Methi Malai Paneer

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Its raining here incessantly in Bangalore and all I was craving was a bowl of comforting paneer curry with some fluffy rotis. And such delicious cravings need to get fulfilled and hence Methi Malai Paneer happened in my kitchen. Being an ardent fan of paneer, this recipe is one of my family favorites. A few handful basic ingredients in the kitchen come together beautifully to make a stunning curry. The lush methi leaves, the delectable gravy and my ever favorite grilled paneer cubes.

So just when you thought paneer dishes are all the same and quite boring, this recipe is a winner. Try it and you’ll fall in love with it.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 3 – 4 people)

  • 200 grams paneer, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups fresh fenugreek/ methi leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 15 – 16 cashew nuts, soaked in a small bowl of water
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 green chilli, split lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp dhaniya powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/3 cup fresh cream
  • 2 tbsp dried kasuri methi leaves

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METHOD:

  • In a kadhai take 1 tbsp oil and put it on medium flame. Add cumin seeds and saute it until it crackles.
  • Now add onion and saute until its translucent to light brown. This would take about 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Now add tomatoes, garlic, ginger, green chilli, cashews and a little bit of salt and saute it until the tomatoes are cooked and mushy.
  • Take it off the stove and allow it cool down completely.
  • Once cooled, mixer grind it into a smooth paste. You can add 1 – 2 tbsp of water if required.
  • Now take another kadhai on medium flame and take 1 tbsp of ghee in it. Add the tomato – onion puree in it. Add turmeric powder, dhaniya powder, red chilli powder, garam masala and a bit of salt and let the paste cook until its releases some oil.
  • Now add 1/3 cup water to this an let it cook for another 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Now add the fresh cream and keep stirring it until its well incporporated into the paste to avoid the cream from splitting.
  • Add methi/ fenugreek leaves to it and let it simmer for 4 – 5- minutes.
  • Now add paneer cubes and honey and let it simmer for 2 – 3 minutes. Alternatively you can grill the paneer cubes on a griddle pan and put it inside the gravy righe before serving.
  • Garnish with kasuri methi leaves and serve.

 

Baby Spinach and Burst Cherry Pasta

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Pasta – Weeknights – Are you serious!? Welcome to the weeknight meal extravaganza. After a hectic day at work, enjoying a rustic bowl of pasta is pure bliss. For me pasta is my comfort food at any hour of the day. I must confess that I am not an everday roti-sabzi kind of girl. Perhaps that my go – to food when I am ill or have been eating out a lot. I must also confess that I get bored very easily eating the same food. The whole experience of enjoying my meal fades away.

Weekdays being hectic, dinner is always a challenge. I often resort to cooking a quick simple pasta loaded with goodness of herbs and veggies. There is something about pastas that makes you fall in love with it every single time. Rustic or fancy – you just fall in love with it. Cooking it (and then eating it, of course) is therapeutic! This Burst Cherry Pasta has become my recent favourite. It is simple with no frills and fancies. It delivers on deliciousness, simplicity and a beautiful play of colors. Garlicky, subtly spiced and loaded with freshess – weeknight meals sorted!

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2  – 3 people)

  • 250 grams of uncooked whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 6 – 7 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 150 grams baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grounded black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest (optional)
  • salt, to taste

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METHOD:

  • Put a pot of water on high heat. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, put the spaghetti in it with salt and let it cook on medium het until al dente.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200 C. In a bowl take the cherry tomatoes, 1.5 tbsp olive oil, salt and 1/4 tsp of black pepper. Coat the cherry tomatoes generously and transfer it to the baking sheet.
  • Allow the cherry tomatoes to roast in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes until it starts to burst open.
  • Meanwhile if the pasta is cooked, drain the water and run it under cold water and keep aside.
  • Take a saucepan and put it on low heat. Take the remaining olive oil. Once its heated add the garlic and let it cook on low flame for a minute ot two. Now add the chilli flakes and saute for 30 – 40 seconds.
  • Once the cherry tomatoes are out of the oven, transfer it to the saucepan and saute for 40 seconds to a minute.
  • Now add the baby spinach and let it cook for a minute or 2 until its soft on medium flame.
  • Add the chopped basil leaves and stir in the mixture. Add the boiled pasta and saucte it for minute or 2.
  • Now add the salt, cream cheese and give the pasta a quick mix.
  • Add in lemon zest, toss it , garnish with basil leaves and serve.

Enjoy!

 

 

Pesto Vegetable Curry

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With the onset of summer, everyone needs an express meal which is healthy, fresh and delicious. This recipe was pure serendipity! The love of home made pesto and fresh veggies led to creation of this wonderful dish and now it’s my family’s favorite! So just when deciding on each day’s menu for dinner was becoming difficult, Pesto Vegetable Curry on a bed of brown/red rice has become a regular stress free weeknight meal.

The sweet scent of fresh basil simply exudes summer. The vibrant and mildy spiced green curry with a medley of colorful veggies screams of summer. So just when you are thinking of cooking something different, something appetizing, we’ve got this recipe up for you!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 3 – 4 people)

  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 tbsp for curry
  • 6 garlic cloves + 4 garlic cloves for curry
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, blanched in salt water and strained
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 cup yellow bell peppers, julienne
  • 1/2 cup red bell peppers, julienne
  • 1/3 cup corn kernels, boiled
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup of milk (You can use 1/4 cu of fresh cream instead)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste
  • few fresh basil leaves, to garnish (optional)
  • cooked rice, to serve with

METHOD:

  • Combine garlic, basil leaves, walnuts and pine nuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  • Now add parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil and blend until a smooth paste is formed and all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Take a saucepan on medium heat and add 1 tbsp of olive oil.
  • Take 4 cloves of garlic and smash it with a pestle and put it in the saucepan. Take half of the chili flakes in the saucepan and saute it.
  • Now add the bell peppers and a bit of salt and saute it for a couple of minutes until slightly cooked.
  • Put in the broccoli florets and allow it to cook for 4 – 5 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms, corn and remaining chili flakes and saute all the veggies until cooked by 70%
  • Now add the homemade pesto sauce prepared earlier. Add salt, oregano and let the veggies cook in the pesto paste for a couple of minutes.
  • Add milk and let the curry simmer on low flame for 3 – 4 minutes, until the curry comes to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat, add lemon juice and lemon zest, mix it with a spatula so that its well incorporated.
  • Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve it hot with rice.

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Strawberry Shortcakes

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Strawberries in desserts – ultimate food coma! There is always a soft sweet spot in my heart for strawberries. Almost the perfect time to make these and celebrate the month of love with your loved ones. I am completely smitten by the fragrance of the fresh strawberries. They are so fleeting in my house that I have to gather some will power not to gorge on them also hide from others so that I can end up making some desserts out of it. Among all the comforting desserts you can think of strawberry shortcake wins the laurel, hands down.

The buttery base with the tartness and sweetness from the macerated strawberries and the creaminess from whipped cream, all comes together to make a perfect dessert. It is definitely a crowd-pleaser. The syrup of the macerated strawberries is so enticing to your taste buds, that you can end up having those solely. Hence is always better to make a larger portion size.

So now when you are thinking of calling friends and family for get together, make this decadent dessert in no time and enjoy the season of these red ruby pearls!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 10 shortcakes)

For the cream scones:

  • 270 grams all purpose flour
  • 55 grams castor sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 120 ml whole milk
  • 80 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 grams baking powder
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 750 grams fresh strawberries, roughly chopped
  • 120 grams castor sugar
  • 250 grams heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest

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METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C for atleast 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Firstly  take half of the fresh strawberries and roughly chop them. Using a masher just mash them  gently so that the juices start coming out a little. Now add the remaining roughly chopped strawberries along with 60 grams of castor sugar in a bowl and keep it aside for 35 – 40 minutes until its well macerated.
  • Once macerated, add the lemon zest.
  • Meanwhile, to make the scones, in a bowl add all purpose flour, baking powder, castor sugar  and pinch of salt and whisk it using a wire whisk.
  • Add the cold cut butter cubes and blend in the flour mixture using a pastry blender or your finger tips.
  • Once the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, keep it aside.
  • In another bowl, mix milk, vanilla extract and  1 egg and lightly beat it.
  • Now add the milk-egg mixture to the flour-butter mixture along and fold it gently with a spatula until just combined. Do not over mix it.
  • Slightly flour the surface and knead the dough a little and pat it to form a 7 – 8 inch disc shape. Using a round cookie cutter, cut the dough and place each scone dough into the baking sheet.
  • Now take a pastry brush and brush the top of the scones with the  remaining lightly beaten egg to get a good color.
  • Bake the scones for 15- 17 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Allow it to cool on the wire rack for a while once its completed baking.
  • Meanwhile, chill a bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes. Take the whipping cream and remaining sugar and whip it until stiff peaks form.
  • To assemble cut the scones horizontally. Put some whipped cream on the lower half. Top it with a generous amount of macerated strawberries. You could also first put the strawberries and the place the whipped cream. Put the remaining half of the scone.
  • Drizzle some juices obtained from macerated strawberries on the scone and now serve!

 

 

 

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been planning to bake a Pineapple Upside Down Cake and everyday ended with moving it to tomorrows to-do list. However, after so much procrastination, I managed to bake one and here it is on my blog for all you people!

This petite pineapple upside down cake is simply adorable. Not only is it decadent but it pretty to look at so much so that you want to dig in for another (big) bite. The cake screams pineapple and reignites tropical flavors on your palate. I remember as child I was never aware of an upside down cake. My only exposure with pineapple in a dessert was pineapple gâteaux, which my entire family looked forward to over weekends. And this classic PINEAPPLE upside down cake has won my heart over again! The tropical fruitiness from the pineapple and the caramelization from the butter and brown sugar adds deep bold flavors into the cake.

Ornate the cake with fresh cherries, lemon zest infused whipped cream and a few basil leaves, it leaves a rich lingering effect. So if you don’t worry about those extra calories, its time to put your apron on and bake this scrumptious cake for pure divine indulgence!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENT: (Makes 4 – 4.5 inch ramekin cakes)

  • 250 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 150 grams granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • zest from 1 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 grams oil
  • 170 grams brown sugar
  • 60 grams unsalted butter+ extra for greasing
  • 8 pineapple slices (fresh/canned, I used canned)
  • cherries, for garnishing (optional)
  • basil leaves, for garnishing (optional)
  • 1 tbsp caramel sauce, for garnishing (optional)
  • whipped cream, for garnishing (optional)
  • 1 tbsp granola, for garnishing (optional)

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METHOD:

  • Preheat your oven to 180C for atleast 15 minutes. Meanwhile grease the ramekins with generous amount of butter and keep aside.
  • In a saucepan take butter and brown sugar and stir it over medium heat, until sugar and butter have dissolved.
  • Keep stirring it to avoid it from burning and once you see slight bubbles on the side remove it from the heat.
  • Transfer this mixture evenly between the four greased ramekins.
  • Take the canned pineapple slices, dab it with kitchen towel and arrange it on top of the sugar mixture in the ramekins evenly. You can also place a few cherry pieces.
  • Meanwhile using an electric beater, beat oil and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat it until its fully incorporated.
  • Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and fold the mixture.
  • In another bowl sieve all purpose flour and baking powder together and keep aside.
  • Now add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, alternating with milk and ending with the flour mixture.
  • Fold it gently until all the ingredients have been well incorporated.
  • Transfer the batter evenly into each ramekin (filling only upto 3/4th its volume) and put it to bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Once baked, allow the cake to cool down, invert it upside down on a platter and here you have your pineapple upside down cake.
  • You can garnish it with whipped cream and basil combination or brush a layer of caramel sauce on the plate and garnish it with granola.

ENJOY!

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Baked Yoghurt with Toasted Almonds

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When there is jaggery in your yoghurt, it definitely takes you to the sweet shops of Kolkata, packed with the most delicious Indian desserts. My all time favorite is Mishti Doi. It is so divine that I could have bowls after bowls without feeling satiated. Been born and brought up in Kolkata, you couldn’t resist eating sweets. And then if you were born in a big joint Marwari family, eating sweets is bound to be in your genes.

This recipe is inspired from mishti doi (sweet yoghurt). It makes me reminiscence of the days when I my nani (maternal grandmother) used to ring me up asking what should I cook for you when you visit me. Without giving a second thought I used to reply aloo pyaaz ki sabzi (onion and potato curry) and mishti doi . She used to keep a separate bowl of mishti doi for me and she still does it when I go to meet her. Her culinary skills are unparalleled. As I was remembering the mishti doi she always offered me, I thought of experimenting with the traditional sweet and tried making a baked yoghurt instead. Its smooth and luscious and a perfect dessert for these monsoon days.

Whip it, bake it , cool it , sit in your balcony, watch the rain, appreciate the beauty of nature and keep digging in your bowl of yoghurt to enjoy an evening with your loved ones.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: ( Makes 2 – 4.5 inch ramekins)

  • 250 ml hung curd
  • 100 ml fresh cream (I used Amul fresh cream)
  • 55 ml condensed milk
  • 100 gms grated/ powdered palm jaggery (you can also use normal jaggery powder)
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (optional)
  • toasted and roughly chopped almonds, for garnishing
  • few sprigs of saffron

METHOD:

  • Preheat your oven at 150 C or atleast 15 minutes.
  • In a bowl mix hung curd, fresh cream and condensed milk using a wire whisk  to form a batter which is free from lumps.
  • Add the jaggery powder and mix it well using a whisk so that it is full incorporated in the yoghurt mixture.
  • Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Transfer the mixture evenly into two ramekin and cover it with a aluminum foil. Place the ramekins into the baking tray and fill it with hot water that reaches upto half the height of the ramekin.
  • Bake for 40 – 45 minutes in the oven. Once its baked, remove from the oven and remove the aluminum foil and allow it to cool at room temprature.
  • You can garnish and serve warm or put it in the fridge to cool for an hour.
  • Garnish it with toasted and roughly chopped almonds and few saffron strings and dive in.

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NOTE:

  • You can use crushed pistachios as a garnish.
  • You can lightly toast cashew nuts and put it in melting sugar to make a cashew praline and garnish with it.

Pea Pasta

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When opposites attract, life is indeed fun. The age old saying of “opposites attract” is completely true in my case, especially when it comes to what kind of food my husband and I enjoy. I am not a big fan of peas, infact never charmed by it. And on the other hand its my husband who simply loves these little green pearls. Toss peas in some nice tomato or cashew gravy, make flatbreads with peas or make a pea soup, he enjoys it. To tell you, when I am tired or not having a great day in the kitchen, peas has often been my savior.

A few days ago my husband wanted to have pea pasta. I was quite skeptical about it and tried to convince him to change his mind. That didn’t work so I thought I should try making it before giving up. To my surprise, the pasta was loaded with bags full of flavor. It was visually quite appetizing. The vibrant green hues from the peas and the fresh herbs made the pasta quite flavorful and added a beautiful texture to it.

If you are having busy weeknights or have guests coming over in a short notice, make this comforting dish. It is nutritious and quite satisfying. Simple ingredients, simple recipe combines together to make a delicious meal!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 people)

  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas (If you enjoy peas you can use 1 cup of fresh or frozen peas), boiled around 90%
  • 400 gms of pasta (You can use spaghetti, farfalle or fusilli)
  • 4 – 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped (optional)
  • 20 gms of fresh basil
  • 10 gms of fresh flat parsley (optional)
  • 3 tbsp fresh cream
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • zest of 1 big lemon
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste
  • parmesan cheese, for garnishing
  • toasted pine nuts, for garnishing (optional)

METHOD:

  • Firstly boil the pasta in a pot with some water until its al dente. Once its cooked, drain the water and wash it with cold water to avoid the pasta from cooking further.
  • Drizzle some olive oil over the pasta to avoid it from sticking to each other.
  • In a pan, heat some olive oil and add chilli flakes and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  • Now add the chopped garlic sauté for 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add the shallots and cook it until it translucent. Now add the peas and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add in salt and black pepper along with the pasta. Toss it well.
  • Now we need to add fresh cream and give it a good toss. Next put in the lemon zest and lemon juice and mix well.
  • Lastly add the fresh basil and parsley leaves and toss it nicely.
  • Serve hot garnished with parmesan cheese, pine nuts, basil and parsley leaves.