Savory Lamb Shanks Curry

In Fiji, I grew up eating lamb nearly every week! I have probably eaten lamb meat in most ways that lamb meat can be prepared! Today I would like to share my savory lamb shanks curry recipe…this dish makes a hearty, warm & comfy meal. To add more richness and creamy texture to the curry, you can add half and half in the end…but even without the half and half addition, this dish is quite the rockstar! Again, as most of my other recipes, you get to decide in which tempo you would like to play your tune today!

Ingredients

  • 4 legs of lamb shanks cut into curry pieces (have your butcher do the cutting…Unless you have one of those butcher machines that cuts thru bones, do not try at home.  I mean cutting down a tree might be an easier task)!
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil or any vegetable oil eg. canola oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 1 potato (optional)
  • 7 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger
  • 1 green chilly.  You can add more or leave this out depending on your taste
  • 11/2 tablespoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3/4 tablespoon tumeric
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 ½ tablespoon salt or add salt to your taste.  Note that you can always add more salt to your taste later…so add less salt in the beginning if you are unsure of how much salt you prefer
  • 1 cup half and half.  For rich & uncompromising flavor use regular half and half or still yet satisfying you can use lowfat half and half
  • 2 tablespoons full of chopped cilantros

Dry Spice Ingredients

  • 2 twists of ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of Fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon

Method

  • Heat oil on medium high setting
  • Add onions
  • Add ground pepper
  • When onions are brown, add all the remaining dry spice ingredients. Reduce heat at this point to medium setting if the onions got too “done” or overly-brown!
  • Cover and cook for another minute to allow the spices to release their oils and give off aromatic scents
  • Add garlic, ginger, chilly paste
  • Stir and cook covered for a minute
  • Add garam masala, tumeric and cayenne pepper. Stir continuously for ½ a minute
  • Add chopped lamb shanks
  • Add salt to taste and stir thoroughly allowing each lamb shank piece to be coated by the spice mixture.
  • Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  This will allow the meat to absorb the aromas and flavors of the spices.  If the curry starts burning then add 1 cup of water
  • After 5 minutes, add potatoes (if you opted to) and tomato puree.  Stir thoroughly and cook for another 5 minutes covered.
  • After 5 minutes, add the remaining water and switch the stove heat to High setting.  Stir, cover and cook for 1 hour
  • Keep checking in between to ensure that the liquid is not drying up too fast or burning
  • After an hour of cooking, check the meat for doneness.  The curry should have a nice thick gravy like consistency and meat should be tender.  If incase for some reason, the meat is not done, then add more water, cover and cook for as long as it takes for the meat to be fully cooked
  • When the meat is cooked, add half and half (if you opted to). Taste the gravy for salt and add more if you need to
  • If you did not opt for half and half then taste the gravy for salt.  You can add more salt at this point if you need to
  • Garnish with cilantros and enjoy with rice, roti, naan, pita bread, or couscous!

Suji Halwa (Semolina Dessert)

Halwa is a semolina based dessert.  The word itself is from Arabic roots which might be spelt with slight variations.  In anycase, this dessert is great for any season! It can be enjoyed both warm and cold…dressed up in nuts and rose water or simply wear the cosy scents of cardomom and cinnamon.   I will share the version I absolutely love and you can tone it up or down on the nuts and garnishes as you please!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of fine semolina
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of whole milk.  You can also use 2% lowfat milk
  • 2 tablespoons ghee.  If ghee is not in your pantry then you can substitute for 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardomom seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons raw peeled almond halves. If you prefer to use other varieties of nuts then use 1 tablespoon of raw peeled almond halves and 1 tablespoon of raw pistachios or raw peeled cashew halves
  • 1 drop of rose water (optional)

Method

  • In a big bowl add milk, sugar, nuts, vanilla, cardomoms and nutmeg. Stir in everything for a bit and then microwave till the milk is warmed up but not boiling
  • Add the drop of rose water to the milk mixture and set it aside
  • Set your stove on Medium setting and heat the ghee or butter
  • Add the semolina and keep stirring gently ensuring that the ghee or butter is coated evenly on the semolina
  • Reduce heat to Medium Low, continue gentle stirs to avoid semolina from getting burnt. Let the semolina cook until it is golden brown in color
  • Slowly add the milk mixture to the golden brown semolina. Be careful at this point, since there will be splashes as the liquid gets absorbed by semolina
  • Increase the heat to Medium while stirring the mixture continuously until all the liquid is absorbed
  • Suji (Semolina) halwa is cooked once all the liquid is absorbed

You can serve this delightful dish as dessert, a brekky treat, or snack! Although leftovers can be served cold, you can also easily warm it up in the microwave for a minute for a healthy & comfy treat anytime!

Raita (Yoghurt Dip)

Simple & yet so delicious…this dip would definitely be the party favorite!

Ingredients

  • 1 container or 2 lbs of yoghurt.  Greek yoghurt results in the best taste, however, you could used Pavels yoghurt or any other kind
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 salt or salt to your taste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped cilantros, or parsely, or mint…whatever you might have on hand

Method

  • Dice cucumber in small cubes
  • Grate carrot
  • Toast cumin in a small pan over medium heat for a minute.  Do not let it burn
  • Chop your garnish whether it is cilantros, parsely, or mint
  • Empty the yoghurt into a serving bowl
  • Add diced cucumber, grated carrot, toasted cumin, lemon, salt and cayenne pepper (if you opted to)
  • Add salt to your taste
  • Garnish with cilantros, or parsely or mint

This soothing dish is healthy, delicious and flexible…serve it as a dip or side dish…serve it room temperature or cold! Enjoy!

Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken)

Makhan in Hindi means creamed or buttered up.  So you can imagine where this is going…tender chicken pieces cooked through in aromatic herbs, tomatoes and spices with butter & cream to sooth out everything in the end!  Explosion of flavors extraordinaire!

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken fryer (without the giblets/liver and whatever else stuffed inside the chicken).  You can also use boneless chicken or chicken breast.  I find that the whole fryer with bones gives the dish more flavor, however bones can be messy but yummy!
  • 1 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil.  You can use other vegetable oils but I like these two
  • 1 large onion
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger
  • 1 green chilly.  You can add more or leave this out depending on your taste
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon tumeric
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon salt or add salt to your taste.  Note that you can always add more salt to your taste later…so add less salt in the beginning if you are unsure of how much salt you prefer
  • 1 1/4 cup half and half.  For rich & uncompromising flavor use regular half and half or still yet satisfying you can use lowfat half and half. But please DO NOT use fat-free half and half as it would seriously damage the integrity of Chicken Makhani’s potential taste!
  • 2 tablespoons full of chopped cilantros
  • Optional *2 tablespoons of cashew paste (grind cashews with drops of water)*
  • Optional *2 tablespoons of sliced cashews for garnish*

Dry Spice Ingredients

  • 2 twists of ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of Fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon

Method

  • Skin the chicken and chop to desired curry sizes
  • Pour lemon on chopped chicken and set aside
  • Dice onions finely
  • On medium high setting, heat oil and add onions and saute till brown (reduce heat if onions start burning too quickly). The onions will set the stage for smooth sauce and so the sauteed result  must be nice and brown
  • Add all the dry ingredients and cover the pot.  Let the aromas run wild in the cooking pot for a minute.  Please be sure not to burn the spices! Reduce heat if you have to…stove heats do vary, so stay close to the pot! :)
  • Grind the garlic cloves, green chilly and ginger
  • Add the garlic, chilly and ginger paste to the pot and stir.  Cook covered for 1/2 a minute
  • Add garam masala and tumeric to the pot. Stir, cover and let it cook for another minute
  • Add the lemon marinated chopped chicken
  • Add salt and stir thoroughly ensuring that all the spices and masala are evenly coated over chicken pieces. Cover and cook for 5 mins
  • If you had put the heat lower to stop the spices/onions from burning, then put the heat back up to Medium High at this point
  • After 5 mins add the tomato puree  and cashew paste (if you opted to use cashew paste) to chicken. Stir, cover and cook for another 5 mins
  • After 5 mins add warm water and cook covered for 20 mins
  • Chicken should be cooked tenderly by now.  Check for doneness and incase the meat is not cooked, then cook further till its fully done.  However do not overcook as this would cause the chicken to be dry and stringy
  • Add half and half and stir thoroughly.  Lower the heat to Medium, cover the pot and leave on for another minute
  • Remove from heat
  • Add butter and chopped cilantro and stir
  • After stirring in the cilantro and butter, transfer to serving dish and at that point garnish with sliced cashews (if you opted to used sliced cashews).  Do not stir the slice cashews

Enjoy this delicious meal over rice, roti, naan or warm pita bread!  Bon Appetit!

Easy Chickpea Salad

Easy Chickpea Salad

This is a light, healthy & hearty dish.  Sure to please any crowd for light lunch or scrumptuous snack!  This colorful recipe can be easily converted to a vegan version by substituting yoghurt for extra virgin olive oil!

Ingredients

  • 1 can garbanzo beans or chickpeas
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 green or yellow bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoonful finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 good squeezes of lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon Greek yogurt or plain yoghurt**Leave this out for VEGAN version**
  • Optional *1 teaspoon tahini sauce*

Method

  • Drain the liquid in garbanzo bean can and put in a colander.  Give the garbanzo beans a quick rinse in cold water.  Set the rinsed garbanzo beans aside allowing the excess water to drain
  • Chop tomatoes and bell peppers finely
  • Toast cumin lightly  and mix into the yoghurt.  For VEGAN version, mix the cumin in the tahini sauce.  If you are not using the tahini sauce then set the toasted cumin aside for now
  • Mix garbanzo beans, chopped tomatoes and bell pepper, chopped parsely, toasted cumin, olive oil together in a large bowl
  • Squeeze lemon and give a gentle toss
  • Add yoghurt.  For VEGAN version, skip this step
  • Add tahini sauce if desired
  • Add salt to taste

Waffle Baklava

Waffle Baklava

It was a chilly, raining & lazy December evening.  I was frivolously surfing through channels on TV when it suddenly attacked me!  Although I’ve had this happen in the past, my sugar-attack never came down on me this strong!  With the sugar pang blistering in its full glory I made my way to the refrigerator…and the rest is documented in this recipe!  The start of my waffle baklava creation has become one of my favorite sugar fixes!  I hope you enjoy this satisfying recipe as much as I do!

Note: For VEGAN verison, buy Trader Joe’s wheat free & dairy free waffle.  The result is yummylishcious!

Ingredients

  • Handful of almonds ( you can also mix pistachios, pecans, walnuts if you have, but almonds are a must)
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • One waffle
  • 2-3 tablespoons of honey

Method

  • Toast the nuts for a minute or less.  Do not let it burn or brown.  Warming up the nuts will bring out its tasty goodness even more
  • Grind the nuts for a couple of seconds in a mini food processor.  You can use the coffee grinder but that will result a very fine grind…which is still good.  Just depends on your taste whether or not you prefer it crunchy
  • Add the ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg to the almonds
  • Toast the waffle
  • Sprinkle the ground nuts mixture over the toasted waffle
  • Drizzle honey over the nuts & enjoy!

Why does everything have to be titled?

Really! Why? Why can’t we just start writing, thinking, feeling and living without departmentalizing ourselves in the binds of a Title.  Yes yes….practicality kicks in and making order of life comes to reason but sometimes I wonder who made this rule…categories, headings, titles.  Aren’t we living in enough boxes already?

I signed up for this blog…to share my thoughts without being judged, be creative and grasp any new ideas running wild in the corners of my head.  Anyways, by the time I even got to write anything I had to come up with at least 3 titles…not to mention the pressure of making these on-demand titles sound appealing.

In relationships, the concept of titles start from the moment a boy and girl meet.  What are we? Friends? Friends with benefits? Special friends….yes that’s the in-word right now! Oh wow, he/she said we’re going steady now…so now we’re official girlfriend/boyfriend…some months/years later fiance/e or soon-to-be’s, then husband/wife or better-halfs (depending on who you’re talking to)….don’t even get me started on the ex-series of all of the above!

At work…the shorter the title, the more dominant that title is…at least in my opinion.  For example, which title is stronger…CEO or Assistant CEO?  See what I mean!

What do you think?