Eat in Chicken Tikka Masala – Take the Tefal ActiFryDay challenge

Friday nights – when all you want to do is get home, put your feet up and watch some telly while tucking into your favourite takeaway. But here are some staggering facts about the eating habits of Britons and how many calories are consumed on an average with a takeaway meal. According to Tefal’s ActiFryday Report:

  • From a study of the 5 most popular dishes it was found that the nation consumes 12,400 tonnes of saturated fat through takeaway’s alone.
  • Brits eat upto 2900 calories and 161 grams of fat in their most popular takeaway meal.
  • Friday is the most popular day to order.

Not surprising then the survey revealed this shocking statistic –

BRITONS FEAST ON MORE THAN 12,000 TONNES OF SATURATED FAT FROM TAKEAWAYS EACH YEAR

Am sure you are as shocked after reading these statistics as I was. So naturally when Tefal asked me to take on their Actifryday challenge – to swap a typical Friday night takeaway for a healthier alternative –  I was in.

Tefal Actifry XL

Tefal Actifry XL

I decided to give the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe that they sent me a go. Why? Because  I have always been very intrigued by the recpie for Chicken Tikka Masala – a dish that I only ate when I first came to the U.K few years ago. CTM as it is popularly called, is without doubt the nations favourite British-Indian curry. Part of it’s popularity is attributed to the fact that it’s origin is quite disputed and many have staked a claim as to the dish being their own invention. While some believe that it was dish born out of necessity to satiate the British palate’s need to serve chicken in a gravy which can be mopped up with naan or rice, it is also believed that it is a variation of butter chicken. Many also firmly believe that it’s roots like in Mughlai cuisine and it was one of the many culinary inventions that were born to suit the English palate, when the migrant population from post partition India, Pakistan and Bangladesh came into Britain. Of course I was not going to follow the recipe without making some changes of my own. I normally make all my own masala’s and marinades from scratch and all of them can be stored and/ or frozen to be used later. I used half of the tikka masala paste I made  and froze the rest. Find my easy recipe for tikka masala on my blog here.

Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka Masala Paste

Since this is a recipe which aims to reduce the fat content the double cream that normally goes in the curry is replaced by low fat natural yoghurt. Figuring out how to use my new Tefal Actifry XL was not difficult at all and the instruction booklet is quite simple to follow too. Once the removable parts has been hand washed and dried completely , I set about making a Chicken Tikka Masala. Here is my modified version of the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 500g boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 2cm pieces
  • 100g Tikka Masala curry paste
  • 2 pots (150g size) natural low fat yoghurt
  • 1 ActiFry spoon of vegetable Oil
  • 1 Large finely chopped onion and made into a thick paste
  • 390g canned premium chopped tomatoes made into a puree
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 onion gravy flavour pot – I used Knorr
  • 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 150ml of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar – I used a substitute -Natvia
  • 2 teaspoons on lemon juice
  • Salt as per taste
  • a handfull of fresh coriander leaves chopped fine – to garnish

Method:

  1. In a large bowl mix the Tikka Masala paste with 4 tablespoonsof yougurt. Add the chicken in the coat then cover. Leave the marinate in the fridge for atleast 4 hours or ideally overnight – this will ensure the flavours have really seeped in, into the chicken.
  2. Heat oil in ActiFry for 2 minutes. Add the onion paste and cook for 5 minutes. I simply chopped the onion fine in my food processor and sprinkled some water to give it movement and gave it 2 spins at low speed. Result was a thick onion paste which is a much better way to use the onion in this recipe in the Actifry.
  3. Add the marinated Chicken and cook for a another 10 minutes. This ensures that the Actifry is hot enough to bruise the ends of the chicken giving it a similar treatment to what the griddle pan will. But of course the bruising is minimal and cannot be compared to grilling the meat. But this is where the addition of smoked paprika in the chicken tikka paste plays a big role as it works with the chicken and the cooking process to impart a much better smoky effect than without.
  4. In a small glass bowl crush the chicken stock cube, add the onion gravy flavour pot and smoked paprika and pour 2 tbps of hot water. With the back of a spoon mix well until a thick paste is formed.
  5. Add the tomato puree, the mixture with the stock and water cook for another 10 minutes. Add salt to taste but keep in mind that the chicken stock cube contains a lot of salt so taste some of the gravy base before adding additional salt.
  6. Remove the CTM into a bowl and then stir in remaining yoghurt. Then add the sugar and mix well.
  7. Add the lemon juice mix well and top with a handful of freshly chopped coriander leaves.
  8. Serve with steaming hot basmati rice, jeera rice or naan.

If you would like to view the original recipe from Tefal click here. To save time you can purchase the tikka masala paste too.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Both hubby and me were quite satisfied with this low calorie version of CTM and it definitely can hold it’s own in terms of taste. Of course the texture of tandoor grilled chicken tikkas and the unmistakeable creaminess of double cream is missing. But it’s a win -win on 2 very important factors :

  • Saving on unnecessary calories from the grease and oil from a takeaway. Thus eliminating the risk of eating artery clogging saturated fats.
  • Tefal Actifry is easy to use and very easy to cook in. With a little effort and planning it’s not at all difficult to produce a delicious curry – a healthier alternative to your takeaway- at home.

The Tefal ActiFry Express XL is available from John Lewis RRP £249.99.

*With  thanks to Tefal for sending me a Tefal Actifry XL for review. No monetary compensation was offered. No request was made for a positive review.  As usual all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Tikka Masala curry paste

Chicken Tikka Masala is the poster child for British Indian cuisine and definitely tops the list of the nations favourite curry. CTM as it is popularly known as is also the top choice for a Friday Night takeway when ordering in Indian food.

Like any good curry, it’s best to use a home made marinade, so if you can spare some time, it’s best to make your own tikka curry paste. I made mine and here is a simple recipe that you can use. The quantity is enough to marinade 1 kilo of skinless, boneless chicken breast pieces. I used 5000 gm of chicken for my CTM so the rest is in my freezer and can continue to live there for at least 2 months – I don’t think it will though because am sure the craving for a curry can strike sooner rather than later. Actually the tikka paste can be used as a starter marinade for grilled chicken kebabs as that is what is the basis of a good CTM. Or can be used for marinating even meat or fish to grill or as part of a curry dish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Half a red chilli de-seeded
  • 2 medium sized kashmiri chillies
  • 2 heaped tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 heaped tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp coriander and green chilli puree
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1 tsp roasted coriander seeds powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt as per taste
Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka Masala Paste

Method:

  • In a small saucepan heat the oil.
  • Reduce the flame to a minium then add the bay leaf and the dried red kashmiri chillies, which add flavour and colour and not heat.
  • Then add in the ginger garlic paste. Stir for 30 seconds before adding in the garam masala, that will allow the ginger garlic paste to mix well with the hot oil but prevent it from drying up the oil.
  • Once the garam masala is mixed well with the paste and the oil add the screaming dry spices and mix well. Allow  to cook on a very low flame for under a minute and then add the coriander and green chilli puree. (Again I make my own puree – simply spitz 2 large bunches of  fresh coriander leaves with two small Indian green chillies, add some water in a small food processor to make a thick puree. This can be frozen and used for many curries and sabzi’s or bhajee’s as we call them in Marathi.I store mine for upto 3 weeks)
  • The smoked paprika will work with the chiken while making the curry and impart a fabulous smoky flavour that is hard to miss.
  • Allow the paste to cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it does not burn or become too dry.
  • The water content in the coriander and green chilli mixture will totally dry out and you will be left with a dark reddish brown paste.

Like any marinade there are many things that been added or omitted according to one’s preferences. For example the red chilli can be eliminated to reduce the heat. A small pinch of sugar can be added to balance out the green chilli too. Also a small amount of water can be sprinkled to give the paste a more fluid consistency of required.
I use the dried kashmiri chillies and the bay leaf later in the curry base and did not purree the tikka paste further. Why?  Because the garam masala already contains both these spices. After marinating the chicken with the paste, the same kashmiri chilli and the bay leaf can be added to the hot oil, to impart fragrance and colour.

 

Tikka Masala Paste

Tikka Masala Paste

 

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes / Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes/ Nachni chya god polya

Another new obsession – Nachni (Marathi) / Ragi (Hindi) or Finger Millet as it is popularly known , in the past few days have made savoury pancakes several times so today I thought I would rustle up some sweet pancakes. But had to keep them healthy so opted for Soya Yoghurt instead of eggs which makes these vegan friendly and added in oats so that makes them gluten free too.

I really wanted to come up with some name for the Marathi alternative to this recipe and ‘Nachni chya god polya’ sounded like fun 😉

Light and puffy these are just perfect when you are craving pancakes but a healthier version is what you really want!

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes , Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes, Nachni chya god polya

Ragi is known to have a whole host of health benefits:

  • Popular amongst diabetics due to it’s low GI
  • High is dietary fiber
  • Rich in calcium, iron and thiamine
  • It is an aid to healthy weight loss due to it’s very low fat content
  • It is a good source of GF protien
  • Popular as a baby food too

Nutritional value of finger millet per 100g

Protein 7.6g
Fat 1.5g
Carbohydrate 88g
Calcium 370mg
Vitamins – A: 0.48mg
Thiamine (B1): 0.33mg
Riboflavin (B2): 0.11mg
Niacin: (B3) 1.2mg
Fiber 3g

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Image Credit: Mikael Häggström

Why you should make these pancakes! As if you need any excuses for blueberry pancakes!!!

  • Low GI due to the finger millet flour so ideal for diabetics as it keeps blood sugar levels steady avoiding any sudden spikes and crashes.
  • Gluten free
  • Ideal for vegans
  • Dairy Free
  • Egg Free
  • Refined sugar free as Natvia is great sugar substitute
  • The oats ensure that this pancake keeps you fuller longer

Serves: 1 – makes 6 mini pancakes – double up quantity for 2 people

Ingredients:

  • 6 heaped tbsp oats
  • 4 heaped tbsp finger millet flour
  • 3 tbsp Soya yoghurt – I used Alpro – it’s approved by the Vegan society
  • Handful of blueberries
  • water
  • 4 tsp of Natvia – adjust as per taste

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes , Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes, Nachni chya god polya

Method:

  • In a large mixing bowl add the oats and finger millet and then the yoghurt
  • Mix well and a thick mixture will form
  • Heat about 2 cups of water in a kettle and let it cool down a bit
  • Slowly pour into the mixture and set aside for about 5-7 minutes
  • Then mix well to form a batter ensuring that it is not runny but has a good consistency, then add the Natvia and stir well till it all dissolves, adjust as per taste.
  • On a non-stick pan on medium heat melt 1 heaped tbsp unsalted butter or if your using the 1 cal sunflower oil spray then about 6 – 8 sprays are enough.
  • Ladle enough of the batter in the centre of the pan enough for a mini pancake, do not spread it like a dosa as the batter will disintegrate.
  • Allow to cook on each side for about 1 minute with a lid.
  • Use a wooden spatula to loosen the side done first and flip over carefully, the more the blueberries in each pancake that you ladle into the pan the more the water content as the heat will make the fruit pop and melt into gooey fruity goodness. Don’t fret if the first few pancakes break especially where the fruit is at the edge.

My pancake stack collapsed just as I was about to photograph it – humfph! But it was a very satisfying , delicious and healthy breakfast which even the hubster loved – win-win! Woohoo 🙂

A word of caution though excessive consumption may lead to kidney trouble so don’t over do the consumption.

Lastly a fun fact! Did you know that the grains are fermented to make a beer in some parts in Nepal? Cool or what?!

Ragi and Blueberry Pancakes , Finger Millet Blueberry Pancakes, Nachni chya god polya

References:

  • Wiki
  • Supra Organics
  • Veg Weight Loss Diets

Indian Masala Omelette with Happy Eggs

Weekend mornings demand a good breakfast, especially if you have had a tad too much wine on Friday evening 😉

I love making a simple Indian omelette and my dinner guests who stayed with us for the night, last Friday, had to be fed a hearty breakfast before they set out to go home. Like my aai I am obsessed with feeding people and cannot imagine sending off guests on an empty stomach.

Luckily, now that I am part of the Happy Eggs Taste 100 Blogger network a  #happyeggtastemakers, I had 2 boxes of these lovely Happy eggs at home, red onion or the Mumbai pink onion which I buy from my fav Indian-Pakistani grocery store and loads of frozen coriander.

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This is a very basic recipe for the Indian masala omelette- with a bit of twist , added in my me . I also love adding in cheese and bulking it up with ham or sausages which I did for my guests, but hubster is a purist of sorts when it comes to the masala omelettes (read fussy hehehe) and so made 2 huge omelettes , one using the recipe that follows and another with the cheese, sausages and Parma Ham – so… so… so… good !!

Indian Masala Omelette

Serves:2

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium sized red onion or pink Mumbai onion chopped fine
  • 3 Happy eggs
  • 1 green chillies chopped into fairly large chunky pieces- easy to pick out for the faint hearted!
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 /4th  tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • 2 large tbsp butter
  • Salt to taste

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Additional Ingredients to bulk up the omlette:

  • 1 cheese single
  •  2 sausages
  •  2 thin slices of Parma Ham
  •  1 /2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1.5 medium sized red onion.

Adding the garam masala is something I like to do as it gives the omelette a fabulous amped up flavour but feel free to leave that out if you aren’t a fan ,

Method:

  • Finely chop the red onion.
  • Chop the green chilli into fairly big pieces so they can be picked out by those that don’t want to chew on them.
  • Crack the happy eggs into the bowl.
  • Add in the chopped onions, green chilli chopped, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Whisk with a fork till the mixture foams and is well aerated , this will give you a beautifully ‘fluffy’ omelette .
  • Then add the chopped coriander and mix again.

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  • I add in the turmeric as it has loads of health benefits – it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant, and our guest who do not consume turmeric on a regular basis loved the idea.
  • Now add in the cheese – torn roughly if it using a cheese single or crushed if using a soft cheese or crumbly cheese, sausages and Parma Ham.Lightly beat the egg mixture once more with a fork to mix well.
  • Place a big pan on medium heat and when it begins to heat up melt the butter.
  • See the photo below – when the butter begins to sizzle and pan resembles what you see in the image then it’s the right time to add the egg mixture.

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  • Move the pan around so that the mixture spreads evenly and cook on a low flame for about 2 minutes .
  • When the omelette leaves the sides of the pan ,slightly lift it with a wooden spatula and check , if it has browned it’s time to FLIP ,  you can tell by the aroma wafting around too.6-IMG_9200 (Copy)
  • With a big wooden spatula gently flip over and cook on the other side, I place a lid over my pan at this stage to trap the steam and it also gives me a really fluffy omelette, of course it will fall flat if you don’t serve immediately.
  • Once done, turn off the heat and cut in half using a wooden spatula. Fold and place in between hot buttered toast for a fabulous breakfast.

An Indian masala omelette,served at breakfast with hot buttered toast and hot cups of masala chai , I think is a breakfast fit for a king – Made better with Happy Eggs I say!

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I am so egg-cited to be part Happy Eggs Taste 100 Blogger network, they  sent  me this beautifully packaged cute box with a massive chocolate cookie made using Happy Eggs and a lovely picture of the latest campaign – Top of The Flocks – where Happy Eggs produced an original album of classical music following a study by the University of Bristol looking at the positive benefits of music on hens.The results showed that Happy Hens prefer Bach to Beyonce – they have refined taste these hens! Happy Hens produced 6% more eggs in nest boxes playing classical music compared to pop! Awesome or what?! – always good to know where your eggs are coming from isn’t it?!

Ahem… as you can that by the time I actually got around to taking a photo of the welcome kit , hubster and me had managed to devour most of the cookie …well , don’t blame us  – it was soo yum!

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*With thanks to Happy Eggs for taking me on as part of their Exclusive Blogger Network and  for a complimentary voucher sent with their cute welcome pack . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

CKP Surmai-सुरमई- Curry – Happy Fathers Day Baba

Leaving your home country and more importantly leaving behind your near and dear ones is never easy. I sorely miss a lot of things about my life back home and one of the things I miss most is lazy Sunday afternoons at my parents place. As any typical teenager if you do move out from home during college years you would be better off dealing with moving out your parents after you get married but I never lived away from my parents and it was only after I was married that hubster and me moved into our own place, which happened to be very close to my mum’s !So most Sunday afternoons we would make our way to mum’s and Baba would be helping aai cook our favourite Sunday meal of chicken curry and rice, or sometimes when he was in a mood for seafood he would go Supekar’s fish market and queue up for fresh surmai (Marathi Surmai /सुरमई, Indo-Pacific king mackerel or popularly spotted seer fish-Scomberomorus guttatus),pomfret and my fav fresh prawns ummm!

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This recipe for Surmai/Kingfish /Mackerel curry is his favourite and I love how aai (means mother in Marathi my mother tongue)makes it so very delicious using a traditional hand me down recipe typical to the CKP community (Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP), is an ethno-religious community of South Asia). We call it Surmaiche Kalvan (सुर्माईचे कालवान) – Kalvan means curry in Marathi. If we were in Pune today I would most certainly have surprised Baba by cooking up a feast for him and aai. Baba this post is for you and for aai thank you for being the most parents any one could ever ask for , the best childhood ever and for believing is us ,for being the strong presence every girl wants her father to be. I love you more than words can say Baba and I miss you heaps and tons!

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Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sized surmai pieces
  • 3 large tbsp coriander – green chilli paste
  • 2 tsp  of ginger – garlic paper
  •  2  tsp Red Chilli powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 4 cloves of garlic cloves with skin on
  • 3 tbsp grated coconut
  • A pinch of Asafoetida/Hing
  • 2 tbsp refined oil
  • Juice of 1/4th of a lime
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander a tiny palmful washed and finely chopped for garnishing.

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Method:

  • Wash the Surmai/Kingfish /Mackerel steaks and marinate the with red chilli powder, turmeric,salt ,ginger- garlic paste,coriander- green chilli paste and set aside for at least 40 minutes.

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  • Heat oil in a saucepan,add a pinch of asafoetida and then add the crushed garlic cloves with their skins on and as they start to brown.
  • Add the marinated fish and toss around in the hot oil for 30 seconds
  • Add the finely grated fresh coconut, stir in enough water to ensure that the curry is the right consistency , not too thick  and cook on a low flame with lid for about under 5 minutes.
  • Fresh fish cooks very quickly , take care not to overdo it.
  • Now add salt as required bearing in mind that when the fish was marinated salt was used.
  • Squeeze the lime juice into the curry.
  • Garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander/cilantro.
  • Serve with steaming hot rice and allow yourself to enjoy this simple yet classic fish curry.

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This is another fabulous recipe that originates from the western coast of India , the Konkan coastline , a beautiful coconut tree lined coastline abundantly blessed with fresh sea food and natural scenic beauty read beautiful beaches with soft sands and plenty of sunshine. A lot of people would also add tamarind paste to the curry but we do not. Tamarind trees are also found in abundance

If you are looking for fresh Kingfish in London the best place to find it is at supermarkets like H-Mart. The Kingfish that you will get here is from the North  Atlantic waters. You can also buy Wahoo steaks from Wing Yip but the taste is not as pronounced and the flesh is not as tender, besides wahoo steaks are bigger and need more seasoning and should be consumed on the same day to enjoy the full taste , I’d say they taste better in a curry than fried and if you do fry them do add a large squeeze of lime after you have fired them. Since the Kingfish belongs to the Mackerel family ,the mackerel will take all these marinade flavours beautifully and works well both fried and in a curry Konkani style.

My traditional CKP surmai kalvan/curry recipe works well with pomfret too.

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Gujarati Kadhi

Having grown up in Mumbai and always having had very friendly  Gujarati neighbours , I have a long love affair with Gujarati cuisine and especially love the Gujarati Kadhi which was quite the star attraction in traditional Gujarati wedding feasts, always a sweet and welcome addition onto a plate full of steaming hot khichdi , the large red chillies added into for more the effect than the punch.

If you don’t have access to buttermilk then simply use curd/ yoghurt.

Serves:4 Preparation Time:10 minutes Cooking Time:15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups buttermilk or 1 and 1/2 cup thick-set curd /yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp besan or chickpea flour
  • 1tsp freshly grated ginger and green chilli paste
  • Hing/ Asafoetioda – at iny pinch
  • Puree ghee/clarified butter – 1 tbsp
  •  Few fresh green curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Jeera/ cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp rai/mustard seeds
  • 2 large dry red chillies broken and de-seeded
  • Suhar 1 and 1/2 tbsp or Jaggery 1 heaped tbsp
  • a handful of fresh green coriander/cilantro chopped fine
  • Salt as per taste
  • Water

Method:

  • If using butter milk 3 cups this step is not required. Otherwise combine the  yoghurt ,chickpea flour and 2 and 1/2 cup water till it becomes a smooth mixture. Use a fork or a whisk and if lumps are still visible just use your fingers to break the lumps.
  • Grate a small piece of fresh ginger and crush a green chilli into it.
  • On a medium flame heat the clarified butter in a large saucepan and add the asafoetida, mustard seeds , red chillies,cumin,ginger and green chilli and curry leaves.
  • When the mustard seeds begin to pop and cumin begins to change colour, reduce the flame to a minimum , tilt the saucepan with one hand and pour the yoghurt and chickpea mixture into this tempering/tadka mixture.
  • Add the sugar or jaggery now.
  • Cook with lid on a low flame for about 6-8  minutes , do not boil as the yoghurt will curdle.
  • Add salt and garnish with finely chopped coriander. Serve hot with khichdi or soft rotis.

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Gujarati kadhi differs from Punjabi kadhi in that it is sweeter and does not include fried pakoras, I have a fusion recipe for Punjabi Kadi which I tried long ago, if you want something a little different why not try my Punjabi Kadhi with a twist.

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Chapali Kebab Recipe

Succulent, melt in your mouth meat that is a rich mix of flavours and a popular starter – Kebabs – I love sheekh kebabs the most and close on their heels are Chapali Kebabs. I decided to do a taste experiment and used 500gm of lamb mince or kheema to make Chapali Kebabs using a packet shop bought ready to cook masala mixture and used the remaining 500gm of lamb mince to make the very same kebabs using a mixture of my own spices and homemade garam masala – oh yes I finally got around to making my own Garam Masala (recipe coming up this week with a huge surprise!)

But before I let you in on my easy peasy recipe a ”sliceoff” history behind the dish – oh yes – every great recipe has a story!

The word Chapli derives from the Pashto word Chaprikh which means flat.  It is prepared flat and round and served with naan.Kebab (also kebap or kabab) is a Middle Eastern dish of pieces of meat, fish, or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer or spit originating in the Eastern Mediterranean and later adopted in Central Asia and by the regions of the former Mongol Empire and later Ottoman Empire, before spreading worldwide.Indian cuisine is widely influenced by the various rulers and  dynasties that ruled and colonised India at various periods including the British Raj. The Mughal Empire has left a heavy influence on the food,culture and tradition and is deeply woven into the fabric of society to create a new ,beautiful and modern day cuisine that has been adapted,modified to local taste and is now our own. 

In American Englishkebab with no qualification refers to shish kebab (Turkishşiş kebap) cooked on a skewer, whereas in Europe it refers to doner kebab, sliced meat served in a pita. In the Middle East, however, kebab refers to meat that is cooked over or next to flames; large or small cuts of meat, or even ground meat; it may be served on plates, in sandwiches, or in bowls. The traditional meat for kebab is lamb, but depending on local tastes and religious prohibitions, other meats may include beefgoatchickenpork or fish. Like other ethnic foods brought by travellers, the kebab has remained a part of everyday cuisine in most of the Eastern Mediterranean and South Asia.

Though traditionally these are kebabs are large and very flat – almost as large as the palm of your hand , I wanted to make a smaller patty , easy to fry and serve as a starter and easy to pop in the mouth while wielding a chilled glass of wine don’t you think?

Ingredients:

  • 500gm of lamb mince or kheema
  • 1 tsp of dried pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tsp freshly crushed ginger
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 heaped tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 heaped tsp coriander powder
  • 1 heaped tsp Cumin powder
  • a handfull of fresh coriander leaves finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 a medium juicy red tomato finely chopped
  • 2 small green chilli finely chopped
  • 3 small eggs
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 heaped tsps of rice flour or corn meal

Method:

  • In a large mixing bowl ,crack the eggs and beat lightly, add all the spices and mix with a fork.
  • Then work in the corn flour and then the meat.
  • Ensure any excess water is drained out and then add the finely chopped tomatoes and red onions.
  • Spread a large sheet of kitchen plastic foil on a flat table or kitchen platform and place the flatted patties on it,cover with another sheet and refrigerate.
  • If like me you like in a tiny but expensive urban flat with the an open plan kitchen – read tiny as a birds nest,then probably bets to leave the entire mixture in the bowl,cover and refrigerate for about half an hour.
  • In a kadhai or wok take enough oil for frying and fry them , serve hot with lots of chopped tomato and red onions.
  • Delicious with a fresh green coriander mint chutney or the life saving ketchup 🙂

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References :Wikipedia

Am submitting this recipe to Made with Love Mondays hosted by Javelin Warrior on his blog Cookinwluv

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McCormick Schwartz Flavour Challenge – Tawa Chicken Frankie Roll

In 2014, global flavour leader McCormick, parent company of leading herbs and spices brand Schwartz, is celebrating its 125th anniversary. The yearlong celebration kicks off with the launch of the 125th Anniversary Edition of the Flavour Forecast (a new, annual prediction of what ‘flavours’ will be most popular in the cooking world) and the Flavour of Together programme, with the goal of connecting people around the world as they share 1.25 million stories about the special role food and flavour plays in our lives through.

To inspire people to share their flavour stories and tell the blogger community about Flavour Forecast, McCormick challenged me and a few other lucky bloggers  to come up with a new recipe that is based on the Flavour Forecast trends :

1. Chillies Obsession: Food lovers everywhere are seeking out their next big chilli thrill.

2. Modern Masala: Indian food is finally having its moment, breaking free of its traditional confines with modern interpretations.

3. Clever Compact Cooking: Proving that big flavours can come from small spaces, cooks in urban kitchens are making the most of what’s available.

4. Mexican World Tour: Mexican flavours are making their way around the globe, with people everywhere discovering new aspects of this bright, casual cuisine.

5. Charmed by Brazil: The world’s attraction to Brazilian cuisine is heating up, thanks to its seductive mix of global and native influences.

I decide to take up Modern Masala as a flavour trend. Coming from India , using a complex mix of spices as part of our daily diet has always been a part of my life. The  beautiful large open fruit n vegetable  markets even in major cities are a visual treat and there is a lot of passion involved in say getting the right type of chilli powder. So I think my recipe is an amalgamation of these  two big flavour trends together – Chillies Obsession and Modern Masala and of course because I manage all my culinary experiments in my tiny urban kitchen which is the size of a postage stamp I am sure my recipe also covers the theme Clever Compact Cooking!

My most vivid memory of spices being sold loose is of this huge wholesale and retail market in an area called Parel , Mumbai in India.There are many tiny shops and vendors which hand carts with huge piles of spices , bright red chillies in jute sacks and mini yellow mountains of turmeric and ever imaginable spice being sold in the open.Of course with our modern industries being so well developed we always used masalas out of a packet but the sheer variety available locally in any small town in India is mind boggling.

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In London I trudge to my local Indian shop and bulk buy the packets and secretly wish I could get an unlimited supply of aai’s home made garam masala and red chilli powder where she carefully selects 2 types of chillies with varying degrees of heat and roasts them in a kadhai after they have been dried in the blistering hot afternoon sun! Then she takes it to a local mill where it is ground and packed into a large ceramic jar and then stored at home.

I have made a simplified version of Tibbs Frankie using boneless mutton and a variety of Schwartz spices which were sent to me.You could safely say that this fella ”Frankie” is a distant cousin of the Fajita and the Kathi Roll.How this Frankie came into being is also a very interesting story which I shall share in a few lines here.

”The year 1967 Mr. Amarjit Tibb on returning back from England had a stopover in Beirut. During his brief stop there he stumbled upon a very ingenious Lebanese preparation, which was a pita bread wrap, with a variety of stuffing’s, this fascinated him. Upon his return the idea still lingered on and he kept innovating it to suit the Indian palate, after a year of research along with his wife they hit upon the perfect concoction. This Indianised wrap was soon tried among friends and family and after testing brilliantly it hit the markets. That was a new era to the term fast food in Mumbai, it caught on like fire in the Jungle, people accepted it and kept asking for more.Now came the problem of naming the product, again a number of brainstorming became the order of the day till a unanimous decision on the name was taken i.e. Frankie”

This explosion of flavours in a handy easy to eat roll which was given a  modern food truck makeover is a gastronomic delight and is available in a large variety of stuffings both veg and non-veg.I have rather fond memories of my college days and spending my pocket money which was always in short supply on these spicy, tasty rolls with a bunch of friends giggling away and then gathering any loose change we had left amongst us to buy a bottle or two of some fizzy cola to quench our thirst. Alert : have been suddenly been hit by a huge wave of nostalgia 🙂

I have created what is my version of a tawa chicken roll (tawa meaning pan in Hindi), the original Tibbs frankie filling is a tangy spicy  taste which they attribute to a secret ”Frankie Masala” – humm , well I think I got pretty close 😉 – evil laugh follows 🙂  You can go crazy and creative with the fillings and use this recipe idea to use up meat from your sunday roast, try various different veg and non veg patties with meat and masalas rolled into boiled potato casing and shallow fried. Great way to use a lot of colorful veggies and create a stir fry filling too – the possibilities are endless.

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Image Courtesy :Hindustan Times

Serves: 2 (with 2 rolls each and leftover filling)

Preparation Time for roll:5 mins

Preparation & Cooking Time for the ”TAWA Chicken filling”:30 mins

Preparation & Cooking Time for the chutney:10 mins

Ingredients – ”Tawa Chicken” Filling:

  • 500 gms chicken breast
  • Schwartz Asafoetida – a tiny pinch
  • 2 heaped tsp Schwartz garam masala
  • Schwartz Onion salt as per taste
  • 1/2 tsp Schwartz Garlic Minced
  • 2 heaped tsp Schwartz Coriander Ground
  • 1 heaped tsp Schwartz Cumin Ground
  • Schwartz Red Chilli powder as per taste
  • Ginger fresh – about the size of your thumb
  • 2 medium sized red onions finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 large juicy tomatoes chopped very fine
  • 1 large green chilli split lengthwise
  • 1 red pepper slit lengthwise
  • 3 large tablespoons of cooking oil

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Ingredients – for the Mint and Coriander Chutney:

  • 1 large bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 small bunch of fresh mint leaves
  • 2 green chillies
  • juice of half a lime
  • salt to taste

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Ingredients – for filling :

  • 1 large red onion chopped lengthwise

Ingredients – for the paratha  coating:

  • 2 small sized eggs
  • salt for seasoning

Method for the Chicken Filling:

  • Heat a saucepan on medium heat and add the oil, when it is hot add the asafoetida, split green chilli and crushed bit if fresh ginger ,saute’ and add the garlic granules, when the garlic begins to give out a strong fried aroma its time to add the finely chopped red onion.
  • Cook the onion till it reduces and turns a delicious brown, then add the coriander and cumin powder and garam masala and mix well.
  • Then add the finely chopped tomato and add very little water and cook for 1 -2 minutes without lid , stirring frequently, so as to ensure the mixture does not stick to the saucepan. Now the spices have been thoroughly cooked along with the onion and tomato to make a thick gravy.
  • Now add the washed and cleaned chicken breasts after cutting them into long lengthwise strips , toss in the red pepper cut into lengthwise strips
  • Cook on a low flame with lid
  • Add onion salt to the mixture, red chilli powder and turmeric

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Method for the Mint and Coriander Chutney:

  • Wash the coriander and mint leaves and spritz them in a food processor with the green chilli chopped – to reduce the heat use 1 chilli de-seeded.Add the salt and lime juice and spritz once again.
  • A smooth thick green paste is the consistency we are after – add some water to adjust the consistency.
  • This chutney stores for upto 10 days in the freezer in a clean ,air tight jar – rarely lasts that much in my house though – love making Bombay sandwich for dinner ummm.

Method for coating the Paratha :

  • Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork ,add salt to taste
  • Using a plastic brush spread on the surface of a frozen ready to eat  paratha and place the eggy side down on a hot pan coated with some cooking oil.(Paratha – ready to eat Indian bread readily available in the World Food Frozen section)

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How to put the Frankie Roll together:

  • Once the paratha coated with egg has been cooked on both sides on a pan slather it with the mint and coriander chutney and add some red onion chopped lengthwise.
  • Add a generous helping of the chicken filling , roll and wrap one end with some kitchen foil or baking paper .Enjoy hot.
  • Dip into the chutney or tomato ketchup as you munch along.

After I received the samples and wrote up my flavour story, my left hand was operated on (unexpected rescheduling) – a minor but rather errrmmm painful surgery and I walk around most of the time with a sling (promptly remove it as soon as OH leaves home for work hehe) So I had a bit of a panic attack about getting this post up on time,I know I missed the deadline by a few days  😦

But am really grateful to the kind folks up at McCormick  for bearing with me.Also I would like to thank OH for patiently chopping and cutting all the fresh ingredients for me and helping me to click these lovely photographs – what would I do without you? Sighh…

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After I received the samples and wrote up my flavour story, my left hand was operated on (unexpected rescheduling) – a minor but rather errrmmm painful surgery and I walk around most of the time with a sling (promptly remove it as soon as OH leaves home for work hehe) So I had a bit of a panic attack about getting this post up on time and I missed the deadline 😦 But am really grateful to the kind folks up at McCormick  for bearing with me.Also I would like to thank OH for patiently chopping and cutting all the fresh ingredients for me and helping me to click these lovely photographs – what would I do without you? Sighh…

The company has pledged to donate $1 to United Way Worldwide and it’s UK partner Focus on Food, for every story shared on the Schwartz website, Facebook page or other social channels.

Disclaimer: I was sent samples of  Schwartz by McCormick to create a dish and write a review and was also sent a generous voucher to compensate me for the ingredients.I was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated monetarily for this post.Like all my previous posts about events and reviews, ALL opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Vangyache Bharit- वांग्याचे भरीत (Baingan ka Bharta) (Smoked Aubergine)

I have noticed that I have become a bit more inclined towards celebrating festivals after coming to London , maybe its out of being homesick during festive times and also to ensure that I remember the traditions involved I guess. ‘Makar Sankrant’ is  a Hindu festival celebrated by my community ”Maharashtrains” with great pomp and enthusiasm as it heralds the season of Harvest. Similar to this festival is Lohri which is celebrated by the Punjabis in the North of India, Pongal in the state of Tamil Nadu , Uttaryan in the state of Gujrat. One festival so many names and so varied ways of celebrating! Its not only in India that this festival is celebrated it’s also welcomed in Nepal, Sri Lanka ,Cambodia and Laos amongst others!

My mother always used to make a smoked aubergine vegetable dish called Vangyache Bharit – written in Marathi as – वांग्याचे भरीत on Makar Sankrant so I decided to make it too for Sankrant this year which was on the 14th of Jan’14. We also exchange small ladoos made of sesame seeds and jaggery called ”Tilache Ladoo” and wish each other by saying ”tilgul ghya god god bola” (तिळगुळ घ्या गोड गोड बोला) It means that we shall forget and forgive any past bitter exchange of words and start afresh with this sweet offering and only speak sweet words of love.

The recipe is modified in various regions of the state of Maharashtra and also the variety of vanga/eggplant/aubergine or brinjal as we know it in urban India, is different in various parts of the state and in various states of India, of course differing due to climate and soil .Aai ( meaning Mother in Marathi language – my mother tongue) always looked for the light green vanga or eggplant with white stripes  on its skin which she rightly said tastes way better than its darker purple skinned cousin.

Aai’s recipe which I will share now is how we have always made this dish at home. There are several variations and styles depending on which part of Maharashtra you hail from and also various sub-cultures and availability of local ingredients and palates.I guess what makes this recipe so special is that it brings back happy memories of childhood, festivity ,celebration and the unmistakable smoky and rich vanga (eggplant/aubergine) taste with the crunchy red onion and a slap of hot spicy green chilli mixed in between ,all balanced so well with the various masalas that go into this bharit ummm!

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Image Credit click here 

Serves:2 -as a main with chapatya(Marathi for Indian Naan Bread also called chapatis in Hindi)

Preparation Time :15 minutes

Cooking Time:25minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large vanga/baingan/eggplant/aubergine
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 5-6 large cloves of garlic
  • a few mustard seeds
  • Cumin/Jeera
  • Garam Masala – 2 heaped tsps
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of hing/asafoetida
  • Turmeric – 1.5 tsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1.5 tsp
  • Oil – 3-4 large tbsps
  • Coriander/Cilantro to garnish

Method:

  • The beauty of this dish lies in the deep and rich smoky flavour of the eggplant , I would love to use charcoals and do this bit on a open rustic fire but well I make do with my hob.You could use the oven  but it will take much longer but directly on the hob – though a bit messy , it’s quicker! Roast the eggplant completely turning it on the side and moving it up an down so you don’t miss any bits.

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  • Allow this to cool and then charred skin will come off easily.

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  • Mash with your hands in a smooth mass of soft cooked ,smoked eggplant.

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  • While the eggplant is smoking on the hob , finely chop one large red onion.
  • Skin the garlic and use a mortar pestel to smash the green chillies with the garlic
  • In a  dry saucepan ,add the oil and after it is hot , add a pinch of hing/ asafoetida  and mustard seeds , as the mustard seeds begin to pop add the cumin seeds and the garam masala powder and  the finely chopped red onion and stir it often till it turns colour and is still crunchy to taste.

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  • Now add the turmeric and red chilli powder
  • Then stir in the ”thecha”(Marathi for the green chilli and garlic mixture) and saute’ till the raw garlic becomes one with the mixture.Vary the green chillies depending on your personal tolerance of heat
  • Reduce the flame to a low and add the eggplant mash into this mixture and stir well so as to ensure equal distribution of the onion and all other flavours.
  • Cook with lid for under 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with finely chopped coriander/cilantro.
  • Serve with hot chapatya or steamed rice and dal.
  • We also enjoy this cold , cool the dish completely and serve with a generous helping of set curd/yogurt.
  • My aai didn’t add tomatoes to this and at times used some goda masala as well as it has dry grated coconut which can really alter the taste.
  • For Baingan Bharta add one finely chopped tomato as well after the onion has been fried.

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I found some very interesting variations to my recipe here are a few :

  1. For a recipe using Tamarind try this 
  2. For beautiful photos and an open air fire used to smoke the eggplant see this
  3. For a recipe using freshly grated coconut try this

I am adding this recipe into the Made with Love Mondays blog link love started and hosted by the lovely Mark aka Javelin Warrior – very interesting to read how that name came about !

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Just linked up to In my Veg box with Onions as the theme for April’2014 hosted by Tina who blogs at The Spicy Pear and created by Nayna who blogs at Simply.Food and CitrusSpice . I wasn’t able to download the logo for April but here’s a general logo that Nayna uses.

 

 

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Chai Concentrate

Its been a very hectic year and I was really looking forward to a festive break. In the run up to Christmas I was gifted some really tempting edible gifts. I then took to Pintrest to find something that called out to me and ask me to make go make it ! I found a beautiful photograph of Chai Concentrate here . It was an easy to prepare recipe and so I started to get all the ingredients together and wasn’t able to get my hands on orange pekoe tea bags so I decided to make a few modifications of my own.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups water
  • 5 English breakfast tea – tea bags
  • 5 mulled wine spice  bags
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 9 cardamom pods split open and the seeds powdered
  • 8 coriander seeds or 1/4th tbsp of ground coriander powder
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 vanilla bean sliced in half
  • 1.5 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 inch piece of ginger,skinned n cut into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns

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Method:

  • In a large sauce pan bring the water to boil and reduce the heat to a minimum
  • Add the spices, tea bags,orange zest and ginger and cover with lid and let it simmer for 25 minutes.
  • After 25 minutes take the saucepan off the flame and let it stand for 10 -15 minutes.
  • Then add the honey and stir it in along with all the beautiful spices which have steeped in well into the mixture.
  • Let this cool completely , the  strain the chai concentrate through a large sieve lined with a fresh cheesecloth. The spices are to be discarded.
  • Add the strained chai concentrate into clean glass bottles.
  • Decorate the glass bottles with pretty tape and add a small name tag with a bit of coil.
  • This mixture stays for 2 weeks in the fridge and can be had as hot winter drink with 1/3rd parts concentrate and top it off with hot milk, it also is good with a glass of cold milk and ice with a dollop of honey stirred in!
  • I loved the idea that the chai concentrate can be added into cookie dough for an extra zing – I am going to try that soon!

After making this gift I feel so good inside that I have taken an extra effort to actually create something unique, I think am going to make a habit out it and make delicious little treats for birthdays and anniversaries too! 

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