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.

 

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!

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!

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!

Coconut Curry

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I am writing this post with a happy belly since I made this delicious coconut curry twice within a span of 3 days. This curry is a true epitome of what comfort home-cooked is. The bright hues of the different vegetables with a beautifully flavored gravy is a complete winner. Its pleasing to the eyes and definitely pleasing to your palate.

I’ve had some of the best coconut curries in restaurants and wasn’t confident about how to make it at home. After a couple of hit and trails I came up with this recipe which is a flavorful concoction of the coconut milk, local vegetables and aromatic and bold spices. The lusciousness from the coconut milk complimented with the crunch from the veggies blends nicely with the Indian spices used in this recipe.

As the weekend is over and your fridge is back to being well stocked for the week ahead, this colorful curry bowl is a must try recipe. Its healthy, its satisfying and its something that you will want to cook and eat again and again. Hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I did.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 3-4 people)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced into 1/2 inch squares
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or thinly sliced
  • 2 medium sized carrots, cut 1/8th – 1/4th inch diagonally
  • 2 medium sized red tomatoes, cut lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup baby corn, cut diagonally (you can use 1/3rd cup sweetcorn instead)
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower florets (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 tbsp  curry powder
  • 2 dried red chili, cut diagonally
  • 1 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • coriander leaves, to garnish
  • min leaves, to garnish
  • black pepper, to taste

METHOD:

  • In a saucepan, heat the oil. Once its heated add the dried red chili and sauté for 30 – 40 seconds. Now add the garlic and ginger and sauté until garlic is golden brown.
  • Now add onion and allow it to cook until its translucent.
  • Next you need to add the carrots, baby corn and cauliflower florets and cook until its slightly tender.
  • Add in salt along with snow peas. Now add the curry powder and let the veggies sauté in the curry powder.
  • Add in the coconut milk and stir it for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and let it come to a simmer and then reduce the heat to allow it to cook for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and black pepper and cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Take it off the heat, add the lemon juice and garnish with coriander leaves, chili flakes and mint leaves.
  • Serve warm with jasmine rice or coconut rice.

Raw Mango Curry (Kairi ki Lunjee)

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A major respite from the onslaught of the scorching heat is the availability of juicy mangoes. The grocery stores are now brimming with mangoes and practically every Indian household has plethora of it in their refrigerators. Be it kids or adults, everyone enjoys the king of fruits – mangoes. From salads to decadent desserts, smoothies to appetizers, this succulent fruit is so versatile as an ingredient that it almost enhances the entire dish.

I thoroughly enjoy having mangoes especially raw mangoes and langra (a variety of mango). It’s completely refreshing. I remember my school days when my mom used to give me kairi ka paani (aam panna) to quench my thirst amidst the sweltering Kolkata summers. Every meal had mango in one form of the other, be it aamras (mango pulp), chopped mangoes, mango cheesecake, sun-dried mango rolls, mango mousse or my favorite raw mango curry (kairi ki lunjee).

Raw mango curry is indeed a very simple recipe and you can store this curry for a week and serve it as an accompaniment. The aroma of the Indian spices and the sweet and sour taste makes me salivate and yearn for more. Have it hot, warm or cold cause its soothing and comforting!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 4 people)

  • 3 medium sized raw mangoes, peeled and chopped into big cubes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp kalonji (Nigella sativa seeds)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil/olive oil
  • 3/4 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • cilantro leaves, for garnishing

METHOD:

  • In a saucepan, heat the oil. Once heated, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds and kalonji and wait till it pops.
  • Now add the chopped raw mango pieces and salt and sauté it for a  couple of minutes.
  • Add turmeric powder and sauté it for one minute. Add water and cover the saucepan to allow the mango to cook.
  • Once the mangoes are half cooked, add red chili powder and coriander powder and mix it well. Add water (if required) to make gravy for the curry and cover the saucepan to  allow the mangoes to cook completely.
  • Once the mangoes are tender and almost cooked add sugar and stir it. Garnish it with cilantro leaves and serve.
  • You can also allow it to cool completely and serve once cooled with parathas.

Enjoy!