FOOD

Absolutely Freezing? Try These Easy, Comforting Indian Dishes

Forget take out, these recipes have got you covered.

06/07/2016 8:35 AM AEST | Updated July 15, 2016 12:56

Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal (Murdoch Books)

Alright winter, we get it. You're cold and unpleasant and dark. And we're not even half way through. Sigh.

Aside from endless cups of hot chocolate, huddling over the heater and giving into buying those ugly puffer jackets because they're just too warm to resist, food is the best way to keep your core warm.

To heat you up from the inside, these recipes from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal are full of warming, fragrant spices and filling, nutritious ingredients. Huge bonus: all these recipes are super easy to make and cheap.

Tarka dhal with spinach and fresh tomato


Dahl is a classic Indian dish filled with health-giving spices and protein-packed lentils and split peas. This tarka dahl is easy and quick to cook, and perfect for friends and family for dinner.

"[This is] a classic, mixed lentil dish cooked with whole cumin and ground spices, then garnished with smoky burnt garlic and crispy curry leaves, ginger and chilli," Uppal said.

Serves four.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Fresh:

  • ¼ onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 large handfuls of baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 tomato, finely diced

Spices:

  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

Pantry:

  • 100g yellow mung beans
  • 50g masoor dhal (dried red lentils)
  • 50g toor dhal (yellow split peas)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • Ghee, for drizzling

Optional garnish: curry leaves, garlic, ginger and red chilli

METHOD

1. Wash the mung beans and both dhals together thoroughly. Put them into a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Using a large spoon, remove any white scum or residue.

2. Add the turmeric and salt, and continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and pressing the beans and dhal against the pan with the back of your spoon. Cook until they are soft and creamy (add a little boiling water if too thick). Turn off the heat.

3. In a separate frying pan, heat the oil over a low–medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 2–3 seconds. Turn up the heat slightly, add the onion and fry for 3–4 minutes until golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 20 seconds.

4. Add the garam masala and fry for one minute, then pour in a ladleful of mung beans and dhal, swirl around the pan and pour it all back into the large pan of cooked dhal. Simmer the dhal over a low heat for 8–10 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat, add the chopped spinach and tomato, drizzle with ghee and garnish with the curry leaves, garlic, ginger and red chilli.

Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal (Murdoch Books)
This colourful, easy curry is perfect for lunch leftovers.

Classic lamb curry


If you're after a more hearty curry, this fragrant, spicy lamb curry is for you. Think meat-based curries need three hours of cooking? Not this one.

"Another favourite dish hailing from North India, it is perfect for any occasion and hits the right spot for all curry lovers," Uppal said. "This dish is simple yet rich in flavour and, like most curries, tastes even better the next day."

Serves four.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Fresh:

  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 small green chillies
  • 4cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1kg leg of lamb, chopped into 2.5cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt, whisked with 200ml water
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander

Spices:

  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin, plus a large pinch for sprinkling
  • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric

Pantry:

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • ½ x 250g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

METHOD

1. In a blender or using a mortar and pestle, grind the onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic, oil and tinned tomatoes into a smooth paste.

2. Mix the paste together with the garam masala, cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Place the lamb in a large bowl and cover in the paste, making sure all the pieces of lamb are well coated.

3. Put the lamb into a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, cover and cook for 35–40 minutes, stirring frequently until the meat is tender and the oil has separated.

4. Add the yoghurt, then cover and cook for a further five minutes, stirring constantly over a low–medium heat.

5. Remove from the heat then sprinkle with the chopped coriander and a large pinch of ground cumin and serve.

Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal (Murdoch Books)
No need for a slow cooker or pressure cooker for this killer curry.

Chicken pulao


This one-pot chicken pulao is a rice dish brimming with Indian flavours. You can serve this spicy pulao alongside the above curries, or simply as is and let the flavours speak for themselves.

"Wonderful, simple and satisfying, chicken pulao never fails to impress at a casual lunch with friends or a family dinner," Uppal said. "Unlike a biryani where the meat and rice are cooked separately, in a pulao dish the rice and meat or vegetables are cooked together in one pot."

Serves four.

Preparation time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

Fresh:

  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2.5cm piece ginger
  • 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
  • ½ large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1kg skinless chicken on the bone, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander

Spices:

  • 6 cloves
  • 5cm piece cassia or cinnamon stick
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 6–8 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Pantry:

  • 450ml vegetable or chicken stock or water
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 250g basmati rice, thoroughly washed

To serve: 1 lime, cut into wedges

Note: Chicken on the bone releases a more intense flavour to the dish.

METHOD

1. Using a mortar and pestle, make a fine paste with the garlic and ginger. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the yoghurt and stock or water. Set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Add the whole spices and fry for 20 seconds, then add the onion and fry for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Turn up the heat, then add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for 1–2 minutes.

4. Add the chicken, ground spices and salt and mix together well. Cover with a lid and cook for 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Add half the yoghurt stock, stir through, bring to the boil, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Now add the rice and coriander and the remaining yoghurt stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover with a lid and cook for 16–18 minutes, or until the rice liquid has evaporated and the chicken and rice are tender. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for 5–7 minutes with the lid on. Sprinkle with ground cumin and serve immediately with lime wedges.

Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal (Murdoch Books)
This dish is as easy as throwing the ingredients in a pot and letting it simmer away to perfection.

Sesame and ginger chicken skewers

Cook up a feast with friends and serve these crispy, delicious skewers on the side. Simply mix together the ingredients the night before to marinate and fry up before serving.

"A simple, yet indulgent starter or canapé, it is best served with coriander and peanut chutney," Uppal said. "To get ahead, start this recipe the night before by marinating the chicken, omitting the eggs and flour until you are ready to cook. Drizzle with honey and eat immediately."

Serves 2–3.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Marinating time: 30 minutes–8 hours

Cooking time: 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Fresh:

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 green chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 45g piece ginger, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1 egg white

Spices:

  • ¾ teaspoon garam masala

Pantry:

  • 40g white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Oil, for deep-frying
  • 3 teaspoons plain flour

Optional garnish: honey, to drizzle

METHOD

1. Cut each chicken breast into 8–9 pieces or cubes and place in a deep bowl.

2. Gently pulse the chilli, garlic, ginger, coriander, lime juice, garam masala, sesame seeds, soy sauce and salt in a blender for 30–40 seconds.

3. Pour the mixture over the chicken pieces and, using your hands, gently rub into the pieces until coated. Cover and chill for 30 minutes, or overnight.

4. Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep saucepan to 180°C/350°F.

5. Mix the egg white and flour into the chicken and mix until everything is well coated. Deep-fry the chicken in 2 batches for 3–4 minutes on both sides until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Lightly drizzle with honey. Thread onto wooden skewers and serve immediately.

Note: to test if the oil for deep-frying is hot enough, drop in a small piece of bread -- if it browns in 20 seconds it's ready.

Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal (Murdoch Books)
These bite sized chicken skewers are tender on the inside, crispy outside and chock-full of aromatic flavours.

Recipes and images from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal (Murdoch Books) $39.99 photography by Lisa Linder available now in all good bookstores and online.

Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal (Murdoch Books)


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