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Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani- Black Lentils with a Cream Sauce

March 25, 2015

 

A well balance Indian meal consists of a protein which would either be a meat, chicken or even a lentil and a vegetable. For this dinner I made a chicken curry, a vegetable- palak paneer and these lentils- probably the most popular in restaurants and very easy to make at home. One can get more elaborate and make a couple of proteins and a couple of lentils and a few vegetables- but my philosophy is to keep it simple. I served the meal with naan and rice. It was a  fun evening with great conversation and good food!

This is a quintessential Indian dish served at all the North Indian restaurants. It is definitely one of my favorite lentil dishes. A lot of people think it is very difficult to make at home but it really isn’t.

Every Indian household has a very different way of cooking dal makhani. In my family most dishes are made by adding all the ingredients in one pot and letting them cook in their own juices instead of sauteing and frying- so it’s a lot easier and healthier.

This one is cooked the same way- in a pressure cooker though or even a slow cooker. The black lentils are cooked with a bit of kidney beans and gram lentils which add extra creaminess. Tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic are added to create a delicious dish. I add a bit of butter or ghee and finish it off with some half and half.

In the restaurants this dal is full of lots of butter and cream. It does taste really good but it is definitely not good for you. I prefer the home made version- it’s easy to make; delicious and not full of fat. My daughter loves it with rice or roti.

I usually serve this dish for a party. The great thing about making Indian food is that most of the dishes taste more delicious the next day. I make this in advance and just heat it in the oven the day of the party and it is always a big hit. It freezes really well too- so it’s definitely worth getting all the ingredients together and making a big batch- especially for this time of year!

  • 1 cup whole urad dal (black lentils)
  • ¼ cup rajma (red kidney beans)
  • ¼ cup channa dal (gram lentils)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or butter
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3 tablespoons half and half

In a pressure cooker or sauce-pan, add the urad dal, rajma, channa dal, water, crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, salt, cayenne pepper, coriander powder, turmeric and ghee. If using a pressure cooker, then close the lid and cook on high till the pressure is built, then turn the heat on low and cook for an hour. Turn the heat off, and take the lid off- check the consistency. The dal should be like a thick soup or a think stew. If there is excess liquid, then turn the heat on high and begin to evaporate the liquid. Add the garam masala and half and half. Cook till the dal reaches desired consistency. Taste for seasonings.
If using a sauce-pan, then bring the mixture to a boil and lower the heat, cook for at least 2 hours or till the lentils are soft and mushy. Add the garam masals and half and half. Cook till the dal reaches desired consistency. Taste for seasonings.

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Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer (Spinach and Indian Cheese)

March 24, 2015

 

This is the basic palak paneer recipe. I changed it up a bit by adding cilantro and dill to the spinach mixture. It gives it an amazing earthy flavor…

Palak Paneer is cooked in several different ways. Restaurants tend to make it quite rich with lots of butter and cream. In the homemade versions the paneer is fried. I have tried to make mine as simple and healthy as possible. I don’t think there is any need to fry the paneer, soaking it in water makes it very soft and spongy and it absorbs the spinach flavor well. It is a little time consuming but the result is worth the extra work. I grew up with this dish in Delhi, having all different versions of it. I like my mom’s the best and this is very close to hers.
I like eating Palak Paneer with some dal (check out the masoor dal recipe) and roti/naan. Beer goes nicely with Indian food, but since I am more of a wine drinker, I go for a crisp Riesling, Savignon Blanc, Rose or Champagne!

  • 12 ounces Paneer- store bought Indian cheese
  • 1 pound chopped frozen spinach-thawed in the package
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 inches ginger, small pieces
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt- or to taste
  • ¼ cup half-and-half

Cut the paneer into two inches squares and place in a medium bowl with water to cover the cheese. Let the paneer soak in the water for at least 2 hours. This makes the cheese nice and soft for consumption.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil with the cumin seeds. In the mean time blend the onion, garlic, ginger and cilantro into a paste- don’t wash the blender, we will re-use it for the spinach. Once the cumin begins to sizzle, add the onion mixture. Saute this mixture on medium heat for 10 minutes stirring consistently. Then add the crushed tomatoes, coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Saute for another 10 minutes stirring well. On the side, blend the thawed spinach in the same blender. Add the blended spinach to the tomato mixture and cook on medium heat for at least 15 minutes or till the water (from the spinach) has evaporated. Add the half and half and the drained paneer. Cook for another 10 minutes on low heat with the lid on. Adjust seasoning and serve.

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Chicken Curry with Carom Seeds: Nanoo’s Chicken

March 23, 2015

Nanoo's Chicken

I made this chicken curry- it is always a hit!

This dish a favorite in our family- for a few reasons. It is absolutely delicious; it tastes different than any other chicken curry we have eaten; most of all, because my Dad makes it. We call it nanoo’s chicken since my daughter calls my Dad by that name and she always requests this dish when my parents are visiting.

I finally got my act together and wrote the recipe down. I always thought I knew how to make and have done so but it never comes out the same. After I wrote the recipe, I realized I was missing a bunch of steps.

I think buying good quality chicken is the key. Of course the rest of the ingredients have to be great as well. The main flavor is from ajwain- which are these tiny cumin like seeds that have a thyme like flavor. A little goes a long way- they have a very strong flavor. The other important thing in this dish is to cook it on a very low heat for a while. The slow cooking brings out the chicken flavor and makes a delicious sauce.

Definitely try this dish- it will be one of your favorites….
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Coconut Shrimp

March 22, 2015

Coconut ShrimpThis dish is worth reposting. I used the recipe this past weekend for a dinner party I was having. I thought it would be fun to post the dishes I made… next time you want to have a dinner party and cook Indian food- you may want to use this menu…I changed it up a bit by adding sliced onions- made it super delicious…

 

This dish is truly delicious! I made it the other day- concocted it in my head the day before I was supposed to cook and take it to my friend’s house.

She was having a get together and wanted to know where to get a few meat snacks for a cocktail party. I suggested we cook at home instead. It is so hard to find a place that makes and delivers yummy food. Also, by the time they bring the food over, it’s cooked and cold and doesn’t taste the same reheated. We decided I will cook the shrimp and take to her house. I decided to do a stir fry style dish which will taste good room temperature as shrimp is not so tasty reheated.

There used to be a South Indian restaurant in Edison, NJ that served delicious seafood. We would go once in a while and make it a point to order a shrimp stir fry for appetizer. It was yum! It had cumin and fennel seeds amongst other ingredients. I started to think of that dish and got inspired to make the coconut shrimp.

I roasted the cumin and fennel seeds and powdered them in a spice grinder. I also had fresh frozen shredded coconut which I roasted as well- just to give it more of a crunch in the dish. Store bought, packaged coconut can be substituted for the dish.

The overall flavor was enhanced by the marinade- which was simply lemon juice, garlic, salt and olive oil. I sauteed the marinated shrimp with the spice mix and added the coconut. Very simple, yet very tasty.

It was a big hit at the party. This dish will definitely be part of my repertoire going forward. Give it a try- you won’t be disappointed!
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Blackened Red Snapper

Blackened Red Snapper

March 18, 2015

This is an easy, fast and super healthy recipe… I am trying to cook fish at least twice a week and this is a great one.

  • 4 red snapper fillets

Spice Rub

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Lemon slices

Mix the spices in a small bowl and sprinkle all over the fillets.

  • 2 tablespoons extra light olive oil

Heat a cast iron skillet and add the oil. Add the fillets skin side down and cook till almost opaque. Turn and cook the other side for another minute. Serve with lemon slices.

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Chicken with Spinach and Mushrooms

Chicken Stew with Spinach and Mushrooms

March 17, 2015

Even though it is technically spring- winter refuses to leave. One way to enjoy it while it lasts is to make a delicious stew. The house smells amazing and you have a one pot meal in no time…

  • 1 pound chicken thighs, with or without bones, skinless
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small bunch of fresh thyme
  • ½ cup pancetta, chopped
  • 1 10 ounces Cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup tomato sauce, homemade or store bought
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Salt
  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Heat a heavy saucepan with the oil and the butter. Dredge the chicken and brown on both sides in batches if needed. Take the chicken out and add the pancetta and thyme. Saute on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook on medium high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic. Saute for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth and the browned chicken pieces. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer and cover with lid for 20 minutes. Take the lid off and cook for another ten minutes. Add the baby spinach and let it wilt down and check for seasonings. Garnish with parsley. Serve with garlic bread or polenta.

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Salmon with Blood Orange Glaze

Salmon with Blood Orange Glaze

March 16, 2015

This is a very simple and flavorful dish. I served it with black rice and roasted butternut squash- absolutely delicious!!

  • 1 large salmon filet, 3 to 4 pounds
  • 1 cup blood orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Transfer all the ingredients to a saucepan. Bring a boil and simmer and reduce by half. Place the salmon filet on a lined cookie sheet and pour the glaze all over. Broil on high for 5 to 6 minutes or till just cooked through. Serve warm.

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