This article is a twist to some of the famous dishes of India and the tips you can use to cook Indian food. You must be aware what role the spices play in an Indian dish. So here’s some really useful tips to go with the spices.

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Whenever you are grinding spices, roasting, crushing cooking or seasoning, use your fingers where possible. So what is meant here is – use “touch” as a guide.

And taste, taste, taste all along. With the exception of raw chicken, most of the other spices, vegetables, meat and sea food can be tasted without throughout cooking process.

Regular tasting, smelling of the roasted spices, tasted of the marinated meats, etc. allows your brain to map the scale of ingredients and helps you this time and next time.

So now let’s begin with the wonderful twisted recipes.

 

LASSI PANNA COTTA.

 lassi-panna-cotta

Yeah, it goes with its name. It’s the twist to the famous Indian lassi. In India especially in summer the non-Punjabis and irregular lassi drinkers will find stalls all over here and there to soak some moisture for their throat. What about making a Lassi used as a dessert?

 

Serves 6.

INGREDIENTS:

5 gelatin leaves.

500ml full-fat Greek yoghurt.

300ml whole milk.

125g caster sugar.

¼ tsp salt.

1 tsp green cardamom powder

3-4 ripe mangoes, peeled, stoned and flesh chopped into 2.5 cm dice.

Sprinkle of chaat masala (optional).

 

–   Soak the gelatin leaves in 100ml of cold water to soften them.

In a mixing bowl whisk the yoghurt, milk, sugar, salt and cardamom powder until it turns frothy.

Melt the gelatin in 100 ml warm water, then add to the yoghurt mixture. Mix well and pour into individual molds or serving bowls. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours, or even overnight if you have the time.

Mix the diced mango with chat masala (if using), and set aside for 15 minutes to make a fruit chaat.

Serve the panna cottas with a mango chaat garnish or with any seasonal fruit salad.

 

TANDOORI-STYLED KING PRAWNS AND YOGHURT RICE.

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The sea food and rice lovers will immediately dry their hands out at this one. You can use the freshwater king prawns as they hold the marinade better and are sweeter and juicer. Serve this with a fresh salad of your choice and chilled yoghurt rice.

Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS:

500g headless king prawns, peeled and deveined with tail intact.

1 tbsp. vegetable or corn oil.

For the yoghurt rice – 200 g basmati rice.

2 green chilies, chopped.

2.5 cm piece of ginger, finely chopped.

2 tsp salt.

350 g plain yoghurt

5 curry leaves, finely chopped.

½ carrot into small dices. (5mm)

½ cucumber, peeled, cored and chopped into 5 mm dice.

Seeds from 1.4 pomegranate.

For tempering – 2 tbsp. vegetable oil.

2 whole dried red chilies, broken.

1 tsp mustard seeds.

10 curry leaves

1 red onion, chopped.

1 tbsp. chopped coriander.

For the first marinade- 1 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste.

½ tsp ground turmeric.

½ tsp carom seeds (optional).

For the second marinade – 2 tbsp. Greek yoghurt

2 tbsp. cream cheese.

2 tbsp. single cream.

1 cm piece of ginger, finely chopped.

1 green chili, finely chopped.

1 tbsp. chopped coriander.

1 tsp garam masala.

2 tbsp. vegetable oil.

1 tsp salt.

Juice of 1 lemon.

Soak 8 bamboo skewers in water for a couple of hours.

– To make the yoghurt rice, boil the rice in a large pan of water for longer than normal, until it is almost overcooked, then drain and allow to cool.

Add the green chili, ginger, salt, yoghurt and curry leaves and mix well. Add the carrots, cucumber and pomegranate seeds and refrigerate to chill.

To temper the rice, heat the oil in a pan and add the dried chili. When it splutters, smokes and changes color to dark, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and onion and cook until the onions turn golden brown. Tip this mixture into the prepared rice and mix in, sprinkle over the coriander leaves and serve chilled.

Place the prawns in a mixing bowl, mix in all the ingredients for the first marinade plus 1 tsp salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan, add the prawns and sear quickly so that they curl up. Remove from the heat immediately and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 200 degree C…

Mix all the ingredients for the second marinade and dip the prawns in it. Thread the prawns on to the bamboo skewers, piercing the skewer through the tail of each prawn and taking it out through the tip of the head. Place on a baking tray and cook for 5-6 minutes in the preheated oven, then place under a hot grill for 1 minute and serve with yoghurt rice and salad of your choice.

 

OLD DELHI STYLE BUTTER CHICKEN.

Butter-Chicken-Pan-fried-version-500-fg

It’s found that butter chicken is the most desirably ordered dish of Indians when they go out. It’s everyone favorites. It has sugar and spice, texture, creamy kick at all bites and all at the same time.

Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS:

2 X 750G FREE- RANGE YOUNG CHICKENS (POUSSIN), SKINNED AND CUT IN HALF ALONG THE BACKBONE (ALTERNATIVELY, USE 800G BONED CHICKEN THIGHS, CUT INTO TWO)

FOR THE MARINADE – 80G FULL-FAT Greek yoghurt

1 tbsp. ginger and garlic minced together.

1 tbsp. vegetable oil.

1 ½ tsp salt.

Juice of 1 lemon.

1 tsp red chili powder.

1 tsp ground cumin.

112 tsp garam masala.

For the sauce – 1 kg tomatoes, halved.

5 cm piece of ginger, half crushed and half finely chopped.

4 garlic cloves, peeled

4 green cardamom pods.

5 cloves.

1 Bay leaf

1 tbsp. red chili powder

80g butter, diced

2 green chilies, slit lengthways

75ml single cream.

1 tsp salt.

1 tbsp. dried fenugreek leaves crushed between your fingertips.

½ tsp garam masala.

1 tbsp. sugar.

 

– First, prepare the chicken. Make small cuts all over the chicken pieces with a sharp knife to help the marinade penetrate. To prepare the marinade, mix all the ingredients together in a deep ovenproof dish. Smear the cut chicken with the marinade, cover and set aside in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 220 degree C.

Cook the chicken in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes. You may need to turn the pieces after 8-10 minutes or so to ensure they color evenly on both sides. The chicken does not need to be completely cooked at this point as it will continue to cook in the sauce. Cut the chicken halves into smaller pieces. Strain off the juices through a fine sieve and set aside.

For the sauce, place the tomatoes in a pan with 125ml water, the crushed ginger, garlic, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf and simmer for about 10 minutes over medium heat until the tomatoes have completely disintegrated. Pick out the larger spices, then blend the tomato broth with a hand-held blender and pass it through a sieve to obtain a smooth puree. Return the puree to a clean pan, add the chili powder and simmer for 12-15 minutes. It should slowly begin to thicken.

When the sauce turns glossy, add the chicken pieces and the reserved roasting juices. Then add 200-250ml of water and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the sauce turns glossy again and the water is absorbed. (For a thicker sauce, either add slightly less water or simmer for a little longer).

Slowly whisk in the butter, a couple of pieces at a time, and simmer for 6-8 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is beginning to acquire a glaze. Add the chopped ginger, green chilies and cream and simmer for a minute or two longer, taking care that the sauce does not split. Stir in the salt, crushed fenugreek leaves and garam masala, then check the seasoning and add the sugar.

Serve with naan bread or pilau rice. Eat what you can, then store any left-over chicken ad sauce in the fridge. Leftovers make a great filling for ravioli.

SANGITA MAITY.

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