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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Paneer Tawa Pulao ( Lunchbox special )

I love making various kinds of rice dishes for my kid. They are super easy to make and very much filling. Adding veggies, eggs, paneer, beans or even chicken boosts the overall nutritional profile of the dish. Plus there is the taste factor which is the ultimate clincher !

Tawa rice is a just another kind of pulao which is cooked on a shallow vessel which allows each grain/vegetable to get coated with the oil/ghee/butter and gives it a slightly burnt/smokey (depends on how long you prefer to cook) flavor .

This time I made Tawa pulao with some leftover paneer cubes and veggies. Used very less spices as per my kid's request so you will need to add more as per your taste. Read on for the recipe -

















Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked Jeera rice 
  • 100 gm paneer (cut into small cubes )
  • 1/3 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 of an onion (chopped into small pieces)
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 inch long cinnamon
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 red chilli whole ( less spicy )
  • a pinch of garam masala
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Put the paneer cubes into a bowl of warm water to which you have added sufficient salt. Let it soak for 5-6 mins.

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a skillet. Add the paneer cubes (drained on a kitchen towel) and fry on low heat to a golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

Add the whole spices and fry till fragrant. Now add the garlic and fry to a light brown. 

The onions go in next. They need to be fried till translucent .

Put in the veggies, sprinkle a bit of salt and turn up the flame a bit. Sprinkle water at regular intervals and let the veggie cook in the steam and brown up a bit at the same time.

The rice goes in at last along with the paneer cubes. Season with salt and garam masala. Turn up the flame as you toss the ingredients to distribute the flavour evenly. Garnish with chopped cilantro and remove from the flame.

Serve warm/hot with some kachumbar or even pickle.

















Note - Have used a steel tiffinbox for the presentation to create an awareness about the need to ditch plastic. It is not only harmful for the environment but the chemicals leached when we put hot food in plastic containers are carcinogenic in nature. Let us join hands and make a pledge to reduce the use of plastic with this post !

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

MLA Dosa ( Pesarattu / Green Moong Dosa with a filling of Upma )

Many many moons ago when I first stepped onto the Hyderabad soil, I had hardly bargained for the surprises in store. The language, the culture, the food and even the obnoxious auto-wallahs came as a shocker to me. However with the passage of time, I was able to make peace with everything except the food. Used to the mild and less than runny dals, I just could not fathom pairing my rice with rasam ( glorified tamarind water as I called it ), oily shriveled fries and curd. It was tough and the pickle become my only solace except for the weekends when they served Chicken/egg curry. Being on a student budget, Biryani seemed to be a rare luxury that could only be savored on special occasions. Sadly, the scenario did not change much even after I got a job and moved on to a better (read 'more posh') hostel. The cooks were sourced from Andhra and they catered to a South Indian majority.

However, there was a silver lining to this gastronomic cultural shock. And that was the availability of the South Indian tiffin centers that sold Idli/Dosa/Upma during most times of the day. So, if on a particular day we felt nauseated by looking at the hostel menu, we ended up eating a masala dosa for lunch/dinner. It was during one such visit to a joint that I ordered the MLA dosa on a whim. The name had piqued my curiosity but the grandiose imagery that I had conjured up in my mind disappeared the moment it arrived at the table. I realized that I had been tricked into ordering the Pesarattu which I had been avoiding like the plague. I glanced at my roomie with the most innocent 'Puppy eyes' look that I could manage. But she was happily digging into her Choley Bhature and was quite oblivious to my distress.

Left with no option, I gingerly broke a piece of the Pesarattu, wrapped it around some of the upma, dipped it in some spicy chutney and popped it into my mouth with a bundle of misgivings. And was pleasantly surprised !! Turned out that my fears were completely unfounded and it tasted quite mild actually if I were to discount the spicy chutney. I was happy to have discovered yet another ally amongst the inscrutable South Indian menu.

While it took me a few trails and finally the help of my Andhra neighbor to nail this recipe, I am still in the dark about the real story behind the discovery of this dish. Whether it is the popular one about this dosa being a favorite on the Raj Bhavan canteen menu to the more credible one about a sycophant who combined the two favorites to please a member of the Legislature, each one has enough spice to keep one guessing. Try it out for yourself even as figure out the one that captures your imagination.

Read on for the recipe -

















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

For the Pesarattu -

  • 1 cup whole green moong dal ( even split ones will do )
  • a fistful of poha/avalakki/chiwda/chuda
  • 1 green chili
  • a small piece of ginger
  • 1-2 pinch cumin seeds
  • salt to taste

For the Upma -
  • 1 cup rawa ( I use Bombay rawa )
  • 1 tsp channa dal
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1/3 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 small onion
  • 1-2 green chilis
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • a pinch of asafotida
  • 1/2 tsp ginger juliennes
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp ghee 

Others -

  • Oil for making the dosa
  • chopped onions for garnishing (optional)


Preparation - Wash and soak the moong dal overnight. Rub it to loosen the skin. Remove about 50-60 perecent of the skin for a better taste.

Transfer the moong dal, poha, chili, ginger, cumin and salt into a mixer jar. Grind into a fine paste with a consistency that is similar to the dosa batter.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp ghee in a wok. Add the rawa and fry till it gives off a sweet smell. Remove and keep aside.

Heat the remaining oil. Add the asafoetida, mustard seeds and broken green chili. Once it gets spluttering, add the dals and fry a bit. Then add the chopped onions and curry leaves. Fry till onion is translucent.

Add 2 cups water and bring it to a boil. Add the salt and then the roasted rawa.

Cook till all the water is absorbed. Remove from the flame. Cover and keep aside.

Heat a dosa tawa. Take some of the green moong batter and spread it a little thick.

Once it is a little done, scrape off some of the batter for crispy and thin dosa.

Drizzle the oil on the sides. Place some upma in the center and garnish with onion/ginger/carrot . Fold and remove from the tawa.


















Serve hot with onion-tamarind chutney !!

















Note - If you are very particular about the bright green color, use a few coriander leaves for making the gravy. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Kiwi and Black Rice Phirni ( An exotic rice pudding )

Important - This is an original recipe and has been published for the first time. Please do not copy/reproduce without approval of the owner.

Thanks to my numerous food posts on Facebook and other social media, I keep getting bombarded with requests from foodie friends . "Kabhi hame khane par toh bulao" is the most common rant that I get to here on a day to day basis. So, when a special friend arrived last weekend, it was time to create yet another magical recipe just for him. Is there a better way of making someone feel special ? Not really when the person in question is a die-hard foodie.

So, did I pull on my thinking cap ?? Or scour the supermarket shelves for some inspiration ? No. I did not do anything of that sort. I had a Black rice Phirni waiting for me in the drafts. The timing seemed perfect to debut my special dessert. Now I had been planning to prepare it for sometime but the inclement weather in Blore had dulled my taste for all things sweet. But as the sun shone bright, it seemed that the weather Gods were in tandem with my wishes.

I used jaggery as a sweetener to bring out the naturally nutty taste of the black rice. Instead of using nuts of any kind, I decided to top it up with a fruit. Makes it healthier and the acidity in the fruit acts as the perfect foil to the sweetness of the phirni. Luckily, I had quite a few options stocked up but I decided to pick on the Kiwi as it makes for a lovely contrast with the lavender hues of the black rice .

Read on -
























Preparation Time - 40-45 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1 liter whole milk 
  • 4 tbsp black rice powder
  • 4 tsp jaggery or as per taste ( I used the light hued variety )
  • 2 kiwis ( for topping )
  • 1/2 cup cold milk for mixing with the rice powder

Preparation - Soak the black rice grains for 4 hours. Drain and spread on a plate to air dry. Once the surface moisture evaporates, grind it into a powder.

Mix the rice powder in the cold milk.

Cooking - Boil the milk till it reduces to half of the original volume. 

Pour in the rice mixture and keep stirring till it starts to thicken a bit. Once the consistency reaches that of a custard, mix in the powdered jaggery.

Remove from the flame and allow it to cool down a bit.

Pop it into the fridge for a couple of hours.

Just before serving, peel and chop the kiwi into thin half-moon slices.

Pour the phirni into dessert glasses. Top it up with the kiwi and serve.




































Note - Jaggery can cause the milk to curdle as it contains residual traces of alum. Hence I usually prefer to add it just before removing the phirni/kheer from the flame.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sweet Quinoa Pulao ( Inspired by the aromatic 'Kanika' from Odisha )

In the Coastal pasts of Odisha, it is almost 'du rigueur' to prepare arua-dalma-khatta on the festival days. When one is abstaining from onion and garlic, it makes sense to prepare a combination that is light and well as tasty. But having grown up in Western Odisha, I am more inclined towards having a sweet pulao (kanika) / khechudi and alu-dum on such days. Much of our taste preferences are acquired during our growing years and hence we often balk at the thought of trying out new ingredients or combinations. That was pretty much the case with me before I started blogging and turned really adventurous with food. So it was no surprise to me when this combination was initially met with raised eyebrows at my in-laws home but they too loved it after trying it for the very first time ! However it is another story that they would pick the dalma-khatta combination if they have a choice.

So, on last Sankranti, I thought of preparing the a sweet pulao and aludum (without onion-garlic) for lunch. Just as I opened the cupboard to take out the rice, I glanced at the half used packet of quinoa that had been lying used for sometime. Since the cooking methods is rather similar, I decided to swap the rice with quinoa to give my meal a healthy twist.

So, here is the recipe of 'Sweet Quinoa Pulao' or 'Quinoa Kanika' -


















Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 4-5 pepperorns
  • 2-3 green cardamom
  • 2 inch cinnamon
  • 1 petal of mace
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp sugar ( adjust as per taste )
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • pinch of turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tsp chopped cashews
  • 3 tsp raisins

Preparation - Wash the quinoa under running water. Let it soak for 30 mins. Drain.

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a deep saucepan. Add the whole spices and wait till they turn fragrant.

Drop in the cashews and raisins. Fry for 20 seconds .

Add the rinsed and drained quinoa to the saucepan. Roast it for 5 mins to give it brownish shade and also to ensure that it's typical smell goes off. Now add 2 cups water and let it cook uncovered . Once it is almost 80 percent done, add the sugar and salt.

Once the water is absorbed, fluff it up .

Serve warm with the aludum or just it itself.

















Note - It is important to wash the quinoa with plenty of water so that the bitterness goes off.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cauliflower-Moong Dal Stir Fry

The flavour combination of moong dal and coconut is quite popular in Odisha . There are quite a few vegetables like cabbage, jackfruit, green papaya and even leafy greens which are prepared with the addition of these two ingredients. It is usually consumed during the 'no onion no garlic' days when the menu is kept light and predominantly 'Sattvik'.

However last week, I tried cooking cauliflower with roasted moong dal and coconut as I had run out of vegetables and more importantly, the inclination to cook a hearty lunch. A tiny cauliflower and some grated coconut was all I could salvage from the fridge. So, I tried a stir fry that I usually do with cabbage. It turned out to be quite delicious and I packed the same for husband's lunchbox along with some rotis. He quite liked it since it was very light, just enough moist and yet tasty. Even my four year old put it as 'not spicy' and finished his portion. Hence adding this recipe to the 'Lunchbox collection' on my blog.

Read on for the recipe -







Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup small cauliflower florets
  • 1/4 cup moong dal
  • 3 tsp freshly grated coconut
  • 1 tsp ginger juliennes
  • 1/5 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1/5 tsp turmeric
  • 1-2 dry red chilis 
  • salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp oil



Preparation - Wash and dry the cauliflower florets.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add broken red chili and mustard seeds.

Once they get spluttering, add the curry leaves and ginger juliennes. Fry for 30 seconds.

Now, add the cauliflower florets and sautee on a low to medium flame.

Dry roast the moong dal till fragrant. Wash and cook with 1 cup water is a pressure cooker for 1-2 whistles. The dal should be just cooked and not very mushy.

Add cooked dal to the cauliflower florets when it is about 90 percent done.

Cover and cook for another 2-3 mins or till the excess water evaporates. ( this is the point where you can decide whether to keep it a bit firm or make it mushy. I end up cooking it a bit more so that my kid does not crib about having to chew too much, )

Remove lid and add the grated coconut. Mix in and switch off the flame.

Serve it along with rotis.



Friday, July 15, 2016

Torani Kanji ( Fermented rice water and vegetable soup from Odisha )

Kanjee is one of those coolants from Odisha that also doubles up as a soup .Or maybe it is just an excuse to sample this delicious liquid goodness throughout the year !! And why not when it is available in multiple flavors. There is a pariba kanjee, khada kanjee, saga kanjee, dahi kanjee and the most delicious of all, the 'Torani Kanjee'. Hats off to the Odia ladies of yore who had the ingenuity to make delicious meals out of frugal resources !! It is tough to believe that bringing about a slight change in the ingredients can alter the taste to such an extent.

One needs to plan well in advance to prepare this dish. Water discarded from cooked rice is collected over days and stored in an earthenware pot which allows it to ferment and develop a sour taste. It is a bit of a technical process wherein we retain half of the previous day's rice water and mix it with the current day's lot after it has been cooled and diluted. It is a slow and elaborate process which is worth the wait. I still get nostalgic remembering the huge pots in which my grandmother used to brew and simmer this thing. It has a particularly strong aroma ( somewhat pungent actually ) that is sure to tickle the olfactory ducts of the neighbors. Hence the generous quantity in which is it prepared.

While one can enjoy the 'Kanjee' all around the year, the abundance of vegetables and leafy greens (especially 'kosala sagaw') during the winter months make it a must-have during the fall. There is something very soothing about sipping 'Kanjee' from a big bowl while enjoying the wintry sun. So, here is the recipe of the 'Torani Kanjee' which I got from Mom after a lot of advice and deliberation. 'Keep the torani carefully covered', 'do not let it become too stale and smelly', 'remember to throw away half of the pervious lot when you mix in the fresh one', and so on. Guess it is ingrained in a mother's psyche to keep the advise coming even after we are completely grown up.

Read on for the recipe -

















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -


  • 2-3 litres of torani (rice water)
  • 1/2 cup radish slices
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin pieces
  • 1/4 cup green papaya slices
  • 1 small eggplant ( cut into semi-circles) 
  • 6-7 okra ( cut into inch long pieces
  • 10-12 fat garlic cloves
  • 4-5 dry red chili
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 pinch kala jeera
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 3 tsp mustard oil
  • 3-4 pieces of ambula ( dried green mango )
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Collect the excess water after cooking rice. Dilute it with a cup of water. 

Drop in a piece of ambula and cover the vessel with a thin cloth . Let it stand overnight.

Again collect the rice water on the next day. Dilute and allow to cool down completely. 

Throw away half of the previous day's rice water along with the ambula. Add the fresh lot along with another fresh piece of ambula. Let it stand overnight.

Repeat this process for 3-4 days. Once the torani starts to smell a bit pungent and taste sour, we can proceed for the kanjee.

Cooking - Dilute the torani with 2-3 cups water and transfer to a deep saucepan. Add salt to taste and a bit of turmeric. Bring it to a full boil. (be careful as it tends to rise and come out of the vessel )

Add the chopped vegetables to the torani. Let it boil on a medium flame till all the vegetables are cooked.

Check for salt and sourness. If it lacks enough tang, drop in 1-2 pieces of ambula.

















Heat the oil in a tempering pan.  Once it starts to smoke, reduce heat. Add the broken chilis, mustard and kala jeera .Quickly follow with the crushed garlic and curry leaves. Once the garlic turns brown on the edges, pour the contents of the tempering pan over the kanjee.

Let it boil for another 2-3 mins before removing from the flame.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

















It can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days .
















The veggies I have used -


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Product Review : Nutrus Green Coffee

Last week, I received a sample of Nutrus Green Coffee for a review. Needless to say, I was quite intrigued by the product which claims to be India's first Green Coffee with probiotics . Since 'probiotics' refers to live bacteria/yeast that are ingested for their beneficial properties, it can be described as some kind of a health drink. The product claims to help you lose weight but not over night. Sounds quite sensible, doesn't it ??
















Here is what I have to say about the product -

It has a nice flavor which is milder than the instant coffee I usually drink. Since we are not supposed to add sugar to it, it is definitely lower in calories. And it is refreshing too ! Most importantly, it tastes good and in fact, is much better than 'Green Tea' which inevitably has a bitter note.

Pros of the product - 

1. It is easy to prepare. Take a cup of hot water and stir in the contents of the sachet. Cant get any easier.

2. Taste is a definite plus unless you happen to be an Expresso addict.

3. Claims to help in reducing weight (have been taking it for 1 week only so cannot vouch for it)

4. Rich in antioxidants.

5. Modulates Glucose and Fat metabolism.

Cons of the product -

1. It is on the expensive side. Costs Rs 225 for 20 single-use sachets.

2. Availability is an issue as of now. Can buy online at an extra cost (delivery charges).
















Final verdict - I love the taste of this product and hence I don't mind giving up my regular tea/coffee for it. As for the weight loss claims, I would like to try it for a few more days before giving the final verdict. Since I already lead an active lifestyle with regular exercise and healthy meals, I will not be making any drastic changes in my routine apart from swapping by morning and evening tea with Nutrus Green Coffee . Will update this post after a month.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Chicken Do Pyaza ( My Low Calorie Version )

Chicken do pyaza is one of those delicious sides that has been 'off radar' for quite sometime. Not because it lacks in flavor but because we had had an overdose of it. That coupled with the fact that food is turning increasingly exotic. [And may I add 'outright outlandish' ? After all I am gonna eat it and not frame it up in my living room . There are better ways to appreciate art rather than eating it.]

Coming back to me and my lazy ways with food. It was yet sluggish day (what else do you expect when the sun stubbornly refuses to put in an appearance ?) and I just wanted something light and tangy to go with my rotis. I was reminded of my carefree PG days when I rarely ventured into the kitchen. And most importantly, when 'takeaway' dinner was either Chicken do pyaza or Hyderabadi Chicken with chapattis. That feeling of nostalgia inspired me to try out a easier and lighter version of the 'do pyaza'. And I loved the results.

So, here is the simple and low calorie version of this restaurant favorite -


















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -
  • 500 gm chicken ( with bones )
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 1/2 tsp GG paste
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 cup curd
  • 3-4 green chilis
  • whole spices ( 1 green cardamom, 3-4 cloves, 2 inch cinnamon, 1 bay leaf )
  • 4 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Grind 1 onion into a smooth paste.

Wash the chicken and marinate with onion paste, GG paste, powdered masalas (except garam masala), 1 tsp oil and salt.

Peel the tomato and chop into fine bits.

Peel and chop the remaining onion into big chunks. Put small slits into the green chilis.

Beat the curd with 3-4 tsp water, sugar and a little salt.

Cooking - Heat oil in a non-stick wok. Add the whole spices. 

Once they release fragrance, add the marinated chicken and toss on high flame.

Once the chicken starts to change color, reduce the flame and cover the wok. 

Remove cover after 3-4 mins and add the finely chopped tomato. Sprinkle a little salt.

Cook covered while stirring at regular intervals. Once the chicken is almost done, add the beaten yogurt and the onion chunks. Also, throw in the green chilis. 

Stir continuously till the yogurt forms a nice thick gravy and coats the chicken pieces. Sprinkle garam masala powder and mix.

Garnish with cilantro and remove from the flame.


















Note - Check out more chicken recipes HERE .

Monday, July 11, 2016

Black Rice Risotto ( Comfort food takes a Vegan turn )

Khichdi for the Indians. Risotto for the Italians. Comfort food can take any name but ultimately it is all about conveying the feeling of sheer happiness. The feeling of being connected to everything dear yet the euphoria of soaring in the clouds without any strings attached. That's the magic of comfort food. It makes you feel alive all over. Again and again.

And that's precisely why we go seeking for our grandmother's or mother's recipes when we are feeling low. It triggers all those childhood memories of being held in a warm embrace, being rocked to comfort and then being pampered silly with the dish of our choice. Of the phenomenal taste of all those slow cooked recipes that only love and patience can achieve. And lots of patience is what it takes to cook up a risotto. Especially when you are making it black rice.

Unlike the traditional variety that calls for the use of wine and cheese, I made one without using either. I added a touch of vinegar to get that acidity and used some almond milk towards the end for that creamy texture. Cooked it in a open shallow pan by adding just enough liquid at regular intervals. And loved the way it turned out. Nice, rich, creamy and nutty. 

Read on for the recipe -


















Preparation Time - 90 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 cup Black rice
  • 8 almonds 
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable broth ( optional , I use water )
  • salt to taste
  • parsley for garnishing


Preparation - Wash and soak the black rice overnight.

Soak the almonds separately.

Peel the almonds and grind into a fine paste . Dilute with 1/2 cup water and grind for another 30 seconds. Strain the almond milk.

Cooking - Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add finely chopped onions and garlic. Saute till the onions just start to caramelize.

Add the drained rice and give it a gentle stir.

Add 1 cup broth/water along with the vinegar. Sprinkle some salt. Let it cook uncovered till the liquid is almost absorbed/evaporated.

Add another cup of liquid and let it cook. Repeat the process till the rice is mushy and the risotto looks creamy.

Add the almond milk and the coarsely ground pepper. Stir it in . Adjust the salt if required.

Remove from the flame .

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve warm.





Friday, July 8, 2016

Malabar Parotta Roll with Chicken Kasa stuffing

My love affair with Kerala cuisine dates back to my school days. Having a best friend who could trace her roots to the backwaters was the beginning of a life long tryst with one of the most aromatic cuisines that India can boast of. I have come across cuisines that rate much higher on the visual appeal but the aromas that waft out of a Mallu kitchen are nothing less than orgasmic. But more than the noteworthy non-vegetarian recipes that you can find at any decent restaurant, I am sold on the simple vegetarian fare that is consumed in most Kerala households. The simplicity of a thoran, the sharpness of Puli-inji , the sweetness of Erissery and even the yummy richness of a Ulli Sambar makes me go ballistic. Maybe it has got something to do with the fact that my friend's family was a strict vegetarian (Nambiars to be precise ).

Growing up together during all those years, we had our share of group studies, pimples, body image issues and not to forget the crushes ( often the same guy ). Ok, this is no secret but most girls in a class will have a crush on the class topper ( undoubtedly a nerd but one with a measure of cuteness thrown in ) at some point of time. The guy who bags most of the sports prizes comes a close second while the third position is generally reserved for the resident 'Tansen'. And going by my interactions with the kids in our society, the status quo still continues.

But getting back to our group study sessions, the finger-licking Mallu food was definitely an added attraction. No wonder most of the studies (and gossip) happened at her place. So, when it was time to experiment with a fusion dish that spanned '2 states', I just had to pick up something that belonged to God's own country and marry it with one of Odisha's culinary gems. Hence, the decision to bring together the flaky and crisp Malabar Parotta and the deceivingly simple Chicken Kasa to make a sumptuous evening snack ( something like the Kathi rolls but very different in taste and texture). A word of caution though. Getting it done is definitely a labor of love but one that will be definitely worth it !

Read on for the recipe -


















Preparation Time - 1 hour 15 mins

Ingredients -

For the Malabar Parotta -

  • 2 cups maida
  • 1 cup of milk ( room temp)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 teaspoon oil
  • water as required
  • salt to taste
  • more ghee/oil for frying

For the Chicken Kasa - 

  • 600 gm Chicken (with bones)
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 10-12 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 2-3 dry red chilis
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/5 tsp garam masala
  • 3-4 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • cilantro for garnishing

Extras -

  • Onion rings ( soaked in water and vinegar in 1:1 ratio )
  • tomato sauce
  • a dash of lemon juice

Cooking

For the Malabar Parotta - Break the egg into a bowl. Add the salt and sugar to it. Beat lightly. Add to the flour along with the milk and a little water. Mix gently till you get a slightly sticky dough. Cover and keep aside for 15-20 mins.

Start kneading the dough once again. Add some flour or a little oil if it seems too sticky. Knead for 5 mins till the stickiness reduces to a large extent. Spread some oil over the dough. Cover with a towel and keep aside for another 10 mins.

Rub oil generously all over your hands and start kneading the dough. Knead for 5-7 mins till most of the moisture is absorbed and the dough looks smooth and even. Divide into 4-5 portions and shape each one into a ball. Rub oil all over the dough balls and keep aside for half hour.

Sprinkle flour over the working surface and roll out each ball. Brush a little oil all over the roti and sprinkle flour evenly over the surface. Take hold of one edge of the roti and fold it like you would fold a paper to make a fan. Once it is folded into a long shape, twist it into a coil around of the ends. Brush more oil over the coil and keep aside for another 5-10 mins. Repeat for the remaining dough balls.

Finally, take each coil and roll out into a parotta. 

Heat a tawa. Place the parotta over it, cook for 1-2 mins and then flip it over. After 1 min, add ghee and fry on one side till small brown spots begin to appear. Then it flip over, add more ghee and fry on the other side as well. Take care that you press it down while frying to separate out the layers.

Repeat with the remaining ones.

For the Chicken Kasa - 

Wash and marinate the chicken with the salt and turmeric for 10 mins.

Take the onion, ginger, garlic, red chili and whole spices in a chutney jar. Grind into a smooth paste. Add it to the marinated chicken along with 2 tsp oil. Mix well. Let it stand for 20-30 mins.

Heat the remaining oil in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add the sugar and red chili powder. Just as it starts to smoke, add the marinated chicken. Toss on high for 2-3 mins. Cover it ans cook till half done.

Add the finely chopped tomatoes at this stage. Cover once again and cook till soft ( the meat should be easily separated from the bones). The curry should be dry at this point. Add the garam masala and chopped cilantro. Mix in and remove from flame. 

[ Note - The chicken should get cooked in it's own juice. If at any point, the curry looks too dry, sprinkle a few drops of water to avoid getting it burnt. ]

Once it is bearable to touch, separate the meat from the bones. 

For the finishing touches, take a parotta, add some the chicken pieces and a few onion rings. Drizzle the sauce over the parotta. Add a dash of lemon juice. Wrap it up and dig in !

Important - You have obviously been good !! Reading till the very last line of this post :) . Ok, so here is a suggestion that will make this recipe super easy.

Try this with a Heat & Eat packet of Malabar parottas. They are delish, especially the ones sold by ID . Yes, even I do this when I am in the mood to cheat ;) .


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sarapulli ( Dedicating my 1000th post to Lord Jagaanaath )

Puri Dham. One of the Char Dhams or four sacred temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Considered sacred to the point that every Hindu is required to pay a visit to each one of them during his lifetime. And Puri Dham is where Lord Vishnu takes the avatar of the Lord Jagaanaath who is also revered as the living deity amongst his followers. Have you ever come across any other God who is extremely fond of good food, falls sick very year, goes for a vacation to his aunt's place, even fights with his wife and finally woos her back with piping hot rasgullas ( Well..that tale has survived 600 years so there is no reason for me to doubt it ) ?? I bet not. And there are many more such endearing tales about this God who is also referred to as 'Kaliya' or 'The Black One' by his devotees.

There is a very interesting legend about the Char Dhams. It is said that the Lord takes his daily bath at Badrinath, dresses up at Dwarka, drops in for a feast at Puri and then finally takes off for a snooze at Rameshwaram. No wonder it ties up neatly with the tradition of the six daily offerings made at Lord Jagaanaath's abode. Anyone who has tasted the 'abhada' or Lord Jagaanaath's Mahaprasad will entirely agree with this legend. The sheer mind-boggling variety of dishes cooked everyday to appease the Lord is awe-inspiring.

The Sarapulli is one such extremely rich delicacy that is made entirely with milk . Milk cream and thickened milk are churned together to create these gorgeous pancakes that are then dunked into a thick sugar syrup scented with cardamom. Guaranteed to entirely melt upon the tongue and leave one begging for more. While finalizing my 1000th blog post, I chanced upon this recipe on Mugdha's blog Cooking Fundas . She is one of the first Odia bloggers who caught my attention when I started this journey in 2010. Sadly, most of them are not longer active. I myself considered it a blessing from the Lord that had enabled me to persist with my blog for so long. Hence the decision to dedicate my 1000th post to Him on the pious day of Ratha Jatra .

Read on for the recipe -
















Ingredients -
  • 1 liter full fat milk
  • 2-3 tsp condensed milk
  • 1 tsp cornflour ( optional but I prefer to use it )
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2-3 crushed cardamom pods
  • a few drops of ghee


Cooking - Take the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 5-6 mins to get the desired consistency. Add the crushed cardamom to the hot syrup.

Take the milk and boil it in a wide mouthed vessel. Once a layer of cream starts to form at the top, remove it and keep it aside. Continue to boil the milk till you gather about 1 cup of the cream.

Once the cream has cooled down, add the condensed milk and cornflour to it. Beat it to break down any lumps and get a smooth consistency.

Heat a non-stick pan and grease it with very little ghee. Put 1 tbsp of the cream onto the pan. Once it is a little firm, flip and cook on the other side as well. It tends to break so be careful while flipping it over.

When it is done on both sides, dunk it into the sugar syrup. Remove carefully ( as it becomes even more soft) after a min and keep aside.

Repeat the process with the remaining cream.

Serve warm.

















Note - When you put the cream on the hot pan, it tends to become thinner and spreads out by itself. Hence a little cornflour is required to give it a certain amount of thickness which makes it easier to flip. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

ChatPati Oats Locho ( Monsoon Mania Collaboration )

Ever tried to guess the reason behind those hunger pangs that crop up everytime there is a down ? Well, it could be sudden fall in outside temperature that makes one feel chilled and hence the craving to eat something hot along with one's favorite beverage. Or it might even be the limited mobility that makes one explore other avenues before finally settling down on snacking . After all good food has a relaxing effect on us.

Or maybe, it is that primal desire to bite into the forbidden fruit...er..food. With most doctors and elders putting a blanket ban on street-side fare during the rains, they suddenly start to look even more inviting. Wading though the murky waters, the aromas of bhajjis and samosas wafting up from the street vendors assail our senses and send our normally logical brain into a tailspin. And we end up eating stuff that we would otherwise not even touch with a barge-pole. 

But given that gastrointestinal disorders are very common during monsoons, it is best to steer away from street-foods. Some advance preparation can actually go a long way in avoiding such blunders. This 'Surti Locho' recipe is one such example to an easy to prepare and very healthy steamed snack. I have added a healthy twist to this recipe by substituting the 'poha' with oats and serving it up with a tangy 'Puli-inji' relish.

But hang on !! There are more recipes to be discovered as I am back with a collaboration with my bloggers friends Saswati who blogs @ Delish Potpourri and Parinaaz of A Dollop of That fame. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to check what these gals are dishing out !

Read on for the recipe -

















Preparation Time - 45 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1 cup channa dal
  • 1/3 cup urad dal
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 tsp crushed ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • salt to taste

For garnishing -

  • puli inji relish
  • coriander leaves

Preparation - Wash and soak the channa dal and the urad dal separately for 6-7 hours.

Take the oats in a bowl. Cover with just enough hot water to moisten it.

Grind the channa dal into a slightly coarse paste.

Grind the urad dal separately into a fine paste. Add the moistened oats to the same jar and blend together.

Transfer all the ingredients ( except baking powder) into a big mixing bowl . Bring everything together.

Cooking - Take sufficient water in a steamer. Bring it to a boil.

Grease a round/square dish which is about 2 inches deep. 

Finally add the baking powder to the batter, mix evenly and pour into the baking dish.

Put it in the steamer and let it cook for 30 mins. Insert a toothpick into the center to check if it is done.

Remove it from the steamer. 

Scoop out some of the hot Locho onto a serving plate or bowl. Garnish with Puli inji relish ( or tamarind jaggery chutney ) and cilantro. 

Serve piping hot.
















Note - Refrigerate any remaining batter ( to which baking powder has not been added ) and use it up in a day or two .

Check out these fabulous Monsoon recipes contributed by my fellow bloggers !!
















Parinaaz's Eeda Chutney na Pattice ( Egg and Chutney Croquettes )

and



Chaak Hao Tann ( Or my version of the Black Rice Pancakes from North-East )

A feeling of 'deja vu' overcame me when I first stumbled upon this recipe on the internet. Was it because of an uncanny resemblance to the Arissa pitha? Or was it something else that triggered that sensation ? I am still not very sure apart from the fact that these pancakes had a very solid first impression on me. And that new-found love further intensified when I bit into them for the first time. Of course I tweaked the recipe a little bit keeping my taste buds in mind, but still the results were sensational. For now, I claim to have become a black-rice convert !!

Chak Hao or black rice is a aromatic rice variety that is native to Manipur ( or maybe small pockets in the entire north-east region but I am not too sure of that ). So special is this variety that an Emperor in China had banned the cultivation of this rice for the masses. Hence it came to be known as the 'Forbidden Rice'. This variety of rice contains gluten and hence people with Celiac diseae should not consume it. But for others, this the best variety of rice for a number of reasons.

Black rice has a very high proportion of antioxidants which is crucial to the prevention of cancer and Alzheimer's . Its high anthocyanin content is very much capable of lowering the risk of heart attacks and controlling high cholesterol levels. Plus it is grown organically which results in higher nutrient value and zero exposure to chemicals.

Read on for the recipe ( Sourced from HERE ) -



















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -


  • 1 cup Black rice
  • 1/2 cup Atta (flour)
  • 3 tbsp powdered jaggery
  • 1 tsp fennel (coarsely powdered)
  • 2 tsp ghee


Preparation - Wash and soak the black rice overnight. Drain the water and transfer to a grinder jar.


















Grind the rice into a smooth paste. (If it feels dry, use some the water that we had drained earlier)

Add the powdered jaggery and grind again.

Transfer the batter into a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup flour and the powdered fennel seeds.

Mix everything to get a firm dough. If it feels wet or stick, add a little more flour to make it firm.

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions.

Rub a little ghee on the hands and roll each portion into a ball. Then flatten it into a disc of about 4 mm thickness.

Cooking - Heat a skillet or tawa. Grease with a little ghee.

Place the discs on the skillet and drizzle more ghee on the sides.

Cook on low flame till one side is done. Then flip it over and add a little more ghee. Both surfaces should get a layer of crispness while the center should remain moist. Remove and keep aside.

Allow it to cool down before serving.



















Should stay fresh for 3-4 days in the fridge ( not tested yet as mine got over on the same day ).


Monday, July 4, 2016

Panasa Manjee Raee ( Jackfruit seeds in a traditional mustard-garlic preparation )

Have had enough of the sweet succulent jackfruit flesh ? Well, then it is right time to embrace yet another produce of the jackfruit tree. Those big white seeds that we tend to throw away are perfectly edible and are considered a delicacy in several parts of the country. In fact, the seeds are carefully harvested, cleaned and dried in the sun to be stored and consumed over the next few months. And having grown up in Odisha, I have eaten quite a few curries and fries that have jackfruit seeds as a ingredient. Apart from the sorisa bhaja, masala bhaja, raee and just the plain roasted ones prepared in a wood fired/coal fired stove, it has a propensity of making it's way into just about every vegetarian dish. No wonder I cannot get it out of my head even if I have practically given up on ripe jackfruits ( for some reason, I find it overpoweringly sweet these days ).

Last weekend on a trip to the HAL market in Bengaluru, I chanced upon a lady selling these yummy seeds. I brought half a kilo and even though it was a Sunday ( obligatory non-vegetarian day in our kitchen ), quickly prepared this delicious curry with about one third of them. Very simple and frugal, one just needs some Badi ( urad dal vadi ) apart from the regular ingredients from one's pantry. While I choose to call it a 'Raee' because of the ingredients used, it is almost dry in consistency and hence often considered as a 'bhaja'.

Read on for the recipe -



















Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients - 

  • 150 gm jackfruit seeds
  • 4-5 urad dal Badi
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 1 green chili
  • 2 pinch turmeric powder
  • 3 tsp oil
  • dash of mustard oil for final garnish
  • cilantro for garnishing
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Remove the outer white layer of the jackfruit seeds. Wash them.

Chop each one into small pieces.

Make a fine paste out of the mustard seeds, red chili and garlic. Dilute the paste with 1 cup of water and let it stand undisturbed. 

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Add the Badi and fry on low flame to a golden brown. Remove from wok and keep aside.

Add another 2 tsp of oil to the same wok. Add the chopped jackfruit seeds. Stir fry for about 2-3 mins.

Carefully drain the water from the cup containing the mustard paste into the wok. The black residue part should be left behind in the cup. 

Add turmeric and salt to taste. Cook covered till 3/4th done.

Crush the fried badis and add to the wok. Let it cook till all the excess water evaporates.

Finally mix in the mustard oil, chopped green chili and cilantro. Remove from the flame.

Serve it at room temperature with some steamed rice and yellow dal. Enjoy !!






Sunday, July 3, 2016

Tomato and Soya Masala Panini Sandwich ( And the Lunchbox Skirmish continues... )

Everyone loves sandwiches. You just need to find the 'One' that suits your palate. Till then it is like fighting your way ( and diminishing your bank balance in the process ) through endless tubes of red lipsticks before you zero in on that one elusive shade and can truly claim 'One woman One Red'. But jokes apart, your chances of finding the perfect lipstick are far better than bumping into Prince charming or a damsel in distress (quite a few guys still harbor that fantasy, don't they ?).

But the real reason why I love sandwiches is the fact that they are so neat and equally easy to prepare. I can have them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes to quell those stray hunger pangs that strike in-between meals. For each one, I just modify the stuffing keeping the meal requirements in mind. For example, I prefer to have egg slices and cheese when I make them for brekkie. Lunch time calls for something like grilled chicken and salad veggies. And so on. This 'Tomato and Soya Masala Panini Sandwich' is one of my mealtime staples, especially on the days when I avoid meat and dairy. 

Most kids (especially the older lot) would enjoy this sandwich in their lunchbox. One can also add some cheese spread or cheese slices or even hung curd to clinch the deal with them.

Read on for the recipe - 


















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -
  • 6 Bread slices
  • 1 large Tomato ( cut into slices )
  • 1 medium onion ( cut into slices )
  • any other vegetable of your choice 
  • 1 cup soya masala 
  • 3 tsp mayonniase
  • 3 tsp ketchup
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of salt
  • butter for greasing the plates of the sandwich maker
For the soya masala -

  • 1 cup soya chunks
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1/2 of a medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 2 pinch garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp chopped cilantro

Preparation - Cook the soya chunks and potato in a pressure cooker for 1-2 whistles.

Allow steam to escape. Open lid, take out the soya chunks, squeeze them and rinse 2-3 times in clear water.

Squeeze out all the water from the soya chunks, put in a mixing bowl and mash to a coarse paste. Peel the potato, mash and add to the same mixing bowl.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in pan. Add the chopped onion and ginger garlic paste. Saute for a while till the raw smell goes off.

Add the soya and potato paste along with salt and chili powder. Mix everything together and cook for 4-5 mins.

Finally add the garam masala and chopped cilantro. Mix and remove from the flame. Let it come down to room temperature.

Assembly - Take a bread slice. Layer it with mayonnaise. Them put about 1/3rd of the soya masala on the bread.

Top it with tomato, onion and any other vegetable slices that you prefer. Sprinkle some salt and pepper, and close the sandwich with another bread slice.

Grease the plates with some butter.

Place the sandwiches and grill them to a light brown.

Serve with some tomato ketchup.















One can eat it right away or even pack for lunch/brunch.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Riiz Bi Sh'arieh ( A Lebanese Rice Delight )

While breads are the Middle eastern staple, they do possess quite a variety of rice dishes in their repertoire. I have already blogged about the Moudardara which is a kind of Lebanese khichidi. What strikes me about these rice varieties is the fact that they are so frugal with hardly a handful of ingredients and yet turn out to be amazingly flavorsome. It is the perfect accompaniment with their rich meat and vegetable gravies.

As I focus my attention on the Lebanese platter, I realize that there is lot that is yet to be explored. While the world drools over sinful desserts like Baklava, Basbousa and Kunafeh, the everyday dishes from the region are quite healthy. There is a heavy dependence on  garlic, olive oil and a handful of aromatic seasoning to prepare these dishes which can definitely be termed heart-healthy.

Today's recipe is a simple 'Riiz Bi Sh'arieh' which is a mix of long grained rice and fine noodles cooked together with only butter/olive oil used for the seasoning. While it is very easy to prepare, we need to note that the noodles need to be roasted to just that right shade of brown without ever burning it ( personally I don't mind leaving it a golden brown rather than taking a with risk burning it ). It can be garnished with handful of pine nuts and a dash of pepper to add a festive touch but I am definitely sticking to the plain version.

Read on for the recipe -


















Preparation Time - 15 mins ( 30 mins standby )

Ingredients -
  • 1 cup long grained Basmati
  • 1/2 cup thin vermicelli ( seviyan )
  • 3 tsp olive oil ( You can use butter but olive oil is healthier )
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups water

Preparation - Wash the rice and soak it in water for half an hour. Drain and keep aside.

Cooking - Heat the olive oil in a deep pan. Once it is fragrant, add the vermicelli and roast on a low flame till it turns a rich brown.

Add the rice along with 2 cups water and salt.

Cook covered for 12-15 mins ( or the time specified on the rice packet ).

Remove from flame and let it stand covered for 10 mins. Use a fork to fluff it up.

Serve with a meat or vegetable gravy or even with a lentil curry of your choice.


















Or even with some fried prawns.


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