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.