Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Posts Tagged ‘Indian food’

Chicken Patiala

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 2, 2013

photoThis chicken dish is a classic of Mughlai cuisine,  the cuisine of the region surrounding New Delhi and its hinterland.  This was the cuisine of the Mughal royals, the muslim rulers who ruled from Delhi and  were of Persian (Uzhbeki) descent.  The cuisine of their courts was rich and a fusion on Indian and Persian themes.  It is the main cuisine seen in Indian restaurants around the world and is butchered by the addition of unsavory amounts of cream and nuts.  These dishes are meant to be rich and eaten at special occasions, but they are exquisitely delicate and balanced.  This particular version of chicken patiala is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s awesome book “Flavors of India”.  I have adapted it to my taste,  mostly by reducing the amounts of poppy seed used. I have made it with the amount the original recipe calls for in the past and found it too gummy.   The dish also calls was melon seeds (pepitas).  I used almonds instead, simply because I did not have pepitas (I think pepitas would be better).  Finally,  I switched the raisins for cranberries, because I taught their sweet-tart taste would better offset the richness of the dish.  Enjoy, but only once in a while.

photo 1


4 tbs ghee/clarified butter  (can use any cooking oil or butter,  but ghee is better)

2 lb bone skinless chicken thighs cut to bite size pieces

1 potato,  cubed into 1″ pieces (optional,  use if you want to stretch your dish a bit farther)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped  (the original recipe does not call for this)

1 medium onion, finely chopped in the food processor

4 plum tomatoes,  finely chopped  (the original recipe asks for 2 large tomatoes)

2 tbs. poppy seeds + 2 tbs. almonds (optional), ground finely in a coffee grinder (the original recipe calls for 6 tbs of poppy seeds and 7 tbs of melon seeds).

2/3 cup full fat yoghurt

1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder (use Hungarian sweet paprika as a substitute)

1/4 tsp cayenne

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp garam masala

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup half and half (can use milk)

2 tbs blanched slivered almonds

2 tbs. raisins or  sweetened cranberries

cilantro for garnish if desired

photo 2


1.  Make a paste of the crushed poppy seed and almonds with a small amount of water and set aside.

2.  Heat 4 tbs.  of ghee in a large heavy bottom pan (Dutch oven is perfect for this)

3.  Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are lightly browned.

4.  Add the tomatoes, lower the heat and cook until tomatoes are broken down and release the fat.  This caramelizes the onion and tomato paste and is absolutely key to that Indian food flavor that one might crave if one craved Indian food.

5.  Now add the almond and poppy seed paste and saute for a few minutes

6. Add the yoghurt a tbs at a time, until fully incorporated.

7.  Add all the spices and salt,  except garam masala.

8.  Now add the chicken and potato (if using) pieces and mix to combine thoroughly.  Stir and saute for a few minutes.

9.  Add the water, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 min.

10.  Add the garam masala, half and half (single cream), raisins and almonds and simmer on low heat.

11.  Garnish with cilantro if using.   Eat.

photo 3-2


Posted in Asian, Indian Food, Poultry | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quick Curried Okra (Bhindi)

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 30, 2011

This is the simplest of simple vegetables to prepare on a weeknight.  Its caloric content is low and its nutritional value is high.  Does this sound like a winner or what?  This version of okra is made without onions, in the style of Rajasthan, the desert state of NW India.  The Jain tradition is strong here and people of this community do not eat onions, garlic – or anything that grows under the ground or hurts an animal (even a lowly underground worm).

The dominant flavors of this dish are coriander powder and hing (asafoetida).  To extract the most out of this minimal amount of flavoring, the spices are rapidly fried in hot oil to extract their flavor.  Then the okra is added to the infused oil and stir-fried at high heat so that it has a nearly fried flavor (same concept as Chinese stir frying).

A word or two about okra.  It is not the slimy vegetable that you might associate with gumbo, but it can turn into a soggy mess in no time at all.  Remember water is the enemy of okra.  Therefore do not use frozen okra and dry your okra with a paper towel after rinsing.  Also use high heat while cooking it so it has no chance to turn soggy on you.


1 lb fresh okra, with the tops and bottoms cut off and slit down the middle.

2 -2.5 tbs cooking oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 heaping tsp coriander powder

1 tsp sweet paprika (increase heat by substituting cayenne as desired)

1 very generous pinch of asafeotida

1/4 tsp turmeric

Salt to taste.


1. Heat oil in a 12″ cast iron skillet or other large skillet.  When the oil is hot, add the cumin and stir around till it sizzles.  Then add the hing and stir until it gets fragrant- a few seconds.  Then add the coriander powder, turmeric  and paprika and fry the spices for another  20 seconds or so until fragrant. Do not burn your spices.

2. Now add the okra in a single layer (do not crowd) to the pan and stir to mix in the spices.  Add the salt. Continue cooking on high heat until the okra skin starts to brown.  This should take about 10 min.  When your okra is done, it should be crunchy as you bite into it.  Serve with any Indian meal.  Me?  I eat it as you would a French fry or potato chips as a munchie.  Very little actually gets to the dinner table!

Posted in Asian, Indian Food, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Curried beef with peas and fenugreek leaves (methi matar keema)

Posted by fourclankitchen on February 5, 2011

This dish is loosely (very loosely) inspired by a traditional North Indian dish,  methi matar malai (fenugreek, peas and cream).  But other than the methi and matar, they really don’t have a whole lot in common.

First, a word about Methi or Fenugreek (Latin: Greek Hay).  A lot of you are familiar with it, because it is the stuff that fake vanilla and maple syrup are made out of.  It is also the strongest flavor in store bought Indian curry powder.  Fenugreek seed is used in traditional (Chinese, Indian) Medicine  to increase milk production (it really can do this in both cattle and humans) and as an antiviral and cold medicine.  In other words, this little seed packs a micro-nutrient punch and is used by many traditional cuisines.

Both the seeds and the leaves are used for cooking. The fresh leaves are mixed into batter for flat breads and they taste heavenly.  The fresh leaves like cool weather and here in the South are available January-March. After that the fresh stuff disappears and it is better to use dry fenugreek leaves (sold in Indian grocery stores as kasoori methi) because the frozen stuff is really pretty tasteless.

In this recipe, I have used both fresh fenugreek leaves and seeds. Instead of adding only fenugreek seeds, I have used panch phoran, which is a five seed mix made up of equal parts of fenugreek, fennel, cumin, Nigella/kalonji (onion) and mustard.  It is used to temper curries in the eastern part of India (Bengal, Orissa) and imparts an amazing flavor to any dish. To make the flavors even bolder, I added ground fennel seeds to the curry.  This dish has a lot of ingredients, but it is delicious and will easily last you a couple of meals.


2 small sweet onions, diced small

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 inch ginger, peeled and minced fine

5 small roma tomatoes (or 2 large, vine-ripened ones)

2 bunches fenugreek leaves, stemmed (or a handful of the dried leaves.  if you can’t find either, use spinach or leave out entirely)

1 1/2 lbs, 96% lean ground beef (goat is better, but ground lamb is too fatty for this dish)

1 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 tbs. oil

1 1/2 tsp panch phoran (available at Indian grocery stores)

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

3 bay leaves

3/4 tsp. fennel seeds, ground

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. Hungarian paprika (cayenne, if you prefer it hotter)

2 heaping tbs. of whole milk yogurt

1/2 tbs. butter

Salt to taste

cilantro leaves for garnish, optional

Heat the oil in a large pot (a thin-walled cast-iron pan works best).  When the oil is shimmering, add the panchphoran, ginger, garlic, cardamom and bay leaves and fry till fragrant. The Nigella seeds burn very quickly, so don’t dawdle here.  Add the onions and saute until they  are beginning to brown.  Then add the tomatoes and continue to saute until they lose shape and form a uniform paste with the onions.  In festive/restaurant style Indian cooking, you would continue to fry until the onion-tomato paste releases oil, essentially deep frying the paste.  But that would require a lot more oil than I have suggested here.  Now add 1/2 tsp salt.

Add the fenugreek leaves and saute until the leaves soften (about 10 min).  Then add all the remaining spices (except the cinnamon) and a little more salt.  Saute for another 2 min.  till all the spices are incorporated into the mix.  Now add the yogurt, a tbs. at a time until it is also fully incorporated.  Now add the ground beef and break it up so that no lumps remain.  Once the beef is fully cooked, add the peas.  Add a quarter cup of water and continue to cook till the beef softens and the peas are fully cooked.  Taste and adjust the salt.  Now add the cinnamon and the butter.  I have used cinnamon in place of the more traditional garam masala, so that the ground fennel and fenugreek stand out without competition. Cook for another 10 min on low heat. until the ground beef gets a stir-fried/fried feel (having a thin-walled wok helps here).  Garnish with cilantro if desired and serve with brown basmati rice or any flat bread.  The beef is also great in a sandwich with lettuce and cheddar cheese the next day for lunch.

Posted in Asian, Indian Food, Main Dishes, Meat | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Squash Potato Poppy Seed Curry from Bengal (Squash Alu Posto)

Posted by fourclankitchen on June 18, 2010

Bengali cuisine is among the most delectable and intricate of the great cuisines of India.  I grew up eating this stuff, but never got around to craving it.  In my recent trips to Kolkata, I eat this stuff and wonder why the heck I have not figured out how to make this awesome food.  This curry is typically made with ridged gourd (jhinga/jhinge), which is not sold in most grocery stores in the US.  Since a trek to the Indian store is usually a chore, I make this with the more readily available summer squash or zucchini.

In addition to the usual Indian spices, Bengali curries are often tempered with panch phoran, a five seed mix where the flavors of Nigella/onion seed/Kalonji/kalonchoe dominate. Another flavor that is stereotypic of Bengali cuisine is mustard oil, which has a pungent, wasabi-like aroma and has been recently re-installed in the pantheon of good fats. The gravy is thickened with crushed poppy seeds, which give the curry a nutty flavor.  Finally, it is enriched with yoghurt.

2 medium sized potatoes, cooked for 5 min. in the microwave, cut into cubes

4 medium sized squashes, peeled and cut into ¾” pieces

1medium sized onion, coarsely chopped

3 ½ tbs. vegetable oil, divided

½ tbs. mustard oil.

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 “ ginger, coarsely chopped

1-2 thai bird peppers (optional)

2.5 tbs. poppy seeds, ground to a fine paste in a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle if you have it.

1 tsp panchphoron

1-2 bay leaves

1 tsp ground coriander seeds

½ tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp sugar

pinch of asafetida/hing

2 tbs. yoghurt  (whole fat, please)

2 cups water

Salt to taste

Squeeze of lime juice (optional)

Cilantro for garnish

Heat 2 tbs. of vegetable oil to a thin-walled cast iron wok, or any large pot.  When hot, add the potatoes and squash. Add salt to taste and stir-fry till the vegetable are cooked through and start to caramelize a bit, about 5-10 min (depending on how finely you have chopped the squash and potatoes and what kind of pot you are using).  In a food processor, finely puree onions, garlic, ginger and bird peppers (if using).  In a coffee grinder, finely grind the poppy seeds.  Then add to the food processor and pulse to mix with the onion-puree.

Heat the remaining oil, and add the pancphoran, hing, bay leaves and stir till fragrant: a min or so.  Then add the onion puree and stir fry-until the mixture has browned and releases some the oil, about 5-7 min.  Then add the coriander, turmeric and paprika.  Stir fry for a few min. then add the yoghurt, a little at a time and fully incorporate it into the onion paste.  Now add the squash and potatoes and fully coat in the paste. Add salt. Then add the water and allow to come to a full boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 min.  Add the garam masala, mustard oil and sugar. Then add a squeeze of lime juice and cilantro, if using. Taste and adjust the salt.  Let cool for a few minutes so that the gravy thickens (I took the picture before it thickened). Serve with rice.

Posted in Indian Food, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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