Galouti Kabab – Melt in mouth Kababs

I am a big fan of kababs, be it sheekh kabab or tikka kabab or kofta kabab. I cannot resist them. I also love to cook kababs for potlucks, get togethers and parties. My guests are often served kababs as appetizers.

The fact that I like perhaps the most about kababs is that you can play with the ingredients and make your own flavor combinations. There is no limit to it. This time I added sundried tomatoes to kababs and the subtle tangy taste they imparted was wonderful. I also discovered an easy trick to make melt in mouth kababs, longer marination time! It works wonders, try it for yourself.

SunDried Tomatoes Galouti Kabab – Melt in mouth Kababs

Ingredients:

Lean Veal minced meat – 2 lbs
Onion – 2, small, finely chopped
Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Amchur powder – 1 tsp
Sun dried tomatoes in oil – 2, chopped fine
Garam masala powder – 1 tbsp

Method:

1. Add all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix it all thoroughly using your hands. Cover the bowl using aluminium foil and let marinate in the refrigerator for two nights.
2. Take lime size balls from the meat mixture and roll them into smooth balls. Flatten the balls into a small patty shapes and arrange on a aluminium foil lined and lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet.
3. Broil/grill them for 10-15 minutes per side and they are done. Serve as appetizer or along with Naan and Pulao as meal.

Luv,
Mona

Pudina aur Khopra ki Chutney

I simply adore mint leaves. Its clean citrusy taste, refreshing aroma and artistic curly rich green colored leaves, all make me fall in love with it over and over again. I wait for spring/summer time every year so as to plant mint outdoors in pots. It grows easily and vigorously once established and provides me with fresh leaves all summer.

Mint from my garden

The Arabic name for mint is ‘nanaa’. The mint from the holy city of Madinah is famous for its strong and wonderful aroma. During visits to Madinah one can see people selling fresh mint leaves at every corner. The mint is kept fersh covered under wet hessian cloths. Mint that doesnt get sold is dried under the hot sun and sold. People of Madinah enjoy mint as a mouth refreshner, or in teas or in their food.

Clockwise from top: Mint leaves, Dessicated Coconut, Phulay Chane

The below verison is a mild chutney with use of phulay chane and coconut in it. I enjoy this chutney along with idli, dosa, evening snacks, or as a dipping sauce for sandwiches.

Pudina aur Khopra ki Chutney – Mint and Coconut Chutney

Phulay Chane – 1/8 cup
Dessicated Coconut/Khopra – 1/4 cup
Roasted Cumin seed/Zeera powder – 1/4 tsp
Small Green Chillies/Hari mirch – 4-5, chopped
Tamarind – walnut sized seedless ball (or) Lemon/Lime juice – 2 tbsp
Fresh Mint leaves/Pudina – 1 cup
Salt – to taste
Ginger – 1/4 inch piece
Garlic – 2 pods
Tempering/Baghaar:
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds/Rai – 1/2 tsp
Dried red chillies/Baghaar ki mirch – 2, each broken into small pieces
Curry leaves – 4-5, chopped

Method:

1. In a blender, add the first nine ingredients. Pour in a little bit of water to aid in the grinding process and grind until smoothly pureed. Pour the prepared chutney into a serving bowl.
2. Prepare baghaar/tempering: In a pan at medium high heat, pour oil and as soon as it warms up add the mustard seeds, broken dried red chillies and chopped curry leaves. Immediately remove from heat and pour this baghaar hot and hissing into the chutney and mix well. Serve along with your favorite snacks. Store the left over if any in the refrigerator for upto a week.

On a different note, Megha from the ‘Food Food Maha Challenge Muqabla’ show that will be telecast on Food food channel had contacted me as they are looking for participants. She says:

“The show is about the competition between male and female cooks and Madhuri Dixit willl be representing the female cook and Sanjeev Kapoor will represent the male cook.The judge of the show is Mr. Sanjeev Kapoor . If any one is interested you can call on 02242769017 between 11 am to 6 pm.
The auditions dates are:
8th July Mumbai
10th July Nagpur
14th July Delhi
17th July Kolkata
20th july Hyderabad
You can also drop a mail at foodfood.mahachallengemuqabla@gmail.com”

This is a great opportunity to participate in a cooking show. If any one is interested, do contact her.

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

Aloo Baingan

A simple vegetable curry with use of the most humble vegetables to brighten your day. One of my most favorite vegetable curries that comforts me.

Asian Eggplants, PEI Potatoes and Ontario grown Tomato

The soft and velvety texture of cooked and potatoes eggplants along with the slight sourness from the tomatoes makes this curry very juicy and delicious. Enjoy it along with pulao, naan or paratha.

Aloo Baingan – Potatoes and Eggplants in a tomato gravy

Ingredients:

Asian Eggplant – 3, washed, pat dried, and cut into semi-circles (you can use any variety of eggplant)
Potatoes – 3, medium sized, washed, pat dried, peeled and quartered
Tomato – 2, medium, roughly chopped
Green chillies – 4, finely chopped
Canola oil
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Roasted Coriander seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro – for garnish, finely chopped

Aloo Baingan – Potatoes and Eggplants in a tomato gravy

Method:

1. In a kadai, pour oil to deep fry the chopped eggplant and potatoes. Once the oil is very hot, deep fry the cut potatoes and eggplant until they attain a slight brown color. Using a slotted spoon remove them into a wire mesh strainer to let the excess oil to drain away.
2. In a pan, pour about 1 tbsp oil and as soon as it warms up, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add the green chillies, ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, roasted coriander seed powder, salt and turmeric powder. Mix well. Add the deep fried potatoes and eggplant and give a gentle mix. Add a little bit of water and cover with a lid for 3-5 minutes. Check to see if the potatoes are done. Garnish with chopped cilantro, remove from heat and serve.

Note: 1. You can also add boiled/frozen peas to the curry in the end.
2. You can even add a little bit of kasuri methi or fresh chopped methi in the end for a different flavor.
3. You can skip the deep frying of the potatoes and eggplant and directly add the chopped vegetables into the gravy. You will have to increase the cooking time as well as add a little bit of water to aid in the cooking process. Deep frying the vegetables makes them soft and adds a good flavor.

Luv,
Mona

Tamatar ka Saalan

I remember my Ammi used to prepare all the dishes she wanted to serve at parties and events which my parents used to host during our childhood with her own two hands in her own little kitchen. Sometimes a maid would come for help when the party was large, but it was all under Ammi‘s strict supervision. She never opted for ordering food from a catering company or something like that. I have very vague memories when my mother was young and we were little kids, of the parties and the array of traditional food she used to prepare. I did not have an interest in cooking back then. I never entered the kitchen to help Ammi with parathas in the mornings or helping her with cutting and preparing vegetables on the weekends at the least. I regret, I wish I had paid attention and worked along with her. I was either busy studying, or being rebellious like a typical teenage child. It was only when I choose Nutrition as my subject that my curiosity for cooking evolved.

Today I call my Ammi and ask her on the phone of the doubts I get, but I lost the best chance of actually learning from her in action. I have learnt that sitting and enjoying meals in ones parents house is a blessing. But one should try to develop interest in all that is offered for them to learn at their parents house, from learning their mothers cooking, to the hobbies they master, to the little traditions they follow, because life while at parents house is the best time to learn from the best teachers you will ever get in your life. Parents should also encourage children to develop interest in learning to cook and teach them from a tender age, atleast so that they get in touch with their traditional activities and so that all that does not get lost with time. I am glad alhamdulillah I am able to document and preserve my family’s recipes through my blog, and this way help many young woman alongside as well.

Just like the famous Mirchi ka Saalan and Baghare Baingan, Tamatar ka Saalan is also ubiquotous to Hyderabadi cuisine. All these three mentioned curries, the perfect sides to a Biryani, have the same base gravy, with only brinjals in Baghare Baingan, chillies in Mirchi ka Saalan and tomatoes here in Tamatar ka Saalan. You can also add fish to the same curry base and you get Machli ka Saalan. I have used cherry tomatoes for the curry. Usually regular tomatoes are used which are simply cut into two halves. Tamatar ka Saalan is also referred to as Bagharay Tamatar by some people.

Cherry Tomatoes

Whenever in Hyderabad, I recommend food enthusiasts to attend high class weddings of traditional muslim Hyderabadi families in order to get in touch with the traditional Hyderabadi food which is not very easily available in restaurants or hotels. Or if you are lucky, enjoy home cooked traditional meals locally at a friends house.

Tamatar ka Saalan/Bagharay Tamatar – Tomatoes simmered in a creamy fragrant sauce

Ingredients:

Cherry Tomatoes – 8 (or medium sized tomatoes, each cut into two semi circles)
For masala paste:
Khus Khus/White Poppy seeds – 1 tbsp
Till/Sesame Seeds – 1/2 cup/50 gms
Groundnuts/MoomPhalli – 1/2 cup/50 gms
Dry Desiccated Coconut – 3/4 cup/50 gms
Coriander seeds/Dhania – 1 tsp
For gravy:
Canola oil – 1/4 cup
Yellow Onions – 3, large, each quartered into 4 pieces
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 tbsp
Red Chilli Powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric/ Haldi – 1/4 tsp
Cilantro/ Kothmir – 3 tbsp, finely chopped
Thick tamarind pulp – 3 tbsp
For baghaar/tempering:
Cumin seeds/ Zeera – 1 tsp
Curry leaves/ Kariyapaak – 2 sprigs
Mustard seeds/ Rai – 1/2 tsp
Nigella seeds/ Kalaunji – 1/3 tsp
Fenugreek seeds/ Methi dana – 1/8 tsp

Tamatar ka Saalan/Bagharay Tamatar – Tomatoes simmered in a creamy fragrant sauce

Method:

1. Wash the cherry tomatoes well. Discard the stalks and make four incisions, perpendicular cuts (an X) from the stem end of each cherry tomato, taking care the other end is intact. Keep aside.
2. Puree the onions into a smooth paste. Also, smoothly/finely grind all the ingredients seperately under the heading ‘for masala paste’ adding just a few drops of water if needed.
3. Heat oil in a heavy non-stick pan at medium heat and as soon as it is warm, add the baghaar ingredients – cumin seeds, curry leaves, mustard seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds. Once they start spluttering, add the pureed onion paste and mix. Cover with a lid for a minute. Uncover and keep frying until the raw smell of the onions goes away. Add ginger garlic paste, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and chopped cilantro and the masala paste and mix well. Keep cooking until the raw smell of the masala paste goes away and you can see the paste leaving oil on the sides. Add a few drops of water if needed during the process. This might take about 5-10 minutes. Later add tamarind pulp and mix well. Now pour in about 4-5 cups of water (or less) and mix. Let it come to a boil. Once boiling, add the prepared tomatoes and cover with a lid. Let cook for 5 minutes. Once the tomatoes are soft, remove from heat and serve the curry along with Pulao or Biryani. (In the picture you can see that I have prepared a loose consistency of the curry. You can cook it furthur until you achieve the desired consistency. The preferred consistency of this curry is semi-loose.)

On an another note, my blog has been selected for Best Of Indian Blogosphere 2010 polls by blogjunta.com. Please vote for me here.
Thanks.

Luv,
Mona