Keema Mattar

On a day to day basis, I try not to overeat. You know, be conscious of what I’m eating and all that jazz. For the most part, I do alright. But then I have those moments where I lapse. Big time lapse (segue to today’s recipe imminent). One of those times is when keema matter is on the cards for dinner (told you). This is a perfect recipe to cook if you need a hug in a meal. You can mop it up with hot chapatis (my preference), plain basmati rice (the hub’s choice) or even stuff it in a fluffy white bap if you like. If you want to elevate it to the next level though (we are talking “ohmygaaaahhh” level ) you need to do two things. One – cook the dish in mustard oil and two – use minced mutton instead of lamb. But like I said, if you can’t source those two things, worry not. It’s still going to taste shamazing. Enjoy! And then come back and tell me how it was 🙂 

Keema Mattar
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 5-6 tbsp mustard oil (you can also use vegetable or sunflower oil)
  2. 2 bay leaves
  3. 3 cloves
  4. 2 green cardamom pods crushed open
  5. 1 black cardamom pod crushed open (optional)
  6. 1 1/2 large onions, cut into rough chunks
  7. 3/4 tsp salt
  8. 2 fresh green chillies
  9. 2" ginger
  10. 3 garlic cloves
  11. 1 tsp salt or according to taste
  12. 1 tsp garam masala
  13. 1/2 tsp paprika
  14. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  15. 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  16. 1/4 tsp chilli powdder
  17. 5 tbsp tomato passata (you can also blitz fresh or tinned plum tomatoes into a paste)
  18. 800g minced mutton/lamb*
  19. 1 small potato, diced into 1cm cubes
  20. 100g peas
  21. Handful fresh coriander with stems, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Coarsely grind onions in a processor and place in a bowl. Now coarsely grind the chilli, ginger and garlic*
  2. Heat oil in a non stick pan. Once hot add the bay leaves, cloves and cardamoms.
  3. When they begin to sizzle in the oil, add the coarsely ground onions. Add 3/4 tsp salt and cook for 3-4 minutes on a medium to high heat.
  4. When they turn translucent and soft, add the ground green chilli, ginger and garlic mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes until everything turns a deep golden brown shade. If it sticks to the pan at any point, add a splash of oil or alternatively water.
  5. Now reduce the heat and add the remaining 1 tsp salt and all the dry spices and mix well. Cook for 20 seconds. Now stir in the tomato passata and cook for 2 minutes. When the oil begins to separate from the masala sauce, add the mince and potatoes and mix together.
  6. Add 1/2 cup of water and bring to boil. Now reduce heat to low/medium setting and place lid on the pan. Allow the mince to cook for 15 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes, then add the peas. Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle on fresh coriander and mix.
  8. Taste for salt/chilli and adjust accordingly. If you would like the dish to be a little "drier", continue to cook until it has reduced down. Alternatively, if you prefer it "wetter" you can always add little more water than suggested.
Notes
  1. * If you don't have a processor, just finely chop onions and chilli and grate ginger & garlic.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Lachha Paratha – Punjabi Layered Flatbreads

Although lachha parathas are a popular North Indian bread, the first time I ever tried them was in the South of India! I was very young but it was such a memorable meal. We had been on the road for 4 hours traveling from Chennai to Pondicherry when hunger struck. It was late but we found a roadside “dhabba” restaurant looking like it was about to close up. Being in the south we (naturally) asked (begged) for the dosa menu but alas, as it was closing time, we were told all they could prepare for us were lachha parathas and raita.

A few minutes later we had plates of crispy, buttery & flakey parathas before us and we devoured them as if we hadn’t eaten in days. To sum up how I felt, if it was possible, I would have inserted all variations of smiley emojis here. You get the drift. They were sensational.

Mum had never made them at home before but everything changed when we returned! They’re perfect for mopping up curries, as a base for wraps and rolls or even on their own with some raita and pickles. Try them and let me know what you think!

Lachha Parathas
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups (approx. 135g) plain flour plus extra flour for dusting
  2. 1 tbsp oil or melted ghee
  3. 1 cup water approx.
  4. Oil and ghee/melted butter for cooking
Instructions
  1. Place the flour and oil/melted ghee in a mixing bowl. Rub the oil/ghee into the flour with your hand so they are well incorporated. Now add the water gradually and begin to combine the flour and water to make a rough dough. It should be soft but not sticky. Cover with cling film and rest for 20 minutes.
  2. After 20 minutes, grease your hand with oil and knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until the dough is pliable and smooth. (If it is too sticky, you can add a little dry flour and if it seems to stiff or dry, add a little water and re-knead). It should be soft, smooth and springy.
  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan and fill a wide deep bowl with plain flour.
  4. Divide the dough into 6 smooth round balls.
  5. Press one dough ball in the flour and then turn it over and press the other side. Using a rolling pin, begin to roll out so the dough ball forms a disc approx 7-8" wide.
  6. Now, generously spread ghee or oil over the surface and sprinkle on some dry plain flour.
  7. Start making small pleat-like folds, about ½ inch wide, starting from one side of the circle and working toward the other side. The more pleats you make, the more layers the paratha will have. You will end up with a long narrow strip.
  8. Stretch it out slightly. Now roll up the strip like a Danish swirl.
  9. Tuck in the end. Press flat and press both sides into the dry flour.
  10. Now begin to roll out until 7-8 inches wide. Dust off any excess flour by clapping the paratha between your hands.
  11. Place the paratha on the hot pan. When it changes colour and small bubbles begin to appear, turn it over and cook the other side. Lightly brush the surface with oil and turn it over.
  12. Repeat on other side and cook until your paratha is golden and crispy. Remove from heat. You can finish by brushing with butter or leave it as it is.
  13. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
Notes
  1. If you're making them to serve on their own with raita/pickles, you can add a pinch of salt when making the dough.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

CHICKEN JALFREZI

Since I got married I have been learning my husband’s mother tongue of Bengali. I grew up speaking Hindi (and “Hinglish”); although both languages stem from the ancient language of Sanskrit, they are very different. My high school French teacher once told me I had a natural “flair for languages” but as an adult, it’s safe to say I have lost said flair!

It’s okay though. I have accepted that mastering the language is more of a long-term goal. I can say “I’m hungry” and “What’s for dinner?” – so important key phrases are in the bank. In the short-term, learning how to recreate my mother in law’s amazing Bengali dishes are more of a pressing matter (er priorities…hello?). 

Today’s recipe is not from her cookbook, but rather one that Jan, one of my cookery class students, asked me how to teach her. It’s a curry house fav in the UK and I found it fun to recreate at home. A dry, spicy chicken dish cooked with peppers and onions – it has crunch, colour and flavour all packed into one! Fun fact – the “jal” comes from the Bengali word “jhal” which means spicy (see I am learning!). Enjoy the recipe below lovely people.

 

Chicken Jalfrezi
Serves 4
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For the chicken marinade
  1. 500g skinned chicken thighs, cut into small bite-size pieces
  2. 2 heaped tbsp yoghurt
  3. 1 tbsp oil
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 tsp garam masala
  6. ½ tsp kasuri methi/dried fenugreek (optional)
For the sauce
  1. 3 tbsp ghee or oil
  2. 2 green cardamoms crushed open (optional)
  3. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 1 onion, thinly sliced
  5. 1 1/4tsp salt
  6. 3 garlic cloves peeled and grated
  7. 2” ginger, grated
  8. 2 green bird eye chillies, finely chopped
  9. 3 fresh tomatoes, finely diced
  10. 1 tbsp double concentrate tomato purée
  11. ½ tsp garam masala
  12. ½ tsp coriander powder
  13. ½ tsp paprika
  14. ½ tsp turmeric
  15. 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  16. ½ red pepper thinly sliced
  17. Handful fresh coriander
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your grill at the maximum temperature setting. Place all "marinade" ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Now, place the marinated chicken on a foil lined oven tray.
  2. Grill chicken for 10-12 minutes until cooked (the chicken should be white all the way through once fully cooked).
  3. Remove from grill and keep aside.
  4. Heat the ghee or oil in pan on a medium heat setting. Once hot add the crushed green cardamoms and cumin seeds. When they begin to sizzle in the oil, add the onion along with ¾ tsp salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
  5. Now add the garlic, ginger and chilli and mix. Continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and purée to the pan and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes allowing them to completely soften.
  7. Reduce heat slightly and add the garam masala, coriander powder, paprika, turmeric and the remaining salt and mix well. When you see the oil begin to separate from the masala paste, add the grilled chicken and the sliced peppers.
  8. Mix well on a medium/high heat and cook for 3-4 minutes. Finish with a sprinkle of fresh coriander. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/