Tandoori Masala

Tandoori Masala

Tandoori Masala

I never thought I would make masalas at home someday. Never. It’s for mom’s, grandmom’s and MDH/Everest, not for me. Or so I thought. Until now. Until I started taking my food seriously, until I observed health scares, food adulteration and until I started blogging.

Blogging has opened such new avenues, roads and direction, that attempting something new or bizarre is on my TO-Do list most of the time. It’s wonderful. It’s wonderful that I at least ‘think’ of making bread at home(till a year back I would have said ‘are u mad?!’ )
And now, I want to make granola, pies, tart cases, breads, dried nuggets, masalas at home! Yay! 🙂

Moral: Never say ‘Never’.

Whole Spices

Whole Spices

The beauty of making things from scratch is that it is actually not that difficult as they seem to be. Especially these spice powders/masalas. With the right ingredients at hand, all you need is the zest to do stuff.

The other day I set out to make paneer tikka. Opening up my precious saved recipes, I glance through the ingredient list and am bummed by the presence of Tandoori Masala.

Now a little word on my culinary needs and uses for these spice powders. Usually, mostly I refrain from using these mixes. Especially the market variety where they use preservatives and colors. The only powders I use are for Channa and Sambhar – both of which are sent by dear mothers( God bless them!). And sometimes, when mother attempts something new, she sends me a little of that too. Sweet.
But, now with no tandoori masala at hand, I set to make some of my own.

Fresh, fragrant and fantastic

Fresh, fragrant and fantastic

Stunned by the simplicity of the procedure, I was even more ecstatic with the fragrance it emanates once mixed with food.

I am fascinated by colors, beauty and aroma of what nature has to offer, like this gorgeous Star Aniseed. Its fragrant, flavorful and fabulous. Just one or two of this beautiful spice is enough to take anything to another realm.

Star of the masala

Star of the masala

Recipe:
tbsp: tablespoon
tsp: teaspoon

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1-2 star aniseed
  • 3/4 tbsp cloves
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 tbsp red chili powder(I use kashmiri powder – very red but not very spicy)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2-3 tsp salt

Method

Heat a wok, dry roast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, star aniseed, cloves and cinnamon. After 7-8 minutes, switch the flame off. Cool the mix. Grind along with red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt. Store in air tight container.

I live in Mumbai, where its hot and humid most of the time, so I refrigerate the spice mixes in order to retain color and flavor. So, please do as you deem fit.

For best results, use this powder as a garnish or stir it in the last minute and avoid cooking it.

Dry Roasted and Finely ground

Dry Roasted and Finely ground

Uses of Tandoori Masala:

1. In the marinade for Paneer Tikka.
2. On Punjabi tandoori Pizzas
3. Stir/Garnish it in soups/dals.
4. Best in punjabi dishes, like Dal Makhani, Paneer makhani etc.
5. Non vegetarians can use it with their chicken.
6. Sprinkle on pakoras/bhajjiyas
7. Sprinkle on paneer or vegetables in kathi rolls.

I have tried this aromatic mix on pizzas, dal makhni and paneer tikka wrap. Needless to say the result were outstanding.

Great for pizzas, tikkas, curries and biryanis

Great for pizzas, tikkas, curries and biryanis

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Spinach Indian Flatbread or Palak Parathas with Potato Saute

You don’t really appreciate something unless it makes its presence felt in a loud clamoring manner.

Color was never that important to me until my daughter was born. Fascinated by pink, attracted to red, intrigued by green.. colors are a very essential component of my little girl’s life.

I was amazed how intrinsically she attributes her varied emotions to colors. Red is when she is in foul mood, yellow when feeling good, orange is funny and pink when happiest. Black and white are boring for the 6 year old, so they are never mentioned. There is no particular reasoning for her specifics… they just are.

Palak ke parathe and sukhe alu ki sabzi

Palak ke parathe and sukhe alu ki sabzi

So along with crayons, dresses, shoes, furniture and other paraphernalia, we make sure the food is well colored too. Well, not one to use synthetic colors in our daily diet, we mothers usually satiate the child’s fancy in alternative ways. Nature is abundant, giving and generous.

Green is in

Green is in

The color of the day was green so spinach it was! I made beetroot pink parathas some time back and the recipe was surely a winner. Similar but not same, these spinach or palak(in Hindi) parathas are soft, nutritious and yes Green 🙂

Soft Perfect Rolls

Soft Perfect Rolls

Team it up with a simple potato saute and you are so good to go. A dry potato saute used to be a big hit in my mom’s house. It still is. Mother makes it with just some simple spices, boiled potatoes and lime juice! I could never replicate it.

How good does that look?

How good does that look?

Spinach Parathas:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or atta
  • 1 bunch of spinach, washed and blanched
  • 2-3 green chilies – optional
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ajwain or carrom seeds
  • less than 1/4 tsp sugar – I mean very little
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic – optional
  • curds or yoghurt – if required
  • ghee/oil/butter for roasting the flatbread or parathas

Method

Blanch spinach. Grind it using no water with green chilies, garlic, salt and sugar. The paste should be smooth and fine. Not coarse.

Take the flour in a big mixing bowl, make a well in the center, add the spinach puree along with salt for the flour and carrom seeds. Knead into a soft pliable dough. Chances are you will not need water or anything else to get the flour together. The puree will be enough, but just in case you do, try using spoonfuls of yoghurt or curds. Once done, knead well. Keep aside, covered for 30 minutes.

Ready to be rolled

Ready to be rolled

Heat a flat griddle or tawa. Grab handfuls of the dough, roll them out into thin rounds. Place on hot tawa/griddle, and using very little oil/ghee/butter, roast from both sides.

Serve with potato saute or caramelized onions or any vegetable curry and a bowl of yoghurt.

A complete healthy meal

A complete healthy meal

Some important pointers –

  • Spinach is best blanched in wilting the leaves in hot water for 3-4 minutes, then immediately running them in cold water. This retains the fabulous color.
  • Sugar while grinding the blanched spinach helps in masking the slight bitterness of the green when grounded.
  • Curd/Yoghurt in your dough will yield soft melt in the mouth parathas.
  • These parathas are ideal for lunch-boxes or as take aways.
Sukhe Alu

Sukhe Alu

Potato Saute:

In a wok, heat a tbsp of oil( yes, a little more than required), splutter 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, add 1/4 tsp of asafoetida/hing, 3-4 curry leaves, 1 split green chili, a cup full of chopped boiled potatoes. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp of coriander powder, 1 tsp of red chili powder(or as required), 1/2 tsp amchur powder(dry mango powder), 1/4 tsp garam masala. Mix well. Switch flame off. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Serve with parathas or rice or even bread. Great when you are traveling or for lunch-boxes and tiffins.

Good to go

Good to go

I don’t see Milee’s color enchantment ending anywhere soon, so till then we mothers will keep inventing, experimenting, exploring and trying.

Lentil Nugget Peas Curry/ Mangodi Matar

Summers Now: Lots of Frozen Yoghurt, Lemonade, Swimming Camps, Crash Courses for kids, Playdates and Exotic Holidays.

Summers Then: Relentless play under the sun, Nimbupaani, matka kulfis from kulfiwalas, Nani house and Mom making pickles, stocking spices for the entire year and drying mangodis.

Mangodi Matar

Mangodi Matar

Mangodis/Mung Wadiyan, are nothing but sun dried mung lentil nuggets. They are usually made in the summers when ample sunshine dries them perfectly to store for an entire year.

In my house, a day was pre-decided and fixed to make these nuggets. Work started early, with soaking, grinding and then dropping them on to clean plastic sheets(spread on the terrace for maximum sun). I particularly remember the task mom gave us. To find 4 stoppers, like a brick or a stool/table or some unused broken box – to place on the corners of the plastic spread, to prevent it from flying away. Now why didn’t mom use thalis/plates? Well, at that time, they made huge batches to stock for a year catering to at least 12 or more people. Thats why, plastic sheets worked better than thalis.

Yearly stock of mangodis

Yearly stock of mangodis

It is actually very easy to make these, but I’ve never attempted it.

Simply because, my yearly supply comes from both sides – mother and mother in law. Hence never found the need really. If you ever want to attempt making these nuggets, I did find a very resourceful link here.

Usually these nuggets are mixed with some fresh vegetable like potatoes or peas or corn. You can make them plain too, but combine it with a veggie and you are in for a treat.

Simple Curry, takes less than 10 minutes to make this.

Simple Curry, takes less than 10 minutes to make this.

I made a simple no onion, no garlic mangodi-matar. It’s so quick, that I put that wok on fire just 10 minutes before we sat for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mangodi
  • 1 cup fresh peas, you can use frozen too.
  • 1 tsp ghee/clarified butter
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • a pinch of hing/asafetida
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder, salt to taste
  • lots of fresh coriander to garnish

Method

First, heat an empty thick bottomed pan, dry roast the mangodis, till they are slightly brown. I usually do it on an iron tawa/flat griddle(used for making rotis). Keep turning the nuggets else they will not brown uniformly. Once done, keep aside.

In a deep pan, heat ghee. Once hot, splutter cumin seeds, add hing/asafoetida. Throw in the peas, along with salt, turmeric, red chili powder and little water. Once the peas are almost done, add 2 cups of boiling water( I have a kettle, so it works faster for me). Add the mangodis, give it a mix, and let it boil for another 4-5 minutes. The lentil nuggets absorb water and swell up. Making sure it is not completely dry, you can switch the flame off.

Garnish with coriander leaves. Best when served hot with phulkas/puffed chappathis.

No onions, no garlic

No onions, no garlic

It is advisable not to mix too much with your ladle once the mangodis are inside. The nuggets tend to break and mash. We don’t want that. The curry should show the mangodis in their distinct shape, as my mom says.

yummy Bite

yummy Bite

This is a perfect recipe for days when you want to cook without onions and garlic or when you’re just too lazy to make something fancy. With hardly any chopping required, mangodi matar proves to be scrumptious and filling.

Healthy Non fried Kofta Curry / Bottle Gourd Dumplings in Tangy Yoghurt Coriander Gravy

Bottle gourd-carrot dumplings in a coriander yoghurt gravy. Um… sounds interesting? Well.. don’t ask how I came up with this combination. I took my experiments a little far this time. Tried a hotch potch version of things we like and eliminated what we don’t care of, and here! this tangy flavorful curry was born.

Coriander Yoghurt gravy

Coriander Yoghurt gravy

A straight simple bottle gourd sabzi(side dish to Indian bread) is refused with much vehemence from the members of my family. Traditional koftas(dumplings) are usually deep fried, and that too is shunned from the dining table. I want my family to eat this wonderful squash. It is healthy, light and easy to digest.
Ok, I somehow find a way to avoid the oil. But an onion tomato gravy sans cashews and cream is no fun to eat. Sigh! What do I do??
Rummage the refrigerator and wait for the sluggish mind to swing right back into action.

Bottle Gourd, Carrot, Onion Dumplings. Can be eaten as it is.

Bottle Gourd, Carrot, Onion Dumplings. Can be eaten as it is.

I have a whole pot of yoghurt and more than extra coriander leaves awaiting their turn. Yep.. You guessed it right… no rocket science. Perking up, I combine the two to produce a fabulous green creamy(but not fattening) gravy to dunk my dumplings in! But truthfully, I was highly skeptical of the result. Yoghurt curries can be little tricky if not careful. They tend to tear/fall apart if not blended vigorously well.

Perfect with thin soft chappathis

Perfect with thin soft chappathis

Recipe:

Ingredients

For the Koftas/Dumplings:

  • 1 cup grated bottle gourd
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1 big onion minced
  • 1 green chili, minced
  • salt, turmeric powder and red chili powder according to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 3-4 tbsp bengal gram flour/Besan
  • 1 tsp oil

For the Gravy:

  • 2 cups well beaten curds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp crushed kasuri methi
  • 1 tsp ghee or butter
  • Cream to garnish – optional

Grind into a paste:

  • 1 1/2 cups coriander leaves
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 2 green chilies or according to taste
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • a tiny piece of ginger
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds, soaked
  • a small piece of cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cardamom

Method

Combine all the kofta ingredients except the oil. The dough/batter will be sticky and soft. I used a paniyaram plate but you could use a flat non stick griddle or a pan. Using very little oil, make small dumplings/balls and slow roast taking care to turn at regular intervals and cook till golden brown.

I covered the paniyaram plate, so that the koftas would cook from deep within using its own heat. Till the koftas cook, prepare the gravy.

Healthy, non fried and delicious!

Healthy, non fried and delicious!

Gravy:
Heat ghee/butter in wok. Splutter cumin seeds. Fry the onion-coriander paste. Once done(after about 10 minutes or so), add the well beaten curds and quickly stir/mix, till well incorporated. Keep mixing vigorously taking care that the curds does not split. You will notice the paste and the yoghurt forming one cohesive mix. At this stage, you could relax and let it simmer on its own for awhile. Stir in crushed kasuri methi. If you find the gravy too thick, pour in some water. Boil for a couple of minutes.
Dunk the koftas just before serving, else they suck the water content of the gravy rendering it dry and thick.
Garnish with cream. Serve hot with hot thin chappathis.

Cooked to golden perfection

Cooked to golden perfection

Note: The koftas can be eaten as it is. They are like tiny round cutlets. Best enjoyed with tomato ketchup and green chutney.

Note: If you use kitchen king masala, feel free to add a tsp or so with the yoghurt.

Note: The koftas can be made with a host of different veggies. My bet is on mashed potato-peas and paneer. Even bread-minced veggies-boiled potato would be a crowd pleaser.

Note: If you are making the koftas on a flat griddle or tawa, then you could pat them to make little oblong cutlets, so that they cook well within. A round spherical shape will not cook uniformly on a flat tawa/griddle.

Note: A paniyaram plate is a perfect use when you don’t want to fry your food.

Note: If by any chance you have pre made the gravy and stored it, you might want to add in little bit of water/milk while reheating it, to thin the consistency.

Healthy Side dish to Indian Flat bread

Healthy Side dish to Indian Flat bread

Note: It’s very difficult to win with koftas where husband is concerned. This gravy passed his acid test. It is healthy, nutritious, not fried and yet so tasty. So yea, one more recipe to keep and file away. 🙂

Stuffed Pointed Gourd / Bharwa Parwal

Stuffed Pointed Gourd

Stuffed Pointed Gourd

Pointed Gourd or Parwal or Parval or Patol or Patola or Green Potato looks like tiny cucumbers, with tapering ends and it has light green lines along it’s length. It is a good source of vitamins and dietary fibers. I had not really eaten much of these earlier. But abundantly found in the vegetable market, I bought a few to give it one more go. Stuffed it with simple spices and a little bit of fennel seeds, and absolutely louuuuved the end result. So did the kid. Yay!

A bowl full of fresh washed parwals.

A bowl full of fresh washed parwals.

Washed the gourds and then I peeled them. If they are super tender and fresh, you need not peel but gently scrape the skin off.

Peeled parwals.

Peeled parwals.

Super quick and simple recipe:

Ingredients

  • 250 gms pointed gourds/parwals
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

For the filling:

  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chili powder – vary the quantity according to taste
  • 1 tsp dry mango powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp semi ground fennel seeds

Method

Wash the parwals. If not very tender, then peel the skin away or you could gently scrape little bit off. Now make an incision using a sharp knife from one end of the pointed gourd to another, without slicing right across it. Gently press open to see the seeds.. if the seeds are big, gently remove them and using a small spoon.

Now, take all the ingredients for the stuffing. Mix it well. Fill this masala in each gourd and gently rub the leftover spices on the parwals.

In a wide pan, heat oil. throw in the cumin seeds. Gently place the pointed gourds, as separate from each other as possible.
Cover and cook till all the sides are well roasted.

Remove from heat and serve with chappathis or rice.

Fennel seeds adds amazing flavor.

Fennel seeds adds amazing flavor.

Health Benefits:

  • Parwal is low in cholesterol and fats. Hence, it is easy to digest and recommended for patients with weak digestion and those recovering from chronic illness. It is an appetizer.
  • Pointed gourd contains vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and vitamin C. It also contains minerals like calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper and potassium.
  • It is also helpful in treating jaundice and other liver problems, blood diseases and leprosy patients. It is also beneficial in treating fever, skin infections, constipation, and healing of wounds.

Rajma /Red kidney bean curry

Rajma Curry/Red kidney beans in a thick gravy

Rajma Curry/Red kidney beans in a thick gravy

I have fond memories of this one. Rajma Chaawal(Red kidney beans simmered in a thick gravy with white basmati rice) is my most most favorite dish. It was a regular fare in our house, made usually for sunday lunch. For years, I tried to replicate my mom’s rajma… but with little success. My mom is the most fabulous, legendary cook of our family. Coercing the poor bean to produce the same result as my mother’s hand was actually being criminal. So I made peace with the bean. Consoled myself by accepting the fact I could never match up to my mum. And there! Life tasted better and so did my rajma :).

But whenever I visit her, I skip and trip at the thought of being fed my mom’s incredible cooking.

Rajma Chawal

Rajma Chawal

It’s sad but true, the husband and daughter have no place for this amazing comfort food in their choicest menu cards. The husband was not born and brought up on a bed of rajma… he doesn’t care much for it, and the kid has taken after the father.
I say tastes can be acquired(Husband argues, “it is not beer or black coffee”), but the child is made to bear the brunt of excessive feeding of this wholesome curry down her tiny food track.
I ignore the whines and grimaces, and at every bite, exclaim “yummy no?”. No she answers.

Please dear foodies, try this recipe out and help me reaffirm the dwindling status of kingly Rajma.

Who can resist this??

Who can resist this??

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red kidney beans, washed and soaked overnight, boiled well with a bit of salt.
  • 2 spoon full of ghee — please use butter or ghee, don’t compromise the taste with oil
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • a tiny piece of ginger
  • 1 big onion, chopped coarsely
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp of chopped coriander to garnish

Method

First, make a paste of ginger, green chili, garlic and onions. Remove in a bowl, in the same pot add chopped tomatoes and make a puree out of it.
Now, in a pot, heat ghee. Once hot, add cumin seeds and the onion garlic paste. Fry well. Once pinkish, add the pureed tomatoes, along with red chili powder and turmeric powder. Cover and saute really well. This could take awhile, say approximately 15 minutes.
I haven’t used coriander powder or any garam masala. The lesser ingredients you throw in the better it tastes, well.. according to me. The key is to saute real well( be patient, try yoga before making it..:))Don’t let the rawness of onions and tomatoes spoil this heavenly dish.
Once done, stir in the boiled red kidney beans, mash a little bit with the back of your ladle. The gravy blends with the bean. It should not look like the bean is separate from the curry( this usually means, either the rajma is not cooked fully or you have had no patience with sauteing).

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve super hot with aromatic basmati rice or rotis. But rice tastes best. So, when in a mood for a treat, kick the diet plan, indulge in some white rice and this heavenly gravy!

Aromatic Rice with Rajma

Aromatic Rice with Rajma

Delicious healthy red bean curry

Delicious healthy red bean curry

Palak ki Daal/Spinach Lentil Stew

Most Indians would be amused by this post. Publishing a dal recipe is like….explaining a fish how to swim. An Indian from any corner of this multicultural diverse land has eaten and usually knows how to make daal – basic Indian lentil soup.

Palakura pappu, kirai paruppu, Dal palak, Palak aamti, palkaachi daal, Cheerayam parippum… varied names of one dish – Palak ki daal. Every state/community/caste in India has its own version. Some use channa dal, some toor, some arhar and some use mung dal.
Tempering also differs accordingly, some do it with garlic-onions, others with coconut and sambhar powder and some with just plain ghee, cumin seeds and asafoetida. The result is universal, a healthy concoction of protein rich lentils and nutrient dense spinach.

Palak ki daal

Palak ki daal

Here, I am posting, a mixed version of this humble daal. My mother made it without onions and garlic, but I have added the supremely aromatic strong roots to enhance more flavors to this simple dish.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup split yellow mung dal/pulse, washed and soaked for 15-30 minutes
  • 1/2 cup split green mung dal with skin, washed and soaked for 15-30 minutes
  • 1 big bunch spinach leaves, washed and chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, thinly julienned
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 big fat tomato, chopped
  • 2 spoons of ghee
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder/haldi
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 2-3 pinches of asafetida
  • salt to taste
  • chopped coriander leaves to garnish
Chopped spinach and soaked pulses.

Chopped spinach and soaked pulses.

Method

I use a pressure cooker to cook the lentils, its faster,saves resources and healthier. So, in a pressure cooker, throw in your soaked pulses, along with chopped spinach, julienned ginger, turmeric powder, salt and 1 glass water. After 2 whistles, switch the flame off.

Now, In a pot, heat ghee, add 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, saute the minced garlic and onions till they turn translucent. Now add tomatoes, along with red chili powder. Saute till water evaporates and the fat starts leaving the sides of the pot. This means, you have saute the contents really well, if you don’t want the smell of raw tomatoes invading your yummy dish.

Now to this masala, add the pressure cooked ingredients. Add chopped coriander leaves at this stage. Give it a nice mix, the consistency is semi thick, not very watery and not very thick. Give it a boil. Remove in a serving bowl. now make another tempering, of hot ghee, crackled cumin seeds and asafoetida. I also add a little bit of chili powder at this stage… hot ghee/oil brings out the redness in the chili powder.

Now pour this tempering over the stew, and enjoy with rice/rotis or as it is.

Dal Palak with puffed rotis

Dal Palak with puffed rotis

I made chappathis/rotis/phulkas(whatever you want to call) with this divine daal. Our lunch was complete, wholesome and nutritious.

Whole some lunch.

Whole some lunch.

Simple and earthy

Simple and earthy

Paneer Makhani

Cottage Cheese in Creamy tomato gravy

Cottage Cheese in Creamy tomato gravy

Paneer makhani 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. Its 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.

Served with onion ring salad

Served with onion ring salad

I don’t use any artificial coloring agent, but instead I chose red ripe tomatoes and the chili powder I used was naturally bright red but low on the heat. That kind of chili powder is called ‘kashmiri chili powder’. I even avoided the ‘garam masala’, as we have used whole spices instead.

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
  • 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 chili 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.

Bell Peppers and Paneer make a neat combo

Bell Peppers and Paneer make a neat combo

Rich and Creamy

Rich and Creamy

Lasuni Bhindi

Bhindi or okra is Milee’s favorite vegetable. She can have them for lunch and dinner, and maybe even for breakfast. I haven’t tried that though.

Okra is popular for its high fiber, vitamin C, and folate content. It is also known for being high in antioxidants and is also a good source of calcium and potassium. So, hey! If u haven’t included these green beauties in your diet, now is the time to start.

There are millions of ways to make these long lady fingers! I have listed one of my yummiest recipes here. Its simple and so flavorful. “Lasun” is garlic in hindi. Heat of garlic perfectly complements the cool okra. I never have leftovers for this one.

Lasuni Bhindi

Lasuni Bhindi

Ingredients

  • ¼ kg ladies finger, bhindi or okra, washed, with the top and tail cut
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tiny tomato, chopped
  • 1 green chili, slit lengthwise
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder, or according to your taste
  • ½ tsp dry mango powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds

Method

Mix all the dry powders, salt, turmeric, red chili, coriander and dry mango. Using the tip of a sharp knife, slide through each okra, taking care not to slice it into half. Just enough gap to fill the masalas into it. Once all the okras are ready, fill in a little bit of masalas in each okra and cut each into 2 or 3 cylindrical like shapes.

In a kadai, heat oil, add cumin seeds when hot. Then add minced garlic, onions and green chili. Saute till pink. Now add the stuffed okra, along with a chopped tiny tomato. Cook till it is done. Serve hot with soft phulkas.

Okra, garlic, onion n tomatoes.

Okra, garlic, onion n tomatoes.

A great vegetable to team with your roti and simple dal

A great vegetable to team with your roti and simple dal

Vegetable Biryani

With time on my hands, and sweet desire to fill my sundays with love, laughter and fabulous food, I toyed with the idea of making Biryani. This rich layered moghlai rice is a wonderful combination of fragrant rice, vegetables, curry with a bit of dried fruits and caramelized onions. Yumm! My whole house was radiating with the gorgeous aromas of whole spices, basmati rice and of course ghee. This amalgam of marinated vegetables, rice, spices and dollops of ghee is food fit for royalty.

Traditionally a biryani is usually meat based and is cooked on “dum” that is covered-sealed well in a clay pot and cooked over steaming hot coals for a long long time. The aromas are trapped inside the clay pot, which add to the rice and meat cooking inside it. This a purely vegetarian cooking site, so I have made the biryani with vegetables and for the “dum”, we have used an oven. Considering the exorbitant flavours, of course you need to invest time into making this luxurious rice. Please do not venture with 15 minutes on your watch. This is not something which will be ready in a jiffy.

I have tried my favorite celeb chef, Tarla Dalal’s recipe. I have tweaked it slightly to our taste and liking. So on that note… what are we waiting for? A Sunday? Lets get started.

Rich and Flavorful

Rich and Flavorful

Ingredients

  • 1 cup basmati rice, soaked in water for 5-10 minutes
  • 1 cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 star aniseed
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 pinch of saffron strand, soaked and rubbed in 1 tsp of milk
  • 7-8 cashewnuts
  • 8-9 raisins
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 capsicum, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed boiled vegetables, like carrot, beans, peas, potato, cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • a little milk
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • salt to taste

To be ground into a paste

  • 6 cloves of garlic, a tiny piece of ginger
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 4 green chilies
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 onions
  • 6 mint leaves

For baking
2 tbsp ghee

Method

Boil the rice with 1 cardamom, 2 cloves and salt. Each grain of the cooked rice should be separate. Drain and cool. Pour the saffron strands over it and mix with gentle fingers.

Heat the ghee and fry the onions until brown. Remove the onions and in the same ghee, add the cashew nuts and raisins and fry for a few seconds. Remove and keep aside for decoration.
In the same ghee, add the paste and fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and capsicum and fry again for 2 to 3 minutes. If you like, sprinkle a little water. Add the boiled vegetables and coriander and cook for a while.

Now, Put 2 tablespoons of ghee at the bottom of a baking bowl. Make layers of the rice and vegetables, beginning and ending with rice. Sprinkle a little milk on top. Cover with a foil and bake in a hot oven at 200 degree C (400 degree F) for 15 to 20 minutes.

Right out of the oven.

Right out of the oven.

Serving Tips:
Just before serving, turn upside down on a serving plate, garnish with fried onions, cashew nuts and raisins and serve hot. Accompaniments are usually cucumber tomato raitha, thin onion rings and something crunchy like a papad or potato chips.

Zoomin In

Zoomin In