Showing posts with label Desi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Desi. Show all posts

Jul 27, 2016

Nepali Style Chicken Curry

Khukura Nepal maso ko spicy

From the heart of the Himalayas comes this delicious chicken curry. Chicken is marinated then slowly simmered until delectably tender in a richly seasoned sauce of traditional Nepali spices. Don't let that long list of ingredients in this recipe intimidate you, this is one of the easiest and tastiest chicken curries you'll ever make!

There are so many ethnicities in the tiny nation of Nepal it's really hard to generalize the cuisine. I learned this recipe from a lovely lady who once ran a small restaurant in the town of Malekhu on the banks of the Trishuli river in Nepal. She firmly insisted this chicken needs to marinate overnight or a full day for the best flavor. Although everyone cooks their chicken curry a little differently the marination in oil is typical of many Nepali meat curries. The liberal use of spices such as black cardamom, fenugreek, and cassia leaves or "tej patta" is common to many Nepali dishes. If you've never made a curry this is a great "first recipe" to try. It really is incredibly simple to make but so scrumptious!

1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless, bone in, cut into 8 pieces
2 cassia leaves/tej patta
2 inch piece cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
Grind to smooth paste for marinade:
1/3 C cooking oil (I use rice bran oil but tempered mustard oil would be authentic)
2 C onion, roughly chopped
2 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS coriander/dhania, ground or sseds
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp cayenne powder + 1 tsp paprika powder)
2 tsp cumin/jeera, ground or seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
5 green cardamoms/elaichi
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi
1 tsp fenugreek seeds/methi
5 cloves/laung
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch
1/4 tsp mace/javitri (or nutmeg/jaiphal)
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch (omit for less heat)
2 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) Grind all ingredients listed under marinade to smooth paste in mixie, food processor, or blender. Coat all chicken pieces in ground marinade and place in a sealable airtight container. If you like, place the cassia leaves/tej patta and cassia bark/dalchini on top of the marinating chicken pieces in the container. Allow chicken to marinate for at least 2 hours up to overnight in the refrigerator.


2) When ready to cook place marinated chicken pieces, tej patta/cassia leaves, and cassia bark/dalchini in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet. Reserve marinade. Allow chicken pieces to fry on each side for 3 minutes, chicken should just be turning white. (The chicken has been marinated in oil so there's no need to add oil to the pan.)

3) Add reserved marinade to chicken pieces in pan. Stir well and fry for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir, and reduce heat.

4) Add 1 C water to pan, stir well and allow chicken pieces to simmer uncovered over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and oil has separated from the sauce. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir, and reduce heat. Salt to taste and serve.

Helpful hints:
Never cook chicken in a pressure cooker, it gets a rubbery texture from the extreme, high heat.

I think this technique of marination in oil came about in Nepal previous to modern refrigeration. Even with refrigeration nowadays electricity is so sporadic this technique is still quite useful.

Jun 21, 2016

Chicken Rezala

rezala chicken recipe simple indian historicl

Although quite decadent and delicious, this is one of the easiest recipes you could make for a posh event. Famous within the Muslim community of Kolkata, Rezala is a creamy chicken dish made with aromatic cardamom, saffron, and kewra essence in a velvety sauce. A truly regal Mughal dish from a bygone era.

When the Nawabs of Awadh and descendants of Tipu Sultan were exiled in Bengal they took their royal chefs with them. Thus Mughlai cuisine was formally established in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) and mingled with Bengali tastes and flavors. Bengalis like their dishes a little on the sweet side so traditionally this recipe is enriched with a pinch of sugar as well as a slurry of coconut milk and ground cashews. Cashews are a bit too sweet for my Kashmiri family's tastes so I've replaced them with poppy seeds and coconut cream. I've also replaced the sugar with a little flour to reduce the sweetness and keep the yogurt from splitting. (In case you like a little sweet in your savory dishes I've given the measurements for the sugar and cashews though.) As with most Bengali dishes, Rezala has a thin gravy and is best enjoyed with rice. Do try this dish to experience the influence of nawabi (princely) finesse on rustic Bengali cuisine.

1kg or 2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces
1 TBS cooking oil
2 TBS ghee
2 cassia leaves/tej patta
5 dried red chilis/lal mirch
7 cloves/laung
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
8 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
4 black cardamoms/kali elaichi
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch, whole
pinch of saffron strands (optional)
2 tsp kewra water (optional)
10-12 dry roasted almonds (optional for garnish)
Grind to smooth paste for gravy:
3/4 C yogurt/dahi
1/2 C onions, chopped roughly
1/2 teaspoon flour/maida or sugar/chinni (this will keep the yogurt from splitting)
1 tsp salt
1/2 C coconut cream
Grind to smooth paste for marinade:
1/2 C yogurt/dahi
1/2 C onions, roughly chopped
2 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper, ground
1 tsp cumin/jeera, ground
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1/2 tsp mace/javitri
1/2 tsp nutmeg/jaiphal
1 TBS white poppy seeds/khus khus (or ground cashews/kaju)
3-4 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped roughly (omit for less heat)

Here's what to do:
1) Grind all ingredients listed under marinade to a smooth paste. Coat all chicken pieces in marinade mix and place in sealable airtight container. Allow chicken to marinate for 30 minutes up to overnight in the refrigerator.

2) When ready to cook grind all ingredients listed under gravy to smooth paste and set aside. Heat oil and ghee in deep heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai and fry cassia leaves/tej patta, dried red chilis/lal mirch, cloves/laung, cumin seeds/jeera, green cardamoms/elaichi, black cardamoms/kali elaichi, and black peppercorns/kali mirch.

3) Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add the smooth paste for gravy from step 2 to pan with fried spices and stir well. Return pan to heat and bring mixture to simeer. Allow gravy mixture to simmer for 5 minutes.

4) Add chicken pieces with marinade to simmering gravy mixture. Allow chicken mixture to simmer covered over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked completely. You shouldn't have to add any liquid to this dish, the chicken should cook covered in it's own juices to intensify the flavors.

5) Turn off heat and stir in saffron strands if using. Allow saffron to steep in dish for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with kewra water and dry roasted almonds if using just before serving with rice, naan, or rotis.

Helpful Hints:
Never cook chicken in a pressure cooker as the extreme heat will make the texture rubbery.

Wajid Ali Shah, 10th and last Nawab of Awadh
"Cast by providence for the role of an accomplished dilettante, he found himself a misfit for the high office to which he was elevated by chance. Wajid Ali Shah's character was complex. Though he was a man of pleasure, he was neither an unscrupulous knave nor a brainless libertine. He was a lovable and generous gentleman. He was a voluptuary, still he never touched wine, and though sunk in pleasure, he never missed his five daily prayers. It was the literary and artistic attainments of Wajid Ali Shah which distinguished him from his contemporaries."

Dr. G.D. Bhatnagar, Awadh Under Wajid Ali Shah

Jun 1, 2016

Easy Rose, Coconut, and Cardamom Laddoos

cardamom, cardamom. Rooh Afza, coconut, condensed, Desi, dessert, easy, Indian, laddoos, milk, mithai, Recipe, rose, simple, sweetened,

These delicately flavored laddoos are elegant enough to serve as a dessert at a posh dinner party or holiday gathering yet easy enough to make for an after school treat. The classic Indian pairing of light rose, aromatic cardamom, and rich coconut is combined with milky sweetness in this dainty treat!

sweetened condensed milk mithai Desi sweet diwali eid

I first saw this recipe on a Nestle website featuring recipes for kids. It looked so easy I doubted it would really taste like mithai or the traditional milk-based sweets of South Asia. Was I ever pleasantly surprised! The can of sweetened condensed milk makes these taste just like the traditional laddoos made by the time-consuming process of reducing milk. This is such a great recipe to make with children, depending on age they can help with the brief cooking and mixing steps as well as have tons of fun rolling the mixture into balls and dredging them with coconut.

1 can sweetened condensed milk (390g)
3 C desiccated coconut
1 tsp butter or ghee
2 TBS rose syrup (or Rooh Afza)*
seeds of 9-10 green cardamoms, ground coarsely
1 drop coconut flavor (optional)
1 drop red food coloring (optional)
extra desiccated coconut to roll laddoos in

Here's what to do:
1) Combine 3 C desiccated coconut, can of sweetened condensed milk, rose syrup, ground cardamom seeds, coconut flavor, and butter or ghee in large heavy-bottomed skillet or kadhai and mix well.

2) Heat pan with mixture over a low flame stirring continuously. Keep stirring until mixture pulls away from the pan and forms a mass clinging to itself. This should take about 7-8 minutes at the most.

3) Remove pan from heat and transfer mixture to a heat proof bowl. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature or place in airtight container in the refrigerator for an hour. (I usually put it in the fridge as my family tends to "sample" whatever's out on the counter. I am told it is for "quality control" purposes. :::eye roll:::)

4) When cooled form tablespoonfuls into balls. I use a cookie scoop to get uniform amounts. Coat your palms with butter, ghee or coconut oil if mixture sticks to your hands.

5) Roll laddoos in desiccated coconut if desired. Refrigerate finished laddoos in an airtight container for 30 minutes before serving to set. These will keep for up to a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This recipe made 20 tablespoonful sized laddoos.

mithai traditional dessert sweetened condensed milk desiccated coconut

Helpful hints:
*If you don't have rose syrup or Rooh Afza you could use 1-2 drops of rose essence or 1 teaspoon of rose water plus 1 drop red food coloring for flavor. If you're not familiar with the iconic Desi sharbat syrup of Rooh Afza there's a post on my blog about it here.

If using freshly grated coconut increase amount to 4 cups and omit ghee or butter.
You can make many variations in flavors and colors with this recipe. I've made them with pistachios and saffron threads soaked in 1 TBS water for 20 minutes which came out a brilliant yellow. I've made them pure white by adding no flavor except for coconut essence. I've even made blue laddoos by adding curacao syrup.

May 30, 2016

Ingredient of the Week: Ginger, Adruk, Adrak, Soonth, Inchi-ver

Variously known as ginger, adrak, adruk, inchi-ver, gingembre, zanjabil, Ingwer, khing, and myin this is probably the most versatile and distinctive spice in the world. In South Asian cuisines ginger plays a major role. There is no other flavor quite like it. Ginger is simultaneously lemony, hot, pungent, slightly woodsy, and sweet. Thought have originated in the lush jungles of the Indian Subcontinent, ginger is now known worldwide. Ginger's name derives from the Sanskrit term srngaveram, derived from the words srngam "horn" plus vera- "body" referring to the antler-like shape of its rhizome.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an herbaceous perennial belonging to the same family as cardamom and turmeric, Zingiberaceae. It grows to about three feet tall, has a reed-like habit, yellow flowers, pink buds, and strap-like leaves.

Ginger thrives in rich well drained soils and subtropical conditions as you can see in the above photo of a ginger field growing in India. As ginger is a perennial plant the stalk withers with the onset of Winter and the ginger rhizome is harvested in early Spring. 

There's a bit of confusion as to whether there are different types of edible ginger. Rather than different breeds there is what is called "green" ginger which you see in the left side of the above photo and mature ginger on the right. Green ginger is just young ginger from a plant that's probably less than two years old: it is less fibrous, juicier, and milder in flavor and heat than mature ginger. The hotter, more flavorful, and fibrous mature ginger rhizome is from a plant older than three years. 

Fresh ginger is called "adrak" or "adruk" in Hindi and gets it's heat and flavor from the aromatic compound gingerol. Heating or cooking fresh ginger causes the gingerol present to transform to zingerone. Zingerone is similar in structure to vanillin (an artificial vanilla flavoring) and eugenol (the compound responsible for the flavor of cloves). So when we cook raw ginger it becomes sweeter and spicier. Candied ginger is a good example of the flavor of zingerone.

The Desi mirepoix: ginger, onions, garlic, & chilis.

Fresh ginger or adrak is a part of what I call the "Desi mirepoix" of ginger, garlic, onions, and green chilis. When sautéed in oil or ghee these ingredients form the flavor base in the layering of many a Desi dish from dals to meat curries. Fresh ginger's pungency and heat mellows when cooked this way to rich, mildly lemony, and subtly sweet notes. These harmoniously subdued flavors provide a perfect background for the earthy notes of traditional South Asian spices like cumin, fenugreek, and red chilis. Fresh ginger is often an ingredient in spice mixtures for milky chai in Winter or chilly regions like the Himalayas. When julienned, fresh ginger is often used as an attractive and tasty garnish atop dishes at fancy restaurants and posh dinners in South Asia.

Dry ginger is called "soonth" or "sunth" in Hindi and has a different flavor than fresh or cooked ginger. When fresh ginger rhizomes are dried a dehydration reaction is triggered, causing the gingerol present to transform to a compound called shogaol. Shogaol is twice as hot as gingerol which is why dried ginger tastes so much hotter than fresh ginger. 

Dry ginger or soonth features in many Desi cuisines. Although dry ginger is only used in baked sweets in the West in South Asia it lends it's almost peppery heat to chutneys, chai, dals, curries, and spice blends. Punjabi cuisines often use it in marinades for tandoori meats and in masalas for lentils, beans, and vegetables. Dry ginger is one of the traditional spices commonly used in Kashmiri dishes along with fennel, black cardamom, and the famous red chili known as Kashmiri mirch. "Sukku kaapi" is a tea made with dried ginger in South Indian states specially brewed for cold winter mornings. 

Mmmmm...ginger-y hot chai, my favorite!
As you can see I'm a big fan of ginger. It truly is a "super food" which has all sorts of health benefits and fantastic flavor.  One of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh ginger is in chai in the Winter. A few slices of fresh ginger boiled with black tea, a few black peppercorns, and milk is my morning beverage of choice. Try it!

Calmly currying on,

May 1, 2016

Bhindi Fry (Spicy Fried Okra)

Delicately crisp and boldly seasoned this traditional Punjabi style dish makes okra a delicious delight. No stewed slime or goo here, rather the okra is shallow fried until lightly crunchy then simmered to savory perfection with the warm earthy spices so favored in North India. So simple to make and tasty this popular dry sabzi (vegetable) is usually served as an accompaniment to dal and chapattis. 

Whatever the season in South Asia there is always okra. Even during the Monsoon when everything else in the garden has moldered away there's still okra. Therefore okra's pretty much a staple vegetable on the Indian Subcontinent and this is probably the most popular way to serve it. Vegetarian diets can tend to be a bit lacking in textural appeal. Cutting the okra lengthwise and shallow frying it renders it delightfully crisp and chewy.  Certainly quite the contrast to the slimy stews we make out of okra in the West. 

This recipe will only work with fresh okra, frozen will not do for this dish. Be sure to choose small and tender pods as the larger pods can be a bit woody.

1 lb okra, tops and tails removed and sliced lengthwise
1 onion, chopped into about a 1/2 inch dice
1/4 C cooking oil
3 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
2 tsp ginger/ adrak paste
2 tsp ground cumin/jeera
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp Kashmiri mirch
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/2 tsp dry ginger/adrak
Juice of 1 lime/nimbu

Here's what to do:
1) Heat oil in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet for 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the oil and fry okra until beginning to brown. Remove okra from oil and set aside.

2) In the same oil fry onion until translucent. Add green chilis, garlic and ginger to fried onions, fry for 2 minutes.

3) Add sliced okra, all spices, lime juice, 1 tsp salt,  and 1 TBS water to onion mixture. Stir well and fry until water is almost gone and okra is cooked through.

An interesting aside:
I have been notified that I have been nominated for the "Best Food Blog"  AND "Best New Blog" awards on the  nepaliaustralian blog so get on over there and vote for my blog if you choose at:

Be sure to check out all the other amazing blogs in all the different categories and vote for all your favorites!!! Winners will be announced in May.

Apr 23, 2016

Bibi's Paruppu (South Indian Style Dal)

Every region of the Indian Subcontinent has their own unique way of preparing dal. South Indian dal preparations often feature curry leaves and coconut. I've tasted various versions of paruppu at restaurants and served as a first course at South Indian weddings. In this dish I've paired masoor dal's velvety texture with rich coconut cream, aromatic spices, and the zing of lime juice. Serve with steamed rice, rasam, papads, buttermilk, or whatever South Indian dish you love.

coconut masoor dal easy simple recipe paruppu

I make no claims that this dish is authentic in any way. It is very tasty though. I made this recipe up after tasting a similar dish at a South Indian restaurant in Delhi. I love anything coconut and the brightness of curry leaves in a dish. Unfortunately, coconuts and curry leaves are rarely available in Nepal. So I've used canned coconut cream in this dal for richness, along with cilantro and lime juice in to brighten up the flavors as fresh curry leaves would do.

3 TBS coconut oil or ghee
1/2 C onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp black mustard/rai seeds
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
1/2 tsp fennel/saunf seeds
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
1 tomato, diced finely
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped finely
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika plus 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 C masoor dal/red lentils, rinsed thoroughly
3 TBS coconut cream
3 TBS fresh cilantro/dhania, leaves and stems chopped finely
2 tsp salt
1 TBS lime juice (optional)

Here's what to do:
1) In a large stock pot heat coconut oil or ghee with 1 tsp salt. Fry onions until just beginning to brown.  Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds. Fry for 2 minutes.

2) Add garlic, ginger, tomatoes, green chilis, Kashmiri mirch, and turmeric. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until tomatoes soften.

 3) Add masoor dal, coconut cream, 1 tsp salt, cilantro, and 4 cups water, stir well and bring to boil.

4) Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 40 minutes to an hour or until dal is to desired tenderness. Stir every 10 minutes or so to make sure dal is not sticking to the bottom. Add water if necessary until dal is to preferred consistency. Stir in lime juice if using, salt to taste and serve.

Helpful Hints:

This recipe can also be made with urad dal or in a pressure cooker also.

I've got a lov-e-ly bunch of coconuts!

An interesting aside:
I have been notified that I have been nominated for the "Best Food Blog"  AND "Best New Blog" awards on the  nepaliaustralian blog so get on over there and vote for my blog if you choose at:

Be sure to check out all the other amazing blogs in all the different categories and vote for all your favorites!!! Winners will be announced in May.

Apr 20, 2016

Karim's Aloo Ghosht (Mughal Style Mutton with Potatoes)

Muslim mughlai goat lamb mutton Indian famous Karim restaurant

Since 1913 Karim's has been the most famous and iconic Mughal restaurant of old Delhi. "Aloo" means potato and "ghosht" is Urdu for mutton. In classic Mughal style, mutton is simmered in a rich blend of caramelized onions, warm aromatic spices, and tangy yogurt until falling off the bone tender. This creates the savory and spicy red gravy so prized by the royals of the Mughal court which perfectly pairs with the creamy and delicate potatoes.

Karim's original restaurant in Old Delhi.
When the coronation of King George V as Emperor of India was held in Delhi in 1911 the son of one of the cooks of the former royal Mughal court, Haji Karimuddin, had a brilliant idea. He opened a small restaurant called a dhaba to cater to all the people coming from all over India to attend the coronation. Haji Karimuddin opened the first Karim's in Delhi stating "I want to earn fame and money by serving the royal food to the common man." The origial Karim's near the historic Jama Masjid mosque served just three items, aloo ghosht, dal, and rumalli roti. This is legendary dish that launched Delhi's most famous culinary destination - Aloo Ghosht.

I first saw this recipe on an Indian television show a few years ago featuring Indian MasterChef winner Pankaj Bhadouria. With a bit of tinkering and some educated guesses as to what was actually implied by the rather vague recipe on her website I have to say this does indeed taste exactly like the original dish as served at Karim's. The key to this recipe is getting the caramelized onions right, brown them perfectly. Not a bit black or the onion's flavor will be bitter and burnt and ruin the entire dish. Err on the side of underdone with the onions if you must. The Mughals and Karim's would leave the cardamoms, cloves, and peppercorns whole, I have chosen to grind them with the yogurt for a boost of flavor. Whether you choose to leave the spices whole or ground this dish is a delicious incarnation of the nostalgic flavors of old Delhi's royal Mughal heritage.

1kg/2lbs mutton/goat, bone in, cut into 3 inch pieces
1 C onions, thinly sliced into half moons
1/2 C ghee
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garam masala
3 large potatoes, boiled until tender, peeled & cut into 2 inch pieces
Grind until smooth for masala:
1 C full fat yogurt/dahi
1 tsp flour/maida (this will keep your yogurt from splitting
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2 TBS ground coriander/dhania seeds
1 TBS ground cumin/jeera
1 TBS Kashmiri mirch ( or 1&1/2 tsp cayenne plus 1&1/2 tsp paprika)
2 tsp black peppercorns/kali mirch
1 tsp turmeric/haldi
9 cloves/laung
9 green cardamoms/elaichi
4 black cardamoms/kali elaichi
1 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) Grind all ingredients listed under masala to smooth paste, set aside.


2) Heat 1/4 C ghee with 1 tsp salt in kadhai or large heavy bottomed skillet. Fry sliced onions over medium heat until a deep golden brown. This will probably take about 12 to 15 minutes. Watch them carefully as you want them browned and caramelized  but not black. If you overcook them to the blackened stage they'll be bitter and you'll just have to throw them out and start over.

3) Set browned onions aside and allow to cool. Be aware that thee onions will continue cooking for a few minutes after you take them off the heat so leave them a bit underdone. When cooled grind browned onions to a smooth paste.

4) Heat 1/4 C ghee in a pressure cooker or large stock pot. Add mutton pieces and ground masala paste. Stir well and allow to simmer for 7 minutes. 

5) Add fried onion paste, 2 tsp garam masala, and 1&1/2 C water to meat mixture. Stir well. 

6) If using pressure cooker, seal and steam until meat is tender. If using stock pot on stove simmer until meat is tender adding 1/2 C water as needed to prevent drying out, this will take about 3-4 hours. If using crock pot or slow cooker transfer meat mixture to cooker and allow to simmer on medium for 3-4 until meat is tender.

7) When meat is tender and oil separates from the gravy stir in potato pieces and allow to heat through. Salt to taste and serve.

Helpful hints:
If you are not fond of mutton/goat this recipe would work well with beef, lamb, water buffalo, venison, or elk shank or stew meat, simply shorten cooking times accordingly.

Do not burn or blacken the onions, you will ruin the entire dish.  Brown is what we want, remember the onions will continue to cook for a few minutes after you've removed them from the heat. Fry the onions over medium heat.

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