Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Tomato Tamarind Potatoes......breaking the spell!!

Tomato Tamarind Potatoesjust what I needed to stop my craving for Jhal, Tok and Churmur after this visit to Kolkata (if you don’t know what I am talking about, you are lucky cause you don’t know what you are missing!!)the trip which was supposed to be three day break turned into ten day break with us cancelling and rescheduling flights every alternate day!!!...trip to Kolkata is supposed to be about family and spending time with them (my in-laws live there) but ends up being about food, food and more food every single time...even if I tried I cannot possibly list down all the stuff that we ate and of course even if someone puts a gun to my head, I will not list down how much we ate!!!...as always getting back into the kitchen after a vacation is really really really really really tough for methird day back and we are still ordering takeouts for lunch and dinnerhad to break the spellI made this while waiting for lunch to be deliveredreal life starts from today L

Latpata Chatpata Aloo (Tomato Tamarind Potatoes)


  • Baby potatoes, 500 gms
  • Cumin seeds, 1 tsp
  • Packaged Tomato puree, 3-4 tbsp
  • Fresh Ginger, paste, 1 heaped tbsp
  • Coriander powder, 1 ½ tsp
  • Red chili powder, 1 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder, 1 tsp
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Water, about ½ -3/4 cup
  • Tamarind pulp, 2 tbsp or to taste
  • Sugar, about 1 tsp
  • Cooking oil, 3-4 tbsp
  • Fresh Coriander, for garnishing


Wash and scrub clean the potatoes. Boil with salt added and skin on till tender but not mushy.

Peel the skins and prick the potatoes with a toothpick.

Heat half of the oil in a skillet and add in the potatoes. Toss around till the outer layer goes crispy and bits of gold appear.Take out the potatoes and keep aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet. Add in the cumin seeds and once they start spluttering, lower the heat to minimum and add in the tomato puree. Be prepared- lots of spluttering to happen the second you add tomato puree...so be careful and cover the pan if need be. 

Let the tomato puree cook for a minute and then add in the ginger paste, coriander powder, red chili powder, Kashmiri red chili powder. Mix well and cook till oil separates. 

Add in the water, sugar, salt (take into account that potatoes have already been boiled with salt added) and tamarind pulp. 

Let the mix come to a boil and then simmer till it reduces to about half the quantity. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Add in the potatoes and mix well so that the potatoes get well coated with the mix. Cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes. 

Remove cover, stir and increase the heat to high to dry out almost all the water from the masala paste. Done!!

Serve at room temperature (if you have the patience!!), garnished with lots of fresh coriander.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Pindi Chana...where we came from!!!

Pindi Chanathe most famous export from Rawalpindi, PakistanMy family is from pre-partition Punjab – or what is today, PakistanAnd most of the cooking done at home is from the ‘refugee era’when they had to make do with what was available or rather what they could affordto say life was tough would be an understatementIn those early years of struggle, most of the so called ‘authentic’ Punjabi food entwined slowly but surely with recipes from UP and Delhi.

I have no stories about how the cook would make things at my great grandparents’ or my grandparents’ houseall of those stories got lost in dealing with life and building a new life in a ‘new’ landBy the time our generation came along, what we got was an easy, relaxed version of plain simple good food with no claims to authenticity.

What I do have, are precious stories about how everyone escaped the war that tore this country apart and landed here, in Delhihow life had to be rebuilt from scratch – all told in a matter of fact waynot to gain sympathy or ‘feel sorry for us’ way but, you knowlifelemonslemonadeI would sit there, night after night, begging my grandmother to tell me one more time the stories of the times gone by, instead of those stories about our Gods and Goddessesand that is where I got my first real superhero stories J

Coming back to foodmost of the people know of Rawalpindi, thanks to Pindi Chanaand there are millions if not billions of versions of the so-called ‘Authentic Pindi Chana’ out therethis is ‘our’ authentic version!!!

My Mom is from Rawalpindi and although she was a baby when they moved to Delhi, she is extremely particular about this dishJAgain, I am sure she picked this up from the collective stories she heard while growing up here, away from ‘their land’But, Hey, this is as authentic as I go!!! J

A couple of No’s to start withNO and I mean an absolute NO to tea leaves/tea bags, garlic, aamchur, onions or tomatoesa good to have is a ‘lohe ki kadhai’ (cast iron kadhai)if you don’t have one (like me!) use a regular kadhai but pls. don’t use a non-stick Teflon coated kadhai. That would be sacrilege!!!

Pindi Chana (Tangy and Spicy Chickpeas)


 For the Spice Powder:

  • Anardana/ Dried Pomegranate seeds, 2 tsp
  • Coriander seeds, 1.5 tsp
  • Cumin seeds, 1 tsp
  • Cloves, 4-5
  • Black Cardamom, 1
  • Cinnamon, 1” 
  • Black peppercorns, 10-12
  • Salt to taste

For Chanas:

  • Chole/Safed chana/ Chickpeas, 1 cup
  • Bayleaf, 1
  • Cloves, 2-3
  • Black Cardamom, 1
  • Cinnamon, 1” 
  • Black peppercorns, 4-5
  • Salt, to taste
  • Water

For tempering:

  • Oil, 5-6 tbsp
  • Green Chilies, Whole, slit, 5-6 
  • Fresh Ginger, About 2 tbsp finely shredded /julienned


For the spice powder: Dry roast all the spices, cool and then dry grind them together.

For the chanas: 
Wash and soak chanas overnight. 

Discard the water and boil the chanas in fresh water with all the whole spices and salt. 

Drain the chanas and reserve the water. Fish out the whole spices added to the chanas while boiling and discard - their job is done! 

Mix the spice powder made earlier with the drained chanas in a bowl. 

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a kadhai to almost smoking point and then pour it on the chanas and mix. Keep aside.

Heat the balance oil in the same kadhai, fry ginger juliennes till golden and crisp and remove. Light fry the green chilies, remove and set aside.

Add the masala mixed chanas to the remaining oil in the kadhai. Stir for a few minutes on high heat (don’t let the masala burn). 

Add some boiled chana water and cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

Remove the cover and dry out the water to the consistency you want – ideally served almost dry. 

Garnish with the fried ginger and green chilies. 

Serve with Bhaturas or Pooris (no one in our family likes it with Kulchas) and raw onions.


  • Remember Pindi chana is not mushy so resist the temptation to over boil/pressure cook or to mash while stirring. The boiled chanas need to have a bite to them.
  • Some people add tamarind pulp as well towards the final bit of cooking. Mom says that’s acceptable for a thick curry version but not for a dry version.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Kheer Kamala/Orange Kheer....with wishes for a happy new year!!!

Kheer Kamalaor Orange Kheera traditional Bong sweet dish that I made today to mark the start of Bengali New year…wishing everyone Shubo NoboBorsho ( that’s Happy New Year in Bangla)...May your year be filled be love, peace and happiness J

Kheer Kamala (Orange Kheer)


  •  Milk, 1/ 2 liter
  • Oranges/ Mandarins, 1-2
  • Sugar, 2-3 tbsp or to taste


Peel the oranges, seperate the segments and remove the membrane and seeds from every segment. 

Break/Chop the oranges into bite size pieces and keep aside.

In a thick bottom non stick pan add milk and bring it to a boil. 

Reduce the heat to medium and stirring continuously, continue heating the milk till it reduces to half in quantity.

Add sugar and stir, till it dissolves completely in the milk.

Turn off the heat and let it cool completely. Let the milk rest in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour.

Add the orange chunks and refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Serve chilled.


  • This is not a thick kheer. The consistency is like a thick milkshake. You can use full fat milk if you want but unlike other Indian desserts it is not necessary. ( I always use toned milk and it works well for this one) 

  • The milk must be cooled completely before adding oranges otherwise the milk will curdle.

  • You can add saffron, if you want, after taking the milk off heat.

  • You can garnish with almonds and pistachios.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Hari Chutney or Green Chutney or Mint Coriander Chutney or Coriander chutney or Mint Chutney…or dip!!

A quick short post for LisaHari Chutney or Green Chutney or Mint Coriander Chutney or Coriander chutney or Mint Chutneyor dip J

Lisa asked "I have a question too. You may or may not have a recipe for this as I'm not sure if the proper name for it.  It is a condiment, bright green, spicy & a bit minty. At a restaurant I used to frequent, now closed, we just referred to it as Mint Sauce or Green Sauce. Can you tell me what it is called?"

Everyone has their own permutations and combinations and again there is no right or wrongthese are mine

Indian Mint Chutney options mmskitchenbites

Hari Chutney


  • Fresh Green Coriander, 1 cup
  • Fresh Green Mint, ½ cup
  • Fresh Green chilies, coarsely chopped, 6-7 or to taste
  • Onion, coarsely chopped, ½ small
  • Fresh Ginger, 1 “
  • Garlic cloves, 4-5 or to taste
  • Lemon juice, 2-3 tbsp or to taste
  • Salt, to taste (start with ½ tsp and then add more if reqd.)


Remove the thick stems from Coriander – use the top thin tender ones. For Mint, only leaves to be used. 
Wash well, drain and keep aside.

Whizz everything else in the blender except the coriander and mint. Once done add them in batches to make a smooth paste. 

Taste, adjust seasonings and done!!

You can keep the consistency a little thick (like pesto) or blend into a fine paste.

The dark green one is the base chutney.

The light green one has about equal amount of yogurt added into it.

Hundreds of options, some of them mentioned belowthe only thing that is common in all of them is to avoid adding water when blending. If you absolutely must, don’t add more than a couple of tablespoons.

One thing to remember thoughthe chutney colour will go darker with timeif you want to retain the bright green colour, add a tablespoon or two of any flavorless white oil while blending.


  • Make with only coriander or only mint or reverse the ratio of coriander: mint ( i.e. switch to 1:2 instead of 2:1 as above)
  • Substitute lemon juice with sour raw mango or aamchur/dried mango powder or dried pomegranate seeds or tamarind pulp
  • Add cumin seeds or roasted cumin powder
  • Use kala namak/rock salt instead of regular salt
  • Use ginger and garlic to taste or use only ginger or only garlic
  • Add a little water to thin it out and add some sugar
  • Add fresh grated coconut
  • Add a handful of peanuts or pistachio nuts or almonds
  • Add a small piece or two of green capsicum and blend along with rest of the ingredients or add green apple or grated cucumber with yogurt
  • Replace lemon juice with tamarind paste, remove garlic and add in fresh grated coconut or roasted peanuts. Cook all ingredients for 3-4 minutes in a pan with a little oil and a pinch of turmeric added. Blend well and then temper with mustard seeds, curry leaves and dried red chilies
  • Add oil and vinegar to make into a dressing
  • Use as is for sandwich spread (typical Indian filling of cooked potato etc) or mix with a little mayo or cream cheese or tahini and yogurt

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Chicken Kebab or Chicken Tikka or Chicken Tikka Kebab...something laal with something peela!!!

Chicken Kebab or Chicken Tikka or Chicken Tikka Kebabthat were made and served with Saffron rice

Chicken Kebab or Chicken Tikka or Chicken Tikka Kebab


  • Chicken thigh, Boneless and skinless, 500 gms
  • Bell peppers, yellow, red or both
  • Oil, for greasing the skillet, grill or baking sheet

For the marinade:
(To be used for proportions, adjust according to quantity)
  • Plain Yogurt/Dahi, ½ cup 
  • Paprika or Kashmiri Red chili powder, 1 tsp (for color) 
  • Red chili powder, ½ tsp
  • Black pepper powder, ½ tsp
  • Turmeric powder, a pinch
  • Cumin powder, 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon powder, ½ tsp
  • Garlic, minced, 3 cloves
  • Tomato Ketchup, 1 tbsp (optional)
  • Lemon juice, 1 tsp
  • Oil, 1 tsp
  • Salt, to taste


Remove most of the fat from the thighs and cut them into 1- 1½ one inch long pieces. Wash and pat dry.

In a medium non-reactive bowl, whisk the yogurt well and then add the rest of the ingredients mentioned under the marinade.

Toss in the chicken and mix well with the marinade. Cover the bowl and let it marinate for at least a couple of hours or overnight. (if overnight, add salt just before skewering and mix well; not while marinating)

Soak bamboo skewers in cold water for at least half an hour.

Thread the chicken onto the skewers, folding and alternating with peppers without over cramming.

You can grill or bake them in the oven as well but most of the time I prefer doing mine on the tawa/griddle. 

Oil the tawa and heat on high flame. 

Place the skewers on the tawa and brown on all sides – about a minute on each side. 

Reduce the flame to medium low, cover the tawa and let the kebabs cook for about 10-15 minutes till cooked through – turn once in between. 

Remove the cover and then about cook for about 30 seconds on high on each side.

IMO, this method gives the best char, colour and the most succulent chicken pieces with the least amount of effort and time at home.

Serve as snacks with green chutney or as a meal with salad or with Saffron rice.


  • Ketchup (since it has sugar) helps with the colour and charring, you can avoid if using a grill.
  • This tastes best using chicken thighs, but if using chicken breasts the above method works best without drying out the meat. Though must marinate overnight.
  • You can add onions cut into wedges and petals separated along with or instead of bell peppers or even cherry tomatoes.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Saffron rice...kuch peela ho jaye!!

Saffron rice...hubz was working from home yesterday and after a breakfast and then lunch of sandwiches with cold coffee, I had to peel myself away from my books, laptop, t.v. and drag myself into the kitchen...with my kitchen help away, this required the least amount of washing, chopping and slogging over the stove...

Saffron Rice


  • Basmati rice, 1 cup
  • Water or chicken stock or vegetable stock,  2 cups
  • Saffron threads, a pinch * refer to Notes below
  • Ghee or Butter, 2 tbsp
  • Star Anise, 1
  • Green cardamom, 2-3
  • Coves, 3-4
  • Cinnamon, 1 “
  • Onions, finely sliced, 1 cup
  • Salt, to taste
  • Sugar, ½ - 1 tsp * refer to Notes below
  • Almonds or Cashews, toasted, a handful * refer to Notes below
  • Fresh parsley, 1-2 tbsp * refer to Notes below


Wash the rice till water runs clear. Soak for half an hour in enough water to cover the rice. Drain the water from the rice and keep aside.

Soak the saffron strands in 2-3 tbsp of warm water.

Put water/stock to boil in a pan.

In a separate heavy bottomed pan, add ghee/melt butter over low heat and add all the whole spices. 

After about 30 seconds, add in the onions, salt and sugar. Cook the onions till they go soft a pale golden colour. 

Add in the rice and fry, stirring constantly but gently, till the ghee coats the rice and rice turn translucent. 

Add in the boiling water and saffron infused water. Check for salt and let the water return to boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Remove the lid, and sprinkle half of the cashews/almonds over the rice but do not mix in. 
Place lid loosely over the pot and let stand for a further 10-15 minutes. 

Fluff rice with a fork and serve sprinkled with balance cashews/almonds and parsley.


  • Ideally use flaked almonds. I don’t like almonds and I find it easier to pick out whole almonds and pass them on to hubz.
  • Sugar with onions helps with caramelizing, but you can skip it if there are dietary restrictions.
  • If you can’t find flat leaf parsley, skip it but please don’t add coriander.
  • If you don’t have saffron, you can add ¼ tsp turmeric.
  • AND if you are replacing saffron with turmeric and eliminating sugar and nuts – pls. add ½ tsp cumin powder, ½ tsp coriander powder and a clove of minced garlic before adding the rice. Don’t forget to rename the dish to Yellow Masala Rice and garnishing with coriander. J

I served Saffron rice with Chicken Kebabs and the meal more than made up for the sandwiches earlier in the day...you can serve it with any veg or non veg curry or kebabs of your choice

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Pita Burgers...small on size, not taste!!

Saw these Mini Pita breads in the store yesterdayalthough a fry cry from the homemade pitas, thought these would be perfect as Pita Burgers for friends dropping in for brunch todayhere it goes

Lamb MiddleEastern Pita Burgers

Pita Burgers


For the patties:

  • Minced Meat ( Mutton/Goat, Lamb or Beef; If using Cicken or Turkey, do refer to notes below), 500 gm
  • Onion, Grated, 1 medium
  • Fresh Coriander or Fresh Parsley, finely chopped, 2-3 tbsp
  • Plain Yogurt/Dahi, 1-2 tbsp
  • Cumin powder, 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder, 1 tbsp
  • Black pepper powder, ½ - 1 tsp
  • Paprika, 1 tsp (optional)
  • Garlic, paste, 2 tsp
  • Ginger paste, 1 tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, 1 tsp

  • Oil or Oil spray for frying/baking



Take a large glass bowl and add the meat, onion, fresh coriander, yogurt, cumin powder, coriander powder, black pepper, paprika, garlic, ginger and oil. Don't add salt at this stage.

Mix everything thoroughly with a spoon and cover the bowl with cling film. Mix with a light hand - overworking the mince will end up toughening the meat. 

Let the mix marinate in the refrigerator for an hour or so (or overnight).

When ready to make, add salt and lightly stir it well.

With wet hands or an ice-cream scoop or a large spoon, portion the chilled mix and shape into equal size patties. 

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with oil or cooking spray. 

Add patties to the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side or until done to your liking. You can alternatively grill or bake these in the oven.

Toast the pita breads lightly and slice them in half to separate. 

Top with a thick tomato slice and the meat patties and load it up with Hummus and/or Tzatziki


  • I used lamb meat. If using chicken or turkey mince and cooking over gas/stovetop/grill, add a couple of tablespoons of couscous or fresh breadcrumbs to the mix so that the patties don’t break.

  • It is best not to use lean mince as the fat helps to bind the burgers and keep them moist.

  • Do check for seasoning before shaping into patties - pinch a little meat and cook on a skillet or microwave to do a taste check. 

  • If you are unsure about the binding of the mix, make one burger first. If it doesn't hold up, add a whisked egg to the meat mix, 

Hummus...this or that...no right or wrong!!

While hubby is more interested in the things served with Hummus, I can finish bowls and bowls of Hummus as is (can?? Hah!! HAVE!!)served as dip or sandwich spread, I can have it anytime in unmentionable quantities

This was perfect with Pita Burgers 

No fuss Hummus mmskitchenbites



  • Dry Chick peas, 1 cup soaked overnight and cooked, 1 cup
  • Tahini/ Sesame seed paste, 2 tbsp
  • Garlic cloves, 2
  • Lime juice, 1 large, about 3 tbsp juice
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 tbsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Roasted Cumin powder, ½ tsp (optional)

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Paprika or Roasted Cumin powder or Sumac or Zatar (I used Paprika)
  • Pine nuts or cooked chick peas or Fresh Parsley (I used Pine nuts)


Wash and soak chickpeas overnight in water.  Drain and wash. Cook in salted water until soft and mushy.

Drain and keep aside. Don’t discard the water the chickpeas were boiled in.

While the chickpeas are still warm, spoon them into a blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend into a smooth paste.  Add a few tablespoons of the water saved earlier from boiling chickpeas and blend again.

Remember that hummus tends to become thicker as it cools, so add water keeping this in mind.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Transfer hummus to a serving bowl and add topping of your choice.


  • No need to panic if you don’t have bottled Tahini and certainly no need to buy specially for making hummus (more so if you make it only occasionally) Just lightly toast 2 tbsp sesame seeds – not to color them but just to warm them up. Blend with about 1 tbsp vegetable oil in the blender to a smooth fine paste before adding rest of the ingredients of the hummus.

  • Don’t like Tahini? Don’t have sesame seeds? It’s ok, you can easily skip it and still call it hummus!!  You can add some peanuts or almonds or pine nuts if you want.  Just do want you want – IMO there is no right or wrong

Friday, 5 April 2013

Aamer Dal/Tok Dal (Tangy Red Lentils with Raw Green Mango)...another one from mom in law's kitchen

Aamer Dal or Tok Dal (Tangy Red Lentils with Raw Green Mango) is a typical traditional Bengali dish made in summer…it is also another one of those dishes that I have never had at my in-laws’ placeonly special dishes ( special= hubz’s favorites ) are made for ma’s ladla beta’s  visits and this ain’t one of them!!!…the focus during those visits is solely on seafood and meat and hence there are quite a few typical Bong vegetarian dishes that I have not had the chance to eat there in these six years that I have been marriedbut me being me have heard and read about them enough to get me curious to make that call to ma and get her recipes or get her to jot them down for meand if you are wondering what does bahu eat when she visitswell, all that seafood and meat is made without adding any potatoes or any veggies for their dear sweet sweet bouma and she is perfectly happy with the arrangement J

Aamer Dal/Tok Dal (Tangy Red Lentils with Raw Green Mango)


  • Dhuli Masoor Dal/ Red Lentils, 1 cup
  • Water, 2 cups + 1 cup
  • Kachha Aam/Raw Green Mango, 1 medium
  • Salt, to taste
  • Turmeric, ½ tsp
  • Sugar, ½ tsp*

For tempering:
  • Mustard seeds, ¾ tsp
  • Dried Red Chilies, 1-2
  • Mustard Oil, 1 tbsp


Peel and cut the raw mango into big long chunks. Scrape as much flesh as possible  from the seed as well.

Wash the dal till water runs clear. Soak in water for about 15 minutes. 

Cook the dal till done with 2 cups water, turmeric and mango pieces.(pressure cooker: 1 whistle on medium heat and immediately switch off the gas; pan: about 20 minutes) 

Open the cooker, once the pressure lets off completely. Whisk the dal and mango pieces a few times, using a wire whisk or back of a spoon. Add salt and another cup of water and keep aside.

Heat oil in another small pan and add mustard seeds along with dried red chilies. Once the mustard seeds start spluttering, tip in the tempering mix into the dal and immediately close the lid for the dal to absorb the flavors.

Put the dal back on the gas and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Add in the sugar, mix and take it off heat.

Serve hot with boiled rice and any veggie for your choice.


  • You can add red chili powder while tempering or replace dried red chilies with green ones if you want a little heat added.My mom-in law doesn't and so neither do I.
  • *Taste and adjust the sugar to your liking.