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DIY Masala Chai Concentrate

DIY chai concentrate is basically coveneinent chai any hour of the day. I love making and keeping it around especially during summers because whenever chai cravings (especially iced tea, all I have to do it pour it over ice and mix with some milk and ta-da. I call it a DIY because you can totally make it your own – like less strong chai? brew it for a shorter time, don’t like cinnamon in your chai?, simply skip it, would love to use english breakfast tea, go for it!

Chai is a loved indian beverage and really I had never tried it iced before coming to the States. But then slowly I started liking it from cafes all around (its a very cool concept actually) and with the aroma of spices and inspired by vietnamese coffee, sweetened with condensed milk, its one of my favorite summer beverage. This concentrate is just not suitable for iced tea, you can use it to make hot tea as well. Just add in super hot milk and make sure to flush your tea cup with hot water before you pour everything in. When schools open, amid the morning rush, I seldom go for a hot cuppa this way! It is simply a chai lovers delight!

There is simply nothing like a hot cup of chai at the end of day or a tumbler of iced tea in hand while lounging in the backyard, make this recipe your own and have fun. Below are a few more things I wanted to put down.

  • I use loose black tea to make mine, you can use your favorite tea or tea bags – orange pekoe or english breakfast to make it.
  • Add non diary milk to make it vegan friendly. I personally ike using oat milk in chai, other nut based mylks alter the taste of tea but then its your call.
  • You can use any selection of spices that you like – fennel or lemongrass work great as well.
  • If you dont like a strong brew, dont boil the chai for long.
  • I like to leave the concentrate unsweetened but you can add sugar while boiling.
  • This concentrate sits well in the fridge for 5 days, appears a little milky after refrigeration but dont worry. To last longer, you can place it in ice cube tray and freeze for 2 months.
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DIY Masala Chai Concentrate

A homemade masala chai concentrate with black tea, fragrant spices that sits well in the fridge for a week and is perfect for iced or hot tea any time of the day!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 8 servings

Equipment

  • Large Pot, Measuring spoons, tea strainer

Ingredients

  • 1 litre water
  • 4 inch fresh ginger shoot, crush in mortar pestle
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 15-18 green cardamom
  • 6-8 tbsp loose black tea (or use 6-8 unflavored tea bags)
  • To make tea – hot or cold milk, sweetener

Instructions

  • In a large pot, bring water to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add the ginger, spices and loose tea (or tea bags).
  • Bring to a slow boil again, reduce the heat and let brew for 8-10 minutes. It will be a gorgeous dark amaber color and a beautiful aroma of spices will fill up your kitchen. Switch off the stove.
  • Strain and store in a glass container for up to a week. You can freeze in ice cube tray for upto 2 months.
  • To make Masala Chai – Add 1/3 cold (alomg with ice cubes) or hot milk to about 1/2 cup of the concentrate along with 1-2 tsp condensed milk or sugar. Really make it your own, taste and adjust. Mix and enjoy.

Notes

  • I use loose black tea to make mine, you can use your favorite tea or tea bags – orange pekoe or english breakfast to make it.
  • Add non diary milk to make it vegan friendly. I personally ike using oat milk in chai, other nut based mylks alter the taste of tea in my opinion but then its totally your call.
  • You can use any selection of spices that you like – fennel or lemongrass work great as well.
  • If you dont like a strong brew, dont boil the chai for long.
  • I like to leave the concentrate unsweetened but you can add sugar while boiling.
  • This concentrate sits well in the fridge for 5 days. To last longer, you can place it in ice cube tray and freeze for 2 months.
Desserts/Baking

Mango Rasmalai

Rasmalai hardly needs an introduction. Sweet chenna(milk solids) patties dunked in chilled, sweetened thickened milk redolent of cardamom and saffron. What’s not to like when biting into a spongy rasmalai on a hot day.

I grew up eating traditional rasmalai and its cousin sister 🙂 , Indrani (have a recipe here). I was introduced to mango rasmalai a few years back and instantly loved it. Chilled mango flavored milk took the dessert to another level! I like to add sweet juicy cubes of mango as well to the milk for extra mango goodness. If you can lay your hands on kesar mango or alphonso mangoes from India, the pulp and cubes of those are the best thing to use. However, well ripened honey mangoes available here during peak summer in the USA also work great, which is what I use.

There are few steps to making rasmalai at home though its very easy. Its a four step process which involves making the thickened milk base in which to dunk the patties, making chenna from scratch followed by kneading the chenna and then boiling the chenna patties in sugar syrup. The process takes time but the only tricky steps are proper kneading and boiling the chenna patties for the right amount of time so that they are soft and melt in the mouth. Making good mithai is a learning process, it takes a lot of time and effort to get the right feel of how things should done. Trust me I have wasted many batches over the years while practicing.

Keep the below things in mind when you make rasmalai and they will turn out soft and spongy every time!

  • Use full fat milk. Dont use skim milk. Boiling milk and curdling it at a right temperature will give you softest chenna. Soft chenna means soft patties. Its simple. Bring milk to a boil and then switch off the stove before adding the curdling agent (I use white vinegar). This is super important else the chenna granules will be tough.
  • Squeeze optimum amount of whey from chenna for a set period of time, we dont want to get rid of all the liquid because we need the fat and moisture both during kneading. When you hang the chenna and it stops dripping yet its moist, this will give the best texture of the rasmalai. Understanding these things comes with practice and patience so don’t give up easily if you mess up a few times.
  • After draining, chenna must not be sticky. It should be crumbly. If chenna feels sticky, hang it a bit longer.
  • Kneading for how long is again a play of feel and impulse. Knead continuously for a good 6-8 minutes atleast to start with. Once the chenna starts feeling soft and lacey, its ready. Depends on the quality of your milk (fat quantity, homogenization, room temperature, etc).
  • If you are using fresh mangoes, grind them to a smooth pulp and sieve to remove any fibers etc before adding to milk. You can used tinned mango pulp as well if you cannot find sweet mangoes. Works well.
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Mango Rasmalai

A popular bengali sweet consisting of sweet chenna patties and sweet mango dunked in a chilled mango flavored milk base.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 10 rasmalai discs

Equipment

  • 2 large pots, colander, cheesecloth, spoons, 1 large sauce pot

Ingredients

For the Chenna Patties

  • 4 cups full fat or whole milk
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1-2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 cups ice cubes

For the Sugar Syrup

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4-5 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cups ice cubes

For the Thickened Milk

  • 3 cups full fat or whole milk
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk or sugar (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup sliced alomonds & pistachios
  • 1/2 cup smooth mango pulp (see notes)
  • 2 mangoes, diced
  • 10-12 saffron strands
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom

Instructions

Make the Mango Milk base

  • In a heavy pot, add the full fat milk, bring it to boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 25-30 mins until its reduced to 1/3 rd of its volume. We dont want to thicken a lot else it will become rabri. Add condensed milk or sugar and mix well. Let simmer for another 8-10 minutes.
  • Once the milk looks velvety, switch off the stove. We dont want it to reduce or thicken a lot. Mix in the nuts,saffron & cardamom while still warm, mix and cover the milk with a lid to let cool down for 15 minutes. Once a bit cooled mix in the mango pulp. Transfer to a wide dish(wide enough so that chenna discs can be soaked in milk in a single layer when we add them). Refrigerate to chill while we make chenna patties.
  • Make the Chenna
  • Set milk to a boil in a heavy pot. Line your colander with cheesecloth/muslin.
    Once the milk is boiling, switch off the flame,wait for a minute and immediately add vinegar to it followed by ice cubes. Stir gently 2-3 times. You will see that the milk starts curdling. Let the curds form, don’t stir a lot. Once you see that all the milk has curdled and a greenish whey has separated, the ice cube would have melted awaty. Strain the curdled milk through a muslin/cheese cloth. 
  • Pour some cold water to remove the traces of vinegar. Let water flow away for 3-4 minutes and then bring together ends of the cheesecloth and tie into a small pouch. Hang it for about 20-25 minutes over sink to remove some liquid from the chenna. When the liquid stops dripping, chenna is ready to knead.
  • Make the Chenna Patties
  • Transfer the chenna to a wide dish, add the cornstarch and using the base of your palm, knead the chenna for around 8 minutes to a smooth. Use the heel of your palm, press and push the chenna away from your while kneading it. By the end it will feel soft and creamy and come together in a soft dough. Bring it all together, form into a ball, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • In a wide pot, add the sugar and water for the syrup, add the cardamom pods and set to bring it to a rolling boil. 
  • Pinch small lime size portions of the kneaded chenna and make smooth round balls.Flatten slightly into discs.
  • Once the syrup is boiling, slowly add the chenna patties in there. Dont lower the heat. Once you have added all the patties, cover the pot and let boil vigrously for 10-12 mins. You will see that the patties will grown in size (almost double or more). Dont reduce the stive else thet will deflate.
  • After 10-12 minutes, when you see that the patties are firm, switch off the flame. Do not open the lid immediately. Let sit for 6-8 minutes. Add the ice cubes next and then let the patties soak in syrup for 1-2 hours.

Assemble the Rasmalai

  • To the chilled sweet mango milk, add the cooled and soaked chenna balls. Press the chenna balls just a little before adding to sweet milk. Let chill overnight or atleast 8 hours before serving.
  • Add diced mango and extra nuts when serving. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. If you do not want to use condensed milk, you can use sugar. condensed milk gives a smoother milky taste. 
  2. Use full fat milk. Dont use skim milk. Boiling milk and curdling it at a right temperature will give you softest chenna. Soft chenna means soft patties. Its simple. Bring milk to a boil and then switch off the stove before adding the curdling agent (I use white vinegar). This is super important else the chenna granules will be tough.
  3. Squeeze optimum amount of whey from chenna for a set period of time, we dont want to get rid of all the liquid because we need the fat and moisture both during kneading. When you hang the chenna and it stops dripping yet its moist will give the best texture of the rasmalai. Understanding these things comes with practice and patience so don’t give up easily if you mess up a few times.
  4. After draining, chenna must not be sticky. It should be crumbly. If chenna feels sticky, hang it a bit more.
  5. Kneading for how long is again a play of feel and impulse. Knead continuously for a good 6-8 minutes atleast to start with. Once the chenna starts feeling soft and lacey, its ready. Depends on the quality of your milk (fat quantity, homogenization process etc).
  6. If you are using fresh mangoes, grind them to a smooth pump and sieve to remove any fibers etc before adding to milk. You can used tinned mango pulp as well if you cannot find sweet mangoes. Works well.


Indian Curry/Stew

Bhindi Zunka /Besan Bhindi

Fleshy and sweet summer okra cooked in a masala of onion, garlic and spices and coated in roasted chickpea flour. This okra dish is so delicious as a side with daal– rice or with soft warm rotis and a bowl of yogurt. I love such simple and light meals during summer. The addition of besan(chickpea flour), one of my favorite flours, makes it taste so earthly and spices like mustard, fennel & cumin complement the combination of fresh vegetable and nutty flour.

Zunka is a Maharastrian (Western Indian) dish which is basically chickpea flour cooked in a tempering of mustard and cumin seeds along with fresh chilies and powdered spices. It is like a slurry or can be dryish. It is usually served with bhakri(flatbread bread) and pickle for a meal. It is a super light dish during summers and quite flavorful like anything made with chickpea flour is.

Here, I added fresh bhindi to the spiced chickpea flour. I also addd fennel seeds since I love the flavor with okra. Okra isn’t slimy at all once the dish finishes cooking, the dish is perfectly spiced and comes together very quickly. The is my version inspired by the iconic zunka dish, which is usually a slurry. I like this drier version with okra a lot. Here are a few things to be kept in mind while cooking okra and this dish. Keep these things in mind and your okra will never be slimy.

  1. Wash the okra at least 1-2 hours before beginning to cook and let air dry if possible. Quickly washing and wiping with paper or cloth table is okay but I recommend air drying. Do not cut okra until its completely dry else it will be super slimy.
  2. For this dish, cut the okra in longish pieces, don’t cut very thin discs.
  3. Don’t skimp on oil. Some vegetables like okra, eggplant etc cook better if the oil quantity is good. At the same time, besan(chickpea flour)also need extra oil for the right texture post cooking. Right quantity of oil also helps in reducing the slimy texture of okra since it dosent steam but stir fries well while cooking.
  4. Okra is a delicate vegetable and when fresh, it cooks quite fast. We don’t need to cover it for a long time else it loses its color, get overcooked and the texture isn’t right. Just cover for a few minutes in the beginning to get cooking started and then cook uncovered till its tender. Writing the method I follow in the recipe.
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Bhindi Zunka /Besan Bhindi (Okra Cooked in Chickpea flour)

A flavorful dish of summer okra coated in spiced chickpea flour. Pairs well with soft rotis or dal and rice.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (400gms) okra
  • 1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 5 tbsp mustard oil or any cooking oil you use
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 green or red chilies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves,finely chopped
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • Red chilli powder to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-3 tbsp water or as needed
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)(or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala (or to taste)

Instructions

  • Wash and air-dry the okra. Trim the ends and cut each okra into maximun of 3 pieces. Set aside.
  • Take a kadai or heavy pan with lid in which you want to cook and set it on stove. First, dry roast the chickpea flour on low heat stirring continously till you smell a nice aroma but it does get not browned a lot. Takes about 6-8 minutes. Keep an eye and stir continously. Once roasted, transfer to a plate or bowl and set aside.
  • Add the mustard oil (or cooking oil) to the kadai and heat up till a bit smoky. Temper the oil with mustard, fennel and cumin seeds. As soon as they crackle, add the fresh chilies and saute in oil for 30 seconds.
  • Next, on medium heat, add the onion and let the onions cook in oil till they are a nice shade of golden brown. Add the garlic next and saute for a minute till you smell a nice aroma.
  • Add the coriander and red chili powder next and saute in warm oil for a minute or so.
  • Add all the okra to the onion & spices now, sprinkle salt and mix well. Saute for 2-3 minutes with the masala. You will see that the okra will start to look deep green in color and little moist(its own juices if your okra is good quality and fresh). If you feel its not releasing its juices, add couple tablespoons of water, mix and set the stove to low medium and cover the pan with a lid.
  • Let the okra cook for 5-7 minutes covered without opening the lid in between. Remove the lid and you will see that okra is much softer, let it cook for another 6-7 minutes without the lid till its soft but not falling apart. The okra will be browned and you wont see the slime. Once okra is cooked properly, its slimy texture goes away.
  • Sprinke the besan a few tablespoons at a time and gently mix well. The besan will slowly absorb the mositure from okra and will appear sandy. Add all the besan and keep mixing. If you feel that the sabzi is looking dryish, add a tablespoon or so of water. I didnt need to add any extra water. Taste and adjust the salt.
  • Finish the dish with amchoor and garam masala.Mix well and serve warm.
Indian Curry/Stew

Yellow Curry Salmon Bowl

Disclaimer :-This post is sponsored by Bluehouse Salmon. I was sent over the salmon to try but the recipe, images and opinions are my own.

After Indian cuisine, my next favorite has to be Thai cuisine. What’s not to love! What I am drawn to the most is how the spices and herbs used in both cuisines bear resemblance to each other but the flavor profile of dishes is so unique.

No points for guessing that the myriad of Thai curries are my favorite! I love using seafood with fresh vegetables in the curries and this soupy yellow curry bowl is cooked often in our home. The moment I saw Bluehouse Salmon, I knew that the fresh fish would be so amazing in this week’s yellow curry.

Bluehouse salmon are land raised in Florida practicing sustanability. Think of Bluehouse like a greenhouse. In their land based Bluehouses, salmon farming is done observing ethical practices, as a result, we can feast while our oceans thrive. Their salmon is always fresh, never frozen, antibiotics & hormone free and has a super taste.

I only have good things to say about this salmon. Being a seafood lover to the core, I have tasted numerous kinds of salmon and trust me I can differentiate. The taste of this fish is clean and rich. You really feel like eating something that is good for your body and mind (cue all the omega acids).After cooking, the salmon turned out to be firm yet buttery. It was nicely moist and flaky and not dry at all. With different kinds of colorful vegetables and steamed jasmine rice, this soupy bowl of superfood salmon goodness is satiating, wholesome and delicious all at the same time. 

Making Thai curry bases from scratch can be time consuming especially on weeknights. So I use store bought yellow curry paste when I am in a hurry but I pep it up using shallots, a fresh pounded paste of ginger, garlic and fresh turmeric. While the curry base simmers, I prep the vegetables. The rice can also cook in the same time if you start them at the beginning of cooking. If you plan a bit and with little help from the store, this amazing meal can be prepared in 30-40 minutes. 

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Salmon Yellow Curry Bowl

Thai Yellow curry Salmon, vegetables and jasmine rice served in a soupy bowl.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Thai
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4, 6oz Bluehouse Salmon Portions
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2-3 tbsp tbsp cooking oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped    
  • 1 tbsp garlic-ginger-turmeric paste (simply pound 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 inch knob of ginger and a tiny knob of fresh turmeric using mortar & pestle)
  • 2 Thai bird chilies, slit (adjust to taste)
  • 2-3 tbsp yellow curry paste, adjust depending on how strong you like the curry taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup water (adjust how you like the consistency)
  • 1 can unsweetened full fat coconut milk (400ml/14floz)
  • 2 tsp sugar, (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tbsp lime juice, or to taste

To plate

  • 1.5 cup blanched vegetables (I used asparagus, broccoli, sliced mushrooms, baby corn and red bell pepper)
  • Cooked Jasmine rice
  • Garnishes – Chopped cilantro, chilies etc, lime wedges

Instructions

  • Rub the salmon with turmeric, salt and pepper. Add 1 tbsp oil to a heavy and wide pot, let heat and sear all the salmon portions carefully on both sides. Do not cook through. 2 minutes each side is good enough. Transfer to a plate and keep nearby. 
  • Add 2 tbsp oil to the pot. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots and chilies and cook for a minute or so. Add the ginger garlic turmeric paste next. Sauté for 30 seconds till you smell a nice aroma. 
  • Next, add the yellow curry paste and sauté in oil for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the coconut milk next along with water.Add the salt and sugar as well. Bring to a very slow simmer, it should not boil. 
  • Once simmering enough, carefully add the seared salmon. Let simmer on low for 8-10 minutes (adjust time depending on how thick your fish portions are). Finish with limejuice and chopped cilantro. Switch off the stove and let the curry rest for 10 minutes. 
  • To Plate :- Take a wide bowl. Place salmon, scoop of rice and blanched vegetables. Pour over about 1 cup of warm yellow curry. Add a lime wedge, jalapeno slices and cilantro. Serve warm. Enjoy!
Desserts/Baking

Mango Royale

Mango Royale or Mango Icebox cake is a Fillipino layered dessert made with graham crackers, fresh mango and sweetened whipped cream. Its an incredibly easy dessert to make and perfect for summer. In my version, I use coconut biscuits(cookies) instead of graham crackers and add a little desiccated coconut to keep the mango-coconut theme going. Cloud like whipped cream scented with ground green cardamom and bites of luscious ripe mango make this easy peasy dessert so delightful.

What are Ice box cakes? Icebox cakes are simply cookies and whipped cream layered together with nuts, chocolate or seasonal fruit and chilled for a long time or frozen overnight. The cookies get soft after absorbing the moisture from whipped cream and the cake can be cut into neat slices. They are a fun thing to make with kids since no baking is involved. You can add fresh fruits or any kind of cookies or flavors to create the profile you like.

These cakes are rich and decadent but very delicious. They are messy to eat and I think thats how they are supposed to be enjoyed. These cakes need a handful of ingredients and are really a fun dessert to put together with kids. You can freeze them like a an ice-cream, slice and serve or chill them till the cookies are set and soften.

Use saffron to flavor the whipped cream, it pairs very well with mango. You can use marie or digestives as well in place of coconut biscuits. Th only thing to keep in mind is to not overly whip the cream. It should be whipped to soft peak consistency.

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Mango IceBox cake

A layered coconut coockies, whiped cream amd fresh mango dessert.
Prep Time20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Fillipino, Indian
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk, cold
  • 1/2 tsp ground green cardamom
  • 18-20 Nice Coconut Cookies (or 10 full graham cracker sheets)
  • 2 cup diced ripe mangoes
  • 2-3 tbsp dessicayed coconut, lightly toasted

Instructions

  • In a large bowl add the whipped cream amd whip it on low for 3 minutes.
  • Add cardamom powder and slowly start adding condensed milk in parts and whipping at the same time till very soft peaks are formed. Takes about 3-4 minutes on low medium speed of hand beater. If you feel that the cream is getting warm, immediately refrigerate it for 30 minutes and continue again. More chilled the cream, better it whips.
  • Line the container in which you want to make the cake. I used a 7 inch by 7 inch (4.75 cup) glass container. Use ny kind of baking tray or cake pan, rectangular is better since then you wont have to break the cookies to fit.
  • Add a layer of cover to cover the base, followed by 1 inch layer of whipped cream smoothen out with a spatula or back of spoon, sprinkle some desiccated coconut and then add about 1/2 cup diced mangoes. Repeat to form 3 or 4 layers depending on how thick you like the cake finsihing with cream layer on top.
  • Cover with a cling film amd chill the cake for atleast 6 hours. You can freeze it as well overnight. I like chilled version more, its softer, if you like to freeze it, peel away the parchment, slice off using a sharp knife and then let it thaw for 10 minutes since that makes it melt in the mouth 🙂
  • Slice and serve. Enjoy!
Brunch

Eggplant & Tomato Chutney Pizza

I tasted eggplant pizza first time on my trip to Genoa, Italy about fourteen years ago. I was traveling solo and was a vegetarian during those years. Right behind the hotel, overlooking the Ligurian Sea was an old ship docked on the harbor, home to restaurants, shops, cafes and pizzeria. Most evenings after work were spent there to grab a shot of espresso followed by dinner.

Image

Being a vegetarian in foreign lands could be a little hard and I used to keep ordering the same things – pesto pizza, cheese & tomato focaccia, eggplant pasta & pizza,lemon linguini etc. If it were not for those pizzeria and the piping hot pizza they served, I would have never learnt to eat eggplant this way. Yum!The pizzas were super delicious, though I must admit a bit lacking on spice levels for my indian palate. There is something about the combination of sweet juicy tomatoes, the eggplant especially their skins after they get cooked in high heat and the melt cheeses- mozzarella & parmesan- its such a harmony of flavors and textures in each bite.

I am a huge fan of vegetarian pizzas and you can say that this recipe combines the east & west. A robust spicy and tangy tomato chutney is used as a sauce on which I layer grilled eggplant slices, sprinkle parmesan and the flash bake it till the eggplant is just tender, still spongy and juicy to bite into. An amazing fusion recipe which is on repeat all summer in my kitchen since tomatoes and eggplant bounty is at its peak during this time.

You can make individual pizzas or a large 12 or 14 inch. Add more or less cheese, I leave it up to you.

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Eggplant & Tomato Chutney Pizza

Quick vegetarian pizza using indian tomato chutney as the pizza sauce and topped with eggplant and cheese. Its cheesey and spicy & dosent feel like eating vegetables at all.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Indian, Italian
Servings: 4 personal pizzas

Ingredients

For the Tomato Chutney

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2-3 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp split urad dal
  • 1-2 dried red chilies
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion roughly chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch of hing
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 6-8 curry leaves

For the Pizza

  • 4 personal pizza base (or 12 inch pizza base)
  • 1 large egglant
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • Tomato Chutney
  • Cheese – shredded mozarella & parmesan (as much as you like)

Instructions

Make the Tomato Chutney

  • Heat oil in a pan. Temper the oil with cumin seeds and peppercorns. Add the urad dal and crackle. Add the dried chilli and let brown a bit.
  • Next add onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes everything together and sprinkle salt and sugar. Mix well and let cook on medium heat till the tomatoes are soft and mushy. Takes about 6-8 minutes.
  • Transfer everything to a blender jar and blend to a thick smooth paste.
  • In the same pan, add 1/2 tbsp oil and temper the oil with mustard & fenugreek seeds. Let crackle, add a pinch of hing and add the curry leaves. Once the curry leaves are crisped, add the tomato paste and cook everything for 3-4 minutes untill its saucy.
  • Let cool and store in a air tight container for 8-10 days refrigerated. Use as you like.

For the Pizza

  • Slice the eggplant into slices. Dont slice too thin or too thick. Cut into half if the slices are too big. Sprinkle with salt and let the eggplant slices sit for 10 minutes.
  • Wipe eggplant with a paper towel and onn a hot gril pan or regular pan, add 2-3 tbsp oil and place the eggplant slices. Cook for 3-4 minutes on high heat on each side till the eggplant is little soft but not fully cooked. Take out in a plate.
  • Preheat oven to 500F or the highest temperature your oven heats up to.
  • Assemble the pizza- Place the pizza base on a pizza stone or place on a cookie sheet lined with a rack. Spread the 1-2 tbsp tomato chutney on top of the pizza bases, add shredded mozarella cheese. Layer eggplant slices. Sprinkle parmesan cheese. You can add a drizzle of oil at this stage as well.
  • Bake for 5-6 minutes until the cheese has melted. Sprinkle with some chili flakes and serve warm.

Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch

Besan Toast


These besan toasts are super easy to make and quite a healthy way to start your day. Just mix up a spiced besan(chickpea flour) batter, dip the bread slices and pan fry or deep fry. The consistency of the batter is the only tricky thing here, it has to be rather thick for a nice coating on bread without making it soggy. Enjoy with chutney and a cup of chai 🙂

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Besan Toast

Bread slices dipped in spiced chickpea flour batter and pan fried. These vegan toasts are so delicous for breakfast or snack.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 8 half toasts

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls, an heavy cast iron skillet or tawa(griddle)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup besan(chickpea flour)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup water, as needed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi(crushed)
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • Pinch ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2-3 hot green chilies, finely chopped ,adjust to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 4-5 white bread slices, cut in half diagonally
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil per toast

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add the besan and start adding water slowly. Stir continously so as to get a thick lump free batter. See video for the consistency. Keep aside for 5 minutes.
  • Add the spices, chopped onions, green chilies and cilantro. Taste and adjust the salt. Mix well.
  • Set a heavy cast iron skillet or tawa to heat on medium heat. Once nicely hot (but not suoper hot), spread 2-3 tablespoon of oil on the skillet.
  • Dip the bread slices in the besan batter to cover both sides. Immediately place on the hot skillet. Let cook on each side for 3-4 minutes without disturbing till the besan coating is browned. Once the besan is cooked, toast will leave the pan on its own. Once you flip the toast, add a litle more oil. Even though we arent deep fryring, these need a little extra oil to not get dry.
    It takes a bit of practice to undertand the right temperature of the griddle. If you will cook on very high heat, the toasts will be cooked outside but will be raw inside. A low medium stove with a heavy skillet that retains heat is good choice
  • Serve warm with yogurt, chutney or ketchup. Enjoy!
Desserts/Baking

Chai Mug Cake

This mug cake is like eating chai in a cake form. Each bite is soft and is aromatic with chai spices like green cardamom and cinnamon.It is an eggless cake that comes together with basic pantry ingredients. Mug cakes are hugely popular with my kids and every time I made them, I always wondered how to make them a bit more unique and adult friendly. If you are a fan of milky chai, this cake is for you. The inspiration for this mug cake came from this recipe on Maria’s blog, I used her amazing idea, but developed my own recipe measurements.

This cake is so fluffy and it tastes of chai. It is quick to make and definitely a keeper recipe. I like my chai on the less sweet side so this cake isn’t very sweet.

What are mug cakes? Mug cakes are simple cakes baked in the mug in a microwave. All the ingredients are added to the mug, mixed and cooked in the microwave. They are quick, small portion and satisfy the cake cravings.

What kind of tea to use? I simply use plain orange pekoe tea bags from the indian grocery stores. You can use english black tea bags as well. Just make sure to use the unflavored ones.

Can it be made nut free? Yes. I add fine ground almond meal to this cake for a nutty bite and also because I love almonds, but I have tested the recipe with just flour as well and you can skip the almond and replace with equivalent flour.

What kind of milk? Can I use Mylk? I use regular 2 percent milk here but you can use whole milk as well. Avoid using fat free milk since the fat in the milk does add to taste and moistness of cake. I haven’t tested this recipe with non dairy milk so I cannot say how the taste or texture will be.

Can I use oil in place of ghee? Yes. Absolutely. But ghee does add to the taste and aroma of the cake. You can use unsalted butter or any neutral oil as well.

Can I add ginger since I like adrak chai? I tried adding ground ginger to the recipe and I found it a bit overpowering. You can add a few thin slices of ginger to hot milk while you steep the tea bags and a mild ginger flavor does come through.

How to serve? I simply dust it with powdered sugar but my kids loved it with whipped cream. You can also add a dollop of spiced buttercream as well. You decide 🙂

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Chai Mug Cake

Chai in a cake form. A simple cake made with steeped tea bags and flavored with chai spices.
Course: Dessert, Snack
Servings: 1 mug cake

Equipment

  • 1 mug tall enough to not overflow when cake rises in the microwave.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup boiling hot milk
  • 2 plain black tea bags, I use wagh bakri
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp fine ground almond meal see notes if you want to just use flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted ghee or unslated butter or neutral oil
  • pinch of ground cinnamon & green cardamom

Instructions

  • Add the tea bags to the mug. Pour over boiling hot milk over the tea bags. Alternatively you can first warm up the milk in the mug in the microwave and then add the tea bags to it. Set aside to let the tea bags steep for 8-10 minutes for a strong flavor of tea.
  • Once the tea bags have steeped, squeeze them very well using a spatula or back of spoon to strain all the milk. Discard the tea bags. Do not skip this part else the quantity of milk will be less in the recipe.
  • To the tea flavored milk, add the flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, melted ghee and ground spices. Using a spoon mix very well until the batter is not lumpy. After adding all the ingredients, your mug should be half full, this will ensure that the cake will not overflow when it rises in the microwave.
  • Microwave for 1 minute + 25-30 seconds in a full power mode (My microwave is 1000 watts) Every microwave is different, so you might need to tweak the time a bit. Use a long skewer inserted in the center of the cake to check for doneness if you arent sure if the cake is cooked.
  • Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy while still warm.

Notes

  1. If you don’t want to use almonds, simply used 1/4 cup of flour.
  2. Measure the ghee when its melted. Use any neutral oil like canola or vegetable if you don’t want to use ghee.
Indian Curry/Stew

Keema(Minced Meat) Bhari Mirch(Peppers)

Delicious peppers stuffed with minced meat. A delicious low carb dish which can be made with leftover keema or with a fresh cooked minced meat masala. The ground meat is stuffed in pasillo chllies and baked off, you can add a few shreds of cheese if you like. I serve them warm drizzled with a garlicky cumin yogurt slurry. A hearty indian meal which is a hit with family.

During summers, I am on a look out for light yet hearty lunches which are not necessarily salads and these peppers are just the right answer. Stuffed peppers are a classic comfort food in many cuisines and here instead of the bell peppers, I like using zesty pasilla chillies which are not hot but have lots of peppery flavor. You can cook the keema fresh and cook it a bit ahead as well and at the time of serving just stuff and bake in oven.

Some tips and variations to try in this recipe depending on how you like.

  • Choose long and firm peppers which are not wrinkled and have fresh stems. Look for dark green ones since they have better flavor.
  • Seasoning the peppers with a little bit of salt and oil and letting them stand for 10-15 minutes brings about good flavor in their flesh.
  • Protein – Use ground chicken or ground beef.
  • Vegetables- If you wish, you can add a few extra vegetables like bell peppers or peas to the ground meat. One small potato mashed with the mince tastes really good.
  • Grains- Mix some cooked rice or quinoa with the keema before stuffing.
  • Serve with a side of rotis for a full meal. They taste amazing with rotis.

Keema Bhari Mirch (Ground Meat stuffed peppers)

Tender pasillo chillies stuffed with indian spiced keema or ground meat filling. Serve with garlic mint yogurt or wamr rotis.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Mexican
Servings 12 stuffed pepper halves

Ingredients
  

  • 6 pasillo chilies, sliced lengthwise and skin & seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 pound ground meat (choose chicken, lamb, or beef)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1.5 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • Spice blend(recipe below)
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro & fresh mint
  • 1-2 tbsp shredded cheese (optional)
  • Oil for brushing or cooking spray

Spice Blend

  • 1/2 tbsp corinader powder
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes(adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, add all the powdered spices, mix well and keep ready.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the insides of pepper with oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Let stand.
  • In a heavy skillet/pan, warm up the oil and crackle the cumin seeds, bay leaf and cardamom. Add the chopped onions and cook them for 3-4 minutes till they are soften but not browned.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and the spice blend we made. Saute for 30-40 seconds. Add the tomatoes & sugar next and cook them with the spices for 3-4 minutes on medium heat till you see oil seperating.
  • Add the ground meat, break it using a spatula and mix well with everythhing. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes till the meat is browned and has released its water. Open the lid, sprinkle the salt and then saute (bhuno) uncovered for another 8-10 minutes till all the liquid has evaporated. You will see that the meat is much deeper in color and the fat has started to release a bit. Dont dry the meat completely since it has to bake in the oven.
  • Take it off the heat, pic out the bay leaf and cardamo, mix with cilantro and mint. (At this point you can mix boiled potatoes or cooked rice) Taste and adjust the salt.
  • Divide the warm meat mixture evenly between the peppers. You might have some leftover meat.
  • Lay the peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet.Bake for 20-22 minutes. If you are using cheese, take out of the oven, top with cheese, return to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes till cheese has melted.
    These taste good if they have a slight bite. Dont overbake. Serve warm.
  • For the Yogurt Slurry – Mix 1 cup yogurt with 1/3 cup water. Grate 1-2 garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder, fresh lemom juice and 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves and add to the yogurt. Mix well.

Notes

  1. This recipe makes 12 pepper halves which isn’t easy to finish in one go unless you are serving to a big family. I store the leftovers, they taste good for next 1-2 days. Reheat for 5 minutes in a toasted oven. 
  2. If you are topping with cheese, just top the ones you are going to consume right away. 
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Uncategorized

Brioche Toast with Saffron Rabdi

These brioche toasts are pure indulgence. The soft brioche is crisped in ghee and then warm, rich almond saffron rabdi is poured over it. A generous scatter of chopped nuts and you would get all the shahi tukda feels. With this recipe I wasn’t trying to recreate shahi tukda, rather make the traditional dessert more approachable for an anytime toast keeping all the traditional elements intact from ghee browned crisp bread to rabdi to nuts to aroma of saffron, its just quick(little bit) 🙂

Growing up, with the leftover chashni (sugar syrup) from gulab jamuns or jalebis or murrabas (preserved fruits), my badi mummy would quickly make shahi tukda. Sometimes she used to deep fry the bread, other times she would simple pan fry it in ghee to crispy perfection, dunk in chashni and pour over a quick rabdi. If you ask me, a bit too much work for a little leftover syrup, however, I also admit that those golden fried nuggets of bread dripping with rabdi were one of the most delicious treats.As I type this, I remember her standing behind the smoking tawa (griddle) frying bread in a kitchen filled with the aroma of ghee and bubbling rabdi.

My kids LOVE brioche, they love snacking on it. Indian bakery bread is sweetish and way softer than white bread that I find here in stores, brioche tastes much closer to. I make these brioche toasts for my kids inspired by those toasts. I dont deep fry, rather pan fry the toasts in ghee and make instant rabdi. I flavor the rabdi(milk sauce) with cardamom, saffron, rose water or vanilla depending on my mood and fold in the nuts. It is one of the best weekend breakfast indulgences.

Traditional rabdi is a labor of love. Milk simmered and scraped for hours and hours before it thickens, the malai is clotted to lacey and it achieves develops a natural caramelized sweetness. And while I am all about such traditional dishes on occasions and festivals, on usual days I just want something quick. Thats how this instant rabdi came into being. Its nutty from ground almonds and tastes quite close to the real deal. The crumbled paneer gives it that mellow grainy texture and trust me if you don’t say, no one would be able to tell. Condensed milk is great in such milk based recipes compared to plain sugar, its gives that extra sweetish smoothness to the rabdi. Its a small batch recipe which which takes about 30 minutes to make, and if by chance you have leftovers, a small portion keeps well in the fridge for a few days.

Brioche Toasts with Saffron Rabdi

Ghee Crisped Brioche Toasts drizzled with Instant Saffron Rabdi.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American, Indian
Servings 6 toasts

Ingredients
  

For the brioche Toasts

  • 6 slices brioche bread
  • Ghee for pan frying (about 1 tbsp per toast)
  • Rabdi to serve (recipe below), as much or as little you want

For Instant Rabdi (makes a little over 1 cup rabdi)

  • 2 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup full fat or malai paneer, fine grated or crumbled very fine
  • 5 tbsp fine ground almonds, I use store bought blanched almond meal
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground green cardamom
  • 10-12 saffron strands, dissolved in 1 tbsp warm milk
  • 1/3 cup silvered almonds and pistachios to garnish

Instructions
 

Make the Rabdi

  • Add milk to a heavy bottomed pot. Place on a stove, bring to a boil, reduce the stove to low medium and let the milk simmer for 15 minutes, stir periodically to make sure that it dosent stick to the bottom of the pot. The milk will almost reduce to half its volume and start getting thick.Scrape the sides of the pot every now and then and add back the malai scrappings to the milk.
  • Once the milk has reduced a bit, add the crumbled paneer, ground almonds and condensed mil, mix well and cook stirring often. Stirring often makes the rabdi creamy and also breaks down the paneer for the right (slightly grainy) texture of rabdi. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or till it reaches the desired thickness. Taste and if you feel you can add 1-2 tbsp of sugar if you feel that the rabdi isnt sweet enough. I like to keep in lightly sweet else it tastes quite heavy.
  • When the rabdi has thickned, add the cardamom and soaked saffron.Mix well. Cook for 2 more minutes Take off the stove and let it sit covered till it warm.

Make the toasts

  • Melt 1-2 tbsp of ghee on a medium hot tawa or cast iron skillet and brown them on medim heat on both sides.
  • Serve drizzled with warm rabdi and a scatter of chopped nuts. Enjoy!
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