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Cover: Some like it hot

Recipes with green chilli peppers

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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19Jul 12

Spinach Vada

Spinach Vada
Vadas
are crispy Indian treats that you can enjoy for breakfast or as a snack. These fried pastries look a lot like mini-doughnuts, since they are round and have holes in the centre. However, they are a good deal healthier than doughnuts, because instead of being made with regular dough, they are made with ground up legumes.

Different Vada recipes will call for different legumes; normally, mung daal, urad daal, or channa daal will be used. “Daal” basically means legumes that have had their hulls, or outer shells, removed.

Legumes in general are very low in fat and healthy. Many Indian vegetarians cook with legumes a lot because they are so high in protein. Since they are also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, they really pack a nutritional punch.

There are a wide variety of different Vada recipes, but today I am going to tell you how to make Spinach Vada. If you are a vegetarian, spinach is a great way to get your iron.

However, this is not to say that Vada are extremely healthy snacks. They are, after all, deep fried treats. That is why I do not prepare them very often. But I find that once in a while, a little indulgence goes a long way!

They remind me a bit of falafel, which is made out of chickpeas. Usually they are also fried, but you can try this oven-baked falafel recipe for a healthier version.

Spinach Vada
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Vadas are crispy Indian treats that you can enjoy for breakfast or as a snack.
Ingredients
  • 400g Mung Daal
  • 200g Channa Daal
  • 1tsp Water
  • 2cm fresh Ginger
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 1 bunch Spinach
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Put the mung daal and channa daal together in a large bowl and cover with water. Leave them soaking overnight, or for at least 5 hours.
  2. Drain the daals and put them in blender. Add a bit of water, but since the daals have been well soaked, you don’t need to add too much.
  3. Blend on high until the daals become a thick paste.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli peppers and mix again.
  5. Chop the spinach and add it with salt into the blender.
  6. After well-combined, remove the paste from the blender and put it in a large bowl.
  7. Heat up oil in a large pan.
  8. Take a small handful of this paste and form a round ball. Poke a hole in its centre.
  9. Gently lower each vada ball into the oil.
  10. Fry until they are golden brown on one side, and then gently flip.
  11. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain the excess oil before serving.

 

 

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10Jul 12

Zesty Green Chutney

Zesty Green ChutneyGreen Chutney is perhaps the simplest chutney to make, and it is also the most versatile. The combination of  coriander, lemon juice and mint make this chutney extremely zesty. It goes very well with all kinds of samosas or even Viatnemese spring rolls. Samosas and Bondas are finger foods, which is why this Green Chutney makes the perfect dip. Since it is so flavourful, you could also pour it over something a bit more subtle such as cottage cheese, as you see in the photo.

Not everyone makes Green Chutney with mint. However, I find mint to be very refreshing, and it balances the spicier ingredients perfectly.

I have a friend who once tried this with dried mint herbs she bought at the supermarket, but she told me it just was not the same. When mint dries, it loses its zesty flavour, and that really takes away a lot from the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 500g fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 250g fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilli peppers
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2tsp ginger powder
  • 20g grated coconut
  • 1/2tsp sugar
  • 5tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt to taste

Preparation Method:

  1. Thoroughly wash the coriander and mince it as finely as you possibly can. Put it into the liquidiser or food processor.
  2. Clean the fresh mint and mince it. Add it to the liquidiser or food processor. Do not blend these ingredients yet.
  3. Take the 2 green chilli peppers and cloves of garlic and chop them as finely as possible. Add them to the blender.
  4. Add the ginger powder, grated coconut and sugar to the blender. These sweet ingredients will balance the spicier ones (such as the green chilli peppers and the garlic).
  5. Blend these ingredients thoroughly.
  6. Now add in the lemon juice and blend a bit more.
  7. Finally add a bit of salt to taste. Do not add too much, as this is overall a sweet and refreshing chutney. However, a bit of salt makes all flavours more intense, even sweet ones. So add just a pinch to bring out the flavours.

Makes: Enough for 20 servings

Takes: 30 minutes

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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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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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24Apr 12

Aloo Bonda Snacks

Aloo Bonda 

Aloo Bonda is a snack made of mashed potatoes dipped in batter and deep-fried. It is fantastic finger food, so I often serve it at parties as an appetizer.

These snacks can be served hot, straight from the deep fryer. Or you can also enjoy them after they have cooled down. Many people eat them with ketchup, but I prefer them with my Green Chutney recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 8 large potatoes
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1 slice of finely chopped ginger
  • 4 large green chilli peppers, finely chopped
  • 500g carrots, chopped
  • 500g peas
  • 2tsp lemon juice
  • 250g gram flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 240ml of water
  • 6 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation Method:

  1. Peel the potatoes and boil them.
  2. Mash them and add a little bit of salt. Set the pot with the potatoes aside.
  3. In a pan, heat up 1 tbsp of vegetable oil.
  4. Add the mustard seeds. Careful! They will crackle and pop.
  5. Add the cumin seeds.
  6. Chop the onions, ginger and green chilli peppers very finely.
  7. Add these chopped ingredients to the pan and stir briskly. Fry them until the onions are light brown. Add a little salt to make the onions sweat a bit.
  8. Chop the carrots and add to the pan along with the peas.
  9. Lower the heat and cook for about 15 minutes.
  10. Add the mashed potatoes to the pan and mix them in slowly. Let them fry for 5 minutes.
  11. Now remove the potato mix from the pan and set it aside in a large bowl. Sprinkle in a bit of lemon juice. Set this aside to cool.
  12. In a separate large bowl, mix the gram flour, 5tbsp of vegetable oil, water, a pinch of salt and the baking powder. Mix these ingredients together to form a thick batter.
  13. Heat a pot full of oil for deep frying.
  14. Once the potato filling has fully cooled down, form small round balls with them. Take a handful of the filling and form a round ball with the palm of your hand. You should be able to make about 8 round potato balls.
  15. Now take one of these potato balls and dip it in the batter.
  16. Gently lower it into the oil.
  17. Repeat this with all 8 balls. You can fry them all together in the pot.
  18. Deep fry them until they are crispy.

Makes: 8 Aloo Bondas
Takes: 2 hours

 

Note: For another potato recipe, try these Minty Jersey Royals with Chives and Lemon Butter.

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