Posts Tagged ‘tomato’

In celebration of completing another major step towards my PhD!!!

I know I have been missing from my blog from a very long time. In fact it will be two months on the 22nd of August. But well I guess sometimes you just need to prioritize and you end up giving up the very thing that makes your life less stressful. But I can say one thing about the last two months, I did manage to accomplish two major milestones towards my doctoral degree; first – I submitted my PhD proposal and second – I completed the written part of my comprehensive exam. A couple more steps and I will be pretty close to officially completing my PhD program…

So in celebration of having completed all these milestones, I decided to make some chicken tikka masala tonight. In fact I was to start making it around 6:30 pm but thanks to the dust storm that rolled into Phoenix this evening, I was stuck at school for an hour more than I had planned.The chicken tikka masala essentially has two main ingredients, the gravy/masala and the chicken tikka. This recipe serves 4 persons and takes about an hour to prepare from start to finish if you make the chicken tikka and masala simultaneously.

Ingredients:

  1. 500 grams of boneless cubes of chicken
  2. 2 tbsp oil
  3. ½ tsp Cumin seeds
  4. 1 Bay leaf
  5. 2 Black cardamoms
  6. 3 Green cardamom
  7. 3 Cloves
  8. 1 inch Cinnamon
  9. 3 medium / 2 large Chopped onions
  10. 2 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
  11. 3 chopped Tomatoes
  12. 1 ½ tsp Coriander powder
  13. 1 tbsp Red Chili powder
  14. ¼ tsp Turmeric
  15. Salt to taste
  16. 4 tbsp Cashewnut paste
  17. 1 Tomato (no pulp chopped into large chunks)
  18. 1 Green pepper / Capsicum chopped into large chunks
  19. 1 Onion chopped into large chunks
  20. 2 tbsp Cream
  21. ½ tsp Garam masala
  22. fresh Coriander for garnishing
  23. 1 tbsp lime juice

For the chicken marinade

  1. 1 tsp Ginger paste
  2. 1 tsp Garlic paste
  3. 1 tsp Chili powder
  4. Salt to taste
  5. 1 tbsp Lime juice
  6. 2 tbsp Oil
  7. 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  8. 1/4 tsp carom seeds / ajwain
  9. 2 tbsp Gram flour
  10. 1 cup Yogurt
  11. 1 tsp red Chili powder
  12. 2 tsp Ginger garlic paste
  13. ¼ tsp Turmeric
  14. Salt to taste
  15. ½ tsp Garam masala

Directions:

Chicken Tikka

  • Marinate the chicken in ingredients 1 to 5  under ‘For the chicken marinade’ for 20 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile heat the oil and add the carom seeds. Once the carom seeds start popping, add the gram flour and roast it till it is cooked through. There will be a nutty smell once the gram flour is cooked.
  • Now add this to the yogurt, red chili powder, ginger garlic paste, turmeric, salt and garam masala.
  • After 20 mins add the marinated chicken to the yogurt mixture.
  • Let the chicken marinate for about 2-3 hours. (I did not have 2-3 hrs. I managed to marinate it only for an hour or so)
  • Once the chicken is marinated long enough, oil a baking sheet and pre heat the oven to 425F.
  • Skewer the chicken cubes onto skewers and place the skewers on the baking sheet. The chicken will cook pretty fast, about 15-20 mins. After once side is cooked, turn over the chicken on the skewers. After about 10 mins, turn it over once again. It should be browned slightly on either side.
  • Add the chunks of tomato, green pepper and onions to the leftover marinade.
  • Set the chicken aside. You can start preparing the gravy while the chicken cooks.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, set the oven to the broiler setting and transfer the vegetables on the same baking sheet.
  • Once the vegetables brown remove them from the oven and set them aside.

For the Masala / Gravy

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Once the oil is hot add the cumin seeds, bay leaf, cardamom (black and green), cloves & cinnamon to it. Once the whole spices start imparting their fragrance, add the chopped onions.
  • Brown the onions and add the ginger garlic paste at the very end. Once the ginger garlic paste is also fried add the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are completely incorporated with the onions.
  • Next add the coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt. Let the dry spices cook through, it will take just a couple of minutes.
  • Once the dry spices are cooked through add the cashew paste and cook it for a couple of minutes till the oil starts separating from the mixture.
  • At this point add the chicken and mix thoroughly. You may want to add some water to the gravy at this point if it is too thick.
  • Let the gravy simmer for a couple of minutes then add the roasted vegetable chunks to the gravy. Mix the vegetables together and let it simmer for a couples of minutes.
  • Next add the cream, coriander leaves and lime juice to the gravy.
  • The chicken tikka masala is now ready to serve.

We had the chicken tikka masala with some naan and it was brilliant. Now no more craving for restaurant style chicken tikka masala. I can make it at home anytime. Though not too often, it’s not the healthiest of meals after all. But once in a while when you feel like indulging, its perfect. And I followed the recipe from the following link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh-SZ1drOMc. One change I made to the recipe was that I roasted the vegetables before added it to the gravy.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did both making and eating it. And hopefully no more such long breaks from blogging for me. I can definitely say that cooking is my stress buster for sure. Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you enjoy the chicken tikka masala.

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A lip-smacking, mouth-watering delight!

Chicken Makhani, this is one dish I always thought is for the restaurant. Not one to be recreated at home as it’s almost impossible to get the right mix of ingredients or I missed something. So I never actually got down to trying the recipe. Then the other day I went to Fresh and Easy on the way back home from work and picked up some never frozen chicken breasts. I really wanted to make something very Indian with some yummy curry. So I decided to challenge myself to the elusive perfect chicken makhani or the famous butter chicken. I browsed through a zillion recipes online and based on what I saw I came up with my own recipe. One which I hoped would be THE PERFECT BUTTER CHICKEN / CHICKEN MAKHANI.  This recipe serves 2. And takes about 45 minutes to make if you multitask making the curry and the chicken. The curry itself takes about 30 minutes to prepare and the chicken about 30 minutes in the oven. You will need to marinate the chicken for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight if time permits.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 medium sized chicken breasts (8-10 large chicken pieces)
  2. 2 tbsp cream
  3. 2 tbsp butter
  4. 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
  5. 4-5 green cardamoms
  6. 4 tomatoes (chopped into large chunks)
  7. 1 inch piece of ginger (julienned)
  8. 2 green chilis (de-seeded and chopped fine)
  9. 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  10. 1/2 – 3/4 tsp red chili powder
  11. 1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  12. 2 tbsp oil
  13. salt to taste

For the marinade:

  1. 1/2 cup yogurt
  2. 2 tbsp cream
  3. 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  4. 2 tsp red chili powder
  5. 2 tsp cumin powder
  6. 1 tsp coriander powder
  7. 1/4 tsp garam masala
  8. 1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  9. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  10. salt to taste

Directions:

  • Cut the chicken into large chunks.
  • Marinate the chicken in the marinade for atleast a couple of hours.
  • Roast the chicken in the oven till cooked throughly.
  • Heat half the oil and butter. Once hot add the green cardamoms and nutmeg.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes after about 15 seconds.
  • Once the tomatoes are cooked thoroughly and mushy set it aside to cool.
  • Once the tomatoes are cooled grind it to a fine paste and strain it to remove any large chunks.
  • Next heat the rest of the oil and butter and add the garlic, ginger and green chilies to the hot oil.
  • Once they have browned add the strained tomato paste.
  • Let this mixture cook for about 2-3 minutes then add the red chili powder and salt.
  • Bring to a simmer and add the cooked chicken to the tomato gravy.
  • Bring to a simmer and add the dried fenugreek leaves and honey.
  • Mix the butter chicken thoroughly and add the cream and let the butter chicken come to a slow simmer.
  • Remove from heat and serve with naan, paratha or any other form of bread.

One of the main problems when I have made anything close to butter chicken in the past has been the color of the dish. It was never orange enough. But well this time it was perfect and no added colors. Secondly, though I had to add some butter and cream, I did not have to add cups of it to make it delicious. So when I served it Amit was speechless. In his own words – “This is the best butter chicken I have ever had!!!”. The gravy is mindblowing and if you follow my recipe to the tee, I guarantee you with the same great results. And the gravy is versatile enough to either add chicken, paneer or mixed vegetables to it. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did and thanks for reading…

Shilpa

The Dassera Special

Being a Keralite brought up in Bombay has given me the opportunity to see different festivals celebrated in so many different ways. For instance Dassera, the name itself, can be spelt in so many different ways. I have always associated Dassera with two things, one being Dandiya and another being books (lets say the lack of it). For me Dassera is synonymous with the music and dance that people enjoy for during the entire festival. It does get pretty loud but it is also so pleasing to the eye – the colorfully decorated ‘pandals’, the beautifully dressed up girls and of course the music… You start dancing to the music without much effort, you don’t need to know how to – in fact I am sure Amit (who, I am pretty sure, has two left feet) can also manage pretty well.  I so miss being in India for these festivals.

The other reason for me so looking forward to this particular festival is the way we traditionally celebrate it in Kerala. At home we celebrate it primarily as Saraswati Puja (worshipping the goddess of knowledge). Ashtami, Navami, and Vijaya Dashami the last three of the ten day festival are celebrated as Saraswati Puja in which books are worshiped. For me it had always been a three day festival at home. When you say worshipping the books, it literally means that, we used to set aside our school books for the puja on the 1st day and then on the 3rd day after the rituals are completed the books are given back to us. And during the three days we are not allowed to study!!! So now you know why, as a kid, this was indeed the most awesome three days.

In Kerala, the books are either kept at home for worshiping, or at the temple. The third day, Vijaya Dashami is also considered to be a very auspicious day to initiate children into the world of books (or rather into reading and writing). This ceremony is called Vidyarambham (which quite literally translates to Vidya – Knowledge, Arambham – beginning).

And then there was the Ayudha Puja (worship of tools, implements, weapons, automobiles, etc) which was also on the same day as the Saraswati puja. Our car used to get decked up in a garland. In fact any automobile you would see on the streets would have the garland.

In fact this festival is celebrated in different ways in different states in India. Since I am no expert, I won’t delve into the details. But it is celebrated with much grandeur in almost all the states.

So that being said, we celebrated Dassera this Sunday at home. And since I was a bit too busy celebration for us meant cooking and then eating some awesome food. I decided on a 3-course meal and I intend to share all three recipes right here. We started off with an appetizer, the main course and of course ended with a sweet dish.

This post is to share the Aloo Mutter recipe that I made thanks to the recipe I found online. The link is given at the end of the blog. The recipe I found was for Mutter Paneer (Indian Cheese with peas) but since the appetizer had paneer, I decided to adapt the recipe for Potatoes and Peas in a Tomato gravy. The recipe takes about 30-40 minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 medium sized potatoes (cut into chunks and boiled)
  2. 1 cup green peas (cooked)
  3. 2 large tomatoes
  4. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  5. 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  6. 1″ piece cinnamon
  7. 4-5 cloves
  8. 4-5 green cardamom
  9. 10-15 cashews
  10. 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  11. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  12. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  14. 1 cup plain yogurt (make sure the yogurt is not sour)
  15. 2 teaspoons cream (optional)
  16. 1 teaspoon oil
  17. Coriander leaves for garnish
  18. Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Soak the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cashews in hot water for 10-15 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile cook the potatoes and peas separately.
  • Make a puree of the tomatoes in the blender.
  • Grind the whole spices and cashew to a fine paste.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan on medium heat and add the paste to it.
  • Fry the paste for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour in the tomato puree and cook for another 5 minutes (or till the sauce starts getting thick).
  • Add the chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder and turmeric powder and let the gravy cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Now add the yogurt and continue stirring on a low flame to a simmer.
  • Add the cooked peas and potatoes and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the cream and garnish with some coriander leaves and serve hot.

Since it was Dassera, I decided to indulge in some puris to go along with this dish. But you can serve this with any form of bread (indian or otherwise).  The ingredients listed above make about 4 servings. The original recipe is  available at http://www.tarladalal.com/Spicy-Mutter-Paneer-15657r. Hope you enjoy this version of Aloo Mutter. Sorry about the pictures, I took it a hurry, as I was worried that we would finish most of it and I won’t have any left to take pictures.

A Taste of Bombay…

The other day a friend of mine posted this link on facebook, http://www.cnngo.com/mumbai/eat/40-mumbai-foods-we-cannot-live-without-974140. And that was good enough to trigger a lot of awesome mouth watering memories. I so wanted the bombay sandwich, the Tibbs’  frankie at shivaji park, the samosa chole at Guru Kripa, the vada pav n the list goes on. I was in no mood to make anything that would take more than 1/2 hour. So I decided to make the Bombay sandwich for dinner. I know it’s not so much a dinner meal but well I guess I decide what’s on the menu!!!

And add to that the fact that my mom used to make a version of the bombay sandwich for lunch. And I remember my friends used to devour all of it and well I used to devour their lunch. So I made some Bombay Sandwiches for dinner. I was in such a hurry to eat it all up that I totally missed taking the photos part… But here’s my version of the bombay sandwich recipe. I’ll put up the pics next time I make them. This recipe takes about 1/2 hour to make from start to finish.

Ingredients:

  1. 6 slices of bread (white bread is the original bread used but I used slices of multi-grain bread)
  2. 2-3 medium sized potatoes, boiled and sliced
  3. 2 tomatoes, sliced
  4. 1 large onion, sliced
  5. 1 medium cucumber, sliced
  6. 1 cup fresh coriander
  7. 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  8. 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  9. 3 cloves garlic
  10. 1/8 medium onion
  11. 1 green chili (to taste)
  12. 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  13. 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  14. 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  15. salt to taste
  16. butter to spread

Directions:

  • Grind the coriander leaves, mint leaves, tamarind, garlic cloves, 1/8 onion, green chili, cumin powder, lemon juice in a blender.
  • Add salt to taste. If the chili turns out to be too spicy add some more sugar.
  • Spread the butter on one side of a slice, spread the green chutney over the butter and add one layer of potatoes, one layer of tomatoes , one layer of cucumber and one layer of onion.
  • Place the second slice (buttered and green chutney spread on one side) over this and then butter and apply the green chutney on the other side.
  • Again add the vegetables as before and top it off with the third slice of bread (buttered and the green chutney spread).
  • I like to chill the sandwich for half hour in the refrigerator before serving.
  • Cut the sandwich into 4 squares or triangles before serving.
  • This is also served toasted.

This makes 2 sandwiches, which were  pretty filling. I am almost always content with one sandwich. Now that I have made the bombay sandwich and devoured it, I now have my eyes on the frankie. I will most definitely be trying to make one as close as possible to the Tibb’s frankie. (Tibb’s frankie is a chain which makes the most mouth-watering frankies – a must try if you go to Bombay).

My mom’s version of the sandwich was made with a coconut chutney instead of the green chutney. That used to taste awesome too. I must ask her to make one for me the next time I go to India. After all you can never replicate your mom’s recipe. You can just get close enough to it.

Soup Time!!!

Amit (my husband) was down with a cold the other day and he so wanted to have some soup. So instead of buying the sodium loaded soups at the grocery store, I decided to try making some homemade soup. After a lot of  “you decide, no you”, we agreed on tomato soup. I then found this recipe online for tomato soup with roasted red pepper and fresh basil. The recipe just looked interesting and easy to make. And I can vouch for the fact that it was delicious too. I did make some modifications to the original recipe.

The quantities listed below will serve 3 persons if you are serving just the soup and a salad. We decided to go healthy that night and have a salad and soup for dinner.

Ingredients:

  1. Crushed tomato (15 ounces)
  2. 1 Red Pepper
  3. 2 teaspoons white cooking wine
  4. 1 teaspoon oregano
  5. 3 cloves garlic
  6. 1 small onion
  7. 3 teaspoons olive oil
  8. 2 cups chicken stock
  9. 1/2 cup fresh basil (chopped)

For the basil cream

  1. 1/2 cup sour cream
  2. 1/4 – 1/2 cup whipping cream
  3. 1/4 cup fresh basil
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Slice the red pepper into 1 inch thin slices (slivers).
  • Mix the white cooking wine and oregano with the red pepper and set aside.
  • In the meanwhile chop the garlic cloves and onion.
  • Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a saucepan and add the marinated red pepper.
  • Roast the red pepper till the edges turn brown.
  • Set the red pepper aside.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the same saucepan.
  • Once the oil is hot add the chopped onion and garlic to the saucepan.
  • Saute the onion and garlic till they turn light brown.
  • Mix in the red pepper, crushed tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to boil.
  • Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes.
  • While the soup is cooking, mix together the sour cream, whipping cream, basil, salt and black pepper and set aside.
  • Transfer the soup to a blender and blend till smooth. (It takes me a just a couple of minutes to achieve the soup like consistency)
  • Pour the soup into bowls and add the basil cream on top. (I also added a few cut sprigs of basil to give it a very colorful and fresh feel)

This soup takes about 20 – 30 minutes to serve including prep time and cooking time. I love to serve this alongside some fresh salad with a ranch dressing.

The original recipe can be found at http://www.countryliving.com/recipefinder/red-pepper-soup-basil-cream-recipe?click=main_sr. I only made a change in the red pepper part of the recipe. Instead of buying a can of marinated red pepper I made my own fresh roasted pepper.