Tag Archive for Indian

Carrot-lentil soup

Lentil soup is a favourite in our house, but as it goes with all favourite recipes, it has changed a bit since I started making it. Nowadays, I serve the soup as it is, I don’t add stuff like quinoa or chicken, and I don’t serve naan with it, because it really doesn’t need it. I also don’t roast the spices in a separate pan any more, I just add them to the vegetables. I don’t soak my lentils, because they cook in 30 minutes even without soaking. I use a teaspoon of sambal badjak instead of the chili powder and I also add 1/2 tsp garam masala. And I use a drop of oil, instead of the butter, because you don’t need a lot of fat to bake everything in (the golden bits that get stuck in the pan will give extra flavour) and you will not taste the difference anyway.
But sometimes it is not possible to use all the different veggies, basically because you cannot buy them in small amounts and will not finish them before they spoil. Or you have something left over that is on the brink of spoiling. Or both, as in my case. I had a large carrot that desperately needed to be used up, so I made the lentil soup into a very delicious carrot-lentil soup, with slightly different spices than the standard lentil soup.

Carrot-lentil soup

Lentil soup (2 big bowls)

1 tsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped (about 500 gram)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp sambal badjak
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp curry powder
3 cardamom pods
2 stock cubes (I usually use vegetable)
1 cup yellow or orange lentils
juice of half a lemon
salt, pepper, chili powder

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, cook until soft and translucent. Then add the carrot, cook until slightly caramelized. Add the ginger and garlic, sambal and all the spices, cook until fragrant. Add the stock cubes, lentils and enough water to cover. Cook the soup for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are very soft. Blend, pour through a sieve and press all the liquid from the solids in the sieve. Add the lemon juice and extra water if the soup is too thick. Taste and add extra seasoning (salt, pepper, chili powder) if necessary. Serve hot.

Marinated Grilled Paneer

Paneer (also known as panir) is a firm, Indian cheese that is perfect for marinating and grilling, since it stands up against bold flavours and doesn’t melt when frying, but goes deliciously crisp. It is quite similar to halloumi, but is a lot less salty. Together with some vegetables (flavoured by the same marinade), naan (homemade or bought) and a simple cucumber raita, this is a complete meal.

Grilled Paneer

Marinated grilled paneer (2 servings)
Adapted from Sinfully Spicy

250 gram paneer, in chunks
1 onion, in wedges
1 paprika, in chunks
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp nigella seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
4-5 dry red chillies or red pepper flakes (adjust to tolerance, see note)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 tbsp greek yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp oil
salt to taste

Use a fork to prick some holes in the paneer (this will help soak up the marinade).
Roast all the spices in a dry pan, until slightly brown and fragrant (if using fresh chili or sambal, don’t add it). Keep an eye on them, as they tend to burn in a fraction of a second. Tip into a mortar and pestle and grind finely.
Make the marinade by combining the ground spices, garlic, ginger, yoghurt, lemon juice, oil and salt (and chili/sambal if using). Add the paneer and mix well. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Add the vegetables to the marinade before starting to preheat the grilling pan. In this way the vegetables will be in the marinade for about 5 minutes, which gives them flavour but prevents them from getting too sloppy (the marinade draws water from the vegetables). Grill everything (I prefer to do the paneer and the vegetables separate, because the paneer needs to be flipped carefully to brown on all sides, but the vegetables need to be shaken around quite a bit to prevent burning). Serve immediately.

Note 1: dried chillies tend to be very hot, so for me even using 1 makes the dish too hot. As a substitution you can use a little bit of finely minced fresh chili, or even a good sambal (as I did).
Note 2: this recipe can also be made with courgette, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms or other vegetables you like instead of onion and paprika. To replace the paneer you can use boneless cubed lamb, mutton, beef, chicken (marinate for 6 hrs) or with shrimp (marinate 30 mins-1hr).

Indian espresso coffee

I’ve seen this thing called Indian espresso coffee passing by for a long time on all kinds of blogs before I gave it a try. I could not imagine that something like this would be tasty, with the coffee powder instead of real coffee, and with the sugar (I hate sugar in my coffee), and with all that milk it is certainly not an espresso. But when I gave it a try, I liked it a lot!

The principle is very simple. You add a tablespoon of instant coffee powder/granules and a tablespoon of sugar to a tall mug (you can adjust the amounts to your taste). You wet it with a few drops of water, just to get it going, and then you beat the hell out of it. It is suggested to do it with a spoon, but I found that a fork works much better. The mixture start dark and sandy, but the more you beat it, the paler and fluffier it gets. It can easily increase a 4-fold in volume, it is like magic, it just gets really stiff and frothy. After beating 5-10 minutes (according to how frothy you want it) you add hot milk. And voila, your sweet coffee beverage is ready.

Indian espresso coffee is often described as a cross between espresso and cappuccino. I think that is not true, both real espresso and cappuccino are made with freshly brewed espresso from good quality, and cappuccino has microfoam milk froth. Indian espresso coffee doesn’t suffice to these criteria. But it does taste better than instant cappuccino, it kicks a punch, it has generous amounts of caffeine in there, but still is nice and creamy. And when making it you can beat out your frustration. So it is the perfect accompaniment when you need to study or meet a deadline or something like that. But I do think that the drink will benefit from good instant coffee powder… as far as that is possible.

Indian Espresso Coffee

Potato Pizza with Home-made Ricotta (and paneer)

Making your own ricotta is incredibly easy, anyone can do it. You don’t need special equipment. The time investment is small, the cheese does take a few hours to drain, but the actual work only takes about 5 minutes. You could do this in the morning, leave for work/other business and when you come back you have this lovely cheese waiting for you. It only has 2 ingredients: milk and lemon juice. And you can make it with any dairy milk you like! I used full fat cows milk from the supermarket this time, but I would love to make it from farm milk or goats milk. Both are a bit harder to get, but since the flavour of the cheese is basically the flavour of the milk, it pays off to search for the best milk you can get.
After draining you can use it in the same way as you use ricotta/fresh cheese, but you can also press it. Then you will get paneer, a fresh Indian cheese that is often used cubed in curries, or fried. The pressing gets rid of a lot of moisture, which makes the cheese more firm than ricotta.

Homemade Ricotta

I mixed my freshly prepared ricotta with a little salt and pepper for seasoning and served it on a potato pizza. The idea of putting slices of potato on a pizza seemed very weird to me the first time I saw it, but after a while it actually made sense. The crisp pizza bottom combines very well with the slightly soft, but crispy on the edges potato. And the garlic oil I spread on top gave everything a nice, mellow garlic taste. The ricotta on top was nice to give the pizza a bit more of succulence. I imagine that something like a nice, tangy fresh goats cheese would also be very nice.
You want good potatoes for this dish! They won’t be hiding under a thick layer of sauce, you will really taste the potato.
For the pizza base I used my standard pizza base recipe that works always and with every topping. It is a dream to work with, I find that many pizza doughs are very difficult to roll out nice. They shrink and you end up with having a much thicker base than you like. This recipe does not have that problem, you can roll it out very thinly without any problems. I use Italian 00 flour suitable for pasta making, because it just gives a better result. I am still trying to find out what 00 flour exactly is, because there are many different explanations on the internet. My understanding at the moment is the following: it is made from hard (durum) wheat instead of soft wheat, it is milled very fine and the gluten strength is quite high. But you can also make this recipe with normal (bread) flour.

Potato Pizza

Home-made Ricotta (about 1 cup)
1 liter milk
3 tbsp lemon juice

Put the milk in a pan, heat slowly and add the lemon juice. Wait until the milk curdles and leave it to cool for a bit. Rinse a clean tea towel (or cheese cloth) to get rid of soap residues. Put it in a sieve above a bowl. Pour in the curdled milk. If you want, you can rinse the curd to get rid of the slightly lemony taste, but I didn’t. Leave it to drain a while in the sieve with tea towel to get rid of the largest part of the whey. Then hang the cloth from something, to drain further. You can use the cheese at any moment you like, mine took about 2-3 hours to drain. Scrape the cheese from the towel and put in a bowl. If you reserve some whey, you can mix it through in the end if you find your cheese a little too dry.
If you want to make paneer leave the cheese in the cloth, put it on a plate, put another plate on top and put weights on there, to press more moisture out.

Potato pizza (1 pizza)
Marie Claire De Ultieme Keuken – M. Cranston (potato pizza)
De Zilveren Lepel – Van Dishoeck (pizza crust)

250 g 00 flour
3/4 tsp salt
15 g fresh yeast ( or 7 gram/one packet of dried yeast)
120 ml tepid water
2 tbsp olive oil

2 big potatoes (waxy or slightly floury)
salt
seasoning (I used garlic oil, but some rosemary, thyme or oregano would also be very nice)

Dissolve the yeast in the tepid water. Mix the flour with the salt. Make a well in the middle, pour in the water with the yeast and the olive oil, mix crudely with a fork. Then knead the dough well for at least 10 minutes, until it is silky smooth and stretchy. This is essential for the development of gluten (necessary for the crispness). Put it in a bowl, cover and let it rise on a warm spot for 3 hours.
Slice the potatoes very thinly. Roll out the dough on a silicon sheet or baking paper, put the sheet with the dough on a baking tray. Arrange the potato slices neatly on top. Brush with garlic oil and/or sprinkle with herbs, sprinkle some salt on top and bake for about 25 minutes (until edges of potatoes are golden) in a preheated oven at 190C.
Serve hot with the home-made ricotta mixed with some salt and pepper.

Tandoori and butter chicken

As I wrote before, I like Indian food a lot and Butter Chicken is one of my favourite curries. But, the recipe that I posted before, wasn’t the one. So I tried another one, and served it with rice, raita and home-made naan.
For this recipe you need two days. The first day you prepare the tandoori chicken, the second day the butter chicken. I made a double batch of tandoori and ate half of it as diner at the first day, and stored the other half in the fridge for the butter chicken. The tandoori is very easy to make, but marinating it takes quite some time. The butter chicken is very fast to make, because the sauce is very fast and the chicken is already cooked.
I liked the taste of both dishes very much, so much that I already prepared it 2 times again since the first time I tried. I think that there is some room for improvement, but that will be the change from a very good to an excellent dish. So do give it a try!
I used chicken thighs with the bone in for this dish, because they are cheap and have a good flavour. But you can also use breasts, legs, drumsticks, or even a whole chicken chopped in pieces.

Tandoori Chicken (2 persons + for 2 persons butter chicken)
Adapted from Seasaltwithfood

1 kilo of bone-in chicken thighs
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup thick yogurt
1 tbsp garlic, minced very fine
1 tbsp ginger, minced very fine
½ tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp dried fenugreek leaf powder (these are also known as dried curry leaves)

Coat the chicken with the lime juice, red chili powder and salt (first one in the list). Let marinate for 1 hour.
Mix yoghurt, garlic, ginger, salt (second one in the list), garam masala and fenugreek, coat the chicken with this mixture, marinate for at least 3 hours.
Heat up the grill, sear the outside of the chicken, then scoop the marinade over that was still in the bowl, let cook on lower heat until cooked through while occasionally turning the pieces. Serve hot. Additional serving tips: lime wedges, thinly sliced red onion and chopped coriander.

Tandoori Chicken

Butter chicken (2 persons)
Adapted from Seasaltwithfood

the remaining tandoori chicken
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 can of (chopped) tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced very fine
1 1/2 tsp ginger, minced very fine
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream (or a mix of cream and yoghurt, or crème fraiche)

Sauté the onion in the oil until soft. Add the tomatoes, sea salt, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the oil floats to the surface (about 5-10 min). Mix in the garlic, ginger, and all the spice powders. Give it a quick stir and add in the chicken. Cook the chicken for about 3 to 4 minutes, to coat the chicken evenly with the sauce. Then add the butter and stir until it melts. Pour in the cream, give it a quick stir and remove the pan from the heat (to prevent splitting).

Butter Chicken

Salmon with beurre noisette, pilav rice and raita

A very simple meal of a piece of baked salmon, beurre noisette, pilav rice and raita. The salmon was pan-fried and seasoned with some salt and pepper, and placed between two plates to keep warm. Butter was molten in the same pan that was used for frying the fish, and was cooked until slightly brown. Take care not to burn it! Then some lemon juice and ketoembar was added, and the sauce was poured over the fish.

 

Aloo gobi

This is a very nice, slightly spicy vegetarian (vegan) curry with cauliflower and potato. I hate cauliflower, but by preparing it this way, I love it. The preparation is very simple, but the result is superb.

Aloo gobi
From the Hairy Bikers

vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
4 cm fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp mustard seeds
5 curry leaves
1/2 tsp kurkuma
1/2 tsp fenugriek
2 green chilies, whole
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
250 gram tomatoes, diced (or use from a tin)
1/2 small cauliflower
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp water

Fry the onion in the vegetable oil until soft.
Add the ginger, mustard seeds, curry leaves, kurkuma, fenugriek, green chilies, chili powder and salt, fry for a while. Then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Serve with basmati rice, naan and raita.

Butter chicken and raita

I like Indian food a lot. One of my favourite curries is butter chicken, a very nice and mild curry. I am still looking for a good recipe and although this is not the one it is still a very nice curry. Serve with rice, naan and a simple raita (below). It is also very nice with pilav rice.

Butter chicken

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 shallot, diced
1/4 white onion, diced (I used a small whole normal onion)
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, puréed
1/2 tbsp garlic, puréed
1 tsp garam massala
1/4 tsp fenugriek
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 bay leave
1/4 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
tomato puree (small tin, 70 gram)
salt and pepper

1 tbsp oil
chicken breast, in cubes
sambal oelek
salt

1/4 cup cashew nuts, ground
1/4 cup water

Bake the shallot and onion slowly in the oil, until translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, garam massala, fenugriek, chili powder, cumin and the bay leave. Fry. Add the tomato puree and a little water, fry some more. Then add the lemon juice, butter, yoghurt, cream and milk. Let it cook for about 10 minutes on low heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile fry the chicken in the oil until brown. Add sambal oelek and salt to taste. Then add some of the sauce, fry until the sauce is dry and the chicken cooked. Mix the cashew puree and the water, add to the sauce. Add the chicken also to the sauce. Cook for 5-10 min till the sauce has thickened.

Raita
My own creation inspired on traditional raita and tzatziki

cucumber
yoghurt
salt
pepper
Optional:
puréed raw garlic
garlic powder
lemon or lime juice
Worcestershire sauce
Other vegetables, like carrot and paprika

Dice the cucumber. Drown in yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper. Add none, some or all of the optional seasoning to taste. Keep in mind that it takes a while before the garlic gives its taste to the sauce, a small amount already gives a nice garlicky taste, when you use more the sauce will be very sharp. Serve with all curry type foods, as a nice refreshment.

Home-made Naan

I love naan. The soft, pillowy bread is perfect as a side dish with all sorts of curries and Indian food. But unfortunately, buying it in the shop is very expensive, so I don’t eat it as much as I would like to. I really like to make bread, but all the recipes I found thus far were quite complicated and therefore don’t fit in my busy life. So when I found this recipe, I was really happy. It is just so easy and fast, and the naan tastes like store bought/ordered at the Indian restaurant, but is much, much cheaper. So now I can eat naan whenever I want.

I served the naan with tandoori chicken, tandoori chicken sauce (with onion, raisins and cashew nuts inside), rice, tomato chutney and a fruit salad.

I converted the recipe from cups to grams and I suspect something isn’t quite right, because I ended up using much more flour than the recipe stated. So don’t worry when it happens to you, just keep adding flour until you have a nice dough.
Because I only made 4 breads, I was left with the remaining amount of yeast from the package, so I also made cinnamon-raisin bagels. I will post the recipe for that soon!

Update: If you use the cup measurements from the original recipe, this recipe works perfect. I also make the whole recipe, so I don’t have leftover yeast. The naan can be frozen really well, just let it thaw on room temp and grill again before serving.

Naan (4 breads)
adapted from Budget Bytes

1 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
60 gram water
150-200 gram flour
1/4 tsp salt
30 gram vegetable oil
40 gram yoghurt (I used full fat greek yoghurt)
1 egg
seasoning (see the note on the bottom of the post)

Mix the yeast, sugar, water and wait until foamy. Add the oil, yoghurt and egg, mix well.
Add the flour (start with the lowest amount) and the salt, stir with a fork until quite mixed, then kneed with your hands. Keep adding flour until you have a smooth and soft dough that doesn’t stick. This is the time to add your seasoning to the dough.
Let it rise in a bowl covered with cling film or a towel until doubled in size (about 45 minutes).
Flatten the dough, divide in 4 pieces, form a ball of them. Roll one of the balls out (or flatten/stretch it with your hands) until it is about 3-5 mm thick (the thinner, the easier to cook, but to thin will not work). It is best to do this just before frying the naan.
Heat a skillet, put the naan in, wait until bubbly on the top and golden on the bottom, then fry the other side to golden. You can brush them with melted butter and add seasoning if you want.
Serve directly, or let cool, wrap well and freeze. When using again, defrost and grill shortly. I stored mine for a few days in the freezer and I will experiment with storing them longer.

*seasoning: You can add seasoning to the dough, or put it on after frying. I added cumin seeds to my dough and the next time I will certainly try adding garlic and coriander. But you can add really anything you want. Plain the naan is delicious too.