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

Lamb Roast

It had been quite hectic since Bakr-Eid with get-togethers and celebrations going on quite often in our circle of friends. Had a very good time along with loved ones, but it all left me tired and didn’t give me any time to sit back and unwind, forget about blogging. Nevertheless I am happy now to get back to my usual routine and enjoy the daily grind. Perhaps I am one of those people who prefer a familiar routine rather than the unusal and atypical cycles.

Lamb Roast

The last Eid I had prepared Dum ki Raan, where a whole leg of lamb is marinated overnight and then slow roasted in the oven until so tender that the meat literally falls off the bone. This year I tried my hands on Lamb roast, my mother in law’s recipe, and it was absolutely delicious. The method is as simple as it can get with the use of only the basic seasonings and ginger garlic paste as the meat tenderizer. To prepare, all excess fat from the lamb leg is removed and discarded, deboned and then the meat is cut into chunks. The meat is then allowed to marinate overnight and then roasted on stove top until perfection. The trick is to ask the butcher to give you the best quality lean meat and then to marinate it overnight. There is no need for commercial meat tenderizers at all.

Lamb Roast

Ingredients:

1 Leg of Lamb- deboned, fat removed, meat cut into big chunks, washed and pat dried
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
Black pepper powder – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – to taste

Method:

1. In a mixing bowl, add ginger garlic paste, salt, red chilli powder, black pepper powder and lemon juice. Marinate the meat chunks in the above mixture overnight covered in the refrigerator.
2. In a large, wide and thick bottomed preferably non-stick frying pan, add the chunks of meat along with all the marinade and arrange in a single layer. Let the meat cook on high heat and keep turning after a few minutes, not too often, until you see all the pieces have nicely browned on all sides. You will see a lot of moisture that will be released during this process. Once the meat has properly browned on all sides, add about 3/4 cup of water and cover with a tight lid. Lower the heat to medium and let cook until the meat has become tender. This might take 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once done, serve immediately on a platter garnished with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes and onion rings.

This is my first contribution to the Hyderabadi Bakr Eid Food Festival that I am hosting this month on my blog. Click on the link or the logo for more details. The logo for the event is:

Remember that the event is on and you can all send in your entries to me before December 31, 2010.

Luv,
Mona

Tuna Avocado Salad

Avocado, with more than 500 varieties and chock full of healthy nutrients, is one of my favorite power fruits. The first time I had tasted it in Toronto, I was a little apprehensive if I would fancy its taste or not. But as it is so good for health, I kept getting one every time I visited the market and began having chunks of this fruit every once in a while at breakfast instead of mayo in my sandwich. And oh boy, I eventually fell in love with it.

If unripe when bought, keep them wrapped in a newspaper at room temperature for a few days until they are ripe and yield slightly to pressure. Once ripe, cut around the pit using a sharp knife, twist the halves to open the fruit. Carefully whack a knife on the pit, twist to remove and discard the pit. Cup the avocado halve, score and scoop out flesh. Cut avocado reacts with air and browns just like an apple, so it is better to use it immediately.

I was eyeing this recipe from one of my most favorite and inspiring chefs from Food network~Micheal Smith, since long. I tried it and whipped up this yummy quick salad/sandwich filling for a yummy evening snack along with chai and a banana on the side.

Tuna Avocado Salad
(Inspired from Chef Micheal Smith’s recipe)

Ingredients:

Canned tuna, packed in water – 1 can
Avocado – 1, pitted and peeled, chopped
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
Dill leaves – 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Cilantro – 1/4 cup finely chopped
Green chillies – 2, finely chopped
Salt and Black pepper powder – to taste

Method:

Combine all in a mixing bowl, toss together to mix. Serve as a sandwich or in a wrap.

Luv,
Mona

Steamed Asparagus

A member of the lily family~asparagus, was one such vegetable that had me intrigued with its strange beauty. I had seen and tasted this speary spring time delicacy for the first time in my life only in Toronto. Sweet, grassy and earthy in taste with a fragrance of spring, it soon began one of my favorites. Asparagus comes in two colors~green and white. While buying, look for tightly closed tips and long stems that are signs for good asparagus, and enjoy it fresh as soon as you bring it home. However, if you want to store for later use, trim the base of the stalks, and stand them upright in a jar filled with an inch of cool water, cover loosely with a plastic bag and refrigerate for 3-4 days.

Asparagus

What do I usually do with asparagus you ask? Mostly I steam cook them as soon as I get them home to enjoy as a quick side-dish to my meals. Sometimes I also simply roast/grill them, or prepare some asparagus and dill cream soup, and occasionally add asparagus to dal, etc. There are so many other ways to enjoy this beautiful vegetable full of health benefits.

steam cooked fresh Asparagus

Steamed Asparagus

Rinse asparagus in cold water and drain. Cut and discard the woody ends of the asparagus. Bring surplus water to rapid boil in a large saucepan. Add asparagus in a bamboo steamer and place over saucepan. Let steam cook for approximately 12 minutes or until tender-crisp. Once done, transfer the asparagus onto a platter and season liberally with salt and pepper and enjoy.

Luv,
Mona

Chatpata Chaat

The mere mention of chaats reminds me of those visits to Gokul chaat bhangaar. It is a popular eatery for fast food snacks in Hyderabad city. Inspite of going through many controversies, this tiny eatery has been able to attract crowds of foodies who come flocking to this place from even across the city and cram on the roadside at King Koti blocking the busy traffic, just to fill up their stomachs with the delicious chaat items that they sell at reasonable prices.

For those of you not familiar with the term, chaat in India refers to all kinds of snack or fast food items that a popular street food with a mingling taste of spicy, sweet, sour, soft, salty and crunchy. For chaat preparation a variety of pre-prepared ready to use ingredients are mixed together just prior to consumption. There exist many regional variations of chaats in India. Pani Puri (also known as Golgappe), Chana Cutlet, Ragda Cutlet, Ragda Samosa, Dahi Puri, Fruit Chaat, Bhel Puri etc are just a few mentions. Today I am writing about Chana Cutlet, Ragda Cutlet and Ragda Samosa.

Ragda Cutlet
Other names: Ragda Patties, Ragda Pattice, Ragda Tikki, Ragda Pattie

Ragda Cutlets used to be one of the hot sellers at the Gokul Chaat Bhandaar. Every once in a while, while on the way to Pura Shahar/Old City (Hyderabad, India), we used to make a stop there and enjoy the yummy chaats. To make this wholesome snack, a spicy peas mixture is made and is served along with aloo cutlets, tangy chutneys, some sweetened yogurt and chopped onions.

dried green peas and dried yellow/white peas~ available at Indian grocery stores
Note: Split yellow peas that are available in the market are neither Tuvar ki dal or Chane ki dal

Ingredients:

For Ragda:
Dried Yellow/White Peas – 1/2 cup
Dried Green peas – 1/2 cup
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Onion – 2, medium sized, finely sliced
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Green chillies – 3, finely chopped
Roasted Coriander seed power – 1 tsp
Roasted Cumin seed powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Tomatoes – 3, medium sized, finely chopped
Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
For Cutlets:
Potatoes – 6, mediu sized, peeled and quartered
Water
Black pepper powder
Salt
For Garnish:
Kothmir Pudina Chutney
Tamarind chutney
Chopped Onion
Sev (store bought ready made, or home made)
Sweetened Yogurt

Ragda Cutlet

Method:

For Radga
1. Soak the dried peas in fresh cool water overnight. The next day, drain the peas and wash them. Add them to the pressure cook add pour in water to cover the peas by 2 inches. Add 1 tsp salt and pressure cook until they are soft but not mushy.
2. Meanwhile, in a skillet at medium high heat add oil and as soon as it is warm, add the onions and stir fry for a few minutes until they are soft. Add ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, green chillies, coriander and cumin seed powder and stir continuously and let cook for a minute or two. Add tomatoes and mix well. Cover and cook while stirring in between until the tomatoes are soft and mushy. Add red chilli powder, salt and chopped cilantro and stir to mix.
3. Once the peas are done, add the contents of the skillet to the peas in the pressure cooker and mix well. Add more water if needed. Mash up the mixture just a little bit leaving some peas whole in the mixture. Let the mixture cook for some time until you get a gravy consistency. Remove from heat and keep aside.
For Cutlets:
4. In a microwave safe bowl, add the quartered potatoes and about 1/2 cup water. Mix and microwave on high for a few minutes (5-8 minutes or more, keep a watch) until the potatoes are soft. Once soft, mash them using a fork. Add black pepper powder and salt to taste and mix. Shape into cutlets and shallow fry all the potato cutlets on both sides. Keep aside.
To Assemble:
5. Arrange two warm potato cutlets on a plate. Pour two (or more if you wish) ladlefuls of warm ragda on them. Pour a few tablespoons of kothmir pudina chutney, tamarind chutney and sweetened yogurt. Sprinkle chopped onion and sev over it. Serve immediately.

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Below are a few variations of chaats you can prepare using the method above with a few substitutions here and there.

Chana Cutlet:
For chana cutlet, prepare cholay, and while assembling instead of adding ragda, add cholay and follow the rest of the procedure.

Ragda Samosa:
For ragda samosa, prepare aloo samosa and while assembling instead of adding cutlets, break two samosas for each person and follow the rest of the procedure.

Luv,
Mona