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.
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 · Brunch

Besan Toast


These besan toasts are super easy to make and quite a healthy way to start your day. Just mix up a spiced besan(chickpea flour) batter, dip the bread slices and pan fry or deep fry. The consistency of the batter is the only tricky thing here, it has to be rather thick for a nice coating on bread without making it soggy. Enjoy with chutney and a cup of chai 🙂

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Besan Toast

Bread slices dipped in spiced chickpea flour batter and pan fried. These vegan toasts are so delicous for breakfast or snack.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 8 half toasts

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls, an heavy cast iron skillet or tawa(griddle)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup besan(chickpea flour)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup water, as needed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi(crushed)
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • Pinch ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2-3 hot green chilies, finely chopped ,adjust to taste
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 4-5 white bread slices, cut in half diagonally
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil per toast

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add the besan and start adding water slowly. Stir continously so as to get a thick lump free batter. See video for the consistency. Keep aside for 5 minutes.
  • Add the spices, chopped onions, green chilies and cilantro. Taste and adjust the salt. Mix well.
  • Set a heavy cast iron skillet or tawa to heat on medium heat. Once nicely hot (but not suoper hot), spread 2-3 tablespoon of oil on the skillet.
  • Dip the bread slices in the besan batter to cover both sides. Immediately place on the hot skillet. Let cook on each side for 3-4 minutes without disturbing till the besan coating is browned. Once the besan is cooked, toast will leave the pan on its own. Once you flip the toast, add a litle more oil. Even though we arent deep fryring, these need a little extra oil to not get dry.
    It takes a bit of practice to undertand the right temperature of the griddle. If you will cook on very high heat, the toasts will be cooked outside but will be raw inside. A low medium stove with a heavy skillet that retains heat is good choice
  • Serve warm with yogurt, chutney or ketchup. Enjoy!
Lentils

Milai Ki Dal (Arhar Urad Mix Dal)

A very cozy daal recipe from my grandma’s kitchen. Indians are known to mix lentils always and this is a unique combination of lacey split urad and earthly archer(pigeon pea lentils). Both the lentils are mixed and cooked together in with lots of hing and ginger and then tempered with mustard oil browned garlic slices and dried chillies. You can vary the quantity of each lentil as per your liking. I love deals when they are creamy lacey as well as have a lot of texture, this daal fits so well in that variety.

I remember making faces at this daal growing up but surprisingly enough it is now one of my favorite with rotis especially.

A few things to be kept in mind when making these. Don’t soak the lentils for more than 20 minutes for the right texture. Make them on the thicker side, they taste better than soupy. If you cannot find mustard oil, you can use ghee to temper them and don’t skimp on the garlic. Lastly, dont add salt when boiling the daal, add it later, it keeps the grains soft.

Recipe

Ingredients(Serves 3-4)

  • 1/2 cup arhar daal
  • 1/3 cup split urad daal
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 1/2 tbsp mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 2-2.5 cups water
  • salt to taste
  • Lemon juice, cilantro( to serve)

Tempering

  • 3-4 tbsp mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 3-4 dried chillies, broken
  • 12-15 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 3/4 tsp hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)

Method

Wash the lentils 3-4 times until the water runs clear. Add them to a pressure cooker along with ginger, hing and oil.Add 2 cups water and let them soak in the cooker for 15-20 mins.

Once soaked, put on the lid and pressure cook the lentils for 2-3 whistles on medium flame. Do not cook for too long else the lentils will lose their texture. Switch off the stove and let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and add 1/2 cup cold water along with salt to taste. With the back of a spoon, mash the lentils for 1-2 minutes, gently so that they are creamy but the grains are not broken. Return to a low stove and cook for 3-5 minutes without stirring much. Take off the stove.

Tempering the Daal:- In a small saucepan or your tadka pan, warm up the mustard oil on low medium heat till its a bit smoky. Add the dried chillies and crisp them for 30 seconds, sliced garlic and cook them for 2-3 minutes until they are light brown. Add the cumin and hing next and sauté for 20 seconds. You will smell a nice aroma.

Take off the stove and add the red chilli powder. Add the tempering to the warm daal and mix well.

Serve warm with lemon juice and chopped cilantro.

-Enjoy!

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Lamb & Potato Stew

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

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

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

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Lamb & Potato Stew

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

Equipment

  • Dutch Oven

Ingredients

For the Stew

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

Coarsely pound together

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

Instructions

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

Desserts/Baking · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Easy Cashew & Raisins Icecream (Kaju Kishmish)

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)Hi Friends! How have you been?

Things have been so quite here but not so much in my kitchen. Most days, we are eating fresh and home cooked, the kitchen is so busy  but other priorities in life have made me slightly busy that there is less time to set up shoots and hence the lack of posts. But I guess, sometimes in life, you need to cut the routine to see how doing nothing or something different feels. This summer I am involving myself in things which I have not done in last few years, more on that later. It is good to be away for a while. Hope you missed me 🙂 However, I will keep this space buzzing whenever I can.Meanwhile, you can catch me on Instagram & Facebook.

Sinfully Spicy -Ingredients, Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)I grew up eating it in small grey cardboard cups which had a flip lid. You flip away the lid and a couple of chubby brown raisins stared at you on top of blushing pink with soft bits of cashews scattered in. I always used my nails to pick the raisins out first and then the paddle shaped wooden spoon to scoop the rest. One cup disappeared after another in no time, sitting under the shade of   kumquat tree in blazing indian summer heat, sweaty foreheads, dripping cream on our dresses and white foamy mustaches, oh to be a child again!

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)I came up with this recipe fueled by this tradition in my kitchen to come up with an ice cream recipe each summer.It came out amazing, like most homemade ice creams do. I used a subtle flavor of green cardamom but vanilla will work great also. The husband loved it.I loved it and so did our little girl who is fond of all things cashew. I hope you will love it too!

Update 10/03/2015 Recently Sinfully Spicy was included in Top 50 Blogs of India. Link here

Sinfully Spicy - Kaaju Kishmish Icecram (Easy Eggless Cashew Ice cream)

Recipe

Soak 1 cup raw cashews for 5-6 hrs. Drain. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add the soaked cashews and let boil for 5-8 mins. Drain and let cool down completely. Transfer to a blender and using 1/3 to 1/2 cup evaporated milk (or full fat milk) grind the cashews to a coarse paste. 

Mix 2 cups of heavy cream with a 14oz can of condensed milk. You can add sugar(about 1/4 cup) if you want to adjust sweetness. Mix the cashews paste along with 1 tsp fresh ground cardamom. Combine well, transfer to the dish in which you want to freeze and freeze for 5-6 hours. When the mixture starts freezing and has a pudding consistency,add in handful of dry toasted cut up cashews(optional) along with 1/2 cup of golden raisins. Freeze overnight. Scoop and serve.

Indian Curry/Stew

Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Okra & Potatoes)

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

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

Sinfully Spicy : Okra

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

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)

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

Sinfully Spicy : Bhindi Aloo (Spiced Potatoes & Okra)

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew · Lentils

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

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

Sinfully Spicy:Chana Daal (Bengal Gram Lentils)

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

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

Sinfully Spicy: Tadka, Lentil Tempering

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

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

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

Cooking the Lentils

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

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

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

Notes

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

Method

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

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

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

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

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

Scatter with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

Stay Spicy.