Baked Falafel Wraps

Falafels in a wrap!

Falafels in a wrap!

The food fever has caught on. Baklava and hummus was always a rage, and as people are turning more global, the wonder delights of any new cuisine follows. Lebanese is my latest viral.
After my tryst with baking pita, next on the list was Falafels. The baked version. I’ve made them before but a baked one was to be my experiment. I waited for a Sunday.

Loaded with grilled veggies and hummus and tzatziki sauce

Loaded with grilled veggies and hummus and tzatziki sauce

A rainy dull gloomy beautiful sunday which wrecked the cable connection, home bound the inmates and re-ignited the love for board games. They removed a new one, in spite of me yelling not to. But the rapid commencement of outwitting each other at word formations, though mainly with my help, was contagious. Along with grinding chickpeas, rolling dough and chopping vegetables, my mind raced to form words! The joy of letters. Inexplicable.

Falafels are small round deep fried bullets made from highly spiced chickpeas. But if you want to ditch the oil, we bake or roast them on a griddle and it works just fine. A wrap with these spicy bullets, a bit of hummus, some tzatziki and grilled veggies makes any meal complete. A bit of planning is required, the chickpea need to be soaked for 6-7 hours and you need hung curd to make tzatziki. So yes, please plan and initiate.

FALAFEL WRAP

Lotsa layering

Lotsa layering

To make 6 wraps:

Ingredients

  • 18/20 Falafel bullets or discs or patties, recipe below.
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 6 heaped big spoons of hummus – one spoon each for every wrap
  • 6 heaped big spoons of tzatziki – one spoon each for every wrap
  • torn lettuce leaves
  • 6 tbsp of grilled vegetables, I used mushrooms, zucchini, coloured peppers and onions.
  • A bit of vinegary onions for each wrap
  • Sprinkle of lime juice
  • Sprinkle of chaat masala – optional

Method

Take each tortilla, spread one heaped tbsp of hummus on it. Place torn lettuce leaves covering half the tortilla. Now place 3 or 4 falafel discs in a straight line in the middle of the tortilla. Drop spoonful of tzatziki on the cutlets. Place grilled vegetables and pickled onions. Sprinkle lime juice and chaat masala. Cover both sides. Grill on a flat griddle/tawa if desired or serve as it is with more hummus and tzatziki by the side!

Ready to fold

Ready to fold

FALAFELS – BAKED

Chickpea Cutlets

Chickpea Cutlets

Ingredients

  • 2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight or for 6/7 hours
  • 1 red onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 3 green chillies
  • a tiny piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp ground roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 4 tbsp washed coriander leaves
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp flour or maida
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Oil for greasing

Method

Put all ingredients in the mixer, except flour/maida, baking powder and sesame seeds. Coarsely grind everything till everything is mashed yet not very smooth. Do not add any water. This is very important because you don’t want your splitting cutlets.

Once done, remove. Mix in the flour, baking powder and sesame seeds. Shape small balls of the mixture, flatten them slightly to form discs. Place them in a box or on a tray. Refrigerate for 2/3 hours. This step is crucial if you want firm well shaped falafels. Especially if you are deep frying them.

Once well chilled. Pre heat your oven to 175C for 10 minutes. Grease a baking tray well with oil. Take each falafel discs, slightly coat them with oil and place evenly on the tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes then flip and bake the other side for another 5-7 minutes.

If you do not want to bake or deep fry, then you can roast them on a non stick pan with a bit of oil till the sides turn golden and crisp. This works beautifully but uses a bit of more oil than baking.

Remove and use as required.

Lots of flavours!

Lots of flavours!

Note: Deep frying produces the best results. They are crunchy out and soft inside. But baking works well too, so please don’t forget the baking powder. It helps the cutlets with soft insides.

Note: Original recipe did not add any green chillies or mint. I used them generously because we love the flavour of mint and heat from the chilies. You can avoid them if you like.

Healthy snack option

Healthy snack option

I am not so neat with shapes and sizes… all my cutlets varied in diameter :D Mother would have been horrified ;)

Not so perfect in size :)

Not so perfect in size :)

GRILLED VEGETABLES, FLOUR TORTILLAS AND VINEGAR ONIONS

The add-ons don't stop!

The add-ons don’t stop!

For the Veggies - Julienne all the vegetables. I used zucchini, mushrooms, coloured peppers and onions. In a tsp of olive oil, sauté them till 3/4th done. Season with salt, pepper and red chill flakes.

For the Pickled Onions – soak sliced onions in 1/2 cup of vinegar, juice of 1/2 a lime and some salt. Keep aside for an hour. The colour of the onions and solution changes to pink.

For the Flour Tortillas – Take half and half wheat and all-purpose/maida four. Season with a bit of salt. Knead using half n half milk and luke warm water. Knead well. Keep aside covered for at least 30 minutes. Then grab portions of dough, roll into thin flat rounds, roast both sides on a hot griddle. You can make them before hand and use as required.

Grilled veggies and pickled onions

Grilled veggies and pickled onions

As you must have noticed, I put more pictures here than in any of my posts. Well. Thats because I took so many!! And then, spent almost half a day editing them. So they had to be used. don’t they?
A few more won’t hurt, I presume. :)

Protein rich Chickpea makes one delicious cutlet

Protein rich Chickpea makes one delicious cutlet

She is one big sucker for dips and spreads. Every bite was relished with more hummus and more tzatziki. It also rendered the scrabble board quite messy and her clothes.. oh! they are best not discussed. So, beware.. this humongous wrap is not so easy to hold and a lot more messy and delicious to eat :)

One satisfying meal, this.

One satisfying meal, this.

Ragda Pattice

Ragda Pattice

Ragda Pattice

Yet another Mumbai chaat. Fast food. Street Food. Junk Food. His Food. Everybody loves kinda food :)
Since I am not a fan of chaat especially this one, I hardly ever make it. You know how it is, when we cook things that usually we like and somehow forget to make that we don’t? Does it happen to you?

Unconsciously I was doing that. I cook what I crave to eat. And chaat, a medley of deep fried crackers and vegetables and lots of Indian fried junk, all infused with sweet, spice and sour – is not on my list. Yea, I know I’m insane. Almost everyone I know love it! I don’t know how I missed the bus.
I once had a 60 year old friend visiting us from San Fran and he asked for pani puris. I was like.. will you be able to take the heat?!! He enjoyed every morsel while I skeptically held a bottle of bisleri ready for him.

Potato Pattice roasted nice and golden

Potato Pattice roasted nice and golden

This so called snack requires so many little things that most people I know eat it for a meal rather than a refreshment. It takes hardly any effort to put it together.. that is, once you have all the stuff with you. A bit of planning, a bit of prepping and you can make this in no time! Yet, I thought of this yummy tangy sweet plate of chaat after ages… I simply forgot about it.

Well, this one is his favourite, he really likes any chaat. Especially Mumbai street food. So he was in for a surprise when the answer to his mundane whats-for-dinner was Ragda Pattice. The name’s intriguing.
Essentially, deep fried potato cutlets(-the pattice bit) are dunked in a yellow dried peas gravy(the ragda), topped with tamarind chutney, green mint chutney, chopped vegetables and garnished with lots of thin fine sev and coriander leaves.
Instead of deep frying the cutlets, I chose to add a bit of cornflour and sauté them with a tsp of oil on a non stick pan. It works just fine.

She had it for the first time. Yes, no kidding!

She had it for the first time. Yes, no kidding!

The Recipe-

Ingredient

Potato Patties or Cutlets

  • 1 kg boiled potatoes
  • 4 tsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp red chill powder
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • a bit of oil to roast them in a non stick pan.

Ragda or Yellow Peas Curry

  • 1 cup dried yellow peas, soaked overnight or for 7-8 hours.
  • 1/2 tsp chopped ginger garlic
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

To assemble: one plate of ragda pattice:

  • 2 potato cutlets
  • 4 tbsp ragda
  • 1 tsp green chutney
  • 1 tsp tamarind chutney
  • 1/2 tsp each of chopped onions, tomato and grated carrot
  • 1/2 tsp thinly sliced ginger and green chilies – optional
  • 1 tbsp of fine sev
  • sprinkle of chaat masala
  • a dash of lime
  • coriander leaves to garnish
The whole deal

The whole deal

Method

For the Pattice - mash the boiled potatoes, add salt, red chill powder, cornflour and coriander leaves. Mix and mash well. Then grab small handfuls of the mixture and make flat balls out of them. Preferable refrigerate for at least an hour. This makes the batter firm and the end result crisp.

When ready to use, heat a pan, add a tsp of oil. Roast these cutlets till golden brown and crisp.

Note: Cornflour is the magical ingredient! It binds and prevents from splitting the patty. the crunch in the cutlet is enhanced by refrigeration and the cornflour.

Note: You can deep fry them if desired, in which case, to prevent splitting, add a slice or two of crushed bread and definitely refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Note: You can bake them too!

Love this Carb!

Love this Carb!

For the Ragda – Boil the yellow pea with 3 cups of water, salt, turmeric and crushed ginger garlic. I pressure cook the peas. Its faster. If you do not have a cooker, boil them in a covered pot till mushy. Since dried peas/beans are major defaulters in hindering digestion, I would suggest soak and then boil it well. Usually not-properly cooked beans or pulses cause a lot of gas and discomfort.

Note: I use the boiled ragda as it is. But some people add a tempering of oil, mustard seeds and curry leaves.

Note: Ragda can be eaten as it is, top with the chutneys and chopped onions, tomatoes and finish off with a bit of lime and chaat masala. Its like a thick tangy sweet spicy stew! In Mumbai some enjoy it with a piece of pav or dinner roll.

The Ragda, whole yellow dried peas curry

Ragda, whole yellow dried peas curry

Now for the final Plating:

Place 2 cutlets on a plate, pour 3/4 tbsp of ragda over it. Drop a tsp of green mint and tamarind chutney each. Dot with chopped onions, tomatoes and grated carrot. If using julienne ginger, add now. Sprinkle chaat masala and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and sev.

Serve immediately!

Note: Potatoes and dried peas are highly gaseous and not so easy to digest. So I usually add a lot of raw julienne pickled ginger.

Thats what a ragda lattice plate looks like

Thats what a ragda pattice plate looks like

I am taking this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #26. Do take a peek to see other awesome entries all in one post.

Thai Spiced Vegetable Brown Rice

Thai Spiced Brown Rice with exotic vegetables

Thai Spiced Brown Rice with exotic vegetables

Its been quite sometime now since I started brown rice. And let me tell you the transfer has not been easy. Those who are used to eating soft white rice dotted with pure ghee will tell you why.

Perfectly steamed gorgeously white rice is what it is because of what it is. Brown rice pales in front of it, literally. But I am girl on a mission. Mission to curb my growing waistline and lose some serious weight. So naturally I shun the shiny rice and ghee. Adopt the brown version and…my dal rice has never tasted the same again.

I have to add paneer ;)

I have to add paneer ;)

I had to love what I embraced or I would be running back to my ex. So began my tryst with the healthier grain. Looking for ways to improvise it, I have tried innumerable options.
Sautéing mushrooms and zucchini in some thai red curry paste and throwing in brown rice, seemed like a bit of an experiment. But what an attempt! That bowl was supposedly my lunch, but he and she took great big bites and kept asking for more. Now that’s a good way to rate my dishes, don’t you think?

Something to drink with

Something to drink with

The recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked.
  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 3/4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp paneer small cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp olive oil or any oil you wish
  • basil leaves and coriander leaves to garnish

Method

In a large skillet, heat oil. Saute garlic and onions till pink. Mix in the red curry paste. Fry till oil leaves the sides. Throw in the mushrooms and zucchini. Cover and cook till almost done. Mix in the brown rice along with soy and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Garnish with cubed paneer, basil and cilantro leaves.

Best with something cold to sip on.

Simple and delicious

Simple and delicious

Note: Use any vegetable you like, carrots, broccoli, beans ..

Note: Instead of paneer, boiled soy Nutrela nuggets taste great.

Note: Adjust the quantity of red curry paste according to the heat you can take.

Note: Boiling brown rice has been a continuous trial and error process with me. One of the recent methods and almost close to getting perfectly cooked rice is to soak the rice well for at least 2 hours, and then cook in a large pot of salted boiling water. Once the rice is cooked, strain the excess water and use.

High on heat

High on heat

If you have any more ideas to deal with brown rice, please holler. I am listening.

This is my entry to Angie’s Friday Fiesta #25. Sneak in to see some gorgeous recipes here. You will thank me for sure.

No Bake Cherry Nutella Chocolate Tart

Cherry Nutella Chocolate Tart

Cherry Nutella Chocolate Tart

The web’s inundated with such recipes. Recipes of luscious no bake cakes and pies. But just a deluge of formulas is never enough to do certain things. I could have made this oh-so-simple sweet something long long back.. but I didn’t. What was I waiting for? Christmas you would say, but a decadent strawberry cake took its rightful place and again this particular recipe took a backseat.

One for the season

One for the season

Inspiration. Yes, that’s what I needed. And Inspiration comes to us slowly and quietly… prime it with a little solitude
Being all alone(and the fact that a box full of cherries is lying uneaten)has its impacts. Yes, you end up making a cheery cherry chocolate pie. And if the inspiration bit is kicking your butt, then you end up adding nutella to it ;)

tart sweet and juicy

tart sweet and juicy

Those cherries had not takers. The precious little eyes which gleamed when a box full was spotted turned blind at the mere mention. The tongue was more than appeased with the little stone fruits. They had been gorging on them for over a month now. So, the scorned neglected but juicy red fruit sat all alone waiting to be acknowledged. I grabbed them before they withered and sulked.

Serves One :)

Serves One :)

The Recipe: To make a small tart or 4 small one-serve cups

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of digestive biscuits or any cream biscuits. I used Bourbon
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup low fat cream, I used Amul’s
  • 50 gms dark cooking chocolate, cut into big pieces
  • 2 tbsp nutella
  • 2 tsp cornflour

Method

Crush the biscuits in a ziplock pouch using a rolling pin. Remove the crushed mix into a large bowl. Drop a tablespoon of melted butter. Using your fingers, mix and mash around till it resembles a fine crumb.
Grease the container in which you want to set the dessert. Press the biscuit butter crumb as tightly and neatly as you can. Refrigerate for about an hour or so.
Meanwhile, save a bit of cream and mix with cornflour. Keep aside. The remaining cream, nutella and chocolate goes into a pan. Heat till it melts, stir all the while.
Pour the cream and cornflour mix into it. Keep stirring till the sauce thickens to a batter like texture. Cool for about 30 minutes or so.

Now, remove the biscuit base, dot with pitted and halved cherries. Pour the cooled chocolate-nutella-cream mix. Chill for at least 3/4 hours or until set.

Serve with more cherries or stewed cherries like I did.

The biscuit base lends a delicious crunch!

The biscuit base lends a delicious crunch!

Recipe for Stewed Cherries:

Boil 1 cup of pitted and halved cherries, along with 2 tbsp sugar, juice of 1/2 a lime and 1 cup water. Simmer till the cherries have wilted into a mushy consistency. Keep adding water all along if they stick to the base or incase they tend to burn. Cool and use as required.

A peek inside

A peek inside

Note: The original recipe has a baked base, I opted for a no bake one. To follow the original, click here.

Note: This recipe will go great with peaches, strawberries, blueberries or even mango.

Note: You can use standard white chocolate instead of the dark one.

Note: Serving options include whipped cream or even vanilla ice-cream. Yumm!

Simple, easy delicious dessert

Simple, easy delicious dessert

I am taking dessert this time over at Angie’s Friday Fiesta #24. Do peek over to see some awesome collection of mouth-watering recipes and writing.

Makhni Paneer

Classic Paneer Makhani

Classic Paneer Makhani

I am highly skeptical about this. Taking an old post, revamping it with new photographs and republishing is a first for me. I have my doubts and reservations. The old one is very much a part of me, an integral part of my growing up here. Now with a wee bit more photography skills, to demolish the old one simply seems cruel.

Well, I did it anyways. And for keep sake, this picture below shows you what it was when I shot it a year back :)

Cottage Cheese in Creamy tomato gravy

Cottage Cheese in Creamy tomato gravy

I have an improved version of the same classic recipe. Adding whole kashmiri red chilies to the gravy worked fabulously on the gorgeous deep red colour!

Now for keep sake, I even lifted some of my original words and placed it here -

Makhani Paneer is a popular curry from the northern states of India. Add fresh home-made paneer or cottage cheese to a simmering hot blend of onions-cashews and tomatoes. Crushed kasuri methi lends that mesmerizing aroma, which fills your home with such love, that neighbors know you are cooking something special. It’s a great accompaniment with naan, chappati, rice or simply toasted bread.

Top on the husband’s list of favorites, it’s a sure winner every time I make this. Ideal for sunday lunches and on party menus. I make it rarely as it is loaded with butter and cashews and FAT. But whenever I do, the family pigs out.

Well.. er… that rarely has become quite regularly in my house. And yes, they still pig out.

Rich and creamy

Rich and creamy

Ingredients

  • 200 gms paneer, diced into neat big pieces
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small tiny piece of ginger
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • a fistful of cashew nuts
  • 1 cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 3/4 whole kashmiri red chilies
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chili powder or according to taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp crushed kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves.
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt according to taste
  • 1 small capsicum or green bell pepper, sliced
  • chopped coriander to garnish

Method

Heat oil in a kadai/pan. When hot, throw in garlic, ginger, onions, cashews and the whole spices. Add little salt, cover with lid and let it cook. After 5-6 minutes, add tomatoes, along with the dry masala powders – turmeric, red chill, whole red chilies and coriander. Now cover again and cook for 10-15 minutes, taking care to keep mixing it in between. It should be cooked well enough for the oil to leave sides. Once done, cool the mixture.
Then with the help of milk, grind the cooled onion tomato mix to a fine smooth orange paste. In another pan, heat butter, saute the sliced capsicums. Once almost done, add this orange gravy, and let it simmer for a minute. Sprinkle crushed kasuri (fenugreek) leaves and salt. Mix well. Add the diced paneer. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve along with onion ring salad.

Ideally served with super soft rotis or naans. Any kind of bread or rice also goes well with this flavorful curry.

Note: If you like, slightly saute the paneer in butter and add them to the gravy. But I added them as it is. This is a rich full fat curry, did not want to add more.

Perfect with soft wheat rotis

Perfect with soft wheat rotis

When in no mood to experiment or debate or try, we turn to this fool-proof signature dish of mine. Returning from an erratic work schedule and long travelling dull days, he knows for sure what he will find on the table. His most favourite dish :)

Comfort Food

Comfort Food

I am taking this over to Angie’s Weekly Potluck Parties, Friday Fiesta #24! Do have a look at the other dishes and recipes.

Greek Salad, Improvised!

Greek Salad - my take :)

Greek Salad – my take :)

While the world trips on quinoa and chia and gluten free and muesli and sunflower seeds and what not, I stare at my pantry and realise I am yet to go there and do that. So, whats stopping me?

The availability? Naah.. big huge supermarkets in one of the biggest cosmopolitan city of India, can’t make that excuse!

Recipes? I am a food blogger!! I have blogger friends dishing out super food made with super ingredients and fantastic recipes.. for God’s sake, I can’t run with that either!

Sigh.. so what is it. Friends, I am just lazy. Terribly lazy and the fact that I think I get enough nutrition from what we eat on a regular basis is a huge hindrance to my foray into this new health food world.

Walnuts for that extra crunch

Walnuts for that extra crunch

I plan to change all that. Buying a small pack is all that it’ll take to throw me into the bandwagon and then I know I will be hooked for a long time to come.
But for now that can wait, because with the most basic ingredients available in any kitchen I made a fairly popular though simple robust tasty salad. The recipe is so straight that I could have easily tweeted or instagrammed it, but no. This needs to be chronologized. It deserves a post. :)

Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette

Greek salad is a very rustic summer salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, a bit of feta and some kalamata olives. Dressing is of vinegar-olive oil seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano. Now this is a basic Greek salad formula. What I did, I improvised it, added some more weight to it.. ;)

The vinaigrette was spiced and flavoured with minced green chilies and coriander leaves. Feta was replaced by regular paneer or cottage cheese. Broken bits of walnut added the much required crunch and yes.. that’s pretty much it.

my instagram upload

my instagram upload

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup diced cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, take firm red ripe ones
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • Few lettuce leaves
  • Whole pitted olives – as many as you like or skip it altogether
  • 1/4 cup crumbled paneer or cottage cheese or feta
  • 2 tbsp of broken walnut or pine nuts or almonds or peanuts

For the Spicy Vinaigrette -

  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 1 green chill minced
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves minced

Method

To make the dressing – mix all the ingredients of the vinaigrette and whisk thoroughly. Keep aside. In a big salad bowl, take all your vegetables, except the nuts. Mix. Pour the dressing over it. Gently mix. Refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to serve, top with toasted nuts.

Goodness in a bowl

Goodness in a bowl

Note: You can skip/avoid any ingredient you don’t like. I did that to olives. Yeh.. not a big olive fan!

Note: Feta is creamier and softer, but our very Indian Malai paneer proves to be a good match to it. Try it.

Note: Use green chilies according to its level of heat and your own discretion

Of forks, ladles and spoons...

Of forks, ladles and spoons…

The very lovely Angie has been hosting a virtual potluck bloggers party and in spite of being invited long back, I am attending the festivities now! This post is being linked to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #23.

I have been instagrammed!!
Very recently I signed up for an instagram account: namrata_mft. If you would like a peek into my daily life, add me!

-Namrata

Vegetarian Curry Laksa

Curry Laksa - veganised!

Curry Laksa – veganised!

The craving was irrepressible.
But with the man travelling and child snubbing this divine curry noodles, I stalled the idea of dishing it up just for me. But then, it arose again… that insatiable appetite for one heavenly bowl of noodles, veggies, broth, herbs and tofu. I had to make it. Just had to.

Soul Food!

Soul Food!

Curry Laksa is a Chinese inspired Malay spicy noodle soup. Originally made the non vegetarian way with a lot of chicken or fish or shrimp. It is basically coconut based curry spiced with oriental flavours like turmeric, soy and chilies, thick or thin noodles and garnished with laksa leaves or curry leaves. Indians will totally relate to the flavours and taste, because many of the ingredients used in this are regularly used in Indian cooking too.

 Mushrooms and fried tofu in my Laksa

Mushrooms and fried tofu in my Laksa

Ideally thick Hokkien egg noodles are preferred to dunk in a spicy vegetable laden stew, but if you cannot get your hands on some, use the regular variety. I used traditional thin hakka noodles. Some recipes call for thin rice vermicelli too.
Bottomline – It’s the curry that calls, the carb can be of any kind ;)

Spicy Earthy noodles

Spicy Earthy noodles

There are many different types of laksa, but what is common to all is the broth, spice paste and noodles. The most well known varieties of laksa are the slightly sour fish soup based Assam Laksa and the Curry Laksa which has coconut milk.

Curry Laksa is a meal in itself. You don’t need any accompaniments with it. Lot of vegetables, noodles and a protein like tofu or paneer and you are so good to go! The vegetables can be anything you like, anything your refrigerator caters. So don’t go hunting for the specifics. I just pretty much threw in whatever I had.

An interesting twist to this dish was to top with sautéed mushrooms and red onions. Dust it off with sesame seeds and it was the most heavenly first bite I have had in a very long time :)

Soupy Slurrpyy

Soupy Slurrpyy

The Recipe -

Ingredients

  • 1 pack hokkein egg noodles, boiled as per instructions on the pack.
  • 1 cup thin sliced vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, beans etc
  • 3-4 tbsp red curry paste or as per your liking
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • a handful of curry leaves or if you can find laksa leaves
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder

Garnish: 5/6 basil leaves, few stalks of coriander leaves, 1/2 cup fried tofu or sautéed paneer pieces, 1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms and red onions. 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds, Lime wedges.

Method

In a wok, heat oil. Fry the red curry paste till the raw smells disappears. Now throw in the veggies, add a bit of salt. Cover and cook till almost done.
Add soy, turmeric, salt pepper, sugar. give a mix. Stir in the coconut milk. Once it has boiled. Stir in the vegetable stock. Simmer for 2/3 minutes or so. Throw in the curry leaves and lemon grass stalks Cover and boil for 5 minutes.

Delicious comfort food

Delicious comfort food

How to Serve:

Remove the lemon grass stalks from the broth before serving.

Take a deep bowl. Place a forkful or two of noodles. Pour the vegetable-coconut broth. Top with some sautéed mushrooms and onions, some fried tofu or paneer. A sprinkle of sesame seeds. A drizzle of lime juice. Torn basil and coriander leaves to garnish.
Serve.

A drizzle of lime and a sprinkle of sesame

A drizzle of lime and a sprinkle of sesame

Note: For sautéing the mushrooms, onions and tofu. I sliced them thinly, gently sautéed in a bit of oil. Sprinkled salt and pepper powder. Hardly takes 5 minutes.

Note: Laksa is usually soupy and the noodles float in a water like broth. Now to make the soup, vegetable stock is preferred rather than plain water. Since I did not have any, I made a thick vegetable stew in coconut milk. It tasted more intense and enveloped my noodles well in a spicy tangy gravy.

all season food, this is.

all season food, this is.

The above is a not a perfect authentic recipe. I changed and customised it according to our likes and the ingredients available. So this recipe might just serve as a rough inspiration to cook the dish. So feel free to play around!

Happy Cooking dear readers :)

Spicy Sprouts Vegetarian Fajitas

He doesn’t get the difference between a burrito and a fajita.
‘Why have different names, when they have essentially the same stuff in it’….. I don’t have any witty piquant rhetoric for it. So I try to elucidate the serving styles which are remarkably different. Also the analogy that we have million names for chappathis which are made in slightly varied way doesn’t convince him either.

Spicy Mexican Fajitas - Vegetarian!

Spicy Mexican Fajitas – Vegetarian!

I go back to assembling my warm fajitas. I know before making them they would be appreciated because … I know the kind he likes :)

He absolutely loves Guacamole, then top with some sour cream and a bit of more lime and I know for sure, the lunch is good. But its the stuffing that I am weary about. To substitute the meat, I sauté mixed sprouts with some julienne veggies. Ah.. this was going experimental. I add another succulent sweet sour salsa to top – the mango salsa. What am I doing??….I am combining disparate flavours and hoping for it to be devoured like never before. Sigh! Wishful thinking this.

Guacamole and Mango Salsa by the side

Guacamole and Mango Salsa by the side

SPICY SPROUTS VEGETABLE MIX

Ideally beans/rajma is used in the vegetarian version of Tex Mex cuisine. But I had a bowl of sprouts to finish before they went bad. Bored of its presence in salads and currys, the family ostracized these protein rich germinated grains. But when you throw them in a wok full of thinly sliced veggies, and season with herbs they are so delicious, you forget that you hated them a while back.

My meat substitute!

My meat substitute!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup julienne vegetables, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, corn etc
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 green chillies, minced – optional
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Method

Heat oil in a wok, stir fry garlic, green chilies and onions till they turn translucent. Throw in the other veggies, along with salt and pepper. Cover and cook till almost done. At this stage, add the parboiled sprouts along with oregano and chopped cilantro leaves. Mix well. Keep aside.

SOUR CREAM

Another surprise that day was the sour cream. I made a faux one with yoghurt – its fat free and healthier! Tis so easy peasy, that I find myself making it every other day now.

Sour Cream substitute, made with yoghurt

Sour Cream substitute, made with yoghurt

In a cup of hung curd, add juice of half a lime, crushed garlic, bit of pepper powder and salt. Mix in a tbsp of cream. Churn or mix well for a creamy consistency – Thats it!!

ASSEMBLING THE FAJITA

To assemble 4 fajitas:

Ingredients

  • 4 flour tortillas, I used whole wheat. You can use flour or corn, anything you like.
  • 8 tbsp sprout veggie mix
  • 4 tbsp guacamole
  • 4 tbsp mango-salsa
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • sprinkle of taco seasoning on each fajita
Assembling the Fajita

Assembling the Fajita

Method

Warm each tortilla, place 2 table spoons of the sprouts veggie mix, top with guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Sprinkle taco seasoning. Serve immediately.

Warm tortillas

Warm tortillas

Note: Go experimental by replacing mango salsa with tomato or peach salsa.

Note: Replace the sprouts with beans or cheese or meat

Sweet, spicy and the tartness intact - all at the same time

Sweet, spicy, sour, tart – all at the same time

Choco Chip Mini Muffins – EggFree

School re-opens. A brand new year. New teacher. Fresh clean books. Sharpened pencils. And amongst all this – new classmates. Her class gets shuffled every year, and this grade none of her friends are with her. She returns home dejected and sullen.

Mini Muffins

Mini Muffins

Slow at makin friends and adapting to new people, the little girl takes her own sweet time in settling down and getting companionable. Once she does though is another story altogether! But for now, she is bitter. Full of complaints on the first day – that girl pushed me, this boy pulled my hair, teacher was rude… the list is endless. It takes mammoth patience and understanding to explain that the whole world is not there to bite her. They have other work too. A task really. But her stubborn mind is not so yielding.

Choco chips in butter vanilla

Choco chips in butter vanilla

When the hostile mind slowly dies down, out rises the receptiveness. Her desires for amity make way for innumerable possibilities. Topping the list was Food :)

One smart girl I have. Food brings people closer, breaks barriers, warms the heart.
Someone so rightly said “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house, EAT with Him….. the people who give you their food, will give you their heart”

So I bake for her camaraderie. And I bake for her zest and spirit.

chocolate muffin

chocolate muffin

For the Vanilla Butter Cupcakes -

Ingredients

  • 1 cup maida/all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Baking powder 1 tsp
  • Baking soda 1/4 tsp
  • Warm Milk 1/3 cup
  • Curd 1/2 cup, whisk it before using
  • melted butter, 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla essence 1/4 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, white or dark or a bit of both

Method

Preheat oven to 150 C.
In a big mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips. Mix well. Now, make a well in the center of the dry mixture. Add the curd, vanilla, vinegar and butter.
Using a hand whisk, gently mix the ingredients until well combined. Make sure the wet ingredients are incorporated into the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix. Gently fold in the choco chips.

Now line your cupcake tray with liners or grease them of required. Spoon the batter till the moulds are 3/4th full. If you like, you can top the cupcakes with more chocolate chips.
Bake the little muffins at 150 C for about 8-10 minutes or until they are done. Remove. Cool.

For the chocolate cupcakes, follow the above method and add 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa to the dry ingredients and add a bit of milk accordingly.

Box full

Box full

Note: Chopped nuts or any dried fruit can also be added in place of chocolate chips.

Note: Do not over bake the cupcake, around 8-10 minutes should be apt, else they turn hard and chewy.

Little Treats

Little Treats

She wanted the entire box, which is SO not allowed in school. Gently coaxing her to take a few to share with her immediate neighbors was met with instant disapproval.
Friendship takes time, I cajoled.
Yes, but I need some for my old friends too…. left me with no more words.

Shahi Paneer and Whole Wheat Stuffed Kulchas

A complete meal.

A complete meal.

Sunday Lunches are usually special in our house. I don’t know why. Maybe because I lighten the breakfast and skip cooking dinner. Whatever the reason, these meals bring much happiness, smiles and cheer. So, one such beautiful sunny day our lunch was a full blown punjabi meal.

heavy lunch, this.

heavy lunch, this.

Delicacies using paneer or cottage cheese is very integral to the vegetarian Punjabi. If you are going to refuse tandoori chicken and lamb kebabs, then paneer is the The Protein for you. The cuisine comprises of lip smacking dishes with chickpeas, paneer, whole black lentils and copious amounts of cream and ghee. Punjabi food was the hottest cuisine to tuck into back in the late 70s and 80s.

That Sunday I made a creamy paneer side along with vegetable stuffed oven baked unleavened bread and some rich whole lentil dal. The dishes are heavy and little bit of it stuffs you up. But we like to make it just the way it should be. No fat free version, no zero oil. This kind of lunch makes us forego dinner and just snack on salads and soup.

I have recipes for the paneer and the flatbread. Saving the dal for another post.

SHAHI PANEER

Shahi is royal in hindi. Royalty comes with a whole lot of ghee/butter and cream. So please don’t attempt this curry with fat free oils :)
Shahi paneer is a wonderful aromatic curry made using cream, tomatoes and spices. This is my second favourite recipe of the cheese after Makhani Paneer.

Shahi paneer

Shahi paneer

Ingredients

  • 200 gms paneer/cottage cheese, cut into cubes
  • 2 medium sized onions, minced
  • 5/6 cloves of minced garlic
  • a tiny piece of ginger
  • 2/3 green chilies, minced
  • 3 red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 green cardamom
  • a small stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chili powder or as per taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp tandoori masala or garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried crushed kasoori methi
  • salt as per taste
  • 1 cup cream or malai
  • optional: 1/2 cup mushrooms or bell peppers.
  • To garnish: coriander leaves or mint leaves.

Method

In a wok, heat ghee/butter. Drop the bay leaf, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Saute for just about a minute. Crackle the cumin. Add the minced garlic, ginger, green chilies and onions. Sprinkle little salt. Cook till the onions turn translucent. Remove the whole spices if you’re afraid kids will bite into it. Add kasuri methi and fry for another 30 seconds. Now add the tomatoes, along with red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Cover and cook till the fat leaves the sides. Takes approx 10-12 minutes.

Once that is done, stir in the cream. Mix well. Give it a boil. Stir in the tandoori masala. Add chopped cubes of paneer. Switch the flame off, garnish with coriander leaves or mint.

Serve hot with any flatbread or rice.

Note: If you want to add other vegetables, sauté the chopped veggies in a different wok using very little fat or oil. Stir the sautéed veggies when you add paneer to the onion tomato cream mix.

Note: Mincing the veggies really fine is the key here. Makes the gravy come into one harmonious mix.

Easy to make

Easy to make

UNLEAVENED STUFFED KULCHAS

Kulchas are small round Indian bread made from flour, milk, and butter, typically stuffed with meat or vegetables. Some use leavening agents like yeast or baking powder. I have skipped the leaveners and used whole wheat instead of refined flour. Dotted with nigella seeds and sesame seeds these little breads are extremely nutritious and very easy to make.

Whole wheat stuffed roasted flatbread

Whole wheat stuffed roasted flatbread

The stuffing I used was made with crushed boiled potatoes, minced onions and coriander leaves. You can be innovative and use any grated vegetable you like. Carrots, cheese, cauliflower, peas make great fillings too.

Stuffing

Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • a bit of salt
  • 1/2 tsp carrom seeds or ajwain
  • 1 cup milk
  • Optional: 2 tbsp cream or ghee
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds and 1 tsp nigella seeds, mixed and set aside.
  • To serve: ghee or white butter.

Method

To the flour, add salt, carom seeds. Using luke warm milk bind the dough. Use more milk if required. The dough should be soft and pliable. If you like, you can add a bit of cream or ghee to the flour before binding. Once done, keep covered for 30 minutes or more.

For the stuffing: Use boiled potatoes, minced onion, green chilies and coriander leaves. Mix well, add salt and cumin powder.

To make the kulcha:

Heat a flat griddle or tawa.
Grab a handful of the dough, make a well in the centre, put a tablespoon of the stuffing, close it like a basket. and using more flour roll it out into a small circle. Before placing the rolled out circle onto the griddle, sprinkle some mixed sesame and nigella seeds. Press the seeds into the dough using the rolling pin. Carefully pick the rolled out circle and slap it onto a semi hot griddle. Once it browns a bit, flip the kulcha and roast a bit from the other side.

The making

The making

Now, you can roll the rest of the dough in similar fashion and keep the slightly roasted ones aside. There are two ways to go ahead from this step:

1. You can use a tong and directly roast the kulcha on an open flame till it browns beautifully. Serve hot with ghee or butter on top.

2. Pre heat the oven to 200 degree C. Place the kulchas on a tray and bake till they brown. Takes approximately 6-8 minutes. Serve with ghee or butter.

Kulchas taste great with paneer, kali dal, amritsari channe and many more!

Note: If you add spices to the stuffing and use it for filling the kulcha, it will be good enough to eat with a bowl of yoghurt. No curry, sides or lentils required then.

Perfect combination

Perfect combination

Whole urad lentil and rajma is soaked overnight and pressure cooked. Cream, ghee and milk is again used copiously in this dal. It is so rich and whole I felt it deserves a space of its own. So another post will carry the recipe and mouth-watering pictures.

Not to forget the daal

Not to forget the daal

Alarmed at the quantity of fat and cream used in the recipes? Well, that’s why we make it sparingly and save it for special occasions. Like a sunday :)

Yumm.

Yumm.