Butter Chicken!

November 23, 2010



Ahh I missed blogging these past few weeks! But it turns out things are very busy these days. Aside from school, work, and other side projects I have going on we are preparing for my sister in law’s arrival from India in 2 weeks. But, although my brother is hurrying to get everything settled before his flight on Thursday and my mom is in a frantic rush to perfect the house and my dad is rambling on about my mom’s frantic rush; we are all very very excited.

But getting back to the food, I haven’t posted anything in a while and the post for today is dedicated to any reader who has ever tried something at a restaurant and desperately had to recreate it themselves.

I think we have all been there. You go to a restaurant and have a dish that you can not stop thinking about. And eventually…attempt to recreate it. For me this was: butter chicken. I’ve had this dish in so many restaurants in both America and India and up until now I have never made it myself. The funny thing is I find myself doing this more and more when I eat something at a restaurant. I think of the ways that I could recreate that same dish with ingredients I’m familiar with. It’s actually really fun; kind of like solving a puzzle.

The recipe I used was basically this one by Mr. Sanjeev Kapoor. It’s a pretty darn complicated recipe so I tried to adapt it into simpler terms and I think it turned out really good; easy but still holds true to the butter chickeny goodness. Keep in mind you will need to alter the spice amounts to your taste, so think of this as just a guideline. Hope you like it!

Butter Chicken Recipe:

To Marinate the Chicken

  • 2 lbs of chicken (cut into 2 inch cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

To Make the Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic and ginger paste
  • 4 green chilies (chopped)
  • 1-2 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves (methi)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 28 oz can of tomato puree
  • 1 cup of fresh cream
  • handful of chopped cilantro

 

Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients listed for at least 1 hour.

Once it is done marinating, pan fry the chicken until very golden brown on all sides. Keep aside.

In a medium sauce pan heat butter until melted. Then add garlic/ginger paste and green chilies and cook for a few minutes. Then, add the red chili powder, salt, fenugreek leaves, garam masala, and cinnamon and cook for a few minutes. Next, add the tomato puree and bring to a boil. Finally add in the cream and honey and mix well, let this cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cooked chicken pieces and combine, garnish with cilantro.

Somewhere along the lines we stop chasing after fancy things and realize that we get the most satisfaction and comfort out of the simple pleasures of life: spending time with family, reading a good book and… eating cupcakes.

It’s safe to say that during this time of the year everyone is a bit pumpkin crazy. I went to the store the other day to pick up canned pumpkin for these cupcakes and saw a sign that said “limit 4 cans per day.” Not only that but every coffee shop you turn to you find pumpkin lattes and cappuccinos and pastries. I laughed at first but then realized that I am proudly partaking in this craziness as well because quite frankly pumpkin is darn good.

I found the recipe for these cupcakes from one of my favorite blogs, Annie’s Eats. This cupcake is the ultimate pumpkin goodness, it has the perfect blend of spices that compliment the pumpkin flavor rather than overpowering it. And the cream cheese frosting is so very rich and creamy. It’s honestly one of the best frostings I have ever made. Overall it’s a great cupcake recipe to come back to again and again. Enjoy!

This recipe makes about 24-30 cupcakes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes Recipe (From Annie’s Eats)

  • 2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (I just used allspice)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350° and line your cupcake tray with paper liners.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt in a bowl.

In another medium sized bowl mix together the pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar and oil with an electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each one.  With the mixer on low add the sifted flour mixture until combined.

Fill the batter about three-quarters full in the cupcake liners.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes (until a toothpick inserted comes out clean).  Cool completely before you frost (about 10 minutes).

To make the frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar

First beat together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth this should take a few minutes. Then slowly add in the confectioners sugar until all of it is combined. Beat until the frosting is nice and smooth.

Decorate them however you’d like; I used chocolate sprinkles, walnuts, and crushed heath bar.

Martha’s Mac-n-Cheese!

October 18, 2010

It has been insane these past few weeks. Between school, work, home (and the million things in between) it’s been difficult to find time to gather any thoughts to write about. Luckily I’m getting better at managing my time and sorting out my thoughts. This saves you from reading about financial markets and saves me from writing a report for my economics class about a lasagna recipe :-)

Today I would like to share a recipe I tried a while back… some good ol’ macaroni and cheese! I’m not going to tell you that this is the best macaroni and cheese you will ever eat, but I will tell you that it’s pretty darn good. In fact this recipe is probably one of the most popular in the blogging world. If you search for the best mac-and-cheese recipe this one by Martha Stewart is bound to pop up. I had to find out what the hype was all about so I decided to make it and see.

I realized why this recipe is so popular: the sauce. The béchamel sauce of this recipe is what makes this dish “re-heatable”. In other words, you can re-heat this tomorrow and it will still be rich and creamy as when you first ate it. This is very uncommon for typical mac-and-cheese.

Also unlike other mac-and-cheese recipes, this one is not gritty and that is where the cheese plays its role. I never knew this until now but if you use regular cheddar it will cause your mac-and-cheese to be gritty but if you use white cheddar and white cheeses it will have a smoother texture.

However, this recipe is a bit time consuming. You have to make that béchamel sauce (which is basically a flour and milk white sauce) which requires a bit of labor but hey…haven’t you been wanting to make a “béchamel sauce” and be able to impress people with that fancy word?

The recipe itself makes enough for about 12 people so you might want to halve the recipe if you’re not feeding an army.

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 6 slices white bread, cut into mini squares
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar
  • 2 cups grated gruyere
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 3 quart baking dish.

Boil macaroni following the package directions.

Toss the bread pieces with 2 tablespoons of butter and keep aside.

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk.

Melt the other 6 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan then add flour and cook for 1 minute while stirring.

Whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture and cook until it becomes thick, while whisking.

Take the pan off the heat. Mix in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere

Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce.

Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish. Spread out the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere, also spread out the breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake until golden brown– about 30 minutes. Be sure to cool it before you serve to allow everything to set. Enjoy!

A Vegetarian Style Chili

October 6, 2010

Do you ever wonder how many things we make a mental note of throughout our lives? And we don’t exactly get back to half of those things due to our own laziness or maybe it’s just “memory overload.”

I tend to make notes of recipes that I want to make. Half of them I remember, half of that half I remember I’m too lazy to partake in the extensive labor to make the dish, and the rest of the half I manage to make happily :-)

For some reason I have wanted to make chili for the longest time. I figure its because of my love for soup-ish things.

After eating a bowl of the chili I made my brother says “this is a great vegetable stew”…. I guess what I made isn’t technically ‘chili’ because it’s vegetarian. But, I got the recipe from Simply Recipes and if they call it chili then I am calling it chili too.

The recipe is called spicy vegetarian chili and when I saw the picture of it I knew that it would be really good (seriously go look at it then come back you’ll see what I’m talking about.) The ingredients in this dish are very different from a typical chili making it healthier and so much more colorful. It has so many great vegetables in it; its a perfect “end of summer” kind of dish.

Like the recipe says, the level of spicy-ness is up to you. I put 1 jalepeno pepper and it ended up to be pretty darn spicy so I would recommend you put half of one. And start out with a teaspoon of chili powder not a tablespoon.

Vegetarian Chili (From Simply Recipes)

Yield: 8-10 servings

  • 2 medium eggplants cut into cubes
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 medium zucchini chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1-2 jalaepno peppers seeded and diced (start out with half of 1)
  • a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 Tbsp chili powder (start out with a teaspoon)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • a 15 oz can of white beans (drained)
  • a 15 oz can of kidney beans (drained)
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • a teaspoon of sugar
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

First thing you need to do is roast the eggplants by putting them on a baking sheet, drizzling a few tablespoons of olive oil on them, covering it with foil and putting them in a 350° preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Next put a large soup pot on the stove and heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the onions in the olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute then add the bell peppers, zucchini, and jalapeno peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring every now and then.

Next, add the tomatoes, oregano, cumin, fennel seeds, and chili powder. Mix well. Add in the eggplant and stir carefully so you don’t mush them up, simmer for about 20 minutes with the lid on.

Finally, add in the white and kidney beans, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cilantro, salt, pepper. Mix and simmer for 5 more minutes. Done! :-)

Gajar ka Halwa is a popular Indian dessert made of carrots, milk, sugar and dried fruit. It may be known as a carrot pudding…mainly because wikipedia said so and mainly because there really is no other way to describe “halwa” other than “pudding” even though it is not a pudding… it’s just pretty hard to translate.

Anyway, my mom used to make this dessert throughout our childhood on special occasions and me and my brothers love it, we could hardly wait before it was done and ready to eat. Often times I would “taste check” for my mom because of my impatience :)

Gajar ka Halwa can tend to be a heavy dessert, however throughout the years my mom has modified her recipe to make it lighter and a bit healthier with skim milk, less butter, and omitting ricotta cheese.

When I made this, I decided to add some fall flavors to it (nutmeg and cinnamon) and it turned out really nice. It’s one of those dishes that you can’t stop eating because hey, that is what happened to me so its bound to happen to you (side note: it’s really good when combined with vanilla ice cream.)

So I thought I would share the recipe with any of you who are interested in trying Indian sweets. Keep in mind this makes a whole pot of Halwa (enough for a party of 20 people) so you might want to halve the recipe and it will still be good.

Gajar Ka Halwa Recipe:

  • 5lbs of carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 2 cups of skim milk
  • 4 cardamoms, broken
  • 1/2 cup almond powder
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • pinch of saffron mixed with 3 tablespoons of milk (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of sliced almonds (for garnish)
  • 1/3 cup of regular raisins
  • 1/3 cup of golden raisins

Heat a large pot (such as a soup pot) and melt the butter. Add the shredded carrots and stir. Next add in the cardamom and milk and mix really well; you will need to cook this for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. This is the main cooking process of the halwa where the moisture of the carrots and the milk is absorbed.

Once the carrot is tender and everything has reduced add in the almond powder, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and saffron mixture and stir well. Finally add in the raisins and mix. Cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Generally served warm with sliced almonds on top for garnish. :)

Goat Cheese Lasagna

September 18, 2010

My mouth is watering just thinking about this. Growing up my parents would make lasagna for dinner every now and then and for me and my brothers it was the best thing in the world. It was exciting for us because we were so used to eating Indian food every day. Don’t get me wrong we love Indian food but as a kid sometimes you want to just fit in and have something for dinner that your friends would have. So lasagna was one of the first “American” dinners that we had and I still love it. Its so cheesy and fattening rich and creamy you can’t help but love it. My dad would make his lasagna with basic ingredients: tomato sauce, ground beef, cottage cheese (instead of ricotta), and mozzarella cheese. For me, this is just fine, I love it the way it is but I wanted to jazz up the recipe a bit and invite new flavors to a classic.

Indian food is about bold flavors, either using a lot of different mild ingredients in a dish to make it more flavorful or one or two strong ingredients. So this is the concept I was going for. Although lasagna is pretty flavorful it doesn’t always stick out. This goat cheese idea came from an Ina Garten recipe. I saw that she had used goat cheese in one of her lasagnas so I adapted that into this recipe.

Goat cheese is tart and creamy and so good if used with the right ingredients. Instead of using too much of a good thing I decided to infuse some ricotta cheese with the goat cheese just so that you could know that the goat cheese was there without it overpowering the whole dish. To that, I added chopped green onions, some salt and pepper, and an egg to bind it all–and there is your magic mixture that makes this dish incredibley delicious.

Lasagna Recipe

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 lb cooked ground chicken any way you prefer
  • 280z can of stewed tomatoes
  • 8oz can of tomato paste
  • 15 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 8oz of goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3 or 4 sprigs of green onion (with whites), chopped
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese

1. Cook the ground chicken any way that you prefer, I cooked it with onions, garlic, salt, chili pepper, cumin and cilantro but use any spices that you like–once the meat is cooked add the stewed tomatoes and the tomato paste. Mix well and season to taste.

2. Boil the lasagna noodles half way. Drain, and place in a bowl of water to keep them from sticking.

3. In a medium sized bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, goat cheese, egg, green onions and season with salt and pepper–divide in half (for two layers in the lasagna)

3. Preheat your oven to 375°

4. Take out a lasagna baking dish, I used a 3qt casserole. Begin layering your lasagna: meat sauce, 3 lasagna noodles, meat sauce, mozarella cheese, ricotta cheese mixture, 3 lasagna noodles, meat sauce, mozarella cheese, ricotta cheese mixture, 3 lasagna noodles, meat sauce, mozzarella cheese.

5. Cover with an aluminum foil tent and bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool for about an hour or so before serving so that the lasagna sets.

Enjoy :-)

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

September 8, 2010

Ohmygoodness it’s almost Fall

Has Summer really gone by that quickly? College starting back up and Labor Day are my annual reminders that fall is just around the corner. It must have reached about 5o degrees last week after being in the 90’s for nearly the whole Summer. And regardless of how cold it was I was more excited than anything because I realized I get to bust out all of my cold weather recipes… in other words: soup!

Me and my dad are particularly fond of soups in our family. For us, it’s the ultimate comfort food. He actually makes this amazing french onion soup that I will probably post up here one of these days. But anyway, when I found the recipe for this hungarian mushroom soup I remember thinking how much he’s going to like it, turns out he loves it.

I have so many soup recipes to try out but I had all the ingredients to make this one so I thought I would go for it. I made it last Sunday for dinner and my family absolutely loved it including me, it’s definitely something I am going to make again (and again and again.)

The unique ingredients are what make this soup so good: dill, paprika, soy sauce and lemon juice meld so well together creating an interesting twist on a familiar taste. If you are a fan of cream of mushroom soup then you will adore this recipe. If you are not too excited about fall coming then just remember we still have a little bit of summer left :)

Hungarian Mushroom Soup (From Allrecipes)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used olive oil)
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (I used regular white ones )
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed (or fresh dill)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (key ingredient)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim milk)
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • handful of chopped parsley (or cilantro)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (extra for garnish)

Heat the butter/oil in a large pot over medium heat. Throw the onions in and saute for 5-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and chicken broth. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes with lid on.

In a separate bowl mix the milk and flour together. Pour this mixture into the soup and stir well. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes stirring occasionally.

Finally stir in the salt, ground black pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve immediately.