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Sweet, Sour & Spice...So Nice!

Summer is just around the corner. And if you are like most, that means firing up the grill for a summer barbecue. If you are the designated “grill master” in your family or neighborhood, here’s an idea that may inspire you…consider an Indian barbecue.

One that tantalizes the palette leaving you wanting for more and even makes for an easy left-over meal the next day. Imagine the sweet, sour and spicy flavors and aromas wafting from the grill.

For those of you who feel hesitant about Indian cuisine and the various spices, fear not. The spices included in the following recipes (and in most Indian dishes) are necessary to enhance flavor, and NOT for creating “scoville heat”. They are also easily attainable at local Indian or Asian markets.

So venture into new territory and enjoy these delectable Indian alternatives for your next barbecue. I am confident these will be the talk of the summer.

Whilst the grill is heating up, let’s begin with a vegan salad.

barbecue-side-dish-chickpea salad
I pulled this pic out of my album to share my very first garnish I learned to carve many years ago, ‘Tomato Rose’!
Tamarind Dressed Legumes

Tamarind (Imli) is a pod-like fruit that contains as sweet and tangy pulp, indigenous to Indian, African, and Southeast Asian Cuisine.

This versatile dish has many names: Channa Masala, Chaat Patti, Chole, to name a few. It is served at wedding banquets, as breakfast in some households, and sold by food vendors on the streets. We find predominantly vegetarian food on the streets, but the ability to fashion recipes from the humble legume is phenomenal.

2 cans Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans (channa/chole), drained

1 tsp Amchur powder (mango powder) Or Sumac

1 tbsp Cumin powder

1 tbsp Coriander powder

1 teaspoon Kashmiri Chile powder Or Smoked Paprika

1 tbsp Olive Oil

1 Red Onion diced

1 large Tomato diced

1 Cucumber diced

1 tbsp Basil julienned

Gently warm oil in a large pan (enough room for the spices to bloom and toast the chickpeas), add spices to toast, keep stirring them for a minute, add drained chickpeas and allow to toast, mixing in the spices for a couple of minutes till completed blended. Spoon mixture into a bowl, add the diced vegetables and basil, keep refrigerated till service.

Tamarind Dressing is used in most Indian appetizers, here I am drizzling some over yogurt Pani Puri for Adley & Callan!
Tamarind Date Dressing

6 finely chopped dates, preferably medjool dates which are plump with a caramel taste, presoaked in ½ cup of hot water to help soften.

1 ½ tsp tamarind extract

1 tbsp Jaggery (cane sugar) Or dark brown sugar Or agave nectar

1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder Or smoked paprika

1 tsp toasted cumin powder

½ tsp Salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender for a smooth consistency. Taste for salt, sweet, spice and tangy flavor with a hint of bitterness from the mildly toasted spices. If you desire a more liquid consistency, you can add the date-soaked water into the dressing. Drizzle onto the chickpea salad for 15 minutes prior to service to allow for the flavor profile; piquant, aromatic, and fresh, to come through.

This dish showcases the umami harmony!

Makhanphal (Avocado) Yogurt

A smooth, cooling accompaniment to the chicken recipe below

2 Ripe Avocados

4 tbsp Greek Yogurt

Juice of a large Lime

1 tbsp fresh Cilantro Leaves finely chopped

1 tsp ground Cumin

Salt & Kashmiri chili powder or smoked paprika to taste

Blend all ingredients in a blender for a smooth consistency.

Garnish: Papadums, toasted or fried for extra crunch

Made from chickpea flour, spices and coconut or peanut oil, the papadum is a wafer-like flatbread, fried or toasted and typically served with condiments, chutney, raita for dipping. You can find them at any local Indian or Asian market.

I was toasting papadums over an open flame with my grandsons in California last summer. These can also be cooked in a microwave for a minute, or fried in oil if preferred!

Now, it’s time for the grill!

(Photo: Mouktik Joshi)
Tandoor-less Chicken

The quintessential Tandoori Murgh, originated from Punjab Province, a spice marinated, appetizing, succulent and luxurious dish that is effortless. Normally prepared in a tandoor oven; but this recipe is perfect for the grill.

8-10 Chicken Thighs bone in

2 tbsp Greek Yogurt

1 tbsp Ginger finely grated

2 cloves Garlic finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped Cilantro

Juice of 1 large Lemon

2 tsp Cumin Powder

2 tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder or Smoked Paprika

2 tsp Coriander Powder

2 tsp Black Cardamom Powder

1 tsp Turmeric Powder

1 tsp cracked Black Pepper

1 tsp Kosher Salt

Olive Oil

1 Red Onion sliced into ½ inch rings, grilled for garnish

Garnish: freshly squeezed lemon juice, chopped cilantro and grilled onion rings

Marinade chicken with the yogurt, aromatics, spices, herb and oil. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (best overnight), in order for the aromatics to permeate, and for the yogurt to act a tenderizer.

Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and set aside on a plate, so the juices don’t drip into the grill. Pat chicken with a paper towel so the skin can get nice and crispy. Allow chicken to come to room temperature before grilling.

The barbecue should be nice and hot to help with grill marks and prevent sticking. Brush the chicken with oil, cook the chicken skin side down first for 6 minutes, turn and allow to cook for 6 more minutes. Final turn and cook for another 4 more minutes.

If using an oven cook it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken thighs, or till internal temperature shows 165 degrees.

Allow chicken to rest on a plate for 5-8 minutes for the juices to flow through, prior to service.

Straight from my son-in-law, Michael’s organic garden, pulled by my grandsons Adley & Callan!
Street Food on the Cob

Summer savory Bhutta, typically roasted over a coal fire or open grill by street vendors in India serving the corn on the cob, husks peeled down, rubbed with lime and spices.

4-5 pieces of corn (husks and silk removed; if you want to leave the husks on, you will need to presoak them to prevent the husk from burning and catching fire)

2 tbsp chopped fresh Dill

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder or Smoked Paprika

1 tsp Kosher Salt

2 Limes halved

Olive Oil

Rub corn with salt, then brush with olive oil. Place it on the hottest part of the grill and allow to cook for 18-20 minutes, turning quarter turns every few minutes.

Dip the halved lime into the chili and garlic powder, rub this mixture all over the corn, garnish with dill to serve.

European Kent Mango; juicy, sweet, with stringless flesh! (Photo: Ron Lach)
Mumbai Mango

More like a refreshing palette cleanser than a dessert, but either way, it is a perfect finish to this summery meal.

Alphonso (Native to India, known as The King of Kings, unsurpassed taste). Champagne (Native to Mexico; oblong, gold-blushed yellow skin), Tommy Atkins (Native to Florida, valued for long shelf life) Carabao (otherwise known as Manila mangoes, soft flesh with less fiber).

Whichever one you decide to serve up, this easy recipe is sure to satisfy.

2 -3 large mangoes, peeled, pith removed (reserve a half cup of diced mango for garnish)

2 tbsp Jaggery Or Brown Sugar Crystals

Juice of a freshly squeezed Lemon

Mint sprigs for garnish

Peel and remove pith from the mangoes, scoop out flesh, and blend it with sugar and lemon juice, till smooth. Pour into a glass dish and place in freezer for 20 minutes. Use a fork to scrape and fluff the ice mush. Back in the freezer and do this again a couple more times every 20 minute, till you achieve a fluffy, snow like consistency. Serve in tall glasses with mango cubes and a sprig of mint as garnish.

I hope you will try out the above recipes this summer, do let me know how it turns out.

Happy Summer Planning!

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