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Papadoom Kitchen – Paris, France

I know my experience at Papadoom Kitchen is going to be unlike anyone else’s, except for the few other tables dining with us that night.  It’s not because of the food, but rather because I happened to be in Paris when France won the semi-finals to go to The World Cup.  Not only that, but Papadoom Kitchen is situated on Rue Montmartre, the epicenter of pubs if you ask me and on Wednesday, July 11th, every pub/bar turned their big screen tv’s toward the street so everyone could enjoy a view and the locals went WILD!!! I mean lighting flares and jumping on top of buses wild.  It was a little distracting to our meal but entertaining to say the least and fun to be a part of.

Ok – now onto the food and restaurant – stunning, unique, satisfying, perfect!  I love Indian food and just don’t eat it enough.  We had a hard time narrowing down our decisions but went with our gut and LOVED every dish we ordered.

The decor was equally as impressive.  I took advantage of the fact that 99% of Parisians were in the streets watching the game and explored the restaurant myself.  Beautiful!

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Veg’ Channa Massala and Palak

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Garlic Naan

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Gambas Adarak

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Chicken Byriani

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Tandoori Ghobi

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Gymkhana – London, UK

A must if you love Indian food and are in London.  Beware that a lot of the dishes are spicy.  I like spice and the prawns in particular were burn your ears spicy!  Unless you are an Indian food pro and know what each ingredient is, ask your server for some guidance with the menu and they’ll make sure you get a well rounded meal.  And don’t forget the cocktails.  Wowzer they were good (Gooseberry Nimbu Pani)!  I especially love how on the menu there’s a little notation under each drink telling you what time of day they’d each be appropriate for.  Did I mention they have a Michelin star?!

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Saag Paneer

I came across this particular recipe in the September & October 2012 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.  I’ve been on an Indian kick lately and for some reason was craving this for dinner.  I’ve made a different version of it before and found it to be pretty simple and straight forward.  Paneer cheese is honestly THE easiest cheese I’ve ever made.  Anyone can do it!  Just be sure to watch your pot and avoid scorching the bottom of it (like I did this time around which took many washes to finally come clean and look somewhat normal).  This dish is perfect over basmati rice with some warmed up naan on the side.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Cheese (Paneer)

  • 3 quarts whole milk
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Spinach Sauce (Saag)

  • 1 (10 ounce) bag curly-leaf spinach, rinsed
  • 3/4 lb mustard greens, stemmed and rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and chopped coarse
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped coarse
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Cheese

Line a colander with a triple layer of cheesecloth and set in sink.  Bring milk to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Whisk in buttermilk and salt, turn off heat, and let stand for 1 minute.  Pour milk mixture through cheesecloth and let curds drain for 15 minutes.

Pull edges of cheesecloth together to form pouch.

Twist edges of cheesecloth together, firmly squeezing out as much liquid as possible from cheese curds.  Place taut, twisted cheese pouch between 2 large plates and weigh down top plates with heavy Dutch oven.  Set aside at room temperature until cheese is firm and set, at least 45 minutes.

Remove cheesecloth and cut cheese into 1/2-inch pieces.  (Left uncut, cheese can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Spinach Sauce

Place spinach in large microwave-safe bowl, cover, and microwave until wilted, about 3 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, chop enough spinach to measure 1/3 cup and set aside.  Transfer remaining spinach to blender and wipe out bowl.  Place mustard greens in now-empty bowl, cover, and microwave until wilted, about 4 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, chop enough mustard greens to measure 1/3 cup and transfer to bowl with chopped spinach.  Transfer remaining mustard greens to blender.

Meanwhile, melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, cardamom, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add onion and 3/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeño; cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and just beginning to stick to pan, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes and cook mixture until pan is dry and tomatoes are beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat.

Transfer half of onion mixture to blender with greens.  Add half of cashews and water; process until smooth, about 1 minute.  Return purée to skillet.

Return skillet to medium-high heat, stir in chopped greens and buttermilk, and bring to a simmer.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until flavors have blended, 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Gently fold in cheese cubes and cook until just heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with remaining cashews and cilantro, and serve.

Oven-baked Spicy Brussels Sprouts Crumble and Sour Cream Curry

I was in need of a good vegetable side to serve with my Baked Fish recipe that I was serving to friends  for dinner and came across this recipe in my Vij’s At Home cookbook and have now found a new favorite.  It’s a fairly simple recipe and doesn’t require too much time or focus (which is a plus when multi-tasking in the kitchen:)).  While the Brussels sprouts are baking, start the curry and voila!  You’ve got yourself a damn tasty side dish that everyone’s going to want seconds of!

Serves 6

Ingredients

Baked Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts, cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tsp mango powder (I couldn’t find this in my local grocery store so I omitted it)
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil

Sour Cream Curry

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup  chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic (6 medium cloves)
  • 2 cups puréed tomatoes (4 medium, or canned is fine, but not crushed)
  • 2 Tbsp ground yellow mustard seeds (optional0
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp garam masala or ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 3 1/2 cups water

Directions

Baked Brussels Sprouts

Preheat the oven to 400ªF.

On a large baking tray, toss Brussels sprouts with cumin, salt, cayenne, mango powder and oil.  Bake for 15 minutes, carefully stirring them once after 6 minutes.  (The spices should be cooked and the Brussels sprouts slightly dry but not wilted.)  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Sour Cream Curry

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and buttermilk.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium pot on medium-high for 45 seconds.  Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until golden brown.  Add garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until garlic is also golden brown.  Stir in tomatoes, mustard seeds, cayenne, salt, garam masala (or cumin) and fenugreek seeds and sauté for 5 minutes, or until oil glistens on top.  Stir water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

To prevent curdling, spoon about 3 Tbsp of the hot curry into the sour cream-buttermilk mixture.  Stir well, then pour the sour cream-buttermilk mixture into the pot of curry.  Using a whisk, mix well and simmer, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes, or until the curry reaches a gentle boil.  Remove from the heat.

Top baked Brussels sprouts with sour cream curry and serve immediately.

*Serve this dish with bread or on top of a 2-inch cube of paneer per serving.

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