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. 
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).
Appetizers/Snacks

Chana Dal & Sweet Potato Tikki

Chana Dal & Sweet Potato Tikki. These crisp outside and soft on the inside tikkis (patties) are made with chana dal (bengal gram lentils) and sweet potatoes. These are fragrantly spiced with cumin, cloves and ground garam masala. The sweet potato does not make them sweet at all, rather gives them an earthly bite. I paired these skillet fried tikks with a simple paneer & kale pulao, spinach raita (yogurt), micro greens and raw vegetables to make a colorful indian super food bowl.

Having grown up in my grandmother’s vegetarian household, lentils were used a dozen ways from sweet to savory dishes and these tikkis appeared on special occasions. The lentils were ground on sil-batta (stone) with spices to which finely chopped onions, raisins and herbs were added. Sweet potatoes were not used rather grated regular potatoes and a handful of boiled lentils went in for texture in each bite. These tikkis are great with parathas & green chutney or pulao & raita alike. They can be tucked inside burger buns for a vegetarian sandwich or served over a bed of greens.

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

  • When making tikkis with lentils, the most important thing is the water quantity when you cook them. More water will turn them mushy while less water with leave the lentils dry and chewy. Please refer to the water quantity in the recipe.
  • Its best to use your hands to mix. Unless you are using a sil batta (stone grinder), leave out the blender or processor. If the lentils are cooked properly, you will be able to a make a soft tikki mixture very easily. And the texture of hand mixed is absolutely unmatched.
  • Since onions and chopped cilantro etc go in the recipe, keep in mind that after sitting for a half and hour or so, the mix will loosen a bit since the raw vegetables will release their moisture due to salt. So if the tikki mix feels a bit dry in the beginning, don’t worry.
  • These tikkis have texture, they are soft to bite into but you will taste whole lentils grains here and there.
  • I add roasted besan to the tikki mix. Not for binding or anything, these don’t need a binder because the starches in the lentils are enough. Roasted besan(chickpea flour) lends a nice smoky taste and does make this recipe fool proof.Plus its delicious.
  • There is no need for a coating of any flour etc when you skillet fry them. Fry them patiently, that’s all. If your tikki mix is right, they will not fall apart or anything.
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Chana Dal (Bengal Gram Lentils) & Sweet Potato Tikki

Delicious skillet fried tikkis (patties) made with sweet potatoes and chana dal(bengal gram lentils)
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 12 tikkis

Ingredients

For Boiling the Lentils

  • 1 +1/3 cup chana dal (bengal gram lentils)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 small whole black cardamom (skip if not available)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water

For the Tikki Mix

  • 200 g sweet potato(boiled, peeled and cut into small chunks)
  • 1.5 tbsp ginger garlic paste (or simply add 5 garlic cloves and 1 inch piece of ginger to a mortar & pestle and pound to a paste)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 thai bird green chilies or 1 serrano (adjust to taste) ,see notes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped golden raisins (optional)
  • 1 tbsp garam masala (used homemade or store bought, make sure its not more than 3 months old)
  • 2-3 tbsp roasted besan (gram flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Oil or ghee for pan frying

Instructions

Prepare/Boil The Lentils

  • Wash the lentils 2-3 times under a running stream of water and soak for 2-3 hours.
  • Drain and discard the water in which you soaked the lentils.Add the soaked lentils to a pressure cooker, add cumin, bay leaf, cloves and black cardamom along with salt and 1/2 cup water.
  • Close the lid of the pressure cooker and place it on stove. Let the stove be on high till the first whistle. After that, reduce the stove to low medium and cook for additional 2-3 whistles. After total 3-4 whistles, switch off the stove and let the pressure release naturally.
  • Open the lid, do not mix at once while the lentils are hot, they will turn into a mush. Take 1-2 lentil grains and press between your thumb and finger, if the grain is pressed easily and dosent feel hard, the lentils are cooked. If not, add 2-3 tbsp water and cook for one more whistle.
  • The lentils should not disintegrate, they shoud be cooked through but retain their shape after boiling. Pick out and discard the bay leaf, clove and cardamom, Cover the cooker and let the lentils cool down for a bit, dont let them become cold. We want to make the mix while the lentils are still warm.

Make the Tikki Mix

  • In a wide dish(avoid a deep bowl), add the cooked warm lentils and boiled sweet potato. Mix gently breaking the lentils and poatoes for about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the ginger and garlic, onions, green chilies, raisins, ginger and garam masala.
  • Gently using your hands start squishing to combine everything together. Gently mix for about 3-4 minutes, if some lentils remain whole, thats okay.
  • Once mixed, add the salt and 2 tbsp of roasted besan. Mix again, you will be able to make a soft ball with the mix. If you feel its too wet, add another tablespoon of besan but dont add more than 3 tbsp total. Cover and let the tikki mix rest for 20 minutes.

Shape & skillet fry tikkis

  • Oil your hands and divide the tikki mix into 10 or 12 equal portions.
  • Roll the portions into a balls, flatten the balls slightly and shape them using your palm and fingers into well rounded patties.
  • Make all the tikkis this way and place on a plate. At this point you can refrigerate them for up to 3 days. Or place them on a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze them for 6 hours. After they are frozen, place in a zip lock and store frozen for one month.
  • Warm up a 12 inch heavy cast iron wide skillet or griddle on medium. When nicely hot (not too hot) add 1-2 tbsp oil or ghee and place 3-4 tikkis at a time, don't overcrowd. Let tikkis crisp up for 5-6 minutes on one side. Don't add a lot of oil in the begnning,they will break. Once they are crisped on one side, drizzle 1-2 tbsp of oil or ghee on (uncooked) top and flip to crisp on second side.
  • Pan fry the tikkis with patience. Its takes 7-8 minutes to fry a batch on both sides.

Notes

  • When making tikkis with lentils, the most important thing is the water quantity when you cook them. More water will turn them mushy while less water with leave the lentils dry and chewy. Please refer to the water quantity in the recipe.
  • Its best to use your hands to mix. Unless you are using a sil batta (stone grinder), leave out the blender or processor. If the lentils are cooked properly, you will be able to a make a soft tikki mixture very easily. And the texture of hand mixed is absolutely unmatched.
  • Dont leave out the green chillies, this is the only heat in this recipe. Garam masala adds a warmth, but do add at least one sharp green chili for heat. 
  • Since onions and chopped cilantro etc go in the recipe, keep in mind that after sitting for a half and hour or so, the mix will loosen a bit since the raw vegetables will release their moisture due to salt. So if the tikki mix feels a bit dry in the beginning, don’t worry.
  • These tikkis have texture, they are soft to bite into but you will taste whole lentils grains here and there.
  • I add roasted besan to the tikki mix. Not for binding or anything, these don’t need a binder because the starches in the lentils are enough. Roasted besan(chickpea flour) lends a nice smoky taste. Plus its delicious.
  • There is no need for a coating of any flour etc when you skillet fry them. Fry them patiently, that’s all. If your tikki mix is right, they will not fall apart or anything.
Desserts/Baking

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.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
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, don’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.


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.
Appetizers/Snacks · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Dilli Aloo Ki Chaat

Aloo chaat from streets of Delhi is one of the best things. Shallow fried potatoes in ghee tossed with powdered spices, drizzled with chutney and served warm with a little bit of grated mooli (daikon)or onions. The chaat stalls selling this chaat can be spotted from a mile away thanks to the aroma of frying potatoes. If you take a stroll in neighborhoods of Delhi particularly in the evening, you will find a chaat corner frying this chaat on every other block.

Traditionally, they fry the potatoes in ghee and hence the aroma is so amazing. Sweet, spicy, sour and deep fried- this is one amazing chaat recipe which can be quickly whipped to satiate your cravings. It can be a quick snack for any time. Just cut up the potatoes, mix the spices and go for it.

I used a mixture of different potato varieties I could find in store. Sweet potatoes(orange & purple) and regular russet/gold and red potatoes. The naturally sweet potatoes really added so much taste to this chaat, they were my favorite, to to forget the beautiful natural colors they added.

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

Soaking the Potatoes:- Even though I say that this is a quick snack for anytime and really you can cut up potato chunks and make this any time, I suggest planning a bit and soaking the potatoes for at least 3-4 hours. Slice or cut potatoes in chunks , I leave the skin on because it adds a nice flavor, and soak the potatoes in sharp salty water for good 3-4 hours. The water will pull out the starches since starches are water soluble and the salt will season the potatoes in the process leading to a super flavorful potato for frying. Soaking also helps in making the potatoes crispy as the quantity of starches goes down.

Fried potatoes are the key. Shallow fried potatoes usually fried to order in the center of a large heavy tawa(griddle) in ghee give the best flavor. However, if you don’t want to use just ghee, 100% ghee, use a neutral oil like grape seed or sunflower and add a tablespoon of ghee for that particular aroma. Shallow fry on both sides with golden crispy edges for the best taste.

Kind of potatoes. Avoid using a high starch content potato like Russet. In India, usually the winter crop potatoes are the best choice since they are waxy and have a good starch to moisture ratio. Here I used a mix of potatoes- sweet potatoes, purple yams, red potatoes, idaho yellow potatoes and a few slices of russet for a great balance of flavors and textures. Bonus point being that it made the chaat super colorful with multitude of natural colors.

Spices and Chutneys– The best time of add the spices is right after the potatoes come out of the oil.The oil helps in sticking the spices to the potatoes and makes them super flavorful. As for the chutneys, you can add any kind but on the streets, they add tamarind chutney. I add the tamarind chutney, lot of it and instead of green chutney, I add a lot of fresh herbs like cilantro & mint and green chilli slices. Biting into leafy herbs gives the chaat another layer of taste.

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Dilli Wali Aloo Chaat

A spicy sweet sour potato chaat from streets of Delhi. Made with multi color potatoes.
Prep Time3 hrs 20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Griddel, Cutting board, knifes, bowls and spoons

Ingredients

  • 3 large size potatoes (1 russet + 1 gold potato+ 1 red potato)
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 medium purple yam
  • Ghee for frying ,substitute with oil+ghee
  • 2 tsp chaat masala
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp crushed anardana (dry pomegranate seeds) ,optional
  • 1.5 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp Black salt
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp Tamarind Chutney
  • 2 tbsp nylon sev
  • Grated Daikon, Sliced Onions,Green Chillies, Cilantro & Mint leaves, Pomegranate Arils

Instructions

  • Thoroughly wash the poatoes. You can peel off the skin if you wish, I dont. Cut into slices (about 1/4th inch). You can cut in chunks as well.
  • Take a large bowl. Place the potatoes and sprinke 1/2 tbsp of salt. Add enough water to the bowl to cover the poatoes. Soak the potatoes for 3 hours.
  • Drain and discard the water and using a kitchen towl dry out the potatoes thorougly.
  • In a cast iron skillet heat up 2 inches of oil. I recommend taking a wide pan instead of a kadai/wok for frying. Heat on medium heat till you see ripples on the surface.
  • Add the poatoes in a single layer in the ghee. Dont overcrowd the pan, fry in 2 or more batches if needed. Fry on medium high heat till you see that potatoes are nicley browned and are crispy. Use a fork to make sure that they are tender and cooked. Dont overfry, The poatatoes should have a soft inside and crispy outside.
  • Take out the potatoes, dont drain the extra oil. Add the spices powders and chutney immediately. Or you can arranged the potatoes on a plate and sprinkle the spices and chutney.
  • Add herbs, cut up chillies, onions and daikon. Scatter some pomergrante arils and serve warm.

Notes

  1. You cam make this chaat with regular potatoes. 
  2. Feel free to add yogurt and green chutneys if you wish. 
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.

Desserts/Baking · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Green Mango Granita

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreatSince last year, our indian grocer is bringing to us green mango exports straight from the heart of India. Whats different about them you would ask? They are much smaller in size, fibrous & sour and bring back picture perfect memories of those pickles & sharbat in the kitchen that I have grown up on. I am making chutney with them, as well as adding them to lentils.

Sinfully Spicy - Green MangoesHowever, such special things do always come with a big price tag (I paid $12 for 5 small pieces), so after spending that fortune last week, I made sure to come up with something new. After much thinking, this granita was made to beat the extreme summers that have hit our part of the world.
Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreat

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreatOn a different note, this summer, I have been lucky with homegrown herbs and a little vegetable patch after trying hard for years. Each year my pots fell victim to weeds and heat but this time, so far all looks great. Even a small twig of it feels so rewarding. I used homegrown mint to infuse the refreshing notes in this recipe. Sinfully Spicy : Homegrown MintIt is the tang of the green mangoes enhanced with sweet lemon & tart lime juice and grassy heat of the green chili which makes it special, along with a much-needed refreshing notes from fresh, homegrown mint to a lightly sweet, healthy dessert for summer months. Granita (in Italian also granita siciliana) is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily, it has a coarser texture. It is a very simple thing to make except that you need to stare open at a freezer scraping the bowl every other hour or so.

So if you do not desire to put in the baby sitting it needs, turn the same recipe to a sorbet. It tastes as good.

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreat

Sinfully Spicy - Green Mango Granita #frozentreat

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Ingredients (Serves 4-5)

  • 1 lb green mangoes( about 6-7small )
  • Water for boiling the mangoes
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 5-6 fresh mint stems and leaves
  • 1 small green chili, seeds and veins removed
  • 1.5 tablespoon fresh lime juice (adjust quantity depending on how tart the mangoes are)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (adjust quantity depending on how tart the mangoes are)
  • 1.5 teaspoon black salt (kala namak, reduce amount if the mangoes are really tart)
  • 1/4 teaspoon regular salt ( or to taste)

Method

Wash the mangoes. Bring the water to a rolling boil in a pot and add the whole mangoes. Let boil on high heat for 5-8 minutes or until the skin turns pale and they are slightly soft to touch(take care that the mango skins do not break open). Take the mangoes out of boiling water and leave to cool off. Once cooled, peel off (the skin will separate in a squeeze) and discard the skins.

While the magpies are boiling, in another small pot, combine sugar and water and place over medium heat,cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the stove, immediately add the mint stems and leaves and leave aside to steep for about 3-5 minutes (do not leave for too long else the syrup will turn bitter). Strain the syrup through a sieve and let cool down.

Transfer the mango flesh and green chili( if using) to a blender and pulse to smooth. Take out in a large bowl and add the mint simple syrup, lime & lemon juice, black salt and salt to taste to it. Mix to combine. Strain through a sieve to a smooth mixture.

Pour mixture into a 11 inch by 7 inch glass pan. Cover and let freeze for 1 hour and 30 minutes uncovered. Scrape the icy edges with a fork. Freeze again. Scrape every 45 minutes until completely frozen (about 6-8 hours). Remove from freezer every hour or so; scrape with a fork until fluffy. Once semi solid ice crystals are formed, scrape till fluffy.Cover tightly and freeze. Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep frozen.

Scrape granita into bowls and serve garnished with lime wedges and mint.Dust with a pinch of chaat masala or black salt just before serving(optional).