MASALA SMASHED POTATOES: MUMBAI MODERN COOKBOOK REVIEW

I am not sure how long ago I’ve started following Amisha through her food blog and IG page. But definitely it’s been a long time. She is one of those people who is good at everything, from cooking savory meals to baking spectacular desserts. When I heard she was going to publish a cookbook – Mumbai Modern – I pre-ordered it right away. And today I share a wonderful recipe from her book, a small review and as I always like to do, a teaser recipe with just the photo and a short description. If you are into colors and “fusion cuisine”, this book has your name written on it. Amisha is not only a superb cook, photographer and writer, but one of the sweetest human beings out there! I am thrilled to share this review with you.

MASALA SMASHED POTATOES
(slightly modified from Mumbai Modern)

for yogurt sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt

for Masala potatoes
12 baby potatoes
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chaat masala

Heat the oven to 400F.

Make the sauce by mixing all ingredients in a high-speed blender. You should have a drizzle consistency. Adjust with a little bit of water, if needed.

Add the potatoes to a pot with water to reaching a level 1 inch higher than the potatoes. Add the 2 tsp salt. Boil for 20 minutes until tender. Drain and reserve to cool so you can handle them for the next step.

Make the olive oil sauce by mixing all the spices into the 1/2 cup oil. Whisk well. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, add them to a baking sheet sprayed with oil. I used a non-stick aluminum foil to protect the baking sheet. Place the potatoes over and, using a flat-bottomed glass, gently press each potato to flatten until each one is no thicker than 1/2 inch.

Brush each potato generously with the olive oil mixture. Place in the oven and roast for about 25 minutes. I flipped the potatoes and let them roast for 5 minutes longer. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes or so. Serve with the yogurt sauce drizzled all over them.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These were absolutely WONDERFUL. Hubby said – well, your potatoes stole the show. And that they did. But of course, they were not really “mine”. They were Amisha’s… Nothing else got much attention at the table. I advise you to make more than you think you’ll need… They will be part of our dinner on a regular basis. The mixture of spices is perfect, not too hot, and very complex. If you don’t have chaat masala, add a little amchur powder, which is part of the mix, and will add a bright flavor.

And now for the teaser recipe…

SAMBHAARO
Cabbage and Carrot Salad

When I told you that if you like color you will love this book, that’s one tiny example of what you’ll get. I loved this salad so much that I was close to tossing a coin to decide which recipe to feature here. What makes this salad special is that you temper the spices in oil and they VERY briefly toss the veggies in the hot, spicy mixture. It changes their texture, mellows everything considerably. Brilliant!

Without further ado… let’s start a virtual tour of Amisha’s book…

To order the book, visit amazon.com with a click here

The book is organized in 7 chapters.

Pantry and Refrigerator Staples… She shares recipes for goodies that will be part of recipes in other chapters. For instance, her Apricot and Saffron Jam is one of her favorite concoctions, that of course stands on its own, but wait until you see the masterpiece Peacock macarons she fills with that jam… Like jewels, I tell you! I am making her Avocado, Cilantro, and Poblano Pepper Dressing this weekend.

Breakfast… Color opens the chapter: Apple, Fennel and Cardamon Tarts. Her description of being fascinated by things she saw in grocery stores in the US as someone arriving from a foreign country made me smile. I felt EXACTLY the same. My love-affair with TV dinners was something I cannot quite comprehend today. But her fascination with Pop-Tarts led her to make her own version, and that was a perfect outcome. More beautiful color in her Chocolate Cardamon Pastry Cream, Halvah and Pistachio Danish. Exotic (to me) and intriguing Sooji Dhokla (Semolina Savory Spongy Cakes).

Appetizers and Salads… Masala Smashed Potatoes opens this chapter and you know how I feel about them. Sambhaaro follows along. I would love to try the Dahi Wadas (Lentil Fritters in Yogurt Sauce), and her version of Arancini ( Aloo Tikki Arancini). They look amazing! Other serious temptations for me are Corn Mushroom Tomato Chili Cheese Danish, Handvo (Savory Rice-Lentil Vegetable Cake), and Khaman (Chickpea Flour Savory Cake).

Mains… Undhiyoo called my attention right away because it is a vegetable stew that includes bananas, and that of course reminds me of Brazilian cooking. Moqueca is originally made with shrimp and/or fish, but there is a version that uses a particular type of banana, and it is delicious. Vegetable Koftas in Tomato Cashew Curry almost made the cut to be featured, and I intend to make it very soon. Perfect for this time of the year. Same goes for the Ultimate Mumbai-California Veggie Burger. I simply must make it.

Desserts… Let me just say I would like to make them all. Period. Just choosing a few to mention here: Blood Orange and Hibiscus Tart (gorgeous!), Thandai Shortbread Cookies Dipped in White Chocolate with Pistachios and Rose Petals (swoon!), Carrot Halva, Chai Masala Creme Brulee with Cashew Cardamon Shortbread (OMG), Mini Maple Sandwich Cookies with Pear and Spice Buttercream, PEACOCK MACARONS (my heart flipped, I kid you not, they are masterpieces), Coffee Cardamon Mini Cheesecakes, Eggless Chocolate Fudge Cake (worthy of a Parisian boulangerie).

Drinks… Well, I don’t drink, but she has many non-alcoholic options like a Ginger Masala Chai, and Brazilians out there will be pleased with her version of “caipirinha” using Kumquat and Ginger. She also shares shrubs (I am quite fond of those) like one with Nectarine, Star Anise and Ginger. And a version of Turmeric Milk I might try soon: Haldar Nu Doodh.

Accompaniments and Snacks… Pass me the whole lot, and I want to make them all. Just a few to include here: Spinach Puri, Plain Rotli, Triangle Paratha (so so cute), Masala Puri, Masala Potato Chips, and Turmeric Rice (have I mentioned I am a Turmeric Cheerleader?). Chorafali Crackers are also adorably cute and I bet super tasty.

As most people who read my blog should know, I am not vegetarian, but I eat meatless meals often. Amisha’s book is a wonderful source of ideas, whether you are vegetarian or just flirt with that style of cooking sometimes. It is clear she put a ton of love, and attention to every little detail in the making of her book. The photography is outstanding, the tone of the book very conversational, as if she is standing next to you. I love it!

Amisha, thank you for allowing me to publish a recipe in my blog! I wish you all the success in the world, and I hope you already have a second cookbook “in the making”.

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ASPARAGUS WITH GUNPOWDER MASALA

Impossible to ignore the Indian vibes in our kitchen lately. Of all cuisines, I believe that is the one bringing the most out of veggies. This recipe will blow your mind, and I am certain of it. The gunpowder masala is nutty, with the perfect level of heat and complex mixture of flavors. As my friend Joanne said in her blog post, it will be good on pretty much anything. I urge you to make it, even if finding curry leaves could be a bit tricky.

BLISTERED ASPARAGUS WITH GUNPOWDER MASALA
(from Joanne’s blog Eats well with Others)

for the Masala:
100 g raw cashews
35 g raw pepitas
30 g dried red chilies de arbol (or to taste)
20-25 fresh curry leaves (I used 10 dried leaves)
2 tbsp white or black sesame seeds (I used a mixture)
½ tsp asafetida

for the asparagus:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
sea salt flakes
1-2 tbsp gunpowder masala (or to taste)

Make the masala: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the cashews, pepitas, dried chilies, curry leaves, and sesame seeds. Toast them, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are starting to brown. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Once cool, grind in a food processor or blender along with the asafetida to a coarse powder. Pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Make the asparagus: Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. In a large bowl or on a sheet pan, toss the asparagus with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until blistered on at least 2 sides. Transfer the cooked asparagus to a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lime juice. Sprinkle with the salt flakes and gunpowder masala. Serve immediately, and swoon!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The other day I was part of a conversation about food blogging and how tiring it is the over-use of certain adjectives to describe a dish. Life-changing, fantastic, mind-blowing (guilty as charged)… So let’s stop going there. This is a great masala that I can see being paired with many veggies and even animal protein. I envision a beautiful piece of salmon, grilled to perfection and topped with this crunchy concoction, with a nice squeeze of lemon juice. It does need a bit of moisture to shine, so that final drizzle of oil and citric juice is a must.

If you cannot find curry leaves, I’d say make it without. It does have enough going on, and it will still be mighty tasty. The recipe makes more than you’ll need, so keep it in the fridge and find new uses for it. Just yesterday I paired it with sweet potatoes and garbanzo beans, drizzled with a tahini-yogurt sauce.

Joanne, thank you for yet another perfect recipe that will go into our regular rotation for sure!

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CLAY POT MASALA CHICKEN THIGHS

No clay pot? No problem, the recipe works in a regular oven, so stick around. We loved the flavors so much I’ve used this marinade in whole chicken, and also Cornish hens. The unusual twist is the incorporation of ground almonds in the mix. If you are intrigued, I totally understand because I was also. It adds a little texture and more “staying power” on the meat. I hope you’ll try it, I think it might become a favorite in your home.

CLAY POT MASALA CHICKEN THIGHS
(adapted from Made in India)

6 chicken thighs, bone-in, with skin
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
5 cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
¼ cup ground almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt

Put the cumin seeds and coriander seeds into a dry non-stick frying pan over high heat until they get fragrant, don’t let them burn. Put the toasted seeds into a spice grinder, along with the cloves and peppercorns, and grind together. Put them into a big bowl and add the ground almonds, cinnamon, turmeric, yogurt, and salt. Rub this marinade all over the chicken thighs, making sure to stick some underneath the skin. Cover and let marinating int the fridge for 1 to 12 hours, the longer the better.

If cooking in a regular oven, heat it to 400F, place the chicken thighs in a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and roast for 45 minutes, remove the foil and roast until the skin is golden brosn.

If using the clay pot, soak it in cold water for a couple of hours. Drain the water, place the chicken pieces inside, close the lid and place the pot in a cold oven, turn it to 450F. Cook for 1 hour, remove the lid and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the skin is nicely brown.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can use almonds that you grind yourself, but I opted for almond meal, as I always have it around due to my macaron-baking addiction. It gives a subtle nutty flavor the the meat, and definitely allows the marinade to speak louder in the final dish. Originally I saw this marinade used in a whole chicken. The recipe called for cutting some slits on the skin over the breast to rub the marinade underneath. However, during roasting the skin teared apart too much and although it was still delicious, I did not care for the way it looked. So I will stick to using it for chicken thighs. Full disclosure: I already made it three times…

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