Showing posts with label entree. Show all posts
Showing posts with label entree. Show all posts

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.

Ingredients:
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 16, 2016

Puhtzah Ghanduh Tool (Kashmiri Green Onions and Eggs)

In Kashmir, "putzah ghanduh" means green onions and "tool" means eggs. In this recipe mild spring onions are braised until succulent with tender bits of egg omelet and a wallop of fiery Kashmiri mirch. The result is a deliciously Kashmiri rendition of the humble egg omelet in a richly savory and spicy manner. Traditionally this dish is served for lunch or dinner with heaps of steamed white rice. 


This is one of my husband's signature dishes so he will be doing the cooking today. (Most Indian men are very good cooks.) This is also the last of the spring onions until Fall so I'm posting this now. It's an easy dish to make with the simplest of ingredients but it's really hard describe the process of making it. Therefore I'm letting pictures do most of the talking!


The only similar dish I can think of that Westerners would be familiar with is "egg foo yung." Although this is definitely a uniquely Kashmiri dish the bits of omelet in a savory sauce are very Chinese in flavor to me. Once again pairing eggs with rice seems a bit odd to me but it works perfectly with all that eggy richness contrasting with fiery red Kashmiri mirch sauce and the pungent yet mild spring onions. Despite the heat from all the Kashmiri mirch this dish has been a hit with every guest we've who has eaten at our home! 

Ingredients:
1/2kg or 1lb green onions
3 TBS cooking oil
3 eggs
3 TBS Kashmiri mirch (no substituting here)
1 tsp turmeric/haldi
salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1) Clean green onions thoroughly. With the low sanitation and sandy soil we have here in Nepal this requires a 20 minute soak in salted water.


2) Quarter and slice green onions into two inch strips. Rinse the strips in fresh water twice and set aside.


3) Heat oil in heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai for 7 minutes. While oil is heating beat one egg with two teaspoons of Kashmiri mirch, try to make sure there are no lumps.


4) Fry egg and Kashmiri mirch mixture in heated oil. Try to make a thin omelet by spreading the mixture with a spatula.


5) Flip the omelet over and fry until thoroughly cooked. 


6) Repeat this process with the other two eggs and set the mini omelets aside.


7) Place washed and sliced green onions into hot oil in same pan with two teaspoons salt. Stir and allow to simmer for five minutes. The onions will soften and release fluid. 


8) Add one heaping tablespoonful of Kashmiri mirch plus one teaspoon turmeric to simmering onions. Stir well and allow to cook for three minutes.


9) Tear the mini omelets into one inch pieces and add to onion mixture in pan.



10) Add two cups of water to omelet and onion mixture. Stir gently and bring to a simmer. 


11) Allow mixture to simmer until liquid has reduced to about a half inch in pan. Onions should be tender and sauce will thicken a bit. Salt to taste and serve with heaps of steamed rice.


Helpful Hints:
Use the best quality Kashmiri mirch you can find as that's the big flavor component in this dish.


Ramadan blessings to you and your family,
Bibi

May 12, 2016

Chole Masala (Curried Chickpeas)


Chole means chickpeas and masala means spicy. In this easy recipe, chickpeas are simmered until tender in a rich sauce infused with the warmth of earthy cumin, bright coriander, and aromatic garam masala. A dash of green and red chilis with a final splash of lime juice give this dish it's zesty zing. A delicious protein-rich vegetarian dish that's popular all across Northern India. Typically served with flatbreads such as batura, chappattis, or roti for a hearty meal.


I never really liked chickpeas until I had them in India. Not sure if it was just the way they were prepared or just the canned flavor I didn't care for. Anyway, when prepared fresh with a spicy sauce like this I just love them! I find them easier to digest than most other beans and legumes too. I made this recipe up using ingredients you can easily find in most western countries. Other regional versions of this dish use ingredients that may be hard to find in the West - anardana, amchur, or other souring agents and sometimes even black tea to give rich color and depth of flavor to this dish. I prefer to use limes/nimbu for the sweet and sour tang and caramelize the onions before adding them for complexity in taste. The resulting dish is just as vibrant and authentic in flavor as you'll find in any Desi kitchen!

Ingredients:
1&1/2 C dried chickpeas/chole (or two 15 ounce cans of chickpeas)
3 TBS cooking oil
1 C onion, diced finely
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped finely (optional, omit for less heat)
1/2 C tomato, diced finely
1 cassia leaf/tej patta
1 TBS coriander/dhania, ground
1 TBS cumin/jeeera, ground
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp cayenne plus 1/2 tsp paprika)
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi (optional)
1 TBS lime/nimbu juice
extra limes/nimbu to serve with

Here's what to do:
1) Soak chickpeas for at least 2 hours up to overnight in water with 1 tsp salt. If using canned chickpeas skip to step 3.


2) If using pressure cooker add enough water to cover the chickpeas by 2 inches plus 1 tsp salt. Seal pressure cooker and allow to steam for 30 minutes or until chickpeas are tender. If using stockpot on stove add enough water to cover chickpeas by 3 inches and 1 tsp salt, boil until tender adding water as needed.


3) In a deep, heavy bottom skillet or kadhai heat oil and fry onions with 1 tsp salt until just beginning to brown. This should take about 8-9 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and green chilis, fry for 2 minutes more.


4) Stir all spice powders, cassia leaf/tej patta, cloves, green cardamoms, and diced tomatoes into fried onion mixture. Fry for about 5 minutes stirring often. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 cup water, stir well and reduce heat.


5) Drain excess liquid off of cooked chickpeas so that they are covered in only about a half inch of liquid. Add fried spice mixture to the cooked chickpeas and stir well. Crumble dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi into mixture and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered for at least 15 minutes or until dish is of desired consistency. For thicker sauce mash a few of the chickpeas against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. If mixture begins to scorch or stick decrease heat and add 1/4 C water. Salt to taste and stir in limes/nimbu juice.



Apr 10, 2016

Bihari Green Beans Masala

Bihari Green Beans Masala

The classic combination of green beans and almonds gets the masala treatment in this easy to make side dish. Green beans are simmered until tender in a velvety coconut milk sauce laced with the warmth of traditional North Indian spices. Lavish and rich enough for a posh dinner yet simple enough to make every day, this vegetarian dish fits the bill for any occasion.


I thought I got this recipe from my long lost copy of Julie Sahni's 1980 cookbook Classic Indian Cooking.  A brief perusal of the internet and this recipe turns up in a 2010 article about Julie Sahni in the New York Times. I really must replace my copy of Classic Indian Cooking. The recipes are somewhat westernized in techniques and flavor but easily tweaked to make them more Desi. Over the years I've heavily embellished and adapted Ms. Sahni's original recipe to suit my family's tastes.


Bihar is a region of North India just south of the Nepal border. It is a land of fertile subtropical plains where the river Ganges pours down from the Himalayas into India. I'm not really familiar with Bihari cuisine except to say it is largely vegetarian, uses a lot of besan (chickpea flour), and features smoked chilis for seasoning. The only Bihari food I've had the opportunity to sample was an interesting drink made from besan and a besan stuffed paratha.



Ingredients:
1/2kg/1lb  green beans, tops and tails removed and cut into one inch pieces
3 TBS cooking oil
3/4 C onion, finely diced or ground
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2 tsp coriander/dhania ground
2 tsp cumin/jeera. ground
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp paprika plus 1 tsp cayenne powder)
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 can coconut milk (400ml)
2 tsp lime/nimbu juice
3 TBS chopped cilantro/dhania leaves (optional)
9-10 almonds, roughly chopped (optional)
salt as required
Here's what to do:

1) In a kadhai or large heavy bottomed skillet heat oil for 5 minutes. Fry almonds until golden and set aside if using. Add onions to same oil in pan with 1 tsp salt fry until just translucent.  


2) Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, Kashmiri mirch, and turmeric to the fried onions. Allow to fry for 2 minutes.


3) Add coconut milk and green beans to fried onion and spice mixture. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer covered until to desired tenderness. This usually takes about 10 to 12 minutes.


4) Add lime juice and cilantro leaves to dish if using and stir well. Salt to taste and garnish with almonds if desired.

Our little teepee trellis of green beans.
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 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.

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.

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