Swiss Chard and Onion Pakoras

I’ve been having some big cravings for pakoras lately. I am not sure why I’ve wanted them so bad, they aren’t something that we’ve every regularly eaten, and I’ve never made them before, but this week I made it my mission to cook some up! Veggie pakoras can have a lot of different add-ins, often spinach is an ingredient, onion as well. As usual, I didn’t have spinach on hand but had a handful of delicious swiss chard, and knew that this would be an easy substitution. These pakoras pack a little heat, so feel free to tone down the spice. A lot of extra spice can be had with some good mint chutney, make it yourself if you dare (I will be daring to do this later, today I used store-bought… I know, I know, Stacey, get it together).

Swiss Chard and Onion Pakoras

Adapted from here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Chickpea Flour  (aka Besan or Gram Flour)
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper (use half if you are spice-averse)
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala (make your own, essentially it is my Amazing Curry spice mix, minus the salt and the chilli powder)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 green chili pepper, thinly sliced (use half if you are spice-averse)
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 large yellow onion (or 1 medium onion, my onions were massive), sliced into 1/8inch crescents (cut in half, chop off ends, cut along ribs to create thin, but not too thin, slices)
  • 4-6 leaves of Swiss chard, fold the leaves in half lengthwise, cut off stem, and slice into 1/4-inch thick, 2-inch long strips.
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Grapeseed oil (or another mild-flavoured oil), for deep frying

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fill an 8-inch cast-iron skillet half-way up with oil. Heat the oil to 360-375ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the chickpea flour, red chili flakes, garam masala, salt, baking powder, sliced chilli pepper, cilantro, Swiss chard, and sliced onion.
  3. Slowly add in the water, while mixing with a wooden spoon or your hands. Vigorously mix for a couple of seconds. The batter will be thick, and air bubbles should be evident, if not, give it another vigorous stir.
  4. If you don’t have a thermometer that goes to 360°F, don’t fret. Put the end of a wooden spoon into the oil, if there are a lot of bubbles forming around the end, and coming towards the surface, you are ready to fry.
  5. When the oil is ready, carefully place heaping tablespoons of batter into the pot. Don’t do more than three, or four at a time. If you overcrowd the pan, you will lower the temperature of the oil significantly and your pakoras wont fry, but absorb the oil. Greasy pakoras are no good.
  6. Turning once, fry until the pakoras are a pecan-brown. Drain on a cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet.
  7. Repeat with the remainder of the batter.
  8. Serve with mint chutney, sriracha, mango chutney, ketchup chutney, ketchup, anything really.

This is my kitchen situation. Small space, but now that we’ve removed the microwave, it is a lot more functional. That cord off to the left? That’s my camera cord, as right now it is the only way to use my camera… I forgot my battery charger in the Yukon and sadly the cord only allows the camera to operate, it doesn’t charge it.

Posted in Uncategorized

Butter Chicken and Naan from scratch

I love butter chicken, and usually make it with a curry paste from the store. Today, I felt inspired to go all the way and make it from scratch, and let me tell you, it was awesome. It was also really easy. I’ve had a lot of failed naans, and while Gen has loved them all (he clearly eats anything), even he says that this is the closest to restaurant naan ever. Huzzzzzaaaah! I am feeling pretty thrilled with the whole meal, it was insanely good, and I kept going back to the stove to scoop some of the sauce up in the naan. Warning, this recipe has a stack of ingredients, most you should have, but if not… get them, and make this. Seriously.

Butter Chicken

Adapted from Jo Cooks.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb chicken breast, boneless and skinless, cut into small pieces
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 block of extra firm tofu (if you want a little extra protein in there, it takes the sauce beautifully)
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 2 green chilis, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cashew nuts
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped for garnish
  • 2 – 4 cups water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix together the first section of ingredients, the chicken, garlic, ginger, chili powder, coriander, and salt. Make sure the chicken is well coated.
  2. Heat up the oil in a large skillet, add the chicken and cook for about 7 minutes; remove from skillet.
  3. In the same skillet, add the cumin seeds, onion, and remaining garlic and ginger and sauté for a couple minutes, until the onion is slightly translucent. Add a two cups of water and stir.
  4. Add the cashew nuts, coriander powder, chili powder, fenugreek seeds, chopped chilis, and tomatoes, stir well.
  5. Cook the sauce over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Start your naan now, it needs an hour to rise and so be doing that while you are working on the rest of the sauce.
  6. Pour the sauce in a blender and blend it until it’s nice and smooth (I used my hand blender, and while it didn’t get totally smooth, it was still great). Pour the sauce back in the skillet.
  7. Add another cup of water and the butter. Add the sugar and salt to taste.
  8. If you are using the tofu, pour a little oil onto a pan and sauté the tofu until it is slightly browned on the edges. Add it into the sauce with the chicken in the next step.
  9. Add the cream and the chicken (and tofu) to the sauce. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Add the garam masala and stir well. Taste for salt, add as needed.
  11. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Naan

Also from Jo Cooks.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and water. Mix well and let sit for about 10 min until frothy on top.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, oil, and egg and whisk well. Pour in the yeast mixture and whisk to combine.
  3. Starting with 1 cup of the flour, add the salt to it and mix. Add this first cup of flour to your wet ingredients and stir until well combined. Continue by adding the flour, half a cup at a time, until you can’t stir it with the spoon any longer. If you are using a mixer and a dough hook, add flour until the dough is no longer sticky, and it forms a nice ball.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour until the dough no longer sticks. It is likely that you will use the full 3 cups. The dough should be nice and soft but not sticky.
  5. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover it with a clean kitchen towel, letting it rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
  6. After it rises, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and shape each piece into a small ball.
  7. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and spray with non-stick spray. Roll out one ball at a time until it’s about 1/4 inch thick and about 5 inches in diameter. Place the rolled out dough onto the hot skillet and cook until the bottom side is golden brown and you should see large bubbles forming on the surface. Flip the dough and cook the other side until it’s golden. Butter them as they come off the skillet.
  8. Serve with butter chicken.

Well-coated chicken

Cooked-down veggies, ready to be smoothified.

Final spices, chicken, and cream added to the mix.

Naan, getting rolled out.

The set up.

Posted in Uncategorized