Tag Archives: spicy

Rajasthani Laal Maans

A fiery Rajasthani lamb/mutton curry borrowed from the traditional kitchens of the maharajas, cooked with spices and a burst of red chillies. ‘Lip-smacking’ would be an understatement!


“Mutton is to lamb what a millionaire uncle is to his poverty-stricken nephew. – Des Essarts, French actor”
The Fact: The Rajput Kings of Rajasthan were fierce hunters and meat lovers. They didn’t use tomatoes because at the time, tomatoes were not grown in the region. They used ghee or clarified butter in all preparations due of the scarcity of water. Food for them was meat and spice—I mean red hot, fiery ‘spice’. And that’s how their traditional, practical and nourishing ‘laal maans’ came to be born.
The Inspiration: It was a relaxed Sunday afternoon when I was carelessly sprawled in front of the television set, flipping channels, that I came across the food adventures of this American chef who travels to the back of beyond to discover authentic local flavours. Here’s where I first heard about ‘Laal Maans’, which literally translates to ‘red meat’. The show was fascinating! So this American chef meets an Indian chef and together they travel to a tribal settlement in ‘deserted’ Rajasthan. They live and cook and clean with this tribe and somewhere in between create this lip-smacking delight! While I have the privilege of ready ingredients and a comfortable kitchen, these guys literally create this dish from scratch—and I don’t mean that lightly. Right from catching a goat and killing it; to milking the cows for milk and eventually, butter, curd and ghee (clarified butter); and finally building the fire for the stove, these guys do it all. Now that’s what I call ‘rustic’ and I’d trade my comfort for it, just for a day’s experience… or would I? … And so I called the folks over and what a true feast it was!

The Ingredients

Serves about 10 people
A spoonful of spice

  • 1 kg mutton on the bone, cut up into medium pieces (2 – 3 inch pieces)
  • 4 large or 5 medium onions; sliced into fine rings
  • 500 gm curd; whisked lightly
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2.5 (heaped) tsp red chilli powder (I use the medium-spicy version; in case you use the ‘hot’ variety, make sure to reduce the quantity)
  • 2 (heaped) tsp coriander seeds or dhania powder (roast and freshly grind the powder for a strong flavour and aroma)
  • 1 (heaped) tsp cumin seeds or jeera powder (roast and freshly grind the powder for a strong flavour and aroma)
  • ½ tsp turmeric or haldi powder
  • 10 cashew nuts
  • ½ small teacup liquid (melted) ghee/clarified butter
  • A sprinkling of sugar
  • Salt to taste

The Method

  1. Wash and drain the mutton pieces.
  2. After it drains for about 5 minutes, sprinkle about 1.5 teaspoon of salt over the mutton and rub it into the mutton. Leave aside in the colander.Chopped mutton washed and drained
  3. Place a metal cooking pot on the stove, on medium heat. When hot enough, pour in the ghee and allow it to heat up – remember that ghee should not be so hot that it begins to smoke.
    Being a traditional Rajasthani dish from the days of the maharajas, this dish calls for generous quantities of ghee and chilli. To experience the dish for what it is, avoid restraint 🙂 and pour in that ghee, generously.
  4. When the ghee is hot enough, toss in the peppercorns and cloves and leave them to splutter. Quickly toss in the sliced onions. The onions should have enough ghee to gently brown in. Keep stirring from time to time. This should easily take about 10 – 15 minutes, or longer, on a medium flame.Onions sauteed in ghee or clarified butter  
  5. When the onions are a beautiful golden-brown, turn the heat to high.Onions sauteed until golden brown
  6. Now, add the ginger-garlic paste and turmeric powder in the centre of the vessel and leave it to stand, to cook off the strong smells of the paste and turmeric. Now, stir it around with the onions and allow the flavours to blend for about a minute.
  7. Toss in the mutton pieces and give them a stir to coat each piece with ghee and the flavoured onions. Add a sprinkling of sugar.Mutton seared with golden brown onions
  8. Continue to sear the mutton on high flame for about 5 minutes. Then, lower the flame to medium and allow the mutton to cook for another 15 minutes.Mutton seared with golden brown onions
  9. As the mutton cooks, take the bowl of curds and lightly whisk it. Add the red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and ½ tsp salt to the curd. Whisk and keep aside.Curd whisked with red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt
  10. After the mutton has cooked for 15 minutes (as listed in step 8), add the curd mixture to the mutton. Stir well and leave to cook for about 5 minutes.Laal maans or spicy red mutton gravy with curd
  11. Dry roast the cashew nuts and powder them coarsely using a mortar and pestle or blitz them in the grinder. Sprinkle the cashew nut powder over the mutton and stir lightly.Coarsely ground cashew nuts sprinkled over mutton curry
  12. Cover the vessel and allow the mutton to cook. Make sure to now reduce the heat to low. I usually place a damp cloth between the vessel and its lid to prevent the steam from escaping. This ensures that your mutton stays succulent and slowly cooks in the steam and the heat of the spices. Alternately, place a thin layer of kneaded dough between the vessel and its lid to seal all gaps.Sealed vessel for slow-cooked meat
  13. Cook the mutton for about 45 minutes to an hour on a low flame. Remember that this dish can easily burn because of the absence of any added water, so keeping a check on the aroma is key. Open and check when you’re sure that the mutton is well cooked; it should be so tender that it falls off the bone. Your dish will have developed a rich red colour and you should be drooling…. right about… now!Rajasthani Laal Maans

Adjust salt and red chilli, as required. Serve hot with rotis or with basmati rice. Although the combination with rice is a relatively dry option, it certainly is my preference. Note: If you prefer the dish with a runny gravy, add a cup of boiling water and allow it to reduce a bit.

You shouldn’t have leftovers… in the off chance that you do, fret not, it tastes even better the next day… 🙂

Bon appétit!


Chicken Cafreal

Chicken in red and brown curries is the norm; a green gravy, though not a recent discovery, is a refreshing change. This recipe blends some local spices to bring together a lovely Portuguese dish that’s loved and respected along the south-western coast of India. Nothing quite compares to the perfect ‘hot n sweet’ balance this dish offers. Give it a try!


“Pounding fragrant things… is a tremendous antidote to depression… juniper berries, coriander seeds and the grilled fruits of the chilli pepper. Pounding these things produces an alteration in one’s being — from sighing with fatigue to inhaling with pleasure. – Patience Gray, cookery author”
The Fact: This famous Goan dish is a version of grilled chicken from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa. The name is believed to have originated from ‘kaffir’, which is what the local Africans were called.
The Inspiration: I came home last Tuesday evening knowing exactly what I wanted to eat for dinner—chicken curry with rice. But bored of the many red and brown curries I’m used to making, I decided on a spicy green version, which I learnt from my mother in law … something I’m sure you’ll love only if you have the palette for spice 🙂 This recipe blends some local spices to bring together a lovely Portuguese dish that’s loved and respected along the south-western coast of India. Nothing quite compares to the perfect ‘hot n sweet’ balance this dish offers. Give it a try!

The Ingredients

Serves about 8 – 10 people

Spice mixture before grinding

  • 800 – 900 gms chicken on the bone, cut up into medium/small pieces (medium: 2 – 3 inch pieces, lengthwise; small: 1 – 2 inch pieces, lengthwise)
  • 2 onions (1 large + 1 medium)
  • 3 cups coriander leaves or dhaniya patta (use a large tea mug to measure, or American cup measurements)
  • 5 long green chillies (use dark green spicy chillies; if using the light green ones that only add flavor, increase the number of chillies to 8 – 10)
  • 4 tbsp 8 – 9 sauce (This is a date-based sauce with raisins, tamarind and other ingredients; it’s used in a lot of Goan dishes and is available in a few local stores. If you absolutely cannot find it, you could make the dish without it, but note that the sauce is a key ingredient, so you’re definitely missing something.)
  • 4 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 18 cloves of garlic or lassan
  • 1 inch of ginger or adrak
  • 8 cloves or lavang
  • 8 peppercorns or kalimiri/kalimirch
  • 2 one-inch sticks of cinnamon or dalchini
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds or akha jeera
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds or khus khus
  • 15 cashew nuts
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

The Method

  1. Wash and drain the chicken pieces for 5 – 10 minutes.
  2. Marinate the chicken in turmeric powder, 8 – 9 sauce and salt, for about 30 minutes, if not more.
    8 - 9 sauce marinade

    Chicken marinating in turmeric powder, 8 - 9 sauce and salt

  3. Dry roast the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, cumin seeds, poppy seeds and cashew nuts in a pan or in the microwave. Allow them to cool.
  4. Grind together the large onion, coriander leaves (washed), green chillies, garlic, ginger, cloves and all the roasted ingredients, with about half a cup of water, until a thick paste is formed.
    Spices being ground for the cafreal or green sauce

    Cafreal or green sauce

  5. Place a skillet/vessel on medium heat. Add the oil to it and let it heat up as well. The oil should never smoke – any ingredient tossed into the oil at smoke point will burn.
  6. While the pan and oil are heating up, slice the medium onion. Sauté the onions till they turn a lovely golden brown.
    Sauteeing the onions
  7. Place the marinated chicken pieces over the onions and without stirring, allow the chicken to brown a little – say for about 2 – 3 minutes. Then, toss the pieces around in the oil and onions, and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
    Marinated chicken placed over the sauteed onions
  8. Add the green paste, which you ground earlier, to the skillet. Toss the chicken around in the green sauce. You’ll notice the green paste and the brownish chicken marinade come together to form a dark green, thick gravy.
    Chicken with the cafreal sauce
  9. Add the tomato ketchup and adjust the salt.
  10. At this point, add water to your liking. About 1.5 cups of water will allow the chicken to cook and give you a semi-dry chicken, which can be eaten plain as an appetizer or with rotis (Indian bread) or bread. Anything more than that, say 3 – 4 cups of water, will cook the chicken and give you nice gravy, which will go perfectly with hot rice.
  11. Cook the chicken until fully done, say about 10 – 15 mins, or until the gravy has thickened enough. Note that if the gravy is too spicy and you can do with a little more sweetness, add some more ketchup; but avoid making it too sweet.
    Chicken cafreal

Serve hot as an appetizer or with rotis; or then with rice as the main meal. Bon appétit!



Goan Chouriço Chilli Fry

A must-try Goan delicacy if you’re headed to Goa, India, for a holiday!


“To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.” – Otto von Bismarck
The Fact: Sausages were called bangers during the Second World War because they contained so much water that they exploded when fried.
The Inspiration: This dish is born of a special sausage that is home to Goa, India, a tourist destination famous for the glorious sun, the myriad beaches, and the lip-smacking Konkani seafood. I’m not sure of the availability of this sausage outside the state, but I’m sure that getting hold of it would be nothing less than an Olympic feat.
Goan chouriço or chorizo are spicy, flavorful, deep red pork sausage links made from pork, vinegar, chili, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and other spices that are stuffed into chitterlings (pigs intestines) and sold in dry or wet forms. Goan chouriço is a traditional food item that has built its way into the “authentic” Goan cuisine lineup, thanks to the 451 years of Portuguese rule.Fortunately, I live in a city that’s not too far from Goa. I also have friends and family visiting the place every second month. So the specialty product is not as much a “specialty” as it is an ordinary ingredient in my kitchen.This dish is my quick fix almost once every month. The recipe’s been handed down from my mother and mother in law, and their mothers, and so on. Besides being a quick fix, it’s also one of Ally’s favourites; him being a true “not-born-but-brought-up-in-Goa” kinda Goan.
Frozen Goan Chouriço

The Ingredients

Serves approximately 6 people
  • 1 packet (250 gms) of Goan chouriço
  • 3 – 4 medium-sized onions; sliced
  • 2 green chillies slit down the centre
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons oil
  • A pinch of salt
  • Optional: 1 large potato; cubed

The Method

  • Heat a skillet or a wok and drizzle with oil.
  • Drop the spit chillies into the oil and stir for a few seconds.
  • Toss in the sliced onions and allow them to cook until they are almost translucent.
  • While the onions are cooking, untwine and cut open the covering or sausage lining. Then, roughly chop up the sausages.
  • Add in the cubed potatoes once the onions are done. Fry them with the onions for about a minute or two.
  • Sprinkle some salt over the mixture. You won’t need any more salt or spice because the sausages are pre-seasoned.
  • Add in the chopped sausages and allow them to cook for about 15 – 20 minutes on medium heat.
  • You’ll notice the pork fat melting and a lot of oil collecting in your skillet. I usually scoop out the oil or soak it up using kitchen roll because it’s a little too much oil for my taste. Pork is a red meat and has a high fat content. If you’re health conscious, this isn’t really a dish for you, but if you have to try it, I suggest removing the oil for sure.
  • Serve the dish, hot, with rotis (Indian flat bread) or any bread of your choice.

The same dish when cooked along with rice forms a more substantial ‘Goan chouriço pulav’ meal.

I would recommend a quick jog or some form of workout the next day 🙂 Bon appétit!

Pepper Chicken Noodles

Noodles. Pepper. Chicken. What more can I ask for on a pleasant, laid-back Sunday afternoon?


“Noodles? I can’t eat noodles; there’s too many of them. No matter how hungry I am, 1000 of anything is too many.” – Mitch Hedberg
 The Fact: Contrary to popular belief, Marco Polo did not discover pasta; was only the first to write about it.
The Inspiration: Ghostly silence until 11am (to allow you to stay under the covers); cheerful country music to wake you up; a mindless, laid-back, workless day; un-put-down-able Pepper Chicken Noodles for when the stomach growls; your favourite people for company… that’s what Sundays are made of! 
… and yes, also the fact that I hadn’t stocked up on my regular supplies for the week, and so, apart from two packets of Hakka noodles, 2 frozen chicken breasts, 1 carrot, 1 red pepper, and 1 yellow pepper, I pretty much had nothing to cook …

The Ingredients

Approximately 6 servings
  • 2 packets of vegetable or egg noodles of your choice (approx 300 – 350gms)
  • 150 gms boneless chicken
  • 2 green chillies (de-seed the chillies if you can’t tolerate spice)
  • A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 large or 2 medium-small onion(s)
  • 2 medium-sized peppers (use different coloured peppers for a more colourful dish)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 soup cubes
  • 4 tablespoons Dark Soy sauce (I used Ching’s Secret)
  • 4 tablespoons All-In-One Stir-Fry sauce (I used Ching’s Secret; you can use any brand that’s easily available)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • Butter or olive oil (olive oil being the healthier option)
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

The Method

Boil the noodles as per instructions on the packet. Drain the noodles, run cold water through them to stop them from cooking further and then, drizzle some oil on them to prevent them from sticking. Set aside.

In the meantime, slit the chillies, finely chop the garlic, julienne the carrots and capsicums, slice (not chop) the onions, and dice the chicken into medium-sized bits.

Heat a wok with about 3 tablespoons of butter or olive oil (use olive oil as the healthier option). When the oil is hot, drop the chillies and chopped ginger into the oil. Without letting the ginger burn, quickly add in your onions.
Sauté the onions for about 2 – 3 minutes. When the onions appear translucent (don’t let them lose their crunch), toss in the carrots and stir for about 2 minutes. Then, toss in the capsicum briefly for about a minute.

Add 1 soup cube, half a teaspoon of salt and about 3/4th tablespoon of freshly ground pepper.


Stir the veggies and empty them into a plate.

Heat the wok again and add a sliver of butter or a drizzle of oil to it. When the butter/oil has heated, add the diced chicken and stir continuously till the pink of the chicken is no longer visible (about 1 – 2 minutes). Scoop out the chicken bits and set aside.

In the same wok, stir in all the sauces—the soy, stir-fry sauce, ketchup and vinegar. Toss in the noodles for a few seconds (do not stir to prevent the noodles from breaking or becoming a mash). Sprinkle the noodles with the second soup cube, salt to taste, and 1 tablespoon of freshly ground pepper. Feel free to add more pepper if you enjoy spice or then, tone down the pepper to your liking. Toss again for a few seconds. Add in the veggies and the chicken bits. Toss once more and voila, you’re done.

And since I don’t believe in reheating noodles (though I will if I absolutely have to), enjoy the dish while it’s hot! Add a glass of white wine or even a coke to your meal and maybe, the book you’re reading or a movie of your liking, and you’re pretty much set.

Bon appétit! Here’s hoping the door bell doesn’t ring 🙂 … at least not just yet…!