Eggplant season is here and I am all over it. Biting into that sweet flesh dotted with soft seeds, I always admire how this delicious vegetable absorbs any kind of goodness thrown to it in good measure.Be it the flavored oils or the profusely strong-tasting spices,squirts of citrus or a mellow yogurt dressing, it takes all. Robust yet so simple and earthly to relish, I have been regularly making eggplant pakorasand bharta, roasting it, open fire grilling it and what not.
I totally disliked it as a kid and the same was true for most members of our family. Except for pakoras, I rarely touched it. In the real way, I embraced it as an edible item during those couple of years when I turned a pure vegetarian.
I always like September for the overlap it brings – the summer bounty is still in the markets but the autumn produce can be spotted on the stands. I am still getting to slice fresh strawberries for my daughter’s breakfast and at the same time I hand over crunchy apples to her as a snack. It is so fascinating how seasons change and that change is first thing evident in the farmer’s markets. I went for grocery shopping the labor day weekend and was surprised how pears and apples have popped overnight on the stands.Can you believe I spotted a few pumpkins and parsnips already! Gosh, where did summer go.
For us, especially on the days when like to keep it meat free, a simple meal comprises of lentils, a dry vegetable curry and rice. We sit down to eat together, mostly eat with our fingers, squeezing out that juicy flesh off the peel, smashing the potatoes and mixing it in with ghee smothered dal-rice. Yum! If not with rice, you could roll this up inside whole wheat flatbreads if you like. Go make some before the season goes away.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
4 tbsp mustard oil (or olive/canola oil)
1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut (I use yellow potatoes)
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp turmeric powder, divided
1 medium globe eggplant or 4-5 japanese eggplants
1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes (I use fresh roma)
1/2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, skip or use fresh lime juice to taste)
scant pinch of garam masala (optional but lends a nice smoky hint)
1 tsp kasurimethi (dry fenugreek leaves)
Salt to taste
Chopped Cilantro to garnish
In a kadhai/wok, heat up the oil. If you are using mustard oil you will need to heat it up for up to 1-2 minutes to do away the raw smell. Just take care that is not smoking. Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to low and add the fenugreek and cumin seeds.Let crackle. Immediately add the garlic and hing. Let cook for 5-7seconds taking care they do not burn. Â (You do not want the garlic to turn bitter as it changes the taste of the recipe, take the kadhai off the heat if you feel that its too hot)
Add the potatoes next and let their outer surface crisp up for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder as they brown. Next, add 1 tbsp water, cover and let cook on medium low heat till the potatoes are 50% tender.
Meanwhile, wash the eggplant and cut it up roughly the same size as the potatoes.
Add the eggplant along with tomatoes, rest of the turmeric, red chili and dry mango powder. Also add the salt. Mix well so that everything is covered in spices. Cover and let cook till both eggplant and potatoes are tender. On medium low heat this should take 7-10 minutes.(This time will depend on the variety and size of the vegetables)
Take off the lid and sprinkle the garam masala and kasuri methi. On high heat, gently toss everything for another 1-2 minutes.
If you ever chance upon a dinner or lunch in India, dal or lentils is a must thing on the meal table. In north indian states it could be a choice between kaali dal (black lentils) or dal tadka (the yellow ones) but in other parts, quintessentially, it has to be the yellow one. Generously tempered with a fat (ghee, coconut,mustard or sesame oil) & the crackling spices – cumin, asafoetida, curry leaves or mustard seeds, it is further flavored with garlic, ginger, tomatoes, onions, chilies (both green & red),turmeric and even jaggery (sugar).Essentially dal is quite an aromatic and soul nourishing food.
I like to compare dal preparation in Indian homes to the roasted chicken in the west. It is such a simple thing to make but the taste of dal can vary easily between two cooks.Comforting and satisfying food compounded with warm, smooth texture and laced with hints of spices. Every home has its own way of making it and that recipe is no doubt the best, certainly better than how it is done in your home (in case we get into an altercation ever!). We eat dal on days when we are sick as well as on days when we want to feast.Mostly severed with a spicy pickle (green mango in our house) and dollops of ghee on top, steamed basmati rice is the best vehicle for dal. In India, dal sums up the daily protein chunk for majority of indians who are pure vegetarians especially the ones who refrain from eggs also.
Between me and the husband we are poles apart when it comes to a favorite dal. For me its the black lentils which, at some point, I could eat every day with rotis (flatbread) but he is more of a chawal (rice) – dal kind. Since I mostly lost a knack for lentils after my pregnancy (its both amazing & weird what giving birth does to you!), he is having it his way in the house now.I usually mix a couple of lentils whenever cooking and the toor/arhar (split pigeon pea lentils) are an important ingredient here. Sadly I haven’t spotted it in regular or bulk grocery stores here so you might want to visit an indian/pakistani store to get it.
Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
1/3 cup arhar/toor dal (pigeon pea lentils,husked & split )
1/3 cup masoor dal (red lentils,husked & split )
2 tbsp moong dal (golden lentils,husked &split )
3 tbsp finely chopped onion (I use red onion)
1/4 cup finely chopped tomatoes (I use Roma tomatoes)
1/4 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder, substitute with fresh lime juice to taste)
For Tadka (tempering)
4 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 whole dried kashmiri red chilies
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
2-3 whole red chilies
The cooking time mentioned in this recipe are for split lentils. If you use whole lentils the cooking time could be more. Also keep in mind that you use either all split or all whole when choosing lentils for this recipe
Hing or asafoetida is a strong, aromatic spice available both in crystal and powdered form. It aids digestion & is used more often than not in indian cooking, also a little goes a long way. It gives a unique flavor to dal but can be skipped if you do not have it.
If you are vegan, use any oil in this recipe instead of ghee. Coconut oil might not be a very good choice since the spice selection in the recipe does not go great with it but you can use any neutral oil.
Thoroughly wash all the lentils under running water 2-3 times. Drain and transfer the washed lentils to a pressure cooker and add 3 cups of water. Let soak for 10 minutes. Add chopped onion, tomatoes,garlic, ginger(if using), hing, ghee, turmeric and salt. Put on the lid and pressure cook the lentils on medium heat for 1 whistle (This cooking time will depend on the quality of lentils, so adjust). Take off the heat and let sit on the counter till the pressure releases out of the cooker.
If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a heavy bottomed pot with lid and cook the lentils for around 30- 40 minutes or till completely tender.
Once you open the lid, add amchoor to the dal. With the help of a whisk or a spoon, thoroughly mash the lentils so that they are creamy. If you like a thinner consistency of dal, add a cup or more of water.If you add extra water, return to the stove and let simmer for another 5-7 minutes on medium heat.
While the dal is simmering, make the tadka. In a small sauce pan, heat up the ghee. Add the cumin seeds and let crackle. Also add the whole dried chillies and let them turn darker in color. Lower the heat and immediately add the garlic and let it cook for 30 seconds or so taking care that it does not burn.(Tadka can become very hot very quickly, take care that you act fast so that nothing burns.) Put off the heat and add the red chili powder. Immediately add this tadka to the simmered lentils and close the lid so that the aroma infuses. Let sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes.
Late Summer. The days are filled with blueberries and peaches and cherries before the seasons changes.This year we had an overdose of summer bounty in the house since most of our produce shopping was from Costco, there was hardly a day when we were out of fruits.May sound impatient, but I want those crunchy sweet tart apples and soft pears and ruby-red pomegranates and rest these berries till next summer. In lieu of new, I picked up my first fresh figs this summer (yup, it took me five odd years to do that since I moved to the States) and kind of liked them but still didn’t understand the craze. The ones I ate though sweet,had a slightly slimy aftertaste so maybe they were unripe? Anyhow, the evenings turn up sooner and are much cooler than a past few weeks back.We are having a few rain spells every ten days or so which I am liking a lot since those are rare in this part of the world. I am barely able to decide if the air conditioning should be turned on or not all night even though I am waking up cold for last few days.
Talking of few weeks back, I broke my blender jar, it came shattering down on our tiled floor.The following day my year old Panini maker gave in as soon as I plugged it in. I smelled smoke and saw a spark. Short circuit. Dang. In the latest, every time I use it, I hear a scratchy sound while our food processor runs,looks like it will join that gang soon. Good lord. Just wondering if all the universe has joined hands against my kitchen equipment or is it really a coincidence?
The only good thing that happened was this kulfi, laced with saffron threads and sweet cardamom aroma.I badly needed to make something comforting to calm me down.A childhood ice cream treat from the streets,as kids we licked a few sticks each afternoon from the kulfiwalla(vendor) who visited our neighborhood. Needless to say, it was dirt cheap (may be few cents if you convert the currency) but came with huge flavor and texture. Traditionally, whole milk is simmered for hours and hours till it reduces to half its volume, the fat goes up and so does the sugar and protein content.Flavors are then added and its frozen immediately, no churning or custard business needed here. As time and occasion permits,these days it also depends on how cranky the toddler is, I use either ways to make kulfi, sometimes I start with whole milk and sometimes with cans of evaporated milk or half and half to shorten the process. This time, the husband offered to watch the little one and I took the traditional route – just like how mum used to make it at home filled with toil and sweetness of love.
Ingredients (Serves 6)
5 cups whole milk
1/4 cup mava (milk solids, see recipe here to make your own, omit if you do not have)
This recipe yields a lightly sweet kulfi (which is how it should be) but you can add more condensed milk or sugar as per taste.
Addition of mava lends the kulfi both richness and a chewy texture but it can be skipped.
Ideally, kulfi is not creamy, rather lightly chewy and grainy.
You could use cornstarch in place of rice flour
Substitute almonds with any kind of nuts (pistachios, cashews)
In a heavy bottomed pot, bring milk to a boil. Once the milk is boiling, reduce heat to low and let cook down with constant stirring. You do not have to stand by the stove but check and stir every 10-12 minutes so that the milk does not stick to the bottom or sides of the pot.You will need to keep on scraping the side of the pot while you stir. Depending on fat/water content of the milk it could take 3-5 hours for the milk to reduce to half of its volume.
While the milk is cooking, crumble or grate the mava (if using),there should be no lumps. Set aside. Dissolve the rice flour in cold milk and let sit. Crumble up saffron threads between palms of your hands and dissolve in warm milk. Set aside.
Once the milk has reduced, it will be light brownish in color, much thicker in consistency. Add the rice flour slurry to the pot with continual stirring (so that no lumps are formed) and let cook for 5 minutes on low heat . The mixture will thicken further and become smooth. Add the mava next and cook for another 5-8 minutes so that it softens a bit.
Remove from heat. Add the condensed milk, almond meal, dissolved saffron and cardamom powder to the milk mixture and combine well. Let sit to cool down,
Pour into kulfi moulds or popsicle moulds. Freeze for 24 hours with lid on.
Once ready to serve, use a sharp knife to loosen the edges and unmold the kulfi. You could run the mould under a stream of water to loosen it. Serve as it is or sliced up with nuts and falooda (recipe here)
With the summer in full swing, this easy fried rice is suddenly a favoriteÂ in the house for quick meals.Combining deeply flavored,saltinessÂ of dark soy sauce with nuttiness from sesame oil, the sweet crunch of fresh vegetables and hints of aroma from indian spices, this riceÂ comes together in no time if you have a big rice portion leftoverÂ from last meal. The recipe can be twisted and turned to suit the occasion and the crowd you are serving to – add any assortment of vegetables (or fruits -Â pineapple, apricots, raisins)and any protein you like. Though a warm bowl is good on its own but I like to make hot chicken or manchurian along side sometimes for a hearty meal.Someone like me who prefers flatbreads to accompany our meals is enjoying it a lot.
Â I had conveniently forgotten but when WordPress wished me a lot many years to fly with them, I realized!! Four summers. It has been four years of sharing little anecdotes of my life and recipes with all of you.Sometimes I wonder how much memories from life back in India and childhood or teens could my mind still retain even though I always thought otherwise. It has been a gratifying journey so far. Thank you for the love and support.This blog has been a wonderful nook to share and connect with all you who are hungry for indian food. Thank you so much for your interest and loving my country’s cuisine.
Coming back to the recipe, I quite marvel at the brilliant concept of fried rice in asian cuisine. From Thai to Indonesian to Filipino, each fried rice is different yet wonderfully flavored. I have talked about indo chinese cuisine in my past posts and this recipe is another addition to that collection. This indian style fried riceÂ stems from the chinese variant but the use of spices lend it notes of warmth and aromatic smokiness. I have been making fried rice for many years and have learnt a few things through trial and error. I guess this is the right post to share my little tips with you.
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 .5 tbsp pure sesame oil
3-4 fat garlic pods,Â finely chopped
1 Thai green chili, slit
1/3 cup red onion, finely sliced
6 scallion stalks, green & white parts chopped separately
3/4Â tsp ginger, minced (adjust to taste)
2 cups shredded/julienned vegetables (I used cabbage, green&red bell pepper, blanched green beans, carrots)
3 cups cooked rice, cold
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tspÂ garam masala
scant pinch of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4Â tsp red chili flakes (adjust to tolerance)
3/4Â tsp Chilli tomato Sauce (I useÂ this, you could use ketchup or 1/2 tspÂ tomato paste)
Salt to taste
1/2 tbsp white vinegar (adjust to taste)
1.5 tbsp butter, melted (optional, see notes)
Adding butter at the end may seem a bit unusual, but this is a small secret I learned from the husband who makes some mean fried rice. Try it.
The rice from the this recipe has pronounced hints of ginger, you can omit or cut down the quantity if you do not like it.
You can vary the ratio of neutral oil to sesame oil based on your liking. You could even cook using either of the oils, I am just sharing the ratio that we prefer.
Add tofu, fried egg, pre cooked shrimp,chicken or any kind of protein in the recipe just at the end and warm it through with the rice.
Next turn the heat to lowest possible on your stove and add the cold rice to the pan.Also add the soy sauce,turmeric,Â garam masala, red chili powder & chili tomato sauce. Toss around so that the rice is covered in all therse . Check and adjust the salt (remember that if you are adding butter at the end, it has salt too). Turn the heat to medium for a minute or so till the rice is warmed through.Do not stir too much
Put off the heat and while the rice is still warm, add the green scallion parts, vinegar, butter(if using) and chopped cilantro. Using fork or chopsticks toss around and serve immediately.
On evenings coming back from work, when the bus was running terribly behind schedule, I volunteerd to get down way before my stop and walk down home.The side walk still wet from the rain spells an hour or two before smelled of decaying earth and lush green foliage all along looked as fresh as just bathed.The moist breeze of monsoon evenings was a much sought break after spending the whole day in air conditioning.
The fastest way to home get to home was through of busyÂ market surrounded by the yellow government quarters (apartments) which looked like tiny match boxes stuffed on top of each other. In India, such streets are dotted with places to eat and these little food joints have been around for so many years that they turn into local favorites.
ThereÂ wasÂ is a take out restaurantÂ which was one of our favorites for non vegetarian food in the area. All you notice as a passerby were two or three young men wearing colored vests standing in front of the clay oven (tandoor)on one side,their hands stained in spices skewing marinated birds and tikkaÂ on to the slender iron bars, and some makingÂ rumali rotiÂ (paper thin flatbreads) on the other side. The aroma of smoke & cooked dough clinged to the blanket of air surrounding the entrance and the eternal long queue at the coupon station was a common sight.
When we went to Delhi last year, I made sure that the husband tastes the food from there. I remember we ordered garlicyÂ naan, butter chicken andÂ tandoori chicken for home delivery. Its been quite a while and we still talk about the meal from thatÂ night so you know what I mean. There must be thousands of places in Delhi serving bestest tandoori chicken but this little restaurant thriving in a tiny pocket of big city is where most of my family memories are woven aroundÂ – of celebration, of laughter of cheerful Sunday meals around the table.
This recipe Â took me quite a few attempts to get together. In India,the tandoori is more charred and blackish in appearanceÂ Â than the orange hued you see here at restaurants. Infact, if you use good quality turmeric and kashmiri chilli powder, ideally the reddish-orange color should come along on its own during high heat roasting. In India, we do not eat chicken skin, so whenever making tandoori, use skinless chicken, the meat should be succulent and moist on the inside & chewy on the outside (not crispy).
8Â chicken drumsticks Â (my package weighed total 2Â lb, you could use any dark meat cut)
1/2 tsp redÂ chilli powder or cayenne (adjust to tolerance)
10 black peppercorns
2 black cardamom, seeds only
1Â green cardamom, seeds only
8Â raw cashews, broken (or use 2 tbsp cashew meal)
1 small twig of cinnamon (see notes)
1/4 cup thick plain yogurt
1″ fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves
1 tbspÂ garam masala
1.25 tbspÂ chaat masala
2Â tspÂ kashmiriÂ chilli powder (this lends the color,not the heat)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
scant pinch ofÂ ajwainÂ seeds
1 tbspÂ ghee,Â melted and cooled
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp good quality saffron threads (optional)
Indian cinnamon is quite sharp as compared to the sweet cinnamon used in the west, that’s why I have noted a small quantity, adjust as per taste but do not go overboard.
Black Cardamom has no substitute in this recipe. It has a woody, strong flavor and aroma much different that the sweet smelling cardamom. If you do not have it simply skip it.
Chaat MasalaÂ is a tangy blend of spices which is used in indian cuisine.In this recipe it makes the marinade thick as well as lends it distinct hints of sharpness & smokiness,if you do not have it, use some lemon juice and a bit of roasted cumin powder in its place. If you want you can orderÂ onlineÂ Â or buy at indian/pakistani store. It keeps well for almost a year and can be used in salads, roasted vegetables or meats etc.
You can make theÂ tandooriÂ marinade and immediately freeze it up to a month. When using, thaw it in the refrigerator and mix in the proteins or vegetables you are using.
I recommend not using lean or boneless cuts like chicken breast for makingÂ tandooriÂ because the high heat of cooking will immediately make the poultry chewy. You could use whole boneless thighs though.
Skin the chicken and wash it under a running steam of water. Using paper towels, completely pat the chicken dry.Using a sharp knife, make incisions in the chicken and place in a bowl. Thoroughly rub the chicken with lemon juice, salt and chili powder. Set in the refrigerator.
Lightly crush theÂ the black peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cloves and cinnamon in mortar & pestle.Place them into the blender. Add the cashews, yogurt,ginger, garlic,Â garam masala, chaat masala, kashmiriÂ chilli powder, turmeric, nutmeg,Â ajwain,Â ghee,Â saffronÂ and salt to the blender.Blend everything very very well till a smooth paste is formed. Refrigerate this paste forÂ 30Â minutes for flavors to mix.(If its not very hot, you can leave it on the kitchen counter top else in the fridge so that yogurt does not turn sour)
Mix in the chicken and the marinade and let sit refrigeratedÂ for 18-24 hours (at least). This time of marination is really important. You could marinate up to 2 days in advance.
Once ready to cook, leave the chicken pieces out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil (this makes cleaning easy) and set a rack over it. Also, preheat your oven to its highest temperature Â (600 F in my case). Place the chicken pieces over the rack and roast for 20 -25 minutes or until done, basting liberally with oil. Use a lot of oil for basting, this is very important for a moist chicken. You will need to open up the oven door and brush the chicken 3-5 times, keep on turning it to cook on all sides. Alternatively you could grill the chicken outdoors,basting it at intervals
Spice laden tomato(ey) sauce, gooey beans, hints of cinnamon and cardamom, steamed rice on the side and lots of fresh cilantro on top.This pretty much sums up rajmaÂ (kidney beans)-chawal(rice). Quite similar to the warming pot roast, we pretty much savorÂ this dish every otherÂ Sunday afternoon in the house followed by a long nap which by all means isÂ the necessary element of the brunch ritual. This north indian kidney beansÂ curryÂ is spicy and comforting, all of you who love beans andÂ a side of carbohydrate (potatoes/rice) would know how addictive it can get, just few minutes into eating.
When IÂ think something comforting – an event, a memory, food, travel or in general, any milestone of life, I want to be in that moment and think more and even more about it.These days, I seem to remember my home in India a lot. The routine of daily life back there keeps on flashing in my mindÂ now and then.Our domestic help sitting on the floor peeling and chopping squash, talking about the other homes she works in, mum next to her and grinding fresh chilies and garlic in our decade old mortar & pestle. They discussed nuances of long power cuts- the preparations that precede it, casually chatting about unusually above normal temperatures and yet how late monsoons have been this year. In between, my mum would pour her elaichi chai with few crumbly rusks, both having a good ladies time.
While I brew my green tea on summer afternoons, my lil daughter napping, I also prepare dinner side by side, it is such a pleasant time to dig pockets of such spontaneousÂ memories when I am all by myself in the house. It’s a warm feeling – nostalgic & bitter – sweet at the same time.
When I severely miss home, it’s just left to the meals to comfort us. Talk about comforting and rajma masala is my soul food. Not only because of how hearty it is but also because how uncomplicatedÂ the flavors are.Its bright and nourishing, its simple and doesnt need you to baby sit the pot. You could start with a simple masala, add the beans, let simmer and done. As a variation add vegetables (I am thinking whole baby potatoes or even few chopped greensÂ here), why not? I personally like to serve it alongside paneer bhurji, rounding off our punjabi meal.
If you happen to taste this dish at restaurants, it comes rich and heavy, the base recipe remains similar but the final dish is finished with butter and cream. Most Indian restaurants in the westÂ do not cook like how indiansÂ cook at home. I donâ€t know how this piling on of the fat started.The way rajma masalaÂ is made in rural, punjabi homes is a far cry from the overbearing use of butter and cream, it is homely andÂ essentiallyÂ what true Indian food is like. That said, stay clear of butter pool and make this kidney bean curry -Â Â delicious, healthy & comforting!
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
1 cup red kidney beans, raw (make sure the beans are not more than 6 months old, I buy my stock from Whole Foods)
3.5 cups water
1 black cardamom
1Â tejpattaÂ (indian bay leaf)
1/4 heaping cumin seeds
small twig of cinnamon
1/2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2Â tbsp grated fresh ginger
1-2 fresh Thai green chillies, whole or slit (adjust to tolerance)
For the Sauce
5Â tbsp mustard or olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2Â garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes (slightly sour)
1.5 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder/cayenne (adjust quantity to tolerance)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tspÂ amchoorÂ (dry mango powder)
1/4 tspÂ garam masala
1/2 tspÂ kasuri methiÂ (dried fenugreek leaves)
Cooking the beans
NoteÂ – Skip this step if using canned beans, add the whole spicesÂ listed underÂ cooking the raw beans at the time when you make the sauce.
Soak the kidney beans in enough water overnight or for at least 8 hours. This is an important step if you are using raw beans, if not soaked enough, the recipeÂ will notÂ turnÂ out well. Once the beans have swelled, drain and discard the water. Transfer the kidney beans to a pressure cooker. Add 3.5 cups water, cloves, cardamom,Â tejpatta, cumin, cinnamon, oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Close the lid of the cooker and pressure cook on medium heat for 2-3 whistles or till the beans are 95% cook. An easy indicator to know if the beans have cooked is that the skin startsÂ peeling offÂ from few of them but the shape is intact. You could cook the beans open inÂ on stove topÂ till tender for approximately 45-50 minutes.
Once the beans have cooked, pick up the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon,Â tejpattaÂ and discard. Transfer the cooked beans and stock to a bowl and mix in the gingerÂ and whole chillies. Let sit while you make the sauce.
Making the Sauce
In the same cooking pot/pressure cooker that you boiled the beans,add the oil and heat on mediumÂ till you see ripples on the surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat tills it’s about to smoke so that the raw smell goes away.
Reduce heat to slightly and add the finely chopped onions and garlic and cook them tillÂ golden brown. About 6-8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes next along with chili, coriander,turmeric andÂ amchoorÂ powder. Cook thisÂ masalaÂ on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the pan. About 10-12 minutes.Â If you see masala sticking to the bottom of pan, add some stock. Cook thoroughly.This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, please do not rush.Allow theÂ masalaÂ to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color.
Add the boiled beans to the pot next along with all the stock.Check and adjust the salt. Add theÂ garam masalaÂ &Â kasuri methi.Â Cover and let simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes.
Once the beans have simmered, removed from heat and let sit undisturbed for 2-3 hours.
On days when I have to have a dessert, either we drive down to Freeds Bakery, or just about any bakery that is open after 8 pm. I bing on a slices of florentine cheesecakes and parisian chocolate cake or almond croissants with extra shot of espresso and phew, I am covered for a week. If it’s way too late to step out I make this quick mango pudding. The sugar craving is taken care of in hardly any time, I like it lightly warm.
After a dessert making hiatus of over two months, (when I made these ladoos),this long weekend,while the husband was pretty much glued to world cup for most part of the day, I whipped up a couple of them back to back.It started with this mango pudding after I got reminded of this childhood favorite in one of the indian buffets and the other one was put together rather compulsively because I wanted to finish up that 20ozÂ of mango puree leftovers.
Done right, this could be a luscious dessert that you can put together in no time. My mom used to make a lot of puddingÂ for after dinner treats growing up, I remember how in winters, the warm, luscious vanilla custard was topped with caramelized apples while the chilled mango version was a summer thing. In the most clumsy way, I always licked that velvety, thick thing more from the back of the spoon for it was gooey and almost coated all your taste buds – comforting just like a sweet dish should be!
This eggless custard is such a breeze to make and one of those baby steps in indian dessert cooking, infact the recipe is a no brainer, cornstarch is used to thicken the sweetened dairy, cashwes add some extra flavor and texture and then you let it sit in the refrigerator to set. The only way to spoil it is during the time when the mixture is on stove (I say that from experience), its slightlyÂ tricky to stop cooking just when the custard begins to thicken and though I have noted times in the recipe, I strongly recommend you to trust your instincts and gut when the stove is on.
Grapes, Mangoes, berries, toasted coconut(or any fruit or nuts of choice to serve)
I use tinned mango puree available in indian/pakistani stores, if using fresh, choose the sweetest mango variety and grind to make a smooth pulp.You can add little bit of saffron for color and flavor.
You can substitute the heavy cream with whole milk but the cream makes the custard nicely rich and (of course) creamy and delicious.
Grind saffron strands with pinch of sugar and infuse in warm milk.
In a heavy bottom pot, mix cold milk, cream, cornstarch and cashew or almond powder. Whisk thoroughly till all the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Place the pot on low medium stove and stirring Â continuously let the mixture warm up. It will take about 5-6 minutes. Once you start seeing little bubbles on the sides, reduce the heat to lowest and continue to stir. The mixture will thicken fast from here and will stick to bottom if you do not stir.
To test if the milk-cream mixture has thickened, check the back of the spoon by drawing a line with your fingers in the middle, the gap or lines should stay separate. Immediately Â add the sugar and mango puree. Whisk thoroughly and let cook on lowest heat for another minute till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add the saffron or cardamom. Mix well. Â Strain using your soup strainer into a bowl so that any lumps are removed. At this point, you can mix the dried fruit if using. They will swell lightly as the pudding chills. Tear a large cling film and place it right on the surface of the custard, this avoids the formation of skin as the pudding chills.
Chill overnight or for at least 5-6 hours. Divide into serving bowls. This is thick and creamy. Serve with fresh fruit/nuts of choice.
Over the years, I have changed this recipe a lot from how mom used to make it. When one of our neighbors gave it to her some 8-9 years back, in the most unexpected way we embraced it in our cooking and more so instantly loved it just because it broke the monotony of the ‘only’ fish curryÂ that we had been eating all the while.
In India a lot of exchange of food and gossip happens with neighbors.This aunty (as we fondly call anybody other than family back there),her house eternally smelled of cakes and good food but this recipe is one of the best things that she shared with us. SheÂ churned the tomatoes with nigella and mustard seeds to the point that they become almost velvety. Instantly, the blend hit the hot, virgin mustard oil, a loud sizzle, and boom, the sharp aroma choked up all your senses along with the piquancy of turmeric and fenugreek.Then theÂ masala (spice paste) got slow fried for a good half and hour till it got brown and caramelized. The crisp, deep-fried fish steaks from the other side of on the stove stove finally met the partyÂ along with few cups of water and slit green chilies. The soup then simmered for another half and hour and rested till meal time. That light tart, soupy sauce ladled over steaming rice was all you could ask for on hot summer evenings.
I remember how growing upÂ we would not eat much of seafood from April to August since these summer months were categorized as theÂ breeding season, quite contrary to here in the States when essentially seafood is labelled as ‘summer foods. A couple of weeks back I visited our asian seafood store after a gap of year or so and could not help but gorge on the vast choices available – crabs, shellfish, live lobster and what not. I really can’t tell you why this place is one of my favorite,the fact that I can get the freshest black pomfret and indian mackerel here – cut and cleaned ‘my’Â way or because of the produce which I do not find in my regular grocery store – taro root, banana leaves, bitter melon squash. Not to forget – fresh jackfruit and lychees!
I bought home fresh tilapia thinking about this curry all the way. With the temperature hitting over 110 degrees F in my part of the world as the Independence day approaches, I could not think of an easy and light meal than this one.
You might try to find an east indian influence in the recipe but sadly it will disappoint you.Â The use of tomatoesÂ lends this quick recipe the right amount of tart, acidic profile to balance the piquancy of mustard and nigella. I do not deep fry the fish even though that is how it should be done.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
1 lb fish ( 4-5 steaks,I used tilapia)
1 tsp virgin mustard oil
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp oil
For the Sauce
1+1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/4 tsp nigella seeds
3 garlic cloves,minced
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp virgin mustard oil
1/4 tsp red chili powder
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp virgin mustard oil
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 cup fresh tomato puree (just take 3 -4 medium tomatoes and process them to smooth in your food processor)
2 green chillies, slit open (adjust to tolerance)
1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
1/8 tsp sugar
1 – 1.5 cup water (depending on the sauce consistency you desire)
The sauce from this recipe has a pronounced mustard taste and a bitter end note. We like it this way. However, you can reduce the mustard quantity to not less than 3/4 tsp for a mild flavor.
I used fresh roma tomatoes in this recipe so didn’t feel the need to add any souring agent (like lemon juice orÂ amchoorÂ /dry mango powder), you could add them at the end of cooking if you feel that the sauce needs some tart.
Mustard oil is traditionally used in for the curry and it enhances the taste of the sauce. I cannot suggest a substitute but you can use any neutral oil.The curry will taste different though.Â
Clean the fish. Pat dry with a paper towel and rub with 1 tsp mustard oil and turmeric. Set in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Grind mustard and nigella seeds to a powder (not very fine) using your coffee grinder. In a small bowl, mix with garlic, turmeric , 1/2 tsp mustard oil and red chili powder. Add 2 tbsp water to make a paste. Refrigerate this paste along with fish for 2 hours. (do not skip this refrigeration part)
After 2 hours, take out the fish and mustard paste from the refrigerator and set on the kitchen counter.
In a wide, non stick pan, heat up the 1 tsp oil on medium. Layer the marinated fish steaks on the pan and sear both the sides of the steak.About 2 minutes on each side (this time will depend on the variety and thickness of your fish). Put the stove off and let sit.
Once the paste has cooked, add the water, green chillies, cilantro,check the salt and bring to a boil on medium low heat. Once boiling,add the pan fried fish along with the drippings in the pan if any. Also add the sugar. Cover and let cook for about 5-8 minutes. (this time will depend on the variety and thickness of your fish, cook till the fish is done)
Remove from heat, and let sit for at least an hour before serving. Serve warm with steamed rice. You could squirt some lemon juice at the end if you like.
As we droveÂ to indian store a few weeks back, I told the husband “Oh I doubt they would have any more”, though secretly,I desired that they had ordered more of these chubby, tart green mangoes which are gateway to aromaÂ and taste of indian summer into my little kitchen. I approached the mango carton first thing though I was there to stock up on green chilies, baby eggplants and curry leaves. I hurriedly tore the plastic bag and started my selection.”She’s a little too excited about them”, I overheard the husband telling the store keeper whose reply made me smile ear to ear,” Will be getting more in few days”.
This summer has been rather good as far as seasonal produce goes. Except the blueberries which I climbing the price ladder each week, we are enjoying the bounty a lot. I bought squash and first cherries home over the weekend Â but I am more happy that the supply of raw mangoes exported from India will continue in our local store. After pickling, adding them to lentils and chutneys, I also made this drink last week.
While the raw mangoes were boiling and the cumin was slow roasting, I plucked up few leaves from my potted mint, tore them from the twigs, bathed them in the kitchen sink and set on the counter.Â My hands started to smell of the herb and a strong aroma filled up the nostrils only to be replaced a few moments later by the sweet-smelling cardamom as I broke open the pod. Suddenly, the kitchen was engulfed in the perfume of herbs and spices. I was at once transported to being a child again, drinking aam panaÂ first thing from the jugÂ in the refrigerator after getting back from school.
AamÂ (mango) pana/panna is tart, sweet and spicy drink popular in India during the cruel summer months.The recipe is very simple and quick.You could roast or grill the mangoes for a smoky flavor instead of boiling them. Just keep in mind not to overdo the mint, cardamom or cumin since the pronounced taste has to be of the mango here.
Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
5-6 green mangoes,unripe
(scant) pinch ofÂ hingÂ (asafetida,optional)
2Â cups water
1/3 cup sugar (can be increased to 1/2 cup or to taste)
6-7Â fresh mint leaves
1 very small green chili (any mild variety will work)
1 green cardamom pod
1/2 tsp (scant) roasted cumin powder
1 tspÂ kala namakÂ (black salt, adds tang but substitute with salt if you don’t have)
Salt to taste
Crushed ice, mint leaves to garnish
Wash the mangoes andÂ remove their tops,Â peel them. Place them in a pressure cooker along with hing and 2 cups of water.Close the lid and let cook on medium heat for 1-2 whistles. If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can boil the mangoes in a pot till the flesh is soft. Take off the heat and let cool down till okay to touch.
Meanwhile, finely chop the mint leaves and green chili. You can seed the chili before chopping. Break open the cardamom pod and crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle.
Once the mangoes have cooled a bit, add the sugar to the pot and using your hands squeeze the mangoes till all the flesh falls off and you get hold of the seeds. Discard the seeds and any tough membranes. Add finely chopped mint and chili and using your immersion blender, blend everything. Ideally, the consistency ofÂ panaÂ isÂ not smooth, there is mango flesh and bits of mint & chili suspended in the liquid.
Add the cardamom,cumin,Â kala namak, red chili powder. Mix thoroughly, taste and adjust the salt. Transfer the contents to a beverage holder or a jug and add top with water depending on how dilute you like it.
Chill thoroughly and serve with ice and mint leaves.
When I posted the pictures of these noodles on Instagram, a few of you asked for the recipe. Well,to be true these are such a casual thing in my kitchen on days when I am a lazy ass to cook that I never cared to put together a recipe. There is hardly any fixed way I make these noodles because in real, I toss them together with any kind of vegetables, protein or spice mix I can lay my hands on from the refrigerator or kitchen cabinets. However, they always leave us wanting for more. I always end up telling myself to-make-a-larger- batch-next-time.The leftovers are better than freshly made,something so typical with asian flavors. I don’t even remember how and when these became a regular in our kitchen, but now they are usually a mid-week dinner and lunch the following day. For the last few of times I am noticing that our little girl is reaching out for a couple of strings so I make a chili and soy sauce free version for her. Looks like these are slowly lining up to be aÂ family favorite.
You know the thing about noodles – thin or thick, whole wheat or buckwheat, stringy or tubular, hand pulled or knife cut, I have hardly met anyone who doesnt like these little carb packs. There is no denying the versatility with which they marry vegetables, meat, seafood and soak up any kind of sauce you toss them with.Most of the time you will find me mixing them with a tomato based sauceÂ loadedÂ with spices which is a typical example of the kind you will find on indian streets.
4 scallion stalks (green & white part chopped separately)
1.5Â cups shredded vegetables (I used cabbage, carrots, green/red bell pepper)
3Â tbsp sunflower oil (Use any neutral oil)
1.5 tsp dark soy sauce
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1-2 tsp white vinegar (adjust to taste)
Salt to taste
For the Eggs
1 teaspoon oil
Salt & black pepper to taste
1 tsp fresh cilantro, very finely chopped
Cook the noodles as per package instructions. Drain, wash with cold water and rub thoroughly with both & 1 tsp regular and sesame oils and set aside.
While the noodles are cooking, you can prep the vegetables and chop the onions.Also using your mortar & pestle coarsely grind the garlic. Slit and half the green chilies or finely chop them depending on the heat level you prefer.. You could seed them if you like.
Beat the eggs thoroughly and add the salt, pepper and cilantro.In a small pan, heat up 1 tsp oil and on very low flame, cook the eggs stirring continuously. The eggs should be cooked such that they are not loose or runny.Set aside in a small bowl.
In a wok, heat up the oil to medium high. Take off the heat,add the garlic and slit green chilies.Cook for 20-30 seconds till you smell a nice aroma (this is important) and see blisters on chili skin and they crackle. Take care not to burn the garlic.
Return the wok to the stove and add the sliced onions and white parts of the scallions. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium high till the onions begin to soften but do not brown. Add the vegetables to the wok and a pinch of salt. Saute for another 2-3 minutes till the vegetables are lightly coated in oil and soften a bit.
Next,reduce the heat to very low, add the noodles to the wok along with green parts of scallions, soy sauce, garam masala and black pepper. Toss well so that the noodles are coated well. Check the salt and adjust. Let cook for 1-2 minutes till the noodles are just warmed through. Put the stove off. Add the vinegar and the cooked eggs.
Toss well and let sit for 20-30 minutes if possible else serve right away.