Indian “Tortilla”

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Many years ago we were invited to our Venezuelan friend’s house for dinner. Much to our surprise, the main course was Calamari. Since we’re not the most adventurous eaters and I don’t eat seafood, it was a very awkward moment!

They were, however, most gracious – the quickest item our hostess could come up with was Tortilla Espanola, probably the most common dish served in Spain. Needless to say, the “Indianized” tortilla became one of our favorite one-dish meals. Sometimes I make a quick potato omelet with a salad for lunch or dinner.  Its also a great meal to use up left over vegetables, versatile so you can serve it as a hot meal, or as a room temperature “tapa” as they do in Spain.

Notes: I prefer to use cooked potatoes as it uses less oil than if you have to saute the raw potatoes prior to making the omelet.  Sometimes I boil a few potatoes with the skin on and store them this way in the refrigerator for a few days and use them in various dishes as needed.

Ingredients

2 – 2 1/2 cups potatoes. cooked and sliced

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 cup diced bell pepper, red or green 

2 – 3 long green chillies, chopped fine

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine

6 -7 large eggs, beatenIMG_2205

Preparation

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium size cast iron skillet (or any other skillet). Add the onions and saute for about 3 minutes until soft.  Add the potatoes, bell peppers and spices and continue to stir for another 3-4 minutes.

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Add this mixture to the bowl of beaten eggs along with the cilantro.

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Wipe the skillet and add a tablespoon of oil, and pour the egg mixture back into the skillet. Cook on low till the eggs are nearly set.

Take a large plate, cover the skillet and turn the eggs on to the plate.

Add a tablespoon oil in the skillet and slide the egg back into the skillet. Continue to cook the omelet for about 3-4 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Serves 4- 6.

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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.

Introduction to Indian Spices

IMG_1360Traditional Masala Box (Indian Spice Box)

Turmeric, Black Mustard seeds, Coriander powder, Cumin seeds, Cumin powder, Chili powder (cayenne pepper), Garam masala (in the center)

Indian recipes use a variety of spices – whole, chopped, ground, roasted, sautéed, fried and as topping. Below are the most common spices used in most recipes. All of these spices can be found at your local Indian grocery stores, and many can be found at Whole Foods (check the bulk section for lower prices) or other natural food markets.

The NY Times also has a great short video on how to toast and grind your own spices using a spice (coffee) grinder or mortar/pestle.

Turmeric

IMG_1364Turmeric is a root of a plant from the ginger family. It is dried and ground to fine powder and is bright yellow in color. It should be used in very small amounts in cooking as it has a slight bitter taste.  It is also called curcumin, and it is known to have health benefits for arthritis and anti inflammatory conditions.

Black Mustard Seeds

IMG_1362Black mustard seeds are the small seeds of mustard plants, and available at Indian grocery stores.  These seeds release a pungent flavor when added to hot oil and they “pop”.

Coriander/Cilantro

Coriander SeedsCoriander also known as cilantro, is an annual herb. The dried seed of the coriander plant (above) is used whole, crushed (below) or ground finely.

Corinader Powder Coriander or cilantro leaves can be used as a garnish or added to various dishes in recipes.

Coriander leaves (Cilanthro)

Cumin

IMG_1363Cumin is used as the seed or as a powder, and occasionally roasted as well.

Cummin Powder

Chili Powder/Dry Red Chilies

IMG_1365Chili powder is ground from dry cayenne peppers – it is different from Mexican “chili powder’. The intensity of heat can vary depending on the brand, so start with a minimum amount and adjust according to taste.

IMG_1387Cayenne peppers are dried in the sun and are used to flavor recipes with a touch of heat by frying them.

Cardamom

IMG_1381These are pods containing tiny seeds, from a plant of the ginger family.  It can be used whole or the seeds can be removed and powdered. It is used to flavor desserts and other dishes.

Garam Masala

IMG_1366Garam Masala is a blend of various Indian spices and typically consists of: Coriander, Cloves, Cinnamon, Cumin, and Cardamom. It is generally used in meat or chicken recipes.

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