Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chatpati Chaat/ Spicy Indian Starter

What is spicy, tangy, sweet, savoury, crispy, cool, hot, crunchy all the same time? An explosion of flavours in your mouth that will tease and tantalize your taste buds so much so that you keep craving for more long after your stomach's full. Its our all time favourite, Chaat!!!!!! mmm mmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmmm 

Let me take a moment and wipe the drool off my keyboard, because even the name of our today's guest of honour creates a chemical imbalance in my head leaving me craving for endless dosages of it. Hallelujah for whoever came up with it, deserves more than a pat on the back. 

Indian Chaats (pr. charts without the 'r') are the thread that tie the whole nation together. Well apart from our movies ofcourse, n not to forget cricket, the dancing, criticizing the politicians, hmmmmm well, alright, chaat is one of the few things that ties India together; nonetheless a very important binding factor. 

A savoury dish that is so crackingly wonderful to look at and absolutely delicious to eat. It will satiate your taste buds, I guarantee you that! Although Chaat has innumerable variety, I just bring you one of the wondrous options. Its called Katori Chaat translated to a Bowl-full of Chaat.




Just one thing, it needs a bit of planning, but then which dish doesn't!?! So have you ingredients ready in hand and you have the most incredible entree ever! 

Also, if you're not an Indian, you will have to make a trip to the Indian store to get the ingredients. Trust me, it will be worth it.

I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.....

Serves : 5-6

Complexity: ***

Time taken: 10 mins

You'll need

20 tart shells (unsweetened) 
4 medium boiled potatoes
Cup of black chickpeas/ sprouted lentil (kala chana or moong sprout)
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp rock/black salt (kala namak)
1 1/2tsp dry roasted and powdered cumin
1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 unripened mango cut into small cubes (kachi keri)
1 carrot, finely grated
Tamarind chutney
Mint chutney
1 cup beaten yoghurt so it thins out a bit and there are no lumps. Add in 1 tbsp sugar powder and 1/2 tsp salt in it 
Nylon sev ( Thin fried noodles made out of chickpea flour)
Daal moth ( Fried and spiced lentils)
Boondi (Tiny fried dumplings made out of chickpea flour)
A Pinch of love

Method

First things first. You need to have all your ingredients out on the platform. The reason behind this is we are using liquid elements as well in the dish and we don't want them to turn the crispy ingredients into mush. We want everything to stay as crispy as possible. So arrange the elements in the order that you are using them and have an assembly line kind of a process so assembling is that much easier. 

Start by mixing the mashed potatoes, chickpeas and half of the onions together. 




Sprinkle the salt, chili, cumin and the black salt on it. 



Mix well so the spices are spread evenly throughout the stuffing. 



Arrange your tart shells in the serving plates. Spoon in one spoon of the spicy potato chickpea and onion stuffing into each tart shell. Don't overfill it because these tart shells are supposed to be eaten in one go.



Next add in a few pieces of raw finely chopped mango. 



The mango adds that tart tangy-ness with a hint of sweetness. Use it with peel to have one more texture. 



Add a little bit of chopped onion to each tart now. 

Spoon in 1 tbsp curd into each shell. Be quick after this step. We don't want the curd to turn the tartshells soggy. 



Next comes the tamarind chutney. Get the recipe for tamarind chutney here. pour in about 1tsp of it into each tart. 



Follow it up with mint and coriander chutney. Get the recipe here. Just about 1/2 tsp is enough. 



Next add in the Dal moth, the sev and the boondi (all available ready in Indian stores) You can skip on dal moth and boondi, but don't skip out on sev. 



Top up everything with a bit of grated carrot on top. 



Sprinkle on your pinch of love. Garnish it with coriander. Just add chopped coriander randomly on the tarts and serve immediately. 



In India Chaat is mostly served as a prelude to dinner, as a starter/ entree. You can use it as a side dish or even and evening snack! Pick one up and pop it into your mouth.....mmmmmm just delicious isn't it?! Indulge! :) 










Sunday, May 20, 2012

Achari Aloo/ Tangy n Spicy Potatoes

You've heard me say tons of times that our dear humble Potato is the most versatile of foods. It can be a side dish, a main dish or a salad. On a dinner table, it has so many roles to play. There's so much expectation from a potato. Its one of those veggies that almost the entire world depends on for carbs. Whew! And we still call it the 'humble' potato. I think we should give more credit to it. 

In our kitchen though, potato is the go to vegetable. I can think of atleast 25-30 recipes that I can make using potatoes. And I mean just potatoes in Indian style. 

So the other day, I was in the mood to have something spicy and lip smackingly delicious. And I ended up making the ultimate potato gravy dish which is going to be a staple in my kitchen from now on. When served, the dish was so loved and was gone in minutes! 

Inspired by the Indian Pickles that are known to have a perfect balance of  tangy n spicy and sometime sweet flavours, I bring to you- Achari Aloo or Potato Pickle style. You can eat those with or without any bread. 



I used a special blend of Indian spices that is made to marinate pickles in. It is quintessentially the base for many a pickle mix which lends a very unique flavour to the potatoes. It is also known as Paanch Phoran in Bengali which means 5 flavours. 

So here goes,

Serves: 4

Complexity: **

Time taken: 30 mins

You'll need

5 medium sized gold yukon potatoes, boiled n peeled
1 large red onion, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely diced
3 green chillies
2 cups water
3 tbsp mustard seed oil
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or 1 tsp of garlic paste
1" pc of ginger, grated or 1 tsp of ginger paste
2 tsp salt
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
2" pc of jaggery (optional)
juice of one lemon
coriander to garnish
tons of love to sprinkle

For the spice mix

1 tbsp fennel
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp nigella seeds 
1/2 tbsp fenugreek seeds

Method

Firstly, we'll prepare the spice mix


Take a smallish pan and add the dry spices to it. We will dry roast these till the cumin turns slightly brown in colour. Remember to keep the flame on medium low so the spices don't start to burn. Keep moving them around a bit in the pan to get them roasted evenly. Should take about 3-4 minutes. 


Now take them out of the pan carefully and into a mortar to give it a good few thwacks with the pestle. 


If you don't have a mortar n pestle, you could just remove the spices onto the platform and then move a rolling pin over it for a few times. These dry roasted spices when roasted n then broken as such bring out the best flavour of the spices. Your special spice mix is ready! 

For the vegetable now, pour the mustard oil into a medium size pan. Heat it on a medium flame. 


Make small slits in the green chilies and add the the heating oil. 


Before the chilies begin to splatter, add the finely chopped onions to the pan. 


Give the onions a good stir in the oil and saute for a minute to get them softened a bit. Next add the ginger n garlic to complete the Indian mirepoix. 



Saute till the onions turn golden brown and the oil starts to leave on the sides. Now add our special spice mix to it. And stir till the spices are well coated with oil and are mixed well through with the onions. Cook for another couple minutes. 



Time to add in the tomatoes. 



Stir them around and then cover with a lid. The steam helps in softening them up faster. Let it sit for 5 mins. Remove the lid and then smush it with the back of your spoon so the tomatoes break and everything forms a sort of paste. 



Season the sauce with salt, chili and turmeric. Add the lemon juice.



At this time, we will also add the piece of jaggery so its melted properly. This is to balance the acidity from the tomatoes. Just adds a beautiful depth of flavour and brings the whole dish together. 

Thats a lump of jaggery in the sauce. Sure looks weird, doesn't it?! 



Pour in the water to the gravy now. Now this step is optional. If you want to keep your potatoes dry, you can just add about half a cup of water into the sauce and then add the potatoes to it. But I wanted some gravy to coat my potatoes and so I added 2 cupfuls of water. Let it simmer for a couple minutes so the gravy comes together nicely. 



Dunk your (washed, clean)pinkie finger in the gravy n taste the insane goodness! Go ahead! Be careful not to burn your finger though. Its good, isn't it?! 

Plomp in the boiled and cubed potatoes into the sauce and give it a good thorough toss. 



Sprinkle in your love. Test for seasoning. Add salt if required. The flavours should be a perfect harmony of tangy, spicy n sweet. 

Garnish with coriander. 



Serve it piping hot. 




You can chose any Indian breads like naan, roti or parantha or even rice. That's your humble potato transformed to the star of the dinner-  Achari Aloo, served up Ki style! Indulge! :)   












Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sammie Time

So I'm sure that each of us has those days when you are drained out from a busy day, don't want to cook much, want to have something simple yet satisfying. Just grab a bite to eat from outside?! Naaah.... not in Ki's Kitchen! I just raid my fridge and make a sandwich to soothe my hunger pangs. You get some bread, put in some veggies or meats and top it with cheese et voila! Sandwich's done! 

Sandwiches are my best friends. So much so that I have christened them Sammies! Ok, no, I admit I didn't! I read it somewhere and I thought, isn't it just the perfect way to bring me n my sandwich closer and strengthen our relationship, take forward. Wait, I'm still talking about a sandwich only. But I do love my Sandwiches! 

So here's what I had the other day. 




Nothing extra ordinary, very simplistic but so delish. I thank God each day for putting such good food on my plate. Please don't forget to be thankful! 


Here's what I had! 


Serves: 2


Complexity: **


Time taken: 15 mins


You'll need


2 Pita breads
1 tomato, sliced horizontally
1 cucumber, sliced horizontally
some lettuce or any other greens you like
half a red onion, sliced into half moons
Olives
2 tbsp Greek salad dressing 
Feta cheese
Chicken or any other meat, shredded (optional)
1 tbsp melted butter
A pinch of love


Method


Chop up the vegetables. Arrange them in a plate and drizzle the salad dressing over it. You can choose to add some black pepper over it just to give it a kick. 




Halve the pita bread and open it up so you have nice pita pockets. Oops, I tore mine a little from the edges, but it still tasted the same if not better!  




Start stuffing it with the veggies. Fill it up nicely. 



Top it off with the delicious salty feta. I think its my favourite cheese of all times! 


Meanwhile heat your panini maker or a sandwich press. Brush some melted butter on the sides of pita and place it in the panini maker. 




This is where the good stuff happens. 




In a couple o' minutes your pita sammies will have browned and the outer shells will have crisped up a bit. The feta will have melted gorgeously. 




Take it out and admire it for a minute. Now add a good dollop of fresh homemade tzatziki (I always have it lying around at home) before eating it all with a pinch of love! And since it is summer, make a fruity mocktail to go with it like I did since it is really no work! Indulge!! :) 








Friday, May 04, 2012

Thirst Quencher Mango Bonanza

Now imagine its a Saturday afternoon. A hot summer day, bright blue skies with the scorching sun. Hot dry winds blowing outside. And all you want to do is to take an afternoon siesta. 

You're sitting on a hammock or an easy chair. Lazying around with your favourite book/ movie. Besides you is a cool refreshing drink. You probably won't want to go for that plain ole glass o' Lemonade. I think we all want a change! 

Its time to say hello to your new best friends- 

Mango Fiesta n Mango Tango

Cheers to two girlie drinks that men would enjoy secretly, but never admit! Two delicious mocktails that will rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. I have not included any liquor in them so they are kid friendly too!  I enjoyed these with my Celebration Fajitas and Mango Salsa





Summers are not boring now, are they?! 

For Mango Fiesta 

You'll need 

Equal portions chilled Mango juice and Sprite
1 tbsp lemon juice
1" ginger 
Pinch of cumin powder
Wedge of mango and coriander leaf to garnish

Serves: 1

Method

Chop up ginger into matchsticks or finely. Don't grate or don't use the juice of ginger. We just want a very subtle flavour. 

Mix mango juice and sprite together. Add in the cumin and the ginger to the glass. Let it cool again for about 15 mins so that the flavours infuse. Pour into the glass. Place a mango wedge on the top along with a coriander leaf. Stir with love and serve. Indulge! :) 




For Mango Tango

You'll need

Mango juice
Strawberry crush/ pulp
Ice cubes
Lemon wheel and min leaves to garnish
Salt to line the glass
lemon wedge

Serves: 1

Method

Rub a lemon wedge along the edges of a margarita glass. Immediately turn the glass upside down and line it with salt. The salt will crystallize and stick to the glass because of the lemon.

Spoon in about 2 tbsp strawberry crush in the glass. Add ice cubes to it. Pour in the mango juice over the ice. Garnish with lemon wheel and mint leaves. Indulge! :) 








Mango Salsa With Celebration Fajitas

To accompany the spicy Mexican fajitas that I made for Cinco de Mayo which literally translates to the 5th of May, I made this fresh n fiery Corn n Mango Salsa. 



Now we all know, that summers are all about Mangoes. Well, it would ring true if you were an Indian. Or does this concept hold true all over.....? Well whatever it is, I made this delicious salsa to go with the chicken fajitas. My friends, I tell you its a match made in heaven! The flavours go perfectly in harmony with each other, made me think why I was only stuck on our plain jane Pico de Gallo or the regular Salsa until now. 

So I present to you, the sweet and fiery salsa- Ki style! 

Serves: 4

Complexity: **

Time taken: 10-15 mins  

You'll need

3 semi- Ripe mangoes
2-3 jalapeno peppers
1 cup boiled corn
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp red chili flakes
4-5 stems cilantro leaves for garnishing
Lemon juice (optional, I skipped)
A Pinch of love

Method

Peel the mangoes. Dice them into small cubes.


Chop up the jalapeno peppers finely. Now in a bowl, add the chopped peppers, 


then the red onions


the mangoes, 


and the rest of the ingredients. 

Don't forget your pinch of love. 

Toss and cover. Place in the fridge to cool and let the flavours get to know each other better.  


Spoon the magnificent Mango n Corn salsa on top of the Chicken Fajitas or to eat with your tortilla chips. As delicious as it can be. The perfect balance of sweet and fiery. Indulge! :)