Pudina (Fresh Mint) Paratha

Growing up, parathas, plain, stuffed or spiced with all sorts of herbs and spices were one of the most regular things that mom made for us. I do the same now, parathas are a huge staple in our house, made probably more than any indian other flatbread. The kids love them with curries, in wraps and as a quick snack on its own.

These pudina paratha are flaky, fragrant & layered and pair well with just about anything. Pudina translates to “mint” and paratha is unleavened flatbread very popular in northern parts of India. With creamy mughlai curries they are just amazing, the hints of cooling mint flavor of these parathas complement the rich sauce very well.

Whenever I have a bunch of fresh mint to finish, I usually make a dough and make them layered laccha paratha style. Its so good on its own as well and gets better next day. I know many people like freshly made rotis or parathas but we love them anyhow, fresh or a day old. You can shape them circular or make triangle parathas as well if you dont want to make layered or are in a hurry.

I like a combination of fresh mint with cumin, ginger, fennel and a little chaat masala. The ginger is so good in here with chaat masala. Sometimes I add dried mint, sometimes I dont, I find dried mint a bit chalky and prefer using fresh mint as much as I can. The recipe is very straightforward and really its all about making a flavored dough, resting it and turning it into parathas. Read it below.

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Pudina(fresh Mint) paratha

Whole wheat flour parathas pacjed with flavor of fresh mint and spices. Pair well with curries of any kind. Or use as a wrap.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 parathas

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup heaped (20 gms) tightly packet fresh mint leaves , finely chopped, use just the leaves, save stems for something else.
  • 2 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
  • 2 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp very finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2/3 cup water or as needed
  • 3-4 tbsp oil or ghee (for rolling the laccha paratha)
  • dry flour needed while rolling
  • oil for cooking

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, add the ingredients – flour, besan, mint(fresh & dried), spices, 2 tbsp oil and salt. Using your fingers mix everything well.
  • Now start adding water in parts. Initially you can add ½ cup water. Thereafter, the amount of water required depends upon the absorption quality of the flour.
  • Mix and begin to knead the dough. Add water as needed and knead for 3-5 minutes to make a smooth and firm dough. It should not be very loose or sticky. I used about 2/3 cup water.
  • Cover the dough and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Divide the rested dough into equal portions and using your palms make them into medium sized balls. You can make them larger if you want thicker parathas.
  • Place the dough ball on a rolling surface and sprinkle some dry flour on both sides.
  • Roll the dough into a large thin circle of about 10 inch diameter. Dont worry about the shape right now, it should be thin.
  • Brush oil on the top surface(you can sprinkle a little more chaat massala if you wish) and begin to fold from edges like a hand fan, making thin pleates on top of each other.
  • Once there is a thick pleated long roll of the dough, fold it inwards like a spiral into a circle dough ball. Press down lightly, sprinkle dry flour.
  • Meanwhile, set a tawa to heat up on medium high stove. Roll the dough ball to a paratha of 6 inches. These will be slightly thick.
  • Place the paratha on the hot tawa. Keep the flame to medium high. Don't cook on low flame.
  • When you see paratha puffing on the top, flip it. Liberally spread oil on the cooked side.
    Flip and repeat for the second side. After you apply oil. toast nicely on both sides. You can make them crispy or keep them soft.
  • Crush a little before serving, that way the layers separate a bit but this step is optional.
  • Serve them. These keep for 1-2 days well in the fridge as well. Just warm them slightly on a suoer hot tawa before serving.

Navratan Korma

Navratan Korma with its beautiful medley of colorful vegetables, mildly sweet yet rich nutty sauce reminds me of spring in a bowl. “Korma” is a mughlai dish which is widely popular in India and it has both vegetarian and non vegetarian lovers. I already have a chicken korma recipe shared before. See it here.

Korma is royal dish which does take some effort in terms of collecting and preparing vegetables, soaking and grinding the nut pastes, hand pounding the spice powder etc but on occasions like Holi or Diwali I like to delve into that territory of tedious cooking and relive the memories of times when my grandmother and mother spent long hours in the kitchen come any festival. As a little girl, I used to spend the entire day watching them, tasting and learning the intricacies of indian cooking.

Navratan translates to” nine jewels” and the mughlai dish is said to be named after the nine courtiers of mughal emperor Akhbar. The recipe of the sauce base changes ingredients slightly depending on which part of india it is being prepared in but essentially the base is made with yogurt, cream, nuts and seeds paste(north india),whole spices or a coconut base (south india). Last but most important, using ghee as a cooking fat gives it that a luxurious authentic taste.

A few things about how I make Navratan Korma :-

  • I like to add paneer to my navratan korma though its less common. But even when we order this dish from restaurants, I ask them to customize (if possible) and add paneer. You can say I love my paneer:)
  • I use a lot of colorful vegetables – 6 to 7 kinds when I make this dish. Prepare the vegetables according to how long it takes to cook them since they finish cooking in the sauce and we don’t want few of them to be mushy.
  • I add nuts like cashews and almonds both in the sauce base as well in the curry. Also fruits like pineapple chunks and pomegranate arils give the sauce a nice fruity burst here and there when you eat. Nuts and fruits are totally optional though.
  • I grind fresh spice powder which takes the sauce to next level, however you can use store bought powders and mix them and use.
  • Use fresh nuts and seeds to make the nut paste for the sauce, it makes a lot of difference in taste.
  • There are few steps to the recipe however, you divide the work in between a couple of days. Like I make the nut paste, prepare the vegetables and (sometimes) grind the spices, slice the onions etc a day ahead to make cooking easy.
  • Please avoid using pressure cooker for making this dish, it is one of those dishes where slow cooked sauce gives absolutely delicious results.
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Navratan Korma

A rich and aromatic mughlai dish made with nine types of ingredinets.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Vegetbles, Nuts & fruits (Prepare upto a day ahead)

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch thick dics
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 10-12 green beans, cut in 1 inch stalks
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 1/3 cup yellow corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup shelled peas, blanched
  • 50 gms paneer, cut in chunks, optional
  • 1/3 cup fresh pineapple, ripe & firm
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate arils
  • 1/3 cup raisnis and nuts of choice (raw cashwes, almonds, walnuts etc)

For the Nut paste (Prepare upto a day ahead)

  • 1.5 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp melon seeds
  • 12 whole cashwes
  • 12 almonds
  • 1/4 water for grinding

Whole Spices

  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 inch cinnamom stick
  • 2 twigs of mace

For the Spice powder (Prepare upto a day ahead)

  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 green cardamom (pods only)

Ingredients of Korma Sauce

  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1 tbsp ginger + garlic + green chilli paste ,simply pound 4 garlic cloves, 1 inch piece of ginger and 1 hot chilli in mortal pestle
  • 1/3 cup plain full fat yogurt, beaten
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 4-5 saffron strands
  • 2 tbsp ghee (for garnish)
  • Garnish fresh mint, pinch of saffron (optional), ginger juliennes etc

Instructions

Make the nut paste

  • Add all the listed nuts and seeds to a bowl and soak in hot water for 30 minutes.
  • Drain the water, remove peel of almonds and transfer everrthing to a small grinder jar.
  • Add 1/4 cup water or as needed to make a smooth fine paste.Set aside.

Make the Spice powder

  • Add all the listed spices to a dry grinder and make a fine powder. Set aside.

Make the Korma

  • Heat up the ghee in a deep and wide pan. Temper the ghee with all the listed whole spices and fry for 30 seconds till they crackle and become aromatic. Dont let burn.
  • Add the sliced onions next and saute them for about 5-6 minutes in medium heat till they turn golden.
  • Add the ginger garlic & green chilli paste and saute for 15-20 seconds till the raw smell goes away.
  • Next, add the nut paste that we made along with tumeric and red chilli powder. Saute for 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to low and while continously stirring add the yogurt else it will curdle.
  • Saute everything for 3 to 4 minutes on a low flame. The nut paste has a tendency to stick, so stir often so that the mixture does not get stuck to the bottom of the pan.If neede, you can add 1-2 tbsp of water.
  • Add the vegetables (except corn and peas). Stir and add 1 cup of water. Season with salt and mix to combine.
  • Cover the pan and and simmer the vegetables are about 95 percent cooked, dont cook too soft.
  • Add the paneer pieces next (you can fry them in a bit of ghee if desired) along with corn and peas. Mix and add heavy cream next and gently stir everything again. Let simmer for another 2-4 minutes on a low stove. Dont let boil once you have added the cream. Switch off the stove, while still hot, sprinkle the spice powder that we made along with saffron strands and let sit.
  • Heat 2 tbsp ghee in another small pan and fry the whole nuts for 30-40 seconds untill golden.. Add the pineapple, raisins and ginger juliennes next and saute for 30 seconds untill raisins plum up.
  • Add everything to the korma along with fresh herbs and mix gently to combine.Let Korma sit for 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

Rose Pistachio Mawa Ladoo

Ladoos are must on any indian festival and these nutty beauties are super easy to whip up. Mawa makes them so creamy and melt in the mouth and the floral notes of rose water together with meaty pistachios is a match made in heaven. If you are still looking for something easy to make on Holi, try these ladoos.

These are ridiculously easy to whip up and all you need is 3 ingredients. When a recipe calls for few ingredients, I recommend good quality ones since it makes all the difference in the taste. Use fresh pistachios which are sweeter in taste, mawa with a good quality of fat content(you won’t need much ghee then) and rose water or rose essence that is not more than 6 months old.

These ladoos are not overly sweet and I like them that way, you can increase the powdered sugar by couple tablespoons if desired. I like to chop the pistachios on a cutting board instead of using a grinder, I feel that way I can control the texture of the nut powder and the taste is better too.

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Rose Pistachio Mawa Ladoo

3 ingredient, nutty Mawa Pistachio ladoos flavored with rose.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 200 gms mawa/mava,crumbled
  • 7 tbsp powdered/confectioners sugar
  • 180 gms coarse pistachio powder +1/4 chopped pistachios(optional) ,see notes
  • 1.5 tbsp rose water (or 1-2 drops of rose essence)
  • 1-2 tsp ghee (optional, if needed for rolling ladoos)

Instructions

  • Add mawa/mava to a nonstick pan. Place the pan on stove,switch on the stove on low heat. Let the mawa soften. Mawa softens very quickly and needs attention so that it dosent get burnt. Keep stirring using a spatula.
  • I didnt need to add any extra ghee to mawa, if you feel your mawa is on a dry side add a tablespoon or so of ghee.
  • Once mawa is soft(dont let brown), immediately add the sugar and pistachios together. Mix well untill nicely combined. Keep the heat low, cook everything for 1-2 minutes.
  • Switch off the stove and mix in the rose water and chopped pistachios(if using). Wait for 5 minutes or until the mixture feels cool enough to handle. Dont let the mixture completely cool down.
  • Smear some ghee on your hands and divide into 8-10 equal portions. Roll into smooth ladoos. Store for 3-4 days refrigerated.

Notes

  1. I lightly dry toast the pistachios for 2-3 minutes on a hot skillet. Don’t let the color change, toasting helps in blooming the oils of nuts.
  2. The sugar quantity can go up to 9-10 tablespoons if you like sweeter ladoos. 
  3. I chop the pistachios on a cutting board to a coarse fine powder instead of using a grinder. It takes a bit of effort but the texture and taste of nuts is really better that way. 
  4. You can replace rose with cardamom or saffron flavor if desired. 

Dilli Aloo Ki Chaat

Aloo chaat from streets of Delhi is one of the best things. Shallow fried potatoes in ghee tossed with powdered spices, drizzled with chutney and served warm with a little bit of grated mooli (daikon)or onions. The chaat stalls selling this chaat can be spotted from a mile away thanks to the aroma of frying potatoes. If you take a stroll in neighborhoods of Delhi particularly in the evening, you will find a chaat corner frying this chaat on every other block.

Traditionally, they fry the potatoes in ghee and hence the aroma is so amazing. Sweet, spicy, sour and deep fried- this is one amazing chaat recipe which can be quickly whipped to satiate your cravings. It can be a quick snack for any time. Just cut up the potatoes, mix the spices and go for it.

I used a mixture of different potato varieties I could find in store. Sweet potatoes(orange & purple) and regular russet/gold and red potatoes. The naturally sweet potatoes really added so much taste to this chaat, they were my favorite, to to forget the beautiful natural colors they added.

A few things to be kept in mind when making this Chaat:-

Soaking the Potatoes:- Even though I say that this is a quick snack for anytime and really you can cut up potato chunks and make this any time, I suggest planning a bit and soaking the potatoes for at least 3-4 hours. Slice or cut potatoes in chunks , I leave the skin on because it adds a nice flavor, and soak the potatoes in sharp salty water for good 3-4 hours. The water will pull out the starches since starches are water soluble and the salt will season the potatoes in the process leading to a super flavorful potato for frying. Soaking also helps in making the potatoes crispy as the quantity of starches goes down.

Fried potatoes are the key. Shallow fried potatoes usually fried to order in the center of a large heavy tawa(griddle) in ghee give the best flavor. However, if you don’t want to use just ghee, 100% ghee, use a neutral oil like grape seed or sunflower and add a tablespoon of ghee for that particular aroma. Shallow fry on both sides with golden crispy edges for the best taste.

Kind of potatoes. Avoid using a high starch content potato like Russet. In India, usually the winter crop potatoes are the best choice since they are waxy and have a good starch to moisture ratio. Here I used a mix of potatoes- sweet potatoes, purple yams, red potatoes, idaho yellow potatoes and a few slices of russet for a great balance of flavors and textures. Bonus point being that it made the chaat super colorful with multitude of natural colors.

Spices and Chutneys– The best time of add the spices is right after the potatoes come out of the oil.The oil helps in sticking the spices to the potatoes and makes them super flavorful. As for the chutneys, you can add any kind but on the streets, they add tamarind chutney. I add the tamarind chutney, lot of it and instead of green chutney, I add a lot of fresh herbs like cilantro & mint and green chilli slices. Biting into leafy herbs gives the chaat another layer of taste.

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Dilli Wali Aloo Chaat

A spicy sweet sour potato chaat from streets of Delhi. Made with multi color potatoes.
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Griddel, Cutting board, knifes, bowls and spoons

Ingredients

  • 3 large size potatoes (1 russet + 1 gold potato+ 1 red potato)
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 medium purple yam
  • Ghee for frying ,substitute with oil+ghee
  • 2 tsp chaat masala
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp crushed anardana (dry pomegranate seeds) ,optional
  • 1.5 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp Black salt
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp Tamarind Chutney
  • 2 tbsp nylon sev
  • Grated Daikon, Sliced Onions,Green Chillies, Cilantro & Mint leaves, Pomegranate Arils

Instructions

  • Thoroughly wash the poatoes. You can peel off the skin if you wish, I dont. Cut into slices (about 1/4th inch). You can cut in chunks as well.
  • Take a large bowl. Place the potatoes and sprinke 1/2 tbsp of salt. Add enough water to the bowl to cover the poatoes. Soak the potatoes for 3 hours.
  • Drain and discard the water and using a kitchen towl dry out the potatoes thorougly.
  • In a cast iron skillet heat up 2 inches of oil. I recommend taking a wide pan instead of a kadai/wok for frying. Heat on medium heat till you see ripples on the surface.
  • Add the poatoes in a single layer in the ghee. Dont overcrowd the pan, fry in 2 or more batches if needed. Fry on medium high heat till you see that potatoes are nicley browned and are crispy. Use a fork to make sure that they are tender and cooked. Dont overfry, The poatatoes should have a soft inside and crispy outside.
  • Take out the potatoes, dont drain the extra oil. Add the spices powders and chutney immediately. Or you can arranged the potatoes on a plate and sprinkle the spices and chutney.
  • Add herbs, cut up chillies, onions and daikon. Scatter some pomergrante arils and serve warm.

Notes

  1. You cam make this chaat with regular potatoes. 
  2. Feel free to add yogurt and green chutneys if you wish. 

Rajasthani Pyaz Ki Kachori

Deep fried kachoris stuffed with all sorts of fiery filling are are huge hit on festivals. Holi is just around the corner and I made a batch over the weekend, these Kachoris last well for a few days and are an amazing snack or a full meal if you wish to. Kachori is a deep fried, unleavened, stuffed flatbread from northern parts of India and is usually filled with a stuffing of lentils, potatoes, onions or dry fruits(a sweet version) and they are quite popular on festivals.

Pyaz or onion stuffed kachoris are a famous street side snack from the State of Rajasthan in north western parts of India. Rajasthai food is high on spice levels, almost fiery, the desert terrain demands that kind of spice levels in cuisine since it helps survive the brutal heat of summers. These kachoris are no exception. There are full pf punch of spices and I serve them with a hot lehsun mirch ki chutney (garlic- red chilli chutney) which takes them to next level. So so good with a cup of chai for evening snack or brunch on weekends.

The stuffing is made with a full head of onion or two to which fresh ground masalas are added and a little potato for binding. The onion filling is super flavorful with generous dose of hing and coarsely ground cumin, fennel and coriander. If you wish, a knob of this filling is so good even on sandwiches or with parathas. YUM!

Keep the below things in mind when you make kachoris:-

  • The dough should not be too tight or too sticky. We need a firm pliable dough with good amount of moyan(the oil/ghee/shortening that is added to dough while kneading so that the kachoris come out flaky. Keep in mind that the dough is softer than poori dough.
  • Rest the dough for 30 minutes after kneading. In the meantime you can make the stuffing.
  • Fry the kachoris on low heat. Don’t fry on high heat else they want cook inside and will not all all be flaky.
  • A good indicator of a well made kachoris is that their skins are golden brown and have no to few bubbles, this is achieved by patient frying on low medium heat.
  • When you make the stuffing, don’t brown the onions, we just want the moisture to dry out but we don’t want them to be jammy. They should have a bite. I usually mix in a little bit of raw chopped onions so as to pronounce the onion flavor and texture.
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Rajasthani Pyaz Ki Kachori

Deep fried flatbread stuffed with a spicy fiery onion filling
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 8 to 10 kachoris

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowls, Saute Pan, Deep Pot/Kadhai for frying

Ingredients

For The Kachoris

  • 1.5 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ajwain seeds
  • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds
  • 5-6 tbsp vegetable shortening ,substitute with oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water (I used 10 tbsp) ,water should not be cold
  • Oil for frying

For The Onion Stuffing

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp black pepeprcorn (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp hing
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp besan
  • 1 large onion (yield 1.5 cups chopped onions) dont chop the onions too fine
  • 2 small potatoes, boiled and peeled
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • Red chilli powder ,to taste
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor powder
  • Salt ,to taste

For Lehsun Mirch Chutney

  • 2 heads (20-25) garlic cloves peeled
  • 4-5 dried red chillies (or use fresh red chillies)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp vinegar ,adjust to taste
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Make the Kachori Dough

  • Combine all the dough ingredients except water in a deep bowl/parat. Mix and rub the flour with palms and finger till you are able to form a loose ball of flour(thsi makes sure that the moyan is right and the kachoris will be flaky).
  • Start adding water slowly and kneading into a soft pilable dough. Your water quantity might be different than mine since different flours have different absoprtion quality. Knead well for 4 to 5 minutes.Cover and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. It will loosen a bit and will be easy to work with.

Make the Onion Stuffing

  • In a small sauce pan, dry roast the whole spices- coriander, cumin & black peppecorns. Cool a bit and grind coarsely. Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wide pan. Add asafetida to the oil and chopped 1.25 cups onions. Sprinkle 1/4 tso salt. Keep the heat on medium high and saute the onions for 3-5 minutes untill you see that they are transculent but not mushy or cooked. Dont lower the heat else the onions will get watery. Dont let the onions brown. Cook till the moisture is dry.
  • Add ginger, green chillies, tumeric and red chilli powder next. Saute for a 3-4minutes.
  • Add potatoes, crumble them in the pan as you add, add besan, mango powder and salt to taste.
  • Mix well, and mash potatoes using back of the spoon. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add the 1/4 cup chopped onion and mix well. Cool down completely.

Make the Kachoris

  • Divide the rested dough into 8-10 equal portions. Set aside a small portion of dough to test the oil.
  • Roll out each portion of the dough into a 2.5-3 inch diameter circle.
  • Place 2-3 tbsp of the onion filling in the center.PInch the extra dough as you close the parcel.
  • Press gently and pat with hands to flatten the kachori, try to make the edges a bit thin.
  • Prick the kachoris 1-2 times with a fork. Keep all the kachoris ready before you start frying.
  • Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a wide pot/kadai over medium-high heat till you see ripples on the surface.
  • Turn the heat to medium-low and wait for 2-3 minutes. to check the temperature of oil, add a pinch of dough, it should noty come up to surface sizzling (oil is too hot). If it comes very slowly(oil is cold). It should rise to the surfce slowly(not very slowly)
  • Slowly slide 2-3 kachoris at a time into the hot oil. Dont crowd the oil.
  • Deep-fry the kachoris till golden.Drain on an absorbent kitchen paper and serve hot with chutney (recipe below) and chai.

Make The Chuntey

  • Soak the dried red chillies in 1/4 cup hot water for 15 mins. Skip this step if using fresh chillies.
  • Place the garlic, vingear, salt and soaked chillies in a blender. Blend to a smooth paste using soaking water as need. Keep pasty dont make too runny.
  • Heat oil in small pan, temper with cumin seeds, add the chutney paste. Mix and cook for 6-8 minutes. Store refrigerated for 2 weeks.

Thandai Spiced Badam Nankhatai

Crumbly, nutty nankhatai are everyone’s favorite. I make them often especially for the kids with different flavors and nuts. I make them with besan only, or sometimes with a mix of different flours- all purpose & semolina. There are truly so many combinations of flours and flavors.

This was the cookie which I grew up with. We had a round aluminum oven at my grandma’s place and it saw light of the day just to bake nankhatais. Every two weeks we had a fun baking session with my siblings, aunts and mom and we made tons of nankhatai. The texture of nankhatai is unique- its crumbly yet soft and mouthful. They should be crisp outside but still have a melt in the mouth centre. These nankhatai are super easy to make, just need a handful of ingredients and make for a good treat anytime.

Some tips to keep in mind when making Nankhatai.

  • I use ghee to make the dough. The ghee should be softened, it should not be melted. It should not be solid. It should be similar to softened butter. The flours bind using just ghee and no other wet ingredient, so its important that the ghee is measured properly(too much will make the cookies spread) and is of the right consistency .
  • I make nankhatai using just chickpea flour many a times (will share recipe sometime), however I feel using all purpose flour gives a nice body to the cookies and besan gives an amazing taste. Semolina can be added as well for extra crispiness.
  • The kind of sugar which is suitable is confectioners sugar or powdered sugar. Please dont use granulated or raw sugar ground at home. Store bough powdered sugar has a little bit of cornstarch which helps in the texture of the cookies.
  • Nut powder- If you have allergies, you can skip it and substitute it with equal quantity of flour. Or substitute with any kind of nut powder you fancy- cashew & pistachios work great. However keep in mind to use finely ground nuts in this recipe. Finely ground almonds are different from almond meal. If you have almond meal at home, process it to fine before using.
  • Th best way to know the if the dough is right is so feel it. The dough should come together in a ball and it should be soft yet firm. The dough should not be sticky at all. If it sticking to your hands, that means that you added more ghee and this will make the cookies spread too much when they bake, so add little flour to firm up the dough.
  • I used thandai spices(not powder) to spice up these nankhatai, you can use just cardamom powder if you wish.
  • I used gel colors to the dough in the spirit of festival of Holi, you can skip the colors and make them traditional as well.
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Thandai Spiced Nankhatai

Crumbly ghee loaded indian shortbread which are suitable for festivals, as a snack or any occasion.
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Servings 20 one bite shortbreads

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls, cookie sheet, measuring spoons and cups

Ingredients

For The Nankhatai

  • 75 gms (3/4 cup) all purpose flour
  • 25 gms(1/4 cup) besan
  • 20 gms (about 1/4 cup) finely ground almond powder
  • 75 gms(10tbsp) powdered sugar
  • 75-100 gms (1/3 cup – 1/2 cup) softened ghee, not melted adjust depending on consistency of dough
  • 1 tsp thandai spice powder (recipe below)

Thandai Spice (makes extra)

  • 1 tsp (8-10) black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 green cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 3-4 saffron threads

Instructions

  • Add all the thandai spices to a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder.
  • Place a sieve over a large bowl and sift flour, almond flour, powdered sugar and besan. Make sure that there are no lumps.
  • Add the thandai spice powder and mix with fingers to combine.
  • Add softened ghee in parts, a little at a time and start mixing with the other hand(or a soft spatula) at the same time to incorporate the ghee. Mix very well, we want to moisten each and every speck of flours with ghee- makes for a crumbly nankhatai.
  • Incorporate ghee as needed to make a soft yet firm dough. You will use anywhere from 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup depending upon the absorption quality of your flour.The dough should not be loose or sticky. If needed due to wamr weather, refrigerate the dough to make handling easier.
  • Once the dough is formed, divide into 4 portions and and add gel color of your choice to dye each portion.
  • Pinch small portions (these spread a bit) of the dough and place on a baking sheet lined with paper. You can press a whole raw almond on top or any nut of choice. Place the cookies a bit apart since these spread a little(not much).
  • Refrigerate for 10 minutes(dont skip). Meanwhile preheat the oven to 325F.
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes till the bottoms are light golden in color. Cool for 10 minutes and enjoy!

Bhindhi Pyaz Kadhi

Spring is almost here. Yesterday I found the greenest okra at the store and instantly wanted to make kadhi with it. ‘Kadhi’ is a yogurt and chickpea flour based curry made in many ways all over India. The spice selection changes from region to region and each family has its unique way to make it.

Kadhi comes from the word, “Kadhana” which means boiling the yogurt broth long enough so that it attains a velvety consistency. Done, the right way a well made Kadhi is comfort food. Mom is a champion when t comes to adding vegetables to kadhi- from okra to eggplant to spinach to fresh fenugreek leaves to mixed vegetables, she makes many kinds. If you would love to make a traditional kadhi, there is already a recipe on blog here

A few things to be kept in mind when making Kadhi

  • Don’t be tempted to add a lot of chickpea flour all at once when you mix it with the yogurt. Not only will the yogurt be become lumpy but too much chickpea flour results in a very thick kadhi.
  • When tempering, make sure that your oil is not too hot and whisk continuously as you add the yogurt to it else the yogurt will curdle.
  • Use mustard oil for the best taste, if not use ghee.
  • Use full fat yogurt or indian style dahi if you can find it.
  • The yogurt should be lightly tangy, if not place it in a warm place for few hours or 1-2 days to make it sour.
  • The spice selection is for you to decide- I like to make it north indian style with coriander seeds, cumin, ajwain and fenugreek seeds.
  • It important to boil the kadhi on low heat for good 22-25 minutes for the best consistency.
  • Stir fry the vegetables before hand in a tablespoon of oil before adding to kadhi and then finish cooking them in kadhi, gives the best taste.
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Bhindi Pyaz Kadhi

A garlicky yogurt & chickpea flour curry with okra. Serve with rice or rotis.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Cooking pot, Cooking Spoons, Mixing bowls

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup plain whole milk yogurt, slightly sour
  • 5-6 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp  extra hot red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 2.5-3 cups slightly warm water
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil
  • 15-18 tbsp okra, ends removed, cut in half if they are too long
  • 1 small onion thick sliced
  • 3 tbsp pure mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • Generous pinch of hing powder
  • 1/4 tsp ajwain seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (coarsely crushed)
  • 3-4 whole dried red chillies
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil

For the Temepring on top

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2-3 thai green chillies , slit open, seeded if you want (optional, adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder

Instructions

  • In a bowl, combine besan, yogurt,turmeric & red chilli  powder, kasuri methi (if using) salt to taste and water to make a lump free smooth mix. Let stand.
  • In a heavy bottomed pot, heat 1 tbsp mustard oil to smoking point.Remove from heat. Add the okra and char for 4-5 minutes till the skin is slightly blistered. No need to cook through. Take the okra out in a plate and set aside.
  • Add 3 tbsp mustard oil to the same pot. Let warm up. Remove from stove and let cool for a minute else spices will burn. 
  • Add cumin, ajwain, fenugreek and coriander seeds along with hing & whole red chillies. Return to stove top. When spices begin to splutter and you smell the aroma, add minced ginger. Let cook for 10-15 seconds.
  • Next,remove the pot from stove again and slowly add the besan-yogurt mixture and mix thoroughly. Return to medium heat and let the kadhi come to a boil.
  • Dont be tempted to rush this else kadhi will curdle. Once you see the kadhi starting to bubble, turn the heat to low, add the garam masala and let the kadhi simmer for about 15 minutes till it thickens slightly and is rich yellow in color.
  • Add the okra now along with sliced onion, add a little water(1/3 cup-1/2 cup) depending on the consisteny you like and let th ekadhi simmer for another 8-10 minutes till the okra is cooked through. Remove from stove and let stand.
  • Temper the Kadhi – In a small saucepan, warm up the ghee and add cumin seeds to it, when they splutter, take away from the heat and add sliced garlic and red chiilies.Return to stove and cook for a minute or so till garlic is slightly browned.
  • Top up the kadhi with this cumin garlic ghee just before serving along side rotis (flatbread) or steamed basmati rice.

Keema Pasta

One of the fusion pasta dishes which I make often for the kids. They absolutely love it. It is an indian fusion version of pasta in a meat sauce. Hearty and comforting, a bowl of keema pasta is a full meal which is a favorite for all age groups.

You can scratch cook the keema or repurpose leftover keema from dinner last night. A super simple pasta to make and has fresh made sauce. I do add a little smoked paprika for color and a tiny bit of fresh mint for that smokiness you expect from a well “bhunakeema. Its an absolute winner dish with them. You can add a little cream to finish at the end if you like especially if you are using chicken mince.

The keema base is traditional indian kind – a spicy & tangy sauce made with fresh chopped onions, fresh pounded ginger & garlic and fresh tomatoes (or you can use canned tomatoes if you wish). Then go in the ground cumin, coriander and paprika(or red chilli powder), make it as spicy as you like. You can add some dried herbs like oregano as well. Once the minced meat (or ground chicken) goes in, bhuno(saute) it on low medium heat with the masala base till the meat is smoky and attains a brownish color.

I use the pasta water to thin out the base, and if you want you can add some vegetables like carrots, peas or peppers depending on how your family will enjoy it. It is so exciting to see how the kids enjoy the taste of indian dishes presented this way, in a way that appeals to their senses without trying to “sneak” anything. Double up the recipe if you want a larger batch. Here I used GF brown rice pasta, however substitute with any shape or kind or flavor of pasta that your family likes.

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Keema Pasta

A indian-italian fusion pasta dish of spiced keema in a fresh sauce folded with fuisili pasta.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes

Equipment

  • pot & pans

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1.5 tbsp ginger garlic simply pound 2 cloves of garlic & 1/2inch fresh ginger shoot using mortar pestle.
  • 1+1/4 cup chopped tomatoes substitute with canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Red chilli powder(to taste)
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 4-5 chopped fresh mint leaves (or any herbs you like)
  • 150 gms ground lamb/beef/chicken (85-15 lean)
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice to taste
  • 200 gms pasta of choice, I used fuisili ,cook according to package instructions, reserve 1/2 -3/4 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta and keep ready.

Instructions

  • In a wide saute pan, heat up the olive oil on medium heat.
  • Once warm, add the chopped onions to the oil. Saute for 4-5 minutes till the onions start turning little brown, dont brown them too much.
  • Next add the pounded ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the ground spices next and saute for a minute so as to toast them in oil.
  • Add the tomatoes next and sprinkle some salt, reduce the stove to low medium and let the tomatoes cook down.The tomatoes will soften and become saucy, continue to cook them till you see that they thicken and tiny oil bubbles start appearing on the top. Dont dry out too much.
  • Add the ground meat now(I used ground lamb). Break down the meat using a wooden spoon and mix it with the masala. Cook the meat with the masala for good 8-10 minutes to low medium heat till you see that it has browned. Conitune sauteing the meat for another 5 minutes till you see that the oil is seperating.
  • Add the salt (keep in mind that the pasta water that we are going to add little later is salted too), chopped mint and lemon juice now. After the meat has finished bhuno(browning), thin out the meat sauce with the reserved pasta water. Dont add too much water at once, start with 1/3 cup water and then go up from there depending on how much you need. Let the sauce heat up once you add the water.
  • Once the sauce is warm, add the cooked pasta and fold gently with the meat. Add more water if you feel its dry. Check and adjust the salt as well.
  • Let everything cook for 2 minutes, dont stir too much since the pasta is soft and might break.
  • Switch off the stove, add some fresh cracked pepper(optional) and serve warm.

Notes

  1. Add 1/2 cup of frozen vegetables to the pasta. 
  2. Add 2 tbsp of cream to finish the sauce, highly recommend it if you are using ground chicken. 
  3. You can use the same recipe with vegetables. Just substitute the keema with equivalent amount of finely chopped vegetables and cook them down to soft before adding the pasta. 

Caramel Custards

These baked, thick & creamy, easy custards are super quick to make with a few basic ingredients from your pantry. This recipe gives a velvety pudding which has a toffee like sweetness and smokiness from the caramel. It is almost like a flan but instead of having a caramel base, the custards are mixed with caramel sauce and baked off. They are immensely smooth to dive into & with some fresh fruit, one of the best desserts there can be.

My husband is a huge fan of ice-cream and custards and I make these often. Even the kids love it for there is caramel in there. A little bit of sea salt cuts the caramel perfectly. These are incredibly rich and creamiest – a small portion is enough to satisfy.

What is a Caramel Custard? A caramel custard is a creamy custard made with egg yolks, cream and milk. It is mixed with scratch made caramel, flavored with vanilla(you can add cardamom or saffron instead for a different flavor profile) and the baked at a low temperature in a water bath. Doing so leads to gentle cooking of the custard and makes sure that the eggs aren’t curdled and the texture of the custard is smooth. I really love the golden color of these custards.

These custards keep well for 2-3 days in the fridge. Make sure you are using good quality ingredients, because when a recipe calls for very few, the best ingredients make it delicious.

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Caramel Custard

A rich and smooth caramel flavored custard made with simple pantry ingredients like eggs, milk and sugar.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, French, Mexican
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls, sauce pan,whisk, baking tray

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk (or 2%, dont use fat free)
  • 6 egg yolks,(from large size eggs)
  • 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp sugar (substitute with brown sugar for extra smokiness)
  • Pinch sea salt

Instructions

  • To a heavy(important) bottom sauce pot, add the sugar and pour the water slowly so as not to scatter sugar on sides of the pot.
  • Place the pot on a meduim stove and let the sugar melt. Dont stir. However when you see that the sugar is starting to melt, you can gently swirl the pot.
  • Once the sugar starts to melt, keep a watch since it can quickly burn. Can take about 6-8 minutes for the sugar to melt.
  • When the sugar is completely melted, it should be a nice amber color (and not too dark), remove the pot from the stove and continously whisking, add the heavy cream.
  • Return the pot to the stove and cook whisking in between for another 3-4 minutes. Afterwards, switch off the stove, take off the sauce pot and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 300F. Place 4 ramekins in a baking tray(deep enough to fill water)
  • In a large bowl, add the egg yolks and sugar and whisk for 3-4 minutes until pale and the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the milk and vanilla next and whisk again. By now, the caramel should have cooled down. Pour it over the egg mixture & milk mixture. Mix everything to combine.
  • Strain the custard base using a soup sieve into a jug.
  • Pour into the ramekins. Fill up the baking tray with hot water untill 1/3 red level of the ramekins.
  • Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until set and the centres are firm.
  • Take out of the water bath once cooked, cool to room temperature. Cover the ramekins with cling film or foil and chill for atleast 6 hours before serving.
  • Serve with a few sea salt flakes(optional) and fresh fruit.

Chicken Rezala

A slow cooked creamy, mughlai inspired chicken dish from the east indian cuisine. Chicken rezala is a royal curry of chicken cooked in a white gravy fragrant with spices and creamy due to addition of ground cashew & poppy seeds paste. There is no cream or milk used. In the original form, mutton is used in rezala but I prefer using chicken.

The best thing about mughlai cooking is the use of exotic yet delicate and rich flavors. The gravy is thin, its not saucy, its slightly on the sweeter side, tangy from whole yogurt and creamy from the nut paste. The rezala dish has complex yet mild flavors.

The heat comes from ground white pepper and green chillies, there is no use of turmeric or red chilli powder. The thin layer of fat that separates from yogurt, chicken, fried onions and ghee used in cooking is indicative of its authenticity and rich taste.

I did not grow up eating this dish but after getting married, I really got interested in Bengali cuisine and this is one of the gems of the cuisine. Bengali cooking is complex, it teases your palate and caters to your senses with the use of mellow fragrant spices.

A few things to be kept in mind when making rezala.

  1. Don’t make rezala with boneless chicken. Use bone in chicken and choose to slow cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour till the chicken is cooked rather than pressure cooking it.
  2. Always marinate the chicken.
  3. You can replace the cashews with blanced almonds if you wish.
  4. If you not every finicky about color, use black peppercorns in the recipe, the curry will be less sharp and darker in color.
  5. Use ghee for cooking, it gives an authentic taste.
  6. White peppercorns have a sharp taste compared to the black ones, be sure to check the taste to sauce as you add it so as to not land up with a very spicy sauce. The rezala has a mild sweetish taste.
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Chicken Rezala

A nutty, delicately flavored chicken dish from East indian cuisine.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 6 hours
Cook Time 1 hour

Equipment

  • Bowls, Dutch Oven or Heavy Bottom Pot with lid

Ingredients

Marinate The Chicken

  • 1.5 lb (750gms) bone in, skinless chicken, (choose 1 whole chicken cut in 8pieces OR Chicken legs Or bone in Chicken Thighs
  • 3/4 cup plain full fat yogurt (not greek yogurt)
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper powder adjust to taste
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee

For the Spice Powder

  • 2 black cardamom pods only
  • 8 green cardamom pods only
  • 2 large mace twigs
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns adjust to taste

For Making the rezala

  • 2 tsp white poppy seeds
  • 15 raw whole cashews
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 6 dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup white or yellow onion paste
  • 1 tbsp green chilli paste adjust to taste
  • 1 tsp shah jeera
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp white peppercorn powder optional
  • 10-12 saffron strands, soaked in warm milk
  • 1-2 drops kewra water, optional

Instructions

Marinate the Chicken

  • Add the cleaned chicken pieces to a large bowl and add all the listed ingredients. Using your hands massage the chicken pices nicely with yogurt, ghee nand spices. Cover the bowl with a cling film and marinate overnight (6-8 hours). Dont skip the marination step.

Make The Spice Powder

  • In a small skillet, lightly dry toast all the spices. Place in a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Set aside.

Make the curry

  • Set the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour prior to cooking.
  • In your wet grinder, add the poppy seeds first, add 3 tbsp water and give it a grind. Open and add cashews along with 3 tbsp of water. Grind both the things on high speed to a very fine paste. Add water if needed.
  • In a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, add the ghee and warm it up on medium heat.
  • Temper the ghee with all the whole spices and saute for 30 seconds. Take care that the spices do not burn.
  • Add the onion paste next and on low medium heat saute the onion paste till you its beginning to change to light brown in color and the oil is separating. Dont let the onions brown too much.
  • Add cumin seeds and the ginger garlic and chilli paste next and saute for a minute till you smell a nice aroma.
  • Reduce the heat to low, wait for a minute and slowly add the marinated chicken to the pot. Also add the ground spices we made earlier. Gently stir the chicken continously for 2 minutes. Let the stove be on low while you stir the chicken. This will make sure that the yogurt wont curdle.
  • After stirring for 2 minutes, cover the pot and let cook undisturbed for 10 minutes on low heat.
  • Open the pot, stir the chicken, you will see a gravy forming from water of yogurt and chicken juices. Add the cashew-poppyseeds paste we made along with salt & sugar. Stir to combine , cover the pot and let cook again for 15 minutes on medium low. While the chicken is cooking just check once or twice to make sure that nothing is sticking to bottom of pot since cashew have the tendency to stick.
  • At the end of 15 minutes, open the pot. You will see a layer of fat on the sides and top of the chicken. Make sure that the chicken pieces are cooked through but not falling apart. Depending on the quality of your chicken the time taken can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 25 minutes.
  • At the end of cooking, check and adjust the salt if needed. Add the saffron, kewra and white pepper powder. Mix and let the curry simmer for 2-3 more minutes. Switch off the stove and let stand for atleast 30 minutes before serving.
  • The sauce of rezala is not runny at all so no extra water is added so please dont add any water, it will dilute the taste of the sauce.
  • Serve with rotis. parathas or rice, as you wish.

Notes

  1. Don’t make rezala with boneless chicken. Use bone in chicken and choose to slow cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour till the chicken is cooked rather than pressure cooking it.
  2. Always marinate the chicken.
  3. You can replace the cashews with blanced almonds if you wish.
  4. If you not every finicky about color, use black peppercorns in the recipe, the curry will be less sharp and darker in color.
  5. Use ghee for cooking, it gives an authentic taste.
  6. White peppercorns have a sharp taste compared to the black ones, be sure to check the taste to sauce as you add it so as to not land up with a very spicy sauce. The rezala has a mild sweetish taste.