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Cover: Some like it hot

Meal for 6 people

18Sep 12

Shahi Paneer

Shahi PaneerShahi Paneer is a traditional dish that consists of cubes of paneer cheese in a thick, spicy gravy. There are many varieties, but my mother makes it with almonds, which I also have begun to do recently. Of course, I must warn you that this is not a dish that is low in calories. Creamy gravies are never light, and much less so with nuts added in! (Also try my palak paneer recipe.)

Cardamom is an essential spice that contributes to the exotic flavour of this tasty dish. This intense spice comes from the black or green veins of a plant in the ginger family. Because of its intense flavour and aroma, cardamom is one of the most frequently used spices in Indian cuisine

This recipe also calls for garam masala. There are many varieties of garam masala, which is a mix of spices that can contain up to 15 different ingredients. It is sold in speciality Indian food shops.

As I have mentioned before, if you are unable to find paneer cheese, you can substitute it with cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. Likewise, you may substitute ghee with regular butter.

Serve hot over basmati rice or with Naan bread.

Shahi Paneer
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Shahi Paneer is a traditional dish that consists of cubes of paneer cheese in a thick, spicy gravy.
Ingredients
  • 2tbsp Ghee
  • 1 Onion
  • 1cm piece Ginger
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 2 Cardamoms
  • 5 Tomatoes
  • 100ml beaten Curd
  • 3tbsp Almond Paste
  • 100ml Water
  • ½tsp Garam Masala
  • 2tbsp plain Tomato Sauce
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 100ml Milk
  • 250g Paneer cheese
Instructions
  1. Melt the ghee in a large pot.
  2. Chop the onion, ginger and green chilli peppers and add to the pot. On medium heat, fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the cardamoms and fry for 2 more minutes.
  4. Chop the tomatoes and add in. Fry for 4 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Slowly stir in the curd and almond paste and let cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off the stove and stir in the water.
  7. Let cool.
  8. Blend with a hand blender and return the mix back into the pot.
  9. Add the garam masala, tomato sauce and salt and bring to the boil. When boiling, it should form a thick gravy.
  10. Chop the paneer cheese into 3cm by 3 cm cubes.
  11. Stir in the milk and cubes of paneer and boil for another 5 minutes.
  12. Serve.

 

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31Jul 12

Peas Pulao

Peas PulaoThis tasty vegetarian Peas Pulao can be served for lunch or dinner, as the main meal, or even as a side dish. The rice and peas make it quite substantial, so I usually serve it as the main course. (Also try this chicken risotto with green peas.)

According to my mother, who taught me how to cook this dish, the secret to preparing an unforgettable Peas Pulao is getting the right balance of spices. Not everyone puts garlic in their Peas Pulao, but my mother insists on it. She says it balances out the rice nicely. My personal favourite spice to go with basmati rice is ginger. To me there is just nothing like the aroma that ginger can add to an Indian rice dish.

If you have time to let it sit for about 30 minutes, covered, before serving, the flavours will blend together even better and it will taste even stronger. It is one of those dishes that in fact tastes better the next day.

You can prepare this lovely recipe with regular butter, but I use ghee because it provides a unique flavour.

Peas Pulao
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This tasty vegetarian Peas Pulao can be served for lunch or dinner, as the main meal, or even as a side dish.
Ingredients
  • 2tbsp Ghee
  • 3cm of Ginger, crushed finely
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed finely
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1tsp Cumin Powder
  • 3 Cardamoms
  • 3cm Cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 200g Green Peas
  • 2tbsp Cashew Nuts, chopped
  • 1,000g White Basmati Rice
  • 1,500ml Water
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 2tsp Coriander leaves, chopped finely, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Melt the ghee in a large pan and stir in the crushed ginger and garlic.
  2. Slice onion finely.
  3. Stir in the onion, cumin, cardamoms, and cinnamon.
  4. Stir and fry all ingredients until the onions turn transparent. You do not need to brown the onions for this recipe.
  5. Stir in the peas and cashew nuts.
  6. Lower the heat and let simmer until peas are cooked.
  7. Add in uncooked rice and stir a bit.
  8. Add in the water.
  9. Cover and cook on a high flame for 5 minutes.
  10. Lower heat to the lowest setting and let simmer for 20-25 minutes more.
  11. Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves.

 

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24Jul 12

Punjab Chicken

Punjab ChickenPunjab Chicken is a dish that will go over well with your kids. I’m giving you a mild version of this dish, so if you’re trying to introduce your kids to Indian cooking, they will take to it better. If you start out with anything too hot, your children may be turned off to Indian cuisine altogether, so it is best to start them out with milder dishes. However, if you want to prepare a spicier Punjab Chicken, feel free to increase the quantity of spices. But I do not recommend you increase the turmeric too much, as it is quite bitter, so it will overpower the dish.

This dish calls for drumsticks, which is a much moister part of the chicken than the breast. Some people use the whole chicken leg—that is, the drumstick and the thigh. That is fine, but I prefer meat just from the drumstick for this recipe.

In this recipe, you may substitute ghee with cooking oils such as vegetable oil or sunflower oil. Some might say that punjab chicken is similar to chicken fricassee because it uses chicken drumsticks in a thickened sauce. Of course, I prefer my dish because of the wonderful mix of Indian spices!

You may add in more than 700ml of water if you want. This will give you more sauce at the end, but the thickness is really up to you.

Punjab Chicken
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This is a main dish with chicken
Ingredients
  • 2kg Chicken Drumsticks, skinned and chopped
  • 3 Onions
  • 1cm fresh Ginger
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 1tbs Ground Cumin Powder
  • 1 pinch of Turmeric
  • 2tsp Ground Coriander Powder
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 100g of Ghee
  • 700ml Water
  • Pinch of Salt to Taste
  • Bunch of fresh Coriander
Instructions
  1. Melt the ghee in a large pot on a low heat. Be careful not to burn it.
  2. Peel and chop the onions and ginger finely and add to the pot.
  3. Cook them for 10 minutes over low heat until they turn a light golden brown colour.
  4. Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan with a little water.
  5. Add the cumin, turmeric, ground coriander and bay leaves, and let cook for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Chop the chicken drumsticks into thin slices.
  7. Add the chicken to the pot.
  8. Add in the rest of the water. Make sure there is enough sauce to cover all the chicken pieces well. If not, add a bit more water.
  9. Cook chicken until tender, stirring occasionally.
  10. Stir in the cayenne pepper.
  11. Add salt to taste.
  12. Serve hot, garnished with fresh coriander.

 

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07Jul 12

Mild Lentil and Tomato Stew

Mild Lentil and Tomato StewThis Mild Lentil and Tomato Stew is a vegetarian stew that is very substantial and filling, without being fattening at all. It is perfect for a cold or rainy day and is similar to this red lentil and potato bake, except a bit spicier.

Cardamom is a zesty Indian spice that you can buy at your local Indian grocery store. Since cardamom tastes slightly like lemon, it goes very well with the lemon juice. Both the cardamom and lemon juice are added at the very end as a final touch.

Ingredients:

  • 800g Lentils
  • 2 litres Water
  • 1/4tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/4tsp Coriander seeds
  • 1 large Onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • ½tbsp Turmeric
  • 1/2tbsp Ginger powder
  • 5 large Tomatoes
  • 1/2tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1tbs Paprika
  • 1 clove Cardamom, ground
  • 3tbs Lemon Juice
  • 5tbs Olive Oil

Preparation Method:

  1. Wash the lentils thoroughly and put them in a bowl. Cover the lentils and leave them to soak for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Drain the lentils and put them in a pot with 2 litres of water. Heat them until they come to the boil, then lower the flame and leave them to simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat up the olive oil in a pan. Once small bubbles start to form in the oil, it is hot enough to begin frying the spices.
  4. Now add the cumin seeds and coriander seeds. You should not grind them beforehand. Careful! They will start to pop and crackle. You should not be wearing short sleeves when you do this, as you will get burnt.
  5. Chop the onion and garlic very finely.
  6. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. With the flame on low, stir briskly. Fry these ingredients for about 4 minutes.
  7. Add in the turmeric and ginger powder and stir briskly.
  8. Mince the 5 large tomatoes very finely.
  9. Add the minced tomatoes to the pan and stir them well.
  10. Add the cayenne pepper and paprika and stir.
  11. Gently put this mixture into the pot where the lentils are and stir thoroughly. Let the lentils and the tomato mixture simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
  12. Grind 1 clove of cardamom with a pestle and mortar. Slowly sprinkle the ground cardamom in.
  13. Stir in the lemon juice.
  14. Let simmer for 5 more minutes.
  15. Serve hot.

Makes: Enough for 10 servings
Takes: 1 hour (plus 8 hours soaking time)

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20Jun 12

Lamb Biryani

Lamb BiryaniLamb Biryani is a dish consisting of a layer of marinated lamb and a layer of basmati rice. It is quite tricky to cook both the marinated lamb and the rice to perfection. When you first cook the rice, it must only be half-cooked. When you add it to the pot later with the marinated lamb, it will finish cooking. If you want to get the flavour just right, you must use basmati rice.

Once you get the hang of making sure the lamb and the rice are both cooked perfectly, you might want to try my Chicken Biryani recipe. But just love lamb? Give this lamb roast with garlic and rosemary a go.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg Lamb
  • 100ml Yoghurt
  • 2 Red Chilli Peppers, 1 chopped and 1 left whole
  • 1/4tsp Garam Masala
  • 2tsp Ginger Paste
  • 2tsp Garlic Paste
  • 1tsp Chopped Mint
  • 1/4tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 3 Large Onions
  • 500g Basmati Rice
  • 1l Water
  • 1/2tsp Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 200g Ghee

Preparation Method:

  1. Chop the raw lamb into medium-sized cubes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the yoghurt, red chilli peppers, garam masala, ginger paste, garlic paste and mint.
  3. Now slowly stir in the cubes of raw lamb.
  4. Add the turmeric powder and stir.
  5. Peel and chop the onions.
  6. Heat the ghee in a pan on a medium flame and add the chopped onions. Fry the onions until they are crispy and light brown. Do not fry them for so long that they get caramelised.
  7. Remove the onions and place them on a plate with a kitchen towel or paper towel below them. You want the ghee to drain away so that the onions are crispy.
  8. Let the crispy onions cool. Then, add them to the marinade.
  9. Put the bowl in the fridge and let the lamb marinate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
  10. Soak the rice for 20 minutes in cold water.
  11. Wash the rice and put it in a pot with 1 litre of water. Bring the water to the boil, then lower the flame and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the rice from the heat and set it aside.
  12. Heat the ghee in the pot on a medium flame.
  13. Add the marinated lamb—with all the marinade—to the pot.
  14. Add the basmati rice on top of this.
  15. Squeeze a little lemon juice onto the rice.
  16. Add a pinch of salt to taste.
  17. Cover the pot. Allow it to cook on a high flame for about 15 minutes. Then lower the flame and let is simmer for about 1 to 2 hours, or until the lamb is tender and fully cooked.

Makes: Enough for 6 servings
Takes: 2 hours (plus 6 hours to marinate the lamb)

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19Jun 12

Carrot Kanji

Carrot Kanji
Carrot Kanji
is a refreshing drink made from fermented vegetables. You basically chop up various vegetables and mix them into water in a transparent pitcher and leave them in the sun for a few days to ferment. It does not take long to prepare, and once made, it can stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. This drink is served chilled, and it has quite a strong, unique carroty flavour. In fact, some people find it a bit too strong the first few times they try it.

Traditionally, kanji is made with black carrots, which are found in northern India in the winter. However, since black carrots are hard to find in the West, you can use regular orange carrots for this Carrot Kanji drink, and it will still have its distinctive flavour. (For a warm treat, I recommend this comforting carrot, coriander and cumin soup.)

Carrot Kanji not only is low in calories but also may help you lose weight. Some studies have shown that eating red chilli peppers helps people slim down. Apparently, they curb your appetite. They may also raise your metabolism. Since my Carrot Kanji recipe calls for red chilli peppers, this is good news for those of you on a diet. I must point out that you may add in more red or green chilli peppers if you want to. Play around a bit with the quantities to see what spiciness level you like best.

Carrot Kanji
Author: 
Recipe type: Drink
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Carrot Kanji is a refreshing drink made from fermented vegetables.
Ingredients
  • 1kg Carrots
  • 2tbsp. Mustard Seeds
  • 2tbsp. Red Chilli Powder
  • 1 Green Chilli
  • 1tbsp. Salt
  • 4 litres hot Water
  • Mint Leaves to garnish
Instructions
  1. Wash and peel the carrots.
  2. Slice each carrot lengthwise into 3 or 4 long strips.
  3. Grind the mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle.
  4. Chop the green chilli peppers well.
  5. Mix the carrots, salt, mustard seeds, red chilli and green chilli together in a transparent pitcher.
  6. Add in the hot water and stir well with a wooden spoon.
  7. Put the top on the pitcher and leave it in the sun for 3-5 days, so it can ferment.
  8. After the pitcher of kanji has fermented, store it in the refrigerator.
  9. Before eating, you can put it in the blender to create a smooth texture. This isn't necessary, but some people prefer smooth as opposed to chunky.
  10. Crush some mint leaves and sprinkle them on top of the kanji just before serving.
  11. Serve chilled.

 

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29May 12

Palak Paneer

 

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer is a delightful spinach and cheese dish. In my opinion, there is just nothing that can compare to the combination of spinach and cheese. These two ingredients perfectly complement each other and bring out each other’s best qualities. Paneer cheese is the cheese used in this particular traditional Indian recipe. It can be found at your local Indian speciality foods shop.

I find this Palak Paneer recipe quite rich and creamy. However, the good news is that this dish is very easy to digest. Many people are under the mistaken impression that Indian food is always very rough on the intestines. While it may be true that if you eat spices you are not used to eating, you could possibly have difficulties digesting your meal, you must also keep in mind that many people find vegetables easier on the stomach than meats and fish. And this Palak Paneer recipe, which I learned from my mum, is entirely vegetarian.

Also, it is not very hot or spicy, which makes for light digestion. Palak Paneer is best served with naan bread or with basmati rice, making it a complete and filling meal. I often make this for dinner on chilly days as it is so filling. It will leave you full but not stuffed.

Vegetable Samosas make a tasty accompaniment to this spinach and cheese dish. (And for more spinach options, try this spinach and lentil soup.)

Palak Paneer
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Palak Paneer is a delightful spinach and cheese dish.
Ingredients
  • 1000g Spinach
  • 4 Onions, medium sized
  • 4 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 80ml Water
  • 7tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 400g Paneer cheese
  • Pinch of Salt to Taste
Instructions
  1. Bring water to the boil in a pot and add spinach. Cook until soft.
  2. Drain the spinach and put it in the blender. Blend well until it is puréed.
  3. Chop and sauté the onions.
  4. Finely chop the garlic and add it to the pan with the onions and stir.
  5. Chop the chilli peppers and add them to the pan.
  6. Add in the puréed spinach and the water and bring it to the boil.
  7. Lower the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Chop the paneer cheese into small cubes.
  9. Fry the cubes of paneer cheese until they are slightly browned.
  10. Slowly stir the paneer into the purée.

 

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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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