Ever since I became a food blogger, I have been on a cookbook winning spree. I am not particularly sure how this happens, but I seem to win most giveaways I enter especially if the prize features a cookbook. And I must say, it’s quite a pleasurable thing; building up my cookbook library!
One of the first ones I received is a copy of the cookbook,‘Around the World with the Tadka Girls’ by Ranjini Rao and Ruchira Ramanujam. These beautiful and spirited girls are the faces behind Tadka Pasta, where you can find a large repertoire of fusion recipes.
I won this cookbook as part of a giveaway hosted by ‘My Diverse Kitchen.’ Thanks a lot Aparna for the opportunity and sorry for blogging about it so late. Since the contest was open only for those with an Indian address, the book was shipped to my home back in India and it took a considerable time to get it to Melbourne.
A bit about the book; it is a simple cookbook with a bunch of well tested recipes and a lot of fusion twists. What strikes one immediately is the humbleness of the book and the passion of the authors. It is not one of those fancy coffee table cookbooks with glossy photographs but one that prompts you to cook from it every single day.
One of the recipes I tried out from the book and especially loved are these Murgh Dahi Kebabs which I served a la burger style with Spicy Mint Pesto.
There is a bit of history about the origins of this dish in the book. The use of yoghurt or thick curds to flavour and tenderize the meat is an ancient Middle Eastern practice which arrived in India too. Whether it is Turkey, Athens or Rajasthan, you will find dahi kebabs a prominent feature with variations according to the region.
In India, hung curd is used which is a thick, creamier version to the regular yoghurt/curd. A very easy procedure which can be done right at home, hung curd adds the rich, creamy and delicious texture and flavour to the chicken kebabs.
In this recipe, there is of course the tadka twist which is the addition of a medley of Indian spices to the chicken mince and hung curd. The kebabs are succulent and you can serve it as a starter or in a burger format like I did with a spicy mint pesto.
Coriander mint chutney is the traditional Indian accompaniment to these Murgh dahi kebabs but of course, inspired by the tadka girls, I also ended up with a twist of my own. Delicious, fresh pesto flavoured with mint and a hint of chilli is perfect with these juicy kebabs.
Recipe for spicy mint pesto adapted from here.
For the hung curd:
1. 2 cups regular yoghurt/curd
For the kebabs:
3. 400gms chicken mince
4. 1 cup fresh coriander leaves
5. 1 cup fresh mint leaves
6. 2 spring onions
7. 5 green chillies
8. ½ cup hung curd
9. 1 tsp cumin powder
10. ½ tsp garam masala
11. ½ tsp black pepper powder
12. ½ tsp kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves
13. Salt, to season
14. 1 tsp vegetable oil
15. Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
For the mint pesto:
16. 2 tbsp. toasted pinon nuts (pine nuts)
17. 1 cup packed mint leaves
18. ¼ cup olive oil
19. Juice from one lime
20. 1 raw garlic clove
21. 1 tbsp. minced onion
22. 1 tsp honey
23. ½ tsp. red chilli flakes
24. Salt, to season
To prepare hung curd:
• Line a cheesecloth in a bowl and add 2 cups of yoghurt/curd into it. Gather the sides of the cloth into a bundle, knot at the top and hang to let the excess whey drain out, for at least 6-8 hours or overnight. Since it was cold here, I let the cloth hang over my sink; you could place it in your refrigerator too, especially if keeping overnight.
To prepare kebabs:
• Finely chop ingredients 4-7 in a processor or by hand.
• In a pan, heat 1 tsp oil and sauté the chopped ingredients for just a minute.
• Add this to the chicken mince along with hung curd and the spices. Season with salt.
• Mix well and shape into small patties. Keep aside or refrigerated till it’s time to cook.
• In a flat pan, heat oil and shallow fry the kebabs till done.
To prepare pesto:
• Lightly toast the pine nuts.
• Put all mint pesto ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.
• Transfer to a serving container and refrigerator until ready to use.
These Murgh dahi kebabs can be served as a starter with this spicy mint pesto dip. Or serve it in a burger style with the kebabs inside a bun and spoon over the mint pesto.