Desserts/Baking

Black Forest Cake Trifle

Black forest cake is one of the best cakes out there. Spongy kirsch soaked dark chocolate cake, soft juicy cherries filling, creamy chocolate pudding and whipped cream. The layers in this black forest trifle all combine into an amazing combination of rich and decadent.
I used fresh cherries(though out of season) to make the cherry pie filling layer but it tasted quite good. With a splash of Kirsch, it was so good. If you don’t want to use cherries, you can use strawberries or raspberries and make a compote.If you dont want to use liquor, skip it and use any non alcoholic juice (cherry or pomegranate juices are a good option). The trifle is best made a little ahead, keep it refrigerated once you have assembled it.

I added scratch made creamy chocolate pudding chocolate which gave it utmost richness. All in all, an amazing dessert for any occasion.It is not at all difficult to make, but yes making the components takes time. However, you can spread out the work over a couple of days and assemble just a few hours before serving. I baked the chocolate cake a night before, while the cake baked I made the cherry filling. While the cake cooled, I made very the pudding.Kept everything refrigerated and next morning just before assembling, I whipped up the cream. Easy peasy.

Trifles can be made in advance, however I won’t do it more than a day ahead. However, you can make the different elements 3-4 days in advance.The individual components in this entire recipe are amazing on their own. This is my go to chocolate cake recipe, you can use the cherry filling as icecream or yogurt topping and 2 ingredient eggless chocolate pudding is a shortcut but it delivers.

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Black Forest Cake Trifle

A decadent layered dessert of Kirsch soaked dark chocolate cake, fresh cherries, creamy chocolate pudding and whipped cream.
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

One 9 inch Chocolate Cake

  • 120 gms (1 cup) all purpose flour
  • 150 gms (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 40 gms (6 tbsp) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 5 tbsp neutral oil
  • 5 tbsp hot water or coffee
  • 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla
  • 1/4 cup Kirsch for soaking the cake

Cherry Pie Filling (Skip this if you want and use store bought Cherry Pie Filling)

  • 1 lb (400 gms) fresh cherries, pitted
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp kirsch

Chocolate Pudding

  • 6 oz (1 cup) semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
  • pinch sea salt

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 2-4 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 drop pink gel food coloring, optional
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Kirsch

Instructions

Bake the Cake

  • Spray a 9 inch pan with oil. Line the base of the cake with parchment paper. Flour the sides of the cake pan with cocoa powder.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In another bowl, whisk together milk, oil, egg and vanilla.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour the wet ingredients. Fold in gently till alomst incorporated. Pour over the hot coffee and gently(don not whisk) everything so that you can see a smooth shiny brown batter with no streaks of white flour. The batter will be quite runny but thats okay.
  • Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 28-32 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. The cake will start to pull away from the sides slightly as well.
  • Take out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Run a knife all around and take out the cake out of the pan on to a cooling rack. Cool completely. Once cooled, you can store the cake in the fridge for 2-3 days. This cake freezes easily, just wrap the cake in a cling film followed by placing it in a large ziploc and freeze upto a month.
  • If you are making trifle cake next morning, poke holes all over in the cake and add Kirsch to the hole, let soak up. Store the cake overnight or for 2-3 hours atleast. For the trifle, cut up the cake into small cubes using a sharp knife or cut rounds the size of the serving bowl as you wish.

Make the Cherry Pie filling

  • In a sauce pan, add the cherries,water, sugar and lemon juice. Set to cook on a low medium stove.
  • Slowly you will see that the cherries will start to soften. Let cook for 5-8 minutes.
  • At the end of 8 minutes you will see a lot of liquid in the pot, these are cherry juices and moisture of sugar. It will be bubbly.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the cornstarch all at once. Immediatly stir around (but gently else the cherris will break).
  • Cook for 2-4 minutes, you will see the liquid will thicken up and the filling resembles a thickish gel.
  • Take off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Mix in the kirsch.
  • Once completely cooked, store in a air tight jar.

Make the Choolate Pudding

  • Place the chocolate chips in a large bowl.
  • Warm up the heavu cream in a small pot. You will start to see bubbles on the sides of the pot. Take off the stove and pour over the chocolate chips.
  • Whisk gently untill all the chocolate is dissolved. Cool down to room temperature and then chill overnight.
  • In the morming simply beat using a hand mixer untill fluffy. Easy chocolate pudding is ready.

Whipped Cream

  • Place chilled heavy cream in a large bowl. Beat for 5 minutes untill it starts to thicked.
  • Add the powdered sugar slowly and keep beating untill soft peaks are formed.

Assemble the trifle

  • In a Large trifle bowl or in individaul serving jars, layer the cake, cherry pie filling, pudding as you like. You can repeat the layers to make large servings or keep them singl layer of each component, totally your wish.
  • Chill for 3-4 hrs till ready to serve. Top with whipped cream and some marachino cherries and serve!
Appetizers/Snacks

Air fried/Baked Sweet Tamarind- Chilli Chicken Wings

These sticky and tangy chicken wings are juicy, spicy and delicious – a true showstopper. I often make wings at home and this recipe always hits the right spots. If you ask me, you can never go wrong with chicken wings- even when done with minimal ingredients they turn out so yummy.

Back in the day, I always shied away from deep frying wings so I hardly made them at home. We used to eat them once in a while and that used to be at restaurants or take outs. Ever since I started using an air fryer, my outlook towards homemade chicken wings has changed. They can be super easy to make and turn out quite delicious if you keep a few things in mind.

You can use regular tamarind in this recipe and adjust the sugar & vinegar to your liking. I just used sweet tamarind pods because I had a ton to finish and I thought that it would help me cut down sugar in the sauce which it did. Just soak and squeeze the pulp of the pods like regular tamarind. I used chopped Fresno chillies for heat because I happened to have a few on hand but you can use red chilli flakes easily.

Last week I saw this post on Food52 Instagram page by amazing Sohlae who talks about always dry brining the chicken wings before baking them. I was itching to try it and used the same method for brining as she mentioned and viola!, such a revelation. These turned out so crispy outside and juicy inside. I changed her measurements a bit because I was making a lesser quantity of wings. However stick to her recipe if you are making 2 to 2.5 pounds of wings.

  1. Always make sure to marinate/dry brine the chicken wings overnight. I have tried it the quick way it for 2-3 hours myself and truly a longer marination makes a huge difference.
  2. Pat the chicken dry before baking/air frying it. The drier the chicken skin is, the crispier they turn out.
  3. Take the marinated wings out of the fridge for an hour before you plan to bake them, avoid putting cold wings right in a hot oven, it can make them tough.
  4. I also feel that making the sauce a few hours ahead makes a difference- the flavors have time to mingle and it tastes better.
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5 from 1 vote

Air Fried Sweet Tamarind- Chilli Chicken Wings

Juicy, spicy & tangy chicken wings with crisy skins perfect for game day, a quick appetizer for just for snacking.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American, Indian
Servings: 15 wings

Equipment

  • Oven/Air fryer, Bowls, Tongs, Sauce Pan

Ingredients

For Dry Brining the Chicken Wings

  • 1.5 pounds party chicken wings
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

For the Sweet Tamarind – Chilli Sauce

  • 1/3 cup thick tamarind pulp, see notes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp ginger minced
  • 2 fresno chillies finely chopped (adjust to taste, substitute with red chilli flakes)
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2-4 tbsp brown sugar adjust to taste
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar,
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 2-4 tbsp water if needed

For Baking/Air Frying

  • Cooking Spray/Oil

Instructions

Dry Brine the Wings

  • In a large bowl, add the wings and all the ingredients listed under the dry brining.
  • Toss very well using clean hands, cover the bowl with a cling film and refrigerate overnight.

Make the Tamarind Sauce

  • In a medium bowl, mix the tamarind pulp, sugar, soy sauce, cumin, salt, black pepper and vinegar.
  • Heat up oil in a sauce pan. Once warm, add the garlic, ginger and chopped chillies(or chilli flakes) to the hot oil and saute for 30 seconds, dont let burn.
  • Add the tamarind pulp mix all at once to the pan. Add 2-3 tbsp water and mix well. Cook down on low medium heat for 10-12 minutes till its thickish. The sauce wil be runny in the beginning but slowly thicken.
  • Once the sauce is ready, cool down and set aside.

Prepare the Wings for Baking/Air Frying

  • Take the marinated chicken out of the fridge atleast one hour ahead of starting to cook. Using paper towel, pat the chicken dry. Discard the liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Dry the chicken very well.
  • Place the chicken in another bowl and add 2-3 tbsp of the tamrind sauce that we prepared before. Using clean hands, toss and mix to coat all the wings properly.
  • To Air Fry -Preheat your air fryer at 360F. Layer the wings in a single layer in the basket.If needed you can place the drumettes standing up if they are not fitting all at once. Make sure that the wings are not touching each other.
  • Air fry for a total of 20 minutes, flipping using tongs half way at 10 minutes.
  • Bump the temperature to 390 F at the end of 20 minutes let air fry for additional 5-7 minutes until you see that the skins are crispy.
  • To Bake – Preheat oven to 400F. Line a sheet pan with foil and place a oven proof rack on top of the foil. Spray the rack liberally wiuth cooking spray.
  • Arrange the wings in a single layer on the rack.
  • Bake for 40 minutes, flipping using tongs at half the time until the wings are crispy and slightly charred on the edges.
  • Serve the wings warm with rest of the tamarind sauce.

Notes

  1. Just soak and squeeze the pulp of the sweet tamarind pods like regular tamarind.
Appetizers/Snacks · Desserts/Baking

Brownie Bottom Saffron Cheesecake Bites


These mini cheesecake bites combine two of my favorite desserts. A cream, slightly tangy cheesecake batter atop fudgy brownie layer when eaten together with airy whipped cream is a burst of textures and flavors in your mouth. The bites are flavored with my favorite indian spices and the spiced layers complement each other so well. The brownie layer has hints of fresh ground green cardamom while the cheesecake batter gets its golden color and exotic flavor from saffron. My favorite brand to use is Zaran Saffron.

These bites are incredibly quick and easy to make once you gather the ingredients which aren’t too many. The combination of chocolate and saffron is both bold and exotic.I took to mini cheesecake bites sometime last year and its one of my favorite things to bake. This recipe makes a batch of 10-12 bites which keep well for 2-3 days in the fridge and are amazing for a post dinner sweet craving.

A few things to be kept in mind:-

  1. Make sure that your ingredients are are at room temperature wherever mentioned. I can’t stress this enough.
  2. The brownie layer is baked first to set before adding the cheesecake batter but make sure to not bake the brownie layer fully.
  3. Bake the cheesecake bites till the centers are jiggly. Do not bake all the way through. They will finish setting up while chilling.
  4. A common problem is cracks in the cheesecake layer. The reason is that when your ingredients are not a room temperature, we tend to overmix the batter and incorporate too much air in the process. This makes the batter rise too much during baking and it comes cracking down after you take it out of the oven.However, dont stress too much about it because you can always cover the cracks up with ganache or dollop of whipped cream or fruit toppings. Remember taste over looks, always! 🙂
  5. Another common problem is that the cheese batter is grainy and not smooth after you beat it. Again, this happens when the cream cheese is not at room temperature.
  6. After the baking is over, dont pull out the cheesecakes immediately out of the oven, switch the oven off, open the door and let them hang out there for 5-8 minutes.
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5 from 1 vote

Brownie Bottom Saffron Cheesecake Bites

Fudgy, cardamom scented brownie bottom topped with golden saffron cheesecake filling. A bold exotic dessert.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 12

Equipment

  • Bowls, Hand Mixer/Whisk, Spatula, Muffin Pans,Paper Liners

Ingredients

For the Brownie Layer

  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tbsp semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour sifted
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

For the Cheesecake Filling

  • 10-12 strands saffron
  • 1/2 tbsp warm milk
  • 8 oz cream cheese (please dont use low fat or no fat), softened at room temperature
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1 tbsp sour cream room temperature
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon or orange juice
  • pinch sea salt

To serve

  • whipped cream

Instructions

Brownie Layer

  • Line your 12 muffin/cupcake pan with liners and preheat oven to 350F.
  • In a medium bowl, add the butter and set it in microwave to completely melt for minute or so. Once melted, take out and immediately add the chocolate chips. Wisk well gently till smooth. The chocolate will melt in warm butter.
  • Add the sugar to the bowl and whisk well for 2-3 minutes till everything is creamy and the sugar is dissolved. By this time the mix would cool down as well so its ready for egg.
  • Add the egg to the coo butter sugar mix and whisk well to combine.
  • Next, add the flour cocoa powder and cardamon. Using a spatula combine everything until you cannot see any white flour. The mix will be smooth and sticky. And too tempting to lick 🙂
  • Add about 1 tbsp of heaped brownie batter to each liner. You can decide which layer you want to make thicker and add the batter accordingly.
  • Set in the oven to bake for 6-8 minutes untill the brownie batter is set. Dont bake all the way through. After its set, pull out the tray and you will that the brownie layer is puffy but it will puff down while you make the filling.

Cheesecake Filling

  • Grind saffron strands using mortar pestle, pour over warm milk and let infuse.
  • In a large bowl, add all the ingredients under the filling and using a hand mixer, beat for 2-3 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Dont over beat.
  • Add the infused saffron next and beat for 10-15 seconds to incorporate.
  • Add about 1/4 cup to the cupcake liners filling with brownie crust. You can add the filling in a ziplock bag and pour too. So I had planned for 12 cheesecakes but ran out after 11th one was filled.  Once filled, tap the pan a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes or until set, little jiggly in the centre is fine. Dont overbale else the cheesecake will not be soft after chilling.Once baked, switch off the stove, open the door and let the pan stay there for a 10 mins.
  • After 10 minutes, pull out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool down completely.
  • Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight before serving. Add dollop of whipped cream before serving.
Brunch · Desserts/Baking

Citrus Yogurt & Olive Oil Cake (Eggless & One Bowl)

A super soft yet a firm cake with a beautiful crumb. It has a rich tang of whole milk yogurt and fruity hints of olive oil in every bite. I have been making this eggless cake for many years and get asked for a recipe every time I share it on my Instagram page. The recipe is ridiculously simple and uses just one bowl (how easy!)

I added blood orange juice (can you see a faint pink hue?) because they are in season but any kind of citrus will work in this recipe- naval orange juice, meyer lemons or regular lemons. Just make sure that you squeeze the citrus juice fresh before using. To cut the sweetness of sugar and the richness of olive oil, you do need lots of acid – that why both yogurt & citrus come helping, dont worry the cake isn’t tangy.

I like to serve it with faintly sweetened whipped cream on the side , however, you can cover it with frosting if you wish so. As for the flavors- cardamom with its balmy lemony notes is my absolute favorite, however use rosewater, saffron, vanilla – whatever you fancy. Use this recipe as a blank canvas for any eggless cake.

Ideally I like using a 8 inch round cake pan, but if you don’t have one, that fine too, just use a 9 inch cake pan and the cake will be slightly flatter but as delicious.

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes one 8 inch Cake, serves 4-6)

  • 125 gms whole milk plain greek yogurt, room temperature & slightly beaten (see note)
  • 210 gms granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 125 ml good quality olive oil (please dont use extra virgin)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground cardamom powder
  • 205 gms all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup heavy cream, soft whipped with 2 tbsp sugar for serving

Note – Please use thick (ideally greek) yogurt in this recipe. If you reside in a place where you dont have access to greek yogurt, use hung curd if your yogurt tends to be watery.

Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray or brush an 8 inch round cake pan with olive oil. Line the base of pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the beaten yogurt, sugar, vinegar, olive oil, orange juice & zest, salt and cardamom. Whisk for good 2-3 minutes until everything is smooth and nicely combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder over the yogurt mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold the flour until all combined. Don’t over mix. Pour the cake batter into the prepped pan, it will be slightly runny.

Bake for 32-38 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Take the cake pan out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cake carefully (its soft and moist) onto a wire rack and let it cool completely.

Slice and serve with whipped cream and fruits.

Enjoy!

Rice Dishes

Gud Ke Chawal (Jaggery Rice)

Jaggery sweetened rice perfumed with spices. A traditional north indian rice dish which is made during winter months. Though I like to consume jaggery all year round, but growing up it was mostly available during colder months- jaggery is a powerhouse of nutrients particularly iron and keeps the body warm during winters.

I wasn’t too fond of these sweet rice growing up. It was a bit naive of me but as I grew up I started to appreciate these traditional and unique recipes more and more. There is a specific reason behind the selection of spices and the addition of sweetners as per the season. When done right, a warm bowl of jaggery rice is soul satisfying. Being refined sugar free and also not being overly sweet, my recipe will not leave you feeling guilty of sugar overload.

The recipe is very simple and uses 4-5 basic ingredients which you can find in your pantry. Rice, Jaggery, ghee, spices and nuts of your choice is all you need. The only tricky part is to make sure that the rice remains soft after cooking in jaggery syrup. For that, don’t overcook the syrup. The syrup is ready when the jaggery melts, immediately take it off the stove, we dont want any string consistency or anything. Secondly add the boiled rice while its still hot to the syrup. If the rice gets cold they won’t cook properly and will become hard.

These rice taste much better after resting for a bit and they taste better the next day so do plan a bit of leftovers(you can double the recipe if you wish).

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1/2 cup long grain basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110 gms jaggery (dont use powdered or grated jaggery)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup sliced coconut (use any nuts of choice)
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg(optional)

Method

Wash rice under a stream of water 2-3 times. Soak the rice for 25 minutes.

Once the rice has soaked, set the 4 cups of water to boil in a large pot.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, add the jaggery along with 2 tbsp water and put on low stove to melt. The jaggery will melt in 5-7 minutes, just stir it once or twice to make sure that its not sticking to the bottom. Once melted, immediately take off the stove, dont let boil. Keep the syrup warm.

To the boiling water, add pinch of salt and add the soaked rice (after discarding the water in which you soaked them). Stir the rice gently once or twice and on medium heat let the rice boil. We have to boil the rice till its 90% cooked. The rice variety I use takes about 8-10 minutes(time will vary depending on quality of your rice). To check the doneness of rice, take a grain and try to pinch it between your thumb and finger, it should not break easily rather spread and feel almost cooked.

While the rice is boiling, in a wide pan, add the ghee and let it melt. Keep the stove on low and once the ghee has melted, add the bayleaf, clove and cardamoms to it. Saute the spices on low heat for 30 seconds taking care not to burn them.Add the coconut slices, almonds and raisins next and saute for 30 seconds taking care not to burn them. Carefully, add the warm jaggery syrup (it might splutter). Keep the stove on low so that syrup dosent boil.

Strain the cooked rise using a sieve and immediately add to the pan. Using a spatula gently fold the rice with the syrup taking care not to break the rice. Once all the rice is covered in syrup, cover the pan and let simmer for 20-25 minutes on low heat until all the syrup is absorbed. You will see that the bubbles will settle down and the rice will be shiny from ghee. Switch off the stove and let the rice sit covered for 15 mins.

Add a fresh grate of nutmeg(optional), fluff using a spatula or fork and serve warm. It taste good with a dollop of creme fraiche 🙂

Enjoy!

Appetizers/Snacks

Rajma Ke Kabab (Vegan & GF Kidney Bean Kababs)

Vegetarian kababs were sometimes made by mom to use up the beans or lentils she had leftover. These are a great protein rich vegetarian option, these are super easy to make and form a light meal with some rotis and chutney. Or make burgers or wraps with them.

You can easily make a big batch, shape these and pan fry over a few days as and when you want. There are a few varieties of rajma available in stores but I go for the dark skinned ones mostly because they pack a lot of flavor. The darker the kidney bean, the tastier.

There are a few things to be kept in mind when making these so that the kababs are moist (yet not falling apart) and not dry either. If you are not using leftover boiled rajma and boiling beans just to make these, always mash the rajma after it has cooled down. If you mash it while it is hot, they will be quite sticky, difficult to shape and the texture is not going to be right. Don’t use a food processor or blender – it just kills the texture.

You really dont need any binder to shape these, because the beans bind well on their own. I add a potato just for taste, you can substitute with sweet potatoes(though then they will be a little sweeter) or skip potatoes totally. Use any kinds of beans – garbanzo, black chickpeas, black eyed peas or skin on lentils, this recipe will work for all.

Recipe

Ingredients Makes 8-10 Kababs

  • 1.5 cup boiled rajma (see notes)
  • 1 large potato, boiled and peeled
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions ,divided
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp extra hot red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp chaat masala (recipe for my homemade blend here)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder, adjust depending on how tangy your chaat masala is and how tangy you prefer, substitute with lime juice)
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for pan frying
  • Chaat masala, pickled onions, chutney etc to serve.

Notes

  1. You can use canned beans in this recipe.
  2. Make sure that boiled rajma dosent have any liquid. If using canned, drain the beans properly to strain the liquid out.

Method

In a large bowl, mash the cold rajma nicely with hands. It will take a few minutes but avoid using a food processor or blender (it only makes the beans sticky). Try to mash them as fine as possible. Little bits of skins here and there is okay. Separately mash the boiled potato as well. Don’t grate the potato.

On medium heat, heat up oil in a pan (preferably non stick). Crackle the cumin seeds and immediately add 1/3 cup chopped onion, garlic and ginger all together to the pan. Saute for just 30 seconds and add the mashed beans and potato to the pan. Sprinkle all the powdered spices along with salt and mix well to combine. Cook this mixture continuously stirring for 2-3 minutes, you can mash lightly as you go. It will start to clump up into a ball. But will be soft. Dont cook for long else kababs will be dry.

Take off the heat, transfer to a bowl and let cool down completely. Add the rest of the onions, green chillies, cilantro and mint(if using). Combine well gently mixing with spatula or your hand if needed. Knead for a few minutes. Taste and adjust the salt at this stage. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes.

Oil your palms, divide into equal portions and make small patties with your hands. Smooth all around using your palms and fingers. You should get around 8 or 10. Make all the patties and place them on a plate before frying.

Brush 1 tbsp oil on a cast iron skillet or a non stick pan. Once the skillet is hot (not super hot), place the kababs on the skillet and let them fry for 3-5 minutes on a low to medium heat until the bottoms are darkish and crispy. You can add 1 tsp oil at intervals but don’t add lot of oil all at once.

Carefully, using a wide spatula, flip and cook on the other side. These will be soft so be gentle. Cook till browned on other side. Switch off the stove and let the kababs rest on the skillet for 5-7 minutes. This sets them, if you pick up too soon, they will break.

Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch

Shrimp Toasties

Buttery white bread topped with juicy fiery masala shrimp. A simplistic yet an elegant appetizer. These toasties are so wonderful with some drinks as starters or even as a snack anytime of the day. They are a blast of textures – crisped bread, succulent shrimp and fiery bite of green chillies.

I make the shrimp topping north indian style in a onion tomato ginger garlic masala but take this an as idea and cook your shrimp any way you like. On different occasions, I have tried south indian style with curry leaves and desiccated coconut as well as goan style with little kokum. If you have sea food lovers in the house these flavorful toasties will be a huge hit.

I wanted to use small or medium shrimp but could not find any so I used large sized.If you use a larger size shrimp as well, cut it up in bite size pieces. The recipe is pretty simple and quick. Make sure that the vegetables are finely chopped since the cooking times is not too long. Also if you are using frozen shrimp, thaw them properly and make sure that they are dry before adding to the pan.

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 12 toasties)

  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chillies(or to taste)
  • 2 tsp tomato paste (or use 1 tbsp tomato puree)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • pinch of sugar
  • 18-20 large size raw shrimp, deveined and tail removed (cut into bite size pieces or if you can find smaller sized shrimp, use those)
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp toasted bread crumbs
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 white bread slices (sides removed and cut into quarters)
  • 2-3 tbsp melted butter (to brush on bread)

Notes

  1. If you are using frozen shrimp, thaw them properly and make sure to pat them dry before adding to the pan. we dont want any extra liquid while cooking.
  2. Add chilli flakes instead of green chillies if you wish.

Method

In a pan, heat up the oil. Add onions, ginger and garlic to the oil all at once and saute for 2 minutes on medium heat. We dont want to brown these but the raw smell should go away. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and green chilies next along with the spice powders & sugar. On medium heat saute for 4-5 minutes, stir a few times in between to make sure nothing is sticking to the pan. Let cook till the tomatoes cook down and you see little oil separating on sides of pan.

In the mean time, place the bread quarters on a baking tray and liberally brush with butter. Toast in a preheated 375F oven for 6-8 minutes until the bread is golden.

Once the masala has cooked nicely, lower the heat and add the shrimp and salt. Gently mix so that all the shrimp is coated in masala and let cook for 3-4 minutes till the shrimp are white and cooked through. Dont rush cooking the shrimp else they will turn rubbery. Cook and make sure that ALL the liquid has dried and the shrimp are coated in masala.

Switch off the stove, mix in the lemon juice, chopped cilantro and bread crumbs. You can add a pinch of garam masala as well if you wish.

Spoon the shrimp on toasted bread. Add few cilantro, green chillies or scallions and serve warm.

Enjoy!

Appetizers/Snacks

Parmesan Rosemary Shortbread

My first taste of parmesan crackers was many years ago through a holiday cookie basket we received and I loved them instantly. Could have something to do with the fact that I dont have a huge sweet tooth and I love love savory biscuits(cookies) of any kind.

These shortbread need a handful of ingredients. Flour butter, parmesan cheese and cashews is all of you need besides rosemary if you want to use, though it can be skipped altogether.

These are super crumbly, very cheesy and with some crisp wine, an absolute delight on the holiday table. You can use a mix of parmesan or romano if you want, but you do need a combination of sharp tangy cheeses.

Add a savory touch to your cookie boxes with these or use them on your cheeseboards, they are great for snacking as well.

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes 22-24 crackers)

  • 110 gms salted butter, softened but not melting
  • 110 gms flour
  • 100 gms grated parmesan cheese (grated super fine)
  • 25 gms fine powdered cashews (use your spice grinder to grind raw cashews, you can use almonds as well, sieve to make sure powder is fine)
  • 1 tbsp fine chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp sugar

Method

Place all the ingredients in your food processor fitted with dough(plastic) blade. Please make sure that the butter is soft else the dough will not form. Since we are not using any wet ingredients, butter helps in binding the dough.

Start the processor on low speed. Slowly everything will mix together and in about a minute or so, a soft (but not sticky at all) dough will form around the blade. You can pulse a few times towards the end once it starts clumping around the blade.

Dump the dough on your work surface and gently knead it for half a minute to form into a ball. Dont knead too much. Dont squeeze the dough. Please keep in mind that if you working with dough during summers or in warm regions, you will need to refrigerate it frequently if you feel its getting too soft.

Divide the dough into two and shape each half into a log. Wrap each log in a cling film and refrigerate for atleast 2 hours. The longer you refrigerate, the better the flavors are. These logs can be kept in the fridge for 2 days and frozen for a month.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 F. Take the logs out of the fridge and using a sharp knife, slice into 1/3 inch rounds. Place the rounds on a cookie sheet and refrigerate again for 10 mins.

Bake for 11-12 minutes till they are just beginning to brown. Pull the cookie sheet out and let cook for 10 mins on the sheet itself before transferring to a rack. Store in an air tight container for 2-3 weeks.

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!

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.