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!

Sabudana Khichdi

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Eat Eat and Repeat! Its that time of the year when the festive bells are ringing everywhere. The excitement and glint is everyone’s eyes is unparalleled. Not only because is time for merry making but also because everyone gets to eat abashedly. The kitchen is beaming with a plethora of yummy dishes each day. Some traditional and some not so traditional dishes. All diets comes to a halt because it’s time to eat, enjoy and celebrate.

Today marks the auspicious start of Navratri. Brings back tons of childhood memories. The elders in the house would fast for 9 days, the entire house adorned with vibrant flowers and offer prayers to Goddess Durga. When we talk about fasting, the first dish I relate to is Sabudana (Tapioca Pearls) Khichdi. I absolutely love it, period. Mum used to make so many different dishes out of these white edible pearls like Sabudana Vada, Sabudana Kheer but I am completely smitten by my mum’s Sabudana Khichdi.

The perfectly soaked tapioca pearls, the tempering from basic Indian spices and those crunchy peanuts on top – I can eat the whole thing at once and mind you anytime of the day! So whether you are fasting in the coming days or no, this dish is literally clean comfort food. Quick to make, yummy to eat!

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 – 3 people)

  • 1 cup sabudana (tapioca pearls)
  • 1 medium sized potato, peeled and chopped into cubes or slices
  • 1/2 cup slightly crushed roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 green chili, slit lengthwise
  • 7 – 8 curry leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chili powder (you can adjust the spice level based on your tolerance)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt, to taste
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish

METHOD:

  • Soak the tapioca pearls in a bowl of excess water overnight. Once soaked strain off the excess water and let the tapioca pearls rest for atleast 20 -25 minutes so that all the water is drained.
  • Meanwhile take a saucepan and put it on medium heat. Once its heated add ghee.
  • Now add cumin seeds and let the seeds crackle. Add curry leaves and green chili and saute for a few seconds.
  • Add the potatoes and saute for a couple of minutes. Add salt and allow the potatoes to cook constantly stirring it to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add little water to avoid that.
  • Once potatoes are 95% done and there is no water, add the crushed peanuts and saute it for 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add the chili powder and allow it to cook.
  • Lastly add the tapioca pearls and cook for 2 – 3- minutes until the pearls are soft and almost transparent.
  • Drizzle some lemon juice and stir it.
  • Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.

 

 

Palak Paneer Filo Tartlets with Curd and Mint Dip

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It’s that time of the year when there is joy and mirth all around, last minute shopping sprees to make your home look beautiful and then not to forget a huge list of grocery shopping because friends come over home for cards night and families come over to meet and amidst all this the common link is FOOD. Diwali is indeed a grand affair and what makes it even more splendid is the wide array of mouth watering savory and sweet dishes one eats. It’s time for some drool worthy Food , Food and more Food!

To make this Diwali special, here is a fusion Indian recipe – Palak Paneer Filo Tartlets with Curd and Mint dip. It’s a perfect appetizer where the Indian spices from the Palak Paneer lingers on your palate as well as the filo tartlets adds the crunch texture to the entire dish.

While I was in Kolkata, a few weeks before Diwali, my mum used to try out different recipes in the kitchen each day so that she could get out the best food for friends and family for Diwali. It was a mammoth task and I guess only she could have done that. I do take inspiration from her and try out new recipes with Indian flavors but I make sure the dishes are such that I can prep up atleast a day in advance.

Filo is difficult to handle and will tear. Be delicate and the results will be wonderful. While the crispy, delicious tarts forms the base of this dish, the earthiness from spinach compliments it well and the curd dip ties it all together. Keep the spice profile slightly higher for the palak paneer, you will really enjoy it!

So why wait, try it and have a wonderful Diwali with friends and family!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 6 tartlets)

  • 3 Filo Sheets (I used store bought frozen Filo Sheets)
  • 3 cups of roughly chopped spinach
  • 150 grams cottage cheese/paneer, cut into cubes
  • 1 green chili, cut lengthwise
  • 4 tbsp of melted butter
  • 5 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of coriander powder
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 4 tbsp full fat yoghurt
  • 10 – 12 fresh mint leaves
  • salt, to taste
  • pinch of sugar

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METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 180C for atleast 8 -10 minutes. Take a couple of filo sheets one on top of the other and cut it into 3 equal halves. Take one part which has 2 layers and keep the rest aside.

Mix the melted butter with dried mint and keep aside. Take a silicon brush, dip it in the melted butter and brush gently on each of the sheets, stacking on each other.

Take cupcake trays and line these filo sheets into the moulds in the form of tartlets with rough edges.

Repeat the same process with the remaining filo halves and bake it in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes until its golden brown and crisp.

Meanwhile, blanch the spinach leaves with a pinch of sugar. Once the leaves are blanched, drain the excess water and run the spinach leaves under cold water.

Take a blender, put the blanched spinach leaves with a chili in it and make a smooth puree.

In a saucepan, take ghee. Once heated, add the pure spinach and stir it for a couple of minutes.

Add red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and salt and sauté the mixture for 2 minutes.

Add in the paneer cubes and and let the curry cook for 2 – 3 minutes.

Lastly add milk and cook the curry for 3 – 4 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool a little.

In a bowl take in yoghurt and whisk it until its smooth. Add roughly chopped fresh mint leaves and salt, mix it well and keep in the fridge.

Once the filo tartlets are ready, de-mould it, fill it generously with palak paneer and put it in the oven on a baking tray for 2 minutes.

Serve these delicious tartlets with a fresh curd-mint dip.

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Enjoy and have a great Diwali!

Matar Paneer Ki Sabzi

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An Indian meal without a paneer curry seems almost incomplete. Be it paneer makhni, kadhai paneer, paneer bhurji or paneer tikka, each variation of paneer is mouthwatering. There is a plethora of recipes of paneer and each one loves the recipe most commonly cooked at their homes. Among the gazillion versions that I have tried, this easy paneer makhni recipe is my favorite.

Any special occasion at home, my mum used to cook paneer since we all loved it. With birthdays and anniversaries being special occasions in one’s life, mum never forgot to make each one’s favorite paneer recipe. It was a quintessential birthday dish! The mildly spiced curry, the creaminess from the cashew nuts, the earthiness from the peas and the softness from the cottage cheese makes this dish so comforting and sumptuous. It is aromatic, luscious and so vibrant in its color that you just can’t stop with one serving. Have it with parathas or rice, you will go back for more.

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RECIPES

INGREDIENTS: (For 2-3 people)

  • 3 tomatoes, roughly diced
  • 1/4 cup broken cashew nuts, soaked in water for 15 minutes
  • 200 grams cottage cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup peas, boiled
  • 1 green chili, split length wise
  • 1 small mace
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 5 tbsp whole milk
  • 2 tsp kasuri methi
  • salt, to taste
  • coriander leaves, for garnishing

METHOD:

  • Drain the water from the cashew nuts. In a mixer grinder add the cashew nuts, green chili, tomatoes, mace and ginger and grind it until they form a smooth paste.
  • Heat the saucepan and add ghee. Once its heated add the the cumin seeds. Let it crackle. Add the bay leaf and sauté for 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomato – cashew paste made earlier and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Now add the turmeric powder and half the red chili powder and allow the mixture to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add salt, remaining red chili powder and garam masala and cook the mixture for another 2 – 3 minutes on medium heat.
  • Once the masalas and mixture is cooked properly add the paneer cubes and boiled peas and let it cook for 3 -4 minutes.
  • Add whole milk and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Now add half the kasuri methi and allow the curry to cook for 5 minutes so that all the flavors are well infused into the paneer.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and the remaining kasuri methi and serve the curry hot with parathas or rice.

Enjoy!

Deconstructed Palak Paneer

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As a child my mum always tried new recipes, made new dishes so that family meals weren’t mundane. These new dishes often enticed us because of its beautiful aroma and vibrant colors. Being a fussy eater, she then mixed some veggies which I loathed among the ones I loved. I guess a lot of people can relate to this at some point in their life. In due course of time, I started loving those leafy vegetables to the bitter ones and I can’t that my mom enough for opening my taste buds to such a wide array of produce that is available in the market.

Among the dishes that mum cooked, she often made variations of spinach and cottage cheese (paneer) and this deconstructed palak paneer is my favorite. The subtle flavors of the spices, the earthy flavors from the spinach and the softness from the paneer all combines to create a great lingering effect on your palate. Though Indian curries requires a lot of patience to achieve the correct balance, this recipe is an exceptional. When I have guests coming in no time or too tired after day’s work, I often resort to this recipe since its nutritious, quick and super easy.

So even if you have a long day at work or home, do remember that you can still have a sumptuous meal with your family!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 3 – 4 people)

  • 250 grams spinach
  • 200 grams paneer/cottage cheese, diced
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cardamom pod, broken open
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small mace
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • salt, to taste
  • pinch of sugar

METHOD:

  • Roughly chop the spinach and blanch it on medium heat with a pinch of sugar to retain the green color.
  • Once blanched, drain the water and run it under cold water.
  • In a saucepan take ghee. Once hot add bay leaf, mace, cardamom pod and sauté for a few seconds.
  • Then add garlic and sauté until its light golden brown.
  • Next add the blanched spinach leaves, turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt let the mixture cook for 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Add the paneer cubes and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
  • When the paneer cubes and spinach is well cooked with the spices add whole milk and let it simmer for 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Once the gravy comes to a boil, add the tomato ketchup and mix it.
  • Let the curry cook for a minute and then serve it hot with freshly made parathas or rotis.

Enjoy!