Friday, June 28, 2013

Tava fry stuffed vegetables

Tonight's Menu
Tava vegetables
Onion mint raita
Crisp whole wheat naan
Tava fry veggies with onion mint raita and naan

Do you get drawn to these tava fried veggies at the Indian wedding food stalls ? I love them all - karela, baigan, mirch, bhindi the whole nine yards. As a kid I remember gravitating towards the tava area where grilled veggies, kebabs and roomali roti was in the making. 
Crisp whole veggies are stuffed with dry spices and cooked on a flat iron tava (griddle). This type of cooking keeps the vegetable tender crisp. At the wedding tava stall, they add a lot of oil and literally fry the veggies with onion and tomato masala. This is a modified version where I roast the vegetables stuffed with only the dry spice mix. Some harder veggies can be precooked by making them tender in the microwave or blanching them just a bit before stuffing with the dry spices. This will allow us to use less oil for cooking and also reduces the cooking time. I like to serve it with crisp naan and a cool onion mint yogurt.
I like to make my own masala for stuffing. Recipe can be found here. You can try that or buy ready to use. 
Veggies stuffed with dry masala ready to fry

Tava fry/grilled mixed vegetables
Ingredients: (generously serves 4)

20 bhindi (okra)
10 small Indian eggplants
4-5 large green chili peppers
20 tindora (Ivy Gourd)
Tava fry masala mix (recipe here), quantity as required
salt to taste
oil for frying
  1. Wash and dry all the veges. 
  2. Remove the heads of okra and slit them lengthwise.
  3. Slit chilies and tindora lengthwise.
  4. Keeping the stem intact give a crisscross slit to the eggplants taking care not to separate the segments. 
  5. Salt the insides of all the prepped veggies and leave them on the cutting board for 20 minutes to drain. (remember tava masala has some rock salt)
  6. Stuff all the veggies with the dry tava masala and grill / shallow fry on a hot tava griddle with a sprinkle of oil. Cook at medium high and turn occasionally for even browning. You can also use the flat attachment of the indoor BBQ. Cook till tender crisp about 7-10 minutes.
  7. You can use small baby potatoes, parval, pearl onions and small karela using the same procedure. Half cook (microwave for 3-5 minutes) potatoes before salting, stuffing and frying.
  8. Serve with onion mint raita (vegans omit this) and toasted whole wheat naan.
Veggies after tava cooking

Onion mint raita (vegans omit this)
Ingredients:

2 cups plain yogurt
1 medium red onion chopped fine
large handful each of fresh mint and coriander chopped fine
salt to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp cumin powder

Mix all ingredients and stir well to get a smooth raita. Refrigerate for half hour before serving to let flavors blend.






Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tava fry masala



Blend of several herbs and spices for stuffing whole veggies to cook on tava (griddle). Use it for baigan (small eggplants), bhindi (okra), tindora (Ivy Gourd), long green and red chilies, karela (bitter gourd), sweet peppers, small potatoes, arbi (eddos), etc. You can also use it to flavor your everyday stir fried veggies.

Ingredients: 
Whole spices
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp saunf (fennel seeds)
1 tsp anardana (dry pomegranate seeds)
2 whole red chilies
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
4 cloves
1 small piece cinnamon
2 green cardamoms
Powdered spices
1/2 tsp dry mint palm crushed
1/2 tsp fine sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp amchoor powder (dry mango powder)
1/2 tsp kala namak (black rock salt)
2 pinches hing (asafoetida)
  1. Dry roast lightly all the whole spices in a hot pan. Cool slightly. 
  2. Grind these coarsely in a dry grinder. Make sure to not powder it fine, it should have some body. 
  3. Mix the powdered spices to the ground mixture. 
  4. Store these in an air tight container.

Here's how to use it: 

Tava fry stuffed veggies
Bharvan baigan













Friday, June 21, 2013

Mint chicken


Mint Chicken
Mint chicken curry has a very refreshing flavor. Its a bit different from the traditional curries as there is no tomato and not too many spices. The addition of fresh mint and coriander add the summer freshness and the hint of lemon juice complements these herbs. Its a must try for curry lovers. Serve with roti or rice and thinly sliced onion rings.

Ingredients (Serves 6)
2 lbs Skinless boneless Chicken thighs (cut into small pieces)
2 tbsp oil
1 large Red Onion finely chopped
2 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
Lemon Juice
salt to taste
Red chili powder to taste
Marinade
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Chili Powder and salt to taste
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
Grind together
1 cup fresh Mint leaves chopped
1 cup Coriander leaves chopped
4 Green Chilies
Whole Spices
5 green cardamom
5 cloves
1 One inch cinnamon
1/2 tsp each cumin and coriander seeds
  1. Marinate the Chicken with all the ingredients in the marinade for 3-4 hours.
  2. Meanwhile grind together mint, coriander and green chilly into a smooth paste and keep aside.
  3. Take all the whole spices and roast them slightly in a hot skillet till fragrant. Cool and grind coarsely.
  4. Heat oil in a pan and saute the crushed whole spices until fragrant about 30 seconds. 
  5. Add chopped onion and saute till translucent. Add ginger- garlic paste and continue to saute for another 30 seconds.
  6. Add the marinated chicken and mix till all the spices coat the chicken well. 
  7. Reduce heat and cook it on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  8. Add the ground paste and let it finish cooking. If it dries up too much add a little water to get the desired consistency. 
  9. When the chicken is cooked, add a teaspoon of lemon juice, mix and serve hot with roti or naan and thinly sliced red onions.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Harissa chicken skewers

Tonight's Menu

Harissa chicken skewers
Lemon couscous with cherry tomatoes and mint
Tahini yogurt sauce
Wine pairing: Pinot noir

Harissa chicken kababs on a bed of lemon couscous drizzled with yogurt tahini sauce

Harissa is a spicy chili paste used in Moroccan cuisine to add smokiness and spice to the dishes. It can be used to flavour couscous, soups or as a marinade for chicken or fish. The main ingredient of harissa is hot chili pepper. You can use any variety such as peri-peri, serrano, cayanne, etc. Recipes for harissa vary according to household and region. Some like it very hot, some more smoky. Use the chili that you prefer depending on the desired heat level. For a lovely red color with less heat add roasted pureed sweet red pepper.
Ready to use harissa paste can be found in the specialty food section of your grocery store. But you can very easily make your own. You can store it in a glass jar with a layer of olive oil for freshness (Olive oil creates a hermetic seal).



Harissa chicken skewers
Ingredients: (serves 4)

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
2-3 tbsp Harissa paste (recipe here)
1 tbsp thick yogurt (hung yogurt)
1 tsp honey
salt to taste
  1. How to make hung yogurt - Place a sieve lined with cheese cloth over a bowl. Put 1 cup yogurt on the cheese cloth, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. All the water from the yogurt will filter out into the bowl leaving a thick creamy hung yogurt perfect for marination. Use this for marination or as a substitute for cream in any recipe. A great healthy option. 
  2. Pre soak bamboo skewers for 2 hours 
  3. Cut small strips of chicken and season with salt. 
  4. Mix harissa, yogurt and honey. marinate the chicken strips in this marinade for a minimum of 4 hours. 
  5. Thread onto the bamboo skewers. Grill on medium high rotating occasionally till cooked through (about 15 minutes). 
  6. Serve over a bed of couscous or with warm pita with a drizzle of tahini-yogurt sauce (recipe below). 
Tahini yogurt sauce
Ingredients:

2 tbsp tahini (white sesame paste)
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 large clove garlic grated
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste
Mix all the ingredients and add a few teaspoon of water to get the desired drizzle consistency.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Lemon couscous with mint
This light tasting couscous salad is a perfect side dish with any BBQ. Incorporate any veggies in this such as red onions, peppers and any fresh herbs you have at hand.
Lemon Couscous with mint
Ingredients: (serves 5-6)

1 cup couscous
1 cup boiling water
salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 English cucumber diced
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 green onion thinly sliced
1 tbsp lemon rind
big handful each of fresh mint and coriander finely chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
salt and black pepper to taste
Handful dried sweetened cranberries (optional)
  1. Take boiling water in a large bowl. Add salt and couscous. Mix well, cover and set aside for 5 minutes. 
  2. Fluff with a fork, add all remaining ingredients, and toss to combine. 
  3. Serve at room temperature. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Harissa chili paste



Harissa is a spicy chili paste used in Moroccan cuisine to add smokiness and spice to the dishes. It can be used to flavour couscous, soups or as a marinade for chicken or fish. The main ingredient of harissa is hot chili pepper. You can use any variety such as peri-peri, serrano, cayanne, etc. Recipes for harissa vary according to household and region. Some like it very hot, some more smoky. Use the chili that you prefer depending on the desired heat level. For a lovely red color with less heat add roasted pureed sweet red pepper.

Ready to use harissa paste can be found in the specialty food section of your grocery store. But you can very easily make your own. You can store it in a glass jar with a layer of olive oil for freshness (Olive oil creates a hermetic seal).

Harissa Paste
Ingredients:
 
100 gm dry red chilies
6-8 cloves garlic
1 tsp sweet paprika
2-3 roasted red peppers
1 tbsp cumin 
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp salt
  1. Soak chilies in a little hot water for an hour, drain. 
  2. Dry roast cumin and coriander in a hot skillet till fragrant. 
  3. Put all the ingredients in a grinder and process using olive oil to get a smooth fine paste. 
  4. Store in an airtight glass jar with olive oil poured on top.

Uses of harissa paste
Harissa kababs

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fish Amritsari


Fried version - small pieces served as starter

Named after its city of origin, fish Amritsari is a popular street food always served with a sprinkle of lime juice. This dish calls for frying the fish but you can grill it as well. Use any firm fish for this recipe which does not fall apart while grilling. The pictures shown have Tilapia (for grilled) and Sea bass (for fried). Cook small pieces as starters or a full fillet as the main dish.

Fish Amritsari grilled
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
3 Boneless fish fillets 
Marinade
2 tbsp gram flour (besan)
1 tbsp rice flour
2 tsp thick yogurt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1-2 tbsp kasuri methi palm crushed
1/3 tsp carom seeds (ajwain) lightly roasted and palm crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds and 2 tsp coriander seeds dry roasted and crushed fine
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 inch tamarind
Oil for frying
  1. Season the fish fillets with salt on both sides.
  2. Soak tamarind in hot water and squeeze out the tamarind pulp.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients of the marinade together. Add ginger garlic paste, oil and tamarind pulp. If the marinade is too thick then you can add a little bit of water. If too thin then add some more gram flour. The marinade should be like a thick batter.
  4. Marinate the fish in this batter for 2 hours.
  5. Grill on a grill pan till fish is cooked through and crisp from the outside. 
  6. Or you can deep fry it till crisp on the outside and fully cooked from the inside.
  7. Serve with onion rings and a sprinkle of chaat masala(optional).