Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Brown poha with the husk on Poha Cheora Chira

Bag of husk-on poha aka chira in Bengali

Cooked poha studded with potatoes, onions, peanuts, curry leaves, green chiles, and cilantro.

I wanted to note this find: I got husk-on brown poha at a Bangladeshi market. I used my regular poha recipe. But I had to wash this poha well to remove the gritty chaff and soak it for 45 minutes. (I experimented to reach my conclusion on the soaking time.)

It came out well. The poha itself was nutty, as brown rice typically is. I still like white poha better. But this is a good high fiber option.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Aloo Anday ka Saalan (Potato and Hard Boiled Egg Curry) #2

A very simple recipe to use for daily cooking, I make this a couple of times a month. I typically serve this with a wet daal or a simple vegetable dish such as bitter greens or karela. The gravy, potato, and egg taste delicious mashed into plain rice. You could even serve this as a solo dish and set out a selection of pickles and a raita on the table. This saalan (wet curry) also goes well with roti.

Oil has been poured off but you can still see some oil in the finished dish or this wouldn't be a proper saalan!

For this dish you need 5 hard boiled eggs peeled and cut in half. I discovered a couple of years ago that if I steam hard boiled eggs on medium heat for 14 minutes, then remove them from the steam and let them rest for 15-20 minutes, they turn out with a perfectly cooked yellow yolk.

In addition you need 1 large potato or 2-3 small potatoes peeled and cut into wedges that are similar in size to the hard boiled egg halves.

The saalan:

1/2 cup oil (oil will be poured off later)
1 tsp whole cumin seeds (sabut zeera)
1 medium onion sliced thinly
1 heaping tbs ginger-garlic paste
2-3 finely chopped green chiles (I ground these with the ginger-garlic paste)
2 large ripe, juicy tomatoes finely chopped, or 2 cups of roughly pureed tomato
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbs coriander powder
2 cups water
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 pinch Shan Curry Powder or any Kitchen King Masala
1 pinch dried methi rubbed between palms (qasoori methi)

Heat oil in pot and add in cumin seeds. As they sizzle toss in the sliced onions. Stir onions frequently on high heat. When you see that a lot of moisture has evaporated from them, turn down the heat and allow the onions to cook until they are golden. Turn up the heat and add in the ginger garlic paste and finely chopped green chile. When the ginger garlic paste changes color from pale to golden, add in the tomato. Stir tomato on high heat for a while. Add in your turmeric, red chile powder, cumin, and coriander. Cook this gravy for a while until all of the moisture has evaporated from the tomatoes and you have a paste with all of the oil on top of it. Remove from the heat and pour off as much oil as you can without losing any gravy. (You can discard the oil or re-use it in a red meat curry dish.) Put pot back on the stove. Set the flame to high and add in the potato. Stir for a moment, then pour in the water.  Stir in the salt. Allow this to come to a boil. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are completely cooked. When they potatoes are cooked, turn off the heat. Toss in the curry powder and the dried methi and stir. Add in the hard boiled egg halves and gently shake the pot to allow the top of the eggs to get covered lightly in gravy. Ideally they shouldn't be completely submerged so that they are visible and look pretty. If you care to make this daily dish fancier, pour the gravy in a flat rimmed serving dish, then arrange the eggs in the dish, spooning some gravy on top of each egg. The eggs should sit in the gravy for 5-10 minutes so that they pick up the saalan's flavor.

For an alternative alu anday recipe that does not use the typical tomato-onion masala, see here.

Served with healthy brown basmati rice with the gravy mixed and mashed in. Yummy to eat with fingers!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baingan ka raita (Cooling yoghurt with fried eggplant)

This is an excellent raita to serve at parties or on any day that you have made a pullao or biryani. It is fancy and takes some time to prepare, so it is not an everyday raita. (We have plain yoghurt with daily meals, anyhow.)

You will have to make this raita in three steps.

Step 1) Roast you masala: Here you will prepare a red chile powder-cumin masala. The quantity I give here is more than you will need for one raita recipe. I prepare small amounts of this masala to keep on hand for most of my raita recipes.

2 heaping tbs whole cumin seeds
2 tbs powdered cumin
1 tsp red chile powder.

Heat a flat frying pan. Add in the whole cumin seeds and stir frequently, allowing them to color, but taking care not to burn them. Pour them into a wide bowl and keep aside, allowing them to cool. Turn off the flame under the pan, but when you have just poured out the whole cumin seeds and the pan is still very hot, put in the cumin and chile powder. Stir these with a wooden spoon for a few moments, just allowing them to release their oil and fragrance and wake up their flavor. Put this in another bowl and keep aside until it is cool.

When the whole cumin seeds are completely cool, add them into your spice grinder (mine is a small coffee bean grinder) and coarsely crush the seeds by pulsing the button a few times. There should be large bits of seeds and some whole seeds in the powder.

Pour these powders into separate storage containers, and keep them for use in raitas.

Eggplant cubes before frying
Step 2) Frying your eggplant: Select two medium sized, young eggplants. The less seeds, the better. My farmer's market has great eggplant right now, so this is why I made this recipe today.

Chop eggplant into bite sized cubes. The size I do is about 1 inch cubed. Keep aside.

You will need about 1/2 cup flour with a pinch of salt in it. Put this inside of a deep bowl.

Salted flour in a deep bowl for lightly dredging the cubes.

Pour about 2-3 cups oil into a vessel for deep frying. When the oil is hot, quickly toss about 1.5 cups of eggplant cubes in the flour and remove them, tapping off the excess flour, then putting them quickly into the oil. Fry these cubes until they are nicely golden and set them aside on paper towels. Repeat this in batches.

Frying the eggplant cubes
The flour helps keep the eggplant in shape. The good thing about this raita is that you can prepare the eggplant cubes earlier in the day, and keep them out of the fridge on the countertop and they will stay in good shape. You want to add these to the yoghurt mixture just before serving, otherwise moisture can seep out of them and discolor the raita. Even if you plan to fry the eggplant cubes and serve the raita right away, you MUST keep the cubes to the side until they are completely cooled. Do not add hot eggplant cubes to your yoghurt for this recipe.

Keep the fried cubes aside. They can sit out for half a day.
Step 3) The raita...making it all come together

4 cups of plain full fat yoghurt, which is a 32 oz. tub. I prefer Dannon brand since it only contains milk and yoghurt culture. There are no thickeners.
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp plus a pinch of salt (or to taste)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp chaat masala from a box
1/4 tsp white pepper
Ingredients for the raita
1 tsp coursely crushed cumin seed powder (see above)
1 tsp roasted cumin powder-chile powder mix (see above

Mix all of this together well.

Add in these vegetables:

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 finely chopped green chiles
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion*
1 tomato, seeds and pulp removed, finely chopped

When you have mixed all of these things together, you can keep this in the fridge until you are ready to serve. At serving time, add in your fried eggplant cubes.

*If the onion seems strong tasting, soak the onion in cold water for 20 mins while you cut the other ingredients, then strain it and add it to the yoghurt. This will temper the sharpness of it so that it won't overpower your light raita.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fish shami kababs

Usually you see beef, mutton, or chicken shami kababs.

I decided to try to make them using fish. This is a #whattodowithshanmasala recipe.

They came out well. This is a complicated and cumbersome recipe. You can make these for a party. These freeze well so it is nice to make a bunch and then keep some in the freezer to defrost as needed.

I used basa fish, but you can use any kind of firm fleshed, mild white fish. Use half the recipe for a family sized amount of shami kababs, but for a party, this will make around 26-30 patties, depending on how big you make your patties. I make mine by scooping two tablespoons into my hand so that I can be sure that all of the patties will be the same size. I don't have kabab skillz like some people who can make all of the patties the same by eyeballing.

Mise en place ready to go. 

2 lbs fish filets cut into pieces, soaked in 1/4 cup vinegar, turmeric, and chile powder (1 tsp each) for 30 mins, then rinsed and patted dry
3 cups boiled channa daal (soak 1.5 cups raw daal for one hour, then boil, lower heat and cook for 20 mins until completely tender but still whole, strain, and set aside)
1 small onion chopped finely
1 small onion chopped roughly
14 green chiles (no need to chop since these will get blended)
3 tbs garam masala
2 heaping tbs Shan Shami Kabab Masala
1 conservative tsp elaichi seeds (unhusked black seed)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
pinch of salt (maybe 1/2 tsp, but taste the patty dough because it will be fully cooked and adjustable)
1 egg for binding
1 tbs lime juice
3-4 eggs for dipping
3 tbs  oil for making the meat
oil for frying shamis


Cooked ingredients.
Heat 3 tbs oil in pot. Add in the finely chopped onions and fry for a few minutes until they become clear. Add in ginger garlic paste and 8 green chiles. Stir this until the ginger garlic is golden. Add in the fish and the powdered masalas. Stir until fish is fully cooked. Add in the lentils and mix well.  Stir till this looks very dry. Turn off the flame. Add salt. Be conservative because you can always add more salt but cannot take salt out. Allow this to cool for a few minutes. Add in the remaining fresh green chiles, mint, the roughly chopped onion, and the cilantro, and mix. Transfer to a blender and blend until it is a smooth paste. If I make this full amount, I do this in three batches with lots of scrape downs of the blender jar. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Taste for salt, and add more if need be. Stir elaichi seeds, and lime juice. Finally, stir in one beaten egg. Put this in the fridge for an hour or two to let it cool completely and firm up a bit.

Blended mixture.
When you are ready to fry, heat up 1/4 cup oil in a wide frying pan. Beat your 3-4 eggs (or however many you need) with a tiny sprinkle of salt. Form patties in your hands and dip them in the egg wash. The fish shami kabab patties are very soft and hard to work with. Fry only a few at a time so you can manage. Put them in the frying pan for a few moments, then turn over and allow to brown on the other side. Remove from oil and keep on a plate covered in paper towels to absorb some of the oil The soft shamis will firm up a bit as they cool down.

Serve these with ketchup or coriander chutney or tamarind chutney. These also go well on a sandwich.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Green Channa Hara Channa Masala

This is a recipe for green desi channay. These are freshly picked, un-hulled (skin on) young desi chickpeas...the small desi variety that is hulled and split to become channa daal, not the larger foreign channa (kabuli or safaid). I usually get these frozen in a bag from the Indian store.

The brand I buy is already cooked and salted. I simply need to pour the bag of frozen channe into a bowl of water and strain them a few times to de-frost them. If you find fresh ones or frozen un-cooked ones, you would need to boil them till tender.

The bag I buy comes with 310 grams of chickpeas, or almost 1.5 cups. This recipe is for that amount.


1.5 defrosted green channa, method for prep described above. The channe should be a little bit wet from washing.

2-3 tbs oil
3-4 slit whole green chiles
1 tsp zeera
1/8 tsp/a pinch of hing (asofetida)
6-8 curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tbs fresh lime juice
a sprinkle of salt, if desired

1/4 cup or so chopped cilantro

Heat oil in pan. Add in slit green chiles. When their skin starts to blister, add in cumin seeds. As this colors, add in the hing, curry leaves, and all of the dry spices. Let this sizzle for a moment, but take care not to burn. Dump in washed de-frosted channe. Stir the channe into the masala. Turn down the flame and cover. Cook on low for 5 minutes. Turn off the flame. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt if frozen channe have been pre-salted. (If your channe haven't been salted, I would add salt before closing the lid a step earlier.) Pour on lime juice and mix well. Stir in some cilantro, transfer them to a serving bowl, and add more cilantro to the top of your dish as a garnish.

This dish is dry and goes well as a "side dish." It can be eating plain between bites of other food, or with roti.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Aloo Chholay Chickpea and Potato Curry

This is a #whattodowithShanMasala recipe, meaning that it is required that you have Shan Chana Masala Mix (or your channa masala brand of choice) to make this recipe.

Alu chholay, a classic dish of Punjab. Serve this with roti, or even puris or kulchay. Make it thick or liquidy as per your taste, and if it has a wetter gravy, enjoy it with rice.

You may be wondering why Shan labels their mix chana (also spelled channa), but some people call this legume chhola (plural chholay). Chhola is the Punjabi word. This is what we call in English chickpea or garbanzo bean. To distinguish from the indigenous strain of desi chickpea, the channa daal with it's black outer skin, many people also call the larger, non-indigenous garbanzo Kabuli channa (channa from Kabul, Afghanistan) or safaid channa (white chickpeas).

Step one: Preparing the chholay

Chholay are best prepared in a pressure cooker, but can also be boiled in a regular pot. You will need:

1.5 cups of dried chickpeas
pinch of baking soda
1 black tea bag
1/2 tsp salt

Put your dried chickpeas in a deep bowl and wash them well. Cover them in double their amount of water. They will swell and grow as they rehydrate, so you want to make sure that they are in a deep enough amount of water. Add in 1 pinch of baking soda. This helps them soften when they soak and cook. Soak these at least 5 hours, or overnight.

When you are ready to prepare the chickpeas, strain them from the water. Never boil legumes in the water in which they have soaked, as all of the gas causing properties of the legumes will be in the water. It should be discarded (or used to water the plants or something). Put chickpeas in a pressure cooker with double the amount of water of the chickpeas. Add in the black tea bag and the salt. Cover and pressure cook them for about 25 minutes. In my Hawkins, it takes about 8 whistles and then low simmer for 10 minutes. Your pressure cooker cook time may vary.

When done, the chickpeas should be beautifully tender. Keep them aside with their cooking liquid, and discard the tea bag, which should have done its job of coloring the chholay. You will need the chickpeas separately from the cooking liquid, so when you are ready to cook, have the chickpeas strained, and keep the cooking liquid in another vessel.

You can also soak the chickpeas overnight and boil them (no salt) on the stove top for 45 mins to an hour. Add the salt when they are soft. OR you can use canned chickpeas. Canned don't have the fluffy, soft texture of rehydrated boiled chickpeas, though. It's up to you.

Step 2: The masala

1/4 cup cooking oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion chopped (lemon sized onion, or 1/2 American onion)
1 tbs garlic paste
1 tbs ginger paste
1 tsp red chile powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 cup roughly pureed tomatoes (or 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped)
1 tbs Shan Chana Masala
3-4 small potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized cubes
1/2 tsp amchoor
1 tsp garam masala
salt to taste (+/- 1 tsp)

chopped green chiles and chopped cilantro


Heat oil in pan. Add in cumin seeds and allow them to color. Add in onions. Cook onions until they are translucent and turning golden, and browning a little bit on the outside. Don't let them become too brown or your curry gravy will be sweet. Add in the garlic and ginger when the onions are golden. Allow the garlic and ginger to color, then toss in the red chile powder, turmeric, coriander powder, and cumin powder. Allow this to sizzle for a second. Add in the tomato puree. Cook for a few moments until the tomatoes dry up a bit and the oil rises out of the masala paste. Add in the salt, then toss in the chickpeas that you had kept aside. Stir these for a few moments. Now, add in the Shan Chana Masala and stir well. Then, add in 1 cup of the chickpea cooking liquid. Allow this to come to a boil. Add in the chopped potatoes. Bring to a boil again. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are completely done. When the cooking is done, turn off the flame and stir in the garam masala and amchoor. Cover and let this rest for 5 full minutes. The liquid will thicken at this point. If you want a wetter gravy, add in 1/2 cup or so more water. Stir in some cilantro, and then add more cilantro and chopped green chiles on the top of the dish.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Creamy Jalapeño Salsa: Krazy Good Green Sauce

This is a creamy jalapeño salsa.

El Regio and El Pollo Rico in Austin, Texas are two Monterrey (that's Nuevo León, México Monterrey) style rotisserie chicken places. They serve this krazy good green sauce there. Theirs is just boiled jalapeños blended with oil and some salt, but mine has a couple of extra ingredients.

Here is my version: (makes a little over 1 cup):

8-9 jalapeños
1 clove garlic
1 tbs or so lime juice
1/2 cup or so oil (light tasting oil*)
1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Put jalapeños in a pot of water and boil for about 20 minutes until they are soft. Remove them from the water. Stick the clove of garlic in the hot water for a few minutes, then remove it. This is a trick to take the sharp edge off of the garlic by cooking it very slightly. Allow your jalapeños to cool completely, then using gloves, remove the stems and seeds with your hands.

Add all off the ingredients except oil to a blender. Turn on blender and grind jalapeños for a moment, then slowly drizzle in the oil till you have a beautiful green emulsification.

This sauce thickens a bit once you refrigerate it, so don't make it to thick to start out with. It should still be a bit liquidy when you take it out of the fridge, not a solid.

OPTION: Alternatively, roast your jalapaños under a broiler/on the stove/on the grill. Allow to cool and remove the stems, seeds, and most of the skin. Use the charred jalapeños and proceed with the rest of the recipe. This yields a slightly smoky green sauce flecked with black charred bits for color. It's very delicious.

*I like sunflower oil for this. I am sure El Regio and El Pollo Rico use soybean oil. For heart healthy oils, a light olive oil works, too. But avoid a strongly flavored olive oil or it will be overpowering in the salsa and give it a strange undertaste.