Asparagus, Pea, and Egg Masala

Oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, finely chopped
Green chilies – 2, sliced
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Tomato – 1 large, chopped
Asparagus – 1/2 lb, cut into 1? long pieces
Green peas – 1/2 cup
Salt – to taste
Lime juice – 2 tsp
Cilantro leaves – a few stalks, roughly torn
Eggs – 4, large
How to:

Boil and peel the eggs and set aside.

Heat oil in a deep skillet or pan and add the cumin seeds. When they start to change color, throw in the onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies. Saute till onions are translucent, but not browned.

Add the turmeric, red chili, coriander, cumin and garam masala powders. Stir around for a few seconds till well combined.
Add the tomatoes and cook till they are broken down and mushy. Then add the asparagus and green peas. Sprinkle some water, add salt, cover and cook till vegetables are tender-crisp.

Open the lid, sprinkle some lime juice and cilantro leaves to garnish. Fold in the boiled egg halves. Serve hot with steamed rice or flatbreads like chapatis and rotis.

Tandoori/Tikka Gobi (Cauliflower Bites)

For the tandoori/tikka gobi,

Cauliflower – 1 large head, washed and cut into medium-sized florets
Yogurt – 1 1/2 cups (must be thick yogurt)
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp (reduce for a less spicy version)
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Amchoor or dry mango powder – 1/4 tsp (simply omit if you don’t have any)
Chickpea flour or besan – 2 tbsp
Lime – 1 small one, juiced
Cilantro leaves – a large handful, chopped
Salt – to taste
Oil – to brush while baking
For the spicy yogurt dip,

Leftover marinade from above – 1 cup
Water and salt – as needed
How to:

Tandoori/Tikka Cauliflower: In a large saucepan, bring some water to a boil. Season with a touch of salt, add cauliflower and cook on low heat for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and allow the cauliflower to remain submerged in the hot water for 8-10 minutes or till they are just tender. Drain completely and set aside.

Meanwhile, lightly roast the chickpea flour in a hot skillet for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the while.

Take all the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl (listed from yogurt to salt in the list above). Whisk well, ensuring there are no lumps. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add cauliflower to it and mix well to coat them thoroughly. Let it rest for at least half an hour. You may want to refrigerate it for any duration longer than that.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg.F and place a grilling rack over a rimmed baking tray. Arrange the cauliflower florets on it, shaking off excess marinade, and brush lightly with oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or till cooked thoroughly.. You can also broil them at 450 deg.F for the last 1-2 minutes of baking for lightly charred edges.

Remove from oven and serve warm with lime wedges and your favorite dip.

Spicy yogurt dip: You will have at least a cup of leftover marinade from above. Cook this in a skillet over medium heat, till the raw smell goes away and it turns thick with a deep red-brown color. Add some water to it, whisk well and bring it to a boil. Simmer till it reaches a dip-like consistency. Check seasoning, you may want to add a pinch of salt or dash of lime juice to balance the flavors.

Cool this completely and serve with the tandoori or tikka cauliflower. This can be done on the stove-top while the cauliflower florets are baking and it cools down by the time it is ready to be served.

Carne en Su Jugo

1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
8 tomatillos, peeled (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 large yellow onion, cut into 4 wedges
1 quart beef broth or water, divided
2 bay leaves
3 cups cooked pinto beans
Finely diced white onion, chopped fresh cilantro, Key lime wedges, cooked bacon, and toasted tortillas, for serving

Wrap meat tightly in plastic wrap, and place in freezer 15 minutes. Remove from freezer, unwrap meat, and slice thinly against the grain. Stack slices; finely chop.

Place the meat in a bowl, and season with Worcestershire, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, soy sauce, and black pepper. Stir until well coated, and set aside.

Heat oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium. Once the oil is shimmering, add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add seasoned meat, and cook until it releases some of its juices, about 10 minutes. (It’s OK to crowd the pan—you want to encourage the meat to stew and release its juices.) Reduce heat to low to keep the liquid from reducing too much. Using a slotted spoon, remove and reserve 2 tablespoons cooked meat.

While the meat cooks, place tomatillos in a saucepan with just enough water to cover, about 3 1/2 cups. Cover with a lid, and bring to a boil. Cook until tomatillos are soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; drain.

Place quartered onion half, cooked tomatillos, and reserved 2 tablespoons meat in a blender with 1 cup broth; blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Add mixture to meat in pot; add remaining 3 cups broth and bay leaves. Season with remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer about 20 minutes. Add cooked beans, and cook until the meat is tender, about 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, place about 1 cup or more of the meat-and-bean mixture into each bowl. Add broth as desired, and garnish with chopped onion, cilantro, Key lime wedges, and bacon. Serve with toasted tortillas.

Tofu Skin Stir Fry

3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon minced ginger
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 pound bok choy, thoroughly washed and drained (or vegetables of choice)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons water
1/2 pack of fresh tofu skin, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the ginger, and cook for about 30 seconds before adding the garlic.

After a few seconds, turn up the heat to high, and add the bok choy. Stir-fry everything together. When the bok choy has begun to wilt, stir in the salt, sugar, sesame oil, and white pepper.
Now add the water and fresh tofu skins. Do not stir! It’s important to keep the tofu skin on top of the bok choy so that it doesn’t touch the wok (or it will stick). Cover the wok with the lid, and steam for a minute.

Then open the lid, drizzle in the cornstarch mixture, and stir-fry gently to mix everything together.

Beef and Broccoli with Noodles

2 (5.6-ounce) packages refrigerated Yaki-Soba, seasoning sauce packets discarded*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced across the grain
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

FOR THE SAUCE

3/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
3/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon Sriracha, optional

In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, beef broth, honey, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, sesame oil, cornstarch, ginger, Sriracha and 1/2 cup water; set aside.

In a large pot of boiling water, add Yaki-Soba until loosened, about 1-2 minutes; drain well.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add steak and cook, flipping once, until browned, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in Yaki-Soba, broccoli and soy sauce mixture until broccoli is tender and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with sesame seeds, if desired.

NOTES:

*Yaki-Soba is ramen-style noodles and can be found in the refrigerated aisle of your local grocery store.

Beef and Ramen Stir Fry

2 (3.5-ounce) packages instant ramen noodles, flavor packets discarded
1/3 cup beef stock
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup diced sweet onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

In a large pot of boiling water, cook ramen noodles until tender, about 3-4 minutes; rinse with cold water and drain well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together beef stock, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar and Sriracha.

Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef and onion and cook until beef has browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; drain excess fat.
Stir in garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in beef stock mixture, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.

Stir in ramen noodles until heated through and evenly coated in sauce, about 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.

Dahi Toast (Indian Grilled Cheese)

1/4 cup plus 6 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. black mustard seeds
24–30 fresh curry leaves
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 small Indian green chiles or serrano chiles, finely chopped
1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of red chili powder
Kosher salt
12 large slices sourdough bread
Cilantro Chutney or store-bought chutney and/or ketchup, preferably Heinz (for serving; optional)

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a small saucepan over low heat until just warm. Add mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop and sputter, which should be a matter of seconds.

Quickly remove pan from heat, add curry leaves, and toss to coat—they should crisp immediately from the residual heat. Set spiced oil aside.

Mix together onion, green chiles, yogurt, cilantro, black pepper, and chili powder in a small bowl; season with salt. Spread yogurt mixture over 6 slices of bread and top with remaining slices to make 6 sandwiches.

Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to low and cook 2 sandwiches until undersides are crisp and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn, add another 1 tsp. olive oil to skillet, and cook until the second side is crisp and golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Transfer sandwiches to a platter or plates; repeat with remaining sandwiches and 4 tsp. oil.

Drizzle reserved spiced oil evenly over sandwiches. Cut in half and serve with chutney and/or ketchup alongside if desired.

Do Ahead: Yogurt filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Upma with Vegetables

4-6 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp skinned urad dal
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 sliced onions
4-5 curry leaves
3-4 chopped green chillies
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp ground coconut
Turmeric powder, a pinch
Salt
250 gm of diced vegetables
1 chopped tomato
150 gm semolina
250 ml hot water
100 ml curd
2 Tbsp chopped coriander
Juice 1 lime

Heat oil, fry dal, mustard and cumin seeds for 15 seconds.
Add onions, curry leaves, chopped chillies, ginger, garlic, turmeric, and salt and coconut paste. Stir and fry for 5 minutes.

Add vegetables and tomato. Fry for 3-4 minutes.

Add semolina. After 2-3 minute, pour in water and curd. Cook for 5 minutes until dry.

Garnish with coriander and sharpen with lemon juice.

Serve hot with rasam.

Upma

1 cup rava (semolina)
4 Tbsp Oil
2 cups water
10 curry leaves
2 green chillies (whole)
3 red chillies (whole)
1/2 tsp black gram dal
1/2 tsp Bengal gram dal
1 medium-sized onion (chopped)
2 tbsp corn
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard seeds
3/4 tsp sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
Few coriander leaves
Handful of cashew nuts

Dry-roast semolina (rava) until it just begins to turn brown, then keep aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the cooking oil. Add mustard seeds and wait for them to sputter. Then add curry leaves, slit green chillies, red chillies, soaked channa dal and split urad dal.

Add chopped onions and fry until they become slightly brown.

Add some corn, salt, red chilli powder and then add the roasted rava. Stir for 1-2 minutes to let the flavours combine.

Then add double the water, and keep stirring properly to avoid lumps.

The upma is done when all the water is absorbed by the rava. Add a bit of sugar and lemon for a subtle sweet yet tangy flavour.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, spruce it up with a few cashew nuts for that added crunch, and you’re good to go.

Dosas and Uttapams

1 cup urad dal/black lentils (split or whole, with or without skin)
500mL water + 2.5 Liters + additional 500mL for dosas
4 cups rice flour
1 teaspoon fenugreek seed powder, freshly ground
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup red onion chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, freshly chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin, freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
vegetable oil for cooking (vegetable oil sprays are also pretty useful here)

Clean the lentils to remove any stones that might be present. Rinse under running tap water, place in a large bowl, cover with water and soak overnight. The next day drain the water and grind the lentils with the 500mL of water to a smooth paste with a blender. There should be no clumps in the batter. Transfer to a bowl and cover and let it sit for at least 12 hours or at this point you can either refrigerate the lentil mixture and use it within 2-3 days.

The next day transfer the lentil mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, fenugreek powder, salt and yeast. Add the half of the 2.5 Liters of water to batter and stir to form a smooth batter. Transfer the batter to a large container or stockpot (one with deep bottom will be useful when the fermentation causes the batter to rise and prevent it from overflowing. Allow the batter to sit covered (not airtight) for at least 6 hours before using. The batter will ferment and rise.

On the day of cooking, mix the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, chili, cumin and salt in a medium bowl and keep aside. (This will be used to top the uttapams)

To prepare Uttapams: Heat a large non-stick pan or cast iron skillet on medium-high. Pour and spread a teaspoon of oil on the surface of the pan. The batter will be thick resembling the consistency of a pancake batter. Pour about 1/2 cup of the batter in the center and allow it to spread by itself into an 8 inch circle. Sprinkle about two generous tablespoons of the mixed tomato-onion mixture over the top of the uttapam and then drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil. Cook until the edges get golden brown and they start to come off from the sides. Using a silicone spatula, release the uttapam from the sides, and flip to cook on the other side for about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes. Prepare the rest similarly. Serve hot.

To prepare Dosas: Add 500mL of water to the batter and stir. The consistency should be thinner like that of a crêpe batter. Heat a large non-stick pan or cast iron skillet on medium-low. Pour and spread a teaspoon of oil on the surface of the pan. Using a ladle pour about 1/2 cup batter in the center of the oiled pan and spread the batter with a circular motion using the ladle starting from the center moving outwards to form a large thin crêpe (don’t use too much pressure or it will tear the dosa as it begins to cook). Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon oil over the dosa. Cook until the dosa begins to turn golden brown and begins to leave the sides of the pan. Using a silicone spatula, release the uttapam from the sides, and flip to cook on the other side for about 3 minutes. Prepare the rest similarly. Serve hot.

Coconut Rice

Rice – 2 cups (any long grained or fluffy white rice variety)
Water – 3.5-4 cups or enough to cook the rice
Coconut – 1 cup, shredded (fresh, not desiccated)
Oil – 2 tbsp + extra for frying cashew nuts
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Black pepper corns – 8-10
Whole dry red chilies – 3
Urad dal (split black lentil) – 1.5 tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Salt – to taste
Cashew nuts – for garnish (optional)

Prepare rice as usual. Fluff with a fork or spoon.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan.

Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chilies and curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add black pepper corns and urad dal. Saute till dal turns light golden in color.

Add coconut and saute for a couple of minutes. No need to roast the coconut, just saute till the moisture is gone.

Add the cooked rice and salt to taste. Mix well, taking care not to mash the rice.

Heat some oil in a small saucepan and fry the cashew nuts till golden. Add to the rice and serve hot.

This rice goes well with just about anything. It is absolutely delicious with fried/grilled chicken or fish or any other spicy curry.

Vegetable Stew with Coconut Milk

Oil – 2 tbsp
Whole spices – Cinnamon – a long piece, green cardamom pods – 3, cloves – 3, bay leaves – 2
Curry leaves – a few
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Ginger – 2 tsp, chopped
Garlic – 2 small cloves, minced
Black pepper – 1/2 tsp, freshly cracked
Potatoes – 1 large, diced
Carrot – 1, diced
Green beans – 3-4, cut into 1 inch pieces
Green peas – 1/2 cup
Thin coconut milk – 1 1/2 cups
Salt – to taste
Thick coconut milk – 1/2 cup

You will need:
Heat oil in a large pan. Add the whole spices and curry leaves, and let them sputter. (You can crush the whole spices for more flavor, but my hubby hates finding cardamom seeds in his curry, so I leave it whole.)

Add the onions, ginger and garlic. Saute well till the onions turn soft and translucent. Do not brown them. Add cracked black pepper and mix well.

Add the vegetables, thin coconut milk and salt to taste. Cover and cook till the vegetables are soft, around 10 minutes.
Open the lid, check seasoning and add the thick coconut milk. Let it simmer for a couple more minutes or till heated through, but do not boil the stew after adding thick coconut milk.
A simple trick I learned from my mom, is to mash a couple of the potatoes cubes to add some thickness to the gravy.
Serve hot with bread or Indian breakfast breads like puttu, appam or idiyappam.

NOTES:
1. If using dried peas, soak them in water and pressure cook them first. If using fresh or frozen green peas, you can simply cook them along with the other vegetables.

2. If using canned coconut milk, open the can without shaking and skim off ½ cup of thick milk collected at the top to use as thick coconut milk. If using coconut powder, prepare thin and thick milks as per package instructions. But of course, nothing beats the real deal. Freshly squeezed coconut milk is always the best!

3. An easy variation of this recipe is to cook the vegetables in a little water and finish off with some heavy cream. While it looks the same, the flavor is different from that of the original recipe with coconut milk and of course, it will no longer be vegan. But this can be an easy substitution if you run out of coconut milk.

Vegetable Pulao and Raita

You will need: (* – Refer notes)

Rice (Basmati or similar long-grained) – 2 cups
Ghee (clarified butter)* – 2 tbsp + 2 tsp
Whole spices like cinnamon stick , cloves, cardamom and black pepper corns**
Onion – 1 medium-sized, finely chopped
Vegetables like carrots, peas and green beans – 1 cup (total)
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Water – 3 cups
Cashew nuts and raisins for garnish (optional)

Wash the rice in water. Drain well and keep aside***.

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a thick bottomed vessel (I use a pressure cooker). Add the whole spices and allow it to sputter and become fragrant.

Add the chopped onions. Saute till they turn translucent.
Add the vegetables and saute for a minute.

Add 3 cups water****. Add enough salt and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the washed rice and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix well and check seasoning.

Cover and cook till done.

If using a pressure cooker, cook on medium high till you hear a whistle, lower the heat and cook for 5 more minutes. Else, cover the vessel with a heavy lid and cook till done.
This dish can easily be cooked in a rice cooker too. Do the sauteing in a pan and transfer to the rice cooker along with rice, water and lemon juice.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the remaining ghee and fry the cashew nuts and raisins till golden.

To serve, fluff pulao well, garnish with nuts and serve hot with raita or your favorite curry.

Notes:

* Substitute with oil, if ghee is not available or you are extremely health conscious!

** For 2 cups of rice, I use a 2-inch piece of cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves, 2-3 pods of cardamom and 3-4 black pepper corns.

*** The washed rice can be roasted in a little ghee. I usually skip this step (read the title!) and it turns out okay.

****Typically, the Basmati rice I use, needs 1.5 cups of water per cup of rice. Some rice types may need up to 2 cups of water. This information is usually available on the rice packet.

Now on to the raita. The following is the recipe for a simple tomato and onion raita with a surprise garnish!

You will need:

Thick yogurt – 1 cup
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Tomato – 1 small, de-seeded and finely chopped
Green chillies – 2, chopped
Grapes – for garnish (the surprise!)

Whip yogurt well with a fork or whisk.

Add onions, tomatoes and green chillies.

Season with salt.

Garnish with green or red grapes cut in half. This is kind of a family tradition at our house. I playfully added a couple of grapes to raita one day and my husband was hooked! It adds a playful sweetness.

You can use cilantro and mint leaves also for garnish.

You can add finely chopped cucumbers and carrots to the raita too. Don’t forget to de-seed the cucumbers.

Tomato Rice with Cucumber-Carrot Raita

Rice – 2 cups (any long grained or fluffy white rice variety)
Water – 3.5-4 cups or enough to cook the rice
Oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Whole dry red chilies – 3
Curry leaves – a few
Onion – 6-8 small shallots or 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
Tomato – 3, chopped
Green chilies – 1-2
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp and coriander powder – 1 tsp; or sambar powder* – 1 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves – for garnish (optional)
Roasted peanuts or cashew nuts – for garnish (optional)

Notes: * – Sambar powder adds a unique flavor to this rice. It is easily available at International grocery stores here. If not available, use a combination of red chili and coriander powders.

Cucumber-Carrot Raita:

Yogurt – 1 cup
Cucumber – 1/2 cup, de-seeded and chopped
Carrot – 1/2 cup, chopped
Green chili – 1, chopped
Salt – 1/2 tsp
How to:

Tomato Rice:

Prepare rice as usual. Fluff with a fork or spoon and keep aside.
Heat oil in a large pan. Add the mustard seeds, whole red chilies and curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the onions and green chilies, and saute till the onions are translucent.
Add the ginger and garlic paste and saute well till the raw smell is gone.
Add the masala powders and saute for a few seconds.
Add the chopped tomatoes and 1/4 cup water. Add salt to taste. Cover and let the tomatoes cook.
Open the lid and mash the tomatoes lightly with a spoon. The consistency should be that of a thick gravy so as to coat the rice well, but not too watery.
Add the cooked rice. Mix well, taking care not to mash the rice.
Garnish with the nuts and cilantro. Serve hot with raita or chutney.

Cucumber-Carrot Raita:

Take the yogurt in a bowl and beat well with a fork or whisk. Use a couple of tablespoons of water to thin it, if desired.
Add the chopped cucumber, carrot and green chili and salt. Mix well and serve chilled.

Raita can be made with onions and tomatoes too.

Dum Aloo (Slow-Cooked Spicy Potatoes)

Potatoes – 1 lb (baby potatoes or other small variety)
Oil – 2-3 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1/2 tsp
Dried red chilies – 2-3
Curry leaves – a few
Onion – 1/2 cup, thinly sliced
Ginger – 1-in piece, thinly sliced or grated
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
Cilantro – a few leaves
*Dry mango (amchur) powder – 1/2 tsp, or Lemon juice – 1 tsp

Wash and peel the potatoes. Feel free to leave the skin on, if that’s what you like. Also, if you are using potatoes other than baby potatoes, cut them in halves or quarters. Remember that you need big chunks of potatoes.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried red chilies and curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the onion and ginger. Saute till the onions are golden.
Add the turmeric, red chili and garam masala powders. Saute for a few seconds.
Add the potatoes and mix well so as to coat with the spices. Sprinkle salt as per taste.
Lightly roast the potatoes in the oil. I used halved small, white potatoes and allowed the cut edges to develop a nice thin crust. Feel free to add an additional tablespoon or so of oil to help the process.
Add a few cilantro leaves and sprinkle a tiny amount of water if you feel it is too dry. Cover with a heavy lid and cook slowly on low heat till the potatoes are cooked through, maybe around 15 minutes.

Once the potatoes are done, add the dry mango powder or lemon juice and mix well. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with rice or Indian flat-breads like chapathis, naan, etc. Since this is a dry dish, you may need some other gravy or raita (yogurt based salad) too. Or you can just eat some as a snack or appetizer.

You may wonder why I did not add garlic paste in the dish. You can add a little crushed or ground garlic, but I personally feel the flavor of ginger is sufficient here.

To make this dish with more gravy or as a curry, add some chopped tomato to the masala, and a cup of water while cooking the potatoes. You will find a nice, thick gravy has developed. If you want a creamier curry, finish off with a splash of cream or coconut milk.

In many Indian restaurants, you will find this dish with cashew nuts and raisins in them. This is entirely a restaurant culinary creation and dum aloo is never made that way in homes.

Notes: Amchur or dry mango powder is made from dried, unripe mangoes. It is used in Indian cuisine like you would use lemon juice and adds a nice tang to dishes without the added moisture. Amchur has additional health benefits since it is a highly concentrated source of citric acid from the unripe mangoes. It is available in most Indian grocery stores, and just a little goes a long way.

Coconut-Mint Chutney

You will need:

Oil – 1 tbsp
Mint leaves – a medium bunch
Cilantro leaves – a small bunch
Coconut – 1 cup, grated or shredded
Small red onions or shallots – 5-6, halved
Ginger – 2-in piece, roughly chopped
Garlic – 2 pods, crushed (optional)
Whole red chilies – 1-2 (as per heat level required)
Small green chilies – 1-2 (as per heat level required)
Salt – as per taste
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Water

For tempering:

Oil – 2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – a few sprigs
Urad dal (split black lentils) – 1 tsp

How to:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add the whole red chilies, shallots, ginger, garlic, green chilies, and the herbs. Saute lightly on medium heat till the leaves are wilted.

Add the coconut and saute for a couple of minutes. Once cooled, grind this mixture with a little water. Add salt to taste and stir in the lemon juice.

Heat 2 teaspoon oil in a small saucepan. Add the tempering ingredients. When the urad dal turns golden, mix in the chutney and serve.

This is an excellent accompaniment for Indian breakfast like dosas, idlis or parathas and other savory snacks.

Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk

Oil – 2 tbsp
Whole spices – 1 inch piece cinnamon, 2 cloves, 2 cardamom pods
Onion – 1, finely sliced
Ginger – 1 inch piece, finely chopped
Garlic – 4-5 pods, minced
Green chilies – 1-2, chopped or slit
Tomato – 1, chopped (or tomato paste – 1 tbsp)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder – 1/2 sp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1/4 tsp (can use at the end, if you feel the curry needs more heat)
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Coconut milk – 1 1/2 ups
Chicken – 3/4 – 1 lb, around 400g
Potatoes – 1, cubed
Water – 1/2 cup

For tempering:

Oil – 1 tbsp
Small shallots – 3-4 (or 2 tbsp chopped red onion)
Curry leaves – a few
Black pepper corns – 5-6, lightly crushed
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp, lightly crushed

Heat oil in a pan. Add the whole spices and when they become fragrant, add the onions, ginger, garlic and chiles till onions are softened and starting to turn lightly golden.

Add the tomato and saute till mushy.Add the masala powders and mix well.

Add 1 cup of coconut milk and bring to a gentle boil. Then add chicken, potatoes and water, cover and cook till chicken is tender. Open the lid and add the rest of the coconut milk and simmer till curry is slightly thickened. Remember that it will thicken further once cooled.

In a small pan, heat the oil for tempering, add onions and curry leaves and fry till the onions are browned. Add the crushed black pepper and cumin seeds towards the end. Add this tadka to the chicken curry, mix and serve.

Chettinad Chicken Curry (Chicken in Roasted Coconut Curry) with Variations

To marinate the chicken:

Chicken – 1 lb, around 500 gm
Yogurt – 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Black pepper powder – a pinch
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Lemon/lime juice – 2 tsp

To dry roast and grind (see Notes too):

Whole dried red chilis – 6-8 (as per heat level desired. If you are still apprehensive, I suggest using just 4-5)
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp
Black pepper corns – 1-2 tsp ( depends on your heat level, but do not skip it entirely)
Cinnamon stick – 1? piece
Cloves – 3
Cardamom pods – 2-3
Nutmeg mace – a small piece
Kalpasi or black stone flower – a small piece (I used a small piece of star anise here)
Coconut – 1/4 cup, freshly grated

For the curry:

Oil – 3 tbsp
Curry leaves – a small handful
Onion – 1 large-sized, finely chopped
Ginger – a thick 1? piece
Garlic – 4-5 cloves
Green chilis – 2
Tomatoes – 2, chopped
Water – 1 cup
Salt – to taste
Lime juice – 1 tsp
Cilantro leaves – a few, to garnish

Wash and cut the chicken into small pieces. Combine with the marinade ingredients and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add all the ingredients to be dry roasted. Lightly roast stirring every now and then till the coconut is golden brown and the spices are fragrant. Cool slightly and grind to a smooth paste with a bit of water. Keep aside.

Make a paste of the ginger, garlic and green chilis as well. Or you can substitute with 2-3 tsp of ginger-garlic paste and a couple of chopped green chilis. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a large pan and add the curry leaves. When they crackle, add the chopped onions and saute till they are golden.
Then add the ginger-garlic-green chili paste and saute well till the raw smell goes away. Now add the tomatoes and cook till they are mushy and well combined.

Add the prepared spice paste and saute for a few minutes. The gravy should be thick, dark and very fragrant.

Add the marinated chicken pieces and mix well to coat with the gravy. Add water and salt and bring to a gentle boil. Now cover the pan and cook on medium heat till chicken is done.

Open the lid, check seasoning and squeeze some fresh lime juice.

Reduce the curry to desired thickness. Remember that it will thicken upon cooling as well.

Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve.

Notes:

In case you do not have dried red chilis, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and garam masala ingredients, you can use the respective spice powders. Start by roasting the coconut on medium heat till lightly golden. Add the spice powders towards the end and roast further till they are slightly aromatic. If you add the spice powders at the beginning and then start roasting the coconut, you run the risk of burning the spice powders and this may make the curry bitter.

For a vegetarian version, add cubed potatoes and other vegetables, making sure that they are all similar in size, to ensure even cooking.

You can add boiled and halved eggs to the curry as well.

If you feel the curry has thickened too much, gently boil it again with a bit of hot water to loosen it.

Paneer Butter Masala

Oil – 3 tbsp
Paneer – around 300g, cubed
Whole spices – 1? piece of cinnamon, 3 cloves, 2 cardamom pods, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped or ground to a paste
Ginger and garlic paste – 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
Tomatoes – 2 large, pureed
Cilantro leaves – 2 tbsp, chopped (plus a little extra for the garnish)
Cream or milk – 3-4 tbsp
Butter – 1 tbsp
Kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves – 1 tsp, crushed

Heat oil in a pan. Fry the paneer pieces lightly on all sides. Remove and keep aside.

In the same pan (there should be some oil left), add the whole spices and allow them to sputter and become fragrant.

Add onion and saute till golden. Add ginger and garlic pastes and saute well till the raw smell goes away.

Add the masala powders and mix well.

Add the pureed tomatoes. Cook till the oil separates and the gravy becomes thick. At this stage, you can blend the gravy, if you want a really smooth paneer masala.

Return the blended gravy to the pan. Add 1/2 – 1 cup water and salt and bring to a boil. Add the fried paneer cubes and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Finally, add the dried fenugreek leaves, cream and butter and mix gently. Do this on a low heat, so as not to curdle the cream.

Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve hot.

Paneer butter masala goes excellently well with a light pulao or Indian flat breads like rotis, naan or chapatis. Slice some onions and lemon wedges for a fresh side.

Cauliflower Coconut Milk Curry (with Variations)

Oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Whole spices – a small piece of cinnamon, 2-3 cloves, 4-5 black pepper corns, 1-2 whole cardamom pods
Onion – 1 medium, finely chopped
Ginger – a 1? piece, finely chopped
Green chili – 2, chopped
Tomato – 1 large, chopped
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Coconut milk – 1 cup
Cauliflower – 1 small head, cut into florets
Salt – as per taste
Water – as needed

Coarsely grind the cumin seeds and whole spices in a mortar and pestle. Keep aside. (Alternately, you can use half a teaspoon of garam masala powder, but I highly recommend that you grind your own spices.)

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When they start to sputter, add the ground spices and allow them to become fragrant.

Add the onion and ginger and saute till the onions are soft and start changing color, but do not allow them to brown.
Now add the tomatoes and chopped green chilis and cook till the tomatoes are mushy.

Add the masala powders and mix well. To this, add the coconut milk and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the cauliflower florets and season with salt. Add about a quarter cup of water, cover and cook. Once the cauliflower is cooked, open the lid and boil the curry further so that it thickens slightly. You could also mash a couple of the florets with the back of a spoon.

Garnish with more curry leaves (or maybe some cilantro) and serve with the lemon rice. This curry goes excellently with almost any kind of Indian flat bread too.

Substitute cauliflower with potatoes, green peas or a mix of vegetables like carrots and green beans. Adjust the liquid and cooking time accordingly.

Any curry cooked with coconut milk will further thicken upon standing. Keep this in mind while reducing the curry in the end.

Serve with Lemon Rice.