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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Picnic Chicken ( Picnic er Murgi )

This is one bookmarked recipe that had somehow gone off my To-Do list. Please do not ask "why ?. Maybe the simplest explanation is that it got lost in the huge ocean of notes that I keep making all the time. But I had fallen in love with it the very first time I read it on Bong Mom's Cookbook. In case you are curious about that name, you have to read Sandeepa's blog to believe her flair for story telling. She just makes the most everyday recipes seem so special. Do check out the original version at Bong Mom's Cookbook. When I finally decided to try it out yesterday, I found that I had run out of a few ingredients so I had to make good with whatever was available. Still it was finger-lickin good. Makes me wonder "what if..................".

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

For marination-

500 gm skinless chicken
2 large red onions
2 tbsp GG paste
2 green chillis
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
1/5 tsp garam masala
3 tsp mustard oil
juice from 1 lemon
salt to taste

For cooking -

3 tsp mustard oil
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 inch long cinnamon
1 black cardamom
1 Kashmiri chilli
1 big tomato ( freshly pureed)
2 sachets of tomato sauce/kethup ( the kind that they give at KFC or dominoes )
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 cloves
4-5 crushed garlic flakes
2-3 slit green chillis

Preparation - Wash and clean the chicken. Transfer into a mixing bowl. First prep it up with salt, turmeric and lemon juice.

Chop one onion and half of the other into chunks. Slice up the remaining half onion.
Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the onion chunks and saute till translucent. Transfer into a grinder and puree them. Add to the chicken along with the onion slices.

Also add the remaining ingredients mentioned under "For marination". Mix well and keep aside for 1/2 hour.

Cooking - Heat 3 tsp mustard oil in a pressure cooker Allow to smoke. Then add the dry spices (broken dry chilli, cinnamon, bay leaf, 2 cloves and cardamom).  As soon as you get the fragrance, add the tomato puree along with sauce/ketchup. Fry till oil starts to separate.

Add the chicken and turn up heat. Fry on HIGH for 4-5 mins.

Then add the cilantro, garlic, green chilli and remaining cloves. (I ended up drizzling some more mustard oil at this point ) Mix and then add 1/4 cup water. Close lid and cook on low to medium flame for 2 whistles.

Remove from flame and allow steam to escape.

Serve hot with white rice and dal fry ( or with Luchis ).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mudhi Muaa

My mom never fails to amaze me. Whenever I call her regarding a recipe, she has all the answers to my questions. Even when I am least expecting it. Agreed that she does not make Chinese or Italian, but Indian cooking is her forte. She is the kind who had her basics very strong and I believe that such people hardly take any time to adapt to any kind of cuisine. Wish I had learnt more Odiya recipe from her during my school/college days.

Yesterday when I was feeling a bit down, I was reminded of my childhood days which would never be the same without stuff like arissa pitha, gajaa, nimika, muduku and various types of muaa. Since I had the basics in stock, I decided to prepare some mudhi muaa for myself. While I had seen her preparing 'Muaa' a long time back, I did not remember the steps. So I called her and asked "How many cups 'Mudhi' for 1 cup 'guda'? . As expected, she replied 'seita tote kemiti kahibi. Andaziya kari ne'. Huuh, these ladies are some experts. They use their eyes and hands as some kinda weighing machine while I am totally lost without my measuring spoons and cups. Somehow we decided that 1 part jaggery would be fine for 5-6 parts puffed rice and hence I set about the cooking. By force of habit, I ended up making modifications to the original recipe and used a few other ingredients keeping the sensibilities of my toddler and his friends in mind ( you know how most kids are these days ). Turned out to be easy given her tips and made a nice batch of muaas which are going to get over very soon. Maybe even before this post goes live.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15-20 mins

Ingredients -

1 cup jaggery ( I used the Patanjali Madhuran Natural Sugar )
6 cups mudhi/puffed rice
1 fistful of peanuts (dry roasted)
1 fistful of char magaj ( chiroli /chironji) (dry roasted)
2-3 tsp ghee
2-3 tbsp finely chopped walnuts ( my addition )
a fistful of raisins ( my addition )
2 tbsp grated chocolate ( my addition )
a pinch of nutmeg ( my addition )

Cooking - Heat the jaggery with 1/3 cup water in a wok. It will melt and then start to foam/bubble. Gradually ( arnd 3-4 mins) the bubbles will get smaller and now it is time to test for the right consistency of the jaggery. If it gets over-cooked then the puffed rice will not bind together.

Take a large bowl with cold water in it. Put a single drop of the jaggery into it. If it dissolves into the water, it needs to be cooked for longer time. Keep repeating this test at intervals  of 1 minute.

Add the puffed rice and mix thoroughly to uniformly coat the puffed rice. Remove from the flame at this stage. Immediately add the peanuts, char magaj, walnuts, raisins, grated chocolate and nutmeg. Mix in.

Keep aside for 2-3 mins.

Rub ghee on your hands and take a fistful of the mixture. Mold into a ball . Repeat for the remaining mixture.

Keep aside to cool down for 1-2 hours. One can then store them in an airtight tin for almost a month.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Vegetable Daliya ( Vegetables with cracked wheat )

A very simple and nutritious daliya recipe that I made for my son. Apart from the regular vegetables, one can also add some sweet corn/baby corn and colorful peppers to give the dish a visual lift. I have kept the spice level low as it is intended for toddlers but one can add more for that extra zing.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup daliya or cracked wheat ( used Patanjali brand )
  • 1 1/2 cup assorted vegetables ( carrot, cauliflower, french beans, peppers, sweet corn, beetroot, potato )
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/5 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/6 tsp coriander powder
  • a pinch of cumin powder
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • a pinch of cumin seeds
  • 2 1/2 tsp ghee (Patanjali brand)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • coriander for garnishing

Preparation - Heat a frying pan. Add 1 tsp ghee followed by the daliya. Roast for 5-6 minutes on medium heat.
Remove and keep aside.

Chop the onion and tomato into small pieces.

All the vegetables should also be chopped into tiny pieces if they are to be pan cooked. Bigger sizes are Ok for pressure cooking.

Cooking - Take the roasted daliya in a cooker. Add 4  cups warm water and salt to taste. Close lid and cook for 3-4 whistles. Remove from flame and keep aside till steam escapes.

Heat  the oil and 1/2 tsp of ghee in a wok. Add the cumin seeds and allow to pop.

Add and fry till translucent.

Add the vegetables along with salt, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin power and coriander powder. Mix well and fry for a few minutes till vegetables are cooked through. (Sprinkle some water and cover with a lid for faster cooking)

Finally add the tomatoes and allow them to soften a bit. Now add the cooked daliya and mix thoroughly. Cook for a few minutes more so that the flavors are properly assimilated into the daliya. Remove from flame and keep covered for 4-5 minutes.

Sprinkle remaining ghee and coriander leaves. Serve hot.

 Note - One can add some more hot water during the last stages of cooking to thin the consistency further. This is especially good for younger kids ( less than 1.5 years of age ) as they tend to swallow rather than chew down their food. One should also pressure cook the vegetables before combining with the cooked daliya for such toddlers.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Special Alu Bharta

Had a very bad experience yesterday!!!! A very popular Odiya website 'http://recipe.fullodisha.com/'  is copying my images ( from very old posts ) and claiming it as own. While I duly sent them a message, they have not reverted back to me. Feel sad when people display a lack of spine. I have been working hard for the last 5 years trying to collect Odiya recipes from various people that I come across and showcase them as a part of our culture. This incident made me feel like going off the public platform. But then we do not throw away the tea cup if a fly falls into the tea. We discard the tea and start afresh. Hence will be 'water marking' all my pics thereafter. Hope this serves as a lesson for all bloggers.

For today, a special alu bharta that my mom used to prepare.............

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 large boiled potatoes
  • 1 medium sized onion ( chopped into mediun sized pieces )
  • 1/2 inch ginger (grated)
  • 1-2 dry red chilli (broken)
  • 1-2 green chilli (broken)
  • a pinch of jeera
  • a pinch of mustard seeds
  • 2 pinch curry powder ( or one can use meat masala /sambar powder - anything that you like )
  • a handful of peanut seeds ( my mom does not add it )
  • 2 1/2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Peel and slightly mash the potatoes.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok.

Add the peanuts and allow to crackle . Then add the mustard, cumin, red and green chillis. Fry for 5-6 seconds.

Add the onion and ginger. Fry till translucent.

Finally add the curry powder and fry for 1-2 minutes.

Add the mashed potato and fry till it starts to leave the sides and come together.

Remove from wok.

Serve hot/warm with rice/roti/parantha.

Note - While adding sambar powder, my mom used to add a few curry leaves and some tomato. Though not authentic alu bharta, it tasted great.

Andhra Tomato Chutney ( Another Version )

A few weeks back, I had posted the recipe of Andhra tomato chutney that is usually served with dosas and uttapams. This time I am back with another version that is usually paired with rice. Easy to prepare and using less oil, it makes for a flavorful side dish. A big "Thanks" to my very sweet neighbor for sharing the recipe with me. (Somehow the color looks much more darker in actual but the pics give it a orange brown hue).

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 5-6 shallots
  • 2-3 garlic flakes
  • 2 green chillis
  • 2 tsp urad dal
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder ( optional )
  • a small piece of tamarind
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Chop the tomato into big chunks.

Cooking - Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the urad dal, cumin and coriander seeds. Fry till fragrant. Remove and transfer to a plate. Allow to cool a bit before transferring to a mixer jar with the tamarind and salt. Grind into a powder.

Meanwhile add the remaining oil to the wok. Add green chillis followed by the tomato chunks. Fry till tomatoes start to soften a bit. Remove and allow to cool a bit.

Add to the mixer jar and buzz to get a smooth paste.

Finally add the garlic and shallots and buzz for 1-2 seconds. ( small chunks of the shallots and garlic should remain )

Serve with rice.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Paneer Mushroom Korma

Made a special korma for today's lunch. Nothing festive but just felt like cooking something special and that too vegetarian. Quite a challenge as my husband's preference is predominantly non-vegetarian. With no rules to be followed and no expectations being set, I just added a little bit of everything that I could lay my hands upon ( seriously ) and it turned out to be good. Dunno if it can actually qualify as a korma, I wanted to make one but somehow ended up doing a medley of sorts.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 45 mins ( plus some time for chopping)

Ingredients -

  • 250 gm paneer cubes
  • 200 gm button mushrooms ( each cut into four pieces )
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/3 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/3 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tomatoes (freshly pureed)
  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 tsp GG paste
  • 1 tsp (coriander leaves-mint-green chili) paste - this is optional but then i was feeling adventurous 
  • 1 whole Kashmiri chili
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cardamoms
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 pinch nutmeg powder
  • 1 pinch star anise powder
  • a strand of mace
  • 1 1/2 tbsp kasuri methi
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp melon seeds
  • 9-10 cashews (broken ones)
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp ghee/butter
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Take one of the onions. Peel and chop it into 4 halves. Transfer to a pressure cooker along with the whole kashmiri chili, 1 cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, cashews and melon seeds. Add 2/3 cup water and cook for 2 whistles.

Open lid once steam escapes. Strain the excess water and transfer to a blender. Make a smooth paste. Keep aside.

Finely chop the other onion.

Cooking - Heat 2 tsp oil and 1 tsp ghee in a wok. Add the mace, bay leaf and cardamoms.

Add the onions and fry till light brown in color. Add the GG paste and coriander-mint-green chili paste. Fry till raw smell goes off.

Add the tomato puree along with all the powdered masalas( just keep aside 1/2 tsp chili powder for later). Fry till the oil starts to separate.

Add the mushrooms, carrots, sweet corn and peas. Fry on high flame for 2-3 minutes. Then reduce the flame to medium and cover with lid. Cook for few minutes till mushrooms and carrots are 80 percent cooked. Make sure it is not too watery else turn up the flame to evaporate excess water. Remove from wok and keep aside.

Heat the remaining oil and ghee in the same wok. Add the paste prepared earlier. Saute for a few minutes.

Add chili powder, sugar and kasuri methi ( just rub it between your palms before adding to the wok ). Add 1/2 cup hot water. Bring to a boil and then add the cooked vegetables.

Meanwhile, boil 4 cups water with 1/3 tsp salt and a pinch of turmeric. Add the paneer cubes and boil for 1-2 minutes. Drain off all the water before adding the cubes to the remaining vegetables.

Cover with lid and let everything simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from flame.

Serve hot with roti, naan, paratha or even a simple pulao/white rice.

Note - One can also add some baby corn/tofu/peppers/cauliflower to the above recipe. I had to make do with whatever was available in the fridge. (No mall hopping this weekend as we are getting all the groceries online)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rajma Masala (North Indian recipe)

Rajma Chawal spells (read 'Screams') comfort food to me. Ok, it takes a bit too long to prepare but the taste is totally worth it. Melting in the mouth kidney beans simmering in a tangy gravy with a hint of hidden sweetness is sure to send most folks into a tizzy. And I am no exception to its irresistible charm. Though the version usually made by my mom is easier and lighter on the palate, I prepare each one alternately as I love both the recipes.

Read on for the recipe of Rajma masala (North Indian style preparation) -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 cup rajma/kidney beans
  • 1 large onion
  • 11/2 tsp GG paste
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 dry chilli
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder 
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 cup beaten yogurt
  • 3 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • coriander leaves for garnishing

Preparation - Chop the onions into small pieces.

The tomatoes also need to be finely chopped. Or one can even puree them.

Cooking - Soak the rajma beans overnight ( 8-10 hours ). Wash and transfer to a cooker with some salt and turmeric. Add enough water to just cover the beans and a little more. Close lid and cook for 2-3 whistles.

Open lid once steam escapes. Check the beans. They should be soft without any bite left. ( Hard/partially cooked kidney beans are tough to digest. ) If not, cook for another whistle.

Heat the oil in a wok. Add broken red chili, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Saute till fragrant.

Add the cumin seeds and allow to splutter. Then add the onion and fry till it turns brown.

Add the GG paste and cok till raw smell goes away.

Add the powdered masalas ( save a pinch of garam masala for adding at last ) and stir fry for 30 seconds.

Finally add the tomatoes and cook till the oil separates.

Add the cooked rajma along with the excess water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 7-8 minutes.

Finally stir in the yogurt and cook for another 5-6 minutes.

Sprinkle garam masala and coriander leaves. Remove from the flame.

Serve hot with some gorgeous long grained Basmati rice.

Note - Dont forget to check out a this no-onion no-garlic version too !! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tresemme Split Remedy Shampoo and Conditioner Review

I received the Tresemme Split Remedy Hamper a few weeks back for a free trial (Thanks Indiblogger). But since I was trying out the Sunsilk Natural Recharge range at that time, I decided to put it on hold. After the less than encouraging results of the Sunsilk version, I was hesitant to try this out. And if one takes a look at most of the beauty blogs, this shampoo is quite a let-down. Anyways I tried it as I had to do the review.

Have used it for just 3 washes till date and I quite like this product. As per the product claims it is supposed to reduce and repair upto 96 percent of the split ends in just 3 washes for a salon like smoothness. One has to use it along with the conditioner for best results. Though I did not have any split ends (thanks to a trimming a few weeks back), it worked nicely to reduce the dryness in my hair. My hair left a lot smoother and straighter as it takes care of the fizz and fly-away as well.

Product Claims 

Read further for more details -



Advantages -
1. Economical price and good quantity ( Rs 80/- for 90 ml each ).
2. Nice fragrance which lingers on almost for the day.
3. The cap design is sturdy and it offers good control over the quantity being poured out.
4. Reduces dryness and fizz. Hair looks shiny and healthy.
5. Made my hair more manageable and effect lasted 3 days. Even after 3 days, no adverse effects noticed (though i admit to have used a serum...it is just my regular habit).
6. Shampoo creates a good lather and cleans hair in just a single wash.
7. Conditioner does not weigh down my hair.

Disadvantages -

1. Contains silicones which are detrimental to hair in the long run.
2. Not sure if it repairs split ends as I had a trim recently.
3. Also contains SLS.
4. The cap might get pressed accidentally when kept in a bag during travelling and hence it is a no-no for travels.
5. Does not control hairfall.

Definitely worth a try at the given price. Overall, I would rate it 3.75/5. ( I wish to go back to Patanjali Hair Cleanser (yellow bottle with orange cap) but sadly I am unable to find it. Any idea if they have discontinued it ??? )

Mango Sasav (Ambe che Sasav)

Another one of Tarla Dalal's recipes. Hats off to the greatest Indian Chef who ever walked this planet. Her collection of recipes are truly amazing and diverse. She seems to have covered the entire span of the subcontinent while researching for her books and picked out some true gems.

Today I will be sharing this simple Konkani recipe that has green mangoes, coconut and toasted mustard seeds. While it is mostly made with tender green mangoes, I could not find the same and hence used cubed green mangoes. Quite a magical combination. Goes best with plain white rice. Read on for the easy recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp ( optional )
  • 7-8 peppercorns
  • 2 cups green mangoes ( cubed )
  • 2 tsp jaggery
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Dry toast the mustard seeds in a pan till they start to pop. Keep aside to cool down.

Take the mustard seeds with grated coconut, tamarind pulp, turmeric, chilli powder and peppercorns in a blender jar. Add 1/2 cup water and make into a smooth paste.

Transfer the paste to a thick bottomed pan/wok and bring to a boil.

Add the mangoes along with jaggery and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Note - I have used dark colored jaggery powder in the recipe which turned the dish brown. But traditionally it is a yellow colored dish. BTW planning to try this with ripe mangoes next time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Patanjali Cow's Ghee Review

I am getting quite addicted to Patanjali products these days and one peek into my cupboard is enough to reveal my fascination with the brand. Their Cow's ghee is the latest one that I tried out and quite liked it. Compared to quite a few other brands which do not mention if the ghee has originated from a cow or buffalo or is of mixed origin, Patanjali clearly label's it is as 100 percent Cow' ghee.

I have been using it for a week now for tempering dals, making halwa, greasing my rotis and also on my chapped heels/lips. But i have not used it for deep frying yet.

While it is available in their outlets, one can also buy it online on Bigbasket.com or Zopnow.com.

Read on for the reviews -

Advantages -

1. Nice smell/flavor and grainy consistency.
2. Lovely yellow color that reminds one of home made cow's ghee.

3. Higher smoking point as compared to other vegetable oils hence better suited for deep frying.
4. Soothes my chapped lips and heels.
5. Cow's ghee is quite beneficial for controlling vata dosa as per ayurvedic texts. With the origin being clearly mentioned on the label, people suffering from vata dosa can benefit from its consumption.
6. Untouched by hand hence no chances of contamination.

Disadvantages -

1. It is slightly pricier as compared to other brands.
2. Contains trans-fats and cholesterol hence one has to regulate the amount being consumed. (Check nutritional info provided in below pic )

Overall, I would rate it at a 4.75 out of 5.( -0.25 for the price factor). No minus points for the trans-fat and cholesterol though as it is an integral part of any ghee.

Spaghetti Al Pesto

Simple and frugal is sometimes the best. And i feel that in case of all the pasta recipes that I have worked on/tasted, this is the thumb rule. I would never have thought of combining basil with ingredients olive oil, garlic and cheddar cheese I had I not stumbled on this recipe. And was quite skeptical to begin with. Another reason why this post got delayed. The primary was that I could not find a good Parmesan and pine nuts to begin with. But a recent recipe that I caught on the cookery show convinced me that I could use a Cheddar-walnut combination to make this recipe. And that the basil can be partly substituted with baby spinach. But I stuck to the basil bit. And haven't regretted it a bit.

Read on for the delightfully easy recipe (while I ponder what to do with the leftover pesto....BTW it is sitting pretty in my fridge covered with a generous layer of EVOO). But for those with a nut allergy, do try out Nigella's Pasta Alla Genovese -

Preparation Time - 15 mins ( Not a min extra...mind it )

Ingredients -

  • 150 gm durum wheat spaghetti
  • 1 cup lightly packed Italian basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic flakes
  • 7-8 peppercorns (freshly crushed/ground)
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Chop the garlic flakes and basil leaves.

Take all the ingredients (except for lemon juice and EVOO) in a blender and buzz till you break it all into small bits. Add the lemon juice and EVOO in a trickle till it is well incorporated. The pesto is now ready.

(Actually the quatity will be good enough for two times with a little bit leftover for a chicken and pesto sandwich. Make sure you add a layer of EVOO over the pesto when storing it in a airtight container in the fridge. )

Cooking - Boil 9-10 cups water in a saucepan. When bubbles begin to appear, add sufficient amount of salt to the water. Once it gets to a rolling boil, add the spaghetti.

Cook for 12 mins or till al-dente. Remove 2-3 tbsp of the water and add it to the pesto.

Drain the water in a colander, give it a good shake and toss back the spaghetti into the same vessel in which it was cooked. Add the diluted pesto and toss to uniformly cover the spaghetti strands.

Serve immediately or even after sometime. Tastes good even when served cold.

Note - It takes about 2 litres of water and 1 tbsp of salt to cook 200 gm of spaghetti in the right way.

Paneer Cutlets

Made some cutlets with the leftover paneer which i had bought for the special weekend biryani. These cute and easy to make cutlets turned out to be quite tasty and are low on calories too. Use a cookie cutter to make them into interesting shapes and even the kids will ask for more.

One can coat them with flour paste and breadcrumbs before frying for a crispier version but these ones are quite yummy by themselves. The fried ones would work well for parties and picnics.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 cup paneer cubes
  • 1 cup boiled potato cubes
  • 1 large sized onion ( finely chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp grated/crushed garlic
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 2 pinches of curry powder (optional)
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • 4-5 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • finely chopped coriander leaves

Preparation -  Lightly crumble the paneer with your fingers.

Mash the potatoes. Break any lumps but do not make it too smooth.

Cooking - Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the onions and fry till translucent.

Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 2-3 mins or till raw smell goes away.

Sprinkle all the powders except garam masala. Fry for 30 seconds.

Add the crumbled paneer and mashed potatoes. Mix and fry for 4-5 minutes on medium flame.

Sprinkle garam masala and coriander leaves.. Mix and switch off flame.

Allow to cool down to a tolerable temperature. Then pinch small balls out of the mix and fashion into heart shaped cutlets.

Heat a flat tawa/frying pan. Drizzle lightly with some oil. Put the cutlets on tawa and cook on both sides for few minutes each ( till you see a light browning ).

Remove and serve hot as snacks/starters or sides.

Note - One can also use chenna instead of paneer to make these cutlets. I usually make some chenna quickly when i want to make these for my fussy son.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Kala Chana Sundal

A very easy and tasty snack, it hardly calls for any effort. Commonly sold on the beaches and roadsides, sundals have now become the staple 4'o clock snack in my home.

For those unaware of the benefits of eating chana, a single cup of boiled chana provides you with 1/3rd of the day's protein requirements. Plus it is loaded with dietary fiber which helps lower cholesterol,  regulates blood-sugar levels and also prevents constipation. It is a good source of potassium, sodium, iron, calcium and folate. But for those who have been advised for limit their sodium intake, go easy on the salt please.

Read on for the easy recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins ( includes a lot of standby time )

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup kala chana
  • 2 tsp urad dal (skin removed)
  • 1-2 sprig curry leaves
  • 2-3 green chillis (slit or chopped)
  • 1/5 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 pinches of asafoetida
  • 1 1/2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • a pinch of turmeric (optional)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • freshly grated coconut (optional)

Preparation - Wash and soak the channa overnight.

Cooking - Take the drained channa in a cooker with 1 1/2 cup water. Add salt to taste and turmeric. Close lid and cook for 3-4 whistle (till it is soft but not mushy).

Allow the steam to escape before opening lid.

Heat the oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds and green chillis. Fry for 10 sec before adding the urad dal.

Once it urad dal turns light brown, add the curry leaves and asafoetida.

Add the boiled channa and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Remove from flame and serve with a dash of lemon juice and grated coconut.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Prawn Biryani

My blog crossed 500 posts last week. This post was suppose to celebrate the special milestone and the 300+ Likes that my page has received on Fb. But it had to be postponed as I was quite busy in the first half and then feeling a bit low in the latter part of week. Now it seems like it was destined to mark an even bigger occasion.

Its the day of the election results and my TV has been switched 'On' since 7 a.m.. Have been following things closely ever since the counting started. And finally, it is time to pop the bubbly and burst the crackers. Yes, this one is to new beginnings. 'Ab ki Baar, Modi Sarkar. Baar Baar Modi Sarkar'.

Preparation Time - 40-45 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 200 gm small prawns
  • 1 large + 1 medium sized onion
  • 2 tsp GG paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 2 large tomatoes (freshly pureed)
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped coriander leaves
  • a few strands of mace
  • a pinch of nutmeg powder
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 green cardamon
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 4 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • Lemon juice (optional) (As I used country tomatoes which were quite tangy, I skipped the lemon juice)

Preparation - Chop the onion into thin long slices.

Wash and soak the rice for 1-2 hours.

Wash and clean the prawns. Add salt and about 2-3 pinch of turmeric. Mix together and keep aside for 10 mins.

Cooking - Heat 1 1/2 tsp of oil in a frying pan. Add the marinated prawns and fry till they turn pink. Remove and keep aside.

Heat 2 1/2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the onions and fry till light brown.

Add the GG paste and fry till raw smell goes away. Add the tomato puree and fry till oil starts to separate out.

Add turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala. Fry for 1 minute.

Add the fried prawns. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the soaked rice along with the chopped mint and coriander leaves. Fry till the leaves wilt up a bit. Add 2 1/2 cups warm water. Add salt to taste. Finally drop in the whole spices, nutmeg powder and ghee.

Cook on a medium low flame for 1 whistle (approx 12-14 mins). Remove and keep aside for 15-20 mins. Open the lid and fluff the rice grains with a fork. Sprinkle some lemon juice if you need more tang to it.

Serve hot with some cooling onion raita. (Do top it up with some desserts if you are feeling extra celebratory)

Note - While using tiger prawns or any large sized prawns for that matter in this biryani makes for a great presentation, these tiny freshwater prawns are much more flavorful. However, you can use the former if you wish.

Fruit Halwa

Apples and Bananas. Most kids love them. So why not use the flavors (and the goodness) of these fruits to transform a regular halwa into something rather special. Quite easy to make, it adds the right amount of zing to your child's meal. Garnish it in a fun manner and even the most picky of children will come back asking for more.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup semolina/suji,
  • 3-4 tbsp apple puree
  • 1 ripe banana (mashed but with a few chunks left)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tsp ghee

Cooking - Heat a frying pan. Add 1 tsp ghee. Roast the semolina on the pan till it darkens in color. Remove and keep aside.

Heat 1 tsp ghee in a wok. Add the mashed banana and apple puree and cook for a 3-4 minutes.

Boil the water and apple juice in a separate pan/wok. Add sugar and roasted semolina to it. After 1 minute add the apple-banana mixture and mix in.

Stir the contents for 3-4 minutes on a low to medium flame till a viscous mixture is formed (this will harden further on cooling). Stir in the remaining ghee.

Allow to cool down slightly and then fill into molds. Remove from mold when ready to serve.

Serve warm or chilled. (Garnish with sliced fruits if desired.)

Note - One can try this with other fruits like pineapple, strawberry, raspberry, mango, etc. But some fruits lose a bit of their flavor while coking so do add a little essence/juice to make up for it.

Fuel Efficient Method of Cooking Rice In Open Pan

Most of us are used to cooking rice in the pressure cooker in order to save both time and fuel. While this does away with the constant need to monitor the rice and draining away the excess water, it is not the healthiest way to cook rice. Recent studies have established that draining away the excess water which also contains a lot of starch makes the rice healthier to eat as it reduces the amount of carbohydrate being consumed.

However with the rising LPG cylinder costs and electricity bills, most of us are averse to cook rice in a open pan/pot. But one no longer has to worry about the amount of fuel being spent on cooking rice if one follows the method detailed below. This was shared by one of my aunts recently and I have been following it ever since. Also, it does not require one to stand near the stove for a long time to monitor the cooking.

Read on for the easy to follow steps -

1. Take a pan/vessel with sufficient amount of water in it. Wash the rice and add to it.

2. Switch on the flame and turn it up to HIGH.

3. Bring the rice to a rolling boil while stirring in between. (If you forget to stir, rice will catch at the bottom)

4. Cover with a lid and switch off the flame.

5. Allow to sit for a while till the rice grains cook in the hot water and swell up. This is the critical part and while some rice varieties may take 8 minutes some may take upto 12-14 mins. It takes 1-2 trails to get it right.

6. Open the lid and switch on the flame. Turn it up.

7. Allow the rice to come to a boil. Then switch off the flame.

8. Drain off the excess water.

9. Gently shake the rice and allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.

Note - For par-boiled rice varieties(used especially in Odisha and West Bengal), keep aside the rice for about 50-60 minutes after step 4.  If it is still uncooked, allow it to boil for a few minutes during step 7.

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