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.