Friday, February 24, 2012

Shami Kababs

Shami Kebabs

Shami kebab is a fried kebab made of ground lamb mixed with ground chickpeas and spices. A popular appetizer in the Pakistani cuisine shami kebab is believed to have been introduced to the South Asian kitchens during the Mughal period. Lamb is cooked with chana dal and other spices and then ground to form a smooth uniform mixture. This is shaped into round or oblong cutlets and then deep fried. Shami kebabs are served with mint chutney, lemon slices and raw onions rings. Serve them alongside naan and mixed greens for a full meal.
You can make the same recipe with ground chicken. Just substitute chicken for lamb and proceed. I usually don't deep fry these cutlets. Instead I spray them with olive oil and then crisp them on medium heat in a flat non-stick pan. The deep fried ones taste more rich and the entire cutlet browns and crisps up evenly including the side circumference.

Ingredients: (makes 15)
1 lb minced lamb
1/3 C chana dal (or yellow split peas) soaked for an hour
3 cloves of garlic
2 inches ginger
2-4 green chilies
whole spices- (4 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 black cardamom, 3-4 green cardamoms, few peppercorns, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds)
1 small chopped red onion
finely chopped scallions
finely chopped fresh coriander
green chillies(optional)
1 egg

Lamb Cutlets with mint chutney
  1. Take the lamb, chana dal, ginger, garlic, green chilies and whole spices in a pressure cooker along with 3/4 cup water and salt to taste. 
  2. After the first whistles, reduce heat to low and cook for 5-7 minutes under full pressure. For chicken cook for one whistle them remove from heat. If you are not using a pressure cooker then cook in a covered pan with water as needed till chana dal is soft and lamb is cooked through. 
  3. Once cooked, check for moisture. If there is still some water then boil it off till mixture is quite dry. Allow the mixture to cool. 
  4. At this point remove the cinnamon stick and black cardamom. Then grind the meat mixture in a food processor till everything grinds to a smooth paste. The whole spices and chana dal should all grind up. 
  5. To this add chopped onion, scallions, fresh coriander, green chilies and egg. Using your hands, mix well. Check and adjust seasoning. 
  6. Once everything combines, shape into kebabs either round or oblong. You should end up with about 15 kebabs. Place them in the fridge or 1/2 hour to firm up a bit. 
  7. Next, in a frying pan heat some oil on medium heat and fry the kebabs until browned on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve hot. 
  8. If you make a double batch, cutlets that are not fried can be frozen for about 2-3 months.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spaghetti with Meatballs

Tonight's Menu
Spaghetti with Chicken meatballs
Toasted baguette rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil
Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling
Spaghetti with meatballs

There is nothing more satisfying than a bowl full of spaghetti and meatballs topped with the perfect tomato sauce. This is certainly not an authentic Italian dish but an American adaptation. But boy is it good. Specially from a kids' outlook, twirling and swirling the strands of pasta in the sauce and sucking them in.
We don't eat beef in our house so I usually make the chicken or lamb meatballs, and you can certainly use any ground meat you like for this recipe. Start with tomato sauce and while its simmering, prepare the meatballs.

Top with grated Parmesan and fresh basil
Tomato Sauce
Ingredients: (Makes 7 cups)

2 tbsp Olive oil
4 Red Onions chopped
5 Cloves of Garlic chopped
4 Bay leaves
1 cup slivered carrots (optional)
12 Tomatoes chopped
1 can Tomato Paste
1 9 oz can Tomato Puree
2 tsp Sugar and Salt to taste
1/4 cup each Fresh Basil and Oregano (1 tbsp each if using dry)    
  1. In a large pan heat olive oil and add onion, garlic and bay leaves. Cook till onions soften. 
  2. Add the carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook on high for a minute. 
  3. Now add tomatoes, tomato paste and puree, sugar and herbs. At this point can add a tsp or two of hot chili sauce. Stir and bring to boil. 
  4. Boil for 2-3 minutes on high, then simmer for 15 minutes.
Meatballs simmering in Spaghetti sauce with slivered carrots
Chicken meatballs
Ingredients: (makes about 25)

1lb minced chicken or turkey
1 egg
1 small onion chopped fine
1/3 cup breadcrumbs soaked in 1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup grated parmigiana (optional)
salt and black pepper
  1. Mix all the ingredients for chicken balls together and shape into 1 inch balls. 
  2. Deep fry or bake at 375 F for 10-12 minutes till brown on all sides. 
  3. Add to the simmering tomato sauce and cook for 10-12 minutes till cooked through.
While this is cooking, boil pasta according to package directions al dente. Drain and serve with meatballs and tomato sauce, topped with fresh chopped basil and grated parmigiana.
Use your toasted bread (plain or flavored with garlic butter) to wipe off any sauce in the plate. Yummmm!!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese

Tonight's Menu
Mac N Cheese
Garden Salad
Wine Pairing: Chianti Classico, Pinot Noir

Macaroni and Cheese isn't exactly a gourmet fare but is one of the most popular American comfort food. If mac n cheese seems like a kids meal to you, then think again. Use a combination of interesting sharp cheeses, top it with buttered bread crumbs, bake it to perfection and you will have yourself a grown up mac N cheese.
Serve alongside a garden salad or steamed veggies. I love to make macaroni and cheese with broccoli florets. Just add the florets to the boiling pasta for the last minute and then proceed with the recipe. 
Another variation could be adding cooked bite sized boneless chicken pieces or cooked ham to the pasta (with or without broccoli) just before adding the cheese sauce and then proceed with the baking. 

Macaroni and Cheese
Ingredients: (serves 6-8)
3 ½ C macaroni pasta
4 ½ C cheese (3 C sharp white cheddar and rest could be Gruy√®re and/or parmigiana )
5 ½ C whole milk
½ C all purpose flour
8 tbsp (1stick) unsalted butter
4 slices white bread
salt to taste
cracked black pepper
nutmeg powder to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and prepare a large casserole dish by spraying with oil. Keep aside. De-crust the bread and tear them into small pieces. 
  2. Melt 2 tbsp butter pour it on the bread crumbs, toss and keep aside. 
  3. Warm the milk and keep aside. 
  4. Keep a large pot of salted water to boil for the paste while you make the cheese sauce. 
  5. In a pan melt the remaining 6 tbsp butter, add the flour and cook, stirring for one minute. Slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time, while whisking, to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking at medium low heat whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 10 minutes. 
  6. Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper and nutmeg, all but 1/2 cup cheese. Keep aside. 
  7. Add the macaroni pasta to boiling water and cook for only 2-3 minutes, inside should be underdone. Rinse in cold water and drain well. 
  8. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce. Pour the mixture in the prepared casserole. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and buttered breadcrumbs on top. 
  9. Bake for about 30 minutes till golden brown. Serve hot with a garden salad. 

The real macNcheese

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fish and Chips

Tonight's Menu 
Beer battered Cod
Potato fries
Tartar sauce
Dark ale or Lager

Who doesn't love fish and chips. This battered, deep fried, delicious and calorie packed indulgence is often a guilty pleasure. But I say go for it once or twice a year. 
An easy recipe where firm white fish pieces are first coated in flour (or corn starch) and then dipped in a thick batter made of flour mixed with usually water or sometimes beer. The beer batter forms a wonderful crisp coating when fried and beer lends tons of flavor. 
Cod and haddock is the fish of choice when making this dish. Use any firm white fish which hold up to heavy battering and frying. 
Serve with lime wedges, tartar sauce and of course fries. Enjoy with a pint or two. Cheers.

Beer battered Cod

1 1/2 lbs firm fleshed white fish (I used cod)
Corn starch for dredging
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
Salt and pepper
Cayenne pepper
1 bottle brown beer, cold
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. 
  2. Whisk in the beer until the batter is completely smooth and free of any lumps. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. This batter can be made up to 1 hour ahead of time. 
  3. Heat oil in a pan to about 350 F. Lightly dredge fish strips in cornstarch. 
  4. Dip the fish into batter and carefully immerse into hot oil. When the batter is set, turn the pieces of fish over and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Do not overcrowd the pan, work in small batches. 
  5. Drain fish on a rack. Serve with fries and tartar sauce.