Category Archives: Curries

Chicken Chettinad-or maybe not?

The cuisine of the Chettinad region of Tamilnadu in India is said to be very spicy/hot, if I remember this right. By that yardstick, the Chicken “Chettinad” I made today for dinner does not really qualify for that name.

But neither the girls nor I will ever be able to stomach the four dry red chillies that the recipe in Sanjeev Kapoor’s “Khana Khazana” would have required be added to the ground masala this dish needs.

So I made it today without any whole red chillies at all.

The girls liked the chicken a lot, as did I. It makes a nice change from the usual sort of chicken curry though it is rather heavy because of all the coconut that goes in to it.

I’ll take some tomorrow for the boulanger, and see what he thinks of it.


Chicken Chettinad

450 grams of boneless chicken, cut in to small pieces

3 small onions, sliced fine

2 teaspoons each of ginger paste and garlic paste

6 tablespoons of canned tomato pulp

5 tablespoons of desiccated coconut , or the flesh of 1/4 of a fresh coconut

poppy seeds – 1 teaspoon

fennel seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

coriander seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

cumin seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

cinnamon stick – 1 one inch stick

green cardamom – 2

cloves – 2

turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon

red chilli powder – 1/2 teaspoon ( I use Kashmiri red chilli powder)

4 tablespoons of oil

star anise – 1/4

2 small tomatoes

3 tablespoons of lemon juice

5-6 curry leaves

salt to taste

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Curried Potatoes aka Rasedar Aloo Tamatar

Shri loves this potato curry – he calls it aloo shak, which is probably an Indori name for it since he talks fondly of having eaten this many times in the sarafa bazaar of Indore – with puris and if he had his way this is what I would make each time we have friends over for a meal.

Yesterday, for dinner with Vishal and Shefali’s family, we had this curry with palak puris.  And it was so pleasing to see Twisha and Vayun enjoy the carrot salad I had made to go with the aloo-puri as much as Shri, Indira and Noor do.

Curries Potatoes/Rasedar Aloo Tamatar

600 gms of potatoes (enough for 4-6 people)

300 gms of tomatoes or an equivalent amount of canned tomato pulp (about 6 tablespoons)

4-5 tablespoons of oil

1/4 teaspoon each of the ingredients of paanchphoran – mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon of coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon of kashmiri red chilli powder (or to taste)

2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine

1 teaspoon of kasoori methi and/or 1/2 a teaspoon of garam masala (optional)

1 large dry red chili (optional), broken in half

salt to taste

fresh, green coriander,chopped fine

Leave the tomatoes in very hot water – freshly boiled – till their skin comes off easily.  Then drain and leave aside to cool.

In the meanwhile cook the potatoes, till they are soft, in a pressure cooker. When the cooker has cooled a bit, open the lid, drain the water, take out the potatoes in a colander and leave aside to dry and cool.

Peel and chop the tomatoes in to very fine pieces.

When the potatoes are cold, peel them and dice them in to small pieces.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and put in the  red chili, the mustard seeds and the nigella seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the fennel seeds, fry for a couple of seconds, then add the garlic and fry for a few seconds till the garlic loses it’s raw look. Now add the cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and fry for just another couple of seconds else the fenugreek seeds can burn and will develop a bitter taste.

Add the tomatoes next and cook on medium heat till their juice starts to dry up. Then add all the dry spices and fry for a minute or so, till the oil starts to appear on the sides of the mixture. Now stir in the kasoori methi and fry for another few seconds.

Add the potatoes, along with salt. Fry for a few minutes till the potatoes are  well-coated with the tomato mixture.  Then add about 2 cups of water and simmer the curry for a while till the gravy is as thick as you like (add more water if needed). Once way to ensure the curry is well-done is to let it simmer, stirring occasionally, till the surface starts to acquire a rich red color/glaze.

Garnish with green coriander , if you haven’t used kasoori methi.

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Vegetable Korma

I made this for lunch yesterday, since I was looking for a new idea for a curry for the boulangerie.

Patrick the boulanger seems to have liked the look of it, though he hadn’t tasted it yet when I went back yesterday evening to ask what he thought of it, since he said he’d like me to make this along with the bread rolls for next Tuesday.

The girls did like it a lot though when they had this for lunch with phulkas.

I enjoyed making it because it will make a nice addition to the repertoire of vegetarian dishes to cook when friends come over for a meal.

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Fish Fillets in Coconut-flavored Sauce aka Fish Malai Curry

Inspired by the decent results from the trial run of the Prawn Malai curry – I made a very small portion to take to the boulangerie for Patrick to taste and he liked it a lot – and prompted by Indira who was very curious to know what sort of curry I am going to make for this Tuesday’s order from the boulangerie, I decided to make the same curry with white fish fillets and the result is very nice too.

The fish that I used is called cabillaud in French and that’s haddock/hake/cod in English, I think.

We had this tonight with a peas pulav and a small, very fresh-tasting salad of red bell pepper slices and mesclun (the Provencal term for a mixture of young salad greens) tossed in an olive oil, lime juice and basil flakes dressing.

The girls said they liked their dinner very much so I am glad I gave this a try.

Fish Malai Curry

300 gms of fish fillets, cut in to 2 or 3 inch pieces

2 small onions, chopped really fine

4-5 tablespoons of tomato puree

2 teaspoons each of ginger and garlic paste

a couple of bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon of garam masala powder

3/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 a teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli powder

1 green chilli, slit in half (optional)

salt to taste

3 tablespoons of oil

50-75 ml of packaged coconut milk (vary to taste – I like the coconut flavor to not be too strong)

Cut the fillets into 2 or 3 inch pieces.

Mix the salt and turmeric in a large bowl and turn the pieces of fish in this mixture gently, to coat them well.

In a frying pan, heat the oil, add the bay leaves, fry for a minute, then add the green chilli and the onions and fry till they are a golden color. Now add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry everything for a few minutes till th onions start to turn a golden brown- but without letting the onions burn or brown too much as this will affect the final color of the curry.

Add the tomato puree next and once the oil starts to appear on the sides, add the turmeric powder and the red chilli powder and fry everything for a minute. Now add the fish pieces, turn over gently a couple of times to coat them well with the onion-tomato mixture, then pour in the coconut milk and water. Simmer the curry for about 10 minutes or till it has the right consistency (not thin and runny, but it shouldn’t be too thick either).

Stir in the garam masala and garnish with fresh, chopped coriander leaves.

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Prawn Malai Curry

When the boulanger asked if I could do a fish curry for next Tuesday, my first reaction was to tell him honestly that I have very little experience cooking fish. But then I remembered that I made this Bengali curry, which combines prawns and coconut milk, once a long time ago and the girls did like it.

He was quite happy with that suggestion when I mentioned it so this is what I am going to make for next Tuesday along with some peas pulav, batata vada, mint-coriander chutney and carrot salad.

The classical chingri (that’s Bengali for prawn) malai curry does not include tomatoes I think, but I prefer to make it with them.

Prawn Malai Curry

10-12 medium-sized prawns (shelled and de-veined; so I like to use the frozen, ready-to-use variety)

1 small onion, chopped really fine

3 tablespoons of tomato puree

1 teaspoon each of ginger and garlic paste

a couple of bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon of garam masala powder

3/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 a teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli powder

1 green chilli, slit in to half (optional)

salt to taste

3 tablespoons of oil

50 ml of packaged coconut milk (or a little less would be okay too)

3/4 cup of water

Soak the frozen prawns in some water for a few minutes, then drain the water and pat the prawns dry.

Mix the salt and turmeric in a large bowl and turn the prawns in this mixture gently to coat them well.

In a frying pan, heat the oil and fry the prawns till they are a golden color (don’t fry for too long else the prawns can become a little hard). Take them out and keep them aside.

In the same oil, add the bay leaves, fry for a minute, then add the green chilli and the onions and fry till they are a golden color. Now add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry everything for a couple of minutes, without letting the onions brown as this will affect the final color of the curry.

Add the tomato puree next and once the oil starts to appear on the sides, add the turmeric powder and the red chilli powder and fry everything for a minute. Now add the prawns, stir together everything well, then pour in the coconut milk and water. Simmer the curry for about 10 minutes or till it has the right consistency (not thin and runny, but it shouldn’t be too thick either).

Stir in the garam masala and garnish with fresh, chopped coriander leaves.

This curry is best eaten with plain, hot Basmati rice or a peas pulav, IMO and makes a great change from the more time-consuming chicken or lamb curries. It reminds me of that ad from long ago – I think it was the TV commercial for Maggie noodles when they were first introduced in India – “quick to cook, good to eat!”

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Egg Curry

Maria, our neighbor from the first floor and the mother of Katia who is in CP in the girls’ school, came over this Tuesday afternoon for a “how-to-cook-a-curry” demo.

Carrot salad -which was the other thing I showed her to make, since she and her husband liked it very much at a PTA lunch in December- and jeera pulav on the side made for a nice dinner that evening. The girls love this curry as much as they do rajma or chicken curry and they were quite pleased to find three of their favorite things on the table.

The quantity here was enough for the four of us, Maria’s family and there was some left over as well.

Egg Curry
8 eggs –  hard boiled, shelled and sliced in half

5 large potatoes, peeled and cut in to 3 or 4 chunks across the length

4-5 large onions, peeled and chopped quite fine

8 tablespoons of tomato puree (made from canned tomatoes)

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated

a 1 and a 1/2  inch square chunk of peeled ginger, grated

3/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder

3/4th or 1 teaspoon of coriander powder

1/2 or 3/4th teaspoon of garam masala

1 teaspoon of kashmiri/deghi chilli powder

1 teaspoon of ajwain seeds (optional)

1/2 a teaspoon of cumin seeds

3 pods of black cardamom

2-3 small sticks of cinnamon

salt to taste

6 tablespoons of sunflower oil

Warm the oil in a pressure cooker, add the black cardamom and cinnamon, then when their aroma is released add the ajwain seeds and the cumin seeds. When these begin to brown, add the onions and fry at a medium hot temperature till they are golden brown in color. Now add the potatoes and fry these with the onions till the potatoes start to acquire a crisp, golden color and the onions turn quite brown. Add the ginger and garlic halfway through this process. Add the tomato puree next and cook till the oil starts to appear on the sides.  Add the dry spices now and cook everything together or another 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, put about 3-4 cups of boiled water and pressure cook for as many whistles as are needed for the potatoes to be soft enough (2-4 whistles are usually enough  because the potatoes tend to be half-way there by this point anyway).

When the cooker can be opened, add the boiled and sliced egg halves to the curry and simmer for 7-8 minutes or till the curry is the consistency/thickness you want, stirring once in a while.

Chopped, fresh green coriander makes a great garnish.

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A Healthier Kofta Curry

I have always loved eating the kofta curry my Ma makes with paranthas, though it is something I myself made only very rarely until recently because the thought of deep-frying the koftas made me avoid this curry as not the healthiest choice.

But seeing how much the girls and Shri enjoyed the courgette-kofta curry I made a couple of months ago set me thinking again that I needed to figure out how to make the koftas with as little oil as possible. I did know it can be done- Gunchu di once told me that she makes them in the micro-wave oven. So some time ago I decided to carry out a little experiment and baked them instead, as Shri is not too keen on my using the micro-wave oven for cooking.

As it turned out, none of them noticed anything different about the kofta curry that evening; so I will be making it like this – by baking the koftas – and therefore a lot more often now !

The baked koftas; the roses are from November 6th .

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Prawn Balchao

This  recipe,  like the sabudana vadas, is courtesy Chef Sanjeev Kapoor of “Khana Khazana” fame.

When we discussed the recipes in one of his books a couple of months ago, Rakhi reccomended that I make this one.

I made it with balsamic vinegar as I didn’t have any other kind at home, but Rakhi had assured me  that the dish would not suffer on this account.

And indeed, just as she had told me, this is truly yummy, and brought back memories of the great balchao Boudi and B.’s Goan neighbor in Khar used to make at home and share with us.

Indira loved the masala and had some with rice, though she did find it too hot to have more than just a little.

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Prawn Balchao

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Just a Regular Chicken Curry

Yury smiled when I told them that is what it was, when I introduced the dish to everyone at Chantal’s last week at dinner.

I guess they all really liked the look and aroma of the curry, and may have felt that perhaps a lot of work went in to making  it.

But it really is just that – an every day sort of chicken curry. It is the way I saw chicken cooked most often at home and it is Indira’s current favorite form of chicken. So when I mailed the recipe to Ake and Agneta yesterday, who really enjoyed it that evening and were keen to know the recipe, I thought I should record it here too, for Indira’s future reference.

Chicken Curry

Chicken – 800 gms

Sunflower oil  – 3 tablespoons

Onions – 3 medium sized or 4 small ones, sliced quite fine

Garlic (grated or paste) – 2-3 teaspoons

Ginger (grated or paste) – 2 teaspoons

Black cardamom – 3 pods

Cinnamon sticks – 3-4 small pieces

Pureed tomatoes – 2 large (leave the tomatoes for a few minutes in boiling water to remove the skin and soften the tomatoes a bit, then puree them. Or you could use 4-6 tablespoons of pureed, canned tomatoes)

Salt – to taste

For the marinade –

Yoghurt 150 ml
Turmeric 3/4 or 1 teaspoon
Coriander powder 1 or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons
Red chilli powder ( I use a very mild variety- which is used mainly for the color it adds- called “Kashmiri/Deghi” chilli powder) – 1 teaspoon
(use much less of this spice – say only 1/2 a teaspoon – if you are using a stronger variety but this also depends on how “hot” you like your curry to be)

Skin the chicken, then pierce each piece in 3-4 places with a fork. Mix all the ingredients of the marinade in a large, flat box/bowl, then coat the chicken pieces well in it.
Close/cover the bowl well and leave the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (the longer it is left in the marinade, the softer the chicken will become on cooking. I like to marinate the chicken for at least 6 hours).

In a large frying pan (large enough to accommodate most of the chicken so that there is room to turn all the pieces as you cook them; this allows all the pieces to be well-fried) heat the oil then add the cardamom and the cinnamon.

Fry these for a minute till their aroma is released, then add the onions and fry till they start to turn a golden brown color. Add the ginger and garlic, fry for a few more minutes till the onions start to become a darker brown, then add the chicken with its marinade and salt. Fry everything together till the yoghurt dries up completely (you will see the oil start to appear on the sides).

Now add the pureed tomatoes and fry further till the tomatoes are thoroughly blended (once again, you’ll see the oil appearing on the sides).

Add approximately one and a half cups of boiled water, cover the frying pan with a tight fitting lid and leave the curry to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or till it is the consistency you like.

If you have 2 tablespoons of fresh, chopped coriander for garnish, that will add a great flavor to the taste.

This is perfect with hot phulkas, paranthas if you are in an indulgent mood or some nice boulangerie-style bread  to mop up the curry.

Update – 20 Oct 2009

The picture here is actually of the curry that Mohan b made from this recipe . He says it worked out alright.

Thanks you, Mohan B , I’m honored that you think this was worth the effort 🙂

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Rajma for Indira,Ramja for Noor

Noor, if she read this, would protest that she knows this curry is called “rajma” and not “ramja”;  but that latter name is how she referred to it up until she was 3 or 3 and a half  and it was always such fun to hear her shift the letters around I thought I’d preserve that memory here.

This is one recipe I am really pleased to post. It gives me such pleasure that the girls (especially Indira) enjoy their rajma chawal so much.

I like to think this means both of them have Punjabi souls, after all 🙂

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Rajma

Rajma(kidney beans)  1 cup

One medium sized or 2 small onions, finely chopped

One large tomato or 2 small ones, grated/finely chopped/pureed

1 and 1/2 tsp of grated ginger

1 tsp of grated garlic

1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder, or a stronger variety if you like your curry hot

turmeric powder 1/4 tsp

coriander powder 3/4 tsp

garam masala powder 1/2 tsp

1/2 tsp of cumin seeds

2 pods of black cardamom

3-4 cloves

4=5 black peppercorns

a couple of small sticks of cinnamon (optional)

3 tbsp of sunflower oil

2 tsps of salt, or to taste

Soak the rajma in 6 cups of water for 6-7 hours with salt.

Pressure cook the beans till they are quite soft; this will typically take  15-25 minutes after the first release fo steam from the cooker.

In a frying pan, warm the oil , add the whole spices and wait for them to crackle by which time their aroma will be released too. Then add the cumin seeds and when these start to turn a darker brown, add the onions.

Fry the onions on a medium high heat till they are quite brown (don’t let them burn though). The right color to aim for  is a sort of caramel or slightly dark caramel color.  A couple of minutes before you think the onions are done, add the ginger and the garlic and fry them with the onions.

Add the tomatoes next, and fry till the oil starts to appear on the sides of the mixture. Now add the ground spices, fry for a minute, then add this mixture to the rajma and stir thoroughly. You may want to add 1 tsp of kasoori methi to the fried masala just before you take it off the heat and add it to the rajma. Stir everything thoroughly and ff you think the curry looks too thick, add some boiled water though rajma tastes better a little thick than too thin, IMO.

Simmer the curry for 15 -20 minutes on a medium high heat then add  2 tbsp of fresh,chopped coriander leaves (if you haven’t used kasoori methi) just before you take it off the heat.

For a really smooth curry, pureed tomatoes – the canned sort are very useful for this – work best. To make the puree, leave the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes, then take them out, leave them to cool, peel the skin off, and blend them.

The girls love to eat rajma with plain white rice, though I prefer it with hot phulkas and it even lends itself to a good loaf of boulangerie style bread .

Any which way, it makes for a very satisfying meal indeed 🙂

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Raungi Masala(Curried Black-eyed Beans)

Noor seemed to really enjoy her dinner today. I had made raungi after a long while, and she did not seem to remember what it was called. But after a couple of spoonfuls she said, “I would love to eat raungi for dinner everyday” !! and in fact asked for a second helping ; a first with curried beans of any kind.

I can’t say I have noticed before that she likes this curry, and I was pleased to see this newly acquired taste, since until now she has always seemed happiest with varan or daal with tadka.

This is another of my mother’s recipes that I am faithful to, in that I don’t make (I think !) any variations to it. I like to go for exactly the same taste that I remember from many yummy meals of raungi eaten with hot phulkas or jeera rice, or sometimes a peas pulav.

This is how I seem to remember she cooks this curry.

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Raungi Masala/Curried Black-eyed Beans

1 cup (200 ml measure) of raungi /lobia/black-eyed beans

2 medium sized onions (or 3 small ones), chopped fine

4-5 tbsp of tomato puree

1 tsp of grated ginger

1 tsp of grated garlic

1/2 tsp each of ajwain and jeera seeds

1/2 tsp of turmeric, coriander powder, and kashmiri chilli powder(use a stronger chilli powder if you like)

salt to taste (I would add about 1 tsp, and a little more)

3-4 tbsp of sunflower oil

1/2 tsp of garam masala

For garnishing1 tbsp of chopped, fresh, green coriander or 1/2 a tsp of kasuri methi

Soak the raungi overnight with the salt. The next day, pressure cook it in 4 cups of water (including the water the beans were soaked in) till all the beans are soft but not mushy i.e they should still hold their shape.

In a frying pan, heat the oil and add the jeera and ajwain. When you can smell the aroma of the jeera, add the onions and fry on moderate heat till they are quite brown. A minute or two before they reach this state, add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry these too along with the onions. Now add the tomato puree, and fry the masala again for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining spices and fry everything together till the oil starts to rise above the masala. Add this masala to the beans, stir thoroughly, and add another cup of water if the gravy seems too thick. Boil everything together for 7-8 minutes, then pressure cook again (till there are 2-3 whistles).

Take the cooker off the heat, and leave to cool. After all the presssure has been released, open the cooker and add some fresh, green coriander if you have some, or a little kasuri methi.

I often prefer this curry to rajma or chole; I feel it has as rich a taste, yet feels lighter than curries made with those other beans.

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Achari Paneer

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This dish really does have a deliciously tangy, chatpata taste -akin to that of pickles – that does justice to its name. Shri and our guests on Saturday liked it a lot.

When I first came across this recipe, in  a fantastic cookbook called “The Art of Indian Cuisine”, I was delighted because a) it uses all the spices that make up my beloved  paanchphoron b) other than the time required to make the paneer – which in fact in many places can be bought in a store – the rest of the process seemed pretty simple and quick.

But on closer reading I saw that it also requires quite a large number of green chillies. I couldn’t quite get my head around the surprising – to me – number specified and so I used far fewer (and I substituted kashmiri chilli powder for regular red chilli powder) when I cooked this dish on Saturday.

Achari Paneer

600 gms of paneer (the recipe for matar paneer describes how to make paneer; you’ll need 4 liters of milk and 400 ml of yoghurt to make this quantity of paneer)

400-500 gms of yoghurt (the original recipe says 1 cup but I wasn’t sure how much that meant. So I sort of  eyeballed the paneer and decided to use 500gms which worked out fine)

3 medium sized onions, chopped fine

4 tsp of fennel seeds

2 tsp of cumin and mustard seeds

1 tsp of fenugreek seeds and nigella seeds

2 (or a few more, if you like) green chillies, slit lengthwise in half

2 tsp each of sugar, turmeric powder and kashmiri red chilli powder

3-4 tsp of dry mango powder (amchur)

3 tsps each of garlic paste and ginger paste

salt to taste

5 tbsp of sunflower oil

Cut the paneer in to 1″ or slightly larger cubes. Mix the sugar and the 3 dry spices in to the yoghurt and whisk it well.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil, then add the 5 whole spices in the sequence I have suggested for paanchphoron.

Once the whole spices start to crackle and turn brown, add the green chillies and the onion and fry  till golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger pastes next, and fry for another couple of minutes.

Turn down the heat a little now, and add the yoghurt mixture, and cook till the yoghurt is cooked/absorbed. At this stage, the cooking oil will rise to the surface, and you’ll see it has a lovely rich red color. Add the paneer pieces and salt, and fry everything together for 4-5 minutes. Add a cup and a half of boiled water, turn up the heat a little, and simmer till the gravy is as thick as you’d like, turning over the paneer pieces once in a while.

This dish needs to be made at least 3-4 hours ahead of eating, to allow time for the paneer to soak in the flavors, and for the “achari” taste to develop.

There is lots of yummy flavor here to savor. Enjoy !


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Matar Paneer

I was delighted to see how much the girls enjoyed this too, last weekend.

Matar Paneer

For the paneer:

1 liter of whole milk

125 gms of whisked yoghurt

2-3 tablespoons of lime juice

For the gravy:

2 small onions, chopped very fine

2 large tomatoes

½ a tsp, or a little more, of grated ginger

2 large cloves of garlic, grated

½ a tsp of cumin seeds

½ a tsp or a little more, of coriander powder

½ a tsp of turmeric

½ a tsp of kashmiri red chilli powder

½ a tsp of garam masala powder

1 or 2 tbsp of cashew nuts, roughly crushed (this is an optional ingredient)

salt to taste

3-4 tbsp of sunflower oil

1 cup of frozen, shelled peas

To make the paneer, boil the milk in a thick-bottomed pan. When it has come to a full boil, turn the heat down very low, add the yoghurt and the lime juice, and stir these in thoroughly till the paneer begins to form. Now drain the paneer through a sieve that has been lined with a large, fine piece of cloth. Keep some of the whey by collecting it in a vessel placed under the sieve. You can use this later to add to the curry; some say it adds to the taste, and it is full of good things anyway.

Place the cloth with the paneer in it carefully on a large chopping board, and form it carefully in to a large square shape. Fold the cloth over this, and press the paneer down with a heavy weight (typically a large vessel full of water) that places uniform pressure on all parts of the paneer’s surface, for 20-30 minutes, so that all the excess water drains out and the paneer becomes firm. When the panner seems set, cut it in to 1/2 ” or 1″ squares.

Make a fine paste of the cashew nuts. To do this, first boil them in 1/3 cup of water for 7-8 minutes, then grind them fine either with a hand-held blender or manually with a rolling pin (this is messier though).

Boil the tomatoes in a little bit of water till the skin starts to break. When the tomatoes have cooled, peel off the skin and puree the tomatoes.

To make the curry, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the cumin seeds, and when these start to release their aroma put the onions in. Fry these till they start to turn golden brown, then add the ginger and the garlic and fry for another minute. Then add the cashew nut paste and fry the mixture till the onions turn a darkish brown. Now add the tomato puree and cook till everything is well-blended and the puree starts to dry. Add the spices and fry for a further minute. Finally, add the peas, salt to taste, and fry everything together for a few minutes. Now add a cup or a little more of the whey or boiled water, and pressure cook the curry for 5-7 minutes.

When the cooker has cooled enough for you to be able to open it easily, add the paneer pieces and simmer the curry for a little while so that the gravy is not runny.

For an everyday version of this curry, I skip the cashew nuts, and I use them only for a more formal meal like Saturday’s; they add a slightly sweet, and quite rich taste.

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Methi Chicken


This dish, which I cooked last Saturday when we had friends for dinner, always takes me back almost two decades, to the many wonderful meals I ate at the Pandara road “dhabas” in New Delhi with three very very dear school friends. The pudina paranthas; the different kinds of chicken curries (including methi chicken, although a richer sort) and kebabs that we feasted on… maybe it was the company, maybe it was the conversation (life! boys! books! everything), maybe it was the food. But those meals really stand out in my mind….

Methi Chicken

800 gms of chicken without the skin

200 gms of whisked yoghurt

3 tbsps of kasoori methi(dried fenugreek leaves)

4 large onions, sliced very fine

4-5 tsps of grated garlic

4-5 tsps of grated ginger

4 cloves

3 pods of black cardamom, pressed to split it open

3-4 small sticks of cinnamon

6 black peppercorns

1 tsp of turmeric

1 tsp of kashmiri chilli powder (more if you like ; we eat very mild “hot” food)

6 tbsp sunflower oil

salt to taste

Wash the chicken, pierce each piece with a fork in several places, and marinate it overnight in a mixture of the yoghurt, turmeric, chilli powder, ginger, and garlic.

To cook the chicken the next day, heat the oil in a wide and thick-bottomed pan, add the whole spices, and fry till they begin to crackle and release their aromas. Now add the onions and fry for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water next, and cook the onions on a fairly high heat till the water dries up. Then add the kasoori methi, add ½ a cup of water, and cook again on high heat till the water dries and continue frying till the mixture is a golden brown. Now add the chicken with its marinade, season it with salt and fry it well (turning the pieces frequently to avoid burning) till the yoghurt dries up. Now add a cup or a little more of boiled water (this will depend on how thick or thin you’d like the curry to be), cover the pan, lower the heat a little, and leave to cook till the chicken is very tender. Do turn the pieces over a couple of times during this time or the masala/the chicken can tend to stick to the bottom of the pan.

This is a delicious, aromatic curry that is best enjoyed with phulkas or paranthas.

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This one’s for Neelam: Chole masala

This evening, I was somewhat taken aback at dinner time when Indira exclaimed, on spotting her katora of raungi curry  “Oh no, i don’t like raungi anymore !! please make chole next time !!”

She has never shown much of a preference fo chole until today; for her it has always got to be varan-the simplest kind of arhar daal, it is a maharashtrian way of doing it, or then the other end of the scale -a typical punjabi kind of chicken curry.

In the meantime my friend Neelam also wrote today and suggested that I post my recipe for chole – she has been kind enough to say in the past that there is something different about the way I make it. Well she is about to find out that what makes the difference, most likely, is no credit to me, really, but to a well-known spice company in India 🙂

Here’s what I do. If Indira is still partial to this curry some years from now, she may want to know too !

Chole Masala

1 cup of chickpeas/chole ( I use a cup that is a 200 ml measure)

1 large or 2 small onions, very finely chopped

3 tbsp of sunflower oil

a 1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated fine

2 pods of garlic,grated fine

2 medium sized tomatoes, boiled in a little bit of water, then peeled and pureed

1/2 tsp of ajwain seeds

1/2 tsp of cumin seeds

3 pieces of badi elaichi; a couple of sticks of cinnamon;5-6 black pepper seeds

1/4 tsp of turmeric powder

1/2 tsp of coriander powder

1/2 tsp (or more, if you like) of kashmiri red chilly powder

1/2 tsp of chole masala of the Everest brand (and this is the key, IMO)

Soak the chickpeas for 5-6 hours, or overnight, then cook them in a pressure cooker till they are very soft.

In a frying pan, add the badi elaichi,cinnamon and black pepper and fry for a minute or till the aromas are released. Now add the ajwain and cumin seeds , fry till they are light brown (don’t let them burn), and add the onions. Fry the onions till they start to brown. Now add the ginger and garlic and fry again, till the mixture is quite a dark brown (but don’t let it fry till it starts to turn blackish).

Add the tomato puree next, and as it starts to dry, add the dry spices, and fry the mixture till the oil starts to appear on the sides. Add the mixture to the chickpeas in the pressure cooker and boil everything together for 10-12 minutes.

Before serving, you could dress the chole with some finely sliced onion,green chilli, and tomato.

You could serve some tamarind chutney too;  it goes very well with this dish.

Potato tikkis, or puris, both go wonderfully well with this curry.

There you have it – a really hearty, flavorful dish that can carry a meal on its own.

One further observation – this curry is always much tastier if eaten the day after it is cooked.

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