Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chawlichi Amti

My love for amti has been much discussed in these posts - Kaatachi amti, Chincha goola chi amti, Ruchira' recipe for Amti - so you would definitely know how much I love this simple Maharashtrian based dish which has so many variations. This post is about yet another version of amti - but different from the others in the sense that it uses legumes instead of lentils and also that it has a very nice coconut based masala used in it.

The original recipe by Sanjeev Kapoor used sprouted black chickpeas (kala watana) - I am a bit puzzled about where I got this recipe from since it is in my book of handwritten recipes whereas I own most of SK's books. Maybe the Konkani cuisine cookbook he wrote (which I didn't buy because I though - and still do - that his forte lies in North Indian cuisine) has this recipe which I picked up from some magazine?

I adapted this recipe by using blackeyed peas to make it and we loved it the first time I made it - so I have continued doing this and it's become a regular part of our menu now. I alternate this recipe between the Punjabi lobia rassa and the Tamil Karamani kozhambu so that we don't get bored of having this bean. The use of fresh and dried coconut really differentiates this curry while garlic and tamarind round off the wonderful combination of flavours.

Sending this lovely bowl of goodness to this month's edition of My Legume Love Affair - the Twelfth Helping of the food event which is being hosted by Annarasa and was originally conceived by Susan - The Well Seasoned Cook.

Chawlichi Amti
(adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe for Kale Watanyachi Amti)

Cooked Black eyed peas (Chawli/lobia/karamani)- 1.5 cups
1 Onion - peeled and sliced
Copra (grated dry coconut) - 1/4 cup
Garlic - 5 cloves

Freshly grated coconut - 1/2 cup, ground to a paste
2 onions, finely chopped
Asafoetida (hing) - pinch
Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp

Tamarind - marble sized, soaked in 1/2 cup water and pulp extracted
Garam masala powder - 1 /2 tsp
salt to taste
jaggery - 2 tsp grated (optional)
coriander leaves - 1/4 cup, chopped

1. Heat 1 tsp oil, saute sliced onions till translucent (about 3-4 minutes), add the copra and garlic cloves and saute another 3-4 minutes. Cool and grind to a fine paste.
2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, add the finely chopped onions and hing and saute on high heat till the onions are golden.
3. Add the masala powders (except the garam masala powder) and the cooked black eyed beans and mix well.
4. Pour in some hot water to cover, add salt and bring to boil. Cover and cook on a low flame for about 8 minutes.
5. Add the copra onion paste, tamarind pulp,jaggery and the fresh coconut paste; cook another 5 minutes.
6. Add the garam masala powder, coriander leaves and serve with rice or rotis.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Baked Lemon Sole with Spring Onions and Cherry Tomatoes

This absolutely beautiful baked lemon sole with spring onions and cherry tomatoes is a must-try recipe which I highly recommend. I adapted it from Jamie Oliver and it turned out succulent, light and packed with flavour. While the recipe doesn't call for it, I marinated the fish fillets (the original recipe was for whole fish) in a mixture of lemon juice, fresh coriander, green chillies, ginger and garlic pounded together - somewhat similar to this recipe I made earlier. I served the fish over some stir fried chill garlic noodles - awesome! This gorgeous beetroot apple salad on the side and the meal was complete.

We liked it so much, that I repeated the menu for my birthday dinner - replacing the noodles with a baked rice which also went very well with it. The best part about this recipe is that it doesn't take any time at all - apart from the marination, the actual cooking takes about 15 minutes. If you like your fish to have those nice grill marks, you could grill it on a hot griddle for about 5 minutes and then bake it in the oven for the remaining 10 minutes.

Feel free to experiment with other kinds of fish like sear if you prefer; also, you can substitute the cherry tomatoes with chopped tomatoes.

Baked Lemon Sole with Spring Onions and Cherry Tomatoes
(adapted from Jamie Oliver)


Sole fillets, cleaned - 1 kg (about 6 pieces)
Marinade: Pound together
1 cup coriander leaves, cleaned and washed
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 green chillies, chopped roughly
1" piece of ginger chopped
5-6 garlic cloves
Olive oil - 1 tsp
salt to taste

Marinate the fillets in the above pounded mixture for about an hour.

Cherry tomatoes - 1 cup, halved
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
6-8 spring onions, finely sliced (reserve about 1/2 greens chopped)
1 tbsp dried oregano
Red wine vinegar - 1 tbsp
2 lemons - grated zest and juice
1/4 cup black olives, chopped
1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped
4 olive oil
salt to taste
freshly crushed black pepper - 1 tbsp

1.In a bowl add the cherry tomatoes, sliced garlic, oregano, spring onions, vinegar, salt, pepper, 2tbsp olive oil and the zest and juice of 1 lemon to it.
2. Mix well and spread over the bottom of a large baking dish or tray.
3. Place the marinated fish fillets on top of the spring onion mixture. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
4. Now add the olives, chopped coriander, juice and zest of the second lemon to the bowl that the tomatoes were in. Add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and then divide this mixture between the fish, placing an equal amount on top of each filler.
5. Cook in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes. You can grill the fish briefly on a griddle before baking it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Beetroot Apple Salad

Beetroot is one vegetable which I think is better off raw or just steamed rather than done to death by overcooking. I love this beetroot porial we make - crunchy and juicy with a light tempering, my daughter loves it and so does this blogger's cutie pie 3 year old, as we found out when Arch visited with us last week!

This recipe is a lovely combination of beetroot and apples - an adaptation of Jamie Oliver's recipe for a Crunchy Raw Beetroot, Pear and Feta salad. I dropped the feta, substituted the pears with apples and grated the beetroot and apples instead of cutting them into thin strips. The dressing was a very simple lemon oil dressing I spiced up with a dash of tabasco to give it that zing.

I paired this with another lovely recipe from Jamie Oliver -a baked Lemon Sole which I served over some chilli garlic stir fried noodles. This turned out to be such a lovely meal that I made it again for my birthday dinner, minus the noodles. Arch missed it by a day and was served the leftovers for lunch the next day ;)

Beetroot Apple Salad

2 beetroots, peeled and grated
2 apples, peeled and grated
3-4 tbsp mint leaves

Juice of half a lemon
salt (sea salt if available)
1 tbsp olive oil
Freshly crushed black pepper -1/2 tsp
2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce

Toss the beetroot and apples with the dressing, adding some more lemon juice if needed. Garnish with mint leaves and serve cold.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Grilled Chicken with Caesar Salad Dressing

This is the quasi Caesar salad which I had mentioned making along with the Coconut Lentil Soup I posted last week. The classic Caesar salad usually has a dressing of olive oil, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and egg mixed together with mashed anchovy fillets and tossed with a bread croutons and lettuce topped with grated parmesan cheese. Culinary lore tells us that this salad dates back to the 1920s when it was created by an Italian chef called Caesar Cardini and it was meant to be tossed right at the table - it apparently still is done like that with a lot of flair in a few restaurants in New York.

I have seen a lot of Caesar salads with chicken here in India - apparently it is not part of the original recipe. This particular recipe is so loosely adapted from the original that if it changed anymore it would be like a well worn sock!
But I do have some expert backing on this - I vaguely remember Jamie Oliver roasting bread croutons and chicken together before tossing it with a Caesar salad dressing. My version of course deviates from even his version in that, I didn't use anchovies, pancetta or creme fraiche and instead roasted some vegetables as well along with the chicken. So - suffice to say - this is a grilled chicken salad! :)

The chicken infused the bread croutons with its juices while roasting and it was absolutely great to bite into those crisp squares. Instead of using a raw egg in the dressing, I coddled the egg - which is basicaly means boiling the whole egg in water for not more than 45 seconds. I was also liberal with the garlic and herb and it ended up making a great meal with the combination of the soup to start with and a bowl of watermelon to finish.

Grilled Chicken Salad

Whole Wheat Bread - 3 slices cut into 1/2 " cubes.
300gms chicken breast sliced and marinated in:
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp olive oil and salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion peeled and cut into squares
1 bell pepper cut into squares
1 tbsp dried herbs
3 cloves garlic chopped
Lettuce leaves, washed,dried and torn - 2 cups
5 tbsp Grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic finely chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard (Dijon is preferable)
1 egg coddled (boiled in water for 45 seconds and cooled)
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp freshly ground pepper
salt to taste

1. Combine the marinated chicken pieces with the bread cubes, 2 tbsp olive oil, onion and pepper squares, herbs and salt.
2. Roast in a pre heated oven at 180C for about 15-20 minutes till the chicken is cooked and tender and the bread is crisp.
3. For the dressing , mix Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice,minced garlic, salt, crushed pepper and mustard.Crack the coddled egg and whisk into the other ingredients. Add the olive oil slowly while continuing to whisk constantly so that it doesn't separate.
4. Arrange half the chicken pieces and half the bread croutons in a bowl and toss with half of the dressing. Add the remaining salad and the remaining dressing and toss again.
5. Put in the torn lettuce and toss again. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and serve warm or cold.

I make sure never to serve raw or undercooked eggs to children; pregnant women too should be very careful while eating dressings which may contain raw eggs.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lentil Coriander Soup

Most people seem to have a love-hate relationship with soups. There are the keen aficionados who love everything from the fiery Tom Yum to the nostalgic "sweet corn" soup. And then there are the nay sayers who consider it "diet" food or even "patient" food! I fall into the former category and love trying out different soups. There was a time in my life though when I had only clear soups for almost a year, so that pretty much kept me off soups for the next two years when I actually started eating solid food.

But now I'm back to experimenting both at home and when I'm out - the Tom Yum at The Kitchen in Delhi's Khan Market is absolutely amazing as is the Roasted Pumpkin Soup in Chennai's Eden. I particularly like noodle soups and other one pot meal soups like this one made with beans. I recently tried the Laksa at a new restaurant in Delhi called Tasty Tangles and it was so good we ordered seconds - the coconut milk was just right - not too creamy and spiced just right!

Speaking of coconut milk brings me to the subject of this post - a lovely lentil soup made just a little creamier with some coconut milk and flavoured with lots of coriander. This was one half of a typical soup and salad meal at home - going through my posts I realised that we tend to do these a lot especially during summer when the thought of a full meal is just too oppressive.
I paired the lentil soup with a quasi-Caesar salad - chicken,peppers and bread croutons roasted together with olive oil and herbs but served without the all important mayonnaise dressing - I instead tossed it with a simple vinaigrette. The combination made a very nice meal - lots of protein from the chicken and the lentils and the crunchiness of the bread croutons going wonderfully with the creamy soup.

This lentil soup uses red lentils (masur dal) cooked together with ginger and garlic. I didn't bother blending it in a processor and instead just mashed them with the back of the ladle and mixed in the coconut milk before returning it to the stove. Lots of coriander really lifts this soup, so don't skimp!

This Lentil Coriander soup goes to No Croutons Required - that amazing soup and salad event hosted by Lisa and Holler. This month's event focuses on leaves! "We are looking for a soup or salad that features leaves. Think spinach, watercress, kale, swiss chard, salad leaves, herbs ... Go crazy! If it's leafy, then add it!" says Holler.

Lentil Coriander Soup

Red lentils - 3/4 cup (soaked for 15 - 30 min)
Ginger - 1 inch piece whole or grated
Garlic - 6 cloves
Green chillies - 2 whole, slit
Tomato - 1 chopped
Onion - 1 chopped fine
Oil - 1 tbsp
Coconut milk - 1 cup (I use fresh, but canned is fine too)
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup chopped
salt to taste
freshly crushed peppercorns - 1 tsp
1. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan or in a pressure pan.
2. Add the ginger, garlic and green chillies and saute 1 min. Then add the finely chopped onions and fry for 3-4 minutes. Once transluscent add the tomato and fry for a further 2 minutes.
3. Add the soaked dal, 6-7 cups of water and cook on the stove till soft and mushy; or pressure cook for 2 whistles.
4. If there is excess water, drain it off and reserve and mash the dal with the back of spoon taking care to remove the slit green chillies and the ginger piece (if not grated). You can also run this through the food processor after cooling it.
5. Add back the reserved lentil stock and the coconut milk to get the consistency you want. Put in the chopped coriander, salt and crushed pepper and simmer gently on low, for about 3-4 minutes taking care not to boil.
6. Serve warm.