Achari comes from the word “Achaar” which means pickle in Hindi. Tikka is any kind of boneless meat or vegetables baked or roasted on skewers. Pickles in India are a serious business involving lots of spices, lots of oil & lots of solar energy. Achari is a method of using the pickling spices to make curries. The spice mix is pungent and resonant with bold flavors from fenugreek (methi dana), mustard (raai) & nigella(kalonji) seeds.These spices are not hot, rather they are pungent, quite bitter and have a very strong aroma.In pickles, they ferment over a period of time & give a tangy taste. In curries, they lend a really unique & piquant taste. Achaari preparations don’t taste like normal curries, the taste is acquired & unusual, but at the same time can be very very addictive. Having said that, this should not stop you from trying these skewers coz they are different and really delish. Give these tikkas a chance – trust me it will take you straight to India.You just need to stock up on few spices which last forever from indian stores.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
400 gms /14 oz paneer ( Indian cheese, pierced with a fork,cut into 1” cubes)
1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
10-12 grape tomatoes, whole
1 medium red onion,diced
Oil for brushing
Lemon Wedges, Cilantro for garnish
10-12 bamboo skewers
Paneer is easily available in Indian stores under different brands.
Paneer can be replaced by extra firm Tofu or Halloumi /Any cheese which can withstand grilling or roasting without melting.
You can use any vegetables of choice here – zucchini,mushrooms work great. Just ensure that the cooking times of vegetable dont vary much.
Dice the vegetables smaller/thinner than paneer, coz it takes less time to cook than veggies.
For the Non vegetarian Version– Use boneless & cubed lamb, mutton, beef, chicken(dark portions) or shrimp.
For the Marinade:-
1/2 tsp each of cumin, fennel, coriander & brown mustard (raai) seeds
1/4 tsp each of nigella & fenugreek seeds
4-5 dry red chillies or red pepper flakes (adjust to tolerance)
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 tbsp plain, thick greek yogurt, slightly sour
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp mustard oil (preferable for better taste, can be substituted with canola/olive/corn oil)
Salt to taste
If using bamboo/wooden skewers soak them in water for atleast 2-3 hours.
Soak the cubed paneer in enough warm water seasoned with salt for about 15 minutes.Once soaked, drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
In a small sauce pan, on high heat, lightly dry roast all the seeds under the “For the Marinade”.Roast for about 20 seconds or till you smell the aroma.Remove into a small bowl and let cool.
Next, in the same pan, roast the whole red chillies for about 20 seconds.
Tip the cooled, roasted spices along with red chillies into mortar or coffee grinder. Grind to a smooth powder to get a achari spice mix.
In a bowl (big enough to hold the marinade & ingredients), combine the yogurt, achari spice mix, ginger, garlic,oil,lemon juice & salt.Whisk well to mix.
Combine the paneer with the achari marinade,toss gently, cover the bowl with a cling film and set to marinate for 30 minutes,refrigerated.
Add the vegetables to the marinade 5 minutes before ready to cook the skewers. This is important to keep the moisture of vegetables intact.
Once marinated, thread the marinated paneer & vegetables on soaked bamboo skewers. Brush with oil on all sides.
Cooking the Tikka :- I grilled the skewers on high for 4 minutes each side. You can cook them in my broiler till the paneer edges started to turn brown.About 10-12 minutes.You will need to flip them sideways to cook on all sides. Alternatively you can cook them in a skillet/griddle (about 8-10 minutes)
Serve warm with green coriander-mint chutney and flatbreads or rice.
If using red meat or chicken for making this recipe, marinate the meat overnight or atleast 6 hours to get better flavors.
Baking is totally sweet.Its therapeutic and always gives me a high.The same is not true when baking with yeast though. I feel that my fears of working with yeast were mostly because of inexperience. The unknown is always baffling.The acme of perfection that I wanted to achieve when handling yeast, mostly met with frustration of it acting foes. My dough would never rise, my yeast would cling to each other and turn into a lumpy mess. Dont even talk about the amount of food I wasted when I wanted to tame it in my own kitchen.The wastage was followed by days of agony. Whenever I wanted to make yeasted breads , I finished making something else. I could not overcome the thought of cups of flour & eggs making their way into the bin.I saw a recipe for a flaky pastry or loaf in a book, I flipped the page as soon as I read yeast in there. All along my heart felt an overload of running away from the difficult.
Over a period of time, I realized that yeast is not that monstrous as I always guessed it. It needs patience to start with. Half of your battle is won there. The second half is of course practice – lots of it.I am the person who has none of the former but lot of will for the latter. Its like baby steps to learning towards perfecting the fungi. You have to give it attention and love.Even when you knead it, caress it. When it comes to yeast, in my kitchen, my motto is to try simple recipes & make them shine. I dream of baking those perfect looking breads with visible pores and all. I will make it there someday. Right now, my moment of joy is when my mini buns and rolls fluff up in the warm weather I m blessed with these days – so far so good 🙂
I mentioned in my previous post that “Masala” is a generic term for anything spicy in Indian cuisine. Well, on similar lines, masala buns are buns with a spicy filling. I first tasted them in one of the bakeries near my college.I dont even remember how many books I have crammed eating these little beauties…oh boy..did I tell you that they give best(est) company to a cup of sweet masala chai. P calls the combo “double masala” …and it sure is. Spicy filling cushioned within doughy wrap along with sips of sweetish spiced up chai – yum!
I have tried to make these spicy savory buns in the healthiest way possible – using durum atta (whole wheat flour) which is the variety of flour rich is wheat bran.You can get it in indian stores and read about it here. I added Kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) & ajwain (carrom) which are super aromatic indian flavorings if you can lay your hands on them, else add some fennel or cumin seeds. By the way, Kasuri methi is something which is the secret behind those aromatic indian butter chicken and other curries- It lasts forever in the kitchen so you might wanna stock up! Fill the buns with anything you want, I filled them with a spicy potato & vegetable filling. These eggless buns are great for breakfast or casual snacking. These buns can be baked in advance & pair up with indian tomato soup to make a lazy day brunch.
Ingredients (Makes 12-14 buns)
For the buns:-
1.5 cup durum atta (whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp ajwain (carrom seeds)
1.5 tsp kasuri methi, fine crushed between palms (dry fenugreek leaves)
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil (substitute with melted unsalted butter)
1.5 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup luke warm milk
1/2 cup luke warm water (or as required for kneading the dough)
Melted unsalted butter for brushing
Flour for dusting
For the filling :- (Makes 1.5 cups)
2 medium boiled potatoes, slightly mashed (but with little chunks)
1/2 cup colored bell peppers of choice, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
2 scallions, white & green parts chopped separated
1 fat garlic clove, grated
3 – 4 Thai green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to tolerance)
1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
In a bowl, add the flours along with crushed kasuri methi. Sift this flour mix once. Add ajwain (carrom seeds) to the sifted flour and set aside.
Dissolve sugar in luke warm milk, add yeast and set aside till frothy. Note:-If you dont see foam within 30 seconds of dissolving the yeast,discard the mix & restart.
While the yeast is frothing, in a large bowl (enough to hold doubled up dough after rise), tip in the salt.Top it up with sifted flour, olive and foamy yeast paste [ in this order].
Start mixing in lukewarm water till everything comes together. Note :- Start with 1/4 cup of water to begin with. Once a loose dough ball starts to come together, transfer the dough to a floured surface, and continue kneading for 5-8 minutes till you get a soft, elastic dough.While kneading , if you feel that the dough is on the dry side, add a tablespoon (s)of water, if you feel it sticky, add some flour to bring it together.
Brush some oil on all sides of the bowl, and once kneaded, transfer the dough back to the bowl.Brush some oil on the top of the dough ball, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm, dry place for 1-1.5 hours to rise.
While the Dough is rising
Make the Masala/Spicy Filling:-
In a pan, heat up the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped white parts of scallions and saute for 4-5 minutes on high.
Next, add the garlic along with chopped green chillies.Saute for 30 seconds or till you smell the aroma.
Next add all the vegetables along with salt to taste, mix well & reduce heat to medium and let cook for 10 minutes, uncovered till the peppers and peas are tender.
Remove from heat and while still hot, add the chopped green scallion parts, cumin powder, garam masala and lemon juice.Mix well and set aside to cool.
Stuffing the buns & Baking:-
Line a baking/cookie sheet with parchment. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and knead again for 3-4 minutes on a floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal balls.Roll out each ball using a rolling pin into a 2″ circle. Spoon about 1.5 tbsp of Masala filling into the centre of each dough circle and pinch all sides to make a stuffed dough ball.Smear the pinched ball all over with oil and line on the baking sheet, pinched side down. Line the balls atleast 3 ” away from each other so that they do not touch each other when they rise. You may use more than 1 baking sheet (if required) to line the dough balls.Let rise in a warm place for 15 more minutes.
While the stuffed balls are rising, preheat oven to 375 F/190 C.Bake the risen balls for 13-15 minutes or till they are light brown in color and you smell the aroma of baked dough & kasuri methi.Mine took 15 minutes. Once light brown, brush melted butter on the balls and bake for another 3-4 minutes till the tops turn golden brown.Pull out the baking sheet and using a pair of tongs, transfer the baked buns to the cooling rack. Cool slightly and serve warm with tomato ketchup. mango mint chutney, green chutney & masala chai.
Indian restaurants in the western world have brought about a drastic conceptual change in the way people decipher Indian recipes – particularly the “curry”. Curry has transformed from being healthy & brothy to oily and thick. How many of you avoid restaurant food on those days when you desire light dinner and don’t want to ogle at the pool of oil, which will welcome you when you order curry? As much as Indian food opens your appetite and makes you want to eat more, I m sure most of you would be eating the non traditional version of curry at restaurants,feeling sluggish, thereby putting it off on certain days. I do not intend to dismiss restaurant curry as devilish but it’s a far cry from what home-style Indian version is. Even though I love thick, creamy restaurant curries with all my heart, I will certainly not categorize it as something I want to cook in my home daily or healthy. So for all of you who share curry love with me, I decided to post the basic Indian curry paste or masala in this post – the way we Indians make it in our homes – sans the calories & full of taste!
“Masala” is a very generic term used to describe any blend of spices in Indian cooking. Masala can be dry or wet, chunky or smooth, hot or mild, thick or brothy. In curry making it is a pasty, spice mixture, which forms the base. You add water or broth to the masala and make a ‘sauce’ or ‘curry’. Curry is not a dish by itself in India, it is a sauce. You prefix the name of meat or vegetable before “curry” to derive the name of the dish…chicken curry, potato curry, cauliflower etc.
Traditional home-style north Indian masala is not cream laden, not made with curry powder, does not have cashew or almond pastes & is not silky smooth in texture. It is chunky, healthy & light to eat. The way onions, peppers & celery start any stew or soup in the western cuisine, the Indian masala has equivalent trio of onions, tomatoes & garlic or OTG.The basic trio of spices being coriander, turmeric & red chili powder which lend it the distinct consistency, color & heat. The beautiful, deep orangish-red color is from the combination of red from chili & yellow from turmeric. This color depends on the quality of spices used and the slow cooking.In everyday cooking,Masala is not churned in food blenders or pureed through a sieve, it is cooked on low heat so that the onions & tomatoes soften but do not become mushy, and the natural sugars in them are caramelized. Garam Masala & Amchoor (dry mango powder) are added to masala to give it smoky and sour tastes respectively. Though rare, but sometimes, addition of both these items depends on what is it that you are making curry with. As an example, I wont add both of these when making a fish curry, garam masala will overpower the mild taste of fish & citrus will be a better addition than amchoor. I hope you get an idea of what I m trying to say.
This masala has a lot of uses, you can whisk it in boiling water while making rice for an instant curried flavor, use it as spread on tortillas, buns or wraps, mix it with some mayo & make a curried dip, beat with yogurt, mix some veggies & make a side to the main meal. I even use it as a pasta sauce sometimes ..I m weird 🙂 Another way which I absolutely love this masala is on top of triangle paratha – absolute bliss! Or maybe devise your own way of eating it & let me know.
Please note that this recipe does not substitute the whole spices in Indian cooking.This recipe is to be used as a base in curry making.
Ingredients: – [Makes about 1 cup, can be doubled]
4 tbsp mustard/olive/canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
5 garlic cloves, minced (We like masala more garlicky than usual, adjust as per liking)
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes (slightly sour)
4 tsp coriander powder
4 tsp red chili powder/cayenne (We like masala hot , adjust quantity to tolerance depending on mild or hot you want the sauce)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, available in Indian stores)
In a heavy bottomed pan, add the oil and heat on high up till you see ripples on the surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat it till its smoking to do away the raw smell.
Reduce heat to medium.Add the finely chopped onion and cook them till golden brown. About 6-8 minutes.
Next, add the cumin seeds, minced garlic & ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling the aroma.
Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes next along with chilli, coriander, and turmeric powder. Cook this masala on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the pan. About 10-12 minutes. If you see masala sticking to the bottom of pan, add some water. Cook thoroughly to reduce water. This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, please do not rush.Allow the masala to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color.
Remove the pan from heat and mix in the salt, garam masala & amchoor.
Allow the masala to cool and transfer to jars for storing. The paste sits for up to 5 days refrigerated and 2 months in the freezer without losing flavor.
How to Use:– Whenever you want to use this masala for making curry, add the desired quantity of water to it,check the seasoning & bring to a boil. Next add the meats or vegetables, boiled beans, lentils and cook covered or in pressure cooker till tender.
Although you can freeze this masala and save for later use, in Indian homes, it is prepared whenever needed. I recommend making a fresh batch everytime too.
You can add anything and everything under the sun to the basic masala from coconut milk to cream to tamarind paste to yogurt to flavor it up depending on what you want to use it for.
365 days…125 recipes…a few thousand comments..a bag full of memories & a truck load of friends around the globe..I m so elated to welcome all of you to the first milestone of a culinary journey which I embarked upon exactly a year back! Sinfully Spicy is 1-year-old WooHoo! 🙂 Traditional & Modern Indian Cuisine with tales woven my family, fusion twists on classic recipes, all coupled with an effort to make Indian food look good through my lens – this is how I envisioned Sinfully Spicy back then..and I am so happy to see it shaping up ..bit by bit..thanks to love buttons pressed by each one of you who lands here.Thank you so much!
A food blog, which was born to kill boredom of sitting at home, then shortly graduated to a hobby and not until few months back when it became a passion, Sinfully Spicy was my foray into this VAST community of food bloggers with absolutely no air of anything except that I could cook a decent meal..which by the way, I thought was enough to barge 🙂 Today, I can plainly say that its was a slight misconception …food blogging is so much more than just being able to cook ! The journey had its ups & downs.Similar to so many of you..when you suddenly smile corner to corner seeing comment love, or when your heart skips a beat the moment it sees a mail ping , or those butterflies in the stomach when a reader tells you that they are going to try your recipe & a rush of disappointment when your recipe doesn’t work out for somebody, it’s a sine curve and I have lived it so closely in one year. Then the most precious thing- the bunch of talented people you touch..each different in their own way – sweet, loving, kind & helpful.
Slowly ..I learnt terms like “social media”…”food porn”…”trackbacks”…”subject”…”food styling”…”shot composition”..etc etc etc …each more complicated than the other and frightening for a highly unsocial & introvert person like me. Add to that the photographer who came out of the camera auto mode a few months back 🙂 But the immense love of all my readers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers & blog subscribers brings me out of this cocoon each day. Each morning I get up, open up my mailbox or log on to the dashboard of blog…and see love pouring out from every nook and corner of the computer screen..it is so overwhelming to start the day like this..and no matter how much I write here, only my heart knows how these notes of appreciation have become treasured gems of my life.I may or may not blog forever but the only thing for sure is that even when I will open this page some 15 years down the lane and witness this love & support ..few tears of joy will trickle down my cheeks. Thank you so much all of you ..you have been a source of endless inspiration for me each day – to believe in myself & to be able to recognize & explore the culinary passion that I nurtured in my heart all the way.Hugs 🙂
I would specially like to thank all the readers who tried my recipes.As soon as you inform me or link back, I update my existing blog post with your posts or feedbacks. Maybe I ll do a recipe shout out sometime. Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies with Nutella Filling is the most visited recipe on blog closely followed by BhunaMurgh, Mutton Meatballs Curry & Indian Espresso Coffee.Indian food is considered to be an intricate affair in the western world..Its always my effort to bring recipes to you without stealing their soul..if you get a hang of basic things..Indian food is an experience! Trust me nothing makes me more happy than knowing that Indian food is able to reach your kitchen via my little blog.
Now lets come to the Giveaway. As a little token to appreciate your fathomless love & support, I have decided to give away 1 copy of Anjum Anand‘s cookbook Anjum’s New Indian.She is lesser known in USA but is a celebrated television personality in UK.If you have seen her shows on The Cooking Channel, you would mirror what I feel about this lovely lady who has been hailed the “The Indian Nigella Lawson” by Vogue.The best thing I like about her is the fact that even though she grew up in the western world, her recipes, story telling and cookery is so close to her indian roots.Her recipes are innovative, combine the best of traditional & modern indian cuisine & really easy to follow. In this cookbook too, she presents more than 100 doable, regional recipes – both vegetarian & non vegetarian.I recently got this book with beautiful photography & have already tried few of her recipes.See the rules of giveaway at the end of this post.
I asked my FaceBook fans a couple of weeks back about what they would love to see on the anniversary post – and the request was unanimous – GulabJamuns…what better way to celebrate something Indian. A simple sweet which is now synonymous with Indian dessert scenario all over the world. Deep Fried, Melt in the mouth kind dough balls dunked in sugary,rosewater & cardamom syrup – its pure bliss to gobble these up especially when slightly warm. “Gulab” means “rose” in Hindi and “Jamun” is a south asian fruit which has a similar shape & size – that is how the sweet gets its name. Again in India – there are two varieties available one is called gulab jamun (which is light brownish in color) & the second one is called kala jaam/jamun – the same thing except that the dough balls are fried till they are deep brown/blackish in color.I love the second variety more coz the crust is quite chewy!
Rules for the Giveaway:-
This giveaway is open to USA residents.If you reside outside USA but have relatives or friends here, you can use the address & still enter the giveaway.The giveaway is open to bloggers as well as non bloggers.
Tell me in the comments section what you like or dislike about this blog, what kind of recipes you would like to see on this blog , scope of improvement, your suggestions. Just say anything nice..joking 🙂
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Last day of entering this giveaway is 7th August 2011,11 :59 pm (your part of the world). Since I will be away for a little vacation to Florida, I will come back & announce the winner on Monday, 8th of August, picked by a random draw.See you then!
2-3 tbsp whole milk yogurt, at room temperature (or as required for kneading)
Canola Oil for deep-frying
Nuts/dessicated coconut for garnish (optional)
For the Sugar Syrup:-
1.5 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups water
Few saffron strands (optional)
4 green cardamom pods, cracked open
2 tbsp rose-water (use 1-2 drops if using essence)
I take 8-10 mixed nuts (cashews, almonds & pistachios), grind them in coffee grinder to a fine powder.Adding this to the dough gives a terrific, nutty taste in each bite.This is my mom’s trick & I really love it to pep up the texture of the jamuns.
You dont need to buy cardamom powder (its uber expensive), buy whole pods instead from any indian or middle eastern store, just crack open the pods and use your mortar & pestle to grind the seeds into a powder.This is how cardamom is commonly used in Indian homes.
Traditionally, jamuns are fried in pure ghee, however I add 2-3 tbsp of ghee to the oil to add the rich aroma, if you don’t have ghee,then skip)
For the Syrup:
In a large pot,add water, sugar along with cardamom pods and bring it to a boil.We are not looking for any consistency here, just boil & stir till the sugar dissolves.About 6-8 minutes on medium heat. If you see some scum on top, remove with a spoon.
Let the syrup simmer for a minute and then put off the stove. After 5 minutes when the syrup has cooled down a bit,add saffron strands & rose-water to the syrup.
Set the sugar syrup aside.
For the Jamuns:-
In a bowl or pastry board ,combine the milk powder, flour, baking powder & soda, green cardamom powder & nuts powder(if using) and mix thoroughly.You can sift this once to catch the coarse nuts or lumps if any.
Next add the ghee to the mix and rub between hands so that the whole flour mix is moistened.Start adding yogurt and mixing simultaneously to make a soft dough.You do not need to knead or over mix because gluten should not form.Mix with gentle fingers. If you over mix, the jamuns will not absorb syrup and will be hard inside.The dough will be quite sticky.Cover the bowl with a cloth & let the dough sit for 5 minutes.
Heat the oil in a frying pan/kadhai on medium heat. The frying pan should have enough oil to cover the balls completely while deep-frying. A way of testing the oil temperature is to pinch a small ball of dough & tip it in the oil, it should rise slowly to the top. If using a thermometer, use the temperature you fry doughnuts at.
While the oil is heating, with greasy palms pinch the dough into 18-20 equal parts and roll into small, smooth balls.As far as possible, roll out such that there are no cracks on the balls.This will give the jamuns a smooth look.The balls will double up after frying & soaking in syrup so do not make big balls. Line the balls on a plate & keep covered till ready to fry.
Meanwhile if your sugar syrup is cold or luke warm, put it on stove again so that it warms up.We want the sugar syrup warm (not hot) when the fried jamuns are tipped into it. Once warm , transfer the syrup to a bowl big enough to accommodate all the jamuns & keep them soaked. Also keep the sugar syrup nearby because the fried jamuns will go straight from frying pan into the syrup.
Once the oil is hot, tip in the rolled jamuns into the oil.Do not over crowd the pan/kadhai.While frying keep flipping the balls gently for even browning all around. Fry until the jamuns become golden brown. About 4-6 minutes depending on size.
Once browned,using a strainer, transfer the jamuns straight to the warm sugar syrup.The jamuns should sit undisturbed in the hot syrup for at least 30 minutes before ready to serve.
Once soaked, serve in bowl with few tablespoons of syrup & nuts/dessicated coconut garnish.I like them slightly warm.
Do not fry the gulab jamuns too much or on very high heat..they will harden & wont soak up the syrup.
Gulab Jamuns can keep well in the fridge for up to 20 days.Whenver you want to serve, just microwave for 10-15 seconds.They can be frozen for 3-5 months.
Enjoy ..Have a fun Weekend Everyone & Thanks for stopping by !
The recipe can be used to make any lentil variety you wish to. Just adjust the cooking time depending on the lentil type and whether it is split or whole.
3/4 cup dhuli urad (Split urad lentils, easily available in indian stores)
Water for Soaking (as a thumb rule, 1:3 ratio of lentils to water)
1/2 cup water for cooking (or as required, depends on how old your lentils are, grain size etc)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
Fresh lime juice (as per taste)
For Tempering: –
3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
1/2 tsp sabut dhania (coriander seeds), crushed
1/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
1/2 cup sliced onions
2 tbsp fresh ginger julians
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp red chili powder
3 Thai green chilies, chopped (adjust to tolerance)
Notes: Hing (asafoetida) is a pungent, unpleasant smelling indian spice but adds a lot of flavor to the tempering. Try getting it in powdered form in indian stores, trust me its worth the buy!
Pick the urad dal and thoroughly wash it under a stream of water, 2-3 times. Let soak in enough water for at least 4-5 hours. Note: Soaking the dal is really important so that you don’t end up overcooking it on the stove. Once soaked, drain the water & discard. Spread the soaked lentils on a paper towel.
Cooking the Dal (lentils) – In a heavy bottomed pot with a lid/kadhai, add the soaked lentils along with turmeric powder, salt to taste & 1/2 cup of water. Note: -This quantity of water may sound less, but if your lentils are soaked properly, this amount of water is sufficient to cook them. Transfer the pot to the stovetop, cover with a lid & let the water come to a boil on high heat. When boiling, you will see some scum/foam on top of the lentils.Using a spoon, remove it. Once boiling,reduce the heat to minimum and let the lentils cook on low for about 8-10 minutes. You may need to go and gently stir once or twice in between while cooking to prevent lentils from sticking to bottom. Also if you feel that water needs to be adjusted, do so but add very less quantity of water at a time. The whole idea is not to end up with mushy lentils. We want the grains to remain intact and al dente. After you see that all the water has been absorbed by the lentils (approx 12 minutes from start), remove from heat and let the lentils sit in their own steam for 5-8 minutes. Fluff up with the help of fork once done. Tip:-Once the lentils have cooked & are hot, avoid stirring or mixing too much- they will become mushy.
Tempering the Dal: In a saucepan, add the ghee and let heat on medium. Once heated, add the cumin & coriander seeds and let crackle for about 30 secs. Be careful while adding the spices to hot ghee, they splutter. Reduce the heat to low and add the hing powder, sauté for 10 seconds. Just take care that the spices don’t burn. Add the ginger julians and garlic next and cook for 1-2 minutes till you smell the aroma. Increase the heat to medium and add the sliced onions and let the onions cook till they turn golden brown.About 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat once the onions have browned and add the red chili powder.
Immediately add this tempering to the cooked lentils along with garam masala and chopped green chilies. Mix thoroughly, adjust the salt if required and squirt some fresh lime juice.A dollop of melted ghee on top tastes amazing too.
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.
Thousands of miles away, when you cook food which you ate back home – on family picnics, long drives, with friends, at birthdays parties & weddings, there is a certain sense of overwhelm which grasps me.Does it happens to you too? – tastes which remind you of good times spent.One such memory is eating at dhabas in and around Delhi.Dhaba is indian equivalent of a diner, very popular amongst drivers and long distance travellers for quick & inexpensive food.If you ask me the best places to eat in Delhi, I will recommend most of the dhabas on the outskirts of the city and some in Old & central areas.
The typical setting of a dhaba is not fancy,very basic, you might or might not get cutlery or tissue paper, but you are sure to find food made with love and bursting with authentic flavors.Mostly you would be eating on reusable stainless steel plates, you may get mineral water,there might be mosquitos during summers and monsoons [grin],AC is out of question,if it’s a popular place – you ll get chairs else enjoy seating on a cot & don’t shy away from humming old hindi film songs playing on the radio…the food is glorious,the atmosphere – intoxicating! When my dad used to work outside Delhi, most of our summer vacations were spent on road trips. I remember that we used to plan our visits such that we can have dinner at our favorite dhabas which dotted the interconnecting highways.As I write this, my mouth is already watering at the thought of food served – dal makhani [ lentils], palak paneer [ spinach & cheese curry], kadhai chicken served along with hot& fluffy butter dunked tandoori rotis [flatbreads] straight out the the clay oven, jeera [cumin] rice & a BIG glass of lassi or chaas [ salty buttermilk] during summers or masala chai during winters.Here you don’t kill yourself over worrying about calories or hygiene, its the zesty experience which matters!! The recipe in this post is one which you will find at almost every dhaba in north india – trust me the very mention still stirs the emotions of best family times 🙂
“Kadhai” is an indian wok.It is one of the most indispensable utensil in an Indian kitchen..be it for making quick stir fry, curries, shallow or deep-frying or simmering stews.Its shallow & less heavy as compared to dutch ovens and something I just can’t imagine my without.A dish which is made start to finish in a “kadhai” gets its name from there & is Indian answer to a stir fry. However, you do not compulsorily need a kadhai to make this recipe 🙂 The point to keep in mind is that since it’s a quick cooking method, you can make a kadhai with almost anything under the sun.The recipe is very simple, you can prepare & store the kadhai sauce in advance & add whatever you wish to it- from chicken to cauliflower to fish to vegetable medley .Today I chose paneer [Indian Cottage Cheese] which is the most popular of all kadhai preparations in northen India. A typical addition to any kadhai is lots of bell peppers – of all colors, choose any you like.The dish is bursting with indian flavors, mostly made semi dry, is really one of the most colorful curries around & is really simple to whip up.
Although kadhai tastes awesome with naan bread, tandoori roti or even rice, in my home we are used to eating it with tawa parathas or skillet cooked flatbreads.Since childhood , I have known parathas in this triangle shape right from dinner plate to lunch box.Infact my granny was very particular about how neat a triangle you are able to roll out.I hope my pictures of the steps will help you in that regard 🙂 This triangle paratha has layers , is soft & flaky coz its brushed with oil/ghee inside – I can have few of these straight from the skillet on its own- Love the aroma of steam which escapes when you bite the layers. You can add chopped chillies, herbs, spices etc to make your own variations.
Ingredients:- [Serves 2-3]
[ You can replace the paneer with any boneless meat or vegetable of choice]
1 lb / 1.5 kg Paneer, cubed or cut in strips [ Indian Cottage Cheese available in all indian stores, recommended brand “Nanak”]
1 tbsp canola/corn/vegetable oil
1 medium-sized each of red & green bell peppers, seeded, cut in strips or diced
1/2 cup onions, thick sliced [ optional]
Salt to taste [ if required]
Fresh chopped Cilantro for garnish
Fresh lime juice
Basic Kadhai Sauce Ingredients [ Can be made fresh or well in advance.For storing, put in dry-air tight containers & freeze.Thaw 1-2 hours before you need]
1/3 cup mustard/canola/corn//vegetable olive oil
3/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, grated
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
3-4 fresh tomatoes [ any variety which is slightly sour, chopped fine to yield 1 cup]
1.5 tbsp coriander seeds, coarsely ground with mortar pestle or in coffee grinder
7 dry red chillies, coarsely ground with mortar pestle or in coffee grinder [ adjust to taste]
3 green chillies, finely chopped
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 – 1/2 tsp brown sugar [ adjust to taste,do not skip]
2 tsp kasuri methi,crushed with hand [ dried fenugreek leaves,do not skip, makes all the difference in the taste, available in all indian stores under ” Peacock” brand]
2 tsp salt
Make the Kadhai Sauce:- [ Makes about 2.5- 3 cups]
In a kadhai or any heavy bottomed cooking pot, heat the oil on high heat.Once the oil is smoking, reduce the heat to medium.If using mustard oil, it is important to cook it to smoky point at the start of cooking to do away with the raw smell.
Add the chopped onions and cook on medium heat till golden brown in color.
Next,add the grated garlic & ginger and saute for about 2 minutes till you smell the aroma.Next add the chopped tomatoes,coarsely ground coriander & red chillies,green chillies, turmeric and cook on medium heat till you see oil separating at the sides of the pot.About 5-8 minutes.
At this point add the kasuri methi,garammasala, salt & brown sugar,stir well cook for 5 minutes more on medium heat.
Above is the basic kadhai sauce, if you want to store it for later use, let it come to room temperature and refrigerate for using within 3-4 days or freeze up to a month.
Making KadhaiPaneer :- For the stir fry, on high heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadhai or a cooking pot.Add the diced bell peppers & onion slices [ if using] to the oil and saute for 3-4 minutes.This saute time depends on how tender you like the veggies.Next, add the paneer and saute for another 1 minute till paneer sarts to become light brown.Be careful while stirring after you have added paneer because it softens quickly & crumbles easily in heat. Add the sauce and mix well.Check the seasoning and let simmer for 2-3 minutes till everything is heated well.
Remove from heat,squirt some fresh lime juice & sprinkle chopped cilantro.Serve warm with flatbreads& a salad.
A traditional & (sometimes) time-consuming dish like this is a must in my house at least once a week..mostly middle of the week.The week usually starts on a very low note with soups,salads, lentils-rice etc thanks to our upset stomachs crying for simple home cooked meals to wither away the weekend damages from uncontrolled eating outside.Once we are back to normal,a recipe like this is required to do away the boredom of simple [ read bland] foods.Notice the vicious cycle & the excuses to cook heavy food,eat and enjoy! Such dishes,loaded with indian flavors keep my guy happy.He has this unfathomable love for indian food, not that it’s a miracle [considering that he is an indian] but I m amazed at the fact that how can anyone eat [or at least want to eat] indian food 365 days of the year and never get bored of it for once???
A typical scene whenever we are getting ready to eat out is like this:-
Me – “Lets go to OG (Olive Garden for italian ) or PF (Chang’s for chinese)”
Him -“As you say.Get ready! ”
After half an hour – Me, happily dressed, getting into the car & asking to double confirm “OG or PF?”
Him – “Where do you want to go?” ( hoping that I might have changed my options)
Me -“OG” (replying shamelessly even after knowing that he doesnt like italian)
Half way, through the drive, he feels that there still might be a chance to change.He tries again,for the third time now ” You REALLY wanna eat italian?”
Mostly, not because I m trying to be a good wife (or whatever ),I give in to eat indian coz I don’t want to spoil the poor guy’s dinner 🙂 You should see the spark in his eyes as he locks the car in front of the restaurant!
Alright,this dish you might or might not get in the indian restaurants so make it at home.Its a rich, spicy & really flavorful preparation.”Bhuna” is basically a technique of searing the meat first,cooking a thick spice paste in oil,adding the seared meat to it & then slow cooking in its own juices it for 2-3 hours.The slow cooking results in deep strong flavours but a very thick sauce.”Bhuna” literally means browned, the meat in this dish has a brown look due to all the slow cooking & particularly the used of many black indian spices that make there way into the recipe.Boneless meat will not work in this recipe unless it’s a very thick cut.If using chicken, try to use the dark meat portions like thighs & drumsticks. The beauty of this two-in-one recipe is that the spice rub is so flavorful that you can drop the sauce preparation & grill the chicken pieces to make a perfect summer appetizer. As always I shy away from use of tomatoes in meat dishes, you can add some if you want.
2 lbs chicken, bone in, skinned [7-8 pieces,use thigh/drumsticks or dark meat portions]
1 tsp oil for rubbing on chicken +more for brushing on the grill pan
1.5 tsp salt
For the spice rub :-
4 whole dry red chilies
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
2 black cardamom pods, cracked open
2 tsp black peppercorns [ Adjust to taste]
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
For the sauce :-
1 cup onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic ,grated
2″ ginger shoot, grated
3 bay leaves
1″ cinnamon stick
3/4 cup plain yogurt, beaten [slightly sour]
4 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Cilantro, chillies etc for garnish [optional]
Wash the chicken pieces thoroughly & pat dry using a paper towel.Once dried, rub the 1 tsp oil & 1.5 tsp salt over the pieces.Set aside for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, on low heat,roast all the whole spices [except turmeric,nutmeg & salt] till you smell the aroma.About 5 minutes.
Let the roasted spices cool down a bit.Once cooled, tip into your coffee grinder or using mortar & pestle, coarsely grind the spices.
Add turmeric, ground nutmeg & salt to the ground spices to make a mix.
Lay the chicken pieces in a single layer and thoroughly rub half the amount of spice mix all over.Let sit for another 5 minutes. Mix the rest of the spice mix with beaten yogurt & set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a grill pan [or a normal pan] to smoking hot.Once hot,brush some oil on the pan and layer the chicken pieces on the pan. Here, the idea is just to sear the flesh of the chicken [not cook it].You can even do it in the same pot in which you want to cook the sauce,I prefer a wide open pan for the sake of searing all piece in one go & easier flipping.Let sear for about 5 minutes on each side. Once seared, remove from heat.Reserve the drippings if any. Note:- You can use your outdoor grill too for this purpose.
While the chicken is being seared, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot with lid on medium heat. [ or use your slow cooker for this purpose]
Once the oil is smoking, lower the heat & add the chopped onions to the pot.Cook the onions till golden brown.About 8 minutes.
Next, add the grated ginger & garlic to the pot along with bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Cook for 1 minute more.Let the heat be on low.
Add the spice mixed yogurt to the pot next and combine well with onions.Cook for 2 minutes with constant stirring to avoid curdling of the yogurt.You will slowly see yogurt releasing water. TIP: Whenever adding yogurt to hot pot, ensure that the stove is on the lowest mark.
Add the seared chicken pieces to the pot next, pep up the heat to medium and cook the chicken pieces for 5 minutes.Check the salt now [ remember we rubbed chicken with salt earlier] and adjust if required. Also,add the drippings[ if any] from the grill pan to the pot.
Again, reduce the heat to lowest possible on your stove, cover the pot and let the chicken cook to fully done.About 25-30 minutes.Avoid adding any water to the pot.As the chicken will cook,it will release its own juices which are enough to cook it.You will need to stir in between once or twice. Avoid adding any water to the pot.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove from heat and let sit covered for another 10 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro & sliced chillies.
Serve warm with chapthis, naan [flatbreads] or cumin rice.
If you want to serve the chicken as appetizers, cook them to perfection on the outdoor/indoor grill itself & serve with Mango Mint Chutney.
This recipe can be used for goat meat,turkey, beef or lamb also.The cooking time will very as per the kind of meat used.
This spice rub is serves as a flavorful condiment to add indian twist to your grilling.
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.
3 cups chopped green mango [from 2 large mangoes,raw & sour]
1 tbsp mustard/sesame oil
1/2 tsp Nigella seeds[kalaunji]
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds [methi dana]
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp red chilli flakes [adjust to taste]
1 tsp black salt/kala namak [substitute with normal salt/adjust to taste]
6 tbsp of jaggery
If using a jaggery slab, with the help of a sharp knife cut it into small pieces.Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil on medium heat.If using mustard oil- heat it to smoking point to do away the raw smell.
Once heated, add the Nigella, fenugreek, cumin & fennel seeds to the pot.Wait till they crackle & you smell the aroma.About 30 seconds.
Next add the turmeric powder and red chilli flakes to the pot.Cook for another 30 seconds.TIP:Whenever adding turmeric powder to hot oil, keep a watch because it burns easily.
Add the chopped green mangoes to the pot and stir on medium heat to combine well with the other ingredients.Stir for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
Next, cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low and let the mangoes cook till they are 90% cooked but not mushy.About 15-20 minutes.Again note that this cooking time will depend on how thick you have cut the mangoes.
Add the jaggery to the pot next and combine gently with mangoes.You will see that as the jaggery will cook, it will release water.Do not worry.Everything is as per plan.
Cover the pot again and cook on low heat for another 7-10 minutes until the jaggery has completely melted and mangoes are cooked thoroughly. At this point add the black salt and roasted cumin powder and stir well.
Remove from heat.If you want, you can crush the cooked mangoes slightly using a masher.
As the chuntey will cool, it will become more and more thick so don’t worry if you feel that its is watery when hot.
Once the chutney has cooled, transfer to dry, air tight jars and keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.