Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Coconutty Egg Korma

I have plans for you this weekend: you are going to make this flavorful egg Korma with coconut milk for dinner. It will pair well with rice, Naan, grits, pita bread, lavash, quinoa or any other bread/grain you can think of! It is crazy good and made me wonder what I had in me to make this out of the blue. I mean, I am bad at making things up as I cook.
Coconutty Egg KormaGrowing up, I’ve had my share of tasty egg Kormas. If I’ve already told you this story, please forgive me for repeating, because my parents’ egg Korma deserves unlimited mentions! I also have very happy memories associated with this dish because egg for dinner always meant we were all alone at home, with no extended family for company. In a household that used to frown upon cooking egg in the kitchen with normal everyday utensils, family time with Roti and egg Korma was a luxury we would always look forward to.

Fast-forward to slightly grown up days, I remember gobbling up hot egg Biriyani with Jan and my favorite cousin, S, in dimly-lit restaurants that specialized in Biriyani from everywhich state. Oh, the taste. Of warm rice induced with every Indian spice imaginable. The succulent grains of Basmati coated with the Masala and fresh cilantro, oh heaven!  I had eggs, coconut milk and other things in my pantry that could make super yummy food. So I made up my own recipe and this is what I ended up with-Coconutty Egg Korma2Coconutty Egg Korma

Ingredients:
Four eggs, boiled, skins peeled and halved

One big purple onion, finely sliced

Two big tomatoes, diced

Half a can coconut milk

One Tbsp ginger-garlic paste

Two Thai green chilies

One Tbsp Dania-Jeera/Coriander-Cumin Powder

One tsp turmeric powder

One tsp cayenne pepper powder

Salt

To temper-
One tsp mustard seeds

One sprig curry leaves (optional)

Quarter bunch cilantro finely chopped

Two Tbsp cooking oil

Method:
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and let it pop. Add the curry leaves and the sliced onions and saute on medium flame. When slightly brown, add the ginger garlic paste, chilies and tomato. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for five minutes on medium-low.

When the tomato turns mushy, add the Dania-Jeera powder, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper powder and salt. Let is cook for a few minutes, then add the coconut milk and one cup of water. Bring it to boil and switch it off. Don’t let the gravy boil for too long, it will change the taste of the coconut milk. The curry will thicken when you add the halved boiled eggs. Garnish with cilantro.

I think S will dig this gravy. I just have to find a way to make it and sneak it to her when I visit home this time…


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Mid-week Crisis: Tomato to the Rescue

Crabby evenings- Aarabhi is going through another growth spurt. Or that is what we think it is. It could also be because she hardly sleeps during the day and when evening strikes, she gradually goes into a tantrum-y mood. We haven’t figured this one out so we are still looking into it. Whatever it is, it has been mentally and physically draining everyone at home. So in-between trying to soothe her, writing a couple of exams for my Financial Accounting course (ugh, puke!), trying to keep the normalcy going, we have also been doing our best at getting meals on the table. When I say we in connection to cooking, I mean Amma and me.

Kishore has enough to do already between work and playing babysitter (or just being the baby’s father) in the evenings. To top this, he has signed up for a 5K this October and hasn’t found time to train for it. Oh well, we all know how that one is going to go! So today, I broke my resolution and decided to make dinner in the middle of the week. I wish I hadn’t. Thankfully, Amma did all the background work like chopping, grinding and making the side dish because I had to keep an eye on Aarabhi too. Although she is at this wonderful stage where the running ceiling fan amuses her, she fusses if we ignore her for more than two minutes. But her adorable smile every time she glances up at her new buddy is priceless! Sigh, my baby is growing up already…
Tomato riceBack to dinner, what started as an interesting version of a tomato rice I read somewhere on the blogosphere ended up becoming my own recipe. And after making it, I realized that it was very similar to the Biriyani recipe. Surprisingly, it tasted pretty different. We ate it with cucumber Raita but I do wish we had had some potato chips in the pantry. That was dinner done on a Wednesday and I swear I will keep my weekdays to merely photographing what Amma makes rather than getting adventurous in the kitchen. Phew!

Tangy Tomato Rice

Ingredients:
Two and a half cups Basmati rice, washed, rinsed, drained and cooked in three and a quarter cup of water

Six tomatoes, finely chopped

One huge onion, sliced thin

Two tsp Garam Masala, curry powder or any Masala really!

One tsp turmeric powder (optional)

Half tsp cayenne pepper powder

Salt to taste

For tempering-
One piece cinnamon stick

Four pods of cardamom and cloves

Two bay leaves

Few mustard and cumin seeds

Two Tbsp oil

To be ground into fine paste-
Half an onion

Six pods of garlic

One inch piece of ginger

A small bunch cilantro

A small bunch mint leaves

Four Thai green chilies

Method
Fluff the cooked rice and set aside. Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat and add all the tempering spices. When done, add the sliced onions and turn the heat to med-low. Let it caramelize. When light brown in color, turn the heat to medium and add the ground paste. Let it cook for five minutes. Now add the tomatoes, Masala, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper powder and salt. Close the pan with a lid and let it cook for ten minutes until the tomatoes are mushy and the paste is semi-solid. Take the lid off and let it cook a few minutes more until it thickens. When done, mix it with the cooked rice, make sure the rice doesn’t turn mushy. Eat as a side or as a main dish like we did with Raita.
Tomato rice2


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Paneer Dahiwala, or Anything You Want to Call it…

This dish is loosely based on the other Indian dish called Dahiwala Paneer or Paneer Dahiwala. I came across this recipe on Tarla Dalal’s website once and bookmarked it for future use. Fast forward a year and I discovered today that my book on Paneer had the same recipe (no surprises there since it was written by the same chef). Although I started the Subzi by following the book, I gradually branched out and threw in ingredients that I found fitting. Hence, you can call it anything you want. I won’t blame you.
paneer dahiwala2We bought a huge slab of Paneer last week in Atlanta and Kishore was going crazy trying to decide what he wanted me to make out of it. These days, it is a pretty huge task, trying to find a good recipe for this Indian cheese that would make it the star of the show. I blame this obsession on the lack of fresh Paneer available at our local Indian grocers. Most of the time, I end up making it from scratch. At times like these, I buy it from Atlanta when we go shopping once in two months. Not surprisingly, the hub prefers the commercial version and I kinda don’t blame him for that. It is less crumbly and it doesn’t disappear when you fry it. My mom rightly observed today that taste-wise, the homemade version kicks the commercial version any day!

What I am trying to say is, make it or buy it, that is your call.

Paneer Dahiwala

Ingredients:
Two cups cubed Paneer

Two cups finely-sliced onion

Ten cherry tomatoes

One tsp tomato paste

Cilantro to garnish

One and a half Tbsp ginger-garlic paste

One tsp each of-
Cumin seeds

Fennel seeds

Nigella seeds (optional but recommended)

Mustard seeds

A small pinch of fenugreek seeds

Quarter tsp asafoetida powder (optional)

Two tsp Kasuri Methi (optional)

One tsp turmeric powder

Half tsp cayenne pepper powder

Two tsp Chat Masala/Pani Puri Masala/black salt

Salt to taste (but avoid if using black salt)

One Tbsp all-purpose flour

Two cups Greek yogurt

Quarter cup milk

Quarter cup water

Four Tbsp cooking oil

Method:
Heat the oil in a pan. Add all the seeds and when they begin to crackle, add the sliced onion. Let it caramelize on low heat. When it turns golden brown, up the heat to medium and add the ginger-garlic paste and cherry tomatoes. Saute for two minutes and then add the tomato paste, water, turmeric powder, cayenne powder, Chat Masala and salt. Let it cook for five minutes. When done, mix in the Paneer. Give it three minutes to cook.

(L-R) Sauteed caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes. Paneer in the pan with the seasonings. Simmering the gravy after adding Kasuri Methi

(L-R) Sauteed caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes. Paneer in the pan with the seasonings. Simmering the gravy after adding Kasuri Methi

Now add the yogurt and milk along with the Kasuri Methi and all-purpose flour. Cover and let it simmer on low heat for five to seven minutes. Once done, switch off the heat and garnish with cilantro leaves. If the gravy is too thick, add some water. If it is watery (which I doubt it will), add another tsp of AP and let it simmer for a few more minutes without the lid.


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Why Mommy Should Blog Instead…

mixed veg subziThis here is the reason why my mom should be blogging this post instead of me. I seldom go into the kitchen these days and hardly give an idea for what to make for a meal. Hence, when Amma asked me what we should make for dinner tonight, I, being my ever helpful self, suggested Chapati. I brought Mallika Badrinath’s 100 Delicious Curries book to her and asked her to make any Subzi she fancied from it. And then, I went to sleep. At 2pm. In my defense, I had just put Aarabhi down for a nap and I was excited about taking advantage of the quiet house.

This Subzi, my mother informed me when I tumbled out of bed in search of coffee at 5pm, was a fusion of two sides from the book. It is a wonderful option for Rotis, can be made fancy if you are entertaining and a great accompaniment for Jeera Rice or any fried rice/Pulao/Biriyani you decide to make.

Here is how Amma made it-

Mixed Vegetable Subzi
Two cups mixed veggies (as you know, I always prefer the frozen kind)

One huge onion, chopped

Two tomatoes, chopped

Half cup tomato puree

One Cup low-fat sour cream

Half tsp cayenne pepper powder

Salt to taste

Three Tbsp vegetable oil

Cilantro leaves for garnish

To be ground into a paste:

One tsp poppy seeds, soaked for half hour in warm water

One tsp cumin seeds

Two tsp coriander seeds

Six pods garlic

Method
Heat the oil in a saute pan. Fry the onion until slightly brown. Add the ground paste. Fry until the raw smell goes away. Add a Tbsp sour cream. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry until mushy. Add another Tbsp sour cream the puree and the vegetables. Mix in the salt and cayenne pepper powder. Add the rest of the sour cream. If too thick, add a little water. Let it simmer until semi-solid. Garnish with cilantro.

Now I gotta go!

 


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Beautiful Bharli Vangi aka Bharwa Baingan

I crave eggplant all the time. No, not the huge western kind or the thin, long Asian kind. I mean the mini, fleshy Indian eggplant that is the star of many of my successful recipes. Every region in India has its own signature eggplant dish and the most popular method of making an Indian eggplant curry is stuffing the hell outta these purple lovelies. But what are they stuffed with, is the question. In Southern India, we use a combination of roasted, freshly ground lentils, red chili peppers and a few other condiments. In the upper part of India, they love stuffing them with pickling spices, a puree of onions and tomatoes. In the West, things get more interesting and you will understand why as you read on.

baingan

I found this recipe of Bharli Vangi/Bharwa Baingan (stuffed eggplant), a very tasty Maharashtrian Subzi in one of my recipe books. I’ve been meaning to try it out for such a long time. We had an Indian eggplant scarcity at our ethnic store for most part of winter. The minute they stocked it back a month ago, I’ve been buying them in huge quantities like a crazed person and making different types of stuffed eggplant curries. First came the Enna Kaththirikkai (Oil fried eggplant or as we call it, brinjal), then the Achari Baingan (eggplant gravy stuffed with pickling spices) happened and today, I had to finish off the last of the vegetable in stock. Hence, I made Bharli Vangi and it did not disappoint!

This succulent dish utilizes the Indian eggplant rather wonderfully. The combination of condiments used for the stuffing Masala works surprisingly well together and if you haven’t tried cooking with Indian eggplants, this is your cue. And if you love peanuts, you’ve really got to try it out! It was so good that I am already pining for tomorrow’s lunch…

Bharli Vangi

Ingredients:
Ten baby Indian eggplants

Three Tbsp grated fresh coconut

1/4 cup peanuts

Two Tbsp white sesame seeds

Two dried red chili peppers

One tsp each of cumin and coriander seeds (you can just go ahead and use cumin-coriander powder like I did)

One Tbsp tamarind pulp

Two tsp jaggery (or brown sugar)

1/2 tsp turmeric

Two Tbsp chopped onions plus one head of onion, sliced into strips (I used vidalia but anything is really fine)

Two tsps salt

One tsp mustard seeds

Two Tbsp vegetable oil

Lime wedges and cilantro leaves to garnish

Method:
This dish requires some extra knife work for slitting and stuffing the eggplants so I’ve done my best at photographing the process. I hope it works! 

(L-R) 1. the glorious Indian eggplants 2. Slit the botton, while keeping the stems intact. Stuff the ground Masala generously. 3. Fry it crisp on all the sides in a pan 4. Simmer in the gravy until cooked

(L-R) 1. the glorious Indian eggplants 2. Slit the bottom, while keeping the stems intact. Stuff the ground Masala generously. 3. Fry it crisp on all the sides in a pan 4. Simmer in the gravy until cooked

Slit open the bottom of each eggplant deep enough to stuff the Masala. Leave the stems intact for easier handling. Soak the eggplants in salted warm water for ten minutes. Meanwhile, make the spice mix: Dry roast the grated coconut, peanuts, sesame seeds, chili pepper and cumin-coriander seeds (don’t roast if you use the powder mix) until fragrant. When done, mix in the tamarind pulp, jaggery/brown sugar,  turmeric, two Tbsps of chopped onion and one tsp salt and blend it in a blender until you get a fine paste. Take the eggplants off the water and pat them dry.

Stuff the eggplants with this mixture. Reserve the rest of the mixture for the gravy. Heat a pan with oil, pop the mustard seeds. Add the sliced onions and saute on med-low heat until slightly brow. Add the stuffed eggplants to this party and let it brown on all the sides. You can use the stems of the eggplants for easy navigation on the pan. When the eggplants are brown, add the rest of the Masala, and salt to the pan, pour in a cup and a half of water, turn the heat to low and cover the pan. The eggplants will steam and cook in the gravy. If you notice the gravy drying up, go on and add more water.

The idea is for the eggplants to cook up until nearly mushy and for the gravy to come to a nice thick consistency. It will probably take around twenty minutes to half hour for that to happen. When done, squeeze the lime wedge and garnish with cilantro.

Suggested side for: Chapati, Phulka, Plain Basmati Rice

baingan2


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Indo-French Fries, You Beauties

We Desis have a way of Indianizing every dish we can get our hands on. When we forget to weave that magic on a certain recipe, the rest of the world goes ahead and does it for us. I mean, Maggi Masala Noodles is a national snack of sorts back home and I have a friend who knows to make only one kind of pasta: the Marinara Masala Spaghetti, as I have dubbed it. While I do appreciate the eclectic flavor a multi-cuisine dish can radiate and get a kick out of reading about condiments and spices common to cuisines world over, I am a prude when it comes to my kitchen. Indo-Chinese is as far as I’ve ever gone since I am familiar with it. So when I made these fries this afternoon, I felt like I was standing at the pinnacle of my multi-cuisine creativity while in reality, all I did was add delicious Indian spices to basic French Fries.
french fries2

But in my defense, desperate times call for desperate measures. I’ve been hitting my books with a vengeance for, my exams are looming over me next week. When my academic adviser told me that combining Finance and Accounts in a term (note, not a semester but its evil condensed form), I knew I should have listened to her. Oh well, my bad. Studying this hard has left me with no motivation to cook, leave alone dress it up and click pretty pictures. So late last night, I remembered that two years of trying to perfect the non-fried French fries has yielded great results and I could play on that. Hence, my Indian fries were born today. One thing though: they are yummy. You might need to make double the batch. After half an hour of trying to get a few perfect shots, I realized that my fries had gone cold. That did not stop me from thanking god K was not home to steal from my plate and gobbling it all up while watching Cupcake Wars. What? A girl can take a break from balancing accounts, ya know!

Indo-French Fries

Ingredients:
Three medium-sized Idaho or Russet potatoes (Yukon, I find, is wasted here)

One tsp salt

One tsp each cumin and coriander powder

One pinch red pepper flakes

One tsp Chat Masala (for the more daring people, I suggest Garam Masala)

Two Tbsp canola oil

Method:
Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC) Peel and cut potatoes length-wise into thick wedges. Pat the wedges down with paper towel or a kitchen cloth to dab out all the moisture. Transfer it to a bowl and add the salt and oil. There are two methods you can choose from now. You can either add the spices to this or save it up to add on after the fries are done. If you use Garam Masala, which has a pretty strong flavor, I suggest you add it before baking. Chat Masala is always tastier when garnished in the end.

Make sure all the potato wedges are evenly coated with oil and spices. Lightly grease a baking sheet with PAM. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on the sheet and bake for 30 minutes, tossing once, 20 minutes into baking. The fries will end up golden and crispy on the outside and soft and done on the inside. When done, transfer to a bowl and mix in the spices. You could finish it off with a generous squeeze of lemon juice.

Eat it with mint-cilantro chutney, spicy chat dip from the Pakoda post or as one of my friends on Facebook has suggested, onion Chutney.
french fries

 


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Sunday is for Biriyani

I cannot believe this is my first post on Biriyani! It is my all-time favorite dish and can eat it everyday if I had to. Thankfully, this world is big enough for more than hundred versions of Biriyani recipes and this one is from one of my best friends, A. It has a wonderful flavor and the spices can be adjusted according to how you want it to taste. This recipe was for Chicken Biriyani but since we are all non-meat eaters at home, I converted it into a very tasty egg biriyani. And boy! It sure doesn’t disappoint.

The vegetables you add could range from frozen vegetables in a bag or freshly cut ones. You can add mushrooms or Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) also to make it more interesting. But really, even without vegetables other than onion and tomato, this is an awesome dish and one I keep going back to!

Here is how I made it:

Spicy Egg Biriyani

Ingredients
One huge onion, chopped

Two Roma tomatoes, chopped

One cup mixed vegetables (if using)

Four pods of garlic, grated

One inch piece ginger, grated

Four Thai red chilies

One tsp turmeric powder

Half tsp cayenne pepper (this can be omitted or the quantity can be reduced)

One and a half tsp Garam Masala ( reduce if you hate a strong Masala taste)

Two tsp salt

Half a bunch cilantro

Half a bunch mint leaves

A generous pinch dry fenugreek leaves/Kasuri Methi (You could buy this in the Indian store or just omit it. But it does add a wonderful taste that cannot be replaced with anything else)

Spices-
A two inches stick of cinnamon

Two pods of cardamom

Two pieces of cloves

One bay leaf

Four Tbsp vegetable oil (or replace two with butter for extra flavor

One and a quarter cups Basmati rice

Two and a half cups water

Four hard-boiled eggs

Method
Before you start cooking, soak the rice in some water. In a dutch pan or a heavy bottom pan, heat the oil/butter. Reduce the heat to medium, add the spices to the pan and fry lightly. When the fragrance of the spices fills your kitchen, add the onion, ginger, garlic and chilis. Saute for a few minutes and add the tomatoes. This is when you add your other vegetables too if you are using. That includes mushrooms. If using Paneer, add it after the biriyani is completely done. Now mix in the turmeric, cayenne, salt and Garam Masala. While the vegetables cook, drain the rice and add it to the pan. Fry for a few minutes until the water is all absorbed. When done, add the cilantro, mint and Fenugreek leaves.

Pour in the water, give it a swish and check for salt. If it is spicier for your taste, don’t worry. The rice will absorb it as it cooks. Now close 90% of the pan with a lid and let it cook for seven minutes. The rice will be half cooked by then. Give it a gentle toss, replace the lid and turn the heat to low. Cook it for roughly eight more minutes, until the water is all absorbed and the rice and vegetables are cooked. You can add the Paneer now. The South Indian Biriyani is never too flaky. It is a little lumpy but not mushy.

Serve hot with Raita and the egg. Yumm!