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.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Tamarind Dressing

2 large heirloom tomatoes
2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 thai chili peppers, red and yellow color
2 tablespoons whole cilantro leaves, fresh
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder, freshly ground + extra if needed
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
3 teaspoons dark brown sugar or jaggery crushed
1/4 teaspoon toasted coriander powder, freshly ground (see notes above)
100mL cup water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes

Thinly slice the heirloom tomatoes and arrange them on a serving platter. Add the cherry tomatoes over them.
Slice the chili peppers lengthwise in half and arrange them over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the cilantro leaves over the tomatoes.

Take a 500mL mason jar or glass jar with a lid. Add all the ingredients from the tamarind to the olive oil. Close the jar tight with its lid and then shake vigorously until it forms an emulsion. Taste the dressing and adjust seasoning if necessary with salt and pepper.
Drizzle enough dressing over the salad and sprinkle with the Maldon sea salt flakes and/or pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Green Pea Socca

1 cup green pea flour
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
6 tablespoons olive oil + a little extra to brush
1 cup water, at room temperature
1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced into rings
1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme leaves + a little extra for garnish
1 teaspoon lunu miris or harissa
2 tablespoons asiago cheese, shredded

In a medium sized mixing bowl, add all the ingredients from the green pea flour to the black pepper. Dry whisk to combine. Then add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the water. Whisk to combine to form a smooth slurry. There should be no visible lumps in the batter. Taste the batter and adjust the salt if necessary. Wrap the bowl with cling film or a lid and leave in the refrigerator overnight (maximum up to 48hours). (See notes above)

The next day, place a wire rack on the upper-second level of the oven. Preheat to 450F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch cast iron pan or oven-safe skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil just starts to smoke, add the shallots and sauté until they brown. This will take around 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Fold the harissa, the lemon thyme leaves, and the browned shallots into the refrigerated pea flour batter using a silicone spatula. Coat the same cast-iron skillet with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Pour the batter on the pan and place it in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown and the bread begins to release from the sides of the pan.

At this point, carefully remove the pan from the oven and brush the surface very lightly with extra olive oil. Sprinkle the asiago cheese over the surface of the socca. Return the pan to the oven and broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is starts to melt and just golden brown on the edges.

Remove the pan from the oven and using a silicone spatula remove the socca by sliding the spatula underneath the sides of the bread. Score and cut the socca into wedges (any size you desire) or strips. Garnish with a little extra lemon thyme if desired and serve warm.

Coconut-Cilantro Chutney

6 ounces fresh coconut, grated or chopped
1 bunch cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 green Thai chili peppers
1 inch ginger root, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
3/4 cup water

Place all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Place the lid and pulse until the ingredients are completely combined in a smooth paste. You might need to occasionally stir the ingredients. You can also add a little more water to thin the chutney out, but remember to taste and adjust the salt and lime juice quantities, if necessary.

Transfer to a serving dish and let it sit for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator for the flavors to come together. Serve fresh.

To store, refrigerate the chutney in an airtight container for up to a week. It can also be frozen for up to 3 weeks in a freezer-safe airtight container; just thaw it completely before serving, but do not microwave.

Indian Frittata

12 large eggs
1/2-cup crème fraîche
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4+teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
1/4 cup crumbled paneer or feta

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, crème fraîche, onion, scallions, garlic, cilantro, garam masala, salt, pepper, turmeric and red-pepper flakes and beat with a whisk or fork until just combined.

Heat the ghee or oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet, such as cast iron, over medium-high heat, tilting the skillet to coat it evenly.

When the ghee bubbles, pour the eggs into the center of the skillet, shaking to distribute evenly. Cook, undisturbed, until the frittata starts to firm up on the bottom and along the sides but is still slightly jiggly on top, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the paneer and transfer the skillet to the oven.

Cook until frittata is golden brown and has reached desired doneness, 15 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Seared Paneer with Tea and Pineapple Sauce

400 grams (14 ounces) low-fat/full-fat paneer, chilled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + a little extra for searing
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
a few fresh daikon radish shoots to garnish
a little Maldon sea salt flakes (optional)

tea and pineapple dressing:
1 Darjeeling tea bag
100mL boiling water
50mL white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons pineapple juice, fresh
100 mL extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

Slice the paneer into 9 cm X 3 cm long slabs that are 1.5 cm thick.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, place the olive oil and the rest of the ingredients from the salt to the paprika and mix with a spoon. Brush each of the paneer slabs with this mixture and allow them to sit for 10 minutes at room temperature to absorb the flavors.

Heat a little extra oil in a medium-sized skillet on medium – high heat. When the oil just starts to smoke, place two to three slabs of the seasoned paneer. Cook on each side until seared and lightly browned. This should take about 60-90 seconds on each side. Place the seared paneer on a dry paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Cook the rest of the paneer in the same manner and keep aside until ready to use.

To prepare the dressing, place the tea bag in a small heat proof bowl. Pour the boiling water over it and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Drain the tea bag to remove any excess liquid (avoid squeezing the bag or the tea liquid will turn murky). Pour the tea into a medium bowl along with the remaining ingredients. Whisk until combined.

5. To serve place the hot/warm seared paneer slabs in a serving dish. Drizzle the paneer with as much as tea dressing as desired. Garnish with a few fresh daikon shoots and sprinkle with extra sea salt flakes if desired. Serve immediately with extra dressing and daikon radish shoots on the side.

Cilantro-Mint Chutney and Cucumber Raita

Cilantro-mint chutney:

1 cup packed mint leaves, fresh
1 cup packed cilantro, leaves
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled, julienned
2 thai green chili peppers
1 lime
1/4 cup water, chilled
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt

Place the mint, cilantro, ginger, chili into a blender (or a jar if you’re using an immersion blender), Squeeze the lime juice and add the water and salt. Blend until the ingredients for a smooth paste. You might need to add a little more water to the paste or occasionally stir the ingredients to get them moving in the blender.

Once this chutney is prepared you can use it immediately or refrigerate it in an airtight container. You can also freeze this for for a few days. (Note: the vibrant color does tend to become a little darker after a few days of storage but the it is still good to use and eat)

Cucumber mint raita:
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup water, chilled (* if you want the raita thinner add more water but remember to adjust the salt and pepper according to your taste preferences)
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 cups cucumber, peeled and grated
1 thai chili pepper, cut into thin slices for garnish

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, water, salt and pepper until the ingredients are completely combined. Keep this yogurt base aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Squeeze the grated cucumber for any excess liquid. You can save the liquid and use it to for something else (I either drink it or use it in chilled juices).

There are two ways to prepare the raita.

a) The first method is for the “parfait style”. You can prepare about 4-6 (5-6 ounce) glass jars with this method. Layer the bottom of one jar, half-way with the yogurt base. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of the grated cucumber above and layer with more yogurt base until you’re about half an inch from the top of the jar. Layer with 2 generous tablespoons of the cilantro-mint chutney and garnish with a few of the sliced chilies and a little left over grated cucumber. Prepare the rest of the jars using this method. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

b)The second method is to mix 1/2 cup of the cilantro-mint chutney prepared earlier with the yogurt base and the cucumber in a large mixing bowl. Garnish with the thinly sliced chilies. You can serve it immediately or cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve chilled.

Pumpkin Raita

2 cups grated pumpkin
1 thai green chili pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
3 cups plain non-fat greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2-3 curry leaves, dried or fresh

Place the grated pumpkin in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a lid and microwave for 3-4 minutes until the pumpkin is completely tender. Keep aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl add the pumpkin, chili pepper, onion, cilantro, mint, yogurt, salt, and pepper. Whisk the ingredients with a fork and taste to make sure the amount of salt and pepper is enough. Transfer the mixture to a clean serving dish. Cover and refrigerate the raita for 1-2 hours until chilled.

Before serving, heat the oil in a saucepan on a medium high flame till it gets slightly smoky. Immediately reduce the flame to low and carefully add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. The seeds will begin to spurt and the leaves will brown in the hot oil. Cook till the seeds stop spurting and pour the entire contents while hot on top of the chilled raita. Serve immediately.

Grilled Pineapple Raita

1 3-pound ripe pineapple
Olive oil or vegetable oil for brushing the pineapple slices
2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup chilled water (see note)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 serrano chile, minced (deseeded if you want it less hot)
3 tablespoons julienned mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground red chile powder

Instructions: Prepare the pineapple by trimming off the top and the base. Then trim the sides and discard the outer thick skin. Using a small paring knife, remove any eyes (the brown hard spiny spots). Then cut the pineapple into six ½-inch thick slices; using a small paring knife cut the central woody core and discard. Wrap and save the remaining pineapple for use in another recipe (or just eat it).

Brush a grill pan with a little oil and put the heat on high. Alternatively, heat a gas grill on high and brush the grates with oil. When the surface is hot, brush the pineapple slices with a little oil on each side and place them carefully on the hot surface. Grill the pineapple slices on each side for about 1½ to 2 minutes, until each side is caramelized. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to cool to room temperature, about 10 to 15 minutes, before chopping. Once the pineapple has cooled, chop the slices into coarse chunks and set aside until ready to use.

Place the yogurt in a large bowl and add the water, followed by the salt and pepper. Mix well; adjust the seasoning as necessary. Fold in the pineapple and serrano chile, along with half the mint and half the cilantro leaves. Transfer to a serving bowl and keep covered in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to cool and help the flavors meld.

While the raita is resting in the refrigerator, heat a small dry skillet on high heat. Add the cumin seeds to the hot skillet and toast until the seeds just start to turn brown and release their aroma. Immediately transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.

Garnish the raita with the remaining mint and cilantro and the toasted ground cumin seeds and chile powder. Serve chilled. The raita will last about 2 to 3 days refrigerated.

Note: The amount of water might vary slightly depending on how thick or thin the yogurt is. The ideal consistency should be like a thin custard.

Note: while you can serve this with Indian food, this is also a wonderful accompaniment to barbecued meat and grilled vegetables, and it goes well with flatbread and rice.

Indian-Spiced Scrambled Eggs

6 large eggs
1 teaspoon ghee or butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and cut into thin 1inch strip
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes or chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 green thai chili peppers, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

Carefully crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk with a fork till they are uniformly combined. Keep the eggs aside.

Heat a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet on a medium flame. Melt the ghee with the olive oil in the skillet. Add the onion and sauté for about 2 minutes till they are soft.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent the garlic and ginger from burning.

Add the turmeric, garam masala, chili flakes, and salt to the pan. Cook for another minute with constant stirring.

Reduce the flame and pour the whisked eggs into the hot skillet. The eggs will begin to cook immediately, gently stir the eggs as you would for regular scrambled eggs. Scrape the eggs from the bottom and sides of the pan as the eggs begin to cook and get creamy. As soon as the eggs are creamy, turn the flame off.

Toss in the chopped thai chili peppers and garnish with the chopped cilantro leaves. Serve hot with paratha, roti, or bread and a side of fresh feta cheese.

Mango-Spiced Baby Potatoes with Buttermilk Sauce

3 cups baby purple potatoes or fingerling potatoes
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon plain non-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon dried mango powder (Amchur)
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder or dried chili flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped scallions (for garnish)
salt and pepper to season the buttermilk sauce

Wash the potatoes under cold water and wipe them dry with a clean towel. Slice each potato in half across its length.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on a medium flame. Add the potatoes and salt. Cover with a lid and cook for about 20 minutes till the potatoes are golden brown on the outside but soft and tender inside. Stir the potatoes occasionally during the cooking.

Reduce the flame and add the chili, garlic, pepper, and mango powder. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes.

Lightly whisk the lemon zest, buttermilk, and yogurt in a separate bowl. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Remember that the potatoes are already salted, so season accordingly.

Pour the buttermilk sauce over the warm potatoes just before serving. Garnish with the scallions.

Twice-Cooked New Potatoes with Pepita Chutney

Pepita chutney:
1 cup unsalted pepita seeds ( raw or toasted)
1 garlic clove, peeled and trimmed
1 bunch scallions, trimmed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 black peppercorns

Potatoes:
2 pounds new potatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced

To prepare the chutney: Puree all of the ingredients in a blender with ¼ cup water and blend to a smooth paste. Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Keep aside until ready to use. (The chutney can be made a day ahead and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.)

To prepare the potatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the potatoes, reduce heat to medium-high, return to a boil and cook until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a knife, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place the potatoes on a clean kitchen towel to remove as much water as possible.

Heat the butter in a medium cast-iron skillet or stainless-steel pan on medium-high heat until the butter melts and the milk solids just start to turn brown, then add the potatoes. Smash slightly by applying a little pressure using a flat spoon or masher. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Cook until the potato skins sear and turn slightly golden brown, 2 to 2½ minutes per side. Remove from the heat and generously drizzle with the pepita chutney. Garnish with the mint and serve hot or warm.

Sweet Potato Bebinca

2 to 3 medium to large sweet potatoes (1 1/4 pounds total)
6 tablespoons/85 grams unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
6 large eggs
1 cup/200 grams grated jaggery, muscovado, panela or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup/60 milliliters maple syrup
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 (13.5-ounce/400-milliliter) can full-fat coconut milk
1 cup/130 grams all-purpose flour

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the sweet potatoes to remove any dirt, pat them dry with paper towels and poke several holes in them with a fork. Put the potatoes in a baking dish or on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast until completely tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool completely before handling. Peel the sweet potatoes, discard the skins, and purée the flesh in a food processor. Measure out 1 2/3 cups/400 grams and set aside, saving the rest for another purpose. (The sweet potatoes may be roasted one day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch round baking pan with 2-inch sides with parchment paper and grease lightly with butter. Put the pan on a baking sheet. In a large bowl, whisk together the cooled sweet potato purée, melted butter, eggs, sugar, maple syrup, nutmeg, turmeric and salt until smooth. Add the coconut milk and flour and whisk until the mixture is smooth, with no visible streaks of flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and put the pan, still on the baking sheet, in the oven. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. The pudding should be firm to the touch in the center and light golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Wrap the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate to set for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Once the bebinca has set, run a sharp knife around the sides of the pan, flip the pan onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and tap gently to release. Peel the parchment off the top. Invert onto a serving dish, and peel off the second sheet of parchment paper.

To serve, use a sharp serrated knife to cut the chilled bebinca into wedges. Store the leftover bebinca, wrapped in plastic wrap, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Roasted Cauliflower, Paneer, and Lentil Salad

For the salad:
1/2 cup green lentils
1/2 cup black lentils
1 small head cauliflower (about 1 pound)
1 10-ounce block paneer, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups total)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced

For the cilantro-oil dressing:
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup tightly packed, fresh cilantro leaves
1 Serrano chile, seeded, if desired
Juice of 1 lime, about 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water and pick out any stones or imperfect beans. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until tender but not mushy, 25 to 60 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on how old the lentils are, so check them every 5 minutes after the first half hour. When they have reached desired doneness, drain through a fine-mesh strainer and set on a clean kitchen towel to absorb any remaining liquid.

While the lentils are cooking, roast the cauliflower and paneer: Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets and transfer to a roasting or sheet pan. Add the paneer. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil, mixing to coat evenly. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the florets and paneer are crispy on the outside and feel tender when pierced with a skewer or knife, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse at medium-high speed until smooth and paste-like.

When the cauliflower and paneer are done, transfer to a large bowl and gently stir in the drained lentils and scallions. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Drizzle with 1/2 to 1/3 cup of the dressing, to taste, and serve warm or at room temperature. (Store the leftover salad and dressing in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to four days. Shake the dressing before using.)