Tag Archives: indian

Clams Masala Wraps

1 May

Clams Masala WrapsMy husband recently surprised me with Chef Maneet Chauhan’s first cookbook: Flavors of My World. In this book Chef Chauhan takes principal recipes from 25 different countries and gives them her own magic touch with spices and flavors she grew up with. It’s a magnificent collection of recipes that have been nurtured with big bold flavors. I intend to cook my way through this book to savor all these mouth-watering International dishes that have been married with the spices that I love.

If you grew up in India, you may appreciate why Flavors of My World’s – Masala Coke Cuba Libre recipe resonated with me and brought back so many memories of my childhood. A chilled Coke (or even Indian Thums-Up) mixed with some chaat masala was the perfect accompaniment to any spicy meal. Chef Chauhan makes a grown up version of this by adding in some rum. Occasionally, in my growing culinary quest I am guilty of momentarily forgetting simple tastes that I so adored as a little girl. The Masala Coke Cuba Libra brought me right back to those flavors.

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Spring Fling: Edamame Chaat

26 Mar

Edamame ChaatIf you are an immigrant you know that “identity” is a loose and often elusive term. More that often you find yourself distanced from the ways of your birth country, and yet no matter how hard you try you may never completely belong in your adopted country.  Do not despair, because food often helps bridge the gap!

Food is an intrinsic part of our identities and for an immigrant easy access to childhood meals helps ease and speeds the process of settling into a new country.  This takes time and there’s certainly a learning curve. You will eventually know where to find obscure ingredients (that weren’t obscure where you came from), or discover the perfect substitutes for them.  Continue reading

Indian Whole-Wheat Pancakes

5 Mar

Saffron and Cardamom pancakes

My earliest memories of pancakes are my dadi’s (paternal grandmother’s) “meetha pudas”. They are eggless, whole-wheat pancakes laced with Indian spices and cooked in ghee (clarified butter). Reflecting on these pancakes conjures up several food memories of my childhood that are often centered on my grandmother’s cooking.

My grandmother embodied the very concept of “Feeding Your Appetite”, expressing the depth of her love through her cooking. I believe that my innate desire to cook for the ones I love is something I inherited from her. Unfortunately, my grandmother never experienced the birth and development of my culinary passion and I never had the opportunity to cook for her. Since my blog is just a week shy of its 6th month anniversary, I wanted to share a recipe that could have played a small part in developing my culinary zeal.

These pancakes are laced with fragrant Indian spices – fennel seeds, cardamom powder and saffron. Replacing all-purpose flour with

Saffron, cardamom and fennel seeds

whole-wheat flour and eliminating the eggs creates a healthier alternative to traditional pancakes. I use lesser sugar in the batter in order to add honey in the end, which really augments the flavors of the Indian spices. These pancakes are perfect for a nourishing breakfast (or after-school snack) and are a remarkably delightful way to show someone how much you care.

Indian Whole-Wheat Pancakes
Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4-5 large pancakes

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon 2% milk, slightly warm
1/8 teaspoon of saffron
1 cup whole-wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons fine granulated or powdered sugar
¾ Teaspoon of green cardamom powder (See note)
1 ½ teaspoons of fennel seeds
1-1 ¼ cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil divided
Good quality honey for drizzling on the pancakes

Note:

  • Cardamom powder is readily available in all grocery stores. In case you only have whole cardamoms pods at home you can easily make cardamom powder. In a mortar with a pestle break apart the cardamom pods and discard the green skin. Use the pestle or a coffee grinder to powder the seeds of the cardamom pods.

Method:
1) Crush the saffron with your fingers and add it to the warm milk. Mix it and set it aside for 10 minutes.
2) While the milk and saffron is set aside, you can start making the rest of the pancake batter. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the whole-wheat flour, baking soda, sugar, cardamom powder and fennel seeds.
3) Add 1 cup of milk and the saffron and milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir all the ingredients well but do not over-mix – it is okay to have a few lumps. If the consistency of the batter is too thick then add in the remaining ¼ cup (or some part of it) to this batter.
4) Heat a skillet or a griddle to medium-high heat.  Heat the oil in batches and add 1/4 – 1/5 of the batter in the center of the skillet and spread out to make a round pancake. Cook till brown on both sides and the insides are fully cooked. Repeat this process till all the pancakes are made.
5) Serve hot drizzled with a good quality honey.

Crispy Chili Garlic Baby Corn

20 Dec

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My trips to Mumbai resemble a literal walk down a food memory lane. My nostalgia surges and I am on a rampant mission to eat at all the places I fondly remember eating at, in the late 80’s and 90’s. The Mumbai dining scene has evolved considerably in the last 5-10 years.  Celebrity chefs from all over have flocked here to gain a share of the growing middle and upper income groups wallets and palates. Yet, it is not the fine dining and eclectic cuisine that I crave to eat here. It’s the bold and tangy street fare, the ambiance and culinary marvels of the old Irani cafes, and the delectable seafood at the down-to-earth coastal restaurants that have me ALWAYS coming back for more.

One cuisine that’s unique to India and is a MUST EAT on each trip is “Indian Chinese” known as “Chinese food” in India.  Chinese food in India is essentially food that is an adaptation of Chinese seasonings and cooking techniques to Indian tastes. This cuisine is said to have been developed over a century ago by a small Chinese community that lived in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Indian Chinese is a bold cuisine that harmoniously unites Indian and Chinese spices to season vegetables, meats, noodles and rice. It’s a mainstream cuisine in India and can be found at every place from a hawkers cart for under $2 to a five-star restaurant for $50-100 a person.

One of my favorite Indian Chinese dish is Chili Garlic Potatoes. Earlier this week, I was at the Willingdon Club of Mumbai indulging in the garlicky and tangy flavor of Chili Garlic Potatoes when I decided to recreate the flavors  at home with baby corn. The recipe below is derived from a few modifications to Sailu’s Kitchen Chili Baby Corn. It’s a piquant appetizer, that’s sure to warm you up on a cold night.

Crispy Chili Garlic Baby Corn Recipe:
Recipe Adapted from Sailu’s Kitchen Chilli Baby Corn
Time: 35-40 minutes
Yield: Appetizer sized portion for 4 people

Ingredients:
Fried Baby Corn:
3 tablespoons of corn starch
½ teaspoon garlic paste
½ teaspoon ginger paste
¼ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ – ¾ teaspoon salt (per taste)
3 cups baby corn cut into 1 inch pieces (washed and dried) (See note)
2-3 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil for pan frying

Sauce:
1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
¼ cup green onions (whites and greens), thinly sliced + extra for garnish
7-8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bird’s eye chilies/That chili (Optional) (See note)
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
½ medium to large green pepper, diced
¼ cup tomato ketchup
2 ½ teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon Siracha sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste or Schezwan sauce (See note)
¼ cup of water
1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water

Notes:

  • I used fresh baby corn. If you cannot find fresh baby corn, large grocery stores and Asian markets carry canned baby corn. Drain, wash and thoroughly dry the canned baby corn before you use it.
  • Bird’s eye chilies, Chili Garlic Paste and Schezwan sauce are available in Asian markets and some large grocery stores. Eliminate the bird’s eye chilies if you do not want to make this too spicy.

Method:
1) In a mixing bowl combine the cornstarch, ginger paste, garlic paste, chili powder, salt and pepper. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of water and mix well. You want to have a thin batter that creates a thin coating on the baby corn.
2) In a large skillet heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat. Coat each baby corn piece in the batter. Pan-fry the baby corn in batches until they are light brown. Set aside the fried baby corn on a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.
3) In the same skillet heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Now add the green onions, garlic, ginger and birds eye chilies and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the garlic is golden brown.
4) Add the green pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes until the green pepper is tender.
5) Add the tomato ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, Siracha, and chili garlic paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
6) Add ¼ cup of water and simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Add the corn starch and water mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes until the raw corn starch taste dissipates.  Taste the sauce and add more soy or chili sauce per your taste.
7) Add the fried baby corn and toss to ensure that all the pieces are well coated with the sauce. Cook for another 1-2 minutes before transferring the baby corn to a serving platter. Garnish with a few sliced green onions and serve hot as a snack or an appetizer.

Mac & Cheese with an Indian Flair

19 Nov

Photo credit: Sneha (www.prettyinpic.com)

While the turkey is the superstar of a Thanksgiving dinner, guests also gather around the holiday table eager to load up on its supporting cast members – the side dishes. So if you are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, remember while these side dishes may seem slightly less import than the Turkey they are still an integral part of a Thanksgiving meal. These are also the dishes that can showcase your creativity and ingenuity as a cook. Take comfort classics and classic Thanksgiving side dishes and brighten them up with some exotic flavors or unexpected textures to add a little extra panache to your holiday table.

Macaroni and Cheese is a comfort classic side dish of cheesy goodness that satiates the appetites of all age groups. While the base is always macaroni (or another pasta), cheese, milk and flour, people all over the world add different ingredients to their Mac and Cheese to personalize it.  A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Reem Rizvi’s (of Simply Reem) “Mac & Cheese – An Indian Touch” guest blog post on Life of Spice. Just reading the recipe I could imagine the flavors and aroma’s that the Indian spices added to this Mac and Cheese. My recipe is an adaptation of Reem’s with a few minor changes (specifically reducing the fat content a bit without reducing the flavor at all).

Photo credit: Sneha

Photo credit: Sneha

The warm and aromatic spices and the cilantro-scallion cheese crust in this Mac and Cheese add a layer of flamboyance to a familiar classic. So why not surprise your friends and family this Thanksgiving by treating their taste buds to a quick trip to the Indian sub-continent?

Mac & Cheese with an Indian flair
Recipe adapted from Reem Rizvi’sIndian style Mac and Cheese” on a Life of Spice
Serves: 6-8 people
Time: Active: 15 -20 minutes; Inactive: 30-35minutes

Ingredients:
3 slices of bread
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped.
2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
1 ½  tablespoons of butter, divided
3 cups cheddar cheese (grated)
2 cups dried macaroni
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup, finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 jalapeno seeded and diced (optional).
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne powder (or to taste).
½ teaspoon Garam Masala powder
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric powder
2 ½ tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups 1 % or 2% milk, warmed up
Salt & pepper per taste

Note:
This is a great do-ahead recipe.  Prepare and set aside everything till step 7 (including step 7) a day before. Just before you are ready to serve, top the macaroni and cheese mixture with the bread crumb mixture and bake everything together.

Method:
1) Pre-heat the oven to 350F and grease a 9” by 13” baking dish or 8, 5oz ramekins with little butter or cooking spray.
2) In a food processor, add the bread, cilantro and scallions with 3/4 tablespoon of the butter. Give it a quick pulse, till it starts to look like crumbs. Do not over pulse it as a little texture taste great. Add 1 cup of cheese and mix everything well. Set it aside.
3) Cook the macaroni according to the direction on the packet and set it aside.
4) In a large non-stick saucepan, heat the olive oil with the remaining 3/4 tablespoon of butter on medium heat. Once the oil is heated add the chopped onions, stir and cook until the onions soften and are just beginning to change color. Now add the ginger and garlic paste along with the jalapeno and cook for another minute. Keep stirring.
5) Add the garam masala, cumin, turmeric and chili powder, stir for about a minute.
6) Add the flour, salt and pepper and stir for about 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the warm milk and continue to stir as the milk mixture starts to thicken about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 2 cups of the cheddar cheese. Stir well till the cheese melts into the sauce. Set the cheese sauce aside.
7) Stir the drained macaroni into the cheese sauce and give it a nice mix.  Taste the salt and pepper at this stage and adjust it accordingly.
8) Pour everything in the greased baking dish or ramekins, top with the bread and cheese mixture that was prepared earlier.  Bake in 350F oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly on the top. Let it sit for 5 minutes before serving it.

Eggless Saffron Cookies (Nan Khatai)

8 Nov

In the introduction to my last recipe post (Eggplant Raita) you learnt about my love for Diwali and my zeal for recreating the Diwali spirit in the US by cooking up a storm. This recipe is a new addition to my repertoire of Diwali worthy dishes this year.

As a child, my favorite food memory of Diwali was the assortment of Indian sweets and cookies that could be found in every household. I fondly remember, the Nan Khatais(Eggless Saffron Cookies) that my mother bought form a local bakery to serve our guest during Diwali time. Since they were always store-bought I assumed that it would be too complicated to make them at home. Then I found this easy Nan Khatai recipe on the Moonsoon Spice website, and with a few minor modifications I was able to recreate a childhood favorite in less than thirty minutes.

I urge you to make and serve these sweet, crispy and flaky cookies to your guests with a warm cup or tea or coffee and you will automatically earn the title of “host/hostess with the mostess”.

Eggless Saffron Cookies (Nan Khatai)

Recipe: Adapted from Mosoon Spice’ Saffron Nan Khatai Recipe
Yield: 18-20
Time: Active: 12 minutes Inactive: 14-16 minutes

Ingredients:
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, melted (See note)
1 tablespoon ghee/Indian clarified butter, melted
½ cup + 2 tablespoons of fine granulated or caster sugar
¼-½ teaspoon of saffron mixed in 1 tablespoon of warm milk
1 ½ cups All-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
6 green cardamoms, crushed, peeled and powdered
¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, powdered
Small pinch of salt (See note)
Few cashews or de-shelled pistachios for topping (Optional)

Note:

  • These cookies are traditionally made in ghee. If you want to make them the traditional way, substitute the 1 stick of butter with ½ cup of ghee.
  • Ghee can be found at any Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi store or ordered online.
  • If you are making these cookies with butter and only have access to salted butter, then do not add the pinch of salt. You may also need to increase the sugar content by 1-2 tablespoons per your taste if you are using salted butter.
  • These cookies can be stored in an air-tight container, in a cool, dry place for upto a week.

Method:
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degree F (180 degree C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and set aside. If using foil, then lightly spray the baking sheet with cooking/baking spray.
2) In a large mixing bowl, add the butter, ghee, sugar and milk with the dissolved saffron and mix well, till the sugar and ghee are incorporated well.
3) Now add the flour, baking soda, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and the pinch of salt to the above mixture. Mix everything well until it forms one large dough ball. If the dough is too dry or crumbly add a teaspoon of milk at a time to help the dough bind together.
4) Make small rounds from the dough – just a little smaller than a golf ball. Line each of these on the baking tray, leaving enough space between each of them. Press a cashew or pistachio onto of each ball.
5) Place the baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 13-16 minutes until the cookies are a light golden color. The cookies that come out are soft, but they harden once they cool. Don’t overbake these cookies as they will then become too hard after they cool.
6) Serve these cookies with a cup of tea of coffee or a cold glass of milk.

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