Tag Archives: indian

Palak Chaat

We here in DC are lucky enough to have one of the most critically acclaimed Indian restaurants in the country, right here in our city.  Rasika, is an elegant and delicious journey through various Indian regional dishes.  Their most famous and addictive menu item is Palak Chaat – a pile of fried spinach covered in yogurt, tamarind and date sauces.  The dish is equally crispy, creamy, cool, hot, tangy and sweet.  It is not unusual for a single table to get multiple orders because sharing is near impossible.  I have always wanted to replicate the dish at home but getting it right was tough.  First of all without a deep fryer, getting that spinach super crispy is near impossible.  I decided to replace the spinach with kale and roast it instead of frying it.  As good?  Probably not, but way easier and healthier.  You still get that satisfying crunchy base for all the yummy toppings.  And those toppings are key – if you can find Tamarind sauce (I have the Maggi brand seen below) its the best option.  If not, get some tamarind chutney and thin it out with water until you can drizzle it.  If you have a local Indian market this is a great item to grab.

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This could serve 4 but honestly Patrick and I have eaten all 4 servings between the two of us so go ahead and make a double batch – this version is guilt free!  I still need to go to Rasika every couple of months to get my fix of the real thing but if you don’t live in DC this is the next best thing.

Palak Chaat (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:   Rasika’s most famous dish
Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn into large pieces
  • 1/3 cup non fat greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 3 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 4 tablespoons tamarind sauce (or tamarind chutney thinned with water)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees with two cookie sheets inside the oven (i.e. heat the pans along with the oven.  In a large bowl combine the kale pieces with the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.

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Massage the olive oil into the kale then spread evenly in a single layer on the baking sheets when the oven is at temperature (be careful those cookie sheets are hot!).  Bake for 12-15 minutes, tossing once in the middle of baking.

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Meanwhile combine the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin and salt and pepper.  Then seed and chop the tomato (using a spoon is the easiest way to get rid of the seeds).

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When ready to serve place the kale chips on a plater and scatter over the chopped tomato and red onion.  Drizzle over the yogurt sauce and the tamarind sauce.

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Palak Chaat

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn into large pieces
  • 1/3 cup non fat greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 3 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 4 tablespoons tamarind sauce (or tamarind chutney thinned with water)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees with two cookie sheets inside the oven (i.e. heat the pans along with the oven.  In a large bowl combine the kale pieces with the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.  Massage the olive oil into the kale then spread evenly in a single layer on the baking sheets when the oven is at temperature (be careful those cookie sheets are hot!).  Bake for 12-15 minutes, tossing once in the middle of baking.  Meanwhile combine the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin and salt and pepper. Then seed and chop the tomato (using a spoon is the easiest way to get rid of the seeds).  When ready to serve place the kale chips on a plater and scatter over the chopped tomato and red onion.  Drizzle over the yogurt sauce and the tamarind sauce.

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Yikes it is cold out there!  Lucky you if you are reading this from somewhere warm but DC is freeeezing, like Boston style cold.  I moved 400 miles south for a reason!  Anyway the best way to fight of the cold is nice warm comfort food, bonus points if it’s a little spicy too.  Pop this baby in the slow cooker and you will have meals for several nights or freeze some and you will happily discover it in your freezer during the next snow storm.  Cooking Indian food can be a bit intimidating especially when you see a list of like 6 different required spices.  However, after you make the $10 investment up front pretty much the same spices are used over and over again so you can make awesome dishes like Turkey Biryani or Spinach and Chickpea Saute.

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I use chicken breasts here because I prefer the flavor and texture over thighs.  Most slow cooker recipes will have you use thigh meat because the extra fat helps keep the chicken from dying out in the long cooking process.  However, this dish is super saucy and the tomato helps tenderize the chicken so the result is, as my friend Lainie calls it, “falling apart chicken goodness.”  If you like thigh meat use it by all means and report back.  Obvious pairings for this dish are nice fluffy basmati rice and naan to dip in it – stay tuned for a Indian Dinner Party post which this dish is the star.  Stay warm!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  high of 20 degrees?  no thank you
Special Equipment:  slow cooker!

  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into large chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped or grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup cream

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium high heat.  Add the chicken (in batches if you need to) and cook for about 5 minutes or until browned on all sides – don’t worry if they are still raw inside, in fact they should be.

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Place the chicken in the slow cooker.  In the same skillet (adding the other tablespoon of oil if you need it) sauté the onion, garlic and ginger with a pinch or two of salt for about 5 minutes.  This should help pick up any brown chicken bits from the pan.  Add in the tomato paste and all of the spices and cook for another minute or two until the spices are fragrant and the tomato paste is deepening in color.  DSC02375Add in the diced tomatoes and stir, picking up anything stuck to the pan.  Dump everything in the slow cooker with the chicken then add the crushed tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper and stir so everything is combined.

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Set the slow cooker to high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours (I prefer the low setting if you have the time).  After 4 or 8 hours the chicken should be very tender/almost falling apart – stir in the cream and taste for seasonings.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

  • Servings: 4 to 6
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Special Equipment:  slow cooker!

  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into large chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped or grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup cream

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium high heat.  Add the chicken (in batches if you need to) and cook for about 5 minutes or until browned on all sides – don’t worry if they are still raw inside, in fact they should be.  Place the chicken in the slow cooker.  In the same skillet (adding the other tablespoon of oil if you need it) sauté the onion, garlic and ginger with a pinch or two of salt for about 5 minutes.  This should help pick up any brown chicken bits from the pan.  Add in the tomato paste and all of the spices and cook for another minute or two until the spices are fragrant and the tomato paste is deepening in color.  Add in the diced tomatoes and stir, picking up anything stuck to the pan.  Dump everything in the slow cooker with the chicken then add the crushed tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper and stir so everything is combined.  Set the slow cooker to high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours (I prefer the low setting if you have the time).  After 4 or 8 hours the chicken should be very tender – stir in the cream and taste for seasonings.

Spinach and Chickpea Sautee

For the last week I have been eating vegan for breakfast and lunch – cue the gasps and screams!  It’s part of a get healthy kick brought on by an impending birthday.  Made popular by Mark Bittman of the New York Times this kind of eating called “VB6” essentially means cutting out meat and dairy until around 6pm or dinnertime.  I am only a week in but I know I definitely feel better about the choices I am making and I haven’t felt too deprived.  Never in a million years would I give up cheese 100% but something about not having it most of the day means that when you do have it you feel like it’s a treat rather than something you should be eating all the time.  One thing that has been tough is thinking of lunches that really satisfy and help carry me through the day.  Then I remembered this great side dish that I make – it can still be used as a side to tandoori chicken or grilled shrimp but it would also be just as good as lunch, maybe over some brown rice if you need more heft.  There is plenty of protein from the chickpeas and the spinach gives you a nice dose of iron.  I am not sure how long I am going to stick with this VB6 thing but dishes like this certainly make it easier to stay on track.

Spinach and Chickpea Side (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  fridge and pantry clean out!

Special Equipment: none

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 gloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (or garam masala if you have it)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 5 ounces baby spinach

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and sweat out for 2 minutes, watching the garlic so it doesn’t burn.  Add the spices and then the tomatoes (you can use canned tomatoes if that’s all you have just use a can of chopped tomatoes and drain off the liquid) and cook down until they have released their liquid and are starting to brown, about 4 minutes.

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Stir in the chickpeas and then add the spinach in handfuls.  If you cannot fit it all in at once wait until some wilts down and then add more.  Cook for 4 minutes more until all the spinach has wilted and combined with the other ingredients.

Spinach and Chickpea Side

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment: none

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 gloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (or garam masala if you have it)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 5 ounces baby spinach

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and sweat out for 2 minutes, watching the garlic so it doesn’t burn.  Add the spices and then the tomatoes (you can use canned tomatoes if that’s all you have just use a can of chopped tomatoes and drain off the liquid) and cook down until they have released their liquid and are starting to brown, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the chickpeas and then add the spinach in handfuls.  If you cannot fit it all in at once wait until some wilts down and then add more.  Cook for 4 minutes more until all the spinach has wilted and combined with the other ingredients.

Indian Steak Gyro

I know, I know – gyro’s are Greek but that is the best way I can explain this delicious vindaloo inspired steak sandwich.  I cook flank steak…a lot.  It’s a pretty lean and inexpensive cut of meat so I am always looking for different ways to cook it.  When Food and Wine magazine ran a vindaloo flank steak recipe I tried it that very week.  For those of you that don’t eat a lot of Indian food vindaloo is a spicy dish from Western India.  Chilis and vinegar make this a punchy sauce that is usually stewed with chunks of lamb or chicken.  Patrick and I like vindaloo sauce so much we order a side of to mix into our dishes at our neighborhood Indian spot Cusbah, where the waiter’s tee shirts read, “I survived the vindaloo.” wpid-20150519_135707.jpgThis marinade is really more of a paste and the recipe makes quite a bit.  I only used half on our steak and froze the rest to use later – the paste would also be fine in the fridge for several days.  I decided to serve it gyro style rolled up in store-bought naan (I have actually made homemade naan before which isn’t too difficult, just not really feasible for a weeknight meal) and served with a my own yogurt sauce.  This sauce is terrific on lots of things – lamb burgers, grilled chicken, even as a dip for crudite.  Also if you are intimidated by the heat factor of the vindaloo, the yogurt sauce will go a long way to offsetting it.  Alongside the gyro I made this awesome Food52 recipe for stir fried cabbage inspired by none other than  Madhur Jaffrey, the mother of Indian cooking in America.  A lot of her recipes can be pretty involved (but worth it) but this one is incredibly easy.  If you don’t want to go with the gyro then this steak would be just as good served on its own along basmati rice or lentils and some roasted cauliflower. wpid-20150601_185750.jpg Indian Steak Gyro (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:   Vindaloo Flank Steak by Food and Wine Magazine

Special Equipment:  blender or food processor

Ingredients:

  • 8 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (if you don’t have seeds use ground cumin but skip the toasting step and just add it to the blender)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger. peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 large flank steak, approximately 1 pound
  • 2 packages store-bought naan (4 pieces)
  • 5 to 6 ounce container nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped mint (or dill or 1 tablespoon each)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a small saucepan, heat the chiles, cumin seeds and peppercorns over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring the chilies occasionally.  They will get a little darker which is a good thing but be sure not to burn the chilis or the cumin seeds.  If you re using ground cumin just toast the chilis and peppercorns.  Add a 1/4 cup of water and the vinegar, ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick, cloves and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring just to a boil.  The vinegar is going to make quite a potent smell when heated so stand back so you don’t get a steaming face full of vinegar!  Once its boiling turn off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes until everything has softened.  You can toss the cinnamon stick at this point or leave it in, in a happy accident I left mine in and it pureed up no problem and the taste was great. wpid-20150519_141031.jpg wpid-20150519_151455.jpg Transfer everything to a blender or food processor and add the ground cumin if not using the seeds.  Puree into a paste.  At this point you can store the paste for several days in the fridge or six months in the freezer.  Spread the paste all over the steak on both sides and let marinate on a plate or baking dish for at least an hour and up to 6 hours.  If you only have an hour let it marinate at room temp so the steak isnt cold going into the grill. wpid-20150519_152414.jpgLight your grill and heat it to medium high.  Grill for 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your steak and how you like your steak done.  Let rest for 5-8 minutes, then slice thinly.  While the steak rests, brush the naan with olive oil and grill for 1-2 minutes per side to get a little char and warm them through.  Also make the yogurt sauce by combining the yogurt, garlic, mint and parsley in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper.  To serve slather the naan with the yogurt sauce and pile in slices of steak.   Red onion and or arugula would also be nice in there.

Indian Steak Gyro

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  blender or food processor

Ingredients:

  • 8 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (if you don’t have seeds use ground cumin but skip the toasting step and just add it to the blender)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger. peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 large flank steak, approximately 1 pound
  • 2 packages store-bought naan (4 pieces)
  • 5 to 6 ounce container nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped mint (or dill or 1 tablespoon each)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a small saucepan, heat the chiles, cumin seeds and peppercorns over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring the chilies occasionally.  They will get a little darker which is a good thing but be sure not to burn the chilis or the cumin seeds.  If you re using ground cumin just toast the chilis and peppercorns.  Add a 1/4 cup of water and the vinegar, ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick, cloves and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring just to a boil.  The vinegar is going to make quite a potent smell when heated so stand back so you don’t get a steaming face full of vinegar!  Once its boiling turn off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes until everything has softened.  You can toss the cinnamon stick at this point or leave it in, in a happy accident I left mine in and it pureed up no problem and the taste was great. Transfer everything to a blender or food processor and add the ground cumin if not using the seeds.  Puree into a paste.  At this point you can store the paste for several days in the fridge or six months in the freezer.  Spread the paste all over the steak on both sides and let marinate on a plate or baking dish for at least an hour and up to 6 hours.  If you only have an hour let it marinate at room temp so the steak isnt cold going into the grill. Light your grill and heat it to medium high.  Grill for 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your steak and how you like your steak done.  Let rest for 5-8 minutes, then slice thinly.  While the steak rests, brush the naan with olive oil and grill for 1-2 minutes per side to get a little char and warm them through.  Also make the yogurt sauce by combining the yogurt, garlic, mint and parsley in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper.  To serve slather the naan with the yogurt sauce and pile in slices of steak.   Red onion and or arugula would also be nice in there.

Turkey Biryani

The first time I bought ground turkey at Costco I was confident that I would come up with lots of interesting ways to use it.  Turns out turkey burgers was about as far as I got until I ran across this gem in Fine Cooking DSC04536magazine.  Its a great weeknight dinner and has the requisite carbs/meat/veggie combo I like so much.  It may be a little light on the veggie side so if you want to make it more balanced I would recommend serving it with some spinach sautéed with garlic and ginger for good measure.  It reheats well so make the full recipe even if just for two and you will have some lunches ready to go as well.  I know not everyone is super comfortable with Indian food but this is a terrific gateway meal – it is not spicy in a hot sense but it does have great flavor from the spices you are cooking with.  It’s worth it to go out and get cardamom pods, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks.  If you were to use ground versions of any of these the taste wouldn’t be as subtle and complex.

Green cardamom pods

Green cardamom pods

You can find all of these pretty easily these days – I like World Market for this as they sell pretty small sizes and the spices last up to a year.  Hopefully having them on hand will encourage you to try out more Indian dishes but if not they are also great in mulled cider or wine in the fall.  I increased the amount of curry powder for a bit more punch – and just as important as having the right spices is also to have a Taj Mahal or Kingfisher to drink with the biryani!

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Turkey Biryani (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration: Turkey Biryani from Fine Cooking

Special Equipment: None

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder (I like Madras but any kind will do)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 green cardamom pods (yes the pods, ground won’t do here)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 ¾ cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup golden raisins (regular raisins are fine)
  • ½ cup cashews (or slivered almonds)

In a large pot that has a lid, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. Add the turkey, 1 1/2 tablespoon curry powder and salt. Let it sit for a minute without disturbing it so the turkey can really brown. Cook stirring occasionally until turkey is cooked through and browned, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add peas in with the cooked turkey to get them to start warming through.

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Heat the remaining butter in the pan over medium heat and add onions, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick and salt. Once the onions starting giving off liquid it should be easy to use that to deglaze the pan a bit, don’t be shy about scraping up the good brown turkey bits. Stir and cook until onion begins to brown, then add the garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. DSC04553Then add the rice and remaining tablespoon of curry powder. Stir to coat the rice, then add the broth and raisins and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Scoop out the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves (the cloves can be hard to find so if you don’t get them all no worries, the will break down a bit with cooking) then stir in the turkey and peas. Let cook for a minute more to let the flavors meld and then stir in the cashews before serving.

DSC04555Note – the cashews are a nice crunchy, nutty addition but definitely not necessary. I cannot keep cashews in my house longer than a couple of hours before I snack on all of them so I usually skip it. The original recipe also uses cilantro but after years of living with a cilantro hater I left that out by habit but it does add a nice green touch.

Turkey biryani

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  None

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder (I like Madras but any kind will do)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 green cardamom pods (yes the pods, ground won’t do here)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 ¾ cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup golden raisins (regular raisins are fine as well)
  • ½ cup cashews (or slivered almonds)

In a large pot that has a lid, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. Add the turkey, 1 1/2 tablespoon curry powder and salt. Let it sit for a minute without disturbing it so the turkey can really brown. Cook stirring occasionally until turkey is cooked through and browned, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add peas in with the cooked turkey to get them to start warming through.

Heat the remaining butter in the pan over medium heat and add onions, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick and salt. Once the onions starting giving off liquid it should be easy to use that to deglaze the pan a bit, don’t be shy about scraping up the good brown turkey bits. Stir and cook until onion begins to brown, then add the garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Then add the rice and remaining tablespoon of curry powder. Stir to coat the rice, then add the broth and raisins and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Scoop out the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves (the cloves can be hard to find so if you don’t get them all no worries, the will break down a bit with cooking) then stir in the turkey and peas. Let cook for a minute more to let the flavors meld and then stir in the cashews before serving.

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