Of rainy days and deep-fried foods: Dal Kachoris

Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

What is it with rainy days and cravings for deep-fried goodies going hand-in-hand? Well, in my house, its just the norm. So while it drizzled, rained and poured all through the weekend, there was nothing much we could do than watch tons of movies and eat good food! While the movie list was dominated with animated flicks, the kitchen had just one theme – Deep Frying!

Usually, hubby dear and I would simply settle for a big bowl of fries and spicy wings, but it was not to be the case this time. Yup, we wanted something different and not to mention, GOOD!!

So as we debated and counter-debated what we wanted to dip our fingers into, there came a point where we both knew it was a fine compromise. Considering the fact that this is one of hubby dear’s favourite rainy-day eats, and the fact that this would be the first time ever I was attempting a hand at it, made it quite an adventure. Needless to say, I found yet another dish I excelled at, and hubby dear, well, let’s just say, he was in food paradise!
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Cranking up the heat…

Spring is almost here. But before it arrives, we always get a final snowfall. I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping that we witnessed that yesterday!

While it snowned outside, and hubby dear napped his way through the afternoon, I needed something warm. Nothing to eat or drink, but warmth for the home. I know turnin on the heat always seems as the obvious option, but not for me! When I want heat, I turn to my trusty stove. And yesterday, it was my oven that did it for me!

Baingan ka Bharta

Growing up, I always enjoyed Baingan ka Bharta. Truly, it was a family favourite. As I grew up and moved far away from home, I craved for it. The restaurant version never seems to have the same taste as that of Mom’s recipe. So I craved it even more!

Until one day, when I decided to give a call to my Mom and asked her for the recipe. She surprised me by making it sound so simple. Well, I did give it a try, and long-distance phone calls between me and Mom discussing recipes have gone on since!

Baingan ka Bharta (Indian Roasted Eggplant)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 mid-sized tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1-inch chunk of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chilles, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  •  
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/4 tsp garam masala
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • salt, to taste
    • 2 tbsp cooking oil
    • fresh chopped coriander leaves, for garnish

    Method:

    1. Make tiny slits all around the eggplant and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, till eggplant gets a charred coating on all sides.
    2. Remove the charred skin and mash insides of the eggplant. Set aside.
    3. Heat oil in a pan and saute cumin seeds, ginger and green chillies, till they begin to sizzle.
    4. Add in onions and fry till brown. Mix in salt, red chili powder and turmeric and fry spices till fragrant.
    5. Add tomatoes and cook till pulpy.
    6. Add mashed eggplant and cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly to blend in well.
    7. Sprinkle with garam masala and garnish with coriander leaves. Enjoy with warm, fluffy rotis.


    Nostalgia…

    Aah! The wonderful aromas from Mom’s kitchen. Ohh how miss and crave for those days! I remember tons of times when a call for dinner was taken for granted by the wonderful smells cropping out of Mom ‘lil kitchen, bringing with it huge pangs of hunger.

    When Barbara announced the theme of her new event, ‘The Spice is Right’, as Ancient Spices, I was lost. Truly, I had no idea what I would feature as an ancient spice. I had no clue to begin with! But then, hard as I thought about it, I decided to take ancient to mean digging deep into my memory box and pulling out some the earliest of times of what I can recall. Now that made things SO much more easier!

    Kesari Gosht

    It’s so simple you see, ‘coz the most ancient thing I can remember of food is the wonderful aromas! And what could be more aromatic than saffron. And with saffron, I totally mean Mom’s delicious mouth-watering-finger-lickin’ Biryani! Yes, it was Biryani and the aromatic smell of saffron that I remember most distinctly.

    When I thought of using saffron in a recipe, I was overwhelmed. It was simple to highlight the taste of saffron in any recipe. One really simple dish would be Saffron Pulao. But I wasn’t in the mood for simple. I wanted exotic. A quick peek into my freezer gave me the inspiration. And this is how the story goes…

    Kesari Gosht (Mutton/Lamb in a Saffron-flavoured Sauce)

    Ingredients:

  • 1 kg boneless mutton/lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 7-8 red baby potatoes, cut in halves
  • 2 cups onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  •  
    • 1 tbsp coriander powder
    • 1/4 tsp saffron, mixed with 2 tbsp warm water
    • salt, to taste
    • water, as required
    • 2 tbsp cooking oil
    • coriander leaves, finely chopped for garnish

    Method:

    1. Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan and saute cumin seeds till it begins to sizzle.
    2. Add in onions and fry till lightly browned.
    3. Add salt, red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric and tomatoes, and cook till tomatoes pulp and form a thick consistency.
    4. Mix in lamb pieces to coat with spices. Add about a cup or two of water and put on the lid. Let simmer over medium-low heat for 25-30 minutes till lamb is done.
    5. Add in potatoes and saffron water and cover cook for another 10-15 minutes to cook potatoes through. Feel free to add in as much extra water as needed.
    6. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve warm with hot Rotis or Naan.


    Fusion Cooking at its best…

    I love fusion cooking! I enjoy mixing and matching non-traditional methods and ingredients and creating something different. Its a wonderful feeling to bring This time around, I decided to go my all-time favourite. A wonderful blend of easy Chinese cooking with a dash of Indian spices thrown in!

    Gobi Manchurian

    This has to be one of the most popular and tastiest dishes in the Indo-Chinese menu. You won’t find it in any of the authentic Chinese restaurants, maybe because it must be an Indo-fusion creation that has been perfected by the hawkers on any street in India!But you will surely find it in any Hakka place around Mississauga. Till your next trip there, put on your apron and dish this up. It’s as close to the real thing as it may get!

    When I was in India, I simply loved Chinese food! Anytime we went out for dinner, it was usually Chinese. The food would be spicy and bursting with flavour. Even soups were never simple. The zestier it was, the more it was loved!

    Little did I know that Chinese food usually served in India, is influenced with Indian tastes! It was a surprise to find out that authentic Chinese food is not really all that spicy. Well, as you all already know, I’m a sucker for spicy food, and so the authentic Chinese food, so easily available here doesn’t tantalize my taste buds! Luckily for me, we have all those Hakka joints in Mississauga that serve the so-called Chinese dishes we Indians as so very used to.

    Gobi Machurian (Cauliflower in a Spicy Sauce)

    Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower broken into florets

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp green chili, finely chopped

  • ½ tbsp corn flour mixed with 2 tbsp of water

  •  
    • Salt, to taste

    • 1/4 tsp white pepper

    • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
    • 2 tbsp Tomato-chili sauce
    • ½ cup of water
    • fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped for garnish
    • green onion, finely chopped for garnish

    For the batter:

  • ½ cup all-purpose Flour

  • ¼ cup Corn Flour

  •  
    • ¼ tsp red chili Powder
    • Salt, to taste

    Method:

    1. Combine together all-purpose flour, corn flour, red chili powder, salt and a little bit of water to form a batter thick enough to coat each cauliflower floret.

    2. Heat the oil in a pan and deep fry florets coated with batter, till golden brown. Set aside.

    3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add the chopped onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies. Fry for a minute till fragrant and then add pepper, soy sauce, tomato-chili sauce and salt.

    4. Cook for a minute and add the corn flour and water mixture. Add a little water and let simmer till the sauce becomes thick.

    5. Add the fried cauliflower florets and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

    6. Garnish with chopped spring onions and coriander leaves.



    Simplifying the Indulgent…

    Curries are the essence of Indian cuisine. From the Nothern-most tip to the south seas, as well as the Eastern edge to the Western layers of the Indian sub-continent, curries vary in both, richness and texture.

    From elegant dinners to slow-cook afternoons, there’s definitely going to be a curry to satisfy your need of the moment. While I love to indulge myself, I tend to look for simple pleasures over the weekends. That’s just when I turn to my tried and tested recipes of family favourites.

    Easy-Breezy Chicken Curry

    No doubt, a slow-cooked over-the-stove-top simmering pot of goodness always makes you drool, but when I’m running around with errands and juggling my time to relax, I want short-cuts. Simple, easy quick, but definetly something to swoon over…

    The past couple of weekends have been highly hectic – we were either entertaining or being entertained! And of course, parties mostly mean delicious and sinful food. After weeks of having rich and elaborate menus on our table, the time called for something simple and pleasing. It was a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon, just perfect to cuddle up with my sweetie and have chicken curry with potatoes and garam-garam rotis!

    Easy-Breezy Chicken Curry

    Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  •  
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • chopped coriander leaves for garnish
  • Method:

    1. Heat oil in a deep pan and add cumin seeds. Wait till they start to sizzle, then add sliced onions and green chilies.

    2. Fry till onions soften and lightly brown. Add turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and ginger-garlic paste, and fry till fragrant.

    3. Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes till they pulp. Add in salt and chicken pieces and allow to come to a simmer.

    4. Add about a cup of water or as desired, and cover cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes till chicken is cooked through.

    5. Sprinkle with garam masala and fresh chopped coriander leaves, and enjoy with warm Saffron Pulao.