Chapli Kabab

Chapli Kabab4Chicken Chapli Kababs are a great alternative to the all time favorite American burger. I first tasted Chapli Kabab in a Pakistani restaurant in Washington, D.C. You can use minced beef, lamb or chicken to make these spicy and delicious kababs.

This recipe makes about 40 chapli kababs but you can easily halve the recipe. I was cooking for a large crowd and hence the larger amount. I bought two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat and two pounds of chicken breast meat and put it in the freezer for about an hour before I minced it in a food processor. Using dark and white meat kept the kababs moist. You can also buy minced chicken at the grocery store. I used gram flour in this recipe which is called “besan” in Hindi. Besan is made from ground, dried chickpeas, a legume known as chana dal in India. The gram flour can be purchased from an Indian grocery store.

I was lucky to have my daughter in the kitchen helping me fry the chapli kababs, while I formed the balls, flattened them, and put them in the pan. Since I had help, we put three pans on the stove and that made the job of frying the kababs much faster. You might also want to enlist some help when you make them. The chapli kababs freeze well and all you need to do is microwave them for a few minutes before serving. Try them on buns or sandwich thins with a little mayo. That’s how my kids like to eat them.

Chapli Kababs
4 pounds minced chicken
2 cups roughly chopped spring onion (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons grated garlic
2 tablespoons roughly chopped ginger
2 tablespoons roughly chopped green chillies (optional)
2 roughly chopped roma tomatoes
½ cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chilli flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons roasted and crushed coriander seeds
3 teaspoons gram flour (besan)
Kosher salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying

In a small pan, over low heat, roast the coriander seeds. Crush them in a motar and pestle and set aside.

Put the spring onions, garlic, ginger, chillies, tomatoes, cilantro, and chilli flakes into a food processor and blend until they are finely chopped.

In a large bowl, put minced chicken, the chopped ingredients, the gram flour, the roasted and crushed coriander seeds, and salt. Using your hands mix until just combined. Make 40 balls and place them on two parchment lined trays. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. (I found that using a bowl of water and dipping my hands in them made it easier to make the balls and also in flattening them. You might want to try that.)

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot add two tablespoons of oil and gently swirl the oil in the pan so that it coats the whole surface of the pan. Flatten each ball into a large, thin cutlet or chapli kabab – as thin as you can make them. Fry in batches. Put only two or three kababs at a time in the pan. Fry each side for about three minutes or until they get nicely browned and then turn them over and fry the other side as well. Remove them on to paper towel lined trays. Make the rest of the chapli kababs in the same manner. Garnish the chapli kababs with coriander and mint leaves, spring onions and lemon wedges. Serve them with wheat thins, mayo or cilantro and mint chutney. The recipe for the cilantro and mint chutney can be found at the bottom of the Bangalore Vadais post.

Tuna Cutlets

Tuna Cutlet3Tuna cutlets used to be a popular item on my menu several years ago. I made some over the weekend so I thought I would share my recipe with you. The list of ingredients may look daunting but this recipe is a keeper and you will be happy you tried it. Sometimes I add a handful of chopped walnuts into the mix and it adds a great crunch to the cutlet.

You can use these cutlets as a side dish, an appetizer, or a snack. I have used them in sandwiches with a chipolte mayonnaise spread or cilantro and mint chutney. I’ve also eaten them just rolled up with some chopped onions in a naan or paratha. Eat them any way you please!

Tuna Cutlets
3 7oz cans (I used white tuna in water)
2 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed
2 cups finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
6 finely chopped green chillies, optional
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon pepper powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
Salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ cup all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Oil for seasoning and shallow frying

Drain and flake the tuna using a fork. Set aside.

Heat a non stick pan over medium high heat. Add three tablespoons of oil and when it shimmers add the chopped onion and fry until the onions turn light brown. Add ginger, garlic, and green chillies. Sauté for two minutes. Turn the heat to low and add the chilli powder, pepper, turmeric, garam masala and two teaspoons of salt. Sauté for a minute and then add the tuna. Fry until the pieces of tuna turn light brown. Add chopped cilantro and lemon juice and turn off the heat. Let the tuna mixture cool for 10-15 minutes and then add the mashed potato. Mix well with a potato masher. At this point you might want to taste to see if you need more salt. Form the cutlets into whatever shape you desire.

Arrange the breading ingredients in an assembly-line fashion. First, in a shallow dish season flour with ¼ teaspoon salt. In another shallow dish, whisk eggs with one tablespoon water and ¼ teaspoon salt. In a third shallow dish put the panko bread crumbs. Working with one piece at a time, dredge both sides of the cutlet in the flour, knocking off the excess. Then dip both sides of floured cutlet in the egg mixture. Finally, coat both sides of the cutlet with panko bread crumbs.

Set a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and pour in enough oil for shallow frying, about one and a half inches. When the oil is hot, about five minutes, add the cutlets. Fry them in batches rather than over crowding the skillet. Fry the cutlets until golden brown on both sides. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined tray. These cutlets can be served with a cilantro and mint chutney. The recipe for the cilantro and mint chutney can be found at the bottom of the Bangalore Vadais post.

Penne with Chicken in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

PennaThe credit for this recipe goes to my daughter, Jyoti. This Italian pasta, with an Indian twist, is a beautiful springtime dish. It is easy to prepare and requires only a few ingredients.

Many of my Indian friends in the U.S. have a special blend of spices called Telugu masala in their kitchen cabinets. I get my stash of Telugu masala from Aunty Absolom. It’s the best! In this recipe, I’ve given you the choice of using plain chilli powder or Telugu masala. You can adjust the amount to suit your taste.

A few points to remember when making this pasta dish. When cooking the penne, salt the water well. Since the penne will be cooked in the sauce again, cook it just shy of being completely done. There must be a bite to the penne. Italians call it al dente. You can use minced chicken or turkey breast for this recipe. Also, I try to buy the best spaghetti sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that I find. It makes a big difference! The brand of tomato sauce that I used for this recipe is Paesana and I bought it from Whole Foods.

Penne with Chicken in a Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 13.25 ounce box Barilla whole grain penne (cook to al dente using directions on the box)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ pound minced chicken breast
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
3 teaspoons chilli powder (or Telugu masala)
1 25 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley or spring onion

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the minced chicken and brown, gently breaking it up into bits with a wooden spoon. Add the onion and cook until light brown and tender. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the chilli power and saute for 30 seconds. Then add the spaghetti sauce, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to low and cook for five minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the penne in a large pot to al dente. Use the directions on the box and make sure that you add enough salt while cooking the penne. Reserve two tablespoons of the cooking water, drain the penne and return it to the pot.  Add the sauce to the penne and toss over medium heat. Add the reserved cooking water and let the penne absorb some of the sauce. Remove from heat after two minutes. Garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and parsley or spring onion. Serve with garlic bread and salad.

Kerala Red Fish Curry

Kerala Red Fish CurryThis classic Kerala fish curry is cooked in an earthenware pot that is called a “manchatti” in Malayalam. When I moved to Washington, my mom gave me a small manchatti which I used to cook the fish curry that you see in the picture. You can use any fresh, fleshy fish of your choice to make this dish. The curry tastes best the day after cooking it.

There are many variations to this dish as there are Malayalee homes! I say that because my red fish curry tastes a little different from my sister’s version. I use Kashmiri chillies to give it its bright red color and hot dry red chillies to give the dish heat. You can reduce the number of chillies to suit your taste buds. My son, likes his fish curry to be hot so the curry I make is very spicy.

Kerala Style Red Fish Curry
1 pound fish (any fleshy variety that you like)
14 dry hot red chillies
14 Kashmiri chillies
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 pinch fenugreek seeds
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
3 pieces of Malabar tamarind (puli)
2 cups water
salt to taste

In a small pan add the chillies, coriander, and fenugreek seeds and roast them over medium low heat. When they smell fragrant, remove, cool and powder in a spice grinder. Soak the Malabar tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain and dry on a paper towel.

Place the manchatti or pot on medium high heat. Add coconut oil and when the oil is hot add mustard seeds. When they splutter add curry leaves, ginger, garlic, shallots, and the Malabar tamarind. Fry for about 30 seconds and then add the powdered spices. Immediately add 2 cups of water and salt. Stir well and when it boils add the pieces of fish. Turn the heat to medium low and cook until the pieces are done and the gravy thickens.

Meen Pattichathu (Kerala Style Tilapia with Coconut)

MeenThis is a typical Kerala delicacy, but done my way. Meen Pattichathu is a coconut based, tangy, fish dish that is cooked in a clay pot. It does not have gravy and the pieces of fish are wrapped with crushed grated coconut, chillies, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, and cilantro. If I was back home in India, I would use a grinding stone to crush all the ingredients, but I am using a food processor to do the same. Crushing the ingredients in the food processor infuses the flavor of the chillies, and ginger into the grated coconut. So about five or six short pulses in the food processor will do the job.

I know a lot of readers will want to know about the Malabar tamarind (puli). The botanical name for this ingredient is Garcinia Cambogia. If I am wrong, I will definitely hear from my brother, the botany expert in the family! If you cannot find this ingredient, you can substitute it by using tamarind. It will, however, compromise the flavor of the dish. Malabar tamarind is used to add sourness to the Meen Pattichathu, and then it is discarded before serving the dish. In the picture, you will see Malabar tamarind.

Once in two years, I visit my family in India. My sister-in-law, Lissie Ammama, faithfully gives me a stash of puli to bring back with me to the U.S. Thanks, Lissie Ammama, for all the years you’ve shared puli with me. Needless to say, I think of you when I make Meen Pattichathu.

I hope you will try this dish, and send me your comments.

Meen Pattichathu

2 lbs Tilapia, cut into one inch pieces
3 cups grated coconut, fresh or frozen (12 oz)
5 dry red chillies, broken in halves
2 tablespoons finely diced ginger
10 green chillies, slit in halves (adjust the # of chillies to your taste)
2 tablespoons finely diced garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 sprigs of curry leaves
3 pieces Malabar tamarind (kudum puli in Malayalam), washed and soaked in warm water
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
Salt to taste
¼ cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ cup finely chopped coriander

Add fresh coconut, dry chillies, ginger and green chillies into a blender or food processor and crush. Five or six pulses in a food processor will crush the ingredients. Mix the crushed ingredients, garlic, turmeric, one sprig of curry leaves, Malabar tamarind, which is torn into small segments, half the shallots, fish, two tablespoons oil and salt. Add water so it comes up to the level of the mixture in the pan. Cook on medium-high heat for ten minutes and then turn the heat to low. Cook until the water in the pan evaporates, tilting the pan once in a while to make sure that the fish and coconut are not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Heat two tablespoons of coconut oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and when they sputter add the remaining shallots. When the shallots turn light brown add the sprig of curry leaves, and cilantro. Remove from heat and pour over the Meen Pattichathu. Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving. This dish tastes best the next day when the tartness from the kudum puli permeates the fish.

Amma’s Chicken Curry

Amma’s chicken curry calls for a lot of ingredients, but this recipe never fails to impress. Don’t let the long list of ingredients frighten you. The process is not difficult once you get all the ingredients together. I sometimes add a couple of quartered potatoes to this chicken curry. The fennel, mace petals and star anise gives this dish a very distinctive South Indian flare.

My brothers and sister. I’m on the tricycle!

 

This dish brings back a lot of childhood memories that I cherish. It reminds me of sitting around the dining table with my parents, brothers and sister, and celebrating birthdays, and other special occasions. I hope it will help build some memories for you too!

 

 

3 lbs chicken, remove skin and cut into large pieces
10 dry red chillies
1 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1-inch piece cinnamon
4 cloves
4 green cardamom
2 teaspoons whole black pepper
½ of one star anise
2 mace petals
1 bay leaf
½ cup grated coconut
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 chopped green chillies
¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon mustards seeds
1 sprig curry leaf
2 cups finely chopped red onion
Coarse salt, to taste
1 cup finely chopped tomato
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

Heat one teaspoon oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat and roast the dry red chillies, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, whole black pepper, star anise, mace, bay leaf, and grated coconut until it smells fragrant and the coconut turns light brown. Add chopped ginger, garlic, chillies and remove from heat. Cool completely and then grind in a blender, with about half a cup of water, to a smooth paste.

Heat ¼ cup oil in a heavy bottomed dish and add the mustard seeds. When they sputter add the curry leaves, onion and salt. Fry until the onion turns golden. Add the ground paste, tomatoes, and turmeric and sauté for two minutes. Add chicken and mix well so the chicken pieces are well coated with the onion and spice mix. Add two cups of water, cover and cook on medium-high heat until the chicken is done. Add lemon juice and garnish with coriander leaves.

Lomo Saltado

As a farewell gift to me, my colleagues at the World Bank compiled a cookbook of recipes from each of their home countries. This is my first blog post and to honor them I am featuring one of my favorite dishes from Peru, Lomo Saltado. Thank you, Ruth Delgado Flynn, for sharing your recipe with me. I have made some changes to the recipe because I could not find Aji Amarillo (Peruvian yellow hot pepper). So, I replaced it with Aji Amarillo paste and Panca Pepper paste.

The dish tasted authentic, with just the right amount of heat from the aji pepper paste and I was thrilled that I could make it at home! I made the French fries from scratch but you can use store bought frozen fries. If you like Lomo Saltado, give this recipe a try. You will not be disappointed.

Keep checking my blog because you never know when I will feature another recipe that you shared with me!

Lomo Saltado (adapted from Ruth Delgado’s recipe)
1 ½ lbs beef sirloin or tenderloin
1 tablespoon grated garlic cloves
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons Aji amarillo paste
2 tablespoons Panca pepper paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon pepper powder
1 large red onion, cut into strips and separated
3 plum tomatoes, de-seeded and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
2 large Russet potatoes
Oil for deep frying
Salt to taste

For the French fries (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook)

Peel potatoes and cut them lengthwise into ¼ inch thick fries (French fries). Rinse fries several times until the starchy water turns clear. Cover them with cold water and with three cups of ice cubes. Leave them in the water and ice for about 30 minutes.

Heat oil for deep frying in a large wok until the temperature reaches 325 degrees.

Pour ice and water off and wrap fries in a clean towel and pat completely dry. Add a handful of fries at a time to the hot oil and cook until the fries turn light golden in color. About 8 minutes. Remove fries with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Drain for ten minutes. Cook remaining fries.

When you are ready to serve the Lomo Saltado, reheat the oil to 350 degrees and fry the French fries again until light brown and crisp. Remove fries and drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over them. Gently add them to the prepared Lomo Saltado just before you serve.

For the Lomo Saltado

Cut beef into ½ inch thick strips. In a bowl add garlic, ginger, aji paste, panca paste, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, cumin powder, pepper powder and beef. Stir so beef is well coated and marinate for 20 minutes. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan until very hot. Place half the pieces of beef and let it get brown on one side before you turn it over (about three minutes). Do not add liquid from marinade. Stir fry until all the beef turns brown. Remove and add another tablespoon of oil and repeat the above process with the rest of the beef. Remove from the pan. Add the last tablespoon of oil and add red onions and stir fry for two minutes. Add tomatoes, a pinch of salt and the beef and stir fry for another two minutes. At this point if you want a little sauce sprinkle two tablespoons of water and stir fry for a minute. Add French fries and cilantro. Serve with white rice.