Sep 22, 2015

Tomato peanut Saaru

I always thought the Karnataka Saaru was something similar to our sambar, but with a slight variation in spices. Then I chanced upon a recipe for it, and found it was something entirely different. With tomatoes, garlic and peanuts, you can rarely go wrong, so I had to try it out. And it was lipsmackingly good. Next time, I'll try it with dosas. 

4 medium tomatoes
1/3 cup peanuts
1/2 tsp haldi powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp jeera seeds
4- 6 garlic pods
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp sambar powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil

Blanche the tomatoes, peel and blend till you get a smooth paste. Keep aside. 
Roast the peanuts, coarsly grind and keep aside. 
Heat the oil, splutter the mustard seeds and jeera seeds. Add garlic (chopped), curry leaves, and light fry. 
Add tomato paste, haldi powder, chilli powder, sambar powder, ground peanuts and salt. Bring to a boil, and let it simmer for 5 minutes. 
Serve piping hot. 

Sep 14, 2015


Raw banana pakoras

When we moved to our new place, we inherited a banana plant, which promptly gave us a flower which developed into a few bunches of fruit. Unfortunate, we have no idea about harvesting bananas, and left the fruits on the tree to ripen. For a month and more, we waited, till I saw them starting to rot at the tips. I got the fruits in but still have no idea how to ripen them. So raw banana it is, and a fine vegetable it makes!

3 raw bananas
Green chilli paste to taste
Ginger garlic paste to taste
1/2 tsp haldi powder
Salt to taste
3 tbsp besan
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Pressure cook the raw bananas for 20 minutes after the first whistle. Remove the peel, mash and keep aside
Add green chilli paste, haldi powder and salt, and mix well. Roll into balls and flatten slightly. 
Make a batter with besan, salt and water
Heat the oil (to a temperature where a blob of batter rises slowly to the top). Dip the flattened balls in batter, and deep fry till golden on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towels. 
Serve hot with tomato ketchup or mint chutney. 

Sep 11, 2015

Ragi pakora

Ragi is a healthy alternative to the regular cereals, but sometimes you want to attempt something other than the steamed stuff. I was pretty amused to find a recipe for deep fried ragi pakodas- seems almost a contradiction in terms- but they were absolutely amazing.

1 cup ragi flour
1/2 cups besan
12 large florets cauliflower
1 tsp pepper powder
2 sprig curry leaves
1 tbsp chopped cashew nuts
1 tsp sesame seeds
Salt to taste 
Oil for frying

Mix the dry ingredients well. Add water to make a partially loose batter (similar to idlis batter)
Cut the curry leaves into small pieces
Separate the florets into bite sized pieces
Add curry leaves, cashew nut and sesame seeds to the batter and mix  well. 
Heat the oil. Dip the florets in the batter and fry in the oil, turning around once so both sides are browned. 
Serve hot with a curd based dip. 

Sep 10, 2015

Besan halwa

I've always loved besan halwa, and when this one came with the additional tag of being good for a cold, I had to try it. Not sure of the effectiveness, but definitely high on taste.
For each serving:
3 tbsp besan
4 tsp ghee
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup water
Almonds for garnish 

Heat the ghee, add besan and on a low flame, roast till lightly browned. 
Heat the water and make a syrup with the sugar. 
Add sugar syrup to the roasted besan and mix well. Turn off the flame 
Serve, garnished with chopped almonds

Dal baati

Anyone who know me I love authentic food from virtually any part of India, and when I saw a picture of the Rajasthani dal baati, I was immediately transported back to a thali lunch I had with my mother at Rajdhani. With so many available dishes, I didn't enjoy it as much that day as I should have, but more than made up for it when I cooked it myself.

For the dal:
1/4 cup moong dal (dhuli)
1/4 cup toor dal
1/4 cup chana dal
1/8 cup urad dal (dhuli)
1/8 cup green moong dal
1/2 tsp haldi powder
Salt to taste

For tempering of dal:
2-3 clove
2 bay leaves
1 green cardamon
1 inch piece cinnamon
1 tsp jeera
A pinch of hing
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 green chilli, chopped
1 inch ginger, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp ghee

For Baati:
2 cups wholewheat flour
1 cup rawa
1/4 tsp ajwain
1/3 cup ghee
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

For dal:
Soak the dals for 2-3 hours to soften it.
Pressure cook the dals with salt and haldi powder for 20 minutes after the first whistle (or cook on an open flame, till soft).
Heat the ghee, add hing, bay leaves, connamon, cloves, jeera and let it splutter till jeera turns dark. Add chopped chillis and ginger and saute on low heat for a minute. Add chilli powder, and pour the ghee over the dal.
Cover the dal and let the flavours infuse. Bring to boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.

For baati:
Mix the dry ingredients well. And ghee and mix till crumbly. Add a little water, and knead to form a tight dough. Cover with a cloth and let it stand for 1 hour.
Make lemon sized balls, flatten slightly and make a depression in the centre.
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
Lightly grease a baking tray, and bake for 15-20 minutes till golden.
Flip and bake the other side.

To eat, break the baatis in half, pour ghee over them, and have with dal.

Sep 9, 2015

Cheesy brown rice with vegetables

The hubby was away for the day, and I knew the kids wouldn't want to have bhindi. So I rustled up this fried rice, and served it with fried papad.

2 bell peppers (one red, one yellow)
3 pods garlic, chopped
1/2 cup peas
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3 tbsp cheese
1 tsp butter
Salt to taste

Soak the brown rice for 1 hour and cook it with sufficient salt, till done. Drain water and keep aside.
Add grated cheese to the rice, and mix well.
Heat the butter, add garlic and saute till browned. Add chopped bell peppers and saute for 1 minute. Add peas, and saute for an additional minute.
Pour the fried vegetables over the cooked rice, and mix well.
One dish meal complete!

Sep 7, 2015

Ragi korakattai

I'm trying to mix up the cereals in our diet, and my new favourite is ragi flour. These steamed dumplings are similar to the savoury korakattai made with rice flour, and I absolutely love them because they can be rustled up in a jiffy and taste really good. 
I use only half the indicated quantity of jaggery, but this is the original recipe. 

1 cup ragi flour
1/2 cup grated coconut 
1/2 cup grated jaggery
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
A pinch of salt
3 tbsp water

Mix the dry ingredients together (keeping aside 1 tbsp coconut), add water gradually to make a firm dough. 
Roll into lemon sized balls and press into an oval shape. 
Steam in a steaming plate or an idli maker for 10 minutes. 
Garnish with coconut and sugar before serving. 

Sep 3, 2015

Kabuli chana with aloo tikki

I adapted the recipe I used to make a rich paneer dish, to make kabuki channa, and it tasted as yummy as the paneer dish. The leftover I had with aloo tikki, and felt I was in gastronomical heaven.

250 gms kabuki channa, soaked for 6 hours
1 bay leaf
1 inch piece cinnamon
1 badi elaichi
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp haldi powder
1 tsp dhania powder
1/2 tsp amchur powder
1 tsp kasoori methi
Salt to taste
A pinch of nutmeg 

For gravy:
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 onions chopped
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 cup water

Pressure cook the kabuki channa with the dry spices till soft. Keep aside 
Pressure cook the ingredients listed under gravy for 20 minutes on sim after the first whistle (I cooked the channa and the gravy at the same time). Cool and grind to a fine past 
Heat oil, add bay leaves, and sauté for a minute or two
Add paste, and dry spices, and sauté on a low flame till the oil starts leaving the sides
Add cooked channa, kasoori methi, salt and cook for 5 minutes
Serve with parathas or roti. 

Sep 2, 2015

Oil free karela

Karela always uses a lot of oil, so when I saw a version of karela which didn't use any oil, I was tempted to try it out. It tasted really good, though the kids refused to eat it on principle. 
250 gms karela
2 tbsp salt
For stuffing:
2 tbsp besan 
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 tsp jaggery, grated
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp amchur powder
1/2 tsp haldi powder
1/2 tsp rock salt/ regular salt

Scrape the skin off the karela, make a longitudinal slit and remove the seeds. Coat with the salt and keep aside for 15 minutes. Squeeze the karela slightly, and scrape off the salt. 
Mix the ingredients listed under 'for stuffing' well, and stuff into the karela. If there is a bit left over, rub it on the outer surface. 
Place the stuffed karela carefully on a steaming plate, making sure the slit end is facing upwards. Steam for 10 minutes till done. 

Soya rose halwa

Many moons back, I had made a protein rich vegan dessert which we all loved. Today, I made the soya-rose halwa again, and liked it just as much.

Aug 28, 2015

Cabbage fritters

With onion prizes shooting through the roof, it is nice to be able to experiment with pakoras made with other vegetables.
These are cabbage pakoras made with cabbage left over after using most of it in a curry. 

Aug 27, 2015

Matar paneer- rich, creamy version

We end up having a lot of osneer at home, so when I saw a recipe for a "quick" version of paneer masala which can be whipped up in a jiffy when visitors drop in unexpectedly, I was obviously interested. Unfortunately, the lady has very different standards when it comes to cooking- this turned out to be at least as involved (if not more so) than my regular version. But the dish was more than worth the effort. Definitely a recipe I'm going to use much more. 

200 gm paneer
1/2 cup peas
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp haldi powder
1 tsp dhania powder
1/2 tsp amchur powder
1 tsp kasoori methi
Salt and sugar to taste
A pinch of nutmeg 
1/2 cup milk

For gravy:
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 onions chopped
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 inch piece cinnamon
2 green cardamom
10 cashew nuts
1/2 cup water

Pressure cook the ingredients listed under gravy for 20 minutes on sim after the first whistle
Cool. Discard cinnamon and cardamom and grind to a fine paste
Heat oil, add bay leaves, and sauté for a minute or two
Add paste, and dry spices, and sauté on a low flame till the oil starts leaving the sides
Add peas, milk, kasoori methi, salt and sugar, and cook for 5 minutes
Add paneer, bring to a boil, and turn off the flame
Serve with parathas or roti. 

Sada aloo dum

MM calls this the yin to the yang which is the traditional Bengali aloo dum. Posto, coconut, curds- a combination that leaves me salivating, but one which my family doesn't care much for. 
So when I saw baby potatoes, I picked them up, and while making a conventional potato fry for dinner, reserved a few parboiled potatoes to make this dish for myself. Sometimes you deserve to pamper yourself. 

250 gms baby potatoes
3 tbsp grated or dessicated coconut
1 tbsp Khus Khus/ posto/ poppy seeds
3 tbdp curds (at room temperature)
1 tbsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp green chilli paste
1-2 red chillis
1-2 green cardamom
2-3 cloves
1/2 inch piece of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cumin powder
Salt and sugar to taste
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp oil

Soak posto and coconut in 1/4 cup warm water for 30 minutes. Blend to a smooth paste and keep aside. 
Par boil the potatoes in salted water. Peel, prick and keep aside. 
Whip the curds with cumin powder and keep aside. 
Heat half the oil, and toss the baby potatoes till lightly browned. 
Add the remaining oil, sauté the red chillis for 15 seconds. Remove and keep aside.
Add whole spices and let them sizzle. Add posto-coconut paste and sauté on low flame till the oil separates and it turns to a light beige colour. 
Add ginger and chilli paste and sauté for a minute. 
Remove from the flame, add the curds, mix well. Return to the flame, and cook on low heat for a minute. 
Add 1/2 cup water, and let it simmer till the volume reduces by half. 
Add potatoes, salt and sugar, and let it simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. 
Top with ghee, if desired. 

Aug 26, 2015

Pomegranate sprouts salad

The simplest of meals, but probably the most flavourful, and colourful. I love sprouted moong. I love pomegranates. And when the two come together, all you need is a bit of rock salt to bind it all together.

Aug 25, 2015

Spiced oats cookies

When I lady baked a batch if butter cookies, the hubby wanted oats cookies. This one is for him!

3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup maida
1/4 cup granulated sugar*
2 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
A pinch of nutmeg powder
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup raisins 

Mix the oats, flour and sugar well. Add the spices and mix well. 
Add the butter, and mix well till crumbly. 
Add milk one spoon at a time, mixing well. 
Add the raisins and mix well. 
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 175 degrees. 
Grease the baking tray. Till the dough into balls, flatten and place on the baking sheet. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking to ensure it doesn't burn. 
Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container. 

Aug 24, 2015

Chicken korma with Khus Khus

I developed a sudden craving for khus khus tonight, and realised the best way to disguise it into food would be in a chicken korma. Modified it slightly, and the recipe worked really well.

1 kg chicken
1 tbsp curds
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
3 medium onions
2 medium tomatoes
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
12 cashewnuts
1 tbsp khus khus
4 tsp dhania powder
2 tsp jeera powder
2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp kasoori methi
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
Whole spices:
1 bay leaf
1 inch piece cinnamon
1 star anise
1 large badi elaichi

Marinate the chicken in a mixture of curds, ginger garlic paste and salt for 1 hour.
Grind the onions with a little water till you get a fine paste. Keep aside.
Grind the tomatoes, cashew nuts and khus khus and keep aside.
Heat the oil, add the whole spices, and toss around for 30 seconds. 
Add onion paste, ginger garlic paste, and the dry spices. Fry on a low flame till the oil starts leaving the masala.
Add the tomato-cashew- khus khus paste, and mix well. Saute for about a minute till the raw smell goes.
Add the marinated chicken, allow it to come to a boil on a low flame, cover, and let it cook for 45 minutes. Every 15 minutes, stir it a bit so it doesn't stick. Do not add water.

Aug 21, 2015

Nutty peas delight

I've realised that vegetables go down much easier, if they are colourful, which prompted me to make this peas- pepper curry in a creamy gravy for dinner. You can bet every last bit was polished off.
4 pods of garlic, thinly sliced
2 inch piece - ginger, grated
1/2+1/2- yellow and red pepper, thinly sliced
2 1/2 - onions, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp - ghee
1 cup milk
1 tsp - garam masala
Oil to sauté vegetables
3 tbsp flax seeds
6- 8 cashew nuts
1 tsp kasuri methi
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Steam the peas for five minutes till slightly cooked. Keep aside.
Coarsely grind the flax seeds and cashew nuts (without water). Keep aside.
Heat the oil in a non stick pan, add the thinly sliced garlic, ginger, onions and pepper and saute for a minute on medium heat.
Add the coarsely ground nuts and cook for about a minute. Add the 1/2 cup of milk and cook until the milk evaporates.
Add the garam masala, salt, sugar and 1/2 cup of milk and bring it to a boil.
Add the peas and the kasuri methi and mix well.
Serve immediately. Goes best with hot rotis.

Dabak Vadi

Some recipes are so nice, the moment you see them, you want to try them out. This was one of them. 

5 tbsp besan
3 cups sour buttermilk 
1/2 tsp haldi powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
A pinch of hing
1 tbdp crushed garlic 
1 green chilli
1/4 cup water
1 tsp oil
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste 

Make a thick almost dough like batter by mixing besan, salt, 1/4 tsp haldi and 1/2 tsp red chilli powder. 
Heat oil, splutter mustard seeds, add curry leaves, green chilli, garlic and hing and sauté for a minute. 
Add red chilli powder and haldi powder. Add buttermilk and salt. Mix well, bring to a boil. 
Using a slotted spoon, put a blob of besan batter on it and rub over it with the other hand, so that the batter falls into the boiling butter milk in the form of boondis. Keep repeating this process till all the batter is finished.
Keep stirring the buttermilk alongwith the dabak wadis till it thickens. 
Serve hot with rotis. 

Parsley pesto

I bought a huge bunch of parsley at the supermarket, and fell ill before I could use it properly. Ten days after it came home, I remembered the bunch that was languishing in the fridge, and wondered if I could do something with it. Using it as a garnish was out- I would never finish it in time, and I have too much dry parsley to attempt to dry it. Why not make a pesto I wondered, and when I googled I found that there was indeed something called parsley pesto which was native to some parts of Italy and used mainly in winters when basil was not readily available. I had all the ingredients, so why not just make it.

1 bunch parsley
2 slices stale bread
6-8 cloves garlic/ 1 tbsp garlic paste
Zest of 1 lime
2 tbsp lime juice (less if you are using commercial garlic paste)
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Pulse the bread, till you get fine bread crumbs.
Blend all the ingredients till you get a smooth pesto. Remove into an airtight container.

For storing, add a layer of oil above the pesto, before closing the lid.

Tastes great with tomatoes!

Aug 20, 2015

Tricolour cookies

I was intending to make these tricolour cookies on Independence Day, but was too ill that day to cook and click. So when I decided to make a batch of cookies today, I finally made them- a few days late is okay, as long as the sentiments are sound.

200 gms all purpose flour/ maida
100 gms white butter
100 gms sugar, powdered
3 tbsp milk
Vanillla essensce
Orange essence
Orange food colouring
1 tbsp green tutti fruity

Mix the sugar and flour well. Add butter, and mix well. Gradually add milk till you get a firm dough. Add tutti fruity and mix well.
Divide into two parts- in one add vanilla essence and mix, in the other add orange essence and colouring and mix.
Roll both doughs into cylindrical ropes, and twine them with each other. Collapse into a ball, and roll it out again. Divide into 32 parts, and roll into spheres.
Grease a baking tray, and place the spheres on them. Bake at 175 degrees in a preheated oven for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Papaya halwa

I had a huge papaya, which I cut up for the kids. But the fruit was so big, I had a lot left over even after we ate, so decided to make a halwa out of it. Just a couple of minutes effort, and great taste.

1 cup papaya grated*
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp cashew nuts
1 tbsp sugar

Heat the ghee, and saute the raisins and cashewnuts till they are well browned.
Add grated papaya, and saute till it all comes together in about 5 minutes. Add sugar, and mix well. Take off the flame.
Allow it to cool down before serving.

* some parts may remain ungrated- let it be so- it will get mashed in

Aug 19, 2015

Soya pasanda

Both the kids are going through a phase where they want soya nuggets every week, and I indulge them, because it is of course full of proteins. But the same old tomato based gravy gets a bit boring, so I jazzed it up a bit this time to get a smoother gravy.

100 gms soya nuggets
6 pods garlic
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
2 large tomatoes
1 tsp dhania powder
1 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp kasoori methi
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste

Soak the soya nuggets in boiling water, till soft. Drain and keep aside.
Heat oil, and saute garlic and onions till transparent.
Chop the tomatoes directly onto the onion-garlic mixture, and saute till it turns mushy. Add the spices and  cook for 2-3 minutes.
Blend the mixture till smooth, and return to the pan.
Make a paste with cornflour in 1/2 cup water, and add to the paste, with constant stirring.
Add the nuggets and squeeze a bit, so the water is drained and the gravy can take it's place.
Sprinkle kasoori methi, mix well, and let the gravy bubble till it thickens a bit.
Serve with roti or paratha.

Aug 14, 2015

Mushrooms with brown rice

When the cat is away, the mice will play. When hubby is traveling, we have all kinds of different foods for dinner. Where normally, we would have rice and dal, today, we had brown rice with musrooms gravy. The kids were smart enough to catch me out, though, and have already extracted a promise that I will make the same mushroom dish with pasta!

200 gms button mushrooms
1 onion, cut lengthwise
4-5 pods garlic
3 tbsp basil leaves
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp butter
1 cup chicken stock

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a skillet. Add garlic and onions, and saute will browned.
Meanwhile wash the mushrooms, and cut them lengthwise. Add to the browning onions, and saute till the water is released, and then starts drying up.
Add chicken stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Gradually bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, make a paste of cornflour with 2-3 tbsp water. Add to the gravy, serving constantly to ensure there are no lumps.
Simmer for 5-8 minutes till the gravy starts to come together. Add torn basil leaves, and simmer for an additional minute.
Serve with steamed brown rice.

Aug 13, 2015

Grilled aubergine with bell peppers and cheese

I love brinjals, but the kids not so much. They do, however, tolerate the vegetable if it is called by its more fancy name of aubergine. I bought these thin brinjals for myself, but when I also saw the colourful bell peppers, I decided to make a dish for all of us. And believe me, aubergines never disappeared as fast!

250 gms aubergines/  brinjal
1 1/2 bell peppers
2 tbsp basill
4 tbsp feta cheese
4-6 garlic cloves
Olive oil for dousing
Salt and pepper to taste

Smash the garlic cloves, add 2 tbsp olive oil, and let it seep for 5 minutes
Meanwhile, chop the brinjals into cubes (or discs), and the bell peppers into inch squares.
Toss the chopped vegetables in olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to marinate for at least 1 hour. Tear the basil leaves and toss in.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease a baking tray and arrange the vegetables on it. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring once to ensure all parts are well done. Remove from the oven.
Crumble the feta cheese and sprinkle over the vegetables.
Serve with garlic bread.

Aug 12, 2015

Burnt offerings cookies

I had bookmarked a recipe for eggless chai cookies, which I finally tried out today. Unfortunately, however, the doorbell rang soon after I put the cookies in the oven, and by the time I could pull myself away, the butter had all melted away, and the perfect circles were an equally perfect flat mess. And brown too. So much for the perfectly white cookies I had been dreaming off.
But one has to serve up the disasters too, specially since this one comes with an important lesson. Never answer the doorbell if you have cookies in the oven!

Vegetable ishtew

The hubby is away this week, so I've been experimenting a bit with dinner. I also picked up a lot of veggies from a shop I've finally discovered, and decided to celebrate by making this ishtew. It is a slightly simplified version of the original, and we had it with brown rice.

2 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, cut into inch long cubes
1/3 cup frozen peas
A handful of spring beans, cut
2 onions, sliced long
1 sprig curry leaves
1 inch piece ginger, sliced
2 bay leaves
10-12 peppercorns
4-6 cloves
1 inch piece cinnamon
1 tbsp cooking oil
Salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 1/4 cup water
200 ml coconut milk
Pepper powder to taste

Steam the potatoes and peas for 5 minutes, add the carrots and beans and steam for an additional 3 minutes. The vegetables should be cooked, but firm. 
Heat the oil, add the spices. Once they start crackling, add the curry leaves, and the sliced onions. Sauté till they turn transparent. Add chillies and ginger, and sauté for half a minute.
Add 2 cups water, and just when it starts boiling, add the cornflour paste and mix well so there are no lumps. 
Add coconut milk, with constant stirring, add the vegetables and let it simmer for about 5 minutes till the gravy comes together. Add a dash of pepper powder before serving. 
I served with brown rice and fryums. 

Lentil soup with soya nuggets

While the kids don't like the regular dal chawal/ dal roti, they are open to innovations of any kind. With hubby traveling this week, it is a good time to indulge them a bit, and get them to eat healthy.

1 cup masoor dal
1/2 cup soya nuggets
1/2 tsp haldi powder
1 tsp paprika powder
1 bay leaf
1 inch cinnamon
1 large onion cut lengthwise
1 tbsp ghee
Salt to taste

Soak the masoor dal for half an hour and cook in the pressure cooker with the haldi and paprika powder till soft.
Boil water with some salt, add soya nuggets and let it soak for 10 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
Heat the ghee, add bay leaves and cinnamon, and then the onions. Saute till browned.
Add the cooked dal,  drained soya nuggets and 1/2 cup water, and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve hot.
It can also be used as a substitute for a dal- you will have to increase the quantity of water.

Aug 9, 2015

Chai cookies

I love chai, and when I saw a recipe for chai flavoured cookies, I just had to try it out. The first attempt was a bit of a disaster, but I tried again soon after. Unfortunately, the flavour of cardamon was the dominant one, and the older one even dubbed it kheer cookies. It tasted good, but not the way I wanted it to taste- which means, I get to experiment a bit more!
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon tea leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp milk

Dry grind the sugar and tea leaves in a blender till well powdered.
Combine the flour, sugar, powdered sugar, tea mix, and salt, till well mixed (add cardamom powder if using).

Add the vanilla and butter and knead together to get a rough dough. Add the milk gradually till you get a batter.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.Drop spoonfulls of the batter onto the greased cookie tray, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes till the edges start to brown. Cook for 5 minutes in the oven, then transfer to a wire rack for cooking. Store after cooling down completely.

Aug 6, 2015

Bengali style hing aloo

On a rainy evening, the thing you crave most is pure unadulterated carbs, and that's a draw I can never resist. Not wanting to make something very elaborate, I had this really simple Bengali dish for dinner with parathas and dahi phulki, and a more satisfying meal I haven't had in a long time!
200 gms baby potatoes, or 2 large potatoes
1 tbsp mustard oil
A pinch of hing
A pinch of haldi powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste

Boil the potatoes till cooked, peel and keep aside. If using large potatoes, cut into eights. 
Heat the mustard oil, splutter the cumin seeds. Add hing and haldi powder, mix, and immediately add the potatoes. On a low flame, fry for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and mix well. 
Serve hot. 

Dahi pulki

When you have both garlic and mint in the same dish, why would you even think of hesitating before making it? Specially when it is an easy peasy recipe, that also packs the nutritional punch of curds and besan? This is a Marwari recipe I fell in love with and it entirely lived upto its promise.
2 cups curds
5 tbsp besan
1 large onion, chopped fine
Green chillies to taste
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp dried mint leaves, crushed
Salt and red chilli powder to taste
3 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Our the curds into a large bowl. Season with red chilli powder and salt. Add crushed mint leaves and garlic paste and mix well. Add water and mix till you get a smooth consistency. 
Mix onions, green chillies and besan with salt and red chill powder. Add water and mix to get a medium thick batter. 
Heat oil in a saucepan, and drop in single teaspoons of batter in batches. When one side of the phulki is done turn it over to brown the other side. Drop in the curd mix while still hot. 
After all the batter is exhausted, add cumin seeds to the oil, and when it stops spluttering, pour over the dahi phulki
It can be had as an accompaniment, or as a snack. 

Aug 5, 2015

Beet soup

I wanted to have a soup for lunch, and a quick audit of the fridge threw up only two slightly sad looking beets. Necessity is the mother of invention, and this awesome soup resulted.
2 beetroots
1/2 cup curds
1 tsp garlic paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Cream cheese for garnish

Roughly chop the beetroots and steam them for 10 minutes. 
Blend beetroots, curds and garlic paste till you get a smooth consistency. Add water to get the desired thickness. 
Bring the blend to boil, with salt and pepper
Sprinkle with cream cheese or feta cheese before serving. 

Aug 4, 2015


I really love pesarrattu because despite being it is choke full of proteins, it also tastes as good as it is for you. And when you get to eat it with white butter, and jaggery, you can fool yourself into believing you are in heaven.
1 cup green moong dal
1 red chilli
1 tbsp rice flour
1/2 inch piece ginger
Salt to taste
A pinch of hing
Oil for frying

Soak the moong dal overnight (or at least for 4 hours). Grind with the red chilli and ginger, adding water as required till you get a batter that is consistent, but not totally smooth.
Add salt, hing, rice powder and mix well.
Heat the tawa, bring down the temperature by sprinkling water, and spread the pesarrattu as you would a dosa.
Put oil along the edges, and let it cook in a low flame. When the edges start lifting up, flip over, and let the other side cook.
Serve with white butter and jaggery.

Aug 3, 2015

Sheera, with jowar rawa

Sometimes it gets a little difficult to keep inventing things for the kids to have when they get back from school. Left to themselves, they will happily have biscuits every day, but you can't really allow that, can you. This is something I whipped up for them, and was pretty happy with because it introduces a whole new flour into their diet.
1 cup jowar rawa
1 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp raisins
4 tbsp sugar

Heat the oil, and fry the raisins till browned. 
Add the rawa, and on a low flame, roast till the raw smell goes. 
Add sugar and 2 cups water, mix and bong to a boil. Cover, and let it simmer on a low flame for 10 minutes*
Serve hot. 

*- jowar takes longer to cook than normal rawa, so you need to check before serving. 

Ragi utappam

I am experimenting with different kinds of grains these days, and ragi is top of the list, since it was always there on my list. Ragi and coconut makes an awesome combination, and this proves it yet again!

1 cup ragi flour
1/3 cup grated coconut
A pinch of salt
Oil for frying

Mix the coconut and ragi flour well, and add water slowly, with constant stirring to get a firm batter. It should not be to runny, and there should be no lumps. Add salt and mix well. Let it stand for half an hour (or more)
Heat the utappam pan, and pour in the batter. Add a touch of oil around the edges. Let it cook on a low flame, till the edges start to rise up. Flip over and cook the other side.
Serve with white butter.

Jul 31, 2015

Mustard microgreens and egg sandwich

I must have been six or seven when I read an Enid Blyton story where a young girl grows mustard and cress for her sandwiches. I never quite knew what that was, but when I tasted mustard microgreens, I realised they were perfect for an egg sandwich. One boiled egg, a pinch of salt, a smattering of microgreens. Divine. 

Omelette with mushrooms and microgreens

One takeaway container yields enough microgreens to stretch to at least three portions, and since I am the only consumer of the stuff, I decided to try out this Martha Stewart recipe. Yummy.
1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 eggs
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tbsp microgreens

Heat half the butter in a pan, and cook the mushrooms, undisturbed, until they begin to release their liquid. Add salt nd pepper, stir, and saute till golden brown. Remove, stir in microgreens and keep aside. 
Whisk eggs in a medium bowl until well combined; season with salt and pepper. Pour eggs into the pan, swirl till well distributed. Allow it to cook till one side is done. Flip over and cook for 30 seconds. Flip over again
Place mushroom filling on 1 side of omelet. Using spatula, gently fold other side of omelet over filling. Serve immediately.

Jul 30, 2015

Jhal moori

Anybody who's grown up in Calcutta will swear that jhal is the best dish you can make out of puffed rice. Make no mistake, I do love the Bambaiya bhel with its notes of tamarind and mint, but offer me a choice between that and jhal moori, and I'll pick the comforting taste of mustard oil any day. So though I am trying to go easy on milk and sugar, I pile on the MO when I snack on this dish.
1 cup puffed rice
Onions, chopped fine
Green chillies, chopped fine
Tomatoes, chopped fine
Boiled potatoes, chopped fine
Salt, to taste
Red chilli powder, to taste
1 tsp mustard oil, for ever cup of moori*

Roast the peanuts, cool
Add peanuts, onions, chillies, tomatoes, potatoes to the moori and mix well
Add salt and red chilli powder, mix
Add mustard oil, cover the container, and shake vigorously to mix well
Serve, preferable in a paper cone

*- you can substitute the MO with the oil floating on top of pickle

Jul 29, 2015

Thumbprint cookies

Thumbprint cookies!!! Doesn't the name itself sound magical? The first time I tried it, it was a bit of a disaster, but I think I have evolved along the cookie making line since then, and I wanted to try it out again. Worked this time.

100 gms granulated sugar
100 gms butter
50 gms rice flour
100 gms maida
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp jam

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees for 10 minutes
Cream together the sugar and butter till well incorporated. 
Sieve the flour and baking powder a few times. 
Add the flour gradually to the butter, mixing continuously, till you get a smooth dough. 
Divide into 16 or 24 pieces. Roll into a ball, press down with the back of a sketch pen to make a deep depression. 
Place on a greased baking tray and bake for 10 minutes
Meanwhile, place the jam in a double boiler and stir continuously till it melts. 
Take the cookies out of the oven. Put the molten jam in the depression, and bake for an additional 5 minutes. 
Cool on a wire rack, before storing. 

Oil free brinjal curry

Most people do not like baigan, and for a very long time, I was one of them. But even now, one of the things I have against baigan is the amount of oil it normally consumes. So I just had to try out this recipe which promised to use no oil, if only to see if it was even possible. And it was!!!!
With the mix of peanut, coconut, tamarind and curry leaves, it was almost reminiscent of a Konkan fish curry. Literally fingerlickingly good! And oil free to boot (how many more times am I going to say that?)

500 gms Brinjal*

For stuffing
1 cup peanuts
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 red chillies
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp haldi powder
Salt to taste

1 lime sized ball tamarind
1 sprig curry leaves

Roast the peanuts till slightly brown. 
Add jeera, dhania, red chilli, urad dal, and roast till urad dal is browned
Add coconut and roast till brown
Dry grind the mixture. Add the spices and salt and mix well
Slit the brinjal s crosswise, keeping the stems intact. Stuff with the mixture- you will not use all the masala, keep the rest aside. 
Place on a steamer and cook for 15 minutes. 
Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup water, soak the tamarind and remove the pulp.
Boil 1/2 cup water, add the tamarind water, the ground masala, and curry leaves. Bring to boil. 
Add the brinjals, reduce flame, cover and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. 
Serve with rotis or rice. 

* you can use any variety except the fat ones used for bharta. I used 250 gms of brinjal, and kept half the masala aside for another day. 

Savoury canapés with microgreens garnish

Having decided I was going to have microgreens for lunch, the rest of the meal sort of created itself. Savoury crackers, with 

For crackers:
1 cup maida
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste3 tbsp grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees
Sift together the flour, salt and pepper. 
Add oil, and knead well till you get a firm dough
Roll onto a greased baking sheet, and make indentations with a sharp knife
Bake for 12-15 minutes. 
Take out of oven and let it cool on a wire rack. 

For the hung curd:
1 cup yogurt
1 tsp garlic paste
4-6 olives chopped fine
Salt to taste

Tie the curds in a muslin cloth, and hang it up so the whey escapes. Squeeze out the remaining whey. 
Add garlic paste and salt and mix really well till you get a smooth consistency. 
Add chopped olives and mix well*

For serving:
Scoop/ pipe the hung curd on the crackers, garnish with microgreens and serve. 

*- if you are having the dip without microgreens, you can experiment with the flavours- I kept it simple

Jul 28, 2015

Ragi idiyappan

The packers seem to have lost an entire carton of kitchen equipment, so I had to go shopping for things as basic as kadhais, tawas and pressure cookers. Since this is the first time I have gone utensil shopping since I started cooking seriously, I ended up picking up a whole lot of stuff I never possessed, but which I now feel I cannot do without. One of them was the sevai maker (which can double up as a chakli maker), which I had to try out at once. I could have started with the conventional seat, but thought of making a ragi sevai instead. I've adapted the recipe so it tastes like ragi puttu, and we all loved it.

2 cups ragi flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups water
Grated coconut to taste
1 or 2 bananas
Oil for greasing

Additional equipment- idli steamer, sevai maker

Roast the ragi flour till the raw smell goes. Add salt and mix well. 
Gradually add water, mixing and kneading throughout, till you get a consistency thicker than dosa batter but looser than roti dough*. Knead a bit more, till smooth. 
Grease the idli maker and the inside of the sevai maker with a bit of oil. 
Fill the sevai maker with the dough, and pipe it onto the idli moulds.
Cut the banana into slices and place around and above the piped dough. 
Steam for 15 minutes. 
Carefully demould the idyappams, garnish with coconut (you can mix some sugar with it), and steamed bananas and serve. 

You can also enjoy idyappams with butter and sugar. 

*- I am not mentioning quantities, because the recipes I said 2:3, but i required only 1:1

Butter cookies

I love experimenting with cookie recipes, but eventually I fall back on my old faithful recipes. This is my mother's butter cookies recipe, made even more special because for the first time ever, I used cooking butter. 

Mustard microgreens

I was introduced to Microgreens almost by accident, but from the moment I heard about them I have been quite fascinated. To someone who loves sprouts, microgreens was the logical next step, and I was doubly sold when I came to know they pack upto 4-6 times the nutritional punch of the adult vegetable.
But all things happen only when the time is right, and growing microgreens was no exception. Last week, I lined a takeaway container with wads of tissue paper, sprinkled mustard seeds, watered, covered with cling film, and kept it on on sunny window sill. I watched the seeds germinate, and push out the first leaves. A week later, I was ready to harvest. Don't they look gorgeous?

The best part was biting into one. The flavours poured into my mouth. Who needs kasaundi when you have microgreens?

Jul 27, 2015

Karela fry

Karela. The name itself strikes terror in our household, and I've virtually stopped making it. But when the hubby bought two plump karelas and some tiny onions, I had no choice but to dust out my mother in law's recipe. I must have done something right, because it got polished off.

2 karelas
6 small onions (regular onions, but smaller in size than normal)
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 1/2 tsp dhania powder
1 1/2 tsp amchur powder
1 1/2 tsp haldi powder
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder

Wash the karelas, and scrape off the green skin. Make a vertical slit, and hollow out the seeds. 
Rub with salt inside and out, and let it stand for an hour. 
Mix the dry masalas together (do not add the salt). 
Rub out the salt covering the karelas, squeeze slightly, and stuff with the masala. 
Peel the onions, and cut them in a cross. Add salt to the masala mix, and stuff the onions
Heat oil in a kadhai, slide in he vegetables and fry till browned. 

Green gazpacho soup

 There are days when you plan your meal and there are days when you take an inventory of what is there in the fridge and find a way to use the stuff. I had some steamed capsicums left over from last night, and a cucumber, so a green gazpancho it was for me. A cold soup for a warm July lunch.

1 cucumber, peeled and cored
1 capsicum steamed
1 slice stale bread
1 large pod garlic
½ litre vegetable stock
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Moisten the stale bread and keep aside
In a blender, mix the cucumbers, capsicum, garlic and bread, and blend to a smooth purée along with the vegetable stock.
Add the salt and pepper and mix well. Add a little stock, if required to thin out the gazpacho.
Serve chilled garnished with croutons or chopped cucumber.

Jul 26, 2015

Oats Chocolate Chip Cookies

Weekends are the time to fill the home with the glorious scents of baking. Finding my stack of chocolate chips intact, I decided to modify my basic oats cookie recipe to accommodate chocolate.
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup maida
1/4 cup granulated sugar*
2 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp milk
1/4 cup chocolate chips 

Mix the oats, flour and sugar well.
Add the butter, and mix well till crumbly. 
Add milk
Incorporate the milk one spoon at a time, mixing well so you have a slightly runny batter. 
Add the chocolate chips and mix well. 
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 175 degrees. 
Grease the baking tray, and using s spoon, drop the batter on the tray at equal intervals. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking to ensure it doesn't burn. 
Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container. 

*- if you don't have it, just whizz the equivalent quantity of regular sugar in the blender

Jul 25, 2015

Vetalai Sadam

Hubby and older one were going to have leftover biryani for dinner. Which left Mr. Fussy and myself. He wanted fried rice- I could have given it to him, but thout this was the perfect chance to try out a recipe I'd bookmarked a long time back (and the brand new kadhai). Fortune favours the bold- it was a hit.
1 cup rice (uncooked)
3 or 4 betel leaves 
1 tbsp garlic paste
1/4 tsp haldi powder
Salt to taste

For dry masala:
1 tsp sesame seeds seeds
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1 red chilli (I toned it down, 2 would be better)
1/2 tsp ginger powder

For tempering:
1 1/2 tbsp cooking oil
1/4 tsp saunf
1 inch piece cinnamon
1 sprig curry leaves

Wash and soak rice for 30 mins. Cook till 75% done, keep aside.
Dry roast sesame seeds, peppercorns and dry red chillies in a pan and grind it along with dry ginger powder to a fine powder. Set aside.
Heat oil in a pan, temper the ingredients listed under tempering. Add garlic paste and saute for few seconds. Then add turmeric powder in the oil and immediately add cooked rice, mix everything well.
Finally add chopped betel leaves, ground masala powder and salt and mix well.
Cover and cook for 5 mins or until well cooked, if needed sprinkle some water to avoid drying.