Indian Curry/Stew · Uncategorized

Aloo Paneer Ki Sabzi

An easy, homestyle gravy based dish made with paneer and potatoes. The combo of potatoes and paneer is pure love. With rotis or rice and salad, it makes for a delicious weeknight meal. This sabzi uses everyday ingredients from your pantry and is pretty straightforward.

We love paneer, especially my kids and its a great source of vegetarian protein. The popular paneer curries use ton of nuts and cream and while I absolutely love them, those are reserved for special occasions in our home. Everyday curries are fuss free and I make this paneer sabzi every other week.


I love making paneer curries in ghee but you can use mustard or olive or any cooking oil that you normally use. Here I also use a few whole spices but you can just use the powdered spices. Summer tomatoes are great right now and they enhance the taste of sabzi a lot. If you want, you can use crushed canned whole tomatoes as well.

Other paneer recipes to check out.

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Aloo Paneer ki Sabzi

Everyday homestyle paneer and poato curry which pairs well with rice, rotis and salad.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large potato
  • 8 oz paneer
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 1 large bayleaf
  • 3 green cardamom cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, pounded in mortar pestle
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, pounded in mortar pestle
  • 1.5 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp hot red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi, optional
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, garnish

Instructions

  • Peel and cut the potato into 6-8 pieces. Keep soaked in water. Cut paneer into triangles or squares, as you wish, do not cut too thick or too thin.
  • Heat ghee on medium heat in a heavy bottom pot. Once nicely warm, add the whole spices. Crackle for 10 seconds and then add the onions.Cook onions till they brown evenly.
  • Add the ginger, garlic and cook for a minute or so till you smell a nice aroma.Then add the powdwered spices – coriander, turmeric, red chilli powder. Cook for 2 minutes in oil until you smell a toasty aroma. If you feel that the spices are getting dry, add a splash of water.
  • Next add the tomatoes,sugar and salt to the potCook for 5-6 minutes till you see oil seperating on the sides and the tomatoes are pulpy. Add the potatoes and mix well. Saute the potatoes for 3-4 minutes with the masala.
  • Add 1 cup hot water, mix.Taste and adjust the salt of the masala and bring it to a slow boil. Once boiling, reduce the stove to medium low and cover the pot. Let cook on medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until the potatoes are 95 percent cooked.
  • Once the potatoes are fork tender, add the paneer, kasuri methi, cumin powder and garam masala. Mix and cover again and let cook for another 5-8 minutes until poatoes are cooked through and the paneer has softened.
  • Let rest for 20 minutes before serving. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.
Desserts/Baking

Gram/Chickpea Flour Chocolate Banana Bread

This nutritious banana bread is protein rich, fibre rich and is 100 % gluten free. It made with besan/gram/chickpea flour, is aromatic with ghee & green cardamom and has a double dose of chocolate. It is nut free (though you can add nuts), eggless and one bowl. Perfect for breakfast or snack any time of the day.

Banana bread is a favorite in our house and since the kids love sweet breakfast,I make it every other week. There is always a peace of mind when there is banana bread in the fridge especially during weekdays when the morning rush is a real thing!

Chickpea flour or besan is one of the most loved flour in north indian homes, second only to whole wheat flour. It is versatile, and perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. Chickpea flour is high in soluble fiber which makes it nutritious. I make nankhatais with chickpea flour all the time but this was the first time I baked a cake with it. And it was surprising as to how well this loaf came out.

It took me few attempts to get this recipe right. I went through inspiration from the internet but ultimately came up with measurements and swapped ingredients suited to the tastes of my family. The bread isn’t overly sweet and has an amazing texture. As with banana breads, it tastes better the next day.

Now the question ringing in your mind ever since you started reading 🙂 How does it compare to regular banana bread made with all purpose flour? The answer – Quite well! It does taste different, but only slightly. Not bad at all! There is an aftertaste of besan but its very nutty & pleasing. I am a convert! I would pick this wholesome recipe over a regular banana bread made with regular flour especially since the kids often consume it as first meal of the day.The husband who isn’t a big fan of alternative flour baking, LOVED it.

You can easily make this recipe vegan but substituting neutral oil in place of ghee and using plant milk instead of dairy milk. The addition of cardamom and ghee together makes it taste like indian mithai (sweets) and we love it. However good quality vanilla or cinnamon will work great as well. A very doable, make ahead breakfast recipe for next morning while you are making dinner in the evening. It is one bowl and the ingredients are easy to find and few.

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Gram Flour Chocolate Banana Bread

One bowl glutenfree, eggless and double chocolate banana bread made with besan/chickpea flour, cocoa and ghee. It is scented with ground green cardamom, is super moist and tastes better the next morning.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time45 mins
1 hr 5 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, Indian
Servings: 1 loaf (8 by 5 inch)

Ingredients

  • 450 g mashed bananas , from about 3 large very ripe bananas
  • 90 g raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted ghee
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 175 g besan(gram flour /chickpea flour) use superfine variety
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tbsp baking chocolate chunks I used 70% dark chocolate chunks or use chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F. I used a 8 inch by 5 inch nonstick loaf pan to bake this bread, since my pan was nonstick I did not need to spray or line it with parchment paper. If you are using a regular loaf pan, line it with parchment paper with bit of an overhang so that the loaf is easy to take out.
  • In a large bowl, add the bananas, raw sugar, ghee and milk. Whisk very well for 2-3 minutes until you all the raw sugar granules have dissolved.
  • Place a sieve on top of the bowl and add besan, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Sift the flour mixture over the wet ingredinets. Do not skip sifting coz besan is usually lumpy and it will make the bread batter lumpy.
  • Add the cardamom powder. If using nuts, add them right now. Using a soft spatula, gently fold and mix everyrhing together until its cocoa color. Dont over mix.
  • Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and smoothen the top using a flat spatula. Scatter chocolate chunks on top.
  • Bake for 44-49 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. I baked mine for 45 minutes. Note that the baking times will differ depending on the size of baking pan as well as oven.
  • Once baked, let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Pull out of the pan and transfer to a cooling rack and let cool down completely.
  • Slice using a sharp knife and enjoy. You can store leftovers in fridge for 2 days or freeze upto 3 months.

Notes

  1. You canned chopped walnuts or almonds to the batter. 
  2. Use very ripe and sweet mashed bananas, else your bread wont be as sweet.
  3. Instead of cardamom, you can use cinnamon as well. 
  4. If you are making for kids and arent a fan of dark chocolate, use regular cocoa powder and chocolate chips in the recipe. 
  5. You can make easily make it vegan by substituting neutral oil and plant based milk. 
Desserts/Baking

Pistachio & Matcha Popsicles

These 4 ingredient, super easy popsicles are vegan and so perfect for those sweet craving that we all often get. I discovered how amazing matcha tastes in desserts earlier this year and there is no looking back. This green tea powder with numerous health benefits and unique taste needs to be paired with a creamy element and its rather bitter profile changes to pleasing.

Here I used coconut milk and coconut condensed milk as the creamy base along with roasted pistachios which I hand pound for a better texture in every bite. These popsicles are vegan and gluten-free but if you want to make these with dairy, just use heavy cream and regular condensed milk instead.

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Pistachio- Matcha Popsicles

Easy 4 ingredient, creamy and nutty pospicles made with pistachios and matcha.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time8 hrs 20 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 6 popsicles

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw pistachios
  • 1.5 tsp matcha powder
  • 14 fl oz (400ml) full fat coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 8 fl oz (230ml) sweetend condensed milk, or to taste

Instructions

  • In a dry pan, toast the pistachios on low heat for about 6-8 minutes. Cool down a bit. Transfer to a large mortar and pestle and hand pound to a coarse powder. Alternatively, you can grind them in a blender.
  • Add rest of the ingredients along with pistachios to a large bowl and using a whisk combine very well until there are no lumps.
  • Pour into pospicles molds and freeze overnight or for atleast 8 hours.
  • Unmold by dipping in warm water and enjoy!

Notes

1)If you want to make these with dairy, just use heavy cream and regular condensed milk instead and you are good to go.
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).
Appetizers/Snacks

Chana Dal & Sweet Potato Tikki

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients

For Boiling the Lentils

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

For the Tikki Mix

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

Instructions

Prepare/Boil The Lentils

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

Make the Tikki Mix

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

Shape & skillet fry tikkis

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

Notes

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

Mango Rasmalai

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

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

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

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

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

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

Equipment

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

Ingredients

For the Chenna Patties

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

For the Sugar Syrup

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

For the Thickened Milk

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

Instructions

Make the Mango Milk base

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

Assemble the Rasmalai

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

Notes

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


Indian Curry/Stew

Bhindi Zunka /Besan Bhindi

Fleshy and sweet summer okra cooked in a masala of onion, garlic and spices and coated in roasted chickpea flour. This okra dish is so delicious as a side with daal– rice or with soft warm rotis and a bowl of yogurt. I love such simple and light meals during summer. The addition of besan(chickpea flour), one of my favorite flours, makes it taste so earthly and spices like mustard, fennel & cumin complement the combination of fresh vegetable and nutty flour.

Zunka is a Maharastrian (Western Indian) dish which is basically chickpea flour cooked in a tempering of mustard and cumin seeds along with fresh chilies and powdered spices. It is like a slurry or can be dryish. It is usually served with bhakri(flatbread bread) and pickle for a meal. It is a super light dish during summers and quite flavorful like anything made with chickpea flour is.

Here, I added fresh bhindi to the spiced chickpea flour. I also addd fennel seeds since I love the flavor with okra. Okra isn’t slimy at all once the dish finishes cooking, the dish is perfectly spiced and comes together very quickly. The is my version inspired by the iconic zunka dish, which is usually a slurry. I like this drier version with okra a lot. Here are a few things to be kept in mind while cooking okra and this dish. Keep these things in mind and your okra will never be slimy.

  1. Wash the okra at least 1-2 hours before beginning to cook and let air dry if possible. Quickly washing and wiping with paper or cloth table is okay but I recommend air drying. Do not cut okra until its completely dry else it will be super slimy.
  2. For this dish, cut the okra in longish pieces, don’t cut very thin discs.
  3. Don’t skimp on oil. Some vegetables like okra, eggplant etc cook better if the oil quantity is good. At the same time, besan(chickpea flour)also need extra oil for the right texture post cooking. Right quantity of oil also helps in reducing the slimy texture of okra since it dosent steam but stir fries well while cooking.
  4. Okra is a delicate vegetable and when fresh, it cooks quite fast. We don’t need to cover it for a long time else it loses its color, get overcooked and the texture isn’t right. Just cover for a few minutes in the beginning to get cooking started and then cook uncovered till its tender. Writing the method I follow in the recipe.
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Bhindi Zunka /Besan Bhindi (Okra Cooked in Chickpea flour)

A flavorful dish of summer okra coated in spiced chickpea flour. Pairs well with soft rotis or dal and rice.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (400gms) okra
  • 1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 5 tbsp mustard oil or any cooking oil you use
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 green or red chilies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves,finely chopped
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • Red chilli powder to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-3 tbsp water or as needed
  • 1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)(or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala (or to taste)

Instructions

  • Wash and air-dry the okra. Trim the ends and cut each okra into maximun of 3 pieces. Set aside.
  • Take a kadai or heavy pan with lid in which you want to cook and set it on stove. First, dry roast the chickpea flour on low heat stirring continously till you smell a nice aroma but it does get not browned a lot. Takes about 6-8 minutes. Keep an eye and stir continously. Once roasted, transfer to a plate or bowl and set aside.
  • Add the mustard oil (or cooking oil) to the kadai and heat up till a bit smoky. Temper the oil with mustard, fennel and cumin seeds. As soon as they crackle, add the fresh chilies and saute in oil for 30 seconds.
  • Next, on medium heat, add the onion and let the onions cook in oil till they are a nice shade of golden brown. Add the garlic next and saute for a minute till you smell a nice aroma.
  • Add the coriander and red chili powder next and saute in warm oil for a minute or so.
  • Add all the okra to the onion & spices now, sprinkle salt and mix well. Saute for 2-3 minutes with the masala. You will see that the okra will start to look deep green in color and little moist(its own juices if your okra is good quality and fresh). If you feel its not releasing its juices, add couple tablespoons of water, mix and set the stove to low medium and cover the pan with a lid.
  • Let the okra cook for 5-7 minutes covered without opening the lid in between. Remove the lid and you will see that okra is much softer, let it cook for another 6-7 minutes without the lid till its soft but not falling apart. The okra will be browned and you wont see the slime. Once okra is cooked properly, its slimy texture goes away.
  • Sprinke the besan a few tablespoons at a time and gently mix well. The besan will slowly absorb the mositure from okra and will appear sandy. Add all the besan and keep mixing. If you feel that the sabzi is looking dryish, add a tablespoon or so of water. I didnt need to add any extra water. Taste and adjust the salt.
  • Finish the dish with amchoor and garam masala.Mix well and serve warm.
Desserts/Baking

Mango Royale

Mango Royale or Mango Icebox cake is a Fillipino layered dessert made with graham crackers, fresh mango and sweetened whipped cream. Its an incredibly easy dessert to make and perfect for summer. In my version, I use coconut biscuits(cookies) instead of graham crackers and add a little desiccated coconut to keep the mango-coconut theme going. Cloud like whipped cream scented with ground green cardamom and bites of luscious ripe mango make this easy peasy dessert so delightful.

What are Ice box cakes? Icebox cakes are simply cookies and whipped cream layered together with nuts, chocolate or seasonal fruit and chilled for a long time or frozen overnight. The cookies get soft after absorbing the moisture from whipped cream and the cake can be cut into neat slices. They are a fun thing to make with kids since no baking is involved. You can add fresh fruits or any kind of cookies or flavors to create the profile you like.

These cakes are rich and decadent but very delicious. They are messy to eat and I think thats how they are supposed to be enjoyed. These cakes need a handful of ingredients and are really a fun dessert to put together with kids. You can freeze them like a an ice-cream, slice and serve or chill them till the cookies are set and soften.

Use saffron to flavor the whipped cream, it pairs very well with mango. You can use marie or digestives as well in place of coconut biscuits. Th only thing to keep in mind is to not overly whip the cream. It should be whipped to soft peak consistency.

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Mango IceBox cake

A layered coconut coockies, whiped cream amd fresh mango dessert.
Prep Time20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Fillipino, Indian
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk, cold
  • 1/2 tsp ground green cardamom
  • 18-20 Nice Coconut Cookies (or 10 full graham cracker sheets)
  • 2 cup diced ripe mangoes
  • 2-3 tbsp dessicayed coconut, lightly toasted

Instructions

  • In a large bowl add the whipped cream amd whip it on low for 3 minutes.
  • Add cardamom powder and slowly start adding condensed milk in parts and whipping at the same time till very soft peaks are formed. Takes about 3-4 minutes on low medium speed of hand beater. If you feel that the cream is getting warm, immediately refrigerate it for 30 minutes and continue again. More chilled the cream, better it whips.
  • Line the container in which you want to make the cake. I used a 7 inch by 7 inch (4.75 cup) glass container. Use ny kind of baking tray or cake pan, rectangular is better since then you wont have to break the cookies to fit.
  • Add a layer of cover to cover the base, followed by 1 inch layer of whipped cream smoothen out with a spatula or back of spoon, sprinkle some desiccated coconut and then add about 1/2 cup diced mangoes. Repeat to form 3 or 4 layers depending on how thick you like the cake finsihing with cream layer on top.
  • Cover with a cling film amd chill the cake for atleast 6 hours. You can freeze it as well overnight. I like chilled version more, its softer, if you like to freeze it, peel away the parchment, slice off using a sharp knife and then let it thaw for 10 minutes since that makes it melt in the mouth 🙂
  • Slice and serve. Enjoy!
Brunch

Eggplant & Tomato Chutney Pizza

I tasted eggplant pizza first time on my trip to Genoa, Italy about fourteen years ago. I was traveling solo and was a vegetarian during those years. Right behind the hotel, overlooking the Ligurian Sea was an old ship docked on the harbor, home to restaurants, shops, cafes and pizzeria. Most evenings after work were spent there to grab a shot of espresso followed by dinner.

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Being a vegetarian in foreign lands could be a little hard and I used to keep ordering the same things – pesto pizza, cheese & tomato focaccia, eggplant pasta & pizza,lemon linguini etc. If it were not for those pizzeria and the piping hot pizza they served, I would have never learnt to eat eggplant this way. Yum!The pizzas were super delicious, though I must admit a bit lacking on spice levels for my indian palate. There is something about the combination of sweet juicy tomatoes, the eggplant especially their skins after they get cooked in high heat and the melt cheeses- mozzarella & parmesan- its such a harmony of flavors and textures in each bite.

I am a huge fan of vegetarian pizzas and you can say that this recipe combines the east & west. A robust spicy and tangy tomato chutney is used as a sauce on which I layer grilled eggplant slices, sprinkle parmesan and the flash bake it till the eggplant is just tender, still spongy and juicy to bite into. An amazing fusion recipe which is on repeat all summer in my kitchen since tomatoes and eggplant bounty is at its peak during this time.

You can make individual pizzas or a large 12 or 14 inch. Add more or less cheese, I leave it up to you.

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Eggplant & Tomato Chutney Pizza

Quick vegetarian pizza using indian tomato chutney as the pizza sauce and topped with eggplant and cheese. Its cheesey and spicy & dosent feel like eating vegetables at all.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Indian, Italian
Servings: 4 personal pizzas

Ingredients

For the Tomato Chutney

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2-3 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp split urad dal
  • 1-2 dried red chilies
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion roughly chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch of hing
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 6-8 curry leaves

For the Pizza

  • 4 personal pizza base (or 12 inch pizza base)
  • 1 large egglant
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • Tomato Chutney
  • Cheese – shredded mozarella & parmesan (as much as you like)

Instructions

Make the Tomato Chutney

  • Heat oil in a pan. Temper the oil with cumin seeds and peppercorns. Add the urad dal and crackle. Add the dried chilli and let brown a bit.
  • Next add onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes everything together and sprinkle salt and sugar. Mix well and let cook on medium heat till the tomatoes are soft and mushy. Takes about 6-8 minutes.
  • Transfer everything to a blender jar and blend to a thick smooth paste.
  • In the same pan, add 1/2 tbsp oil and temper the oil with mustard & fenugreek seeds. Let crackle, add a pinch of hing and add the curry leaves. Once the curry leaves are crisped, add the tomato paste and cook everything for 3-4 minutes untill its saucy.
  • Let cool and store in a air tight container for 8-10 days refrigerated. Use as you like.

For the Pizza

  • Slice the eggplant into slices. Dont slice too thin or too thick. Cut into half if the slices are too big. Sprinkle with salt and let the eggplant slices sit for 10 minutes.
  • Wipe eggplant with a paper towel and onn a hot gril pan or regular pan, add 2-3 tbsp oil and place the eggplant slices. Cook for 3-4 minutes on high heat on each side till the eggplant is little soft but not fully cooked. Take out in a plate.
  • Preheat oven to 500F or the highest temperature your oven heats up to.
  • Assemble the pizza- Place the pizza base on a pizza stone or place on a cookie sheet lined with a rack. Spread the 1-2 tbsp tomato chutney on top of the pizza bases, add shredded mozarella cheese. Layer eggplant slices. Sprinkle parmesan cheese. You can add a drizzle of oil at this stage as well.
  • Bake for 5-6 minutes until the cheese has melted. Sprinkle with some chili flakes and serve warm.