Recipes: Dine Out in Style at Home
Need some ideas for a good dining experience? Cooking can be fun even when you’re stuck indoors and not able to get all the ingredients you need. Here’s some help if you want to be more creative in the kitchen. You don’t have to step out of the house to have a great meal.
We love our desi eateries, which can be ideal for meeting friends and loved ones, enjoying a good meal, and listening to Bollywood tunes—all without lifting a finger. But as much as we can’t wait to eat out, there is currently much uncertainty because of health guidelines and temporary restaurant closures. As for our favorite grocery stores, sometimes they may not have everything we want. So, while we wait to do all the things we love with full gusto, and hope that everybody stays safe in the meantime, here are a few eat-out dishes that are easy to replicate at home. These dishes can be started ahead of time, since most ingredients are commonly available in grocery stores and some use shelf-stable ingredients that are easy to find, such as canned tomatoes and all-purpose flour. Best of all, these Mother-stamped classic recipes are reusable. No worries if you cannot have guests at your house. You can make arrangements for a virtual gathering, thanks to technology, and still talk to friends and loved ones over a fancy meal!
Makhani ‘Mother’ Sauce
Makes: Eight servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus overnight marinating
Cook Time: 45 minutes
2 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1-2 tbsp basic powdered garam masala
1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
2 cans tomato
1 tsp kasuri methi powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp honey
½ cup fresh cream
Heat the ghee in a deep saucepan. When it is fragrant, reduce the heat and add ginger garlic paste, powdered garam masala, cayenne pepper powder and canned tomatoes. Stir in and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. When the mixture is not steaming, use an immersion blender to puree into a smooth paste. Return the sauce to the stove. Season with powdered kasuri methi powder, salt and honey (or sugar), and then add the fresh cream. Stir in, and allow this to simmer for 10 minutes on low, or until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat when the sauce is of desirable consistency. This sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead of time.
When ready to serve, combine the sauce and the protein / vegetable of choice, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve hot with suitable side.
Improv! Vegetarian Option
Add the following to the sauce, for varied dishes
• Grilled paneer chunks, for Paneer Makhani
• Sliced mushrooms, for Mushroom Makhani
• Cubed firm tofu, for Tofu Makhani
• Pre-cooked red kidney beans (rajma), for Makhani Rajma
• Pre-cooked whole black urad daal, for Maa-ki-Daal
• Fried baby potatoes, with fresh mint for Dum-Aloo
Improv! Makhani Chicken, Lamb or Mutton
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp garlic paste
2 tbsp cayenne pepper powder
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp garam masala powder
1½ tsp salt
2 tbsp butter (for basting)
8 metal or wooden/bamboo skewers (optional)
2 lbs meat, boneless, skinless
Make a marinade of oil, ginger paste, garlic paste, cayenne pepper powder, yogurt, garam masala powder and salt. Transfer it into a tight sealable zip-top bag. This marinade can be made 3 days ahead of time.
Trim and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Gently transfer pieces into the marinade, ensure that each piece is well coated, and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight for best results. Thread pieces on a skewer (if using) and bake in a preheated 450°F oven 20-30 minutes. In the final few minutes, baste the meat with butter and bake for another 2 minutes until cooked. Use the grilled meat in the Makhani sauce. On its own, this grilled meat also makes a great appetizer.
Any liquid leftover in the pan after the meat has cooked may be added to a tomato soup for added flavor. Discard any unused/uncooked marinade.
Improv! Egg or Shrimp Curry
Skip the cream in the sauce and use the sauce with whole boiled eggs, or cleaned out shrimp with a sprinkling of sliced jalapenos, lemon and cilantro for a classic Egg curry or Shrimp curry.
Double Trouble Naan
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 25 minutes
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
¾ cup warm water
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or unflavored cooking oil)
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Extra water for spraying (in spray bottle)
Melted butter for basting
Mix yeast, sugar and warm water in a small bowl and let it to stand for 10 minutes until frothy. In a separate container, blend the yogurt and olive oil and set aside.
In a separate large bowl, sift in 2 cups of flour, salt and baking powder. Make a well in the center. Pour in the activated yeast mixture and the yogurt and mix in until the dough begins to come together. Lightly knead it until it is a smooth ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a dry kitchen towel and allow this to double in size, for at least 1 hour.
METHOD: TO SHAPE & COOK
Place a ceramic pizza stone in the oven and pre-heat the oven to its highest setting before starting. Pinch out a golf-ball sized piece of the risen dough. Dust some flour on a clean dry surface and begin to stretch and shape the dough. Alternately roll it out with a heavy rolling pin, until it is about 4-5” in diameter. Gently stretch it without tearing until the uncooked naan is a little bigger. Place the dough on one palm and sprinkle the exposed dough with water. Carefully place this dough, wet side down onto the ceramic pizza stone. Spray the ‘up’ side with water and switch the oven to low broil mode. The dough will begin to cook within 30 seconds. Using long tongs or a wooden spatula, flip the naan as soon as the upper surface begins to have a few tan spots. Do not spray any water on this naan. Allow this to cook for another 30 seconds or until a few tan spots begin to appear. Remove carefully from the oven and quickly baste it with melted butter.
• Use garlic butter to baste, for Garlic Naan
• Roll out the dough 10-12” in diameter, top it with your favorite toppings and cheese, and bake again for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted, for Naan-Pizza
• Make pooris & fry them, for Bhaturas.
• Fill the poori while rolling with mozzarella cheese, for Cheese Bhaturas.
Nandita Godbole is an Atlanta-based author of many cookbooks and a food-novel. Her Ten Thousand Tongues: Secrets of a Layered Kitchen, an autobiographical food-novel, was featured on City Lights–WABE 90.1 FM, Forbes, and BBC-Future, and in an earlier avatar, on NBC and NBC-Asian America.
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