Monday, 17 March 2014

Chicken Saag

if you choose to make this dish, my one and only plea would be not to use supermarket bought spinach in those little bags! it really is worth getting a few bunches of fresh spinach which you can buy from most Asian grocery stores. you can mix and match with a couple of spinach leaves and a bunch of mustard leaves

a very healthy recipe and you just need a bit of yoghurt to add a rich creaminess to it

ingredients (serves 3-4):

sunflower oil
about 3 bunches of fresh spinach, stalks removed and rinsed thoroughly
a large onion, chopped
a tbsp mustard seeds
a knob of ginger, finely sliced
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
3-4 green finger chillies 
a heaped tsp ground coriander
a heaped tsp of ground cumin
a tsp of salt
1 tsp of ground turmeric
2 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped 
juice of half a lemon
3-4 chicken breasts, chopped into chunks
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp of plain natural yoghurt
generous bunch of fresh coriander, chopped


first prepare the spinach by finely chopping it and wilting it by placing it in a pan, on a low heat, with the lid on. it should take around 5 minutes. set aside.
add some oil to the pan and on a medium heat, fry the chicken just for a minute or so on each side to seal. set aside.
heat some sunflower oil in a pan on a medium heat and add the mustard seeds. once they start to 'pop' add the chopped onion and fry for 3-4 minutes
add the ginger and chilli and cook for a further couple minutes
add the garlic and cook for a couple minutes
then add the spices and salt and cook for 3-4 minutes - at this point make sure the heat isn't too high as the spices will easily burn and taste quite bitter
add the chopped tomatoes at this point and cook for 5-6 minutes - the tomatoes should add enough moisture but if it's looking a bit dry just add around 100 ml of hot water
add the chicken and spinach and cook for 15 -20 minutes, stirring occasionally
add the lemon juice and garam masala and stir in thoroughly 
then reduce the heat as low as possible before adding the yoghurt (if the dish is too hot the yoghurt will curdle)
once the heat has been down for a couple minutes at least, add the yoghurt slowly, half a spoon at a time 
cook on this low heat for a couple minutes before adding the coriander 

serve with naan bread or rice 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The perfect chai

ok, so given this blog is called chilli & chai, it seems about time that i actually make some chai! as any visitor to india will know, chai is readily available in homes, cafes, trains, well, pretty much every street corner. it's the ultimate comfort drink and the gentle spice acts as a great pick-me-up at any time of day.whilst india has become a nation of chai drinkers with most indian homes only having a pot of freeze dried coffee as an emergency option for any guests, who, god forbid, don't drink chai, the nation's default hot drink was in fact coffee until the time of the british raj. 

whilst this is my perfect chai, the great thing about it is you can adapt to your taste, if you prefer the sweet over spice, add more sugar and cinnamon, if you want it a bit bolder, go for more ginger and pepper. do not use long leaf tea for this as you will get quite a bitter taste - cheap, small grain black tea is the best. 

ingredients (makes a generous pot for two)
two heaped teaspoons of loose black tea - you can even just get two teabags (something like assam or tetley) and split open the bag and use the contents
3 cloves
4 cardamom pods, crushed so flavour is released into the water
either half tsp grated fresh ginger or a quarter tsp of ground ginger
quarter tsp of both black pepper, and ground cinnamon (or a stick)  
sugar to taste
whole milk, to taste

place a milk pan of water onto the hob and add all of the ingredients apart from the milk
bring to the boil, once you get there, reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 10 mins
add as much milk as you like and bring to boil
simmer again for 5 mins and serve

and if you want a full-on chai experience enjoy a chai brownie with your cuppa! 

Brunch with a twist: masala omelette and chilli beans

add a little spice to your lazy weekend brunch with this masala omelette and beans

ingredients (serves 2)
for the omelette:
5 eggs
splash of milk
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
1 chopped spring onion
half tsp garam masala 
pinch salt
1 green finger chilli, finely chopped
pinch turmeric 
black pepper, to taste
(option) 1 small new potato finely chopped
chopped coriander sprigs

for the beans: 
1 can baked beans
2 spring onions, chopped
half tsp red chilli flakes
pinch paprika
pinch black pepper

beat the eggs and milk in a large bowl
i made the two omelettes one by one, so, taking half the onions, spices, salt and chilli, fry off in a frying pan with some melted butter for a few minutes, with the potatoes if you're using them until soft
add half the beaten eggs and chopped coriander and and fry until the bottom is cooked and top nearly so. then put under a grill until cooked through
and repeat! 
whilst the second one is under the grill on a low heat, in a saucepan gently fry the spring onions until soft
add the beans, with the chilli flakes and paprika, salt and pepper, heat through 


Monday, 4 November 2013

Happy Diwali and bonfire night!

pleased to see my masala popcorn recipe making it into the reader's recipe swap in the Guardian for bonfire night- simple, easy recipe so try it out! 

hope you all have a great diwali and bonfire night ... x

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Pistachio and cardamom cheesecake

i made (reasonably) small individual cheesecakes with not too much cream cheese for a lighter dessert after a heavy meal. i originally tried it out with around 150ml of low fat crème fraiche instead of the cream which made for an even lighter dessert, though you will have a softer consistency and the cheesecake won’t be able to hold it’s own without being in a serving dish if you go for this option.

ingredients (serves 4 in individual dessert pots):
100g digestive biscuits
50g butter
1 tbsp honey
200g plain cream cheese
150 ml whipping or double cream
the crushed seeds of 3 cardamom pods (just crush the seeds in a pestle and mortar)
handful of finely crushed pistachio nuts (around 30g) – again, do this in a pestle and mortar
150 caster sugar
extra chopped pistachio nuts and raspberries to serve


first, crush the biscuits until they almost have a fine powder consistency – you can just put them in a sandwich bag and crush them with a rolling pin
melt the butter and honey in the microwave or on the stove and mix into the crushed biscuits. separate the mixture into the four dessert pots, pressing down with a spatula or spoon so you have a neat biscuit base. place the pots in the fridge to set
meanwhile, using an electric whisk, or good old fashioned arm power, whisk together the cream cheese, cream, caster sugar and cardamom until you have a firm and creamy texture
gently fold in the crushed pistachio ad add a layer of the mixture on top of your biscuit base
garnish with the roughly chopped pistachio and raspberry – you can add mango chunks, strawberry, or any other fruit if you prefer
place in the fridge to set for around 4 hours, ideally overnight if you can

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Spiced okra

okra, also known as ladies’ fingers or bhindi. whilst its flavour is quite light and subtle, it benefits from a relatively minimal amount of spices which makes it a quick and easy dish to make. Service with yoghurt and rice, or roti. you can buy it fresh in most supermarkets, or the frozen packets are fine.

i’ve added lemon juice to the recipe as this prevents the okra from going quite slimy once it’s cooked, a texture which can be quite unappetising for most people!

ingredients (serves 2 as a main)

approx. 300g of okra, chopped into chunks – fresh or frozen
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
half tsp turmeric powder
salt, to taste

use a large pan or wok and heat some oil on a low-medium heat
add the mustard seeds and once they begin to ‘pop’, add the chopped onion and fry
cook until onion is soft, the add the garlic
once the garlic is slightly brown, add the chilli, cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt and gently fry, stirring occasionally for 4-5 mins
add the lemon juice
keep on a low heat and cook, stirring occasionally until the okra is soft. this should only take around 15 minutes or so

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Dal Makahni

this recipe was featured in the Guardian's reader recipe swap on 'pressure cooked' recipes! disappointed that it didn't win, but i'm going to claim that being directly beneath the winner classes me as first runner up...

this means ‘rich lentils’, and whilst this Punjabi dish is traditionally slow cooked throughout the day, a pressure cooker is perfect for speeding up the process and softening the lentils to produce a rich, filling dish.

ingredients (serves 4):

200g whole black lentils (urad lentils)
5 cups water (around 1.2 litres)
a 400g can of red kidney beans 
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp ghee (indian clarified butter)
2 small onions, chopped
2" piece of ginger, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt
2 tomatoes, chopped
100ml double cream
1 tsp garam masala
handful of fresh chopped coriander

soak the lentils in fresh cold water for at least 12 hours, preferably overnight
drain the lentils and rinse in cold water
cook the lentils and kidney beans in the 5 cups of water in the pressure cooker for 4 “whistles”
the lentils and beans should be very soft
in a separate large pan, on a low heat dry fry the cumin seeds for a minute until they’re dark brown
add the ghee and when melted, add the onions and fry until golden brown
add the chillies, ginger and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes
stir in the turmeric, ground coriander and salt, cooking for 2 minutes
add the chopped tomatoes and fry until the tomatoes are very soft
stir in the lentil mixture. bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes on a low heat
stir in the cream and cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the garam masala and chopped coriander

serve with naan bread and garnish with additional cream or some plain yoghurt