Asian, Indian, Savory, Stew

Coconut Pork Curry

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This is an amazing recipe!! Originally written in 2010, in Food and Wine magazine, I did not have the means to make the recipe till 2016.  I had bookmarked the recipe for 5 years and was waiting to have a kitchen of my own to make it. In 2016, my mother came to visit during the summer, and this was the perfect meal to make for her!  Unlike, my father, she grew up eating pork, so she really appreciated it.  I was intrigued by this recipe, it looked like a cross between an Indian and Thai dish.  Anyway, I made it and it was super hit!  In fact, my mother said that it tasted like a “curry” her mother used to make–what a compliment and what a food memory!  You can find the original recipe here.  I would strongly recommend following the recipe, word for word!  With that said, during the current pandemic,  I did not find pork shoulder, so I had to (with great trepidation) substitute with pork tenderloin.  Thankfully, after cooking for four hours, the meat did become soft and fork-tender.  I also never cook this in a slow-cooker; I love making it in my large dutch oven.  I also add a good amount of additional spices, mostly because it suits our palette.  Here is my tweaked version.

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon mild curry powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon of ground coriander

1/2 tablespoon of chili powder

1/2 tablespoon of sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

1/2 tsp of garam masala at the end

a bunch of chopped cilantro and sliced scallions, for stirring into the curry at the very end.

Method:

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper.  Brown the pork in batched and set aside.

Once the pork is done, add the onion, garlic, ginger, curry, cumin, coriander, chili powder, paprika, and turmeric and cook over low heat, stirring, until fragrant and the onion is softened about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices and coconut milk and scrape the bottom of the pan, lifting all the delicious brown bits from the bottom.

Return the pork to the pot, add the stock, cover, and cook on medium-high for 4 hours.

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At the 2 hour mark, I like to taste and the stew and adjust for salt and heat, mostly the heat—our household like a spicy stew.  Notice how the light creamy color is turning into a rich, dark stew–yum!

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Towards the end of the cooking process, add a bunch of chopped cilantro and scallions to the stew, stir and cook for another 15-20 minutes and remove from heat.

 

Serve with steamed rice or, our favorite, naan

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Appetizers, Comfort food, Indian, Savory

Shortcut Samosas

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I have been trying to master this recipe for a while.  The filling is fairly easy and thanks to several skype conversations with my Mom, I think I nailed it.  But the dough is another issue altogether.  For some reason, making the dough to make the shell for samosas has been a battle.  I have also tried using pie dough and phyllo dough as substitutes, and it did not taste the same.  Recently, I saw a friend from college post a recipe for cocktail samosas and I got inspired.  She used vegan egg roll wrappers and they looked great on her website.  I tried it with my mother’s filling recipe and it was a great hit.  So, after many years of struggling, here is my shortcut recipe for samosas.

Ingredients:

2, 15oz can of diced potatoes

1, 12oz bag of frozen cauliflower florets

1 Tbsp of vegetable or canola oil

1/2 tsp of cumin seeds

1 Tbsp of minced or grated ginger

1 and 1/4 tsp of cumin powder

1 and 1/4 tsp of coriander powder

1 tsp of chili powder

1/4 tsp of cayenne powder

1/2 tsp of sugar

3/4 tsp of salt

1 package of egg-roll wraps (I used Nasoya)

Additional vegetable oil for frying

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Method:

In a deep skillet, heat oil and add in the cumin seeds.  Once they start to bubble-up, add in the veggies.

 

After about 5 minutes add all the spices, stir thoroughly, and continue to cook on medium-high heat.  You will need to stir the mixture often.

 

After about 10 minutes, you will notice that the veggies are very soft.  Now, as you stir, start mushing the veggies with the back of the spoon.  You want the mixture to resemble a paste.

Continue to mush and stir till the mixture starts to come off clean from the edges and bottom of te pan.  If you feel like the mixture is sticking to the skillet, reduce the heat and add a little bit more oil.

 

Cool the mixture to room temperature, before you start assembling the samosas.

Take one sheet of the egg-roll wrap and cut it down the middle.  You will notice that the wrap has a slight rectangular shape, so cut it along the “long” side.  Make sure the remaining wraps are tightly covered–if they dry out they will break during the folding process.

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Use the tip of your finger or a small pastry brush and brush the edges of the but egg-roll wrap with water.  the water will help the edges stick to one another during the folding process.

Take 1 tsp of the filling and place it in the bottom of the cut egg-roll wrap.

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Now, start folding from the bottom right-side, tucking the filling in.  You will want to fold it like a flag—neat and tight.  Refer to the pictures below.

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Once you have your samosa ready, you can either freeze them or proceed straight to the frying step.

 

Heat vegetable oil, on high, in a small pot.  I like to use a small sauce-pot so that I use less oil.  I fill the bottom 0.5 inches of the pot with vegetable oil.  You can use any oil that has a high smoke point.

 

Once the oil starts to smoke, reduce the heat to medium and let the oil cool slightly.  Then gently release the samosa into the oil.  Fry each side for about 30 seconds or until the shell is golden brown and puffed.  If the oil is too hot, the shells will burn immediately.

 

If the oil cools down too much, it will take longer for the shells to get golden and you will end up with soggy and greasy samosas.  You want the oil to be medium hot so that the frying process is quick!

 

Serve piping hot.  They are good as it is, but you can always have it with a chili dipping sauce or mint chutney.  I will not judge if you even use ketchup!

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Dinner, Indian, Meat, Savory

Gosht jalfrezi

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The word Gosht is a Persian word and loosely refers to any kind of read meat cooked till tender.  It can be mutton, lamb or beef.  This particular version of Jalfrezi is made with beef and is another one of my Simmer Sauce Solutions.  The vegetarian version of this recipe, made with paneer, potatoes, peppers, peas, and cauliflower is equally delicious.  Here is how doctored up a store-bought simmer sauce to make dinner in under an hour.

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Ingredients:

1.5 lbs of cubed stew meat (I used beef)

1 medium red onion, red pepper, and green pepper–diced

1 tsp of olive oil

3/4 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of chili powder

1/4 tsp of cayenne powder

1 tsp of ground cumin

1/2 tsp of garam masala

1/2 tsp of sugar

1, 15oz jar of Patak’s Jalfrezi simmer sauce

15oz water

Method

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottom pot and add the beef.  Make sure the beef is at room temperature and dry–otherwise it will not brown. Fry on high for about 5 minutes

Once the meat starts to turn light brown, add in all the spices except for the sugar and garam masala.

Sautee the beef on medium-high.  Chop the vegetables during this process.

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Add the veggies, to the beef and continue to saute on medium-high heat till the vegetables are soft.

Add the who jar of the jalfrezi simmer sauce.  Fill the jar with water, rinse our ever last bit of the sauce and add the liquid to the pot.

Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.

After about 20 minutes, check to see if the beef is fork-tender.  At this point add the sugar and garam masala and simmer for another 10 minutes on low heat.

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Serve hot with basmati rice!

Indian, Poultry, Savory

Murgh Kofta Rogan Josh

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15 years ago I would scoff at the idea of using “curry” from a “jar”.  15 years ago,  I was not putting food on the table after a busy day at work.  I will admit, I am a curry snob.  Well, let’s get one thing clear, curry really just refers to a slow-cooked, spiced, sauce–it is not a recipe on its own!  However, to keep things simple, I too have fallen into the practice of referring to any Indian saucy dish as curry.  Purists, please forgive me!

Now back to sauces in jars.  There is only one brand that I trust (and no, I don’t get paid by them!) is Pataks.  My Mom used it when we lived in the USA during the early 90s, which means this brand has her seal of approval.  Back then, you would have to drive several miles to get to the nearest Indian Grocery to stock up on these staples.  Now, you can walk into most food stores and find them easily.   One thing I always try to do with these store-bought shortcuts is to add more nutrients to them.  I almost always add vegetables to the sauce, not only does it stretch the meal, but I can get a certain picky eater to eat veggies!!  For this particular “sauce”, I have found that sweet potatoes work really well.  You can use any kind of protein you like (animal or plant-based).  For this version I used mini chicken meatballs, another ode to a childhood “curry” my mother made.  You can check out the recipe for the chicken meatballs here.  With that, here is how I assembled this meal.

Ingredients:

1 batch of mini chicken meatballs

3 medium sweet potatoes, diced.

1 jar of Patak’s Rogan Josh sauce.

1Tbsp of olive oil

1 cup of water

1tsp of chili powder

1 tsp of garam masala

Method:

Heat olive oil in a pan.  Once the oil is hot, add the diced sweet potatoes.  Saute till the potatoes start to become tender.

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Add the whole jar of sauce and 1 cup of water to the sweet potatoes.  Cover the pot and cook on medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.  You don’t want anything to stick to the bottom off the pot!

After about 40 minutes, the sweet potato will become tender.  Using the back of a spoon, I roughly mash the sweet potatoes into the sauce.  This adds thickness and a delicious sweetness to the curry.

Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover and cook for another 10 minutes on low heat.  Remember, the meatballs are cooked, so you don’t want to over-cook them or use high heat.  That will toughen the meatballs and nobody likes that!

At the very end, I added chili powder and garam masala, stirred the spices in the sauce and turned the heat off.    At this point, you an let the dish cool down to room temperature, portion it and freeze it for later.

If you are planning to eat right away, I would add the spices along with the meatballs, cook the dish for 10 minutes and serve hot with either rice or Naan or both!!!  Enjoy!

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Appetizers, Indian, Poultry, Savory

Murgh Kofta (Chicken Meatballs)

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This is a “house” recipe.  Traditional kofta has more ingredients and the recipe changes from country to country (India, Pakistan, Turkey etc.).  This version is packed with flavor, has only a few ingredients and can be whipped up in 30 minutes.  It is also a different way to use ground chicken which often goes on sale.  I like to make mini balls and have them with hummus, pita, and a garden salad.  You can certainly make larger patties and make it into a burger!  Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground chicken

1 medium onion, grated directly on to the chicken (you want the juices from the onion)

1 tsp of minced garlic, minced ginger, chili powder, salt, and garam masala.

1 Tbsp of chopped parsley (this time, I did not have any, but I would highly recommend it)

1Tbsp of olive oil

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Don’t over mix–you will get hard koftas!

2. Heat oil in a pan.

3. Use a 0.5-inch ice-cream scoop to form mini chicken balls.  If you wet your palms before rolling, you will get smooth, round koftas!

4. Fry on medium-high heat till deep golden brown and cooked through.

5. Serve piping hot!!

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Dinner, Indian, Poultry, Savory

Tamarind Chicken

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Years ago, it took three friends to convince a certain Irish man to try Indian food.  Trying to make the distinction between spicy and spiced is always a challenge–till you try it.  Needless to say, the Irish man is now a convert.  He now enjoys Indian food and has a variety of chillis in his pantry.  So the dish that he tried was Tamarind Chicken.  Traditionally a South Indian dish, it has several varieties.  Some are more spicy, some more tangy and creamy.  I did not grow up eating this variety of curry so I created my own version of it.  He liked it.  WIN!  Hope you and your family like it too.

Ingredients:

5 chicken breasts, cubed

1 inch of ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

1tbsp of minced garlic (2-3cloves)

2 quartered onions

2 tomatoes

1 jalapeno

1 tsp of mustard seeds

1tsp of fenugreek seeds

1 Bay leaf

3-4 whole cloves

3-4 whole cardamom pods

2 tbsp of tamarind paste, dissolved in 2cups of water

0.4oz of Berbere spice blend (from rawspicebar–refer to image for spice blend)

2 tbsp of canola/vegetable oil

salt to taste

honey/sugar to reduce spicy-ness (optional step)

Method:

Blend ginger, garlic, jalapeno, tomato and onions.

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Heat oil in a pot, and add the mustard, fenugreek, cloves, cardamon to pot and wait for them to start popping in the hot oil

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Then add the onion-tomato paste from the blender.  Then add the berberre spice blend.

 

Cook then spices, stirring often, till the raw smell has cooked off and it turns a deep red color.

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Add the chicken and saute for 5-10 mins

Add the tamarind paste in water

Cook till the sauce thickens, on medium-ow heat for 30 mins

 

Taste to adjust salt and seasonings.  You might want to add more spice, or if it is too spicy you can add a tbsp of honey or sugar.

Serve hot with Naan or basmati rice.

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Classics, Comfort food, Fish & Seafood, Indian

My Mother’s Tuna Cakes (Macher Chop)

Bengali style fish cakes, or in this case tuna cakes.  Slightly spicy and nothing like any other fish cake you might have had.  For starters there is no mayo and definitely no old bay seasoning !!! Don’t get me wrong–I love a good crab cake, but this recipe is simple delicious and full of fond memories.  Don’t believe me — I got my very “irish-paleted” boyfriend to love them ! You got to try these !

  
Ingredients:

5 cans of tuna packed in water

1 potato

2 onions

1 jalapeno

1 tbsp of ginger paste

1tbsp of chopped garlic

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of cardamom

1/2 tsp of cloves

1tsp of sugar

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

4tbsp of olive oil

salt to taste

eggs and breadcrumbs for breading

oil for frying

Method:

  • Blend together onions, ginger, garlic and jalapeno
  • Add oil to a pan and then add the drained tuna and the onion paste
  • saute for a while till the paste cooks through and no longer smells raw.
  • Add salt, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves
  • Saute for another good 10-15mins till the whole mixture turns golden brown (you might need to add more oil if the mixture sticks to the pan)
  • Finally stir in the cilantro and allow the mixture to cool
  • Meanwhile boil the potato till fork tender and allow to cool
  • Mash the potato and mix in with the cooled tuna mixture.  At this point taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning.
  • Form the mixture into burger shaped patties.
  • Dip in egg and then breadcrumb and set aside
  • At this point, you can freeze the cakes or fry them.  If you do freeze them, make sure you thaw them completely before frying.  If they are not thawed, the outside will crisp up super fast and the inside will remain frozen.
  • Heat oil in a skillet/shallow pan and fry the cake till golden on each side about 2mins per side.
  • Serve hot !!!!!!
Comfort food, Fish & Seafood, Indian

Spicy Turmeric broiled Tilapia

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My super speedy take on a classic Bengali comfort dish.  Its exam time and I need food that reminds me home and my mom’s cooking.  Here it goes, pay close attention because it is so easy you might just miss it !!!!

Pat dry 1lb of fresh tilapia. Season the fish with salt.

 

In a small bowl, whisk together 1tsp turmeric, 1tsp of cayenne pepper, 1tbsp of lime juice and 1/2 tbsp of olive oil.

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Pour the marinade over the fish and let it sit for 10 mins–while you preheat the broiler to 450F

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Sprinkle black cumin seeds and paprika over each fillet and broil till cooked through-about 10mins.

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Enjoy with some warm basmati rice !

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Classics, Comfort food, Indian, Poultry, Savory

Murgh Saagwalla ( Spinach and Chicken Curry)

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This is the meal I want on my death bed.  Palak or Saag in Hindi means Spinach and there is a place back home that makes the best Palak Panner (Indian cheese).  This is a traditional North Indian dish and every family has there own variation—like any traditional dish.  My mother has her own take on it (maybe I will try it soon) but this is a recipe from Madhur Jaffery.  It tastes really good—it is a little involved, but is vary flavorful and please don’t be afraid, you can completely control the spice level according to your families’ taste.  So here we go !

Ingredients:

1lb of chicken cut into pieces

2 chopped tomatoes

16 oz of drained, chopped, frozen spinach

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To Fry:

1 medium onion sliced

To Blend:

2 chopped onions

2” piece of ginger

4 garlic cloves

Seasoning the oil:

2-3 Tbsp of vegetable oil

5 cardamom pods

1 cinnamon stick

Other Spices:

2 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp cayenne pepper

6 tbsp of plain yogurt

Salt to season.

Method:

Heat a 1tbsp of oil in a pot and fry sliced onions till golden and set aside.

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In the meantime blend onions, ginger and garlic.

In the same pot where you fried the onion, add the remaining oil and the whole cardamom pods and cinnamon stick.

Add the blended onion mixture and sauté till the raw smell in gone and the paste turns pale brown.

Add cumin, coriander and cayenne and sauté till golden brown.

Next add the yogurt, 1 Tbsp at a time and slowly stir the mixture till all the yogurt is added the sauce come together .

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Next add the tomatoes, spinach, chicken.

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Season with salt and cover with water and allow to simmer on medium heat for 30 mins till the water evaporates and the sauce thickens.

Serve piping hot with flatbread or basmati rice !

 

 

 

 

Indian, Poultry, Quick Dinner

Tandoori Tenders

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Tandoori Chicken, a classic Indian dish. Morelike Indian BBQ made in a Tandoor. Well this is how you would make it if you don’t have a Tandoor and want to save a few bucks (Take out is just overpriced in my opinion). It is also super quick ! It requires a little planning only because you should marinade the chicken overnight–but other than that, it is about 35 minutes to dinner !

Ingredients:

1lb of chicken tenders.

6oz of plain yogurt.

1 Tbsp of the following: chilli powder, onion powder, garlic powder, garam masala

Salt to taste.

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together and pour over the chicken tenders.

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Marinade overnight

Preheat oven to 350 and meanwhile let the chicken come to room temperature.

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Bake for about 25 minutes or till cooked through.

For the last 5-6 minutes, broil on high to get a nice browned top.

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Serve warm with choice of veggie or starch !