Whole Masoor Dal – Pressure Cooked

Whole Masoor or Sabut Masoor are these mighty nutritional members of the legume family, typically dark brown on the outside and salmon-pink on the inside. They cook super fast, even without a pressure cooker and are a powerhouse of proteins, dietary fibre, iron, zinc, vitamins, minerals and are super low on calories. These wholesome food staple are quite versatile when it comes to cooking…soups, salads, stews, lentil bowls or simply a delicious dal that I’ve cooked here.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
1 cup black masoor or sabut masoor, washed thoroughly. Soak it in water for about 15 minutes.
2 medium size onions, finely chopped
2 medium onions, sliced, for tadka
4 green chilies, slit, for tadka
2 medium size tomatoes, finely chopped (or pureed)
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tsps Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsps corriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2 tsp cumin seeds for dal and 1 tsp for tadka
3 cloves
3 green cardamoms
1 black cardamom
1 bay leaf
1 medium cinnamon stick
5 cups of water
Oil for frying
2 tbsp ghee for tadka
Salt as per taste

Method:
1. Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add asafoetida, cumin seeds and fry for a bit.
2. Add all the whole spices – cloves, cinnamon, green and black cardamom and bay leaf. Fry for few seconds till aromatic.
3. Tumble in the onions and fry till translucent and golden brown.
4. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for a minute till the raw smell goes away.
5. Now add the spice powders – chili, turmeric, cumin and garam masala and fry on low for one minute.
6. Add the pureed tomatoes and saute on medium till the oil starts leaving from sides.
7. Now add the soaked masoor, water and salt. Stir and pressure cook on medium for about 15 minutes after the first whistle.
8. Open the lid and add more water if you feel the consistency is too thick. Boil for few minutes.
9. In a separate pan, heat ghee and add a tsp of cumin seeds and sliced onions. Fry till the onions are dark brown and crisp. Be careful not to burn.
10. Now add the slit green chilies and fry for few seconds.
11. Lastly, add this tadka to the cooked lentils and mix well.
12. Garnish with chopped coriander. Mix and leave the lid on for about 5 minutes so all the flavours are thoroughly absorbed. Serve hot with steamed rice or parathas

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Chicken and Chorizo Traybake

If there was a competition for the easiest lunch recipe, my tray-bake would take away the trophy hands down.
Sight of the chicken sizzling in the tray, soaking itself in the luscious red juices of the chorizo, is something to behold. I keep peeping into the oven all the time. Bad habit, I know. But the aromas that fill the kitchen are so unbelievably hypnotic, you just can’t leave.
This is one rustic dish I love.  No precision slicing or chopping or even the measurements. Just being sloppy throughout. At the end, there’s always a fight for who’ll mop up the leftovers in the tray. I always win. And so should you.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
500 gms Chicken breasts. You can also use the thighs or the drumsticks
25 beads of chorizo sausages. Remove the casing
2 medium size onions, roughly sliced
2 potatoes with skin, roughly cut into wedges
4 cloves of garlic, left whole
2 tsps lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp black pepper, crushed or powder
2 tbsps olive oil or any cooking oil
Salt to taste

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Marinate chicken in lemon juice, pepper and salt (you can also skip this step altogether and start off directly with the bake. I’ve tried both ways and it tastes equally good).
2. Put oil in the baking tray. Sit the chicken pieces inside while rubbing them roughly with oil, so they don’t go dry while baking.
3. Make space for the chorizo, potato wedges and onion slices. Toss in the garlic and grate the lemon zest straight over the contents. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper.
4. Cook for 40 minutes or until done.

Tangy Tomato Rice

Tomato Rice… this tangy, one-pot recipe is a breakfast/lunch/dinner staple in any South Indian household. No side dishes necessary, you can enjoy the best of it with just the papadum or raita and an equally tangy sour pickle. Gosh! My tastebuds have got the goose-bums already 😛  It used to be a tiffin-regular of my Keralite friend, thus the recipe. I remember exchanging my tiffin with hers so that I could gobble down all of it alone, without a thread of shame 😛
Tomato Rice
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
1 cup (250 gm) cooked basmati rice
3 big size tomatoes, finely chopped
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 green chilies, chopped
2 heaped tsps kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
2 tsps coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsps mustard seeds
1 tsp…

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Lucknowi Chicken Korma

Lucknowi cuisine has a unique identity and character of its own, just like the city of Nawabs where it was born. Lucknow was under rule of the Mughal Empire during the 16th century. The bawarchis or chefs of the Shahi kitchen were trained to cook an elaborate fair comprising high levels of dexterity and finesse. It was a meal fit for the kings.
The food was cooked on Dum, which means, on a low flame and this technique is used in the Lucknowi kitchens even today.
Korma is one of the famous dishes cooked using the dum technique. It’s a typical Mughal dish and its roots can be traced back to the 16th century as well. The edginess of Korma comes from the perfect blend of spices and dum style of cooking which incorporates the flavours perfectly into the meat.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
Chicken breast – 500 gms
3 medium size onions – pureed
2 green chilies+ 1 inch ginger + 3 cloves garlic + few coriander leaves – marinating the chicken
1 tsp lime juice
1 bay leaf
3 cardamom pods
4 cloves
A piece of cinammon
2 tsps Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tbsps cashewnuts
2 tbsps dessicated coconut
Ghee for frying
Salt for seasoning

Method:
1. Grind the marination ingredients into fine paste. Apply to the chicken along with lime juice and salt and let it sit aside.
2. Puree the onions.
3. Blitz poppy seeds, cashew-nuts and desiccated coconut into fine paste.
4. Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Add the whole spices – bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Fry on low till aromatic.
5. Spoon in the pureed onions and fry till the water in the puree evaporates.
6. Add chili powder, turmeric powder and fry on low for a bit.
6. Slowly tumble in the marinated chicken and add the ground cashew-nut paste.
7. Stir well so the chicken is covered thoroughly in the mixture.
8. Check for seasoning. Add salt if needed.
9. Lid on and simmer on low till the chicken is cooked and tender.
10. Garnish with raisins, chopped cashews and serve hot with Parathas, lime wedges and slices of onions.

Flemish Beef and Beer Stew

It’s amazing how the places you visit just once, leave an indelible mark on you. From my last trip to Belgium, I packed a little bit of Bruges back home. Did you know Bruges is the chocolate capital of the world? Beer, comic books and fries are the first loves of a true-bred Belgian. And they go crazy over Mussels and…fries.
But, what you must try out as a first timer, is their Beef and Beer Stew. Accompanied with of course…the F R I E S 🙂
I was itching to try it out at home, and so I did. This of course, is a Googled recipe, but with a little twist of my own.
It poured last evening…thunderstorms, lightning and all. There couldn’t be a better way to keep warm and cooped up at home.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: Around 3 hours
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 kg stew beef (shoulder meat preferable)
2 large onions, roughly sliced
500 ml of dark beer
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 cloves
1 clove of garlic, minced
The recipe said 2 laurel leaves. I couldn’t find them in the supermarket. So I added 2 bay leaves.
3-4 sprigs of rosemary
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp of flour to thicken the gravy
A splash of balsamic vinegar
3 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps butter
Salt & pepper for seasoning

Method:
1. Take a small piece of cheese cloth and tie the rosemary, thyme & cloves in it. You’ll want to be able to remove it from the stew easily later on. If you don’t have one, that’s okay too. Picking out the sprigs later, isn’t that big of a deal.

2. Cut the meat in roughly 1-inch or bite-size cubes. Season with salt and pepper and leave aside.

3. In a large non-stick pan, heat the olive oil and brown the meat over medium heat. It’s best to do this in batches, as you don’t want to overcrowd the meat. Overcrowding means the meat won’t brown, it’ll rather steam and you don’t want this. You want a nice crispy brown edge on each piece of meat. Set each batch of meat aside. Don’t be alarmed by the brownish ‘crud’ that forms on the bottom of your pan, and definitely don’t try to get rid of it… This is where a lot of the flavor forms.

4. When all meat is browned, turn up the heat a bit and pour a splash or two of the beer in the pan. Save the rest for later. Scrape the bottom of your pan to loosen the browned bits the meat formed.

5. When most of the bits are loosened and starting to dissolve in the beer, add butter, sliced onions and minced garlic, and continue to cook on medium until the onions are translucent.

6. Add the remainder of the beer, browned beef, cheese cloth with herbs and the sugar, and cook over low heat for 2-3 hours until the beef is fork-tender. Add a teaspoon of flour to thicken the gravy.

7. Keep the lid off of your pot. Once you have reached the desired thickness of the sauce, only then place the lid on the pot.

8. When the stew is ready, remove the cheese cloth wrapped herbs and bay leaves, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and stir.

9. Serve hot with sides of hash browns, french fries, buttery potato mash or baked potato wedges. Potato is such a versatile veggie, no.

Munnar Is Blue!

The beautiful Neelakurinji flower has bloomed again. After twelve long, much awaited years. Munnar and it’s mystical mountains are strutting their stuff and how. Dressed head to toe in the purple-blue blossoms of this exquisite flower, Munnar is a sight to behold. Go now to witness this spectacle that’ll last only until October.

Chettinad Prawn Curry

Chettinad, a region in Tamil Nadu state of South India, is synonymous with hyper-spicy and aromatic food laced with well-balanced flavors. If there’s any cuisine that celebrates spices with utmost devotion, it’s this cuisine. The fiery flavors come largely from the use of red chilies and black peppers. Variety of spices are roasted and freshly ground, which adds to the sharpness of any dish.
Chettinad cuisine isn’t for the faint-hearted or rather, faint-gutted. You either have a really strong gut or a really close loo. Because the flavors are so lip-smacking, you are bound to keep going for seconds.

Preparation time:15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
A. For marinating prawns:
Prawns, cleaned and deveined – 500 gms (It’s always good to stock your refrigerator with a packet of frozen prawns. Saves a great deal of time.)
Kashmiri chili powder – 2 tsps
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp

B. Ground spice mix:
Dry red chilies – 3
Black pepper corns – 7
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Cloves – 4
Cardamom – 4
Cinnamon – small piece
Mace – small piece
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp
Poppy seeds – 1 tsp

C. For the curry:
2 medium size onions – thinly sliced
2 green chilies – slit
2 medium size tomatoes – finely chopped
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Ginger-garlic paste – 11/2 tsp
Kashmiri chili powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Ground spice powder – 2 tsp
Tamarind pulp – 1 tbsp
Oil for frying
Salt as per taste
Water as per desired consistency

Method:
1. Marinate the prawns in chili powder, turmeric powder and salt and let it sit aside.
2. Dry roast all the spices on low flame till aromatic. Be careful not to burn.
3. Set aside to cool and then grind to fine powder.
4.  Heat oil in a heavy bottom. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter.
5. Add curry leaves and fry a bit.
6. Toss in the onions and green chilies and fry till the onions are soft and translucent.
7. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute or until the raw smell of ginger goes away.
8. Now add the spice powders – kashmiri chili, turmeric, coriander and the ground spice mix. Fry on medium till aromatic.
9. Now add the chopped tomatoes and tamarind pulp and saute till oil starts separating at the sides.
10. Tumble in the prawns and mix well.
11. Lastly, add water as per your desired consistency and check for the seasoning. Add more salt if required.
12. Bring it to boil. Then let it simmer on low for around 5 minutes or until the gravy becomes thick.
13. Garnish with curry leaves and serve hot with steamed rice, appams or neer dosa.