Tandoor does give us some tasty bites that make the collection of Indian non vegetarian snacks really proud. Modern day tandoors for home use or restaurant use are operated on electricity or gas. Only a few of us these days, however, are lucky enough to have our own charcoal tandoor. Barbecues can be pretty good, especially where cooking can be done over a grill that lets food juices run onto the burners or coals. The effect is not quite that of the tandoor, but the resulting flavour is acceptable.
You could choose a conventional oven to cook tandoori dishes. The similarity here is that both the oven and the tandoor have an enclosed space where heat is trapped, but the former does not produce the trademark smoky flavouring of real tandoori food. This method is the best alternative for cooking tandoori breads (naan, roti, kulcha etc), when a tandoor is not available because the bread is surrounded by heat.
A grill can be used when cooking food like lamb chops or chicken tikka even though the concept of grill cooking is really the reverse of tandoori cooking. A grill does not have an enclosed space and food is heated by elements from above. Nevertheless, we can cook some tasty food on the grill. The grill is good for quick cooking especially when the barbecue is not an option.
But there is another technique to make Indian non vegetarian snacks and that is by frying them. It might sound like we are stating the obvious but it’s so true…that the world loves deep fried food! Even if we are aware of the implications of having too much oil in our daily diet, our taste buds clamour for tasty and crisp fried foods. Now that times are changing the awareness about having less oil in the diet is becoming more evident. The emergence of microwave cooking has brought in a new wave of healthful modes of preparing food and it is justified because in this sedentary but stressed lifestyle of today it is better to feed the body what the heart will need to remain fit and ticking. But then remember I said that the taste buds need to be tickled now and then? Nothing wrong with that provided it is once in a blue moon affair and exercise is treated as a serious daily activity.
In a bowl mix 250 grams mutton mince, 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste, 2 chopped onions, ½ tsp red chilli paste, 1 tablespoon cumin powder, 1 teaspoon pepper powder, 1 tablespoon garam masala powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon red chilli powder, ½ cup breadcrumbs, salt. Make a thick batter with 6 tablespoons gram flour, salt, water, a pinch of red chilli powder. Make marble sized mutton balls. Dip in the batter and deep fry in hot oil till golden. Drain on paper and serve hot.
Marinate 1½ inch cubes of 600 grams surmai fillets for 20 minutes in ½ cup malt vinegar. Drain, pat dry. Whisk 1 cup gram flour, ½ cup dahi, 1 egg, 1 tsp ajwain, salt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon red chilli powder, 4 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste. Add fish, marinate for 20 minutes. Deep fry few pieces at a time, in hot oil, till brown and crisp. Drain, sprinkle 1 teaspoon chaat maala, serve with 8 lemon wedges.
As we progress we will also dwell on the techniques of cooking Indian non vegetarian snacks in the microwave. Till then, check out some more recipes of fish starters: Chilli Fish Bhajji, Crispy Fried Fish, Fish in Banana Leaves.