Aloo chaat is an Indian street food made by frying potatoes with spices and chutney. It is a versatile dish that has many regional variations. This particular recipe uses it as a filling for a baked snack that is comforting and delivers on fresh and vibrant flavours.
To make 4 Pockets
2 Boiled Potatoes, roughly broken by hand
1 can of chickpeas
1 tsp Cumin seeds
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
½ tsp Chaat Masala Powder
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch root Ginger, grated
1 Onion – 1 finely chopped
1 Green Chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds if you do not want extra spice)
¼ cup fresh Mint Leaves, chopped
Sweet Tamarind Chutney
¼ cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
A squeeze of Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Oil plus extra for coating the pockets
Dough for Pockets:
1 cup Bread Flour
½ tsp Ajwan Seeds
1 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Ghee
A pinch of Bicarbonate of Soda
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp Water
Heat a frying pan with oil. Add turmeric, cumin seeds and chilli powder. When the cumin starts to toast add garlic, onion and ginger and give it a toss and allow for the onions to cook.
Add salt and chickpeas, mix well. Add 1/3 cup sweet tamarind chutney. Then add the mint, chillies, coriander and mix before adding the potatoes. Add the chaat masala powder and mix well. Allow for the mix to cook for a few minutes. Add some lemon juice. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Set the oven to 200 degrees C. Mix the flour, salt, baking soda and ajwan seeds in a bowl.
Add oil and ghee, rub to blend them well with the flour. Then add the water and make a very hard dough. Divide the dough into 4 portions.
Roll each portion out into a round shape. Add a sufficient portion of the aloo stuffing to one half of the round.
Cover the stuffing with the other half. Tightly pinch the corners to seal the pocket. Pat them and try to shape into rectangular log.
Spread some oil all over the pocket and place in a foil lined baking tray. Bake the pockets for 20 – 25 minutes until the pockets look golden brown. Serve them hot with sweet tamarind chutney.
In case you couldn’t tell, I have a bit of a craving for chillies at the moment. Dragon chicken is an Indo-Chinese dish that definitely delivers on this front and consists of battered chicken stir fried in a spicy chilli sauce. The sauce has a lot of flavour from the garlic, ginger and soy sauce while the dried red chillies deliver a fiery kick. You can adjust the amount of chillies and chilli paste based on your taste. If you like a milder dish, you will want to use significantly less but then you won’t really be making dragon chicken.
This is quite a dry dish. The sauce should be just enough to coat the chicken so if you want more then, by all means, double the sauce ingredients. The chilli paste can be bought readymade but is easily made by soaking dried red chillies in hot water and then grinding to a paste. They give the dish an amazing kick. If you are not a spice fan then this recipe is probably not for you. If however, you can’t get enough of it, read on.
500g Boneless Chicken Breast (cut into thin strips)
Coriander leaves or Spring Onion for garnishing (finely chopped)
Oil for Deep frying
2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Red Chilli Paste (ground dry red chilli)
1 Egg White
¼ – ½ cup Plain Flour
¼ cup Cornflour
Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 Tbsp Oil
3 Dry Red Chillies
4 Tbsp Cashews, broken into small pieces
1 large Onion, sliced thinly
1 Bell Pepper, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
1 Tbsp Red Chilli Paste (ground up dry red chilli)
1 Tbsp Dark Soy sauce
2 Tbsp Tomato Ketchup
Salt to taste
1 tsp Sugar
Take chicken in a bowl and add all the marination ingredients. Mix well and let it marinate for 15 minutes. Now heat some oil for deep-frying. When the oil is hot drop the chicken in oil and fry till golden. Drain and set aside.
Now heat oil in a frying pan. Add in dry red chilli and cashews and fry till the cashew turn golden brown.
Now add in onions and bell peppers and toss well in the oil.
Add in ginger garlic paste and sauté for a min.
Now add in red chilli paste, soy sauce, tomato ketchup, salt, sugar and mix well.
Cook this for a couple of mins till the water evaporates and sauce thickens.
Now add in the fried chicken and toss well in the sauce. Add in chopped coriander or spring onion and mix well.
Gochugang is a deep red fermented chilli paste that has a nice deep dark flavour (not too much heat, with a little bit of sweetness). It is pretty readily available in Asian grocers and most large supermarkets now.
The sauce is rich and spicy with a hum of garlic and fresh ginger while the drizzle of honey helps to balance the heat and the black sesame seeds and/or peanuts add a nice nutty flavour and crunch. The crispy batter, succulent chicken and deep flavour of the sauce will have you disgracing yourself as you destroy the lot but don’t worry, you won’t be the only one.
If, like Marilyn Monroe and I, you like it hot then add a little gochugaru (Korean chilli powder) to the sauce for extra lip-smacking goodness.
For the spicy Korean bbq sauce:
¼ cup gochugang (Korean Chilli Paste)
5 garlic cloves, grated
2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and grated
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon honey or barley malt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
For the chicken nuggets:
3 chicken breasts cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 cup rice flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 ¼ cup cold water
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying
1. Preheat oil to 180°C.
2. For the spicy Korean bbq sauce, place all ingredients into a milk pan and whisk together over a gentle heat for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar and infuse the garlic and ginger. Set aside.
3. Sift together the flour and cornflour into a mixing bowl. Whisk in water until fully incorporated and no lumps remain.
4. Dip each nugget piece into the batter and shake to remove any excess. Carefully drop each battered nugget into the hot oil and fry for 5 to 6 minutes (this will have to be done in batches).
5. Drain onto paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Once all nuggets have been fried, place nuggets back into the fryer and fry a second time (double fry) for 5 to 7 minutes or until light golden brown and crispy. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
6. Pour some of the Korean bbq sauce into a heatproof bowl and thin out with a few drops of water. Add the nuggets and toss together in the sauce to coat them. Transfer them onto a serving plate with a slotted spoon and garnish with black sesame seeds or crushed peanuts and a drizzle of honey or more Korean bbq sauce.
Harcha is one of the most delicious Moroccan snacks that I came across thanks to my beautiful Moroccan friend, Sarah, who never turns up to a get-together empty handed. So when she arrived for a coffee with a giant harcha fresh from the pan, we wasted no time devouring it with multiple toppings and/or fillings. Harcha is a semolina bread that you can make in any size and fill with savoury fillings such as cheese or sweet such as honey.
1 1/2 cups (250 grams) semolina
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
7 tablespoons (100 grams) butter
1/2 cup (100 ml) milk (or as needed)
Preparing the Dough:
Place the semolina in a bowl, add the sugar, baking powder and the salt. Mix well. You need semolina for this recipe so do not try to substitute it.
Melt the butter in the microwave or a saucepan then add the butter to the semolina and mix with a spoon. When it gets hard with the spoon, mix with your hands, Moroccan style!
Add the milk and mix until you get a smooth dough. Then let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Shaping the Harcha:
Turn on the heat to medium and heat up a heavy cast iron pan!
Back to the dough… you will notice that it is drier as the semolina has absorbed the milk. If it’s too dry, add a little more milk.
To get perfect shapes, use a cookie cutter to make medium sized Harcha. You can make a large one, or mini-ones – whatever you like. The discs should be ¼” thick or a bit thicker. When shaping the disks use parchment paper, so it’s easy to transfer them to the pan.
Cooking the Harcha:
Reduce the heat to low – very important otherwise the harcha will burn from outside and not cook from inside – transfer the harcha to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes on each side. You will see that the surface gets a beautiful golden brown colour and that the discs start to dry. If you try to push on them, they will feel dry. Flip and cook the other side.
Let the harcha cool a bit and cut it in half with a sharp knife. If the harcha is still too hot and the knife not sharp, it will crumble.
Fill with cheese, jam, honey, or anything you like!
Methi Muthia is a Gujurati breakfast or snack that is full of flavour and goodness. The main ingredient is fresh fenugreek leaves which I strongly advise seeking out as they are wonderfully aromatic and slightly bitter and warming.
1 bunch fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves
4-5 tbsp atta (or 2 tbsp each of plain and wholemeal flour)
2 tbsp gram flour
2 tbsp semolina
1 green chilli, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp white pepper powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp oil plus some for greasing your hand and for pan frying
Salt to taste
Chop the methi leaves and place them in a colander with 1 tsp salt. After 5 minutes, squeeze the bitter juice from the leaves and discard it.
Add the methi leaves to the remaining ingredients and knead to a soft dough by adding a little water. The consistency of the dough should be a little softer and wetter than a chapatti dough but not sticky. You don’t need much water so add sparingly.
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and grease your hands slightly so you can shape each portion into little logs easily.
Place each little portion into a steamer and be sure to space them apart as they expand when steaming. Steam for 20 minutes then remove and cut each log into 1 inch slices.
You can serve them just like this or heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan and place the slices in a single layer. Cook for a minute until the sides begin to crisp and turn golden then flip them and cook for another minute. Add a pinch of asafoetida and some sesame seeds for crunch and sizzle until they turn golden brown. Stir gently to mix the tempered spices then serve warm as is or with a fresh chutney or raita.
These ham hock and pea croquettes are made from a stiff béchamel, rather than mashed potato that so many versions of croquettes seem to be bulked out with. They need to be eaten hot – so hot you burn your fingers on the crisp breadcrumb exterior as you rush to bite into the oozing, cheesy, molten centre. The smoky ham and tangy mustard make the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer or cider.
Makes about 40
75g plain flour
500ml whole milk
100g mature cheddar, grated
1 tbsp mustard
Salt and white pepper
200g cooked smoked ham hock, shredded into chunks
100g frozen peas, defrosted
flat-leaf parsley a handful, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
150g panko breadcrumbs
groundnut oil for deep frying
Melt the butter in a pan and then stir in the flour to make a thick paste. Gradually stir in the milk until you have a smooth sauce. Simmer over a low heat for 10-15 minutes. Add the cheese and mustard and stir until melted, then add the ham, peas and parsley and season. The mixture should be quite thick and paste-like. It will thicken a little more once chilled too.
Scoop into a tray or dish, cool, then chill completely in the fridge. (This can take 2-3 hours, or you could make it the day before.) Scoop out large tablespoons of the mix and roll each into small logs, around 5cm long and 2cm thick. Flouring your hands slightly will help prevent the mix from sticking to everything.
Put the beaten egg on one plate and breadcrumbs on another. Roll the croquettes in the egg then the crumbs. Repeat so you have two layers of egg and breadcrumbs.
Fill a pan no more than 1/3 full with oil and heat to 180C (or until a cube of bread browns in around 30 seconds), then deep fry the croquettes in batches for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden. Scoop out and drain on kitchen paper (you can keep the cooked croquettes warm in a very low oven). Serve with English mustard and cold beer.
150g/5oz Caerphilly cheese or Welsh Cheddar, finely grated
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp English mustard
½ tsp flaked sea salt
5 tbsp sunflower oil
freshly ground black pepper
For the sausages, melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the leek gently for 8-10 minutes, or until very soft but not coloured.
Put 100g/3½oz of the breadcrumbs, the parsley, thyme and cheese in a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Beat the egg yolks with the mustard, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper in a separate bowl.
Remove the frying pan from the heat and tip the leeks into the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and mix together well with a large wooden spoon until well combined. Divide the leek mixture into eight portions and roll into sausage shapes. Place the sausages onto a tray lined with cling film.
Whisk the egg whites lightly in a bowl with a large metal whisk until just frothy. Sprinkle 40g/1½oz breadcrumbs over a large plate. Dip the sausages one at a time into the beaten egg and roll in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated, then place on the baking tray. Chill the sausages in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil into a large non-stick frying pan and fry the sausages over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, turning regularly until golden-brown and crisp. Serve the sausages with what you fancy. I chose baked beans!