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Cover: Some like it hot

Recipes with cardamom

09Apr 12

Carrot Halwa

Carrot Halwa is a delicious dessert. My grandmother used to make it for me, and I remember how she was able to get the rich mixture of carrots, nuts and milk just right. It is rich and heavy. But just a warning, this tasty Indian sweet is quite fattening.

It can be made with regular butter, but I prefer to make it with my Fragrant Ghee. Ghee just makes the taste that much more intense.

Many people garnish it with nuts and raisins as well. I suggest that if you do that, you do so sparingly as you do not want the taste to overpower this dessert. Just sprinkle a few nuts and raisins over it before you serve.

Ingredients:

  • 2kg carrots
  • 160g cashews, ground
  • 1tsp cardamom
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 3 litres milk
  • 800g sugar
  • 4tbsp ghee

Preparation Method:

  1. Peel the carrots.
  2. Grate the carrots and leave them in a small bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Heat just 3 tablespoons of ghee in a deep pan on high heat.
  4. Crush the cashews. You can do this with a mortar and pestle, or you can just put the cashews in a ziplock bag and pound on them with the bottom of a pot.
  5. Lower the heat and put the crushed cashews into the pan and lightly roast them. They should turn light golden brown.
  6. Remove the cashews and set them aside.
  7. Add another tablespoon of ghee.
  8. Add the grated carrots and stir slowly.
  9. Sprinkle in the cardamom and saffron and stir for 3 minutes.
  10. Now pour in the milk. You can use skim milk to make the Carrot Halwa less fattening.
  11. Raise the heat and bring the milk to the boil.
  12. Once it has boiled, lower the flame and stir slowly.
  13. Cover the pot and lower the flame a bit more. Leave this to simmer for about 1 hour. Do not forget to check on it every so often and stir. After some time simmering, the ghee will start to ooze out, and it will become nice and thick.
  14. Finally add the sugar and stir well.
  15. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  16. It is now ready to serve.

 

Makes: 1 large Carrot Halwa
Takes: 2 hours

Note: Although it isn’t an Indian dish, I also recommend this carrot cake recipe. What better way to eat your veggies than adding them to a dessert?

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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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