Friday, February 27, 2015

Chicken Curry with Poppy Seeds

A twist on the basic chicken curry adding extra richness which takes it to a whole new level! The creamy poppy seeds paste makes a perfect base for Indian curries! 

Chicken Curry with Poppy Seeds

After sharing couple of regular recipes from my collection, it’s time to put up some of my experiments and see how you like it!

To talk about my culinary experiments, I feel that there are two conflicting cooks that reside inside me and they both have two completely opposite line of thinking – one who goes exactly by the book and allows no exception and another who dumps everything and goes by her own instinct.

Chicken Curry with Poppy Seeds

This recipe is a produce of that instinctive cook inside me and this is how it materialized.

On a Friday night, I marinated the chicken for a basic chicken curry to make for next day’s lunch. Till this point the copycat cook was in charge.

On the fine morning next day, the scene changed and the innate cook took over. She hates usual recipes and didn't allow me to make the regular chicken curry.

Chicken Curry with Poppy Seeds

It was when I was figuring out how to make something different, my eyes caught the bottle of poppy seeds and this idea sparked. With poppy seeds, came the melon seeds since these two make a nice base for Indian vegetarian recipes complementing each other really well.

This is how my chicken curry with poppy seeds came into existence and I am so glad it did! This dish came out so delicious that no words will be an enough for this.

The smooth and creamy curry base with poppy seeds paste was perfect for the lean meat and is best served with plain rice. Give that flat bread a miss this time!

Chicken Curry with Poppy Seeds

Chicken Curry with Poppy Seeds

 Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Chicken – 750 gms, cut into medium sized pieces
  • Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  • Yogurt – ½ cup
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder – 3 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 2 tsp
  • Poppy seeds – ¼ cup
  • Melon seeds (char-magaz) – 2 tbsp
  • Green chilli – 2, slit lengthwise
  • Onion – 4, large, thinly sliced
  • Oil – 4 tbsp
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Garam masala – ½ tsp

Instructions

  • Prepare the marinade for chicken by mixing the yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, coriander powder, chilli powder and salt. 
  • Marinade the chicken well with the above mixture and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. If you are marinating overnight, do not add salt as it may take the moisture out of the chicken making it dry. Make sure to take out the chicken from the refrigerator at least half an hour before the cooking time to bring it to close to room temperature. 
  • Make a paste of each of poppy seeds and melon seeds separately using minimal water. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the slit green chillies and sliced onions. Saute them till golden brown. 
  • Now take out each pieces of chicken from the marinade and add it to the pan reserving the marinated liquid for later. 
  • Sear the chicken on medium flame until golden on all side. 
  • Now add the marinated liquid and stir well on high flame. 
  • Add the sugar, poppy seeds paste and melon seeds paste and give a good mix. Add extra water only if the chicken or spices start to stick to the bottom of the pan, else no need of water.
  • Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  • When done boil of extra water on high flame if needed and bring the gravy to your desired consistency. 
  • Sprinkle garam masala and serve hot on a bed of plain white rice.
Chicken Curry with Poppy Seeds

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spicy Okra Masala / Bhindi Masala

The not-so-loved okra has got all the make-over in this recipe to get at its best with the flavorful Indian spices! 

Spicy Okra Masala

I told you in my last post that I am playing safe, didn’t I? And I proved it again! 

I am sharing yet another household recipe of mine – the spicy okra masala or bhindi (as in okra) masala as we call it. I make this quite frequently because of my and my husband’s eternal love for Okra! (So okra is a very-much-loved veggie in our home you see!)

Spicy Okra Masala

You may not like okra because of its laces and I can’t blame you. That’s a not-so-loving characteristic of okra anyway. But before cooking, if you wash and dry them using a kitchen towel, they will get a lot better.

I discovered this recipe on Youtube and after I made it for the first time, it took a permanent place in our weekly menu. This is minimal fuss dish which I love to cook on weeknights.

You must make this once and trust me this crispy green veggie won’t disappoint you this time!

Spicy Okra Masala / Bhindi Masala

Spicy Okra Masala / Bhindi Masala

 Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Okra (Bhindi) – 400 gms, chopped 
  • Onion – 1, medium, sliced 
  • Tomato – 1 & ½, finely chopped 
  • Garlic Paste – ½ tsp 
  • Ginger Paste – ½ tsp 
  • Coriander Leaves – ½ cup 
  • Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp 
  • Red Chilli Powder - ½ tsp 
  • Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp 
  • Raw Mango Powder (Aamchur Powder) – ¼ tsp 
  • Garam Masala – ½ tsp 
  • Coriander powder – ½ tsp 
  • Cumin powder – ½ tsp 
  • Vegetable oil – 4 tbsp 
  • Salt to taste 
  • Sesame seeds for garnish 

Instructions

  • Cut the okra into 1 inch long pieces. 
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and add mustard seeds to it. Add okra and stir well. When the okra is fried and cooked, take them out and set aside. 
  • Next heat the remaining oil. Add ginger paste, garlic paste and chopped onions and sauté for few minutes. 
  • When the onions become translucent and soft, add chopped tomatoes. Stir well to combine everything. 
  • Next add the powdered spices – turmeric, red chilli, cumin, coriander and raw mango powder. Mix well. 
  • Sauté for a couple of minutes and then add garam masala & salt to taste. Cook till the tomatoes are nice and soft. 
  • Then add coriander leaves and stir well. 
  • Tip in the fried okra to the onion and tomato mix. Toss the pan to coat all the okra with the spices. Adjust the seasoning if needed. 
  • Garnish the spicy okra with sesame seeds and serve hot with roti or any kind of Indian flatbread.
Spicy Okra Masala / Bhindi Masala

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Indian Potato Cauliflower Curry / The Humble Aloo Gobi

Presenting a humble Indian curry with cauliflower and potato with all quintessential flavors of Indian cuisine!

Aloo Gobi

I am playing little safe these days!

You see what I mean? These days I am sharing the very regular recipes of my family - like that Potato and green onion stir-fry which I shared recently. These are recipes we are brought up on and are so integral part of our meals that I took them for granted and believed that they are not worth sharing!

Aloo Gobi

But I was so utterly wrong!

This may be the one recipe which I can make blindly every time; but I would be more than happy if someone thousands of miles away from me tries this recipe and have a smile on his/her face! Like I try your family recipes, you should try mine!

This potato- cauliflower curry is best of the lot. We call it ‘aloo-gobi’ – aloo stands for potato and gobi for cauliflower. These two vegetables make a perfect combination as they both are experts in soaking up flavors from the spices you cook them in.

Aloo Gobi

I enjoy this curry most with plain rice; but my better half is more inclined towards the breads – rotis or parathas. I would safely say that this goes well with either of the two – rice or bread.

You can also experiment to combine this curry sauce with other veggie combinations and I am sure it won’t spoil anything. This curry is quite versatile and robust which makes the base for most of the Indian curries.

Aloo Gobi

Indian Potato Cauliflower Curry / Aloo Gobi Curry

 Serves 6

Ingredients

  • Cauliflower – 500 gms, cut into big florets and lightly fried
  • Potatoes – 4, large, cubed and lightly fried
  • Onion – 2, medium, finely chopped
  • Tomatoes – 2, medium, finely chopped
  • Coriander leaves – ½ cup
  • Green chillies – 2
  • Garlic – 3 to 4 cloves
  • Ginger – 2 inch piece
  • Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Garam masala – ½ tsp
  • Raw mango powder (Amchur) – ¼ tsp
  • Vegetable/mustard Oil –as required 
  • Sugar – ½ tsp
  • Salt to taste 

Instructions

  • Grind ginger, garlic and green chillies together in a grinder to get a coarse paste. (Add minimal water if only required.)
  • Heat oil in a skillet/wok and add cumin seeds. Let them crackle. Keep the flame on medium-low; else the cumin seeds will burn.
  • When the oil is fragrant, add the ginger-garlic-chilli paste and sauté for a minute.
  • Now add the chopped onion and fry them till they turn golden brown in color.
  • When the onions have softened and become brown, add the chopped tomatoes. Mix well. Sprinkle the sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Cook the tomatoes till they are totally soft and mushy.
  • In a small bowl, make a smooth paste of the powdered spices – turmeric, coriander, cumin, red chilli and garam masala – using a little water. 
  • Add this spice paste to the wok and saute on medium-high heat till oil starts separating from them. 
  • Add half of the coriander leaves, raw mango powder (amchur) and salt to taste. Mix well.
  • Now add fried potato cubes and cauliflower florets and mix with light hands (so that the cauliflower florets do not break) to coat them with the spices.
  • Add half a cup of water and bring it boil. Then cover and simmer it for 5 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables are fully cooked. Boil off some water if the gravy is too thin. 
  • Sprinkle the remaining coriander leaves and serve hot with plain white rice or roti.
Aloo Gobi

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vanilla Rice Pudding

This creamy vanilla rice pudding with the hint of cinnamon is the perfect counterpart of Indian rice kheer!


I will be honest to you! I was quite surprised when I got to know about this recipe! You wanna know why?

In Indian cuisine we have the exact same recipe which we call ‘payesh’ or ‘payasam’ or ‘kheer’ depending on the region with the only exception of the flavoring ingredient. We generally use cardamom powder or pistachios in stead of vanilla.


The Indian rice pudding is considered to be a very important and celebrated part of every household and it is primarily prepared on special occasions like birthdays or on auspicious days.

So I thought of trying this Western version of rice pudding with vanilla and cinnamon which would be new to our taste buds. Which one I liked more? Both!

Honestly both are winner. I loved the flavor of cinnamon mingled with the essence of vanilla which was completely new to me and has given me various new ideas to play with this combination.


I kept my rice pudding simple this time since I was trying it for the very first time. Assortments of nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts etc. will add a nice crunch to the texture which I will try next time.

Vanilla Rice Pudding

 Serves 8

Ingredients

  • Short-grain white rice – ½ cup
  • Whole milk – 1 & 1/2 liter
  • Sugar – 1 & ½ cup to 2 cups
  • Salt – ¼ tsp
  • Cream – 200 ml
  • Cinnamon powder – ½ tsp or more to taste

Instructions

  • In a large heavy bottomed pan, combine milk, sugar, salt and the rice.
  • Put the pan on high heat and bring it to boil. 
  • As soon as the milk comes to boil, bring the heat down to the lowest.
  • Stir and cook till the rice is tender and the milk has thickened and reduced to less than half. Keep stirring occasionally.
  • When the pudding has turns quite thick and almost all milk has evaporated, remove the pan from the fire [for me the whole process took a little more than one and a half hour] and let it cool completely.
  • Once cooled, transfer the pudding to a large baking dish or bowl and cover with a plastic wrap/cling film making sure that the plastic wrap is touching the top of the pudding. This will prevent the formation of a layer in the top while chilling.
  • Now refrigerate the pudding for least 4 hours, preferably overnight. 
  • Once the pudding is chilled nicely, remove the plastic wrap and add the cream. Mix the cream with the pudding using a wooden spoon with soft strokes. 
  • Sprinkle some cinnamon powder and serve into individual bowls adding more cinnamon powder if desired.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Potato and Green Onion Stir-Fry (Aloo Peyajkoli Bhaja)

The crispy fried potatoes with ‘peyajkoli’ which can be closely substituted by the greens of the scallions are an authentic Bengali dish enjoyed best with chapati. The generous sprinkle of poppy seeds is the icing on the cake!


Though I am a Bengali, I do not have enough Bengali recipes in my blog. Not yet! It is not intentional, neither that I do not cook authentic Bengali dish at home. The reason simply was that I was so accustomed with these recipes from my growing up years that I never seriously thought that they need to be shared. I was under the impression that these must be known by all!


So when I made these aloo-peyajkoli bhaja for our dinner once, my husband asked me very naively – why don’t I post this in my blog?

I laughed at the proposition at first but then gave a second thought – why not? My blog is nothing but the collection of recipes which I make at home for our regular meals, so why not this one which was such a favorite dish of mine since my childhood! So here it is – from my kitchen to yours!


Now let me talk about this thing – peyajkoli – for a while before going to the recipe. If you are not a Bengali then chances are that you are not familiar with this stuff. This is not exactly green onion or scallions but it is that particular green stem of onion plants which has a bud at the top. 

It can be substituted with the green parts of the scallions; but I have always used the real thing. Do let me know how the substitution worked if you have tried it.

Potato and Green Onion Stir-Fry (Aloo Peyajkoli Bhaja)

 Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Potatoes – 4, medium
  • Scallion (Peyajkoli) – 200 gms
  • Mustard oil – 2 tbsp
  • Onion seeds (kalonji) – ¼ tsp
  • Dry whole red chilli – 2
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Poppy seeds – 2 tsp
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Peel and cut the potatoes into small cubes about 1 cm long.
  • Chop the peyajkoli/scallions into 1 inch long strips.
  • Heat oil in a skillet and temper it with onion seeds and whole dry red chillies. Let the seeds crackle.
  • Now add the turmeric powder and the cubed potatoes. Saute them till they are three-fourth done.
  • Then add the chopped peyajkoli/scallions and stir well.
  • Saute everything till the potatoes are cooked through and the scallions are soft enough. I keep the scallions a bit crunchy since I like it that way.
  • Now sprinkle the poppy seeds and give a final stir. 
  • Remove from heat and serve hot with chapati.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Spicy Crab

This spicy crab has come to life with all flavorful Indian spices – the ultimate seafood in the comfort of your home!
spicy crab

When I was growing up with my parents, seafood was only restricted to prawns. I never ate home-cooked crabs which have been cooked in my own house.

But I did ate home-cooked crabs at a neighbors’ house and fell in love with it instantly. I am not sure why my mum was so apprehensive about cooking crabs in her own kitchen even though she also liked to eat it. I agree that they do not look good and I think that was her primary reason to not cook it on her own; but I can get away with that especially when I know the final outcome is going to be wonderful!

I cooked this crab in the Indian way with a usual curry sauce. I feel that garlic goes incredibly well with seafood, so the quantity of garlic I used might seem a little too much for you. Though it’s perfect for me, you can reduce the quantity as per your liking.

Eating crabs this way might seem a bit uncomfortable to some of you, but trust me, it’s utter fun! I was already into crabs and thankfully my better half liked it too! And you know what the coincidence is? His mum also never made crab at home!

spicy crab

Spicy Crab

 Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Crab – 2, medium size, cleaned and chopped
  • Onion -2, large, grated
  • Garlic – 10 to 12 cloves
  • Ginger – 2 inch piece
  • Cinnamon stick – 2 inch 
  • Black peppercorn – 8 to 10
  • Cloves – 4 to 6
  • Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  • Coriander powder – 2 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder – 2 tsp
  • Garam masala – 1 tsp
  • Oil – 4 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon wedges - 1 or 2

Instructions

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Smear the chopped crabs with pinch of turmeric and half a teaspoon of salt and fry them in the hot oil for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • Add the remaining oil into the same pan. 
  • Temper the oil with cinnamon sticks, peppercorn and cloves. Let these whole spices infuse the oil for couple of minutes under low heat else the spices will burn.
  • Next tip in the grated onion and fry till golden brown.
  • Make a smooth paste of the ginger and garlic. Add this paste to the pan and fry with the onion. 
  • When the onion mixture is nicely fried and brown all over, add the powdered spices – turmeric, coriander, red chilli and garam masala. Sprinkle a splash of water and sauté the spices on high heat till the oil starts separating from them. 
  • Add the fried crab pieces and stir well so that they are coated well with the spices. If the spices stick to the pan, keep adding splashes of water to deglaze the pan.
  • When the crabs are well sautéed with the spices, add 2 cups of water and bring it to boil. 
  • Season with salt and cook covered for 5 to 8 minutes or until the crabs are all well-cooked. 
  • Once done, reduce the gravy to your desired consistency and check the seasoning. 
  • Remove from heat, squeeze some lemon juice and serve hot with plain white rice.
spicy crab

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Chicken Xacuti

The absolutely flavorful Chicken Xacuti from the wonderful beaches of Goa in the West coast of India!

Chicken Xacuti

This was a real discovery! I swear!

I was wondering on what to share next in my blog and exploring my old collections since the latest ones were not ready to go. Then I found these pictures of chicken Xacuti in an old folder and jumped on my chair!

I don’t know how I missed this but am glad too that I finally discovered this as you know right – it’s better to late than never!

Chicken Xacuti

I had made this dish long back – almost a year back to be specific! But this came out so good that the taste is still lingering in my mouth!

This is a Goan delicacy. Goa is a small beach town on the West coast of India and the hottest tourist destination for not only Indians but also internationally.

Other than the beautiful beaches, Goa also has an extremely flavorful cuisine. The blend of spices in Goan recipes create an absolute magic. If you don’t trust me or haven’t been lucky enough to taste this wonderful cuisine, do make this Chicken Xacuti at home and I bet you will agree with me!


Chicken Xacuti

 Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Chicken – 1 kg, cut into medium sized pieces
  • Grate coconut – 1 cup
  • Garlic – 4-6 cloves
  • Dry red chillies – 4
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Coriander seed – 1 & ½ tbsp.
  • Black peppercorn – 10 to 14
  • Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
  • Carom seeds – 1 tsp
  • Poppy seeds – 2 tbsp
  • Cloves – 6 to 8
  • Cinnamon stick – 2 inch
  • Star anise – 4
  • Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
  • Onions – 2, medium, chopped
  • Tamarind pulp – 1 tbsp
  • Grated nutmeg - ¼ tsp
  • Oil – 4 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Heat one tablespoon of oil in a skillet and sauté the grated coconut till lightly brown. Transfer it to a blender jar. Add garlic cloves.
  • Now dry roast red chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, fennel seeds, carom seeds, poppy seeds, cloves, cinnamon and star anise till fragrant. Add it to the blender along with the coconut.
  • Add the turmeric powder and a little water and grind everything to a smooth paste.
  • Heat the remaining oil in a deep pan and sauté onions till browned.
  • Add chicken pieces and sauté on high heat for two to three minutes.
  • Add the spice paste and salt and stir well so that the chicken pieces are all coated with the spices.
  • Next add two cups of water and tamarind pulp and mix thoroughly. Grate some nutmeg, about ¼ teaspoon and add it to the gravy.
  • When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for about thirty minutes or till the chicken is tender. 
  • Serve hot with plain white rice.
Chicken Xacuti