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Throwing a festive party? 10 tasty Indian recipes

Last updated on: December 17, 2012 17:42 IST

Throwing a festive party? 10 tasty Indian recipes

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Abraham and Susan Chacko

Abraham and Susan Chacko of London run a culinary website www.chackoskitchen.com -- here's some festive preparations from their new e-book Christmas With Susan.

In the following pages, we bring you 10 delicious traditional recipes for Christmas and New Year parties at home!

Homemade Paneer with Coriander Leaves and Dried Chilli Bits

Things You'll Need:

  • Organic Whole Milk -- 2 litre
  • Fresh yoghurt -- 200 ml or
  • Lemon juice -- 2 tbsp
  • Fresh coriander leaves -- 15 grams
  • Dried red chilli bits -- 1 tbsp
  • Cheesecloth or a cotton kitchen cloth -- 1 large

The Process:

  • Boil milk in a heavy bottomed-pan.
  • Keep stirring the milk at regular intervals as milk tend to stick and burn to the bottom.
  • As the milk is about to boil, add finely chopped coriander leaves and dried red chilli bits.
  • Once boiled lower the flame and stir in the yoghurt or lime juice.
  • In about 2-3 minutes, the curds will coagulate and separate from the watery whey. Add more yoghurt if necessary, keep on flame for about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Line a large sieve with muslin or cheesecloth and sit over a large saucepan.
  • Once the whey is drained out, wrap it up in the cloth, to form a square as shown in the photograph and place under a heavy object (steel basin full of water in my case).
  • Leave it in this position for about 2 hours. Rotating the sides once every 30 minutes.
  • Now your soft and succulent cheese is ready to use.

Yield:

About 550 grams paneer.

Storage:
Although best when used fresh, you may --

  • Freeze -- Upto 1 month
  • Chilled in the door cabinet of the fridge -- Upto 5 days

NOTES:

  • If left on high flame, after adding the curdling agent there is a greater chance that you will end up in a rubbery and hard paneer.
  • Store the watery whey, which can be later used as stock in any
  • If using lime juice as a curdling agent, wash under running water to get away from the sour taste.

Excerpted from the e-book Christmas With Susan by Abraham and Susan Chacko, with the permission of the authors.


Image: Homemade Paneer with Coriander Leaves and Dried Chilli Bits
Photographs: Courtesy www.chackoskitchen.com

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Chilli Prawn Fry

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Things You'll Need:

  • Prawns -- 250 grams
  • Chilli Powder -- 2 tbsp
  • Paprika Powder -- 2 tbsp
  • Pepper Powder -- 2 tbsp
  • Turmeric Powder -- a pinch
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil -- 50 ml

Golden Touch Mise en Place -- [5 mins]

  • Take the fresh, cooked prawns and rub-in the remaining ingredients. Leave it for 20 mins.

Golden Touch Steps -- [25 minutes]

  • Heat oil in a heavy bottomed non-stick pan.
  • Spread the prawns in a single layer on the hot oil, allow to cook both sides equally by turning over at regular intervals.

Golden Touch Service

Serve with fresh salad leaves, sprinkle a few drops of melted butter if you so wish on the prawns.

TIPS:

If you have cooked prawns do not overcook prawns they become rubbery.


Image: Chilli Prawn Fry
Photographs: Courtesy www.chackoskitchen.com

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Chole Masala

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Things You'll Need:

  • Garbanzo beans (Chole) -- 300 grams
  • Tomato -- 200 grams
  • Potato -- 1 medium (about 50 grams)
  • Desiccated coconut 1 -- 50 grams
  • Ginger-garlic paste -- 1 tbsp
  • Onion -- 3 (about 250 grams)
  • Cashew nut powder -- 1 tbsp
  • Chilli powder -- 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder -- 1/4 tsp
  • Cumin seeds (jeera) -- 1 tsp
  • Star-anise -- 1
  • Green cardamom -- 4
  • Cloves -- 4
  • Cinnamon -- 1 inch stick
  • Vegetable stock powder -- 1 tsp
  • Curry Leaves -- 3 sprigs
  • Oil -- 2 tbsp
  • Salt -- to taste
  • Water -- 900 ml (or more)

Golden Touch Mis-en Place [7 mins]

  • Wash thoroughly and soak chole in boiling water, for about 4-6 hours, changing water at intervals.
  • Soak desiccated coconut in hot water for about 10 minutes or till needed.
  • Peel and finely chop potato and onion and store separately.
  • Slice tomatoes finely.

Golden Touch Preparation [1 hour 20 minutes]

  • Heat oil in a kadai; add curry leaves and stir for about 30 seconds till they curl. Remove using a slotted spoon and store separately.
  • Add jeera, star-anise, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon to the hot oil and stir for 30 seconds.
  • Add onion and saute till golden brown.
  • Add sliced tomatoes and ginger-garlic paste, saute till oil separates.
  • Add soaked coconut, chilli powder, turmeric and salt, saute for about 4 mins.
  • Add 400ml lukewarm water and stock powder and boil till bubbles. (about 5 minutes on high heat).
  • Allow to cool, transfer to grinder and make a smooth and silky paste.
  • To a pressure cooker add, garbanzo beans, 500ml water, potato, cashews.
  • Nut powder and the curry paste, cook for three whistles, then lower the heat and cook for 30-40 minutes. Allow the pressure to settle down on it's own and escape, about another 15 minutes.

NOTES:

If using fresh coconut -- use one whole medium size.


Image: Chole Masala
Photographs: Courtesy www.chackoskitchen.com

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Button Mushrooms in Tomato Gravy

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Things You'll Need:

  • Button mushrooms -- 450 grams
  • Tomatoes -- 300 grams
  • Onion -- 1
  • Ginger -- 2 inch root
  • Garlic -- 10 cloves
  • Turmeric Powder -- ½ tsp
  • Chilli Powder -- 1½ tsp
  • Cumin Powder -- ½ tsp
  • Cardamom Pods -- 2
  • Black Peppercorns -- 5
  • Coriander Leaves -- 1 bunch
  • Water -- 150 ml
  • Olive oil -- 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Golden Touch Mis-en Place [15 mins]

  • Finely chop tomatoes and onion, store separately.
  • Cut button mushrooms into four quarters
  • Make a paste of ginger and garlic
  • Finely chop fresh coriander leaves

Golden Touch Preparation -- [35 minutes]

  • Heat oil in a heavy bottomed non-stick pan
  • Add cardamom pods and black peppercorns, saute for few seconds.
  • Add onion and saute till translucent -- about two mins.
  • Add salt, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, chilli and cumin powders, saute for a minute till the raw flavours leave.
  • Add the tomatoes and water, cook to one boil.
  • Lower heat and cook till tomatoes are mashed up to a soft, smooth paste; about 10 mins whilst stirring continuously.
  • Add the mushrooms, cover and cook for about 20 mins on low heat.

Image: Button Mushrooms in Tomato Gravy
Photographs: Courtesy www.chackoskitchen.com

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Karimeen Pollichattu (Roasted Pearl Spot Fish Wrapped in Banana Leaves)

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Things You'll Need:

  • Pearl spot fish (Karimeen) -- 4 nos (about 700 grams / 5 inch size)
  • Pearl onion shallots -- 200 grams
  • Tomatoes -- 4 nos (about 300 grams)
  • Banana leaves -- 2-3
  • Garlic -- 1 tbsp
  • Ginger -- 2 tbsp
  • Green chilli -- 5 nos
  • Turmeric powder -- 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli powder -- 1 tbsp
  • Coriander (dhaniya) powder -- 1 tsp
  • Coconut oil -- 15 ml
  • Mustard seeds -- 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek (methi) seeds -- 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves -- few sprigs
  • Kudampuli (tamarind pulp) -- 15 ml
  • Water -- 20 ml
  • Thick coconut milk -- 20 ml
  • Salt -- to taste

Golden Touch Mis-en Place [10 mins]

  • Clean and make diagonal gashes on the fish.
  • Finely chop shallots and tomatoes; store separately.
  • Make a paste of ginger and garlic
  • Clean the curry leaves and pat them dry.
  • Clean kudampuli (which is the preferred choice); if not tamarind pulp, whichever is available locally, in hot water (20 ml) and leave it in till needed.

Preparation [30 mins]

  • Heat 5 ml coconut oil in a pan.
  • Add mustard and fenugreek seeds, allow to pop.
  • Add curry leaves and chopped onion. Saute till golden brown (about 5 mins).
  • Add chopped tomatoes and green chilli saute till oil separates.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste, saute for 1 min.
  • Add turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt to taste, saute for a couple of minutes till the raw taste leave the powder. Do not allow to burn, else it tastes bitter.
  • Now add the kudampulli water only and coconut milk, make a thick paste.

Preparing the banana leaf:

The banana leaf, once cleaned and dried with a kitchen towel is ready to use, however it may tear off easily; thus I recommend you to follow these steps.

  • Switch on the flame (medium-high), hold the banana leaf by it's ends and move along the fire (about 5 inches above the flame) till the leaf shrivels and blackens lightly. Now you can turn and twist as you wish with this leaf, without the fear of tearing and wasting valuable money if you are to pay to buy them.

Preparing the fish for the final stage:

  • Rub salt to taste on the fish, then rub the above prepared gravy on the fish, making sure it is all round it and inside the gashes. Stuff inside the fish as well.
  • Wrap carefully in the banana leaf, tie with a string, care should be taken not to tear the leaf.
  • Heat remaining coconut oil in a pan, place the wraps and cook no more than six minutes on each side.

HEATHY ALTERNATIVE:

  • Avoid coconut milk
  • Use olive oil or sunflower oil instead of coconut oil

NOTES:

  • Banana Leaves are very commonly available in Indian grocery stores, especially during festival seasons. Look for black spots and fungus. Once purchased, use immediately. Leena on the comments page just let me know, she tried with foil paper and it did go well, thus you could also do the same if banana leaves are not locally available.
  • Getting the fish wrapped to get that kind of intense flavour is more important.
  • Kudampulli: Also known as: Garcinia Cambogia, Garcinia gummi-gutta, Kerala Tamarind, Brindal berry, Malabar Tamarind, Gambooge. Commonly available in all Indian grocery stores.

Image: Karimeen Pollichattu (Roasted Pearl Spot Fish Wrapped in Banana Leaves)
Photographs: Courtesy www.chackoskitchen.com

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Lamb Bhuna

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Things You'll Need:

To Marinate

  • Boneless lamb -- 1kg
  • Natural yoghurt -- 150ml
  • Lime juice or vinegar- 5tbsp
  • red chilli powder -- 2 tbsp
  • Paprika powder -- 1/2 tbsp
  • Coriander powder -- 1/2 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder -- 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin (jeera) powder -- 1/2 tbsp

For the Gravy

  • Onions -- 300 grams
  • Ginger -- 2 inch tuber
  • Garlic -- 25 grams
  • Tomatoes -- 300 grams
  • Bay leaves -- 5
  • Cloves -- 4
  • Cinnamon -- 1 inch stick
  • Cardamom -- 4
  • Star anise -- 1
  • Garam masala -- 1/2 tsp
  • Dried fenugreek (methi) leaves -- 5 grams
  • Mint leaves -- 1/2 bunch
  • Water -- 500ml (add more if required)
  • Oil -- 5 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Golden Touch Mise en Place [4 hours 30 mins]

  • Cut lamb into 2x2" dices. Wash.
  • Mix all powders in yoghurt under the marinate section. Add the lamb dices, cover and marinate for 4 hours
  • Chop onion finely.
  • Make a fine paste of ginger and garlic.
  • Chop tomatoes and mint leaves, store separately.

Golden Touch Steps [2 hours 35mins]

  • Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
  • Add onions and salt. Saute till golden brown.
  • Add the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, fenugreek leaves and garam masala. Saute for 2 mins
  • Add tomatoes, ginger and garlic paste and saute till the oil starts leaving the tomatoes and onion (about 15mins).
  • Add marinated lamb dices and water, bring to boil. Leave on high flame for 30 mins.
  • Lower the flame. Simmer for about 60 mins, stirring occasionally.
  • Sprinkle half of the mint leaves. Mix in well.
  • Simmer for another 30 mins on low flame, stirring occasionally.
  • Simmer till lamb is well done and the water is reduced to a thick consistency.
  • Sprinkle rest of your mint leaves, leave to simmer for 5 more minutes.

NOTES:

  • Use either yoghurt, lime juice or vinegar. The acids in it helps in tenderising the meat during marination process. It also helps the meat to absorb all flavours and spices, making the meat succulent.
  • Adjust to your taste buds.
  • If you do not like to bite into these spices while eating, you can always follow the potli method, where all spices are tied in a muslin cloth and used in cooking, discarded later on.

Image: Lamb Bhuna
Photographs: Courtesy www.chackoskitchen.com

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Hot and Spicy Tomato Rice

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Things You'll Need:

  • Basmati rice -- 1 cup
  • Tomatoes -- 4 large
  • Mustard seeds -- 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves -- 10 nos
  • Fresh Red chillies -- 2
  • Coriander leaves -- 1/2 bunch
  • Asafoetida -- a pinch
  • Oil -- 1 tbsp
  • Water -- 2cups
  • Salt to taste

For Spice Mixture

  • Oil -- 1 tbsp
  • Ghee (clarified butter) -- 1 tbsp
  • Dried red chillies -- 4
  • Coriander seeds -- 1 tsp
  • Chana dal -- 3 tsp
  • Urad dal -- 1 tsp
  • Grated coconut -- 25 grams
  • Fenugreek seeds -- 1/4 tsp

Golden Touch Mise en Place -- [20 mins]

Prepare the Spice Mixture

  • Heat oil in a pan.
  • Add dried red chilli, coriander seeds, chana and urad dal.
  • Fry till they turn golden brown and fragrant.
  • Now add the fenugreek seeds and coconut give it a final swirl. Remove from fire.
  • Allow to cool and grind till powdered very well.

Prepare the ingredients for rice

  • Blanch and peel the tomatoes. Finely chop them.
  • Wash and soak Rice for 20 minutes. Drain.
  • Slice fresh red chilli into small roundels.

Golden Touch Steps -- [25 minutes]

  • Heat ghee in a pan. Although you could use butter, ghee makes the rice very aromatic.
  • Add the rice and saute on low flame till the rice becomes translucent. The end result of doing this is, you get a very flaky and fluffy rice.
  • Add boiled water to the rice and allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes on low flame.
  • In another pan heat oil, add the mustard seeds, allow to pop.
  • Add chillies and curry leaves. When the chillies become translucent add asafoetida. It's now becoming very aromatic.
  • Add the tomatoes, cook till soft, succulent and broken down.
  • Now add the spice mixture to the cooked tomatoes along with coriander leaves.
  • Add the cooked rice to the tomatoes mix well and enjoy...

Golden Touch Service

Serve hot with scrambled eggs.

NOTES:
If you were to prick the dried red chilli after frying, it must hook on easily, as this is the best consistency before grinding.
Blanching -- Fruit and vegetables are plunged into boiling water, for about 5-7 minutes. Removed and plunged into cold water.
This process helps in:
Retaining food colour, eg of beans, carrots
Helps in peeling skin off easily from tomatoes
Cooking time of Basmati differs, check label.


Image: Hot and Spicy Tomato Rice
Photographs: Courtesy www.chackoskitchen.com

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Rosogulla

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Things you'll need:

To make chenna/paneer (cheese)

  • Organic full fat milk -- 1 litre
  • Plain natural yoghurt -- 200ml or
  • Lime juice / white vinegar -- 2 tbsp

Yield

260grams chenna. Divide into 12 equal portions

Sugar syrup

  • Water -- 300ml
  • Sugar -- 200grams (add to taste)

Golden touch preparation: [Making cheese: 1 hour 30 mins + 40 mins]

  • Boil milk in a deep bottomed, non-stick pan.
  • Stir regularly with a wooden spatula to prevent milk sticking to the bottom.
  • Once boiled, lower heat; add yogurt. In about 3-5 minutes, curdling starts,
  • Separating the whey from the chenna/panner/cheese.
  • Line a strainer with cheese cloth. Leave it there for 1 hour.
  • Knead the chenna for about 5 minutes, resulting in a smooth, soft dough.
  • To test the readiness of the chenna, rub a small amount of chenna on your palms and make a small ball out of it. If the ball holds together in a smooth ball, it is ready. If not knead for another 5 minutes. If too dry and crumbly add a few drops of water.
  • Just before you are about to make the balls, in a 24cm diameter, deep nonstick stock pot, add water and sugar and bring to boil on low flame. Stir occasionally.
  • Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Knead each ball tightly in your palm and roll into a smooth balls, without cracks. These small balls end up three times their size after cooking.
  • Add the balls to the boiling syrup, carefully. Cover. Boil on full flame for 20-25 mins.
  • Remove from flame. Allow to cool.

Golden touch service

Serve chilled on it's own in the sugar syrup or with misti doi (sweetened yoghurt).

NOTES:

Yogurt vs lime juice/vinegar. This is my variation. All other recipes you'll find adding lime juice or white vinegar to curdle milk. Benefits of using yoghurt: It does not leave the after taste of sourness and produces a greater yield of chenna. Tried and tested method at Chacko's Kitchen.

Whey can be used for kneading flour for chappati, roti, naan instead of water; also can be used to cook lentils.

Caution: the cheese become hard and rubbery if you continue to boil after this stage.

This is an important stage, and I would like you to take it seriously. You need not leave it for long, or press it down under weight, unlike when you make paneer. Rosogulla requires moisture in it. In hotter climates, reduce this time to say 45 minutes.

The softness of rasgulla depends on how well you knead the paneer. The more you knead, the more spongier the rasagulla be.

Do not add too many at the same time; as they need to expand and become spongy.

Commercial rasgulla is dipped in too thick sugar syrup, therefore when you make at home you can adjust the sugar to your requirements.


Image: Rosogulla
Photographs: Courtesy www.chackoskitchen.com

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Luxury Fruit Bread

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Things You'll Need:

For The Yeast Batter

  • Strong white bread flour -- 100grams
  • Yeast -- 5grams
  • Sugar -- 1tsp
  • Lukewarm milk -- 250ml

For the Dough

  • Strong white bread flour -- 350grams
  • Unsalted butter -- 50grams
  • Sugar -- 50grams
  • Salt -- 1/2 tsp
  • Cashew nuts -- 25 grams
  • Pistachio -- 25 grams
  • Almonds -- 25 grams
  • Walnuts -- 25 grams
  • Raisins -- 25grams
  • Sultanas -- 25grams
  • Sweetened dried apple/cranberries -- 25grams
  • Chopped dates -- 25grams
  • Cinnamon powder -- 1/2 tsp
  • Egg -- 1

Yield

1 loaf (approx 12 slices when cut)

Golden Touch Mis-en Place [5 mins]

Chop all nuts and dried fruits (except raisins and sultanas) into same size bits.

Golden Touch Process [ 2 hours 30 mins approx]

  • Mix together flour, yeast and sugar for the yeast batter. Now slowly beat in the milk to make a smooth batter.
  • Cover with foil and leave for about 20 minutes until frothy. This important stage of bread-making is known as 'yeast batter' and helps to make the loaf soft and light.
  • In a separate large bowl, mix in flour and salt. Rub in the butter.
  • Mix in cinnamon powder, sugar and fruits.
  • Beat the eggs. Mix in with the 'yeast batter'. Mix in the flour and fruit mixture. Use a spatula to mix in the dough thoroughly.
  • Knead the dough, add if necessary little Flour, until it is smooth and no longer sticky.
  • Cover with foil and leave it in the bowl, in a warm place for about 50-60 minutes, until risen and doubled in quantity.
  • Butter a 900gram loaf tin. Spread the dough evenly. Do not press down. Only fill till three-quarters, as it will rise.
  • Set the oven temperature to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Now loosely cover with foil sheet and bake for another 25 minutes. To check if loaf is cooked, take a skewer, pierce it through the middle, if it comes out dry then it is done. If the skewer returns with moist dough, then it needs at least 10-15 minutes more.
  • Remove from the oven. Allow cooling completely. Slice and serve.

Image: Luxury Fruit Bread
Photographs: Courtesy www.chackoskitchen.com

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Frozen Strawberry Yoghurt Ice-cream

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Things You'll Need:

  • Low fat yoghurt -- 300 ml
  • Brown Sugar (Cane Sugar) -- 1/4 cup
  • Strawberries -- 300 grams
  • Vanilla Essence -- few drops
  • Cardamom Powder -- 1/4 tsp

Golden Touch Mise en Place [2 hours]

  • Tie Yoghurt in a cheese cloth (muslin cloth) , leave it for about 2 hours to separate the whey from the solids.
  • Make a puree of the strawberries, by blending to a fine paste in the blender. Strain and discard the residue.

Golden Touch Steps -- [10 mins + 8 hours freezing]

  • Whip the yoghurt and sugar, using an egg beater to a smooth paste, till all sugar gets dissolved.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and blend in well.
  • Pour into a freezer suitable container. Now sing a song and relax!!
  • Every 1 hour; stir well, to prevent crystallisation. Will be ready in about 8 hours.

Golden Touch Service:

  • Leave it in room temperature for about 10 mins, before serving. Using an ice-cream scoop collect, drag and make large balls of it and serve with chopped fresh fruits of your choice.

NOTES:

Even though cream is what makes ice-cream so soft, it is continuously stirred to get a super soft, lustrous consistency. Same is the precess to be followed here to prevent crystallisation.

Increase sugar if you so like.


Image: Frozen Strawberry Yoghurt Ice-cream
Photographs: Courtesy www.chackoskitchen.com

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