Breads/Flatbreads · Indian Curry · Side Dishes · Stir-fry · Vegetarian

Kadhai Paneer & Triangle Paratha (Flatbread)

Thousands of miles away, when you cook food which you ate back home – on family picnics, long drives, with friends, at birthdays parties & weddings, there is a certain sense of overwhelm which grasps me.Does it happens to you too? – tastes which remind you of good times spent.One such memory is eating at dhabas in and around Delhi.Dhaba is indian equivalent of a diner, very popular amongst drivers and long distance travellers for quick & inexpensive food.If you ask me the best places to eat in Delhi, I will recommend most of the dhabas on the outskirts of the city and some in Old & central areas.

The typical setting of a dhaba is not fancy,very basic, you might or might not get cutlery or tissue paper, but you are sure to find food made with love and bursting with authentic flavors.Mostly you would be eating on reusable stainless steel plates, you may get mineral water,there might be mosquitos during summers and monsoons [grin],AC is out of question,if it’s a popular place – you ll get chairs else enjoy seating on a cot & don’t shy away from humming old hindi film songs playing on the radio…the food is glorious,the atmosphere – intoxicating! When my dad used to work outside Delhi, most of our summer vacations were spent on road trips. I remember that we used to plan our visits such that we can have dinner at our favorite dhabas which dotted the interconnecting highways.As I write this, my mouth is already watering at the thought of food served – dal makhani [ lentils], palak paneer [ spinach & cheese curry],  kadhai chicken served along with hot& fluffy butter dunked tandoori rotis [flatbreads] straight out the the clay oven, jeera [cumin] rice & a BIG glass of lassi or chaas [ salty buttermilk] during summers or masala chai during winters.Here you don’t kill yourself over worrying about calories or hygiene, its the zesty experience which matters!! The recipe in this post is one which you will find at almost every dhaba in north india – trust me the very mention still stirs the emotions of best family times 🙂

“Kadhai” is an indian wok.It is one of the most indispensable utensil in an Indian kitchen..be it for making quick stir fry, curries, shallow or deep-frying or simmering stews.Its shallow & less heavy as compared to dutch ovens and something I just can’t imagine my without.A dish which is made start to finish in a “kadhai” gets its name from there & is Indian answer to a stir fry. However, you do not compulsorily need a kadhai to make this recipe 🙂 The point to keep in mind is that since it’s a quick cooking method, you can make a kadhai with almost anything under the sun.The recipe is very simple, you can prepare & store the kadhai sauce in advance & add whatever you wish to it- from chicken to cauliflower to fish to vegetable medley .Today I chose paneer [Indian Cottage Cheese] which is the most popular of all kadhai preparations in northen India. A typical addition to any kadhai is lots of bell peppers – of all colors, choose any you like.The dish is bursting with indian flavors, mostly made semi dry, is really one of the most colorful curries around & is really simple to whip up.

Although kadhai tastes awesome with naan bread, tandoori roti or even rice, in my home we are used to eating it with tawa parathas or skillet cooked flatbreads.Since childhood , I have known parathas in this triangle shape right from dinner plate to lunch box.Infact my granny was very particular about how neat a triangle you are able to roll out.I hope my pictures of the steps will help you in that regard 🙂 This triangle paratha has layers , is soft & flaky coz its brushed with oil/ghee inside – I can have few of these straight from the skillet on its own- Love the aroma of steam which escapes when you bite the layers. You can add chopped chillies, herbs, spices etc to make your own variations.


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Ingredients:- [Serves 2-3]

 [ You can replace the paneer with any boneless meat or vegetable of choice]

  • 1 lb / 1.5 kg Paneer, cubed or cut in strips  [ Indian Cottage Cheese available in all indian stores, recommended brand “Nanak”]
  • 1 tbsp canola/corn/vegetable oil
  • 1 medium-sized each of red & green bell peppers, seeded, cut in strips or diced
  • 1/2 cup onions, thick sliced [ optional]
  • Salt to taste [ if required]
  • Fresh chopped Cilantro for garnish
  • Fresh lime juice
Basic Kadhai Sauce Ingredients [ Can be made fresh or well in advance.For storing, put in dry-air tight containers & freeze.Thaw 1-2 hours before you need]
 
  • 1/3 cup mustard/canola/corn//vegetable olive oil
  • 3/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 3-4 fresh tomatoes [ any variety which is slightly sour, chopped fine to yield 1 cup]
  • 1.5 tbsp coriander seeds, coarsely ground with mortar pestle or in coffee grinder
  • 7 dry red chillies, coarsely ground with mortar pestle or in coffee grinder [ adjust to taste]
  • 3 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp brown sugar [ adjust to taste,do not skip]
  • 2 tsp kasuri methi,crushed with hand [ dried fenugreek leaves,do not skip, makes all the difference in the taste, available in all indian stores under ” Peacock” brand]
  • 2 tsp salt
Method:-
Make the Kadhai Sauce:- [ Makes about 2.5- 3 cups] 
  • In a kadhai or any heavy bottomed cooking pot, heat the oil on high heat.Once the oil is smoking, reduce the heat to medium.If using mustard oil, it is important to cook it to smoky point at the start of cooking to do away with the raw smell.
  • Add the chopped onions and cook on medium heat till golden brown in color.
  • Next,add the grated garlic & ginger and saute for about 2 minutes till you smell the aroma.Next add the chopped tomatoes,coarsely ground coriander & red chillies,green chillies, turmeric and cook on medium heat till you see oil separating at the sides of the pot.About 5-8 minutes.
  • At this point add the kasuri methi, garam masala, salt & brown sugar,stir well cook for 5 minutes more on medium heat.
  • Above is the basic kadhai sauce, if you want to store it for later use, let it come to room temperature and refrigerate for using within 3-4 days or freeze up to a month.
  • Making Kadhai Paneer :- For the stir fry, on high heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadhai or a cooking pot.Add the diced bell peppers & onion slices [ if using] to the oil and saute for 3-4 minutes.This saute time depends on how tender you like the veggies.Next, add the paneer and saute for another 1 minute till paneer sarts to become light brown.Be careful while stirring after you have added paneer because it softens quickly & crumbles easily in heat. Add the sauce and mix well.Check the seasoning and let simmer for 2-3 minutes till everything is heated well.
  • Remove from heat,squirt some fresh lime juice & sprinkle chopped cilantro.Serve warm with flatbreads & a salad.


Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.
Indian Curry · Non vegetarian · Side Dishes

Bhuna Murgh – Slow Cooked Chicken with Spices

Sinfully Spicy:Bhuna Murgh - Slow Cooked Chicken with SpicesA traditional & (sometimes) time-consuming dish like this is a must in my house at least once a week..mostly middle of the week.The week usually starts on a very low note with soups,salads, lentils-rice etc thanks to our upset stomachs crying for simple home cooked meals to wither away the weekend damages from uncontrolled eating outside.Once we are back to normal,a recipe like this is required to do away the boredom of simple [ read bland] foods.Notice the vicious cycle & the excuses to cook heavy food,eat and enjoy! Such dishes,loaded with  indian flavors keep my guy happy.He has this unfathomable love for indian food, not that it’s a miracle [considering that he is an indian] but I m amazed at the fact that how can anyone eat [or at least want to eat] indian food 365 days of the year and never get bored of it for once???

Sinfully Spicy:Bhuna Murgh - Slow Cooked Chicken with Spices

A typical scene whenever we are getting ready to eat out is like this:-

Me – “Lets go to OG (Olive Garden for italian ) or PF (Chang’s for chinese)”

Him -“As you say.Get ready! ”

After half an hour – Me, happily dressed, getting into the car & asking to double confirm “OG or PF?”

Him – “Where do you want to go?” ( hoping that I might have changed my options)

Me -“OG” (replying shamelessly even after knowing that he doesnt like italian)

Half way, through the drive, he feels that there still might be a chance to change.He tries again,for the third time now ” You REALLY wanna eat italian?”

Mostly, not because I m trying to be a good wife (or whatever ),I give in to eat indian coz I don’t want to spoil the poor guy’s dinner 🙂 You should see the spark in his eyes as he locks the car in front of the restaurant!

Sinfully Spicy:Bhuna Murgh - Slow Cooked Chicken with Spices

Alright,this dish you might or might not get in the indian restaurants so make it at home.Its a rich, spicy & really flavorful preparation.”Bhuna” is basically a technique of searing the meat first,cooking a thick spice paste in oil,adding the seared meat to it & then slow cooking in its own juices it for 2-3 hours.The slow cooking results in deep strong flavours but a very thick sauce.”Bhuna” literally means browned, the meat in this dish has a brown look due to all the slow cooking & particularly the used of many black indian spices that make there way into the recipe.Boneless meat will not work in this recipe unless it’s a very thick cut.If using chicken, try to use the dark meat portions like thighs & drumsticks. The beauty of this two-in-one recipe is that the spice rub is so flavorful that you can drop the sauce preparation & grill the chicken pieces to make a perfect summer appetizer. As always I shy away from use of tomatoes in meat dishes, you can add some if you want.

Sinfully Spicy:Bhuna Murgh - Slow Cooked Chicken with Spices

Printable Recipe 

Ingredients :- [Serves 4]

  • 2 lbs chicken, bone in, skinned [7-8 pieces,use thigh/drumsticks or dark meat portions]
  • 1 tsp oil for rubbing on chicken +more for brushing on the grill pan
  • 1.5 tsp salt

For the spice rub :-

  • 4 whole dry red chilies
  • 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 black cardamom pods, cracked open
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns [ Adjust to taste]
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
For the sauce :-
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic ,grated
  • 2″ ginger shoot, grated
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt, beaten [slightly sour]
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro, chillies etc for garnish [optional]
Sinfully Spicy:Bhuna Murgh - Slow Cooked Chicken with Spices
Method:-
  • Wash the chicken pieces thoroughly & pat dry using a paper towel.Once dried, rub the 1 tsp oil & 1.5 tsp salt over the pieces.Set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, on low heat,roast all the whole spices [except turmeric,nutmeg & salt] till you smell the aroma.About 5 minutes.
  • Let the roasted spices cool down a bit.Once cooled, tip into your coffee grinder or using mortar & pestle, coarsely grind the spices.
  • Add turmeric, ground nutmeg & salt to the ground spices to make a mix.
  • Lay the chicken pieces in a single layer and thoroughly rub half the amount of spice mix all over.Let sit for another 5 minutes. Mix the rest of the spice mix with beaten yogurt & set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat a grill pan [or a normal pan] to smoking hot.Once hot,brush some oil on the pan and layer the chicken pieces on the pan. Here, the idea is just to sear the flesh of the chicken [not cook it].You can even do it in the same pot in which you want to cook the sauce,I prefer a wide open pan for the sake of searing all piece in one go & easier flipping.Let sear for about 5 minutes on each side. Once seared, remove from heat.Reserve the drippings if any. Note:- You can use your outdoor grill too for this purpose.

  • While the chicken is being seared, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot with lid on medium heat. [ or use your slow cooker for this purpose]
  • Once the oil is smoking, lower the heat & add the chopped onions to the pot.Cook the onions till golden brown.About 8 minutes.
  • Next, add the grated ginger & garlic to the pot along with bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Cook for 1 minute more.Let the heat be on low.
  • Add the spice mixed yogurt to the pot next and combine well with onions.Cook for 2 minutes with constant stirring to avoid curdling of the yogurt.You will slowly see yogurt releasing water. TIP: Whenever adding yogurt to hot pot, ensure that the stove is on the lowest mark.
  • Add the seared chicken pieces to the pot next, pep up the heat to medium and cook the chicken pieces for 5 minutes.Check the salt now [ remember we rubbed chicken with salt earlier] and adjust if required. Also,add the drippings[ if any] from the grill pan to the pot.
  • Again, reduce the heat to lowest possible on your stove, cover the pot and let the chicken cook to fully done.About 25-30 minutes.Avoid adding any water to the pot.As the chicken will cook,it will release its own juices which are enough to cook it.You will need to stir in between once or twice. Avoid adding any water to the pot.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, remove from heat and let sit covered for another 10 minutes.
  • Garnish with cilantro & sliced chillies.
  • Serve warm with chapthis, naan [flatbreads] or cumin rice.
Sinfully Spicy:Bhuna Murgh - Slow Cooked Chicken with Spices
Notes:-
  1. If you want to serve the chicken as appetizers, cook them to perfection on the outdoor/indoor grill itself & serve with Mango Mint Chutney.
  2. This recipe can be used for goat meat,turkey, beef or lamb also.The cooking time will very as per the kind of meat used.
  3. This spice rub is serves as a flavorful condiment to add indian twist to your grilling.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!


Appetizers/Snacks · Snacks · Vegetarian

Corn-Peanut Fritters With Mango-Mint Chutney

 

 

 

 

For the Corn-Peanut Fritters:-

Printable Recipe

Ingredients:- [Serves 2]

  • 2 cups fresh white corn kernels [ you can use frozen variety too]
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts, skinned & slightly roasted
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 3 Thai green chillies [adjust to taste]
  • 1 fat garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro/parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1 tsp amchoor [dry mango powder]
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi [dried fenugreek leaves]
  • 6 tbsp besan/chickpea flour [ or as required to make a thick batter]
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying [ I use canola]

Method:-
  • Using a mortar & pestle, coarsely crush the roasted peanuts.Set aside.
  • Keep 1/2 cup of corn kernels aside.
  • To the food processor jar, add 1-1/2 cups of corn and pulse 8-10 times.We do not need a paste, just a chunky mix.If using thawed,frozen kernels, you might need to add a tbsp of water while processing.
  • Transfer the kernels to a medium bowl.Add the crushed peanuts, remaining kernels,scallions,garlic, green chillies, cilantro & all the spices except salt to the bowl.With the help of the spoon, gently mix to combine.
  • Add the chickpea flour next and combine to make a batter.Since fresh corn kernels are very juicy, you will need to ration the flour quantity as per requirement.Start with 4 tbsp of flour.If the liquid from corn makes the mixture too wet, put in additional flour.
  • Heat oil on medium in a fryer /deep-frying pan/kadhai.The indian way of checking if oil is ready or not is by putting little batter in the heated oil; if it sizzles right to the top without turning brown, oil is ready.
  • Add the salt just before frying & combine.With the help of hand or a spoon, tip in small portions of the batter into the heated oil in a single layer.Do not overcrowd the pan.
  • Fry on medium heat, flipping in between for even cooking till the fritters are golden brown on all sides.
  • Remove  with the help of a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towels.Repeat the process for the entire batch.
  • Serve hot with mango-mint chutney
    and chai.

For the Mango Mint Chutney:-
Ingredients :-
  • 1 cup green mango, cubed
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 Thai green chillies [adjust to taste]
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste
Method:- Put everything in a blender and churn till smooth.If needed, add a tbsp or more of water.Transfer to dry jars/bowls and keep refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Enjoy!
Linked to “Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryRouxbe and ManPans.”
Baking · Desserts · Eggs

Apricot-Cornmeal Upside Down Cake

For someone like me who is not a big fan of chocolate,baking with fruits is one of the most favorite things.It gives a perfect opportunity to experiment recipes with fruits & relish the results.Baking with fruits always overwhelms me, the way the flesh, natural oils and sweetness transform inside the oven is intriguing.Take for example an apple, the texture before and after baking is completely different and good in its own way..while the fresh one is juicy & crunchy, baked is dense & succulent.

Me and P adore fruits & try to include them as much as possible meals.With temperatures already soaring in Vegas,fruit based recipes are absolutely delightful.I saw really gorgeous stone fruits at the grocery store a week back.There is something about pink/plum/red colors – they catch my eye from far away and seem to call my name.I rushed towards them.There lay boxes of fleshy,bright-colored peaches, nectarines & apricots in front of my eyes,each trying to catch my attention.Helpless at being able to choose, I bought all of them – all in the name of health foods! Gnawing my teeth into fleshy stone fruit is super exciting.The rush of juices between the teeth & the texture from the flesh add a refreshing dimension to my dull, lazy days.Eating fruits heals me psychologically, it’s comforting to feel the intake of antioxidants the most natural way possible.

Our tastes in fruits match  to the extent that we LOVE them but differ in the kind of fruit.While he is a tropical fruit fiend, I swear by berries & stone fruits.The moment,I picked up the first apricot,Oh what a pink blushing beauty it was outside.I pitted it knew that I had to make something to showcase inside-oozing with juices, accurately tart & with golden-colored flesh, just waiting to be baked!

Started my google search and found this perfect recipe from Good houseKeeping of an apricot cornmeal upside down cake.It has very less quantity of oil.And one of my favorite ingredients to bake with – buttermilk! I was slightly apprehensive because I had never baked with cornmeal what if we don’t like the taste or it doesnt rise much or is dry? It was painful to think about  a 8″ cake making its way into the bin.But then, unless I took a leap, I would not have discovered the delight of baking with cornmeal.We totally loved it.It was moist, perfectly sweet & very homey looking.The slight tang from the buttermilk complemented the sweetish tartness of apricots very well.A perfect cake for summertime get togethers. Below goes the recipe:-

Ingredients :- [ Makes one 8″ tall cake]

Printable Recipe

[Adapted from here ]

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 whole ripe apricots
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lime zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Method:-

  • Wash the apricots if using fresh.Ceach cut in half and pit them.Set aside.If using canned apricots, drain them and discard the liquid.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 8″ cake pan with at least 2″ high sides. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over bottom of skillet. Arrange apricot halves, cut side down, over brown sugar.
  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, granulated sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until blended.
  • In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, butter, oil, lime zest, and vanilla extract until blended.
  • Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and fold with a spatula until just blended. Pour batter over apricots and using a spatula spread evenly.
  • Bake 30 to 35  minutes, or until skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean.Mine took 32 minutes.
  • Let cool in skillet on wire rack 10 minutes. Run knife around side of skillet. Place platter on top of skillet and carefully invert cake onto platter. Remove skillet.
  • Cool cake slightly to serve warm, about 30 minutes.

Notes:-
  • I thought that  just 4 tbsp oil+butter for a 10″ cake was less.So I increased the oil quantity by a tbsp.
  • If you like your cakes very sweet, then you may need to increase the sugar quantity in this recipe.
  • This recipe will work well with all kinds of fruits.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!
Easy Recipes · Pickles/Preserves · Vegetarian

Aam ki Launji – Green Mango Chutney with Jaggery & Nigella Seeds

 

Printable Recipe

Ingredients:- [Makes approx 3.5 cups of chutney]

  • 3 cups chopped green mango [from 2 large mangoes,raw & sour]
  • 1 tbsp mustard/sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Nigella seeds[kalaunji]
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds [methi dana]
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp red chilli flakes [adjust to taste]
  • 1 tsp black salt/kala namak [substitute with normal salt/adjust to taste]
  • 6 tbsp of jaggery

Method:-
  • If using a jaggery slab, with the help of  a sharp knife cut it into small pieces.Set aside.
  • In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil on medium heat.If using mustard oil- heat it to smoking point to do away the raw smell.
  • Once heated, add the Nigella, fenugreek, cumin & fennel seeds to the pot.Wait till they crackle & you smell the aroma.About 30 seconds.
  • Next add the turmeric powder and red chilli flakes to the pot.Cook for another 30 seconds.TIP:Whenever adding turmeric powder to hot oil, keep a watch because it burns easily.
  • Add the chopped green mangoes to the pot and stir on medium heat to combine well with the other ingredients.Stir for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
  • Next, cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low and let the mangoes cook till they are 90% cooked but not mushy.About 15-20 minutes.Again note that this cooking time will depend on how thick you have cut the mangoes.
  • Add the  jaggery to the pot next and combine gently with mangoes.You will see that as the jaggery will cook, it will release water.Do not worry.Everything is as per plan.

  • Cover the pot again and cook on low heat for another 7-10 minutes until the jaggery has completely melted and mangoes are cooked thoroughly. At this point add the black salt and roasted cumin powder and stir well.
  • Remove from heat.If you want, you can crush the cooked mangoes slightly using a masher.
  • As the chuntey will cool, it will become more and more thick so don’t worry if you feel that its is watery when hot.
  • Once the chutney has cooled, transfer to dry, air tight jars and keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Enjoy & Thanks for Stopping by!
 
 
Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch · Salads · Side Dishes · Vegetarian

Bharwaan Tamatar-Indian Style Stuffed Tomatoes

Living in Las Vegas is so much fun.I call it my second home.A city,I personally feel everyone should see once in their lifetime for it’s a different ball game altogether when it comes to defying the meaning of entertainment.The first time I went to the strip,the only thing I was doing for initial one hour was to swing my head in all directions possible to catch the glimpse of the glitz while sipping on the yard long glasses which were the additional wonder of that day.You walk into a casino and there’s this sudden thrash of loud music,gaudy yet ornate decor and lots and lots of people.I call it the MAD crowd…mad about enjoying life, about letting their hair down and experimenting with their fortune.Walking into a casino is a great stress buster on the other hand, every time I have walked in with a cluttered mind, feeling low,I seem to forget my worries for some time, its like a magic wand erasing all the tensions for a while when you see everyone around letting down with a common mission-to enjoy!

P always says that the downside of being a local is that we wont be able to enjoy the stay in luxurious hotels here.It is our secret wish to lock our house for 2 days sometime, take a cab, grab few clothes and stay over at one of the casino resorts and experience the king size life for few days out there.But did I tell you that locals enjoy discount rates at casinos and shows?I love the pace and quality of life in this city.Love the landscape which is all about tall,lush palm trees and succulents but still a drive through the valley is bound to leave you asking for more.I do not miss sky scrapers here; I like the homely feel of apartment homes and condos.The weather is extremely hot & dry,I have humidifiers in the house and battling the scorpions during summer months becomes a challange.The ONLY thing I miss a lot is the rains!With almost 340 days of full sun, I strive hard to save my little home garden from the gusty winds and aridity.Sometimes it just feels so dry that I have a hidden fear of not getting enough water to drink.

 

Tomatoes remind me of all those summer evenings at home when mom used to quarter them,sprinkle some salt and gave us a bowl each before dinner.Let me confess I do not like raw tomatoes all on their own. I need bread,cheese or some other veggie paired along to eat them raw.Another point of stark contrast from P who pops them into his mouth like a candy.This is one of my summer favorites, stuffed tomato recipe which my mom used to make during the times when abundant tomato produce hit the market.You can put any kind of stuffing – this is my indian way of doing it.Normally, paneer [ indian cheese] is widely used for stuffing, I like the tang of cheddar more instead.I usually like to serve them as appetizers, you can make a gravy and serve them as a main dish.Pair great with cheese puffs or a dry side with lentils.Recipe below:-

Ingredients:[Serves 2-3]

Printable Recipe

  • 6 medium size, firm tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil mixed with 1/4 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp white poppy seeds to sprinkle on top
Stuffing:
  • 3 medium size potatoes, boiled
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup frozen yellow corn
  • 1/4 cup mild cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 green chillies,chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp red chilli flakes [adjust to taste]
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds,crushed
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1 /2 tsp dry mango powder [ amchoor]
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp golden raisins [optional]
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Method:-
Preparing the tomatoes:-
  • Wash the tomatoes, pat them dry and using a sharp knife cut off  a about 1″ thick slice on top of the tomatoes.Reserve the tops.Note :- Just check that all the tomatoes rest on their bases, if not cut a thin slice from bottom to balance them.
  • Run a sharp knife all around the edge of the tomatoes and using a melon baller or scoop,take out the seeds and pulp. Tip:-Do not discard the pulp, refrigerate/ freeze it,can be used in curries or gravies later.
  • Using a paper towel pat dry the inside of the tomatoes and rub them with seasoned olive oil inside and outside.Set aside in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Making the stuffing :-
  • Thaw the peas and corn if using frozen.Mash the boiled potatoes thoroughly so that only tiny bits remain.
  • In any heavy bottomed utensil, heat the oil on medium and add cumin seeds and green chillies to it, fry for 30 seconds.Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for 1 minute.Add the chopped onions next and cook until they turn golden brown.About 7 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the turmeric powder, red chilli flakes and crushed coriander seeds.Cook for 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the spices.
  • Turn the heat high and add the mashed potatoes, peas ,corn and combine everything.Add salt and let cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.The mixture should be ready when you can smell the aroma.
  • Remove from heat and add garam masala, grated cheddar cheese,raisins.Combine well.Let the stuffing cool down for 5-8 minutes.

Making the tomatoes:-
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C.
  • Make balls out of the potatoes mixture and fill it into the refrigerated tomatoes.Do not press down.
  • Transfer the stuffed tomatoes to a greased baking dish or cast iron skillet,cover stuffed tomatoes with the tops and bake for 15-18 minutes or until the skins start to shrivel and the tomatoes are soft to touch.Towards the end of baking , sprinkle the poppy seeds and continue to bake till done.Note that for the last few minutes you need to keep a watch to avoid tomato skins from rupturing.
  • Serve warm.
Notes:
  • Instead of baking, you can cook the tomatoes on stove top covered over medium -low heat.You will need to separately toast poppy seeds and sprinkle before serving.
The composition of main dish pictures is inspired by White on Rice Couple.The beautiful setting in their pictures stuck in my memory for days.
Enjoy!
Desserts · Easy Recipes · Vegetarian

Strawberry Phirni – Indian Semolina Pudding

This recipe was featured on 100 ways to use Strawberries at Endless Simmer

 

 

 

 

Ingredients: {Serves 4-5}

Printable Recipe

For the Strawberry Sauce:

  • 3 cups chopped strawberries [fresh or frozen]
  • 3 tbsp white granulated sugar

For Phirni [Semolina Pudding]

  • 1/2 cup fine semolina flour [suji/sooji] [available in indian stores]
  • 1 tbsp ghee [substitute with clarified butter/unsalted butter]
  • 4 cups evaporated milk [ Substitute with half n half /whole milk/soy or almond or coconut milk for vegan version]
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp white granulated sugar [ adjust to taste]
  • 2 tbsp rose-water [use 1-2 drops if using rose essence]
  • 1/2 tsp green cardamom powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios & almonds [Or any nuts of choice] + Extra for garnish.

Method:
For the Strawberry Sauce:-
Add the chopped strawberries and sugar to a sauce pan and let cook on low heat for about 5-8 minutes till they are soft.Once they are soft, I used my spatula to mush them in the pan itself,you can blend them to make a smooth sauce if you like.Once cooked, let cool to room temperature, if you feel that the sauce is runny after cooling, you may need to cook it little more to achieve a thicker consistency.Tip the sauce into the glasses or serving bowls and let chill.
For the Phirni :-
[While the strawberry sauce is cooking]
  • In a skillet, on very medium heat,toast the semolina flour along with ghee till its light golden in color.You will need to continuously stir the flour as it roasts and keep a watch because semolina burns easily.Takes about 5-8 minutes.
[While the semolina flour is toasting]
  • In a wide-mouthed, heavy bottomed utensil, let milk come to a boil on medium heat.Stir once or twice midway to prevent milk from sticking to the bottom of the utensil.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and start adding the toasted semolina flour to the boiling milk and whisking thoroughly with the other hand.This is a very important step, if you do not whisk continuously, semolina will form lumps within seconds.
  • Within 5 minutes you will see that the milk starts to thicken as the semolina granules swell up and absorb milk.Continue whisking for about 3-4 minutes until you get a thick but runny consistency similar to ketchup.
  • Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.Add the granulated sugar, nuts, cardamom powder and rose-water to the semolina-milk mix and combine thoroughly.You will see that as the sugar dissolves the pudding will thin out.Note that it is important to add the sugar while the pudding is still warm.
  • Let the pudding cool to a room temperature and then add it on top of the already cooled strawberry sauce.Cover the bowls/glasses with cling film to avoid formation of skin on top and let set in the refrigerator till set [About 2-3 hours]
  • Garnish with chopped nuts or strawberries and serve chilled.

Notes:
  1. I used canned evaporated milk because we like the taste and the caramel color that it lends to the pudding.In case you will use milk and half n half, you wont get the same color.
  2. Instead of strawberry sauce, try pureed mango , sliced bananas or any other kind of fruit.Please do not use citrus fruits because that may lead to cuddling of the milk in the pudding.You can avoid the fruit sauce completely & make the pudding on its own only.
  3. The same recipe can be used to make phirni with ground rice or cornmeal.In case of rice flour,do not toast it.
  4. The pudding keeps for 2-3 days, refrigerated.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!
Easy Recipes · Lentils · Side Dishes · Soups · Vegetarian

Aamer Dal- Red Lentils With Green Mango

P

Tips on Cooking that perfect bowl of dal:-

  1. Adding salt at the beginning can toughen the grain.So preferably add salt after the lentils have cooked.
  2. Adding tomatoes/lemon juice or any acidic ingredient can lengthen the cooking time.Add these after the lentils have become almost 80% tender.
  3. Very old lentils [6 months or older] can take longer time to cook and may not taste great.Try to use a fresh batch.
  4. Adding a tsp of mustard/olive oil/ghee can really bring out the flavors of the grain.Try it.
  5. Since cooking & soaking time of each kind of lentil vary, its always better to keep a watch so that they do not overcook. A perfect cooked dal has a nutty taste to it.

Ingredients: [Serves 2]

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup red lentils , broken
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 tsp ghee (or any neutral oil)
  • 1 large, sour green mango [or 1/2 cup grated mango, or use lime juice at the end for tang]
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped tomatoes
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro to garnish
  • Generous pinch of garam masala
For tempering
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1/4 tsp Nigella seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder/cayenne (adjust to taste)

Method:
  • Peel the skin from the mango and finely grate it.Set aside.
  • In a bowl,wash the red lentils under a stream of water 2-3 times.
  • After washing, tip them in a pressure cooker or large, heavy bottomed pot along with turmeric, tomatoes, ghee and grated mango(if using) and let soak in water.Note: Although I have given the measure of water above,it is totally your call.As a thumb rule, the water should be enough to cover and rise 1.5″-2″ above the lentils. Let soak in water for at least 1.5 hours.
  • Cooking the lentils [Any one of the below]:-
  1. Using Pressure Cooker {this is what I do} :- Cook the lentils [along with soaking water] for 8-10 minutes on medium heat till the first whistle.Immediately remove from heat and wait till the steam completely escapes..Again this time will vary if you are using whole lentils.Once the lentils are cooked add salt.
  2. Cooking in a pot :-Add lentils [along with water] and simmer on medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.Once the lentils are cooked, add salt.
  • Tempering :-In a small sauce pan, heat the ghee till hot on medium heat.Add the cumin, mustard & Nigella seeds.Wait till they crackle.Add the cloves & dry chillies.Cook for 20 seconds.Remove from heat and add the red chilli powder.Immediately add this tempering to cooked dal.
  • Stir in the tempering and garnish with cilantro, sprinkle with garam masala
  • Serve warm as a soup or with steamed rice.
Notes:-
  • If you are adjusting the water after the lentils have cooked, add warm water.
  • You can cube or slice the mangoes too, grating them is a personal preference.
  • Sometimes I add a tomato or two, if my mangoes are not very sour.
  • If soaked properly, red lentils quick very quickly, to keep a watch as they cook.
Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!
Indian Curry · Non vegetarian · Side Dishes

Keeme Ke Kofte-Mutton Meatballs Curry

Given a choice,I prefer brothy, spice laden curries over the thick,sweetish,creamy ones.I like to sip the spiced broth which hits the back of tongue.Spices which do a happy dance in your mouth and leave behind a “gimme me more” feeling.There is something really addictive about spice blends unadulterated by sugar & cream.You start eating, and you don’t want to stop.There’s a rush of signals to the brain wanting you to have more of it.I have experienced this kind of feeling especially with fiery curries as the one I m sharing in this post.With P,it’s the opposite.For him, the creamier the better.He prefers spices in a creamy base,preparations which give him a rich, full feeling after the meal.Not that he doesn’t like, in fact I have hardly seen him not enjoying any kind of indian food but he is little partial towards the creamy ones.At home,we have struck a deal now.We alternate “his” & “my” kind of curry preparations.Its a win win situation for both of us.

Anyhow,the very sound of this dish reminds me of the bylanes of Jama Masjid area in Old Delhi where they the little eateries run by muslims chefs by the road side serve it with tandoori roti, warm ghee cumin rice & pickled onions.The koftas keep on simmering in a big metal handi[pot] with aromatic steam trying to escape from the sides of the lid.Me and P used to throng that place quite often before marriage.That area in Old Delhi is house to the world-famous Moti Mahal & Karim restaurants.But the sheer joy of eating at those streets is unmatched in front of these decadent places.The hustle-bustle of people, the narrow lanes, the rattling of vendors, everyone seems to be in a hurry during evening hours.But you wanna stop to relish the foods there. The aroma of spices mixed with the incense burning in those eateries was enticing.Sitting on an old, depleted wooden bench, dunking roti into the warm, spicy gravy served in a plain china dish,eating with hands and licking the fingers thereafter.No cutlery,no napkins..simple yet blissful moments of life.Ah,I miss those times.

This is my mom’s recipe who recreates it closest to the Old Delhi taste.One of my dad’s favorite things to eat,this was our supper almost every Saturday.There are two things which give this curry the “fiery ” element.First of all is the use of mustard oil.Now, if you have been reading my blog, you would have noticed that I innately use it in my cooking.Mustard oil, of course produced from mustard seeds has a pungent taste & a sinus irritating aroma similar to wasabi or horseradish.Its an acquired taste and can be very addictive.I cant imagine my kitchen without it.The second thing is the green chilies which make their way into the balls and the red chilli powder in the gravy.Yes, its the double amount of chillies.Though you can drop the ones in the mince if you want.

Kofta” is a term used for balls made out of minced vegetables or meat.If you like spicy, curries, this is just the one for you.It will take you to a virtual trip to those bylanes of Old Delhi.Succulent balls of mutton in a onion-sour yogurt base curry.I normally do not like to add tomatoes to red meat preparations,you can if you want.Try the recipe with minced lamb,beef or chicken and keep on adjusting the cooking time accordingly.Another thing I highly recommend is making this curry at least 4-5 hours in advance of your eating time, the longer the balls sit in the gravy, the tastier they get.Make sure to prepare extra because left overs taste AMAZING!Below goes the recipe, see the notes at the end:-

Mutton Kofta Curry [Serves 3-4]

Printable Recipe

For the Koftas or Meatballs: [Makes about 25 balls of the size shown]

  • 1 lb ground mutton/lamb/beef/chicken [I use lean mince]
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, grated
  • 1″ fresh ginger shoot, grated
  • 2 Thai green chillies, chopped finely
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp clove powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold plain yogurt [slightly sour] to dip the koftas
For the Curry Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup thick onion paste
  • 1 fat garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder [If available else substitute with cayenne]
  • 1.5 tsp red chilli powder /cayenne [Adjust to taste]
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil [substitute with any oil of choice]
Whole Spices:-
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 4 pods green cardamom, break open
Required – A wide, heavy bottomed pot with lid big enough to layer the koftas in a single layer without having to stack on top of each other.

Method:-
Making the Koftas/Meatballs:-
  • Mix all the ingredients listed for the koftas except yogurt.Grease your palms & make medium balls of the mixture.I prefer to keep the size little.Do not make very big balls because the koftas swell while cooking.
  • Line the Koftas on a plate and refrigerate for at least 2 hours[Very imp step, do not miss]
  • Add 3-4 tbsp of water to the yogurt and thin it out if required.Keep refrigerated until you begin cooking.
Making the curry sauce:
  • In the pot, heat the oil on high heat.Once the oil is smoking, reduce the heat to medium.It is important to cook mustard oil to smoky point at the start of cooking to do away with the raw smell.
  • Add the onion paste along with the whole spices and cook on medium heat till golden brown in color.
  • Next,add the grated garlic and saute for about 2 minutes.Next add coriander, turmeric , chilli powders, salt and cook the spice mix on medium heat till you see oil separating at the sides of the pot.About 8-10 minutes.
  • At this point add 1.5 -2 cups of water to the pot, stir well cover with lid and let the gravy come to a boil on high heat.
  • Once the gravy is boiling,lower the heat to the minimum possible on your stove.Take out the refrigerated koftas, dip them in cold ,thinned out yogurt one at a time and start tipping to the pot.Do not stack the koftas on top of each other, and do not overcrowd the pot because they will swell up as they cook.
  • After you have added all the koftas to the pot, add the yogurt [if remaining] to the pot too.Check the seasoning of the gravy at this point and adjust salt.
  • Cover the pot and let simmer.It takes about 20-25 minutes for the koftas to be fully cooked.Do not increase the flame/heat else the yogurt will cuddle.While they are simmering, you will need to come in between and gently stir the contents for even cooking,either stir using the handle of the pot or cover with lid,lift the pot wearing gloves in your hands and move the pot.Preferably, do not use spatula or spoon.
  • To check the doneness of the koftas- Take one out and cut it into half, if you see pink inside,more cooking is required.I usually cook the koftas totally, if you like rare or medium rare, adjust the cooking time.
  • At the end of cooking, you will see that the oil is floating on top of the pot & the gravy has thickened slightly.Adjust the consistency of the gravy at this point.If you are adding water, you will have to simmer the diluted gravy for extra 5 minutes.
  • Let the koftas rest for about 2-3 hours in the gravy for them to absorb flavors.I make them in the early to be eaten for dinner.The more they rest the more the flavor.
  • Serve warm with roti or cumin rice.

Notes:

  1. Test a single kofta first in the boiling gravy to make sure that it’s not spreading or crumbling away..In that case u need to add a binder [egg or cornstarch or flour] to the mix.I didnt need any.
  2. Take care not to overcook the koftas, they become hard.

Sending to Hearth n Soul #48

Desserts · Easy Recipes · Vegetarian

Litchi/Lychee Pannacotta With Mango Jelly

Litchi Pannacotta [Serves 4-5]

Printable Recipe

Recipe adapted from The Culinary Chronicles

  • 1 20oz can lychees [substitute with fresh pitted litchis]
  • 3/4 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar [adjust to taste]
Mango Jelly
  • 1 cup fresh mango puree  [substitute with store bought]
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp sugar [adjust to taste]
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • a pinch of cardamom powder [optional]
  • 3/4 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/4 cup water
Making the Litchi Pannacotta:
In a small bowl, pour the water and sprinkle gelatin over it.Let the gelatin bloom for about 5 minutes.Meawhile,tip in the canned litchis in a blender or a food processor along with syrup and crush them.Drain the crushed litchis thorugh a sieve once.In a sauce pan, add the milk, sugar and drained litchis and let warm on low heat until sugar is dissolved.Do not let the mix boil,it should be warm but not hot.Remove from heat and add the bloomed gelatin to the pan.Mix well.You can whisk gently to ensure that everything has combined well.Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and then pour into your serving bowls/glasses.Refrigerate and let set for 3 hours.
Making the Mango Jelly :
 In a small bowl, pour the 1/4 cup water and sprinkle gelatin over it.Let the gelatin bloom for about 5 minutes.Mix mango puree with 1/2 cup water , lemon juice, cardamom powder and 3 tbsp sugar and warm slightly (about 3-5 minutes] in a sauce pan over low heat.Again do not let boil.Mix in the bloomed gelatin and combine well.Let stand to cool off for about 10-12 minutes and add on top of the set litchi pannacotta.Let set for another 3 hours.

Add subsequent layers and keep on chilling.
Garnish with nuts or fresh fruit, mint and serve chilled.
How to create the swirls:
While you transfer the glasses to chill in the refrigerator, tilt the glasses/bowls.I usually use my cupcake pan to do this wherein I stuff little paper towels at the base of cases and rest the stem- tilted on them.Using a cupcake pan makes the handling easier when making a lot of servings but then there are lots of way of doing it.Devise your own.
Notes: It is important to add subsequent layers only after the bottom layers have set.The swirl you see in pictures took me half a day to set in and adding layers.You can do whichever way you like.Keep it simple or make a pattern.
Variations: Use coconut milk & agar agar flakes in place of whole milk & gelatin respectively to make a vegan version.I think litchi goes very well with papaya as well.I intend to add those layers next time I make it.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!