Khoya Paneer Kali Mirch

This north indian paneer dish is not as popular as the tomato based creamy curries but it is such a great switch up from regular curries. Fresh ground kali mirch(black pepper) is the main flavor here and the peppery sauce of browned onions and yogurt is just so delicious. To make it tad more indulgent, I add crumbled khoya & hatful of makhana to this dish and it is so good with doughy naan, especially garlic naan.

If you have browned onions ready to go, this dish takes hardly 15-20 minutes or so. I usually deep fry onions at home and keep a stash but you can use any store bought brand that you like. Refrain from using too much onions else the gravy will become sweet. I recommend using fresh ground black pepper but don’t add too much at a once, the gravy is mellow with subtle hints of spice. All in all the dish is mild, faintly sour and creamy and such an indulgent addition to any festive menu.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 50 grams raw cashews
  • 6 oz paneer, cut in chunks or triangles
  • 1/3 cup makhana (foxnuts)
  • 100 grams sliced onions
  • Oil to fry the onions, about 1/2 cup
  • 2-3 thai bird green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tbsp +2 tsp ghee
  • 2 inch cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom
  • a small twig of mace
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, pounded in a mortar pestle
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder (not roasted)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp thick plain full fat yogurt, whisked
  • 1 tsp sugar (or more if you like a sweetish gravy)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup water (depending on consistency of gravy you like)
  • 1/4 cup grated khoya/mawa
  • 3-4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp rose water or kewra water (optional)
  • Chopped cilantro

Method

Soak the cashews in 1/2 cup warm water for 10 mins. In a pan, add 2 tsp ghee and fry up the paneer slightly. Once done, take out in a plate and add the makhana to the remaining ghee and very light toast them for 1-2 minutes. Take out in the same plate and set aside.

Add oil for frying in a wide pan and heat it up. When the oil is hot but not smoky, add sliced onions to it. On medium heat, fry up the onions to a deep shade of brown, but don’t make them too brown. Frying in a wide pan in a single layer will avoid the onions from becoming soggy. Keep an eye and keep on stirring them. Once done, drain on a paper towel in a single layer and let cool down, they will crisp up a bit. This step can be done 2-3 days ahead. Use the oil for making any savory curry if you wish.

Add the soaked cashews (without water), onions and green chillies to a blender and blend to a smooth paste. Use little water if needed.

In a pan, add 2 tbsp of ghee and warm up on low medium heat. Temper the ghee with all the whole spices – cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and mace. Saute the spices for 30 seconds and then add the ginger and garlic paste. Saute for 30 seconds taking care that they don’t burn. Add a splash of water if you feel that the pan is too heat when you add the ginger garlic.

Next, add the onion paste to the pan along with all the powdered spices- coriander, cumin, fennel and red chilli. Also add the black pepper powder. Saute the onions and spices on low heat for 4-5 minutes until you see little oil bubbles on the surface and sides. You will have to stir it continuously since the cashews will tend to stick to the bottom of pan.

Once sautéed, take the pan off the stove. Add the yogurt and sugar, immediately mix it with the onion masala. Keep mixing till it is nicely combined. Return to a low stove and keep on continuously mixing till the yogurt is heated through. This will ensure that the yogurt won’t curdle. It will take 5-6 minutes.

Continue to cook and when you see little bubbles of oil on the sides of the pan, add 1/2 water to the pan. Add the salt. Taste and adjust the salt and sugar high now.On low medium heat, let the gravy simmer, do not let boil. Once the gravy is simmering, add the mawa, heavy cream, paneer and makhana. Let everything simmer on low heat for 4-5 minutes. Finish the curry with garam masala. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes more. Switch off the stove and mix in the rose water if using. Gently mix everything. Cover and let the curry sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and a pinch of black pepper powder. Enjoy with naan or jeera rice.

Masala Kaju

One must have diwali snack in our house is Masala Kaju- deep fried cashews coated in a spicy tangy masala. It is best if you freshly roast and grind the spices. Also taste the masala and adjust the profiles to your liking. We likes ours tangy and hot.

This recipe has slowly evolved since I have been making it for years. It is a great snack to have around the house when guests are regularly visiting (though that might not be the case this year) however we can treat ourselves. No? My kids love these especially the little one,I reduce the chilli powder for her though. These cashew nibbles go well with drinks and in general a huge hit in our house during the festive season.

The recipe is very easy and its as quick as mixing some spices and tossing with fried cashews. I have never tried roasting the cashews, a little indulgence on festivals is totally acceptable and I make them during that time mostly.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (yield about 1 tbsp roasted cumin powder)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp anardana (dried pomegranate seeds)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1.5 tsp extra hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • 1 tsp kala namak (black salt)
  • 1 tbsp chaat masala
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • fresh ground black pepper (about 1/2 tsp)
  • salt
  • 400 gms raw whole cashews
  • oil for frying

Method

Lightly dry roast the cumin seeds and cloves in a skillet on low heat taking care not to burn or over roast the spices (that will make them bitter). Once roasted, grind to a powder.

Clean your spice grinder and separately, grind the anardana and fennel seeds. I find that the flavor profile of spices is much more promenient if you grind them separately and then mix.

Take a medium bowl and mix together all fresh ground spices along with the rest of the spices listed under ingredients. Taste the masala, it should be sharp and on the saltier side, adjust any spices to your liking. Set the masala aside.

In a heavy bottom kadai, add about 3 cups of oil. I use sunflower oil. Warm the oil on low medium heat, it will take about 4-5 minutes. We dont want the oil to be very hot. Start adding the cashews when the oil is just little warm.Add the cashews all at once or you can do so it in batches. It is okay to overcrowd the oil, since the nuts are dried, they won’t become soggy.

Once the cashews have been added to oil, let the cashews slowly fry in oil, keep on stirring in between so that they dont burn. Slowly the cashews will heat up and start getting crispy. Do not turn up the heat, it takes a while to fry up the cashews but this way they are properly crisped.

Once the cashews are visibly light golden in color, using a slotted spoon, take them out in a bowl. Do not drain on a paper towel, however remove as much oil as possible when you are taking out from the oil. If your remove all the oil from cashews and if they will be dry, masala won’t stick to them.

Immediately, while the cashews are still warm, start adding the masala, I start by adding about 3 tablespoons at first and mix nicely with a spoon to coat all the cashews in spices. Taste and add more masala if you wish. You might have leftover masala, you can store it and sprinkle it on anything – from chaat, kababs to salads to pakoras.

Let the cashews cool down and store them in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.

Enjoy!

Carrot Zarda

This post is sponsored by Authentic Royal Foods.

Rice is symbolic of prosperity in Indian culture and an integral part if all our festivals.Right from childhood, I can hardly remember any celebrations when rice wasn’t cooked on auspicious days. From festive pulaos to kheer to soaking and grinding rice and using it for decorations of the prayer room, it has always been in every way imaginable.

Diwali is a little over two weeks away and around this time of the year, I start jotting down our Diwali Menu. Over years our menu has evolved into a beautiful amalgamation of old traditional recipes and flavors that I eat and experience around here in the States.Any festival menu in our house is incomplete without basmati rice dishes prepared and my go to always has been royal basmati rice.

Diwali is a little over two weeks away and around this time of the year, I start jotting down our Diwali Menu. Over years our menu has evolved into a beautiful amalgamation of old traditional recipes and flavors that I eat and experience around here in the States.Any festival menu in our house is incomplete without basmati rice dishes prepared and my go to always has been royal basmati rice.

In this recipe I combine the flavors of classic american carrot cake with indian meethe chawal or zarda. Ghee sautéed shredded carrots, orange zest, pecans, candied pineapple and warm spices like nutmeg and cinnamon bubble with long grain basmati rice and sugar syrup filling the air of house with enticing aroma. If you serve this wing a dollop of whipped cream cheese(which you totally should),it leaves you with the warm fuzzy feeling after eating a moist carrot cake.

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 cup authentic royal basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp food color – orange, yellow whichever you wish

For the Tempering

  • 2 tbsp + 1/3 cup ghee
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar + 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole milk, warm
  • 10-12 saffron strands infused in 1 tbsp of warm milk
  • 1 tsp fresh grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/3 cup pecan halves
  • 1/3 cup whole cashews
  • 1/3 cup candied pineapple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • Fresh ground nutmeg, a generous pinch
  • Pomegranate arils for garnish
  • Extra nuts for garnish.

Method

Wash rice under 2-3 streams of running water. Set aside.

In a large pot bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add pinch of salt and add washed rice to the pot.Stir gently and boil for 8 minutes on low medium till rice is 90% cooked.

While the rice is boiling, start prepare the tempering however keep an eye on rice. In a shallow wide, non stick pot /kadai (with lid), first saute the cashews & pecans in a 1 tablespoons of ghee until they are toasted. Transfer to a bowl. Next, add another tablespoon of ghee and add the pineapple and raisins, saute them for just few seconds. Take out in the same bowl as the nuts. Se aside.

On the second stove, set a large tawa or cast iron griddle (larger than the pot you are using for zarda) to heat up. We will use it for dum cooking.

Add 1/3 cup of ghee to the pan. Once the ghee is warm, reduce heat to low and temper it with cinnamon and cloves. Saute for about 20 seconds till you smell the aroma. Next add the carrots and saute for 1-2 minutes. By this time rice would be 90% done, strain the rice. Immediately add the rice to the kadai layering it over the the carrots (do not dump). Add the orange zest and sprinkle both kinds of sugar. Also add the warm milk. Very gently, using a spatula, mix the rice to mix with everything. Cover with a tight lid.

By this time, the cast iron griddle or tawa would have been heated. Place the rice pot/kadai on it and set the stove to low(not very low). Let dum cook for 20-25 minutes till rice is cooked. This time will depend on quality of your rice, please adjust from experience.

Add the nuts and saffron milk next along with pinch of nutmeg. Don’t stir. Cover the lid and let dum cook for another 5-8 minutes. Switch off the stove, take the kadai off the griddle and leave undisturbed for atleast 20 minutes.

Fluff gently with rice spoon from a side and mix everything. Serve it warm in a wide dish garnished with more nuts, pomegrante arils or however you wish.

Enjoy!

Ramdana (Popped Amaranth) Ladoos


The windows of my grandma’s kitchen directly opened into the cemented aangan(backyard) next to which was a huge vegetable patch. Lying just below the window there used to be a heavy, long and wide takhat (wooden bench) one side of which was the resting place for all the pickles and papad she made throughout the season while the cushioned part of was where she sat and chopped vegetables for dinner.

When she popped ramadan(amaranth) seeds for making the ladoos, we climbed over the bench and hung over the kitchen window to witness the process. The amaranth seeds would fly all over the stove off the hot kadai, they made a crackling sound and she held a large brass dish to cover the kadai every now and then.Next, she melted the amber colored soft desi gud(jaggery) in the kadai and it bubbled and bubbled before being mixed with the popped amaranth seeds. At that, time I didn’t have a clue or two about culinary terms, but the drama presented by these simple & rustic ingredients was one of the most delightful and stimulating sights in the kitchen.

It will take a few batches to decide the right amount of heat needed to pop the amaranth seeds without burning them. You can pop a day in advance and keep ready for the day you want to make ladoos. These ladoos can be stored for 3 weeks at room temperature, they are so nutritious and one of my favorite ways is to crumble them in a bowl of warm milk and eat,so comforting 🙂 You can add few crushed nuts to these like peanuts or almonds or dried fruit like raisins to these, but I keep them simple and let the taste of the grain shine.

Recipe

Ingredients (makes 10-12 ladoos)

  • 1 cup ramdana/rajgira (amaranth seeds)
  • 1 cup jaggery (about 200 gms), crumbled
  • 2 tsp softened ghee (or substitute with coconut oil for vegan)
  • 2-3 tbsp water

Method

Clean the amaranth seeds by spreading them on a wide dish and picking out the black ones, tiny stones etc.

Heat up a heavy bottomed kadai or a deep pot (you can use dutch oven) to high. Once pot is really hot, add a pinch of amaranth seeds to test. If they start popping immediately without a time lag, the pot is ready else wait a little more to get it hop. Please check this video link, it explains rightly how to pop amaranth seeds.

Add 1/2 tbsp of amaranth at a time to the hot pot, cover the pot and continously shake the pot itself so that the seeds don’t burn. When popped, the seeds immediately turn whitish in color.

Sieve the puffed seeds from the pot using a colander to separate the un popped seeds from the popped ones. You can grind the un popped seeds and make a flour and add to roti flour.

Pop all the seeds this week and transfer to a large. In the same kadai add ghee along with jaggery and water. Let the jaggery melt on low medium heat for a bit. Slowly you will see the syrup will start bubbling. At that time, turn off the flame and strain the melted jaggery in the same bowl as the popped amaranth seeds. Add (ghee sautéed) nuts or raisins at this stage if using. Using a wooden spoon, quickly mix such that all the seeds are coated in jaggery syrup.

Wet your hands and quickly bind to make lemon size ladoos while the mixture is still hot. Let cool down on a plate. Serve or store in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.

Enjoy!

Sweet potato(Shakarkandi) Peda

Nine day long Hindu festival of Navratri starts today. These melt in the mouth pedas made with earthly sweet potatoes can be offered as prasad as well as eaten if you are fasting. These are unexpectedly creamy and grain free.The beautiful color is natural from the yams and they are such a breeze to make.

The sweet potatoes are sautéed in ghee, which makes them so earthy and then patiently cooked in milk and mawa until they are caramelized and extra delicious. Peda is one of my favorite kind of sweet and I was so happy how this recipe came out.

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes about 18 pedas)

  • 2 whole sweet potatoes (yield 200 gms of pulp)
  • 2-3 tbsp softened (not melted) ghee
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 tbsp finely ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup sugar (can go unto 1/3 cup )
  • 50 gms fresh mawa or replace with 1/2 cup milk powder
  • 10-12 saffron threads ground fine in a mortar pestle and infused in 1 tbsp warm milk

Notes –

  1. Substitute sweet potatoes with any kind of yams you like.
  2. I found that pedas were perfectly sweet after adding just a quarter cup of sugar, however you can add more sugar if you wish.
  3. Add cardamom or rosewater in place of saffron.
  4. Add ghee slowly, I start with 2 tbsp and really, you can add upto 5 tablespoons of ghee, the potatoes will absorb it all. Since I was already using mawa and whole milk, I avoided.

Method

Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes clean. Add them to a big pot and to the pot add 1.5 to 2 cups of water. Do not let the potatoes submerge in water completely. Let water start boiling, reduce heat to medium low and then cover tightly with a lid.Let the sweet potatoes cook for about 20-25 minutes.Check once or twice in between. Don’t let the sweet potatoes cook to very soft and pulpy, once they are fork tender, use tongs and take them out.Let cool down. Peel the skins once cooled enough to handle(you might need a knife, since these arent very soft) and then using medium size of a box grater, grate the potatoes. Avoid mashing them with fork, they will remain stringy and won’t come out good.

In a wide, 12 inch nonstick pan add the ghee. Once ghee melts, add the sweet potato pulp, milk and sugar. Using a wooden spoon or a silicon spatula start sautéing the sweet potatoes, continue to do so for about 10-12 minutes on low heat, until all the milk is absorbed and the moisture from the sugar is evaporated. Don’t completely dry out, but the mixture should not be a slurry. Add the almond powder and crumbled mawa (or milk powder) next along with saffron and continue to sauté on low heat.

After about 5-8 minutes you will notice that the mixture is thick and shiny and starts to clump around the spoon/spatula.If you try to fold it over itself, it does it smoothly. At this point, switch off the stove and transfer the peda mix to a plate.

Once cooled down a bit and is easy to handle, gently knead the mix for 2-3 minutes like you knead roti dough. Pinch little portions and roll between palms of make pedas. Makes about 18 pedas. Decorate as you wish.

Store in fridge for 3-4 days.

Date Apple Pudding Cake

Date Apple Pudding cake with Cardamom Butterscotch sauce. Oooo thats a mouthful. We love pudding cakes. The kids are crazy about them and us too. I start making them as soon as the seasons change and like to keep them frozen as well for a quick treat.

The basic recipe that I been making is same for almost five years now, however I keep on switching things up and this time I added some granny smith apple in the batter. Such beautiful flavors came out of the oven. With the sauce and real dates in the batter, this cake can easily get overwhelmingly sweet, the tart bite that apples added was simply impeccable.

Vanilla is my go to flavor for butterscotch sauce, but few pinches of lemony balmy fresh ground green cardamom makes a lot of difference. I could eat that sauce by the spoonful 🙂

You can freeze these pudding cakes easily, they store well for upto 2 months.Just dont soak them.Cool completely and store in ziplock bags. Always serve them warm. Poke holes in before you add the sauce and let soak for a few minutes before digging in.

Recipe

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 8 oz chopped pitted mejdool dates
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 medium granny smith apples (chopped in medium size)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

For the Sauce

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground cardamom
  • Whipped cream for topping (optional)

Method

In a medium bowl, add the dates, sprinkle the baking soda and pour boiling water. Let the dates soak for 10-15 minutes. Using a fork or masher, mash the dates into a chunky paste once soaked. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease 6-8 ramekins with melted butter or cooking spray. You can a use a 9 by 9 baking dish as well.

In a bowl, sift together the salt, flour and baking powder. In another medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg one at a time and incorporate. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix using a spatula until just combined.

Fold in the date paste, ginger and apples until combined. Don’t overmix.

Divide the batter into ramekins until 2/3 full and using a spatula smoothen the tops.

Bake the ramekins for 20-23 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. If you are baking in a pan, check for firm cake in the middle of the pan, it should be springy to touch. The cakes will pull away from the walls of the ramekin and shrink a bit once done and as they cool.

Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes and the poke a few holes all over. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons butterscotch sauce and let soak for 5 minutes. Turn the cakes out of ramekins on to a plate and serve with extra sauce and whipped cream.

For the Butterscotch Sauce

Make the sauce while the cakes are baking. Combine all the listed ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over low medium heat stirring continuously for 7-8 minutes. This makes about 2 cups of sauce and it can be stored for upto a week refrigerated, you can half the recipe.

Shakarkandi Chaat

Sharkandi Chaat. One of the healthiest chaat from the streets of north india. Roasted sweet potato cubes sautéed lightly in ghee/oil and then mixed with spices, pomegranate seeds and drizzle of date syrup. Its cozy, delicious and heathy.

This chaat is a healthier alternative to aloo chaat. Warm sweet potatoes tossed with chaat masala, roasted cumin, tangy black salt, green chillies and squirts of fresh lemon. Mom used to steam the sweet potatoes but I roast them. They stay so soft and the flavor is not diluted that way and its easier. You can use tamarind chutney or maple instead of date syrup, the sweet potatoes are already sweet but a smoky syrup gives a push to their sweetness. Followed by a drizzle of smoky sweet date syrup or sugar. A scatter of fresh cilantro & pomegranate arils and done. You can add cut up apples or cucumbers as well if you wish. It’s gluten free and can be easily made vegan.

Shakarkandi (Sweet Potato) Chaat

How to make Shakarkandi Chaat?

I simply begin my roasting the sweet potatoes. I remember mom used to steam them in very less water(else the potatoes lose their taste, she said) in an iron kadai, I now feel that the method is tedious because it needed tending in terms of water level and moving around the sweet potatoes many times so that its cooked on all sides.

I simply wrap them in aluminum foil and roast at 400F for about 35-40 minutes until they are fork tender but not falling part. Peel the potatoes, cut them into cubes and them mix them with chaat spices and rest of the ingredients.

A winter must have from the streets of Delhi. I could smell the charred shakarkand from a mile away. As you draw near to the thela(street vendor cart), a whiff of burnt charcoal mixed with intense incense hits your senses. The vendor takes his time to mix up the bowl, meaning you get to witness each step of turning simple coal roasted yams into deliciousness. The yams were not orange there, but tasted same, tossed with sharp, tangy spices and generous heat of chillies. Each cart has his own recipe. The one we always bought from threw in cut up kamrak (the mouth puckering star fruit, anyone remembers?) to balance the sweet – spicy. Yummm. Best.

You can add chutneys or chaat sev but that’s not traditional. Here the main taste is that of sweet potatoes and adding too many ingredients takes the taste away. If you use sendha namak(rock salt), this is so perfect for the upcoming fasting  season. 

Print

Shakarkandi(Sweet Potato) Chaat

Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 2 (250g) sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chaat masala (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder 
  • 2-3 hai bird green chillies(adjust to tolerance), chopped
  • 1.5 tsp  kala namak(Indian black salt) 
  • Table salt to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Wash and scrub clean the sweet potato skins. Wrap individually in aluminum foil and roast for 40-45 minutes until fork tender but not too soft.
  • Once roasted, let cool for a bit and while still warm, peel the skin. Cube the sweet potatoes. 
  • In a heavy pan/cast iron pan, ghee and add the sweet potatoes, sprinkle a few pinches of salt and toss them around in the hot pan for 3-4 minutes to lightly saute but don't crisp them. 
  • Mix the sweet potatoes with all the spices as listed, adjusting to taste. Add the pomegranate arils and cilantro. Drizzle with date syrup and serve warm. 

Creamy Chutney Chicken Sandwich

Thank god it’s almost Friday. It’s been a super busy week and these sandwiches have saved lunches this week. 

I started playing with this recipe sometime when quarantine started in April and finally I think I got there. If you stroll around streets of Delhi, you will find hawkers selling those creamy vegetables/chicken sandwiches. With truck load of mayo and butter in them, slightly sweetish and really delicious.I love them! 

This sandwich is a huge hit in our home.My recipe doesn’t have mayo or butter, it’s elevated by pudina(mint) chutney and lots of fresh herbs and lemon but I think of those sandwiches when I make it. Needs a bit of preparation- cooking chicken, making chutney etc. And lunch gets so easy to put together from there. 

Some blanched petite peas go in, on somedays itâ€s shredded carrots or spinach. So amazing between soft white sandwhich bread (kids love that way) I like it between rye or sourdough too. Best eaten room temperature like the ones you find on streets. 

Recipe (Makes 4 sandwiches)

For the chicken

  • 1 chicken breast (boneless. skinless, about 8 oz in weight)
  • 3-4 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Mint Chutney

  • 1 bunch mint (about 20 gms), separate the leaves
  • 1 bunch cilantro (about 25 gms). removed the stalks
  • 2 thai bird green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tso cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor(dry mango powder) or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Creamy base

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt, plain
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
  • 2-3 tbsp of mint chutney
  • 2-3 tbsp of fresh chopped herbs (dill, chives, scallions whatever you have at hand)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha/green chili sauce (optional, leave out for kids)
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
  • Salt to taste

For the sandwich

  • about 1/3 cup blanched vegetables – peas, carrot jullians, spinach leaves etc
  • 8 slices of white bread

Method

Set a pot of water (about 2 cups) to boil on stove. Add 1/2 salt and peppercorns. When the water is boiling, slowly place the chicken in there. Reduce to a low medium simmer, cover the pot and let boil for 8-10 mins. Switch off the stove.Let the chicken breast cook in residual heat. Adjust time depending on the thickness and quality of chicken breast.

Take the chicken breast out, you can use water as stock for soup etc. Dry the chicken and using two forks, on a cutting board, shred the chicken into thin shreds.

While the chicken is boiling, you can make the chutney. Simply add all the ingredients listed to a blender and blend smooth. Use as less water as possible.

In a large bowl, add everything listed under the “Creamy base” Using a spoon, mix very well. Taste and adjust whatever you feel like- sour, salt, sweet etc. Add the shredded chicken and peas. Mix everything very well. The right consistency of the stuffing is soft and spreadable.

Stuff the chicken filling between slices of bread. Serve!

Panjiri

Whenever I returned back from hostel, I was greeted by aroma of panjiri that mom made earlier in the day to welcome me after months of hostel food. Panjiri is slow roasted atta (whole wheat flour) massaged with ghee till each speck of flour is moistened and then mixed with all sorts of nuts, seeds, and flavors depending on home to home. We make a few kinds, one which is to eaten post partum with edible gum and all, one which is simpler and mostly kept in the house as a snack and another kind which is made as an offering on festivals.

This morning I made panjiri for it is one of my favorite things to keep around the house during cooler months. I am old fashioned when it comes to snacks, I like the snacks that grandma used to make, ladoos, nut mixes and panjiri 🙂 if eaten in moderation(which I tell you is harder than you think), these snacks are quite wholesome things to feed to your body. I want kids to have a taste of these traditional recipes and develop a sense of appreciation.

It is a work of patience to slow roast the atta in iron kadai, till each grain is turned golden brown. Another kind of patience is to wait till the roasted atta is just rightly cooled down and ready to be mixed with ghee, for if too hot you cannot massage well, and if too cold, you won’t get the right texture- those small granules you see, thats the right texture. Use any selections nuts or raisins as you like. You can add cardamom powder to it,I don’t coz I like to keep the aroma of roasted flour.

Recipe

  • 1.5 cups of atta(whole wheat flour)
  • 1/3 cup- 1/2 cup ghee, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, don’t use confectioner sugar, we can’t a grainy texture (can go upto 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup whole alomnds
  • 1/2 cup makhana
  • 1 -2 tbsp mishri (rock sugar)

Method

In a heavy wide pan/large iron kadai, add the atta. On low heat, stirring often, roast the atta. It will take anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes to roast the atta. Rushing will give a raw taste to the atta so avoid doing so.
Once the atta is roasted, transfer it to a wide bowl. Let sit. Meanwhile, add 1 tbsp ghee to the same kadai and roast the almonds in it for 2 minutes. Transfer the almonds to the same bowl as you put the atta in. Again add 2 tbsp of ghee to the kadai, and slow roast the makhana in it stirring often. Transfer to the same bowl.

Wait for 5-7 minutes till atta is warm to touch but not cold. Add the sugar. Start adding soft ghee to the atta and massaging it with hands. Incorporate ghee slowly and keep mixing. To check if the right amount of ghee has been added, try to make a ball of the atta, it should bind together loosely into a ball/laddu alike

Mix in the rock sugar and nuts (you can chop or slice or crush the nuts) and any flavorings if using. Store in an air tight container for upto 3 weeks.

Enjoy!