Archives for category: Pakistani

There are some foods that you always say you don’t like, and then when you haven’t had them for a while you really crave them.  I remember when I first moved to Montreal for Grad School, I had not eaten Pakistani food in over a month.  Luckily, I made a Pakistani friend who had done her research and knew of several Pakistani restaurants.  I did not cook at my apartment, simply because I was grossed out.  I did no prior research and just opted for Graduate Housing and thought it would be fine (at least the pictures online looked fine).  When I arrived, I was almost in tears, looking back it wasn’t thattt bad, but still.  When that lease was finished, I moved out of there and into a new place like it was no one’s business.

That is why I never cooked, and lived off of takeout or meals that did not require cooking.  So, when my friend asked if I wanted to go out for Pakistani, I was so incredibly excited.  Thank God, she took me for a buffet.  That was one time that I was in the mood for “all you can eat.”  I don’t even remember what exactly we ate, but I do remember we were both extremely satiated.

I think it was during that dinner, we started talking about our moms’ cooking.  Most Pakistani moms do cook quite well, or so their kids say.  Even though my mom doesn’t look like the typical Pakistani mom, her food is always great.  My friend and I started talking about when our moms throw big parties and what their cooking specialties were.  It turned out that both our moms thought their maash ki dal (white lentils) was something special.  It’s different than the more soupy dals out there, and is “party-worthy” food.  My friend and I laughed so much thinking about how our moms thought their dishes were something unique.  My friend was saying that her mom makes the maash ki dal because it is everyone’s request.  It was the same story with my mom.

I never really paid maash ki dal much attention before.  But, there are those few times that I crave it.  Luckily for me, it is a snap to prepare and my husband will eat just about anything without being overly picky, so he enjoys it as well.  It is a different dish to add to your repertoire and you can also make this dal soupy, if you chose to.  The recipe here is a dry version.

White Lentils with a Sizzling Oil (Tarka) Garnish

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 cup maash dal sometimes called Urad dal, available at Indian/Pakistani grocery stores (soak the dal in water for 1 hour and then rinse away the old water a few times)

2 cups water, scant

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/8 teaspoon turmeric, optional

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, or to taste

1/2 a tomato, chopped finely, optional (I just used one because I had half of one in the fridge)

for garnish:

3-4 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2  a small onion, sliced thinly

2 branches/stems of curry leaves (removed from stems), available in Indian/Pakistani grocery stores

4-5 whole dried red chilies

handful chopped cilantro

a few mint leaves, chopped

2″ piece of ginger, julienned

1 green chili, sliced in half length-wise

Method

In a medium-sized saucepan bring the water to a boil on medium to medium-high heat.  Add in the maash ki dal, salt, turmeric, red chili powder, and tomato.  Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes, until the water has evaporated and when you press on the dal with your finger it mashes easily.  The grains should be separate, not mushy.  Place the dal into your serving dish.  Next, in a frying pan, heat the oil on medium heat.  Add the onion and begin to fry it.  After 3 minutes add in the cumin seeds, curry leaves, whole dried red chilies and fry all of the items together until the onions turn golden brown.  You may want to run your exhaust fan during this process because it may cause you to cough a bit. When the onions are golden, pour the hot oil mixture over the lentils.  Then finish the garnish with the ginger, cilantro, mint leaves, and the green chili.  Serve with roti or naan.

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A few days ago, I was thinking about things I have learned to make since I got married.  Getting married improved my cooking repertoire substantially.  I always loved cooking, but was too busy as a student to really dive in and explore a lot of new dishes.  My husband’s taste buds sometimes dictate what I cook as well.  I admit, I am more domineering in the food side of things, so usually what I say goes!  That’s the way it should be, right girls?  Also, my husband has not cooked a meal for me even once!  Can you believe that?  Shame on him!  If I do not want to cook we go out or order something.  Never once will he offer to make something.  Not that I mind it on a daily basis, but sometimes a girl does not want to see the kitchen.  Recently, he was away on electives and had to cook for himself.  Can you guess know what he made?  His infamous chicken breasts, baked with salt, pepper, and zucchini in a foil pouch.  Wow, how utterly creative!

Okay, enough with the husband bashing (he really does not deserve it), this was supposed to be another tribute to his taste buds but somehow I got sidetracked.  During the past two Ramadans (Islamic month of fasting) I have made Pakoras everyday, I never really made them before I got married.  My husband, being a creature of habit needs to have pakoras to open his fast.  We are not particularly religious, although we do try to do the basics, I more than him.  But, in Ramadan we try to fast as much as possible.  It is a spiritual cleansing and makes us remember all we have been given.

It is a spiritual cleansing, NOT a physical cleaning.  Us Pakistanis open our fasts with the most artery clogging dishes possible.  Pakoras, samosas, lentil fritters swimming in yogurt, puff pastry patties, fried potato cutlets are usually on the tables in most Pakistani households at the opening of the fast.  Yes, there are the afterthoughts of fruit salad and dates in the corner.  But, after fasting all day most people jump for the fried foods.  I try to steer away from this habit.  Give me the fruit and a date and then afterwards I’ll eat a normal healthy dinner.

Despite my eating habits, I still make Pakoras for my husband and maybe an occasional one for myself, shhhhhh.  I have perfected them and although he likes them dipped almost like vegetable tempura, I make them with everything in the batter.  It’s easier and in my opinion tastier.  My mother told me to add yogurt to the batter because it makes them fluffier, but that is entirely optional. Pakoras are not only reserved for Ramadan, that is why I felt like making them today, on some random April day.  I must admit they are delicious and I do devour them when I go to Pakistan, where I do not gain weight from eating all these fried foods, but that is a story for another day.  In Lahore, the best pakoras are available in Liberty Market.

Pakoras: Chickpea Flour Fritters with Spinach, Red Onion, and Potatoes

Makes about 12

Ingredients

3/4 cup chickpea/gram flour (besan)

water (enough to form a thick batter)

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1/4 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon chaat masala powder, available in Indian/Pakistani grocery stores

1 heaping tablespoon of plain yogurt, optional

1 cup packed baby spinach, coarsely chopped

1 small potato, cut into thin matchstick pieces

1 small red onion, sliced as thin as possible

handful of cilantro, chopped

1 thin long green chili, minced finely

vegetable oil, for frying

Method

In a mortar and pestle crush together the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and carom seeds.  Leave them coarse.  In a bowl mix together the chickpea flour, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, carom seeds, red chili powder, chat masala, and salt.  Add in the water slowly until the ingredients form a batter, similar to a slightly thick pancake batter.  Add in the yogurt and mix.  Next toss in the spinach, onion, potato, cilantro, and green chili.  Heat a pan with oil, I like to shallow fry the Pakoras, if you wish, you can deep fry them.  Add heaping tablespoon-fulls of batter into the heated oil and cook on medium to medium low heat until they are golden brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Make sure the batter and the vegetables inside are fully cooked before serving.  When cooked, drain on a plate lined with paper towel.  Sprinkle with some extra salt and chaat masala.  Eat them fresh, they do not taste as good if they are not hot.  You can serve the Pakoras with tamarind-date chutney, green chutney, or even chili garlic ketchup.

Lately my routine has not allowed me to update my blog as frequently as I would have liked to.  I have come up with a bout of forgetfulness.  Not to say I forgot about my blog, but I have been misplaced from my apartment and have had a very ill-regimented schedule.  I really missed cooking but now I’m ready to forge ahead with full force!  I was staying at my in-law’s house in Toronto and my sister-in-law is a great cook on her own, so I was not really needed in the kitchen.  Not that I’m complaining, this was easy for me. Not to say that my sister-in-law’s purpose is to cook for me.  She is very sweet and I am lucky to have her as a sister-in-law. But, my time off from the kitchen had something to do with my absolute absent-mindedness.  With no responsibilities, I became somewhat aloof.

My husband and I were going to drive back to Kingston to drop off some stuff I had accumulated on my US trip.  After sitting in two hours of traffic I suddenly realized I forgot the apartment keys at home.  As you can guess my husband was not amused.  That’s was when I got the lecture about, “my irresponsibility.”  I became a little paranoid, was I showing early signs of dementia?  When I mentioned this you should have seen the glare my husband gave me.  He was already angry with me forgetting the keys, and my ridiculousness put him over the edge.  Thankfully, my husband is a calm person and got over it quickly.  Mistakes happen!

I also forgot my camera at my in-law’s.  I am quite upset about this, because though I was going through a cooking drought I did manage to make one Spring version of a potato salad.  Me being myself, did not upload the pictures beforehand and cannot post the recipe until I get my camera back.  These are the two major things I have forgotten recently, but there are countless other things I will not bore you with.

Had enough of my rambling yet?  Let’s get on to the chicken, to be honest, I started writing the post for the chicken skewers in green marinade more than a month ago and forgot about it.  Then as I was looking through my posts I saw this and wondered why I never finished the post.  I guess things always come around to full circle.  I really wanted to get back into my blog and thankfully, I had some uploaded pictures on my computer.  So here I am now bringing this to you.

This chicken dish is a staple of mine.  One thing I never forget to do is to use herbs.  My dishes are naked without them.  This exemplifies my use of some of my favorite herbs: cilantro and mint.  The flavors meld into one.  I really think someone should make a hybrid of mint and cilantro.  Maybe I should get going on that idea.  🙂  The marination process really allows the chicken to moisten.  This also has something to do with the addition of cream into the marinade, indulgent, yes, but well worth it.  It also is also a variant from the traditional Pakistani food I cook most of the time.  I love using similar and familiar flavors but with a twist.  This keeps cooking and eating fun.

Chicken Skewers in a Green Marinade

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless chicken in chunks (breast or thigh)

4 cloves of garlic made into a paste

1/2 cup packed mint leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1 long green chili, finely chopped

juice of 1 lime

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon  crushed red chilis, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder

1/4 cup heavy cream

Method

Combine all ingredients except the chicken in a blender or food processor.  Place the chicken in a bowl and pour the marinade over it.  Allow it to marinate for 3-4 hours.  After 3-4 hours place the chicken on skewers and bake on a  lightly oiled baking tray in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.  Now that the weather is getting better, this would be great on a charcoal grill.  Serve with lime wedges and garnish with mint and cilantro.  Accompany with rice or naan.

My mother-in-law is a star in the kitchen, especially when it comes to Pakistani cuisine.  You ask for it and she will make it, happily.  Some people do not bother with serving others food.  They are stingy or not gracious hosts.  These comments could never be associated with my mother-in-law.  She loves feeding her friends and family.  I always tell her, “Aunty, you should open up a restaurant.”  If it was not so tiring and such a big commitment, I think it would be ideal for her.

She goes all out with her preparations.  I love seeing this quality in people, the trait of being a great host.  Inviting someone to your house should not be seen as a hassle, but an occasion to share food and good times with others.  She makes very elaborate and time-consuming dishes when she is having a gathering.  She would rather not invite people over than make something simple that you would eat in your house on a daily basis.  I am like her in some ways.  I do take pride in inviting people over to my place.  In this day and age, I understand that people are busy and entertaining is the last thing on their minds.  But, there is something so appealing and welcoming about a good host.

I mention all of this, because my mother-in-law also makes her own fresh naans.  Most of the time, she lives in Dubai, but she also visits Toronto quite frequently.  Both of these places have no shortage of establishments that serve up fresh naans.  Yet, she takes great pride in her kitchen and would rather serve something fresh and home-made.  Making naan for 2-3 people, like I have made here is not that grueling.  However, she will make naans for 15-20 people with a smile on her face the whole time.

I hope you try this recipe, it is really worth it to put in the effort.  The recipe is not hard at all, just a little time-consuming.  The result is so worth it.  They are usually made in a tandoor or clay oven.  Most of us are not equipped with one in our kitchen, so the broiler is the next best option.  Hot, fresh, naans enhance any Pakistani or Indian dish as they serve the place of an extra utensil.  They are chewy and oh so delicious.  I am very lucky to have such a great mother-in-law who is able to teach me such recipes that I would have not tried making before.

Naan

Makes 8 naans

Ingredients

4 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour (organic)

1 1/2 tablespoons dry-active yeast

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup of yogurt

sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

kalonji seeds, for garnish (optional)

softened butter

extra water and flour, if necessary

Method

Proof the yeast with the warm water and sugar, for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to form bubbles.  Sift together the flour with the salt and baking powder.  Add in the yeast mixture, milk, and 1/2 cup of oil.  Knead the dough together until it forms a ball.  If the dough is too sticky add extra flour to the dough and likewise if it is too dry, add water.  Allow to rise in a bowl covered with a damp kitchen towel for 4 hours.  Keep the bowl in a warm place, like over the stove.

Meanwhile mix the yogurt with the remaining oil in a bowl and set aside.

After four hours knead the dough slightly.  Separate the dough into 8 equal balls.  Allow the balls to rise for 30 minutes.  Then, using a rolling-pin roll the balls into 8-9 inch rounds.  Use your fingertips to make indentations in the dough.

Preheat your broiler.  Heat a griddle or frying pan on the stove on medium heat.  Brush the yogurt/oil mixture on top of the naans and cover with sesame seeds.  You can add a few kalonji seeds, if you like.  Next cook the bottom of the naans on the griddle or frying pan for about 4 minutes.  Then transfer them as the bottoms are browned onto a baking tray underneath the broiler.  This will brown the top of the naans.  Keep each naan in the oven for about 4 minutes, or until the top is slightly golden.  If you wish you can dab a little butter on top of the hot naans.  Serve them right away, they taste best right from the oven.

My husband always requests this dish.  He has his set in stone favorites and maybe it is a good thing that he knows what he likes.   Chickpeas stew (channay ka salan) is a favorite of his.  My sister and I tease him with the nickname, “woohoo, channay.”  Okay, you might think we are completely bonkers, but there is a reason why we call him that.  About 3 years ago, at his sister’s wedding, my sister, my husband, and I were at the dinner buffet and my husband spotted this dish in the lineup and exclaimed, “woohoo, channay!!!”  My sister and I looked at each other in utter amazement.  Out of all the dishes, he was most excited about the chickpeas.  I was drooling over the biryani and the haleem.  The chickpeas were an afterthought to me.  Partially, because this dish is something I can easily prepare at home with almost no effort.

You could say it is good for me that he likes this dish so much.  It is so easy to prepare, much like many Pakistani dishes.  I do not post too many Pakistani dishes (although, I do cook them frequently), because a lot of them have the same ingredients with a different protein and/or vegetable combination.  I am not that adept at making some of the more difficult ones, yet.  Any Pakistanis reading this might also be unimpressed because this is a basic home-cooking recipe that xyz million people can make blindfolded.  It is also very hard to get these items to look pretty, because most dishes are stewed.  Hopefully, this one appeals to your senses!

My husband says I never give him credit for helping me choose dishes to make, so here I am giving him full credit.  Hopefully, he will be happy with this.  He will probably mock me and say, “out of all your entries, you give me a tribute in your chickpeas post!”  To this I will respond, “you were the one who ‘woohoo-ed’ over them.”

In my family, this dish is usually served for brunch, but it is also great for dinner!  Enjoy!

Spicy  Stewed Chickpeas

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

vegetable oil

3 cups of cooked chickpeas (soaked then boiled in water with a pinch of baking soda until tender)

1 medium-sized red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped finely (optional and not necessary)

1 large tomato, chopped (I prefer to purée the tomato, but chopped is fine)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

3/4 teaspoon red chili powder, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder, homemade is best

salt to taste

water

long green chilies (available at Indian/Pakistani grocery store and even at regular grocery stores, they are usually about 3 inches long and thin).

handful of cilantro, chopped

a few slices of red onion, for garnish

a little extra garam masala, for garnish

Method

Heat some oil (about 2-3 tablespoons) on medium heat in a medium-sized pot.  Add in the onions and cook until light brown, about 7 minutes.  Make sure they are not too brown, just about to turn light brown.  Add in the garlic, if you re using it and allow it to melt in with the onions.  Next add the chopped tomatoes and fry for a minute or so.  Add all the spices and allow the raw taste to cook out of the spices, about 2 minutes.  Add in the chickpeas and mix around so that everything is distributed.  Add in some water, the amount is up to you, the water will evaporate.  You can add more water as it is cooking if you do not like the consistency.  I would start with 2 cups.  Cook on medium-low heat until you do not see any individual pieces of tomatoes or onion.  The gravy should be uniform.  This will take 30-45 minutes.  About 10 minutes before it is ready I like to throw in a whole green chili for some extra flavor.  Garnish with chopped green chilies, cilantro, sliced red onion, and a sprinkling of garam masala.  Serve with fresh naans or roti.  If you are feeling decadent then try paratha or poori.

Chicken tikka is ubiquitous with South Asian cuisine.  It is a popular takeout item, but is just as easily prepared at home.  Making this dish in a tandoori oven would be ideal but my apartment kitchen could not handle such advanced apparatus.  I actually prefer my homemade version to *some* restaurant versions because in many restaurants I have been to, the chicken is practically dyed an ungodly red color.  That food coloring or whatever it is that they use, really turned me off chicken tikka for a while.  To me, this look is as unappealing as an over peroxidized bleached blond.  (I do not have anything against bleached blondes, just a comparison in dying methods ;). )

Another issue I had with chicken tikka was that I became dependent on Shan Masalas in order to prepare it.  If you do not know of Shan masalas (there are many other brands that produce similar spice mixes) are prepared spice mixes for any Pakistani dish you could dream of.  When I say any, I MEAN any.  They are 99 cent wonders for some.  Throw in some onions, ginger, and garlic and your xyz Pakistani dish is made.  Though, there is a convenience factor to these masalas, there is the inevitable fact that everyone’s food started tasting the same.  The authenticity of the cuisine was gone.  For a while I couldn’t tell you what went into Biryani, it was all in the Shan Masala for me, why would I need to know?  Now, I steer clear of  these prepared masalas as much possible.

Oh no, I made them sound like the most evil thing on earth didn’t I?  They’re not that bad (though they are laden with sodium, but that’s another issue.) At least, they encourage people who wouldn’t normally cook, to actually go into the kitchen.  Also, I must admit, I do add just a bit of the prepared chicken tikka mix because of the nice color it adds.  (Not the unnatural mutated red color as previously mentioned.)

Chicken tikka is so easy to prepare and yields delicious results.  I freshly grind all my spices to produce even more flavor, but if you don’t have a spice grinder, powdered ones will work great.  Also, I have noticed that South Asian spices in regular markets can be exorbitantly expensive.  Do check out Indian/Pakistani groceries where the same spices will be of better quality and at lower prices.  South Asians have reached all corners of the globe, so I’m sure there will be an Indian/Pakistani grocer somewhere near you.  I’m originally from Rhode Island aka the smallest state, and we have at least 3 South Asian grocers there.  Enjoy this dish, it’s definitely a crowd pleaser and great for large gatherings!

Chicken Tikka

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

4 chicken leg quarters skin removed and separated into leg and thigh portions, and using your knife make 3 slits on each piece of chicken so that the marinade can penetrate into the meat, (if you get your chicken directly from a butcher ask him or her to remove the kidneys as well)

7-8 cloves of garlic mashed in a mortar and pestle with 1/4 cup of water

1/2 inch piece of ginger mashed on a mortar and pestle (mixed with the garlic)

juice of 1 lime

2 teaspoons laal mirch powder, I believe this is similar to cayenne pepper but in Indian/Pakistani grocery stores it is called red chili powder.  I do not like to say chili powder because some may get confused with Tex-Mex Chili.  I prefer using Mehran brand red chili powder.

1 tablespoon cumin powder

1 tablespoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 pinch of ajwain (carom) seeds

1 teaspoon Shan Chicken Tikka Masala

1 teaspoon salt

1 heaping tablespoon of yogurt

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

sliced onions, limes, green chilies, and tomatoes, cilantro, for garnish

Method

Put the chicken into a large bowl.  Mix all the spices together and add the lime juice, ginger/garlic paste made in the mortar and pestle, oil, and, yogurt (I forgot to add my yogurt until the end that is why you can see it separately in my pictures, but it really does not make a difference.)  Combine these ingredients until they form a paste.  Slather this paste over the chicken and rub it into the slits.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours, if you are pressed for time, at least 1 hour.  After marination place the chicken on an oiled baking tray and bake at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the chicken in cooked through.  Then, turn the oven to broil and allow to broil for about 5 minutes or until the chicken gets a little charred.  Serve with hot naan and the garnishes.

*This chicken is also wonderful on the grill in the summertime!

I made these Pakistani style Potato Cutlets for my Eid dinner as a replacement for beef kebabs because we invited someone who doesn’t eat beef.  Therefore, I decided on these.  They can be served as an appetizer, you are probably familiar of them from Indian restaurants where they are referred to as Aloo ki Tikki (usually an appetizer).

These are so simple to make as well.  It is often the case in my house that I get lazy on occasion and don’t feel like grocery shopping.  Especially, when I have to carry the heavy bags home.  Sometimes, I am left at home with potatoes, eggs, some random herbs, and other things not worth mentioning.  That’s when I really wish I had gone food shopping because I wouldn’t have to put my mind through the agony of what can I make from these ingredients I have on hand.  But, I can usually make these potato cutlets.  They are really yummm when they are freshly pan-fried.  These cutlets satisfy anyone’s salty cravings (which, I usually have a lot of).  I use Panko breadcrumbs because they create more texture and add a better crispiness, but regular breadcrumbs work fine as well.  They are simple, quick, and very budget friendly as well.

Potato Cutlets

Makes about 20, 3-4 inch in diameter cutlets

Ingredients

4 medium to large potatoes, I used red ones

1 onion, chopped finely

1 large handful cilantro, chopped finely (I know, how exact)

1 long green chili, chopped finely

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2-1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 1/2  teaspoons coriander seeds ground coarsely in a spice mill or mortar and pestle

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dried pomegranate seeds (anar dana) ground in the spice mill or mortar and pestle, optional (My mother in law adds these in her cutlets and they improve the taste.  If an Indian or Pakistani grocery store is not near you, you can skip this.)

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten with some water salt and crushed chili flakes

Panko breadcrumbs about 1 cup

vegetable oil for frying

*Adjust the spices if you would like a milder cutlet.  I think most people can handle the amount of spice I have listed here, but make adjustments according to your taste buds.

Method

Cut and peel the potatoes into large chunks and place in a saucepan with cold water and boil until they are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop the onions, cilantro, and green chili.  I did this in my mini food processor.  When the potatoes have cooled slightly, mash them with a potato masher or fork.  Do not make them too smooth, leave a little bit of chunkiness to them.  Next, add the onions, cilantro, green chili, and all the spices.  Mix everything together like how you would mix meatballs.  Next, form the potato mixture into medium sized round patties.  You can keep them frozen like this for about a month and bread them after they are defrosted.  But, I fried mine fresh.  Put the egg mixture (with salt and red chili flakes) in a plate and in a separate plate add the panko breadcrumbs.  Put the potato cutlet into the egg then into the breadcrumbs and fry in hot oil until golden brown on both sides.  You do not need to add too much oil to your frying pan, just enough for a pan fry.  You can place these on a plate with paper towel to soak up the excess oil.  Serve hot with chutney.  Or serve on a bun as a “veggie” burger with double the carbs :).

IMG_7766Hari chutney is a South Asian condiment.  I always have it made in my fridge.   Basically, it is a green chutney consisting of cilantro, mint, and green chilies.  You can eat with rice, curries, samosas, tandoori dishes, basically anything.  The flavors in it are so fresh and vibrant because of the mint and cilantro.  The herby quality of the chutney mellows out and completes whatever dish it is accompanying.  I have been trying to make the perfect chutney for quite a few years and now I think I finally have it right.  Sometimes it would be too minty, other times too spicy, I have tried it with and without lime and I think I prefer it without lime (just slightly though).  I usually add whisked yogurt to tone it down a bit and give the chutney a more delicate flavor.  However, it is perfectly suitable to refrain from adding yogurt.  In this case, a squirt of lime juice to enhance the chutney’s flavor.  Traditionally, this chutney was made with a large mortar and pestle.  But, in today’s world, usually we opt for an easier option–the blender.

This chutney is quite simple to prepare.  I also add some freshly ground cumin, and just a pinch of ajwain (carom) seeds.  The cumin adds earthiness and the ajwain complements the mint with a great pungency.

Cilantro and Mint Chutney

Makes about 2 cups of chutneyIMG_7733

Ingredients

1/2 a bunch of cilantro, washed throughly, thick stems removed

15 mint leaves, stems removed

1-2 green chilies, stems removed and coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped roughly

juice of half a lime, optional (for chutney without yogurt)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon scant ajwain

1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (cayenne pepper)

1 1/2 cup whisked plain yogurt (you may add water or milk to thin it out a bit)

Method:IMG_7749

In a blender or food processor, add the cilantro, mint, green chilies, garlic, salt, cumin, ajwain, and cayenne.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of water until everything is a smooth puree.  If you are not using yogurt add the lime as well.

If adding yogurt, pour the chutney into the whisked yogurt and combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

This can keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

*Some add dried pomegranate seeds to the chutney as well.  I do not particularly care for it in this chutney, but you may want to try it out.