Indian Curry/Stew

Chicken Rezala

A slow cooked creamy, mughlai inspired chicken dish from the east indian cuisine. Chicken rezala is a royal curry of chicken cooked in a white gravy fragrant with spices and creamy due to addition of ground cashew & poppy seeds paste. There is no cream or milk used. In the original form, mutton is used in rezala but I prefer using chicken.

The best thing about mughlai cooking is the use of exotic yet delicate and rich flavors. The gravy is thin, its not saucy, its slightly on the sweeter side, tangy from whole yogurt and creamy from the nut paste. The rezala dish has complex yet mild flavors.

The heat comes from ground white pepper and green chillies, there is no use of turmeric or red chilli powder. The thin layer of fat that separates from yogurt, chicken, fried onions and ghee used in cooking is indicative of its authenticity and rich taste.

I did not grow up eating this dish but after getting married, I really got interested in Bengali cuisine and this is one of the gems of the cuisine. Bengali cooking is complex, it teases your palate and caters to your senses with the use of mellow fragrant spices.

A few things to be kept in mind when making rezala.

  1. Don’t make rezala with boneless chicken. Use bone in chicken and choose to slow cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour till the chicken is cooked rather than pressure cooking it.
  2. Always marinate the chicken.
  3. You can replace the cashews with blanced almonds if you wish.
  4. If you not every finicky about color, use black peppercorns in the recipe, the curry will be less sharp and darker in color.
  5. Use ghee for cooking, it gives an authentic taste.
  6. White peppercorns have a sharp taste compared to the black ones, be sure to check the taste to sauce as you add it so as to not land up with a very spicy sauce. The rezala has a mild sweetish taste.
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Chicken Rezala

A nutty, delicately flavored chicken dish from East indian cuisine.
Prep Time6 hrs
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian

Equipment

  • Bowls, Dutch Oven or Heavy Bottom Pot with lid

Ingredients

Marinate The Chicken

  • 1.5 lb (750gms) bone in, skinless chicken, (choose 1 whole chicken cut in 8pieces OR Chicken legs Or bone in Chicken Thighs
  • 3/4 cup plain full fat yogurt (not greek yogurt)
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper powder adjust to taste
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee

For the Spice Powder

  • 2 black cardamom pods only
  • 8 green cardamom pods only
  • 2 large mace twigs
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns adjust to taste

For Making the rezala

  • 2 tsp white poppy seeds
  • 15 raw whole cashews
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 6 dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup white or yellow onion paste
  • 1 tbsp green chilli paste adjust to taste
  • 1 tsp shah jeera
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp white peppercorn powder optional
  • 10-12 saffron strands, soaked in warm milk
  • 1-2 drops kewra water, optional

Instructions

Marinate the Chicken

  • Add the cleaned chicken pieces to a large bowl and add all the listed ingredients. Using your hands massage the chicken pices nicely with yogurt, ghee nand spices. Cover the bowl with a cling film and marinate overnight (6-8 hours). Dont skip the marination step.

Make The Spice Powder

  • In a small skillet, lightly dry toast all the spices. Place in a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Set aside.

Make the curry

  • Set the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour prior to cooking.
  • In your wet grinder, add the poppy seeds first, add 3 tbsp water and give it a grind. Open and add cashews along with 3 tbsp of water. Grind both the things on high speed to a very fine paste. Add water if needed.
  • In a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, add the ghee and warm it up on medium heat.
  • Temper the ghee with all the whole spices and saute for 30 seconds. Take care that the spices do not burn.
  • Add the onion paste next and on low medium heat saute the onion paste till you its beginning to change to light brown in color and the oil is separating. Dont let the onions brown too much.
  • Add cumin seeds and the ginger garlic and chilli paste next and saute for a minute till you smell a nice aroma.
  • Reduce the heat to low, wait for a minute and slowly add the marinated chicken to the pot. Also add the ground spices we made earlier. Gently stir the chicken continously for 2 minutes. Let the stove be on low while you stir the chicken. This will make sure that the yogurt wont curdle.
  • After stirring for 2 minutes, cover the pot and let cook undisturbed for 10 minutes on low heat.
  • Open the pot, stir the chicken, you will see a gravy forming from water of yogurt and chicken juices. Add the cashew-poppyseeds paste we made along with salt & sugar. Stir to combine , cover the pot and let cook again for 15 minutes on medium low. While the chicken is cooking just check once or twice to make sure that nothing is sticking to bottom of pot since cashew have the tendency to stick.
  • At the end of 15 minutes, open the pot. You will see a layer of fat on the sides and top of the chicken. Make sure that the chicken pieces are cooked through but not falling apart. Depending on the quality of your chicken the time taken can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 25 minutes.
  • At the end of cooking, check and adjust the salt if needed. Add the saffron, kewra and white pepper powder. Mix and let the curry simmer for 2-3 more minutes. Switch off the stove and let stand for atleast 30 minutes before serving.
  • The sauce of rezala is not runny at all so no extra water is added so please dont add any water, it will dilute the taste of the sauce.
  • Serve with rotis. parathas or rice, as you wish.

Notes

  1. Don’t make rezala with boneless chicken. Use bone in chicken and choose to slow cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour till the chicken is cooked rather than pressure cooking it.
  2. Always marinate the chicken.
  3. You can replace the cashews with blanced almonds if you wish.
  4. If you not every finicky about color, use black peppercorns in the recipe, the curry will be less sharp and darker in color.
  5. Use ghee for cooking, it gives an authentic taste.
  6. White peppercorns have a sharp taste compared to the black ones, be sure to check the taste to sauce as you add it so as to not land up with a very spicy sauce. The rezala has a mild sweetish taste.

Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines · Lentils · Salads/Soup

Sambar (Indian Lentil & Vegetables Stew)

Sambar is an utterly popular slow cooked south indian lentil and vegetable stew which is served with idlis, dosa, vada or steamed rice. It is fragrant, nourishing and very comforting. Lentils form a huge part of indian cuisine and every region has its own speciality. Sambar is an everyday dish of the south indian region and over years because of its delicious taste and nutrient dense value, it has become one of the most popular dishes in India.

However, in our north indian family, south indian food was made once or twice a month. It was a special meal and the preparations started a couple days ahead with mom fermenting idli batter and making chutneys. Her sambar recipe is the best if you ask me. I dont claim it to be the authentic for it differs in the selection of vegetables and the way she tempered it. So unlike the drumsticks and squash loaded ones, I grew up on sambar in which went chunks of capsicum(green bell pepper) and green beans and sometimes okra or eggplant. It was a warming, soul satisfying and a beautiful medley of flavors of sambar powder and taste of vegetables.

I make sambar like mom, with the same selection of vegetables. Be it the contrasting sweetness of jaggery and sour of fresh squeezed tamarind pulp or the chewy pungency of black mustard seeds and a subtle citrus nuttiness of curry leaves, every single slurp rings comfort into my soul..

Mom used store bought sambar powder and I do the same. We have a few favorite brands and I stock up on those whenever I go to India or someone is visiting. I sometimes find it in our indian store as well, its a pretty easy thing to find. However, if you do not have ready to use sambar powder, leave a comment and I will write you a recipe.

Many people like to use a blend of lentils but I make mine with just arhar daal (toor/pigeon pea lentils). Sambar is a easy thing to make and tastes better next day or after resting if you are serving the same day. You can prep the vegetables and make tamarind pup while the lentils are cooking(I pressure cook them) and just temper everything and simmer it for about 10-12 minutes.

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5 from 1 vote

Sambar

A flavorful,south indian pigeon pea lentil & vegetable stew. Best served with idlis, vada, dosa or steamed rice. Can be easily made vegan.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Indian

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker, Cooking Pot

Ingredients

For Boiing The Daal

  • 1 cup arhar daal (toor daal/pigeon pea lentils)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2.5 cups water

Vegetables (substitute with your choice of vegetables)

  • 1 small capsicum/green bell pepper cut into bite size pieces
  • 12-15 green beans cut into 1 inch long pieces
  • 1 medium firm tomato quatered
  • 6-8 sambar onions/pearl onions peeled

Tempering The Sambar

  • 3 tbsp oil/ ghee I use avocado oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3/4 tsp chana daal (bengal gram lentils)
  • 3/4 tsp split urad lentils
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 2-3 dried red chilies
  • Pinch methi seeds
  • 12-15 fresh curry leaves
  • 2-3 tbsp thick tamarind pulp adjust to desired sourness
  • 2.5 tbsp sambar powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp jaggery powder adjust to desired sweetness

Instructions

Boil The Daal

  • Wash the lentils throughly 2-3 times under a running stream of water.
  • Place in the pressure cooker. Add 2.5 cups water and turmeric. Soak for 20 minutes.
  • Once soaked, pressure cook the lentils in the same water for 3-5 whistles on medium heat. Switch off and let pressure release naturally. While the lentils are still hot, add salt and using a wooden masher or back of spoon mash the lentils well so that no grain is visible. Set aside.
  • While the lentils are cooking you can prepare the vegetables and tamarind pulp. Keep everthing ready.

Make the Sambar

  • In a heavy bottom pot,warm up the oil. Temper the oil with mustad seeds. Once they crackle, add the hing, chana & urad dal. Cook till the lentils are browned in color.
  • Add the dried chillies and methi seeds next. Saute fo r5-6 seconds till they swell a bit.
  • Add curry leaves to the oil, they will immediatley splutter so be careful. Saute for 2-3 seconds and add all the vegetables that you are using at once. Sprinkle a pinch of salt. Saute the vegeatble for a minute or so with the spices.
  • Next sprinkle the sambar powder and red chilli powder (if using) and saute for 20 seconds.
  • Add the cooked mashed lentils next and mix well. If you feel that they are thickish, add water to thin out as per desired consistency.
  • Mix well and let come to a slow boil on medium heat. Reduce the heat and add the tamarind and jaggery. Taste and adjust the salt. Mix well.
  • Let simmer for 10-12 minutes on low medium heat stirring a bit in between. Initially you will see that there is a layer of foam on the sambar but as it cooks out, the color will deepen so will the flavors. Rest for 30 mins and serve warm!

Extra Tempering (optional but recommmended)

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil or ghee in a pan and add 1/2 tsp mustrd seeds,pinch of hing, 1-2 dried chillies and 8-10 curry leaves. Add on top of the cooked sambar and mix well.
Breads/Flatbreads · Brunch · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Paneer Makhani Pizza

Paneer pizzas are a huge favorite in our house and this one is no different. From scratch pizza with a pillowy dough, quick makhani sauce made out of fresh tomatoes and topped with juicy paneer tikka. To add some kick, I add pickled jalapeños. This pizza is a riot of flavors in every bite.

Until last year, before lockdown, I considered as pizza one of the most casual food. Pizza nights were either take outs or something put together with off the shelf items from Trader Joe’s. Quick pizzas did the job but I knew in my heart that I was missing out on something.

Last year, when everyone was struggling to find yeast last year, so was I. But I kept looking and looking and nearly after a month I found yeast online. Took over 20 days to deliver and then started my quest for homemade pizza dough. 

Right from how the house smells while pizza bakes to how the dough feels between my fingers, the entire process of making pizza from scratch can be so gratifying.. It swells my heart to see kids enjoying desi pizza- one filled with orange sauce and topped paneer, it’s their huge favorite.

Desi pizzas are a huge hit in our home, here I make a quick makhani sauce and paneer tikka. You can use chicken as well instead of paneer. You can make the dough, the sauce as well as marinate the tikka ahead of time and just assemble and pop into the oven or pizza oven (if you have one) anytime for a quick treat!

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Paneer Makhani Pizza

A fusion indo – italian pizza with homemade pizza dough topped with makhani sauce, juicy paneer tikka and lots of cheese.
Prep Time2 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Indian, Italian
Servings: 1 Pizza (12 inch)

Equipment

  • mixing bowls

Ingredients

Make the Pizza Dough

  • 2-2.5 cups all purpose flour (250-290gms)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (7gm)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup warm water

Quick Makhani Sauce (Makes about 2 cups)

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 clove
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2.5 cups tomato puree (Simply blanch 4-5 large fresh tomatoes and puree them in blender)
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tbsp kasuri methi
  • 1.5 tbsp heavy cream

Paneer Tikka

  • 150 gms paneer cut in cubes
  • 1 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder or to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemom juice
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi
  • 1/2 tsp chaat masala
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Pizza Toppings

  • Shredded low moisture mozarella cheese as much or as less you like
  • Sliced Onions as much or as less you like
  • Pickled Jalapenos as much or as less you like

Instructions

Make the pizza dough

  • In a small bowl, empty the yeast packet. Add 3 tbsp luke warm water (of the 3/4 cup), add sugar, give a gentle mix and let the yeast bloom for 5 minutes. You should see bubbles once bloomed else start over.
  • In a large bowl, add the 2 cups flour salt, olive oil and garlic powder. Using your fingers mix everthing well. You can add some dried herbs to the flour as well.
  • Pour the yeast mix over the flour. Add remaining water. Using your hand mixer attached with the dough hook, mix the dough for a minute on medium speed or so till it starts clumping around the hook into a ball.
  • On a floured surface, take out the dough ball and knead for 3-4 minutes until its smooth and springs back when you press it with a finger. Add a little flour if the dough feels wet at any point. Pizza dough should not be sticky but its a pretty soft dough.
  • Place the dough in a large oiled bowl. Rub the surface of the dough ball with some olive oil. Cover with a cloth or cling film and place in warm place to rise for 1-2 hours (depends on the tempetature of where you live). The dough should double in volume after the rise.

Make the Makhani Sauce

  • In a pan, warm up the butter and oil together. Add the whole spices – cloves, cardamom & cinnmaon and saute for 15 seconds. Add the onions to the pan and saute the onions till lightly browned for about 3 minutes.
  • Once the onions are browned, add the ginger garlic paste along with the powdered spices. Saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomato puree next and mix well. Let the tomato puree cook down for about 5 minutes tll you see that the sauce is thick and oil is starting to seperate. Switch off the stove. Dont dry the tomatoes too much, add 1/4 cup water if needed to make a thick slurry like consistency sauce.
  • Strain the makhani sauce into a bowl and immediately mix in the cream, garam masala and kasuri methi. Mix well. Makhani sauce is ready to go.

Make the Paneer Tikka

  • In a bowl, add all the ingredints except paneer. Using a whisk, mix well to make a smooth paste.
  • Add the paneer cubes and mix well to coat using your fingers. Marinate for 15 minutes.
  • Once marinated you can cook the paneer on a heated tawa brushing oil on all sides. Alternatively, you can skewer the paneer, brush oil and broil in oven for 3-4 minutes each side. Dont cook the panner too much since it will cook with the pizza as well.

Assebmle and Bake Pizza

  • Preheat ypur oven to 475 F. I use my seasoned cast iron skillet to bake pizza. You can use your baking sheet lined with parchment paper or pizza steel (if you have one).
  • Punch down the risen dough and on a floured surface, using your hands in a circular motion shape it in a circle.
  • Place the shaped pizza dough into the cast iron griddle/baking sheet/pizza steel.
  • Laddle makhani sauce on top of the dough leaving a little space from the edges. Add the shredded cheese over the sauce.
  • Place the paneer tikka, onions and jalapenos on top of cheese. Drizzle with a little oil.
  • Bake the dough for 8-12 minutes untill the cheese has melted and the edges are golden.
  • Slice & Serve. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Use chicken in this recipe instead of paneer to make chicken makkahi pizza.
  2. Use any kind of vegetables for topping.
  3. You make make all the elements 1-2 days in advance and assemble and bake the pizza. This dough rests well in the fridge for 2 days after proofing.  
Indian Curry/Stew

Matar Ka Nimona(Gluten free & Vegan)

Nimona is a traditional recipe made with ground green chickpeas or fresh peas in western Uttar Pradesh. My grandmother family belongs to that belt and no wonder this is one of our favorite family recipes. She cooked Nimona atleast once a week. Very arduously, she spent the entire afternoon shelling the green chickpeas which were in season during late winter. Nimona was made with peas rarely, however, I make it only with fresh peas (do not use frozen) since I dont have access to the green chickpeas. I tried the frozen chickpeas once and truly regretted it 🙂

Sweet shelled peas, blanched quickly and then ground into a coarse paste. The coarseness of the peas gives this curry a beautiful texture and if you ask a cook, the way a vegetable is cut, diced, crushed, pureed etc makes so much difference in the taste of the finished dish. Please do not make a smooth paste. In addition to grinding the peas coarsely, save a handful to add to the curry while it cooks.

This curry is gluten-free and ideally, if you cook it in mustard oil just the way it is should be, it is vegan as well. Traditionally, deep fried potatoes are added to this curry. And they are quite delicious, no question about that. However, I like to brown the potatoes in a couple tablespoons of oil rather than deep frying and later the potatoes finish cooking in the curry. Also, sautéing ground peas with the masala is an important part of making this curry. Dont be tempted to leave the peas green, the proper taste of nimona will not come through. After the peas “bhuno” with masala for good 8-10 minutes, the smokiness of the curry is just irresistible.

On some days, I like to temper the nimona, it is optional and only enhances the taste. Nimona is amazing served with rotis or steamed rice. A dollop of ghee on warm bowl of nimona is a beautiful finish. Make extra because it tastes better next day!

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5 from 1 vote

Matar Ka Nimona

An indian curry made of ground peas and fresh sweet peas.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Food processor, Kadhai/Heavy pan

Ingredients

For Blanching the Peas

  • 10 oz (284gms) shelled fresh peas ,please dont use frozen peas
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the Curry

  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or use regular cooking oil)
  • 2 medium potatoes peeled and quatered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp hing
  • 1 medium onion,finely chopped yield about heaped 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 fat garlic cloves
  • 2 inch fresh ginger peeled
  • 1/2 tbsp corinader powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp hot red chilli powder adjust to taste
  • 3 medium tomatoes add to blender & puree smooth
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 tbsp ginger julinnes optional
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor powder adjust to taste
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder

Tempering (Optional)

  • 1.5 tbsp mustard oil (or use ghee)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger

For Serving

  • Sliced Onions, Cilantro, Ghee etc

Instructions

Blanch & Grind the Peas

  • Add salt and sugar and water to a cooking pot. Bring to a boil. Add shelled peas and switch off the stove. Let the peas stand in hot water for 3-5 mins. Drain. You can reserve the water to adjust the consistency of curry later.
  • Save 1/4 cup peas and add the rest to food processor jar fitted with metal blade and pulse 10-12 times until the peas are coarse. Dont make a smooth paste. The peas should be coarsely ground. Set aside.

Make the Nimona

  • Pound the garlic and ginger along with cumin seeds using mortar pestle. Keep ready.
  • In a wide kadhai or heavy pan, add the oil and warm on low medium heat until its slightly smoky.
  • Carefully add the poatoes to the oil, sprinkle a pinch of salt. Brown the poatoes on all the sides. Do not cook them through. Once browned, take out in a bowl and keep near.
  • Remove the kadhai from stove and temper the remainng oil with bay leaf, cardamom and cloves. Add hing. Saute for 10 seconds, be careful the spices might crackle.
  • Return the kadhai/pan back to stove. Next, add the ginger-garlic that we pounded earlier and saute in hot oil for 10 seconds. Dont let burn.
  • Add the chopped onions next and on low medium heat brown the onions stirring regularly to a nice golden color.
  • Once the onions are browned, add all the powdered spices- corinader, chilli power, tumeric to the pan. Add 2-3 tbsp of water. Saute the spices very well for 3-5minutes in oil. Once you see oil bubbles seperating, add the tomatoes and pinch of sugar. Saute the tomatoes with onions and spices for 5-6 minutes on low medum heat till you see that the masala is deep in color and the oil is seperating again.
  • Add the ground peas along with julinned ginger(if using) and mix well with the masala.Also add the reserved peas. Saute the peas with the masala for good 6-7 minutes, scrapping the sides and bottom of pan since the peas have a tendency to stick.
  • The peas will slowly start turning brown. Keep on sauteing till you see that the peas are lightish brown and bit shiny.
  • Add about a cup and a half of warm water. Add the potatoes as well. Mix everything, it should be a thick curry right now. Taste and adjust the salt. Bring to a slight boil, cover with a lid, reduce the stove to low and let simmer for 12-14 minutes untill the potatoes are fork tender. If you feel that thenimona is getting too thick for your liking, add 1/4 cup or more water. Simmer after you add water. Dont make very watery though. You will see a little thin layer of oil on stove by the end. Nimona is ready
  • Mix in the amchoor and roasted cumin powder. Add the tempering(if using). Mix well. Cover and let rest for atleast 30 minutes before serving.

Make Tempering

  • In a small sauce pan, heat up the mustard oil till smoky. Switch off the stove and the cumin and ginger. Let crackle. Add to the nimona.
Desserts/Baking

Saffron-Pineapple Halwa (Semolina Pineapple Pudding)

For Vasant Panchami (spring festival) yesterday, I made this saffron pineapple halwa. Describable as velvety, rich and melt in the mouth, this halwa is quite different from the regular sooji(semolina) halwa. The semolina is very lightly roasted in ghee,it isn’t very sweet and has a lovely flavor of fresh pineapple in every bite.

To enhance the color and flavor, I used ground saffron which gave this halwa an exciting exotic flair and its golden color. Halwa in north indian homes is considered the quickest dessert ever. My grandmother made halwa almost everyday to offer as prashad. Usually made with semolina, chickpea flour or with whole wheat flour, a bowl of warm halwa is deemed auspicious enough to offer to deity, as a means of celebration or a perfect way to satisfying sweet cravings.

This pineapple halwa recipe is one of my most loved. Its not as simple as folding some pineapple bits at the end when halwa finishes cooking. I infuse the intense pineapple flavor by flavoring the sugar syrup by cooking fruit in it first. Then, while the semolina cooks in the syrup, I add pineapple and infuse it further. As the semolina slowly absorbs the syrup, the pineapple chunks get a bit softer and release their juices.

A couple things to be kept in mind when making Pineapple Halwa.

  1. Try and use fine semolina in this recipe. It makes a huge difference in the texture and consistency.
  2. Avoid using canned pineapple. Go for firm (not overripe) pineapple. If the pineapple is too ripe, it will fall apart when you cook it. It is best to use little tangy, not overly sweet fresh pineapple.
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5 from 1 vote

Pineapple Halwa

A rich and velvelty semolina pudding made with fresh pineapple and flavored with saffron.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4 servings

Equipment

  • Cooking Pot, Kadhai/Wide Pan

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.25 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks (small squares)
  • 10 saffron strands
  • 1 tbsp warm milk
  • 1/3 cup melted ghee, divided
  • 1/2 cup fine semolina
  • 2 tbsp raw whole cashews
  • 2 tbsp raw pistachios plus more for garnish

Instructions

  • Add the sugar and water to a medium pot and set on the stove to boil.There is no need to stir. Just when all the sugar has melted. no need to cook it further, add the pineapple chunks to hot syrup and switch off the stove. Let sit for 10-12 minutes
  • In the meantime, add the saffron strands to a mortar, add a pinch of sugar and grind to a fine powder. Add warm milk and mix. Let stand to infuse.
  • Set a heavy kadhai/wide pan on low medium stove, add 1 tbsp of ghee and saute the nuts for a minutes stirring continously. Brown the nuts a little taking care that they dont burn. Take out in a bowl.
  • Add another tablespoon of ghee to the kadhai and add the semolina. On low medium stove, toast the semolina in ghee for 3-5 minutes until the grains appear to be swelled but do not change color. Keep stirring continously using a cooking spoon and dont let the color of semolina change.
  • Once toasted, reduce the flame to low. Grab a spatula in one hand and add the sugar syrup along with pinapple to the semolina with other. There will be a bit of splutter so be careful. Gently but quicky start mixing the semolina with the syrup using the spatula. It will swell and the halwa will start to thicken in no time. This happens very quickly and spatula is the right tool to stir with. Dont let any lump form and keep stirring continously. The halwa might feel a bit sticky but its okay.
  • Once all the syrup is absorbed, add the remaining 1/4 cup ghee to the kadhai and keep mixing and stirring to combine well. Slowly ghee will be absorbed (about 2-3 minutes) in the halwa and you will see its no more sticky rather shiny and grainy.
  • Add the browned nuts and saffron mix to the halwa and again mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes and then switch off the stove. It will thicken a bit as it sits.
  • Serve garnished with more nuts and few saffron threads. Best served warm.
Desserts/Baking

Black Forest Cake Trifle

Black forest cake is one of the best cakes out there. Spongy kirsch soaked dark chocolate cake, soft juicy cherries filling, creamy chocolate pudding and whipped cream. The layers in this black forest trifle all combine into an amazing combination of rich and decadent.
I used fresh cherries(though out of season) to make the cherry pie filling layer but it tasted quite good. With a splash of Kirsch, it was so good. If you don’t want to use cherries, you can use strawberries or raspberries and make a compote.If you dont want to use liquor, skip it and use any non alcoholic juice (cherry or pomegranate juices are a good option). The trifle is best made a little ahead, keep it refrigerated once you have assembled it.

I added scratch made creamy chocolate pudding chocolate which gave it utmost richness. All in all, an amazing dessert for any occasion.It is not at all difficult to make, but yes making the components takes time. However, you can spread out the work over a couple of days and assemble just a few hours before serving. I baked the chocolate cake a night before, while the cake baked I made the cherry filling. While the cake cooled, I made very the pudding.Kept everything refrigerated and next morning just before assembling, I whipped up the cream. Easy peasy.

Trifles can be made in advance, however I won’t do it more than a day ahead. However, you can make the different elements 3-4 days in advance.The individual components in this entire recipe are amazing on their own. This is my go to chocolate cake recipe, you can use the cherry filling as icecream or yogurt topping and 2 ingredient eggless chocolate pudding is a shortcut but it delivers.

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Black Forest Cake Trifle

A decadent layered dessert of Kirsch soaked dark chocolate cake, fresh cherries, creamy chocolate pudding and whipped cream.
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

One 9 inch Chocolate Cake

  • 120 gms (1 cup) all purpose flour
  • 150 gms (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 40 gms (6 tbsp) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 5 tbsp neutral oil
  • 5 tbsp hot water or coffee
  • 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla
  • 1/4 cup Kirsch for soaking the cake

Cherry Pie Filling (Skip this if you want and use store bought Cherry Pie Filling)

  • 1 lb (400 gms) fresh cherries, pitted
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp kirsch

Chocolate Pudding

  • 6 oz (1 cup) semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
  • pinch sea salt

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 2-4 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 drop pink gel food coloring, optional
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Kirsch

Instructions

Bake the Cake

  • Spray a 9 inch pan with oil. Line the base of the cake with parchment paper. Flour the sides of the cake pan with cocoa powder.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In another bowl, whisk together milk, oil, egg and vanilla.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour the wet ingredients. Fold in gently till alomst incorporated. Pour over the hot coffee and gently(don not whisk) everything so that you can see a smooth shiny brown batter with no streaks of white flour. The batter will be quite runny but thats okay.
  • Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 28-32 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. The cake will start to pull away from the sides slightly as well.
  • Take out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Run a knife all around and take out the cake out of the pan on to a cooling rack. Cool completely. Once cooled, you can store the cake in the fridge for 2-3 days. This cake freezes easily, just wrap the cake in a cling film followed by placing it in a large ziploc and freeze upto a month.
  • If you are making trifle cake next morning, poke holes all over in the cake and add Kirsch to the hole, let soak up. Store the cake overnight or for 2-3 hours atleast. For the trifle, cut up the cake into small cubes using a sharp knife or cut rounds the size of the serving bowl as you wish.

Make the Cherry Pie filling

  • In a sauce pan, add the cherries,water, sugar and lemon juice. Set to cook on a low medium stove.
  • Slowly you will see that the cherries will start to soften. Let cook for 5-8 minutes.
  • At the end of 8 minutes you will see a lot of liquid in the pot, these are cherry juices and moisture of sugar. It will be bubbly.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the cornstarch all at once. Immediatly stir around (but gently else the cherris will break).
  • Cook for 2-4 minutes, you will see the liquid will thicken up and the filling resembles a thickish gel.
  • Take off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Mix in the kirsch.
  • Once completely cooked, store in a air tight jar.

Make the Choolate Pudding

  • Place the chocolate chips in a large bowl.
  • Warm up the heavu cream in a small pot. You will start to see bubbles on the sides of the pot. Take off the stove and pour over the chocolate chips.
  • Whisk gently untill all the chocolate is dissolved. Cool down to room temperature and then chill overnight.
  • In the morming simply beat using a hand mixer untill fluffy. Easy chocolate pudding is ready.

Whipped Cream

  • Place chilled heavy cream in a large bowl. Beat for 5 minutes untill it starts to thicked.
  • Add the powdered sugar slowly and keep beating untill soft peaks are formed.

Assemble the trifle

  • In a Large trifle bowl or in individaul serving jars, layer the cake, cherry pie filling, pudding as you like. You can repeat the layers to make large servings or keep them singl layer of each component, totally your wish.
  • Chill for 3-4 hrs till ready to serve. Top with whipped cream and some marachino cherries and serve!
Appetizers/Snacks

Air fried/Baked Sweet Tamarind- Chilli Chicken Wings

These sticky and tangy chicken wings are juicy, spicy and delicious – a true showstopper. I often make wings at home and this recipe always hits the right spots. If you ask me, you can never go wrong with chicken wings- even when done with minimal ingredients they turn out so yummy.

Back in the day, I always shied away from deep frying wings so I hardly made them at home. We used to eat them once in a while and that used to be at restaurants or take outs. Ever since I started using an air fryer, my outlook towards homemade chicken wings has changed. They can be super easy to make and turn out quite delicious if you keep a few things in mind.

You can use regular tamarind in this recipe and adjust the sugar & vinegar to your liking. I just used sweet tamarind pods because I had a ton to finish and I thought that it would help me cut down sugar in the sauce which it did. Just soak and squeeze the pulp of the pods like regular tamarind. I used chopped Fresno chillies for heat because I happened to have a few on hand but you can use red chilli flakes easily.

Last week I saw this post on Food52 Instagram page by amazing Sohlae who talks about always dry brining the chicken wings before baking them. I was itching to try it and used the same method for brining as she mentioned and viola!, such a revelation. These turned out so crispy outside and juicy inside. I changed her measurements a bit because I was making a lesser quantity of wings. However stick to her recipe if you are making 2 to 2.5 pounds of wings.

  1. Always make sure to marinate/dry brine the chicken wings overnight. I have tried it the quick way it for 2-3 hours myself and truly a longer marination makes a huge difference.
  2. Pat the chicken dry before baking/air frying it. The drier the chicken skin is, the crispier they turn out.
  3. Take the marinated wings out of the fridge for an hour before you plan to bake them, avoid putting cold wings right in a hot oven, it can make them tough.
  4. I also feel that making the sauce a few hours ahead makes a difference- the flavors have time to mingle and it tastes better.
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5 from 1 vote

Air Fried Sweet Tamarind- Chilli Chicken Wings

Juicy, spicy & tangy chicken wings with crisy skins perfect for game day, a quick appetizer for just for snacking.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American, Indian
Servings: 15 wings

Equipment

  • Oven/Air fryer, Bowls, Tongs, Sauce Pan

Ingredients

For Dry Brining the Chicken Wings

  • 1.5 pounds party chicken wings
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

For the Sweet Tamarind – Chilli Sauce

  • 1/3 cup thick tamarind pulp, see notes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp ginger minced
  • 2 fresno chillies finely chopped (adjust to taste, substitute with red chilli flakes)
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2-4 tbsp brown sugar adjust to taste
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar,
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 2-4 tbsp water if needed

For Baking/Air Frying

  • Cooking Spray/Oil

Instructions

Dry Brine the Wings

  • In a large bowl, add the wings and all the ingredients listed under the dry brining.
  • Toss very well using clean hands, cover the bowl with a cling film and refrigerate overnight.

Make the Tamarind Sauce

  • In a medium bowl, mix the tamarind pulp, sugar, soy sauce, cumin, salt, black pepper and vinegar.
  • Heat up oil in a sauce pan. Once warm, add the garlic, ginger and chopped chillies(or chilli flakes) to the hot oil and saute for 30 seconds, dont let burn.
  • Add the tamarind pulp mix all at once to the pan. Add 2-3 tbsp water and mix well. Cook down on low medium heat for 10-12 minutes till its thickish. The sauce wil be runny in the beginning but slowly thicken.
  • Once the sauce is ready, cool down and set aside.

Prepare the Wings for Baking/Air Frying

  • Take the marinated chicken out of the fridge atleast one hour ahead of starting to cook. Using paper towel, pat the chicken dry. Discard the liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Dry the chicken very well.
  • Place the chicken in another bowl and add 2-3 tbsp of the tamrind sauce that we prepared before. Using clean hands, toss and mix to coat all the wings properly.
  • To Air Fry -Preheat your air fryer at 360F. Layer the wings in a single layer in the basket.If needed you can place the drumettes standing up if they are not fitting all at once. Make sure that the wings are not touching each other.
  • Air fry for a total of 20 minutes, flipping using tongs half way at 10 minutes.
  • Bump the temperature to 390 F at the end of 20 minutes let air fry for additional 5-7 minutes until you see that the skins are crispy.
  • To Bake – Preheat oven to 400F. Line a sheet pan with foil and place a oven proof rack on top of the foil. Spray the rack liberally wiuth cooking spray.
  • Arrange the wings in a single layer on the rack.
  • Bake for 40 minutes, flipping using tongs at half the time until the wings are crispy and slightly charred on the edges.
  • Serve the wings warm with rest of the tamarind sauce.

Notes

  1. Just soak and squeeze the pulp of the sweet tamarind pods like regular tamarind.
Appetizers/Snacks · Desserts/Baking

Brownie Bottom Saffron Cheesecake Bites


These mini cheesecake bites combine two of my favorite desserts. A cream, slightly tangy cheesecake batter atop fudgy brownie layer when eaten together with airy whipped cream is a burst of textures and flavors in your mouth. The bites are flavored with my favorite indian spices and the spiced layers complement each other so well. The brownie layer has hints of fresh ground green cardamom while the cheesecake batter gets its golden color and exotic flavor from saffron. My favorite brand to use is Zaran Saffron.

These bites are incredibly quick and easy to make once you gather the ingredients which aren’t too many. The combination of chocolate and saffron is both bold and exotic.I took to mini cheesecake bites sometime last year and its one of my favorite things to bake. This recipe makes a batch of 10-12 bites which keep well for 2-3 days in the fridge and are amazing for a post dinner sweet craving.

A few things to be kept in mind:-

  1. Make sure that your ingredients are are at room temperature wherever mentioned. I can’t stress this enough.
  2. The brownie layer is baked first to set before adding the cheesecake batter but make sure to not bake the brownie layer fully.
  3. Bake the cheesecake bites till the centers are jiggly. Do not bake all the way through. They will finish setting up while chilling.
  4. A common problem is cracks in the cheesecake layer. The reason is that when your ingredients are not a room temperature, we tend to overmix the batter and incorporate too much air in the process. This makes the batter rise too much during baking and it comes cracking down after you take it out of the oven.However, dont stress too much about it because you can always cover the cracks up with ganache or dollop of whipped cream or fruit toppings. Remember taste over looks, always! 🙂
  5. Another common problem is that the cheese batter is grainy and not smooth after you beat it. Again, this happens when the cream cheese is not at room temperature.
  6. After the baking is over, dont pull out the cheesecakes immediately out of the oven, switch the oven off, open the door and let them hang out there for 5-8 minutes.
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5 from 1 vote

Brownie Bottom Saffron Cheesecake Bites

Fudgy, cardamom scented brownie bottom topped with golden saffron cheesecake filling. A bold exotic dessert.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 12

Equipment

  • Bowls, Hand Mixer/Whisk, Spatula, Muffin Pans,Paper Liners

Ingredients

For the Brownie Layer

  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tbsp semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour sifted
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

For the Cheesecake Filling

  • 10-12 strands saffron
  • 1/2 tbsp warm milk
  • 8 oz cream cheese (please dont use low fat or no fat), softened at room temperature
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1 tbsp sour cream room temperature
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon or orange juice
  • pinch sea salt

To serve

  • whipped cream

Instructions

Brownie Layer

  • Line your 12 muffin/cupcake pan with liners and preheat oven to 350F.
  • In a medium bowl, add the butter and set it in microwave to completely melt for minute or so. Once melted, take out and immediately add the chocolate chips. Wisk well gently till smooth. The chocolate will melt in warm butter.
  • Add the sugar to the bowl and whisk well for 2-3 minutes till everything is creamy and the sugar is dissolved. By this time the mix would cool down as well so its ready for egg.
  • Add the egg to the coo butter sugar mix and whisk well to combine.
  • Next, add the flour cocoa powder and cardamon. Using a spatula combine everything until you cannot see any white flour. The mix will be smooth and sticky. And too tempting to lick 🙂
  • Add about 1 tbsp of heaped brownie batter to each liner. You can decide which layer you want to make thicker and add the batter accordingly.
  • Set in the oven to bake for 6-8 minutes untill the brownie batter is set. Dont bake all the way through. After its set, pull out the tray and you will that the brownie layer is puffy but it will puff down while you make the filling.

Cheesecake Filling

  • Grind saffron strands using mortar pestle, pour over warm milk and let infuse.
  • In a large bowl, add all the ingredients under the filling and using a hand mixer, beat for 2-3 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Dont over beat.
  • Add the infused saffron next and beat for 10-15 seconds to incorporate.
  • Add about 1/4 cup to the cupcake liners filling with brownie crust. You can add the filling in a ziplock bag and pour too. So I had planned for 12 cheesecakes but ran out after 11th one was filled.  Once filled, tap the pan a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes or until set, little jiggly in the centre is fine. Dont overbale else the cheesecake will not be soft after chilling.Once baked, switch off the stove, open the door and let the pan stay there for a 10 mins.
  • After 10 minutes, pull out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool down completely.
  • Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight before serving. Add dollop of whipped cream before serving.
Brunch · Desserts/Baking

Citrus Yogurt & Olive Oil Cake (Eggless & One Bowl)

A super soft yet a firm cake with a beautiful crumb. It has a rich tang of whole milk yogurt and fruity hints of olive oil in every bite. I have been making this eggless cake for many years and get asked for a recipe every time I share it on my Instagram page. The recipe is ridiculously simple and uses just one bowl (how easy!)

I added blood orange juice (can you see a faint pink hue?) because they are in season but any kind of citrus will work in this recipe- naval orange juice, meyer lemons or regular lemons. Just make sure that you squeeze the citrus juice fresh before using. To cut the sweetness of sugar and the richness of olive oil, you do need lots of acid – that why both yogurt & citrus come helping, dont worry the cake isn’t tangy.

I like to serve it with faintly sweetened whipped cream on the side , however, you can cover it with frosting if you wish so. As for the flavors- cardamom with its balmy lemony notes is my absolute favorite, however use rosewater, saffron, vanilla – whatever you fancy. Use this recipe as a blank canvas for any eggless cake.

Ideally I like using a 8 inch round cake pan, but if you don’t have one, that fine too, just use a 9 inch cake pan and the cake will be slightly flatter but as delicious.

Recipe

Ingredients (Makes one 8 inch Cake, serves 4-6)

  • 125 gms whole milk plain greek yogurt, room temperature & slightly beaten (see note)
  • 210 gms granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 125 ml good quality olive oil (please dont use extra virgin)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground cardamom powder
  • 205 gms all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup heavy cream, soft whipped with 2 tbsp sugar for serving

Note – Please use thick (ideally greek) yogurt in this recipe. If you reside in a place where you dont have access to greek yogurt, use hung curd if your yogurt tends to be watery.

Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray or brush an 8 inch round cake pan with olive oil. Line the base of pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the beaten yogurt, sugar, vinegar, olive oil, orange juice & zest, salt and cardamom. Whisk for good 2-3 minutes until everything is smooth and nicely combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder over the yogurt mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold the flour until all combined. Don’t over mix. Pour the cake batter into the prepped pan, it will be slightly runny.

Bake for 32-38 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Take the cake pan out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cake carefully (its soft and moist) onto a wire rack and let it cool completely.

Slice and serve with whipped cream and fruits.

Enjoy!

Rice Dishes

Gud Ke Chawal (Jaggery Rice)

Jaggery sweetened rice perfumed with spices. A traditional north indian rice dish which is made during winter months. Though I like to consume jaggery all year round, but growing up it was mostly available during colder months- jaggery is a powerhouse of nutrients particularly iron and keeps the body warm during winters.

I wasn’t too fond of these sweet rice growing up. It was a bit naive of me but as I grew up I started to appreciate these traditional and unique recipes more and more. There is a specific reason behind the selection of spices and the addition of sweetners as per the season. When done right, a warm bowl of jaggery rice is soul satisfying. Being refined sugar free and also not being overly sweet, my recipe will not leave you feeling guilty of sugar overload.

The recipe is very simple and uses 4-5 basic ingredients which you can find in your pantry. Rice, Jaggery, ghee, spices and nuts of your choice is all you need. The only tricky part is to make sure that the rice remains soft after cooking in jaggery syrup. For that, don’t overcook the syrup. The syrup is ready when the jaggery melts, immediately take it off the stove, we dont want any string consistency or anything. Secondly add the boiled rice while its still hot to the syrup. If the rice gets cold they won’t cook properly and will become hard.

These rice taste much better after resting for a bit and they taste better the next day so do plan a bit of leftovers(you can double the recipe if you wish).

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1/2 cup long grain basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110 gms jaggery (dont use powdered or grated jaggery)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup sliced coconut (use any nuts of choice)
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg(optional)

Method

Wash rice under a stream of water 2-3 times. Soak the rice for 25 minutes.

Once the rice has soaked, set the 4 cups of water to boil in a large pot.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, add the jaggery along with 2 tbsp water and put on low stove to melt. The jaggery will melt in 5-7 minutes, just stir it once or twice to make sure that its not sticking to the bottom. Once melted, immediately take off the stove, dont let boil. Keep the syrup warm.

To the boiling water, add pinch of salt and add the soaked rice (after discarding the water in which you soaked them). Stir the rice gently once or twice and on medium heat let the rice boil. We have to boil the rice till its 90% cooked. The rice variety I use takes about 8-10 minutes(time will vary depending on quality of your rice). To check the doneness of rice, take a grain and try to pinch it between your thumb and finger, it should not break easily rather spread and feel almost cooked.

While the rice is boiling, in a wide pan, add the ghee and let it melt. Keep the stove on low and once the ghee has melted, add the bayleaf, clove and cardamoms to it. Saute the spices on low heat for 30 seconds taking care not to burn them.Add the coconut slices, almonds and raisins next and saute for 30 seconds taking care not to burn them. Carefully, add the warm jaggery syrup (it might splutter). Keep the stove on low so that syrup dosent boil.

Strain the cooked rise using a sieve and immediately add to the pan. Using a spatula gently fold the rice with the syrup taking care not to break the rice. Once all the rice is covered in syrup, cover the pan and let simmer for 20-25 minutes on low heat until all the syrup is absorbed. You will see that the bubbles will settle down and the rice will be shiny from ghee. Switch off the stove and let the rice sit covered for 15 mins.

Add a fresh grate of nutmeg(optional), fluff using a spatula or fork and serve warm. It taste good with a dollop of creme fraiche 🙂

Enjoy!