Handi Cooking – Murgh Navratan

Murgh Navratan is by far the most exotic chicken curry we have made. The delicacy is rich yet mild and it is royal. Navratan in hindi means Nine Gems. The Mughal emperor Akbar, despite his illiteracy, was a great lover of the artists and intellectuals. His passion for knowledge and interest in learning from great minds led him to attract men of genius to his court, known as the nine courtiers of King Akbar or Navratnas. However, in our recipe of Murgh Navratan, the Nine Gems are nine exotic dry fruits like almonds, pine nuts, raisins, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds etc.

The original recipe from Chef Arvind Saraswat specifies to use melon seeds but we substituted melon seeds with pumpkin seeds as we could not find melon seeds at the local grocery (I am sure we could have found it if we had made the effort). We love to cook the recipes that do not use the regular Indian curry base of tomato, ginger, garlic, cumin powder and coriander powder. This is one such unique recipe. The preparation takes a while but cooking is really simple.

When living in India we never bought dry fruits like sunflower seeds, melon seeds, pine nuts, macadamia nuts etc. Readers in India, please leave comments with your views on if these ingredients are easily and readily available at grocery stores in your area.

We hope you will enjoy watching us cook this exotic chicken curry as much as we enjoyed cooking it.

Ingredients Summary:

Chicken (cut into pieces) – 1.2 Kgs or 2 2/3 lbs; Yogurt – 1 1/2 cups; Salt – to taste; Ghee – 3/4 cup; Whole Garam Masala [Green Cardamom – 5; Black Cardamom – 1; Cloves – 5; Cinnamon – 1 inch; Bay Leaf – 1; Mace – 1 pinch]; Onions – 200gm or 7 oz; Ginger – 15 gm or 1/2 oz; Green Chilies – 4; Turmeric – 1/2 tsp; Red Chili Powder – 2 tsp; Heavy Cream – 1/2 cup; Mace Powder – 1/4 tsp; Cardamom Powder 1/4 tsp;

For the Shahi (royal) Paste:

Poppy Seeds – 2 Tbs; Almonds – 40 gm or 1/4 cup; Cashews – 40 gm or 1/4 cup; Pumpkin or Melon seeds – 2 Tbs;

For the Garnish (The Navratans or the Nine Gems):

Pistachio – 15; Almonds – 10; Cashews – 10; Walnuts (broken) – 1 Tbs; Macadamia Nuts – 1 Tbs; Sunflower Seeds – 1 Tbs; Pine Nuts – 1 Tbs; Pecans – 10; Raisins – 1 Tbs;

Feel free to substitute the dry fruits with your choice of dry fruits depending on availability.

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Handi Cooking – Methi Murgh

We are continuing our handi cooking series with this hit north Indian and Pakistani recipe called Methi Murgh or Fenugreek Chicken. Methi or fenugreek tastes best with fresh fenugreek and the world’s best fenugreek comes from Qasur in Pakistan. The dried fenugreek is now referred to as Kasoori Methi probably as a tribute to the fenugreek from Qasur. Kasoori Methi that is sold in market is not from Qasur though. The dried fenugreek, however, is an adequate replacement for the fresh leaves. Since, we had both fresh and dried fenugreek at our disposal, we happily used both the varieties in our recipe.

The taste of this delicacy was mild yet rich and filled with flavors for which the credit goes to the slow dum cooking. The methi flavor was not overpowering. We were afraid that it might be a little bitter because of fresh methi but soaking it in salted water before using it washed away the bitterness. There are so many recipes of this delicacy in the web but none matches to the way we cooked this. Please watch our video for the recipe of this ultimate chicken preparation.

Ingredients Summary:

Serves – 8; Total Time: 2 hours

Chicken – 2 Kg or 2 and 1/2 lb; Yogurt – 2 cup; Salt – to taste; Ghee – 1 cup; Whole Garam Masala [Green Cardamom – 10; Black Cardamom – 2; Cloves – 10; Cinnamon – 2 inch; Bay Leaf – 2; Mace – 2 pinch]; Onion (chopped) – 600 gm or 1.3 lbs; Garlic (grated) – 60 gm or 2 oz; Ginger (grated) – 60 gm or 2 oz; Green Chili (chopped)- 11 to 12; Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp; Coriander Powder – 2 tsp; Red Chili Powder – 2 tsp; Tomato (chopped) – 300 gm or 11 oz; Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek) – 2 Tbs; Fresh Methi (fenugreek) – 1 cup; Fresh Coriander – 1/2 cup; Ginger (juliennes) – 40 gm or 1.4 oz;

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Murgh Malai Kebab

The best thing we like about murgh (chicken) malai kebab is that it’s the easiest of kebab to make and tastes the best. The fusion of cheese and cream sauce with chicken grilled in oven produces a kebab that literally melts in the mouth. The secret behind murgh malai kebab to be so tender and succulent is simply the use of a meat tenderizer. If you cannot find off the shelf meat tenderizer then just use minced raw papaya skin instead. The use of meat tenderizer breaks the bonds in meat protein thus making it soft, easier to cook and digest.

In the marination we have used sour cream. As an alternative to sour cream, regular cream mixed with hung yogurt can also be used. Though traditionally grilled in a tandoor, at home this can be grilled on a charcoal grill or in a conventional electric oven. The easiest thing about using oven in this recipe is to use the highest temperature the oven offers. If the oven has broil feature then use broil feature or pre-heat the oven to 500 F. Just put the skewers in oven in broil mode or at 500 F and turn the skewers after 8 to 10 minutes and grill them for another 8 to 10 minutes and that’s it.  Enjoy them as an appetizer with sliced onions and coriander chutney or wrap them up in  chapati to make a roll.

Watch our video for the recipe and if you follow our video exactly you will be really amazed by the results. We ourselves were amazed when we first made it by following the recipe from chef Sanjay Thumma.

Ingredients Summary

Boneless Chicken Breast – 1.5 lbs (~750 gms); Ground Black Pepper – 1 tsp; Meat Tenderizer – 1 tsp; Cardamom Powder – 1 tsp; Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp; Shredded Cheddar Cheese – 1/2 cup; Sour Cream – 3 tbsp; Green Chili – 5; Coriander Leaves – 1/2 cup; Salt – 1 tsp; Oil – 1 tbsp;

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Tandoori Chicken Roast

This is a true fusion of western cooking style with Indian exotic spices. We made the Indian “Tandoori Chicken” without the tandoor (vertical clay oven) by using a conventional electric oven. The thing with “Tandoori Chicken” is that it cannot be cooked at home (because no one keeps a “Tandoor” at home) and since a regular roast chicken (made the american/european way) would have been too bland for our palate we decided doing a roast chicken the desi way – spice it up with tandoori masala (spice). The result was awesome. Personally we felt we never tasted a better tandoori chicken or roast chicken.

Keeping the bird marinated in a blend of yogurt and spices resulted in a fantastic roast with flavors penetrating deep to the bones. One spice that deserves a special mention is the use of “Shan Garam Masala”. Any regular Indian garam masala can be used but we always prefer using the Pakistani “Shan Garam Masala” for our roasts, grills, kebab, and Kormas. The roast also had an additional nice aroma of lemon and garlic which was the result of throwing in onions, lemon juice and garlic in the roasting pan.

The other interesting part of this recipe was making the chutney or dip for the side. This was a nice experiment we tried and what a tasteful result we got. In Americas and Europe, the roast drippings are used to make a gravy for the side or used to make dressing for salad.  Now knowing that these drippings and juices have got the most flavorful elements of the recipe, we had to use it. Generally in India, the chutney for tandoori chicken is made with cilantro and mint leaves blended together with yogurt and some spices. Here, we added all the juices that collected from the roast along with the roasted caramelized onions and garlic into the blender with yogurt, cilantro, green chilies and some sugar. Really, we never tasted a chutney so yummy blasted with all the roast flavors.

Watch our video for the recipe and to see us make this wonderful roast with a super spicy marination. 

Finally, thanks to all the YouTubers and Food Bloggers for posting so many variations of roast chicken that guided us to decide upon the oven temperature and cooking time as we saved ourselves from buying a meat thermometer.

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Published in: on May 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm  Comments (15)  
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Indian Chicken Curry / Stew with Potatoes

This is the simplest way to make Indian Chicken Curry. Not too much oil and spices are used moderately. We did not use the regular Garam Masala; instead of the regular Garam Masala we used home-made cinnamon-cardamom powder. Cinnamon-cardamom powder is our traditional  Garam Masala powder recipe that we use in most of our Indian cooking. Do not waste time in making this powder, instead just use any regular  Garam Masala that is easily available off the shelf.

The spices (Cumin powder, Coriander powder, Turmeric Powder and Red Chilli Powder) used in this recipe are the most commonly used spices in Indian cooking. Since we do not like too much sourness in our curries we avoided the tomatoes, though most people use tomato in curries. The variation we did was by using yogurt instead of tomatoes.  Feel free to use tomatoes if you like it a little sour.

Adding the potatoes is optional but they really taste good. Think of it as big potato pieces cooked in chicken favored curry. Mostly we cook this recipe on weekend for lunch and tastes the best with hot steamed rice. Can be served with parathas and chapatis as well.

Please watch our video for the recipe and to see us cook this delightful curry.

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Published in: on May 2, 2010 at 12:15 pm  Comments (10)  
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How to cook momos

I fell in love with momos in 1993 when I savoured them for the first time at a small eatery in a Tibetan settlement in Kolkata. Both of us just love momos and spare no opportunity to eat them whenever and wherever we get one. In recent years, momos have grown in popularity as a street food in all regions of India.

Momos are dumplings native to Tibet and neighbouring regions of Nepal and Ladakh. Traditionally, in Tibet momos are made with minced yak meat.  So, if you ever happen to travel to Tibet or Ladakh (in India) then dont miss the yak momos.

Outside the Himalayas where you don’t get yak meat just any other meat will do (chicken, turkey, pork, goat meat, sheep meat, beef etc). If you are not meat eater just replace the meat with minced up vegetables (mushroom, carrots, cabbage, tofu or paneer).

Please checkout the video for the way we made it. The super-cool part of the video is watching my wife wrapping up the momos like a pro.

The interesting part of eating momos is the momo sauce. In Tibet, Nepal and India it is made with tomato, chilli pepper and spices. You can find lots of momo sauce recipes on the web by binging them up (love Bing more than Google because few of our posts turn up on the first page of Bing).

In US, we discovered this Chili Garlic sauce from Huy Fong Foods. We created our own momo sauce by mixing it with equal amount of tomato ketchup and it goes so good with the momos that there is no need to make momo sauce from scratch the traditional way.

Another great variation of momos is instead of steaming, just deep fry them golden and they will taste extremely delicious.

(Fried momos picture shown here is a download from web found using Bing search)

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Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 7:08 pm  Comments (11)  
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Spicy chicken gizzards stir fry to go with booze

Who must try this:
1. If you are bored of eating chips, dips, nuts etc with your booze.
2. You want to eat and serve something new with your booze that’s easy and quick to make.
3. The moment you see a new recipe you feel inspired to cook it.

And in case, you are none of the above then also please go ahead and cook this recipe because it’s really simple and goes very well as a side with breads.

Chicken gizzards are zero carbs and all protein but beware it has high cholesterol so just do this on your binge days. Interestingly, if you have leftovers (only possible if your guests ditch you), just stuff them between bread slices along with a few slices of cucumber and onion to make a nice sandwich and take it to a picnic for lunch.

Watch out the video for the recipe. The music in the video is my favorite dj remix. Hope you will enjoy it as well.

Please pardon the spelling booboos in the video.

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Published in: on April 24, 2010 at 8:23 pm  Comments (15)  
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Chana Dal ( Dahl / Daal )

Chana Dahl (or Dal / Daal) is a lentil or pulse which is actually black chickpeas skinned out of its outer hull and split in halves.
India being the highest chickpeas producing country in the world, its natural that Chana Dal is one of the mainstay of Indian vegetarian cooking. 

We, however, are going to cook Chana Dal with Chicken Keema (ground meat). Why are we adding chicken in a traditionally vegetarian Dal recipe? Because:
#1. Vegetarian food sucks, at least for us.
#2. Had to use the ground chicken tray lying in the freezer from last 4 days.
#3. Did not want to spend on buying mutton keema (ground goat meat). This tastes even better with goat meat. 

Veggie lovers, please skip adding the meat part and it will be as delightful a recipe to savour with Zeera (Cumin) Rice or Pooris. Those who are trying to lose some pounds, cook this in the evening but eat it with Pooris the next morning for breakfast. Somehow it tastes even yummier the next day and you get the entire day to burn up the calories. As for us, it will be just our regular weekday dinner. 

Hope people will try this recipe it at home. We really enjoyed cooking and eating it. 


1. We added a tsp of sugar also in the recipe. Missed to capture that in the video. 

2. Add a whole red chilli along with whole spices. We did not add it to keep it less hot for the kids.

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Published in: on April 23, 2010 at 12:50 am  Comments (2)  
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Chicken in Coriander Sauce

We found this recipe on  YouTube posted by vahchef. We did a little variation by adding onion paste in the recipe. Also, we used a little “Bengali Garam Masala” in it. It came out really well. I guess this recipe cannot be categorized under the cuisine of any particular Indian state. The gravy base and the flavors though are essentially Indian.

For all my veggie friends, replace the chicken with Paneer (fresh cottage cheese). I have tried this with Paneer also and it tastes awesome with Parathas.

Again captured this using my phone camera.

1. Missed to show the “Bengali Garam Masala” in the video. Added 1 tsp of bengali garam masala before covering the skillet.
2. Bengali Garam Masala: A powder blend of cinnamon and green cardamom taken in equal amount and ground together.

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Published in: on April 19, 2010 at 12:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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