Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Brown poha with the husk on Poha Cheora Chira

Bag of husk-on poha aka chira in Bengali

Cooked poha studded with potatoes, onions, peanuts, curry leaves, green chiles, and cilantro.

I wanted to note this find: I got husk-on brown poha at a Bangladeshi market. I used my regular poha recipe. But I had to wash this poha well to remove the gritty chaff and soak it for 45 minutes. (I experimented to reach my conclusion on the soaking time.)

It came out well. The poha itself was nutty, as brown rice typically is. I still like white poha better. But this is a good high fiber option.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Aloo Anday ka Saalan (Potato and Hard Boiled Egg Curry) #2

A very simple recipe to use for daily cooking, I make this a couple of times a month. I typically serve this with a wet daal or a simple vegetable dish such as bitter greens or karela. The gravy, potato, and egg taste delicious mashed into plain rice. You could even serve this as a solo dish and set out a selection of pickles and a raita on the table. This saalan (wet curry) also goes well with roti.

Oil has been poured off but you can still see some oil in the finished dish or this wouldn't be a proper saalan!

For this dish you need 5 hard boiled eggs peeled and cut in half. I discovered a couple of years ago that if I steam hard boiled eggs on medium heat for 14 minutes, then remove them from the steam and let them rest for 15-20 minutes, they turn out with a perfectly cooked yellow yolk.

In addition you need 1 large potato or 2-3 small potatoes peeled and cut into wedges that are similar in size to the hard boiled egg halves.

The saalan:

1/2 cup oil (oil will be poured off later)
1 tsp whole cumin seeds (sabut zeera)
1 medium onion sliced thinly
1 heaping tbs ginger-garlic paste
2-3 finely chopped green chiles (I ground these with the ginger-garlic paste)
2 large ripe, juicy tomatoes finely chopped, or 2 cups of roughly pureed tomato
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbs coriander powder
2 cups water
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 pinch Shan Curry Powder or any Kitchen King Masala
1 pinch dried methi rubbed between palms (qasoori methi)

Heat oil in pot and add in cumin seeds. As they sizzle toss in the sliced onions. Stir onions frequently on high heat. When you see that a lot of moisture has evaporated from them, turn down the heat and allow the onions to cook until they are golden. Turn up the heat and add in the ginger garlic paste and finely chopped green chile. When the ginger garlic paste changes color from pale to golden, add in the tomato. Stir tomato on high heat for a while. Add in your turmeric, red chile powder, cumin, and coriander. Cook this gravy for a while until all of the moisture has evaporated from the tomatoes and you have a paste with all of the oil on top of it. Remove from the heat and pour off as much oil as you can without losing any gravy. (You can discard the oil or re-use it in a red meat curry dish.) Put pot back on the stove. Set the flame to high and add in the potato. Stir for a moment, then pour in the water.  Stir in the salt. Allow this to come to a boil. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are completely cooked. When they potatoes are cooked, turn off the heat. Toss in the curry powder and the dried methi and stir. Add in the hard boiled egg halves and gently shake the pot to allow the top of the eggs to get covered lightly in gravy. Ideally they shouldn't be completely submerged so that they are visible and look pretty. If you care to make this daily dish fancier, pour the gravy in a flat rimmed serving dish, then arrange the eggs in the dish, spooning some gravy on top of each egg. The eggs should sit in the gravy for 5-10 minutes so that they pick up the saalan's flavor.

For an alternative alu anday recipe that does not use the typical tomato-onion masala, see here.

Served with healthy brown basmati rice with the gravy mixed and mashed in. Yummy to eat with fingers!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baingan ka raita (Cooling yoghurt with fried eggplant)

This is an excellent raita to serve at parties or on any day that you have made a pullao or biryani. It is fancy and takes some time to prepare, so it is not an everyday raita. (We have plain yoghurt with daily meals, anyhow.)

You will have to make this raita in three steps.

Step 1) Roast you masala: Here you will prepare a red chile powder-cumin masala. The quantity I give here is more than you will need for one raita recipe. I prepare small amounts of this masala to keep on hand for most of my raita recipes.

2 heaping tbs whole cumin seeds
2 tbs powdered cumin
1 tsp red chile powder.

Heat a flat frying pan. Add in the whole cumin seeds and stir frequently, allowing them to color, but taking care not to burn them. Pour them into a wide bowl and keep aside, allowing them to cool. Turn off the flame under the pan, but when you have just poured out the whole cumin seeds and the pan is still very hot, put in the cumin and chile powder. Stir these with a wooden spoon for a few moments, just allowing them to release their oil and fragrance and wake up their flavor. Put this in another bowl and keep aside until it is cool.

When the whole cumin seeds are completely cool, add them into your spice grinder (mine is a small coffee bean grinder) and coarsely crush the seeds by pulsing the button a few times. There should be large bits of seeds and some whole seeds in the powder.

Pour these powders into separate storage containers, and keep them for use in raitas.

Eggplant cubes before frying
Step 2) Frying your eggplant: Select two medium sized, young eggplants. The less seeds, the better. My farmer's market has great eggplant right now, so this is why I made this recipe today.

Chop eggplant into bite sized cubes. The size I do is about 1 inch cubed. Keep aside.

You will need about 1/2 cup flour with a pinch of salt in it. Put this inside of a deep bowl.

Salted flour in a deep bowl for lightly dredging the cubes.

Pour about 2-3 cups oil into a vessel for deep frying. When the oil is hot, quickly toss about 1.5 cups of eggplant cubes in the flour and remove them, tapping off the excess flour, then putting them quickly into the oil. Fry these cubes until they are nicely golden and set them aside on paper towels. Repeat this in batches.

Frying the eggplant cubes
The flour helps keep the eggplant in shape. The good thing about this raita is that you can prepare the eggplant cubes earlier in the day, and keep them out of the fridge on the countertop and they will stay in good shape. You want to add these to the yoghurt mixture just before serving, otherwise moisture can seep out of them and discolor the raita. Even if you plan to fry the eggplant cubes and serve the raita right away, you MUST keep the cubes to the side until they are completely cooled. Do not add hot eggplant cubes to your yoghurt for this recipe.

Keep the fried cubes aside. They can sit out for half a day.
Step 3) The raita...making it all come together

4 cups of plain full fat yoghurt, which is a 32 oz. tub. I prefer Dannon brand since it only contains milk and yoghurt culture. There are no thickeners.
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp plus a pinch of salt (or to taste)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp chaat masala from a box
1/4 tsp white pepper
Ingredients for the raita
1 tsp coursely crushed cumin seed powder (see above)
1 tsp roasted cumin powder-chile powder mix (see above

Mix all of this together well.

Add in these vegetables:

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 finely chopped green chiles
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion*
1 tomato, seeds and pulp removed, finely chopped

When you have mixed all of these things together, you can keep this in the fridge until you are ready to serve. At serving time, add in your fried eggplant cubes.

*If the onion seems strong tasting, soak the onion in cold water for 20 mins while you cut the other ingredients, then strain it and add it to the yoghurt. This will temper the sharpness of it so that it won't overpower your light raita.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fish shami kababs

Usually you see beef, mutton, or chicken shami kababs.

I decided to try to make them using fish. This is a #whattodowithshanmasala recipe.

They came out well. This is a complicated and cumbersome recipe. You can make these for a party. These freeze well so it is nice to make a bunch and then keep some in the freezer to defrost as needed.

I used basa fish, but you can use any kind of firm fleshed, mild white fish. Use half the recipe for a family sized amount of shami kababs, but for a party, this will make around 26-30 patties, depending on how big you make your patties. I make mine by scooping two tablespoons into my hand so that I can be sure that all of the patties will be the same size. I don't have kabab skillz like some people who can make all of the patties the same by eyeballing.

Mise en place ready to go. 

2 lbs fish filets cut into pieces, soaked in 1/4 cup vinegar, turmeric, and chile powder (1 tsp each) for 30 mins, then rinsed and patted dry
3 cups boiled channa daal (soak 1.5 cups raw daal for one hour, then boil, lower heat and cook for 20 mins until completely tender but still whole, strain, and set aside)
1 small onion chopped finely
1 small onion chopped roughly
14 green chiles (no need to chop since these will get blended)
3 tbs garam masala
2 heaping tbs Shan Shami Kabab Masala
1 conservative tsp elaichi seeds (unhusked black seed)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
pinch of salt (maybe 1/2 tsp, but taste the patty dough because it will be fully cooked and adjustable)
1 egg for binding
1 tbs lime juice
3-4 eggs for dipping
3 tbs  oil for making the meat
oil for frying shamis


Cooked ingredients.
Heat 3 tbs oil in pot. Add in the finely chopped onions and fry for a few minutes until they become clear. Add in ginger garlic paste and 8 green chiles. Stir this until the ginger garlic is golden. Add in the fish and the powdered masalas. Stir until fish is fully cooked. Add in the lentils and mix well.  Stir till this looks very dry. Turn off the flame. Add salt. Be conservative because you can always add more salt but cannot take salt out. Allow this to cool for a few minutes. Add in the remaining fresh green chiles, mint, the roughly chopped onion, and the cilantro, and mix. Transfer to a blender and blend until it is a smooth paste. If I make this full amount, I do this in three batches with lots of scrape downs of the blender jar. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Taste for salt, and add more if need be. Stir elaichi seeds, and lime juice. Finally, stir in one beaten egg. Put this in the fridge for an hour or two to let it cool completely and firm up a bit.

Blended mixture.
When you are ready to fry, heat up 1/4 cup oil in a wide frying pan. Beat your 3-4 eggs (or however many you need) with a tiny sprinkle of salt. Form patties in your hands and dip them in the egg wash. The fish shami kabab patties are very soft and hard to work with. Fry only a few at a time so you can manage. Put them in the frying pan for a few moments, then turn over and allow to brown on the other side. Remove from oil and keep on a plate covered in paper towels to absorb some of the oil The soft shamis will firm up a bit as they cool down.

Serve these with ketchup or coriander chutney or tamarind chutney. These also go well on a sandwich.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Green Channa Hara Channa Masala

This is a recipe for green desi channay. These are freshly picked, un-hulled (skin on) young desi chickpeas...the small desi variety that is hulled and split to become channa daal, not the larger foreign channa (kabuli or safaid). I usually get these frozen in a bag from the Indian store.

The brand I buy is already cooked and salted. I simply need to pour the bag of frozen channe into a bowl of water and strain them a few times to de-frost them. If you find fresh ones or frozen un-cooked ones, you would need to boil them till tender.

The bag I buy comes with 310 grams of chickpeas, or almost 1.5 cups. This recipe is for that amount.


1.5 defrosted green channa, method for prep described above. The channe should be a little bit wet from washing.

2-3 tbs oil
3-4 slit whole green chiles
1 tsp zeera
1/8 tsp/a pinch of hing (asofetida)
6-8 curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tbs fresh lime juice
a sprinkle of salt, if desired

1/4 cup or so chopped cilantro

Heat oil in pan. Add in slit green chiles. When their skin starts to blister, add in cumin seeds. As this colors, add in the hing, curry leaves, and all of the dry spices. Let this sizzle for a moment, but take care not to burn. Dump in washed de-frosted channe. Stir the channe into the masala. Turn down the flame and cover. Cook on low for 5 minutes. Turn off the flame. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt if frozen channe have been pre-salted. (If your channe haven't been salted, I would add salt before closing the lid a step earlier.) Pour on lime juice and mix well. Stir in some cilantro, transfer them to a serving bowl, and add more cilantro to the top of your dish as a garnish.

This dish is dry and goes well as a "side dish." It can be eating plain between bites of other food, or with roti.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Aloo Chholay Chickpea and Potato Curry

This is a #whattodowithShanMasala recipe, meaning that it is required that you have Shan Chana Masala Mix (or your channa masala brand of choice) to make this recipe.

Alu chholay, a classic dish of Punjab. Serve this with roti, or even puris or kulchay. Make it thick or liquidy as per your taste, and if it has a wetter gravy, enjoy it with rice.

You may be wondering why Shan labels their mix chana (also spelled channa), but some people call this legume chhola (plural chholay). Chhola is the Punjabi word. This is what we call in English chickpea or garbanzo bean. To distinguish from the indigenous strain of desi chickpea, the channa daal with it's black outer skin, many people also call the larger, non-indigenous garbanzo Kabuli channa (channa from Kabul, Afghanistan) or safaid channa (white chickpeas).

Step one: Preparing the chholay

Chholay are best prepared in a pressure cooker, but can also be boiled in a regular pot. You will need:

1.5 cups of dried chickpeas
pinch of baking soda
1 black tea bag
1/2 tsp salt

Put your dried chickpeas in a deep bowl and wash them well. Cover them in double their amount of water. They will swell and grow as they rehydrate, so you want to make sure that they are in a deep enough amount of water. Add in 1 pinch of baking soda. This helps them soften when they soak and cook. Soak these at least 5 hours, or overnight.

When you are ready to prepare the chickpeas, strain them from the water. Never boil legumes in the water in which they have soaked, as all of the gas causing properties of the legumes will be in the water. It should be discarded (or used to water the plants or something). Put chickpeas in a pressure cooker with double the amount of water of the chickpeas. Add in the black tea bag and the salt. Cover and pressure cook them for about 25 minutes. In my Hawkins, it takes about 8 whistles and then low simmer for 10 minutes. Your pressure cooker cook time may vary.

When done, the chickpeas should be beautifully tender. Keep them aside with their cooking liquid, and discard the tea bag, which should have done its job of coloring the chholay. You will need the chickpeas separately from the cooking liquid, so when you are ready to cook, have the chickpeas strained, and keep the cooking liquid in another vessel.

You can also soak the chickpeas overnight and boil them (no salt) on the stove top for 45 mins to an hour. Add the salt when they are soft. OR you can use canned chickpeas. Canned don't have the fluffy, soft texture of rehydrated boiled chickpeas, though. It's up to you.

Step 2: The masala

1/4 cup cooking oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion chopped (lemon sized onion, or 1/2 American onion)
1 tbs garlic paste
1 tbs ginger paste
1 tsp red chile powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 cup roughly pureed tomatoes (or 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped)
1 tbs Shan Chana Masala
3-4 small potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized cubes
1/2 tsp amchoor
1 tsp garam masala
salt to taste (+/- 1 tsp)

chopped green chiles and chopped cilantro


Heat oil in pan. Add in cumin seeds and allow them to color. Add in onions. Cook onions until they are translucent and turning golden, and browning a little bit on the outside. Don't let them become too brown or your curry gravy will be sweet. Add in the garlic and ginger when the onions are golden. Allow the garlic and ginger to color, then toss in the red chile powder, turmeric, coriander powder, and cumin powder. Allow this to sizzle for a second. Add in the tomato puree. Cook for a few moments until the tomatoes dry up a bit and the oil rises out of the masala paste. Add in the salt, then toss in the chickpeas that you had kept aside. Stir these for a few moments. Now, add in the Shan Chana Masala and stir well. Then, add in 1 cup of the chickpea cooking liquid. Allow this to come to a boil. Add in the chopped potatoes. Bring to a boil again. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are completely done. When the cooking is done, turn off the flame and stir in the garam masala and amchoor. Cover and let this rest for 5 full minutes. The liquid will thicken at this point. If you want a wetter gravy, add in 1/2 cup or so more water. Stir in some cilantro, and then add more cilantro and chopped green chiles on the top of the dish.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Creamy Jalapeño Salsa: Krazy Good Green Sauce

This is a creamy jalapeño salsa.

El Regio and El Pollo Rico in Austin, Texas are two Monterrey (that's Nuevo León, México Monterrey) style rotisserie chicken places. They serve this krazy good green sauce there. Theirs is just boiled jalapeños blended with oil and some salt, but mine has a couple of extra ingredients.

Here is my version: (makes a little over 1 cup):

8-9 jalapeños
1 clove garlic
1 tbs or so lime juice
1/2 cup or so oil (light tasting oil*)
1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Put jalapeños in a pot of water and boil for about 20 minutes until they are soft. Remove them from the water. Stick the clove of garlic in the hot water for a few minutes, then remove it. This is a trick to take the sharp edge off of the garlic by cooking it very slightly. Allow your jalapeños to cool completely, then using gloves, remove the stems and seeds with your hands.

Add all off the ingredients except oil to a blender. Turn on blender and grind jalapeños for a moment, then slowly drizzle in the oil till you have a beautiful green emulsification.

This sauce thickens a bit once you refrigerate it, so don't make it too thick to start out with. It should still be a bit liquidy when you take it out of the fridge, not a solid.

OPTION: Alternatively, roast your jalapaños under a broiler/on the stove/on the grill. Allow to cool and remove the stems, seeds, and most of the skin. Use the charred jalapeños and proceed with the rest of the recipe. This yields a slightly smoky green sauce flecked with black charred bits for color. It's very delicious.

*I like sunflower oil for this. I am sure El Regio and El Pollo Rico use soybean oil. For heart healthy oils, a light olive oil works, too. But avoid a strongly flavored olive oil or it will be overpowering in the salsa and give it a strange undertaste. 

Salsa de chile de árbol (Árbol chile salsa)

This is a very spicy salsa that goes well with chicken, goat, or beef. Recipe makes about 2 cups.


7 roma tomatoes cut in half.
2 cloves of garlic. Wrap these in a pouch made of foil
1 bag of chile de árbol (80 gram bag, better for you if you can find a bag of already "limpios" or cleaned chiles, but if not, the will have the stems and seeds which you must clean)
1/2 tsp Knorr Suiza powder (caldo de pollo), 1/4 of a stock cube, or 1/2 tsp Chicken Better than Bouillon
1 tsp of salt or to taste
1 tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
2-3 tbs light tasting oil for roasting the tomatoes and frying the chiles

Take your halved tomatoes and rub them in oil, place them with your garlic wrapped in a foil pouch on a roasting sheet and roast at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

While your tomatoes and garlic are roasting, clean your chiles by removing the stems and seeds. That's if you didn't get a bag of chile de árbol "limpios" (already stemmed and seeded).

In a deep pan, heat 1-2 tbs oil. When hot, stir your dried chiles around until the start to puff up and change color. Take care not to burn. You can turn off the flame after a minute, and keep stirring, and they will fry nicely to the perfect color. Pour them onto a plate and keep aside. If you keep them in the hot pan, they will continue to cook for a few moments and can blacken and burn. So, it is better to transfer them to a plate. Keep aside to cool.

When your tomatoes are nicely soft and roasted, set aside to cool.

Dump the tomatoes, garlic, your chicken flavoring, and chiles in a blender. You may need to add 1/4 cup or so of water. Pulse gently so as to leave the chile ground but in visible chile flakes. Stir in the salt, lime juice, and sugar, and pulse again gently. Taste and adjust salt, sugar, or lime juice if necessary. Keep in a jar for up to 2 weeks.

Spicy Urad or Maash Daal Fry (hulled split black lentils)

*In some regions of the Hindi/Urdu speaking world, these are called urad or urid daal. In other regions, these are called maash ki daal. In Punjabi, these are maa di daal. The skin of this lentil is black, but once they are hulled or skinned, they are white. This is the same daal you use for daal makhni, without its skin. It is known as being very filling and heavy on the stomach. The hing (asafetida), lime juice, and the ginger shards in the recipe are supposed to counteract the heavy, gas inducing qualities of this daal. :D This recipe yields a tangy, spicy daal that contains dried red chiles, green chiles added at two stages, and ground red chile powder. You can reduce or amplify the amount of chiles as per your preference. I'd say this comes out medium-hot based on my taste.

To prepare the lentils:

For this recipe you need 1 cup of hulled split black lentils. Wash them well and soak them in water for 1 hour. Discard the soaking water, and add them to a pot in several inches of water. Allow the water to boil. Skim the starchy foam from the top of the water. Lower the heat and boil on med-low flame for 17-20 mins (test at 17 mins) until lentils are completely tender but not falling apart. Strain the lentils and set them aside.

Strained boiled maash ki daal.

The masala:

1/4 cup oil
1 pinch asafetida hing
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
4 whole long dried red chiles
1 purple onion finely chopped (lemon sized Indian onion, if it is a larger American purple onion, use half of it)
2 fresh green chiles chopped finely
1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste
1 tomato finely chopped or 1/2 cup fresh tomato puree
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp cumin powder (zeera)
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbs lime juice (or to taste, I prefer a strong lime flavor)
salt to taste (about 1 tsp)

The masala.

For garnish:
chopped fresh cilantro (1/4 cup or so)
1-2 chopped fresh green chiles
optionally, matchstick ginger shards (about 1/2 inch sliced)

Heat oil in pot. When hot, add in hing and allow to sizzle. Stir in dried red chiles and cumin seeds. Watch for red chile skin color to darken a bit, then toss in the onions. Cook onions until they are looking golden and brown around the edges (+/- 7 mins). (Pro tip: If your onions look brown around the edges but raw and white in the middle straight away, turn down the flame.) Add in chopped green chiles. Add in garlic-ginger paste. Allow garlic-ginger to turn golden. Toss in tomatoes. Stir for a few moments, then add in all of the powdered masala except for the garam masala. Add in salt. Stir until the water is mostly dried up from the tomatoes and the oil has risen to the top of this masala. Turn off the heat. Add in garam masala. The masala is done. Now, add in the prepared lentils that you have kept aside. Stir gently so that they do not fall apart or become clumpy. Mix well. Now squeeze in/pour in your lime juice and half of the cilantro and some of the fresh matchstick ginger slices. Once again, stir gently. Transfer to a serving dish and add the remainder of the cilantro and the other garnishes.

A close up look: each grain of daal is separate.

Serve with hot puris, whole wheat roti, or corn flour roti (makkai ki roti).

OPTIONS: You can use this same recipe for hulled split moong ki daal. Follow all the same instructions, except boil on low for a full 20 mins during the lentil preparation stage. Some people find maash/urad daal too heavy on the stomach, so you could optionally make this lighter by mixing 1/2 cup moong and 1/2 cup urad daal if this is the case for you.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Chicken tikka

Tikka comes from Farsi and means a piece of cut meat. Tikka is an interesting word because in Urdu it is always written and pronounced with a dental t as تکه, from the Farsi, but in Hindi the pronunciation varies from being a dental t to being a retroflex T (टिक्का तिक्का) and if you google, both spellings appear to be used, but the retroflex pronunciation and spelling are by far dominant. The distinction is probably due to the fact that tikka with a retroflex T exists in both Hindi and Urdu for a small cake, bar, or patty of something, like a bar of soap or a potato cutlet. So you have a retroflex used for tikka, tikki, and tikkiya when it comes to these words in both languages. But in Urdu, for a meat tikkah, it is always a dental t. Linguistic weirdness, but just some background info.

For this recipe you will need about 2 lbs skinless bone-in chicken thigh or a thigh and drumstick mix...the thighs can be cut in half. I hate chicken breast, especially Indian food made with chicken breast. But that is an option if you like. Make deep slits in the meat without cutting through it. This will allow the marinade to get deep inside the meat. Bone in is preferred for flavor, but you can also use boneless chicken.

1 cup yoghurt
1 tbs ginger paste
1 tbs garlic paste
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tbs lime juice
Pinch/drops of orange or red food coloring
Big pinch of salt


Mix all ingredients for marination. Marinade chicken for 4 hours or up to overnight. Cook on the grill or bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 mins to one hour. Baste once with marinade while cooking.

Squeeze with lime juice when finished. Serve with a salad of chopped onions, tomatoes, and daikon radishes, a minty raita, and fresh naan.

Karela in Dry Masala

To prepare the karela:
Select 5-6 small, dark green karelas. Slice them into thin coin-like circles, popping out and discarding any hard seeds. Fill a deep bowl with 1 tablespoon of salt and one teaspoon of turmeric and add in your karela coins. Soak for 20 mins-1 hour. Strain karela, rinse with water, and squeeze. Lay on a paper towel to dry out a bit.

Prepared karela coins
3 tbs oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 fresh curry leaves
1 tbs ginger-garlic paste (1 tsp crushed ginger, 1 tsp crushed garlic)
1/2 small onion, sliced
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
pinch of garam masala
1 heaping tsp dried mango powder (amchoor)
pinch of salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
2-3 chopped fresh green chiles
2-3 tbs chopped cilantro

In 3 tbs oil on high heat: fry cumin seeds, add in curry leaves, added ginger-garlic paste, and onion, then when onion was soft and ginger-garlic browning, add in coriander powder, cumin powder, red chile, and turmeric. Quickly tossed in the karela coins then stir fry them for a minute to coat in spices. Cover and cook on medium low heat, stirring every 5-7 minutes.  When the karela are soft, uncover and turn up the heat for a little while and dried up the moisture and browned them a bit. Last, add in a tiny pinch of garam masala and a big pinch of amchoor, salt and a tiny bit of sugar then some fresh green chiles. Stir fry for a minute more or so to steam the chiles. Turn off the flame and stir in cilantro.
Serve with chapati or roti.

Capirotada de Cuernitos or Croissant Bread Pudding

Capirotada de cuernitos

This is a Mexican bread pudding. Traditionally a lenten dish, it exists with many variations, and here is my recipe using mini-croissants. I give it a little desi twist in a couple of ways. First, I use golden raisins or sultanas instead of dark colored raisins.  Paneer is used instead of salty cheese, but you can use queso fresco if that is what you have around. 

3/4 cup fresh paneer or queso fresco mixed with 2-3 tbs sugar, crumbled.

-To make the jarabe:
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves
1 cone of piloncillo

1 star anise
2-3 cups water to cover
1 tsp lime juice to add when boiling
1 tbs orange marmalade to add when done
1/2 cup white sugar to add when done

Boil cinnamon, cloves, water with piloncillo for about 20 mins till
all the piloncillo is melted and the jarabe is a little thick but
still pretty liquidy.
Add in 1/2 cup sugar and orange marmalade and allow to cool.

-The bread:

8-10 mini croissants, cut in half to open up.

1 stick butter, melted

Paint croissants with butter, bake for 10 mins at 400 degrees to dry out.

-To make the pudding:
For the layering: 1/4 cups sultanas, 3/4 cups mixed nuts (pecans, pine
nuts, walnuts) 1/4 cup sweetened coconut shreds, the cheese mentioned above

In a 8/10 baking dish, place first layer of baked croissant halves. Cover
completely with half of the syrup. Add a layer of raisins, coconut,
nuts, then cheese. Add second layer of croissants. Cover with syrup. Push down 

the croissants to flatten them into the dish and make sure everything is soaking in syrup. Add second layer of garnishes. Bake uncovered at 350 for about 15 mins, taking care not to burn.

Lucknowi Chicken Qormah

Lucknowi qorma made for a Ramazan iftaar. This one has a tiny pinch of saffron in it.

This is a Lucknowi style qormah and is fancy and tasted perfumey from
the spices and the keora jal. This is the style of qorma served in my
husband's family...I don't know if you
would regularly use some of these ingredients like keora jal or
roasted ground white poppy seed . If these ingredients are are exotic
for you, just leave them out. Also, you can use almonds instead of
cashews. Feel free to adapt as suits you!

¼ cup oil

1 skinless, bone-in chicken cut into 12 pieces

1 medium onion finely sliced, brown fried, and crushed
(My method for making brown fried onions)

Whole spices:
6 green cardamoms, husk popped open by pressing with knife
2 black cardamoms (bari elaichi)
2 bay leaves (tez patta)
1 piece of cinnamon bark, about 2 inches long

1 tsp garlic paste

Yoghurt spice mixture:
1 cup yoghurt with ½ tsp garam masala , 1 tsp red chile powder, and 1
tbs ginger paste whipped in

12 cashews  soaking in hot water to just cover
1 tbs toasted ground white poppy seed
1/2 cup water

Powdered spiced for finishing
¼ tsp mace powder (jaavitri)
¼ tsp nutmeg powder (jaiphal)
1/4 tsp freshly ground green cardamom powder
pinch of garam masala powder
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp of keora jal (pandanus water)

*Have brown fried crushed onions set aside. One fried onion will look
like 2-3 tbs of crushed fried onion.

*Grind cashews with a little of the soaking liquid to make a cashew
paste and set aside. (You can also use almonds if that's what you have
on hand.)

1.In deep pot that has lid: Heat oil and add in all whole spices for a minute.
2. Add in chicken meat and brown well, add in garlic paste and allow
to turn golden, lower flame.
3. On low flame (or even turn flame off to prevent yoghurt from
curdling) add in yoghurt mixture and stir well. When oil rises above
yoghurt, turn up flame.
4. Stir in 1/2 cup water and salt. Bring to boil, lower heat , and
cook for 20-25 min or so until chicken is fully cooked. Stir
5. Almost done: Stir in the crushed brown fried onions, and ground
white poppy seeds, and ground cashew paste. Keep covered on a very low
flame for five more minutes.
6. Finally, turn off flame and add in your finishing spices: stir in
powdered mace, nutmeg, green cardamom, pinch of garam masala, and 1/2
tsp of keora jal. Cover and let sit for 5 more mins, then serve with
naan and/or white rice.

*To make this even fancier, soak 12 strands of saffron 3 tbs  warm water while cooking, and pour this into the dish at the end of cooking when you add in your finishing spices. This will make your qorma 'zafrani' or perfumed by saffron.