LEHSUNI DHAL PALAK (GARLICKY LENTILS WITH SPINACH)

Dhal is my absolute comfort food.  This preparation of dhal with spinach has loads of garlic in it.    It is a wholesome and comforting dish packed with the goodness of protein, fibre and iron. The flavour and aroma from the garlic makes this dish irresistible.    Just digging into a bowl of this would be sheer bliss (we love loads of garlic in our food).

Going back to my childhood days in India, my choice of restaurant food would be more South Indian though we did patronise Delhi Darbar, Bade Miyaan and other Mughlai restaurants – the dishes of choice being biryanis, kebabs etc.   It was only when I moved to Dubai did I first try the Lehsuni Dhal Palak and was quite hooked.   I somehow never got down to making it after moving to NZ.

This dish is perfect for the winter and pairs well with both rotis as well as steamed rice.  Do give it a try.

dhal palak

dhal palak1

Ingredients:

½ cup Tovar dhal

½ cup Yellow Mung dhal

2 cups of spinach, chopped (see notes)

½ tsp. turmeric powder

1 tbsp. ginger/garlic paste

1-2 green chillies slit

2-1/2 cups water

Salt to taste

Tempering 1

1 tbsp. ghee

1 tsp. jeera seeds

A pinch methi seeds (optional)

1 onion, chopped fine

1 tomato, chopped fine

¾ to 1 tsp. chilli powder

1 tsp. dhania-jeera powder (optional)

Tempering 2

1-1/2 tbsp. ghee

A pinch of hing

4-6 flakes of garlic thinly cut into rounds

Method:

  1. Wash both the dhal well and soak for a while.
  2. Pressure cook the dhal with the chopped spinach, turmeric powder, ginger/garlic paste and green chillies and 2-1/2 cups of water. Dhal should be well cooked.
  3. Add 1 tbsp. ghee to the cooking pot, once hot add the jeera and sauté, add the methi seeds and sauté for a few seconds followed by the onions, sauté onions till translucent, then add the tomatoes and the spice powders. Cook till tomatoes are mushy.
  4. Add the cooked dhal/palak to this tempering and cook on medium flame. Add salt and water according to desired consistency (should be on the thicker side).  Cook for a few minutes till flavours are all infused.   Transfer the dhal to a serving bowl.
  5. Heat the remaining 1-1/2 tbsp. of ghee in a small pan; add a pinch of hing followed by the garlic. Let the garlic turn brown (not burnt).  Pour immediately into the dhal and cover with lid.
  6. Serve hot with rotis, parathas or steamed rice

Note:

  • You can also make this with any one dhal instead of the combination (I would recommend the combination).
  • Instead of adding the palak to the cooker when cooking the dhal, sauté it once the onions are translucent. This retains the vibrant green color.   I have added one cup when boiling the dhal and the other cup when frying the onions.  I like the texture this way.
  • I do not add any coriander leaves to the dhal.
  • You could add a bit of the chilli powder or 1 or 2 dry red chillies (broken into pieces) to the 2nd  tempering, I did not; for me the garlic is the star of the dish.
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SAVOURY RAVA (SEMOLINA) APPE

These appe make for a wonderful starter at parties.  I have made these previously with left over sanna/idli batter but the semolina one is by far so much quicker – no soaking/grinding nor fermentation required.   Rava Idlis are a constant at our place, I have made the appe using the similar recipe.

These appe are so flavourful with the seasoning and yoghurt that they can be had, as is, without any chutney.

Do give them a try.

rava appe (002)

paniyaram pan

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cup semolina (rava)

¼ cup of chopped coriander leaves

Salt to taste

¾ cup of thick sour yoghurt (I like to use the Indian store one rather than the Greek yoghurt for its tang)

1 cup water

½ tsp. baking soda

Oil for seasoning and cooking

For Seasoning:

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1 tbsp. urad dhal

A big sprig of curry leaves, finely chopped

A pinch of asafoetida (hing)

1 small onion, finely chopped

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped

A small piece of ginger, finely chopped

Method:

  1. In a bowl, add the semolina, salt and coriander leaves.
  2. Beat the yoghurt and water and add to the semolina mixture.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a skillet, add the mustard seeds and allow them to splutter, next add the urad dhal and sauté till light brown.
  4. Add asafoetida, curry leaves, green chilli, onions and ginger. Sauté for about 1-2 minutes till onions are translucent.
  5. Add the seasonings to the semolina mixture and stir to combine. In case the mixture is too thick, add a little more water.  Do not make the batter watery, should be of dropping consistency.
  6. Add the baking soda and mix well.  Check for salt and consistency of batter.
  7. Heat the appe pan on medium-high heat; add a few drops of oil into each of the cups. Once the pan is hot (not smoking), reduce flame to medium-low.
  8. Add spoons full of batter up to 3/4th of each cup and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.  Cover with a lid.
  9. The underside would begin to crisp up. Flip gently with the help of a wooden skewer and allow to cook on the other side.  You could drizzle a few drops of oil around the edges.
  10. Cook until they are an even light golden brown all over. Using skewers gently lift the balls on to a plate.
  11. Continue with the rest of the batter.
  12. Serve warm with chutney of your choice.  These appe are so flavourful that we didn’t need any chutney.   I served it as a starter.

Notes:

  • Make sure that the temperature is correct. The pan shouldn’t be very hot else the outside will brown quickly but the inside will remain uncooked.
  • Helps to rotate the balls to ensure even cooking. You will know they are ready when a skewer / toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

FISH CUTLETS

Fish cutlets are a constant at our place.   I generally make these with canned tuna.   However, over the weekend I came across some very fresh Hoki fish and was tempted to make cutlets with these.   Hoki is a white, naturally flaky fish available in New Zealand.   It is a very tasty fish.   The cutlets turned out delicious and were a hit with the family.

These make for a tasty starter served with some ketchup or chilli sauce or a side dish to accompany a simple meal of rice and dhal.

Do give it a try.

fish cutlets

fish cutlets 1 (002)

Ingredients:

  • 500 gms fresh fish fillets (I have used hoki – available in New Zealand) – any white flaky fish would do
  • ½ onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • A few peppercorns

Other ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 3-4 flakes of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. each of chilli, pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric powders
  • 1 tsp. garam masala powder
  • 2-3 tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup of chopped coriander leaves
  • 1-2 bread slices
  • 2 medium boiled potatoes
  • 1-2 eggs
  • Breadcrumbs, as required
  • Oil for frying

Method:

  1. Wash the potatoes, add to a pan, cover with water and boil till fork tender. Peel skin and mash with a fork – we are not looking for a perfect mash -a few chunky bits are fine, adds to the texture.
  2. Add the fish fillets to a pan with the finely chopped onion, pepper, salt, turmeric, bay leaf and ½ cup of water. Let the fish steam gently; do not overcook; it needs to be moist and tender.  Gently transfer the fish into a dish and strain the stock, if any.  Add the broken bread pieces to this stock.  Alternatively, you could even add some breadcrumbs to the stock.
  3. Flake the fish gently with a fork.
  4. In a pan heat about 1-2 tbsps. of oil and sauté the onions, green chillies, ginger and garlic till onions are translucent. Then add all the spice powders and mix gently, do not let the spices burn.  Add the tomato sauce and mix to combine well.
  5. Switch off the flame; add the lemon juice, coriander leaves, soaked bread, fish and the mashed potatoes and mix gently till well combined. Leave aside to cool.
  6. Make round balls of the mixture and form into cutlets; dip in beaten egg and roll in breadcrumbs. Once all the cutlets are formed, keep them covered in the fridge for about half an hour for the breadcrumbs to settle and for the flavours to infuse and the cutlets to firm up.
  7. Heat oil for shallow frying. Fry cutlets in small batches without overcrowding the pan.
  8. Remove the cutlets onto paper towels to drain off any excess oil.
  9. Serve warm and enjoy.

Notes:

  • You can use any fish including mackerel. If using a whole fish, you would need to remove the bones etc and then flake.  I have used Hoki which is a delicate, slightly sweet, flaky fish available in New Zealand, Australia and around the Tasman.  It belongs to the hake family.
  • You could even keep them as balls and deep fry
  • You could replace the spice powders with a ground paste.
  • Curry leaves could be an alternative to bay leaves when boiling/steaming the fish.
  • If using frozen fish, thaw well, apply some salt, turmeric and vinegar, set aside for about 20 mins, wash well and then steam.

 

 

 

 

LAMB’S LIVER FRY (BHUNA KALEJI)

Liver is quite a favourite with hubby and I; however, since my kids don’t eat liver at all, I end up making small portions.  Strange as it may seem, I loved offal even as a child – it was probably the way my mum cooked offal – always delicious; none of that smelly / grainy stuff.  We always cooked beef liver at home.

It was only after I came to New Zealand that I came across Lamb’s Fry (lamb liver is so called in this part of the world).  Traditionally it would be made with caramelized onions, bacon, balsamic vinegar, some cream of sorts.   However, I was craving something spicy to accompany Jeera Rice so ended up making Bhuna Kaleji.

Liver needs to be cooked just right, should not be overcooked else it goes all grey and rubbery.  This dish can be served as a side dish with rice, chapatti, naans or even as a starter. Do not be daunted by the list of the ingredients.   If you like offal, then this dish is worth the effort; do give it a try.

lamb liver 2 (004)

Ingredients:

1 lb lamb liver

1/2 tsp. turmeric powder

1/2 tsp. chilli powder

2 tbsp. oil + 2 tbsp. ghee

10 peppercorns

6 cloves

2 black cardamom

1-inch stick cinnamon

1-2 bay leaves

1 large onion sliced or chopped fine

1 heaped tbsp. ginger garlic paste

½ tsp. turmeric powder

1 tsp. chilli powder

1 tbsp. coriander powder

1 tsp. roasted jeera powder

2 tomatoes chopped fine

2-3 green chillies slit

¼ cup yoghurt, whipped well

1 small piece of ginger julienned

1 tsp. garam masala powder

1 tbsp. kasuri methi

Salt to taste

Coriander leaves

Lemon slices

Method:

  1. Peel the thin skin off the liver. Trim the liver of any tissues or membranes.
  2. Wash the liver, chop into medium bite size pieces (see note)
  3. Add ½ tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp chilli powder to the turmeric pieces and set aside for about 20 minutes.
  4. In a non-stick pan, add 1 tbsp. of oil and add the liver. Toss around on high flame and remove aside after a couple of minutes, this is just to sear the liver, it should be pink and moist inside.
  5. In the same pan add the balance oil and the ghee. Sauté the peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves.
  6. Next add the onion and sauté till golden brown (do not burn). When nearly done, add the ginger/garlic paste and continue to cook till the raw smell of the ginger/garlic paste disappears.
  7. Now add the turmeric, chilli, coriander and jeera powders and sauté for about 30 seconds followed by the tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes break down and the mixture is mushy.
  8. Add the whipped yoghurt, green chillies and ginger and continue to cook covered until most of the moisture evaporates and releases the oils.
  9. At this stage add the liver, garam masala and kasuri methi and cook for a few minutes tossing gently till the liver is well coated in the masala paste.
  10. Finally switch off the flame, add the coriander leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice and mix well.
  11. Enjoy.

Note:

  • I like to soak the liver in milk for about 15-20 minutes to remove any impurities and strong flavours. I then wash and drain in a colander. Alternatively, you can also add some wheat flour and rub the pieces of liver and set aside; then wash the liver well and leave to drain.
  • You could skip step 4, if required.
  • Do not over-cook the liver.
  • This dish tastes delicious when made on a tawa like the street food in Mumbai.

CHICKEN LIVER JEEREM MEEREM

Jeerem Meerem is a versatile spice blend, goes well with meat, vegetables, fish and eggs.  It literally translates to Cumin and Pepper.  It is a blend of a few basic spices like pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric and a wee pinch of (red chilli powder, clove powder and cinnamon powder which are optional). I have started using this blend of spice only after my last trip to Goa.   One of the ladies in the shop at the Mapusa market recommended it and also recommended the Mario brand.

Chicken Liver is quite a favourite with hubby and I; however, since my kids don’t eat liver at all, I end up making a small portion.

Recently, whilst deciding what to do with the chicken liver I spotted the jeerem meerem powder in the freezer; thought I’d give it a try with liver and I must say that I was quite happy with the result.

liver

Ingredients:

350 gms. of chicken liver

1 tsp ginger/garlic paste

1 tbsp. jeerem meerem powder

1 green chilli, slit

2-3 medium sized red onions sliced (not very fine)

3-4 flakes of garlic, sliced

1” piece of ginger, julienned

2 capsicums sliced (not very fine – I like to use 2 colours)

Salt to taste

1 to 1-1/2 tsp. goa vinegar / malt vinegar

¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped

2-3 tbsp. oil (I used coconut)

Method:

  1. Trim the livers of any membranes, veins or connective tissues.
  2. Wash the liver and let it drain in a colander. Pat dry with kitchen paper towel and then cut into halves or medium size pieces.
  3. Marinate the liver with salt, ginger/garlic paste and the jeerem meerem spice powder.   Let it marinate for at least an hour.
  4. In a non-stick pan (preferably), add a tbsp. of oil.  Add the liver, cook on both sides on medium to high heat.  Do not overcook the liver; it should be moist in the middle. Once cooked, remove the liver from the pan and keep aside.
  5. In the same pan add the remaining oil and sauté the green chilli, ginger/garlic and onions till nicely browned, then add the capsicums and the vinegar and continue cooking for a few more minutes.  Add salt to taste. The vinegar helps in deglazing the pan as well.
  6. Next add the liver together with the pan juices, if any and toss gently with the onion mixture. Keep cooking for another 3-4 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
  7. Finish the dish with chopped coriander leaves.
  8. Serve as a side dish or a starter.

Note:

  • I like to soak the  liver in milk for about 15-20 minutes to remove any impurities and strong flavours. I then wash and drain in a colander.

BEEF STROGANOFF

Beef Stroganoff or Beef Stroganov is a dish of Russian origins but rather popular around the world.   I guess the Stroganoff would be to a Russian what Carbonara would mean to an Italian.  It is a very simple and easy dish to put together.

The first time I ever ate this dish was in Dubai soon after I moved there after getting married.   My husband was from the hospitality industry and it was he who introduced me to this simple yet flavourful dish.  This became quite a hit with the kids.   I used to make it quite often whilst in Dubai.   However, I don’t recall making this dish after moving to Auckland.

I had some eye fillet in the freezer and was in a dilemma as to what to cook for our Friday night meal; the meat wasn’t sufficient for all of us to be eaten as steak.  My next option was a beef goulash but I didn’t want to waste the eye fillet in a dish which requires slow cooking the meat.   Sudden inspiration and Voila, dinner was sorted.  The eye filled was the perfect cut for a Stroganoff.   We had the stroganoff over egg noodles with a side of sautéed green beans.

Beef Stroganoff can be served over egg noodles, rice or potatoes.   I was just recently speaking to a colleague from Croatia who mentioned her family loves it over a bed of gnocchi.  Now that would be an interesting combination.

beef stogonoff

Ingredients:

2 pounds sirloin steak (I have used eye fillet), trimmed of fat

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 – 3 tbsp. butter

2 medium onions, diced

1 pound button mushrooms, sliced

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 tbsp. of brandy or dry white wine (optional)

2 cups beef stock

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2-3 tbsp. flour

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ to ¾ cup of sour cream

¼ cup chopped parsley for garnish

Egg noodles, cooked and buttered for serving

Method:

  1. Cut steak into 2 inch strips about ½ to ¾ inch thick. Season with salt and pepper and keep aside
  2. Heat the olive oil and 1 tbsp. of butter in a heavy skillet. Cook the steak in batches over medium to high heat for a couple of minutes.   Remove the meat from the skillet and keep aside.
  3. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. of butter to the skillet. Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes until translucent.
  4. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and cook until the onions and mushrooms are nicely browned and cooked.
  5. Add the brandy or wine. Stir around to deglaze the pan.  Continue cooking for a few more minutes until the alcohol evaporates.
  6. In a bowl, whisk together the warm beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and flour until smooth.
  7. Add this mixture to the skillet and stir well to combine. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  8. Return the cooked steak pieces with the juices to the skillet and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes until the meat is heated through.
  9. Turn the heat to low and stir in the sour cream. Stir well to combine.  Make sure that the sauce doesn’t boil.
  10. Taste for seasoning.
  11. Serve over a bed of cooked egg noodles.
  12. You can have a salad at the side. We had it with sautéed baby beans

Notes:

  • You need to use tender meat like sirloin steak or tenderloin. Do not overcook the meat
  • Make sure that you do not let the sauce boil once the sour cream is added else it will curdle
  • If you don’t have beef stock, you can add some stock cubes to hot water.

EGGS JEEREM MEEREM

Jeerem Meerem is a versatile spice blend, goes well with meat, vegetables, fish and eggs.  It literally translates to Cumin and Pepper.  It is a blend of a few basic spices like pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric and a wee pinch of (red chilli powder, clove powder and cinnamon powder which are optional).

We had a long weekend to celebrate Auckland Anniversary.   As with most long weekends, this one too involved a lot of eating – food, food and more food.   Come Tuesday, we were all craving for some simple food.   The ideal menu at such times would have been rice/dhal/pickle and papad.  Unfortunately, I ran out of masoor dhal so the next best option was egg curry.  I wasn’t too keen on grinding the masala for the egg curry so settled for the mild, flavourful and simple Jeerem Meerem preparation.

Egg Curry 2.jpg

Ingredients:

4 eggs (boiled, shelled and halved)

2 medium sized potatoes (boiled and cubed, skin on)

1 tbsp. oil

1 large onion, chopped fine

2 medium tomatoes, chopped fine

1 sprig curry leaves (optional)

1 tsp ginger/garlic paste

1-1/4 tbsp. jeerem meerem powder (I use Marios brand from Goa)

1 cup hot water or thin coconut milk

1 green chilli slit

1 cup thick coconut milk (I used the canned coconut milk)

2-3 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Boil the eggs, shell and halve them and keep aside.
  2. Boil the potatoes, cut each into 4 or 8 pieces and keep aside.
  3. Heat oil in your cooking pan, add a sprig of curry leaves (if using) then add the chopped onion and sauté till translucent.
  4. Add the ginger/garlic paste and cook for a couple of minutes. Next add the tomatoes and cook till mushy.
  5. Add the jeerem meerem powder, sauté for a minute followed by a cup of hot water / thin coconut milk and salt and allow the curry to cook for 5-8 minutes. Half way through the cooking process, add the slit green chilli.
  6. Next add the boiled potatoes and the thick coconut milk followed by the boiled eggs and let it simmer gently. Make sure that the curry doesn’t boil else it will split.
  7. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with steamed rice.

Note:

  • Check the curry for seasoning. You could add a bit of tamarind water if required.  I did not add any as the tomatoes were quite ripe.
  • Curry leaves gives the curry a nice flavour. Can be omitted but recommended