Thai Rainbow Salad with Ginger Soy Dressing

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I have started to believe that I have a thing towards fresh produce and making everything from scratch whether its salad dressings, breads, ghee and possibly everything within my scope. There is still a long way to go, lot of skills to learn however I am loving this. Using local and fresh ingredients rather than frozen ones adds such a depth of flavor and a feel good factor in everything you make. The effort that goes in making everything perfect for your family and friends, making everything pure and good is a true epitome of love and affection.

This salad is all about freshness – delicious and crunchy ingredients, a flavorful dressing, beautifully tossed together and yay! its ready. A perfect way to welcome the summer and enjoy every bit of homemade thai flavors.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 4 – 5 people)

For the salad:

  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup red carrots, julineed
  • 1/3 cup mixed bell peppers, julineed
  • 180 – 200 grams rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp peanuts
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 red chilli, for garnish

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup soy
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp honey (optional)

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METHOD:

For the dressing:

  • Whisk everything together until incorporated and keep aside until ready to use.

For the salad:

  • Take a bowl filled with boiling hot water and place the rice vermicelli noodles in it. Let it soak for 2 – 3 minutes or until the noodles is cooked.
  • Once done drain it and wash it with tap water. Allow the water to completely drain off.
  • In a large bowl mix together red cabbage, cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, coriander leaves, black sesame seeds and noodles and toss it so that everything is almost evenly distributed.
  • Add the dressing and toss it.
  • Garnish with red chilli, peanuts and coriander leaves and serve!

 

 

Gharwali Khichdi

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Basic homestyle khichdi is my synonym for comfort food. There is nothing better that can remind you of clean and sumptuous home food than this Khichdi. A bowl of piping hot Mixed Dal Khichdi, a generous dollop of ghee and a fragrant tadka – a complete one pot meal and definitely your answer to a lazy day food.

 

Growing up in a Marwari family, khichdi was a pretty regular affair in the kitchen with so many different variations. Not only was it served with homemade ghee but also with kadhi, pickle, papad, fried munchies and curd. A simple dish was ornated and with that extra touch of love (read Ghee!) from grandmom made it even more delicious. Light on the tummy, nutritious and yummy, this lentil and rice concoction has been one of my all time favorite Indian meal. You definitely can’t go wrong with this one!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 – 3 people)

  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 1/4 cup uncooked lentils, soaked in water for 30 minutes (I took half moong dal and half Toor dal)
  • 1 green chili, split lengthwise
  • 2 – 3 dried red chilli
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cardamom pod, seeds removed
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ghee + extra for garnishing
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • hing, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • chopped cilantro leaves, for garnsihing
  • fried onion, for garnsihing

METHOD:

  • Take a saucepan and put it on medium heat. Meanwhile wash the lentils under water a couple of times.
  • Once the saucepan is heated, put ghee. Now add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, hing, green chili, red chilli, grated ginger, bay leaf, cloves and cardamom pod and saute for 10 seconds.
  • Now add the washed lentils and stir for 40 – 50 seconds.
  • Add some salt and turmeric powder and mix it well. Add 1 cup of water and mix it. Cover the saucepan and let the lentil for 10 minutes or so.
  • Once half done, add the washed rice into the saucepan and give it a good stir. Add more salt and around 2 1/2 cups of water and stir. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let the mix cook for 20 minutes or until the rice and lentil is perfectly cooked.
  • Once done, transfer it to a bowl, garnish with coriander leaves, fried onions and a generous dollop of ghee and dig in!

 

Easy Rajma Masala (Kidney Beans Curry)

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When I think about Indian comfort food, Rajma Chawal tops my list every time. I am not the kind of person who loves to eat Indian food everyday, but eating different cuisines and combinations each day, Rajma Chawal provides that brief hiatus where I go back to my roots, simple home style food where the magic of spices is unparalleled.

As a child mum used to make different versions of Rajma – sometimes without onion garlic, sometimes with a bit of cream and sometimes with potatoes in it. I enjoyed all these different varieties, but my favorite was the one which my friend used to get in her lunch. I remember gobbling down her entire lunch in school on days she got Rajma. I often tried to replicate her recipe, but failed each time. I think that it is the world’s best Rajma chawal and my friend refuses to share the recipe.

Each bite of this curry unveils the perfect blend of Indian spices. The melt in your mouth rajma (kidney beans) along with a flavorful onion-tomato gravy instantly can win anyone’s heart. Pair it with basic steamed rice, pickled onions and papad – quick and easy meals are sorted!

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 – 3 people)

  • 3/4 cup uncooked rajma (kidney beans), soaked overnight
  • 1 cup onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4 – 5 -cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 green chili, cut lengthwise
  • 1 – 2 bay leaf
  • 4 – 5 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp rajma masala powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp  garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp kasuri methi (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • pinch of baking soda (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped for garnishing
  • lemon wedges, to serve

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METHOD:

  • Drain the water from the overnight soaked kidney beans and transfer the beans to a pressure cooker. Add 3 1/2 cups of water, bit of salt and baking soda in the pressure cooker and close the lid. Allow the kidney beans to cook on medium flame for atleast 4 – 5 whistles. (You can let it cook for more whistles until the beans is tender and cooked).
  • Once the whistles are done, allow the steam to escape on its own. Take the rajma out and drain the liquid. Do not throw it away since we will use it later.
  • Meanwhile take the chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, garlic cloves and ginger and make a fine paste using a mixer grinder.
  • Put a sauce pan on medium flame. Add ghee. Once hot add the cumin seeds and allow it to crackle. Add the green chili, curry leaves and bay leaf and saute for 10 – 15 seconds.
  • Now add the tomato- onion paste and cook it on low flame. After a minute or so add salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, half of rajma masala and let the mixture cook until all the moisture is evaporated. This will take about 8 – 10 minutes.
  • Once cooked add the cooked kidney beans along with the remaining rajma masala and give it a quick stir.
  • Add the rajma stock (and more water if you like it watery), cover it with a lid and bring the curry to boil.
  • Add kasuri methi and adjust for salt and spice levels and let it cook for another minute or so.
  • Now garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice.

Enjoy!

Quick Masala Paniyarams

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I love my mornings. Peaceful, clear thoughts to start the day, renewed vigour and enthusiasm and most importantly a delicious breakfast that helps me power through the day. With the weather being so cozy that you feel being nestled between the layers of blankets, making a lavish breakfast becomes a far fetched reality for most of the days. However breakfast being one of the most important meals of the day, I often resort to quick fix and healthy breakfast. When you start your day with a healthy and delicious note, you know that your day is bound to be awesome!

To break the monotony from the usual North Indian style breakfast dishes or the healthy granolas and parfaits, I tried making a Quick Masala Paniyaram a few days back. They were absolutely delicious. These little ball of wonders are fluffy, soft and packed with flavour. Crisp on the outside, soft inside – you can’t help but fall in love with it. These are so versatile that you can load it with different ingredients each day and make something phenomenal to adorn your breakfast table. Pair it with coconut chutney, green chutney and sambhar and your breakfast woes is sorted.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 20 pieces)

  • 2 cups ready-made idli batter (I used iD idli batter)
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 green chilis, finely chopped
  • 12 -15 curry leaves
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt, to taste

METHOD:

  • Heat a frying pan and once heated add oil. Now add mustard seeds. Once it starts to crackle add curry leaves and green chilis and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Now add chopped onions and saute it on medium heat until it turns light golden brown. Add salt and saute for 10 – 15 seconds and remove from heat. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile put the paniyaram pan on medium heat. Allow the pan to get heated. Once it is heated grease it using oil.
  • While the pan is getting heated, add the cooled onions, grated carrot, chopped coriander leaves and little salt to the left over idli batter and mix it well and keep aside.
  • Using a spoon put the mixture into each cavity of the pan until it is just full. Cover the pan with the lid and allow he paniyarams to cook on one side for 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Using a skewer, turn the paniyarams to the other side and allow it to cook on medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.
  • Once done transfer it to a plate and serve along with coconut chutney, coriander chutney and sambhar.

Voila!

 

My Family’s Favorite Egg Curry

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When I look back and retrospect my initial days cooking in the kitchen, a multitude of emotions run through my mind. There is definitely a sense of achievement to see how far I have come along in cooking, each day is better than yesterday. A lot of different techniques, different cuisines and different flavors seems unraveled in front of me, I definitely want to explore and understand the world of food better! This recipe is special to me since its humble and screams of the flavors that me and family enjoy. It was just a few years back when I was attempting to make egg curry and I failed miserably since my eggs weren’t boiled perfectly. And here I am confident about this lip smacking Egg Curry!

This dish falls in my comfort zone food category , quintessential to days when I want to have something delicious and have no time to make something elaborate. A sublime curry with perfectly boiled eggs snuggled in it with layers of Indian flavors – Oh so yum! It’s rustic and a simple dish for all those egg lovers. So just when you were thinking what to cook with parathas or rice, we answered your dilemma with this flavorful Egg Curry!

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RECIPE

METHOD: (For 2 – 3 people)

  • 3 hard boiled egg, peeled and sliced half
  • 4 big tomatoes, roughly diced
  • 1 medium onion, roughly diced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 green chillis, cut lengthwise
  • 1/2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 – 7 curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder (you can increase it slightly if you want more spice)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp dried mango powder (optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 – 3 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt, to taste

METHOD:

  • Take tomato, onions, 1 green chili, ginger and garlic in a mixer grinder and grind it to form a smooth paste. Keep it aside.
  • Now take a kadhai/saucepan on medium heat and add oil. Once its hot, add cumin seeds, curry leaves, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon stick and the remaining chilli and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Now add the tomato – onion paste and saute it until it starts to thicken. Add salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder and garam masala and let the mixture cook until it starts to leave oil. Make sure you keep stirring it to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Once paste starts to leave the oil, add water and allow the water to boil.
  • Add the boiled eggs and cover the saucepan with a lid and allow the curry to boil for another 2 minutes.
  • Garnish it with coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed rice or parathas.

Enjoy!

 

 

Laksa – from the scratch!

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Monsoons for me means sitting by the window and enjoying the crisp cool air, the fragrance of “gilli mitti”, reading a book and relishing a bowl of piping hot and comfort food! I am already hoping that it rains again today and I can relive these moments again. And when you get a bowl full of goodness – piping hot curry noodle soup, your day can’t get any better! Laksa is a Malaysian curry noodle soup which is hearty and perfect for monsoon lunches and dinner.

This recipe here might not be the most authentic Laksa recipe, but it’s modified to what my family enjoys and the flavors we can relate too. Spicy, sweet, zing and lots of goodness. I must admit that cooking Asian food is not my forte, but I wanted to try my hands on this dish particularly. I tried, retried and re-retried and almost perfected myself in making Laksa. While the coconut milk lends the creaminess and sweetness to the dish, the “made from scratch” Laksa paste adds the much needed fieriness to the whole dish. The colorful medley of veggies provide the necessary nutrients. All this with a dash of lemon is sublime!

This soup reminded me of my mum’s tomato soup which she would load with noodles and veggies to make our meals more exciting. So just when you were pondering about what to cook next, my version of Laksa is here to spark up your weeknight dinners and a comfort laden weekend meal!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 people)

For Laksa Paste:

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 dried red chili, soaked in hot water for atleast 30 minutes (you can add more if you like the paste to be spicier)
  • 1 fresh red chili
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh turmeric root, roughly chopped (you can use ground turmeric instead)
  • 1 medium red onion, roughly diced
  • thumb of ginger or galangal, roughly chopped
  • salt, to taste

For Soup:

  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 150 – 200 ml water
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, par boiled
  • 1 medium sized red bell pepper, julinned
  • 1 cup carrot, peeled and cut into circles and par boiled
  • 6 – 7 pak choy leaves, cut into threads.
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 200 grams tofu, cut into cubes
  • 100 grams button mushroom, cut into thick slices
  • 1.5 cup cooked rice vermicelli, cooked according to packet instructions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts (optional)
  • 1/3 cup french beans, cut into long pieces and slightly boiled (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh thai basil leaves (optional)

METHOD:

  • In a mixer grinder take all the ingredients for the Laksa paste along with 2 tbsp of water and make a smooth puree out of it. Do not use the water in which the dried red chilis were soaked.
  • Once the paste is made, keep it aside.
  • Take a saucepan and put 1 tbsp of oil in it and put it on medium heat. Add the entire Laksa paste and let the paste cook completely. You will know the paste is properly cooked once it starts to leave slight oil. This would take 8 – 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile take another pan on medium heat. Put the remaining oil. Add chili flakes and the white part of green onion and saute for a few seconds. Now add broccoli, carrots, french beans, bell pepper and mushrooms and saute until it starts to get slightly charred. Add salt and give it a good stir. Once cooked keep aside.
  • Once the Laksa paste is cooked, add coconut milk and water and let the gravy simmer for 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Add the diced tofu so that it soaks up some flavor of the curry. Let the curry simmer for atleast 5 minutes.
  • To serve, first take a bowl and add some cooked rice vermicelli. Add some veggies and then pour the tofu and the coconut curry. Add some more veggies on the top.
  • Garnish with lemon wedge, roasted peanuts, coriander leaves, spring onions and thai basil.

Enjoy!

One Bowl Fresh Mango Salsa

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Mangoes and Mexican flavors – sounds lovely and oh so yum! Sometimes all you need is a wonderful assortment of fresh and seasonal produce to make something utterly delicious! Mango salsa has been our family’s summer fare when the market is full of ripe and raw mangoes. Whether it is weekend brunches or something fresh and simple for weeknights, this bowl of confetti like colors is a hit!

Yes, my entire family loves Mexican food especially salsa. Sometimes the usual salsa becomes commonplace and this is when fruit salsas come handy. Tangy, sweet and spicy, all loaded in a single bowl pairs well with nachos, tacos or as a relish! So before the mangoes are out of this season, make this amazing salsa for friends and family in just no time!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 – 3 people)

  • 1/2 cup raw mangoes, diced
  • 3/4 cup ripe mangoes, diced (I used Alphonso mangoes)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup onion, diced
  • 2 green chillis, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

METHOD:

  • In a bowl add ripe mangoes, raw mangoes , red bell peppers, onion, cilantro and green chillis and mix it well.
  • Now add lemon juice, salt and black pepper (and honey if the mangoes are too sour for your palate) and mix it well.
  • Keep it in the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.
  • Take it out and serve immediately and enjoy!