Showing posts with label main dish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label main dish. Show all posts

May 18, 2016

Rasedar Rajma (Curried Pinto or Kidney Beans)



"Rasedar" means juicy or saucy and "rajma" means kidney or pinto beans. In this dish simple beans get the masala treatment! Simmered in a savory sauce redolent with traditional Indian spices these beans are spicy but mild in heat. A piquant dash of ajwain and cilantro are the final touches in this protein rich vegetarian recipe that pairs well with rice and rotis or can even be served with saltines like a bowl of American chili.


This delicious recipe is embellished upon and adapted from Neelam Batra's 1998 cookbook The Indian Vegetarian: Simple Recipes for Today's Kitchen. Ms. Batra's book has some great recipes but it is rather meandering in it's instructions and has no photos. I think the lack of photos and poorly written directions kept this book from being as successful as it should have been. So I rewrote this entire recipe, changed a few ingredients, and simplified the steps a bit. As I have written this recipe it should take about thirty minutes to prepare if using canned beans, an hour if cooking dried beans. (If my recipes are unclear in any way please leave me a note in the comments! I want to publish a cookbook of the recipes on my blog for friends and family at the end of the year that will be easily understandable by both novice chefs and experienced cooks alike.)


My family really likes this way of serving rajma, it's a nice change from the usually cumin heavy recipes for curried beans. The dish is spicy but not hot and the ajwain adds a interesting and very uniquely Desi accent to the flavors. If you don't have ajwain a bit of thyme is a good substitute, if you don't have or don't like thyme a pinch of whole cumin seeds will do. You can also make this dish as thick or thin as you like by varying the cooking times. Remember that traditionally thicker curries are served with rotis and flatbreads while soupier curries are preferred when serving with rice.

Ingredients:
2 C dried kidney or pinto beans, or two 15 oz cans of kidney or pinto beans
3 TBS cooking oil
3/4 C onion, diced finely
1 tsp salt
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1/2 tsp ajwain seeds, bruised with mortar and pestle or dried thyme
3 TBS chopped cilantro/dhania leaves (optional)
Grind to smooth paste or chop finely and mix for masala:
2 C tomatoes, chopped finely
1/4 C yogurt/dahi
2 TBS ground coriander/dhania
1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds/methi
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika plus 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi

Here's what to do:
1) Rinse and cook beans with 6C water and 1 tsp salt in stock pot or with 3C in pressure cooker until tender. Leave beans in their cooking liquid while you cook the masala sauce. If using canned beans skip to step 2.

2) Grind or chop finely and mix all ingredients listed under masala until smooth. Set aside.


3) In a heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai heat oil with 1 tsp salt and fry diced onions until just beginning to brown. Add garlic and ginger pastes and fry for 2 minutes.


4) Add mixed masala paste from step 2 and bruised ajwain seeds to fried onion, garlic, and ginger mixture. Stir well and allow to simmer for 5 minutes or until oil separates from mixture.


5) Drain 2 cups of liquid from the cooked beans. Stir 1 cup of the cooked bean liquid into the fried masala mixture. Add masala sauce and the reserved cup of cooking liquid from to cooked beans. Bring to simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes or until sauce has thickened to desired consistency. Salt to taste, stir through chopped cilantro if using and serve.


Helpful hints:
If you don't have ajwain a bit of thyme is a good substitute.  If you don't have or don't like thyme a pinch of whole cumin seeds will do.

You can certainly make this dish as thick or thin as you like by varying the cooking times. Remember that traditionally thicker curries are served with rotis and flatbreads while soupier curries are preferred when serving with rice.


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 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 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.

Apr 5, 2016

Haak Maaz (Kashmiri Collards with Mutton)

Haak Maaz Kashmiri Mutton with Collards Indian goat recipe sheep

This is the famous staple dish of Kashmir called haak maaz. Haak refers to the unique variety of collards grown in Kashmir. Maaz is the Kashmiri word for the meat of either a sheep or goat. Simply served in a clear broth, the collard greens are braised with mutton and traditional spices until tender. Not something you'd typically think of as a "curry" or even as Indian perhaps. It is more like a soup or stew in Western terms. Ground fennel, smoky black cardamom, rich Kashmiri mirch, peppery cassia bark, and fiery dry ginger provide the warm aromatic notes that perfectly compliment the gamy mutton in this recipe. Traditionally served with heaps of the short grained rice raised in Kashmir, this rustic dish would be excellent served as a hearty meal with a crusty loaf of French bread too. 

Haak Maaz Kashmiri Mutton with Collards lamb

As it is a cold weather sort of dish it would've probably been more appropriate to post this in the Fall or Winter. I am posting this now as the haak or Kashmiri collards will soon bolt in the heat and fall prey to the caterpillars of Spring. Most of Kashmir lies above 5,000 feet in altitude and has a cooler climate than my subtropical valley here in Nepal at 3,000 feet. This year's haak will just be coming up in the warming spring weather of Kashmir after the snows have recently melted. I can only grow haak in my subtropical valley October through March. So here's what Kashmiri haak looks like in both it's cooked and uncooked states. If you'd like to grow a similar variety of haak in western countries I'd recommend "Georgia Southern" collards.


First, the haak is cleaned and rid of any fibrous stems by tearing. Then you basically start making a stock for the dish. Save all your bony, cartilaginous, and or sinewy pieces of mutton for this dish, those are the parts that make the most delicious broth. The mutton pieces are fried to add flavor by caramelization. Kashmiris would add just garlic or asafoetida but I also add a little onion for a richer stock. Remember this has to be a clear broth so the garlic cloves are left whole. The spices are added but not tempered, the mutton is then combined with the haak and left to braise until tender. A pressure cooker makes short work of this and a slow cooker would probably work well too.

Ingredients:
1/2 kg or 1lb mutton cut into 3-4 inch pieces, bone in preferred
1/2 kg or 1lb collard greens
2 TBS cooking oil (mustard oil if you wish to be authentic)
2 tsp salt
1/4 C onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic/lahsun, whole or 1/2 tsp asafoetida/hing
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch ( or 1 tsp paprika plus 1 tsp cayenne powder)
2 tsp ground fennel/saunf seeds
1 tsp dry ginger/adrak
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised in a mortar and pestle
12 black peppercorns/kali mirch, ground coarsely

Here's what to do:
1) Strip collards/haak by tearing the leaves away from the stems and woody bits. I cheat and use a kitchen shears.

2) Clean collards/haak of any debris or insects by immersing it in salt water for about 30 minutes. 


3) In heavy bottomed stock pot or pressure cooker fry mutton pieces in cooking oil of choice with 1 teaspoon salt until beginning to brown. Kashmiris called this color red not brown. (This led to a bit of confusion when I was told to fry meat until red. Meat is red when raw. How do you fry it until it is red?)


4) Add onion, garlic, and all spices to fried mutton pieces. Add enough water so that mutton is covered by at least 1/4 of an inch.


5) Add cleaned collards/haak and 2 teaspoons salt to mutton and spice mixture in pot.


6) If using pressure cooker seal lid in place and allow to cook for 5-6 steams for a Nepali goat or 3-4 whistles for a Kashmiri sheep.  If using stock pot add 3 cups water and simmer covered for 3 to 4 hours until meat is tender adding water a 1/2 cup at a time as necessary to prevent drying out. If using slow cooker make sure the meat is covered by at least a 1/2 inch of water and allow to cook covered for 4-5 hours until meat is tender. Salt to taste and serve warm.



Helpful hints:

This dish can also be made with lamb or venison, adjust cooking time accordingly.

This dish can also be made with baby bok choy or kohlrabi leaves instead of collards. In the late Spring and Summer when we can't grow haak I make this dish with baby bok choy, as Summer ends I make it with kohlrabi greens.

Do not make this with turnip greens. I made this with turnip greens once and it was met with resounding disapproval from my Kashmiri family. I know, their neighbors the Punjabis eat turnip greens in their delicious "saag" but for whatever reason Kashmiris will not eat turnip greens unless they are cooked with turnips. Who knew?


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.

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