Nankathai – Indian Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

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Is it just me or is the sound of a kettle turning on the most comforting noise in the world. Hearing the water begin to boil away just makes me mentally go “ahhhhh”. The emoticon with the smiley rose cheeks? Yeah that face happens too. I’m sure it’s synonymous with the idea that I’m about to have a big fat hug in a cup. (That’s tea for people who speak normal english). 

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You’ve come home late, you’ve come home early, you’ve heard good news, you’ve heard bad news, you’ve made cake, you’ve not made cake. Any…scratch that…every scenario sounds/feels/tastes better with a cup of tea. Fellow tea lovers, can I get an amen?? When I went to university in the states, I quickly discovered that “putting the kettle on” is not a thing over there. In fact, kettles aren’t even widely available in shops. I know! Bunch of crazies. My thoughts exactly.

I think this love for tea (and kettles it would appear) stems from the British and Indian in me…two nations of tea lovers! And what better way to compliment tea than a biscuit or “biskoot” as pronounced in the motherland. Which brings me to today’s recipe of the utterly moreish, buttery, crumbly and fragrant nankathai. We are talking melt in mouth factor x 1000 people. Mum and I have been developing this recipe for years trying to make it better every time and you know what, I think this one is actually THE ONE. If you have tried the old recipe on the blog I urge your to re-make with this recipe. Try! Go now! Oh and come back and let me know your thoughts. Please :).

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Nankathai
Yields 20
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup gram flour
  2. 1½ cups plain flour
  3. ¾ cup icing sugar
  4. ¼ tsp green cardamom seeds, ground into a fine powder
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/8th tsp bicarbonate of soda
  7. ¾ cup ghee
  8. almond slithers for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Line a baking tray and preheat oven to 180ºc.
  2. To a bowl, add the gram flour, plain flour, icing sugar, cardamom powder, baking powder and bicarb of soda. Mix well.
  3. Add the ghee and mix together using a whisk. When you see the ghee has mixed through, put the whisk down and scrape off any excess mixture back into the bowl.
  4. Now, hold the bowl with one hand and using your free hand, knead the mixture into a stiff but smooth dough. Note, it does take a few minutes before you see the mixture come together and begin to take the form of a dough but it will happen - keep at it.
  5. Divide the dough into 20 sections. (you can make more or less depending on what size you prefer. My photos reflect a yield of 20). Roll into smooth balls.
  6. Place them on the lined tray and flatten with your fingers slightly. Place an almond slither on each.
  7. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. They should be light golden in colour. Remove from heat and allow to cool. (Do not touch before they cool otherwise they will crumble!)
  8. Serve or store in an air tight container.
Notes
  1. Tip - Very lightly oiling your hands can help with forming and kneading the dough!
Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's Khazana
Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's Khazana
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Afghani Chicken Drumsticks

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The temperature went into double digits today. Double digits people. That means no more scarves, no more knee high boots and dare I say it no more de-icer? It also means that the sun has got his/ her hat on and Summer is quickly approaching! Yes I am doing a happy dance as I type this (mad skills I know). As the weather gets slightly warmer, I enjoy taking advantage of the grill and my husband with his epic salad making abilities.  

I love recipes that involve marinating and grilling – they’re so easy to make, require minimal washing up and can be prepared in advance. What’s not to like? This Afghani chicken marination is a particular favourite of mine. The addition of ground cashews and almonds makes for a lovely, creamy base. Combined with the tartness of the lime and the heat from the chillies…can I get a MMM MMM MMMM?! 

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Hope you enjoy! As always, let me know what you think in the comments 🙂

Afghani Chicken Drumsticks
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 8 chicken drumsticks, skinless with slits cut into them
  2. 4 tbsp yoghurt
  3. 2 tsbp extra thick double cream (optional)
  4. 3" ginger, peeled
  5. 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  6. 2 green finger or birds eye chillies (optional)
  7. juice of 2 limes
  8. 5 almonds
  9. 10 cashews
  10. 2 1/4 tsp salt, or according to taste
  11. 1/2 tsp paprika
  12. 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  13. 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  14. 1 tsp garam masala
  15. 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  16. 1/4 tsp ground green cardamom (optional)
  17. handful fresh coriander including stems, roughly chopped
  18. 2 tbsp oil or ghee
Instructions
  1. Line a baking tray with foil and turn your grill on the highest temperature setting
  2. Place the chicken in a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients apart from the yoghurt and cream into a processor and blitz into a paste. Empty into a bowl. Now mix in the yoghurt and cream.
  4. Pour this marinade over the chicken and mix well. If you have time, cover and refrigerate over night. If not, place in oven straight away.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes. Then turn the chicken over and cook for an additonal 10 minutes or until the chicken is white all the way through and has begun to char slightly.
  6. Turn off grill and serve with salad and tandoori naan!
Notes
  1. You can soak the almonds and cashews in a little water beforehand so it is creamier when blended in the processor.
  2. Feel free to use any cut of chicken - chicken thighs are also great for grilling!
  3. You can marinate the chicken for up to 48 hours - the longer you leave it the better.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Spicy Sweet Potato Aloo Tikki

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It’s autumn. It’s time to bid farewell to flip flops and open toe sandals and dust off your wellies and fleece (or sheep skin for those who are that way inclined)-lined knee-high boots. Although I am not a big fan of cold, I have a dear admiration for the autumnal months… the red trees that line the avenues, the crisp crunch of fallen leaves underfoot, and the hypnotic patter of welcome rain… are but a few of the sensory pleasures that put a smile on my face.

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Nevertheless my body invariably switches to hibernation mode – that’s “collect carbs and go to sleep” mode in case you were wondering. And that doesn’t even account for the gastronomic adventures of Christmas!!! So I usually make a conscious effort to stay in shape.I do not “diet”. I enjoy food too much. So I see myself as more of a “conscious eater”. It’s probably a phrase I have made up (I do that a lot according to my husband), but it means I just stay aware of what I put in, rather than how much per se.

One of the great boons of Indian home cooking is that we use a lot of spices… which inherently have medicinal and health-promoting properties (as well as adding the “Kapow” to my food). Even now, Indian mothers often treat their children’s cuts and grazes with turmeric paste in preference to any shop-bought antiseptic creams. It just works! What I’m trying to say is that Indian food is healthy… or at least it should be, but it may need a little tweak to get it there. So there is no need to feel guilty when you are making yourself an Indian snack! I don’t (and neither does my other half… who crosses the line between well-meaning appreciation and gluttony with child-like abandon far too often!). For example, try swapping out regular basmati for brown basmati rice or replacing white flour with wholemeal or millet flour. Don’t worry – you will not be sacrificing any of the taste! 

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This brings me to today’s recipe. Aloo tikkis are a street food favourite in India! You will often see locals chowing down on these fried potato spiced potato cakes served with chutneys and salad, on the roadsides in India because they’re so damned moreish! Unfortunately, although they taste amazing they’re probably not the kindest to your waistline. In my recipe I have used exactly the same traditional spices but simply swapped out regular potato for sweet potato, baked instead of fried and served with a kachumber salad (yes… that’s not cucumber… but kachumber – I’m not making it up!). I made a batch of 12 of these and my hubby inhaled them within minutes. I’d like to think that was a testament to the taste and not to his hunger!

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Sweet Potato Aloo Tikki
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 3 medium sweet potatoes
  2. 3" ginger, peeled
  3. 1 clove garlic, peeled
  4. 1/2 cup soya granules
  5. 1 tbsp gram flour
  6. 1 whole birds eye chilli
  7. 2 tsp salt or according to taste
  8. 2 tsp whole coriander seeds, coarsely crushed
  9. 1 tsp paprika
  10. 1/2 tsp amchur/mango powdrer
  11. juice of 1/2 fresh lime
  12. 4 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  13. oil for greasing
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven at 200C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. ( I greased mine with oil)
  2. Place the potatoes inside a plastic carrier bag and tie a knot. Pierce a hole with your finger and cook in a microwave for approximately 12 minutes. (The exact time may vary depending on your microwave and size of potatoes so cook until you can easily place a knife through them).
  3. Allow to cool then peel the skin off (you can easily peel with your fingers) and cut into rough chunks.
  4. Place all the remaining ingredients apart from the oil into a processor. Process everything for 40-50 seconds until it is mixed together well. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Empty into a bowl.
  5. Grease your hands with oil. Now get a walnut size amount of the sweet potato mixture. Roll into a ball and press down slightly so a patty forms. The width should be about 3-4" wide. Place on the baking tray and repeat with the remaining mixture.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes then turn over and cook for a remaining 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. You can make the patties as big or small as you like. If you make bigger ones, they are great in burger buns and make fantastic veggy burgers!
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/