Chicken Kebabs

The Kebab or Kabab is a wide variety of meat dishes originating in southwest and south Asia, and now found worldwide. In English, kebab with generally refers more specifically to shish kebab served wrapped in bread with a salad and a dressing. But in southwest and south Asia, kebab includes grilled, roasted, and stewed dishes of large or small cuts of meat, or even ground meat; it may be served on plates, in sandwiches, or in bowls. The traditional meat for kebab is lamb, but depending on local tastes and taboos, it may now be beef goat, chicken, pork, seafood, or vegetarian foods like tofu or paneer ( a type of Indian cottage cheese) Like other ethnic foods brought by immigrants and travellers, the kebab has become part of everyday cuisine in multicultural countries around the globe.
The origin of kebab may lie in the short supply of cooking fuel in the Middle East, which made the cooking of large foods difficult, while urban economies made it easy to obtain small cuts of meat at a butcher's shop.The phrase is essentially Persian in origin and Arabic tradition has it that the dish was invented by medieval soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over open-field fires.
The version I am showing here, is the Kathi or Chicken Tikka Kebab.  Cooked in a tandoor ( a large clay oven) Kathi kebab is one of the most famous tandoori dishes, besides Tandoori Chicken ( which I will illustrate in another recipe) which has made tandoori cuisine famous worldwide. Made with beef, chicken or lamb meat, it is mostly prepared with a mix of spices, and cooked in a tandoor with skewers. The radiant heat from the tandoor slowly cooks the meat and due to the lack of direct heat from the fire, the juices remain inside while adding flavour, keeping the meat's moisture intact. It is usually served with rice, or a variety of Indian breads, along with onions and mint/cilantro sauce. Since I do not own a tandoor, I cooked mine on a gas grill with wonderful results. I have also tried the charcoal grill, which adds wonderful flavor, but is time consuming.  In a pinch, you can bake them in an oven too. 


Serves 2-4
1 lb. boneless chicken cut into 1.5 inch cubes
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
1/2 cup curd
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp. curry powder or garam masala
Salt to taste
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
6 black pepper - ground
5 green cardamom,coarsely ground
Juice of 2 limes

Mix ginger and garlic paste, 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp lime juice and all of the spices in yogurt and marinate the meat for at least 2 hours to overnight.
Baste the the meat with some oil and arrange the pieces on skewers.
Roast, grill on a charcoal or gas grill until cooked through, or bake for 15-25 minutes, turning from time to time.
Now squeeze some lime juice and serve hot with sliced onion ( raw or grilled) green cilantro chutney and buttered basmati rice.

If you are using wooden skewers, make sure that you soak them for at least an hour before grilling to prevent them from catching fire. Try rolling in wraps, using pita bread or tortillas - add some lettuce, tomato slices and mayo ( or any sauce of your choice) and you can have a wonderful lunch with the leftovers!

Spinach Soup ( Daal)

This Spinach Daal is a Classic Indian recipe, a staple in most Indian house holds for centuries. I have added spinach - also called Palak in India, to this daal, but this soup tastes great even without the spinach. ." Daal" means "boiled lentils". This recipe combines lentils and spring spinach to make a simple, delicious dish that may be served with rice or bread. If you can't get hold of fresh spinach, frozen can be used as well.
The recipe includes garlic, ginger, and turmeric which have been shown to contain cancer-fighting substances. Lentils are full of protien, and so this easy-to-make, delicious dish is a super health-booster, too. What a great combination: healthy, full of protein and fabulous flavors, and it also happens to be vegan!
Serves 4-6

1 cup white urid or urad daal (Ivory letils) - or any other lentil of your choice, picked over and rinsed
6 cups water, plus more if needed
1/2 pound spinach, washed and finely chopped (preferably fresh, but frozen can work)
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium green chilli peppers, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1fresh or dry red chilli 
2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced (optional)
a pinch of asafetida ;
more salt to taste
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

In a large pot over medium - high heat combine the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then add ginger, turmeric, 3/4 of the green chiles, and all of the tomatoes, if using. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the lentils are extremely soft. You may need to add a bit more water during the cooking process to keep the lentils soupy. Use an immersion blender to make a smooth consistency. Add spinach, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in the salt.
In a separate pan, heat the butter or oil, mustard and cumin and fry until the cumin seeds start to pop. Now add garlic, and remaining green chilis, red chili (and asafetida if you're using it) and fry for another 1 minute, till golden. Taste and add more asafetida if you like. Add this butter mixture to the lentils and allow to cook for another five minutes. Taste, and season with more salt if needed. I also enjoyed a touch of lemon juice added at this point. Serve topped with the cilantro.
Eat as a soup, or serve with rice or roti.

This Delicious daal is extremely healthy and nutritious. Try substituting the spinach with a big bunch of dill, or 1/2 lb kale, or mustard leaves - for a variation.  Substitute the garlic with a quarter chopped onion or use both.


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