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.

 

Fresh Sorghum/ Jowar Hummus

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Happy 2018 folks! A new year, new aspirations, new vigor and new learnings. The year gone by was a great year with continuous learning and unlearning. And as we have ushered into the new year, I want to make this year more memorable, more fun filled and more enlightening be it learning how to become a better person, a better cook and a better human. This is not a resolution for 2018, but a small effort to embark on a journey of perfection and happiness.

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When it comes to food, I want to explore different cuisines, understand the food culture, eat clean and enjoy. What better way to start learning and cooking with local Indian produce. Winters in Indian brings a plethora of fresh produce – lush green spinach, fresh turmeric, fresh garlic and fresh grains. Loaded with so much goodness, these fresh produce is a constant reminder how beautiful India is. And what happens when you take local produce and turn it into something as simple and lovely like a Hummus. This Homemade Fresh Jowar/ Sorghum Hummus lends an exotic flavor to the usual Hummus. Easy to make with some basic ingredients and a healthy snacking option. Get your creative juices flowing because you can do just so much more than the recipe shared below. Add your favorite herbs or slather it on your toast with some veggies, this recipe will surely win your hearts this winters!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Make 1.5 cups)

  • 1 1/2 cup fresh Jowar/ Sorghum
  • 2 1/2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 – 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt, to taste

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METHOD:

  • Put a saucepan on medium-low heat and dry roast the white sesame seeds until fragrant. Once done, remove it from the heat and let it cool down.
  • In a food processor, add the toasted sesame seeds and 1 tbsp olive oil and grind it to a smooth paste. Once done keep it aside
  • Now take the fresh jowar, parsley leaves, garlic cloves, the toasted sesame paste and extra virgin olive oil in a food processor and grind the mixture into smooth paste.
  • Scrape down the sides, add lemon juice and splash of water (if needed) and blitz it to form an almost smooth paste. (it is okay if you feel the chewy texture of the jowar in the paste)
  • Transfer it to a serving bowl, drizzle some olive oil and dried mint leaves and serve with toast, crackers or crudites.

Enjoy!

Roasted Pepper and Tomato Pasta Soup

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The soup season is officially here and I am completely smitten by it. Warm jackets, hoodies, cozy blankets and everything to keep me warm is finally out and shining bright in my wardrobe. All I need is delicious comforting food to kick start my winter in the best way possible. And what better than this Roasted Pepper and Tomato Pasta Soup. Snuggled up in my blanket, this soul warming delicious soup is the perfect way to spend my winter evenings.

I remember as a child that right from the onset of winters, mum made tomato – carrot soup to lush green spinach soup or probably lemon coriander soup. This was followed by a creamy and cheesy casserole and then the usual Indian dinner. I admit I am lazy and can’t cook a myraid of things at once. Not a superwoman like my mum however hard I try. This soup is an inspiration from what she makes during winters – Soup + Pasta = Deliciousness!

The reddish hue comes from the beautifully roasted plump tomatoes, red peppers and fresh red chilis. The Indian and Italian herbs lends bags of flavor to this dish. Fresh herbs to finish it off and everything comes together beautifully with pasta. So grab your pots and pans now because this recipe is a must try.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 3 -4  people)

  • 10 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into big cubes
  • 1 red chilis (they look like jalepenos, optional)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece clove
  • 2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (you can made more for spice)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste
  • fresh basil leaves, to garnish

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METHOD:

  • Preheat your oven to 200 C for atleast 15 minutes and slightly grease your baking tray with melted butter or oil and keep aside.
  • Meanwhile take a big bowl with the mentioned quantity of olive oil, dried oregano, dried parsley, salt and black pepper and mix it using a spoon.
  • Now add quartered tomatoes, 4 pieces of garlic cloves, bell pepper chunks and red chili to the olive oil mix and massage the veggies generously until coated with oil.
  • Transfer it to the baking tray and bake it for 30 minutes at 200 C.
  • Once done remove it from the oven and let it cool down.
  • Meanwhile take a pot of water, add salt and bring it to boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add pasta and cook it according to instructions given in the packet.
  • Once pasta is cooked, wash it under cold water and keep it aside.
  • Now take a saucepan and add butter. Once hot add bay leaf, chili flakes and clove and saute for 30 – 40 seconds. Now remove the clove and add chopped garlic and cook it for 30 – 40 seconds on medium heat.
  • Add onion and cook it until is translucent. Add the fresh basil leaves and cook it for 30 – 40 seconds.
  • Now add the pan of roasted veggies and herbs to the saucepan and sauté for 1 – 2 minutes.
  • Add vegetable stock and let the mixture come to a boil.
  • Take it off the heat, remove bay leaf and using a stick blender, blend it to a fine pureé.
  • Add it back to the saucepan on medium flame and adjust for seasoning and let it be hot.
  • To serve, divide the pasta equally into serving bowls, put the soup on top of it, garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve hot!

 

Dal Makhani

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Dal is staple to almost every Indian household. With a myraid of options to choose from, every one in the house has their all time favorite Dal. My favourite being my mum’s Dal Makhani. Yes mum’s extra dose of love in anything she cooks is incomparable but when you eat her Dal Makhani you are bound to fall in love with it. Lentils cooked to perfection, the aroma of the Indian spices and that creaminess – you can’t resist it.

This recipe is a variation of her recipe but super simple to make and definitely delicious. With the nip in the air, a bowl of this famous Punjabi style Dal Makhani along with chopped onions and rice is along you need. So snuggle yourself in a cozy warm blanket with this bowl of deliciousness and savor the amazing desi flavors.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 3 -4  people)

  • 1 cup whole black lentils/ whole urad dal
  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes, pureed
  • 3 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup cream + extra for garnishing (I usel Amul cream)
  • 1 green chili, split lengthwise
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 – 3 pieces of clove
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2 green (small) cardamom
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp shahi jeera or regular cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder (you can adjust in case you like it more spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp dried kasuri methi leaves
  • salt, to taste
  • coriander leaves, to garnish

METHOD:

  • Soak whole black lentils and rajma overnight in water and in separate containers.
  • Next day, wash the lentils and rajma with fresh water a couple of times and put it in the separate pressure cookers.
  • Put 4 cups of water in the pressure cooker with black lentils with a bit of turmeric powder and salt and put the lid on. Allow it to cook on low-medium flame for around 12 whistles or until tender and cooked.
  • Put 2 cups of water in the pressure cooker with rajma along with salt and a pinch of turmeric powder and allow it to cook for 3 whistles on low-medium flame. Make sure the rajma is cooked but not completely masked inside the pressure cooker.
  • Let the steam escape on its own from both the pressure cookers.
  • Meanwhile take a saucepan and put it on low flame. Take cinnamon stick, black cardamom, small cardamom, cloves and bay leaf and dry roast it from 1 minute. Remove it and keep these condiments aside in a plate.
  • Take butter in the same saucepan and put it on medium flame. Once its melted add cumin seeds and green chili and saute for 10 seconds.
  • Now add the dry roasted condiments and saute for another 30 seconds. To this add tomato puree and let it cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add salt, turmeric powder and let the mixture cook for a couple of minutes. Now add red chili powder and ginger garlic paste and let the mixture cook for 4 – 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to leave oil from the side.
  • Now add garam masala and saute for 1 minute.
  • To this mixture add the cooked rajma and black lentils and saute for 1 minute. Add 1.5 – 2 cups of water and let the whole mixture simmer on medium flame for 4 – 5 minutes.
  • Once the mixture has cooked add dried kasuri methi and low fat cream and mix it.
  • Take it off the flame, garnish with coriander leaves and some cream and serve!

Enjoy!

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!

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!

 

 

Goodness Salad

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My simple salad is calling me yet again! This salad has everything I love – fresh produce, colorful ingredients and a sweet zippy dressing. I often end up making salads at home because I am cognizant of the ingredients that go into it, about its freshness and quality. Being allergic to a few cut vegetables, I refrain from ordering salads at restaurants, until I am extremely craving for one (and also ready to face the repercussions).

This quick salad makes you land in a win -win situation because is healthy and amazingly delicious.  Vibrantly flavoured, each element in this dish has immense character. The smokiness from the beets and corn, the creaminess from hung yogurt, the freshness from the microgrees (my new love) and those salted caramel walnuts – enough said! All of this with a honey mustard dressing, it can’t get any better.

Easy and yummy – welcome to my version of healthy eating!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 people)

For the salad:

  • 2 large beet
  • 20 pieces walnuts
  • 1 large corn cob
  • 3 cups microgreens, nicely cleaned
  • 1/3 cup hung curd
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp minced shallots
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chopped basil leaves
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to  taste

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 220C for atleast 10 minutes. Meanwhile line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Take a beets and wash and scrub it with water to remove all the dirt. Pat dry it using a kitchen towel.
  • Place the beets in a foil, coat the beets generously with olive oil. Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt. Cover it tightly with aluminium foil and put it in the oven to roast for 1 to 1.5 hours.
  • Meanwhile char grill the corn on the flame. Take a sharp knife and remove the corn kernels from the cob and keep aside.
  • Take a saucepan and put the sugar and let it melt. Once it starts to melt add the walnuts and 1/2 tsp salt and using a spatula start coating the walnuts and turn off the heat. Take the walnuts off the pan and keep aside.
  • Add the remaining salt to the hung curd and mix it and keep aside.

For the dressing:

  • Take honey, mustard, lemon juice and