The Sinful Malai Kofta, at last…

You know you have made some sort of a presence in the blogging world when you have your readers giving you a good earful for not posting regularly.

Now,it is one thing for my sister to bite my head off during one of our regular phone calls or send threatening emails for not posting the caramel pudding recipe yet. After all, peskiness and younger sisters tend to come as a package. Her, I just ignore out of sheer habit. I have been doing that to her all her life. No reason, you know, just because. It’s fun to see her get worked up (Plus, it is heart warming to keep hearing her say that she misses those cooking experiments we did together, but we are not going to tell her that).

However, it is quite something else when readers who know me only through my writings reprimand me for not posting enough. I mean, you actually go through the trouble of writing a comment just to nudge me to post. That is humbling and humble doesn’t come naturally to me. I am the kind of person who knows what works for me and what doesn’t and I don’t let modesty stop me from acknowledging it. So, chances are if you come to me and say, “You look nice today” or “you really worked hard on that project”, I would just say, “I know”. You can take it anyway to like. But, there is no “I know” regarding y’all missing my writings. I am all humbled and flustered and “Thank you” and all that. You know what I am saying. You Know.

One particular reader, though she doesn’t know it yet, managed to push all the right buttons to get me typing. She left a innocent comment chiding me for not posting, all in Konkani. Took me right back to my childhood. I could almost hear my Bapama (Paternal Grandmother)’s voice chiding me for whatever was my crime-of-the-moment. She always seemed to do that and it just might be my fault. 😀 We had been inured as kids to jump up to her bidding when she went into that mode. And we loved it when she went into that mode. When we moved to the US, I missed it so much that I would call her up and ask her to chide me just for the heck of it. Yeah, Crazy, I know. She is sorely missed.

From demanding readers to high-expectation level grandmas, temperamental seems to the word of the moment in the food world. First we had that British Chef from Hell’s Kitchen, spewing his anger at all and sundry in his restaurant. Then, Amitabh Bachchan in his chef-turn decided to go nuts about good ol’ Hyderabadi Zafarani Pulao. Now it is I-don’t-know-what-a-kitchen-is Catherine Zeta-Jones turn to go maniacal about some rare steak. Really. It used to be that chefs had this image of being these introverts who would stick themselves in the kitchen and create food magic. It used to be people would come to those restaurants, taste the food, close their eyes to savor it and smile and really that would be enough to get the message across. Now, we have chefs who have the “you better like what I put on the plate or else you have no taste” chip on their shoulder. I think all this came about when cooking became an “art” as opposed to a tasty way to shut up that growling stomach. It scares me because when a painter becomes an artist is when his paintings (oops sorry, art) stops making sense to me. I dread the day food stops making sense to me. Me, I cook because eating it is the only time my kids are quiet. 🙂

And Pel, if you read this long enough, you will get eight and more random facts about me. Talk about doing it all in one post, the meme plus a recipe. You guys are just lucky, lucky people, you know that??

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To the recipe at hand, I present the Malai Kofta. It became really popular in the late 80’s and early nineties on the restaurant menu. One would be hard pressed to walk into an Indian restaurant and not find it in the menu. I doubt there many, even now, that don’t feature it on the menu. When done right, it is an amazing journey into food texture and taste, what with a smooth gravy and koftas full of dry fruits and milk every which way, but the non-fat way. This is no every-day dish, of that you can be sure. You better have a very good reason to celebrate, when you are planning to make this dish.

Malai Kofta 2

Recipe :

To Make the kofta:

Mix together evenly

*1 Medium-sized Potato, boiled and mashed
*2 tbsp Paneer, mashed/grated
*2 tbsp Khoya, grated
OR
2 tbsp Whole Milk Powder
OR
2 tbsp Baked Ricotta Cheese
*1 tbsp Heavy Cream/ Malai
*8-10 Brown Raisins, chopped
*5-6 Cashewnuts, chopped
*2-3 Green Chillies, finely chopped
*1/8 tsp Garam Masala Powder
*Salt to taste

Shape into golf-size balls and deep-fry in hot

Peanut Oil

Add a tbsp or two of ghee to the oil used for deep frying. It adds a little something-something to the koftas. This is quick deep-frying in hot oil because there is nothing to cook here. All you are looking for is a crisp exterior. Alternatively, you can bake them in the oven or pan-fry them in oil. In my opinion, pan-frying often results in more oil-soaking than the actual deep-frying. I deep-fry them. This is the Sinful Malai Kofta, you know.

I have, on occasions, made the kofta upto a day in advance in without any issues. It’s always good when you are entertaining with this dish.

To make the gravy:

Blend to a paste

*2 medium onions,chopped
*3 garlic pods
*1″ ginger
*2 tsp powdered poppy seeds, dry-roasted

Fry this paste, on high flame, constantly stirring in

*3 tbsp of Peanut oil

with

*1 dry bay leaf

till the oil separates. The poppy seeds may result in some sticking at the bottom of the pan and hence constant stirring and attention is needed for this part. Once the oil separates, add

*3 large tomatoes,pureed
OR
6 tbsp of Tomato Puree + 6 tbsp Water

Stir and add,

*1 tsp red-chilli powder
*1/2 tsp garam masala powder
*1/2 tsp dhania(corainder) powder
*1/2 tsp cumin powder

Cook for 5 mins on a medium low flame till the tomatoes and the spices are cooked through. Meanwhile, ground into a fine paste

*1/2 tsp sugar
*1 1/2 tbsp Heavy Cream
*3-4 Cashewnuts, soaked in water for about 10 mins

To the cooking gravy, add the Cream-Cashewnut paste. Bring to a boil and remove from flame. When ready to serve, warm up the gravy,add the koftas, top with cilantro/dhaniya and serve immediately. Never heat the gravy with the koftas in it. This will cause the koftas to disintegrate. Serve with rice cooked with whole spices and Naan. Do not make any after-meals plans unless they are to have a nice siesta.

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Aloo Matar

It’s been a year of massive changes. I remember sitting with my 6 week old daughter on my lap, my then 19 month old running around wondering ‘who is that new creature in mom’s lap’ and devising ways of getting rid of the distraction including telling my mom she can take her to India with her. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed, drowning in the sea of diapers and colored poop. Much as I love my kids, I knew I needed an outlet, something that would take me beyond baby talk, Barneys and Elmo’s. Blogging came to mind. I do not remember the first time I read a blog but I remember being fascinated by it. As soon as thought of it, I did it. I completely enjoyed the 30 minutes or so I spent each day coming up with content for my blog and catching up with other blogs. Those 30 minutes refreshed my mind, putting me in better frame of mind and renewing my patience threshold.

A year from then, here I am. A working mom, three blogs, and a writing stint on Dining Hall, I am suddenly stretched all over the place. Not complaining, though. I am enjoying it all. One year of blogging, 56 posts-a little over a post a week, I am feeling very satisfied. And yes, nowadays, I definitely spend more than 30 minutes blog-hopping. Ah, so many blogs, so little time….

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Aloo Matar

There is nothing complicated about Aloo Matar. Potatoes and Peas, dry or smothered in gravy, there is a variation in every cuisine in India. Everybody has their own recipe for doing it, they are all equally good. It is very hard to mess this one up. I was running low on groceries on a day we had a few unexpected guests. Aloo Matar is definitely on the menu in such times. However, I wanted to zing it up a bit and added some extra ingredients making it into rich curry. We all enjoyed every last drop of it. I have made a couple times more, with different medleys of vegetables, it is the gravy that makes it super.

Deep-fry/Shallow-fry/Oven Roast

2 Medium sized Potatoes chopped into bitesize cubes

I have tried each of the above methods. Deep fry is quick, good (when is it not) but oily. Shallow fry takes a lot of time and effort. Oven roasting gives it a wonderful taste. Remember to salt it and give a light coating of oil before roasting. Roasting takes time, too but gives a subtle nuance to the taste. Try it.
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Heat

1 tbsp Peanut Oil

in a wok/kadhai/pan on medium-hot flame. Add

½ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds.

When they start sputtering, stand back, brace yourself and add

3 tbsp of Basic Onion-Tomato Gravy

And immediately cover the pan. There will a lot of sputtering and spewing. Adding liquids to hot oil will do that. Lowering the flame will slow down the release of the oil/ghee in the paste. You end up having to fry it as you would for onions and tomatoes. So what? Arre, the whole point of the paste is to save you time. You can make fresh gravy using the same recipe linked above. I won’t be impressed, but I Promise, I won’t hold it against you. 🙂 When the sputtering stops, remove the lid and stir the paste around till the oil comes out. Add

Potatoes, prepared as above,
1 cup frozen peas,
1 cup water,
Salt to taste

Adjust salt, if you have added salt to potatoes while roasting. Mix and bring to a boil. There is nothing to cook here. The potatoes are already cooked, the frozen peas cook in a jiffy. All you want is for everything to get together. Once it boils, remove from flame and add

2 tbsp Ricotta Cheese

You can substitute with cream. The ricotta cheese melts into the gravy giving it a nice sheen and different texture. Try it. Even cottage cheese is good, however, it will add more of a tang that will need accounting for. Mix, place back on a low heat and let the flavors all fuse together.
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Serve with Rotis/Parathas and a salad.

Stuffed Tomatoes in Makhani Gravy

Stuffed Tomato in a Makhani Gravy

I love making this dish for entertaining because it seems very exotic for such a simple recipe.I am breaking down the ingredients as per the steps of the recipe for simplicity’s sake. Otherwise, just the list of ingredients seem so daunting that you are discouraged from trying it. I hope I am successful in presenting the recipe as simply as it is to make.

For the stuffing, mix the following in a bowl. Add or Remove to taste. I mean, the sky’s the limit. Since I planned to serve these in a gravy, I went for simple flavors.

1 Medium sized potato, mashed

2 tbsps paneer/Firm Tofu, mashed

2 tbsps Bread Crumbs, toasted

2 Green Chillies , Finely chopped

Salt, Pepper to taste

Prep 4 firm Tomatoes by dipping them in boiling water for a minute. Remove and peel. The peel just slides off. Cut open the tops and scoop out the insides. A melon baller works great here. Completely fill the cavity with the above stuffing. Again, I did this because I planned to serve them as a main course with gravy. If I wanted to serve them as starter, I would halve them, remove the seeds and bake them in the oven with the stuffing.

Stuffed Tomatoes1

Makhani Gravy…

Pressure cook the following to 1 whistle or boil in water till soft. Blend into a paste.

1 tomato, peeled and chopped

4-5 almonds, soaked and peeled

1 clove Garlic

1 green chilli

Heat

1 tbsp of butter

in a skillet. When melted, add the following

Tomato+almond paste

1 tsp Ginger paste

1 tsp Red Chilli Powder

1 tsp Coriander/Dhania Powder

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

1 Bay leaf

Salt, Sugar, Pepper to taste.

Cook for a minute, stirring constantly and add

1 cup water

2 tbsp heavy Cream

Stuffed Tomatoes

Cover and cook for 3 mins. Finish with

Fresh Chopped coriander.

Methi Matar Malai (Fenugreek leaves and Peas in a Cream Gravy)

I am restructuring the blog so some old posts are resurfacing as new ones. Please bear with me.

Methi Matar Malai…

Methi Matar Malai

I love the combination of methi(fenugreek leaves) and matar(Peas). The bitterness of the methi is beautifully complemented by the sweetness of the matar. I am a sucker for any recipe that includes both the ingredients and I have found that it is loved by everyone else too.

The Malai is of course Cream which makes this dish wonderfully rich. Ground up cashewnuts and a dollop of butter doesnt hurt too.

I make this dish with kasuri methi which gives it a wonderful aroma. The recipe below is with kasuri methi. If you plan on using fresh methi leaves, double the methi and sugar quantity. Also, add a pinch of kasuri methi for that aroma.

So , Here you go.

Kasuri Methi Leaves 1/2 cup
Matar 1/2 cup

Onion 1 medium size
Garlic 2 pods
Ginger 1" piece
Green Chillies 2 or 3

Yogurt 2 tbsp

Cashewnuts, soaked in water and ground to a paste.
Cream 2 tbsp
Butter 1 tbsp
Salt and Pepper , Sugar,Garam Masala to taste

Grind together onion, garlic, ginger and green chillies in a blender. Heat oil in a pan. Add the onion paste and saute for minute. Remove from flame, add yogurt. Put on the flame again and saute till the water from the yogurt dries out.Add Kasuri Methi, Matar, Salt, Pepper, Sugar and a cup of water. Cover and cook till the matar has cooked through. Add Cashewnut Paste, Garam Masala, Butter and bring to a boil. Remove from flame and stir in Cream. Serve with hot piping rotis.