Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holi snack spread

Dahi Bhalla (दही भल्ले)
Chatori Katori (चटोरी कटोरी)
Aloo chaat (आलू की चाट)
Khandvi (खांडवी)
Rava Dhokla (रवाँ ढोकला)
Veggie Samosa (समोसा)
Gujiya (गुजिया)
Holi snack spread
Holi, the festival of colors, welcomes spring with its vast array of colors and bids winter adieu. Everyone celebrates using dry colors and enjoying food with their friends and family.

I am sharing with you my spread for this year's Holi festivities. It is an array of hot and cold hor 'd oeuvres. Some recipes are given below while some will be posted in the following weeks. I have altered most of these recipes from the traditional ones to make them less calorie dense.

Hope you all had a wonderful and colorful Holi.

Dahi Bhalla

The most delicious and loved appetizer, dahi bhalle is a welcome addition to any party food. The recipe can be found here.
The most popular dessert for Holi is Gujiya. In our house, we used to make at least 100 of them each year during Holi. It was a whole afternoon affair for the women of the house and was enjoyed by the whole family for the days to come. Traditionally for both Gujiya and samosa, you make a dough using flour, ghee, and water. This dough is rolled into small pooris and filled with the stuffing and then deep fried. I have changed this procedure a bit to save me time and make the Gujiyas a little less calorie dense. I use either phyllo pastry or spring roll wrappers for the crust and bake them instead of fry. Here is my version of the recipe. The edges don't look as pretty but it tastes as good.


Ingredients: (serves 4)
8 Spring roll wrappers
1/2 cup khoya (milk food) grated
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 tbsp each chopped almonds and cashew nuts
1 tbsp raisins
3-5 green cardamoms powdered
1/3 - 1/2 cup powdered or fine sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. 
  2. In a bowl mix all the ingredients for filling. divide into 8 portions. 
  3. Take several wrappers and trim them at the corners using a large round cookie cutter. 
  4. Take the trimmed spring roll wrapper, place one portion of filling on one side of the wrapper, fold it in half to form a semi-circle, sealing the edges using a dab of water. Spray each side with cooking oil. 
  5. Place on a greased cookie sheet bake for 20 minutes, turning it halfway, till lightly brown. 
  6. Let stand for 10 minutes before digging in.

Veggie Samosa
I think everyone in the world is very well versed with this appetizer. Here in North America veggie samosa and chicken filled samosa are widely available in the grocery stores, not only in the frozen section but also freshly cooked in the hot food section. Same as Gujiya I have changed the dough for this recipe to make it lighter.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
8 Spring roll wrappers
2 tbsp oil
2 potatoes boiled and cubed small
1/4 red onion chopped fine
1/2 cup frozen green peas
salt to taste
red chili powder to taste
3/4 tsp Amchur (dry mango) powder
2-3 green chilies chopped (optional)
1-inch ginger grated
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. 
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes till light pink. Add potatoes and peas and saute on medium high for a minute. 
  3. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Cook for another 3-5 minutes till all spices blend and peas are done. 
  4. Remove from heat and let cool. Divide into 8 portions. 
  5. Take a spring roll wrapper, place one portion of filling in the wrapper and fold as in samosa, sealing the edges using a dab of water. Spray each side with cooking oil. 
  6. Place on a greased cookie sheet bake for 20 minutes, turning it halfway, till lightly brown. 
  7. Let stand for 10 minutes before digging in. Serve with Green mint chutney and tamarind chutney.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Katthal Biryani

Tonight's Menu
Katthal Biryani
Wine Pairing: Full bodied red

Katthal (Jack fruit) Biryani
This recipe was requested by one of my friends. He had this dish somewhere and loved it. I had never heard about it till he suggested I try it out. So here goes.
Jack fruit belongs to the mulberry family and is widely grown in parts of Southeast Asia. It has a thick spiky green skin, a starchy and fibrous flesh, and is a source of dietary fiber. It is rather a pain to prepare fresh katthal since peeling the thick skin is hard and time consuming, though well worth the effort. Here in North America, fresh jack fruit is very rarely available and that too its over ripe and hard. In Asian stores you will find canned katthal in water. I have used this many times and I find it really good. No effort required to peel, just drain and use. See the image below for the brand I buy.

Canned Katthal (Jack fruit)

Ingredients and preparation:
For the Katthal
2 lb Jack fruit (katthal) peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces or use canned
1 cup plain yogurt beaten well
Kashmiri red chili powder (for color and desired heat level)
salt to taste
1 large red onion chopped fine
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ teaspoon Turmeric powder 
1 teaspoon Coriander powder
Dry spices:
1/4 teaspoon each of whole dry cumin and coriander, 
3 whole cloves
1 long stick cinnamon
4 green cardamoms  
1 black cardamoms
Few black peppercorns
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
Cooking katthal:
  1. Take all the dry spices and lightly toast them in a dry skillet. Let cool and coarsely grind them together in a dry grinder or mortar and pestle. Do not powder them fine, keep them grainy.
  2. To cook the katthal, heat 1 tbsp oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Fry kathal pieces on medium heat till lightly browned. Keep aside. If you are using fresh jackfruit then peel and cube it. Fry on medium heat till lightly browned.
  3. Take 2 tbsp oil in the same pan. Add the coarsely ground dry spices and saute for 5 seconds. Add chopped onion and fry at medium high, stirring constantly till they turn pink.
  4. At this point add the ginger garlic paste and continue stirring for 2 minutes.
  5. Now add the fried katthal pieces along with tomato paste and yogurt, and coat them well with the onion mixture. Fry for 4-5 more minutes. Add all the other spices. 
  6. For the canned jackfruitAdd 1 tablespoon of water and stir well. Reduce the heat a bit. At this point the aim is to infuse the katthal with all the wonderful spices while slowly cooking it. After about 5-7 minutes the katthal will be almost done. The best way to tell is when you see the entire concoction leaving oil from all sides. At this point remove from heat. There should not be too much liquid in the pan and katthal should be surrounded by a little bit of gravy. 
  7. For the fresh jackfruit - Add about 1/2 cup water and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles. Remove the lid and cook on high till all the water is absorbed and you see the entire concoction leaving oil from all sides. At this point remove from heat. There should not be too much liquid in the pan and katthal should be surrounded by a little bit of gravy. 
For the rice
2 cups long grain basmati rice
6 cups water
2 teaspoon ghee
1 teaspoon salt
Cooking the rice:
  1. Wash the rice well with cold water.
  2. Soak rice for 30 minutes. Drain.
  3. Bring the 6 cups of water with salt and 1 tsp ghee to boil. As it comes to a rolling boil add the soaked rice. Stir. Wait till it comes back to boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Check the rice grain at this point. It should be only three quarters cooked. 
  5. Remove from heat and drain out all the water. Add another tsp ghee in the rice while hot. Rice is now ready to layer.
Other ingredients
Few strands of saffron soaked in 1 teaspoon of hot water (for 2-3 mins)
2 tbsp dry mint (or 1 cup fresh mint chopped fine)
1 cup fresh coriander chopped fine
2 large red onions sliced, fried till golden brown
½ cup mixed nuts (cashew nuts and almonds) lightly toasted in 1/2 tsp oil
Assembling the Biryani:
  1. Preheat the oven at 375 F. 
  2. In a large greased casserole, start layering.Layer half the rice at the bottom. Top with half the toasted nuts, followed by half the fried onions and half of the mint and coriander. 
  3. Sprinkle saffron water randomly over the rice. Top with half the kathal. Now repeat the layers again.Do not try to mix the rice and kathal together. 
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes till rice cooks completely. 
  5. Give a random light stir to the entire concoction and see the beautiful colors and aromas blending together. 
  6. Serve steaming hot with Raita. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thai inspired Peanut noodles

Tonight's Menu
Peanut noodles
Grilled salmon (Use tofu for vegan option) with green curry paste
Wine Pairing: Light bodied Rose`

Thai inspired peanut noodles
If you like Thai food then you will love these flavors Sweet nuttiness from the peanut butter, coupled with sesame oil and lemongrass makes a wonderful blend. You can use any type of noodles here, I used spaghetti (only thing available at the time). This meal can be converted to a vegan meal as well, just substitute tofu for salmon and proceed as is.

Thai inspired Peanut butter noodles
Ingredients: (serves 6)

1 lb Chinese stir fry noodles or Spaghetti
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Canola oil
3-5 cloves garlic crushed
2 tbsp fresh grated galangal ( or ginger)
1 stalk lemon grass finely chopped(coarse outer leaves discarded)
3-4 red Thai chilies chopped (optional)
1 red pepper cut in thin strips
1 large carrot julienne
1 cup snow peas
1/3 cup peanut butter
Soy sauce
Rice wine vinegar
Roasted peanuts and finely chopped leeks for garnish
  1. Cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain and keep aside. 
  2. In a large wok take 1 tbsp Canola oil and add galangal, garlic and chilies Fry for a minute till pink and add all the vegetables. Stir fry at high heat till render crisp. Transfer to a bowl. 
  3. In the same wok add 1/2 cup water, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar and lemon grass. Bring to boil and cook till it becomes a smooth sauce. Add more water if it looks too thick. You can adjust the flavor here by adding more soy sauce or vinegar. Remove from heat. 
  4. Stir in the cooked noodles and fried veggies and toss to coat evenly with the peanut sauce. Put back to heat and cook for a minute to heat through. 
  5. Serve topped with roasted peanuts and leeks.
Grilled salmon with green curry paste

Grilled salmon with green curry paste
Ingredients: (serves 6)

6 salmon fillets
3-4 lime leaves
1 stalk lemon grass
handful fresh cilantro
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1-2 red chilies
4-6 cloves garlic
10-12 peppercorns
  1. Put all the marinade ingredients in a blender (magic bullet works best) and blend to make a smooth paste using a tbsp or 2 of water. 
  2. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pour the marinade over them coating each generously. 
  3. Let them marinate for 15 minutes to an hour in the fridge. 
  4. Grill fillets on medium high for 15-20 minutes, turning half way, till cooked through and no longer pink on the inside. 
  5. Serve hot sprinkled with lime juice along side the peanut noodles.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lamb curry in nihari masala (Nalli Nihari)

Tonight's Menu
Nalli nihari
Onion relish
Garden salad
Wine Pairing: Shiraz / Chardonnay

This lamb preparation is a melt in the mouth lamb stew cooked in an explosion of spices. It is hot and spicy and hits the spot right away. At first when I saw this recipe, I was amazed at the colour and gravy thickness without the use of tomato or yogurt as is customary in curries. Flour mixture does the thickening and the colour is totally the nihari masala (large quantity of red chillies and other spices) and fried lamb and onions. If the spice level doesn't bother you then I suggest you use the higher amount as suggested in the recipe (I sure did). Serve with naan or rice.

The roots of nalli nihari lie in the kitchens of Muslim Nawabs both in Awadh and Hydrabad. According to Wikipedia, it shares the position of national dish of Pakistan along with Biryani.

Nalli Nihari

2 lbs Lamb
3-5 tbsp nihari masala (see recipe below)
2 large red onions sliced fine
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 inch chunk ginger (half julienne, rest grated)
4-5 cloves garlic
salt to taste
1 tbsp Lime juice
Fresh coriander finely chopped
Canola oil as needed
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and fry the onions till golden brown. Keep aside. 
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a deep pan, add garlic add lamb or mutton pieces and sauté on medium heat till slightly browned. Add nihari masala and crushed ginger and continue to sauté for two minutes. 
  3. Add half the fried onions and mix. Add two cups of water and salt and bring it to a boil. Cover and cook till the lamb is completely cooked. I usually pressure cook till lamb is cooked. 
  4. Mix whole wheat flour in half a cup of water well so that there are no lumps. Add the remaining fried onions to the cooked lamb along with wheat flour mixture, lime juice and mix well. 
  5. Cook on medium heat making sure the gravy doesn't burn. Cook till the gravy thickens to the desired consistency. Add ginger strips and cook till the lamb begins to leave the bones. Serve hot garnished with ginger strips and fresh coriander. 
  6. Serve with plain naan or rice. 

Nihari Masala

5 dry red chillies
2 tbsp black cumin seeds
2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 cardamom black
3 green cardamoms
1 star anise
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 one inch cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp dry ginger powder
1 tsp nutmeg powder
  1. Dry roast all the spices and dry grind to form a coarse powder. 
  2. Store in an airtight container. 
  3. Can be used to make any curry preparation.

Adapted from Khana Khazana recipes

Friday, March 1, 2013

Jerk chicken burger with Orange salsa

Tonight's Menu
Jerk chicken burger
Orange salsa
Garden salad
Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc
Jerk chicken burger on a whole grain kaiser with garden salad
To make your everyday burger more spicy, add the feisty flavours of Jamaican jerk seasoning. The unique spiciness of allspice blended together with scotch bon pepper and black pepper creates an exciting flavour which is a must try for all spice and hot chilli pepper fans. Addition of orange salsa to the burger just transports you to the shores of the Caribbean.
Warning: Habanero pepper and scotch bon pepper are very hot and spicy and can cause serious pain if they come in contact with your eyes. Use extreme caution when handling these. Only the die hard fans of spicy food need use these, otherwise substitute with less hot green chillies.

Jerk chicken burgers
Ingredients: (makes 4-5)

Whole grain rolls or kaiser buns
For the burgers
1 lb mince chicken
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp each cayenne pepper and ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3-4 cloves garlic grated
1 scotch bon pepper finely chopped (very hot, use with caution)
1/2 chopped red onion
handful chopped coriander
1 tsp oil
1 egg
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
Salt to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients for the burger and knead with hand to incorporate all the spices in the mince. Wear gloves when handling the habanero and scotch bon peppers. 
  2. Divide the mixture into 4-5 portions and shape each into a round burger. 
  3. Grill them till fully cooked through and lightly browned from the outside. 
  4. Place each chicken patty on a toasted kaiser roll and top with orange salsa (recipe below). 
  5. Serve accompanied by green salad, garden salad or fries.
Orange salsa

Orange salsa

3-4 oranges, seeds removed cut into chunks (or 2 cans of mandarin oranges drained)
1/2 red onion chopped
large bunch coriander finely chopped
2-3 green chillies or habanero, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
Mix everything together and let flavours blend for about 1/2 an hour before using.

You might also like these burgers
Indian style burger

Greek lamb burger

Thai chicken burger

Moroccan chicken burger

Chicken slider

Fish burger

Meatball sub