Posts Tagged 'India'

Plum Chutney

I am still working on using up the plums.  After giving away several bags of them, I decided that I would use them up faster if I made something that called for pounds, rather than cups of plums.  I wanted to use whole pots of plums at once.

plum diced

So I took an old apple chutney recipe, modified it a bit, and used plums instead.  But instead of tasting South Asian, it sort of tastes like plum barbecue sauce. Not that that’s unpleasant – just unexpected. And I made a double recipe, so I have a lot of it.  I have eaten it on crackers with cream cheese for my evening snack (quite tasty).

plum chutney craackers

I used a cup of it with some cubed buffalo, mushrooms and onions to make a barbecue to spoon over rice. I added a cup to a meatloaf instead of the tomato sauce or ketchup. I ate it instead of ketchup or mustard on various sandwiches.  All very good.  But the real reason I made it – drum roll for the Wow factor – was to take to a potluck to accompany a platter of cold, sliced smoked pork tenderloin.

plum chutney platter

Plum Chutney

3 pounds prune plums, chopped coarsely
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
¾ cup malt vinegar (cider vinegar would also work)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon honey

Put all ingredients in a large, heavy pot. Cover and cook over low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally,  Remove cover and mash plum mixture with a fork or potato masher. Cook over medium heat until the chutney thickens, stirring occasionally and making sure it doesn’t burn. As the chutney gets thicker, stir more frequently to keep it from burning. Store in refrigerator, or freeze in small batches for later use. This makes about 4 cups with no fat grams/serving.


Spice-Coated Lamb Roast

I had a small, butterflied leg of lamb that was called “grill-ready” which is what I intended to do with it.  But the weather is back in the too hot zone, and I haven’t had the energy to take the gas cylinders to be filled. Besides, I think there are yellow jackets living in the compartment where the cylinder goes, and although it would be satisfying to light the grill and incinerate them, I don’t want to incur their wrath by replacing the cylinder.

So since I was smoking a large amount of pork tenderloin in the smoker Saturday, I thought that I might as well smoke the lamb, too.  I wanted to do something interesting with it, so I made a rub that vaguely resembles Tandoori (Indian spices in yogurt) and coated the lamb before smoking. This lamb was just fabulous. The outside was a little crisp (I ran it under the broiler) and flavorful without being mouth-burning hot. The inside was pink and juicy, with a lightly smoked flavor that was not overpowering. I smoked it over apple wood, which tends to be mild. And the lamb was so tender you could cut it with a fork.

Spiced lamb sliced

Spice-Coated Lamb Roast

1½ to 2 pounds lean boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of all visible fat
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon dried bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons non-fat yogurt
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons raisins
1 Tablespoon canola oil

In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, garlic, coriander, cumin, and salt. In a food processor, process the bread crumbs, yogurt, lemon juice, raisins, and oil until smooth. Add the spice mixture and pulse several times to mix. Rub the mixture all over the leg of lamb. Smoke for 2½  to 3 hours (or according to your smoker’s instructions.)  I used plain water in the smoker’s water basin to keep the meat moist.  When I finished the smoking process, I thought the meat looked unattractive, so put it under the broiler for 5 minutes a side to crisp up the outside. This lamb is about 9 grams of fat for a 4 ounce serving.

spiced lamb whole

Variation: The recipe I referenced for the spice coating called for the lamb to be oven roasted, so here are the instructions for roasting it more traditionally.  Make the spice coating as above. Preheat the oven to 350. After coating the lamb, wrap it in aluminum foil and roast it for about an hour. Remove the lamb from the oven, open the foil, and spoon the spice mixture over the lamb. Return to the oven and cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes more.

Curried Pork Kebabs with Mango Chutney

You may notice a mango theme recently.  This because the grocery store had a two-for-the-price-of-one mango sale.  Who can resist.  I love mangoes. I grew up where people had mango trees in their yards, and in season brought you bags of mangoes.

I recently learned that two-for-the-price-of-one is called a BOGO (for buy one, get one), so now I know that the email ads that tell me BOGO today are not asking me to play a game or dance, but are trying to get me to buy two pairs of shoes.

Back to my BOGO mangoes (that actually sounds like a good name for a recipe: pork with bogo mangoes.)  My problem with mangoes is that they are hard to peel, which is compounded by the fact that I tend to eat them while I peel them, leaving me less than I need of peeled mango.   I have seen photos where someone cuts the mango down its flat sides and neatly dices the flesh while it is still on the skin.  Allegedly, the diced mango comes off the skin neatly diced – but mine never does.  I just peel the whole mango first, slice off as much as I can to dice for whatever I am making – and eat whatever is still clinging to the pit, mango juice dripping down my chin.

This recipe started as a recipe for chicken breasts from Cooking Light, but I have turned it into pork kebabs, adding the vegetables to make it a more substantial meal..  A chutney is a variety of sweet and spicy condiment, usually involving a fresh, chopped vegetable or fruit with added seasonings. When I lived in Mumbai, fresh chutney, made of whatever fruit or vegetable was available in the open air market that day, accompanied most meals. It was often made with chili peppers and very spicy.  The piquant chutneys were thought to stimulate the appetite. Mango chutney in Mumbai was likely to be made from green mangoes.  This mango chutney, made with ripe mangoes, follows a more western interpretation of chutney: fruit, vinegar and sugar, cooked down to a reduction, and often preserved like jam, rather than eaten fresh. Leftover chutney of any kind is great on cream cheese or goat cheese sandwiches.

Curried Pork Kebabs with Mango Chutney

Mango chutney:

2 cups chopped peeled ripe mango
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup apple juice
1/3 cup diced dried apricots
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Pork Kebabs

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
1½ lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed of all fat and cut into 1” pieces
1 medium onion, peeled, quartered, and cut into 20 chunks
1 red or yellow bell pepper, de-veined and seeded, and cut into 16 chunks

To prepare chutney, combine all chutney ingredients in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring mixture occasionally.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

To prepare kebabs, combine the soy sauce, juice, curry, and pork cubes in a zip-top plastic bag; seal and shake. Marinate in refrigerator 10 minutes, turning once. (I actually marinated them while I prepared the chutney).  Pre-heat a grill and lower the heat to medium high.

Remove pork cubes from bag. String pork cubes on 4 large or 8 small skewers, alternating with onions and peppers. (If you are using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least ½ hour prior to stringing them on the skewers).  Brush kebabs with marinade, and then discard remaining marinade.

pork kebabs 2

Place pork kebabs on grill.  I have a kebab rack, a nifty metal square with notches that suspends the kebabs above the grill rack. If you don’t have one of these devices, be sure to coat your grill rack with cooking oil so the kebabs don’t stick.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then turn kebabs over and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until pork is done. Serve with chutney on the side.  This makes 4 servings (one large or 2 small skewers) with about 4.5 grams of fat/serving.  I served the kebabs over couscous made with chicken broth.

pork kebab abnd couscous2

Madrasi Shrimp Curry in Black Pepper Sauce

My “alternate daughter” came over to help me with an upholstery project. Actually, she mostly did the project while I refinished window sills. She loves curry, so I made this fairly quick shrimp curry from Cooking Light in between coats of stain and finish.  The curry is not too spicy, just pleasantly warm.  Since Madras is in South India where food can sometimes be rather incendiary, I was pleasantly surprised.

Madrasi Shrimp Curry in Black Pepper Sauce

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 cup finely chopped onion
1½ Tablespoons  ground coriander seeds
1½ Tablespoons  grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (or more if you want more heat)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 garlic cloves, minced
½  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¾ teaspoon salt
1½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds; cover pan, and cook 2 minutes or until seeds stop popping. Uncover pan. Stir in the onion and the next 5 ingredients (onion through garlic), and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is golden, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat, and stir in broth, tomato paste, juice, and salt. Cook until thick (about 1 minute), stirring constantly. This is important.  It can burn easily. Add shrimp; cook 4 minutes stirring occasionally or until shrimp are done. Sprinkle with cilantro. Makes 4 servings at 5.4 grams of fat/serving.


Gauranga Potatoes

This recipe came from the co-worker of a good friend of mine.  The best way I can describe it is Bengali Scalloped Potatoes.  They are delicious and absolutely addictive.  The original recipe called for ghee, which is clarified butter.  Ghee is used widely in India because it keeps well without refrigeration.  It also has religious uses.  In Mumbai, the area of India where I lived, both  butter and ghee were made from soured milk, although some places make it from sweet milk. Prepared ghee can be purchased at Asian groceries.  I didn’t have ghee, so I used unsalted butter and it worked.  If you want to make ghee at home, it isn’t too difficult. Simmer unsalted butter in a large pot on very low heat until all the water has boiled off and the protein has settled to the bottom. Gently spoon off the cooked and clarified butter that is on the top, avoiding disturbing the milk solids on the bottom of the pan.

The recipe also uses asofoetida, a spice that is less familiar in western kitchens. Asofoetida, which was called hing by my Mumbai neighbors, is a staple in much Indian cooking, especially vegetarian cooking.  Asofoetida is made from a resin-like gum which comes from the dried sap extracted from the stem and roots of the perennial Ferula Assafoetida.  It has a strong, and some would say unpleasant odor, which when heated in oil or ghee becomes milder and more pleasant, acquiring a taste and aroma reminiscent of sautéed onion and garlic. Asofoetida’s odor is so strong that it must be stored in airtight containers; otherwise the aroma will contaminate other spices stored nearby. It can be purchased in Asian markets, but those who are allergic to gluten should be aware that some companies blend pulverized asafoetida with wheat flour, so check the label.

Gauranga Potatoes

8 medium potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, but red potatoes will work
1 Tablespoon butter or ghee
1 teaspoon ground asofoetida
¾ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
¾ teaspoon turmeric
3 cups non-fat sour cream
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Salt to taste
½ cup water
1 teaspoon paprika

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Peel the potatoes and slice into ¼ inch pieces. Boil them in a large pan until they’re cooked but still firm. Drain off the water and set the potatoes aside. In the same pan, over medium low heat, heat the first tablespoon of butter (or ghee if you have it),with the asofoetida, rosemary and turmeric. Lightly brown, remove from heat, and add the sour cream, melted butter, salt, black pepper, and ½ cup water. Gently fold in the potato slices. Place in a 9 x 13 baking pan and sprinkle with the paprika. Bake for 30 or 40 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, until top is golden brown. Makes 8 servings at 3 grams of fat/serving.


NOTE: You can also make this in a Dutch oven or other stove-top and oven-proof dish, eliminating the need to spoon it into a baking pan.  This reheated very well, and I took it for lunch for several days after I had it for dinner. On the last day, I added a couple of handfuls of frozen green beans to the leftovers, and the combination was great.


Gadjar Kari (Carrot Curry)

Carrots are a sweet vegetable that can be used in many ways – think carrot cake.  In India, they make a candy called gadjar halwah, which is soft and sweet, and often studded with pistachios, topped with edible silver foil, and served for special occasions. Because of their sweetness, carrots combine well with other sweet ingredients, even if the end result is not a dessert.  This curry is a little unusual because one of the sweet ingredients is a banana.

For potlucks I often like to bring a vegetarian dish, since everyone can usually eat it.  This curry, adapted from The World of Jewish Cooking, came out unexpectedly spicier than I thought it would, but the people at the potluck thought it was just right.  In the picture below, I tempered it by serving it with yogurt – a fairly common accompaniment for my Mumbai neighbors.  Milk products cut the heat of overly spicy foods – I can’t remember the chemistry of this, but a glass of milk works better than a glass of water to wash down a fiery dish.  You certainly can reduce the amount of cayenne pepper if you’d like.

Carrot Curry

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 ½ teaspoons yellow mustard seed
1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardomom
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 pound carrots, sliced, or 1 pound baby carrots
1 medium banana, peeled and sliced
¼ cup golden raisins
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the spices (cumin seed through   cayenne) and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. I mixed the spices in a little bowl beforehand so that I could add them all at once, and they wouldn’t burn while I measured out the other spices. Add the carrots and sauté until lightly colored, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the banana and raisins.  Add the water, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the carrots are tender, not mushy, about 20 minutes, Uncover, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently  until most of the liquid is evaporated and the carrots and raisins are glazed, about 5-10 minutes.  Serve with rice.  Makes 4 servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.


Mumbai Green Sauce

I lived in Mumbai for a year, back when we Westerners called it Bombay. I recently acquired My Bombay Kitchen, which describes itself as Parsi home cooking. (Parsis are the descendants of Zoroastrians who fled Persia in about 937 A.D. and settled on the west Coast of India, finally concentrating in Mumbai.)  The recipes in the book are very much like the ones my Hindu neighbors prepared regularly, as much Mumbai as Parsi, and each time I prepare one I am brought back to a flood of memories of my time there and the neighbors who taught me about India and everyday life.

This green sauce, more properly a chutney, smells like my neighbors’ kitchens – coriander (cilantro), mint, coconut, garlic – being ground almost daily as an accompaniment to ordinary meals or to become the base of the rich curries and snacks that came from every kitchen. Serve it on a thali (a metal tray on which many meals are served) beside other savory curries; add besan (chick pea) flour to it to make a batter for shrimp.   My neighbors would grind the ingredients on a masala stone, a thick granite slab with a roughened surface. Squatting beside the stone in their saris, women would roll over the ingredients with a granite “rolling pin” until the ingredients made a fine paste, filling the room with an aroma that bespoke India to me.

The granite slab was far too heavy to bring home.  Now I grind in a food processor, although it doesn’t create the same paste-like texture it has that unmistakable fragrance. I may someday get a wet-dry grinder that, I understand, creates chutneys with the same texture as the beloved granite slab.  And I use the chutney in all sorts of ways that my neighbors wouldn’t have dreamed of.

Mumbai Green Sauce

½ cup grated fresh or frozen unsweetened coconut, or 1/3 cup unsweetened dry coconut (see Note)
1 cup (packed) fresh coriander, both stems and leaves
¼ teaspoon ground cumin seed
12 fresh mint leaves
1-3 green chilies, seeded – depending on your taste
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped.
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Juice of 1 lime
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar

If you are using dry coconut, soak it in warm water for ½ hour.  Drain coconut, saving soaking liquid.  Put all ingredients in food processor (or wet dry grinder if you are so lucky) and pulse until it is as smooth as possible.  Add a little of the soaking liquid or water if you need to.  But don’t add too much, you want this to be a little stiff, not a gravy.  This chutney makes 9 tablespoons, at 1.5 grams of fat/tablespoon.  It keeps well in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator for about a week.

NOTE: I grew up in Miami, where coconuts grew on trees and fresh coconuts were easy to find.  But in the frigid northwest, nary a coconut palm can be seen.  I have difficulty finding fresh coconut – when I buy them they tend to be sour or moldy. Dry coconut is not ideal, but it works.


And how did I use this divine chutney (which I now make almost weekly)?

I put it on some plain pan-seared steelhead trout and boiled potatoes to dress them up.


I jazzed up poached eggs on toast (with a little light butter).


I used it on sandwiches, from roast beef (where it didn’t work so well) to veggie (where it knocked my socks off. ) I added it to non-fat yogurt to make the dressing for a tomato and cucumber salad I took for lunch.


And I put it in an egg substitute omelet with a bit of goat cheese.



I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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