Potatoes Sautéed with Onions, Ginger, and Turmeric

Potatoes Sautéed with Onions, Ginger, and Turmeric (aloo ki sabzi)

Serves 6

You can also use 2-3 pounds medium red potatoes.

3 large Idaho potatoes, boiled and peeled
¼ cup corn oil
½ teaspoon black  mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced fine
½-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
1 small green chili, chopped fine
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
¼  cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine

 Cut the boiled potatoes into ¼-inch pieces.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat.

Add the mustard and cumin seeds and stir until mustard seeds start popping and the cumin seeds turn a shade darker.

Add the onion, ginger, chili and curry leaves and stir for 3-4 minutes until onions are soft and golden brown.

Add the turmeric and salt  and mix thoroughly for 1 minute.

Add the potatoes and stir thoroughly for 4-5 minutes.

Remove and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with basmati rice or roti, legumes, salad and hot mint chutney.

Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

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Tofu with Bell Pepper, Peas and Zucchini

Tofu with Bell Pepper, Peas, and Zucchini (Sabzi aur Soya)

Serves 6

 2 medium zucchinis
2 medium bell peppers
1 pound soft tofu (soya bean cake)
¼ cup corn oil
½-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled, grated fine
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
¼ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 pound frozen peas
2 cups water
Salt to taste
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine

Wash and cut the bell peppers and zucchinis into ½-inch pieces.

Cut the tofu into ½-inch pieces.  Rinse and drain.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat.  Add the ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden brown.

Add the turmeric, coriander, chili powder, and garam masala, and mix for 1-2 minutes.

Add the bell peppers, peas, zucchini, 2 cups water, and salt, and stir.  Cover and simmer for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.  Add the tofu and mix.  Cover and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.  Serve hot with basmati rice, legumes, and salad.

Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Carrot Halwa

Here is another seductive Indian dessert made with carrots and flavored with saffron, ground cardamom and blanched almonds.

Saffron (kesar/zafran) is the dried stigmas of Crocus sativus, and is certainly among the world’s most expensive and aromatic spices. Often used too lavishly, just a few threads are adequate to give excellent color and aroma to a dish of rice!

One pound of saffron consists of about 225,000-500,000 dried stigmas that are handpicked from 75,000 flowers.  Saffron is cultivated for its large, scented, blue or lavender flowers.  The valley of Kashmir used to be famous for its saffron fields, producing the most expensive variety of saffron.  During the era of the Mughal emperors and Nawabs of Avadh, chickens and goats were fed saffron pills to produce the pleasant aroma of the spice in their flesh.  Saffron has extraordinary medicinal, flavoring, and coloring properties.

Carrot Halwa (gajar ka halva)

Serves 6

½ teaspoon saffron threads
4¼  cups hot milk
3 pounds carrots
1 cup sugar
¼  teaspoon ground green cardamom seeds
¼ cup slivered blanched almonds
2 tablespoon unclarified butter (ghee)

Heat a small griddle over high heat and roast the saffron threads, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes.  Remove and soak the threads in ¼ cup hot milk for 15 minutes.

Peel and grate the carrots.  In a large saucepan, heat the ghee over medium heat.  Add the almonds and stir constantly until they change color to a golden brown.  Add 4 cups of hot milk, sugar, and cardamom and boil for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the grated carrots and mix thoroughly, cooking for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture thickens and the carrots are glazed and sticky.  Pour the saffron milk over the mixture and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving dish.  Serve warm or cold.

 

Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

 

 

How to Make Clarified Butter (Ghee)

How to make Clarified Butter (ghee)

For thousands of years in India, people ate ghee with their meals.  There is no substitute for ghee.  Today it is commercially made, but the best ghee is always homemade for it is very simple to make without preservatives or coloring.  The important difference between American butter and Indian ghee is highly improved taste, not much fat, and a food that promotes good health, rejuvenation, and longevity.  Use sweet butter whenever possible to make ghee.

3 pounds unsalted sweet butter (makes 1 cup ghee)

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and place the butter, stirring occasionally until the butter melts.

Bring the melted butter to a boil until a white foam forms.

Reduce the heat to low and stir. Simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes until the solids have collected at the bottom of the pan and a thin layer of golden, crusty solids form on the saucepan.  The ghee in the pan should be clear and pale gold in color.

Remove and strain through cheesecloth into a container, squeezing and wringing out the liquid from the cheesecloth.

Discard the solids and residue.

Cool the ghee at room temperature and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry place, or refrigerate.

Ghee can be stored for several months.

 

Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Whole-Wheat Chapati Bread

The generic name for bread in India is roti (chapatti, phulka, paratha, poori, and naan).  Made from whole-wheat flour, water and salt, it is kneaded, baked, and quite different in taste from the Western oven-baked, leavened loaves.

The secret to preparing good chapatis is to knead the dough.  The technique for preparing Indian breads is always the same: Mix and knead the dough thoroughly to a smooth consistency for 10 minutes manually or in a food processor.  Set the dough aside and cover with a damp cheesecloth for 10 minutes before rolling and baking on a hot griddle.

Griddle-baked breads are the most popular breads and eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Unleavened Indian Whole-Wheat Bread (Pulka or Chapati)

Serves 6

3 cups whole wheat flour
Salt to taste
1 to 1¼  cups warm water
1 tablespoon ghee or corn oil
¼  cup whole-wheat flour for dusting
¼ cup ghee (optional)

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and water until a dough is formed.  Mix in 1 tablespoon ghee and knead for 10 minutes to a smooth consistency, pressing and folding the dough.

Sprinkle the dough with a little cold water.  Cover with damp cheesecloth, set aside at room temperature for 10 minutes, and then knead until smooth.

Divide the dough into twelve equal portions and form into smooth balls. Coat each ball with flour and flatten to form a patty.

Dust some flour on a clean, dry surface.  Lightly dust the rolling pin and dough with flour and roll out each ball to make a 6-inch, flat, round pancake or tortilla.

Heat an iron griddle over high heat and then reduce the heat to medium.  Place the bread on the griddle and bake for 20-30 seconds, until the top starts to puff a little.

With tongs, turn the bread over and bake for another 30-40 seconds.

Using soft cheesecloth, gently press the edges of the bread until the surface bread starts to puff.  Lightly brush the bread with ghee on both sides and place in a covered dish.

Repeat this process until all the bread is baked and serve immediately with vegetables, legumes, and salad.

 

Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Skewered Mint-Flavored Lamb Kebab

India is truly the land of spectacular mouthwatering kebabs (meats roasted on a skewer or pounded fried meat).  The art of Mughal-style kebab making was developed in the kitchens of the caliphs of Baghdad and perfected in Lucknow and Hyderabad, where kebab-makers mastered hundreds of variations of chicken, lamb, seafood, vegetables, cheese, and legume kebabs.

A traditional meal featuring a main curry dish might also include kebabs, rice, naan roti, chutney, salad, vegetables, and lentils.  Kebab refers to small chunks, patties, or balls of lamb, beef, chicken, or paneer (cheese), broiled or fried in herbs and seasonings.

Skewered Mint-Flavored Lamb Kebab

Serves 6

Shish kebab is a Turkish word meaning broiled meat on a skewer. However, over the centuries, the ingredients in this recipe changed, and in India, the name switched to seekh kebab.

1½ pounds ground lamb
1 teaspoon chickpea flour
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled, grated fine
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped fine
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon corn oil
Salt to taste
¼ cup plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF or prepare the barbecue grill.

In a large bowl, mix the first nine ingredients to a smooth mixture.  Divide into six equal portions and form into smooth balls.

Oil a deep baking pan.  Using a wet hand spread each ball along the length of a 12-inch steel skewer at least 1 inch apart.

In a small bowl, whip the yogurt with a fork.

Brush the lamb skewers with yogurt and place on the baking pan.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until evenly brown and tender.

Baste with yogurt; cut into 1-inch pieces and skewer on toothpicks. Serve hot with naan, mint chutney, and Indian salad.

 

Hot Mint Chutney (Garam Pudina ki Chutney)

1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
¼ -inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 fresh green chili
Juice of ½  lemon
Salt to taste

Remove and discard the stems from the mint leaves.  In a blender, combine mint leaves and all other ingredients.  Blend to a fine paste.  Serve in a small bowl as an accompaniment to kebab.

 

Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Guacamole, Sí Señora

The Aztec people of ancient Mexico were the first to create their avocado dip, which became a popular American dip.  My recipe is a delicious California concoction.

Guacamole Dip (Guacamole ki Chutney)

Serves 6

 5 large ripe Haas avocadoes
Juice of 1 large lime
Salt to taste
1 medium Serrano chili pepper, chopped fine
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 medium garlic clove, peeled and chopped fine
½  cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine

Cut the avocadoes in half and discard the seeds.  With a spoon scoop out the flesh and save in a bowl.  Add juice of ½ lime and mix thoroughly to prevent browning.  Add salt, Serrano chili, onion, garlic, cilantro leaves and juice of ½ lime and mix thoroughly.  Serve immediately with your favorite tortilla chips.

 

Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Stewed Apple Flavored with Cardamom

Here is one tasty treat from my mother’s kitchen for dessert lovers of all ages.  I have made this hundreds of times for family and friends with rave reviews using one of the most unique honey-tart flavored apples in the United States: the delicious Jona Gold apple of New York State!

Stewed Apple with Cardamom

2 pounds Jona Gold apples
6 cups cold water
6 green cardamoms
½  teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
1 bay leaf
½ cup brown sugar (optional)

Remove the skin from the apples and cut into ½-inch pieces.

In a large pot, add the water, apples, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, bay leaf, and brown sugar.  Cover and boil over medium heat for 6-8 minutes until tender.

Cool and transfer to serving dish.  Serve in small dessert bowls topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Eggplant with Legumes (dal)

Legumes or dried beans and peas have been a part of the ancient Indian culinary tradition and the generic name for all members of the dried pea and bean family is dal.   Containing enzymes, fiber, minerals, and vitamins, dal is easily digested and highly nutritious, and is an accompaniment of almost every Indian lunch.  The repertoire of dal dishes is indeed extensive, from liquid soups and thick purees, stews, fried appetizers, crispy pancakes and crepes, sauces, and chutneys to sprouted salads and delicious sweetmeats.

Always wash legumes four or five times under cold running water prior to cooking.  Some varieties of legumes should be soaked overnight to tenderize and save cooking time, as indicated in the recipes of my cookbooks.

Yellow split peas, also known as split chick-peas or garbanzos (chana dal) are the most widely used dal.  The gram flour, or besan, is used to make pakoras (hors d’oeuvres) and is versatile as a sauce thickener.

Dal is always prepared in combination with pungent herbs and spices, such as garlic, ginger, onion, black pepper, chilies, mustard seeds, asafoetida, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, onion seeds, salt, and oil or clarified butter.

The seasoning technique (baghar or tarka) is always the same:  In a small pan, heat some oil or ghee and add the required amount of cumin and mustard seeds.  When the seeds start popping, add the chopped onion, ginger, garlic, crushed red dried chilies, and a pinch of asafoetida.  Stir and cook for a minute, removing the pan from the heat.  This blend of seasoning is used to garnish cooked lentils served with rice or chapatis (roti).

Eggplant with Legumes (Baigan ka Dal)

Serves 6

1 pound yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
1½ quarts water
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt to taste
¼ cup corn oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1½-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
1 fresh green chili, chopped fine
1 tablespoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon asafoetida
1 large tomato, chopped
1 medium American eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces

Wash the yellow split peas and soak in cold water for 30 minutes.

In a large pot, add water and boil the peas with the turmeric, ground chili, and salt over medium heat for 30 minutes until soft.

Heat the oil in a wok.  Add the mustard and cumin seeds and fry over medium heat until the mustard seeds start popping. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and chili and sauté until the onions are soft and golden brown.  Add the coriander and asafoetida, stirring constantly 2 minutes.  Add the cooked peas and tomato and mix thoroughly. Add the eggplant, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the eggplant is tender. Serve hot with plain rice or chapatis, and yogurt.

Curry facts:

  • All the spices and herbs utilized in Indian cuisine are healthy because they are major sources of vitamins and minerals needed to preserve human life
  • Magic of curry is in the blending and sautéing of spices (masala)
  • Legume and bean dishes are always seasoned with asafoetida, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, onion, and turmeric to reduce gas and make food light to digest
  • Vegetables always need coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, onion, and turmeric
  • Certain spices such as bay leaf, black pepper, cardamom, chili pepper, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, onion, and turmeric work well together for meat and vegetable curries.
  • Simple tools and utensils are used
  • Many of these spices are available at your local grocery store
  • Being on friendlier terms with your stomach serves you well

 

Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.

Tasty Cashew-Flavored Ground Chicken Kebab

India is truly the land of spectacular mouthwatering kebabs (meats roasted on a skewer or pounded fried meat).  The art of Mughal-style kebab making was developed in the kitchens of the caliphs of Baghdad and perfected in Lucknow and Hyderabad, where kebab-makers mastered hundreds of variations of chicken, lamb, seafood, vegetables, cheese, and legume kebabs.

Ground Chicken Kebab (Reshmi Murgh Kebab)

Serves 6

2 eggs
¾ cup raw unsalted cashew nuts
2¼ pounds ground chicken
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground white peppercorns
4 tablespoons corn oil
1 teaspoon roasted Mughal-style Garam Masala
1½-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped fine
¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine
½ cup melted butter for basting

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl.

In a spice grinder, grind the cashew nuts to a fine powder.

In a large bowl, mix the ground chicken, salt, eggs, cumin, chili powder, pepper, and oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes. Combine the ground cashews, garam masala, chopped ginger, onions, and cilantro leaves with the chicken.  Divide the chicken mixture into eight equal portions and form into smooth balls.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF or prepare the barbecue grill.

Using a wet hand, spread each ball along the length of a 12-inch steel skewer at least 1 inch apart.

Oil a deep baking pan. Brush each skewer with some melted butter and place on the baking pan.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 8–10 minutes.

Remove the foil and baste with melted butter.  Turn the skewers over and bake for 8–10 minutes until evenly brown and tender.

Baste with melted butter. Cut into 1-inch pieces and skewer on toothpicks.  Serve hot with naan, mint chutney, and cucumber in yogurt.

 

Mughal-Style Garam Masala (Mughalai Garam Masala)

Makes 1 cup

1 teaspoon black cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 bay leaves
6 black cardamom pods, seeds removed and pods discarded
12 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and pods discarded
½ cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon ground mace
½ teaspoon dry ginger
½ teaspoon crushed saffron threads

Heat a small skillet over high heat.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the spices.  Stir occasionally with a spatula for 3-4 minutes until the spices change color to a darker shade and release their distinct aromas.

Grind to a fine powder and store in an airtight container.

 

Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.