Tamatar Sev Sabji


This delicious and easy tomato dish is full of textures. The ginger and curry leaves laced tomato gravy is mixed and topped with sev (chickpea flour noodles which are very popular in India) just before serving. Super easy and quick to make, this dish needs very basic ingredients from your pantry. Summer time is best for tomatoes and I like to preserve the sweet tangy taste of in season tomatoes with minimal use of spices.

This dish is very popular in western states of Rajasthan and Gujurat and though I didn’t grow up eating it at home, we enjoyed it on our road trips to Jaipur or at food stalls in the cultural hub of Delhi, the Delhi Haat.

It is upto you how pulpy you like the tomato gravy, I personally like it full of texture so I do not cook down the tomatoes a lot. The tomato base is gets the heat from green chilies, sweet from jaggery and smokiness from garam masala. The thick ratlami sev are a good choice because they don’t get mushy easily, are quite spicy and impart a lovely texture to this dish.

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Tamatar Sev Sabji

This delicious and easy tomato dish is full of textures. The ginger and curry leaves laced tomato gravy is mixed and topped with ratlami sev (chickpea flour noodles which are very popular in India) just before serving. So amazing for a quick meal.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 4-5 ripe & firm large tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp ghee, divided
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 green chillies, roughly chopped or slit
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 tsp jaggery
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup ratlami sev or any thick sev
  • Cilantro to garnish

Instructions

  • Chop the tomatoes into small pieces.
  • Heat up 2 tbsp ghee in a pan on low medium heat. Crackle the mustard and cumin seeds followed by hing.
  • Next, add the ginger, curry leaves and green chillies. Saute for 10-15 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes next and sprinkle salt, coriandr, red chilli and tumeric powder. Mix and saute the tomatoes for a couple minutes untill you see that they are warmed up.
  • Cover the pan and let the tomatoes cook doen for 6-8 minutes on low medium heat until they are squishy but still have a lot of texture.
  • Let the tomatoes bubble and add jaggery, 1 tbsp ghee and garam masala. Mix and let cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Switch off the stove and mix in the sev and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with extra sev. Enjoy!

Mango Rasmalai

Rasmalai hardly needs an introduction. Sweet chenna(milk solids) patties dunked in chilled, sweetened thickened milk redolent of cardamom and saffron. What’s not to like when biting into a spongy rasmalai on a hot day.

I grew up eating traditional rasmalai and its cousin sister 🙂 , Indrani (have a recipe here). I was introduced to mango rasmalai a few years back and instantly loved it. Chilled mango flavored milk took the dessert to another level! I like to add sweet juicy cubes of mango as well to the milk for extra mango goodness. If you can lay your hands on kesar mango or alphonso mangoes from India, the pulp and cubes of those are the best thing to use. However, well ripened honey mangoes available here during peak summer in the USA also work great, which is what I use.

There are few steps to making rasmalai at home though its very easy. Its a four step process which involves making the thickened milk base in which to dunk the patties, making chenna from scratch followed by kneading the chenna and then boiling the chenna patties in sugar syrup. The process takes time but the only tricky steps are proper kneading and boiling the chenna patties for the right amount of time so that they are soft and melt in the mouth. Making good mithai is a learning process, it takes a lot of time and effort to get the right feel of how things should done. Trust me I have wasted many batches over the years while practicing.

Keep the below things in mind when you make rasmalai and they will turn out soft and spongy every time!

  • Use full fat milk. Dont use skim milk. Boiling milk and curdling it at a right temperature will give you softest chenna. Soft chenna means soft patties. Its simple. Bring milk to a boil and then switch off the stove before adding the curdling agent (I use white vinegar). This is super important else the chenna granules will be tough.
  • Squeeze optimum amount of whey from chenna for a set period of time, we dont want to get rid of all the liquid because we need the fat and moisture both during kneading. When you hang the chenna and it stops dripping yet its moist, this will give the best texture of the rasmalai. Understanding these things comes with practice and patience so don’t give up easily if you mess up a few times.
  • After draining, chenna must not be sticky. It should be crumbly. If chenna feels sticky, hang it a bit longer.
  • Kneading for how long is again a play of feel and impulse. Knead continuously for a good 6-8 minutes atleast to start with. Once the chenna starts feeling soft and lacey, its ready. Depends on the quality of your milk (fat quantity, homogenization, room temperature, etc).
  • If you are using fresh mangoes, grind them to a smooth pulp and sieve to remove any fibers etc before adding to milk. You can used tinned mango pulp as well if you cannot find sweet mangoes. Works well.
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Mango Rasmalai

A popular bengali sweet consisting of sweet chenna patties and sweet mango dunked in a chilled mango flavored milk base.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 10 rasmalai discs

Equipment

  • 2 large pots, colander, cheesecloth, spoons, 1 large sauce pot

Ingredients

For the Chenna Patties

  • 4 cups full fat or whole milk
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1-2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 cups ice cubes

For the Sugar Syrup

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4-5 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cups ice cubes

For the Thickened Milk

  • 3 cups full fat or whole milk
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk or sugar (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup sliced alomonds & pistachios
  • 1/2 cup smooth mango pulp (see notes)
  • 2 mangoes, diced
  • 10-12 saffron strands
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom

Instructions

Make the Mango Milk base

  • In a heavy pot, add the full fat milk, bring it to boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 25-30 mins until its reduced to 1/3 rd of its volume. We dont want to thicken a lot else it will become rabri. Add condensed milk or sugar and mix well. Let simmer for another 8-10 minutes.
  • Once the milk looks velvety, switch off the stove. We dont want it to reduce or thicken a lot. Mix in the nuts,saffron & cardamom while still warm, mix and cover the milk with a lid to let cool down for 15 minutes. Once a bit cooled mix in the mango pulp. Transfer to a wide dish(wide enough so that chenna discs can be soaked in milk in a single layer when we add them). Refrigerate to chill while we make chenna patties.
  • Make the Chenna
  • Set milk to a boil in a heavy pot. Line your colander with cheesecloth/muslin.
    Once the milk is boiling, switch off the flame,wait for a minute and immediately add vinegar to it followed by ice cubes. Stir gently 2-3 times. You will see that the milk starts curdling. Let the curds form, donâ€t stir a lot. Once you see that all the milk has curdled and a greenish whey has separated, the ice cube would have melted awaty. Strain the curdled milk through a muslin/cheese cloth. 
  • Pour some cold water to remove the traces of vinegar. Let water flow away for 3-4 minutes and then bring together ends of the cheesecloth and tie into a small pouch. Hang it for about 20-25 minutes over sink to remove some liquid from the chenna. When the liquid stops dripping, chenna is ready to knead.
  • Make the Chenna Patties
  • Transfer the chenna to a wide dish, add the cornstarch and using the base of your palm, knead the chenna for around 8 minutes to a smooth. Use the heel of your palm, press and push the chenna away from your while kneading it. By the end it will feel soft and creamy and come together in a soft dough. Bring it all together, form into a ball, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • In a wide pot, add the sugar and water for the syrup, add the cardamom pods and set to bring it to a rolling boil. 
  • Pinch small lime size portions of the kneaded chenna and make smooth round balls.Flatten slightly into discs.
  • Once the syrup is boiling, slowly add the chenna patties in there. Dont lower the heat. Once you have added all the patties, cover the pot and let boil vigrously for 10-12 mins. You will see that the patties will grown in size (almost double or more). Dont reduce the stive else thet will deflate.
  • After 10-12 minutes, when you see that the patties are firm, switch off the flame. Do not open the lid immediately. Let sit for 6-8 minutes. Add the ice cubes next and then let the patties soak in syrup for 1-2 hours.

Assemble the Rasmalai

  • To the chilled sweet mango milk, add the cooled and soaked chenna balls. Press the chenna balls just a little before adding to sweet milk. Let chill overnight or atleast 8 hours before serving.
  • Add diced mango and extra nuts when serving. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. If you do not want to use condensed milk, you can use sugar. condensed milk gives a smoother milky taste. 
  2. Use full fat milk. Dont use skim milk. Boiling milk and curdling it at a right temperature will give you softest chenna. Soft chenna means soft patties. Its simple. Bring milk to a boil and then switch off the stove before adding the curdling agent (I use white vinegar). This is super important else the chenna granules will be tough.
  3. Squeeze optimum amount of whey from chenna for a set period of time, we dont want to get rid of all the liquid because we need the fat and moisture both during kneading. When you hang the chenna and it stops dripping yet its moist will give the best texture of the rasmalai. Understanding these things comes with practice and patience so don’t give up easily if you mess up a few times.
  4. After draining, chenna must not be sticky. It should be crumbly. If chenna feels sticky, hang it a bit more.
  5. Kneading for how long is again a play of feel and impulse. Knead continuously for a good 6-8 minutes atleast to start with. Once the chenna starts feeling soft and lacey, its ready. Depends on the quality of your milk (fat quantity, homogenization process etc).
  6. If you are using fresh mangoes, grind them to a smooth pump and sieve to remove any fibers etc before adding to milk. You can used tinned mango pulp as well if you cannot find sweet mangoes. Works well.


Keema(Minced Meat) Bhari Mirch(Peppers)

Delicious peppers stuffed with minced meat. A delicious low carb dish which can be made with leftover keema or with a fresh cooked minced meat masala. The ground meat is stuffed in pasillo chllies and baked off, you can add a few shreds of cheese if you like. I serve them warm drizzled with a garlicky cumin yogurt slurry. A hearty indian meal which is a hit with family.

During summers, I am on a look out for light yet hearty lunches which are not necessarily salads and these peppers are just the right answer. Stuffed peppers are a classic comfort food in many cuisines and here instead of the bell peppers, I like using zesty pasilla chillies which are not hot but have lots of peppery flavor. You can cook the keema fresh and cook it a bit ahead as well and at the time of serving just stuff and bake in oven.

Some tips and variations to try in this recipe depending on how you like.

  • Choose long and firm peppers which are not wrinkled and have fresh stems. Look for dark green ones since they have better flavor.
  • Seasoning the peppers with a little bit of salt and oil and letting them stand for 10-15 minutes brings about good flavor in their flesh.
  • Protein – Use ground chicken or ground beef.
  • Vegetables- If you wish, you can add a few extra vegetables like bell peppers or peas to the ground meat. One small potato mashed with the mince tastes really good.
  • Grains- Mix some cooked rice or quinoa with the keema before stuffing.
  • Serve with a side of rotis for a full meal. They taste amazing with rotis.
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Keema Bhari Mirch (Ground Meat stuffed peppers)

Tender pasillo chillies stuffed with indian spiced keema or ground meat filling. Serve with garlic mint yogurt or wamr rotis.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 stuffed pepper halves

Ingredients

  • 6 pasillo chilies, sliced lengthwise and skin & seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 pound ground meat (choose chicken, lamb, or beef)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1.5 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • Spice blend(recipe below)
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro & fresh mint
  • 1-2 tbsp shredded cheese (optional)
  • Oil for brushing or cooking spray

Spice Blend

  • 1/2 tbsp corinader powder
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes(adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, add all the powdered spices, mix well and keep ready.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the insides of pepper with oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Let stand.
  • In a heavy skillet/pan, warm up the oil and crackle the cumin seeds, bay leaf and cardamom. Add the chopped onions and cook them for 3-4 minutes till they are soften but not browned.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and the spice blend we made. Saute for 30-40 seconds. Add the tomatoes & sugar next and cook them with the spices for 3-4 minutes on medium heat till you see oil seperating.
  • Add the ground meat, break it using a spatula and mix well with everythhing. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes till the meat is browned and has released its water. Open the lid, sprinkle the salt and then saute (bhuno) uncovered for another 8-10 minutes till all the liquid has evaporated. You will see that the meat is much deeper in color and the fat has started to release a bit. Dont dry the meat completely since it has to bake in the oven.
  • Take it off the heat, pic out the bay leaf and cardamo, mix with cilantro and mint. (At this point you can mix boiled potatoes or cooked rice) Taste and adjust the salt.
  • Divide the warm meat mixture evenly between the peppers. You might have some leftover meat.
  • Lay the peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet.Bake for 20-22 minutes. If you are using cheese, take out of the oven, top with cheese, return to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes till cheese has melted.
    These taste good if they have a slight bite. Dont overbake. Serve warm.
  • For the Yogurt Slurry – Mix 1 cup yogurt with 1/3 cup water. Grate 1-2 garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder, fresh lemom juice and 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves and add to the yogurt. Mix well.

Notes

  1. This recipe makes 12 pepper halves which isn’t easy to finish in one go unless you are serving to a big family. I store the leftovers, they taste good for next 1-2 days. Reheat for 5 minutes in a toasted oven. 
  2. If you are topping with cheese, just top the ones you are going to consume right away. 

Caramel Custards

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

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

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

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

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Caramel Custard

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

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls, sauce pan,whisk, baking tray

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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