Desserts/Baking

Baked Yogurt

With two kids on board, and heat wave on roll, I am always trying to push magic into busy mornings these days with make ahead breakfasts. We have had quite a summer this year and three digit temperatures are rocking our part of the world. Yogurt + fruit breakfasts are our favorite thing at this time of the year.

Just bake the yogurt and it sets overnight in the fridge and next morning add toppings as you wish. Here I did ghee caramelized bananas, chia seeds and walnuts. Kids sprinkle almond granola on theirs. Thick plain yogurt, bit of heavy cream(gives it little dessert like indulgence) and sweetener (I used date syrup, you can use honey) is all you need. its normal for yogurt to release a bit of water so make sure that the hug curd is really thick. A few pinches of green cardamom go well with smokiness of dates syrup.

The tastes faintly reminds me of mishit doi, its a super easy make ahead breakfast for busy mornings.

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Baked Yogurt

Easy baked yogurt sweetend with date syrup and topped with caramalized bananas.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time8 hrs 50 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 3-4 tbsp date syrup or honey
  • 1/4 tsp ground green cardamom

Instructions

  • Tie the yogurt in a cheesecloth or muslin bag for about 4-6 hours so that the liquid is strained. You will get about 1 cup of thick hung yogurt.
  • Preheat overn to 250F.
  • Place the hung yogurt with rest of the ingredinets in a large bowl and whisk very well.
  • Transfer to the whisked yogurt to an oven safe dish. Cover the dish using aluminium foil.
  • Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes until the sides are firm and the center is jiggly. You may see liquid seperating on sides, thats normal.
  • Once baked, take out of the oven and let cool to room temperature. Chill for 6-8 hours before serving.
  • Add toppings like granola, fruit, nuts or seeds as desired. You can make individual servings as well by baking in ramekins.
Indian Curry/Stew · Uncategorized

Aloo Paneer Ki Sabzi

An easy, homestyle gravy based dish made with paneer and potatoes. The combo of potatoes and paneer is pure love. With rotis or rice and salad, it makes for a delicious weeknight meal. This sabzi uses everyday ingredients from your pantry and is pretty straightforward.

We love paneer, especially my kids and its a great source of vegetarian protein. The popular paneer curries use ton of nuts and cream and while I absolutely love them, those are reserved for special occasions in our home. Everyday curries are fuss free and I make this paneer sabzi every other week.


I love making paneer curries in ghee but you can use mustard or olive or any cooking oil that you normally use. Here I also use a few whole spices but you can just use the powdered spices. Summer tomatoes are great right now and they enhance the taste of sabzi a lot. If you want, you can use crushed canned whole tomatoes as well.

Other paneer recipes to check out.

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Aloo Paneer ki Sabzi

Everyday homestyle paneer and poato curry which pairs well with rice, rotis and salad.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large potato
  • 8 oz paneer
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 1 large bayleaf
  • 3 green cardamom cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, pounded in mortar pestle
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, pounded in mortar pestle
  • 1.5 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp hot red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi, optional
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, garnish

Instructions

  • Peel and cut the potato into 6-8 pieces. Keep soaked in water. Cut paneer into triangles or squares, as you wish, do not cut too thick or too thin.
  • Heat ghee on medium heat in a heavy bottom pot. Once nicely warm, add the whole spices. Crackle for 10 seconds and then add the onions.Cook onions till they brown evenly.
  • Add the ginger, garlic and cook for a minute or so till you smell a nice aroma.Then add the powdwered spices – coriander, turmeric, red chilli powder. Cook for 2 minutes in oil until you smell a toasty aroma. If you feel that the spices are getting dry, add a splash of water.
  • Next add the tomatoes,sugar and salt to the potCook for 5-6 minutes till you see oil seperating on the sides and the tomatoes are pulpy. Add the potatoes and mix well. Saute the potatoes for 3-4 minutes with the masala.
  • Add 1 cup hot water, mix.Taste and adjust the salt of the masala and bring it to a slow boil. Once boiling, reduce the stove to medium low and cover the pot. Let cook on medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until the potatoes are 95 percent cooked.
  • Once the potatoes are fork tender, add the paneer, kasuri methi, cumin powder and garam masala. Mix and cover again and let cook for another 5-8 minutes until poatoes are cooked through and the paneer has softened.
  • Let rest for 20 minutes before serving. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.
Desserts/Baking

Gram/Chickpea Flour Chocolate Banana Bread

This nutritious banana bread is protein rich, fibre rich and is 100 % gluten free. It made with besan/gram/chickpea flour, is aromatic with ghee & green cardamom and has a double dose of chocolate. It is nut free (though you can add nuts), eggless and one bowl. Perfect for breakfast or snack any time of the day.

Banana bread is a favorite in our house and since the kids love sweet breakfast,I make it every other week. There is always a peace of mind when there is banana bread in the fridge especially during weekdays when the morning rush is a real thing!

Chickpea flour or besan is one of the most loved flour in north indian homes, second only to whole wheat flour. It is versatile, and perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. Chickpea flour is high in soluble fiber which makes it nutritious. I make nankhatais with chickpea flour all the time but this was the first time I baked a cake with it. And it was surprising as to how well this loaf came out.

It took me few attempts to get this recipe right. I went through inspiration from the internet but ultimately came up with measurements and swapped ingredients suited to the tastes of my family. The bread isn’t overly sweet and has an amazing texture. As with banana breads, it tastes better the next day.

Now the question ringing in your mind ever since you started reading 🙂 How does it compare to regular banana bread made with all purpose flour? The answer – Quite well! It does taste different, but only slightly. Not bad at all! There is an aftertaste of besan but its very nutty & pleasing. I am a convert! I would pick this wholesome recipe over a regular banana bread made with regular flour especially since the kids often consume it as first meal of the day.The husband who isn’t a big fan of alternative flour baking, LOVED it.

You can easily make this recipe vegan but substituting neutral oil in place of ghee and using plant milk instead of dairy milk. The addition of cardamom and ghee together makes it taste like indian mithai (sweets) and we love it. However good quality vanilla or cinnamon will work great as well. A very doable, make ahead breakfast recipe for next morning while you are making dinner in the evening. It is one bowl and the ingredients are easy to find and few.

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Gram Flour Chocolate Banana Bread

One bowl glutenfree, eggless and double chocolate banana bread made with besan/chickpea flour, cocoa and ghee. It is scented with ground green cardamom, is super moist and tastes better the next morning.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time45 mins
1 hr 5 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, Indian
Servings: 1 loaf (8 by 5 inch)

Ingredients

  • 450 g mashed bananas , from about 3 large very ripe bananas
  • 90 g raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted ghee
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 175 g besan(gram flour /chickpea flour) use superfine variety
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tbsp baking chocolate chunks I used 70% dark chocolate chunks or use chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F. I used a 8 inch by 5 inch nonstick loaf pan to bake this bread, since my pan was nonstick I did not need to spray or line it with parchment paper. If you are using a regular loaf pan, line it with parchment paper with bit of an overhang so that the loaf is easy to take out.
  • In a large bowl, add the bananas, raw sugar, ghee and milk. Whisk very well for 2-3 minutes until you all the raw sugar granules have dissolved.
  • Place a sieve on top of the bowl and add besan, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Sift the flour mixture over the wet ingredinets. Do not skip sifting coz besan is usually lumpy and it will make the bread batter lumpy.
  • Add the cardamom powder. If using nuts, add them right now. Using a soft spatula, gently fold and mix everyrhing together until its cocoa color. Dont over mix.
  • Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and smoothen the top using a flat spatula. Scatter chocolate chunks on top.
  • Bake for 44-49 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. I baked mine for 45 minutes. Note that the baking times will differ depending on the size of baking pan as well as oven.
  • Once baked, let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Pull out of the pan and transfer to a cooling rack and let cool down completely.
  • Slice using a sharp knife and enjoy. You can store leftovers in fridge for 2 days or freeze upto 3 months.

Notes

  1. You canned chopped walnuts or almonds to the batter. 
  2. Use very ripe and sweet mashed bananas, else your bread wont be as sweet.
  3. Instead of cardamom, you can use cinnamon as well. 
  4. If you are making for kids and arent a fan of dark chocolate, use regular cocoa powder and chocolate chips in the recipe. 
  5. You can make easily make it vegan by substituting neutral oil and plant based milk. 
Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Singapore Street Noodles

Singapore Street Noodles. Easy noodles stir fried with a good dose of protein (chicken + shrimp+ eggs), vegetables, shallots, garlic, ginger and curry powder in a really hot wok. Spicy, umami, smoky all in one. It’s hard to find anyone who won’t like these delicious noodles (actually rice sticks(or vermicelli), these are our favorite dish to order at PF Chang’s.

The traditional version uses char siu pork(BBQ pork) but I use eggs, chicken & shrimp. You can skip or add any kind of protein your family likes. This is a super weeknight friendly recipe. For the vegetables I use snap peas and red bell pepper, however bean sprouts and bok choy can be used as well. Like any asian or indo chinese recipe, these do need you to prepare the ingredients before hand- chopping the vegetables, preparing the protein, softening the rice sticks etc , I would say about 20-25 minutes worth of preparation, but once you are done, from there these noodles come together in hardly 6-8 minutes.

What makes these noodles unique is the use of curry powder, the taste of the spices along with asian sauces cooked on high heat lends these noodles their signature color and flavor. That said, I don’t stock curry powder, lets just say, it is not one of my favorite things. But that won’t stop me from making these and neither it should stop you. You don’t have to buy a jar of curry powder which, if you are like me will never get used up after this dish. The secret is to make your own curry blend by mixing coriander powder +turmeric + garam masala(easily available spices in an indian pantry, see measurement in the recipe), works beautifully for that traditional flavor!

These noodles are pretty easy to make and can fit restrictive dietary needs very easily as well. Keep the following things in mind when you make these:-

  • Keep all the ingredients ready before you start stir frying the noodles. This includes preparing the sauce, chopping the vegetables and soaking the rice noodles. This is super important and makes your work flow so easy!
  • Stir fry on high heat. The right smokiness and taste only comes when the spices hit the hot wok.
  • Use a larger wok than you think. If you don’t have a wok, use a wide large 12 inch pan. That way the noodles will not get soggy and will crisp up nicely.
  • Don’t skimp on the oil. Noodles need oil to not get sticky and when the oil quantity is right, they get that charred taste instead of tasting boiled.
  • Since rice noodles are very delicate and thin, you want to keep those textures going forward, hence cut the chicken into small strips, no one wants to bite into a chunk of protein. Use fork to break the soft scrambled eggs into small pieces or make a thin omelette and use kitchen shears to cut it into small strips. Use medium size shrimp, or cut then into small bites if you have jumbo or extra large at home.
  • You can use wheat tempeh strips or tofu in this recipe to make it vegan friendly.
  • Use coconut aminos or tamari instead of soy sauce to make it gluten free friendly.

Other Noodle Recipes that you can check out on the blog

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Singapore Street Noodles

Rice vermecelli stir fried with chicken, shrimp, eggs and vegetables and a curry spices flavored sauce. Can be easily made glutenfree or vegan.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the Sauce

  • 1.5 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing wine (chinese cooking wine, if you dont want to use alcohol, simply use chicken broth)
  • 1 tsp garam masala ,see notes (1)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder ,see notes (1)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder ,see notes (1)
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Noodles

  • 200 g rice sticks(vermecelli), I use Dynasty Brand
  • 5 tbsp cooking oil, divided
  • 2 large eggs, whisked with a pinch of salt
  • 1, 6oz chicken thigh, cut into thin strips
  • 10-12 shrimp, tail on, cleaned & deveined
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 Thai bird green chillies, finely chopped skip or adjust quantity to tolerance, see notes(2)
  • 12-15 snap peas
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Chopped cilantro, chopped scallion green parts, Lime wedges to serve

Instructions

  • Add all the sauce ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
  • Add the rice sticks to a large bowl and cover with enough hot water. Soak for 5-8 minutes Once they are soft, drain using a colander and keep ready. TIP – Once the rice noodles are soft, use kitchen scissors to cut the noodles short, makes tossing and eating easy.
  • In a large wok, add 1 tbsp of oil and heat up. Add the whisked eggs and scramble the eggs untill they are soft cooked. Remove on a plate. Using a fork, break the egg into small pieces.
  • Add 1 tbsp of oil next, add the chicken to the wok. Sprinkle salt and pepper and stir fry the chicken on high heat until cooked through. Remove the chicken and all the drippings on the same plate as the eggs.
  • Next add another tbsp of oil and add the shrimp, sprinkle pinch of salt. Stir fry the shrimp for a couple minutes until they are opaque and turn orange. Remove on the same plate as the eggs & chicken.
  • Make sure that the wok is screaming hot. It will go fast from here. Add the remaining 2 tbsp oil to the wok.
  • Add shallots, ginger, garilc and green chillies all at once to the wok.Stir fry on high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Don't brown too much.
  • Next add the snap peas and bell pepper to the wok, sprinkle a pinch of salt and stir fry the vegetables on higt heat just for a couple minutes. We dont want to overcook them.
  • Next add the rice noodles to the wok along with shrimp, chicken and eggs. Pour over the sauce that we prepared.
  • Using tongs or chopsticks or two forks, toss everything together until the noodles and the protein are well coated in the sauce and everything is heated through. This part is a little messy since these noodles do not seperate easily but work your way through.
  • Remove from heat and add the cilantro and scallions. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Notes

  1. If you stock curry powder at home, use 1.5 – 2tsp curry powder instead of garam masala, coriander and turmeric. If using medium or hot curry powder, skip the green chilli. 
  2. Even a single thai bird chili makes these hot, if you want to make these mild, skip it. 
  3. Season with a pinch of salt every step of the way. It helps so much with the taste of the final dish. 
  4. Keep all the ingredients ready before you start stir frying the noodles. This includes preparing the sauce, chopping the vegetables and soaking the rice noodles. This is super important and makes your work flow so easy!
  5. Stir fry on high heat. The right smokiness and taste only comes when the spices hit the hot wok.
  6. Use a larger wok than you think. If you don’t have a wok, use a wide large 12 inch pan. That way the noodles will not get soggy and will crisp up nicely.
  7. Don’t skimp on the oil. Noodles need oil to not get sticky and when the oil quantity is right, they get that charred taste instead of tasting boiled.
  8. Since rice noodles are very delicate and thin, you want to keep those textures going forward, hence cut the chicken into small strips, no one wants to bite into a chunk of protein. Use fork to break the soft scrambled eggs into small pieces or make a thin omelette and use kitchen shears to cut it into small strips. Use medium size shrimp, or cut then into small bites if you have jumbo or extra large at home.
  9. You can use wheat tempeh strips or tofu in this recipe to make it vegan friendly.
  10. Use coconut aminos or tamari instead of soy sauce to make it gluten free friendly.
Uncategorized

Bengali Macher Johl

Bengali Macher Jhol.A light spicy fish curry perfect for summer months. For us indians, curries are year round, isn’t? Depending on the season, I switch between lighter or richer preparations and these days I am mostly making soupy tomato or yogurt based ones. 

Turmeric rubbed fish steaks(I used fresh asian sea bass) shallow fried in virgin mustard oil are added to a nigella and bay leaf scented gravy which gets a kick from grassy green chillies. The flavors are so bright and different from the punjabi fish curry I grew up eating, but really perfect for the hot months.  

You can use any kind of fish that you normally use for curries – salmon or carp work well. I sometimes make it with frozen baramundi or snapper fillets as well. This curry can be made in a jiffy and tastes awesome with some steamed white rice. Sometimes potatoes or eggplants are added for a nice variation and always allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes for the best flavors.

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Bengali Macher Jhol

A light spicy fish curry from the eastern parts of india.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

To prep the fish

  • 1.5 lb (about 750g) sea bass(or rohu or salmon) cleaned and cut into steaks
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Jhol

  • 1/4 cup mustard oil
  • 1/2 tsp nigella seeds
  • 3 thai bird green chillies, slit
  • 1/3 cup onion paste (simply grind onion in a blender using as less water as possible)
  • 2 garlic cloves ,pounded in mortar pestle
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 medium tomato chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 cups hot water
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add the fish, sprinkle salt and turmeric and rub on the pieces very well. Let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, add the powdered spices and mix ith 2-3 tbsp of water. Keep ready.
  • Add the mustard oil to a heavy wok or kadai and let heat up till slightly smoky.
  • Carefully, slide the fish into the oil and shallow fry for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from oil and place in a plate.
  • In the remaining oil, crackle the bay leaf, nigella and green chillies for 30 seconds.
  • Add the onion paste next and on medium heat, brown for about 3 minutes. Once browned add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute. Add the powdered spices paste next, a splash of water and fry the spices for 2-3 minutes untill you see that the oil starts seperating.
  • Next add the tomato, sugar and salt and fry for 2 minutes till the tomatoes have softened.
  • Add hot water to the masala and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the stove and let simmer for 2 minutes. Add the fried fish to the gravy along with any oil thats leftover in the plate in which you kept the fish. Taste and adjust the salt once.
  • Let everything cook for 6-8 minutes untill the fish is cooked through. Remive from stove and mix in the lime juice. Let rest for atleast 20 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.
Rice Dishes

Kale and Paneer Pulao

A healthy, fragrant and easy paneer(indian cheese) and kale pulao that is perfect for lunchboxes and quick meals.It tastes great a room temperature and keeps well for 2-3 days without changing its taste.Serve it on its own with salad, papad and raita or combine with tikkis or kebabs.

Paneer is an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and in this recipe I combine it with blanched kale – another powerhouse of nutrition. The combination of dark leafy greens, ghee crisped paneer, buttery rice and aroma of spices in each bite makes this pulao irresistible. You can add vegetables like peas, spinach or greens beans instead of kale if you wish. If you want to make it vegetarian, use tofu or any plant protein in place of paneer and skip the yogurt (finish with a little lime juice instead).

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Kale & Paneer Pulao

A nutritious, fragrant and easy pilaf made with ghee crisped paneer and leafy kale.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale (5-6 stalks)
  • 7 oz paneer, cut into cubes or triangles
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1/4 cup cooking olive oil
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 2 shallot, thinly sliced (or 1/3 cup sliced red onions)
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp full fat plain yogurt ,beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup basmati rice washed and soaked for 20 minutes
  • 1.5 cup water (or as needed for your rice brand)

Instructions

  • Blanch the Kale Leaves – Discard the stems of the kale and wash the leafs thorougly 2-3 times in water. Next, add the leaves to a boiling pot of water and let cook for 5 minutes. Immediately add the kale to ice water. Let cook completely. Once cooled, chop into bite size. Keep ready.
  • Prepare the Paneer -Add ghee to a cooking pot or shallow pan and on low heat, crisp up the paneer on both sides. Transfer to a plate.
  • To the remaining ghee, add the cooking oil and let heat up.
  • To the warm oil, add the whole spices and let crackle. Add the sliced shallots next and brown lightly for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and brown for 30-40 seconds on low medium stove.
  • Add the powdered spices next alomg with yogurt and saute continously for a minute or so else the yogurt will curdle. Let cook for couple minutes till you see oil seperating on seeds. Add the chopped kale next and saute everything for a minute or so.
  • Add the soaked rice, salt and paneer to the masala along with water. Mix well and taste the once, the water should taste salty else rice wont be flavorful.
  • Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot and let cook on slow heat till the water is absorbed. Takes about 10-15 minutes.
  • Switch off the stove, dont open the lid immediately. Let the rice pot sit undisturbed for 20 minutes.
  • Gently fluff the pulao and serve.

Notes

  1. You can add vegetables like peas, spinach or greens beans instead of kale if you wish.
  2. If you want to make it vegetarian, use tofu or any plant protein in place of paneer and skip the yogurt (finish with a little lime juice instead).
Indian Curry/Stew

Bhindi Zunka /Besan Bhindi

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Lamb & Potato Stew

Meat and Potatoes. The universal comfort food. A ritual in my kitchen in the midst of cruel winters especially on days when the chilly winds clatter against the window panes, its grey and cloudy outside and inside my kitchen, meat is slow cooked long enough till it almost falls off the bone, the potatoes absorb all the flavor and the aroma of the spices permeates the atmosphere of house. A dish which evokes nostalgia of my mom’s mutton stew and of our first few years in the States.

My first tasting of lamb came in one of the ornate buffets here in Las Vegas in a mellow stew- crimson colored, cooked with carrots, speckled with herbs & tasting strongly of red wine. Since we do not consume a lot of lamb in India (mutton is more popular), we had only been roasting lamb rack ocassionally, completely oblivious of the fact how this meat would behave with spices. The tasting presented an opportunity to try it in my mum’s mutton & new potato slow cooked stouu , one in which the meat is first seared and then cooked for long good hours, often pushing lunch to evening tea time.

There is little match to the slow cooking method, for the meat slowly gives in to heat, the gelatinous flavor of the bone melts in the sauce lending it an unmatched edge over the rushed one.The key is to start ahead, much before meal time so that the stew does not miss a chance to rest for a couple of hours before serving. This stew is comforting, deeply flavorful & delicious with a earthly taste of starchy potatoes. You should give this a try before the winters go away!

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Lamb & Potato Stew

Slow cooked bone in lamb and potato stew with fresh pounded spices and yogurt.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian

Equipment

  • Dutch Oven

Ingredients

For the Stew

  • 1 lb stewing lamb
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil , substitute with cooking oil that you like to use
  • 1 whole black cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 cup onions thinly sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 inch fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp hot red chilli powder adjust to tolerance
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2-3 small gold potatoes peeled
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt slightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • Salt to taste

Coarsely pound together

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 twig mace
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves

Instructions

  • Add the coarsely pounded spices to a bowl. Add the hot and kashmiri red chilli powder. Pour 1/4 cup of warm water, mix the spices into a paste and set aside.
  • In your dutch oven or any heavy bottom pot with lid, add the oil and let warm up for a few minutes until slightly smoky.
  • Add the black cardamom, cinnamom stick and bayleaf to the oil and saute for 10-15 seconds taking care not to burn the spices.
  • Next, add the sliced onions, sprinkle a pinch of sugar and let the onions brown. Keep on cooking them with stirring in between for 7-8 minutes till the onions are dark brown. This is important for color of the stew.
  • Once the onions are browned, add the lamb to the pot. Cook the lamb on medium low heat with onions for 8-9 minutes stirring continously untill you see that the lamb is browned on all sides and the edges are starting to turn dark brown.
  • Add the spice paste next, sprinkle 1 tsp of salt and mix well till the lamb pieces are covered in spices. Let the spices cook with lamb and onions for good 5 minutes. Make sure that they are not sticking to bottom. If you feel so, add a tablespoon or two of water.
  • Slowly you will see that the lamb will release its water and the contents of the pot will be slightly watery. Add 1/4 cup of hot water at this stage and cover the dutch oven.
  • Let the lamb slow cook for a low stove 2-3 hours(time depends on how big or small your pieces are as well as the quality of your meat). You will need to check time to time to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom, if so, add a splash of water.
  • Once the lamb is 90 percent cooked, keeping heat low, add the beaten yogurt and mix well rigrously else the yogurt will curdle. Saute the lamb with yogurt for 5-10 minutes untill you see oil bubbles on the sides of the pot. Check and adjust the salt at this stage. At this stage, lamb will be 95 percent cooked.
  • Add the potatoes to the pot, mix and cover the lid again.Let potatoes cook for 5-8 minutes or untill fork tender.
  • Once the meat and potatoes are done, take off the stove. Add nutmeg and gently mix everything well.
  • Let the stew rest for 2 hours before serving.

Indian Curry/Stew

Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Okra & Potatoes)

IMG_8376-2The first thing to be spotted in markets at the turn of April or May as soon as the short fairytale called winter is over is okra pods. It probably tops the list of summer vegetables in India. I would compare the hue and cry about it to sight of fresh tomatoes here. I would accompany my grandmother to our daily vegetable vendor, leaned over his cart and gazed at the pile of okra that occupied half of the space and observed how my grandmother chose the dark green, soft, slender ones while arguing about how costly he sold his produce. Almost each week, sometimes more than once, okra formed a part of our meals. My mother tells me that it was my grandfather’s favorite vegetable so our family recipe repertoire is packed with a lot of ways to cook it. As the summer progressed, by the months of July and august and with the knock of monsoons and okra slowly losing their crisp texture, only then the focus shifted to other vegetables.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)However, it was not until I met the husband that I cooked okra with potatoes. Kid you not, I had not even heard about it in all my years of living in northern parts. It’s hard to say if his suggestion to do so was driven by his childhood food memories or his obnoxious need to combine potatoes with each and every food group possible, but the deal didn’t get too bad here and these two vegetables worked beautifully the first time I cooked them. We continued discussing for many years, each chance I got to get okra home as to how the recipe can get better and better until I mastered it.

Sinfully Spicy : Okra

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)These emerald looking, slender beauties pair with earthly flavor of starchy potatoes so well. On the lines of stuffed okra, I always add fennel seeds to my okra recipes and you will need to do that to know how deliciously this grassy vegetable braces the liquorice of that spice.Try it. The deal with dealing with all the nuances which people associate with okra is not to go too stingy on oil quantity  as well as not to let the vegetable steam too much while cooking. I cover it for no more than few initial minutes after its added to pan and then continue cooking uncovered till its done, this preserves the beautiful color as well as eliminates the chances of mushy okra.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)

Serve these as a side with daal (lentils ) and rice or with skillet fried flatbreads and chutney. It is good on side as well as on its own.

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew · Lentils

Lauki-Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)  Each summer, last few days of school before the break started were hectic. Even after the vacations started, I remember going to school for extra classes during the high school year. By the time I returned home around noon, I was welcomed in the verandah of our house filled with the intoxicating aroma that emanated from the khus ki chik, a rustic kind of air conditioner made from reeds and laid in the form of window blinds, using the loo (indian summer winds) as a natural fan to cool the space inside. Clasping the finger numbing cold tumbler of rose sherbet that mom kept ready in the refrigerator, I stationed myself in the lobby to observed ladies of the house sitting on the jute chatai (mat) on the floor. There were all sorts of labelled containers of what is inside what around them and stained brass paraat (wide, shallow plates) infront. Sitting with legs neatly folded on top of each other, very immaculately, they picked the lentils, sometimes arguing teasingly or plainly gossiping about relatives and neighbors,their deft fingers, picking the little stones or unhusked bits all the time.They scanned through minute grains scattered in the shallow dish, separating one from the other, unmistakably picking out the hard inedible parts and segregating the cleaned portion towards the other side of the paraat. 

Sinfully Spicy:Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils)

I guess ‘picking’ the lentils is a ritual followed in many indian homes, even though most of the lentils available in the markets these days are clean and processed. It’s a kitchen habit that is passed from a generation to other, more as a traditional than need. If it’s not an arduous number of hours to be spent, a vigilant scan of the beans and lentils is what I go through each time I am about to wash or soak. Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki, Bottle GourdIn those years, it was dal – chawal for lunch or dinner  everyday. The variety of lentil changed and so did its preparation and tempering but the menu, though a bit monotonous remained comforting. On bright, sunny summer evenings, chunks of fleshy lauki (indian summer gourd) were added to chana daal, slow cooked till the squash softened and then the turmeric hued boiled lentils were topped with a tadka (tempering) of slow caramelized onions & browned garlic, filling the kitchen with aroma of ghee & smoky cumin & green chillies. Fresh dhaniya (coriander leaves), exuberantly priced during summer months was especially purchased from our daily vegetable vendor, to be finely chopped and scattered while the daal was still hot. It did make a lot of difference.

Sinfully Spicy: Tadka, Lentil Tempering

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)  If you know even a little about indian food, you would know that lentils are an everyday part of our meals, be it any time of the year. There are numerous ways of preparing and tempering them, native to each region of the country. The flavorings can vary from coconut, sugar, garlic to tomato based to curried to what not. This daal is my summer favorite. I guess every family has its own twist on it. Some temper it with just cumin, leaving out the garlic or onions, while some prepare it with coconut and mustard seeds. I had the opportunity to taste a variation tempered with curry leaves at one of my friend’s place. There is no right or wrong, just a choice. This is the beauty of indian food, it has no set rules. The same basic ingredients convert to a delicious outcome depending on who is handling them.Here, in my recipe, you could or could not add the squash even though it makes it hearty. Paired with rotis or steamed rice, salad and a dollop of chili achaar, it is such a satisfying complete meal for hot evenings.

Sinfully Spicy: Lauki Vaali Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils With Summer Squash)

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

Cooking the Lentils

  • 3/4 cup chana daal (bengal gram lentils)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (or use oil for vegan version)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped (yield about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped (optional, adjust quantity to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 2-3.5 cups of water (adjust depending on the desired consistency)
  • 1 small bottle gourd (peeled and cut into 2″ batons)
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro to garnish

For the Tadka (Tempering to be added after the lentils have cooked)

  • 3-4 tablespoon ghee (or use oil for vegan version)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small clove
  • generous pinch of hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2-3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 dried whole kashmiri chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (or to taste)

Notes

  • Replace lauki (bottle gourd) with your choice of summer squash (yellow squash is a good choice over green ones). You can skip the squash all together too.
  • The cooking time mentioned in this recipe are for split lentils. If you use whole lentils the cooking time would be more.
  • Hing or asafoetida is a strong, aromatic spice available both in crystal and powdered form.A little goes a long way. It gives a unique flavor to daal but can be skipped if you do not have it.
  • If you are vegan, use any oil in this recipe instead of ghee. Coconut oil might not be a very good choice since the spice selection in the recipe does not go great with it but any neutral oil or olive oil is fine.

Method

Thoroughly wash the lentils under running water 2-3 times. Drain and transfer the washed lentils to a pressure cooker and add 3 cups of water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes,  ginger (if using), hing, ghee, turmeric and salt. Put on the lid and pressure cook the lentils on medium heat for 3-4 whistles (This cooking time will depend on the quality of lentils, so adjust). Take off the heat and let sit on the counter till the pressure releases out of the cooker.

If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a heavy bottomed pot with lid and cook the lentils for around 30-40 minutes or till 95% cooked.

Once you open the lid, with the help of a whisk or a spoon, mash the lentils a bit so that they are chunky-smooth consistency. I like my lentils to have some texture, however you can mash them to consistency desired.

Add the chunks of lauki and return the pressure cooker to the stove. Cover with a plate or a lid and let simmer (not pressure cook) on medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the gourd is completely soft.  If you like a thinner consistency of dal, add a cup or more of water.If you add extra water, let simmer for another 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Ideally, for this kind of daal, once it’s cooked, the grain should be intact in its shape but completely soft or cracked to look at.

While the dal is simmering, make the tadka. In a small sauce pan, heat up the ghee. Add the cumin seeds & clove, let crackle, about 15-20 seconds. Add the whole dried chillies and let them turn darker in color. Lower the heat and immediately add the onions and garlic and let cook till they are golden brown, taking care not to burn.(Tadka can become very hot very quickly, take care that you act fast so that nothing burns.) Put off the heat and add the red chili powder. Immediately add this tadka to the simmered lentils and cover so that the aroma infuses. Let sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes.

Scatter with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

Stay Spicy.