Hara Bhara Kabab – Green Kabab

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2011 September – Dubai Airport  – I am traveling with my husband to India via Dubai… tired… excited and yearning to see my family, to celebrate the festive season and to be in my city. Another couple of hours for my connecting flight, have already seen enough of the airport (which is very very nice) and so am stretching out on one of the lounge chairs, my husband on my right and an unknown lady to my left. In no time the two of us are engrossed in a conversation with the lady. She is a Dutch, hailing from Holland and is going to visit a couple of friends in Kolkata for the Durga Pujas. We talk a lot about the countries and culture we belong to and I tell her about my city of joy. That amidst all the colors and the beauty of the place she may find it a little noisy and cluttered, and that I find those very traits make the city so much alive, specially at this time of the year. As we talk aimlessly the time for our connecting flight draws near and we bid good byes. The last glimpse I have of her is in Kolkata airport as each of us stand in the immigration line. Two people – from different parts of the world meet for a while and then carry on to their respective destinations.

She is forgotten… I do not recall her name any longer… just one of the many people we met on a long distance journey. The chances of us meeting again is null – zero. Holland is not a place I plan to visit very soon. And I do not expect her to be in Kolkata ever again.. well neither in US. So that is the end of our story.. the chance meeting with an interesting person … good conversation and time well spent.  One of the benefits of staying in different places and traveling is that you get to meet many kinds of people, you get to hear many kinds of stories, different experiences… different lives. And I am always enchanted by good stories. The stories make me think .. make me imagine… make me long.

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12 months later…

2012 (October) – Dubai airport – I am going to India for 4 weddings in the family, one of which is my own brother’s. All geared up for the major preparations… the only not-so-good part is that I am traveling alone. The husband will follow me a month later. I have my books and music to give me company but I was already missing him. I managed to chat with a couple of my co-passengers (all of them going to Kol). I am about to reach the specific Gate allotted for my next connection when something familiar crosses my eyes – or someone. I am not sure if my memory serves me right – but – I know I am right – It is her !

Not able to withstand any longer, I reach up to her… to check if I am correct, to check if she remembers me from a year ago. And voila – she is the very same lady from Holland and she remembers. For a couple of seconds I feel I am in a déjà vu. What was the probability of us meeting again, in the same airport, traveling on the same day and around the same time of the year ( just a 2-3 days left for Dushera as last year). I had thought  none and was gladly  mistaken. We hug each other as if long-lost friends. We click our pics, talk for some time, exchange mail ids. I am happy, so elated. I want to share this with BBC, the strangeness of the whole situation has affected me strongly. And as I hop onto my flight I am smiling.

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Life is, after all, so full of surprises; and the world around us is becoming smaller day by day. I now have a Dutch friend and a reason to plan for a trip to Holland someday. As Oprah says – “… chance encounters aren’t necessarily accidental; in fact, you can make your own luck by opening yourself to the world. ” I want to be receptive to new things in my life… new people, new places, new experiences. And one day I do hope to begin to understand the mysterious ways of this universe.

P.S. – As I posted this to the blog, I updated my Facebook browser and a birthday reminder pops up – its that of my Dutch friend. How strange that today is her birthday and unknowingly I dedicated today’s post to her. (Happy Birthday dear friend!)

Today’s post Hara Bhara Kabab is inspired from Tarla Dalal’s recipe. Hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients:

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  • Paneer (Indian Cottage cheese) – 1/2 cup
  • Spinach leaves – 1 cup tightly packed
  • Chana Dal – 2-3 tbsp
  • Ginger, finely chopped – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic, finely chopped – 1 tbsp
  • Green Chillies, chopped – 3-4
  • Green Peas, boiled – 1/4 cup
  • Water – 3/4 cup
  • Salt – to taste
  • Chaat Masala – to taste
  • Garam Masala – 1 tsp
  • Bread Crumbs – 2 tbsp
  • Oil/Oil Spray – as required

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Method:

  • Grate the paneer or process it in a food processor.
  • Clean, wash and blanch the spinach as mentioned. Blanching Spinach greens: On a high heat bring a large pot with water to boil. Add the spinach leaves to boiling water. Cover and let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove the leaves using a slotted spoon or drain using a colander. Wash the wilted leaves with ice cold water. Drain water and squeeze out any excess water from the leaves.
  • Pressure cook chana dal with ginger garlic and green chillies with 3/4 cup of water for 2-3 whistles or until the dal is cooked. Drain the dal and remove excess water.
  • Blend the cooked dal with boiled peas and blanched spinach leaves to a fine paste. If required use only 1-2 tsp of water.
  • Combine this paste with the grated paneer.
  • Add salt, garam masala and chat masala to the mixture.
  • Add bread crumbs and mix well.
  • Take a spoonful of the mixture and shape it into a round ball. Press the balls to get a round flattened shape like that of a cutlet. You can keep the round shape or form cylindrical shapes as well. However I find this shape easy to cook on stove top.
  • This is an optional step. If you want your kababs to be have a crunchy coating you can roll them onto some additional bread crumbs or else you can omit this step and fry the kababs as it is. I tried coating them with bread crumbs but did not appreciate the result. Additionally the bread crumbs were giving it a burnt look. You can try it both ways for the first time.

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Cooking the kababs:

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  1. Stove top: I used this method and it is definitely a healthier option. Heat a skillet on a medium flame and spray some oil. Place the kababs and cook them well turning around for even cooking. If required keep spraying oil or drizzling melted butter on each side as they get cooked.
  2. Deep frying: You can deep fry the kababs till they turn golden brown. You can also make a batter of flour/maida, dip the kababs, roll them on bread crumbs and deep fry them.
  3. In the oven – Preheat oven to 350 F and bake them on both the sides till they are cooked. This should take 15 – 20 mins (10 mins approx. on each side) depending on the oven size. Baste them with oil / melted butter on both the sides when you flip them.

Serve them with any chutney, tomato sauce or dip.

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Chicken Kebab

Chicken Kabab

With the Oscars going on live I decided not to cook and live off the leftovers from the day before. Somehow, and I am not sure if it is just us, we are not enjoying the presentation that much and are only waiting for the awards and of course Adele ! So to accompany me with the ‘not so impressive’ (sorry to say that!) show I have a recipe that I prepared and clicked a very long time ago for a pot luck. It is an all time favorite for all of us – Kebab, here Chicken Kebab. Usually kebabs or kababs or kebobs are associated with mutton but the chicken version is also equally popular. Cook it on a stove top or in the oven or grill and you have a wonderful dish to greet your guests with. Hope you all like it and have a great time making it.

Hope the Oscars end on a better note than it started with!

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken, minced – 1 lb (500 gms)
  • Onions, very finely chopped – 1 medium
  • Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  • Green chillies, finely chopped or red chilli powder – to taste
  • Garam Masala powder – 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
  • Shan Chicken Seekh Kebab Masala – 3 tbsp (You can only use this masala and skip the above two in which case you may want to use the mentioned amount or more of it if you want it spicy. Or you may use this masala in combination with garam masala and coriander powder in which case adjust the amount. You may also skip it completely. Just remember this is a spicy mix and the amount of other spices and green chillies need to be altered accordingly).
  • Lime juice – 1 tbsp
  • Cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt – to taste (if using Shan Kebab masala please note that it already contains sufficient salt so adjust accordingly; please refer to notes below)
  • Egg – 1
  • Bread crumbs – only to be used if required for binding. Can also use whole wheat flour in small quantity if bread crumbs are not available.
  • Oil / melted butter – for baking or stove top frying and basting

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Method:

1. Wash and drain the minced chicken before hand. If using frozen, thaw it and drain it with a paper towel to get rid of most of the moisture.

2. Mix the chicken with all the other ingredients – chopped onions, ginger garlic paste, green chillies / red chilli powder, Garam Masala powder, Coriander powder, Seekh Kebab Masala, Lime juice, cilantro, salt, egg – and mix well.

3. Refrigerate the mixture for 1/2 an hour to an hour. If in a hurry skip refrigerating though this helps in better marination and makes it firm enough to shape into kebabs.

4. Take out from the fridge and take a small mixture and try to form small balls out of it. If the mixture seems to be “too wet” then add bread crumbs to tighten it up.

5. Shaping the kebabs:

  • On a skewer – Oil your hands and wrap the chicken mixture around the skewer to form kebabs of desired length. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30mins before using, that will prevent them from burning.
  • On a toothpick – Though not a frequently used technique but you can use toothpicks and wrap the chicken mixture around it to form kebabs. Avoid the coloured toothpicks and soak them in water before putting them on the grill or oven.
  • With hands – Take a small amount of the mixture and using your hands shape it into an oval or cylindrical shaped kebab as shown in the picture.

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6. Cooking the kebabs: Do not forget to baste them with oil (and lime juice if desired) so that they do not dry up. Do not over-cook them which might lead to the kebabs turning very dry.

  • On a grill – Cook the kebabs on the both the sides till done. Baste with oil / melted butter on each side when you flip them.
  • In the oven – Preheat oven to 400 F and bake them on both the sides till they are cooked. This should take 15 – 20 mins (10 mins approx. on each side) depending on the oven size. Baste them with oil / melted butter on both the sides when you flip them.
  • On the stove top – Alternatively you can also cook them on stove top. Heat a skillet and spray some oil on medium flame. Place the kebabs and cook them well turning around for even cooking. Keep spraying oil or drizzling melted butter on each side as they get cooked.

7. Once cooked , serve them hot immediately and garnish them with some lime juice if you want to.

Note: How to check for salt:

It is very difficult to check for salt and spices in the uncooked chicken so this technique might come in handy. Take a very small portion (say a pinch) of the chicken mixture and cook it on stove top for a couple of minutes, then taste it to check for salt and other spices. Adjust accordingly.

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