Healthy Ramadan Meal – Baked Chicken with Vegetables, Couscous and Tatziki

July 4th, 2014 Mona Posted in Black pepper powder, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Canned Tomato paste, Capsicum, Carrot/Gajar, Cilantro/Kothmir (fresh), Couscous, Cucumber, Garam masala powder, Garlic/Lahsun, Ginger-Garlic paste, Green Beans/Binees ki phalli, Lemon/Nimbu, Mint/Pudina (fresh), Olive Oil, Olive/Zetoon, Onion/Pyaaz, Poultry/Murgh, Radish, Red Potatoes, Salt/Namak, Tomato/Tamatar (fresh), Turmeric/Haldi, Vegetable Stock, White Potato/Aloo, Yogurt/Dahi No Comments » 895 views

We desi people tend to eat unhealthy especially during the month of Ramadan. We should all be making a great effort to cook healthy meals for our family and take care of our loved ones instead. Inshallah from this Ramadan onwards, I will posting healthy meal ideas for Iftaar and Suhoor. Keep watching this space for more healthy recipes and meal ideas to come.

The following recipe is just something I made on a whim. It is easy, healthy, and makes a perfect meal for ramadan.

Baked Chicken with Vegetables, Couscous and Tatziki

Chicken Legs/thighs pieces – 12-15 pieces
Black Pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Onion – 1, roughly chopped
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Mixed Chopped Vegetables – 4 cups, carrots, grape tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, olives, green beans, broccoli, radish, baby bok choy etc
Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
Olives – pitted, 1/4 cup
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
for Couscous:
Couscous – 1 cup
Olive oil – 1 tbsp
Tomato paste/Pasta sauce (store bought) – 1 tbsp
Fresh leaves and Cilantro – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Water/Chicken/Vegetable stock – 2 cups, very hot
Salt – 1 tsp
for Tatziki
Cucumber – 1/2, peeled and grated
Garlic clove – 1, mashed
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Fat-free Yoghurt – 1 cup
Juice of half lemon
Fresh mint – 4-5 leaves, finely chopped

Ingredients:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl bowl, add chicken, black pepper powder, turmeric, salt, ginger garlic paste, onion, garam masala, olives, olive oil and mix well. In a baking dish with high sides, add the vegetables in a layer. Over them add the marinated chicken again a layer. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 35-45 minutes covered, then the next 15-20 minutes uncovered until the chicken is juicy and done.
Add pasta sauce/tomato paste, chopped herbs, olive oil, and water/chicken stock in a kettle and let it come to a boil. Add couscous in a bowl. Once the water/chicken stock is boiling, pour over the couscous in the bowl and cover with a tight lid. Keep adise and let rest for 10 minutes. Then fluff with fork.

Using a box grater, coarsely grate the cucumber. Sprinkle it with a 1/2 tsp of salt. Let rest for 10 minutes. Then squeeze and scrunch with clean hands to get rid of the excess salty water. Add it to a bowl. Also add yogurt, mashed garlic, lemon juice, chopped mint leaves and salt. Tatziki is ready.

In a serving dish, add the couscous in a layer. Top it with baked chicken and vegetables. Serve along with tatziki on the side.

Healthy Desi Meals Ideas for Iftaar/Suhoor:
For Iftaar
~ Chanay ki Dal – Lemony Boiled Split Bengal Gram 
~ Jaam ka Kachalu – Guava Chaat 
~ Fruit Chaat – Fruit Salad
~ Baked Samosas - bake the samosas instead of deep frying
~ Ragda Cutlet – alter the recipe by not adding any oil to cook the onions, just saute them in a pan until they get a nice brown color; bake the potato cutlets instead of shallow frying; also do not sweeten yogurt
~ Pita Pockets made using Sheekh Kebabs 

Luv,
Mona

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Nargisi Koftay ka Qorma – Scotch Eggs in Gravy

June 25th, 2013 Mona Posted in Canola Oil, Cilantro/Kothmir (fresh), Egg/Anda, Garam masala powder, Ginger-Garlic paste, Hyderabadi special, Lamb/Beef/Mutton/Veal/Sheep, Lemon/Nimbu, Red Chilli powder, Roasted Coconut paste, Roasted Groundnut paste, Salt/Namak, Turmeric/Haldi, Yellow Onion/Pyaaz, Yogurt/Dahi 7 Comments » 4,700 views

If you want to impress your guests, then this is the dish that you should be making and serving them. With just a little pre-preparation, you can make this exotic looking dish in a jiffy.

Nargisi Kofta are so named because when the koftas are sliced open, they look like the almond shaped flower of the narcissus. I usually make shaami meat in large amounts and store it in the freezer for later use. Doing this really simplifies my meals. When I have just Khatti dal and rice, and my hubby is craving something meaty, I quickly defrost a pack of shaami meat, and either make Shaami kawab, or Nargisi Kofta.

Nargisi Koftay ka Qorma – Scotch Eggs in Gravy
Serves: 4

For the Nargisi Kofte:

Ingredients:

Shaami Meat – 1 zip-lock bag, defrosted or frsh made
Hard boiled eggs – 2, peeled

Method:
1. Divide the shammi meat mixture into two portions. Roll each portion into a ball, then flatten out to form a thin patty. Wrap each patty around the peeled boiled eggs, smoothing out the join and making sure there is no egg left exposed. (if you feel that the shammi meat is not holding well to the egg, you can add a binding agent to the meat mixture, like egg white, or besan and mix well. Then, cover the boiled egg with the fixed meat, and it wont fall off)
2. Add 1-2 tbsp of canola oil and heat until hot. Shallow fry the nargisi koftay, turning it gently using a spoon, until it is browned on all sides. Some people also deep fry the kofta in oil, but I prefer to shallow fry them in little oil. Remove and drain on paper towel.

These are ready to serve as is. You can serve them as an appetizer. Or if you want to serve them in a gravy, follow the steps below.

For Qorma (the masala gravy):

Ingredients:

Canola oil – 5 tbsp
Onions – 4, finely sliced
Yogurt – 400 ml, lightly whipped
Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Ginger garlic paste – 1 1/2 tsp
Roasted Groundnut paste – 2 tbsp
Roasted Coconut paste/Coconut cream – 2 tbsp
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Chopped cilantro – 2 tbsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp (optional)

Method:
1. Take a heavy bottomed non stick frying pan on medium heat and throw in the thickly sliced onion rings with no oil. Give them a stir and cover with a lid. Open the lid, and stir them again, add a few splaches of water and cover the lid again. Continue doing this until the onions are are caramelized and cooked. Transfer them into a blender container. Add the yogurt, roasted groundnut paste and roasted coconut paste/coconut cream and blend till it is a smooth puree.
2. Pour oil into the same pan, and add ginger garlic paste. Fry for a minute and add the pureed paste. Throw in red chilli powder, salt and turmeric and mix well. Cover and let cook for around 15-30 minutes on low heat until oil separates and floats on top while stirring occasionally in between. Add garam masala, chopped cilantro and pour in a about 1 1/2 glass of water and mix well (you can add more water if you prefer a thin consistency.) Half-Cover and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Pour lemon juice and remove from heat. Serve immediately along with Naan or parathas or along with a Pulao or plain rice.

For the final curry preparation:

1. Just when you want to serve the curry, gently drop the Nargisi Kofte, each cut into half , into warm Qorma.
2. Serve warm with Roti or Naan or Pulao.

Luv,
Mona

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Aloo kay Samosay

March 23rd, 2010 Mona Posted in All-Purpose Flour/Maida, Canola Oil, Carom seeds/Ajwain, Carrot/Gajar, Cilantro/Kothmir (fresh), Cumin seeds/Zeera, Eid/Ramadhan/Iftaar, Garam masala powder, Ghee, Ginger/Adrak, Hyderabadi special, Kasuri methi, Lemon/Nimbu, Mustard seeds/Rai, Nigella seeds/Kalonji, Peas/Matar, Red Chilli powder, Red Potatoes, Roasted Coriander powder, Roasted Cumin powders, Salt/Namak, Turmeric/Haldi, White Potato/Aloo, Whole Wheat Flour/Durum Atta 17 Comments » 14,173 views

Chai shops, bakeries, mithaiwala shops, cart vendors, chat bhandars along the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent, all sell these magical pastries. Originated and traveled to India possibly from the Middleeast, Samosas are triangular pastries, a popular street food, usually stuffed with minced meat, or a potato mixture. They are the usual appetizers that make their presence at the Nizami Hyderabadi meals, and also enjoyed throughout India and also all over the world by everyone. Samosas are also very famous in Toronto and loved by people here.

Samosas – ready to be eaten

This classic Indian snack food appears in different avatars and types within the Hyderabad city, and also all over India with minor regional variations, some differing in the fillings used, others varying in shapes. For example Luqmi, a rectangular qimah-minced meat stuffed appetizer commonly eaten in Hyderabad, is a royal cousin of samosa. Other regional variants of samosas include the sambusak, samusak or shingara etc.

Today I had prepared some aloo samosas~potato stuffed pastries that are just as good as the Qimah Samosas – minced meat stuffed samosas. You can even bake them if you wish, bit I like to deep fry and prepare them the way they were supposed to be made. The crisp outer texture of samosa is what I love the most.

Aloo kay Samosay – Potato Stuffed Triangular Pastries

Ingredients:

Canola Oil to deep fry
For Filling:
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Fresh Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely grated
Potatoes – 4, peeled and chopped
Carrot – peeled and chopped, 1 cup
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander powder – 3/4 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/4 tsp
Kasuri methi – 3 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Frozen green peas – 1/2 cup (or) Dried green peas – 1/2 cup, soak them in surplus water overnight and pressure cook until soft the next day, drain and keep aside to use
Lemon juice – 4 tbsp
Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro – 2 tbsb, finely chopped
For Covering:
All-purpose flour/Maida – 1 cup
Whole wheat flour/Durum flour – 1 cup
Carom seeds/Ajwain – 1 tsp
Nigella seeds/Kalonji – 1/2 tsp
Canola Oil or Ghee – 2 tbsp
Water
Salt to taste

Method:

1. In a saucepan, heat oil and as soon as it warms up add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and ginger and let them splutter. In a few seconds add the chopped potatoes and carrots. Add water to cover the vegetables and add red chilli powder, salt, cumin seed powder, kasuri methi and cover with a lid. As soon as the potatoes are done, uncover and add the frozen peas or cooked dried peas, garam masala, chopped cilantro and lemon juice. Cook while stirring until the mixture is dry. Keep aside.

2. Now prepare the dough. Add maida, ajwain, kalonji and salt in a mixing bowl and mix. Add canola oil or ghee and mix well using fingers. Gradually add water and knead to form a smooth and pliable dough. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until elastic. Cover with a towel and keep aside for 30 minutes for the dough to rest. Later shape the dough into 8 balls and cover them with a towel.
3. One by one roll the balls into thin ovals. Using a pizza cutter or a knife cut each oval in the center into two halves, thus a total of 16 half-ovals will be produced. Cover the rest with a towel while filling others. Take a half-oval and brush half of each straight edge using your fingertip with water. Fold the second half of the straight edge over the fist half to form into a cone. Pinch close the seam. Hold the cone with the open end up and fill the cone with some of the filling. Cut off any excess dough and use it later. Brush one side of the open end with water. Pinch to seal the top edges enclosing the filling. Prepare all the samosas the same way and keep them covered under a towel.
4. Once all are ready, heat oil in a deep saucepan or kadai. To test if the oil is ready to be used, drop a pinch of dough into the hot oil, the dough should come up within a few seconds. Deep fry the samosas a few at a time until golden. Using a slotted spoon remove them into a strainer. Serve warm along with tamarind chutney or ketchup. Once cool, they can even be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and reheated in the oven.

To Bake the Samosa:
After step 4, place the samosas in a greased or non-stick baking tray. Bake in a pre-heated 220° C oven for 20 minutes or until light brown in color. Serve immediately

Note:
1.If you are finding it difficult to enlcose the filling in the dough this way, please head over to Qimah Samosa-Minced meat stuffed samosa where I have explained an easier way to assemble samosas.
2. If there is any left over dough and the filling has been used up, you can make namakpaare out them.
3. If there is any left over filling and the dough has been used up, use the filling to make vegetable curry puffs.

This month Sailaja is on a chaat spree and she is dishing out varieties of chaat items on her blog. Head over her blog to go though them all.

Luv,
Mona

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Basic How To’s: Series VI ~ Homemade Khoa/Mawa

October 26th, 2009 Mona Posted in Home-made Khoa/Mawa, Khoa, Lemon/Nimbu, Milk and Milk Products 19 Comments » 19,803 views

Basic How To: Homemade Khoa/Mawa

Milk and its products like Yogurt, Ghee, Khoa, Paneer are much valued and used very extensively in Indian cooking.

Khoa (also referred to as Khoya/Khawa/Mawa) is reduced milk, reduced to such an extent that it is almost doughy or granular in texture. This concentrated solid is used as the base in most of the Indian sweet preperations like Burfi, Gulab Jamun, Peda, Kalakand, Chumchum, Kalajamun and various other Halwa’s and Mithai’s. It is very easily available in India and sold at the dairy stores or parlours by halwais(milk traders) selling all kinds of Indian diary products like ghee, paneer, curd etc. In Canada, I am lucky enough to find Khoa packets available ready made at most of the Indian stores or Bombay Bazaar.

store brought Khoa packet from Bombay bazaar in Toronto

I prepare two kinds of Khoa at home usually, the ‘Chikna khoa’, and the ‘Daan-e-daar khoa’.
Chikna Khoa: has about 80% mositure and is made by slowly cooking milk uncovered until it is reduced to a doughy mass.
Daan-e-daar Khoa (granular khoa): is made coagulating milk with acid and then slow cooked until all the moisture is evaporated and you are left with granular milk solids.
The rock hard kind of Khoa that you get ready made from the market which even can be grated is called as Batti Khoa.

Many friends and readers of my blog have asked me the procedure to prepare Khoa at home, or its substitutions. Here is a pictorial tutorial for the procedure to prepare Khoa at home:

Chikna Khoa
Makes – 170 gms

Pour 1 liter milk in a heavy bottomed milk saucepan (of you can use any clean heavy bottomed vessel, you can even use a heavy bottomed non-stick saucepan) at medium high and let it come to a boil once.

Lower the heat to medium and let cook until the milk is reduced to 1/4th the original quantity. This takes about 1 hour or so and it requires a careful watch to prevent milk from getting burnt, and a constant/very frequent stirring.

Once the milk is reduced to 1/4 quantity, lower the heat to medium low and let cook for some more time, stirring continously, until it is dry and lumpy/doughy.

Remove from heat and transfer the khoa to a cup and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate it for a hour so that it thickens/hardens. Remove the prepared Khoa from the refrigerator transfer to a zip-lock sandwich bag and freeze to store for future use, or use immediately. Normally one liter of milk should give you 125-170 gm of khoya.

fresh and home-made ~ Chikna Khoa

This procedure prepares unsweetened khoa. To prepare sweetened khoa, add desired quantity of sugar on the last stages to sweeten the khoa.

Daan-e-daar Khoa

Pour 1 liter milk in a heavy bottomed milk saucepan (of you can use any clean heavy bottomed vessel, you can even use a heavy bottomed non-stick saucepan) at medium high and let it come to a boil once. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice so that the milk curdles and lower the heat to medium and continue cooking. Keep stirring the milk and cook until most of the moisture has been evaporated and the milk is reduced to dry lumpy texture. Remove from heat and transfer the khoa to a cup and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate it for a hour so that it thickens/hardens. Remove the prepared Khoa from the refrigerator transfer to a zip-lock sandwich bag and freeze to store for future use, or use immediately.
Tip: Daan-e-dar khoa can also be prepared from failed yogurt.

A friend of mine had once shared this useful recipe for a quick khoa substitute:

Quick Khoa Substitutes:

1. Add full fat or low fat milk powder and just a little bit of full fat or low fat unsweetened condensed milk/heavy cream to make it into a semi-solid paste in a bowl. Pour this into into a thick milk saucepan at medium low heat. Let cook stirring continously until it is until it is dry and lumpy/doughy. Remove from heat and let it cool completely. Transfer to refrigerator so that it thickens/hardens. Shape/cut into blocks and store the khoa blocks in plastic wrap in zip-lock sandwich bags and freeze to store for future use, or use immediately.

2. If all this is not possible, you can simply substitute khoya with equal amounts of milk powder. That should work out fine.

This post is my contribution to the event Back to Basics originally stated by Jaya, and currently being hosted by Aqua at Served with Love.

Luv,
Mona

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Basic How To’s: Series V~ Home-Made Ghee

July 8th, 2009 Mona Posted in Ghee, Home-Made Ghee 10 Comments » 10,342 views

Basic How To: Ghee

Ghee (Clarified Butter) (also referred to as ‘Maska’) is an essential flavoring ingredient in most of the Indian culinary preperations. It is also added as a dollop on warm Khichdi, Idli etc for delicious flavor. Ghee also is used as the culinary fat in some Indian dishes, especially sweets, for richness and lovely aroma and flavor. It is lactose free and rich in Vitamin A. I have never brought Ghee from stores. I always use my own Home-made Ghee.

Ghee is prepared from butter, butter is prepared from cream, and cream is obtained from milk. Back in India my Ammi always prepares Ghee from scratch. Accumulated cream was daily skimmed off milk brought by the doodhwallahs/door to door milk vendors, until the container with cream was full and ready to be made into Ghee (I have explained her procedure below). But here in Toronto, I prepare ghee from store bought unsalted butter for ease of use.

Warm Ghee,
and the strained left over milk solids in the spoon

Ghee from Scratch:

1. Boil milk and then let it cool uncovered. Once it is cool, you will observe that a layer of cream has been accumulated on the top of the milk. Transfer the vessel to the refrigerator very carefully without disturbing the top layer. After about 2-3 hours, using a spoon carefully collect the cream and transfer it to a clean and dry air tight food storage container. Cover and store the container in the refrigerator. Continue collecting cream in this way for a week to 10-15 days until the container is full.

Cream accumulated as the top layer on cooled boiled Milk

2. Once the container is full, using a wood churner or a dal ghotni, or a hand mixer, churn the cream until you see that the butter and whey has started to separate. You can even churn the cream at room temperature in a mixer using ice and cold water until the soft white butter and clear whey has separated. Use this whey which is highly nutritious in other recipes instead of water. Using your hands remove the formed soft butter from the whey and place it in a clean bowl.

Churning collected cream using a dal ghotni

Butter separated from Cream after churning

3. Add the separated butter into a saucepan and follow the steps below under the heading ‘Ghee from Store Bought Unsalted Butter Blocks’.

Note: You can also skip step 2, and directly add the cream at room temperature to a stainless steel saucepan at medium heat. and continue with step 3.

Ghee from Store Bought Unsalted Butter Blocks:

The amount that I have prepared lasts for around 2-3 months in my house (although it can be stored without getting spoiled indefinitely). It may vary depending on the number of members in your house and also on the frequency of use. Always use a dry clean spoon for Ghee whenever you want to use it.

Required:

Finest Quality Organic Unsalted Butter – 1 lb, 454 grams cut into small size blocks
Fine Wire Mesh Strainer
Heat proof canning or bottling glass jar like the Mason jar, or food safe glazed ceramic jar or stone jar or a terrine or stainless steel container, with tight fitting lid

Unsalted Store Bought Butter Blocks

Method:

In a heavy bottomed medium size stainless steel saucepan, heat the butter blocks on medium high heat.
Once melted, you will observe a large amount of froth/foam on the top. This takes about 6-8 minutes on medium high heat. Immediately lower the heat to lowest and let cook uncovered for 40-45 minutes. During this time the froth/foam will slowly dissapear, the milk solids have seperated and will sink to the bottom. Using a spoon very gently push aside the foam to check the color of the milk solids in the bottom. You will notice the milk solids have begun to turn into beige brown in color. Keep a close eye and do not let the milk solids turn into dark brown in color. The Ghee will also start emanating a pleasing nutty aroma. If a drop or two of cool water is dropped into the cooking ghee, a crackling sound is produced. (This is because all the water from ghee has been boiled off)

Ghee Solids turned into beige brown color and settled in the bottom.
Notice the foam has also been almost disappeared

Immediately at this stage, remove the ghee from heat and let cool slightly. Strain the ghee using a fine wire mesh into a completely dry jar to store. Reserve the left over milk solids in the strainer for later use. Do not cover the jar until the ghee is completely cooled at room temperature, it will take a few hours. The ghee solidifies into opaque beige-golden colored granulated mass when no longer warm. Ghee has a very long shelf life. Store it refrigerated in air-tight jars with care and it will last very long (during winters I store my Ghee jar at the countertop, and in summer i store the Ghee jar in the refrigerator).

You can add the reserved milk solids to any curry, rice, dessert, or to the dough while you prepare Roti/Paratha or any other flat bread for delicious flavor.

This post is my contribution to the event Back to Basics originally stated by Jaya, and currently being hosted by Aqua at Served with Love.

Luv,
Mona

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