Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Top Five Madhur Jaffrey Recipes

Six months ago our cooking club voted in Madhur Jaffrey and I was very wary.  I had never tasted Indian food before, much less cooked it myself.  I instantly assumed that my family wouldn't like her recipes at all.  I felt as if I'd never survive six full months of Madhur Jaffrey's recipes.  I couldn't have been more wrong.

During my time with I Heart Cooking Clubs I've cooked the recipes of Nigella Lawson, Mark Bittman, Giada De Laurentiis, Jamie Oliver, Tessa Kiros, Rick Bayless, and Madhur Jaffrey.  One recipe every week for six months straight.  After cooking a particular person's recipes for that length of time you really get a feel for their cooking style.  You also usually have a few recipe failures.  I've had my fair share of failures with all the above mentioned chefs, except Madhur Jaffrey.  I can honestly say that all of Jaffrey's recipes were a home run.  It's kinda ironic, isn't it?

I was so skeptical about cooking her recipes.  I worried I wouldn't like them at all.  I figured my family would fight me with each new dish.  Then we fell in love with her recipes and ended up adding many new favorites into our dinner rotation.  Just goes to show that a little push in the right direction really pays off.

Every Madhur Jaffrey recipe I tried was delicious, but these were our top five favorites.  The first three recipes listed below are really tied for first place.  There is really no way I could put them in order.  I think it really depends on personal taste and maybe what you're in the mood for that day.  Either way, these top three recipes are very quick and really easy to cook on weeknights.  I've made the Delicious Chicken Bits and served them over rice at least 8 times since October.  I have the Most Delicious Meat Cubes on the menu for next week.  All three of these dishes are absolute flavor explosions and would be great for serving to company.  You really can't go wrong!
First up, and one of my husband's favorite dishes, are The Most Delicious Meat Cubes.  Crispy on the edges and tender in the inside, these little nuggets of pork shoulder are screaming with flavor.  Forget doubling the recipe....just go ahead and triple it (just don't crowd the pan or you won't get those crispy edges).  I kid you not.  One of the best meat dishes I've ever made.
Also tied for top place, are these Delicious Chicken Bits.  My eleven year old daughter can be quite picky and she usually does not like eating chicken.  Unless it's this dish.  When she smells it cooking she comes running.  I always laugh because the dish seems too spicy for her, but she pretty much inhales it like the rest of us.  Love this one because it's flavorful, great for weeknights, and pretty healthy.
Another top favorite was this Chicken with Garlic and Black Pepper.  If I had to pick my own personal top favorite then it would probably be this recipe.  This recipe is a lot like the Delicious Chicken Bits, but I'm a little biased when it comes to garlic so I think that's why I prefer this dish over the Delicious Chicken Bits.  It's all about personal preference, right?
While the first three recipes are tied for first place, this recipe for Onion Fritters with Fresh Green Chutney have been on my mind ever since they day I first made them.  Golden little crunchy fritters with chunks of onion dunked in a tangy zippy indulgence.  I wish I could indulge in some right now!
And, lastly, these Chicken Patties with Korean Dipping Sauce are really out of this world delicious.  I could never decide whether I liked the patties more than the sauce or the sauce more than the patties.  Either way, they're incredibly addictive.  My husband and I dunked and dunked till they were all gone. These would make a perfect party appetizer.

*Next week our our cooking club, I Heart Cooking Clubs, will begin cooking the recipes of Yotam Ottolenghi.  If you are interested please head over and check it out!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Light and Healthy Turkey Keema

 This morning I went shopping for a bathing suit.  Enough said, right?

This turkey keema is a great meal to make if you're watching your waistline.  Ground turkey breast is seasoned with lots of spices, bay leaves, onion, garlic, and ginger then mixed with peas and little cubes of steamed potato.  This makes for a substantial meal all on it's own with a little slice of naan bread on the side.  However, this keema can also be served over rice or used as a filling in lettuce cups.  I really enjoyed it and would make this again.

This recipe, for turkey keema, is my final recipe to round out my six months of cooking with Madhur Jaffrey.  Next week is our final week and I will be wrapping up my six months by showcasing my top five favorite Madhur Jaffrey recipes.  Stay tuned because that is a post you simply don't want to miss!  Many of my new favorite recipes will be shared on that post.

Starting in April our cooking group, I Heart Cooking Clubs, will be cooking the recipes of Yotam Ottolenghi for the next six months.  Ottolenghi is red hot right now with amazing cookbooks like Plenty and the brand new cookbook Jerusalem.  We are very excited to be cooking his recipes and encourage all of you who love his recipes to join in!  I Heart Cooking Clubs is a very carefree group.  Participants are welcome to join in as they wish.  There are no hard and fast rules.  So, if you plan on cooking up any Ottolenghi recipes in the next six months please head over to our site and share with us! We'd love to have you!

Light and Healthy Turkey Keema
Adapted from Quick & Easy Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
About 240 calories per seving
Serves 4

1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
 4 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)*
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 pound ground turkey breast (99% lean)
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1 russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2" cubes, and steamed until soft
1/2 water or chicken stock
1/2 -1 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Put the oil in a wide nonstick skillet and set over medium heat.   When the oil is hot, put in the cardamom, bay leaves, cayenne, cumin, garam masala, and turmeric (if using).  Take a step back when you do this or the spices will cause you to cough quite a bit.  Stir for a few seconds.  Put in the onion.  Stir and fry the onion until some of the pieces turn brown at the edges.  Add in the garlic and stir for a few seconds.  Add in the ginger and stir for a few seconds.  Now put in the ground turkey.  Stir and fry until all the lumps are broken up.  Add the peas, cubed/steamed potato, and water or stock.  Stir to mix and continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring as you do so.  Taste for seasoning and add in more spices if needed.

Be sure to remove the bay leaves and cardamom pods before serving!

Theme: One Pot Wonders

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hamburger {Chappal} Kebabs with Fresh Red Chutney

Spicy little burger kebabs studded with lots of chile pepper and cilantro then kissed with a touch of cumin and coriander seed.  These kebabs are delicious served with a spicy and refreshing red chutney on some flatbread, but would also be great served over rice with vegetables. 

These kebabs are meant to be very spicy.  There are two whole green chiles in the kebabs themselves and then they are served with a fresh red chutney that has a pretty hefty dose of cayenne.  I'm sure you could tone them down if you wanted to.
Hamburger Kebabs with Fresh Red Chutney
Adapted from Quick & Easy Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
Serves 4-5

1 tablespoon chickpea flour*
1-1/2 pounds finely ground beef or lamb
6-7 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 hot green chiles, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 lightly beaten egg*
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Additional items for garnish, such as: sliced chile peppers, sliced red onion,  lettuce, and fresh red chutney (recipe below)

*Note: I'm sure you could substitute regular all-purpose flour in place of the chickpea flour.  Also, I just used one egg white in place of the 1/2 lightly beaten egg.

Put the chickpea flour in a small cast iron frying pan and stir around over medium-heat until the flour has turned a light brown color.  Put into a bowl.  Add in all the other ingredients except the oil and mix well.  Form ten 2-inch balls.  Flatten the balls to make ten 3-1/2 inch hamburger-like patties.

Put 1 tablespoon vegetable oil into a large skillet and set over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, put in as many kebabs as the pan will hold in a single layer.  Cook about 2-3 minutes per side, or until they have browned on both sides and are cooked through.  Remove to a warm plate and finish cooking all the patties.  These kebabs can be served with rice and vegetables but are best cut in half (lengthwise) and rolled up in a flatbread, such as naan or chapati, or even store-bought pita with a little salad and some fresh red chutney. 

Fresh Red Chutney with Almonds
Adapted from Quick & Easy Indian Cooking
Makes about 1/2 cup

1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
20 small mint leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon blanced, chopped almonds
1 teaspoon chopped dill, optional*

Into the container of a blender, put the red pepper, mint, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne, salt, and black pepper in the order listed.  Blend until smooth.  Add the almonds and blend again.  A few bits of almonds can be left unpulverized.  Pour into a bowl and check for seasonings.  You may mix in the dill at this point, if using.  
Theme: Kebab Krazy!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Most Delicious Meat Cubes

Last week I got a killer deal on a nine pound pork shoulder.  When I came home from the store I picked three different recipes calling for pork shoulder, broke down the meat, and separated it all into different containers.  This recipe, for the Most Delicious Meat Cubes, was the first recipe on my list.  I've been cooking Madhur Jaffrey's recipes for almost six months now and this recipe has been on my to-do list the entire time.  After all, how can you resist a recipe called "The Most Delicious Meat Cubes"?

Let me just go ahead and say right now, these really are the most delicious meat cubes ever!  They are tender, succulent, crispy on the edges, and coated in all kinds of delicious flavor.  We were instantly sorry that we only reserved one pound of pork shoulder for this recipe and decided that next time, very soon, we will make this recipe and triple it.  

I really do encourage everyone to make these.  My husband, who can be a harsh critic, gave them a 10+.  He isn't the biggest fan of Indian cuisine, but he thought these were simply irresistible.  There really aren't any words that would do these little nuggets the justice they deserve.  Please make them and taste for yourself!

The Most Delicious Meat Cubes
Adapted from Quick & Easy Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
Serves 1-2

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
15 fresh or dried curry leaves, if available*
1 pound boned shoulder of lamb or pork, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons store-bought garam masala*
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric*
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 fresh, hot green chile, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 - 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

*Notes: I am unable to find curry leaves so I did not use them in this recipe.  I also held back on the amount of garam masala, using only about 1 teaspoon instead of the two called for.  And, finally, we do not care for turmeric so I omitted it all together.

Put the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, put in the ginger, garlic, and curry leaves (if using).  Stir.  When the garlic starts to brown, put in the meat.  Stir once or twice and turn the heat to medium-low.  Now put in the garam masala, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, green chile, and salt.  Stir to mix.  Add 3/4 cup water and cover tightly.  Cook over low heat for about 50 minutes, opening the lid every so often to make sure you have enough liquid.  After 50 minutes, cook, uncovered, over high heat until all the liquid has gone and the meat has browned a bit.  Stir as you do this.  Then stir in lots of freshly ground black pepper and the lemon juice.  Serve over rice, Indian mashed potatoes, plain boiled potatoes, or with Indian breads. 
Theme: Potluck!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cauliflower with Ginger, Garlic, and Green Chiles...and The Sucré Winner!

I had my first experience at an Indian restaurant the other day and it's literally been on my mind ever since.  Although I tried a variety of dishes, I found that what I really enjoyed most were all the vegetarian dishes (the crispy pakora, the creamy saag paneer, the comforting dal, and a really delicious vegetable aloo dish with potatoes and green beans).  I'm craving another visit! 

Until then, I've vowed to try my hand at a few more Indian vegetable dishes at home, starting with this cauliflower dish.  This is a tasty little dish of toasty cauliflower loaded with spicy Indian flavor.  Cumin, mustard seeds, ginger, garlic, green chiles, and cayenne pepper really come together to make for one spicy dish.  In fact, my chiles were quite hot and I found that I had to turn on the exhaust to alleviate my coughing.  The aromas from this dish reminded me of the Indian restaurant and made me feel like I was capturing the essence of it at home in my kitchen.  I can't wait to explore a little more.

Cauliflower with Ginger, Garlic, and Green Chiles
Adapted from Quick & Easy Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
Serves 3-4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into fine shreds
1 pound (4 cups) cauliflower florets
1-3 fresh green chiles, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (*I omitted)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

Using a nonstick skillet or wok, add the oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, put in the cumin and mustard seeds.  As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop (this just takes a few seconds), put in the garlic, ginger, cauliflower, and green chiles, all at the same time.  Stir and fry for 5 to 7 minutes or until the cauliflower has turned somewhat brown.  Now put in the salt, black pepper, garam masala (if using), and cayenne and give the florets a good toss.  Put in 1/4 cup water and cover the wok/skillet immediately.  Cook for 2 minutes and serve.

And, finally, the winner of the Sucré giveaway was Teresa of A Blog About Food.  Teresa will receive the Sucré Signature Macaron Collection!!  Congratulations Teresa!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter the contest!
Theme: Meat-Free But Flavorful