Archive for the ‘Punjabi’ Category

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I wonder how simple things in life can bring so much peace to your inner self. It can be anything like your one cup of coffee or tea in the morning or one sweet gesture from a stranger. These simple little things makes your life so easy and uncomplicated. For me its my son’s sweet smile and his unconditional love. He makes my imperfect life so perfect. Same thing applies for food. You may drool over all the fancy items you see in the restaurant but when it comes to homemade food nothing can beat it. Not only its simple, healthy and nutritious but also its made with so much love. Today I am presenting you a dish which is very simple to make at home and is one of the world famous Indian dish which can be found in all or most of the Indian restaurants (Except vegetarian ones) – Tandoori Chicken or Tandoori Murgh. The dish tastes best when marinated overnight which enhances the flavor. In restaurants, its made in a Tandoor (bell shaped clay oven also used to make Naan and Roti) which is the traditional way of cooking this dish. This dish is deliciously spiced with super crisp skin to die for. Generally, in restaurants it gets its bright red color with artificial color which is not only unhealthy but also unnecessary so I skip it. The red chilli paste instead provides excellent color but it also increases spice level. The Kashmiri red chili powder or Paprika will keep the spice level low but also add rich color to the dish.
Ingredients :-

Chicken drumsticks  8 pieces
Red Chilli Paste 4 teaspoons
Ginger and garlic paste 3 tablespoons
Salt to taste
Chat Masala 1 and 1/2 teaspoon
Tandoori Masala 1 and 1/2 teaspoon
Oil 1 tablespoon
Hung Curd 3 tablespoons
Lemon juice 1 tablespoon

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Method:-

  • Preheat the oven at 400 degree Fahrenheit.
  • Mix everything except Drumsticks under ingredient list in a big bowl.
  • Wash the drumsticks properly and pat dry with kitchen towel or tissue paper.
  • Using a sharp knife make deep slashes in the drumsticks. This makes ensure that the marinade penetrate deep in the meat.
  • Toss the drumsticks with marinade well, cover and refrigerate it minimum for 4-5 hour or overnight. 
  • Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and place an oven proof rack over top.
  • Arrange the marinated drumsticks on the rack keeping some distance in between.
  • Cook for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is well cooked.
  • Turn the oven switch to broiler and flash each side of chicken under the broiler for about 5 minutes until the skin is super crisp and bit charred.
  • Serve it hot as a starter or a side dish.

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Notes :-

  • As usual I like my Chicken dishes bit spicy but here you can adjust the chili paste according to your taste.
  • If you don’t have chilli paste you can use Kashmiri or paprika powder for color.
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As I promised myself to post recipes of many of the dishes I made in 2015, I am trying to live up to it. It was tough to choose a specific one from the pool but I picked this one since I love this dish a lot. Its closer to my heart since it won as the ‘best dish’ in the food event at my husband’s office. This is one of the famous recipe of the chef Sanjeev Kapoor and it was showcased in Masterchef India too. Its a hard core ‘Punjabi recipe’ since its rich with cashew paste and cream, melt-in-mouth fried koftas and delicious gravy. Ooh la la, I am drooling. If you are a ‘calorie conscious’ person,  you will definitely need tweaks to make it low on calories. You will not be able to resist temptation of this alluring dish. I have tried both the versions and the no-fry-no-cream-no cashew version tastes as good as the original one. I have tried my best to replicate this dish but don’t know if it will match up to what was made by the great Sanjeev Kapoor, nevertheless, I am very satisfied with the end result. Please check the Notes section where I have mentioned some points for making this dish in alternate way keeping healthy options in mind. I hope you like it. Enjoy!!!

Ingredients :-

For Koftas :-

Fresh Spinach Leaves 5 bunch
Cottage Cheese/Paneer 1 cup
Salt  to taste
Green Cardamom Powder  1-2 pinch
Oil 2 tablespoon
Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon
Garlic, finely chopped 6-7 cloves
Green Chilli, finely chopped 5-6 
Gram flour(besan) 4 tablespoon
Turmeric powder 1/4 teaspoon
Corn flour/Corn starch 1/4 cup
Oil, for deep frying as required

For Makhani Gravy :-

Tomato, roughly chopped 10-15
Oil  2 tablespoon
Green Cardamom 10-12
Garlic Chopped 10-15 cloves
Salt to taste
Red chili powder 2 1/2 teaspoon
Butter 1/2 cup
Fenugreek leaves (methi), roasted and powdered 2 teaspoons
Honey 3 teaspoons
Fresh cream 1/4 cup
Boiled cashew paste 2 tablespoon

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Method :-

  • Blanch the spinach leaves in 4-5 cup of water for 2 minutes. Drain and put it in cold water or ice water.
  • Drain out all the water and then chop it finely. Keep it aside to cool in a bowl.
  • In other bowl mash the paneer along with salt and cardamom powder. Divide it into 8 -12 equal portions and roll into bowls.
  • Heat two tablespoon oil in a non stick pan and add cumin seed. After 2 minutes add garlic and green chilies and saute for 1 minute. Add the gram flour and saute for 1-2 minutes till gram flour gets little roasted and starts giving nutty flavor. Add the turmeric powder and stir.
  • Add the spinach and salt and saute. Keep stirring it continuously until the mixture is dry and starts leaving the sides of pan. Keep it aside to cool. Divide the spinach into as many equal portions as paneer balls.
  • Take water in a bowl and wet your palms. Take each spinach portion , flatten it onto your palm and place a paneer ball in the center. Gather the edges together and shape into a ball. Take cornstarch in a plate. Roll the stuffed spinach balls into it and shake the ball lightly to get rid of extra cornstarch. In same way make all the spinach balls.  Don’t forget to wet your palm with water in between as the spinach mixture can get sticky.
  • Heat oil for deep frying in pan. Gently slide the spinach balls when oil is hot and fry on low to medium heat until it turns golden brown. Drain it onto an absorbent paper and keep it aside.
  • Alternatively you can prepare a baking tray by spraying oil on it. Place the Spinach balls in it. Bake it for 15 minutes at 400 Fahrenheit and then broil it for 2-3 minutes on one side and again 2-3 minutes on other side.
  • For makhni gravy puree the tomatoes till smooth. Heat the oil in a deep non stick pan as the gravy tends to splutter a lot. Add the butter along with two tablespoon of oil as butter tends to burn.
  • When butter is hot add Green cardamoms and finely chopped garlic. Cook it for 1 minute and then add tomato puree. Let it cook until the rawness of tomatoes goes off and the puree leaves the oil. It will take about 20-25 minutes.
  • Add boiled cashew paste and cook it for more 5 minutes. Add salt, honey, fenugreek leaves, red chilli powder and cook it for 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and let it simmer. Add the cream and cook for 2 minutes more. Your makhani gravy is ready.
  • Pour the makhani gravy into a serving bowl and place the koftas on the gravy and serve immediately. 
  • If you are not serving immediately keep the koftas and makhani gravy separately. While serving reheat both of them seperately and serve together as Koftas will turn soggy if kept for long in the gravy and reheated. Enjoy it with Naan or Tandoori Roti. 

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Note:-

  • You can even use garlic paste instead of chopped garlic in the makhani gravy.
  • For the healthier version you can skip the butter and cream part. Instead of cream add 1/2 cup of milk.
  • Instead of making your own tomato puree you can use 2 cup of ready made tomato puree. But mind you the homemade puree tastes much better and gives a character to the dish. I personally like the homemade one.
  • Original dish didn’t demand for cashew paste so you can skip it. If trying for healthier version add 2 tablespoon of boiled almond paste.

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One of the coldest and ‘snowy’ Winter is soon coming to an end but there’s still lot of time to eat heavy and rich food. Its easy and safe to say that ‘Sarson Ka Saag’ and ‘Makke Di Roti’ is one of the best food combination originated and very popular in Punjab (state in Northern India) but is also relished all over India (and may be by the world). It is made from mix of Mustard greens and spinach and is very nutritious. This recipe requires lots of patience and time. But the results are definitely worth it.  This Saag (curry) is traditionally served with Makke ki Roti (unraised corn flat bread) topped with homemade fresh Butter (unprocessed, white in color) or with Ghee (clarified butter). All diet conscious people can easily eliminate dollop of butter/ghee from the dish which might still be OK without impacting taste. Mustard greens is a bit bitter in taste so if you are not used to this taste or if you are trying for first time you can add spinach as I have added. Spinach not only reduces the bitterness but also gives the dish a unique earthy flavor. Makka is cornflour and roti is Indian flat bread. Its somewhat similar in look and feel like Mexican corn tortillas. Lack of gluten makes it difficult to roll out which turns out it to be unleavened bread unlike traditional Indian roti.

Ingredients :-

For Sarson ka Saag

Fresh Mustard Leaves
5 bunch
Fresh Spinach Leaves
2 bunch
Salt
to taste
Ginger, Chopped
1 inch
Ghee/Oil
1-2 tablespoon
Onion, Chopped
2 Medium/1 Large
Green Chillies, Finely sliced
4
Tomato, Chopped
2
Cornmeal
2 tablespoons

For Makke ki Roti

Cornmeal/Makke ka atta
1 1/2 cups
Whole Wheat Flour/atta (optional)
1/4 cup
Salt
to taste
Unsalted Butter/Ghee
as required
Green chillies,Finely chopped
1-2
Ginger, Grated
1 inch piece

Method :-

For Sarson ka Saag :-

  • Clean the leaves properly in cold water. Chop them roughly.
  • Take a pressure cooker and place the leaves in it with 1-2 teaspoon of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • Cover the lid of pressure cooker and let it it cook till one whistle.
  • Remove it from heat and let the pressure release from the cooker.
  • Mash it with the back of laddle or with potato masher.
  • Put the cooker back into stove, add cornmeal and let it simmer on medium heat.
  • Cook this mixture until creamy.
  • For preparing the tadka heat a pan and add ghee/butter/oil into it.
  • Add chopped ginger, chillies and saute it for 1 minutes.
  • Add chopped onions and cook till onion turns translucent.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and cook it on medium heat stirring continuously, till the tomatoes turn mushy and fat has separated out from the mixture.
  • Add this cooked onion tomato mixture to the cooked greens. Simmer it for 10-15 minutes.
  • Serve it hot with dollop of butter and makke ki roti on chilly evening.

For Makke ki Roti :-

  • Take all ingredients except oil and mix it well.
  • Add warm water and knead to make a medium soft dough. Divide into eight equal portions and shape into balls.
  • Pat each ball between dampened palms to make a roti of medium thickness. Alternatively, roll out each ball between the folds of a greased plastic sheet.
  • Heat a tawa and place a roti on it. Cook on moderate heat till one side is half-done.
  • Turn over and spread some unsalted butter/ghee over the surface. Turn over and spread some more butter on the other side. Cook till both sides are golden brown. Serve hot with a dollop of white butter.

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Note :-

  • You can adjust chillies according to your taste.
  • You can even add grated raddish to the makke ki roti and cilantro leaves before kneading the dough.

The word “Chicken” makes me nostalgic and takes me to my childhood days when having a chicken dish was feast for us (me and my 2 younger brothers). Being the eldest child it was always expected from me to sacrifice everything for my siblings. But how in world can anyone expect me to sacrifice for succulent and juicy leg pieces (Yum Yum!).  Still I don’t know why there was so much fascination for chicken legs. Maybe as a kid we were more interested in holding meaty bone than the white meat. After all  life is all about these little rewards . Alas, chicken only has 2 legs, so to have the leg piece a big battle of Mahabharata used to be fought at our backyard (or aangan you can say). Yah you read correctly, our special non vegetarian dishes were cooked in backyard and not in kitchen due to my mother’s special rites and rituals. And winner was either me or youngest brother. The younger brother (after me) was always confused why he was born in between two devils :D. Stories apart, whether you have tried Chicken Tikka Masala or not you will be in love as soon as you taste it. Its a real treat. The vegetarian version is Paneer Tikka Masala (but in comparison it stands nowhere). Its a dish comprising chicken pieces marinated in yoghurt , grilled and then added to a thick tomato and cream based gravy. This dish is worth all the efforts as it will surely accrue many praises and compliments for you. Enjoy it in cool and brisk evening.

Ingredients :-

For Chicken Tikka –

First Marinade

Boneless Chicken, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces 800 gms/1.25 pounds
Ginger Paste
1 tablespoon
Garlic Paste 1 tablespoon
Kashmiri Red chilli powder 1 teaspoon
Lime juice
1 teaspoon
Salt
to taste

Second Marinade

Yogurt hung 1 cup
Ginger Paste
1 tablespoon
Garlic Paste 1 tablespoon
Kashmiri Red chilli powder 1 teaspoon
Turmeric Powder
1/4 teaspoon
Salt
to taste
Oil 2 teaspoon
Ajwain seeds
1 teaspoon
Gram Flour
2 tablespoon
Garam Masala 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard Oil 3 tablespoon

For Onion Tomato Masala

Onion, chopped
2 large
Tomatoes, chopped
4 medium
Garlic, chopped
7-8 cloves
Cumin seeds /21 teaspoon
Roasted Cumin Powder
1/2 – 1 teaspoon
Coriander Powder 2 teaspoon

For Gravy

Butter
2 tablespoon
Ginger Paste
1 teaspoon
Garlic Paste
1 teaspoon
Tomato Puree
1/4 cup
Onion Tomato Masala
1 cup
Kashmiri Red chilli powder 1 teaspoon
Garam Masala Powder 1/2 teaspoon
Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped
2 tablespoon
Dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi),roasted and crushed
1 teaspoon
Cream 1/4 cup
Ginger, cut into thin strips
1 inch
Salt
to taste

Method :-

1st Marinade –

  • Add garlic paste, ginger paste, Kashmiri red chilli powder, salt and lemon juice to the chicken. Mix it well and marinate it for at least 45 mins.

2nd Marinade –

  • Heat oil in the pan. Add ajwain seeds and gram flour and cook it in medium flame as you don’t want the gram flour to get burn. Keep stirring the gram flour and you will get a nutty smell which means that gram flour has cooked.
  • Add this cooked gram flour to the hung yogurt. Add Kashmiri red chilli powder, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and whisk this mixture into smooth creamy marinade.
  • Add the mustard oil and mix it properly. Now add marinated chicken to this mixture. Keep it for at least 3-4 hrs. I kept it overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit. Take the chicken out of the fridge before 30 minutes so that it comes to room temperature and cooks evenly.
  • Thread the chicken onto skewers. Arrange it in a foil lined baking tray. Place the tray in the top rack and grill the chicken. Cook, turning the skewers a few times, so that the chicken gets cooked and evenly browned on all sides.
  • Take the pieces off the skewers and place on a plate. This is Chicken Tikka and you can have it as starter.

Onion Tomato Masala

  • Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and when they begin to change color, add the onions and saute till well browned.
  • Add the garlic and saute till lightly browned. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and continue sauteing. Add the cumin powder and coriander powder and mix well.
  • Add the tomatoes and continue to saute on low heat till the tomatoes are completely cooked and the oil separates.
  • Add salt and mix. Remove from heat and set aside.

Gravy –

  • Heat the butter in a separate pan and add the ginger and garlic pastes and tomato puree and saute for two minutes.
  • Stir in half a cup of water and cook for two to three minutes. Add the chicken and onion-tomato masala and simmer till the gravy reduces a little.
  • Adjust salt according to taste and add the red chilli powder, garam masala powder and half the coriander leaves. Mix well and cook for two minutes.
  • Stir in the kasuri methi and cream. Remove from heat and serve hot, garnished with the ginger strips and the remaining coriander leaves.

Note :-

  •   Don’t keep the chicken pieces larger as it will not cook faster.
  • You can skip adding mustard oil if you don’t like its flavor. But for smoky kebab it is a  must required.
  • You can also add Capsicum, Onion, Tomato cubes to the chicken tikka masala. Remove the pulp of tomatoes. Just before adding the cream to final gravy add onion.Let it cook for 2 minutes along with the final gravy and then add cubes of tomato and capsicum. This will add flavor and colors to the chicken tikka masala.
  • Here I have not added red color to chicken tikka which is generally added in restaurants. If you want you can add to get authentic and extra color.

Baby potatoes are one of the veggies which tempt me whenever I come across them in market. You can roast, fry or just boil them. Dum Aloo is one of the dishes which tastes best if you cook it with baby potatoes. Its one of the dish which basically belongs to Kashmiri cuisine but is now loved all over India and probably around the world too. If you don’t have baby potatoes you can work with regular potatoes cut in smaller pieces. The secret to this recipe is slow or “Dum” cooking, so don’t loose patience.

Ingredients:-

Peeled baby potatoes 18-20
Oil for deep frying
Green cardamom powder 1 teaspoon
Dry ginger powder (soonth) 1 teaspoon
Fennel seeds (saunf) powder 2 teaspoon
Roasted cumin powder 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard oil 1/4 cup
Asafoetida (hing) a pinch
Clove powder a generous pinch
Yoghurt 2 cups
Kashmiri red chillies grounded 5-6
Onion finely chopped 1
Tomatoes finely chopped 2
Salt to taste
Garam masala 1/2 teaspoon
Mint leaves few


Method:-

  • Prick the potatoes all over with the help of fork and soak it in salted water for fifteen minutes. Drain and wipe them dry.
  • Heat sufficient oil in a kadhai or fryer and deep fry the potatoes till medium golden brown. Drain them on absorbent paper and keep aside.
  • Whisk the yogurt with Kashmiri red chilli paste, ginger powder, fennel powder and green cardamom powder. Add the fried potatoes to yogurt mixture and marinate it in the refrigerator for about 1 hr.
  • Heat the mustard oil in pan. You can use any other oil instead of mustard oil but using mustard oil gives it authentic and rustic taste.
  • Add the asafoetida and clove powder. Add chopped onions and saute it till it become golden brown. Add fine chopped tomatoes and saute it till the masala (mixture) dries out.
  • Add the marinated potatoes to the masala . Mix it very well and lower the flame. Cover it with air tight lid and let it cook on low flame till the potatoes absorb the gravy and oil surfaces.
  • Add the garam masala powder. Turn off the flame, garnish with roasted cumin powder and mint leaves. Enjoy it hot!

What is Dum Cooking?

Dum cooking is traditional method of cooking in India brought from Persia. In this culinary style vegetables and meats are marinated with different types of herbs and spices and then cooked in its own juices, retaining its moisture and nutrients. Thus “Dum” refers to slow cooking of food in an enclosed, air tight and broad bottom vessel. Par-cooked food is kept in this vessel. The lid is placed over the vessel and sealed with a dough made of water and flour. Then  its placed over heat (generally over charcoal). Heat creates the steam which helps in slow cooking.