Murgh Kali Mirch

The weather seems to be slowly turning into spring. It will still be a month atleast until I can see sprouts of new life budding on trees. Uptil then, it is nice to see layers of snow gradually melting away revealing the ground which has been covered up since long.

Changing weather means illnesses and I fell prey to it as well. I was down with flu a few days back and I am slowly recovering now. I was craving for something spicy as well as nourishing and comforting. My Ammi’s Murgh Kali Mirch was what I prepared and enjoyed along with warm Naan.

The chicken in allowed to slow cook on low heat in its own juices in a spicy black pepper, tomato and fried onion sauce until it is so soft, the meat falls off the bone. There is no need to add water during the entire process. A heavy bottomed saucepan will be perfect for this preparation.

Murgh Kali Mirch – Chicken Slow Cooked in Black Pepper Sauce

Ingredients:

Chicken – 1, whole, skinned, washed and cut into pieces
Canola oil – 3 tbsp
Onion – 2, medium sized, diced
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tsp
Green chillies – 2, small, finely chopped
Curry leaves – 3 sprigs
Red Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Tomato – 1, large, chopped
Fresh black pepper powder – 1 1/4 tsp
Cilantro – 3 tbsp, chopped, for garnish

Method:

In a large saucepan or a dutch oven at medium high heat pour oil and as soon as it warms up add the diced onions. Stir fry the onions until they are golden brown in color. Simmer and add ginger garlic paste, green chillies and curry leaves. In a minute add red chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. Mix and add the chopped tomatoes. Cover with a  lid and let it cook until the tomatoes are soft. There is no need to add any water. Once the tomatoes are soft add the chicken pieces and and mix well. Cover with the lid and let it cook for 15 minutes. The chicken will slow cook in its own juices, again there is no need to add any water. Open the lid and add the fresh black pepper powder. Mix well. Cover again and let it cook for 30 minutes. Give it a stir once in between. Let it cook until the chicken has released a lot of juices and the meat falls off the bone. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve along with Naan or Rice.

Luv,
Mona

Sambar

Sambar is a delicious richly flavored lentil and vegetable stew, native to South India. Many versions of sambar exist, and each one is just as delicious as the other one. The key for a flavorful sambar is a good sambar masala. Like there exists many versions of garam masala powder, similarly every South Indian household has their own version of the sambar masala. I have always only used the ready made MDH Sambar masala powder that is easily available in stores. But I really loved Padma’s Sambar and since then I have only been using her sambar masala to favor mine. I was so glad to discover the right sambar masala for me.

Idli served along with Sambar

Warm Sambar is a delicious accompaniment to South Indian classics like idli, wada, dosa, or just along with plain simple rice, etc. Today I have made Okra Sambar because I had only okra at hand, but the mixed vegetable sambar is the conventional and most delicious. The addition of a variety of vegetables add their own flavor to the spicy and aromatic sambar. Tamarind is the traditional souring ingredient used, but if unavailable you can use lemon juice.

Sambar – Spicy Lentil and Mixed Vegetables Stew
Adapted from here

Ingredients:

Toor dal – 1 cup
Tomato – 1, large, chopped
Green chillies – 4, chopped
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Canola oil – 3 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 3/4 tsp
Cumin seeds – 3/4 tsp
Dry red chillies – 4, each broken into half
Curry leaves – 3 sprigs
Mixed Vegetables – 2 cups (chopped/cubed: brinjal, potato, taro root, bottle guard, radish, zucchini, okra, drumsticks, french beans, carrot, pumpkin, beetroot, etc; peeled & whole pearl onions/shallots; cauliflower or brocolli florets) (I used only okra – 340 gms) (also I did not have shallots so I used 1 large sliced onion instead)
Thick Tamarind pulp – 5 tbsp
Jaggery/gud – 1 tbsp, grated
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Sambar masala:
2 tsps of bengal gram/chana dal
2 tsps of black gram/urad dal
2 tsps of cumin seeds/zeera
3 tsps of coriander seeds/dhaniya
½ tsp black peppercorns/kali mirch
½ tsp of fenugreek seeds/methi
4 dry red chillies/sukhi lal mirch
¾ cup dry desiccated coconut/khopra

Delicious Warm Sambar

Method:

1. In a non stick frying pan dry roast all the spices separately under the heading sambar masala until they are just a few shades darker. Transfer all the roasted spices to a spice grinder and add a little water and grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside. This is the sambar masala.
2. Wash toor dal in several changes of water. Soak it overnight or for 2-3 hours in surplus fresh cool water. Drain, and wash in several changes of water. Add the washed and soaked toor dal to a pressure cooker. Add 1/2 tbsp oil, chopped tomato, green chillies, turmeric powder and 3 cups of water. Close the lid and pressure cook until the dal is mushy. Using a whisk or a dal ghotni or an immersion blender, blend the dal into a paste. Keep aside.
3. In a large saucepan at medium high heat, add the remaining oil. As soon as it is warm, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they begin to crackle add the curry leaves and dry red chillies. (If you do not have pearl onions or shallots in hand, add the sliced onions and sauté them until they are pink). Immediately add the prepared mixed vegetables and mix well. Add salt and red chilli powder. Lower the heat to medium and pour in two cups of water. Cover with a lid and let cook until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the tamarind paste and grated jaggery. Now add the toor dal paste prepared earlier along with chopped cilantro and sambar masala. Mix well. Add water to give it a thin consistency. Half cover with a lid and allow it simmer for around 15 minutes more until the vegetables are soft and a good aroma fills your kitchen. Stir frequently and well, as the toor dal tend to sink to the bottom and stick. Serve warm along with plain rice, or dosa, or idli, or wada.

Luv,
Mona

Machli kay Sir ka Saalan and a Winner

The first time I had tasted this fish head curry was at my aunts house. She had prepared this curry along with rice and other accompaniments and served it at lunch. I was staying at her house for my studies during that time. Fish head curry sounded very gross to me and I was initially hesitant to even taste it. But my aunt was truly enjoying it and looking at her enjoy, I was eventually tempted. I tried and it was very good. Since then I am a fan. Hubby dear on the other side is not a big fan of fish in any form, so fish makes a rare appearance on our table. Whenever I fancy fish, I ask the fish monger at stores in Toronto that sell live fish, to give me a whole tiny little cleaned fish along with its head. I fry/grill or a make a saalan with the steaks, and a separate curry using the head. Enough for me.

Machli kay Sir ka Saalan – Fish Head Curry

One of the easiest curry preparations using fish, and full of nutrition. You will definitely enjoy it. My mother and aunt make this curry using the head of a Rohu fish, which is the most commonly eaten and most delicious fish ever that is available in South India, however you can use any fish head. I have prepared this curry using Salmon fish head and Rainbow Trout fish head. You can even use King fish head or Snapper head, etc.  If you are making this curry for more than one person, please go ahead and buy 2-3 fish heads, and increase the amounts of other ingredients accordingly. Just let go of your inhibitions and do try this curry atleast once.

Machli kay Sir ka Saalan – Fish Head Curry

Ingredients:

1 Fish Head – cleaned (I discard the eyes and skin)
Onion – 1 medium sized, finely diced
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Canola oil – 2 tsp

Method:

In a pressure cooker at medium heat, add the finely diced onion, oil, red chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. Pour in about a cup of water. Mix well. Close the lid and pressure cook for 10 minutes until the onion is very soft. Remove the lid and cook while stirring occasionally until most of the water dries up and it resembles a paste and oils starts to leave. Add the cleaned fish heads and a few drops of water. Stir to mix, then cover with a lid and lower the heat to simmer. Let it cook for 5-10 minutes. Then remove the lid and cook for a further 2-5 minutes. Add chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

Winner:

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for Olivado Oils. And we have a winner. To choose the winner, I usedRandom.org’s Integer Generator to choose a number, and the lucky winner is ikkinlala. Congratulations. Please contact me for further details.

Luv,
Mona