Black-Eyed Peas Stir Fry

Black-eyed peas are one of the most versatile legumes to make. They are very nutritious – high in iron, Vitamin B, C, zinc, soluble fiber and protein. Down here in the South (we live in South Carolina), black-eyed peas are traditionally eaten on New Years Day as they are considered to bring “good luck” for the coming year. I use canned or dried… depending on how much time I have to prepare the meal. If using the dried beans I soak them overnight with a pinch of baking soda, which reduces the cooking time. We (and most Indian families) have a pressure cooker, which makes it even quicker to cook dried beans and lentils – black-eyed peas cook in 5 to 7 minutes with a pressure cooker, versus 45 minutes to an hour on the stove top. This recipe is very flavorful and a good one for children as well. IMG_1963

Ingredients

2 cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed OR .. 1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and cooked in water for about 45 minutes till peas are tender  (just reserve about 1/2 cup of the liquid)  Cooks to about 2 cups of cooked peas. 1 tablespoon oil 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 1 small onion, chopped 1-2 whole green chilies, slit 1 teaspoon salt lemon juice 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)

Preparation

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the cumin seeds. When they start to sizzle, add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes until light brown. Add the green chilies and stir for 30 seconds. IMG_1956 Stir in the cooked black-eyed peas and salt, stir for a minute and add about 1/2 cup water and simmer for about 3 minutes. IMG_1955 Stir in lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.

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Chicken 65 (or Tofu/Cauliflower 65)

The most frequent question I receive about this South Indian recipe is… why is it called Chicken 65??  There are lots of theories, such as the fact that it was created in 1965, or it has 65 ingredients (which it does not have!)  All I can say is that this dish has a wonderful distinct flavor that comes from using a generous amount of curry leaves.

Restaurants typically serve Chicken 65 as an appetizer, but personally I like to serve it as a main course since we enjoy it so much. Also, in the traditional recipe, the chicken is deep fried – but as a healthier option, I simply stir fry it and find that it is just as tasty!

You can also make Gobi 65 (Cauliflower) or Tofu 65 – no need to marinade, just start by stir frying the tofu or cauliflower. Continue with the preparation below – simply leave out leave out the last step (don’t add the extra garlic, ginger and yogurt).

 

 

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Ingredients

1 pound boneless chicken, cut into 1/2″ pieces

Marinade:

1 tsp each, garlic and ginger paste

1 tsp red chili powder (to taste)

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup curry leaves, chopped fine (it is quicker to do it in a spice grinder)

1/4 tsp Tandoori food color or a few drops of red or orange food color

Coating:  2 tbsp white flour and 2 tablespoons cornstarch

2-3 green chillies, slit

3 sprigs of curry leaves

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp each, garlic and  ginger paste

1 tsp coriander powder

1/4 cup yogurt

2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

1 lime

Preparation

Mix the marinade ingredients together and toss with the chicken. Marinade for several hours.

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Coat the chicken pieces with the flour mixture .

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Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok. Add about 1/2 of the chicken pieces and sauté for about 4-5 minutes till cooked (no longer pink inside). Remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces adding oil as needed.

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Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the wok, add the green chillies,and curry leaves and stir till the curry leaves are crisp. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan add the garlic ginger, salt, coriander powder and stir for 30 seconds. Add the yogurt and stir for a minute on low heat.

Add in the chicken pieces into the yogurt mixture and  stir for about 2 minutes.

Squeeze lime over the chicken.  Garnish with cilantro and fried green chillies and curry leaves before serving.

Tomato Kheema

Kheema, the Indian version of “chili”, is one of the most common non-vegetarian dishes cooked in India. It can be eaten with rice, bread (chapati) and as a treat, puri (deep fried bread).

There is also variation of kheema without the tomato – it more of a dry dish and uses similar ingredients. Depending on your menu or preference either one can be made, see note below.

I prefer to use lean ground beef, but in India, goat meat is used in all meat preparations. It is leaner than chicken but is a good choice for kheema because it can be a little on the tough side depending on the cut of meat.

You can also use Veggie Crumbles as a substitute for meat.

 

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Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef (93%)

1-2 tablespoon oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 cloves, 2″ cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom (1/8 tsp of each in powdered form)

1 teaspoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1 teaspoon cayenne or to taste

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

3 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup yogurt

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

3/4 cup frozen peas

2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

lemon to taste

Preparation

Heat oil in a medium saucepan, add onions and stir fry till the onions are medium brown about 3-4 minutes.

Add the cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon and cardamon. Stir for 30 seconds. Add the ginger, garlic,cayenne, salt, turmeric to the pan and stir till the spices are blended.

Add 2 tablespoon water to the pan, and when the water evaporates, add the tomato paste with about 1/2 cup more water. Stir until the sauce is smooth and bring to a simmer.

When you see the oil rise to the top, add the yogurt and continue to cook for another minute. Add the ground beef and stir constantly making sure that there are no big clumps. Cover and continue to cook for 10 minutes on low heat stirring occasionally.

Uncover the pan, add the coriander powder, garam masala and the frozen peas. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

 

Variation: Sookha (dry) Kheema

Follow the above directions omitting the tomato paste and water.

When cooking the ground beef, sauté on low heat (uncovered) until the meat is dark brown in color (you may need to cook for an additional 5 minutes). Stir in the coriander powder, garam masala and peas. Add cilantro and lime, if desired.

 

Masala Chicken

IMG_1216This recipe for Masala Chicken is one of the quickest recipes I’ve found for this traditional Indian dish.  Its great especially on days when I am busy and want to get dinner on the table as soon as possible. I usually have the ingredients at home and the chicken cooks fast, especially if you are using boneless chicken breasts.

People always ask me… “how do you get the chicken so moist & tender?” It should take only about 5-6 minutes to cook boneless chicken – so make sure you don’t over cook it!

I use masala chicken as a filling in sandwiches or wraps, or as a main meal with rice, vegetable and a dal.

Ingredients

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 large onion, finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon each, cinnamon powder, clove powder and cardamom powder (all optional)

1 teaspoon red chili powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped , for garnish

Preparation

Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the cumin seeds and stir until they start to brown.

Add the onions and cook for about 4 minutes until the onions turn brown.

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Add  the cinnamon, clove, cardamom powders, red chili powder, turmeric, salt and coriander powder. Stir for 1 minute, add 1/4 cup water and mix until the water evaporates and the oil starts to separate out.

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Add the chicken and stir until the chicken is cooked, about 5 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and garnish with cilantro leaves.

 

Spicy Chicken Croquettes

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My younger daughter had a problem eating chicken. She would chew and chew and chew! And  then drink glasses of water to help her swallow it throughout her meal and the result was she was so full of water she wouldn’t want to eat after that!  Fortunately I came across a recipe for Chicken Croquettes in a “Better Homes & Garden”cookbook… I had found my answer! She had no problem eating chicken this way as it is finely minced up, the white sauce was flavorful and the outside crust was crispy. This became a favorite with her and almost every other child I have fed over the years!

I then “Indianized” it and have been making this recipe ever since. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be made ahead especially if you have company coming for dinner or to stay for a weekend. You can fry them before serving, as needed. They also can be frozen before or after frying.

Ingredients

2 cups of minced chicken (2 large boneless chicken breasts, cooked and minced in a food processor*)

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

1 small onion, grated

2 small green chillies, finely minced or ground

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups dry breadcrumbs

2 large eggs, beaten

oil for frying

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Preparation

Melt butter in a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute.

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Slowly add the milk and stock stirring constantly till the sauce is smooth.

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Add the onions, green chillies, lemon juice, cilantro, and all of the spices and cook for 3 minutes until the sauce is very thick.

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Add the minced chicken and mix well with the sauce.

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Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or over night.

The mixture will be very thick. Take about 1/4 heaping cup of the mixture and make into oblong rolls about 3 ” long .


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Roll into dry breadcrumbs, dip in beaten egg and roll again into the breadcrumbs. (This method will give you a crispy crust after frying)

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Heat oil, about 1″ – 2′ deep, on medium high in a wok or frying pan. When oil is hot ( test with small piece of bread, the bread should quickly rise to the top ) add about 3 -4 croquettes and fry for 3 minutes turning them around till they are golden brown on all sides.

Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

*Note: To cook the chicken: cover chicken with water in a saucepan, and bring to boil. Turn the heat off, cover with a lid. Set aside for about 15 minutes. Chicken should be cooked. Drain and finely chop by hand or in a food processor.

Chicken Kothmir (Cilantro)

Years ago, I took an Air India flight to visit my family and happened to get upgraded to business class! I happen to think that the food on Air India in general is much better than any of the European & American airlines so was intrigued to see what I would get on this flight.  They served this amazing dish- Chicken Kothmir – and handed us the recipe as well!

Since then I have adapted the recipe to make it with fewer ingredients. Because it is semi-dry, it is great to roll up in a chapati/tortilla or use as a filling in a panini/sandwich thin, and also nice as a simple dish with rice. I haven’t yet tried making this with tofu or paneer instead of chicken, but I’m sure it would make for a great vegetarian meal.

Cilantro or Coriander is known by different names – the Spanish refer to it as “cilantro”.  In Northern India it is known as “hare dhania”, and in the southern region it is called “kothmir”.  Coriander seeds can be roasted and ground into a common spice used in Indian cooking, and also used in making “garam masala” which is a spice mix used in many Indian recipes.

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Ingredients

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cubed

2 tablespoon oil

2 large onions, chopped

2 teaspoons coriander powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup tomatoes, chopped (or canned)

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups coriander leaves (cilantro) packed, chopped fine

1 heaping teaspoon garam masala

lemon juice to taste

 

Preparation

Heat oil in large skillet, add onions and sauté until the onions are light brown. Add the coriander powder, turmeric, cayenne pepper and stir for a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 4 minutes.

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Add the chicken and salt, and simmer covered on low for about 5 minutes.

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Add the garam masala and chopped coriander leaves, stir for a minute or two. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

 

Cilantro-Jalapeño Fish (or Chicken)

A few years ago I was looking for an interesting healthy and low calorie dish and came across a recipe for a marinade. I added a few more ingredients and it became one of our favorite Asian-fusion recipes. I originally used it for chicken but after my daughter tried it as a marinade with fish we realized it was great with both. This has been one of our favorites as it is easy – all the ingredients are added to a blender jar and blended.

I put the fish in a foiled lined glass dish which makes the clean up even quicker. The chicken is skewered and then also broiled or grilled. There is no oil in the recipe but if you’d like you can use cooking spray on top of the fish or chicken. The great thing is that you can make extra marinade and freeze it to use another time.

Cilantro-Jalapeño Fish

6  filets of Tilapia

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup honey

2 bunches cilantro, leaves and stems (approximately 4 cups)

2 jalapeño peppers (more or less, according to taste)

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3-4  garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.

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Pour enough marinade over the fish to cover it.

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Set aside for 1/2 hour. Place the dish on the middle rack of the oven and broil for approximately 5 minutes, until the fish is done.  After broiling the marinade becomes a dark green.

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Serve with the remaining marinade and slices of lemon.

Cilantro-Jalapeño Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes (about 2 pounds)

Reserve 1/2 cup of marinade to serve with the chicken. Marinade the cubed chicken in the remaining marinade for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the broiler and place the oven rack one shelf from the top.

Skewer the chicken pieces and grill or place under the broiler, for approximately 4 minutes on each side.  Serve with reserved marinade and lemon slices.

Low Fat Chicken Malai (cream) Kabab

IMG_1320You are probably wondering how a recipe using cream could be low fat!  This a very popular kabab dish in Indian restaurants  and I decided to make a healthy version using lower fat cream cheese instead of heavy cream. It is very tender and flavorful and can be eaten as an appetizer or as a main course. I use the double skewers for grilling the chicken from Crate and Barrel. I love using them as they are easy to turn with chicken so the second side cooks evenly.

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts

8 ounce Neufchatel cream cheese (1/3 less fat)

2 tablespoon plain yogurt or milk

1 1/2 teaspoon garlic paste

1 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup cilantro finely chopped (thick stems removed)

2 -3 long green chillies, finely  chopped or ground

Preparation

Cut the chicken breasts into 1″ cubes.  In a large bowl beat the cream cheese, yogurt or milk till smooth.

IMG_1299Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Add the chicken pieces to the cream cheese marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Skewer the chicken pieces and place under the broiler (one rack from the top)  and grill for 4 – 5minutes. Turn and continue grilling  for another 4 minutes till the chicken is cooked.   

IMG_1302To serve, remove from skewers and serve with lemon wedges and thinly sliced onion rings. To prepare in advance: Thinly slice raw onion into rings and add to iced water. Keep until ready to use. The onion rings will remain crisp.

 

 

Easy Hyderabadi Speciality Dishes

A few weeks ago I was visiting family in Hyderabad.  It was a month of fun and relaxation, not to forget the “eating” which always goes along with my holiday. Just before I left we went to the Secunderabad Sailing Club at Hussain Sagar, a large lake in the middle of the city. It is one of the largest man-made lakes in Asia, and quite unique for such a large metropolitan city in India (especially one with almost 7 million people!).

The Sailing Club’s lunch buffet had a large variety of typical Hyderabadi dishes. While enjoying all the food I realized how time-consuming all these dishes were to make and they are usually made for weddings or special occasions. This got me thinking as to how I could simplify making them in America and came up with short cuts for three of the dishes.  The first one is Dham Murg Masala, (baked masala chicken), Tomato Kut (tomato gravy with boiled eggs) and Double Roti Ka Meeta (Indian Bread pudding) If you have the basic Indian spices on hand, these are so simple to make, they can be made as part of an everyday meal or for a party.

Dham Murg Masala (Baked masala chicken)

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless chicken, cut into 2″ pieces
3 medium onions, thinly sliced (or  1/2 cup fried onions from the Indian grocery store)
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts or almonds
1/2 teaspoon chile powder (cayenne pepper)
1 1/2  teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1/2 – 3/4 cup yogurt (preferably greek yogurt)
1/4 cup lime juice
1″ cinnamon stick (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder)
3 whole cloves (or 1/8 tsp clove powder)
3 whole cardamom (or 1/8 tsp cardamom powder)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup mint leaves chopped fine
2-3 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup hot milk (optional)
pinch saffron (optional)

Preparation

IMG_1282If you don’t have fried onions, then simply fry the sliced onions in oil until golden brown. Put the onions in the blender with the next 13 ingredients, blend until the mixture is smooth.  Add this marinade to the chicken. Mix well and set aside for a few hours or overnight.

Add the cilantro and mint to the chicken and stir until well mixed. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a 9″x 13″ baking dish, add 1 tablespoon oil to the bottom of the pan, and spread the chicken. Drizzle the remaining oil over the chicken.  If using milk and saffron , steep the saffron in the milk for 5 minutes and pour over the chicken.

Cover the dish with heavy duty foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes.  Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges.

Tomato Kut (Tomato gravy with eggs)

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Ingredients

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1 tbsp oil
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 whole red chillies
2 cans condensed tomato soup
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tbsp peanuts , ground
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chili powder (cayenne)
1 tbsp brown sugar (or molasses)
3 tsp sesame seeds, dry roasted and ground
4 large eggs, hardboiled, cut in half

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Preparation

Heat oil a large saucepan over medium high heat. When oil is hot add the mustard seeds and as they start to splutter add the red chillies.

 

Add the remaining ingredients  to the pan (except the brown sugar and eggs). Simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in the brown sugar continue to simmer for a few more minutes.

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Pour the tomato mixture into a serving bowl and add the eggs. Enjoy!

 

 

Double Roti Ka Meeta (Indian Bread Pudding)

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Ingredients
5 slices white bread (Pepperidge Farm) trim crusts
2 tablespoon butter
2 cups half and half
1 cup whole milk
4 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon saffron
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped fine
whipping cream

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a 8″ x 8″ baking pan.

Toast the bread till light brown and butter the slices. Cut the slices into 3 pieces and arrange the bread in the baking pan.  Scald (bring to boil) the half and half and milk. Add the sugar and saffron. Stir till sugar is dissolved and steep for 5 minutes.

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Add about 3/4 cup of the hot milk mixture to the beaten eggs, stirring well .( this is done in stages as the hot milk can scramble the eggs if all the milk is added at once.) Add in the remaining milk. Pour over the bread slices in the dish.  Place this dish into a larger baking dish. Pour in boiling water into the larger dish until the water comes up half way.

Bake for 40 minutes till a skewer comes out clean.  Serve with toasted almonds and whipping cream.

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