Showing posts with label Main Dishes & Curries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Main Dishes & Curries. Show all posts

Apr 18, 2016

Aloo Mattar (Curried Potatoes & Peas)

Sumptuously spicy and hearty enough to be served as a main dish this is my version of the classic North Indian menu item aloo mattar. Aloo means potatoes and mattar means green peas, both are combined with traditional warm aromatic spices and slow simmered to tenderness in a rich yogurt and tomato gravy. This popular vegetarian dish pairs well with rotis, rice, or naan. 


We had a bumper crop of potatoes this year, those you see in the photos are Yukon Golds from my garden. If you can't find Yukon Golds where you are Russets or any baking type potato will do. In this dish we first make the gravy and then add the peas and precooked potatoes. The peas we get here aren't the tender kind we get in western countries, they're a bit tougher and require some cooking so I use a pressure cooker for this dish. If you're using the tender green peas found in western countries you could simply use a heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai to make the gravy then simply stir the peas in at the same time as the precooked potatoes and allow the dish to simmer for an extra five minutes or so.

Ingredients:
3 potatoes, boiled until tender, peeled and cut into one inch cubes
1 cup green peas/mattar, fresh or frozen
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
2 onions, sliced finely into half moons
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
1 cassia leaf/tej patta
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi
1 tsp salt
Grind until smooth for masala-
3 tomatoes, chopped roughly
1/2 C yogurt/dahi
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger'adrak paste
2 tsp Kitchen King* masala (or garam masala)
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania seeds
2 tsp cumin/jeera, ground
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp cayenne plus 1/2 tsp paprika powder)
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1-2 green chilis/hari mirch (optional, omit for less heat)
1 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) Boil potatoes until tender, then peel and slice into one inch cubes and set aside. Grind all ingredients listed under masala to a smooth paste and set aside. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, heavy bottomed skillet, or kadhai with one teaspoon salt and fry onions until beginning to brown.


2) Add cumin seeds, cassia leaf, and ground masala paste to fried onions, stir well and bring to simmer. Allow to simmer for about 7-9 minutes or until oil separates from sauce. If mixture begins to scorch or stick add 1/4 cup water, stir and reduce heat.


3) Add peas to fried mixture. If using pressure cooker add 1cup water seal and cook for 2 whistles. If using heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai add 1/2 cup water and simmer until peas are just tender. (The peas in South Asia are a bit tough and require a lot of cooking unlike the tender peas found in Western countries. If you are using the tender peas found in Western countries you might want to stir them in with the potatoes in step 4 to prevent them being overcooked. )


4) If using pressure cooker allow to cool and open, stir in boiled potato cubes and simmer until gravy is to desired consistency. If using skillet or kadhai stir potatoes in and simmer until gravy is of desired consistency. Salt to taste and serve.


Helpful hints:
Kitchen King is a popular North Indian premade spice mixture. My favorite brand is Catch but MDH is good also. If you can't get Kitchen King masala a good substitute is: 1/2tsp cayenne + 1/2tsp paprika + 1tsp cumin + 1tsp coriander + + 1/2 tsp fennel + 1/4tsp ground fenugreek +1/4tsp mace + 1/8tsp nutmeg 

Apr 7, 2016

Malabar Style Chicken Curry

Malabar Style Chicken Curry

On the southwestern coast of India lies the beautiful region of Malabar. A lush tropical paradise long known as the "Land of Spices" that lies between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. Malabar's astonishingly diverse cuisine is the result of the influence of Arabic, Syrian, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, and British spice traders over the centuries. A lavish use of spices, tart tamarind, and rich coconut are the hallmarks of Malabar cuisine. This boldly spiced brilliant red chicken curry is typical of Malabar's delicious dishes. Mellowed by sweet and sumptuous coconut milk the spices present as warmly aromatic rather than fiery hot. The sweet and sour tang of tamarind perfectly accentuates the combination of assertive flavors. This chicken curry is easy to make and it's rich gravy pairs well with steamed rice, chapattis, pulao, appam, or pathiri. 



Ingredients:
1 kg/2lbs chicken, skinless, cut into 6-8 pieces
3 TBS cooking oil
2 onions, sliced into thin half moons
1 tsp salt
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
2 tomatoes, diced finely
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped
1 can coconut milk (400ml)
2 tsp tamarind paste
Mix for marinade:
3 TBS yogurt/dahi
2 TBS garlic paste
1 TBS ginger paste
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
Grind to smooth paste for masala:
1 TBS lime juice
1 TBS water
3 whole star anise/phoolchakri
9 cloves/laung
15 black peppercorns/kali mirch
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp paprika + 1 tsp cayenne powder)
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
2 tsp ground cumin/jeera
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi

Here's what to do:
1) Mix yogurt, garlic, ginger, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp tumeric together for marinade. 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 masala to smooth paste, and set aside. Heat oil in deep heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai and fry sliced onions with 1 tsp salt until just beginning to brown.


3) Add cassia bark/dalchini and ground masala paste to fried onions. Stir well and fry for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and green chilis, stir well and fry until tomatoes soften.


4) Add marinated chicken pieces to fried onion and masala mixture in pan. Allow chicken pieces to fry for 4 minutes on each side, the chicken should just be turning white. If masala mixture begins to stick or scorch reduce heat and add 1/4 C water.


5) Add can of coconut milk and teaspoon of tamarind paste to chicken and masala mixture in pan, stir well. Allow mixture to simmer uncovered over medium low heat for 20 to 25 minutes. If mixture begins to stick or scorch reduce heat and add 1/4 water.


6) When chicken has cooked through and oil separates from gravy your dish is ready. Salt to taste and serve.

Helpful Hints:

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

If you don't have Kashmiri mirch a good substitute is 1/2 paprika plus 1/2 cayenne powder.



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 2, 2016

Boba's Baingan Bharta (Spicy Smoked Eggplant)


When my husband says a dish I've made tastes just like his mother made it, I know it's perfect! 

My mother in law's nickname is Boba and this her recipe for bhaingan bharta. "Bhaingan" means eggplant and "bharta" refers to the mashing technique with a wooden spoon. Similar to Middle Eastern "baba ghanoush" the eggplant is first roasted over a open flame or coals. This is what infuses the dish with smoky flavor. The roasted eggplant is then sauteed with a flavorsome blend of traditional north Indian spices. The result is a rich, savory pâté of eggplant almost caviar like in richness and intensity. The final step is a handful of chopped cilantro or mint stirred through just to add a bit of brightness. 


indian baba ghaneoushh aubergines Desi

Despite being from different cultures and not even speaking the same language my mother in law and I always shared a love of cooking and very similar tastes. Boba could neither read nor write nor had she ever left the city of Srinagar in her entire life. She never used any recipes but seasoned each dish to perfection. Boba would have taken the eggplant to the tandoori bakery down the street from her home, the bakers would place them into the tandoor oven to roast in a matter of minutes. Boba said that roasting the eggplant in the tandoor ovens was the only way to get the smoky flavor that was so important to this dish.


We're going to try and replicate the charring effect of a tandoor oven on the eggplant over a gas burner. It's not quite the same, and it does take a bit longer but the end result is still quite delicious. Kashmiris would top this dish with a garnish of their beloved local walnuts and perhaps a dollop of local curd or yoghurt. As eggplant is a notorious oil sop be sure to use an oil that you like in this dish. I seriously considered styling this dish with my nacre caviar spoon due to it's richness. (What else am I going to do with a caviar spoon in Nepal?)  Baingan bharta is traditionally served with rice or chapattis warm or at room temperature.

Ingredients:
2 large eggplants, about 1&1/2 lbs
1/4 C cooking oil
1 onion, diced finely
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
1 tsp ginger/adrak paste
1-2 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped finely
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
2 tsp ground cumin/jeera
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika +1/2 tsp cayenne)
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/2 tsp garam masala
5 black peppercorns/kali mirch, ground coarsely
2 tomatoes, diced finely
3 TBS cilantro or fresh mint, chopped finely
5 walnuts, chopped coarsely  (optional for garnish)

Here's what to do:
1) Roast eggplants over a medium gas flame. Keep turning and cooking until outside of eggplant is charred and blackened evenly all over. The eggplant will seem to deflate as the flesh within cooks. Set aside to cool.


2) Peel off charred skin from roasted eggplants. Don't worry about black flecks that remain on the soft flesh as that will help give us the smoky flavor we seek.


3) Heat oil in kadhai or heavy bottomed frying pan. Fry walnut for garnish and set aside if using. Fry onions with 1 teaspoon salt until translucent. Add garlic, ginger and chilis and fry for 2 minutes.


4) Add tomatoes, and spices to onion mixture. Fry until tomatoes begin to soften.


5) Put the roasted eggplants in the pan with the tomatoes spice mixture. Stir and mash with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes.


6) When the mixture becomes smooth and shiny stir through the cilantro or mint and salt to taste. Garnish with fried walnuts if desired and serve warm or at room temperature.


Helpful Hints:
If you don't have a gas burner you could also roast the eggplants over an outdoor charcoal grill,  an indoor electric burner, or on a foil lined baking sheet under a broiler in an oven.

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.

Mar 29, 2016

Masala Scrambled Eggs (Ander Bhurji)

Just another simple everyday dish at our house. Nothing fancy, but oh so delicious. I've been telling you how great the eggs are here in Nepal so I thought I'd better show you how we enjoy them. "Ander" means eggs and a "bhurji" is any sort crumbled or scrambled ingredient. The richness of eggs lends itself perfectly to the "masala" or spicy South Asian treatment. Onions, tomatoes, and green chilis are the Desi "mirepoix" base in this dish, a dash of Kashmiri mirch adds brilliant crimson color and zesty chili flavor. Despite the double wallop of fresh green chilis and Kashmiri mirch this dish is not terribly hot, the richness of the eggs prevents that. We enjoy this scramble with steamed rice for lunch or dinner or in a kathi roll with a dollop of fresh chutney for breakfast or a tea time snack. 


Ander Bhurli eggs Desi easy

Eating scrambled eggs with rice never occurred to me before moving to South Asia, but it makes perfect sense. Rich and spicy eggs go together with rice just like the flour tortillas pair so well with the spicy egg fillings of the breakfast burritos I loved to eat in California.

Eggs Spicy easy recipe

Eggs are a recent addition to the South Asian diet so there really aren't a lot of traditional recipes for them. Hinduism considers eggs to be not suitable for vegetarians and the Mughals tended to only use eggs as a garnish for their lavish meat dishes. Desis don't care for the tender, fluffy, buttery omelets and scrambles of western cultures. They prefer their eggs the texture of neoprene, perhaps even a bit scorched. All I have to say is, it works! Think of spicy blackened Cajun dishes and you'll get the idea.


Ingredients:
3 eggs, lightly beaten with fork
3 TBS cooking oil
1 onion, chopped into a 1/2 inch dice
1 tomato, diced finely
2-3 green chilis, chopped finely (if you really don't want any heat use 1/4 C diced bell pepper/capsicum)
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika + 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
pinch of turmeric
2 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) In a deep, heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai over medium heat fry onions with 1 tsp salt until translucent. Add diced tomato and chopped green chilis and fry for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes soften.


2) While the onion, tomato, and green chilis are frying beat eggs with fork until just mixed.


3) Add Kashmiri mirch, turmeric, and 1 tsp salt to the fried onion mixture. Allow to fry for 2 minutes.


4) Add beaten eggs to pan with fried onion and spice mixture. Stir well and allow to cook covered for 4 minutes.


5) After 4 minutes of cooking stir the egg mixture well. Continue cooking until eggs are completely done and possibly sticking to the pan a bit or even scorching a tad.


6) When the eggs are completely cooked your dish is done, salt to taste and serve.

Helpful Hints:

A pinch of turmeric helps cut down on the sulfur flavor in eggs. If you are one of those people like me who don't care for eggs due to their sulfur taste, you have to try this!


Happy chickens make good eggs!

Mar 18, 2016

Mughlai Haraa Murgh (Mughal Style Green Chicken)

Mughlai cuisine began in the splendor and opulence of the Delhi Sultanate during India's age of Islamic rule. Persian and Indian flavors were fused to perfection in the Imperial Moghul kitchens. Meats were marinated, nuts and dried fruits were used lavishly. Mughlai cuisine remains immensely popular to this day in Delhi NCR, Punjab, Kashmir, and Pakistan.


This dish is mildly spiced but bright with the flavors of fresh mint and cilantro. Ground browned onions, almonds, and yogurt make for a rich gravy. Whenever you see a "Mughlai" recipe you know it's going to include lots of steps- chopping, marinating, frying, cooling, grinding, more frying, and probably then some. Here I've minimized the steps using a few modern techniques. But this recipe will still take at least a good three to four hours to complete. Pairs well with rice, pulao, naan, or rotis.

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs chicken, skinless and cut into 8 pieces, bone in preferred
2 onions, about 1 C sliced into thin half moons
3 TBS ghee/clarified butter
1 TBS cooking oil
1/2 C pureed fresh tomatoes
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
5 cloves/laung
3 C water or stock/shorba
2 tsp lime juice
15 blanched almonds/badaami for garnish (optional)
1 tsp kewra water (optional)
Grind to paste for marinade:
30 almonds/badaami, ground to fine powder
1 C yogurt/dahi
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
3 green chilis/hari mirch
5 green cardamoms/elaichi
15 black peppercorns/hari mirch
1 TBS ground coriander/dhania
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin/jeera
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/3 C fresh mint/pudina leaves
1/3 C fresh cilantro/dhania leaves and stems
1/4 C onion, chopped roughly
1&1/2 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) Grind almonds to fine powder in mixie or food processor. Then blend powdered almonds, yogurt, garlic, ginger, powdered spices, green cardamoms, black peppercorns, green chilis, and salt together in mixie or food processor until smooth for marinade.
The marinade is mixed
2) Coat all chicken pieces with marinade. Allow chicken to marinate for 2 hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator sealed in an airtight container.

All chicken pieces coated in marinade.
Sealed up tight in my Lock'N'Lock box!
3) When ready to cook, heat oil and ghee over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai for 5 minutes. Add thinly sliced onions and fry for 8-10 minutes until medium brown. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

This is the medium brown we're looking for.
Be sure to let the onions cool before grinding to paste.
4) Grind cooled browned onions to fine paste in mixie, food processor, or blender. Over medium high heat return ground onion paste to skillet or kadhai with fresh pureed tomatoes. Stir well. Add cloves and cassia bark to onion/tomato mixture and allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes or until most of liquid from tomatoes has evaporated.


5) Add marinated chicken pieces to mixture in skillet/kadhai. Reserve marinade. Cook chicken pieces for 2 minutes on each side. The chicken should just be turning white.


6) Add reserved marinade, 3 C water or stock, and 2 teaspoons of lime juice. Stir well. Bring to a simmer over medium to low heat. Stir every 5 minutes to ensure chicken is cooked evenly and gravy does not stick or scorch.


7) Allow to simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes until chicken is cooked through and oil separates from the gravy. Salt to taste, garnish with blanched almonds and sprinkle with kewra water if desired.



Helpful Hints:
Be sure to let the fried onions cool for a full ten minutes before grinding in a mixie, food processor, or blender. Grinding anything hot will cause steam to build up and a geyser of hot greasy onions will either shoot through the small air vent in the lid (or blow the lid off entirely) of your mixie, food processor, or blender. Cleaning up greasy onion spew is no fun. Plus you have to chop and fry the onions over again.

Mar 10, 2016

Tamatar Pappu (Andhra Style Pigeon Peas with Tomatoes)

From the lush coastal region of Andhra comes this simple yet delicious dal recipe. Bordered by the Bay of Bengal, Andhra's cuisine is known for it's bold and spicy flavors. Tomatoes add an extra tang as well as gorgeous color to this dish. Quick to make, this recipe is a one pot meal as the tempering of the spices is done first, then the dal is added. No separate tadka or pan is required.


Easy tomato recipe toor dal pigeon peas

Ingredients:
1 C pigeon peas/toor dal, cleaned & rinsed well
2 TBS cooking oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 C onions, diced finely
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
2 tsp ginger/adrak paste
1/2 tsp mustard/rai seeds
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
2 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped
10 -12 curry leaves 
Grind for masala:
1 & 1/2 C tomatoes, choppped roughly
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2c tsp paprika plus 1/2 tsp cayenne)
1/4 tsp turmeric'haldi
1 tsp salt


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


2) In pressure cooker or medium stock pot heat oil and fry onions with one teaspoon salt until translucent. Add ginger and garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and curry leaves (if using) and fry for 1 minute.


3) Add ground masala paste and chopped green chilis to fried onion mixture. Fry until most of liquid has left mixture and oil separates out, stirring often (this is a technique called "bhuna" in DesiDom, also known as "stir frying" in other cultures.) We want to get the onions and tomatoes to caramelize a bit, so the mixture should darken a little too.


4) Add cleaned and rinsed pigeon peas to fried masala mixture in pot. Add 4 C water. If using pressure cooker, seal and allow to steam for 5-6 whistles or until pigeons peas are to desired tenderness. If using stock pot allow to simmer for 1 to 2 hours or until pigeons peas are to desired tenderness. If your dal is too thin keep simmering uncovered until it is to preferred thickness. If  your dal is too thick just add water until it is to your desired consistency. Remove from heat, salt to taste and serve. 

Helpful Hints:
If your don't have curry leaves try stirring in a handful of chopped cilantro leaves after pigeon peas have cooked, it won't be the same but it will give some of the same brightness to the flavor.

Classical dancers from Andhra performing in the style of Kuchipudi.

Mar 3, 2016

Kashmiri Ghanduh Maaz (Mutton with Onions)

mutton curry lamb onions kashmiri indian Kashmiri Indian easy recipe

In Kashmiri "ghanduh" means onion and "maaz" means mutton. This hearty homestyle dish is commonly served in Kashmir and has a rich, spicy broth much like a stew. So easy to make for a delicious Fall or Winter meal, serve with steamed rice, pulao, rotis, or a simple loaf of crusty bread. This recipe also works well with lamb or beef stew meat.

Mutton is a daily staple in a Kashmiri household, chicken and fish are almost considered vegetables. You have not properly eaten in Kashmir unless your meal contains some form of mutton. It is considered the utmost in Kashmiri hospitality to serve a guest as much mutton as possible. (Even if they are vegetarian.) This recipe also works well with lamb or beef stew meat.

Ingredients:
1 kg/2lbs mutton/goat or lamb, cut into 3 inch pieces, bone in preferred
3 TBS cooking oil, (mustard oil if you wish to be authentic)
2 tsp salt
2 C onions, sliced into wedges
1/2 C tomatoes/tamatar, diced finely
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
1 TBS coriander/dhania, ground
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp paprika plus 1 tsp cayenne)
1/2 tsp dry ginger/adrak
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
5 cloves/laung
7 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised with mortar & pestle
2 inch piece cassia bark/dalchini
1&1/2 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
15 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
1 cassia leaf/tej patta or 2 small ones

Here's what to do:
1) In a pressure cooker or deep, heavy bottomed skillet or stock pot heat oil with 2 tsp salt for 5 minutes. Add mutton pieces and fry until beginning to brown. Depending on how fresh your mutton is, or whether you're using lamb or beef, this may take 10 to 15 minutes.

This is the brown we're looking for.
The Kashmiris call this "red."
2) Add onions and tomatoes. Stir well and continue cooking until onions are translucent and tomatoes have softened, about 5-7 minutes. (This is not a browned onion dish.)


3) Add 1/2 C water, garlic paste, ginger paste, whole spices, powdered spices, and cassia leaves/tej patta. Stir well and simmer for 5 minutes.


4) Add 3 cups water or at least enough so there is water covering the meat mixture if using pressure cooker. Seal up pressure cooker & continue cooking for 5-6 whistles or until meat is to desired tenderness. If using deep skillet or stock pot add enough water so that meat mixture is covered by at least 3 inches. Simmer without lid until meat is of desired tenderness, adding water if necessary. Salt to taste and serve.

Helpful Hints:
If you are married to a Kashmiri do not ever be a dumb "nabrim" (outsider) and serve your Kashmiri in laws chicken or fish without at least one mutton dish at a meal. I'm still not hearing the end of it. Who knew?

Mutton? NAH!!!
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