October 31, 2010

Chicken Tikka Masala

This yum curry dish of roasted chicken chunks (chicken tikka), is a thick creamy sauce of cashew, tomatoes and spices. Surveys have found chicken tikka masala to be the most popular dish in British restaurants and it has been called "Britain's true national dish."

What I used: Serves 4
2 lb Baked chicken tikka (Refer to the recipe here)
Whole garam masala ( 2 cardamoms, 1 bay leaf, 4 cloves and 1/4th inch cinnamon)
1 onion finely chopped
2 tomatoes finely chopped
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 and ½ tsp cilantro powder
2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
3-4Tbsp cashew nut paste (raw cashewnuts  ground to a slightly thick paste with water)
½ to ¾ cup heavy cream
4tsp oil or ghee
Final garnish
1 small onion, 1 green pepper and 1 tomato, all of them chopped to medium cubes
1/2 tsp garam masala powder

Heat the ghee in a skillet, on medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the onion and cook until soft and lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the ginger garlic paste, and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and cook until it is all soft and pulpy.

Add the powders, stir for just a minute, and add 1/2 cup of water and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Once the gravy starts to leave the sides of the pan, and get greasy, season with salt.

Stir in the heavy cream, bring to a simmer and cook until the curry thickens. Add the boneless chicken to the sauce and cook for a few minutes, just to heat through. Add in the final garnish of onion, tomato and green pepper. Cook for just a minute or two. Sprinkle the garam masala. Serve it with chapathi or hot steamy rice.

Chicken Tikka

This is a favorite Indian food, all over the world! If you use drumstick or boned chicken for this marinate, it becomes Tandoori chicken. When you use boneless chicken breast, it becomes Chicken Tikka! It is very important to follow the 2 marinate process. The second marinate seals in the first marinate, and keeps it tender and juicy.

What I used:

2lb boneless chicken
Marinade 1:
1tsp ginger garlic paste,
½ tsp chili powder,
2 tsp lime juice and salt to taste 

Marinade 2:
1tsp ajwain seeds (optional)
2Tbsp gram flour
½ cup yogurt
1tsp chili powder(less or more as you need)
1/4tsp turmeric
1/4tsp garam masala powder
1tsp ginger garlic paste
3tsp oil and salt to taste

First, cut up the boneless chicken into cubes. Marinate it with the ingredients mentioned under marinate1. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add a little oil into a small shallow pan. To this, add 2Tbsp gram flour, cook on medium flame, and turn off, continue stirring the gram flour, to prevent lumps. 

Now, in a bowl, add the ingredients mentioned under marinate2.  Pour in the roasted gram flour. Whisk it all with 2tsp oil. Pour this yogurt marinate on to the chicken that has been marinating. Soak for 2-3 hours.   
Tip: Do this marinate overnight, or at noon, and bake it for dinner.

Poke them on to a skewer. Either with some diced vegetables (pepper, onion, tomato), or plain. Bake on a greased sheet at 425F for 10 minutes. Baste it with oil. Now keep it on the top rack and broil it for another 7 minutes.
Tip: When using skewer sticks, soak them in water for 30 minutes. That way they won’t char in the oven or on the grill. Serve hot!

October 30, 2010

Bas saaru

Bas saaru, is a red curry made from water that is drained from boiled vegetables and/or lentils. One super healthy curry! It can be made from a combination of lentils and vegetables or greens. I have posted some combinations at the end. In this recipe, I have used, dill, cabbage and dal.

What I used: Serves 4
1cup thogri bele (toor dal)
½ cup cabbage diced medium or small pieces
½ cup dill diced to medium bits.
Salt to taste
Get these items together, to grind to a paste.
1tsp curry powder
1 medium tomato
1 cup fresh cilantro (coriander)
2-3 medium sized garlic petals
¼ tsp tamarind paste (¼ inch fresh cleaned tamarind)
1 small onion  (cut into two, keep one half on the stove, on direct flame or electric coil, so its charred, use the other raw half as is, set aside)
To temper the vegetables
1 small onion cut lengthwise
½ tsp each- uddina bele (urad dal) and kadale bele (channa dal)
Red pepper flakes/whole red chilies, a few. Salt to taste.

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a thick bottom skillet/cooker pan. Add washed dal, and cook on medium for about 10-12 minutes. The dal will begin to crack on the sides, with a firm center, add the chopped cabbage. Cook for 5 minutes covered. The cabbage should be crunchy, not soft. Now add the chopped dill and salt to taste. Cook for another 3 minutes uncovered. Turn off the heat.

Invert the water mixture on to a colander, and store the drained water. Let the cabbage cool. Take 2 Tbsp of cooked dal, and add it to the blender, along with the grinding ingredients mentioned. Add the drained water to the paste, when grinding.

Mix the ground paste with the boiled vegetable water to form a curry. Temper it with mustard and cumin seeds in ghee or hot oil. For the boiled vegetables, they can be eaten as is, or tempered with some onions, red pepper flakes, kadale and uddina bele (again dals). Dont forget to add some more salt!

Here are some combinations you can make the curry with. Basic recipe stays the same, Boil the lentils and vegetables in enough water, strain out and separate the cooked vegetables and water, use the vegetables as a side dish, and the water to grind with the curry ingredients.
Green beans and thogri bele (toor dal)
Hesarkaalu (green dal) alone, or with cabbage
Dhantu soppu ( Amarnath leaves or chinese red leaf greens)

October 29, 2010

Vegetable vermicilli

I made this for breakfast today. It is Friday and I have run out of vegetables. Using peas, scallions and tomato, I created a fusion cuisine with Chinese soy, chili sauce and vinegar. Not bad, my sons emptied their plates!

What I used: Serves 2-3
1cup raw vermicelli (Indian version, a thinner version of pasta probably, made of wheat)
2cups hot water
¼ cup chopped scallions/green onions
1 tomato chopped finely.
¼ cup raw peas
1tsp soy sauce, 1/2tsp vinegar, 1/2tsp chilli sauce, Salt to taste, and a pinch of sugar.
2 tsp oil

Heat a wok, Add 1tsp oil and roast the vermicelli, but not to a golden brown. Add hot water, cook till it’s cooked, but not very soft. Drain in a colander and run cold water over it. Set aside.

In the same wok, add the remaining oil, toss in the peas and let it cook on medium high. Cover for a minute. Now add the tomatoes and scallions, cover another minute on medium heat. Pour your Chinese sauces and vinegar, and salt and sugar to the wok, Toss in the cooked vermicelli too with it. Work it for a minute or two. Serve hot!

Red Egg Curry

What you need: (Serves 4) 
4-6 eggs (depending on how many servings you will need)
1 medium onion chopped finely
Few curry leaves
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1tsp red chili powder/cayenne
1tsp cilantro seed powder
1/2tsp jeera powder (cumin)
1/2tsp turmeric
2tsp oil
Salt - to taste
½ tsp sugar

Grind the following into a paste with a little water.
1 large onion diced
4-6 green hot chilies
4 large garlic petals
¼ inch ginger
Garam masala (4 cloves, ¼ inch cinnamon, 2 whole cardamoms)
Small bunch cilantro

First, hard boil the eggs, and peel them. Set aside. Use a medium sized, shallow skillet, heat the oil, add in the mustard, and curry leaves. Cover. After the spattering reduces, add the chopped onions, let brown on medium heat.

Add in the ground paste. Cook for a minute. Now add all the powders. Cook covered for 5-8 minutes on medium heat. Add water, if you want a runny stew, or leave as is, it will be a thick curry.

You may add the cooked eggs, whole, as is, or with a few slits. You may also slice them into half, and gently drop them sunny side up. Don’t stack them in the curry. Place them, as in a platter. That way they won’t break. It tastes great with chapathi/tortilla. Enjoy!

October 28, 2010

Kheema curry (Meat ball curry)

This is an all time favorite South Indian curry. It can be made from ground meat (lamb, turkey, chicken or pork)

What I use: Serves 6 for dinner (30-34 meatballs)
1/4 can / 2Tbsp  coconut milk
1 small bunch fresh cilantro
2lb/1kg ground meat (turkey, chicken, lamb, pork)
(I use regular Jimmy Dean turkey/pork sausage)

Prep the meat:
To the raw ground meat, add the following ingredients. It gives a great flavor. All these vegetables should be finely chopped. 2tsp onion, 2tsp cilantro, 1tsp of each, ginger and garlic, a few chopped scallions if you like, 1/2tsp black pepper powder and salt to taste. 

Mix it well, grease your hands with a little oil, and make small meat balls. You may refrigerate them, covered in wrap. for about 30 minutes, or use them as is.

In a big shallow pan, roast the following ingredients in a little olive oil
2tsp whole Garam masala (That's a 1/8th inch cinnamom, 2 cardomoms, 4cloves)
1tsp black pepper seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp cilantro seed powder
8-12 green hot chilies ( You may add more, if you like it spicier)
1/2 inch sliced fresh ginger
3-4 petals of fresh garlic1 large onion sliced
2 medium tomatoes sliced

Let it roast on low heat till the aromas fill the air. Let cool. Add a little water and the cilantro. Grind it to a smooth paste. In another thick bottom skillet, Add 2 tsp olive oil, and on medium heat, add the tempering ingredients. Use a few sliced onions, cook till brown.

Add in the ground paste. To this add 1 and 1/2tsp or more salt as desired. Let it simmer, covered on medium heat for 7-10 minutes. Add in the coconut milk. Drop the raw meat balls gently into the curry, taking care not to stack them on each other, or they will break. Try to use a large shallow pan, to be safer.

Cook covered for 12-15 minutes on low to medium heat. Do not stir the curry now, or they will break.  The oil will start to separate, as the curry bubbles. Turn off the heat. Garnish with chopped scallions. Chapathis/rice, or, ragi muddhe are the best combinations. Enjoy!

Ragi Muddhe ( Steamed finger millet dough)

This is a Karnataka state classic, of South India. Its eaten by the rich and the poor alike. The muddhe is made of finely ground finger millet. It can be used to make a warm breakfast porridge, or a a yogurt smoothie. if you are innovative, you can substitute flour in a recipe with this.

You really have to learn the art of making it, as well as eating it. It needs to be made, in boiling hot water, stirred without lumps, and rolled out into a dough ball. The best part is eating it, sorry gulping it! You knead out a bite sized dough into your hands, dip it in the curry, and swallow it. It feels so warm as it rolls down your throat, into your tummy! May I mention that its whole grain. Rich in protein, minerals, carbs and above all, a great source of fiber!

What I use: Serves 1 or 2
1 cup and 2/3tsp Ragi flour
2 cups water

In a thick bottom, deep pan, add the water and 2 or 3 tsp of ragi flour, Give it a whisk to take out any lumps.

Bring it to a boil on medium flame. Once the water steams and boils, add 1 cup of ragi flour slowly, little at a time, constantly stirring it with a wooden spoon.

Once all the flour is added, stir it constantly while pressing it to the sides of the pan, to get rid of any lumps.

Let it cook one medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Watch it carefully, taking care not to burn it. For an added touch, you can add 1/2 tsp butter to the dough as it cooks, Gives it great aroma and it just melts in your mouth!

Overturn the pan on to a wet plate, or a wet cutting board. Keep a bowl of really cold water next to it. Dip your hand into the water, and knead the hot dough with your hand, to form a ball. After every knead, dip your  hand in cold water. That way, you wont burn your hand, and the dough will not stick too!

Serve it with any curry. The best combination would be chicken/mutton curry or soppu saaru. (vegetable/spinach curry)

October 26, 2010

Pepper-mint chicken curry

Why can't moms talk on the phone with kids around? My sons (4 yr and 1 yr old) drove me up the wall today. I could not make one decent conversation without attending to them, hushing them to quiet down, and constantly answering all the 101 questions that pop into their heads as soon as I am talking!!! No wonder my friends have stopped calling me lately. There were days when I could talk for hours, and now, I am happy to just here the phone ring. It means that , people can tolerate me. It is not surprising that my friends circle has changed too. Moms with little kids, most of them.

So, its these two friends I am constantly in touch with. They are both roughly 2,400 miles away from me, and its been close to 2 years since we met. Yet, we just hit it off, every time we talk, and it puts a big smile on my face. I treasure the conversations. Thanks RY and SM. You made my day!

A chicken dish seasoned with black pepper, mint, green pepper, and onions. Vegetarians, swap the chicken with baby potatoes, or diced potatoes! I had to do away with dry mint leaves. But it tastes best with fresh mint. The aroma of roasted pepper, turmeric and mint, yummy!

What I used: Serves 4-6

2lb/1kg boneless chicken, fresh or frozen, cut up into large oblongs lengthwise.
1 large green pepper (use colored peppers if you like) cut lengthwise.
1 large onion cut lengthwise
4 green hot chilies chopped finely (optional if you like it spicy)
4/6 whole curry leaves (optional)
½ cup fresh mint leaves chopped finely or ¼ cup dry mint leaves crushed
Whole garam-masala ( 2/3 cloves, little cinnamon, 2 cardamoms) and bay-leaf(optional)
1and ½ tsp black pepper powder ( add more if you like it spicy)
1tsp jeera (cumin) powder
1/2tsp turmeric powder
2tsp ginger and garlic chopped finely.
Salt to taste
2tsp oil
2tsp lime juice

Heat a large skillet. Add in the oil. Toss in whole garam masala, curry leaves, ginger garlic, green chilies. Roast till the garlic turns light brown. Add the mint and onions. Roast till golden brown, all on medium heat. Keep it covered, if you don’t want the oil splattering all over.
Add in the green pepper. Toss for a few minutes. Don’t cook it down till it is soggy. It’s time to add the chicken. Cook on high for just 2 minutes, till the edges of the chicken get white, and begin to soften. Now reduce to medium heat. Add all the powders and salt. Cook covered for 12-15 minutes. Boneless chicken cooks really fast. Turn off the heat, and add the lime juice.
This tastes really good! It makes a quick curry for dinner.  It goes well with chapathis/tortillas. I served this for dinner with coconut rice, lovely combination!

Okra wrap/stir-fry

What I used: (Makes 6 wraps, or 4 single servings as a lunch/dinner side dish)
2cups fresh okra, washed, wiped dry and cut into diagonal chunks
1cup onion cut lengthwise
2tsp red chili flakes
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4tsp cumin powder
1/2tsp salt or more as needed
1tsp olive oil

Spray a little cooking spray on a baking sheet, and bake the okra at 350F, for 12-15 minutes. Or you can do the same on a stove top skillet. Roast okra on medium heat for 10-12 minutes. The green okra skin will get golden brown patches. Set aside.
Get a skillet nice and hot, add the onions and oil together, roast on high heat for a minute. Add in the cooked okra. To this, add all the powders, roast for 2  minutes on high heat. Just for 2 minutes. You are done.
I usually cook this stir-fry for dinner, as a side dish. The remaining, is wrapped into chapathi/tortilla rolls for lunch the next day. Its fast and healthy, especially if you love okra!

October 25, 2010

Shrimp yogurt curry

Shrimp curry
What you need: Serves 3/4
1-16oz pack of cooked/uncooked shrimp(You may buy the cleaned, deveined shrimp, and take the tail off when washing it in cool water)
1 cup of yogurt (home-made or store bought)
In a big shallow pan, roast the following ingredients in a little olive oil.
1tsp Whole Garam masala (That's a little 1/8th inch cinnamom, 1 cardomom, 2 cloves)
1/2tsp jeera(cumin)
1/4tsp turmeric powder
1tsp cilantro seed powder
2tsp red hot chilli powder
1/2 inch sliced fresh ginger
3-4 petals of fresh garlic
1/2 onion peeled.
1 medium tomato
2tsp dry grated coconut
1 small bunch fresh cilantro

Let it roast on low heat till the aromas fill the air. Let cool. Add a little water. Grind it to a coarse paste.
In another thick bottom skillet, Add 3 tsp olive oil, and on medium heat, add the tempering ingredients.

For the tempering: Use 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, few whole dry red chilies, and curry leaves. Cover it. When the splattering reduces, add 1/2 onion sliced lengthwise and cook till it gets golden brown. Add 1 tomato sliced lengthwise, don't let it cook, it should stay raw and crisp. Immediately add the ground paste and cook on medium, add  1tsp salt, and 1/4tsp brown sugar/plain sugar, cook covered for a few minutes. Add in the yogurt, cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook for 10-12 minutes on medium flame. (if its cooked, then let it stay for 5-7 minutes on low flame). The oil will start to separate, as the curry bubbles and steams. Turn the heat off. Serve it with lemon slices. Serve it for lunch or dinner with warm chapathis or tortillas.

October 24, 2010

Shrimp n corn stir-fry

Shrimp and corn stir fry
This stir-fry is quick to make with some crunchy vegetables Can be part of dinner, or used in chapathi/toritilla rolls and wraps. It is a hit with my 1 yr and 4 old sons who love corn and shrimp.

What I used:  (Serves 4)
14oz/400gms Large cooked shrimp (peeled, de-veined and tail off)
1 cup corn fresh/frozen
1 cup onions diced to square chunks
1 cup green pepper diced to square chunks
1 handful of fresh spinach leaves
1/2 tsp pepper
1tsp salt or less, as you like it.
Juice of 1 lime or 1tsp vinegar
1tsp soy sauce
4-6 hot Green chillies slit lengthwise (If you are feeding adults)
1tsp olive oil
Very little ginger, cut real thin lengthwise, or grated.

Heat a wok, add the olive oil and immediately add the ginger, diced onion, and green pepper. Add the green chillies, fry on high, constantly working it, add corn, cook a minute, and add shrimp, don't let the mixture stand. Add the soy sauce. Keep tossing it on high heat for 2 minutes only.

Turn off the heat, add the salt, pepper and lime juice, Add the fresh spinach leaves and toss it, that way the spinach wont get soggy, and its all crunchy and juicy. Serve hot.

Please note: If you are using it in a wrap, don't add spinach, and just add very little lime juice, so there are no runny juices. Cool it or refrigerate it for a few before using it, so its fresh, that way, the shrimp wont curl up and wilt.

'That' Chicken soup

Chicken soup

It has been a bad day for starters. Gray clouds, the rain has been poring since last evening. My little sons and I are down with a bad cold. Allergies probably, due to the weather change. Living in the northwest, this climate is no surprise.

I need soup, soothing soup, for my soul and for my cold :-). Nostalgia again. Paati (Grandma in Tamil, a south Indian language ) always made this chicken stew/soup (as she called it) for us when I was a child. We would visit her house very often, for tuition. She never taught, it was her husband. She was one awesome cook. Thaatha (grandpa) was retired. He was brilliant in English and Math. A book lover, he was a  fan of Agatha Christie. I cant remember one thing he was not good at. He'd get us lots of books, take us on long walks. The picnics were so much fun. In summer, he would make it a point to take us (We were a bunch of kids ranging from 4 to 12 year old) on Sunday picnics. Paati would make yummy mutton biriyani, and liver meat curries, fish fries, dripping with oil, yet so mouthwatering! It was all that we needed :-) A break from studies, picnics by the rivers, and heavenly food.

Back to gray clouds and a bad cold now, when you have cranky kids with runny noses, they refuse to eat, yes every mom knows that. But you make this soup, and they just chow down!. Just by the aroma, they ask me " Is it THAT chicken soup?"..lol "That" meaning, not-spicy :-)

This is what I use: (Serves 6 )
The following vegetables, all chopped finely: 1 onion, 1 tomato, 1tsp fresh ginger, 1tsp fresh garlic, 1 small bunch scallions.
4-6 dry red whole chillies
1tsp black pepper seeds
1tsp jeera (cumin)
2tsp soy sauce
1tsp vinegar
Powders: 1/2tsp turmeric powder, 1/2tsp pepper powder, 1/2tsp jeera powder, 1tsp or more salt.
1 or 1 and 1/2 cup boneless chicken (you may use boned too)
1tsp olive oil

In a saucepan/cooker, on low heat, add the olive oil, toss in the red chillies, pepper, cumin, chopped ginger garlic, let it brown a bit, turn the heat up a notch, add onions, stir it to a golden brown, add the tomatoes and half the scallions. Let it roast a minute, add in the boneless chicken cut into cubes.

Let it stand on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, Once the edges of the chicken start to cook, pour the soy sauce and vinegar, then add in all the powders. Let that cook for about 2 minutes. Now add water,about 2-3 cups for a dilute runny soup( this depends on how dilute you want it). Cook it on low to medium heat for about 30 minutes. If you pressure cook it, then just 10 minutes.

Serve the soup hot, really hot. (For kids, remember to take out the red chillies and pepper seeds) Personally, when I am sick, I like it as a stew with soft rice ( soft as in, really soft steamy rice, that is coarsely mashed up). It is warm and soothing when its swallowed down an itchy throat. The steam and aroma, is the perfect therapy for a bad cold. There will be many more of these soup pots, in the coming wet months. Enjoy!

Indian vegetable noodles

Vegetable Noodles
A favorite brunch on weekends, when I am in no mood to cook. You can also cook it for dinner.

What  I used: (Serves 4)
Noodles 2 single packs ( Top Ramen or Maggie, without the spice powder, cos some may contain MSG)
2 cups assorted colorful vegetables cut lengthwise (Beans, corn, carrot, peas, onion, colored peppers, any or all you want)
1tsp chopped ginger and garlic
1tsp vineger
1tsp soy sauce
1/2tsp chilli sauce ( Tomato sauce if you are cooking for kids)
1/4tsp cumin powder
1/4tsp black pepper powder
2tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Vegetable Noodles

Break the raw noodles into a glass bowl, add 2 cups water and microwave for 4-5 minutes, checking half way. ( Microwave times vary, so check it at intervals) The noodles must be cooked and hard, not soggy and soft. Take it out, strain it into a colander and run cold water for 2 minutes, Set aside.

Take a large non stick pan or wok. Heat it. Add the oil, and toss in the ginger garlic. Immediately add in the chopped vegetables, starting with the uncooked carrots/peas/corn/beans, stir for a minute, then add the onions and green/red/yellow pepper. Stir constantly on high for just a minute, DONT BURN IT! (I always add the onions after the carrot and beans are cooked half way, so the onions stay crunchy, but you may add it in the beginning if you like).

Turn down the heat to medium, add in the soy sauce, vinegar, tomato sauce, cumin powder, pepper and salt. Stir, and add the cold cooked noodles. Turn up the heat, stir constantly, for just another minute. Take it away from the stove top. Serve hot  :-)

October 21, 2010

Fish curry South Indian style

Indian Fish curry

The weather was so gloomy last evening, the beach walk was far too cold and windy.. and I was thinking.. dinner has got to be spicy fish curry. So, fish curry is a lot of work? Its easier than a vegetarian curry, truly! (thanks to Costco/Sams/Walmart, we wont need to clean, de-skin and cut it) I used boneless Tilapia, frozen, and fish curry was ready in less than 30 minutes! 

What you need: Serves 4
5 slices of boneless Tilapia fish 
1/2 can of coconut milk/fresh coconut milk 1cup
In a big shallow pan, roast the following ingredients in a little olive oil.
2tsp Whole Garam masala (That's a little cinnamom, cardomom, clove, somph)
1/2tsp jeera(cumin)
1/2tsp black pepper seeds
1/2tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
1/4tsp turmeric powder
2tsp cilantro seed powder
3-4tsp red hot chili powder
1/2 inch sliced fresh ginger
3-4 petals of fresh garlic
1 small sliced onion
1 medium tomato
2tsp dry grated coconut
1 small bunch fresh cilantro
1 small lime sized fresh tamarind / tamarind paste

Let it roast on low heat till the aromas fill the air. Let cool. Add a little water. Grind it to a coarse paste.

In another thick bottom skillet, Add 3 tsp olive oil, and on medium heat, add the tempering ingredients. 
For the tempering: 
Use 1/2 tsp cumin, mustard seeds, a sprig of curry leaves and few whole dry red chillies. Dont forget to cover it. When the splattering reduces, add 1/2 onion sliced lengthwise and cook till it gets golden brown. Now the ground paste and cook on medium, add  salt, about1-1.5tsp, and 1/2tsp brown sugar/plain sugar, cook covered for a few. Add in the coconut milk (again, thanks to cans, makes cooking a breeze! ), cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the tilapia/fish slices, and cook for a good 15 minutes on low flame (Don't stir the curry after the fish is added, or they'll break). The oil will start to separate, as the curry bubbles and steams. Turn the heat off.

Serve it with lemon slices. Nothing better than a bowl of steamy rice to go with it.

October 20, 2010

Mango Rice

Mango Rice

Maavinkaay(mango) chitra anna (colored rice) as its called in Kannada, is a yummy tangy rice made of green unripe mangoes. Thanks to Mexico, our Indian stores here in the US carry loads of fresh crates. There are 2 versions of making this, I am writing the quick and easy method.

What I used: serves 4
2 cups boiled rice, cooled to room temperature (Day old rice works good too)

1 fresh green unripe mango grated with skin ( Must be really hard, when grated must be white/light yellow)
3-5 green chillies chopped into fine thin rings
1 green lime            
1tsp or more salt
1/4tsp sugar
1/4tsp turmeric
Pinch of asefoetida
2-4tsp of olive oil
For the tempering: Any or all that you can find--2tsp peanuts, 1tsp whole cashews, 1tsp channa dal, 1tsp urad dal, 1/2tsp mustard and cumin seeds, 3-4 dry red chillies cut into 1 inch pieces, a few curry leaves and some chopped cilantro for the garnish.

Heat a wide shallow skillet. Add 2tsp oil, put in the peanuts and cashew and toss on medium heat till its golden brown, add the channa dal, urad dal, red chillies and curry leaves and cover cooked for just a minute watching it carefully on medium heat. Move it onto a small cup and set aside.

In the same pan, on medium heat, add 2 tsp oil, mustard and cumin, cover it till the splattering subsides. add the chopped green chillies, grated mango and increase the heat to high, Constantly work it, watching not to burn, for 1 minute. Lower the heat to the lowest setting now. Add turmeric, salt, sugar and asefoetida. This will make a generous amount of mango pickle paste. take out 1/2 and set aside. Now to the remaining paste, add the boiled rice, stir gently till the rice takes in the mango paste color. Squeeze the juice of lime, take it out of the flame now.

Remember your cooled peanut tempering now! Mix it only before the rice is eaten, this way, the peanuts stay crisp and crunchy, and the mango rice tastes tangy... god .. heaven! My mouth is watering now. I have some paste in the fridge. Can just temper some peanuts and toss it in with old leftover rice... and I have this yummy mango tango :-) enjoy!

Please note: One mango yields quite a bit of pickled paste. It can be refrigerated and used for 2 more servings.

Soppu saaru ( Spinach and dal curry)

Spinach curry
One of my favorite curry! Its super simple and goes great with rice or ragi mudhe.

What you need: Serves 4
4-6 green hot chillies
1 cup of fresh spinach leaves
3-4 fresh garlic petals
1 small sized shallot/onion
1 medium sized tomato
1/2tsp jeera (cumin)
1/4tsp black pepper seeds
1tsp coconut flakes dry/fresh (optional)
1/2 cup thogri bele (toor dal/masoor dal) Soak in 1 cup of water for 15-30 minutes, that way it cooks faster.
Salt to taste

To temper: 1 tsp olive oil, a little mustard and cumin seeds. A few red chillies, curry leaves and a pinch aseofotida.

In a thick bottom pan, cook the dal in 2 cups of water till the dal cracks up and is soft to touch. Pressure cooking it is faster. One or two pressures is ideal.

In a skillet, add the spinach, whole tomato, peeled whole onion, garlic and green chillies. Cook on medium heat till the spinach is soggy. Don't overcook or it will loose its nutrients and color. Put it in a blender, and let it cool a while. Add the jeera, pepper seeds and coconut to the boiled greens in the blender. Grind to a paste, add some water if its too thick.

Heat the skillet (the same one that you boiled the greens), add oil, when it begins to smoke, quickly add the mustard and cumin seeds. Cover it, it is sure to splatter and mess your stovetop. Add the red chilly and curry leaves, cover again, now add the ground spinach paste, add 1tsp or more salt, cook on low heat for about 2 minutes. Add the cooked dal, cook on medium heat till it comes to a boil. Add asefoetida before serving ( also called hing, and is great for digestion, or should I say... controls flatulence.. OK I said it ..lol )

Serve the curry with rice or ragi muddhe. A boiled egg on the side, or sliced cucumbers taste good too.

October 19, 2010

Paneer/Tofu and vegetable korma

Paneer curry
 This is for my vegetarian friend, who keeps asking me to post something she can try :-) Made this curry with peas, carrot and paneer.

What I used:
16 oz pack of Paneer (Indian cheese) diced to cubes, vegans may substitute this with tofu
1 whole carrot diced
1 cup green peas
2 medium sized onions diced
3 medium sized tomatoes diced
1 tsp red cayenne pepper powder
1/4tsp turmeric powder
1/4tsp cilantro seed powder
1/4tsp cumin powder
1/2tsp sugar
1tsp salt or more if you like
2tsp olive oil to temper
1/4 tsp mustard and cumin seeds
4-6 cashews

Add a little oil in a skillet. On medium heat, fry the onions until they are soft and light brown. Toss in the tomatoes and cook them until they go very soft. Add all the dry powders, and cook on low till you can smell the aroma of cumin and cayenne powder.

Put the mixture into a blender, and let it cool for a while before you turn it on, make a coarse paste.

In the meantime, add some oil back into the same skillet, temper the cumin and mustard seeds, toss in the diced carrots and peas, cook on medium high, stirring constantly, let it cook till the carrot is crunchy, not soft. Now toss the ground paste from the blender, add salt and sugar, cook on medium heat covered.  Let it simmer, when the oil begins to separate, add the diced paneer cubes.

You may add a little water, if its too thick. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve paneer dishes smokin hot, always! If it goes cold by the time you can serve it, run it through the microwave quickly just before its eaten, the paneer will just melt in your mouth :-). I like it with chapathis. Goes good with puris too.

October 18, 2010

Uppu saaru - South indian curry

 Uppu saar Vegetable lentil curry

Uppu saaru, or sappe saaru as its called, is the most staple food of Mandya, a prominent district of Karnataka, India,  famous for its sugarcane and kannada ( language of Karnataka ) lovers!

It can be made from a combination of lentils and vegetables or greens. I have posted some combinations at the end of the recipe. I have used hesarkaalu (green gram) and cabbage.

Here is what I used:
1 cup  hesarkaalu (green gram lentil)
1 cup cabbage diced medium or small pieces
4-6 green hot chillies
1 cup fresh cilantro (coriander)
1/2tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
1/4tsp black pepper seeds
2-3 medium sized garlic petals
1/2tsp tamarind paste or 1/4 inch fresh cleaned tamarind.
1tsp salt to taste
1 small onion diced ( to temper the boiled vegetables)
1 small onion  (cut into two, keep one half on the stove, on direct flame or electric coil, so its charred,use the other raw half as is, set aside)

First, dry roast the hesarkaalu, in a thick bottom skillet or shallow cooker pan, till they get pretty hot, add about 2-3cups of water. Bring to a boil on high heat for about 10 minutes till the gram is soft. Add the diced cabbage and whole green chillies and salt. Boil on medium heat till the cabbage is slightly soft but crunchy. You can smell the aroma of the green pepper too.

Turn off the heat now, and strain the whole water and vegetable mixture in a colander (strainer bowl).

 Let the cabbage cool.In the meantime, get the charred and raw onion, the boiled green chillies from the colander, garlic, jeera, pepper seeds,cilantro, tamarind and the filtered vegetable water. Grind it all  together to a thick paste.

Traditionally, uppu saaru is served as a thick green paste, on the side, the filtered vegetable water, and boiled vegetables with boiled rice or ragi mudhe (finger millet flour formed to a dough ball in boiling hot water). My kids and I prefer the modified form. Mix the ground paste with the boiled vegetable water to form a curry. Temper it with mustard and cumin seeds in ghee or hot oil.

For the boiled vegetables, they can be eaten as is, or tempered with some onions, red pepper flakes, kadale and uddina bele (again dals). Dont forget to add some more salt!

Here are some combinations you can make the curry with. Basic recipe stays the same, Boil the lentils and vegetables in enough water, strain out and separate the cooked vegetables and water, use the vegetables as a side dish, and the water to grind with the curry ingredients.
Green beans and thogri bele (toor dal)
Hesarkaalu (green dal) alone, or with cabbage
Avarekaai ( Papdi liva or green kidney beans)

Thogarikaalu (Pigeon peas)

Dhantu soppu ( Amarnath leaves or chinese red leaf greens)

October 15, 2010

Red Pork curry

Pork curry

I can never make pork curry as well as my elder sister, she is the goddess of pork cooking! My mouth waters every time I think of it, she uses green hot peppers and black pepper. My recipe here uses 3 kinds of  pepper.This is a pretty hot gravy, so on a cloudy day, when you crave something spicy for dinner, this is sure to make your nose run :-)

What you need: Serves 2
2lb pork meat, boneless, without the fat
6-8 green hot peppers sliced lengthwise
2tsp ginger garlic paste
2tsp cilantro seed powder
1 tsp black pepper powder
2tsp red cayenne pepper powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
4tsp canola oil
1 medium onion diced
2 medium tomatoes diced
1-1.5tsp salt

Heat the oil in a thick bottom pan, add green chillies and cover, it is sure to splatter, add ginger garlic paste, onions and fry till brown, again covered, add in the tomatoes and cook on medium till they all turn soft and pulpy.

Time to add all the dry powders, cover and cook on medium stirring occasionally till the oil starts to separate,  say in about 7-8 minutes.

Add the boneless pork, and cook on medium. Do not add water, if you want thick gravy, otherwise add 1/2 cup. Let it boil. I pressure cook it for about 10 minutes on medium. Goes great with chapathi ( Indian flat bread) or tortillas.

My husband always enjoys this dinner with a glass of chardonnay :-)