Spectacular Indian feast

WEEK 18 – India

From the towering snow-capped peaks of the northern mountains to the red-hot beaches of the southern coast and with a invigorating mix of people, religion, traditions and landscapes, its a melting pot of culture, India.

Arambol Beach, Goa

Arambol Beach, Goa

Situated in South Asia, India is the seventh-largest country by area in the world along with being the second-most populated country over 1.2 billion people. It’s capital city, New Delhi is located in northern India, even though it lies on the floodplains of the Yamuna River, it is essentially a landlocked city. At the heart of the city is the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly known as Viceroy’s House) which sits atop Raisina Hill. Its the official home of the President of India and is the largest residence of any head of state in the world.

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 7.00.39 PM

The 340 room main building that is the President’s home, the plot of land is 130 hectare (320 acre) big and is referred to as the President Estate. It includes huge gardens (Mughal Gardens), large open spaces, housing for both bodyguards and staff, stables and other offices and utilities within its walls.

Throughout India’s history, religion has played a significant role in the country’s culture. It is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions; Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Rituals, worship, and other religious activities are very prominent in daily life.

Muslims praying in a mosque in Srinagar

Muslims praying in a mosque in Srinagar

INDIAN CUISINE

Indian food is majorly influenced by religious and cultural reasons and traditions. Indian cuisine combines various regional cuisines within the Indian subcontinent. These cuisines differ greatly from each other as each use spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits available locally. Staple food items in Indian cuisine are legumes such as; lentils, mung beans and black grams and also some pulses such as; chickpeas, kidney beans and black-eyed peas, the pulses are eaten commonly in the northern regions.

Traditional Indian feast

Traditional Indian feast

Others staples include; rice, pearl millet and wholemeal flour. The most widely used spices in Indian cuisine include; whole or powdered chilli pepper (introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century), black mustard seed, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, asafoetida, ginger, coriander, and garlic. One of the most famous Indian spice blends is Garam Masala which contains 5 or 6 spices, although each region has its own blend.

Many Indian desserts, or mithai, are fried and are made with sugar, milk or condensed milk, in India’s eastern regions almost all desserts are made with milk products. Some desserts include; Kulfi  (Indian icecream), Kheer (sweet rice pudding) and Gulab jamun (fried milk balls soaked in a sweet syrup, such as rose syrup or honey).

Traditionally meals in India are eaten while seated either on the floor or on very low stools or cushions. In the right hand food is eaten as cutlery is not used much. While the left hand is used to serve yourself when their not already served for you.

WHAT I MADE

I decided to really showcase Indian cuisine this week so I made up my mind to make an Indian feast! I sourced my three recipes from: the spiced potato croquettes & the onion bhaji both from the BBC food site their links are here →spiced indian potato croquettes & onion bhaji . For the other recipe “Saffron & Almond Chicken” I used one from a cookbook we own called Favourite Indian Food by Diana Seed and illustrated by Robert Budwig. Now this cookbook is hand illustrated which to a modern day cook like my self is immediately a turn off, its so old it doesn’t even have photographs! But I must say the recipes make up for its interesting pictures.

RECIPES

Spiced Potato Croquettes

Preparation Time: Less than 30 mins

 Cooking Time: 10 to 30 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the croquettes

vegetable oil, for deep-frying, plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp mustard seeds

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

5cm/2in piece ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 long green chilli, finely chopped

500g/1lb 2oz cold mashed potato

3 tbsp fresh coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

75g/3oz plain flour

3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp black onion seeds

110g/4oz dried breadcrumbs

For the Mint sauce

5 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

5 tbsp mint leaves

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp vegetable oil

200g/7oz natural yoghurt

1 lime, juice only

Method

  1. For the croquettes, heat a deep fat fryer to 180C/350F (CAUTION: Do not leave hot oil unattended).
  2. Heat a frying pan until hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for 20 seconds until they start to pop (take care to avoid the seeds popping into your eyes and face).
  3. Add the onion, one tablespoon of vegetable oil, the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a couple of minutes until just softened.
  4. Tip the cooked onion mixture into a bowl with the mashed potato and mix well.
  5. Add the coriander leaves and season with salt and black pepper, then mix once more.
  6. Taking spoonfuls of the mix, form little cylinders about 6cm/2½in long, and 2.5cm/1in wide.
  7. Prepare a tray of the flour and a bowl of the egg. Dust the croquettes with flour and then dip in the egg, coating on each side.
  8. Mix the sesame and black onion seeds with the breadcrumbs on a plate, then coat the potato in the crumbs, ensuring all sides are covered.
  9. Place in the fat fryer and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until hot through, and crispy and golden-brown outside. Drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
  10. For the sauce, put the coriander, mint and garlic into a blender with the vegetable oil and blend to a fine purée. Add the yoghurt and blend once more until the herbs are very fine.
  11. Season with the lime, salt and a little black pepper.

  12. Serve croquettes along side mint sauce

 

Onion Bhaji

Preparation time: Less than 30 mins

Cooking time: Less than 10 mins

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs

3 onions, sliced

120g/4oz plain flour

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin seeds

3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra if required

Method

  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl.
  2. Add the onion rings and mix well.
  3. Add the flour, ground coriander and cumin seeds and stir well to combine.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan over a medium heat. When hot add a large spoonful of the bhaji mixture and fry for 30-45 seconds, until golden-brown.
  5. Turn the bhaji over and fry for a further 30 seconds, until crisp and golden-brown all over. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  6. Repeat with the remaining bhaji mixture, replenishing the oil in the pan if it runs low and allowing it to heat up again after a new addition.

Saffron & Almond Chicken

Ingredients

6 chicken breast fillets (skinless,boneless chicken breast halves)

toasted slivered almonds, to garnish

For Marinade

3 cloves garlic

2cm/ ¾ inch piece fresh root ginger

1 tsp garam marsala

1 tsp salt

½ tsp paprika

3 tsp vegetable oil

For Filling

2 fresh hot green chilli

½ brown onion

4cm/ 1 ½ inch piece fresh root ginger

2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

100g/ ½ cup ricotta or cottage cheese

For Sauce

50g/ 1/3 cup cashew nuts

1 tbsp desiccated coconut

2 cloves garlic

2cm/ ¾ inch piece fresh root ginger

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small brown onion

200ml plain yoghurt

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garam marsala

1 tsp saffron threads

Method

  1. Use ginger grater to grate ginger or very finely slice and mince garlic and mix with other marinade ingredients.
  2. Rub chicken breasts with mixture and place in a bowl covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for an hour or as long as possible.
  3. De-seed chillies and put into food processor with the other filling ingredients, work to a paste
  4. For the sauce, in the food processor mix cashews and coconut with 50ml water to make a paste.
  5. Heat oil in a medium saucepan, while finely chopping onion, add onion and cook until soft, while cooking grate ginger and mince garlic.
  6. Add garlic and ginger and when, it is dry add cashew paste.
  7. Simmer for 5 minutes, the add the yoghurt, salt, garam marsala and saffron dissolved in a little warm milk. Set aside and keep warm.
  8. Cut the chicken breasts in half but not all the way, making a pouch, carefully stuff the filling inside.
  9. Place the fillets onto a greased baking tray and covered in foil.
  10. Place in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°C/ gas 4 for 30 minutes or until fully cooked.
  11. Transfer to serving dish and spoon over sauce, garnish with toasted slivered almonds and extra plain yoghurt is desired
My Saffron & Almond Chicken

My Saffron & Almond Chicken

My Onion Buji's & Spiced Potato Croqeuttes

My Onion Bhaji’s & Spiced Potato Croquettes

Everybody loved this meal! I was so so happy! I had been cooking all afternoon and it most definitely payed off, all the food was delicious and really brought me to India. The chicken dish was very interesting as there was ricotta in it, not quite sure they’d use that over there, but it was so good the chicken was unbelievably tender and the sauce was to die for! Creamy, coconutty and full of flavour & cashews nuts yum! The croquettes were so soft and pillowy it was hard to stop eating them and the sauce accompanied them perfectly. and as for the bhaji’s want more could you want crunchy, crispy, and  delicately spiced they were delicious and also were great with the sauce for the croquettes! We also served the meal with some fresh salad and mango chutney, my favourite! Another 10/10 for me.

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4 thoughts on “Spectacular Indian feast

    • Thank you so much for your comment!The mint sauce goes so well with the crunchy fried croquettes & Bhaji’s. As to your inquiry I think the flavour is probably quite similar, maybe the texture a bit different

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