Oct 31, 2013

Masaledar Baigan

After you discount cauliflower, ladyfingers and the vegetables that nobody will even dream of eating, you are left with very few veggies to choose from. Which is why I keep returning to the good old purple vegetable, even though nobody (except me) is particularly fond of them.
I've got a bunch of recipes that I keep repeating, but today, I was feeling adventurous and invented one of my own. Slightly involved, but more than worth it.

500 gms baby brinjals
1 medium onion chopped fine
1 medium tomato chopped fine
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp whole dhania
2 tbsp grated coconut
3 tbsp raw peanuts
red chilli powder
turmeric powder
cooking oil

Roast the peanuts and dhania separately till browned and keep aside to cool.
Wash the brinjals, remove the stalk, cut lengthwise, and fry till well browned. Drain on kitchen towel and keep aside.
Heat cooking oil, splutter mustard seeds, add curry leaves and onions and fry till onions turn translucent. Add tomatoes and cook on a low flame till it starts getting mushy.
Meanwhile, dry grind the dhania, peanuts and grated coconut, and add it to the cooked paste and cook with stirring for a minute.
Add the fried brinjals, mix well, so they are all evenly coated. Cover the vessel, and let it cook in its own steam for about 5 minutes.
Serve hot with rotis.

Cheesy cashews

In my quest for savouries to make for Diwali, I came across this recipe posted by Manisha Shah in IFF. For a moment, I thought they were real cashewnuts coated with cheese, but once I figured out what they were, I knew I had to make them right away.
And I did.

250 gm maida
4 tbsp cheese grated
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp fresh powdered black pepper
water to bind a stiff dough
oil for deep frying
Mix all the ingredients to make a stiff dough. Add water gradually, and only enough to make it stiff.
Roll out a large roti. with a soft drink bottle cap make cuts in semi circle / kaju shapes.
Deep fry on low till pink but crisp.
My kajus looked amazing, but were slightly soft. The next time, I will do what my mother does- heat the oil to the highest temperature, but fry on a low flame.

Oct 29, 2013

Makai ki roti- the version that didn't quite work

When you have sarson ka saag, can makai ki roti be far behind? Luckily, I had a packed to makai ka atta in my pantry, so didn't have to go in search of if when I decided to make sarson ka saag. I got the recipe from the internet, but the rotis didn't come out the way they should have. A bunch of people did give me tips for next time, and I will hopefully be able to master them soon.
2 cups maize flour/corn meal
½ cup water
½ tsp ajwain/carom seeds
ghee for frying the rotis

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Add half of the water and knead, adding more water if required. Knead into a firm dough.
Form medium sized balls of the dough, and using a greased surface, pat them into flat rotis.
Roast the makki di rotis on a tava/griddle with 2-3 tsp of ghee till well browned and cooked.
Top the makki di roti with butter and serve hot with saag.

Tips for next time- use warm water, instead of cold. And use 1/3 whole wheat flour to make it easier to handle.

Sarson ka saag

Sarson ka saag. The name alone is enough to send me into ruptures. I was introduced to the dish only after marriage, and the first time I had it, I wondered what all the hype was about. But after you have tasted it in assorted dhabbas in and around Delhi a couple of times, it is nearly impossible to remain indifferent to it.
The last time I had it was on a biting cold winter afternoon in a five start dhabba on the Chandigarh- Delhi Highway. Just thinking about it, whisks me back to cold noses, and layers of warm clothing. Bliss.
So, when I saw my subjiwalla selling something that he called sarson ka saag, I immediately picked it up. Only after getting home did I look for recipes, and go in search of the palak saag and the mooli saag that I needed to complete the dish.
Overall, quite a satisfying experience!

1 bunch mustard leaves/sarson
½ bunch spinach leaves/palak
1 cup chopped tender radish leaves/mooli ke patte
2-3 inches radish/mooli
1 cup fenugreek/methi leaves, chopped (I skipped it)
2 medium sized onions, chopped
3 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
2 inch ginger, chopped
2 green chilies, chopped
7-8 garlic, chopped
½ tsp red chili powder
a generous pinch or two of asafoetida or ¼ tsp asafoetida powder
2 to 3 cups water
2 tbsp maize flour
salt as required

for the tempering for 3 servings:
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 tbsp oil
3 bowls of cooked saag

Clean and chop all the greens, then wash them thoroughly. In a pressure cooker take all the ingredients listed under saag except for maize flour, and cook for about 10 minutes.
Pour the cooked greens along with the stock and maize flour in a blender, and blend till smooth.
In another pan, pour the pureed greens, and simmer for about half an hour.
Heat oil or ghee in a kadhai, add the chopped onions and fry them till light brown.
Add to the prepared saag, stir and simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring ocaasionally.
Serve sarson ka saag hot with a dollop of butter, with makki di roti

Oct 28, 2013

Dal Tadka

We love dal tadka, and I have often tried to replicate it at home. This seemed like an amazing recipe, and though it was nice, it still wasn't dal tadka the way restaurants make it.

1/2 cup tur dal
1/2 cup masoor dal
1 or 2 green chilies, chopped or slit lengthwise
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 medium size tomato, chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
a pinch of asafoetida/hing
2 cups water
1 tsp kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves, crushed
1 or 2 tbsp cream (optional)
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
salt as required
for the tempering/tadka
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin
5-6 garlic cloves
2-3 red chilies
a generous pinch of hing

Rinse the dals, add chopped onions, tomato, green chilies, ginger, asafoetida & turmeric powder along with the dals in a pressure cooker.
Add salt and two cups water, mix well and pressure cook the dals for 15 minutes till done.
Once well cooked then beat the dal with a churner or a wooden spoon till well mashed and creamy.
Add some water to get the desired consistency and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Once the desired consistency is reached, add cream (optional), crushed kasuri methi & chopped coriander leaves and switch off the fire.
Mix well, check salt, cover the dal with a lid.
Heat oil in a pan, add cumin and fry them. Add red chilies, asafoetida and chopped garlic. Once the garlic gets browned pour the entire tempering along with the oil into the dal.

Jam roly poly

Jam roly poly.
The name itself is so tempting that the hubby and me often fantasize about having it. Unfortunately, we haven't found it anywhere in India, and haven't traveled abroad enough to be able to experience it. So, the moment I was able to make a bread roll, I decided to attempt a jam roly poly myself.
The recipes on the internet seem more like scones than like a bread, but I quite liked the idea of making a jam bread roll, and this turned out fantastic.
This particular recipe is Padma Anagol's basic bread recipe.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tbsp sugar
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, room temperature

Grated coconut

Milk for brushing

In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes, until foamy.  If the yeast doesn't become foamy, let it rise for 10 minutes more- unless it is foamy, you are better off throwing it out and starting afresh
Add in flour and salt and mix well. 
Cut the softened butter into three or four pieces and drop them into the dough. 
Knead for about 2 minutes. Cover the bowl and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place. 
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
Deflate the dough, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/3 cm thick. 
Spread jam evenly across the surface, sprinkle coconut, and roll, sealing the ends with water.
Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces, place on a lightly greased baking tray, cover with a dish towel and allow it to rise for 20 minutes.
Brush tops of rolls with milk and bake for 14-18 minutes, until golden brown. 
Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

I made them in two flavours- mixed fruit and pineapple- the latter I called pina colada rolls!

Oct 27, 2013

Crescent rolls- and some general gyan on baking bread

If yeastphobic is a word, it described me till a few weeks back. And then all of a sudden, I was stuck with the urge to attempt baking bread "just once". The once became twice, the twice became three times. And before I knew it, I was addicted.
I made mistakes, very many mistakes, and learnt from them. What I have learnt is this-
- if the yeast doesn't froth in ten minutes, wait ten minutes more, then abort the process. Unless the yeast froths, you are not going to get good bread
- be careful with the water. Add a little at a time. Too much and you will not be able to do anything with it, too little, and your bread will be terribly dry
- let the bread rise two times- once after kneading the dough, and a second time after shaping it
-preheating the oven is a must. Skip it at your risk
- keep an eye on the bread while it is baking. No matter how many times you have done it, you cannot predict the exact temperatures the oven will give. Be prepared
- maintain your sense of humour. If you follow all these steps, you may not need it, but it always helps.

This bread was made following the basic bread recipe.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tbsp sugar
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
Grated cheese- about 1/3 cup
Milk for brushing
In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes, until foamy. 
Add in flour and salt and mix well. 
Cut the softened butter into three or four pieces and drop them into the dough, along with the grated cheese (keep about 1 tbsp aside for garnishing).
Knead for about 2 minutes. Cover the bowl and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place. 
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
Deflate the dough, and roll it into a circle about 1/3 cm thick. Cut the circle into 12 segments as you would a pizza. Starting from the thicker end, roll each segment up, seal the end by moistening it.
When all the rolls are done, place on a greased baking plate, brush with milk, and sprinkle the grated cheese.
Bake at 200°C for about 15 minutes.

Rose buns

When I was making Jam roly poly for the second time, I decided to use some of the dough to experiment with shaping bread. For something that seemed remarkably difficult, these rose buns were surprisingly easy to make.
Make bread by following the recipe for basic bread.
After deflating the dough, divide it into balls the size of small limes, and roll out into circles the same diameter as puris.
Draw an imaginary circle of half the radius, and make four cuts from the outside of the circle to the imaginary circle. Put the desired stuffing into the inner circle, then bring up one of the folds and roll into the inner petal. Bring in the opposite fold, and join the edges to the inner petal. Repeat the process with the other two petals till you get a flower shape. Seal all the loose edges by wetting them slightly with water.
Keep aside for about 15 minutes, before baking.

Oct 26, 2013

Stuffed karela

"If you don't eat properly, I am making karelas for dinner tomorrow", is the threat I often make, but never follow up on, because I am not exactly fond of karela myself. Karela subji is either bitter, or is fried so much all taste has been knocked out of it, and I don't see the point in subjecting myself to either.
At the same time, the subji remained a bit of a challenge, so when a friend gave me a recipe that called for very little oil, I was eager to try it out. It lived up to all that she said it would be, but will I make it again- unlikely. It is just not worth the trouble.

250 gms karelas

3 tbsp besan
2 tbsp grated coconut
salt, amchur powder, jeera powder to taste

Oil for frying

Scrap the skin off the karelas, coat with salt, and allow it to soak for an hour. Wash the salt off, squeeze dry, slit lengthwise and deseed.
Roast the besan in a kadhai. When it is browned, add the coconut, and the spices and stir on a low flame for about a minute.
Stuff the karelas, tie them up with a thread, and shallow fry till cooked.

Oct 25, 2013

Bengali aloo bhajans

I love Bengali food, and when I saw this aloo bhaja, my mouth started salivating. Will my family eat something that doesn't have jeera, I wondered, but unless you try, how will you know. Went down so well, I had to make it again after two days!

3 potatoes
2 red chilli
1 tbsp mustard oil
salt and haldi to taste

Wash the potatoes well, and dice them (do not peel)
Heat the mustard oil, and when it starts giving off a smoky smell, add the potatoes, haldi and salt. Stir well, then let it fry (stirring constantly) till done.

Dal makhani

Never did I think a day would come when I would cook Karva Chaut dinner- in the past, we have either eaten out, ordered in or had whatever the maid dished out. But this time, I decided to make "pakka khanna"- dal makhani, puris and aloo subji.
Cooking without tasting is harder than I thought, but the food was yummy- so yummy, in fact, everyone had a second helping!

1 cup black gram or sabut urad dal
¼ cup kidney beans or rajma (optional)
5- 6 tomatoes
8-10 garlic
½ tsp red chili powder 
1 tsp kasuri methi
2.5 tbsp oil
2 to 3 tbsp cream
salt as required
Rinse and soak the lentils in enough water overnight or for 8-9 hours. Drain and pressure cook with 4 cups water for 20 minutes. When the pressure settles, remove lid, wash lentils and keep aside.
Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes and garlic. Add to the lentis, along with oil, red chilli powder, kasuri methi, cream and salt, and sufficient water. Pressure cook till one whistle. When the pressure settles down on its own, remove the lid and check the lentils and the consistency of the dal- the lentils should be completely cooked and mushy.
Simmer the dal without any lid on a low to medium flame, till the consistency becomes medium and smooth. Mash some lentils with the back of a spoon to thicken the dal. Check the seasoning and add more salt or red chili powder if required. Simmer for 5 minutes or more till you get a creamy smooth consistency like the way you see in the dhabas and restaurants.
Serve the dal makhani hot plain or topped with some butter or cream along with rotis, naan, paratha or plain or jeera rice.
1. the consistency of dal makhani can be easily adjusted by adding more or less water. 
2. if in the third stage of cooking the consistency becomes thick, add some water. 
3. if the consistency is thin, then simmer dal makhani for a longer period of time till you get the desired consistency.

Oct 24, 2013

Bread roll- basic bread recipe

Made this with my regular bread recipe. I was originally planning to make buns, but the dough came out so well, I decided to try this roll out, and was more than satisfied with the result.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Milk for brushing

Dissolve sugar in 1/2 cup warm water, add the yeast and let it froath for 10 minutes
Meanwhile sieve the flour and sugar, and make a hole in the middle.
Pour in the yeast mixture and the olive oil and knead it well. Add water as required.
Once you have a smooth dough, roll it into a ball, cover the basin with cling film and let it rise for about an hour.
Deflate the ball, divide into two parts, and roll each one out into a rectangle.
Spread the filling (I used Shezwan sauce and grated cheese), then roll it up. Bind the ends together with a little water.
Allow it to rise for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees.
Brush with milk, garnish with some cheese, and bake for 15 minutes.

Oct 23, 2013

Honey Bread

I tried this recipe some weeks back, and ended up with a disaster. But since I have learnt a little more about handling yeast since then, decided to give it another try, and this time, it came out really well. The only change I made to Prema Raghuraman's recipe was to substitute the oats with more whole wheat flour.

2 cups - All purpose flour
1 3/4 cup - Whole wheat flour
2 tablespoon honey
1.5 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon EVOO
1 cup Warm water
2 1/4 teaspoon Active dry yeast.

4 pods garlic
2 tbsp grated cheese
Oregano and oilves for garnish

In the cup of warm water, add honey and yeast. Let it foam for about 10 mins.
Mix all the dry ingredients and add the yeast mixture and oil. Then knead it well till its soft. Let the dough rest in a warm place for 1-2 hrs. Once its double in size, knead it lightly and make small balls. 

Pound the garlic and mix it well with cheese.
Make a depression at the center of the ball, stuff with filling, and close it up.
Garnish with olives and oregano, brush with olive oil before baking and place it on a baking tray or a non stick muffin tray.

Tomato soup

I love soups.
That's a statement.
I can live on soups.
Another statement.
But for some strange reason, I have never tried to feed my family soups as a meal. But now that I have got a little more adventurous with baking bread, I decided to give it a try. Saw this beautiful recipe of Padma Anagol's and made it to celebrate the first day of the holidays. Kids loved it, as did the hubby, and I am definitely doing more soup and bread meals.

5-6 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, grated
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tsps tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
2 bay leaves
White pepper
Salt to taste
Water as required

Spoon 2 tbsps olive oil into a large pan and heat it over a low heat. 

 Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes. 
Add the garlic and give it a quick stir and then add the carrot. 
Sauté for another few minutes and then add the tomato puree and stir around. 
Add the tomatoes, sugar and grind in a little white pepper. 
Tear 2 bay leaves and throw them into the pan. 
Stir to mix everything together, and let the tomatoes stew over a low heat for 10 minutes. 
Now slowly pour in the water so as to submerge the tomatoes completely. Turn up the heat and boil for about 20 minutes. 
Remove the pan from the heat and fish out the pieces of bay leaves and throw them away. Let cool briefly and then puree until smooth. 
Put the pan back on the stove, add salt and reheat the soup. 
Taste and adjust the pepper and sugar if required. Garnish with some cream and basil, if using.

Oct 22, 2013

Aloo paratha- with a hint of hing

Karva Chaut day was also the last day before school got over, and I wanted to make something nice for the kids, but wasn't sure if I could manage it. Then I found some leftover hing-wala aloo in the fridge, and make aloo paratas for the kids.
Leftover aloo subji
Smash the subji, so it is smooth enough to use as a stuffing.
Make regular aloo paratas, with lots of ghee!

Oct 20, 2013

Coconut cookies

The kids love cookies, and because they are so easy to whip up, I love making them. Win-win, don't you think? This recipe is one that I got from my mother's friend long before I started baking- a bit rich, but tastes great.
Flour - 60 gms
Sugar- 30 gms
Butter- 60 gms
Coconut- 30 gms (I used dessicated, but you can use fresh too)

Sieve flour.
Put all  the ingredients in a bowl, and knead well till it blends.
Bake at 275F for 15- 20 minutes.


I often end up with leftover soya granules, and this is a great way to use them.
Cooked soya granules
2 capsicums
1 small onion chopped
1 small tomato chopped
Coriander leaves
3 pods garlic minced
Olives, if you like them
Seasoning as per taste (I used pepper, basil and parsley)
Cooking oil
Salt to taste

Heat the oil, and lightly sauté the onions and garlic. When they turn transparent, add the tomatoes, and cook till they start to turn mushy.
Add soya granules, chopped coriander, and the seasonings, and stir for a couple of minutes.
Take it off the fire, mix with grated cheese and chopped olives.
Meanwhile, remove the top of the capsicum, and pull out the seeds. Coat the outside with oil. 
Stuff with the cooked soya. Put one layer of grated cheese on top, and bake at 180 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes.
Serve with buns, or rotis.

Paneer bhurji

Growing up, paneer was only something we had in restaurants. Then I got married into a Punjabi household, and realized paneer could also be bought from a store and cooked at home. And I did that regularly, because Paneer is one of the easiest things to cook and invariably tastes great.
It was only recently that I learnt to make paneer at home, and I now find it so easy, I end up making it at least once a week.
This recipe is less about the paneer bhurji, and more about how to make the paneer.

1 litre milk
1/3 cup curds
1 lemon

2 small onions chopped fine
2 small tomatoes cut into small pieces
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp jeera
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
salt to taste
coriander for garnishing

To make paneer
Take the milk in a thick bottomed vessel, and heat it. When it starts heating up, stir in the curds (well beaten), and keep stirring.
When the milk comes to a boil, lower the flame, and squeeze in the juice of 1/2 lemon. Squeeze in the other half if the paneer doesn't seperate.
Line a colander with a muslin cloth and pour the mixture in. Once all the water has drained out, place a weight on the cloth, and leave it for about 30 minutes

To make paneer bhurji
Fry the onions till transparent, add the tomatoes, g-g paste and masalas, and cook till tomatoes are mushy. Add a bit of sugar, if you like.
Crumble in the paneer, and stir till well mixed.
Serve hot, garnished with chopped coriander.

Oct 18, 2013

Chana payash

I first heard about Sharat Poornima last year, and since I had two bananas that were ready to be consigned to the dustbin, made a banana payasam instead. That obviously set a precedent, and this year too, I decided to make a white sweet to commemorate the festival. Since I have just learnt to make paneer, this recipe of Uma Chinkaru was right up my street.

1 litre milk
1/3 cup sugar
cardamon powder for garnish

Make paneer out of 1/2 litre of milk (paneer recipe here).
While the paneer is draining, take the rest of the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel, and reduce it on a low flame till it is about half the original volume.
Grate the paneer into the milk, add the sugar, and cook on a low flame till you achieve the desired consistency.
Add cardamon powder.
Chill before serving.

Rich kofta curry

When I was young, my mother used to regularly make kofta curry using the papayas from our garden. I'll always retain a fondness for that, and somehow koftas made with lauki never seemed good enough.
But then I saw a raw papaya at my vegetable vendor, and decided to make koftas with it. Wanted to try out something new, and this is the result.

For koftas

half raw papaya grated
besan- I went by estimation- enough to bind, but not too much as to overpower the taste
1 tsp amchur
1/2 tsp haldi
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp punjabi garam masala
oil for deep-frying
salt to taste

for The Gravy
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tbsp cashewnuts
1/2 tsp jeera
4-5 cloves garlic
1 inch piece ginger
2 green chillis
1/2 tsp dhania powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp haldi powder
4 medium tomatoes- chopped
1/2 tsp garam masala
3 tbsp fresh cream
salt to taste
For the koftas
Squeeze the grated papaya till all the water drains out.
Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and divide into 16 equal sized koftas.
Heat the oil in a pan and deep-fry the koftas 4 to 5 at a time till they are golden brown in colour.
Drain on absorbent paper and keep aside.
For the gravyHeat 1 tablespoon of the oil in pan, add the cashewnuts and sauté till they turn golden brown.
Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and add the jeera. When they crackle, add the onions and sauté till they turn translucent.
Add the garlic, ginger and green chillies ad sauté for another minute.
Add the coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder, tomatoes and cashewnuts.
Cook till the oil separates from the gravy.
Allow it to cool down, then puree till smooth.
Add punjabi garam masala, 3/4 cup of water, cream and salt and bring to a boil.
Add the koftas to the gravy and simmer for a few minutes.
Serve hot garnished with coriander.

Oct 17, 2013

Hing wala aloo

We had this at a friend's place, and everyone loved it so much, I took the recipe and tried it out at home. Never thought of making aloo without haldi, but this is lovely.

3 potatoes
1 tsp jeera
1/4 tsp hing
salt to taste
cooking oil
coriander leaves for garnish

Boil the potatoes for 5 minutes, let it cool, peel and cube.
Heat about 1 tbsp cooking oil, splutter jeera, add potatoes, hing and salt, and stir.
Fry on a low flame for about 10 minutes.
Serve garnished with coriander leaves.

Oct 16, 2013


This is the second time I made falafels, and the first time I made it with pita bread, and since the bread came out really well this time, I thought a separate post was in order!

Raw papaya salad

When I saw this dish posted by Manini Badlani on IFF, I knew I had to try it out. Coincidentally, the same day, I found raw payaya at the subjiwalla. I guess I was just meant to have this!

1 small raw papaya grated
2 carrots grated
1 small tomato thinly sliced
1/2 cup of roasted peanuts coarsely ground. 
For sauce
4 cloves of garlic
3 birds eye chillies
10 gms jaggery
juice of 1 lemon
For garnish
Chopped spring onions
Chopped coriander leaves
Make a sauce by grinding all the ingredients in a mortar and pestle.
Mix it all the veggies together, and add the sauce.
Garnish with green spring onions and corriander leaves.
Serve chilled.

Whey drink

Ever since I started making paneer at home, I have got a lot of whey. People seem to use it to make rotis, but since it is super rich in proteins, I decided to make it my post-run drink. Unfortunately, it tastes rather bland on its own, and I realized I would have to pep it up, if I am not to treat it as a punishment drink. This was one such successful cocktail.

Infuse 2 sprigs of curry leaves, and 1 large green chilli slit lenghtwise in whey overnight. Add salt to taste, and slurp.

Oct 14, 2013

Bhappa sandesh

Growing up in Calcutta as I did, Sandesh has always been a favourite sweet of mine. There was an outlet of Sweet Bengal near our previous house, so it was easy for me to indulge myself. Somewhere along the line, the kids developed a taste for Sandesh too, and we ended up buying it once or twice a month. You do not get milk sweets near our new house, but to be honest, we are so busy exploring what we do have, that none of us has got a chance to really miss it.
I would not have made sandesh today, if not for a combination of events. I almost always make a sweet on Dussera day, but was just not able to get my act together yesterday. When I came to know that in some parts of the country, they were continuing to celebrate the festival today, I wondered if I should sneak a sweet in. At the same time, the milkman hadn't seen my "No Milk" note this morning, and had delivered the milk. Since I wasn't expecting it, the milk had been out for nearly five hours before I got it in, and I thought it sensible to make paneer or channa out of it. A half-forgotten memory of a step-by-step recipe by Jayanta Das on Indian Food Freak stirred in my mind, and before I knew it, I was committed to making Bhappa Sandesh.
It is a really simple recipe, and the results are fantastic. Definitely something I am going to make more often.
PS- this was a promise I kept- more pictures here

1 litre milk
2 tbsp curds, beaten
juice of 1 lime
100 gms powdered sugar
couple of drops rosewater
couple of drops red food colouring

Boil the milk, with the beaten curds. Just when it starts to boil, add the juice of one full lime. Once the whey separates, hang the cheese in a cloth for about half an hour. Wash it in cold water for the aroma of lemon to go away. Leave it like this for another 30 minutes.
Knead the powdered sugar well with the cheese for around 10 minutes. Add the rosewater and the colouring, and mix so it is well incorporated.
Take a steel box, grease it with ghee and place in the cheese covering the edges nicely. Place the box in a pressure cooker, pour water till half the level of the tiffin box upper edge. Cover the lid without the whistle and leave the cooker at mid flame for 20 minutes.
Take the box and overturn it on a plate. Leave it to cool at room temperature and then refrigerate it for an hour.
Cut into nice square shapes, and garnish with rose petals if you have them.

Oct 12, 2013

Ashtami spread- Suji halwa

I have very vivid childhood memories of going from house to house for Ashtami Puja. Though a very a fussy eater, I would cheerfully eat the puri, halwa and kala channa, because tucked away somewhere on the plate would be a couple of shiny 1 rupee coins!
Though my mother in law used to do the Puja too, I never picked up the tradition, but this year, I decided to give it a try.
Suji halwa is easy to make, as is sukha channa, but it was the first time I was attempting puris, and was I scared!
When the puris puffed up, I puffed up with pride, and felt quite a Domestic Diva as I fed my family "garam garam puris".

Unfortunately, however, when I put the first spoonful of suji halwa in my mouth, I got a whiff of hing, and before long I was able to trace it to the fact that I had used the same wooden spoon with which I had earlier made hing-walla aloo. Nobody else saw it, so not cribbing too much!
1 Cup – Sooji (Semolina)
2 Tbsp- Ghee (Clarified Butter)
1 Cup- Sugar
4 Cups – Water
1/2 Cup- Almonds, Raisins and Cashewnuts
Heat the Ghee in a Kadhai and once it is heated add the Sooji to it. 
Now keep stirring continously till the sooji gets golden brown in colour. Take care not to burn the sooji. 
Now add the water to the kadhai and soon after add the sugar. 
Again keep stirring the mixture to avoid any lumps. 
Now add the dry fruits to the mixture and after 3-4 minutes, take it off.


Poori with aloo subji was always Sunday lunch at my mother's place. When we had a full-time maid, the four of us would be gathered at the table, and be fed hot hot pooris. After we moved to Calcutta, my mother would fry the pooris, and my father and I would engage in a battle with her to see if she could feed us pooris faster, or we consume them faster. Naturally, when I got a chance, I wanted to try my hand at pooris, and the first attempt wasn't half bad!

3 Cups- Wheat Flour
2/3 Cups- Water to knead the dough
1 tsp – Ajwain (Carrom Seeds)
 Oil for deep frying

Knead the dough using the flour, water and the ajwain. The dough should be non sticky and smooth.
Rest the dough for half an hour.
Make balls of the dough and roll them out into small rounds of 4-5 inches diameter.
When you are nearly done, heat oil in a Kadhai till it is very hot. To test the oil, put a small flattened piece of the dough in the oil and if it immediately rises up the oil is ready.
Put one rolled out poori into the oil and lightly press it with a spatula so that it swells up.
Now flip it over and once both sides are golden brown, take out the poori. Drain on kitchen napkins, and serve hot.

Ashtami spread- sukha channa

I have very vivid childhood memories of going from house to house for Ashtami Puja. Though a very a fussy eater, I would cheerfully eat the puri, halwa and kala channa, because tucked away somewhere on the plate would be a couple of shiny 1 rupee coins!
Though my mother in law used to do the Puja too, I never picked up the tradition, but this year, I decided to give it a try.
Suji halwa is easy to make, as is sukha channa (none of the grocers had kala channa, so had to make do with the regular one, though), but it was the first time I was attempting puris, and was I scared!
When the puris puffed up, I puffed up with pride, and felt quite a Domestic Diva as I fed my family "garam garam puris".

1 Cup Kala Chana (Black Chick Peas)- Soaked Overnight (I didn't have it, so made do with regular channa)
1 Tbsp Mustard Oil
1 Tsp Jeera (Cumin)
1/2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 Tsp Jeera (Cumin) -Roasted and Powdered
1 and 1/2 Tsp – Kala Namak (Balck Salt)
Curry leaves
1 Tsp Lemon Juice

Wash the soaked chick peas thoroughly in the morning and pressure cook it until done. 
Heat oil in a kadhai and add cumin seeds and curry leaves to it. Once the seeds start crackling add the drained chick peas (You can use the water from chick peas for kneading the poori dough). 
Now add the black salt, the red chilli powder and Jeera powder and mix thoroughly. 
Keep it on simmer for 2-3 minutes and after that take it off fire and add 1 tsp lemon juice to it.

Oct 9, 2013

Chilean 'humitas'

When I saw this recipe posted on Indian Food Freak, I just had to try. The kids and I love corn, and I have been meaning to make a corn chowder ever since I was mesmerized by the smell of corn from the thela-gadi parked outside the apartment building.
I wasn't sure if I would be able to pull off wrapping it in corn leaves and boiling it, but everyone was so encouraging, I had to give it a try. And I am glad I did, because despite all my misgivings, it turned out pretty good.
The recipe that was originally posted by Gabriela Avendano required you to scrape the corn off the cobs, but I cheated and used corn that was already plucked out. The recipe given here is the one that I ultimately followed.

Dehusked corn from two cobs
1 finely chopped onion
1 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of paprika- I substituted red chilli powder
salt to taste

Put the corn into a blender and grind coarsely.
Fry the onion, add to the corn purée with milk, and red chilli powder, to create a firm kind of paste, not too runny.
Season with salt.
Make the parcels using corn leaves & tie up with string.
Cook in boiling water for 30 minutes- while cooking, it should look like this.

Serve with a salad.
In Chile, some people sprinkle castor sugar on their humitas instead of salt when served, but I went with salt instead.

Oct 8, 2013

Langarwali Daal

Though I have never had it in a Sikh gurudwara, the Langarwali Dal is one of my favourite dals. I looked for a recipe, and since all of them spoke about slow cooking on an open flame, I convinced myself that it was a dal that I would never have the patience to make at home. But when the subjiwala gave me mint leaves instead of curry leaves (too little for chutney, too much for garnish), I decided to adapt the recipe for a pressure cooker, and was quite happy with the results.

1 cup black urad dal
1/2 cup chana dal
5 cups water
1 large onion
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 inch size pieces of of ginger
1 large tomato
Few sprigs of Fresh mint
4 green chilies split length wise
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric pwd
Lightly roasted cumin, ground 1/2 teaspoon
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk

Mince the onion, the ginger and the garlic and keep aside.
Coarsely grind the ginger and garlic with a few sprigs mint.
Wash the dals well, add water, minced onions, ground ginger, garlic and mint, green chillies and cook on the pressure cooker for 20 minutes after the first whistle.
Melt butter in a pan till hot, add tomatoes and fry. Make a paste of red chili and cumin in a teaspoon of hot water, add to the tomatoes, and let it cook for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, mix turmeric in the milk and add to the dal. Add the fried tomatoes, and cover and cook on the lowest heat till thick.
Garnish with mint leaves fried in ghee.

Oct 7, 2013

Roast chicken with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables

Growing up in a former British colony, Roast Chicken was one of the few non-vegetarian dishes that I ate regularly. This recipe is by Monica Bakre, who got it handed down from the coffee planters family that she married into!

For Roast Chicken
5 chicken legs
5 tbsps soya sauce
2.5 tbsps Worcesterchire sauce
5 tbsps olive / refined oil
1 tsp chilli powder


Marinate the chicken legs in the chilli powder, soya sauce,Worcestershire sauce and oil for aboutt 2 hours. TIP- Do not make slits in the legs as they have to undergo 3 processes of cooking.
Take some ghee in a thick bottomed vessel and fry each marinated leg at a time and keep it separate. Do so for all the legs individually.
Then put all the fried legs back into the vessel along with the marinade and cover to cook. You may add a little water now.
Once the chicken legs get cooked , take them out of the marinade and keep aside.
Just before serving, roast the cooked chicken legs in an oven for about 10 minutes at 200 degrees.
Pour heated marinade over the roasted chicken legs and serve with boiled carrots, beans, peas, corn, or mashed potatoes.

For Mashed potatoes :
Boil 2-3 potatoes well ,peel and mash them.
Add a little milk and beat the potato mash in a hand beater.

For Steamed vegetables

Steam all the vegetables in a microwave for 3 minutes, till slightly cooked. Drain out excess water. Season with salt and pepper. 

For corn
Heat 1 tbsp butter in a pan, add the corn kernals, and saute till slightly brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Oct 2, 2013

Kulcha- somethings don't even seen impossible.

Some things are deemed impossible. But even applying the term "impossible" to something tacitly implies you thought of doing it, and then realized you couldn't. Kulchas and naans were things I didn't even attach the tag to, because I never even thought of them as things that could be done anywhere but in a restaurant.
Then two things happened within a few days of each other- I discovered yeast, and someone posted a recipe for kulchas. Since then, I have been screwing up the courage to attempt them, and I finally did so on the Birth Anniversary of the Father of the Nation.
If I thought the family would decide to go on an indefinite fast after being confronted with it, I was wrong. They came out super-soft, and rather tasty. Now I need to work on getting the shape right.

2 cups maida
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kalonji (I'll skip it next time, or replace with black til)
3 pods garlic crushed
1 cup warm water
maida for dusting

Dissolve the sugar in about 1/4 cup warm water, pour in the yeast, and allow it to stand for about 10 minutes, by which time the yeast should start froathing.
Mix the maida and salt together, and make a hole in the middle.
Crush the garlic in a mortar and pestle and keep aside.
Once the yeast is active, pour it into the hole, add the oil, the kalonji and the crushed garlic and knead to a smooth dough, adding water as required.
Roll into a ball, cover with a damp cloth, and leave it for about 1 hour to rise.
Meanwhile, preheat (for about 5 minutes) the oven to 250 degrees and grease a baking tray.
Grease your palms with a bit of oil, lightly punch the dough down, then divide into about 8 balls.
Dust the balls with maida and roll into circles using a rolling pin.
Sprinkle a bit of water on one side of the kulcha, and place it on the baking tray. Broil for about 3minutes till it starts browning, then turn around and let the other side cook for about a minute. You can make three kulchas at the same time.
Butter the kulchas, or not, but serve piping hot.
Best with channa.