Monthly Archives: April 2014

Spicy Sunset


1 oz chili Vodka (recipe below)
3 oz mango pulp (available at Indian markets)
3 – 4 fresh basil leaves
Juice of half lime
Pinch of Fleur de sel or sea salt


Place all ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker.  Shake vigorously to combine and strain into a martini glass.  Serve with a dash of cayenne or cardamom on top depending on preference.  I like the cardamom.  For a more pronounced basil flavor, you may mash the basil leaves up in the shaker before adding the ice and remaining ingredients.

Chili Vodka

1 750ml bottle Vodka (I used Grey Goose)
2 – 3 Thai green chilis – a small slit cut into each one.


Insert the chilies into the vodka bottle and let infuse for 2 weeks.  Strain out the chilies and pour vodka back into its original bottle.  Use when needed but keep in mind, the vodka will have quite a kick to it so use sparingly.

CKP Style Maharashtrian Lamb Curry (Mutton)

I’m sure there are many many recipes for Indian lamb curry out there.  Some of the more known in the US are Rogan Josh or Vindaloo, but one rarely sees Maharashtrian food in most Indian restaurants in the Western world.  Since I grew up with this type of food, it is what I tend to cook most often and what is dear to my heart.  And this is what I made for my recent dinner party which was in the Traditions with a Twist post.

Many Maharashtrians are vegetarians and but there are also many who are not.  My family falls into the latter category.  Since I grew up around Mumbai, we mostly ate a lot of fish and seafood.  Chicken was not a common meat in our diets but rather once a week, usually on Sundays, we would eat mutton.  In India mutton is made from goat and not lamb. Since I don’t care for the way the goat butchers at the Indian markets hack up the meat, I prefer to go to my local butcher and make mine with lamb which I also find a little less gamey and more tender.

I still remember when I was young in India and my paternal grandfather used to take the train to his favorite butcher two towns over to buy the goat on Sunday mornings.  Then my mother and grandmother would cut and prep it for dinner.  The aromas in the house were unforgettable and when I make this recipe, I am transported back to those days and the memories that accompany.

I can’t really tell you what CKP is as it has never really been explained to me.  Here is a definition I found on Wikipedia which is more than I knew of my own people.  

Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP), is an ethno-religious community of South Asia. It is part of the broader Kayastha community. Traditionally, the CKPs have been granted the upper caste status, which allowed them to study the Vedas and perform religious rites along with Brahmins.Though they originated in North India,Central Asia and East Asia the CKPs are today concentrated primarily in western Maharashtra, southern Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh (Indore region). They played an important role in the establishment and administration of the Maratha empire

If you are CKP and reading this blog, please do use the comments section below to provide any additional information.  I know that we are part of the warrior caste called Kshatriya and that we are not vegetarians.


7 lb Leg of Lamb – I have the butcher debone and cut the meat into 1 inch cubes and the bones into larger pieces.
½ Cup plain yogurt – I use non-fat greek style
2 Tbsp crushed garlic
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne or Indian red chili powder
1 whole stick cinnamon
3 medium red onions – finely chopped
1 recipe garam masala (see recipe below)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 recipe wet masala (see recipe below)
Salt to taste – I add about 1 ½ – 2 Tbsp
30 pearl onions – peeled and cut in half
Chopped cilantro

Garam Masala (dry spice blend)

Garam Masala
3 dry red chilis (add more for more heat)
1 stick cinnamon broken into smaller pieces
10 whole cloves
20 peppercorns
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
10 pods of green cardamom (whole)
¼ tsp canola or vegetable oil
In a heavy bottom skillet, heat oil and add all spices.  Heat and stir until coriander seeds start to brown and you smell the aromas from the spices.  Allow to cool for a few minutes, add to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.  Set aside until ready to use.
Note: This Garam Masala can be used for other recipes as well.  Different cooks have different versions but this is mine. 

Wet Masala

½ cup dry shredded unsweetened coconut
Sauteing the Onions
1 large red onion – thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 15 oz can whole plum tomatoes
In a heavy bottom pan, toast the coconut over medium heat until it starts to brown.  Remove from pan and add to a blender.  In same pan, heat ¼ cup canola oil and add sliced onion and ground cinnamon.  Turn heat to high and sauté the onion until golden stirring frequently to avoid burning. Add to the blender.  Add the can of tomatoes to the blender and puree until smooth.  Set aside until ready for use.

Recipe (serves 8 – 10)

Prepare the marinade – combine yogurt, garlic, ginger, turmeric & cayenne in a large glass bowl or container.  Add lamb (not the bones) and mix well.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
Color of the curry when finished
Cook the lamb curry – Remove lamb from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.  In a large dutch oven, heat ¼ cup canola oil on high heat.  Add the bones and brown on all sides.  Remove to a large plate and set aside.  Reheat the oil adding more as needed.  Sear the cubed lamb pieces in batches just until they are browned so that there is only one layer at the bottom of the pot.  Remove and reserve on the large plate.  I usually do this in three batches.  Once all the lamb has been browned, wipe off the liquid at the bottom of the pot if necessary and heat another ¼ cup of oil on medium high heat.  Add cinnamon stick.  Once it starts to sizzle and open up, add the chopped onion.  Sauté for 2 minutes until translucent.  Add garam masala and stir to combine.  Add tomato paste and stir until the paste turns a dark, rich color.  Add the wet masala and cook on medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until you see the oil separating on the sides –  about 5 – 8 minutes.  Add the seared lamb and bones and stir.  Add water to just cover the lamb and the salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 2 – 3 hours or until the lamb is tender and the curry has a deep color.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  You may add more cayenne if you want the curry to be hotter or salt according to taste.
Just before serving, saute the pearl onions until golden brown (I deep fry them to make them extra crispy).  Transfer the lamb to a serving bowl and garnish with the pearl onions and chopped cilantro.  Serve with plain basmati rice.  I add a pinch of saffron to the rice once the water boils to give it a nice color and added flavor.

Recipe : Mango Crème Brulee

I love mangoes!  Unfortunately we don’t get the best quality of mangoes in the US though now the Indian markets will carry some good ones when in season.  Forty years later, I still dream about the sweet, delicious, pulp of the mangoes I ate as a child in India.  My son loves Creme Brulee and so when I was thinking of a dessert for my recent dinner party, he suggested I make that.  With an Indian menu, I wanted to put some spin on the classic to make it more in theme with the evening.  Since it is mango season in India, the decision was easy.  I decided to substitute the traditional vanilla bean with cardamom pods and ground cardamom seeds and replaced some of the cream with mango pulp (can be found in Indian markets).  The experiment was a great success and this will be a recipe I will turn to often I think. 


24 ounces Heavy Cream
8 ounces Mango Pulp
8 Green Cardamom Pods (lightly crushed)
1 Tsp ground Cardamom
7 egg yolks
¼ cup white Sugar (optional) – I leave it out as the mango pulp adds a good sweetness
For topping:
Turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw) or other minimally processed sugar (regular sugar will also do)
Ground Cardamom(optional)
Preheat oven to 325 F.
In a heavy bottomed pot add the heavy cream, mango pulp, cardamom pods and ground cardamom.  Place on medium heat and allow to just come to a boil but do not boil.  Let sit for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks and sugar (if using) until fluffy and just starting to turn light in color (approx. 10 minutes).  Strain the cream into a large enough measuring cup to remove the pods and seeds.  Slowly pour the hot cream into the egg yolks while constantly whisking so as not to curdle the eggs.  Ladle the mixture into 10 4 oz ramekins or oven safe bowls.  Place the bowls into a large roasting pan and add hot water (I boil the water in my tea kettle while I’m whisking) to the pan until it is half way up the sides of the ramekins.  Place roasting pan into the oven and bake for 40 – 45 minutes.  They will still be a bit wobbly in the center which is fine.  Cool completely on a rack and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
When ready to serve, sprinkle about 1 Tbsp of the turbinado sugar (I put about ½ cup in a bowl and add ½ tsp ground cardamom to it) evenly on the surface.  Using a hand held torch heat the sugar until just caramelized.  Wait one minute to harden the surface. Crack into it and enjoy!!

Recipe: Indian Spiced Roasted Vegetables

Below is another recipe from my Traditions with a Twist post:

This vegetable side is most certainly not traditional nor Maharashtrian but rather something I came up with while walking through the supermarket based on what looked good that day.  Since the star of the show was the Lamb Curry, I didn’t want anything too heavy or overly spiced as traditional Indian vegetables tend to be. They also tend to be overcooked mush. The Western influence in my cooking is very obvious when I think this way.  Traditionally a meal like this, say if my mother were to be hosting, would have so many more items on the menu.  She would serve two vegetables, a koshimbir (see post on Spinach Raita), a legume (lentils or such), and a seafood of all things – typically a spiced rice made with shrimp.  A heavy, very sweet Indian dessert of some sort would also be served with the meal.  I personally have never understood this nor am a fan of eating this way.  It is too confusing with so many things on the plate.  And why would anyone want to eat lamb and shrimp at the same time?  It’s so much better to have plain saffron rice to eat with the lamb gravy.  In fact when I told my mother the menu I had planned, I could tell she did not approve and felt it wasn’t enough.  Can’t get the habit out of her after all these years.  I told her I was going to do it my way and that was the end of that.

But I digress.  The end result of this recipe was delicious, colorful and worked very well into the flavors of the meal without stealing the show.


16 oz small crimini mushrooms (either whole if small or halved if large)
2 Yellow bell peppers – cut into 1 inch squares
2 Red bell peppers – cut into 1 inch squares
1 large red onion – cut into 1 inch squares
Chopped cilantro for garnish
3 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
½ tsp red chili powder or cayenne
1 tsp dried thyme

Combine all ingredients for the marinade and stir well to mix.  Place vegetables on a cookie sheet or roasting pan and add the marinade.  Mix well to coat all the vegetables and lay them out in a single layer.  Allow to marinate for 1 hour.  Before cooking, preheat oven to 425 F.  Roast vegetables for 35 – 40 minutes or until just tender.  Garnish with Cilantro and serve.

Serves 8 – 10
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