Kadai Vegetable, Restaurant Style

Quintessential Kadai Vegetable

Quintessential Kadai Vegetable

Location: A simple Indian home in the 90’s housing a calm, tolerant and mostly busy mother, a loving, indulgent father who never entered the kitchen or helped in any of the housework and three feisty spirited young girls with mind and tongues of their own.
Act 1: Pre Lunch preparation for some random guest.
Scene 1: Girls fighting for the sole spare burner in the hot messy kitchen of this noisy raucous house.

She: I need that kadai, you always try to take things that I need. Give it back, right now.
Me: I took it first, so I get to make my dish first.
She: You are so mean, the moment I said I want to make my curry now, you jump in with this crap. So Wicked!! Me(proving her point, with a wicked grin): Yes!! Need to be.. with irritating sisters like you!!

. . . More rumbling grumbling, a tug here and a pull there and finally mother’s discordant yell settles it. She wins. I get to use the burner when she is done. And I knew very well.. she will take her own sweet time to make that horrid spicy vegetable melange, the recipe of which she refuses to part with.

I seethed and fumed. Threw a fit and a fuss. Refused to do my bit and walked out sullenly to the comforts of my room. Blocking my ears with earphones and all that unbearable noise and camaraderie of sister-mother, I impatiently wait to be called by mother. Now this was routine.

Sisters, with not many years parting them, fight like cats and dogs. And whats also routine is, the dismissed child expecting to be appeased by the decisive parent. So, I waited.

Till mother comes to assuage, let me fill you in the workings of this mad house. We are three girls, young, noisy, controlling, fighting yet extremely loyal and always in support when we have to tackle the big bad world outside. And when we entertained we always helped. Helped in tidying up the house, though it was given to the youngest one – who didn’t have a choice but listen to two ruling prevailing sisters. Helped in the kitchen… gladly choosing our signature dishes( which by the way never changed) to cook and present to our esteemed guests ๐Ÿ™‚

So mother makes what she usually makes best and that which requires massive effort and experience. I keep experimenting and trying something new every time and she, she cooks one curry, every time – for the next 5 years ๐Ÿ˜‰ Though, to be fair, that spicy masaledaar Vegetable curry had many takers and much appreciation, made me so resentful and envious that I would refuse to put a morsel of it in my mouth. Sigh! How immature you would say. Yes, I do agree. But we were teens waiting to be appreciated and admired at the drop of a hat. Well! no amount of slickness from me could get hold of the highly guarded formula either.

Complete Meal

Complete Meal

Well, several acts and scenes later, and of course not to forget, age, marriage and kids later, we behave like how sisters ought to behave ๐Ÿ™‚ Like real ladies.
Bridges shortened, holes mended and love reignited, we now switch ideas in managing work, house and kids, not to forget over-grown babies called husbands. And of course we swap recipes ๐Ÿ™‚

And for that spicy masaaledar vegetable kadai, which I so vehemently dismissed as Horrid!! In truth, every bite was relished albeit far from the sisters prying eyes. So when I made it a point to feature on my blog and asked for the recipe, It was no surprise that a wonderful detailed mail waited for me, along with exhortative suggestions to do some mean photography with her prized signature dish!

Restaurant style gravy

Restaurant style gravy

Kadai Vegetable is a fiery mix of of vegetables simmered in a thick delicious gravy. Ideally the entire dish is made in an hard iron thick bottomed kadai or a wok, hence the typical name.

Easy alternative to paneer

Easy alternative to paneer

The recipe:

Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups diced vegetables ( par boiled) – I used carrot, beans, potatoes, cauliflower and peas
    • 1 capsicum, diced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 1 tbsp oil
    • 1 chopped tomato
    • 1/4 cup diced paneer – optional
    • 2-3 tbsp of cream – if need arises
    • ginger julienne and coriander leaves to garnish
    • Dry masala : 1-11/2 tsp red chilli powder 1 tsp coriander or dhania powder 1/2 tsp cumin or jeera powder 1/2 tsp garam masala 1/4 tsp turmeric or haldi powder 1/4 tsp pepper powder 1/2 tsp saunf or fennel seeds 2 tsp of khus khus or poppy seeds 6-7 cashewnuts
    • Wet masala: 1 handful of coriander leaves 1 tsp ginger garlic paste 3 tbsp curds 2 tbsp of cream 1/4 tsp sugar
Thats pretty much all you need.

Thats pretty much all you need.

Method

      In a wok or kadai, dry roast all the dry ingredients for a couple of minutes till they become fragrant. Remove and keep aside to cool. Grind the wet ingredients and keep aside. Once the dry ingredients are cooled, grind to a fine powder. In the kadai, heat a tbsp of oil, and shallow fry onions and capsicum. Remove and keep aside. In the same wok, throw in the dry masala and roast for less than a minute. Add wet ingredients and sautรฉ till oil leaves sides. Add chopped tomato and sautรฉ for a couple of minutes. Finally add cooked vegetables, onion, capsicum and paneer. Give it a nice boil. Flavour with salt. If the gravy is thick or spicy, add milk or cream accordingly. Garnish with coriander leaves chopped and thinly sliced ginger. Serve with hot chappathis, rotis, naan, rice or bread.
Julienne ginger and green chili garnish - typically North Indian

Julienne ginger and green chili garnish – typically North Indian

Note:
You can add any vegetable of your choice, although gourds don’t really taste in this kind of gravy.

Note:
A bit of paneer or cottage cheese makes this dish richer.

Note:
Alter the spices according to your level of heat

Note:
We always had a bowl of yoghurt with this kind of lunch, it helps beat the heat!!

Ideal For Sunday Fiestas

Ideal For Sunday Fiestas

I soon realise the recipe is pretty simple and not at all time consuming. So when I wondered aloud to her as to why would she ever take so long in prepping this simple dish, her smug replies leave me wanting to bite her head off!!! Sisters I tell you.. wicked bunch they are!

Taking sister’s signature dish to lovely Angie’s weekly visual potluck – Friday Feista, #63. Peek in to see some great delicacies. ย Hope they like it!

Aloo Methi

Simple rustic Aloo methi served with rice and salad

Simple rustic Aloo methi served with rice and salad

There are some memories which never fade and some which just evanesce into oblivion. But smell can be a powerful memory trigger. Smell so rustic and comforting that deep buried images stand bare and bigger, usually leaving you distraught. You will be tormented and distressed till you put all those cognizant images back to where they belong.

Now before you speculate extraneous theories, let me clarify. The smell that invoked such strong visuals of my past, was nothing more than potatoes and fenugreek being sautรฉed on a particularly hot humid day. It wafted from somewhere above. Where, who, when and how … I did bother, but soon all that dissipated when flashbacks of the mother’s kitchen loomed up at me. Someone was making food just like my mothers – this thought was eerily comforting.
I mean, how weird, I tell myself. Whats there to get excited to smell food like what your mother cooked for you. But I was.

Fenugreek has medicinal properties.

Fenugreek has medicinal properties.

Aloo methi. Something so traditional and homey and simple….now why am I making a post for this? I am making this for all those young people out there who suddenly-mindlessly crave for food that they have grown up with. That cozy feeling – that you get out of familiarity.
And for documentation purposes too ๐Ÿ˜‰
15 years down the line, I doubt if the daughter will ever call and ask for a recipe. She most probably will scan her favourite sites and lastly come to her mums where she will read this and nod and say yes, I miss my mother’s cooking too. And now I’m just being too hopeful! Am I not??! Never mind.

What all you need -

What all you need –

Just potatoes and fresh fenugreek leaves sautรฉed in some powerful mustard oil, with a bit of all Indian spices, and look how I am dancing with my words! Well, the above picture shows you all that you need to make this wonderful side to your everyday bread or rice.

That essential piece of lime!

That essential piece of lime!

There are plenty of variations for this vegetable side or sabzi as we call it. Mother used mustard oil, and no onions or garlic or any other paraphernalia for this dish. She kept it simple and it worked fabulously. A drizzle of lime and some fresh salad is all that you need to make your day.

Made my day :)

Made my day ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients

  • 2 cups par boiled potatoes, diced into medium sized chunks
  • 2 cups of fenugreek leaves, picked, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 1 big whole red chilli
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil or any other oil would also do.
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chill powder or as desired
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and mustard seeds mixed
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder – I don’t skip this!
  • salt to taste.
  • Lime wedges to serve with

Method

In a large skillet or pan, drop a tsp of oil. Gently roast the potatoes till it gets a golden coating all over it. Regular tossing and turning help. Once done, remove from the pan and keep aside.

In the same skillet, heat rest of the oil. Crackle cumin and mustard seeds. Add asafoetida and whole dried red chili. Fry chopped fenugreek leaves and green chilies till they wilt. Now add potatoes, along with all the masalas and salt. Saute for another minute or so.

Serve with chappathis or rice or any bread.

No onion, no garlic. So easy peasy!

No onion, no garlic. So easy peasy!

Note: if desired, 2 tsp chopped garlic can be added before adding the fenugreek leaves.

you will not regret making this :)

you will not regret making this ๐Ÿ™‚

Like someone rightly said We live on the leash of our senses. Taking this wonderful aromatic side to pair with Angie’s gorgeous phulkas, for her 41st Friday Fiesta. come take a look, she make these chappathis and every single one puffs up! P
Happy Cooking dear foodies!

Methi Muthiya / Steamed Fenugreek Bottle Gourd Dumplings

Steamed fenugreek bottle gourd dumplings

Steamed fenugreek bottle gourd dumplings

I was a disaster. A recidivous disaster in their kitchen. Not that I have redeemed myself or anything but of course I am not that clueless anymore. 10 years back, newly married, coming from a disparate environment and having no clue what they eat or how they eat has its effects – For my part I did well in my own pond. My parents gratified with me exorbitant cheer and praises, in effect rendering me totally naive to any critique or opinions. But the women of the house I married into, did what they had to do. They taught me. Well. I can never equal their expertise or their flair, but here I am, attempting to recreate the mother in law’s signature dish with a bit of both, confidence and apprehension.

finger food

finger food

Muthiya literally means a fist. When grated minced vegetables are mixed with smashed rice and flour, you fist them, make little logs to be steamed and then tempered. That’s muthiya. They are delicious, healthy and a wonderful party appetiser. In his house, they make it for dinner with spiced buttermilk curry or kadhi as they call it.

Truthfully, I sucked at making this. I just didn’t get it! you make a dough, steam and then cool and then temper.. for what? A little snack. Nah! too much work. And I am lazy – remember. So when we lived on our own, I dodged this snack as much as possible. And the few times that I did pursue, I failed so miserably that I vowed never to make them again.

Methi leaves

Methi leaves

Well, bottle gourd and fenugreek leaves are not exactly my child’s favourite. So when I get to incorporate these two in one and make something appealing out of it, I decided to attempt this formidable dish, one more time. Thankfully I saved it. Relieved that I would make it yet again with a not so surly outlook and a dour mind.

What I love about this snack is the tempering or seasoning! Vaghaar or tadka or chonk as it is called in India, the finale dish is brought about by heating oil, spluttering mustard, a bit of sesame and fenugreek seeds, along with the very aromatic curry leaf and some asafoetida! Slices of the steamed dumplings are then thrown into the hot oil-mustrad-sesame mix. It is so nutty and fresh and earthy. You need to have a slice or two to know what I mean. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yea, so the ingredients for this one might not be in your spice box or pantry if you are not an Indian. But things like asafoetida and sesame and fenugreek make this dish what it is. So please go ahead and get it, make sure you have it when you try this one out.

Sesame and fenugreek seeds

Sesame and fenugreek seeds

As I proof read my write up, I realise the incessant rambling about how long and tedious it is to make this, might have dismayed you to ever attempt it. But I was digressing from the truth. The whole truth being that it is a super cool snack and all that you need is a bit of planning to complete any task. I make this for her lunch box at 6 in the morning – yea of course, with a bit of an outline.

all ready to be sliced and tempered

all ready to be sliced and tempered

The Recipe –

Ingredients

For the dumplings

  • 1 cup over boiled rice, mash it coarsely.
  • 1 cup fenugreek leaves, washed and minced
  • 1 cup grated bottle gourd
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, washed and minced
  • 1 cup or more whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp ajwain seeds or bishops seeds
  • 1 tsp green chili, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3-4 tsp red chill powder, or as you require
  • 2 tbsp curd or as required
  • 2 tsp oil and salt to taste
  • For the Seasoning: 2 tsp oil, 1 tsp asafoetida or hing, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1 tsp sesame seeds, 5-6 curry leaves, 1 whole red chili, 1 tbsp coriander leaves to garnish.

    Method

    Make a dough of all the ingredients listed for dumplings using curd instead of water to bring it all together. If you add too much flour the result will be hard difficult to swallow kinda muthiyas. And if the flour is too less, you will have great difficulty in bringing it all together. So add the flour little by little, to make sure the muthiyas turn out soft yet firm to hold a shape.
    Once done. Keep a wide wok on fire, fill it partially with water, place a ring or some holder in it.
    On a greased plate, grab fistfuls of the dough and shape them into small sized logs. Place them carefully on the plate. Do that with all of the dough. Once the plate is full, keep the plate inside the wok. Cover and steam for at least 30 minutes. Keep checking at regular intervals for water at the bottom.

    Right after steaming

    Right after steaming

    After 30 minutes, remove the plate full of dumplings. Cool the plate. Once cooled, slice the logs into bite size rounds. Taste one to see if the spices and salt are in check.

    Get ready with your seasoning. In a wide wok, heat oil. Splutter fenugreek seeds and sesame seeds till just right about crisp. Take care not to burn them. Throw in mustard seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, whole red chilli and sautรฉ for a minute or two. If the dumplings lack in salt or chilies, then sprinkle the necessary spice over the steamed dumplings before adding them to the tempering.

    Now add the sliced dumplings. Toss and serve with coriander leaves garnish.

    Sesame seeds, whole red chill and mustard tempering

    Sesame seeds, whole red chill and mustard tempering

    Note: you can prepare them ahead of time and take it along with you for a party or a get together. They require no re heating. They taste good even when cold.

    Note: Green chutney or ketchup or kadhi/spiced buttermilk can be served along with it.

    Note: For a detailed step by step recipe, click here.

    A great way to eat vegetables

    A great way to eat vegetables

    Taking this to lovely Angie’s Fiesta Friday #33. Once there, drool over these incredible rainbow pizzas that she dished up to satiate her little girl’s whim ๐Ÿ™‚ They look SO gorgeous! And a whole list of beautiful food awaits. You just have to look.

    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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    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 husbandโ€™s list of favorites, itโ€™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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    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.

    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 ๐Ÿ™‚
    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, sautรฉ the chopped veggies in a different wok using very little fat or oil. Stir the sautรฉed 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yumm.

    Yumm.

    Amritsari Channe

    Amritsari Channe

    Amritsari Channe

    I am fretting and fussin over a name. An apt name for this wonderfully aromatic royal north Indian beans usually eaten with puffed deep fried pooris or bhaturas. They are made in a host of different ways hence we have names for every kind.

    What I have here is a dark semi thick gravied version, usually made in Punjab, a northern state in India. Lot of spices are used, some whole, some ground. The end result is spicy, earthy and extremely flavorful. Love for these beans is eternal in my house. They sit happily waiting for their meal to arrive! Bliss, when you have happy faces to feed.

    Over the years I’ve had little problem with Chickpeas. They usually turn out well. Having changed recipes several times, and now finally zeroed in on a cross between a couple of formulas, my tryst with these beans is here to stay.

    With bread and salad

    With bread and salad

    My grouse lately is what to accompany this curry with. Traditional pooris and other deep fried stuff is out of our menu. Husband is happy with plain old chappathis. But I find it almost belittling to serve this curry with phulkas… just doesn’t seem right. Bread or ready made whole wheat kulchas are a better option. They somehow justify this royal dish ๐Ÿ™‚

    With rice, papad and salad

    With rice, papad and salad

    For me, I almost always make some rice. Chole chawal is a regular in many north Indian homes. Roast a papad, cut up some salad, drizzle salt and lime juice – and you have a very tempting plate in your hands!

    Works like magic

    Works like magic

    Chickpeas are usually white to light brown in color, and post boiling they turn a pale yellow. So, to deepen/darken the gravy, we have a very rustic old way to do so. A spoon full of tea leaves bundled in muslin cloth is dropped into the pot of boiling chickpeas. This darkens the beans and imparts an earthy flavor to the gravy. Mother also added whole spices into the bundle sometimes. Made it easier for her to remove the spices after their work was done, she says.

    Ideal for anytime

    Ideal for anytime

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients

    • 1 and half cups kabuli channa or dried big chickpeas, soaked overnight.
    • 2-3 tbsp channa dal, soaked along with the chickpeas
    • 2 tsp ghee or oil
    • 2 whole cardamoms,
    • 1 bay leaf, 2/3 cloves, a small stick cinnamon
    • 3 garlic pods
    • a tiny piece of ginger
    • 1 big onion, chopped
    • 1/2 cup leaves of mint and coriander leaves
    • 2 medium sized tomatoes, ground
    • 1 tsp anardana or dried pomegranate seeds
    • 3 tsp chole masala, store brought or home made
    • 1 tsp coriander powder
    • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
    • salt to taste
    • 1 tsp tea leaves tied in a muslin cloth
    • Garnish: Julienned ginger, onions, tomatoes, french fries and coriander leaves – optional.

    Method

    Boil chickpeas and channa dal along with the bag of tea leaves, crushed garlic and salt. Keep aside.
    Grind chopped onions, ginger and leaves of mint and coriander to a fine smooth paste.

    In a big wok, heat ghee or oil. Throw the whole spices – bay leaf, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Saute for a minute. Add and fry the onion-coriander mint paste till the oil leaves sides. To this add ground tomatoes along with anardana, chole masala, coriander powder and red chili powder. Mix well and fry the paste very well till the fat separates. Now mix in the boiled chickpeas. Give it a final mix and boil. Garnish.

    Serve with pooris/bhature/bread/kulchas/rice.

    For the calorie conscious!

    For the calorie conscious!

    Note: You can add the whole spices while boiling the chickpeas.

    Note: Oil or any butter can be used, but I prefer ghee. It adds to the aroma and richness of the dish.

    I love my rice!

    I love my rice!

    Comin back to the name. Ah a name! Since the method leans more towards the ambarsariya kinds, mother advised me to call it Amritsari Channe. And so I do as I am told. Its mothers day after all. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Punjabi tadka

    Punjabi tadka

    Mixed Sprouts Curry

    Mixed Sprouts Sabzi/Vegetable

    Mixed Sprouts Sabzi/Vegetable

    We joined the race. Long back though. But in order to revive the spirit of the so-called rat race I plunged again into a foray of ‘healthy food’. So I make greens one day, sprouts the next. Give porridge for dinner to sulky faces and sell squash soup as ‘the tastiest’ thing on earth. Yes, God gave them all a good mind of their own. Who am I trying to fool? sigh! I think I am just convincing myself that if I cook healthy, my family would be far from disease, pain and suffering. Ah, well.

    So in those times when I go manic with my cooking, the family sorts out the yummy from the yucky. Some of the healthier stuff actually does taste good (please ask Elaine of foodbod.. she eats healthy ALL the time! I envy you Elaine ๐Ÿ™‚ ), like this sprouts curry I made the other day.

    Sprouted and ready

    Sprouted and ready

    I mostly always mix all my beans/lentils to sprout. Its never only mung beans or only dew beans. A handful of mung, some dew beans(mat/moth), throw in some small black chick pea, a bit of dried white peas or anything you like! Soak overnight. Drain the water. Tie them all in a muslin cloth, sprinkle water over the tied cloth basket. Keep it for a day or two and let them germinate!

    Mixed Sprouts

    Mixed Sprouts

    You can have them raw or cooked. I go the mid way usually. Cooking them a little bit till the raw smell and taste disappears but retaining the crunch. If you want to know more about sprouts, read here.

    With Chappathis, pickle and salad

    With Chappathis, pickle and salad

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup mixed sprouts
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
    • a piece of ginger, minced
    • 1/2 tsp chopped green chilies – optional
    • 1 tomato, chopped
    • 1 tsp oil
    • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/2 tsp red chili powder or as desired
    • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
    • juice of 1/2 a lime, salt to taste
    • coriander leaves to garnish

    Method

    In a wok/kadai, heat oil. Splutter cumin seeds. Throw in the garlic, onions, ginger and green chilies. Saute till the onions turn translucent. Now add the tomatoes along with all the said spices. cover and cook till the oil starts to leave the sides of the wok. This may take about 10 minutes or so. Now add the sprouted lentils. sprinkle 2-3 tsp of water. Cover and cook till the sprouts are half done. I like mine not very mushy, so I add the sprouts in the end, but you could add it earlier in case you like them fully cooked.

    Switch the flame off. Sprinkle lime juice and garnish with coriander leaves.
    Serve as a salad or with chappathis or with any pulao or simple plain hot steaming rice.

    Simple Nutritious lunch

    Simple Nutritious lunch

    Now for a note of caution:
    Germinated raw food does not usually suit everyone. People suffering from gastric problems can get very uncomfortable after a small bowl of sprouts. Cooking the beans is easier to digest.

    I suffer from migraine, and whenever I eat sprouts for dinner or raw, I end up with a splitting headache. Whereas, cooking the grains, having them during the day and combining them with garlic and ginger helps me get the best of everything that they have to offer ๐Ÿ™‚

    Try a bite

    Try a bite

    This curry passed the acid test with my family’s taste buds. You try it too and if they don’t like it… well, I have some other recipes up my sleeve to include these wonder beans in your daily diet. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Tawa Sabzi / Pan Roasted Stuffed Vegetables

    The options were innumerable. Endless counters of almost every cuisine dotted the lush green lawn under a starry clear chilly night. A big fat Indian wedding settles for no less. Star restaurants and myriad masterchefs cater and treat you like royalty, kids usually go berserk in places like these.
    Their dilemma ranges from picking a variety of chocolate fountains to fresh hot clay oven pizza to live pasta counters to dozens of steaming hot dimsums….

    So when she pointed to a certain stall, I was surprised. I asked again if that was what she wanted. A humongous, thick red hot iron griddle hosted a variety of luscious mean looking vegetables on it. The man behind the griddle kept an active hand in tossing turning and serving the spice coated stuffed veggies. Okras, baby brinjals, potatoes, jalapeno, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli.. some stuffed, some marinated, all grilled on a flat thick red hot iron griddle! We love this spicy Indian side, eaten with soft hot phulkas or Indian bread. But for a 7 year old to ask for it? Perplexing!

    Griddle Roasted Stuffed Vegetables / Tawa Sabzi

    Griddle Roasted Stuffed Vegetables / Tawa Sabzi

    Apparently she had eaten it sometime earlier in some other ceremony, with my mother. You know how grandmoms are…. they give all the food that we eat to kids to taste, whereas girls nowadays(this includes me!) are weary of trying anything new. We want them to eat healthy and nutritious all the time. Or we worry that a particular food might be too oily or too spicy. But my mom encourages her grandkids to try everything. Let them decide, she says.

    The Vegetables

    The Vegetables

    Her newfound love forced me to try this vegetable dish at home. And oh! I pass with flying colors ๐Ÿ™‚ I pick some of her favorites, like okra, mini brinjals, potatoes and mushrooms. Fresh, tender and preferably small ones work best for this recipe.
    sautรฉed garlic, onion and tomatoes makes a yummy stuffing. There is another one too.. where the dry masala and spices are roasted, powdered and then filled. But for this post I stuck to the onion tomato mix.

    Combine the two....

    Combine the two….

    I got a huge batch of baby brinjals. The tinier the better.

    Little beauties :)

    Little beauties ๐Ÿ™‚

    She reserves a bunch of them just for herself, insisting, to be given in her lunch box the next day.

    The cooked version

    The cooked version

    The recipe:

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups of your choice vegetables, like baby brinjals, mushrooms, bell peppers, baby potatoes, okra, jalapenos
    • 2+ tsp oil

    For the stuffing:

    • 1 tsp oil
    • 1.5 minced onions
    • 6-7 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 2-3 green chilies, minced
    • 2 big red tomatoes, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric pwd, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp red chili powder, 1 tsp garam masala
    • salt to taste
    • juice of 1/2 a lime
    • 4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves – yes! the more the better. Adds amazing flavor.

    Method

    For the stuffing –
    Heat oil in a wok, once hot, crackle cumin. Throw in onions, garlic and green chilies. Saute till onions turn brown. Add tomatoes at this stage, along with all the dry masalas. Cover and cook very well till all the oil leaves the sides. It should not be of gravy consistency but that of a semi dry thick masala.
    Season with salt, lime juice and coriander leaves. Mix well. Keep aside.

    Stuffing, drizzled with lime

    Stuffing, drizzled with lime

    For the stuffed tawa sabzis –
    Wash all the vegetables and wipe them with a towel to remove any excess water.
    Using a sharp knife, make slits on brinjals, okra, jalapenos and potatoes. Make sure the slits do not reach the end of the vegetable. Just deep enough to fill the yummy masala.

    Once the slits are made, using a small spoon, stuff the pre made, cool masala into it. Heat a flat-iron griddle, spread a tsp of oil. Place stuffed vegetables(only as many as can go on the tawa, don’t over-crowd) neatly on the hot griddle. Now, focus completely, keep tossin and turning the veggies till they are cooked.

    Remove from griddle and serve hot with Indian rotis or flatbreads or rice or even on bread!

    On the famous Tawa

    On the famous Tawa

    Note: Do not over crowd the griddle. If you have many veggies to be sauteed, then do so in batches.

    Note: Do not slit mushrooms. Remove the mushroom stalk, scoop out a bit more, then stuff your masala. If you go to slit the mushrooms, they will all fall apart.

    Roasted fresh veggies, hot chappathis, a bowl of curd and some salad by the side, a complete meal.

    Oh so yummy!

    Oh so yummy!

    The following pic is styled and photographed by my spunky 7 year old. She insists on laying them on one side… make them sleep, she goads. Carefully she loops the heavy camera around her neck and under my vigilant eye, she clicks.
    ‘Put it up’ she orders. I comply. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Binge on Brinjals

    Binge on Brinjals

    Bajra Blitz / Traditional delicacies with Pearl Millet

    Remember the grimaces and frowns over health food that mother served us when we were small.. silently resolving all the time, that we will never make dull rustic food like this ever in our lives, and the irony of it is, we do!

    We make it. Coz we are older, umm… wiser and usually because our ‘been there done that’ taste buds have come back home ๐Ÿ™‚ We somehow find warmth, joy and taste in that bowl of porridge. I never thought I would. But now I eat my own words, savor the austere roti and lick that delicious hot bowl of goodness too.

    Pearl Millet - broken

    Pearl Millet – broken

    Bajra or pearl millet is one of the oldest and most popular kind of millet. It is a gluten free grain with phenomenal nutritional benefits. Eating bajra provides us with disease fighting phytochemicals that lower cholesterol, antioxidants, plenty of fibre, folate, magnesium, copper, zinc, vitamins-E and B-complex, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. It is particularly noted for its high iron content.
    Being rich in fiber, it maintains your glucose levels hence excellent for diabetics.

    The clincher for me
    This whole grain supports weight loss as the high fiber content leads to a feeling of fullness for a prolonged period of time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I have two very traditional North Indian delicacies made from pearl millet. A humble bowl of porridge ideal for breakfast or brunches and the very bucolic slightly thick nutty rotis made with its flour.

    Khichri / Kheech / Thuli / Dalia

    Khichri / Kheech / Thuli / Dalia

    Bajra Roti / Flatbread

    Bajra Roti / Flatbread

    I have used the broken version of pearl millet, easily available in Indian stores. Bajra is typical winter food, generally/mostly extensively consumed when the weather is cold. According to Ayurveda, bajra when eaten with jaggery and ghee becomes more enriched with calcium and iron. Wow, isn’t it.

    A closer view

    A closer view

    PEARL MILLET KHICHRI/DALIA/PORRIDGE

    Ghaat, khichri, thuli, dalia, kheech are the various names for porridge in India. Multiple communities, multiple names! ๐Ÿ™‚ But the aroma, one. The taste, one. Method? a tad different here and there… but the soul, the essence is the same.

    Bajre ka dalia

    Bajre ka dalia

    To make 4 bowls of porridge –

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup of broken pearl millet
    • 1 tbsp ghee or butter
    • 1/2 cup of split green mung dal, with skin Chilke wali mung dal
    • salt to taste
    • 5-6 cups of water

    Method

    Wash and soak the split green mung dal for at least 30 minutes.

    chilke wali mung dal or green split mung dal with skin

    chilke wali mung dal or green split mung dal with skin

    In a deep heavy pot or pressure cooker, heat the ghee, dry roast broken pearl millet for 3-4 minutes. Then throw in the dal without the water. Roast the dal and bajra for another 2 minutes. To this, add 5-6 cups of boiling water. Season with salt. Keep mixing, else you will find knots and lumps in the final product. Keep stirring till you get a homogenous mix. Now at this stage pressure cook the contents for 7-8 whistles. Once done, cool. Remove. Give a good final stir.

    Enjoy the porridge with ghee or curds or milk or kadhi.

    Best with pure desi ghee

    Best with pure desi ghee

    My fav combination - with milk!

    My fav combination – with milk!

    BAJRE KI ROTI

    To make this wonderful rustic flatbread you need pearl millet flour. Although absolutely simple to make, these rotis are delicious! I love to eat them with fresh white butter and jaggery!

    Gud and makkhan take this humble roti to another level!

    Gud and makkhan take this humble roti to another level!

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup pearl millet flour
    • hot water to make the dough
    • salt, optional

    Method

    Using hot water, bind the dough to a soft texture. Knead well for 2-3 minutes. As is the case with all millet rotis, you need not wait to make the flatbread. The dough should be used immediately to make the rotis. Grabbing a handful of the dough, roll out into a thin roti. Generously dust the rotis with dry bajra flour or wheat flour to make the rolling easier. Cook the rotis on a hot tava (griddle) till both sides are light brown in colour.
    Brush one side of the roti with melted ghee and serve hot.

    These delicious rotis can be served with any curry, some onions and green chilies. A simple wholesome meal for thousands of people in India.

    Simple, tasty and highly nutritious meal

    Simple, tasty and highly nutritious meal

    I find my 6-year-old cringing or making faces when porridge is served and I do not fret. Having been in her shoes, lived the part of a fussy persnickety child… I simply cajole her, sometimes bribe, sometimes bargain and just sometimes let it go. As I know she will come back.  In Sometime.

    Rajasthani Gourmet Delight – Dal Baati, my Skinny Version!

    Rajasthani Special - Daal Baati,  Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

    Rajasthani Special – Daal Baati, Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

    Rajasthan literally means “Land of kings”. The largest state of India, boasts of the great Indian desert in the midst of it. Culturally rich, folk music, dance and of course food holds a special place in the heart of every Rajasthani.

    Rajasthani cooking was influenced by both the war-like lifestyles of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this arid region. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred. Scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking. But now with technology nothing is scarce any more and you get everything everywhere at any time. So although you will find excessive use of lentils and pulses in their food, fresh vegetables has found its way into their thalis too.

    Now Rajasthan’s signature dish is Dal Baati.
    Baati is a hard, unleavened bread prized for its long shelf life and high nutritional content and for the minimal quantity of water required for its preparation. Baati is usually mostly eaten with dal/lentil stew. Traditionally, this dish is served with loads and loads of ghee/clarified buttter. But now since no one is happy eating that much ghee, we literally make it sans the fat.

    Basket of Baked bites

    Basket of Baked bites

    Where I have been brought up on Dal makhani, tandoori roti, Chole Bhature, Rajma chawal, the husband was served Dal Baati. I had never tasted it before my marriage, and truthfully, I didn’t care for it much after that too. But after 10 years of togetherness, we start to like each other’s favorite food. Thats what marriage does to you. Now he doesn’t wince when Chinese is mentioned and I volunteer to make Dal baati! Now thats huge on my part.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Baati

    Baked to perfection

    Baked to perfection

    There are many ways to make the baati. The easiest is to deep fry the shaped dough in ghee till they turn golden brown and crisp. But that is also a sure shot way of clogging all your arteries and sending you to God a wee bit faster than desired.
    So, we have all taken to baking them. Lot of people bake with out a traditional oven, by slow roasting on the gas using a metal sieve or a gas tandoor till the baatis have browned.

    I use my regular oven and what I have learnt after many years of making horrendous mistakes is to make them small, literally bite size, so that they bake quickly and uniformly . Although shaping of the dough is actually a big pain in itself.

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups whole wheat flour/atta
    • 1/4 cup semolina/rava/sooji
    • salt to taste
    • 3-4 tbsp oil or ghee or cream/malai
    • Luke warm water to bind

    Method

    To the flour, add semolina, salt and the softener(ghee or oil or cream). Rub well with your palms. Now add warm water and bind into a semi hard dough. This will take some time, as you want your dough to be a bit stiff. Knead well. Keep aside covered for 30 minutes.

    The smaller the better

    The smaller the better

    Now to make the rounds, pinch small portions out of the dough and shape into a ball, making sure that no creases or cracks are on the surface. To achieve this, you have to keep massaging the small round between your palms and shaping-reshaping them into perfect smooth round balls. Mind you this requires some time and patience, so my advice would be grab that bowl of dough, switch on the fan and put on some music, SIT and then start to make the rounds. Just makes it a little pleasant, that’s all.

    Preheat your oven. Once the rounds are made, using a sharp knife, make light incisions making sure they do not go all the way to the base. This is done to ensure they are baked evenly and the insides do not remain raw. Place the rounds on a greased tray and bake for at least 30 minutes at 170C, till they brown and are cooked evenly. You can keep turning and checking on them while they are baking.

    Once done, remove and keep them covered.

    Serving Suggestion: While serving, coarsely crush the baati between a clean kitchen napkin using your palms. Ideally the crushed bits are topped with spoonfuls of ghee and served with dal and other sides.

    Soak these beauties in a big bowl of daal

    Soak these beauties in a big bowl of daal

    Panchmeli Daal

    This lentil stew is absolutely divine. Made with a mixture of 5 different lentils, tempered with garlic and onions, this makes for a perfect accompaniment for the royal baatis!

    Panch meli Daal

    Panch meli Daal

    I usually eyeball the quantity of the daals/lentils and this dal is best made in ghee.

    Ingredients

    • 2 fistfuls green split mung dal, chilke wali mung dal
    • 1 fistful yellow mung dal
    • 1 fistful toor/arhar dal
    • 1/2 a fistful urad dal
    • 1/2 a fisful channa dal
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 3 green chilies, slit lengthwise
    • 1 piece of ginger, julienned
    • 1 medium onion, minced
    • 1 big tomato, minced
    • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/2 tsp garam masala
    • red chili powder – according to taste
    • salt
    • Ghee or butter – 2 tbsp
    • To garnish: 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

    Method

    Mix all the lentils, wash and soak for at least 30 minutes.
    In a pressure cooker or a pan, boil all the lentils along with turmeric powder, bay leaf, salt, julienned ginger and 2 crushed cloves of garlic.

    Garlic and bay leaf lend a tantalizing aroma to the lentil mix. Once done, keep aside.

    In a deep pot, heat ghee, crackle the cumin, fry minced garlic, slit green chilies and onions till they turn pink. Now add tomatoes, along with red chili powder. Cook till the fat leaves the sides and the tomato is fully mashed. This will take about 5-6 minutes. Now add the boiled dal. Mix well. Boil for a couple of more minutes till the consistency is one. Lastly, switch the flame off, stir in garam masala and chopped coriander leaves.

    Serving Suggestions: You can make an added tempering of ghee, one dried whole red chili, some cumin seeds and 1/2 tsp red chili powder. Pour it over the dal, serve hot.

    Spring Onion Saute

    Spring Onion Saute

    Spring Onion Saute

    This has to be one of the easiest and tastiest saute ever.
    In a wok, heat little oil, crackle cumin, fry slit green chilies, throw in the chopped spring onions, along with salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, red chili powder and 1/2 tsp coriander powder. Saute on high till the onions are rightly cooked, that is, not too mushy and still retaining a bite. That’s it. Serve.

    Garlic Red chili Mint Chutney

    Garlic Red Chili and mint Chutney

    Garlic Red Chili and mint Chutney

    Now this is one killer chutney! Best when made in a mortar pestle or over a stone. But a mixer would work fine as well.
    Take: 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves , 1/4 cup mint leaves, 6/7 soaked dried kashmiri red chilies, 1 huge clove of garlic and some salt. Grind into a coarse paste. Mix in juice of 1/2 a lime. Serve.

    Sunday Brunch

    Sunday Brunch

    This recipe is my entry to Vardhini’s Bake Fest #25.