Sunday, June 17, 2018

Spaghetti with Clams, in a Herb-Purée

This fathers day, my husband asked for a quiet lazy morning at home. He lay in bed and watched Germany play Mexico at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while the children and I set the table with handmade place cards, flowers, and made him one of his favorite pastas! Spaghetti with Clams, in a herb purée. The hot pepper was served as a garnish for just us. 

Involving the children in this one was easy. They got to pick the herbs, and then after I washed it, they put it in the blender, pulsed the blender, and more. This whole process also got my four-year-old twin daughters to try clams with no fuss. 

The kids got a kick out of seeing the clams open up as it steamed. One of my four-year olds even asked me if it was opening up to bite them! 

This recipe is inspired by one I read in NY Times, and we all highly recommend it! 

4 to 6 servings. |  Time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients
For herb purée
1 cup basil leaves
1 cup Italian parsley leaves
6 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the pasta
1 pound spaghetti or linguine 
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 pounds small clams, such as little neck or Manila, rinsed of sand
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock

Basil leaves, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for garnish 
Hot red pepper flakes, for garnish

Method
  1. Make the purée: Grind the purée ingredients until combined, to desired consistency.
  2. Boil the pasta: For a minute less than the package directions for al dente. The pasta will continue to cook when you toss it with the clams, so stop it ahead of al dente. 
  3. While the pasta boils: Heat the olive oil in a heavy wide-bottomed pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, fennel seed, and let sizzle without browning, about 1 minute. Add clams. Raise heat to high, add wine and stock, put on the lid. Cook, covered, until all clams have opened, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off heat. (Discard any clams that fail to open.)
  4. Add cooked pasta and herb purée to pot and toss gently to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with basil leaves and lemon wedges, serve pepper flakes on the side. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Miso Soup

Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup consisting of a stock called "dashi" into which softened miso paste is mixed. Many ingredients are added depending on regional and seasonal recipes, and personal preference.

Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup, served with most Japanese meals, even breakfast. It consists of two main ingredients— dashi or a Japanese broth and miso paste. You can use white or red miso pastes. The light miso has a shorter fermenting time and less salt; the dark miso has a longer fermenting time and more salt. Most misos are made with soybeans and some with additional grain. Sweet white miso contains cooked soybeans and white rice, which are cooked and then allowed to ferment with koi mold and salt. Barley, millet, and buckwheat are some of the other grains from which miso can be made. 

Like yogurt, miso contains bacteria beneficial to our digestive systems which are killed by boiling. 

2 quarts dashi broth 
1/2 cup sweet white (shiro) miso
2 ounces soft or firm tofu, fresh, 1/4-inch dice
Scallion, thinly sliced for garnish
1 cup enoki mushrooms (optional)
Dried wakame (a type of seaweed)

  1. For every cup of dash, use 2 teaspoons to 1 teaspoon of miso. Sweet white miso is less salty so you may use more. The darker misos are saltier, so you might want to use less.
  2. Place the miso in a small mixing bowl and add a little of the hot broth to it. Whisk until smooth. Pour this mixture back into the pot of dashi broth and whisk to mix well. Don’t boil the soup after adding the miso.
  3. Place the garnish of a tiny dice of fresh soft tofu, thinly sliced green onion rings, or any cooked seafood or vegetables into each bowl. Pour a cup or more of the hot miso broth on top and serve.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ramen Noodles




In my forever endeavor to come up with more family dinners, that everyone can enjoy, I am very happy with having put a Ramen spread on the table! Not the quick packet noodle stuff, packed with flavor enhancers, and unpronounceable and recognizable ingredients. But from scratch, with all the good ingredients. 

Making the dashi (broth, that is used as a base for many Japanese foods) from scratch is an added step, but the Umami that you receive from it is well worth that effort. 

How to make dashi:
In 4 cups of cold water, hydrate a 1/4 ounce of dried kombu (type of Japanese seaweed). This can sit in the water for 15 minutes to overnight. Bring the water to near boiling (do not boil or the dashi will turn bitter) and then remove the kombu. Remove from heat.
Add a teaspoon of dried bonito flakes and let it sit for 5 minutes. Strain.
Taste, and add more kombu or bonito flakes. Make it to your liking.
And your dashi is ready! 




Now make the Ramen:
Serves 2 
The beauty about Ramen is personalizing it. Make it to your taste, add enjoy! This recipe can be doubled easily.

In a large stock pot, heat a teaspoon of sesame oil.

Sauté 2 teaspoons of minced ginger and garlic.
Sauté 1 cup of vegetables of your choice (I used black dried mushrooms)
Add 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup dashi

While the soup comes to a boil, stir together, in a small bowl:

3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sake (optional), 1 teaspoon mirin, 1 teaspoon sugar, Salt, to taste

Add to the soup. Mix and your Ramen soup is ready! 

Boil noodles of your choice. I found these fresh Ramen noodles at my local Japanese store. Unfortunately, they told me that the manufacturer has stopped making it so I got the last batch. 

Top with your favorite Ramen toppings, such as boiled eggs, thinly sliced scallions, bamboo shoots, seaweed, boiled spinach, steamed bok choy, your favorite chili sauce, or Japanese Togarashi chili flakes, a squeeze of lime, pickled ginger… I can go on and on!

Dig in, and enjoy!


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Vegetarian Paella

There is something so heartwarming about a large paella in the center of a table. Everyone digs in, shares stories about the various other paellas they have had in their travels, with a glass of Sangria, and life is good. 

I remember the night I sat at the bar of a restaurant in Gran Canaria (Canary Islands), Spain and ate one of the best Paellas ever. We grumbled to the chef, whom we had gotten to know well through the years of visiting, that we lacked good Paellas in New York. Chef Juan very generously invited me into his kitchen and taught me his prized Paella Valenciana recipe. What a treat! 

The original Paella is from Valencia, Spain, and had a combination of meat, vegetables, and snails. Today, everyone makes their own version. My favorite one is a Seafood Paella, next to the Vegetarian one. It's a great way to pack in all the vegetables.

Paella is cooked and served in a traditional Paella pan. Fairly easily available, you can buy it in most gourmet grocery stores. In New York, Despaña sells it, along with Kalyustans. I use the carbon steel pans, which require a good scrub after, with a metal sponge, wipe dry, and season with a little olive oil. However, today, non-stick ones are also available. 

Writing a Paella recipe is always a bit tricky, as it depends on the size of your Paella pan. It is sold as 'para dos', 'para cuatro' (for two, for four, etc). The number of people the Paella pan is for is always an even number, but the actual diameter of the pan varies, which is what making writing the recipe tricky. Read the note below on the amount of rice required before adding it all in, keeping in mind, that rice doubles in size as it cooks. 

Ingredients
1/2 cup olive oil
One bulb garlic, peeled, and thinly sliced 
1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1-inch pieces 
1 green pepper, chopped in 1-inch pieces
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon orange food coloring

Vegetables: 
3 cups of vegetables of your choice, such as carrots, beans, mushrooms, green peas, asparagus 

1 15oz can tomato sauce

1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 generous pinch of saffron 
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 sprig thyme 
Salt, to taste

2–3 handfuls of Spanish paella rice 

Lemon wedges, to garnish

Method
  1. In a Paella pan for 4, heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a pan.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, careful not to burn. 
  3. Add onion, green pepper, bay leaf and orange food coloring. Sauté for a minute. 
  4. Add 3 cups of chopped vegetables (carrots, green beans, peas, mushrooms, asparagus etc). Mix with the onions. 
  5. Add the tomato sauce and water to fill the pan to the brim. 
  6. Then, add the saffron, salt to taste, a dried red chili, Spanish paprika, one stock bouillon cube and one sprig of thyme.
  7. Let it come to a boil, and reduce to half. Taste the sauce for salt or any other seasonings
  8. Sprinkle the paella rice evenly over the paella pan. Eyeball the quantity of uncooked rice required based on the paella pan size, and the amount of vegetables added in. Do not mix after you add the rice. 
  9. Let it cook for 10–15 minutes.
  10. Garnish with lemon wedges right before serving

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pao de Queijo





















I was fourteen when I visited my cousins in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We would run down to the bakery across the street to buy fresh warm little cheese ball breads, and it was a little bite of heaven— crispy on the outside, soft, cheesy, and gooey on the inside.
One of life's best simple pleasures is hot fresh bread, add cheese to it, make it in little balls, and it’s been taken to a whole different level! 
These are essentially a version of the French gougéres, but made with tapioca flour instead of all-purpose flour. Both start on the stove top and have eggs and cheese, but these result as the chewier cousin.
Years later my son was born and my cousins called him a little Pao de Queijo! 
Fast forward a few more years and their friend posts some on his Instagram page, and it got me motivated to bake these for my children. Needless to say, the entire batch was polished off in minutes (a lot consumed by me too!)

Bonus to this recipe is that it calls for Tapioca Flour, which is gluten-free. Bob’s Red Mill makes it and you can find it at Whole Foods.

You can make the batter ahead, bring it to room temperature, store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and bake it when you want to eat it.. Another option would be to portion the dough onto baking sheets and freeze until solid. Transfer to resealable freezer bags and freeze up to 1 month. Bake frozen for same amount of time.

Makes 24

Ingredients
2 cups tapioca starch / flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups cheese (parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, gouda, feta, or a combination of these)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl measure the tapioca and set aside.
  3. In a small pot, heat the milk, butter, and salt. Swirl and warm it until just before it boils. 
  4. Add to the tapioca flour. Mix and let it cool.
  5. Once cooled, add the eggs, one at a time. Mix to combine.
  6. Add the cheese. The batter will be soupy. Pour into greased mini muffin tin, until almost the top. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. 
  7. Alternatively, keep mixing and then kneading and it’ll form a thicker dough. Grease your hands, roll into balls the size of a tablespoon, line an inch apartment on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

    Store left over uneaten bread in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Re-crisp in a warm toaster oven.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Croquetas de Jamon


Croquetas de Jamon, is a classic tapa available at most bars across Spain. It can be served as a tapa, part of a meal with a salad on the side, and it loved by all. The beauty of it, is that you can fill it with just about anything— use your left over roasted chicken, or heck another way to use leftover Thanksgiving Turkey, chopped hard-boiled eggs, finely minced shrimp or squid, chopped chorizo, mushroom, cheese, or a combination of these. 

The real beauty of these lie in the delicate richness of the bechamel sauce combined with the flavors of your favorite filling. Make it a day ahead, to give the mixture enough time to harden in the refrigerator or freezer. It will then be easier to handle.

After spending two months in Spain, the kids loved Croquetas. It has never been my favorite Spanish tapa, but every time we are out for dinner, it is ordered— and everyone I know simply loves them!

Apparently, the Croquetas at the restaurant Embarcadero in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain are the best ever. So you can imagine my excitement when I found the recipe online.

While we were in Las Palmas (Spain), my aunt gave me a good supply of homemade frozen Chicken Croquetas, which was the best thing to have for quick last minute kid dinners with some corn and veggies on the side, or when friends stopped by.
Back in New York, our freezer is stocked back up with Croquetas de Jamon, and the kids are still loving it!

Recipe courtesy: Restorante Embarcadero  

Ingredients
125 grams / 9 tablespoons butter
1 liter / 4 cups whole milk
125 grams / scant 1 cup onion, minced
200 grams jamon Iberico, minced (or finely minced mushrooms, left over roasted chicken, or a filling of your choice)
125 grams / 1 cup all-purpose flour
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

4 eggs, beaten 
2 cups all-purpose flour
200 grams / 4 cups bread crumbs
  1. Melt the butter in a large pot on medium heat.
  2. In a saucepan warm the milk.
  3. Once the butter has melted, add the onion. Mix and let it cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the jamon, mix. Season with salt and white pepper.
  5. Add the flour, and keep mixing, until very well incorporated. 
  6. Add the milk, little by little, to ensure that the flour dissolves well. It will be a thick consistency. 
  7. Transfer it to a glass baking dish, flatten it out. Let it cool, transfer to the freezer. Let it cool until it is frozen hard enough to work with. Cut into rectangular shapes, about 2-inch x 1-inch. 
  8. Lightly coat in flour, then dip in the egg, generously coat with bread crumbs. At this point you can freeze it again. Or bring it back to room temperature and then deep fry. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Apple Clatoufis


Clafoutis is a French dish that is sort of a cross between a flan and a pancake. Similar to a flan, clafoutis is a very easy dessert that always impresses. It’s hearty enough even to serve for breakfast. It is traditionally made with black cherries but also sometimes with berries, prunes, or other fruits. My girlfriend Mumtaz and I did a French Bistro cooking class at the Brooklyn Kitchen, and when we learnt and ate this dessert, I loved how simple it was to prepare, lovely rustic looking dessert, warm and delicious.

Since we served this to kids tonight, I skipped adding the liquor. It was still divine, and served with Talenti's Sea Salt Caramel ice cream took it way over the top. 

Inspired by Julia Child, recipe courtesy Brooklyn Kitchen
Serves 8

Ingredients
Pancake Batter
1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour

Apples
4 large baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 3 cups apples) (I used Granny Smith)
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup calvados, dark rum, or cognac
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
Garnish
Confectioner’s sugar for garnish
Ice cream of your choice, for serving (I used Talenti Sea Salt Caramel ice cream, it is simply divine!)

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pancake batter: Combine the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and flour in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. Cover and place in the fridge to set for at least 10 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  3. Apples: Meanwhile, prepare the apples. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and sauté the apples until lightly browned. Remove from heat, pour over the liquor, cinnamon, and 1/3 cup sugar, and let stand up to 30 minutes to absorb flavor.
  4. Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish and pour the apples into the base with their liquid. Do ahead.
  5. Bring the batter to room temperature. Pour the batter over the top.
  6. Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake about 50 minutes. It is done when it a knife inserted to the center comes out clean and the top is light brown.
  7. Garnish with confectioner’s sugar and serve with ice cream.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Changri Tarkari (Bengali Shrimp Curry)

My five-year old son absolutely loves 'Gambas al Ajillo', a Spanish shrimp dish, where the shrimp is cooked in abundant olive oil, with a generous amount of thinly sliced garlic, some dried red chilies, and parsley. We do too. So every time I buy shrimp, we eat 'Gambas al Ajillo'.
But today I craved a Shrimp Curry. Aditya Bals cookbook, Chakh Le India had this recipe which looked delicious— exactly what I wanted— spicy and tangy. 
A chat with my dear Chef Bengali friend Meera, had me sharing her Panch Poran, or Bengali five-spice mixture, and hence a delicious dinner on the table. Meera said that some desire a deeper, more reddish color. That can be achieved by 'bhunaoing' it for longer (steps no. 3 & 4), however, we were happy with this deep-turmeric color.

4 servings

Ingredients
1 lb medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon oil (preferably mustard, if not, vegetable oil)

Marinade
1 tablespoon oil (preferably mustard, if not, vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red chili
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

The Curry Base
1 tablespoon oil ((preferably mustard, if not, vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon Bengali five-spice mix (equal quantities of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds and fennel seeds)
1/2-inch cinnamon stick
4 green cardamons, split
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely minced
3 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tomato, sliced very thin
Salt, to taste
2 cups water, hot

Garnish
Juice of 1/2 lime
3–4 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Method
  1. Marinate the shrimp. Set aside. Prep the other ingredients.
  2. In a large flat-bottomed pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Fry the shrimps, on both sides, until almost cooked through. Remove on a plate. 
  3. In the same pot, heat another tablespoon of oil. Fry the whole spices until fragrant, be careful not to burn, about 30 seconds— 1 minute. Add the onions, salt to taste, and mix well. The salt will help the onions cook faster by letting its water out. Brown the onions, by using the ‘bhuno’* method.
  4. Add the ginger-garlic paste, the powdered spices, and let it cook until the oil separates. This is a clear indicator that the spices have cooked and released its natural oils. Continue to ‘bhuno’ for 5 more minutes, to get a deeper color.
  5. Add the tomatoes, and once the oil separates, pour in the hot water. Stir the curry a few times, till the oil surfaces again and the curry is perfectly cooked. 
  6. Immerse the shrimp along with all their resting juices into the simmering curry. Stir the shrimp gently and poach them to a juicy tenderness for 6–8 minutes. Simmer the curry uncovered to reduce it a little.
  7. Remove from heat. Squeeze lime juice, which will amazingly lift the whole curry perfectly. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve over white Basmati rice.
Bhuno

This is a fundamental cooking technique used in Indian cuisine. Spices, herbs, and aromatics are sautéed over high heat, till they are toasted and intensely aromatic. A little liquid is then added to deglaze the pan and blend the ingredients well. Once most of the liquid evaporates, the process is repeated, till the aromatic spice base is homogenous and the oil rises to the top, signifying that the masala is properly cooked.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño


A visit to Nobu in New York or Kabuki in Madrid, always called for us enjoying a perfect modern sashimi, with a delicate play of taste and texture. This Yellowtail Sashimi is inspired by just that. A fine balance of acid-sodium-heat. Thin slices of yellowtail, brushed in garlic, topped with the chili-lime-soy sauce, garnished with the fresh citrus cilantro and crunchy heaty jalapeño.
   
Ingredients
2.5 ounces sushi-grade yellowtail
1 clove garlic, finely minced or pureed
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili oil
1 teaspoon red chili powder
6 very thin slices of jalapeño (less than ¼ of 1 jalapeño)
Cilantro leaves for garnish

Method

  1. Slice yellowtail in six thin slices. This is easiest when the fish is very cold or even slightly frozen — pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes if you’re having trouble).
  2. Spread garlic puree over a small plate, set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine lemon, soy, chili oil, and red chili powder. Set aside.
  4. Dip each slice of yellowtail in the garlic and arrange on serving plate. Don’t try to use all the garlic — there should just be a slight coating on each piece of fish.
  5. Top each slice of fish with a slice of jalapeño. Do ahead. Chill if not serving immediately.
  6. Pour lime-chili-soy sauce over fish, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve immediately.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Chicken Keema, Indian Takeout

It always makes me uncontrollably happy when a kid is open to trying new foods. Even more when they enjoy it! Benjamin, my sons friend, tried chicken curry in our home once, and has ever since been asking his mom for it. Warmed my heart, so today when I made a big pot of Chicken Keema (ground chicken) I saved some for Benjamin to take home for lunch, on this cold and snowy day. His sweet dimpled smile was the icing on the cake for me. 

We grew up on eating all forms of Keemas, or ground meat— Lamb Keema, Turkey Keema, Chicken Keema, and more. The entire process takes an hour, but it makes for a one-pot dinner (well, almost one pot, not counting the rice or naan accompaniment). 

Serves 4 
Time: 1 hour

Ingredients
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
4 green cardamons, crushed

2 large white or red onions, minced 

Chicken Marinade
1 pound ground chicken (preferably dark meat)
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
Sliced green chilies, to taste (optional)
1 heaped teaspoon cumin powder
1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Red chili powder, to taste (optional)

4 large tomatoes, cut in half / pureed in a blender
Salt, to taste

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Method
  1. In a medium sized pot, or a pressure cooker, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and cardamon pods. Let it cook for 20 seconds, until fragrant. Immediately add the minced onions, and a teaspoon of salt. (The salt helps the onions sweat and brown faster). Brown the onions for 45 minutes or so— Every few minutes, stir the onions, and scrape the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add a tablespoon of water if the browned bits do not come off, mix the onions and let them continue to brown. A deep reddish-brown color is desired, not a burnt black-brown color. The browning process is the most important process in achieving the depth of flavor and color, give it the love and time it deserves. The more browned bits you scrape up, the better it is. 
  2. While the onions brown, marinate the chicken in the ginger-garlic paste, green chilies, and dried spices.
  3. Once the onions have browned, add the chicken in its marinade. Mix well with the onions and let it cook for 3–4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cut side down, and a quarter cup of water. Cover and let it cook for 3 whistles if using a pressure cooker, or 15–20 minutes if using a regular pot. Remove the lid, pull the tomato skins off and smash the tomatoes and the chicken until the tomatoes are well broken up.
  4. Taste for salt and season accordingly. Serve with naan or Basmati rice.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chindian Chili Flounder

Growing up in Mumbai, in the '80's, you went out to eat one of the following cuisines: Indian, Continental (all things European clubbed together), or Chinese. And all Chinese restaurants served mainstream food, targeted to the Indian palette— Chindian, or an Indo-Chinese cuisine. And it is absolutely delicious! Ingredients such as chilis were always used, onions were regular onions and not always spring onions, and cilantro was always abundant. Fried rice was always made with the long-grained Indian Basmati rice, and not the shorter-grained Asian Jasmine rice. It was simply delicious.

A commonality between Indian and Chinese foods is that it is often eaten with rice, and a sauce or gravy is needed to soak up the rice with. This is a great example of a dish to serve with rice! 

So, when Saira Malhotra had a class cooking some Chindian (also known as Indo-Chinese) foods, I was the first to sign up! She made Chili Paneer, Chili Shrimp, and Panfried Noodles with a Celery Sauce. This Chili Flounder is inspired from her Chili Paneer recipe. 

Ingredients
Paneer Marinade
2 cups cubed flounder (or any firm fish) / paneer / tofu / chicken / shrimp
2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (preferably freshly ground paste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce 
1 tablespoon kecap manis
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Salt, to taste

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Sauté ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
1 large red onion (or spring onions)
3/4 teaspoon black peppers
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
4 green chilis, chopped chunky (try and buy a variety for color)
1/2 teaspoon white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped chunky
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped chunky

Sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoons corn flour + 1/4 cup water (make a smooth paste)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Salt, to taste

Method

  1. Marinade the fish. Set aside for 15 minutes. 
  2. Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl, set aside.
  3. Heat a large wok over high heat, swirl 1 tablespoon vegetable oil into the wok. Lay the fish out on the wok, and let it cook for 1 minute untouched (this will help give it a good sear). Then gently stir fry it for another 30 seconds, until almost cooked through, but not entirely. Remove from the wok onto a plate. Set aside.
  4. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the hot wok. Sauté the onions, black pepper, chili flakes on high, for one minute. Return the fish to the wok, gently stir fry it, trying not to break the fish pieces. Add the sauce ingredients and allow it to thicken. Serve immediately.
Add some Sweet Corn Chicken Soup to your Chindian repertoire! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kadai Paneer

My first year of college was in the United States, far away from Bombay, where I grew up. As exciting as the experience of leaving home, discovering a new country and culture while studying art, was, I was terribly home sick. The walk to the Indian grocery store was long, so I would stock my pantry up with all the spices and my freezer up with as much as I could carry back home— especially paneer. Paneer is a fresh cheese, made in India, made by curdling heated milk and yogurt, with the help of an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar. Once the fats of the dairy seperates, it is strained through a cheese cloth and left to set. It can be eaten plain, but is mostly cooked in different gravies or spices. Today it is easily available, even at Whole Foods. 

Kadai is the name of the pot in which the paneer is cooked in. It is similar to a wok, a deep round bottomed pan. Traditionally the kadai is made of cast iron, but I used my stainless steel Al Clad pot. 

One of the first, and most frequent paneer dishes I made in college, was Kadai Paneer— only because the Madhur Jaffrey cookbook I owned then had an easy recipe. Years later I broadened my paneer cooking skills and didn't make Kadai Paneer as often. But last night, that's all I craved. The kids went to bed, and I cooked this for dinner— filled with spices and heat. 

Tone down the heat level if that doesn't appeal to you, but do not skimp on the rest of the aromatics— such as the ginger and garlic, coriander seeds or even the dried fenukgreek (kasuri methi). 

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
7–8 cloves garlic, crushed
1/5-inch piece of ginger, half crushed, and half julienned
5–6 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds, roasted
5–6 Kashmiri red chilies
1 large green pepper, julienned
1–2 green chilies, chopped (or more, to taste)
Salt, to taste
250 grams paneer, cubed
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
2 teaspoons crushed kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Method
  1. In a kadai or round bottomed pan, heat the oil. Add the crushed garlic and ginger. Sauté until the raw smell disappears.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes. Sauté till the tomatoes and oil separate, and the tomato thickens.
  3. In a mortar, pound the coriander seeds and red chili peppers to a powder. Add this to the tomato mixture.
  4. Add the green pepper and chopped green chillies, and cook for another 5–7 minutes.
  5. Follow by adding salt and garam masala powder. Mix these with the rest of the tomato mixture until well incorporated.
  6. Add the paneer in the masala and cook for 2–3 minutes. 
  7. Lastly, add the kasuri methi, julienned ginger, and cilantro leaves. Sauté for another 2–3 minutes. Serve hot. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Minced Chicken in Lettuce Cups


I woke up this morning craving Chicken Sung, or Minced Chicken in Lettuce Cups. A perfect and filling dinner, without the carbs. Flavor packed, with a kick! 

Grace Young, in her book, Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, says: There are countless versions of this elegant stir-fry, a favorite served at Chinese banquets. Interestingly, the original was made with minced squab. Over time the recipe has ‘modernized’ and now duck, chicken, and pork are often used in place of the squab. The dish is about the enjoyment of the ingredients playing off one another; every bite should burst of contrasting textures and flavors. All of the ingredients, from the mushrooms, to the chicken, have a slightly different level of sweetness and texture, each punctuated by the heat of fresh chili.

Serves 4 as part of a multi course meal. 

Ingredients
8 medium dried shiitake mushrooms

8 ounces ground chicken
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic 
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño chili, with seeds
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

16 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves
Hoisin sauce


  1. In a medium shallow bowl soak the mushrooms in 3/4 cup cold water for 30 minutes or until softened. Drain and squeeze dry, reserving the soaking liquid for stocks. Cut off the stems and chop the mushrooms to make about 1/2 cup.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the chicken, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the rice wine, cornstarch, and sugar. Stir to combine. Stir in the sesame oil.
  3. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a beat of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil, carefully add the chicken, and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the chicken begin to sear. Then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry the chicken, breaking it up, until slightly pink, about 30 seconds. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  4. Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil into the wok. Add the garlic and chili and stir-fry 10 seconds or until the aromatics are fragrant. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry 1 minute or until well combined. Add the scallions, sprinkle on the salt, pepper, and the remaining 1 tablespoon rice wine, and stir-fry for 30 seconds or until the scallions are bright green. 
  5. Return the chicken with any juices that have accumulated to the wok and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through. 
  6. Serve with the lettuce leaves: have diners put 2 or 3 tablespoons of the filling in a lettuce leaf, fold the leaf over, and eat like a taco. Some cooks serve the cups with a small dollop of hoisin sauce.