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The BloggerAid Cookbook

Chicken Korma

My search for good Indian cuisine recipe continues even though I don't blog a lot these days. I have made a few dishes like chicken/prawn vindaloo, chicken tikka and chicken tiikka masala, etc. recipes that I have found from my cook books or on the net but sadly, none of it makes it to our list of 'Family favourites'. That is until I stumbled upon a video of an Indian lady showing us how to cook chicken korma - the dish that Pierre and Little One love. I checked her list of ingredients and it looked promisingly good. On top of that her instructions are also very clear.

From what I understand, korma is type of curry made up of yogurt, cream, or coconut milk and seed paste. It has both vegetarian and non-vegetarian version. This dish is a Mughlai cuisine of Northern India and Pakistan. And it is a very popular dish in Pakistani/Indian restaurants in Europe and even in Singapore.

This recipe is definitely a keeper and I truly encourages you to make this. Your guests will definitely rave about it and you won't regret it.

Sorry, there isn't any picture here as the photos that I took that night was really too ugly to be seen and posted here. I will take a good one when I make this again.

Chicken Korma
Ingredients
  • 75 g raw cashew nuts (soak in 150 ml of hot/boiling water for 30 minutes)
  • a pinch of saffron threads (crush it with your fingers and soak it in 3 tbsp of hot milk for 20 minutes)
  • 700 g chicken breast, cut into chunks or big cubes (remove skin and fats)
  • 125 g plain yogurt (if you have greek yogurt, it is best as it has less water in it.)
  • 1 tbsp gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 150 ml single cream
  • some ghee or unsalted butter or vegetable oil
  • 5 pcs green cardamon pod, bruised it with your fingers
  • 5 cm cinnamon - break it into 2
  • 4 pcs cloves
  • 1 large onion (red or yellow), finely chopped
  • 1 pc green chilli (finely chopped), optional
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
Chicken Korma
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, mix yogurt (drained your plain yogurt in a muslin cloth to get rid of some water), gram flour, garlic and ginger paste together. In a ziplog bag, marinate the cubed chicken pieces with this mixture, making sure that every pieces is well coated. Leave it in the fridge for about 4 - 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Blend your cashew nuts with the soaked water and single cream until it is a puree.
  3. Heat up your wok or pot with some ghee or unsalted butter. I use vegetable oil.
  4. When wok is hot, stir fry the chopped onions together in cloves, cardamon and cinnamon for about 5 - 6 minutes (this is to remove the moisture in the onions).
  5. Stir in chilli powder and coriander powder until blend. Lower the fire.
  6. Add in the marinated chicken pieces. Turn up the heat to medium high and cook until the chicken pieces are opaque.
  7. Add salt and pour in 150 ml of warm water to cook the chicken. (Do not use cold water as it will impair the flavour and taste of dish.) Cover it and let it cook for about 15 minutes.
  8. Stir in the creamy cashew nut puree and let it simmer uncovered for about 6 minutes. Let it simmer longer if you prefer a thicker consistency.
  9. Add in the saffron milk. Reduce heat.
  10. Once the chicken is done, turn off the fire and stir in garam masala. The garam masala will enhance the flavour of this dish.
  11. Serve hot with saffron rice or plain rice.
Chicken Korma
The Verdict

Very aromatic, creamy and smacking good. The chicken pieces have fully absorbed the flavour of the spices so with each bite, one can smell and taste their aroma. The garam masala really brings out this dish to its full flavour. Hubby loves it and had second helping. He even had it for lunch the next day. The only complaint he has is that gravy isn't as thick as he likes it. But overall, he loves this dish. My picky Little One loves it too. It's the only Indian dish that she tucks in heartily without whining about it being too spicy or too aromatic for her.

You can spice up this dish by adding one finely chopped green chilli to it just before serving.

Notes

The yogurt tenderise the chicken. From what I understand it is best to use Greek yogurt as it has less water content. However if you have only normal plain yogurt, just drain it in a muslin cloth. I made mine using normal plain yogurt.

For the above, I didn't have single cream so I used whipping cream (the Internet says it's the same ... maybe not?). My gravy didn't thicken, so I added 1 tsp of cornstarch to thicken it but it had little effects (yes, I cheated a little). I will try coconut cream next time instead of whipping cream.

I'll also replace cashew nuts with candlenuts as candlenuts is cheaper.

Please do not cook this dish with chicken skin on it. The skin prevents the spices from penetrating into the meat.

Chicken Korma
5 comments on this post.

Tofu Curry

Woohoo! I'm back home in Singapore for summer vacation. What a relief to finally touch down at Changi Airport last evening! After a delay from taking off at CDG airport due to technical checks, we had a long 13 hours of very turbulent trip, sending poor Little One into waves of nausea through out the flight. It's one thing watching people throwing up in plane in a movie, it's another facing the real thing. Never had I had so many panic attacks each time she said these words: 'Mommy, I don't feel well. I feel like throwing up.' I was literally groping in panic for the paper bag in the seat pockets, so afraid of Murphy's Law playing up at me. Phew! Luckily, for me, her & the passengers on the flight, she didn't threw up at all. And surprise my family at their doorstep we did. Because of the jet lag, we let Little One stay up till near midnight (6 pm French time) last night as we didn't want her to wake up at 3 am bright & chirpy. This didn't quite work out but luckily I was able to convince her to go back to sleep until 9 am this morning.

Anyway, a few days before we flew off, I was busy doing my very late entry for Velveteers' Challenge - Mochi (Minty Green Tea with Strawberry & Nutella) as well as baking 2 chocolate velvet cakes (recipe coming soon) for Little One to celebrate her birthday together with 2 other classmates at school. Both the teachers and children loved it - what a relief to hear! Not that I doubted the cake but whenever I have to cook, specially for an event, I tend to screw things up with my closet perfectionist disorder. And on Sunday, we celebrated my sister-in-law's birthday with coconut prawns curry, tofu curry (recipe below) and a simple stir-fry brocolis with rice. Of course no birthday is done without a cake: Pierre loves the cake (recipe coming soon too) I baked for Little One's birthday so much that he requested me to make the same for his sister.

Now tofu is not one of the favourite food in my household. The last time I made an attempt to seduce Pierre into liking it, the result was totally flat. So after 3 years of tofu abstinence, I thought of re-introducing this infamous ingredient to his whole family on this birthday celebration. Quite a big risk as it was the first time I was making a curry out of a tofu (cooking by blind faith hoping everything will come together). But lucky me, by chance it happened that my sis-in-law and father-in-law like tofu.

Tofu Curry
Ingredients
  • 2 packet firm tofu (cut into 9 cubes each)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • a bunch of curry leaves (fresh or dried - about 10)
  • 2 tsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (more if you prefer it to be spicier)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cup water (approx.)
  • a pinch of sugar
  • salt (for seasoning)
Directions
  1. Cut tofu into small cubes and pan-fry them dry on non-stick pan until light brown, delicately turning them often. This is to remove some water from the tofu.
  2. Add a little bit of oil into the pan and let the tofu brown a little by the oil. Remove and set a side.
  3. Heat up a little bit of oil in a wok or pot, add in the chopped onions and let it brown a little.
  4. Add ground black mustard, roasted cumin seeds and curry leaves. Stir-fry it with the onions for a minute or two.
  5. Stir in ginger and garlic paste. Cook until it is fragrant.
  6. Add ground coriander, turmeric powder, chilli powder and tomato paste. Stir to mix well before adding approximately 2 cups of water to it.
  7. Add a pinch of sugar and season it with salt.
  8. Let it cook for about 10 minutes.
  9. Add in the tofu, cover partially and let it cook for another 15-20 minutes to allow the curry to thicken and the tofu to soak up the curry flavour.
  10. Serve hot with rice.
Curry Tofu
The Verdict

The result was actually great and much better than my older tofu experiment! A very flavourful curry with a clear tomato background. Of course the faint tofu flavour takes a back-seat in this dish. Judging by the many times Pierre went for it, I say it's a great success. Everyone loves it.

Notes

When I cooked this dish, I didn't really measure the water - just add it in according to what I feel is correct amount. Basically it should more or less cover your tofu.

I happened to have in hand some coarsely ground roasted black mustard seeds and roasted cumin seeds. However if you don't have, you can pan-fry the black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves first with oil. Once the seeds pops, add in the chopped onions.

Curry Tofu
13 comments on this post.

Curry Coconut Prawns

I had a wonderful week meeting up with the Food Bloggers at Food Bloggers Connect 2010. But the highlight of the week started with this hilarious conversation I had with the British officers at the border - me and my Singaporean accent (yes we chatted for quite a while, who cares about the other travellers waiting for their turn, right?):

Officer: So you are staying in London for a week. What will you be doing there?
Me (all excited): Oh, I'm going there to attend FBC. There will be lots of FOOD bloggers at that event.
Officer: I see, FOOT Bloggers you say. So what is this meeting all about?
Me (babbling on): Oh we exchange notes, experience, recipes, take pictures of FOOD, share photography taking techniques, getting to know each other and exchange our blogs etc. I also have my own FOOD blog. (I said rather proudly)
Officer: Oh! So what do you blog about?
Me: Oh about FOOD, a bit of restaurant review but not much. Mainly FOOD, what I cook with, how it tastes, the result of my experience with the recipe, etc.
Officer: FOOT, yeah ??
Me: Yes, you know FOOD like : I show him the hand sign of eating.
Officer: Oh you mean FOOD. I thought you were talking about FEET. I was starting to wonder - recipes, photos and all with FOOT.
Me: Oh, no, not FOOT... Now that would be a bit of too fetish, isn't it?
Officer: Oh, don't worry. We are used to all sorts of things here working in this line. Talking about food, my wife baked 3 cakes last night and it's all for her office.
Me: Oh lucky her. A food blogger's dream - to be able to bake and give it away to others to eat.
Officer: You can say that again. Look at me, I got it all here (pointing to his waist and tummy).
Me: Oh, my husband complaints the same but he can't stop eating what I make. So your wife loves to cook. Do you like Indian food, Asian Food or French Food?
Officer: Oh yes, I love it.
Me: Here's my name card. You can find delicious Indian, Asian & French recipes in there. (So I gave the 2 officers my name card - what a start of a great day!)

Off I went with a big smile on my face to meet Sarka of Cooking Your Dream, Tiina of Sparkling Ink & Giulia of Jul's Kitchen (my bedmate for the weekend) at FBC 10. Sarka was so generous to offer her home for us to stay. We got to know each other better, had brainstorming sessions, exchange camera techniques etc. till late at night. Each night we slept only like 5 or 6 hours. We had a real blast together!

For me, the highlight of the FBC 10 was Friday evening & the Sunday session. Jaden of Steamy Kitchen talks on 'monetizing your blog' was very inspiring with her boundless enthusiasm on how she got started with nothing, worked to cookbook, TV shows after only 6 months into blogging and how she could earn enough by then to pay her household bills. It was truly awesome - every food bloggers dream come true. So much was learnt from Kerrin Rousset of My Kugelhopf & Julia Parsons of A Slice of Cherry Pie on 'how to get published & get feature work'. Thank you for sharing with us your tips and secrets of trade. Kerrin's boundless energy is infectious: she's like an Energizer rabbit - never stop moving. I'm so impressed by Julia's personality: so down-to-earth, open, very friendly and very approachable. Lastly, Niall Harbison's (lively personality with great sense of humour) talk on social media left all of us hungering for more information. I was kinda of disappointed that there wasn't any hands-on photography workshop as I was so looking forward to having one. Instead I found tables of fruits/cakes set up on the table for us to play with our camera mode by ourselves. Other than that, I got to finally meet several bloggers that I have known online for some time and lots of new bloggers!

Sarka's partner, Pavel, came home from his European conference trip and showed me one evening the difference of the aperture and shutters speed hands on with his camera and explained it in details. I greatly appreciated him taking the time to teach me. Now I know the difference. It's one thing listening to talks and reading from the manual, it's totally different when someone actually show it to you. On my last day in London, I cooked dinner for Sarka & Pavel and letting them taste my home (Singapore) & French food - Assam Fish (Singapore Nyonya), Curry Coconut Prawns (Indian - recipe below) & Moules Marinière (French) and last minute whip up dessert like this rich & delicious Lava Coffee Chocolate Cake that only took 10 minutes to make & 8 minutes to bake. Thank you Sarka & Pavel for hosting me for a week.

Curry Coconut Prawns
Ingredients
  • 2 mediume sized yellow onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 800 g - 1 kg prawns (peeled)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (more if you prefer spicer)
  • tumeric powder (a pinch)
  • salt
  • 200 ml coconut milk
Directions
  1. Heat wok or pan with some vegetable oil, stir-fry the chopped onions until lightly brown.
  2. Add in the garlic-ginger paste and stir till fragrant.
  3. Add in the prawns and mix it well with the onions and garlic-ginger paste.
  4. Mix in the coriander powder, chilli powder, salt & a pinch of tumeric powder.
  5. Cook it until it is slightly done and pour in the coconut milk.
  6. Stir to mix well and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  7. Serve hot with rice.
Curry Coconut PrawnsCurry Coconut PrawnsCurry Coconut Prawns
The Verdict

This truly is a great Indian dish, very aromatic and exotic. Unlike some other Indian recipes, this one is really simple and fast to put together, and yet it really taste authentic. The coconut milk doesn't overpower the flavour of the spices.

Notes

If you don't want it with too creamy coconut, add half coconut milk and half milk. Add the chilli powder according to how spicy you want it to be. It's always better to start with little bit of chili and add more if needed as we cannot reverse the spicy taste the other around.

To make garlic-ginger paste, just process the same amount of ginger & garlic together in the food process. Keep this paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Curry Coconut Prawns
26 comments on this post.

Afghani Murgh (Cheesy Chicken Kebab)

POISSON D'AVRIL!

Happy April Fool's day, everyone! This day celebrated worldwide is however known in France as 'Poisson d'avril' (April Fish). On this day, like the rest of the world, jokes are played on family and friends and the medias are all so full of funny hoaxes - it's hard to know the reality from the jokes. For the children in France, it's the day where they have fun discretely sticking a paper shaped fish on their parents, teachers and friends back.

Dear Readers, you must be like me as curious as a cat wanting to know why it's call April Fish here. Well, sadly the story is kind of blurry, but is connected to the fact that in some part of France, the year-end was celebrated around 1st of April in the Middle-Age, and the end of Lent during which meat was forbidden and fish was the alternative. Oh, admit it, you feel kinda let down like me by the the lack of mystery surrounding this fish day.

Now guess who is all excited jumping out of bed this morning when I went to wake her up? Yes you guessed it right (sorry no price for guessing it right this time) - Little One! You see, it's her first 'Poisson d'avril'. So she was all excited this morning, jumped out of bed in excitement 'Mommy, it's Poisson d'avril' today!' 'We got to hurry up - dress up and make some fish.' Boy, was she fast in dressing up and finishing her breakfast! (record time) Quickly some fishes were cut out and coloured with a sticker tap on. Giggling with excitement, she just couldn't wait to reach school to stick one on the back of her teacher. Said teacher was sportive enough to pretend she didn't see that coming and turned her back for Little One to stick it on it. You should have seen that glee on her face when she did it and said 'Poisson d'avril' to her teacher and giggling non-stop. PRICELESS! I wish I could capture that moment on camera and freeze frame it forever. Then she went into her class and sticked another one on her best friend, Lise, giggling. Ahh... it's so wonderful to see things through the eyes of a 3 year old. Thank you dear daughter for reminding me what's like to be a child again. And who says we, adults, can't have fun like Little One. I dare you to stick a coloured paper shaped fish on your family, friends and colleagues next year - it'll be a nice French touch.

Which brings me to this chicken kebab. Well not, but bear with me, it's a slow day.

Afghani Murgh (Cheesy Chicken Kebab)

(Taken from Moti Mahal's Tandoori Trail by Monish Gujral)

Ingredients
  • 600 g chicken (cut into 8 pieces)
  • 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 tbsp cashew nuts
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp cheese (grated)
  • 2 tsp cardamom powder
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cream or crème fraîche
Preparation
Directions
  1. Make some incisions on the chicken pieces (simply poke some holes on it with your pointed sharp knife). In a big bowl, marinate the chicken pieces thoroughly with ginger-garlic paste, vinegar & salt. Keep aside for half an hour to an hour.
  2. In the meantime, blend cashew nuts with milk in food processor until you get a smooth paste.
  3. In another bowl, mix grated cheese, cardamom powder, salt and white pepper with cashew nuts milk paste. Add in the eggs and cream. Stir and mix until everything is well incorporated, giving a smooth paste.
  4. Pour this mixture onto the marinated chicken, making sure that each chicken pieces are well coated with the paste. Set it aside for an hour or until it is ready to be cooked.
  5. Soak your wooden skewers for about half an hour or an hour in water before using it. This is to prevent the wooden skewers from being burn in oven. (If you are using metal skewers, skip this part, of course.)
  6. Preheat oven under grill mode.
  7. Thread chicken pieces on skewers and place it under grill for 6 - 7 minutes.
  8. Turn chicken pieces over and baste it with oil. Let it grill for another 6 minutes or until chicken is tender.
  9. Alternatively you can cook it in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4).
  10. Serve it hot with mint chutney. (We just ate it with rice.)
Ready to grill!
The Verdict

It's flavorful and the cardamom is definitely strong here! Thanks to the thick creamy cheese coating around the kebab, the chicken doesn't feel dry at all and is very succulent. Both Pierre & Little One loved it very much.

Afghani Murgh
Notes

I have no idea what type of vinegar the author of the book used so I just replaced it with apple cider vinegar that I have in my pantry. It still turned out succulently delicious.

Grated Cheese - Please do not use prepackaged emmental grated cheese in this recipe like I did. They won't stick to your chicken in the marinate. What it calls for in this recipe is finely grated cheese. Or you can cut pre-grated emmental cheese further up with scissors to make it finer.

If you like kebab, try this too :

16 comments on this post.

Reshmi Kebab (Chicken Kebabs)

Lately Pierre has been lamenting AGAIN (see my posts on Moghlai Murgh, Beef Madras, Balti Butter Chicken, Prawns in coconut gravy & Grilled Broiled Prawns) about lack of haute Indian cuisine in Clermont-Ferrand (or more generally, France) and yearning for his luscious, lip smacking favourite restaurant, the Shahi Maharani in Singapore. So strong was his longings that even while driving, I would catch him murmuring to himself 'ahhh... if only I can move 'Shahi Maharani here.' with a broad grin on his face. He even suggested (not once but several times and counting) that I ask the manager of the restaurant for a post in their kitchen when we are back in Singapore, so that I can learn how to cook like they do but at home to his majesty desire. LOL! This man has no shame when it comes to his food.

Now I'm going to let you in a little bit more just how popular we are at Shahi Maharani. Bear in mind that we only go back to Singapore once a year. Every year, upon arriving in Singapore, we would go immediately to lunch or dine there after dumping our luggages at my parents place. Not just the manager but the staff also recognise us immediately when we stepped into their restaurant saying 'Welcome back. Happy to see you again. How long are you staying in Singapore this time around? How's your little daughter? Oh, she didn't come along with you today? Hope to see her next time when you come by again.' Trying not to turn me off going there, Pierre would sneak in a lunch or dinner there once every week or thrice if he could rassle it out of me. And as our departure for France approach, so is our rising dinning frequency at this restaurant. To a point, the Manager even gave us a discount on our bill and sometimes a free drink. LOL! And on the last day in Singapore, we both would strike a bargain : Lunch at Shahi Maharani, Dinner with my family before we leave for the airport, and he dreaming of his favourite restaurant on the plane.

Since I can't bring Shahi Maharani to him, I told him to choose a recipe from this Indian cookbook that sweet Deeba (upon hearing that how much Pierre loves Indian food) gave me in London when we met at Food Blogger Connect last November. It was filled with delicious recipes and it was hard to pick one out of so many. So he decided to pick whichever recipe that he just happened to flip open the book and honest truth, we weren't disappointed at all.

Reshmi Kebab (Chicken Kebabs)

(Taken from Moti Mahal's Tandoori Trail by Monish Gujral)

Ingredients
  • 750 g chicken meat (cut into big pieces)
  • 1½ tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 50 g (5 tbsp) gram flour
  • 100 g (½ cup) cream or crème frâiche
  • 2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 50 g (¼ cup) cheese spread (cream cheese or laughing cow)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp green cardamom powder
Directions
  1. Marinate the chicken pieces with ginger-garlic paste and salt. Keep aside for an hour.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add gram flour and stir continuously till the oil separates and a sweet smell emanates.
  3. Remove from heat, add cream, white pepper powder, cheese spread, egg and green cardamom powder. Whisk to a smooth paste.
  4. Apply to the chicken and keep aside for 2 hours.
  5. Skewer the chicken and grill in a tandoor or a preheated oven till golden brown.
  6. Serve with mint chutney and onion lachla in vinegar.
Reshmi Kebab
The Verdict

The kebab is very tasty and aromatic - simply delicious, even though cardamom flavour is strong with this one! Like all grilled meat, the chicken breast is slightly dry yet very tender. It was so good that we had it for dinner and lunch the next day. We can't wait for warmer weather so that we can grill this outside. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Notes

I didn't have gram flour, so I used cooked chickpeas (from a can) and mashed them. And add some olive oil to the creamy mixture. I also ground some green cardamon pods myself as I don't have it in powder form.

To make ginger & garlic paste: put equal amount of peeled garlic and ginger in food processor and process it. Add a bit of water if necessary to make a smooth paste. Keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freeze it in small quantity for later use. This can be used as marinate for meat, poultry and seafood or added to sauces.

Reshmi Kebab
15 comments on this post.

Balti Chicken

There are 2 exciting things happening in my life right now. Firstly, I'm flying to London this Friday for my very first Food Bloggers Connect conference, meeting fellow bloggers that I have met through blogging, via Facebook and Twitter. The response to this meeting is tremendous, far more than we expected, with 70 confirmed attendees from all over the world. We are going to have lots of fun exchanging knowledge, getting to know each other and rock the house down that day. We are all so excited about it and counting down each day on Twitter. LOL!

Now other fantastic thing that happened to me is I finally made a friend, Sharon, in Clermont-Ferrand. Hard as it is for many of you to believe, but it has been a long and tiring journey for me trying make new friends and have some sort of social life in this new city for the past 2 years. It all happened last Wednesday when we stopped at KFC for lunch (the usual Wednesday routine) so that we can eat while Little One can play at the big playground with other kids there. All of sudden I heard a young woman with a very familiar accent talking to her son. I told Pierre that I wasn't sure if she was from Singapore or from Malaysia. Pierre was very excited for me (knowing that I have been very lonely here and missing friends) and coaxed me to speak to that young lady right away. I was kind of hesitant at first (after being rejected by people so many times, my skin has gone thin), then I plucked up courage and approached her... funnily, she made a move towards me at the same time. Turned out she has been living here for almost 3 years now and she, like me, thought she is the only Singaporean in this city. LOL! It was a blessing meeting her. I'm grateful to Sharon for introducing me to her weekly meeting with a group of lovely ladies (mainly wives of Michelin's expatriates), her child's playgroup as well as introducing me to courses at AVF (Accueil des villes Francaises) where I'm learning silk painting together with her. Thank you Sharon for your friendship, kindness and generosity.

The following recipe is a representative of what life has presented me at this moment - aromatic, sometimes tangy but the right amount of spiciness to keep me on my toes.

Balti Chicken

(taken from Indian - Shehzad Husain & Rafi Fernandez)

Ingredients
  • 1½ kg (3 lb) chicken (skinned & cut into 8 pieces)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions (sliced)
  • 3 medium tomatoes (halved & sliced)
  • 2.5 cm (1") cinnamon stick
  • 2 large black cardamons
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp black cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ginger pulp
  • 1 tsp garlic pulp
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp natural (plain) yogurt
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 fresh green chilli (chopped - I only used 1)
balti Chicken
Drections
  1. Heat oil in wok or a deep round bottomed frying pan (skillet), stir-fry sliced onions until they are golden brown.
  2. Add in the tomatoes and stir well.
  3. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamons, peppercorns, black cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, garam masala, chilli powder and salt. Lower the heat and stir-fry for about 3 - 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken pieces, making sure that the pieces are well mixed and coated with the spices. Stir-fry for at least 7 minutes or until the spice mixture has completely penetrated the chicken pieces.
  5. Stir in the yogurt and mix well.
  6. Lower the heat and cover. Cook it gently for 15 minutes.
  7. Give it a stir once or twice to avoid food sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Finally add the lemon juice, fresh coriander (cilantro) and green chillies. Make sure it is well mixed.
  9. Serve at once with plain rice.
Balti Chicken
The Verdict

It was so aromatic while I was cooking it that it perfumed the whole house with it's aroma making everyone hungry and drooling, especially me. I personally love this dish - tangy, tint of spiciness, full of flavour and so are the chicken pieces.

Pierre finds it a bit too sour for him while I find it just right so I would suggest to add only 2 tbsp of lemon juice first and adjust the last tablesppon of lemon juice to your taste.

Notes

As I didn't have black cumin seeds nor black cardamom pods, I just use the normal cumin seeds and green cardamom that I have in my pantry. From what I understand, the difference in flavour is barely noticeable.

Cooking the chicken pieces with bones makes a dish more flavourful, however you can replace it with boneless and cubed chicken. In this case, the reduce the cooking time for step 4.

Balti Chicken
10 comments on this post.

Aloo Gosht (Delhi-styled lamb cooked with potatoes)

As all of you already know, Pierre and I love Indian food, besides cooking some at home, we frequent a lot of Indian restaurants too. The menus always have a lot of unfamilliar words that we can only understand thanks to the provided translation. As I was writing this post, I decided to do some search on what those we see most often mean.

Here is what I found: Batak (duck), Chingri (shrimps), Gosht (meat - invariably lamb), Jingha (prawn), Kofta (meat balls), Murgh (chicken), Nargis (boiled egg), Paneer (cheese), Bhindi (okra, ladies' fingers), Dall (lentils), Ghobi (cauliflower), Kumbi (mushrooms), Matar (peas), Saag (spinach); and "Aloo Gosht" means Potatoes with Meat. And this is what is simmering in our pot today.

It all started on twitter with a group of wonderful and good food blogging friends. We were twittering about food (what else) and such when I kept seeing the word 'Ghost' popping up. Whenever Jamie and Deeba mentioned about Jamie's Aloo Gosht, they would joke about Meeta seeing ghost when having this dish. Now that piqued my ninja curiosity wondering if Meeta really had some ghostly encounter with this dish. To my great disappointment, it was nothing of the kind. LOL! You see, Meeta was trying to compliment Jamie on her recent Aloo Gosht dish when she accidently typed Aloo Ghost instead, causing Jamie and Deeba teased her non stop about it. To be honest, I never really made the connection between gosht and ghost until Meeta let me in on the joke. It was then that I took a double look at the word 'GOSHT' - LOL. So here we are, I made our very own Aloo Ghost, oops, I mean Gosht.

The below recipe is a slightly modified version from the original version by Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking on Jamie's blog, Lifesafeast.

Aloo Gosht - Delhi-styled lamb cooked with potatoes
Ingredients
  • 7 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 175 g onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 fresh green chili (seeded and chopped)
  • 5 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 thumb size ginger (finely chopped)
  • 1 kg lamb shoulder (cut into large cubes & keep the bone)
  • 350 g tomatoes (peeled and chopped, juices reserved with the tomatoes) or 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 2 tsps ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 500 g potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • a bunch of coriander (roughly chopped)
  • 600 ml water
Aloo Gosht
Directions
  1. Heat up a large, heavy bottomed pan or wok with 7 tbsp of oil over heat high. When the oil is hot, stir fry the onions until golden brown.
  2. Add in green chilli, ginger and garlic in the pot and stir fry for a few minute.
  3. Mix in the cumin, coriander powder, turmeric, chilli, making sure it is well combined.
  4. Add the chunks of lamb including the bones (if any) to the pot making sure it is coated with above mixture. Stir it for about 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the chopped tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes), chopped fresh coriander & water and season it with salt. Stir to blend all in and bring it to a boil, sauce should thickened.
  6. Reduce heat to low and let it simmer partially covered for 1 hour or so. Add more water if you find it too concentrated.
  7. Add the potatoes and cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until soft. Check seasoning to taste before serving.
  8. Serve hot with rice
Aloo Gosht
The Verdict

It's savory and very aromatic with just a teasing tint of spiciness in each spoonful. The meat is very tender. It's also a bit soupy and the broth is lightly tangy. My mom-in-law finds it very refreshing and umpf! A wonderful dish to have on a cold day!

Notes

In my above recipe I have reduced the quantity of water from the original recipe of 900 ml as I find my dish was way too soupy (very thin broth) to my liking and I had to simmer it uncovered for a long time to reduce water. I find that it is better to add less water first and dilute it later to your preference if one finds it too concentrated.

If you are using normal pot to cook the above recipe, cook step 5 until oil separates from the sauce and sauce thickens. However if you are using a non-stick wok or pot, oil will not separate from sauce.

If you have some very firm potatoes, you may let potatoes simmer together with the rest of the ingredients for an hour or so. As for me, the normal potatoes I had in my pantry just simply melt to pieces at the end of an hour or so of simmering.

Adjust the spiciness according to your taste. Omit the green chili totally if you can't take spiciness, but put more if you like it hot as I made it mild for my family. The chili powder I use in all my recipes is from grounded dried chilli. I understand that there are different version of chili powder available - some are a blend of chili with other spices.

Aloo Gosht
10 comments on this post.

Hot Chicken Curry

The good thing about having your own cooking blog is that you can quickly refer to certain recipes without having to flip to through your notes, cookbooks or surf the internet just to find that recipe. Having said that, my little family has finally had enough of me cooking the same old dishes from my blog, delicious as they may be... getting BORING, BORING, BORING!

Now cooking for my household isn't that easy too... hubby likes spicy food, is a sauce person, doesn't quite like fish with bones or crab (too much work to eat), is not a vegetable or soup person, etc. His loves meat and is a difficult man to cook for. Whereas Little One & I are the opposite, we like soup, vegetables, fish etc, however Little One can be equally difficult to cook for too. She loves pasta and rice. You would think 'oh that's easy then, just cook any meal that has pasta or rice.' Wrong! Mademoiselle has her days - good days, she eats everything presented to her, difficult days (which is often the case now) - she picks out everything off her rice or pasta and simply happily just eat plain rice or pasta with cheese much to my chagrin. And getting her to eat meat is another story - it's like serving her poison. She shows a clear sign she isn't a meat person since she was a baby.

You must be wondering how do we ever come to a compromise on our palate - well, apparently hubby and baby share a common love for PIZZA! Any mention of that send both of them into a joyful pizza dance, but not so for me. Since it's 2 vs 1 - I'm out voted. LOL! Both love cakes and cookies, a true blessing for me since I love to bake. I have to say in regards to bakeries, she's a true Daddy's girl for she has the same possessiveness about her sweets just like her papa. Just this evening, she told everyone at the table (grandparents included) not to touch her cake as it is only reserves for little ones like her, and if any adults eat it, it will make them sick to their stomach. LOL!

So what binds hubby and I? Love for spices and spiciness. Little One has been prepared and trained for it since the day she entered our lives. And apparently she loves it too for I had 9 months of pure bliss savouring all sorts of spicy food. Once she started on solids, now and then we sneaked some spicy food on her plate without her knowledge. From experience, we found that once she knows it is spicy, she won't touch it or she will spit it out even though it is not that spicy. However there are times when she sees us tugging in our spicy food with such sheer delight that rouse her curiosity and she asks for bite, just like tonight's dinner. At first she was hesitant, but encouraged and coaxed by me, she gave it a try. Much to her own surprise and ours, she loved it and even asked for some on her rice. Now that's my true little ninja spirit.

Hot Chicken Curry

(taken from Indian - Shehzad Husain & Rafi Fernandez)

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp corn oil
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ tsp onion seeds
  • 2 medium onions (chopped)
  • ½ tsp garlic pulp
  • ½ tsp ginger pulp
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400 g (14 oz) canned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 350 g chicken meat (cubed)
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro (chopped)
  • 3 fresh green chilli (cut into chunks), I only used 1.
  • ½ red bell pepper (cut into chunks)
  • ½ green bell pepper (cut into chunks)
Hot Chicken Curry
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a medium wok, fry the fenugreek and onion seeds until they turn a bit darker.
  2. Add the chopped onions, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for about 5 minutes until onions turn golden brown. Lower heat to very low.
  3. In the meantime, mix the ground coriander, chilli powder, salt, tomatoes & lemon juice together in a big bowl.
  4. Pour this mixture into the wok and turn the heat to medium. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 5 - 7 minutes.
  6. Add the fresh coriander (cilantro), green chillies, red and green bell peppers.
  7. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes covered or until bell peppers and chicken are cooked.
  8. Serve hot with plain basmati rice or chapatis.
Hot Chicken CurryHot Chicken Curry
The Verdict

This is not a "curry" in the sense that most western people think of it: there's no curry powder inside and it doesn't have the characteristic flavor. This is however a very aromatic and spicy dish and is definitely one of my favorite Indian recipe. It's also quite healthy as you can see from the ingredients - low fat and veggies but definitely not bland:-) Everyone loves it, especially hubby who isn't a vegetable person.

Notes

I used normal vegetable oil and omitted onion seeds in above recipe as I couldn't find it anywhere in town. And also I only put 1 green chili, it's already a bit spicy so if you can't take spiciness, it's better to totally leave out the green chillies.

Hot Chicken CurryHot Chicken Curry
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Beef Madras

My hubby has always been a big lover of Indian cuisine - so much so that whenever we are back in Singapore, the very first restaurant he heads for is Shahi Maharani. We eat there so frequently that even the manager recognises us instantly whenever we are back in Singapore, never mind that he hasn't seen us for over a year.:-p

Since we haven't been back to Singapore for almost a year and I haven't been cooking any Indian food for a long long time, he needed to satiate his cravings, and I gave in after a few days of bugging. Flipping through our favourite Indian cook book, of course, he had to pick THE dish that has an ingredient that not only I had no idea what it was nor where to find it: madras masala paste. The book did not say how to make it or what it's supposed to be like.:-( The Internet came to the rescue, and once I got the paste made it was now time to do this Beef Madras, which according to the book is a popular South Indian curry prepared mainly by Muslims.

Beef Madras
Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onions (finely sliced)
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 green cardamon pods
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 4 fresh green chillies (chopped
  • 2 red chillies (fresh or dried, chopped)
  • 3 tbsp Madras masala paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 450 g lean beef (cubed)
  • 4 tbsp tamarind juice
  • salt & sugar
Beef Madras
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a wok and fry the sliced onions until golden brown.
  2. Lower heat, add in the spices & paste and fry for a few minutes.
  3. Add in the cubed beef and mix well. Cover and let it cook on low heat for about 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender.
  4. Once beef is tender, remove lid and cook uncovered on high heat for a few minutes to reduce any excess liquid.
  5. Stir in the taramind juice, season it with salt and sugar according to your taste.
  6. Serve it hot with rice.
Beef Madras
The Verdict

It's very aromatic, delicious, tender and super spicy. I personally couldn't take the heat of this dish eventhough I was wise enough to put only 2 green chillies minus the red ones. Hubby loves it so much that he didn't even care if his taste buds were on fire. He had 2nd and 3rd helpings. I salute him for his bravery - not bad for a ang mo (a Singapore local word for 'Caucasian').

This dish taste even better the next day.:-)

Notes

I realised when preparing this dish the 3rd time that how spicy this dish is depending on how spicy is your Madras Masala paste. If you reduced the spiciness in your paste, then you can add more fresh chillies (1 green & 1 red) or whatever combination you prefer. However if your paste is very spicy like mine (when I first did it), reduce the amount of paste added to the dish or simply leave the fresh chilies out.

Beef Madras
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Madras Masala Paste

Did you ever find yourself getting stuck with a recipe that list a paste or ingredient that you have no idea how to get or make? I often did and it is so annoying. Recently I was trying to making an Indian recipe and I stumbled upon Madras Masala Paste??? erhm... huh? What is that? I flipped through the whole book from back to cover... no mention of what this paste is nor how to make it. Thank goodness for the Internet, without it, I wouldn't be able to make this paste nor know what it is.:-)

Ok, Confession time: when I made this paste the first time around, I didn't have exactly all the ingredients and I improvised a bit. I replaced the spices with ready-grounded spices. I replaced black mustard seeds (I didn't have them at hand) with wasabi (I know, the Indian chef would have a heart attack if he knew this) and I used balsamic vinegar instead of cider. On top of that, I absently added the oil into the paste mixture. I realised my mistake too late. Anyway I cooked the paste, curious to see how it would turn out - although the oil never separated from my paste, the paste was still delicious and very fragrant.

Coming soon, recipe that uses this paste. Do watch out for it.:-)

Madras Masala Paste
Ingredients
  • 8 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 4 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 11 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 inches piece fresh ginger, peeled and shredded
  • cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sunflower oil
Directions
  1. Heat up wok and dry stir-fry the coriander, cumin, and peppercorns for 1-2 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the black mustard seeds and toss constantly until they start to pop. Do watch the spices carefully that they don't get too dark or burnt.
  3. Transfer the spices to cool on a plate. (The spices will continue to cook if you leave them in the wok to cool). Grind the cooled spices into a fine powder.
  4. Add the turmeric, chili powder and salt, garlic, ginger and stir in enough vinegar to make a paste.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan at medium heat, fry the paste, stirring constantly until the oil begins to separate.
  6. Remove pan from heat and let the paste cool completely.
  7. Keep the paste in a clean airtight container. Store in fridge and use it within 3 weeks.
Notes

As noted by one of my reader and confirmed by my friend from India, vinegar is not part of any traditional madras recipe. As far as my friend's knowledge goes, South Indians use tamarind juice wherever they need the sour taste and not vinegar. So I guess the vinegar is an improvised solution when one doesn't have tamarind on hand.

This paste is very aromatic and spicy - as it is really white-hot-fire-burning-inferno-from-hell. For those who can't take it very spicy, reduce the quantity of chili powder added to the paste. You have been warned!

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