Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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I Love Punjabi Kadhi!

Punjabi food is amazing! Dal Makhani is one of the tastiest (and one of the easiest) Dals I’ve ever made. The Tandoor method of cooking is very common to Punjabi dishes. Made of clay, a Tandoor is an oven that gives food cooked in it a distinct, rustic taste that is seldom found in any other method of cooking. It has a distant cousin, the American barbecue. But which kind of barbecue method is beyond me because I have never barbecued and don’t see myself doing it anytime in the future either.

Although Butter Chicken (or one of those richer gravies) is the most popular dish that rolls out of a Punjabi kitchen, there are so many lighter and equally wonderful Punjabi recipes also. My favorite would always be the Punjabi Kadhi. Made of sour yogurt, this side is spiced generously with dry red chilies, cinnamon and cloves. Channa Dal flour aka basin gram flour is finally whisked in to thicken it for a soupy consistency, perfect for dipping your Roti in or mixing with rice.
kadhiKadhi, as it is with every dish in this world, has many variations and is actually native to many other Indian cuisines like Uttar Pradeshi, Gujarati, Rajasthani and Maharashtrian. The one we made at home had fried chickpea dumplings (Pakoda) in it to make it meatier and wholesome. But I have made Kadhi with potatoes and without anything dunked in too and they have all been wonderful!

Punjabi Kadhi is a wonderful dish to eat when the weather starts turning cold and you just want something warm and comforting for dinner. Fall is here so this is the most perfect time to make Kadhi!

I realized only after posting that I had not given the recipe! I quickly asked Amma for hers and she gave me her nifty little notebook she writes recipes in. This method is a mishmash of various versions of Kadhi, adopted into one tasty dish. Although it has been adapted from different places, it is as authentic as a Kadhi that comes out of a non-Punjabi kitchen gets!

Panjabi Pakoda Kadhi

Ingredients:

For the Pakoda:
One cup Besan flour

One medium-sized onion chopped

One medium-sized potato chopped

One tsp cumin seeds

One tsp cayenne pepper powder

One tsp grated ginger

Half tsp baking powder

Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying

For the Kadhi:
Three cups yogurt

Two Tbsp Besan flour

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste

For Tempering:
Half inch stick cinnamon

Two cloves

Two whole dry red chilies

Half tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin-coriander powder

Quarter tsp fenugreek seeds

Two tsps grated ginger

Few curry leaves

Half tsp cayenne pepper powder

two Tbsp oil

Method:
Mix the Pakoda ingredients with water to form thick dough. Roll into one inch-size balls. Deep fry in oil and drain on kitchen towel. Mix the Kadhi ingredients together in a bowl. Heat the oil in a pan and saute the tempering ingredients until fragrant. Turn the heat to low and add the yogurt mixture. Let it simmer. Switch the stove off when it starts bubbling and the Kadhi thickens.

When done, dunk the Pakodas in. Eat before it turns soggy.

My most favorite way to eat Kadhi is with Papad and a pat of Ghee/clarified butter. Now you know the reason for my generous BMI, dontcha? 😉

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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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Indian 101

I realized how cheesy I sound as I typed the headline to this post but it is apt and so it shall stay. I got a couple of e-mails from people who read my blog (thank you, you wonderful people!), demanding to see more easy Indian recipes, stuff you will not find in normal Desi restaurants here. Loosely translated: No Paneer, Tandoori, Dosa or Idli. While the demand did shock me, it also made me secretly happy that people here want to go an extra mile towards some normal Indian cooking. Yes, we don’t always make fiery gravies and tame rice-cakes but balance our palate with other delicious food too.

so before we begin, here is a list of a few basic Indian ingredients you will normally find in any Indian store near home (oh, we know you know our secret hang-out!):

Turmeric powder: we use this for color, flavor and the goodness in this fights cancer.

Chili Powder: And we don’t mean the tame ones. We love our pure cayenne pepper powder and take it with us everywhere.

Tamarind paste: Tang is the word when it comes to it and we use it everywhere we need something sour. This is also the key ingredient in our Sambar, Rasam and a few Chutneys. Back home, we buy it in slabs which comes with seeds. We soak in water, squeeze the juice and use it. The tamarind pulp in bottle you get in stores today saves you a whole lot of time now.

Ground cumin and coriander seeds: if you have cooked Mexican, you probably have both these magical ingredients in the pantry already. They have a warm flavor and we add them in a lot of Indian foods.

Urad Dal: is it a condiment? Is it a pulse? It is both and it is white in color. Broken or whole, it doesn’t matter but this pulse is used to cook and garnish.

Rice: I cannot tell a lie, we love our rice. Basmati, Sona Masoori or Ponni (these are types of rice), we can live on rice without complaining… forever. Normally, we use Sona Masoori or Ponni for everyday use and reserve Basmati for fried rice, Pilaf and Biriyani (due to its unattractive nutrition value)

So there you go. The basic stuff you need to buy on your next grocery shopping.