Gochujang Noodles

How do you like your noodles? I love them spicy, tangy and a bit sweet! These noodles with a balanced kick from gochujang (fermented korean chili paste), mild sweet notes from coconut palm sugar and tang from fresh lime juice are perfect for anytime you crave noodles- be it light summer lunches or weeknights.

Gochujang Noodles with Shrimp & Zucchini

It takes less than 30 minutes to make these and they are sought after in my house during summers. I use juicy summer zucchini and light protein such as shrimp to make them more hearty. I simply love the combination of shrimp and zucchini together! You can spiral the zucchini if you wish, in fact if you want you can make them just with zucchini spirals(noodles) for a light, low carb meal.

Gochujang is made by slowly fermenting gochugaru chili flakes and the long process of fermentation makes the chile develop a savory umami taste. It is subtly sweet and depending on the brand, the heat levels can vary- it is definitely not fiery, rather an unbelievably versatile condiment in my kitchen to pep up almost anything!

Why I love these noodles so much besides the fact that they are noodles 🙂

  • You can adjust the sour, spicy or sweet levels to your liking.
  • It can be easily made vegetarian using extra firm tofu strips or mushrooms.
  • Takes less than 30 minutes to make, even lesser if you use fresh noodles like I do.
  • Its a balanced meal – carbs, protein and vegetables all in one.

Below are the substitutions you can do to make this recipe fit different dietary needs.

  • For gluten-free version- use flat rice noddles instead of the wheat ones. Many gochujang pastes available in the market are GF, check label before buying. Use tamari instead of soy sauce.
  • Use any kinds of vegetables instead of zucchini. Broccoli, napa cabbage, mushrooms all work great.
  • Instead of soy sauce use tamari or liquid aminos.
  • Use thinly sliced chicken breast strips if you don’t want to use seafood.
  • Use tofu or mushrooms for a meat free version.
  • Instead of coconut sugar, add maple or agave for a more smoky taste.
  • If you dont have shallots at home, use thinly sliced red onions.
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Gochujang Noodles

Delicious noodles with balanced spicy, sweet sour flavors tossed with shrimp and juicy zucchini fo ra quick & simple weeknight meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 oz fresh noodles, cooked per packet instructions or use any dried noodles that you normally use
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp gochujang paste, adjust to tolerance
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil, divided
  • 6 oz extra large shrimp, cleaned
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks scallions, white and green parts seperate
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • Salt
  • Garnish – toasted sesame seeds, cilantro etc

Instructions

  • Set the noodles to boil while you prep the sauce and vegetables. Cook as per package instructions, drain once cooked, reserve 1/2 cup noodle water and massage drained noodles with a little oil after to avoid them sticking.
  • In a small bowl, mix the soy, gochujang, sugar and lemon juice. Thin out with 2-4 tbsp noodle water since gochujang is quite thick and sticky. Taste the sauce and adjust the ingredients if needed as per your liking. At this point it should taste bold and salty. Keep ready.
  • In a 12 inch pan, heat up 1 tbsp oil on medium.Layer the shrimp, sprinkle some salt and sear/cook them for 2-3 minutes each side depending on the size of your shrimp. Take out in a plate.
  • Add another tbsp of oil and add the sliced zucchini next,sprinkle pinch of salt and quickly saute on high for 2-3 minutes so as to not overcook it. Transfer in the same plate as shrimp.
  • Add the rest of the oil to the pan and heat up on high. Add the shallots and white scallion parts for 2 minutes till they are soft. Work quickly now and next add the sliced garlic and saute for 30 minutes. Add the sauce mix that we prepped now and cook it for a minute or so with shallots and garlic till the sauce starts bubbling.Keep a close eye since the sugar caramalizes fast.
  • Add the noodles next along with shrimp & zucchini and toss everything very well so that its coated in sauce. Taste and adjust the salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes and you can use reserved noodle water (add slowly) if you feel that everything is a bit thick.
  • Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and green scallion parts and serve immediately.

Notes

  • For gluten-free version- use flat rice noddles instead of the wheat ones.
  • Use any kinds of vegetables instead of zucchini. Broccoli, napa cabbage, mushrooms all work great.
  • Instead of soy sauce use tamari or liquid aminos.
  • Use thinly sliced chicken breast strips if you don’t want to use seafood. Cook them earlier like how we cooked shrimp in this recipe. 
  • Use tofu or mushrooms for a meat free version.
  • Instead of coconut sugar, add maple or agave for a more smoky taste.
  • If you dont have shallots at home, use thinly sliced red onions.

Bhuna Mushroom Masala

This mushroom masala is notch up than usual and made by simmering whole button mushrooms in a browned onion, yogurt and spiced sauce. Its an incredibly flavorful dish. You can serve this with a doughy bread like naan or rotis, its pairs well with pulao as well. I make a side of fresh kachumber (indian salad) and some chutney. If you are making this for entertaining, you can make it in ghee but for usual weeknight dinners at home I prefer using oil.

There are many ways to make masala in northern parts of india but essentially it is a onion and tomato base to which yogurt and nuts are added along with fragrant spiced. I love this version so much without dousing the vegetable in cream and milk. Its not heavy at all and very comforting.

Me and the little one are mushroom lovers in our home. However, my husband loved this dish so much though it will take more cajoling as far as the older ones goes 🙂 I like to choose the white button mushrooms for this sauce, I like their mild taste and how they carry forward the delicate flavor of the dish .There is no need to slice the mushrooms, keep the stems intact as well, however do remove any bruised end parts.

Try and purchase mushrooms a day before you plan to make this. I dont know what it is but I find that the fresher the mushrooms, they add of the taste of the dish than those lying around in the fridge.They absorb the scented sauce well and are so juicy after cooking. You can add cashew powder, I prefer the the taste of almonds in the sauce. It differs from family to family about the use of tomatoes and some people go to an extent of saying thats its not an authentic korma if tomatoes are used and they might be right as well. I decide whether to use or not depending on the kind of korma, for example lamb or chicken korma can do very well without tomato because they are so flavorful, however the vegetable korma dishes do need a little push as far as flavor goes.

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Mushroom Masala

Mushrooms in a delicately scented sauce made with spiced ground onion, tomatoes and yogurt sauce.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 8-10 oz (about 300 gms) white mushrooms, whole
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1.5 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 tsp shah jeera (caraway seeds)
  • Whole spices – 1 mace, 6 green cardamom, 1 bay leaf, 2 inch cinnamom, 3 cloves
  • 1-2 hot green chilli, sliced (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp hot red chilli powder(or to taste)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 2 large tomato (pureed)
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (crushed between palms)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tbsp ghee

Instructions

  • Clean the mushrooms by rubbing them with a dry cloth. Keep the stems but do remove any bruised parts. Add the cleaned mushrooms to a bowl and masage with 2 tsp oil and 1/2 tsp salt and red chilli powder. Let sit near while you make the sauce.
  • Heat oil on medium heat in a heavy bottom pot. Once oil is hot, add the sliced onions. Cook onions till they brown evenly. Strain the onions from the oil using a slotted spoon.You can take out 3 tbsp of oil from the pot after frying the onions. Reserve the oil and use in 1-2 days in any savory curry you make.
  • Reserve 1/3 cup of onions and add the rest to a small blender jar along with yogurt, red chilli powder. Blitz to make a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • To the remaining oil add the whole spices and crackle for 30 seconds. Add the green chillies and caraway seeds next and let crackle. Next, add the ginger garlic paste and cook for a minute or so till you smell a nice aroma.Then add the tomato puree and salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes till you see oil seperating on the sides.
  • Stiring continously, next add the yogurt onion paste and now and cook again on medium heart till oil starts separating.
  • Add the mushrooms now and saute with the masala for 2-3 minutes. Next add 1/2 cup hot water to the masala, taste and adjust the salt of the masala and bring it to a slow boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for 8-10 minutes till the mushrooms are tender. Dont cook too much else the mushrroms will shrink and become chewy.
  • Finish with ghee,kasuri methi and garam masala. Mix gentle and take the pot off the stove. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.
  • Serve garnished with reserved fried onions.

Sous Vide Creamy Shrimp Skillet

These juicy shrimp in a creamy cheesy sauce are perfect for an indulgent meal for special occasions. The shrimp are cooked sous vide (indirect slow water bath cooking), however I have added the instructions for cooking them in a skillet as well in the recipe. Sous vide cooking allows for slow cooking for about 40 minutes and by the end, the shrimp are really succulent and cooked perfectly. Then added to an easy creamy sauce.

The sauce is very simple – butter, onion, garlic, have cream and parmesan cheese. It comes together in less than 10 minutes. You can make the sauce a little lighter by using half and half or milk, it won’t we as thick in that case. My kids like to dunk crusty bread and slurp on the sauce as a soup but you can mix in boiled fettuccine or linguine for a rounded heavenly shrimp pasta dish.

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

  • Undercook the shrimp slightly :-Slightly undercook the shrimp because we are going to finish cooking them in the sauce. I have noted each timings in the recipe for jumbo size shrimp. Adjust if you are using a different size of shrimp.
  • One Skillet Dish -If you do not want to use sous vide or do not own one, no problem! You can make this dish in the skillet itself. Its a one skillet recipe. Use non stick, stainless steel, ceramic coated or seasoned cast iron, any heavy skillet will work since it conducts the heat better. You quickly sear the shrimp first, take them out, make the sauce in the same pan and finish the shrimp in the sauce. Easy peasy!
  • You can use half milk and half heavy cream if you do not want to use heavy cream. But I don’t recommend, its a once in a while, special occasion dish and we should live just a little 🙂
  • Spice it up:- I like to keep this dish mellow because thats how my kids like it, nut if I were making it for adults, I would add a 1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes to add a nice kick.
  • Variations – You can use a mix of scallops, crab meat and shrimp instead of just shrimp for a seafood fiesta.
  • Add Vegetables – Add 1/2 cup of blanched peas, handful of baby spinach or blanched asparagus to the sauce to make it more hearty. Promise you the kids will love vegetables in that cream sauce.
  • Use a mix of cheese – Use a mix of asiago, romano and parmesan cheese instead of just parmesan.
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Sous Vide Creamy Shrimp Skillet

Juicy sous vide shrimp in a creamy parmesan sauce. Serve with crusty bread or pasta.
Course Main Course

Ingredients

  • 1 lb raw jumbo shrimp (cleaned, tail on)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Half lemon sliced
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • Salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

Cooking Shrimp Using Sous Vide (Ignore if you dont want to use sous vide, see note1)

  • Place the shrimp along with butter, salt and lemon slices in a ziploc bag. Press down and seal while removing out all the air.
  • Set up the sous vide stick in a 6 qt pot filled with water. Select the shrimp recipe from sous smart panel. Or set at 130F for 35 minutes. Lower the ziploc bag into the water bath, clip to secure the bag to the side of the pot. Cook till sous vide session is finished.
  • Once the shrimp is cooked, the ziplog bag will have juices. Reserve the juices.

Make the Cream sauce

  • While the shrimp is cooking, make the cream sauce. Melt the butter over medium- high heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes until transculent. Next, add the garlic, sprinkle the italion seasoning and saute for 15 seconds.
  • Add the cream and simmer for 2 minutes. Dont let the cream boil.
  • Carefully add the shrimp along with all the juices from the bag into the skillet. If using spinach or peas, add right now. Mix gently and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the parmesan cheese,mix everything, taste and add the salt and pepper(if you wish)
  • Immediatley take off the heat, sprinkle parsley or cilantro and serve with bread or boiled pasta.

Notes

  1. Sear the shrimp on both sides for 2 minutes in 1 tbsp butter in a medium hot skillet at the start of cooking. Once seared, take out in a plate, add second tablespoon of butter and proceed to make the sauce as in the recipe. 
  2. If you are not using sous vide, you might need to add 1/4 to 1/3 cup chicken stock to the sauce to thin it out a bit right when you add cream along with some lemon juice. 
  3. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes to add a nice kick to the sauce if desired.

Shish Tawook – Lebanese Chicken Skewers

These chicken skewers are mildly flavored, light and super approachable in terms of ingredients. Dont compare the spice levels to a tikka or kabab but they are juicy and delicious especially during hot weather. A super easy recipe which is perfect for summer evenings when you don’t want to slog in the kitchen. Marinate the chicken (or use vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms or even paneer cubes) few hours ahead and grill just before serving. You can make easy sides like yogurt raita or hummus. The tawook is traditionally served with a sharp garlic sauce called toum but I make garlic yogurt instead.

The grilled juicy chicken morsels are best served right off the grill and are also amazing tucked inside pita bread or naan for a satisfying wrap or you can serve them as a side to simple pilafs or salads. I have been making these for many years and developed this recipe over years which is a huge hit with my family.

Tawook marinade is brightly flavorful with lemon and yogurt than shawarma marinade which has more of warm spices going in. I like to add a little ginger and green chilli to my marinade for added kick though traditionally paprika is used. If you do not have thyme, use dried oregano, it gives a close flavor. Use tomato puree if you dont have tomato paste. The recipe is really approachable like I said before 🙂 Use large chunks of chicken breast since they tend to dry out in the high heat of the grill. If you do not have grill, use a hot iron skillet to cook them or broil in the oven. Chicken breast cooks fast and cooks easily but also dries out easily so avoid baking in oven or cooking on slow heat(they will become watery). And as I always always point out, since the ingredients are few- try to use good quality olive oil and organic or very good quality yogurt.

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Shish Tawook

Lebanese Chicken skewers with chicken marinated in lemon, garlic & yogurt, these are super easy to make and perfect for quick summer meals.
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup whole milk thick yogurt (use greek yogurt or hung curd)
  • 1 lemon juiced (about 3 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger shoot, minced
  • 1 Thai green chillies (optional, adjust to tolerance, skip for kids)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste (or 1 tbsp thick tomato puree)
  • 1.5 tsp paprika (or kashmiri chilli powder) , gives the color not the heat
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1.5 lb(750 gms) chicken breast, cut in large chunks
  • Oil for brushing

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add all the ingredients except the chicken and using a whisk, mix very well.
  • Before adding chicken, taste the marinade and make sure that its sharp salty. If the salt is less the chicken wont have flavor.
  • Add the chicken, using your hands, massage the chicken chunks well with the marinade. Cover with a cling film and refrigerate and let marinate for about 5 hours.
  • If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 40 minutes. You can use metal skewers as well.
  • Skewer the chicken before grilling. Brush liberally with oil. Grill on high heat for 5-7 minutes on each side. Serve rightaway.
  • To make garlic yogurt raita simply whisk 1 cup plain yogurt with 1 tbsp grated garlic, thin out with water as desired and add roasted cumin powder, red chilli powder, chaat masala, herbs and salt to taste. Make raita atleast an hour ahead for best flavors.
  • Serve raita chilled and shish warm- best combo!

Chicken in Yogurt Cardamom Sauce


This tangy, cardamom scented chicken in yogurt sauce is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. It can get pretty hot in Vegas during summers and I love a good yogurt based sauces, its light but still rich on warm evenings, that how this recipe came into being. You dont need to marinate chicken, if you can use bone in, the flavors come out amazing though this recipe will work for boneless dark meat chicken as well. Honestly, one cannot have enough chicken recipes on hand and this one is good change up from the red ones(though there still is bit of a tomato in here). With rice or rotis and a quick salad, this is a satisfying dinner. The sauce is chunky and thickish, it won’t win many laurels for the way it looks, its not one of your smooth creamy ones, rather delicately aromatic with hints of coconut and freshly ground cardamom in each bite.

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Chicken In Yogurt Cardamom Sauce

A tangy and fragrant dish of chicken in yogurt sauce.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1.5 tbsp ginger garlic green chilli paste ,simply pound 4 garlic cloves with a knob of ginger and 4-5 hot green chillies(adjust to taste, this is the only heat that goes in this masala)
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 medium tomato just grate flesh of tomato using a box grater and discard the skin.
  • 1.5 lb bone in chicken(preferably dark meat)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk thick yogurt, whisked
  • 1/4 cup fresh dessicated coconut
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Cilantro & mint leaves – chopped

Instructions

  • Place a kadai or a shallow pot on the stove. Add oil and let it heat up on medium heat.
  • Add the cardamom and cloves to the oil and saute for 30 seconds, dont let burn. Next add the cumin and let crackle.
  • Next, add the onions to the oil and saute them on medium heat until they start to brown but dont let brown too much.
  • Add the ginger garlic chilli paste and saute for 15 seconds followed by coriander and cumim powder and saute the spices in oil for 30 seconds. Add the tomato pulp next and saute on medium heat till you see oil seperating.
  • Next add the chicken, sprinkle salt and mix well with the masala. On medium heat, saute the chicken for 5 minutes. You will see that the chicken will slowly release its juicies and the masala will become a bit runny.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and let the chicken cook for 10-12 minutes (time will depend on the size of chicken pieces so adjust accordingly). You will need to saute in between a few times so that chicken dosent stick to the bottom.
  • Open the lid, reduce the heat to low and while sauteing add the yogurt over the chicken. Also add the coconut. Mix well and cover again for 10 minutes. Avoid adding any water to the sauce. In 10 minutes you wil see the yogurt is warmed through, thr masala resembles a thick slurry and there are oily bubbles on the top.
  • Remove the lid and saute the chicken for another 5-8 minutes till you see that the color of sauce has deepened and a nice amount of oil is seperating.
  • Finish with cardamom powder and garam masala. Take off the heat and garnish with chopped cilantro and mint leaves.
  • Serve warm.

Oats Spinach Muthiya

Muthiya is a traditional healthy Gujarati(western India) snack made with different kind of flours, vegetables and spices. The dumplings are steamed and then quickly pan fried in a tempering of sesame & mustard seeds, curry leaves and lemon juice. The balance of flavors is impeccable- sweet, spicy, tangy, yum! These irrestible, soft and crispy savory bites are good for breakfast or any time snack.

My recipe uses oat flour and chickpea flour skipping the wheat flour(which is traditionally used).The recipe is vegan and gluten free. “Mutthi” or a making a fist how the dumplings are shaped traditionally and that’s why the name. You can make fistfuls or make oval shape dumplings of dough or make long rolls and slice them(that what I find easiest to do).

Oat flour & besan dough studded with vegetables – I like to use grated lauki(opo squash) & loads of spinach and with a kick from fresh ground green chillies and ginger, these dumplings are super flavorful.

A few things to keep in mind when you make muthiya:-

  • Don’t make a very dry or a very soft dough. Since we are adding grated lauki, due to salt, the juices will be released and that’s majorly enough to bind the dough once you start squishing. Add a tablespoon or two of water if needed or you can use a dollop of yogurt as well (gives it a very good taste).
  • You can substitute lauki(opo squash) with zucchini or finely grated cabbage. Instead of spinach you can add methi (fenugreek) leaves or a combo of leafy greens.
  • Don’t make a very large batch. In my opinion, as compared to dhokla, these don’t store that well after getting pan fried, make a small batch and consume right away or same day. However, the steamed muthiya can be sliced and frozen. I make them a night before many times and temper when I am about to serve!
  • I like to grind my own oats and not grind them super fine. The texture of the muthiya is great that way. I find that using store bought oat flour makes them a bit sticky. You can substitute oats with wheat flour as well if you wish.
  • You can steam the muthiya in Instant pot as well. Find the recipe here which explains the IP method well.
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Oats Spinach Muthiya (Vegan & Glutenfree)

A popular gujarati snack made with oats, chickepea flour and vegetables like spinach & bottle gourd. Pairs beautifully with chai.
Course Appetizer, Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

For the Muthiya

  • 1/2 cup ground oats (dont super fine)
  • 1/2 cup besan(chickpea flour)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup grated lauki (opo squash)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Pinch of ajwain seeds
  • 2 tbsp ginger green chilli paste ,simply pound 1.5 inch knob of ginger and green chilies in mortar pestle
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • Salt to tatse
  • water or yogurt (if needed)

For tempering

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp black mustad seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 2 tsp white sesame seeds
  • 6-8 curry leaves

To sprinkle

  • Sugar, Lemon Juice, Cilantro, Grated coconut(optional)

Instructions

  • Brush a little oil on the base of your steamer basket or dish. Set up your steamer arrangement by filling it with water and keep it ready to go.
  • In a large bowl, add all the ingredients listed under "Muthiya" except water. Gently start squishing everything to combine. The lauki and spinach will start releasing their juices and you would be able to almost bring the dough together. If needed, add a tablespon of water at a time to form a firm yet soft dough. You can use yogurt in place of water as well. Dont knead the dough too much. Once a ball is formed, dough is ready.
  • Cover the dough with a cloth and rest it for 10 minutes. Meanwhile start your steamer so that the water is boiling when you are ready to steam.
  • Divide the rested dough into two portions. Shape the dough into thick logs.
  • Place the logs in the steamer. Make sure that the water is boiling when you place the logs. Steam for 18-20 minutes until a skewer when inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Switch off the stove and let sit covered to continue cooking in residual steam. After about 10-12 minutes when the logs are cool to touch, using a sharp knife, slice the logs into small portions. Use knife in a saw manner so as to not squish when you slice.
  • In a wide pan, add the oil for tempering. Crackle dried chilli, mustard and sesame seeds. Add the curry leaves, they will splutter. Place the sliced muthiya in a single layer in the tempering. Let pan fry for 3 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side.
  • Once the muthiya are pan fried lightly, switch off the stove. Sprinke sugar, lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Add the grated coconut if using.Serve immendiately!

Sooji (Semolina) Halwa

Halwa is a runny pudding made in indian homes using different kinds of grains, flours, nuts, lentils as well as fruits and vegetables.Halwa is usually pretty quick to whip up and quite popular due to ease of cooking and that it requires basic ingredients that our available in our homes. . Semolina halwa in north indian homes is cooked in a blink to translate any occasion- big or little into a celebration. It is one of the frequently cooked meetha(dessert) in my home, much more than kheer. Thats partly because, growing up my grandma made it everyday was an offering after prayers. A small bowl of nutty, melt in the mouth halwa appeared mid morning infront of us, glistening with ghee and scented with ground black cardamom. It is one of my loved memory of her- of my badi mummy, wrapped in a starched cotton saree feeding us halwa every morning 🙂

You need very basic and few ingredients for this recipe- fine semolina, ghee, sugar and whichever flavor you like- cardamom, rose or saffron. This recipe can be easily made vegan, just swap ghee with coconut oil, you can add a handful of shredded coconut to elevate the coconut flavor in that case. The halwa can be made in about 30 minutes, the most effort and patience is needed while roasting the semolina in ghee, else this is a quick recipe.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you make Sooji Halwa:-

Kind of Semolina (Sooji) – Its best to use fine semolina when making the halwa, the texture comes our great, its melt in the mouth. Avoid coarse semolina.

Water or Milk:- You can use either, or you can use a combination of both. I use water, not only it keeps the color of the dark amber halwa intact but it avoids the halwa from getting too rich (there is already quite a bit of ghee in there!) Also keep in mind that milk will make the halwa a bit soft or sticky to taste.

Sugar or Jaggery or Honey- Again you can use either but traditionally sugar is used and I do the same. If you are using jaggery, don’t use milk. If you use honey, the halwa will be quite sticky and has the tendency to easily burn while you “bhuno” it, since honey caramelizes fast. Also keep in mind that the taste profile sweetened with honey or jaggery is quite different from the traditional recipe.

Nuts & Flavors– Anyting you like! I like almonds and raisins because those were what my grandmother used to use. You can add cashews, makhana or pistachios or shredded coconut as well. As for the flavors, I add black cardamom seeds fresh pounded in mortar pestle and a tiny bit of rose water. You don’t taste the rose as such but it adds a nice floral aroma to the halwa. You can choose green cardamom, saffron, even vanilla 🙂

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Sooji(semolina) Halwa

Also know as sheera, Sooji Halwa is a semolina pudding made with simple pantry staples- semolina, ghee & sugar. It tastes heavenly and takes just 30 mins to make.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4

Equipment

  • A heavy kadhai (preferable iron) or cast iron pan, sauce pan, bowls and spoons etc

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup melted ghee
  • 1/2 cup fine semolina
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (can go down to 1/3 cup if you prefer less sweet halwa)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 tbsp ghee (optional)
  • 2 tbsp raisins (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes)
  • 1 whole black cardamom seeds removed and crushed to a fine powder in mortar pestl
  • 7-8 almonds, thinly sliced (Use any nuts you like)
  • 1/2 tbsp rose water

Instructions

  • Add the ghee and semolina to iron kadhai (or cast iron pan). Mix well for 2 minutes so that you see all the semolina is covered in ghee. Place the kadhai on a low medium stove and begin roasting the semolina. You will have to keep an eye and keep stirring frequently for it can burn easily.
  • While the semolina is roasting, add the sugar and water to a small sauce pan or pot and set on the other stove on medium heat. In about 5-8 minutes, the sugar will dissolve in water. Switch off the stove, dont cook the syrup. We dont want any string consistency or anything. Keep the syrup near and warm.
  • Coming back to semoilina, keep on roasting it while stirring it making sure to scrape it from the bottom of the kadhai, it burns that way easily. Roast the semolina for good 10- 15 minutes(see notes) till you see that the ghee has begun to seperate and the semolina granules are dark brown in color. There should be no black specks of semolina- that means the semolina has burnt, a conistent medium heat and contuinal stirring ensures that wont happen.
  • Reduce the stove to low, and slowly add the warm sugar syrup from one side of the kadhai to the semolima while stirring it at the same time with the other hand, this makes sure that no lumps are formed. There will be spluttering so watch out.
  • As soon as the syrup is added, you will see a puddle followed by big bubbles in a minute on the surface of the halwa, your will notice that the semolina granules begin to swelled up. it will be runny, let the halwa cook on low heat. Add the raisins, almomds and black cardamom powder now.
  • Keep stirring everything gently and continue to cook the halwa for 3-4 minutes on low heat. Add 1-2 tbsp of ghee (if you wish)and mix well. The halwa will be glistening and of thick smoothie like pourable consistency by the end of 5-6 minutes. Dont let all the liquid absorb. Switch off the stove. Mix in the rose water. The halwa will thicken as it sits.
  • Serve warm garnished with nuts. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. If you don’t want a dark halwa, no problem, roast the semolina for just 5-7 minutes, until its golden in color. Rest of the recipe remains the same. 

Instant Olive Oil Tomato Pickle

Delicious, tangy and spicy in every bite, this instant tomato pickle is healthy and super delicious. As soon as warm weather comes knocking and tomatoes start appearing in the markets, I start making this instant tomato pickle. If you don’t want to use cherry tomatoes, you can use regular tomatoes, make sure that they are ripe but firm. Dont use very soft tomatoes else the pickle becomes a chutney 🙂

Picking in oil is the most common way to preserve seasonal vegetables and fruits in India. Though mustard oil is the first choice, with the rise in popularity of olive oil, with time its also a common picking oil now. You can skip or add anything to this pickle, I add sliced garlic, chilies, fresh tumeric and ginger. The combination of these work quite well together. The pickle is so good with anything- with flatbreads, on toasts, with eggs, chicken or fish or even some crackers on a cheese board. It keeps well in the fridge for about 8-10 days and gets better as it sits.

My grandmother used to keep busy entire summer pickling almost every vegetable you can think of and her pickles were the best, no one in our family has ever been able to replicate the taste and I mean it. But we keep trying from what we remember of her pickling process.

This pickle is super heathy- preserved in olive oil which is a heart friendly oil and full of anti inflammatory turmeric and ginger, a tablespoon of this pickle could well one of the best things to pair with your meals. Olive oil pickles are so fruity and here with all the fragrant indian spices, the pickling oil itself turns so flavorful with time, if you are left with just oil, dab it on your sandwiches or use it to cook parathas (yum!).

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Instant Olive Oil Tomato Pickle

A fruity & fragrant pickle made with tomatoes, garlic, ginger and fresh turmeric.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 1.5 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup classic/cooking olive oil (dont use extra virgin)
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1 tsp rai (small brown mustard seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds
  • 3/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp anardana(dried pomegranate seeds, coarsely pounded)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 200 gms (about 8oz) cherry tomatoes (cut in half if too big)
  • 5-7 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh turmeric, cut in thin discs
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger, cut in thin discs
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  • In a pan, on low heat set the olive oil to heat. Dont let it get smoky. If the olive oil gets smoky, it will lose most of its antioxidants and flavor. Also, the spices will get burnt when you add them.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the hing and the whole spices. Keep the flame on low medium. The spices wont crackle immediately and thats what we want. Let the spices infuse for 2-3 minutes on low heat in the oil so that the aroma of spices in infused in oil.Dont leave unattended.
  • The spices will swell and you will smell a very nice aroma as they infuse in the oil. Next, add the curry leaves carefully and let infuse for another 30 seconds.
  • Add turmeric and red chilli powder to the oil, mix and let cook for 10 seconds(they should not burn) followed by the tomatoes, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Sprinkle salt.
  • Mix everything gently and cook for 2-3 minutes till you see that the tomatoes skins are little soft but not falling apart. Take off the stove and let cool down a bit.
  • Transfer to a clean container and keep in fridge for upto a week. Enjoy!

Cashew Yogurt Tofu & Bell Pepper Masala (Vegan)

A super flavorful tofu and colored bell pepper curry that will please your tastebuds whether or not you are vegan. When I am entertaining, I try to have a few dishes in the menu keeping in mind speciality diets of few my guests and this tofu masala always appeals to everyone. The creamy texture of the curry along with satisfying plant protein from tofu is pleasantly satisfying.

It is super creamy due to use of the cashew yogurt and fine ground almonds, you can skip the powdered nuts though if you wish. Also,you can switch up to oat milk yogurt or any nut free yogurt in case of nut allergies. The spices in the masala are usual indian kitchen spices, you can deep fry the tofu before adding it to the base. The curry is super quick to make and pairs beautifully with rotis or rice.

If you don’t want to use tofu,you can add anything you like to it right from cauliflower to soy nuggets to potatoes to chickpeas. Sometimes its a good to experiment and experience the nuances of restrictive cooking and I really enjoyed creating this recipe for my vegan readers.

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Cashew Yogurt Tofu & Bell Pepper Masala

A vegan curry in afresh tomato & cashew yogurt sauce with tofu and colored bell peppers.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
  • Whole Spices – 1 bay leaf, 3 green cardamom, 2 cloves and 1 inch cinnamom stick
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste (simply smash 6-7 garlic cloves with 1 inch ginger shoot in a mortar pestle)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • Red chilli powder to taste
  • 5-6 tomatoes blanched and pureed (about 2 cup thick puree)
  • 1/4 cup super fine ground almonds (or cashews)
  • 6 oz extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 cup colored bell pepper chunks
  • 2-3 tbsp cashew yogurt
  • Warm water to thin the curry, as needed
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (crushed slightly)
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala (adjust to taste)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • In a large wide pot or slighly deep pan, heat up the oil on medium heat. Temper the oil with all the whole spices and saute for 10-12 seconds.
  • Add the onions next and saute on medium heat for 6-8 minutes untill soft and lightly browned. Dont darken.
  • Next add the ginger garlic paste and saute for 10-15 seconds till the raw smell goes away.
  • Add all the powdered spices next – cumin, coriander, tumeric and red chilli. Add 2-3 tbsp water and saute the spices in oil for a minute or so.
  • Add the tomato puree next and cook for 6-8 minutes untill you see oil bubbles seperating. If the masala is looking too dry, add a little warm water at this point.
  • Add the ground almond and bell peppers next and salt the curry. Let peppers cook in the tomato masala for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Next add the cashew yogurt and mix well with the masala.Check and adjust the salt. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes taking care that bell peppers dont soften too much.
  • Add the tofu cubes next and using a spatula, very carefully combine them with everything. At this point if you want, add warm water to adjust the consistency of the masala. Dont mix too much else tofu will break. Avoid cooking on high heat.
  • Let everything simmer for 5-6 minutes on low medium heat. Finish off with garam massala and kasuri methi. Combine gently. Switch off the flame. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.

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.