Categories
Recipes

Tonkatsu Chicken, Mooli Fried Rice, Egg Salad

We’re trying to adhere to a certain meal protocol on weekdays, with a break on weekends. As per that protocol, there was to be no direct sugar or dairy, and this is what we made.

Each of our bowls had a portion of very crisp Tonkatsu chicken, sliced into pieces, atop some fried rice made with onions and mooli / radish leaves, accompanied by a dollop of creamy egg salad. I forgot to include the Tonkatsu sauce in the picture, which is really a variation of BBQ sauce at our place.

Tonkatsu Chicken

The chicken was made using Panko, flour and seasoned, beaten eggs. Panko refers to Japanese style bread crumbs that are chunkier than normal bread crumbs and result in crisper, coarser outcomes. Take some flour, some beaten eggs seasoned well with salt and pepper and anything else you like, and some panko. Keeping all three in plates is a good idea for easier coating.

I used chicken tenders for this. You could use sliced breast or tenders, whatever is available. Tenders are the pectoralis minor muscles which are located under the breast meat, on both sides of the breastbone.

Heat some oil to medium. Remember to keep the heat at medium as the panko browns really fast. If you’re using breast meat, slice it about 1 – 1.5 centimeters thick and 2 – 2.5 centimeters wide. If you want to use bigger pieces, adjust your oil temperature and cooking time accordingly, as we’d like the pieces to be golden brown when they exit the oil and cooked on the inside as well.

The process is simple. Coat the chicken in the flour first. This ensures a nice, even coating of the egg. Then dip the floured chicken in the egg, then place it atop the panko and coat well, and put it back into egg, then back into the panko, and then into the oil. So that’s flour, egg, panko, egg, panko, fry. Each time you’re out of the egg and panko, drip/shake off the excess egg and crumbs.

Fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown then remove onto paper kitchen towels. Might be a good idea to slice the first one and confirm its fully cooked so you can confidently do the rest.

Serve with BBQ or Tonkatsu sauce drizzled over.

Mooli Fried Rice

I hate wasting mooli leaves and try to use them in different ways. We also love soy sauce and garlic at home, so that’s what this dish used as well as a dollop of Chua Hah Seng sweet chili paste.

A good soy sauce is a thing of beauty, far removed from the thick, dark crap sold by most Indian brands. We use different soy sauces at home – light, dark and one somewhere in between. Locally brewed ones are the nicest though brands like Kikkoman are delights too. I used Woh Hup Light Soy Sauce for this rice.

For the fried rice, I fried some onions in a little oil, then sliced garlic, then a few finely chopped green chilies, threw in finely chopped radish / mooli greens, added a bit of salt and let the mixture dry out a bit before adding the chili paste and mixing it well. Then came some rice (we cooked the rice a little while earlier, spread it on a plate, cooled it and then broke it up with our fingers), mixed the lot with some soy sauce and the rice was ready.

Egg Salad

For the egg salad, we hard boiled a few eggs, sliced them open and separated the yolks. The whites were chopped coarsely and set aside. The yolks were mashed with a little garlic infused olive oil and when smooth, blended with mustard sauce, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and a bit of milk to make it a little more fluid. A squeeze of lemon goes well, and so does a tablespoon or so of finely chopped raw onions. I also served pickled jalapenos on it, which made for a nice contrast.

And that’s that. This was a satisfying meal that all of us took second helpings for. :)

Categories
Culture

Kababs with Dilshad

Many years ago, perhaps more than a decade, I found myself standing in front of Jama Masjid in Delhi, at the beginning of Matia Mahal, a food street renowned like no other. It was my first time, and while I knew the legends spoke of streets lined with kebabs of the kind that drove men wild with lust, I wasn’t prepared for the sheer number of vendors.

They were everywhere, masters of the makeshift barbecue, and I had no idea where to begin. Everything smelled and looked so good! And the prices were shockingly low – a meat-eating glutton’s paradise.

But this story is about Dilshad Qureshi’s kababs, then a handsome young boy with incredible skills on the grill. My go-to at the time was Lalu Kababi, from whose wares I never strayed, until one day his stall was closed and in wild-eyed desperation, I chose to try the kababs at Al-Nisar Kababi, Dilshad’s stall.

That was ten years ago and since then I’ve never been elsewhere, choosing not to eat at all if his stall was closed; he’s that good.

Watching Dilshad at work is somewhat mesmerizing.

Vats of spiced meats lie prepared next to him, one minced and the other mostly organ meats. The minced meat he shapes into seekh kebabs on heavy squared seekhs / skewers, while the botis (chunks of organ meats) are skewered, both placed on a shallow metal grilled filled with glowering coals, a portable fan placed at one end, keeping the embers glowing.

A few minutes after being placed, the seekh kababs are given a single turn each, rapidly, one after another in a smooth practiced motion that in itself is a thing of such skill, exposing the next side of the seekh kebab to the hot coal below. When four turns are done, the kebab is done,

The boti kababs on the other hand are cooked in bunches, one side after another, the whole lot placed in one bunch on the grill, a few minutes later gathered up and with one flick of the wrist all of them are flipped over so the other side can cook.

All this while there’s a sauce pan close to the coals literally filled with boiling butter.

When my order is done, usually three or four seekhs of both seekh and boti kababs, they’re slid on to melamine plates, topped with finely sliced onions, drizzled with chili-hot, piquant green chutney and then comes the cascade of golden butter poured liberally over the whole lot, finished with a bunch of thin rumali rotis grabbed from a plastic bag hanging close by, and handed over.

Now imagine the chap doing different parts of this process simultaneously for different orders, while also yelling for his staff to gather used plates, collect money from patrons – such busy.

Most of us aren’t likely to have eaten kababs sizzling hot, right off the grill. Watching the meat, fat and spice bubbling and sizzling inches away from hot coals, slow browning and developing that crisp, crusty exterior that is all but gone by the time kababs reach us from restaurant kitchens. I’m especially fond of the fatty bits of meat with globules of boiling fat visible. If I can get away with it, I’ll slyly point out those skewers with the most fat and Dilshad usually gives in to my enthusiasm.

And then comes the eating. Tearing off bits of the rumali roti, we’ll grab chunks of seekh or boti kebabs, then plenty of onions, the lot swirled around in that heavenly mixture of chutney and butter, before being quaffed and chewed, liberally delimited with sighs and hyperventilation and smiles of satisfaction, sometimes with closed eyes and murmurs of contentment.

I found the photo above while clearing out my Dropbox, and thought I’d share. :)

Categories
Recipes

Vegetable and Corn Frittata

We strive towards low carb lunches that are quick and easy to prepare, and yet meet some level of nutritional content. These frittatas meet those requirements and taste great too. Here’s the recipe I used, for a single dish lunch for 6 people, cooked in a 10.5 inch cast iron pan.

Ingredients:

  • Eggs, 14, beaten
  • Bell peppers, 1 medium, chopped
  • Onion, 1 medium, chopped
  • Green chilies, 2, finely chopped
  • Carrots, 1 large, finely chopped
  • Corn, 3/4 cup, boiled with a pinch of sugar
  • Coriander leaves and stems, handful, chopped
  • Salami, 6 slices, diced
  • Tomato, 1 medium, diced
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Oil for frying

Method:

  1. Heat oil, fry onions and green chilies until onions are translucent.
  2. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook till the bell peppers are soft.
  3. Reduce heat. Add the beaten eggs, stir to mix the vegetables with the eggs, then cover and cook for 10 – 12 minutes.
  4. Take off the heat and pop into a medium-hot oven until cooked through. Test by inserting a knife. If the knife comes out clean, it’s cooked.
  5. Overturn on to a plate an serve hot.

Notes:

  • Top with cheese if you like, and put back under a grill for a bit to melt the cheese.
  • Experiment with different vegetables. Keep in mind mushrooms will release plenty of liquid.
  • Add flavors in the form of basil leaves, ginger, garlic, curry leaves and more.
  • Sometimes, I like pouring on a tadka of hot oil, spluttered mustard seeds, ginger, kadi patta and a little urad dal.

Categories
Recipes

Cinnamon Spiral

I’ve been cooking up little things for Indu’s birthday week and this was the first. I make all my bread and related stuff using the same bread recipe, which is fermented overnight or between 8 to 12 hours. It gives a very tasty, crusty outcome that all of us love.

This cinnamon spiral was crusty on the outside and soft, sweet and buttery and layered on the inside. We didn’t do the typical glaze and liked it just as much without it.

I don’t have specifics for this recipe, though here’s what I did. I’ve kind of rigged my oven to be hotter than it was designed for, and so don’t have temperature specifics. One of these days I’ll pick up an oven thermometer and re-do the thermostat markings.

Ingredients:

  • Fermented bread dough – do a single batch, 2/3 of it should be just right for one big cinnamon spiral, or adjust.
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
  • Melted butter

Method:

  1. Roll out the dough into a rectangle that’s about 12 inches wide, 6 inches high and about 1/4 of an inch thick. You may need to add a little extra flour as the fermented mixture can be quite loose and sticky.
  2. Leaving about half an inch at the bottom, brush the rest with melted butter.
  3. Mix the sugars and cinnamon powder and sprinkle over the butter
  4. Starting from the top gently, but tightly roll the sheet into a log, sealing the unbuttered end with a little water. Then turn this into a spiral. Brush melted butter over the top and sprinkle more of the sugar-cinnamon mixture over.
  5. Place on to a buttered pan and allow it to rise until about doubled in size.
  6. Bake as you would bread.
Categories
Recipes

Aromatic Chicken Keema

We’re eating a lot of chicken these days and need to figure out more ways of cooking the bird. We made this aromatic chicken keema using whatever we had at hand.

The main issue with chicken keema is that it can get a bit dry if even mildly overcooked. If you experience this with your keema, try this method of keeping minced chicken moist.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken keema, 500gm
  • Onion, medium, one, chopped
  • Garlic, 4 large cloves, chopped
  • Tomato puree, 1 tbsp
  • Meat masala, 1 tbsp
  • Chili powder, 2 tsp
  • Salt, 1 tsp
  • Haldi, 2 tsp
  • Kewra water, 3 tbsp
  • Lemons, 2, juiced
  • Kasoori methi, 5gm/2 large pinches
  • Fat to cook

Method:

  1. Mildly brown the onions and garlic in hot oil/fat
  2. As that’s happening, mix the meat masala, chili powder, salt and haldi together with the tomato puree and a little water to form a paste. Add the paste to the pan and cook on medium till the fat separates from the mixture.
  3. Add the chicken keema, mix well (or it’ll clump up) and cook on medium, covered for about 7 – 10 minutes or until cooked.
  4. Add the kewra water, kasoori methi and lemon juice. Mix well and turn off the heat.
  5. Serve hot.

Notes:

  • Adjust chili and salt per taste
  • Good kewra water (screwpine essence) is necessary for the aroma.
  • A pinch of sugar might be nice.
Categories
Recipes

Vegetable Pakodas

We do like our vegetable pakodas (fritters) and every now and then we’ll binge on the stuff. This is one of the recipes we use. It’s a blend of different vegetables, is easy to make and the outcome is little, crisp bite sized pakodas that are great on their own as well as if put into a kadhi.

Ingredients:

  • Aubergine, round, medium, diced
  • Bell pepper, medium, diced
  • Onion, medium, diced
  • Garlic, 6 small pods, minced
  • Green chilies, 2, minced with seeds
  • Basil leaves, handful, minced (we had some lying about)
  • Besan/chickpea flour, 2 cups
  • Red chili powder, 1 tbsp
  • Salt, 2 tsp
  • Kasuri methi, 2 loose pinches/2-3 gm
  • half to 1 cup water

Method:

  1. Mix everything together, going slow with the water as needed instead of pouring the whole lot in together; this should result in a fairly dense batter. These pakodas need to be small, and cooked on medium heat until they’re golden brown. Any bigger and they’ll be raw on the inside.
  2. I made them by scooping up a tablespoonful of the batter/dough, and then using another spoon, scraping parts of the dough from the first spoon into the oil; about 2 to 3 little pakodas per spoonful of dough.
  3. Another method would be to scoop up little bits of dough with wet hands, flatten it a bit with the thumb and then shove off the fingers it into the oil with the thumb.

Notes:

  • Use as little besan as possible if you’re watching your carbs; just enough to bind the vegetables together.
Categories
Recipes

Chilli Garlic Chutney

We keep this chutney around the house as it’s useful for quick stir fries, an easy dip and even a dynamite mug of soup.

Ingredients

  • Dried red chili, 150gm, soaked
  • Garlic pods, 150gm
  • Salt, 2 tbsp
  • Sugar, 1 tbsp
  • Vinegar, white, half cup
  • Vegetable oil, half cup
  • Water as required.

Method

  1. Blend all the ingredients together, using the soaking water for the chilies as required to facilitate the blend.

Notes

  • If using for soup, straining the final liquid makes it more pleasant to drink. You’ll also need to adjust the seasoning.
  • The salt in this chutney is a little lower than required for a dip. This is to prevent overdoing the salt when using in stir fries that could have other salt-bearing flavors, such as soy and fish sauce.
  • Very similar to this recipe posted earlier.

Categories
Recipes

Stuffed Thaipo

A Thaipo appears to be a much larger version of the momo, usually stuffed with spiced meats and a boiled egg, sometimes halved. I’ve seen it made with both regular dough as well as leavened dough. The ones with leavened dough are similar to Chinese stuffed baos.

They can be made in bun shapes too, if you don’t want to fold.

If you want to see the hot, freshly made Thaipo getting sliced in two, click here to see the video on Instagram.

I tend to use the same proportions and method for any recipe requiring leavened dough, unless I’m in a hurry.

Ingredients:

  • For the wrapper
    • All purpose flour / Maida, 3 cups
    • Instant yeast, 2 tbsp
    • Salt, 1 tsp
    • Water, 1.5 cups
  • For the stuffing
    • Eggs, 6 – 7, boiled and shelled
    • Pork, 400gm, finely diced
    • Mushrooms, 1 pack / 250gm, finely chopped
    • Garlic, 20 cloves (small), finely chopped
    • Spring onion, whites, 10 medium
    • Green chilies, 10, finely chopped
    • Red chili powder, 1.5 tbsp
    • Degi mirch powder, 1.5 tbsp (for colour)
    • White vinegar
    • Salt to taste
    • Fish sauce, 1 tbsp
    • Light soy sauce, 1 tbsp
    • Oil for pan frying

Method:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients together, then add the water; mix with a spatula. No need to knead. Leave overnight or 8 – 10 hours, covered. Knock it back and knead a little to get it into shape for rolling just before use. Use wet fingers.
  2. Marinate the pork in the fish and soy sauce for an hour or so.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, add garlic. When it begins browning, add the onions, chili powders and green chilies. When the onions begin releasing back the oil, add the pork. Stirring every so often, cook the pork on high heat for about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cook until the mixture is dry. Adjust seasoning. Let cool.
  4. Using a little extra flour, separate the dough into 6 – 7 pieces. Roll them out into circles of 6″ diameters.
  5. Put about 2 tbsp of filling plus an egg into each one; fold like a momo / dumpling as per your skill level and let them stand for a while, covered, to rise for a bit, say 15 minutes. Steam for 20 minutes.
  6. Serve with chili-garlic chutney or mutton/vegetable broth.

Notes

  • I used pork shoulder; about 15-20% fat.
  • You can stuff with anything you want, including vegetarian fillings. Just make sure the filling is dry, or your Thaipos could end up with soggy bottoms.
  • Look up dumpling folding videos if you want to fold them properly; otherwise just make them into a little ‘bag’, pinching off excess dough at the top. They’ll taste just as good. As you can see, I’m a beginner at folding too.
  • Great for chilly winter morning breakfasts with hot mutton broth. That’s how I first ate them many years ago in a tiny Tibetan shop, early one winter morning in McLeodganj.
  • You can use the same dough to make tingmos.
Tingmos made with the same dough.
My poor dumpling folding skills.
Categories
Recipes

Chicken Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

We do like meatballs in tomato sauce at home, and make these every so often, though it’s usually with a red meat. This time I only had chicken available, and tried adding pork fat to make the meatballs juicier. I don’t think it really made much difference and will probably not add it next time.

We ate handmade noodles with this. I just make a dough of APF/maida, water and egg, using an egg for every 100gm dough, estimating about 150gm per person. The dough is rolled out to about 1/2 – 1mm thickness, allowed to dry for a few minutes, then sliced into flat fettuccine-like noodles, tossed in a little flour, and cooked for a minute or so in simmering, salted hot water.

Ingredients

  • for the Meatballs
    • Chicken, minced, 500gm
    • Basil leaves, 20gm / handful
    • Mint leaves, 20gm / handful
    • Whole wheat flour, 15gm / 1 tbsp
    • Aubergine, diced, 75gm / half medium
    • Bell pepper, 50gm
    • Green chillies, 4, finely chopped
    • Pork fat, 30gm, grated from frozen
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • Salt to taste
  • for the Tomato Sauce
    • Tomatoes, 1 kg, fresh, pureed
    • Basil leaves, 20gm / handful
    • Black pepper, freshly cracked, 1 tbsp
    • Garlic, 6 large cloves, finely chopped
    • Onions, 1 large, finely chopped
    • Olive oil, 2 tbsp

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs. Shape into balls with wet hands, or with a spoon and deep fry on medium heat until golden brown on the outside. Drain and reserve. They may no be fully cooked, so check before eating one if you’re tempted.
  2. Heat some olive oil and first fry the garlic, then the onions, then the ground pepper and basil leaves, giving each one about a minute in the hot oil.
  3. Add the tomato puree, simmer for 20 minutes, covered. If its thicker than you like, add a little stock or water.
  4. Add the meatballs, simmer for 10 minutes, covered.
  5. Simmer for another 10 minutes, uncovered.
  6. Adjust seasoning. Serve on noodles.

Notes

  • These go well with a dry red wine.
  • Add chopped green chilies to the onions if you want an extra chili hit.