IFR daily

Daily Indian food, as it's cooked in my kitchen. Sometimes, not-so-Indian. No frills. No props. Just good food. A phone blog.

Category: side

Spicy Baby Dutch Potatoes

1.5 lbs baby Dutch potatoes
2 tbsp ghee (or oil)
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
6-7 fresh curry leaves, washed and wiped dry
2-3 hot green chiles, sliced fine
1 tbsp chana dal
1/4 cup sliced white onion
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
Lots of chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

Boil baby Dutch potatoes in their jackets, preferably using a pressure cooker. (I let my pressure cooker go for a tad bit longer and some skins split. It isn’t a problem as these are waxy potatoes).
2015/04/img_1839.jpgWhile the potatoes are cooking, heat ghee in a medium pot. Once hot enough, add mustard seeds. (Test ghee by dropping one or two mustard seeds into it, if they pop then it’s ready). When they pop, lower heat and add cumin seeds, followed by curry leaves, finely sliced green chiles and Chana dal. Toss to combine.

Add sliced onion, turmeric powder, about 1/2 tsp of salt and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until onions are soft.

Peel the potatoes, if you like. The skin is thin and peels off easily.
Halve some of the larger potatoes. Add all potatoes to the pot. Toss to coat potatoes with onions and spices.
Drizzle 1 tbsp of ghee along the side of the pot. Add another 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix well taking care not to break down any of the potatoes. Spread in as much of a single layer as your pot will allow. Cook on medium for about 7-8 minutes, allowing the potatoes to crispen a tad, but making sure that they do not burn. If necessary, mix and spread out in a single layer again.
Add chopped cilantro. Add fresh lemon juice. Mix well.

Adjust for seasonings and serve hot with rotis or with rice and dal.

Use any waxy potatoes. If they are larger than baby potatoes, dice them into smaller pieces once boiled and peeled.
Do not peel, chop and then boil.
Use more hot green chiles to up the heat. More lemon juice if you are like me.


Everyday Baingan Bharta

2 medium globe eggplants
2-3 tbsp oil (I use avocado oil)
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
2-3 beefsteak tomatoes, chopped
2-3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2in knob of ginger, minced
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp (or more) red chile powder
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
1 green chile, minced
Cilantro for garnish

Set broiler on high. Make sure you have a shelf in the middle of your oven.
Wash and dry eggplants.

Using a knife, make a few slits in the eggplant. If you forget, the eggplant could explode in your oven. Ask me how I know or check out the picture below. *hides head in shame*
Line a tray or ovenproof dish with aluminum foil, place eggplants on foil, and broil on high in the middle shelf of your oven for about 15-20 minutes or as long as it takes for the outer skin to char slightly. Be aware that you will not get the classic smoky flavor when eggplants are broiled instead of roasted directly on an open flame.

Set your times for anywhere between 6-8 minutes and turn the eggplant over when the timer goes off, and then set the timer for another 6-8 minutes. Repeat until done. Or until you’re done prepping and cooking the masala.

As the eggplants are being broiled, slice the onions.
Heat oil in a large saucepan or kadhai. Add sliced onions and about 1 tsp of salt. Sauté until softened.
Mince ginger and garlic.
Add to onions in saucepan. Stir-fry for a couple minutes.

Chop tomatoes and add to saucepan. Cook down until tomatoes have softened. I use my own whole canned tomatoes, and break them down with a wooden spoon.

Add turmeric powder and red chile powder.
Mix well and turn heat down.

Remove eggplants from oven and carefully slice open. That is, if they have not exploded on you! Using a spoon, scoop out the steaming hot innards.
You do not want the charred or dried-up outer skin. Add the eggplant meat directly to the saucepan. If there is any seemingly “tough” meat left near the stalk-end of the eggplant, scoop that out, place it on your cutting board and chop into smaller pieces. Add this to the saucepan.
Mix well and then increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes. Adjust seasonings, especially salt.

Squeeze about 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice into the bharta. Add minced green chile and chopped cilantro.
Mix well, turn off heat and serve hot with rotis or take to a potluck as a dip with pita chips or tortilla chips.

Mildly-spiced Roasted Cauliflower

1 small head of cauliflower
1-1.5 tbsp neutral oil
1/2 tsp nigella seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp red chile powder
3/4 tsp salt
2-3 tsp lemon juice

Heat oven to 400F. I like to use the convection roast feature of my oven.

Clean cauliflower by removing leaves and discarding stalk.
Break or cut into small florets and place in medium mixing bowl.
Mix seeds and red chile powder in a small bowl.
Add salt and oil to spices and mix well.
Pour spice mixture over cauliflower florets and rub it into the florets gently using your clean hands.

Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and spread the florets out in a single layer.
Place in the center rack of your oven and roast for 20 minutes, turning the florets after 10 minutes. Roast until tender, yet crunchy, and browned on the edges. Do not burn.

Once done, pull tray out of oven and add lemon juice. Toss with a wooden spoon to mix. Or, like me, gather the sides of the foil and toss. Do this only after making sure that the foil is not too hot to handle.

Serve immediately.

This is a great after-school snack or an appetizer. It also works well to tide over a hungry teen until dinner is ready.

You can change the spices; use your preferred type of oil. Make it spicier by adding finely chopped green chiles. Add minced garlic to the spice mix or keep it whole and roast with the cauliflower. The possibilities are endless.

Making yogurt at home

4 cups of milk
2 tbsp of yogurt starter

Use any kind of milk that you prefer. The higher the fat content, the more custard-like and firm your yogurt will be. I use skim milk on a regular basis.

Pour milk into a glass container and heat in microwave for 6-7 minutes, or until the milk develops a thin skin on top. If, like me, you use skim milk or 2% milk, your milk will have more water content and it helps to allow it to cool and re-heat it a couple times to lose that extra moisture. With full-fat milk, there is next to no need to do this.

Discard any skin or film that may have developed by gently scooping it up with a clean spoon.

Allow milk to cool such that a drop feels just a tad bit hot on the back of your hand (not your palm) but pleasantly warm in your mouth. I’ve heard it bandied about that it should be 110-115F. I’ve never used a thermometer to measure it and I make yogurt at least 2-3 times a week, all year round.

If the milk is not as hot as required, heat it in the microwave for another minute or two.

In a separate bowl, whisk two tablespoons of your yogurt starter. This can be any commercial yogurt that has live cultures. I prefer Wallaby. You could ask a friendly Indian neighbor for some of their homemade yogurt or even an Indian restaurant. Niv says she uses kefir while Shilpa recommended Yogourmet.

Slowly add milk to the yogurt starter, a tablespoon at a time and mix. This brings the temperature of the yogurt up to that of the milk gently and does not shock the starter culture, if the milk is a little bit warmer than required.

Pour the starter + milk mixture into the glass container with warm milk and stir to mix. I stir 10 times in one direction and 10 times in the reverse direction. I have no explanation for this!

Place the glass container on a metal plate, like a stainless steel thali or flat lid, and place it in your oven as close to the oven light as possible. Cover it with another thali or lid. The metal conducts heat from the oven light bulb and helps maintain a warm temperature, conducive for the yogurt to set. It eliminates the need for wrapping the container in towels to keep it warm.

Turn on your oven light and leave this undisturbed for at least 6-8 hours. This is usually the last thing I do before I shut down my kitchen for the night.

By next morning, or 6-8 hours later, the milk should have fermented and become custard-like, possibly with a thin layer of whey floating on top. It may have a slight sour smell. That’s what you want.

If your glass container has a lid, put it on and place the container in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3-4 hours.
Homemade yogurt lasts in the refrigerator for upto two weeks. It is usually more tart than commercially-prepared yogurt. The longer it sits out, before refrigeration, the more tart it becomes.

Always set aside 2-3 tablespoons of homemade yogurt to use as starter culture for your next batch. The rule in my home is that my family can never ever finish the yogurt unless I have specifically told them they can do so. They’ve also learned to ask if they can finish it.

Homemade yogurt has more whey. We mix it right back into the yogurt or pour it over rice and dal.

Until your homemade yogurt is potent, you will need about 2 tablespoons of yogurt to use as starter culture. After a couple of weeks or rounds of making yogurt, try reducing it to 1.5 tablespoons. For 4 cups of milk, I don’t go below 1 tablespoon.

Broiled Brussel Sprouts with Panch Phoran

1 lb brussel sprouts
2 tbsp avocado oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tbsp panch phoran
generous squeeze of lemon juice

Wash brussel sprouts and trim off yellow leaves. Slice in half along the longer median. Lay in a flat layer in a baking tray or ovenproof pan. When I’m looking for quick clean-up, I line my baking tray with foil beforehand.
Drizzle with avocado oil. If you have mustard oil, that’s an even better option. Some folks use olive oil. Use whatever floats your boat or appeals to you at the moment.

Sprinkle with salt and panch phoran. Toss.
Broil on high for about 4-5 minutes, keeping an eye on the loose leaves. They caramelize beautifully but you don’t want them to completely char. Toss and broil for another 4-5 minutes until you have tender brussel sprouts at the center and crispy outer leaves.

Squeeze a generous dash of fresh lemon juice and toss. Serve immediately.

This is one of my favorite ways to have brussel sprouts. Broiling is quicker than roasting, as the latter takes about 45-50 minutes. We like them crunchy rather than soft and mushy. Sometimes, I throw in a few whole garlic pods. Other times, I sprinkle some red chile powder.

I think I first learned of this recipe through a friend of Bong Mom and have been forever grateful!