Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kashmiri Rajma Curry

Kashmiri Rajma Curry

Kidney beans or ‘Rajma’ as we call it in India is quite a popular stuff in Northern region of India; but my mum never made it during my childhood and I am not sure why. Kidney beans are quite a nutritious thing – it is a good source of dietary fibers, vitamin B1 and iron among many other nutritional benefits. And guess what! It tastes great too! Isn’t that awesome? Healthy food can be tasty too!

Kashmiri Rajma Curry

This is a regular preparation of kidney beans which used to happen in any typical Indian household. These beans require a longer cooking time and additionally you need to soak them for considerable number of hours preferably overnight. I found a short-cut method which is very useful in case you forget to soak the beans last night and still you have made your mind to make nothing else except kidney beans for tonight’s dinner! I suffer from this syndrome way too often and have no idea how to cure it! So in such case what you can do to quickly soften the hard beans is to pour boiling water on them and keep covered for half an hour. Then preferably pressure-cook them for 15 minutes or boil them till soft. I love this dish and ensure to include in our meal at least once a week. This goes really well with rice which is our staple food. Hope you will like it too!

Kashmiri Rajma Curry

Kashmiri Rajma Curry {Curried Red Kidney Beans}

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Kashmiri Red kidney beans – 1 & ½ cups
  • Soda bicarbonate – 1 tsp
  • Vegetable oil – 4 tbsp [you can replace oil with ghee (clarified butter) for more richness]
  • Onion – 1, medium, finely chopped
  • Asafetida – 1/8 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Dried ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • Yogurt – ½ cup, beaten smooth
  • Garam masala – 1 tsp
  • Ginger paste – 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste 
  • Chili powder – 1 tsp 
  • Coriander powder – 2 tsp
  • Chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Instructions

  • Soak kidney beans and soda in water overnight, approximately for 8 hours.
  • Drain and cook in fresh water till soft (about 15 minutes in a pressure cooker, after the first whistly). 
  • Drain and keep the beans and water separately till ready to use. 
  • Heat oil (or ghee if using) in a large pot and add asafetida and cumin seeds. 
  • When cumin splutters, add the chopped onion and fry till soft and golden brown.
  • Next add ginger powder, yogurt and ginger paste, stirring vigorously all the time.
  • Sauté till oil separates. Add salt, chili powder and cooked kidney beans. Sauté for a minute or so. 
  • Add a cup and half of the rajma water to the pot. Cover and simmer 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the garam masala and coriander powder, simmer another minute or so and serve hot garnished with the coriander leaves.
Kashmiri Rajma Curry

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ginger and Garlic Baked Chicken

Baked Chicken

When you are looking for an option of tasty as well as healthy meal, then nothing other than baked dishes could serve your purpose more perfectly. And guess what? This ginger and garlic baked chicken drumsticks are exactly what you should be looking for! And there is also an added bonus waiting for you – this dish is super easy to make and will just take few minutes of prep work and the rest will be done by your oven!

Baked Chicken

I used skinless drumsticks in here as getting rid of the skin will straight away reduce the fat content. But if you are okay with that, you can use the drumsticks with skin-on for a more tender texture of the meat. Trust me, you will not want to leave even a tiny bit of this; this is so powerfully delish! I loved the sticky sweet and spicy sauce which is the heart of this dish and just takes minute to prep up! 

Baked Chicken

Ginger Garlic Baked Chicken

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Chicken drumsticks - 8
  • Ginger – 2 inch piece, peeled and grated
  • Garlic – 10 cloves, peeled and mined
  • Soy sauce – 3 tbsp
  • Oyster sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Honey – 2 tbsp
  • Sesame oil – 2 tsp
  • White pepper powder – 1 tsp
  • Paprika powder – 1 tsp
  • Chinese five-spice powder – ½ tsp, optional
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Rinse the chicken drumsticks and pat dry with paper towel. 
  • Add the ginger and garlic to the chicken and gently rub them on the chicken. 
  • Mix all the remaining ingredients in a bowl to prepare the marinade. Rub this marinade onto the drumsticks to coat them evenly all over. Keep in the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C. 
  • Line a baking tray with aluminum foil (this will make the clean-up way too easy) and brush or spray oil over it.
  • Line the chicken on the prepared tray making sure not to crowd them too tightly. 
  • Place it on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the surface turns golden brown and charred. 
  • Garnish with sesame seeds and serve warm.
Baked Chicken

Friday, September 19, 2014

Vegetarian Pasta with White Sauce

Pasta with white sauce

This is the quickest pasta I have ever made till date. That too with the yummy white sauce! Take my word – you will love me for this! First let me tell you the story behind making such fast forward dish. My planned vacation is coming up in next one week and I have loads of work to finish before hitting the festival time. Obviously I had to plan for our weeknight dinner – something which I could make very fast and taste delicious at the same time! And here it is – the easiest but absolutely delicious pasta from my kitchen!

Pasta with white sauce

I intentionally made vegetarian pasta this time.

Reason # 1 – I didn't have time to thaw the chicken from the freezer and prepare them for the pasta.

Reason # 2 – there are not many vegetarian pasta recipes in my blog.

But even if you are a meat-lover, trust me; you won’t miss anything in this dish. This creamy and cheesy pasta will win your heart for sure. Use whichever pasta you like and this recipe will be a winner all the time. I used a short pasta this time – mini fusilli – mainly because I personally like short pasta over the long ones. But white sauce goes perfectly well with any sort of pasta – spaghetti, fettuccini, tagliatelle or any other. To keep this recipe simple, I added only few fresh basil leaves. You can easily turn this vegetarian pasta to a non-vegetarian version by just adding some cooked/poached shredded chicken. If you want your pasta to have a kick of heat, add some freshly chopped jalapenos! So you see my point – one simple dish can take on so many make-overs to suit so many different tastes. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination fly as it can create wonders for you! All the best!

Pasta with white sauce

Vegetarian {Fusilli} Pasta with White Sauce

 Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • Mini fusilli – 200 gms
  • Butter – 2 tbsp
  • All-purpose flour – 2 tbsp
  • Milk – 2 cups, at room temperature 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dried oregano – 1 tsp
  • Dried basil – 1 tsp
  • Basil leaves – handful, roughly torn
  • Gouda cheese – 50 gms

Instructions

  • To make the white sauce, take a small non-stick sauce pan and melt the butter in it. 
  • Lower the heat and keeping the whisk in your hand ready, add the all-purpose flour to the melted butter and start stirring continuously. If you don’t whisk, the flour will burn and you will not get a perfect white sauce. So be little careful at this stage. 
  • After couple of minutes of whisking, add in the milk. Keep whisking continuously so that all the flour dissolves in the milk giving you a smooth sauce.
  • Add salt and black pepper to taste. When the sauce turns thick, remove from heat and set aside. 
  • Bring a big pot of water to boil and season generously with salt. 
  • Add the pasta and cook them according to the time mentioned over the packet. Mine was 6 minutes. 
  • Drain the water out and return the pasta in the same pot in which you boiled it. 
  • Add the white sauce and roughly torn fresh basil leaves. Mix well.
  • Add dried oregano and dried basil. Give a final stir to mix everything well. Check the seasoning and adjust if required.
  • Transfer the pasta with white sauce into a baking dish and grate the Gouda cheese all over. 
  • Microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes or bake in a pre-heated oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese melts and become hot and bubbling. 
  • Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve hot
Pasta with white sauce

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chhole Masala

Chhole Masala

Chhole masala, as we call it, is an integral part of Indian cuisine. This dish is highly popular in northern part of India and usually served with the famous Indian ‘Bhatura’ or ‘Puri’, which is a fluffy deep-fried Indian bread made of all-purpose flour. Chhole, which is the name by which chickpeas is known in our country, is such a common recipe that it hardly gets its due respect. This dish is really a winner in terms of the health quotient it carries and the immense flavor which reminds me of the Sunday brunch of my childhood.

The word ‘childhood’ brings back many memories instantly! (Does it happen to you too?) And at this time of the year, there is only one thing which I can think about – Durga Pujo – the five day long celebration of goddess Durga’s arrival with her four children. We worship her with all our devotion and faith and enjoy these five days forgetting all our worries and stress. Any Bengali, in whichever part of the world they live, always wait for these five days of the year.

Yeah I got little carried away with the childhood memories! Let me come back to my today’s recipe – chhole masala. If you like chickpeas, you will surely gonna love this. The usual bland taste of chickpeas is perfectly enriched by all the aromatic spices and it will definitely take a permanent place in your family menu!

Chhole Masala

Chhole Masala {Spicy Curried Chickpeas}

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Chickpeas – 2 cups
  • Onion – 2, medium
  • Tomato – 5, large
  • Ginger – 2 inch piece, grated
  • Garlic – 8 to 10 cloves, minced
  • Lemon – 1, cut into 4 wedges
  • Black cardamom – 1,
  • Green cardamom – 5,
  • Cloves – 5
  • Cardamom – 1 inch stick
  • Dry red chili – 2
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Coriander powder – 2 tsp
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Red chili powder – 1 tsp
  • Garam masala – 1 tsp
  • Dry Mango Powder – ½ tsp
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – 4 tbsp
  • Coriander leaves – handful for garnish

Instructions

  • Soak the chickpeas for 8 hours and then boil in salted water them till tender. Drain and set aside.
  • Slit the tomatoes and boil them in water till tender, approximately 10 minutes. Drain out the water and let it cool to handle. Once cooled down, peel and deseed the tomatoes and puree in a processor. 
  • Finely chop the onions and keep all whole spices ready. 
  • Heat oil in a skillet/wok. Add the whole spices – black and green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and dry chilies. Saute till aromatic. 
  • Add the ginger and garlic and stir. Saute on low heat for a minute. Tip in the chopped onions and fry them on medium heat till golden brown. 
  • Add in the pureed tomatoes and sprinkle the sugar. Sugar will help balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Cook till the raw smell of tomatoes are gone and all waters have almost evaporated. 
  • In a small bowl, mix the powdered spices – turmeric, cumin, coriander and red chili – with couple of teaspoons of water and make a smooth paste. 
  • Add the spice paste to the fried onion-tomato mixture and stir on a high heat. Add the dry mango powder and half teaspoon of garam masala now and reserve the remaining half for later. 
  • When the spices starts separating the oil, add in cooked chickpeas. Keep stirring to coat all the chickpeas with the spice mixture. 
  • Add a cup of water – preferably hot – and bring it to boil. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. 
  • Now cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes to let the chickpeas soak in all the wonderful aromas from the spices. 
  • After 10 minutes, uncover the pan and give few quick stirs on high heat. Check the consistency of the sauce and boil off some water if it’s too watery. 
  • Sprinkle the remaining garam masala and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. 
  • Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice and few more lime wedges on the side.
Chhole Masala

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

If you make a list of most popular Indian dishes outside India, you might see Chicken Tikka topping the list; but if there is any other recipe which can give tough competition to Chicken Tikka, then it has to be butter chicken! You might also be thinking about Tandoori chicken as well! Aren't you? Yeah, these three are definitely the flagship recipes of authentic Indian cuisine for valid reasons of course! Butter chicken is something which you may not want to have frequently (simply because of its ‘sin!’ quotient); but when you do, you must treat yourself royally! What I mean is, do not try to make butter chicken by substituting butter with oil to bring down the guilt factor; that would not do justice to this extremely flavorful and delicious dish!

Butter Chicken

There are as many versions of butter chicken as its popularity. Every version is unique on its own. Some like to grill the chicken rather than frying it up. That’s a good alternative and brings a rustic charred taste to the chicken. In this version of mine, I have fried the chicken in butter, made the tomato based sauce separately and finally assembled both before serving.

One point worth mentioning about butter chicken is that it tastes better the next day. The simple reason being that all the ingredients mature over time and marry among themselves which enhances the flavor of the sauce and the chicken as well. Best is to make it on a Friday night and enjoy in weekend lunch! 

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Chicken – 1 kg, cut into medium pieces
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • A few drops of refined oil
  • Butter – 50 gms
  • Sugar – ½ tsp
  • Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Marinade
  • Ginger-garlic paste – 3tsp
  • Onion – 1, pureed
  • Whisked curd – ½ cup
  • Coriander powder – 2 tsp
  • Cumin powder – 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Red hot chilli powder – 2 tsp
  • Juice of 1 lime
The Rich Tomato Gravy
  • Ripe red tomatoes – 10, large
  • A few drops of refined oil
  • Cooking butter – 50 gms (I use unsalted butter)
  • Ginger – 1 inch, chopped fine
  • Green chillies – 2, chopped fine
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Red hot chilli powder – 1 & ½ tsp
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Fresh cream – 4 to 5 tsp (optional)

Instructions

  • Combine all the ingredients listed under marinade in a bowl. Put the chicken pieces in a large bowl and add the marinade to it. Rub the marinade well into the chicken so that the pieces are coated well all over. Cover with a cling film and marinate in the refrigerator for couple of hours. 
  • While the chicken in marinating, prepare the rich tomato gravy.
The Rich Tomato Gravy
  • Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, peel and deseed them and puree the flesh in a processor. 
  • Heat a saute pan on medium heat and add both the butter and oil. Oil will prevent the butter from burning as it has a much higher smoking point. 
  • When the butter melts and the foam subsides a little, add the chopped ginger and green chilies and saute for a couple of minutes on medium heat. Make sure they do not burn. 
  • Add the spice powders listed under the tomato gravy and a splash of water. Saute them till they are richly colored and oil starts separating from them.
  • Now add the fresh tomato puree and stir well to mix with the spices. Simmer on low heat till the sauce is thick and has a rich, deep red color with the raw smell gone. 
  • Add sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. Season with salt to taste. Simmer for couple of minutes more and then turn off the heat and set it aside to mature. 
To cook the chicken
  • Remove the marinated chicken from refrigerator and bring them to room temperature (this step is important; so make sure to have the chicken at room temperature before starting to cook). Season with salt and mix well.
  • Heat a heavy bottomed skillet and add few drops of oil and the butter.
  • Once the butter is hot, add few chicken pieces at a time and sear them on high heat till they have a rich caramelized crust on them and are slightly charred. Do now crowd the pan with too many chicken at a time. 
  • When all the chicken are done, return all the seared chicken pieces to the pan and fry them all together. Add sugar, lemon juice and any leftover chicken marinade. Continue to fry the chicken, till it is almost fully cooked. 
  • Add the spicy tomato gravy to the chicken and de-glaze the pan to lift up the sticky pan deposits which has got a lot of flavor and takes your dish to a whole new level. 
  • Cook on medium heat, stirring well to ensure the chicken is fully submerged and coated in the delicious gravy. Simmer uncovered to reduce the gravy. 
  • Add the thick cream and stir through to combine. Cook for about 5 minutes more to blend well. 
  • Sprinkle some coriander leaves, add a knob of butter and enjoy this home-style butter chicken with naan our tandoori roti.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Spinach Frittata

Frittata

The first time I had frittata was in a restaurant called ‘Egg Factory’ in Bangalore. We had visited this couple of times (thanks to my better half is who crazy about eggs more than anything else [read 'chicken or fish'] ) and devoured different varieties of frittata they had in their menu. We loved them! We thought this is some kind of special prep and can only be made by their very experienced chefs! I was under this misconception until recently and only after seeing many videos on ‘how to make frittata’, I realized that nothing can be simpler than this!

Frittata


Frittata is just like a canvas and if you are a frittata lover/maker, then I am sure you will agree with me. Frittatas can have endless number of varieties which is only limited to your imagination. And as mentioned by many chefs + bloggers, frittata can also work as a pantry cleaner as well, as you can use up any left-over veggies in your frittata before going for your weekly grocery shopping. Frittata is an ideal recipe for weekend brunch – you can make it as heavy or as light as you like.

Frittata has become a very common part of our meal nowadays and I have made many varieties till date; but the underlying principle of making a frittata is always same – whisk eggs -> fry your desirable veggies -> pour your eggs over and let it set -> add cheese of your choice if you like or you can even skip it – done!

My today’s version is a quite healthy one. I used fresh spinach right from our very own kitchen garden. I love the freshness of spinach in my frittata and I skip all other ingredients while making spinach frittata. As you can see, I don’t fry my spinach too much so that it retains its vibrant green color and speak for its own freshness. Try this and I can bet that even a non-spinach lover will also fall for it! 

Frittata

Spinach Frittata

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Egg – 8
  • Fresh spinach leaves – 200 gms, roughly chopped 
  • Grated parmesan cheese – 1 cup (you can use regular processed cheese instead, but for the authentic Italian flavor, you have to get hold of Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Garlic – 3 cloves, minced 
  • Olive oil – 2 tsp 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Instructions

  • Take a big bowl and break all the eggs into it. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk it to mix well. 
  • Add the grated cheese and using a spatula or wooden spoon mix it well. Set aside. 
  • Heat a non-stick skillet and add the olive oil into it. 
  • Add minced garlic and saute for few seconds being careful not to burn the garlic. 
  • Tip in the chopped spinach leaves. Stir and let the the spinach wilt. 
  • Pour the whisked eggs over the spinach and let it spread evenly all over the pan. 
  • Cook the eggs uncovered on low heat till set. Enjoy!
Frittata

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rigatoni with Basil Pesto

Rigatoni with pesto

This is the best pasta I have ever made till date. Seriously, I am no good when it comes in terms of pasta in its authentic form. I am not too fond of the tomato-based pasta too; so I never gave a serious try to it honestly. Till the time I was not aware of ‘pesto’, I was making pasta in the way which you can't call the authentic Italian way! And then I came to know about basil pesto around a year ago while learning about Italian cuisine and just fell in love with it on the very first time I made it on my own! This pasta with cheesy pesto is just out of this world! So what I realized is that cheese and pasta cannot be separated whatsoever. You have to have those bubbling gooey-ness over your plate of pasta which just takes everything to a whole new level - I would say it raises the flavor quotient to a new height!

Rigatoni with pesto

My husband likes spaghetti but my personal preference is short pasta. I especially like Rigatoni, but without any specific reason. I like its shape and textured body which makes the dish look beautiful. But of course, you can always go for your personal favorite– short or long. Pesto works equally well with long pastas like spaghetti, tagliatelle, Fettuccine, Linguine etc. I used yellow cheddar cheese which I like. Parmigiano reggiano, which is the most used Italian cheese, will also be great. This will be perfect for a weeknight dinner when you are pressed for time but still don’t want to compromise on your source of energy which is of course food! Good food!

Rigatoni with pesto

Rigatoni with Basil Pesto

 Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • Rigatoni pasta – 250 gms
  • Basil leaves – 2 cups, packed
  • Garlic – 4 + 2 cloves
  • Pine nuts – 1 cup
  • Extra virgin olive oil – ¾ th cup
  • Lemon juice – 1 tsp
  • Cheddar cheese – 100 gms
  • Chicken breast - 2
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Basil Pesto –
  • In a food processor or chopper, add the basil leaves, pine nuts, 4 garlic cloves, salt and lemon juice. Process it for half a minute.
  • Now with the processor on, drizzle olive oil through the feed tube. The pesto will turn thick and emulsified. Process until all the nuts and basil leaves have turned into a thick paste. Set aside.
Pasta Recipe – 
  • Boil the rigatoni pasta in generously seasoned boiling water as per the packer instruction. Retain some of the pasta boiling water and drain out the rest. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil over the boiled pasta to prevent them from drying.
  • Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or saute pan with high sides. Crush and add the remaining 2 cloves of garlic and stir so that garlic doesn’t burn. 
  • Add the chicken pieces and fry on medium heat until brown and cooked through. 
  • Add in the boiled rigatoni and couple of spoons of reserved pasta water to loosen things. 
  • Add the basil pesto and stir well to coat everything with the bright green pesto. 
  • When the pasta has turned dry, transfer it to a baking/microwavable dish or and spread evenly. 
  • Grate all the cheddar cheese over the pasta covering the top fully. Now either you can bake this in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree C for 15 to 20 minutes or microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes until the cheese melts.
  • Garnish with fresh basil and serve hot.
Rigatoni with pesto