Palak Chole

Palak chole is a delicious North Indian curry made with fresh spinach leaves and chickpeas. It is hearty, vegan, gluten-free and very nutritious. Palak chole is very similar to palak paneer, however I don’t add any dairy to it. With autumn on its way, with a warm bowl of cumin rice or rotes, it makes for a warming dinner.

During winters, a ton of greens were harvested from the vegetable garden at my grandma and I grew up eating palak paneer or palak rotis every other day. Spinach sauces are my favorite and when my kids were babies, I started making them often for their high nutritious value. Palak chole wasn’t a frequent from my childhood years but since both my kids love the spinach sauce, I add different proteins other than paneer to change up the taste.

Making palak chole is really simple and you can prepare ahead like boiling the chickpeas or blanching and pureeing the spinach a day ahead. And yes! you can totally use canned chickpeas! For the curry, simply make a onion-tomato- ginger masala base with a few whole spices and cook the spinach and chickpeas in it.

How to make Palak Chole?

The process starts with making spinach puree and boiling the chickpeas. Thereafter make a masala base and cook the spinach and chickpeas together for about 20-30 minutes.

1- Spinach:- For making palak chole, I choose cooking spinach variety. The leaves of cooking spinach are much broader and thick as compared to baby spinach. It is easily available in the greens aisle of the store and is usually sold as a bunch.(I have seen bagged ones too) You can choose baby spinach as well but I personally feel that the thicker stems and the large cooking spinach leaves are much flavorful and can stand up to the sautéing.

2- Chickpeas:– Soaking and boiling the raw chickpeas gives the best broth which makes this curry so delicious, however if you want, you can used canned chickpeas as well.

3:- Masala Base:- The curry uses a simple North Indian onion tomato masala base with a few whole spices thrown in, similar how what I have shared many times in recipes on the blog. Most North Indian curries have a starting point as onion-tomato-ginger-garlic base comparable to a sofrito. In this recipe I add, cinnamon, cloves and few pods of green cardamom to add warmth to the spinach sauce.

4:- The secret ingredient :- A few florets of broccoli. I like adding a few, just 3 or4 florets of broccoli to the spinach sauce, you won’t taste it, I promise. You can boil the broccoli along with the spinach and puree them together. I feel it adds a very nice texture and robustness to the sauce. Again it is optional and you can skip broccoli.

5. Consistency :- The stock from boiling the chickpeas is very delicious and I use it up for blending the spinach as well as to thin out the sauce. You can make the sauce as runny or thick as you like.

6. Green color of Spinach Sauce :- Over the years, I have seen many discussions about the color of spinach sauce and read many articles on how to preserve it etc etc. If you ask me, there is no right or wrong. The color of the sauce is simply dependent on how long you sauté the spinach puree with the masala base. I personally like the sauce to be well sautéed and even though it loses the bright green color in the process, I love the deep smoky flavor that comes along.

This is a healthy and nutritious dish due to combination of spinach greens and chickpeas and with rice or rotis, it is an enjoyable dinner. As with most curries, the spinach sauce tastes very good next day because the flavors get a chance to absorb as the curry rests overnight. Since I keep the consistency of palak chole curry on a thick side, it can be used to make wraps or easily packed in lunch boxes.

Other Spinach Recipes to check out :-

Palak Paneer

Spinach Chicken /Murgh Saagwala

Tandoori Palak Roti

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Palak Chole

North Indian spinach and chickpeas curry made with whole spices, tomatoes, onions ginger and garlic.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 9 hours
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup raw chickpeas
  • 8 oz organic spinach
  • 4-5 small broccoli florets , optional
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 clove
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or cooking oil)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 green cardamom cloves
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed in mortar pestle
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger julinnes
  • 3/4 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2-3 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance) , slit
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, optional but recommended)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

Prepare the Spinach & Chickpeas. This can be a done a day in advance.

  • Soak the chickpeas overnight. Next morning, add to a pressure cooker with 1.5 cup water, 1/2 tsp oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles until soft. Reserve the stock and place the boiled chickpeas in a separate bowl.
    1/3 cup raw chickpeas
  • In a large pot, add cloves to 2 cups water and set on stove to boil. Thoroughly wash the spinach leaves. Roughly chop the stems and leaves if they are too big. If you feel that few stems are too stringy, discard.Once the water is boiling, add spinach and broccoli florets to it. Let cook for 3-4 minutes until the spinach has wilted and the broccoli is dark green in color.
    8 oz organic spinach, 4-5 small broccoli florets, 2 cups water, 2 clove
  • Drain the vegetables and add to a food processor. Put in the cloves too. Pulse. I do not like to make a smooth puree however you can blend to desired texture/consistency. If needed, the reserved chickpea liquid be used liquid while blending.Set the blended spinach aside.

Cook Palak Chole

  • Heat up oil on high in a kadai or medium heavy bottomed pot.Once the oil is smoky, reduce the heat to medium & wait for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped onions to it along with fennel & cumin seeds and whole spices (in that order) and sauté  till the onions start to lightly brown.
    4 tbsp mustard oil (or cooking oil), 1/2 cup finely chopped onions, 1/4 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 green cardamom cloves, 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • Next add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, coriander powder, green chillies and sugar, to the onions and keep on cooking on medium low heat till you see oil separating on the sides of the pot. The tomatoes will soften and turn mushy.This may take 5-8 minutes. 
    3 garlic cloves, smashed in mortar pestle, 3/4 cup tomatoes, finely chopped, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1 tsp coriander powder, 2-3 Thai green chillies (adjust to tolerance)
  • Add the spinach, ginger, and chickpeas along with salt to the and mix well. Sauté with masala for 5-7 minutes until you see that the spinach is bubbly.
    1/3 cup raw chickpeas, 8 oz organic spinach, 1/2 tbsp ginger julinnes, 4-5 small broccoli florets
  • Reduce the heat to low, add the reserved chickpea stock depending on the consistency of the sauce you like (I add about 1/2 cup). Mix well. Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Cover and let the sauce cook for 20-25 minutes on low heat.
    1 tsp salt
  • Check once or twice in between. The spinach will bubble a lot during cooking and you will need to stir it in between to avoid sticking to bottom. Also the spinach will change color to dull green and you will start seeing glisten on the sides of the pot. If you feel that the sauce is getting dry, add 1/4 cup stock.
  • Finish with kasuri methi and 1/4 tsp garam masala(optional). Let sit for 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm.
    1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, optional but recommended), 1/4 tsp garam masala (optional)

Rasedaar Baigan Aloo

Rasedaar baigan aloo is a warming punjabi north indian curry made with eggplants and potatoes. I always love September for the overlap of produce it brings – the summer bounty is still in the markets but the autumn produce can be spotted as well on the stands. Eggplant season is at its best during late summer and right now the eggplants are sweet, fleshy and don’t have plenty of seeds. I love to cook lot of eggplant dishes during this time. If you prefer a dryish aloo baigan, do take a look at this recipe I shared many years ago.

Rasedaar aloo baigan can be served with rotis (flatbread) or plain steamed rice. I always admire how this delicious vegetable absorbs any kind of goodness thrown into it.Here the base is a simple onion tomato ginger garlic masala which forms the starting point for many north indian curries. This curry is a quick and easy option for weeknights and tastes better the next day so do plan leftovers.

There are numerous versions of aloo baigan all over India and this the one I grew up eating. The combination of juicy eggplants and starchy potatoes in a masala base has contrasting textures and unique flavors. The list of ingredients may look a bit long but truly these are everyday spices.

How I make rasedaar aloo baigan?

I start by prepping the vegetables. No store bought ginger garlic paste or canned tomatoes! Hand grate the onions, it takes extra 5 minutes but the taste is so much better than blending or chopping it in the food processor. If you can find campari tomatoes-those are one of the best choice for curries, chop them fine and hand pound the ginger and garlic. Cut eggplants in batons and the potatoes similarly but slightly smaller than eggplants – that way none of the vegetables overcook. You can make the curry much soupy but I like to keep it on the thicker side. Keep in mind that eggplant has a lot of water content so it won’t taste that good if you make a very soupy curry.

Keep these tips and tricks in mind when you make this sabzi:-

  • Soak the eggplant for 8-10 minutes after cutting them into batons. That way they won’t absorb a lot of oil while cooking.
  • Try to keep the size of potatoes and eggplants as uniform as possible. I add the potatoes a little earlier when sautéing the masala so that they start cooking a few minutes earlier than eggplant and finish cooking together.
  • Do not use a lot of tomatoes since that takes away the taste of the eggplant. I like to finish with amchoor (dry mango powder) for added sour taste.
  • Saute the powdered spices in oil with onion, ginger and garlic for better aroma. You can add a little water to avoid them from getting burnt.
  • Let the curry rest for half and hour before serving. Eggplant has a spongy texture and resting really enhances the taste.
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Rasedaar Baigan Aloo

Rasedaar baigan aloo is a warming punjabi north indian curry made with eggplants and potatoes. powdered spices in a onion tomato base. Its a delicous weeknight vegan curry which pairs well with rotis or steamed rice.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 (about 400 g) medium size Italian Eggplant
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 inch fresh ginger
  • 2-3 small tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup mustard oil (or grapeseed/avocado oil)
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp hing
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri red chili powder (or paprika)
  • Hot red chili powder , to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • 1.5 tsp kasuri methi
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • chopped cilantro

Instructions

  • Wash the eggplant. Cut it in 2 to 2.5 inch batons. Soak in water while you prepare other ingredients.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut them lengthwise. Cut them a little smaller than eggplant.Soak in water while you prepare other ingredients.
  • Peel and grate the onion, you should have about 1/2 cup of grated onion. Chop the tomatoes. Pound the ginger and garlic into a thick paste using your mortar and pestle.
  • In a heavy bottom pot, warm up the mustard oil on medium low heat till its a bit smoky. Crackle the cumin seeds and hing for 10 seconds in hot oil.
  • Add the onions and brown the onions in oil for about 5 minutes until they are light golden. Do not brown too dark else the color and taste of curry changes.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and saute for 15 seconds. Next add all the powdered spices – corinader, turmeric,chili powders. Add a tablespoon or two of water and brown the spices for 30 seconds or so.
  • Next add the tomatoes, sugar and salt. Mix and cook the tomatoes for about 2-3 minutes on medium low heat till they start to soften. Add the drained potatoes now, mix and cook the masala for another 4-5 minutes until you see oil seperating on sides.
  • Drain as much water as possibe and add the eggplant to the pot next. Mix around so that eggplant batons are coated well in the masala. Keep stirring around and cook the eggplant with masala for about 2 minutes.
  • Next add about 1.5 cup hot water. Mix, taste and adjust the salt. Bring to a slow boil and cover the pot. Let cook for about 8-10 minutes on medium low heat until the potatoes are fork tender and eggplant is cooked through.
  • Once the vegetables are cooked, switch off the stove and finish with the amchoor, garam masala and kasuri methi while still warm. Mix very gently. Cover and let the curry rest for atleast 20 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with rotis or rice.

Notes

  • Soak the eggplant for 8-10 minutes after cutting them into batons. That way they won’t absorb a lot of oil while cooking.
  • Try to keep the size of potatoes and eggplants as uniform as possible. I add the potatoes a little earlier when sautéing the masala so that they start cooking a few minutes earlier than eggplant and finish cooking together.
  • Do not use a lot of tomatoes since that takes away the taste of the eggplant. I like to finish with amchoor (dry mango powder) for added sour taste.
  • Saute the powdered spices in oil with onion, ginger and garlic for better aroma. You can add a little water to avoid them from getting burnt.
  • Let the curry rest for half and hour before serving. Eggplant has a spongy texture and resting really enhances the taste.

Paneer Tawa Pulao

Tawa pulao could essentially be indian equivalent of asian fried rice. Leftover rice sautéed on high heat with vegetables, protein and spices, what’s not to love! Tawa pulao is a popular street food in western parts of India(Mumbai) and its one of the best ways to use up leftover rice in my opinion. Together with green chilies, fresh herbs, vegetables and pav bhaji masala, it makes for one delicious and quick weeknight dinner especially if you have cooked rice ready to go.

As the name suggests, tawa pulao is made on tawa -a flat round pan which is popular in indian cooking for making rotis, shallow frying, making savory cheelas and roasting as well. Indian tawa are heavy and usually made of iron but you can use your cast iron skillet for this recipe. If you have a wide mouthed, heavy iron kadai that will work perfectly as well. We are sort of tossing everything similar to fried rice so a wide & heavy pan and pre prepared ingredients are the key. The idea is to cook on a constant high heat- similar to how we stir fry in asian cooking and a non wide skillet or wok won’t do the job properly.

All you need is leftover rice, some blanched or steamed vegetables and protein for this recipe. My husband said, I added by Delhi touch by adding paneer :), but if you have leftover chicken tandoori or tikka, you can use those as well. You can leave out the protein altogether and make these just with vegetables.

I like to spice up the pulao with pav bhaji masala, however you can use any spice blend that you like – dry tandoori masala (my recipe here), sambar powder or garam masala can be perfectly used. The use of a spices along with a paste of ginger, garlic and green chilies lends a smoky umami flavor to these rice and with creamy, milky soft chunks of paneer they taste super delicious. Cooking on super hot tawa lends the rice slightly crispy, vegetables are charred and the spices get smoky. All and all a super flavorful dish which is perfect for quick family dinners. Serve the pulao with raita, green chutney and achar.

How to make Tawa Pulao?

You will need a heavy tawa. I like using my 12 inch cast iron griddle but you can simply use iron tawa or wide iron kadai (one that’s heavy). Making tawa pulao is very much like making fried rice. You have to work fast once you start so make sure that the ingredients are ready to go. Prepare the blanched vegetables, shallow fry the paneer, keep the chopped onion, garlic, ginger and chilies ready. We will add everything step by step (as outlined in the recipe) and add the rice at the last and stir fry on high heat.High heat is important to make sure that the rice does not turn mushy. Few of the rice grain might break but that’s okay. It is important to start with cold rice so that they do not stick to each other. I start by making a quick masala of onions, tomatoes, ginger garlic and green chillies. Then I sauté the paneer and vegetables for a bit to warm them up before adding the rice and pav bhaji masala and tossing it up all together.

A few things to be kept in mind when you make tawa pulao:-

  • Always use cold rice. You can use leftover rice or if you are cooking fresh, let them cool down completely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.
  • Use a wide and heavy tawa. This ensure that the rice crisp and don’t get mushy. Heavy tawa ensures that heat is constant. I usually avoid non stick pans because they change the texture of rice.
  • Keep the vegetables and all other ingredients ready. These pulao takes about 10-12 minutes start to finish and having everything ready to go makes sure that we get the right texture without overcooking anything. Don’t use raw vegetables except those which cook quickly or can be eaten crisp (like peppers or corn). Blanch the carrots, peas(if using fresh) or green beans if using.
  • Shallow fry the paneer chunks before adding or use them as it is. One good tip is to cut the paneer and vegetables to roughly the same size.
  • You can use leftover chicken tikka or shredded tandoori chicken as well in this recipe. It tastes amazing.
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Paneer Tawa Pulao

Popular indian street food style rice pilaf/pulao cooked on a hot skillet or tawa with vegetables, paneer chunks and spiced with pav bhaji masala.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2-3 green chilies, roughly chopped , adjust to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 cup vegetables (use vegtables that you like, I used blanched carrots & green beans, peas, bell peppers)
  • 5-6 tbsp tomato puree(simply blitz 2 small tomatoes in a processor) or use 1/4 cup store bought tomato puree
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup paneer chunks, shallow fried if you like
  • 1 tbsp pav bhaji masala , adjust to how strong you like the spices
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder , adjust to taste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cooked rice, cold
  • Chopped cilantro

Instructions

  • Keep all ingredients ready. Using your mortar and pestle, piund the ginger, garlic and green chilies to a coarse paste.
  • In a heavy bottom cast iron skillet or tawa, on medium high, heat up oil, crackle cumin and add the green chillies, ginger and garlic paste and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the onions next and cook for 2-3 minutes till onions begin to brown.
  • Then, add all the chopped vegetables at once and sauté them around till you see them starting to char. On medium high heat it takes about 2-4 mins.
  • Then add the tomato purée & sugar. Cook for about 3 minutes untill ou see oil starting to seperate but dont saute too much.Add the cubed paneer. Add turmeric, red chili and pav bhaji powder as well and cook everything for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the cold rice, sprinkle salt and stir fry the rice with everything else for 3-4 minutes. Finish with chopped cilantro. Serve.

Notes

  • Always use cold rice. You can use leftover rice or if you are cooking fresh, let them cool down completely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.
  • Use a wide and heavy tawa. This ensure that the rice crisp and don’t get mushy. Heavy tawa ensures that heat is constant. I usually avoid non stick pans because they change the texture of rice.
  • Keep the vegetables and all other ingredients ready. This pulao take about 10-12 minutes start to finish and having everything ready to go makes sure that we get the right texture without overcooking anything. Don’t use raw vegetables except those which cook quickly or can be eaten crisp (like peppers or corn). Blanch the carrots, peas(if using fresh) or green beans if using.
  • Shallow fry the paneer chunks before adding or use them as it is. One good tip is to cut the paneer and vegetables to roughly the same size.
  • You can use leftover chicken tikka or shredded tandoori chicken as well in this recipe. It tastes amazing.

Tandoori Salmon & Pineapple Tikka

Its September and fall is in the air but here in Las Vegas we are still in the middle of three digit temperatures and summer cookouts are very much happening. Tandoori tikka could be one of the most popular appetizer from indian subcontinent. The term tikka refers to a chunk of meat/fish etc which is coated in spices and grilled/roated on high heat for a smoky charred taste. Tandoori tikka gets its name from being cooked in the hot tandoor or clay ovens where the meat is skewered on long metal rods and cooked on high heat.

I already have a tandoori chicken recipe here on the blog, link is here. It has been tried by many of you guys. However, in addition to the wet yogurt based tandoori marinade, I also like to make dry tandoori masala similar to a dry rub and use it for quick tikka with fish or shrimp. You can grind this tandoori masala and keep it for a few weeks. Its stays fresh for 4-5 weeks.

The first time I tried tandoori pineapple at the great kabab factory back in Delhi many moons ago, I feel in love. The sweet acidity of pineapple along with the the kick of spices is to die for. I am all out flavors that have a punch and here these tandoori tikka with fatty salmon chunks combined with sweet & spicy pineapple are just so delicious!

This tandoori rub is faster way to get the same flavors as you would get from overnight marination. Use good quality spices and store it in an air tight container for freshness. You can use this rub for chicken, shrimp, paneer and vegetables as well. I like serving it with a fresh relish of onions, cucumbers etc and naan. Keep the below few things in mind when you make these tikka:-

  • Cut the salmon and pineapple about the same size and do not cut salmon too small else it starts falling off while cooking.
  • Use firm yet ripe pineapple. Don’t select too ripe pineapple.
  • The tandoori rub has a nice flavor of ginger and garlic, however I like using fresh ginger and garlic whenever making tikka. You can skip it if you don’t like strong GG flavor.
  • I like to keep the skin on because we like crisped skin. If you do not like salmon skin, I suggest peeling it off after the tikka has cooked, it does help in keeping the salmon intact.
  • You can add red onion and red bell peppers as well to the skewer, they taste quite good.
  • Don’t be bogged down by the long list of spices, these are easy to find in indian homes or just visit an indian store.
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Tandoori Salmon & Pineapple Tikka

Salmon and pinapple rubbed with scratch made dry tandoori masala and grilled on high heat. These skewers tikka are easy to make and taste amazing for any meal.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Tandoori Masala

  • 2 black cardamom, seeds only (skip if not available)
  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 3 green cardamom
  • 1 small whole mace (or 1 tsp mace powder)
  • Half nutmeg (or 1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg powder)
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 sticks cinnamom
  • 1.5 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), crushed fine between palms
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder or Paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dry ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp hot chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1.5 tsp chaat masala
  • Red food color (if you like,I dont use)

For the Salmon & Pineaapple Tanddori Tikka

  • 3 ,6oz Salmon fillets, cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh grated ginger & garlic, (grate 3 cloves of garlic and a knob of fresh ginegr shoot)
  • Half Lemon, juiced (about 2 tbsp)
  • 12-15 fresh firm pineapple chunks (about half a pineapple)
  • 2-3 tbsp tandoori masala (recipe below)
  • 1.5 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • Oil or oil spray for cooking the tikka

Instructions

Make Tandoori Masala (Makes about 3/4 cup)

  • In a medium heavy pan, on slow heat, dry roast the corinader, cumin, black and green cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, pepercorns and cloves for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly. Take care not to let the spices burn or brown too much, the taste of the masala will change. We only want to jump start the oils of the whole spices.
  • Once roasted, let the spices cool down. Add to a spice blender and grind to a powder. The powder should not be too coarse or too fine.
  • Transfer the ground spices to a bowl and mix the rest of the powdered spices listed. Mix very well and store teh masala in an air tight, dry container. Use as needed.

Make the Salmon & Pineapple Tikka

  • Add salmon to a bowl and add the lemon, oil, 2 tbsp tandoori masala, salt and ginger garlic. Mix well so that all the salmon is coated. Let marinate for 15 minutes.
  • In a seperate bowl add the pinapple and add lemon juice, 1-2 tbsp tandoori masala and salt. Mix well to coat and keep ready.
  • Switch on your grill or heat a grill pan on high. Skewer salmon and pineapple on metal or water soaked wooden skewers.
  • Spray oil on the pan and grill the tikka for 4-5 minutes per side, turn to cook all the sides and to get nice grill marks.
  • Serve with fresh vegetables, yogurt dips, relish, naan etc.

Notes

  • Cut the salmon and pineapple about the same size and do not cut salmon too small else it starts falling off while cooking.
  • Use firm yet ripe pineapple. Don’t select a very ripe pineapple.
  • The tandoori rub has a nice flavor of ginger and garlic, however I like using fresh ginger and garlic whenever making tikka. You can skip it if you don’t like strong GG flavor.
  • I like to keep the skin on on salmon because we like crisped skin. If you do not like salmon skin, I suggest peeling it off after the tikka has cooked, it does help in keeping the salmon intact and the flavor.
  • You can add red onion and red bell peppers as well to the skewer, they taste quite good.
  • Use tandoori masala for any kind of meat, chicken, paneer or vegetable. It stresses well for 3-5 weeks in air tight containers. 

Lavender Malai Peda

Malai peda is an Indian sweet made with solidified milk, whole milk, sugar and flavors like cardamom or saffron. Its super creamy and melt in the mouth. The ingredient list for malai peda is simple but traditional method requires long hours of cooking down the milk, scrapping and boiling till the milk solids are separated, which are then sweetened and rolled into small flat discs (peda).

Here in this recipe, I have simplified the process by using milk powder. The paste of milk powder, blanched almond powder and whole milk when cooked for a few minutes turns thick like mawa or khoya and eliminated the traditional long process of turning the milk into mawa. You can flavor these with cardamom but I used a few pinches of lavender and aloud extract for a unique flavor profile.

It does not taste like soap. Pedas have a mild floral hint and they are simply melt in the mouth. Lavender is a strong scent and you need to be careful when using it, for example here I used just 2 pinches of ground food grade lavender for its scent. The combination of lavender and milkiness of peda is simply divine. Food color is totally optional.

Here are a few things to be kept in mind :-

  1. Choose a full fat milk powder. I use Nido brand, its easily available in Indian stores and has 28% milk fat. If your milk powder is tasty, pedas will be tasty.
  2. Use full fat milk. And good quality ghee. When a recipe has few ingredients, the quality of ingredients is even more important.
  3. I use store bought fine ground almond powder by the brand Blue Diamond. However if you are grinding at home, soak the almonds for 4-6 hours and peel the skin. Let the almonds completely dry overnight before grinding them fine. You can use raw cashew powder instead of almonds if you want.
  4. Be careful when using lavender. Depending on the brand you use, it might have a strong or mild scent. The one that I used had a very strong scent so I just used 2 pinches. Also don’t add a lot since these dried flowers are bitter and will spoil your peda. Almond extract pushes the almond flavor and I like to add a drop of pure extract .
  5. Use powdered sugar instead of boora or plain ground sugar. Powdered or confectioners sugar has little corn starch mixed in which makes the texture fudge and smooth.

This is a small batch recipe and makes 8-10 peda of good size (about 30 g each). These peda keep good for 2-3 days in the fridge and you can freeze them for 3 weeks. Let thaw before serving, don’t warm in microwave.

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Lavender Malai Peda

Malai peda is an Indian sweet made with solidified milk, whole milk, ghee, sugar and flavored with lavender. Peda is creamy and melt in the mouth and perfect for festivals.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
20 minutes
Servings 8 pedas

Ingredients

  • 1.5 tbsp melted ghee
  • 1.5 cup milk powder
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup fine almond powder
  • 1/3 tsp good quality dried lavender flowers, grind to a fine powder in mortar pestle
  • 1 drop pure almond extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 drop purple gel food color ,optional

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, add the ghee, milk powder, milk and almond powder. Using a spoon or whisk, mix togther till a smooth mix is formed. It will be slightly thick and pourable runny.
  • Pour the mixture in a non stick pan (I use my 10 inch pan) and set it on a low medium stove.
  • Start cooking and stirring. Dont walk away. You will see that mixture will start to become thick. After about 2 minutes it will be pasty and sticky.
  • Keep stirring and scraping the sides till it becomes a thick mass and starts clumping around the spoon. Once that happens, dont stir a lot else pedas will become chewy. When the mixture starts leaving the sides of the pan, its ready. Takes about 4-6 minutes.
  • Take out in a bowl and let cool down slightly.
  • Only when the mixture is cooler to touch(but not cold), add the almond extract, ground lavender and sugar. Using your hands, mix everything together. Add food color(if using) and knead to mix evenly.
  • Divide into 8-10 portions. Smear some ghee on your palms and roll each portion into a smooth ball. Press the ball slightly to flatten it to resemble traditional peda shape. Repeat for all portions.
  • Store in fridge upto 2-3 days. These can be frozen upto 3 weeks, thaw before serving(do not microwave).

Notes

  1. Choose a full fat milk powder. I use Nido brand, its easily available in Indian stores and has 28% milk fat. If your milk powder is tasty, pedas will be tasty.
  2. Use full fat milk. And good quality ghee. When a recipe has few ingredients, the quality of ingredients is even more important.
  3. I use store bought fine ground almond powder by the brand Blue Diamond. However if you are grinding at home, soak the almonds for 4-6 hours and peel the skin. Let the almonds completely dry overnight before grinding them fine. You can use raw cashew powder instead of almonds if you want.
  4. Be careful when using lavender. Depending on the brand you use, it might have a strong or mild scent. The one that I used had a very strong scent so I just used 2-3 pinches. Also don’t add a lot since these dried flowers are bitter and will spoil your peda. Almond extract pushes the almond flavor and I like to add a drop.
  5. Use powdered sugar instead of boora or plain ground sugar. Powdered or confectioners sugar has little corn starch mixed in which makes the texture fudge and smooth.
  6. These peda keep good for 2-3 days in the fridge and you can freeze them for 3 weeks. Let thaw before serving, don’t warm in microwave.

Sukha Matar Aloo

Sukha matar aloo is one of the most delicious preparation with fresh peas and potatoes. I make it a few ways and this one is without any tomatoes and cooked in iron kadai(Indian wok). The beautiful intense flavors of tempering of hing (asafetida), cumin in mustard oil and amchoor at the end make it flavorful. Serve with paratha, poori or dal chawal for a comforting meal.

Aloo(potatoes) and matar(fresh peas) is a classic combination in North Indian cuisine. Be it the curry made with these two vegetables or this dry sabzi, it makes for a delicious meal anytime. Indian homestyle food is much simpler than the 5-6 stereotype dishes which define the cuisine outside of the country. Everyday food does not need a long list of ingredients and the taste is familiar of home. Like this sabzi, which was packed in our lunch boxes with paratha and a knob of aam ka achar. Or served for dinners accompanying a pile of warm daal and chawal.

I get fresh peas from Trader Joes and use those to make the recipe. Avoid using frozen peas since frozen peas are blanched and unless the potatoes and raw peas cook long enough together with spices, the true texture and the taste does not come through. At the end of cooking, I simple smush some of the potatoes and peas and bhuno(sauté) the sabzi on high heat. The crispy “kurchan” of potatoes my favorite part.

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Sukha Matar Aloo

Sukha matar aloo is one of the most delicious north indian preparation with fresh peas and potatoes along with spices. It can be eaten with parathas or lentils & rice.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Iron Kadai(indian wok)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb shelled fresh peas
  • 2 large potatoes,peeled and cubed
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp hot red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 scant tsp amchoor(dry mango powder)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Instructions

  • Add the oil to a wide and heavy iron kadai and let heat up till its a bit smoky.
  • Temper the oil with hing and cumin seeds and let crackle. Add the ginger and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the sliced onions and on low medium heat cook the onion till they are browned.
  • Add the peas and potatoes together, mix and saute with the onions for about 3-4 minutes stirring regularly.
  • Sprinkle the spice powders (except amchoor & garam masala) and add salt. Mix well and cover the wok and let peas and potatoes cook on low heat for about 6-8 minutes. Open and stir halfway once to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the kadai, if so add a light splash of water, cover and let cook again until the poatoes and peas are soft.
  • Uncover and add the amchoor and garam masala and on high heat, saute the sabzi for about 3 minutes stirring regularly. You will see that the peas are shiny and the potatoes are falling apart, that makes this sabzi super delicious.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm. If you are planning to serve later, make sure that you transfer the sabzi to another dish and store.

Zucchini & Shrimp Tamarind Rice

This tangy rice dish combined with sweet in-seaon zucchini succulent shrimp is a beautiful choice for summer dinners. You can grind and store the spice powder (podi) ahead and with some leftover rice, it is quick to make and makes for a delicious light summery meal. Pair with papads(lentil crackers) or fried potato sticks (I have a recipe here) for a rounded meal.

South indian cuisine has quite a lot of flavored rice recipes made with dry powdered spices, curry leaves and a sour agent (tamarind or tomato or lemon). Tamarind rice is a popular recipe and it has a few variations. Some recipes mix the cooked rice with tamarind paste and stir fry (I make this version), the other recipes cook the rice in tamarind and spices flavored water.

Tamarind rice is a beautiful combination of rice flavored with fresh ground spices. I add fleshy sweet zucchini and shrimp to make it a meal perfect for summer dinners. This recipe is an inspiration from traditional south indian tamarind rice. While its not authentic, my family loves it.

If you do not want to use tamarind, use lemon juice or tomato puree instead. It all works great if the spice powder is done right. This is a good recipe for summer evenings when we all need a quick and satisfying meal. The best thing is that these rice can be eaten room temperature making them great for lunchboxes.

A few things to be kept in mind :-

  • Cook the rice a few hours or a night before. Cold rice won’t break when you mix it with the spices and stir fry.
  • Try to grind the spices fresh for a better taste or max 1-2 days ahead and store in an air tight container.
  • I use thick tamarind pulp, dont use watery tamarind else the rice will turn wet.
  • Add any vegetables that you like- peas, yellow squash and spinach go well.
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Zucchini & Shrimp Tamarind Rice

Inspired by south indian tamarind rice, this spicy tangy rice with fresh zucchini and shrimp makes for a great summer meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb extra large shrimp, cleaned, tail on
  • 4 tbsp oil (divided)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 thai bird, slit (adjust to taste)
  • 2 to 2.5 cup cooked rice
  • 3 tbsp tamarind pulp (not paste)
  • 1 tbsp jaggery
  • 2 tbsp roasted cashews
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Spice Powder (makes extra)

  • 6 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustrad seeds
  • 2 tbsp white urad dal
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds

Instructions

  • Lighly dry roast all the ingredients for the spice powder in a skillet. Cool slightly and grind to a powder(not too coarse or super fine).Keep ready.
  • In a wide skillet (12 or 14 inch), heat up 1.5 tbsp oil on low medium heat. Once oil is warm, lower the heat and layer the shrimp and sprinkle a little salt. Cook 2-3 minutes each side. Once orange and cooked through, transfer to a plate.
  • Now we have to work quickly. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat on medium. Add the onions and lightly brown them. Next add curry leaves and let crisp a bit.
  • Next add the zucchini, green chilli and garlic and saute them for 1-2 minutes taking care that zucchini isnt too soft.
  • Add the tamarind pulp and jaggery next and quickly mix for 30 seconds or so. Add the rice and cashews to the skillet. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the spice powder that we made along with salt. Also add a little splash of water if you feel that rice is getting too dry.
  • Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until warmed through and slightly crisped.
  • Serve immemdiately with papadams.Enjoy!

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!

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.
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American, Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
1 hour 5 minutes
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. 

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.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
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.