Kibti ~ Lost Recipe from the Royal Kitchens of Patiala

Kibti ~ Tender chicken thighs marinated in yogurt & aromatic spices and slow cooked in ghee, caramelised onions and saffron. Topped off with slivered almonds 🤍

The sheer diversity of Indian cuisine is overwhelming. Each region has its own history and culture which reflects heavily on its food. But sadly over time many such brilliant recipes that highlighted the ingenuity of the cooks/ khansamas have faded into oblivion or remain undocumented.

Whether it’s our ancestral kitchens or the secret recipes of the royal chefs, these glorious recipes must be preserved and handed down through generations. In this era of convenience and instant gratification, it’s crucial that we celebrate such lost recipes and hidden gems that gives us an insight into the incredibly rich food heritage of India.

A decadent treat from the royal kitchens of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, Kibti (or kibiti) is an appetiser with layered flavours. It’s the perfect example of how simple spices and minimal techniques can result in a dish with a complex flavour profile. Our ancestral kitchens were sheer genius when it came to creating unique gems. I was delighted to be a part of a beautiful collaboration #forgottenfoodofindia on Instagram that gave me an excuse to deep dive into our rich Indian culinary heritage😀

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was a well known connoisseur of food with some of the most enterprising and skilled royal chefs who always looked to indulge his tastebuds. Kibti was one such delicacy which he loved and also served in the lavish parties he hosted.

A small trivia~ Apparently he had once ordered for a 1400 piece George V gold and silver dinner service cutlery from London (weighing 500kg!) just to honour the visit of Prince of Wales.

Ingredients:

For marination:

8 boneless chicken thighs

4 tbsp hung yogurt

8-10 black peppercorns

5 green cardamoms

4 cloves

1 large mace

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

1 green chili minced (optional)

Salt to taste

For the cooking:

1 large onion, sliced

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp red chili powder (I used kashmiri red chili powder)

Few saffron strands

Ghee (clarified butter) for shallow frying

Almond slivers for garnishing

Method:

Dry roast the green cardamoms, peppercorns, mace and cloves. Grind them into a powder. Also soak 10-12 almonds in hot water and then peel the skin and chop them in slivers.

Now marinate the chicken with the yogurt, spice mix, ginger-garlic paste, minced green chilli and salt for at least 30-45 minutes. Heat 1 tsp ghee in a pan and roast the almonds until slightly brownish. Remove from the pan and keep aside,

Heat some more ghee and add the chicken thighs and spread them evenly to ensure they get enough space for browning. Cook on each side until they are nicely browned on medium heat. Now add the remaining marinade and the onion slices and continue to cook until the onions get caramelised on med-low heat.

Once the onions become soft and blends into the chicken, add the red chilli powder and coriander powder and give it a good mix until everything is well combined.

When the chicken is perfectly browned on the outside and juicy from the inside, add 1 tsp of ghee and sprinkle some saffron strands over the chicken.

Remove after 5 minutes and garnish with almond slivers before serving.

Shrimp Bee Hoon/ Vermicelli Noodles (Chinese New Year Recipe)

Gong Xi Fa Cai 🙂

Rice vermicelli (known as bihun or bee hoon in Malaysia) stir-fried with veggies, shrimps and a generous glug of oyster sauce, fish sauce and white pepper- in one word, yumm!

Each year during the Chinese New Year, Kuala Lumpur comes alive with every nook and corner of the city lit up, insane discounts at stores, yummy hotpots, gorgeous décor, potluck with friends, the lion dances, fireworks! I could go on and on…

I’m really missing all the buzz thinking of the past many years, so tossed up some mean stir-fried prawn bihun/ bee hoon to remember the good old days🌼

Happy Chinese New Year to all those celebrating! May this year bring peace, good health and happiness for everyone🤍

Ingredients (2 servings):

10-12 medium sized shrimps, cleaned and de-veined

8 oz/ 225 g bihun or rice vermicelli

2 cups veggies of your choice (I used celery, broccoli, long beans, sugar snap peas, carrots)

2 eggs

4 fat garlic cloves chopped

2 fresh red chilies chopped

2 medium shallot chopped

5-6 spring onion greens chopped in 2 inch pieces

Salt to taste

For marination:

1 tsp ground white pepper

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine)

1/2 tsp sesame oil

For the sauce:

1/2 cup chicken broth/ stock

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

11/2 tbsp oyster sauce

1/2 tsp white pepper powder

1/2 tsp brown sugar

Method:

Marinate shrimps with the ground white pepper, Shaoxing wine and sesame oil for 10 minutes. If you don’t have Chinese cooking wine, you could also use mirin or rice wine vinegar.

Soak your vermicelli in hot water (not boiling) for exactly 2-3 minutes, not more. This makes sure that the vermicelli doesn’t get clumpy. Drain and drizzle some oil. Keep aside.

Prepare a sauce by mixing the ingredients listed under sauce- chicken stock, light soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper and a hint of brown sugar.

Heat a wok till smoking hot, add oil and fry the marinated prawns. Take them out and keep aside. Now throw in chopped garlic, fresh red chilies and the shallots and fry again over high heat.

Add the veggies of your choice and continue to stir fry over high heat. When they are almost done, push them slightly in the corner of the wok and add 2 eggs. Fry them and then mix everything back together.

Now throw in the vermicelli, spring onion greens and the sauce. Toss well with tongs to ensure each noodle is coated well with the sauce.

Add the prawns and mix again. Adjust the salt. Serve hot immediately 😋

Asian Style Stir-Fried Chicken with Leeks

I didn’t feel like cooking today but I also didn’t want to order in as we strictly limit it to once or twice on weekends.

So I tossed up some quick Asian style stir-fried chicken with leeks and carrots. For vegetarians, you can simply switch the chicken with firm tofu or soybean.

Easy & delicious! Just like we need on weekends 🤍

Ingredients:

350 g bone-in chicken

3-4 large leeks, chopped into 1-inch slices

1 medium carrot, chopped into thin long slices

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 tsp dark soy sauce (low sodium)

1/2 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)

1/2 tsp all purpose flour

1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp crushed black pepper

1 tsp each of grated ginger & garlic

1 medium shallot, finely sliced

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Salt to taste

Method:

Marinate the chicken with some salt and freshly crushed black pepper. Now clean the leeks thoroughly & chop them into 1” slices. Chop the carrots into thin long slices.

Prepare a sauce by mixing 1/2 cup chicken stock with 1 tsp dark soy sauce (low sodium), 1/2 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar), 1/2 tsp APF, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp crushed black pepper, 1 tsp each of grated ginger and garlic.

Heat a wok and fry one sliced shallot. Throw in the chicken pieces and sear both sides on high heat. Once they are nicely browned, reduce the heat to medium and add the leeks and the carrot. Cover for 4-5 minutes on low-med heat.

Remove the lid and add the sauce and stir fry on high heat again for 5-6 minutes.

Reduce the heat and let it cook for some more time. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve hot with rice😋

Easy Instant Pot Paneer (Cottage Cheese) Pilaf

On weekdays when you are pressed for time, the Instant Pot is always a saviour. Just a bit of stirring and then let the @instantpotofficial do it’s magic.

For lunch today, I made a quick and easy paneer pilaf/ pulao which took less than 30 minutes to come together but was delicious nonetheless🤍

Ingredients (for 2 full servings):

200 g paneer (cottage cheese), cut in cubes

1 cup of basmati (or any long grained) rice, washed and drained

2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 bay leaves

1 black cardamom

4 green cardamoms

4 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

2-3 slit green chilies (or according to your heat tolerance)

1 cup chopped veggies of your choice ( I used carrots, green peas and long beans)

1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

1/2 tsp garam masala powder

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

1 tbsp chopped mint leaves (optional)

Salt to taste

Method:

(You could do this in a pressure cooker as well, only the timing & settings may vary)

Before you start cooking, wash and drain 1 cup of basmati rice. Keep aside in a colander.

Put the instant pot on sauté mode and heat some ghee (clarified butter). Throw in whole spices like cumin seeds, bay leaves, black and green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and a few peppercorns.

Once fragrant, add thinly sliced onions, ginger-garlic paste, the slit green chilies and stir fry until the onions are golden and the raw smell of ginger-garlic goes away. Now add the chopped veggies of your choice and continue to fry.

For seasoning, add some salt, red chilli powder, garam masala powder and chopped coriander leaves. You could also add mint leaves if you have. Mix everything well.

Throw in the paneer and the washed rice and mix all until well combined. Add 11/2 cup of water and adjust the salt.

Press the keep warm/ cancel function and close the lid of the instant pot (make sure that the steam release handle is in the sealing position). Now press the manual button and let the pulao cook for 8-9 minutes. Let the pressure release on its own if you have time.

Serve hot with some chilled raita 🙂