Pickles/Condiments/Spice Powders

Aam ka Achaar – Green Mango Pickle

Sinfully Spicy : Aam Ka Achaar, Green Mango Pickle #indianIf you grew up in northern India in the 80s when the sandwich & muffin culture had still not hit the subcontinent, most of you would have eaten rolled up greasy parathas (flatbread) with achaar(pickle) and a dry sabzi for school lunch. I remember that during our half hour lunch break, first fifteen minutes were to eat inside the class after which you could walk out and play or move around the school complex.I am sure many of you would have tasted pickles from friend’s dabba and talked lengths of it to mom till the point of sounding mean. If she gave into your meanness, you would find her next day noting down the recipe from your friend’s mother at the end of the school hours.

Sinfully Spicy : Aam Ka Achaar, Prepping Green Mango for Pickle #indian In India, pickles or achaar is a line of cuisine in itself. Quite unlike the way western world understands pickling with vinegar and minimal spices or herbs, indian achaar are preserved in litres of oil, cups of salt and sack full of spices.You don’t call it a pickle unless oil runs down your fingers when you pick up a nibble and a strong, piquant aroma fills up the nostrils. Each and every home has a unique recipe or more depending on how the ladies of the house like to preserve their jar. Usually served as a part of meal for that tang and heat or to aid digestion or just to entice the senses, a few bottles of pickles form a part of every Indian kitchen varying in produce from season to season.In my home, the pickled root vegetables are stocked in winter months and usually both red & green chilies are pickled around spring but summer is for limes and of course, the mango!

Sinfully Spicy - Aam Ka Achaar, Green Mango Pickle #indian #recipe

Sinfully Spicy : Aam Ka Achaar, Green Mango Pickle #indianI found kairis (small tart, indian variety green mangoes) a couple of weeks back at our local store. For the last four years or so that I have been a regular there,this was the first time ever I spotted these.Still questioning if  they were the actual ones (aka direct export from India), I only bought home six or seven,thinking all the way of what all I want to do with them.The first thing I did after putting the bags down was to rush to the kitchen and cut open a piece with a sharp knife and there it was – a white, opaque soft seed and tart flesh.I sniffed the sweet but tangy aroma.OMG, this is it. They were the real deal! I pestered the husband immediately to rush back and if anyone of you saw a crazy woman coming out of the store with couple of pounds of green mangoes in the South Las Vegas area, now you know who it was.

Sinfully Spicy : Aam Ka Achaar, Green Mango Pickle #indianThis achaar with raw,green mangoes is sour and hot.I use virgin mustard oil for preserving it and it lends the unique taste and aroma to it. Raw mangoes are chopped into small pieces,dried in the sun, mixed with different spices to give an aromatic & bitter note then covered in oil for the pungency. The sun cooking (fermentation) for a few days eliminates the need of refrigeration to keeps it well for a up to a year.The concentration of salt, oil and spices act as a natural preservative and you don’t need of any chemical to enhance its shelf life.

Sinfully Spicy : Aam Ka Achaar, Green Mango Pickle #indian

Printable Recipe 

Ingredients (Makes about 16 oz)

  • 1 lb green mangoes
  • 2 tsp saunf (fennel seeds)
  • 2 tsp methi (fenugreek seeds)
  • 3/4 tsp kalonji (nigella seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp rai (brown mustard seeds)
  • 1.5 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp powdered hing (asafoetida)
  • 1.5 tsp Salt + more if required
  • 250-300 ml virgin mustard oil,divided

Notes –

  1. Never under salt the pickle, it will go bad within few weeks.
  2. If you do not like the strong taste of mustard oil, you can heat it up to do away the raw smell, cool down and then add.
  3. The kind of mangoes I used were really tart and so the pickle came out quite tangy. If you do not get pickling mangoes, add some amchoor (dry mango powder) to the recipe for a tart note.
  4. This is not an instant pickle recipe, the pickle is sun fermented and takes 7-10 days to mature and get ready to consume.

Method

Wash and pat dry the mangoes. Cut and discard the top stem and then cut them into half, remove and discard the seed & membrane and then cut into small cubes. Layer the cubes on a wide plate, sprinkle 1/2 tsp of salt and let sit in sun for 1-2 days till the skins starts to dry on edges and turning pale green. At the end of the day, remove and discard any liquid that has collected.

Using your coffee grinder, coarsely pulse the saunf, methi,kalonji and mustard seeds. In a small bowl mix these with turmeric, chili and hing, mix well.

Place the mango pieces in a wide glass dish (I use my pyrex) and add the spices mixed before. Sprinkle the salt. With a clean and dry spoon or fingers, mix well such that spices and salt loosely stick to mango pieces. Add 150 ml of mustard oil and mix it well. At this point, the achaar will have a very strong smell and a bitter taste but that’s okay.  Allow it to stand in full sun for two days. Try to stir the achaar once or twice a day with a clean, dry spoon.

On the third day transfer the achaar into a glass or porcelain jar, check and adjust the salt and top with remaining oil and mix well. Cover the mouth of the jar with a muslin cloth, tie with a string and let mature for seven to ten days in sun. ( this time will depend on the strength of sun in the area you live).Stir the contents once or twice a day.

At the end of sun fermentation, the skin of the mango would be brownish and the strong, bitter taste will go away. Store at room temperature for up to 10-12 months. Always use a clean spoon to serve the pickle. 

Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Yogurt Stewed Cauliflower & Potatoes

Sinfully Spicy : Yogurt Stewed Cauliflower & Potatoes The silence of the afternoon in the house is totally different from the one at night.It is not as quiet and soothing as when its dark outside but definitely relaxing. I sit on our beige couch tucking a pillow below the knees and legs streched out to rest on the coffee table. It the time when I mostly hear the day than just seeing it. Sounds of normalcy, sounds of neglect, symphony of routine. The tap of  each key on the board is louder than usual as I write this, also the tick tocking of the clock above. I raise my head and through the blinds witness how extremely windy it is outside, the tall desert palms forcibly swaying against the milky blue sky. The street is that quite so the humming of the sprinkler in the front yard is evident even through those noise proof panes and the dancing water droplets in the glaring yellow sun promising that sweet summer days are not far. The irregular clattering above our fireplace indicating how we have been putting off that exhaust pipe repair and the aquarium in the is screechy than usual due to the interrupted  flow of the water through its uncleaned filter. Sinfully Spicy : Yogurt Stewed Cauliflower & Potatoes IMG_0231_2 My little girl naps in the afternoon and since I could never abide by the concept of afternoon siesta and certainly do judge people who follow it (well almost) these few hours of the day are most precious, ‘me’ time as they fancifully term it. I want to soak up in the nothingness of this moment before I rush back to regular household chores. Afternoon is also time for tea. Something simple, cozy and warm to sip on while I spend few hours practically doing nothing. The humid air in the room is intense with the aroma of lemongrass, time to get up, strain the tea and rest the hissing pot.I guess that the neighbors are soaking in their pool for I can hear a water splash every now and then, lots of laughter too.Engrossed in ‘me’ time, at the back of my head, ‘what to cook of dinner’ thoughts also hover by. I ponder over what my refrigerator stocks and mentally tick up and down a lot of ideas. Sinfully Spicy : Yogurt Stewed Cauliflower & Potatoes It could be a cauliflower for dinner kind of day today. Some days inspiration does not come easy, particularly when we are tired of regular turmeric hued aloo gobi. If I want to make something different which does not need me to continuously stand beside the pot but still with deliciously deep flavors,I make this recipe, one of my mom’s best.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 4 tbsp virgin mustard oil (use olive or sunflower/grape seed)
  • 3/4 cup red onions, thin sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 ” cinnamon stick 
  • 1 black cardamom, cracked open
  • 3 whole dry chillies (adjust to tolerance, any mild hot variety will work)
  • 1 fat garlic clove, grated
  • 1 ” fresh ginger shoot, grated
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 medium cauliflower (about 1 lb)
  • 1 large potato
  • Up to 1/2 cup water if required
  • Chopped cilantro (for garnish, optional)

For the spice rub

  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
  • Pinch of ajwain (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp plain greek yogurt (or equivalent quantity, thick hung yogurt/curd)

Method

Cut the cauliflower into florets. Peel the potatoes and cut them roughly the same size as cauliflower florets. Wash thoroughly under running water & let the water drain completely.Ensure that the cauliflower and potatoes are completely dry, use kitchen towel if required. 

Using your coffee grinder, grind black peppercorns, cumin seeds, cloves, and ajwain(if using). Mix these ground spices along with nutmeg and salt to the yogurt.

In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower and potatoes with spice mixed yogurt and let sit.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot with lid on medium heat.Once the oil is just about to smoke, add the chopped onions to the pot. Also add the bay leaf, cinnamon, chilies and black cardamom. Cook the onions till golden brown. About 5-7 minutes. Next, add the grated ginger & garlic to the pot. Cook for 1 minute.Add the tomatoes to the pot and let cook for 2-3 minutes till they start to sweat.

Lower the heat, wait for few minutes (very important to avoid curdling of yogurt)and add the marinated cauliflower to the pot next and combine well.Cook for 2-3 minutes with constant stirring, You will slowly see yogurt releasing water.Cover the pot and let cook to almost done,about 18-20 minutes. (This time will depend on your variety/size of cut too)

Lift the lid, check and adjust the salt now. If you want gravy, add water to the pot and let cook for another 5-8 minutes. Try not to stir the pot else the vegetables will turn mushy.

Remove from heat and let sit covered for another at least half an hour. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm.

Brunch

Dahi Poha/Choora – No Cook Flattened Rice & Yogurt Breakfast

Sinfully Spicy - Dahi Chivda - No Cook Flattened Rice & Yogurt Breakfast With Mangoes & Cardamom
Sinfully Spicy - Dahi Choora - No Cook Flattened Rice & Yogurt Breakfast With Mangoes & Cardamom

Beaten yogurt mixed with soaked poha (flattened rice), sweetened and topped with nuts and fruits. A rustic cereal breakfast from eastern parts of India.

Sinfully Spicy - Dahi Chivda - No Cook Flattened Rice & Yogurt Breakfast With Mangoes & Cardamom
Sinfully Spicy - Dahi Choora- No Cook Flattened Rice & Yogurt Breakfast With Mangoes & Cardamom
Sinfully Spicy - Dahi Chivda - No Cook Flattened Rice & Yogurt Breakfast With Mangoes & Cardamom

I did not grown up eating this. Dahi poha or choora was introduced to us by one of our neighbors from the state of Bihar. North indian breakfasts are different and are more wheat based be it a warm bowl of dalia (wheat groats) in  warm milk or stuffed parathas (flatbreads).

There is something comforting about (hot or cold) cereals in the mornings. A night before, I try to prepare steel cut oats or buckwheat/millet groats for next morning. It gets so easy to start the day with right kind of grains. That wholesome boost at the start of day is much needed especially when you have a toddler to chase whole day. The other day,I was chatting with mom about choices of wholesome breakfast for my daughter and she reminded of this quick & easy choora (flattened rice) with dahi (yogurt) as an option. It seemed very doable and knowing little A,s love for yogurt, I made a big bowl with mashed mango for her. I could barely describe the mess she created with mangoes but looks like it hit the right spot with her.

Sinfully Spicy - Dahi Choora - No Cook Flattened Rice & Yogurt Breakfast With Mangoes & Cardamom
Sinfully Spicy - Dahi Choora - No Cook Flattened Rice & Yogurt Breakfast With Mangoes & Cardamom

Beaten or flattened rice (poha) which is very popular all over India and is used in making trail mixes, lightly tempered pilafs for breakfasts and for desserts too.This recipe comes from the state of Bihar where they start the day with a big bowl of it.

If you ask me there is hardly any recipe. You soak the poha in milk and mix with beaten yogurt . There are no measurements needed since you put together your bowl the way you like. The only catch is using the right kind of flattened rice since there is no cooking involved. There are quite a few varieties available in the stores, just buy the thin variety. Sprinkle your yogurt bowl with any kind of fruits, nuts or toppings you like and sweeten with just about anything. I like mashed or cut up mango with cardamom, topped with chia seeds and some roasted seeds and dried fruits.

Hope you enjoy this naturally gluten-free, fuss free and most of all a no cook breakfast which has the right amount of carbohydrates and proteins for you!!

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1 medium ripe mango (or any fruit of choice)
  • 1/2 cup poha (thinflattened rice)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1.5 cup whole milk greek yogurt, whisked
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut sugar (or any sweetener of choice to taste)
  • Nuts, Seeds, dried fruits etc of choice

Method

Peel the mango and puree it in a food processor. Or you can chop it.Set aside.

Mix the greek yogurt with cardamom powder.Set aside.

Place the flattened rice in a bowl and cover it in milk. Let sit and soak for 15 minutes. Don’t use to much of milk or soak for long else the poha will get very mushy. Fluff up and loosen grains gently with fork.

In a bowl, place half of the yogurt and put the soaked flattened rice over it.Sprinkle with coconut sugar (or any sweetener you are using). Top it with rest of the yogurt, mango puree and seeds/nuts of choice.

Alternatively, you could layer the yogurt and poha in a mason jar/tumbler. Serve immediately.

Notes –

  1. Just play around with the quantities of yogurt & poha to get the consistency you like.
  2. Use thick coconut milk or dairy free yogurt for a vegan version of this recipe.
  3. Do not stir the yogurt too much once you have added the flattened rice.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Bharwan Bhindi – Indian Stuffed Okra

Sinfully Spicy - Bharwan Bhindi , Stuffed Spicy OkraIt has been a couple of weeks since we went meatless in the house.Not even eggs.No we are not turning vegetarian but it was a good break.Nothing forced or intentional, just a choice. I was a vegetarian for a couple of years during my teens but other than that its been a lot of years since I did it again.To tell you the truth it was both exciting and difficult.I severely missed my morning eggs and those runny yolks I soak toasted bread with. I skipped eating out at my favorite Thai restaurant which makes the most awesome shrimp rolls and cashew chicken in the area.Once or twice, I longed for chicken & fish curry too. Sinfully Spicy - Bharwan Bhindi , Stuffed Spicy OkraI admit that I rediscovered my love for certain vegetables – particularly asparagus and red cabbage. I don’t want to sound pointless but when you have meat options, your creativity is slightly adulterated by the temptation to combine it with vegetables (or its just me).That said, I could have never imagined that I could love crunchy asparagus & pea stir fry spooned over a bowl ghee rice. Or a ripe,split avocado filled with beans and drizzled with lots of yogurt & salted nuts. Infact, these few weeks gave me a chance to explore tofu recipes.Till now tofu always struggles in comparison to paneer in our kitchen but for now, it has found a little niche on our table in this salad. I guess it’s all about giving a chance & a little bit of creativity to let those vegetables feed you in a nice, clean way. Sinfully Spicy - Bharwan Bhindi , Stuffed Spicy Okra

Sinfully Spicy - Bharwan Bhindi , Stuffed Spicy OkraCooking (and eating) okra did not come difficult though. It’s a summer staple and I have a small list of recipes from my family & a (yet to be tried) long one from far-fetched relatives to put okra to a tasty treat. In fact, before coming to the States I could never imagine someone not liking okra.It is just so delicious in the ways it’s cooked in indian cuisine.

Though slightly time consuming if making a big batch,but bharwaan (stuffed) bhindi (okra) is worth all the effort. A spicy, semi-wet masala base made with onions, garlic and chickpeas flour is filled into tender, pierced pods and then they are lightly stir fried with a spoon or so of thick yogurt. This is something which tastes better even the next day when the flavors develop a lot more. The key to keep away the slime and retain the color is to cook it uncovered on low heat for most of the time. It’s best served alongside skillet fried flatbreads (paratha) or soft roti and naan.

Sinfully Spicy - Bharwan Bhindi , Stuffed Spicy Okra

  • 1 lb okra
  • 3 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with olive/vegetable oil)
  • 3/4 cup red onions, very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup thick sliced onions (optional)
  • 1 tbsp thick plain yogurt
  • pinch of sugar

Notes

  • There is no substitute for amchoor or mango powder in this recipe. You can buy it from local ethnic stores or online here.
  • If you want to make a vegan version of this recipe, replace yogurt with 1-2 tbsp of water and squirt lemon juice at the end of cooking.
Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch

Spiced Lamb Burgers With Garlic-Mint Yogurt

Sinfully Spicy - Spiced Lamb Burgers With Garlic Mint Yogurt MayoShould I eat it? How will it taste? Will it be okay to eat it in public? Similar to hesitations when trying anything new, I was a bit reluctant when I ate lamb first couple of times. It was a red wine stewed lamb T- bone at one of the elaborate buffets here and the husband was all over it. I could not help but stare at his enthusiasm. If I remember correctly, it was only lamb that he ate all night. Eventually I fell prey to his company and gave in. No points for guessing that I did not quite like it at first, you know how clingy we can get to childhood tastes-  firstly the lingering taste of mutton I grew up with & secondly I am not quite up for wine sauces – not yet.

Sinfully Spicy - Spiced Lamb Burgers With Garlic Mint Yogurt MayoDuring the initial years, we never really cooked it at home.I scurried through the supermarket aisles just looking at the the wide variety of cuts available but never really bought it.

However, once I did (thinking I will empty my spice box while cooking to layer ‘that’ taste),there was no going back. Lamb paired so beautifully with those cardamons & turmeric in my kitchen and as I cooked it more, adding indian flair to recipes, we slowly embraced it as a regular in our meals. Even though mutton mince ispopular back home, after eating it more and more, we have as much love for lamb dishes in our household now as poultry & seafood. Due to its easy availability, I have substituted all my keema recipes with lamb mince & there is hardly anything not to like. Equally good, equally satisfying & equally delicious is all I can say.

Sinfully Spicy - Spiced Lamb Burgers With Garlic Mint Yogurt Mayo

Sinfully Spicy - Spiced Lamb Burgers With Garlic Mint Yogurt MayoThis lamb burger is for those days when we are looking for a change & feeling lazy to cook but still want to eat at home. It is hearty. It is big, spicy and juicy. It is something which is a quick every now & then dinner for us.

I like to stuff my buns with lots of tomatoes, and with that mint laced, garlicky yogurt or whatever salad leaves at hand, however the husband keeps all that at bay. His meaty version is indulgent in itself with just the mince patty & lots & lots of onion slices and kettle chips on the side (which by the way are a must out here).

Sinfully Spicy - Spiced Lamb Burgers With Garlic Mint Yogurt Mayo

Ingredients (Makes 5-6 burgers)

  • 1 lb lamb mince (or use mutton/beef mince)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1″ ginger shoot, minced
  • 3 tbsp chopped mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 Thai green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste

For the Yogurt Mayo

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 fat garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp Lemon juice (or to taste)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For assembling the burgers

  • Buns
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Sliced Onions, Tomatoes
  • Pepper Jack, Colby or any easy melting cheese

To serve alongside

Fries, Chips, Onion rings, beer, hot sauce,pickles etc

Method

In a small bowl, mix up the mayo & yogurt. Mince the garlic clove using your microplane and add the mint leaves to the yogurt. Add lemon juice, salt & pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Using your coffee grinder coarsely grind black pepper, fennel, cloves, cumin and cardamom.Set aside in the grinder itself. In a bowl, add the lamb mince. Add the garlic, ginger, mint, cilantro & green chillies. Add the ground spices over it along with nutmeg,cinnamon & olive oil.Using a fork (or your hands), lightly mix up the mince with all the herbs and spices. If you have time, you can cover the bowl with a cling film & let it sit in the fridge for 1-2 hours or else you can use it right away.

Heat up a cast iron pan. Divide the lamb mince into six equal portions.(We do not like very thick patties, so I could make 6 out of these, however if making thicker patties, divide into desired portions). Brush a tsp of oil on the pan and cook the patties on moderately high heat until well-browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip the patties and cook on the other side, about 3-4 minutes more. When cooked, add the cheese on top and cover with a lid, the cheese should melt in under a minute.  Note – We like our burgers cooked through and the times are noted for that. If you like your burgers pink in bewteen, please reduce the cooking time.These burgers grill beautifully, you can use your outdoor grill to good use for cooking these. 

While the patties are cooking, you will see the mince releasing a lot of fat and juice, soak it up by warming up the bun halves on the same pan. 

Assemble the burgers by slathering the yogurt mayo on both sides of the buns,add in the onion & tomato slices, lettuce and place the cooked patties.

Serve immediately along side chips.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Murgh (Chicken)Tikka

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh(Chicken) Tikka

Spicy, smoky and succulent – you could hardly go wrong when these define the dish you make.Bites of chicken grilled to perfection and instantly sprinkled with chaat masala for that much-needed tang and served immediately. I cannot think of a better appetizer or a side to fragrant rice pilaf. If you think healthy, skip the carbs and serve over a bed of greens and you are good to go.

Sinfully Spicy : Garlic,Chilies& Mint

When cooking chicken, I make sure not to skip the marination part – it does wonders to the otherwise plain poultry. Hours of marination in yogurt and spices not only makes the chicken morsels tender but packs them with so much flavor. I always plan leftovers because these are excellent tucked inside a wrap with some green chutney (or hot sauce), mayo and few fresh veggies.

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh(Chicken) Tikka

It would be false if I told you that I grew up eating home cooked chicken tikka. Every now and then when we had family dinners, tikkas of all sorts were ordered from a barbecue take out place near to our house. In India, home delivery is so common and free if you live in the same area as the restaurant. The tikkas came wrapped in layers of aluminum foil, still warm from the tandoor (clay oven).There used to be pink hued pickled pearl onions, lime wedges and chutney to go along the smoky bites.At times,it did not matter to transfer the contents on to a dinner plate, just spread open the foil and everybody helped themselves – a really informal way of entertaining if you may think so.

Sinfully Spicy : Spices

Tikka (meaning chunks or pieces) is an extremely popular street food back home. All kinds of marinated vegetables, paneer as well as meat and poultry are available readily for a take away or a quick mid evening snack by the road side.

However, these are not to be confused with Chicken Tikka Masala, a spicy curry from the indian subcontinent which could definitely use a tikka like these simmered in sauce. You would find a lot of recipes of making tikka in India, each using almost the same spices in varying quantities.I am sharing what I make every now and then with all kinds of herbs & an essential dollop of ghee that goes into the marinade.

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh(Chicken) Tikka

Sinfully Spicy - Murgh(Chicken) Tikka

Morsels of chicken marinated in yogurt and fresh ground spices and then grilled to perfection. You could use the same marinade for paneer tofu or with vegetable chunks.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the marinade

  • 3 tbsp thick plain yogurt
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2″ cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder (this gives the color, not the heat)
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 heaping tsp kasuri methi, crushed between palms(dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tbsp ghee 
  • salt
  • oil for brushing the grill top/skillet
Garnishes – Chopped Cilantro or mint, lime wedges, chaat masala.

Note –

  1.  You could use chicken breast too in this recipe. But I find that thighs turn out much more juicy and succulent.
  2. If you don not have all the whole spices mentioned above, trust your favorite tandoori spice powder & use it. Don’t skip the fresh herbs though.

Method

Clean and pat dry the chicken thighs. Cut them into bite size pieces. Rub with lemon juice, minced garlic & ginger,1/2 tsp salt and keep aside for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, tip in cardamom,coriander,black pepper, fenugreek, cinnamon & cloves into your coffee grinder and grind to a (not too fine) powder. Mix this powder in a bowl with yogurt,cumin powder, turmeric, chili, cilantro, green chili, kasuri methi, ghee & mint leaves. Marinate the chicken with this and keep refrigerated for at least 8 hours (overnight is best).

Take the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle salt to taste before ready to grill. I use my stove top grill to cook them, however you can skew them and cook over outdoor grill.These cook very well over a cast iron skillet/tava. Cook the chicken pieces to perfection flipping regularly to cook on all sides.

Serve hot along side onion rings & green chutney.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

How To · Indian Curry/Stew · Lentils

Mangodi – Sun dried Lentil Nuggets

SinfullySpicy - Mangodi (Sun Dried Lentil Nuggets)I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen this week. I baked a cake after two years, cooked dum biryani for the first time, sprouted whole red lentils and I made mangodis.

For last few years I wanted to make mangodis .Where I live has the perfect sun for making these – crisp, dry heat. But, each year the summers passed by and I just sat on the idea. There is a particular variety I like from back home, mom sent me the quota with whoever was coming here. I survived.

This year, I ran out of my stock earlier than usual. With summers still far from over in my part of the world its a good excuse to make my own, right?

SinfullySpicy -Ingredients Mangodi (Sun Dried Lentil Nuggets)

In my home, we make a soupy curry with mangodi and potatoes. It is then served with dal tadka (tempered lentils) and rice. I never really cared for these growing up. In fact, I did not understand why would any one want to turn lentil into a curry and then eat it with lentils again. Confusing.

Logics aside, I think my palate was not ready was for it then. Now, when I think of traditional home cooked food, mangodi-aloo definitely comes to mind.

Mangodi , Moongbadi or Mungwadi are small,spicy lentil nuggets which are sun-dried in indian households during summer months. Variety of lentils ( yellow, red, split green or urad ) can be used to prepare these. Depending on the region of India, they could differ in texture and taste. The lentil batter is like your blank canvas – keep it plain, add your own choice of dried herbs or spices, some people add garlic and ginger too. Mangodis are inedible on their own but once lightly sautéed in a teaspoon of oil, they can be used in curries or combined with different vegetables & leafy greens to make stir fries. Crush the shallow fried ones between palms and add as a topping on salads. Other than that, they can be soaked in warm water for few minutes and then added to your vegetarian soups, stews or rice pilaf.

SinfullySpicy - Mangodi 02 (Sun Dried Lentil Nuggets)

Ingredients  (Makes little more than 2 cups of mangodis)

  • 1.5 cups split yellow mung lentils
  • 4 cups of water to soak the lentil
  • 3/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, crushed
  • Oil to grease

Also Needed – Plates/thalis/cookie sheets/ plastic sheets- Any one of these to sun dry the nuggets.

Note – I use unpolished, organic yellow mung lentils from Whole foods, so I added turmeric powder for a nice yellow tinge. Turmeric does not add any flavor to the mangodis. The turmeric quantity in this recipe can be varied as per you lentil quality.

Method 

In a large bowl, thoroughly wash the lentils 2-3 times till the water runs clear. Soak the lentils in about 4 cups of water preferably overnight or for at least 4 hours.

Grease the plates or thalis with oil where you want to drop the lentil nuggets.Set aside.

Drain the water, give lentils another wash and tip them into a blender. Blend the lentils to smooth without water.

Transfer the ground lentils to bowl and add hing, black pepper and turmeric powder to it. Mix well.

Put the lentil mix in a piping bag fitted with plain/star nozzle, or a Ziploc bag (with cut out corner), squeeze it and pipe out small dots on a greased plate/ thali, about 1/8 inches apart. For the quantity of batter from this recipe, I used 6 dinner plates.

Keep the piped out mangodis in sun for at least 2 days or more till they dry out.

Once dry, these will be hard. Using a metal spatula, scrape them from the surface of the plate and store in an air tight container up to 8-10 months.

Make mangodi- aloo masala curry.

Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Fish Curry

Spicy Fish curry01, Sinfully Spicy

While he walked down the road, we ran like hooligans to reach the market. It was well past 6 pm and the catch of the day would be sold out in an hour or so, papa told us before leaving home.The earlier your reach the shop, the robust the choice. Making our way through narrow streets, lot of traffic and chaotic roads, you could not help but inhale the stench fishy smell which filled the shop, once you reach. There sat the machali vala (fish vendor),his forehead lit up by the hanging bulb, wearing a yellowish vest, sweat drops glistening on his cheeks, arduously handling the bargains with adamant customers. On his left lay piles of fresh fish to choose from and on the right were hand-held metal scales to weigh.

Papa would choose rohu (green carp),one of the most loved fresh water fish in my family. He had his own ways as to check if it was fresh and that took time. Meanwhile, we gulped down  glassfuls of sugarcane juice or nimbu pani, playing outside.

Spicy Fish curry02, Sinfully Spicy

The vendor would throw the fish towards them, shouting ‘ chotey,jaldi se tayyar kar de‘ , asking his boys sitting behind the curtains to quickly clean up and cut papa‘s fish selection.Since majority of the population flocking the market were vegetarian Hindus, butchering fish or meat in open wasn’t a pleasant sight for them.

In my grandma’s home, the utensils for cooking non vegetarian food were separate from the rest of the kitchenware. They still are. I clearly remember the grey and dark blue stained tamchini (enamel ware) which is used to (again) clean up and wash the fish at home, not in the kitchen sink but outside in the yard. ‘Thoda besan aur haldi jaroor laga dena‘, mom reminded every time to massage the fish pieces with turmeric & chickpea flour after washing, while she sauted masala in the kitchen.

Well past 9 pm,the noises in the houses settled, everyone devoted their energy to eating fish curry, taking their time to separate the bones, sniffing the hints of aroma from kasuri methi in the gravy, mixing it up with steamed rice – comforting & delicious.

Dried Fenugreek leaves, Spicy Fish curry, Sinfully Spicy

When I came to States, I did not eat fish for a couple of years, the idea of fillets simply did not appeal to me. Even though I m better now, but still fillets feel like eating potatoes. It was only a year ago that I spotted an oriental market which sells fish steaks that I started making those nostalgic curries again.

The only two things fancy about this fish curry are that its cooked in pure mustard oil and the liberal use of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) in the masala. Both lend the curry a deep, rich aroma and make it taste tangibly authentic.

Before we hop on to the recipe, let me highlight that kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) is an aromatic herb used to flavor a lot of north indian curries and marinades. It is what makes those tandoori & butter chickens taste the way they do. Pleasantly bitter, strong-tasting but addictive, it is a great herb to add to your spice rubs, sauces and gravies. Available for a couple of dollars both online as well as at all indian stores, it has a long shelf life (more than a year or so). Trust me you REALLY need it in your pantry!

Ingredients

  • 3- 4 fish steaks (I used Tilapia steaks ,select any mild, white fish of choice)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 tbsp pure mustard oil (substitute with cooking olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 3/4 cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, finely chopped (yield about 1 cup)
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • 1.5 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mango powder (amchoor, substitute with lemon juice to taste)
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/4 cup of water (this depends on how watery your fish is and the desired consistency of the curry, adjust amount accordingly)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Method

Rub the fish steaks with 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

When ready to make the curry, take out the fish from the fridge and let sit at room temperature.

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 minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling the aroma.

Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes and grated ginger  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. 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.

Add the marinated fish steaks next to the along with kasuri methi & dry mango powder. Also add salt to taste. Stir around gently so that the fish steaks are coated in the masala. Cover the pan and let the fish cook on low for 5 -8 minutes. This cooking time will depend on the variety, cut and thickness of steaks. Adjust accordingly. When the fish is just about done, add the water and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes

Once the fish is cooked through, let the curry sit covered for at least 30-40 minutes, undisturbed.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with steamed basmati rice. (You can warm the curry before serving)

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Indian Curry/Stew

Punjabi Kadhi Pakora – Chickpea flour Fritters in a Spicy Yogurt Gravy (Glutenfree)

Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully SpicyOn those summer evenings, while we laid our folding beds in the veranda to prepare for a  sleepover under the starry sky, in the kitchen, potfuls of kadhi simmered on one of the stove tops, rice to go along with it on the other. After filling up the water koolers to the brink and in anticipation that maybe light (electricity) will come back later in the night, we waited for supper as the whole house smelled of  daintily spiced, turmeric loaded yogurt broth.

Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Depending on who cooked it, it would be sweet & tangy, thick or thin, spiced up or muted. My grandmother always divided the kadhi pot into two and added loads of sugar to one. Like many things, she was particular about the pakoras done right. Standing beside the sandstone countertop, her cotton saree tucked to the waist,she rigorously fluffed up cups of besan with water, stopping every few minutes to drop the batter into a katori filled with water, if  the batter drop rose to the surface, it was ready to fry up in the pungent smelling, hot mustard oil else more toil was needed. The pakoras came out perfect each time – gooey in the centre but retaining their shape in the warm broth. In those times, there were no stand mixers, hand beaters or french whisks but she had an out of the world devotion  to make delicious food for her family – fresh and filled with love.

Spices, Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Summers in northern parts of India are harsh, unlike the western parts, monsoon are mostly a cycle of few days of rain followed by dry spells for weeks. There were long power outages and at least once in a while the area transformers conked off, overworked. Kitchen was the last place anyone wanted to be in on such evenings. When nobody in the house was in a mood to cook, kadhi was made.It was a quick and easy dinner rescue.

Making Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Kadhi is basically a slightly sour, gluten-free yogurt based gravy which is thickened with chickpea flour. Fritters (pakoras) can be added to the broth or cut up vegetables (okra, spinach, aubergines) or sometimes it can served as it is.

These days, with a fussy, demanding little one around, I make kadhi quite more than often. It is an immensely satisfying meal. I like mine brothy, loaded with lots of cumin flavored ghee but this is optional. You can skip the garnish part from the recipe. Using pure mustard oil gives kadhi an authentic flavor, however any kind of oil can be used.

Kadhi Pakora – Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Note :- This recipe yields a soupy kadhi, if you like yours thick, just add extra 1-2 tbsp of besan.

Ingredients(Serves 2-3)

For the Pakoras 

  • 3/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Enough water to make the batter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Mustard Oil for frying (or vegetable/canola oil)

For the Kadhi 

  • 1.5 cup plain whole milk yogurt, slightly sour
  • 6 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp crushed kasuri methi, dried fenugreek leaves (give a great flavor but can be skipped if not available)
  • 2.5 – 3 cups water
  • 3 tbsp pure mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Generous pinch of hing powder
  • 1/4 tso ajwain seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (coarsely crushed)
  • 2 whole dried red chillies
  • Salt to taste

Note :- It is very important that the yogurt is sour when you make kadhi, else t will not taste good. You can leave the yogurt overnight at room temperature or inside the oven to let it sour. Garnish

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

Method

Making the Pakoras

In a medium bowl, mix up besan, hing and turmeric powder.Slowly start adding water and with the help of a handheld beater or whisk, whip up to make a thick batter. Once properly whipped the batter will be fluffy and pale yellow. Add more or less water as needed to make a batter similar to how thick you would make for dipping hot dogs when making corn dogs.

Meanwhile, heat sufficient oil in a wok or deep fryer.When you see ripples on the oil surface,mix the salt with the batter and drop small portions (about 1/2 tbsp or so) of it into the fryer, either with a spoon or help of your fingers.Deep fry in small batches on medium heat till pakoras are golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

Note :- You can make pakoras as big or small as you like. Just note that these expand a little once added to the warm broth. Chopped onions, par boiled potatoes or any kind of herbs can be added to the batter for extra flavor.

Making the Kadhi

In a bowl, combine besan, yogurt,turmeric & red chilli  powder, kasuri methi (if using) salt to taste and water to make a lump free smooth mix. Let stand.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat mustard oil to smoking point.Remove from heat and let cool for around 1-2 minutes else spices will burn. Add cumin, ajwain, fenugreek and coriander seeds along with hing & whole red chillies. Return to stove top. When spices begin to splutter and you smell the aroma, add minced ginger. Let cook for 10-15 seconds.

Next,remove the pot from stove again and slowly add the besan-yogurt mixture and mix thoroughly. Return to medium heat and let the kadhi come to a boil. Dont be tempted to rush this else kadhi will curdle. Once you see the kadhi starting to bubble, turn the heat to low, add the garam masala and let the kadhi simmer for 10-15 minutes till it thickens and is rich yellow in color.Let sit till ready to serve.

When ready to serve, warm up the kadhi on medium till you see bubbles on the sides of the pot. Add the pakoras and let simmer (not boil) for about 5-8 minutes.

For Tempering

In a small saucepan, warm up the ghee and add cumin seeds to it, when they splutter, take away from the heat and add sliced green chillies.

Top up the kadhi- pakora with this cumin ghee just before serving along side rotis (flatbread) or steamed basmati rice.

Desserts/Baking

Ricotta Cheese Ice Cream With Roasted Strawberries (Eggless)

Serves 6-8 
 

IngredientsFor Roasted Strawberries:-

  • 1 lb strawberries
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1-2 tbsp granulated sugar

For Ice Cream :-

  • 7 graham cracker sheets (or any digestive biscuits/oreo cookies)
  • 20 oz whole milk ricotta (about 2.5 cups), pasteurized
  • 1.5 cup heavy cream, pasteurized
  • 1 cup whole milk, pasteurized
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tbsp of vodka (optional, this reduces ice crystal formation while ice cream freezes)
  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, cleaned & chopped into bits

Method

Roasting the Strawberries

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Position the oven rack to the middle. I use glass or ceramic baking dish but if using any other kind, line with parchment paper.

Thoroughly wash the strawberries under running stream of water.Dry them between folds of kitchen towel to completely remove any moisture. Cut each berry in half for larger berries or cut into quarters for smaller ones. Layer the cut berries in a single layer in the baking dish. Squirt fresh lemon juice & zest over the berries. Sprinkle the sugar. Roast the berries inside the oven for 25 -40 minutes or until the juices thicken, they become syrupy, but the edges of the berries do not burn. The time will depends on the size of the berries and whether they are at the edge of the pan (faster) or in the middle (slower).Keep an eye.

Remove roasted strawberries and juices & let cool to room temperature. Using a fork gently mash the berries. Save about 1/2  cup of these roasted berries to serve later with the ice cream (if you desire, else use the whole). If you want to make ice cream later, these roasted berries can sit in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Making the Ice Cream

Put the graham cracker sheets in a ziplock bag & pound using a rolling pin crush into fine bits. Set aside.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk together ricotta cheese and heavy cream until smooth. Add the milk, sugar, salt & vodka (if using). Stir to combine. Fold in the roasted berries (prepared above) along with crushed graham crackers. Pour the ricotta mixture into an ice cream maker and churn/freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Add the chopped strawberries  8-10 minutes before the end of freezing.

Alternatively you can pour the mixture into a glass/metal dish, stir in the chopped berries and freeze. You will need to stir the mix every 2 hours to slow for a creamy ice cream. Let freeze overnight or for at least 6 hours.

To serve

Using an ice cream scoop, places scoops of ice cream in the serving bowls, top up with fresh grated lemon zest, nuts,or reserved roasted berries.Serve immediately.

Notes/Variations :-

  1. Summer strawberries are quite sweet, so I added sugar accordingly. This recipe makes a faintly sweet ice cream. If your berries are tart or you prefer sweeter ice creams, increase the sugar quantity.
  2. This recipe can be used for any kind of berries or stone fruits.
  3. You can add few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar or maple sugar while roasting the strawberries for added flavors.