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!

 

Kheer – Diwali Special

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The quintessential Indian dessert made in every household is Kheer. I have grown up watching my grand mom and my mum making the most delicious Kheer ever. Patiently waiting for the milk to thicken, the rice to be perfectly cooked, the perfect amount of sugar and garnished with chopped dry fruits – already struck with nostalgia. Whether its a festival, any small function at home or an auspicious celebration – that Kheer is imperative.

Creamy and luscious, one spoon is never enough. Such a humble dish yet always a treat for your taste buds. A hot day and the chilled Kheer beckons and with the nip in the air, a bowl of hot Kheer is what is soul-satisfying. The aroma of the saffron and cardamom is quite inviting and the dried fruits adds the much needed richness and crunch to the dish.

With festivals just round the corner, this recipe is not to be missed. Made with basic pantry staples, this recipe is a no brainer. This recipe is a must in your repository. It’s easy to fall in love with it each and every time.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (for 3 – 4 people)

  • 1 litre full fat milk
  • 1/3 cup long grain basmati rice
  • 6 – 7 tbsp sugar (you can adjust the quantity as per your liking)
  • 5 – 6 saffron strands
  • 3 pieces green cardamom, powdered
  • 1 tbsp unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp blanced and slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp dried rose petals (optional)
  •  10 – 12 pieces cashew nut (optional)

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METHOD:

  • Soak the rice in water for 40 – 45 minutes and rinse it nicey with water several times to remove the starch.
  • Meanwhile put the milk to boil on low flame in a saucepan. Keep stirring it continuously to avoid it from sticking to the botton of the saucepan.
  • Once the milk is reduce to slighlty more than half the quantity, add the soaked rice. Make sure to drain the water and add the rice to the milk.
  • Keep stirring it intermittently and let the rice cook on low flame.
  • Once the rice is 80% cooked and the milk thickens, add sugar to the mixture and stir it.
  • Now once the rice is 95% cooked, add the cardamom powder, saffron strands, cashew nuts, almonds slivers and pistachios and mix it.
  • Remove it from the flame and garnish with dried rose petals. Serve it hot or chilled as you like it!

 

 

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!

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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Mango Black Rice Salad with Lemon – Ginger Vinaigrette

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Summer + funky salad + mangoes = PERFECT MEAL!

This power salad is a best way to eat healthy and enjoy the gorgeousness of the fruit of the season – Mango. Packed with black rice, fresh fruits, vibrant vegetables, herbs and nuts, this is pure happiness in a bowl. While I enjoy eating healthy food, flavor fatigue strikes in soon. It is important to keep experimenting with flavors, different ingredients and to appreciate the produce of that season. Black rice salad have now become a regular weeknight dinner for me where I can throw in different veggies and fruits in a bowl, drizzle a different dressing and your meal is sorted almost instantaneously. Among the different salads that I have been eating lately, this is my favourite.

Bursting with different flavors and textures, the plethora of color is this dish makes you want to dive into it right there. The earthy rice combined with the lush green broccoli, the sweet mangoes and mild flavor of the shallots compliments each other beautifully well. All this when combined with a ginger scented vinaigrette makes you fall head over heal in love with this dish. Easy to make, easy to assemble and a complete meal to beat this heat!

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 1- 2 people)

For the salad:

  • 120 grams uncooked rice, soaked in water for atleast 8 hours
  • 1 cup diced mangoes (I used alphanso mangoes)
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, blanched in salt water until slightly soft
  • 1/4 cup shallots, julienne
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 tbsp almond slivers, lightly toasted

For the dressing:

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tbsp agave nectar (you can use honey)
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

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METHOD:

  • Take a saucepan with water and bring it to boil. Now add the soaked black rice with a bit of salt and let the rice cook on medium flame until all the water has bbeen absorbed.
  • Meanwhile using a wire whisk combine extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and agave nectar until well incorporated.
  • Add the freshly grated ginger, dried mint, garlic, salt and pepper and stir it. Transfer this dressing to a jar and put it in the fridge until you serve the salad.
  • Once the rice has been cooked, take a salad bowl and toss in the cooked rice, diced mangoes, blacked broccoli, shallots, torn basil leaves and half of the slivered toasted almonds.
  • Drizzle with a generous amount of the salad dressing (right before serving). Combine well and serve the salad topped with the remaining toasted almonds.

Enjoy and stay healthy!

 

Rice Stuffed Tomatoes

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I  have always been a great fan of stuffed vegetable side dishes. Be it stuffed mushrooms, stuffed peppers or stuffed tomatoes. Among them, stuffed tomatoes is my favorite. These charming little side dish unfolds a lot of my childhood stories. My family often visited this famous restaurant in Kolkata which served amazing sizzler. The stuff tomatoes were an integral part of the whole experience. Years back getting to eat sizzlers so often was an epicurean delight.

And then came a phase where the restaurant closed down and those dinner trips came to a sudden halt. Forgotten were those stuffed tomatoes and sizzler plates until my mum tried to make it on my birthday. It was one of the best birthday gift ever. And then i tried to learn it from my mumma. She taught me how to play with ingredients and provide an element of surprise in these stuffed veggies. I am no where close to how well she can cook but I strive to improve myself everyday.

This dish is really refreshing because of the juicy tomatoes and the flavorful herbs that go into its stuffing. Its visually appetizing and a easy to make party dish where you can do all the preparations before your guests arrive. No standing in the kitchen for long hours in this unpleasant weather and no missing out on the fun with your friends. So next time when you have a house party or potluck dinner/lunch, these stuffed tomatoes are a must do dish in the menu.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 3 – 4 people)

  • 6 medium to large size red tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1/2 medium sized onion, diced
  • 1/2 green capsicum, chopped finely
  • 1/4 yellow bell pepper, chopped finely
  • 1 cup boiled rice (85% – 90% boiled)
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried mint powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh cream
  • 1/2 cup grated processed cheese or mozzarella
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

METHOD:

  • Slightly cut the tomatoes from the bottom to form a stable base. Now cut the top of the tomato, scoop out the flesh and keep the remaining tomatoes aside to be filled later.
  • Take the flesh and puree it in the blender and keep aside.
  • In the meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 C for atleast 10 -15 minutes.
  • In a saucepan, pour the olive oil. Once heated add in the chopped garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped onions and sauté for a couple of minutes until they turn translucent.
  • Add in the chili flakes at this stage.
  • Now add the green capsicum and yellow bell pepper and sauté it well.
  • Add in the pureed tomatoes and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until the peppers are halfway cooked.
  • Add in salt, black pepper, chopped parsley and dried mint and mix well.
  • Now add the boiled rice to this mixture and mix gently, without breaking the rice.
  • Add in the cream and half of the grated cheese to the mixture and mix well.
  • The filling is ready. It’s now time to assemble the tomatoes.
  • Take the tomatoes kept aside in step 1. Fill it with the filling made above.
  • Top it up with generous amount grated cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Serve hot and enjoy.

Vegetarian Mulligatawany Soup

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The nip in the air as you open the windows in the evening makes you crave for some soup which is wonderfully soothing and warming. The fresh winter vegetables and the balance of spices and herbs makes a perfect combination for a cozy winter evening. Mulligatawany soup is a soup packed with bold flavors and nutrition. This piquantly flavored soup is a meal in itself and has a complete Indian feel in itself, making it the national soup of India.

I have heard people enjoy the meat version of this soup more, but being a vegetarian I enjoy the veggie version of this soup. The wholesome soup is endowed with lentils, vegetables and spices, making it super easy to cook. It’s my family’s favorite soup (and meal too) and I love to cook it very often. It’s satisfying, it’s delicious and I feel I cannot stop raving about how awesome it is. So make sure to try this recipe as soon as possible.

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You may change the proportions of the vegetables in the soup depending of your palate, but do not omit any ingredient.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 4 – 6 people)

  • 1 cup split red lentils (split masoor dal), soaked for an hour in water
  • 4 medium sized carrots, peeled and roughly diced
  • 2 1/2 medium sized onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 4 – 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Grounded black pepper, to taste
  • Cooked rice
  • Coriander leaves, for garnishing
  • Fresh cream, for garnishing

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METHOD:

  • In a pressure cooker heat the oil. Add garlic and sauté it until it’s a little brown.
  • Add chopped ginger and onion and sauté it until it’s translucent.
  • Add chopped carrots and tomatoes in the pressure cooker and sauté it for a minute or so.
  • Add the soaked red lentils (drain the water) and sauté it too.
  • Add turmeric, curry powder and mix it well. Next add 5 cups of water and allow the mix to cook for 3 – 4 whistles.
  • Once the mixture is cooked and cooled, pass it through a fine sieve.
  • Take the soup and put on medium flame. Add coconut milk, salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Put some cooked rice in a bowl, pour the soup on top of it and squeeze from lemon juice and serve.