the salad
1/4 cup each chopped red onion,cucumber, tomatoes (use any veggies of choice in any quantity you like)
1/4 cup edamame (I used ready to eat, if using raw, see note in method)
4-5 fresh mint/cilantro leaves, chopped
1 green chillies, finely chopped
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
1.5 tbsp fresh lime/lemon juice (or to taste)
Olive Oil (to drizzle)
salt to adjust
Cooking Lentils – Thoroughly wash the mung lentils 2-3 times under stream of water. Soak the lentils in 2 cups of water for atleast 2.5 -3 hours. Once soaked, drain out the soaking liquid. Set aside.
In a medium pot with lid, heat the oil on medium. Once you see ripples on the surface of the oil, reduce the heat to low. Temper the oil with jeera & hing. Wait for 10-15 seconds till the jeera crackles & you smell the aroma of hing. Add the minced ginger & turmeric powder next & saute for another 10 seconds.
Next, add the soaked lentils and salt to taste. Stir well to coat the lentils in the tempering. Add 3 tbsp of water to the pot and cover. Let cook on low heat for 8-12 minutes till the lentils are thoroughly cooked but retain their shape. You need to check 1-2 times in between to see that the lentils are not sticking to the pot bottom, if so, add a tbsp of water. Dont peek too much while the lentils cook, the idea is so steam them slowly on low heat.
Note :- If using fresh edamame beans, add them to the pot towards the last 3-4 minutes of cooking, so that they steam with the lentils.This will ensure that they remain green & crunchy.
Once cooked, put the stove off and let the lentils & edamame sit covered for another 5-8 minutes till they cool down a bit. Fluff gently using a fork and let them cool off completely. At this point, if you want to make the salad later, you can refrigerate the lentils in air tight containers for 1-2 days.
Assembling the Salad – In a medium bowl, toss the cooled lentils & edamame with the chopped vegetables, mint, cilantro & green chillies. Squirt lemon juice, add red pepper flakes, olive oil (if using) and salt to taste. Combine well and serve at room temperature.
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!
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
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
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.
This is a very easy but flavorful basmati rice pilaf that I created last week. Or lemma brag that it is my own recipe. no reference or cookbooks. Long grain, aromatic basmati rice is cooked in a lemon & ginger flavored broth with hints of aromatic indian spices. I wanted the pilaf to look “summery”, so I chose to avoid reddish look from red chilies powder or yellowish look from haldi (turmeric). The chicken balls are green & succulent with lots of cilantro, mint, and garlic and loaded with the magical garam masala. The flavors are subtle but classic – citrusy, soul warming & comforting. All in all best served as a side along with tempered raita (yogurt) or any curry /dalor eat on its own as a light summer meal.
Ingredients: – Serves 4
For the Chicken balls: [Makes 20-25 balls of the size shown]
1lb ground chicken (don’t use ground chicken breast, use a mince which has good ratio of dark meat & fat, also take care that the mince is not too fine if you are getting it from the butcher]
4-5 Thai green chilies, finely chopped (Adjust to taste, with this quantity, balls will be on the spicy side)
1.5 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp salt
Oil for rubbing on palms
You can use the same recipe to make curry with the chicken balls. Just mix in some minced ginger with the chicken in that case.
For a vegetarian version, you can add dal wadi (lentil drops), soya chunks, paneer cubes, any kind of beans or an assorted vegetables (slightly steamed) of choice. Drop the step where we cook the chicken balls in the method below and proceed.
For the Pilaf: –
1.5 cups Basmati rice
1/4 cup mustard/canola/olive/vegetable oil
3/4 cup sliced onions (use any variety you like, don’t use sweet onions)
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, grated (can be avoided)
4 Thai green chilies, slit lengthwise
3 bay leaves
2 tsp cumin seeds
One 2″ cinnamon stick
1 tbsp black peppercorns
6 green cardamom pods (hari elaichi)
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
6 tbsp fresh lemon juice (adjust to taste)
2.5 cups water /stock (Depends on rice variety, adjust as per package instructions)
Salt to taste
2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
Cilantro, Lemon wedges etc for garnish
Pick the rice and wash under 2-3 streams of water.Let soak for 30 minutes. In a cheesecloth/muslin, wrap tightly the black peppercorns, cloves, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods. In a bowl, add all the ingredients under the heading “For the Chicken Balls”. Mix gently with hands to combine well. Do not apply too much pressure while mixing else the mix will become sticky. Once mixed, apply some oil on your hands and make balls of the size you wish. Dont make too big balls, coz after cooking, these swell up. Line the balls on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
While the chicken balls are refrigerating, to a heavy bottomed pot with lid, add the oil and heat on high high. If using mustard oil, heat the oil to smoking point to do away the raw smell. Reduce heat to medium and add the sliced onions to the pot and sauté them till they turn light brown. At this point add the slit green chilies, grated garlic (if using) & ginger, bay leaf, cumin and cinnamon stick to the pot and sauté for 30 secs. Next add 2.5 cups of water/stock to the pot. Tip in the cheesecloth wrapped spices into the water, add 1 tsp salt and let the water come to a boil.About 8 minutes.
Once boiling, add the refrigerated chicken balls to the pot. Start by adding a single ball, if it does not spread, add all of them one by one in a single layer. If balls are spreading, mash them down & add a binding agent like cornstarch or egg. Let the balls cook for 5-8 minutes in boiling water till they are 95% (almost) cooked. Do not overcook else they will become rock hard. Strain the balls out of the pot in a plate and set aside.(This cooking time will depend on size of your balls)
Measure out the stock in the pot to whatever quantity is required to cook your variety of rice.The basmati variety I use takes 2 cups stock to 1 cup of rice to cook. Return the measured stock to the pot. Add the soaked, drained rice to the pot along with ground nutmeg & lemon juice. Check the seasoning again and adjust if required.
Cover the pot & bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and let cook for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat, open the lid, and add the chicken balls & melted butter gently mix with a wooden spoon & leave to steam on the stove for another 5-8 minutes.Pick out the spices wrapped in cheesecloth & discard. Garnish the rice with chopped cilantro & lime wedges. Serve with tempered raita.
To make Tempered Raita: – Beat 1 cup of cold, plain Greek yogurt in a bowl. To this add any thing you like from tomatoes, boiled potatoes, grated cucumbers chopped onion, boondi etc as long it pairs with yogurt.I am not giving any quantity here coz there are no measurements as such. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.To temper, just before serving to a small saucepan, add 1 tbsp of oil and let it heat on high. Once heated, add 1 tsp each of cumin seeds & black mustard and let crackle. You can add some chopped green chilies too. Once crackling, remove from heat and let cool off for 2-3 minutes. Add salt to yogurt along with tempering and mix well. Serve.
2 cups fresh white corn kernels [ you can use frozen variety too]
1/2 cup raw peanuts, skinned & slightly roasted
3 scallions, finely chopped
3 Thai green chillies [adjust to taste]
1 fat garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp cilantro/parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp amchoor [dry mango powder]
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp kasoori methi [dried fenugreek leaves]
6 tbsp besan/chickpea flour [ or as required to make a thick batter]
Salt to taste
Oil for frying [ I use canola]
Using a mortar & pestle, coarsely crush the roasted peanuts.Set aside.
Keep 1/2 cup of corn kernels aside.
To the food processor jar, add 1-1/2 cups of corn and pulse 8-10 times.We do not need a paste, just a chunky mix.If using thawed,frozen kernels, you might need to add a tbsp of water while processing.
Transfer the kernels to a medium bowl.Add the crushed peanuts, remaining kernels,scallions,garlic, green chillies, cilantro & all the spices except salt to the bowl.With the help of the spoon, gently mix to combine.
Add the chickpea flour next and combine to make a batter.Since fresh corn kernels are very juicy, you will need to ration the flour quantity as per requirement.Start with 4 tbsp of flour.If the liquid from corn makes the mixture too wet, put in additional flour.
Heat oil on medium in a fryer /deep-frying pan/kadhai.The indian way of checking if oil is ready or not is by putting little batter in the heated oil; if it sizzles right to the top without turning brown, oil is ready.
Add the salt just before frying & combine.With the help of hand or a spoon, tip in small portions of the batter into the heated oil in a single layer.Do not overcrowd the pan.
Fry on medium heat, flipping in between for even cooking till the fritters are golden brown on all sides.
Remove with the help of a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towels.Repeat the process for the entire batch.
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Chicken Dopiaza is a popular indian curry with origins in east india.”Do” in Hindi means two and “piyaz/piaz ” is hindi for onions.So it translates to a chicken dish cooked with twice the normal amounts of onions in a curry or a dish where onions are used two times in the preparation.Wiki tells me that in eastern india particularly in the state of West Bengal which had a lot of muslim travelers then,this dish originated and then got popular in the rest of the country.
The good thing about this curry is that it used simple indian spices and herbs and has a yogurt tomato based sauce in addition to onions.I have used red pearl onions in the curry, you can replace with shallots or even chunks of medium-sized onions.The idea is to use onions in the sauce with as well as include them in the curry on their own.Dont be overwhelmed by the long list of ingredients, these are all easy to find things available in your pantry.The recipe is adapted from here.
Ingredients: [Serves 2]
1 lb chicken ,bone in ,skinned [I used chicken thighs]
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 dry red chillies
Salt to taste
1/2 cup red pearl onions [or equivalent quantity of shallots or thick sliced onions]
3 medium onions
2 fat cloves of garlic
4 fresh mint leaves
1″fresh ginger shoot
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 cup chopped tomatoes
5 tbsp oil [mustard/olive /canola]
Chopped cilantro [for garnish]
8-10 black peppercorns
4 green cardamom pods, cracked open
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
Dry Ground spices:
1 tbsp red chilli powder[adjust to taste]
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp dry coriander powder
Garam Masala to sprinkle [optional]
Soak the dry chillies in half cup water for about 15 minutes.
Once soaked, coarsely grind them using a mortar & pestle.
Rub chicken pieces with lemon juice,above red chilli paste and 1 tsp salt and set aside for 30 minutes.
Peel the pearl onions and set aside.
Thinly chop the onions.
Coarsely grind the mint leaves, ginger shoot and garlic cloves.Mix them which beaten yogurt and juice of the onion.Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed pot with lid, add the oil and let it come to a smoking point on high heat.Once smoking, reduce the heat, wait for 1 minute and add the pearl onions.Fry the pearl onions for 2-3 minutes until they turn light brown.Drain on a paper towel.
In the remaining oil,add the sliced onions along with all the whole spices and cook till onions turn golden brown on medium heat.About 5-8 minutes.
Next, add the chopped tomatoes along with turmeric, red chilli and coriander powder.Cook on medium heat till tomatoes become tender and you see oil separating on sides of the pot.About 5 minutes.
Add the marinated chicken along with marinade,yogurt mix and stir everything to combine properly.Check the salt at this stage.Adjust if required.
Now reduce the heat to low and let the curry cook till the chicken is tender.About 20 minutes for the size of chicken pieces you see in the pictures.
When the chicken is tender, add the fried pearl onions & sugar ,mix well, cover again and let simmer for another 10 minutes.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and sprinkle with garam masala if u like.
Serve warm with rice or flatbreads.
You can use lamb, mutton or beef for making this curry.Adjust cooking times accordingly.
I recommend using bone in and dark meat chicken pieces for this curry because the curry cooks for a long time on slow heat.