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09May 12

Malai Kofta

Malai KoftaMalai Kofta is a traditional dish and is the vegetarian alternative to meatballs. It is most often eaten on special occassions. The koftas are little fried potato dumplings in a rich, heavy gravy. (Sort of like my aloo bonda snacks, except those don’t have the delicious gravy.) Needless to say this is not a low-fat recipe!

An essential ingredient for Mailai Kofta is paneer, a fresh Indian cheese. It tastes a bit like cottage cheese, so you can substitute cottage cheese if you are not able to find paneer in your local Indian grocery store. But if you can find it, I strongly suggest you buy it. It is quite delicious and will give this recipe a more authentic taste.

Malai kofta is a delicious savoury dish of Moghlai origin; it is a north Indian speciality, and they go very well served with tasty Naan bread and/or basmati rice. There are lots of varieties; in fact, in Pakistan and Iran, koftas are usually made of beef and chicken, and in Bengal, a region of eastern India, koftas are made with prawns, fish, green bananas, cabbage, as well as minced goat meat.

Honestly, it’s not a short or easy recipe, but it’s all worth it in the end – trust me.

 

Malai Kofta
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Malai Kofta is a traditional vegetarian dish.
Ingredients
  • 8 medium Potatoes
  • 140g Paneer
  • 50g green peas
  • 6 Green Chilli Peppers, finely chopped
  • 1tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1tsp Coriander Powder
  • ½tsp Cumin Powder
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 2tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 8 Cardamom Seeds
  • 4cm of stick of Cinnamon
  • 8 Cloves
  • 150ml Cream
  • 200ml Whole Milk
  • 2tsp White Pepper Powder
  • 1tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 500 ml Water
Instructions
  1. Peel, boil and mash the potatoes. You can do this last step with a hand blender or with a potato masher.
  2. Mix half the paneer, green chilli peppers, ginger powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Add the mashed potatoes and mix.
  4. Oil your hands slightly. Now take a small ball of the mixture in your hands. Roll the ball so it is nice and round.
  5. Repeat this with the remaining mixture until you have about 12 round balls. Set the balls aside.
  6. Heat up the vegetable oil. Add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to the pan and roast them gently on a low flame.
  7. Remove the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves from the pan. Let them cool down a bit and then grind them with a mortar and pestle.
  8. Mix the cream, green peas, remaining paneer and milk together in a bowl to make a paste.
  9. Heat up the ghee in the same pan.
  10. Add the white pepper powder and turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds.
  11. Now add the paste and fry for 8 minutes.
  12. Add in the water and lower the flame.
  13. Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  14. Fill a pan with vegetable oil and heat it on a high flame until there are bubbles.
  15. Gently add in the koftas and deep fry them until they are golden brown.
  16. Remove them and serve with the gravy.

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26Apr 12

Cream of Tomato Soup

Cream of Tomato Soup

There is nothing better on a chilly, rainy day than a warm bowl of soup. And the best soups for drizzly afternoons are definitely the creamy ones! My mum used to make this Cream of Tomato Soup for me when skies were grey. It’s comforting and gives you lots of energy.

Another feel-good creamy soup option is this Creamy potato and leek soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg Tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2tbsp Chopped Ginger
  • 1/2tbsp Whole Garam Masala
  • 1 Green Chilli Pepper
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 3 Curry Leaves
  • 100g Ghee
  • 120ml Water
  • 150ml Cream
  • 1/2l Whole Milk
  • 2tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1/2tsp Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of ground Black Pepper to taste
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 2tbsp chopped Coriander Leaves, for garnishing

Preparation Method:

  1. Clean the tomatoes and chop them very finely.
  2. Meanwhile, heat up the ghee in a pot on a medium flame.
  3. Add the chopped garlic cloves and ginger to the pot.
  4. Cut the green chilli pepper into 2 pieces.
  5. Add the chilli pepper, garam masala and tomatoes to the pot and stir.
  6. Lower the flame and slowly stir these ingredients for about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the water, bay leaves and curry leaves to the pot. Raise the heat and bring this to the boil.
  8. As soon as it comes to the boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 25 minutes. The tomatoes should become very soft.
  9. Remove the soup and blend it in a liquidiser.
  10. Place a strainer over the pot. Strain the chunky tomato bits by running the soup through this strainer.
  11. Raise the stove to a medium heat and heat up the tomato again.
  12. Mix in the cream, whole milk, coriander powder and cumin powder. Stir it all together.
  13. Add the black pepper and salt to taste, along with the lemon juice.
  14. Let the soup simmer on a low flame for 15 minutes.
  15. Garnish it with freshly chopped coriander leaves. It is now ready to serve!

Makes: Enough for 4 servings
Takes: 30 minutes

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12Apr 12

Pumpkin soup with curry and Garam Masala

Pumpkin SoupPumpkins are great winter food. Healthy, meaty and cheap, they are very versatile and can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted when ripe. They also make fantastic desserts such as pumpkin tea bread.

In the U.S.A., they are big fans of pumpkin. In addition to Thanksgiving and Halloween, several pumpkin festivals are held with competitions for the heaviest pumpkin. Did you know that they can also be used to flavour both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks?

 

During the Winter season, pumpkins are perfect for soups and stews on cold nights. Here is a pumpkin recipe with an Indian twist: pumpkin soup with curry and Garam Masala. This dish will keep you warm, as Garam masala means literally “hot blend.” It certainly is hot as it uses a blend of ground spices common in North Indian cuisine. It contains many micronutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. With these ingredients, you will make yourself a healthy, cheap and above all, tasty soup! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
• 1.5kg pumpkin, around 800g of pumpkin meat
• 1 yellow onion
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 1 garlic
• 1 teaspoon of salt
• 1 pinch of white pepper
• 1 teaspoon of curry powder
• 1 teaspoon of garam masala
• 5dl of water
• 1dl of crème fraîche

Preparation method:
1. Cut the pumpkin into slices and cut away the peel and pips.
2. Chop it into small chunks.
3. Peel and chop the garlic and onion into pieces.
4. Fry the onion in the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, salt, curry, garam masala, white pepper and pumpkin.
5. Let it all fry together for a few minutes.
6. Add the water and let it all boil for around 40 minutes. The pumpkin should be soft and easy to mash when ready.
7. Mix the soup with a blender or by hand with a whisk.
8. Add the crème fraîche.
9. Reheat and add the white pepper and salt to taste.
10. Serve with some coriander on top and with some nice bread.

Takes: 60 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
Level: Easy

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06Apr 12

Channa Masala

Channa MasalaThis is a delicious recipe that goes great with the deep-fried puffy breads known as Bhatura. Channa Masala is a chickpea stew that my mum taught me to make when I was a teenager. It is a very filling vegetarian dish, and because of the chickpeas, it has plenty of protein. But the best part is that it is not very fattening at all! (For more chickpea goodness, try this Moroccan hummus.)

Ingredients:

  • 400g Chickpeas
  • 5 Tea Leaves
  • 2 tsp. Cumin Seeds
  • 2 tsp. Garam Masala
  • ½ tsp. Cardamom
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Ginger Powder
  • 3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large Onion
  • 2 medium Tomatoes
  • 250ml Water
  • 2 tbsp. Amchur Powder (dried mango powder)
  • Juice of 2 Lemons
  • 1 tbsp. chopped Coriander
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Pinch of Salt

Preparation Method:

  1. Rinse the chickpeas. Put them in a bowl, cover them with water, add the tea leaves, and soak them overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours. Soaking the chickpeas with tea leaves will give it a distinctive flavour.
  2. The next morning, remove the tea leaves, drain the chickpeas and cook them in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the chickpeas and set them aside.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan.
  5. Add cumin seeds and fry. Careful! They will crackle a bit.
  6. Add garam masala, cardamom and cinnamon. Fry on medium heat.
  7. Add the ginger and garlic and fry.
  8. Chop the onion very finely.
  9. Put the chopped onion in the pan and fry while quickly mixing. It helps to add a bit of salt at this point, as the salt will make the onion “sweat,” and it will cook faster.
  10. Chop the tomatoes very finely.
  11. Add the tomatoes to the pan. Stir slowly. Give the tomatoes time to get soft and mushy.
  12. Add the cooked chickpeas.
  13. Add the water.
  14. Stir slowly on a low heat. You will see it start to form a thick gravy. This will take about 8-9 minutes.
  15. Stir in the amchur and coriander slowly.
  16. Add a bit more salt to taste. The gravy should be getting quite thick.
  17. Drizzle a bit of lemon juice and stir for 30 seconds more.
  18. Remove from heat and serve hot.

Makes: Enough for 4 servings.
Takes: 40 minutes (plus 8 hours to soak the chickpeas)

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03Apr 12

Light Chicken Tandoori Fillets

Light Tandoori ChickenMany people hear rumours that Indian food is fattening, but it doesn’t have to be. Many Indian recipes are quite light, and, the ones that are not can be re-worked to be made so. Often I take traditional recipes and find ways to cut down on the fat and calories.

For example, there’s a very low-fat and low-calorie way to enjoy a traditional Chicken Tandoori dish. First of all, if you only use chicken breast, it is much lighter. Secondly, using low-fat yoghurt cuts down on plenty of calories. And finally, by cooking it in the oven rather than frying it, you avoid all the extra fat from oils.

In some ways this is similar to my Chicken Tikka Masala recipe which uses more sauce and is served with rice.

Ingredients:

  • 800g chicken breast, cut into thin fillets

For the marinade:

  • 250g plain, low-fat yoghurt
  • Lemon juice from 3 freshly-squeezed lemons
  • 3 garlic cloves, ground
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 5 ground cloves
  • 1 clove of cardamom
  • ½ tablespoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

Preparation Method:

  1. Mix the yoghurt and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Mince the garlic. Put it in the mortar and add salt to make the garlic easier to grind. Mash thoroughly. Do not remove it from the mortar.
  3. Add the cumin and coriander to the mortar and grind. It should almost form a paste at this point.
  4. Add the clove of cardamom and the 5 cloves. Crush well.
  5. Put these ground ingredients into the bowl with the yoghurt and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Add the ginger, cayenne pepper and turmeric and stir well.
  7. Add a pinch of black pepper.
  8. Put the chicken fillets in a Tupperware or a small container and cover them completely with the marinade.
  9. Leave in the fridge for at least 8 hours (but no more than 14).
  10. Take out the chicken and discard the marinade.
  11. Place the chicken on an oven tray or gridiron. Cook it for 20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.
  12. I personally like using the grill option in my oven, as it creates the delightful texture of the slightly crispy black lines, caused by the gridiron. I highly recommend it!

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 25 minutes for the marinade, 8 hours to marinate, and 20 minutes for cooking

Note: Check out my recipe for spicy tomato chutney as a possible dressing for the chicken. If you are looking for something sweeter, this goosegog chutney is also a fine choice.

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30Mar 12

Shrimp curry with sambal oelek and cream

Shrimp CurryI often get asked if cooking Indian food  takes a lot of time, and I get the impression that people assume they need hours and hours to prepare an Indian dish. It also seems to me that most people think that you always need lots of ingredients and different herbs in order to cook up a good recipe.

 

To those of you who think that Indian food necessarily has to be elaborate and very time-consuming, here is a dish of Shrimp curry with sambal oelek and cream to show that this is not true.

These curries are not any more elaborate than a normal pasta dish. Perfect for a weekday dinner for the family, you can make it as spicy or mild as you want. Just add the ingredients to taste as you go along, and I’m sure you will end up with one scrumptious curry!

Seafood helps lighten a dish, and the flavours go well with the curry. You can also try a prawn and kale Madras curry, which uses kale to replace spinach.

Ingredients:
• 700g of shrimp in their shells
• 1 large red pepper
• 1 large green pepper
• 1 leek
• 1 red onion
• 2 teaspoons of curry
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 3 large garlic cloves
• 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
• 2dl of whipped cream or full-fat cooking yoghurt
• 400g of tinned chopped tomatoes
• 2 teaspoons of sambal oelek
• 1 pinch of ground pepper
• 1 pinch of salt
• Fresh coriander leaves (optional)

Preparation method:
1. Wash and peel the shrimp.
2. Wash the peppers and remove the pips. Chop into squares.
3. Wash the leek and cut into thin slices.
4. Cut the onion into thin slices.
5. Fry the curry in the olive oil in a large frying pan.
6. Add all the vegetables and let them sizzle for a few minutes but without getting any colour.
7. Press the garlic into the frying pan and add the tomato purée and chopped tinned tomatoes.
8. Let it all boil slowly for 5 minutes.
9. Add the whipped cream. Add the salt, pepper and sambal oelek.
10. Add the shrimp.
11. Add the coriander leaves. Reheat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
12. Serve with Basmati rice or Indian naan bread and a glass or white wine.

Takes: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 portions

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29Mar 12

Mild Vegetable Curry

Mild Vegetable CurryThis is a very simple vegetable curry dish that makes a good substitute for the usual casserole. It’s very mild so those of you who are not used to strong Indian spices can start here with a nice, gentle dish and perhaps build your way up to a hotter recipe in the future.

 

Many people like to serve this on top of white rice. That makes it even more filling. However, vegetable curry is quite substantial and can be eaten on its own as well. I suggest a cauliflower and mushroom curry as it is also quite a mild and creative way to eat your veggies.

The good thing about this mild vegetable curry recipe is that it can be prepared very quickly, and it’s not very expensive. Since it’s so hearty and nutritious, it makes a great meal for young children, especially in the winter. That means you can feed your whole family on a budget. And, it’s a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables!

Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm pieces
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 2 cm pieces
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 cm by 1 cm pieces
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 4 tablespoons mild curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 100ml water

Preparation Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Put the potato, aubergine and carrots into an oven-proof bowl with a lid (or a pot with a lid). Then, add 2 tablespoons of mild curry paste and 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Stir the ingredients gently so that all the vegetables are lightly coated with oil and curry paste. Put the oven-proof bowl with these vegetables into the oven and leave to roast for 25 minutes.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until it is very hot. Next add the garlic. Fry the diced garlic for 2 minutes at medium heat. Then add the diced onion and fry for another minute. Add 2 tablespoons of curry paste. Stir it gently so that it is evenly distributed in the frying pan. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Next, slowly stir in the coconut milk and the water. Lower stove to low heat and let simmer for ten minutes.
  5. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and add them to the sauce. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

Makes: 6 servings

Takes: 35 minutes

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26Mar 12

Tangy Red Daal

Tangy Red DaalWhen I was younger, my friends would complain that their mums always cooked the same things. One schoolmate ate a roast sandwich for lunch every day. Another girlfriend of mine confided in me that in her house, each day had an assigned dish: Mondays were for fish and chips, Tuesdays were bangers and mash, etc.

 

In my family, we ate a lot of Daal, the Indian word for lentils, but I never complained! There are four different types of lentils, and each can be prepared in many ways with a variety of flavours. This was useful for my Mum who tried to vary our menu.

I like my Daal spicy, but I tend to tone it down a bit when cooking for friends. Out of the many lentil recipes that I enjoy, I want to share this Tangy Red Daal with you. It isn’t quite as soupy as this hearty lentil and herb soup, but it is nice served with a bit of rice. I call it tangy because it has a bit of a kick, but it doesn’t sting your tastebuds, as other recipes might.

Ingredients:

  • 200g red lentils
  • 10g ginger
  • 5g mustard seeds
  • 10g fresh coriander, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 3 onions
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 5g ground cumin
  • 5g cayenne pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 250ml water
  • salt and pepper
Preparation Method:
  1. Sort the red lentils on a white counter or table cloth to pick out any rocks or small pieces of dirt mixed in.
  2. When finished, rinse in cold water. Bring water to the boil and add lentils. Semi-cover and let cook for 35 minutes or so until the lentils are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the onions, jalapeño pepper, garlic, ginger, bell pepper and tomatoes.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the onion, garlic, ginger and peppers. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until onions are translucent and garlic is soft.
  5. Add the cumin and cayenne pepper. Stir.
  6. Add the tomatoes and keep stirring for another 6 minutes or so until the tomatoes are fairly well-cooked.
  7. Transfer the vegetables into a big pot and add just enough hot water to cover the contents of the pot. Let boil for 6 minutes and then add the cooked lentils, stirring well.
  8. Add salt and coriander to taste.
  9. Pour into a bowl and garnish with coriander. Serve warm.

Serves: 6

Time: 75 minutes

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26Mar 12

Spicy Chickpeas with Masala

Spicy chickpeas with masalaPulses are a regular part of my diet. I am especially fond of chickpeas; they are used for many different types of foods such as stews, curries or salads (try this Carrot and Chickpea Salad). They can also be mashed up to make hummus or falafel. In this Spicy Chickpeas with Masala recipe, I take this otherwise bland pulse, mix it with red pepper and spinach, and create a feisty plate for all Indian-food lovers to enjoy! Although it might be a tad spicy, serving it with rice provides a nice balance.

Chickpeas are very high in protein and fibre. However, they are much easier to digest than other pulses. I appreciate that fact, and I keep it in mind to avoid any embarrassing situations regarding my digestive system.

These tiny seeds are an important part of Indian industry as India is the top producer of chickpeas in the world. Did you know there are actually two types of chickpeas? The common English variety is actually called kabuli. It is lighter and larger than the Indian chickpea, desi. The native desi is smaller, darker, and a bit healthier than the Kabuli. Regardless, either one will work perfectly in my spicy chickpea recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of cooked chickpeas, about 800 grams.
  • 200g fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 small tomato, diced into cubes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 5g fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preparation Method:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat up a few teaspoons of olive oil.
  2. When hot, sauté the onion, pepper, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent and soft.
  3. Clean the chickpeas by rinsing them in a colander and draining. Pick out any empty shells.
  4. Add the chickpeas to the frying pan, then the vegetables, and mix well.
  5. Add all the spices and the tomato to the mix, stirring well.
  6. Next place just enough hot water in the pan so as to cover the vegetables. This is to create a sauce-like texture when finished.
  7. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat and add spinach. Cover again and allow the spinach to simmer for 2 more minutes with the rest of the vegetables.
  9. Take off the stove and serve on top of rice.

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 45 minutes

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21Mar 12

Vegetable Samosas

Vegetable SamosasVegetable Samosas make a delicious snack at a party. They also work well as an accompaniment to a curry dish such as this Mussel Rassam recipe or as a starter. Eat them hot just after you’ve cooked them, or keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days and eat them cold. I like them with a big dollop of mango chutney, but if you don’t want the fuss of spoons and forks, just enjoy them as a finger food.

Ingredients

To make the pastry
• 380g plain white flour
• 155g white self-raising flour
• 130g butter

To make the samosa filling
• 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 pinch of panch phoron (Bengali five-spice)
• 2 onions, chopped finely
• 3 large potatoes, cut into small cubes
• 100g peas
• 1 green chilli, chopped finely (add another if you like your samosas hot!)
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• Salt
• Vegetable oil in which to deep fry

Preparation Method

To make the pastry:
1. Put the 2 types of flour along with the butter into a mixing bowl and work the contents together. Drop in a dash of warm water and knead the mixture into a dough that should be elastic in consistency.
2. Make 12 dough balls and with a rolling pin, roll each ball into a circle. Then cut each circle in half.

To make the samosa filling:
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan; add the panch phoron and the onions; and fry until the onions turn a lovely golden brown. Add the chillies, turmeric, potatoes and peas; then season with salt. Cook the vegetables on a low heat until they are soft, stirring the contents of the pan frequently.

4. Make little islands with the filling on the half-circles of dough, using a teaspoon. 1 teaspoon on each piece of dough should be enough. Fold the dough into triangle shapes.

5. Take a heavy-based pan, fill it halfway with vegetable oil, and heat on high. You’ll know when the oil is ready to use if you drop a tiny piece of onion or other small piece of leftover veg into the oil and it sizzles immediately. Lower a few of the dough parcels into the hot oil and deep fry for 4-5 minutes or until crisp-looking and golden brown in colour.

6. Using a slotted spoon to drain the oil, carefully scoop the samosas out onto a plate covered with a piece of kitchen roll which will remove some of the excess oil. Repeat the process with the remaining parcels, cooking a few at a time. When all of the samosas are cooked and drained, they are ready to serve.

Note: Hot oil can be dangerous and should never be left unattended.

Takes: 65 minutes

Makes: 24 Vegetable Samosas

 

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