Appetizers/Snacks · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Tandoori Salmon & Pineapple Tikka

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

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

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

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

  • Cut the salmon and pineapple about the same size and do not cut salmon too small else it starts falling off while cooking.
  • Use firm yet ripe pineapple. Don’t select too ripe pineapple.
  • The tandoori rub has a nice flavor of ginger and garlic, however I like using fresh ginger and garlic whenever making tikka. You can skip it if you don’t like strong GG flavor.
  • I like to keep the skin on because we like crisped skin. If you do not like salmon skin, I suggest peeling it off after the tikka has cooked, it does help in keeping the salmon intact.
  • You can add red onion and red bell peppers as well to the skewer, they taste quite good.
  • Don’t be bogged down by the long list of spices, these are easy to find in indian homes or just visit an indian store.
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5 from 1 vote

Tandoori Salmon & Pineapple Tikka

Salmon and pinapple rubbed with scratch made dry tandoori masala and grilled on high heat. These skewers tikka are easy to make and taste amazing for any meal.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Tandoori Masala

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

For the Salmon & Pineaapple Tanddori Tikka

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

Instructions

Make Tandoori Masala (Makes about 3/4 cup)

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

Make the Salmon & Pineapple Tikka

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

Notes

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

Lavender Malai Peda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5 from 1 vote

Lavender Malai Peda

Malai peda is an Indian sweet made with solidified milk, whole milk, ghee, sugar and flavored with lavender. Peda is creamy and melt in the mouth and perfect for festivals.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 8 pedas

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

Tamatar Sev Sabji


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

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

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

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Tamatar Sev Sabji

This delicious and easy tomato dish is full of textures. The ginger and curry leaves laced tomato gravy is mixed and topped with ratlami sev (chickpea flour noodles which are very popular in India) just before serving. So amazing for a quick meal.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Singapore Street Noodles

Singapore Street Noodles. Easy noodles stir fried with a good dose of protein (chicken + shrimp+ eggs), vegetables, shallots, garlic, ginger and curry powder in a really hot wok. Spicy, umami, smoky all in one. It’s hard to find anyone who won’t like these delicious noodles (actually rice sticks(or vermicelli), these are our favorite dish to order at PF Chang’s.

The traditional version uses char siu pork(BBQ pork) but I use eggs, chicken & shrimp. You can skip or add any kind of protein your family likes. This is a super weeknight friendly recipe. For the vegetables I use snap peas and red bell pepper, however bean sprouts and bok choy can be used as well. Like any asian or indo chinese recipe, these do need you to prepare the ingredients before hand- chopping the vegetables, preparing the protein, softening the rice sticks etc , I would say about 20-25 minutes worth of preparation, but once you are done, from there these noodles come together in hardly 6-8 minutes.

What makes these noodles unique is the use of curry powder, the taste of the spices along with asian sauces cooked on high heat lends these noodles their signature color and flavor. That said, I don’t stock curry powder, lets just say, it is not one of my favorite things. But that won’t stop me from making these and neither it should stop you. You don’t have to buy a jar of curry powder which, if you are like me will never get used up after this dish. The secret is to make your own curry blend by mixing coriander powder +turmeric + garam masala(easily available spices in an indian pantry, see measurement in the recipe), works beautifully for that traditional flavor!

These noodles are pretty easy to make and can fit restrictive dietary needs very easily as well. Keep the following things in mind when you make these:-

  • Keep all the ingredients ready before you start stir frying the noodles. This includes preparing the sauce, chopping the vegetables and soaking the rice noodles. This is super important and makes your work flow so easy!
  • Stir fry on high heat. The right smokiness and taste only comes when the spices hit the hot wok.
  • Use a larger wok than you think. If you don’t have a wok, use a wide large 12 inch pan. That way the noodles will not get soggy and will crisp up nicely.
  • Don’t skimp on the oil. Noodles need oil to not get sticky and when the oil quantity is right, they get that charred taste instead of tasting boiled.
  • Since rice noodles are very delicate and thin, you want to keep those textures going forward, hence cut the chicken into small strips, no one wants to bite into a chunk of protein. Use fork to break the soft scrambled eggs into small pieces or make a thin omelette and use kitchen shears to cut it into small strips. Use medium size shrimp, or cut then into small bites if you have jumbo or extra large at home.
  • You can use wheat tempeh strips or tofu in this recipe to make it vegan friendly.
  • Use coconut aminos or tamari instead of soy sauce to make it gluten free friendly.

Other Noodle Recipes that you can check out on the blog

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Singapore Street Noodles

Rice vermecelli stir fried with chicken, shrimp, eggs and vegetables and a curry spices flavored sauce. Can be easily made glutenfree or vegan.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the Sauce

  • 1.5 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing wine (chinese cooking wine, if you dont want to use alcohol, simply use chicken broth)
  • 1 tsp garam masala ,see notes (1)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder ,see notes (1)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder ,see notes (1)
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Noodles

  • 200 g rice sticks(vermecelli), I use Dynasty Brand
  • 5 tbsp cooking oil, divided
  • 2 large eggs, whisked with a pinch of salt
  • 1, 6oz chicken thigh, cut into thin strips
  • 10-12 shrimp, tail on, cleaned & deveined
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 Thai bird green chillies, finely chopped skip or adjust quantity to tolerance, see notes(2)
  • 12-15 snap peas
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Chopped cilantro, chopped scallion green parts, Lime wedges to serve

Instructions

  • Add all the sauce ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
  • Add the rice sticks to a large bowl and cover with enough hot water. Soak for 5-8 minutes Once they are soft, drain using a colander and keep ready. TIP – Once the rice noodles are soft, use kitchen scissors to cut the noodles short, makes tossing and eating easy.
  • In a large wok, add 1 tbsp of oil and heat up. Add the whisked eggs and scramble the eggs untill they are soft cooked. Remove on a plate. Using a fork, break the egg into small pieces.
  • Add 1 tbsp of oil next, add the chicken to the wok. Sprinkle salt and pepper and stir fry the chicken on high heat until cooked through. Remove the chicken and all the drippings on the same plate as the eggs.
  • Next add another tbsp of oil and add the shrimp, sprinkle pinch of salt. Stir fry the shrimp for a couple minutes until they are opaque and turn orange. Remove on the same plate as the eggs & chicken.
  • Make sure that the wok is screaming hot. It will go fast from here. Add the remaining 2 tbsp oil to the wok.
  • Add shallots, ginger, garilc and green chillies all at once to the wok.Stir fry on high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Don't brown too much.
  • Next add the snap peas and bell pepper to the wok, sprinkle a pinch of salt and stir fry the vegetables on higt heat just for a couple minutes. We dont want to overcook them.
  • Next add the rice noodles to the wok along with shrimp, chicken and eggs. Pour over the sauce that we prepared.
  • Using tongs or chopsticks or two forks, toss everything together until the noodles and the protein are well coated in the sauce and everything is heated through. This part is a little messy since these noodles do not seperate easily but work your way through.
  • Remove from heat and add the cilantro and scallions. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Notes

  1. If you stock curry powder at home, use 1.5 – 2tsp curry powder instead of garam masala, coriander and turmeric. If using medium or hot curry powder, skip the green chilli. 
  2. Even a single thai bird chili makes these hot, if you want to make these mild, skip it. 
  3. Season with a pinch of salt every step of the way. It helps so much with the taste of the final dish. 
  4. Keep all the ingredients ready before you start stir frying the noodles. This includes preparing the sauce, chopping the vegetables and soaking the rice noodles. This is super important and makes your work flow so easy!
  5. Stir fry on high heat. The right smokiness and taste only comes when the spices hit the hot wok.
  6. Use a larger wok than you think. If you don’t have a wok, use a wide large 12 inch pan. That way the noodles will not get soggy and will crisp up nicely.
  7. Don’t skimp on the oil. Noodles need oil to not get sticky and when the oil quantity is right, they get that charred taste instead of tasting boiled.
  8. Since rice noodles are very delicate and thin, you want to keep those textures going forward, hence cut the chicken into small strips, no one wants to bite into a chunk of protein. Use fork to break the soft scrambled eggs into small pieces or make a thin omelette and use kitchen shears to cut it into small strips. Use medium size shrimp, or cut then into small bites if you have jumbo or extra large at home.
  9. You can use wheat tempeh strips or tofu in this recipe to make it vegan friendly.
  10. Use coconut aminos or tamari instead of soy sauce to make it gluten free friendly.
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).
Desserts/Baking

Mango Rasmalai

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

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

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

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

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

A popular bengali sweet consisting of sweet chenna patties and sweet mango dunked in a chilled mango flavored milk base.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 10 rasmalai discs

Equipment

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

Ingredients

For the Chenna Patties

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

For the Sugar Syrup

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

For the Thickened Milk

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

Instructions

Make the Mango Milk base

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

Assemble the Rasmalai

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

Notes

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


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!
Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Gochujang Noodles

How do you like your noodles? I love them spicy, tangy and a bit sweet! These noodles with a balanced kick from gochujang (fermented korean chili paste), mild sweet notes from coconut palm sugar and tang from fresh lime juice are perfect for anytime you crave noodles- be it light summer lunches or weeknights.

Gochujang Noodles with Shrimp & Zucchini

It takes less than 30 minutes to make these and they are sought after in my house during summers. I use juicy summer zucchini and light protein such as shrimp to make them more hearty. I simply love the combination of shrimp and zucchini together! You can spiral the zucchini if you wish, in fact if you want you can make them just with zucchini spirals(noodles) for a light, low carb meal.

Gochujang is made by slowly fermenting gochugaru chili flakes and the long process of fermentation makes the chile develop a savory umami taste. It is subtly sweet and depending on the brand, the heat levels can vary- it is definitely not fiery, rather an unbelievably versatile condiment in my kitchen to pep up almost anything!

Why I love these noodles so much besides the fact that they are noodles 🙂

  • You can adjust the sour, spicy or sweet levels to your liking.
  • It can be easily made vegetarian using extra firm tofu strips or mushrooms.
  • Takes less than 30 minutes to make, even lesser if you use fresh noodles like I do.
  • Its a balanced meal – carbs, protein and vegetables all in one.

Below are the substitutions you can do to make this recipe fit different dietary needs.

  • For gluten-free version- use flat rice noddles instead of the wheat ones. Many gochujang pastes available in the market are GF, check label before buying. Use tamari instead of soy sauce.
  • Use any kinds of vegetables instead of zucchini. Broccoli, napa cabbage, mushrooms all work great.
  • Instead of soy sauce use tamari or liquid aminos.
  • Use thinly sliced chicken breast strips if you don’t want to use seafood.
  • Use tofu or mushrooms for a meat free version.
  • Instead of coconut sugar, add maple or agave for a more smoky taste.
  • If you dont have shallots at home, use thinly sliced red onions.
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Gochujang Noodles

Delicious noodles with balanced spicy, sweet sour flavors tossed with shrimp and juicy zucchini fo ra quick & simple weeknight meal.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Korean
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 oz fresh noodles, cooked per packet instructions or use any dried noodles that you normally use
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp gochujang paste, adjust to tolerance
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil, divided
  • 6 oz extra large shrimp, cleaned
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks scallions, white and green parts seperate
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • Salt
  • Garnish – toasted sesame seeds, cilantro etc

Instructions

  • Set the noodles to boil while you prep the sauce and vegetables. Cook as per package instructions, drain once cooked, reserve 1/2 cup noodle water and massage drained noodles with a little oil after to avoid them sticking.
  • In a small bowl, mix the soy, gochujang, sugar and lemon juice. Thin out with 2-4 tbsp noodle water since gochujang is quite thick and sticky. Taste the sauce and adjust the ingredients if needed as per your liking. At this point it should taste bold and salty. Keep ready.
  • In a 12 inch pan, heat up 1 tbsp oil on medium.Layer the shrimp, sprinkle some salt and sear/cook them for 2-3 minutes each side depending on the size of your shrimp. Take out in a plate.
  • Add another tbsp of oil and add the sliced zucchini next,sprinkle pinch of salt and quickly saute on high for 2-3 minutes so as to not overcook it. Transfer in the same plate as shrimp.
  • Add the rest of the oil to the pan and heat up on high. Add the shallots and white scallion parts for 2 minutes till they are soft. Work quickly now and next add the sliced garlic and saute for 30 minutes. Add the sauce mix that we prepped now and cook it for a minute or so with shallots and garlic till the sauce starts bubbling.Keep a close eye since the sugar caramalizes fast.
  • Add the noodles next along with shrimp & zucchini and toss everything very well so that its coated in sauce. Taste and adjust the salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes and you can use reserved noodle water (add slowly) if you feel that everything is a bit thick.
  • Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and green scallion parts and serve immediately.

Notes

  • For gluten-free version- use flat rice noddles instead of the wheat ones.
  • Use any kinds of vegetables instead of zucchini. Broccoli, napa cabbage, mushrooms all work great.
  • Instead of soy sauce use tamari or liquid aminos.
  • Use thinly sliced chicken breast strips if you don’t want to use seafood. Cook them earlier like how we cooked shrimp in this recipe. 
  • Use tofu or mushrooms for a meat free version.
  • Instead of coconut sugar, add maple or agave for a more smoky taste.
  • If you dont have shallots at home, use thinly sliced red onions.
Brunch · Desserts/Baking

Sooji (Semolina) Halwa

Halwa is a runny pudding made in indian homes using different kinds of grains, flours, nuts, lentils as well as fruits and vegetables.Halwa is usually pretty quick to whip up and quite popular due to ease of cooking and that it requires basic ingredients that our available in our homes. . Semolina halwa in north indian homes is cooked in a blink to translate any occasion- big or little into a celebration. It is one of the frequently cooked meetha(dessert) in my home, much more than kheer. Thats partly because, growing up my grandma made it everyday was an offering after prayers. A small bowl of nutty, melt in the mouth halwa appeared mid morning infront of us, glistening with ghee and scented with ground black cardamom. It is one of my loved memory of her- of my badi mummy, wrapped in a starched cotton saree feeding us halwa every morning 🙂

You need very basic and few ingredients for this recipe- fine semolina, ghee, sugar and whichever flavor you like- cardamom, rose or saffron. This recipe can be easily made vegan, just swap ghee with coconut oil, you can add a handful of shredded coconut to elevate the coconut flavor in that case. The halwa can be made in about 30 minutes, the most effort and patience is needed while roasting the semolina in ghee, else this is a quick recipe.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you make Sooji Halwa:-

Kind of Semolina (Sooji) – Its best to use fine semolina when making the halwa, the texture comes our great, its melt in the mouth. Avoid coarse semolina.

Water or Milk:- You can use either, or you can use a combination of both. I use water, not only it keeps the color of the dark amber halwa intact but it avoids the halwa from getting too rich (there is already quite a bit of ghee in there!) Also keep in mind that milk will make the halwa a bit soft or sticky to taste.

Sugar or Jaggery or Honey- Again you can use either but traditionally sugar is used and I do the same. If you are using jaggery, don’t use milk. If you use honey, the halwa will be quite sticky and has the tendency to easily burn while you “bhuno” it, since honey caramelizes fast. Also keep in mind that the taste profile sweetened with honey or jaggery is quite different from the traditional recipe.

Nuts & Flavors– Anyting you like! I like almonds and raisins because those were what my grandmother used to use. You can add cashews, makhana or pistachios or shredded coconut as well. As for the flavors, I add black cardamom seeds fresh pounded in mortar pestle and a tiny bit of rose water. You don’t taste the rose as such but it adds a nice floral aroma to the halwa. You can choose green cardamom, saffron, even vanilla 🙂

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Sooji(semolina) Halwa

Also know as sheera, Sooji Halwa is a semolina pudding made with simple pantry staples- semolina, ghee & sugar. It tastes heavenly and takes just 30 mins to make.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • A heavy kadhai (preferable iron) or cast iron pan, sauce pan, bowls and spoons etc

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup melted ghee
  • 1/2 cup fine semolina
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (can go down to 1/3 cup if you prefer less sweet halwa)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 tbsp ghee (optional)
  • 2 tbsp raisins (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes)
  • 1 whole black cardamom seeds removed and crushed to a fine powder in mortar pestl
  • 7-8 almonds, thinly sliced (Use any nuts you like)
  • 1/2 tbsp rose water

Instructions

  • Add the ghee and semolina to iron kadhai (or cast iron pan). Mix well for 2 minutes so that you see all the semolina is covered in ghee. Place the kadhai on a low medium stove and begin roasting the semolina. You will have to keep an eye and keep stirring frequently for it can burn easily.
  • While the semolina is roasting, add the sugar and water to a small sauce pan or pot and set on the other stove on medium heat. In about 5-8 minutes, the sugar will dissolve in water. Switch off the stove, dont cook the syrup. We dont want any string consistency or anything. Keep the syrup near and warm.
  • Coming back to semoilina, keep on roasting it while stirring it making sure to scrape it from the bottom of the kadhai, it burns that way easily. Roast the semolina for good 10- 15 minutes(see notes) till you see that the ghee has begun to seperate and the semolina granules are dark brown in color. There should be no black specks of semolina- that means the semolina has burnt, a conistent medium heat and contuinal stirring ensures that wont happen.
  • Reduce the stove to low, and slowly add the warm sugar syrup from one side of the kadhai to the semolima while stirring it at the same time with the other hand, this makes sure that no lumps are formed. There will be spluttering so watch out.
  • As soon as the syrup is added, you will see a puddle followed by big bubbles in a minute on the surface of the halwa, your will notice that the semolina granules begin to swelled up. it will be runny, let the halwa cook on low heat. Add the raisins, almomds and black cardamom powder now.
  • Keep stirring everything gently and continue to cook the halwa for 3-4 minutes on low heat. Add 1-2 tbsp of ghee (if you wish)and mix well. The halwa will be glistening and of thick smoothie like pourable consistency by the end of 5-6 minutes. Dont let all the liquid absorb. Switch off the stove. Mix in the rose water. The halwa will thicken as it sits.
  • Serve warm garnished with nuts. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. If you don’t want a dark halwa, no problem, roast the semolina for just 5-7 minutes, until its golden in color. Rest of the recipe remains the same.