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!

Tomato and Feta Galette

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Looking for an easy and delicious baking project (aka fun) for this weekend – get ready to be smitten over by this Tomato and Feta Galette. Fruit Galettes are too mainstream, a warm savory pie is what you need for these beautiful chilly evenings. Rustic and comfort is what this galette is all about.

I personally love pies, whether it is sweet or savory. However I am kinda lazy in making pies at home. It stresses me out. There are way too many do’s and don’t. I guess I should take up a challenge soon to make pies at home. Nevertheless galettes are the closest and  the easiest free form pies where all the goodness is tucked in together and put into the oven. And now I guess you know why I love galettes. The look absolutely gorgeous. Throw in ingredients you love you are done!

Tomato and Feta Galette is a classic one. The buttery flaky crust, the creaminess of the feta and the tangy-ness from the cherry tomatoes makes you fall in love with it. Try this recipe over this weekend and I bet you’ll love it as much as I do!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 1 – 9 inch pie)

For the galette crust:

  • 175 multigrain flour + extra for dusting (you can use all purpose flour also)
  • 113 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 – 4 grams salt
  • 4 – 5 tbsp ice cold water
  • 1 tbsp granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (optional)

For the filling:

  • 1 larger onion, diced
  • 16 – 18 cherry tomatoes, halved or used as is
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 8 – 10 fresh basil leaves
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper to taste

METHOD:

  • In a bowl take multi grain flour, salt, sugar and mixed herbs and mix it well,
  • Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut the butter into the flour until it forms coarse crumbs. It is okay to see small chunks of the butter.
  • Now add the ice cold water a couple of tablespoons at a time and bring together the dough.
  • Dust the kitchen top with flour and transfer the dough on it. Add more water if needed and bring it together to make a ball. Cling wrap it and refrigerate it for an hour atleast.
  • Once its kept in the fridge for sometime, preheat your oven to 200C for atleast 15 – 20 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep aside.
  • Once the dough it chilled, take it out and roll it out to 15 inch circle. Transfer the pastry to the baking sheet.
  • Now place the chopped onion on the rolled out pastry dough keeping around 2 – 2.5 inch gap from the edges.
  • Take half of the feta crumble and sprinkle it over the onion layer. Sprinkle some salt and pepper too.
  • Now layer it with whole cherry tomatoes, halved cherry tomatoes or a mix of both. Sprinkle the remaining crumbled feta on top.
  • Fold the edges over the tomatoes gently or make pleats if necessary. Garnish it with a few leaves of basil.
  • Take the lightly beaten egg and using a pastry brush, brush on the folded edges which will give it a nice golden color.
  • Allow it to bake for 25 – 28 minutes at 200C or until golden crisp brown.
  • Once done, transfer it to a wire rack and allow it to cool. Make slices and serve!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Masala Paniyarams

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I love my mornings. Peaceful, clear thoughts to start the day, renewed vigour and enthusiasm and most importantly a delicious breakfast that helps me power through the day. With the weather being so cozy that you feel being nestled between the layers of blankets, making a lavish breakfast becomes a far fetched reality for most of the days. However breakfast being one of the most important meals of the day, I often resort to quick fix and healthy breakfast. When you start your day with a healthy and delicious note, you know that your day is bound to be awesome!

To break the monotony from the usual North Indian style breakfast dishes or the healthy granolas and parfaits, I tried making a Quick Masala Paniyaram a few days back. They were absolutely delicious. These little ball of wonders are fluffy, soft and packed with flavour. Crisp on the outside, soft inside – you can’t help but fall in love with it. These are so versatile that you can load it with different ingredients each day and make something phenomenal to adorn your breakfast table. Pair it with coconut chutney, green chutney and sambhar and your breakfast woes is sorted.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 20 pieces)

  • 2 cups ready-made idli batter (I used iD idli batter)
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 green chilis, finely chopped
  • 12 -15 curry leaves
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt, to taste

METHOD:

  • Heat a frying pan and once heated add oil. Now add mustard seeds. Once it starts to crackle add curry leaves and green chilis and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Now add chopped onions and saute it on medium heat until it turns light golden brown. Add salt and saute for 10 – 15 seconds and remove from heat. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile put the paniyaram pan on medium heat. Allow the pan to get heated. Once it is heated grease it using oil.
  • While the pan is getting heated, add the cooled onions, grated carrot, chopped coriander leaves and little salt to the left over idli batter and mix it well and keep aside.
  • Using a spoon put the mixture into each cavity of the pan until it is just full. Cover the pan with the lid and allow he paniyarams to cook on one side for 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Using a skewer, turn the paniyarams to the other side and allow it to cook on medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.
  • Once done transfer it to a plate and serve along with coconut chutney, coriander chutney and sambhar.

Voila!

 

Cheese and Mushroom Empanadas

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Monsoon therapy with rustic Cheese and Mushroom Empanadas – pure joy! The rains lashing against the window panes, steaming cup of coffee and empanadas – perfect rainy afternoon. Dreamy yummy creations which is bursting with flavors. You have to be crazy to not enjoy these savory pockets!

If that wasn’t enough to lure you to try these out, probably your childhood memories surely will. Remember those vegetable patties and pies you enjoyed at the neighborhood bakery store… oh so delicious! The crisp and flaky pastry and the absolutely gorgeous stuffing…I am already dreaming about it while writing this post. While I was in the US, I often missed those patties until I stumbled upon these hot pockets filled with sumptuous stuffing called empanadas from a famous food truck in San Francisco. It ticked all the boxes for the things I was missing. Homely and satisfying.

I was trying my hands to make empanadas at home and guess what, I  was bursting with ideas. It almost took 1 week for me to calm down and decide about the filling. You can fill the dough with all your favorite things and enjoy these wonders.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes around 14 – 15 pieces)

For the dough:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour + extra for dusting and rolling out the dough
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 grams butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 120 ml ice water
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 200 grams button mushrooms, chopped
  • 200 grams cottage cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup spinach, blanched and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp chili flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

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METHOD:

For the dough:

  • Take all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt in a bowl and whisk it.
  • Using a pastry blender/ 2 forks or using the tips of your fingers, blend the cold butter into the flour mixture until it forms a coarse crumb like mixture.
  • Beat 1 egg, ice cold water and white vinegar in a bowl and keep aside.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour-butter mixture and using a fork combine the entire mixture. Do not over knead it.
  • Generously dust the kitchen top with flour and transfer the dough on to it.
  • Bring together the entire dough together by gently kneading it.
  • Divide the dough into 2 halves, cling wrap it tightly and refrigerate it for atleast 1.5 hours.

For the mixture:

  • While the dough is resting, take a saucepan on medium heat. Put oil in it.
  • Once its hot add 1 tsp chili flakes and saute for a few seconds.
  • Now add chopped onions and saute it for a minute until it turns translucent.
  • Add mushrooms to the mixture and let it cook for a minute.
  • Now add the remaining chili flakes, salt, black pepper and basil leaves and saute the mixture for couple of minutes,
  • Once done take it from the stove and allow it to cool completely.
  • Once cooled add grated cottage, spinach and mozzarella cheese and form a mixture using a spoon.

To Assemble:

  • Preheat your oven to 230 C for atleast 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep aside.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge. Take some dough and roll it out on a flat surface into round discs of similar sizes ( approximately 6 inch diameter)
  • Take the stuffing and place it on one side of the circle.
  • Take the other end of the dough and form a semi circle. Seal the edges as shown in the picture or by making knife impressions.
  • Once all the pies are formed, beat one egg and using a pastry brush, egg wash the top of the empanadas before they go into the oven to bake.
  • Place the pies atleast 1 inch apart and put it into the oven to bake at 200 C for 18 – 20 minutes, until the empanadas a golden brown and crisp.
  • Serve it hot with a yogurt dip and enjoy!

Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

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Thinking of eating something healthy and super delicious – these Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps is the way to go. Its such a fun way to eat your salad – deconstructed and then you reconstruct the way you want it. You end up being content in every bite you take.

While I was in the US, I often craved for Indo – Chinese food that I have grown up eating back in Kolkata. There were a couple of restaurants that transported you back to India and could genuinely satiate your cravings. Weekends came and these places were buzzing with Indians and I often used to be one in the crowd. However, when I went to the much loved P.F.Chang’s, it introduced me to a whole new spectacle of Chinese food (though still not authentic, but definitely delicious). I tried the lettuce wraps and completely enamored by it.

Recently, I bought some fresh water chestnuts from the grocery store ad I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate it by making lettuce wraps. Its healthy and yummy food – al rolled into one bite. It boasts of bold flavors and hence addictive. The flavorful filling compliments the freshness of the lettuce and the crunchiness from the roasted peanuts.

Why wait – toss up the filling in a lip smacking sauce and enjoy these easy to make wraps with your friends and family!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For  4- 6 people)

  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 250 gms extra firm tofu
  • 2 cups fresh water chest nuts, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp red chili sauce
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 10 – 12 romaine lettuce leaves/ iceberg lettuce leaves
  • grated carrots, for garnishing
  • roasted peanuts, for garnishing
  • Salt, to taste

METHOD:

  • In a bowl combine soy sauce, hoisin sauce, red chili sauce,  vinegar and sesame oil and set aside.
  • Take the tofu slab and squeeze out excess water using a kitchen towel. Once the excess water has been squeezed out, finely chop the tofu.
  • In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Once heated add the red chili flakes and sauté for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chopped tofu and let it cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Keep breaking the tofu pieces randomly as it is cooking.
  • Next add in both the mushrooms and let it cook for another 2 minutes. Make sure that the water has evaporated completely.
  • Add ginger and garlic and let the mixture cook for a minute. At this point add the chopped water chestnuts and green onion and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • The tofu should be golden brown on its edges. Once this happens add the sauce mixture set aside.
  • Add salt (make sure to add less salt, since the sauce mixture is quite salty) and let the whole mixture cook until you hear bubbling sounds from the sauce.
  • Once the mixture is cooked , take it off the flame and keep it aside to be served in a bowl.
  • While the mixture is cooking, take the lettuce leaves and put it in a covered bowl with ice cubes for atleast 15 minutes so that the leaves are crunchy.
  • Take the lettuce leaves, pat dry it, fill the filling and serve as shown in the pic.

Enjoy and Stay Healthy!

Vegetarian Momos

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Summer vacations meant family trips to the hill stations, strolling at Mall Road and eating momos and maggi. Eating momos at different local vendors was quintessential to any trip to the the hills, until recently when momos are becoming a rage in different parts of India. It is becoming everyones favorite especially with the crazy concoctions available now. Its wonderful to gorge on these during the rains.

With the arrival of monsoon in Bangalore and a nip in the air, I decided to make momos at home. I was intimated by the meticulous task that would lie ahead of me but somewhat knew that once the rhythm was set, these mini wonders would be ready in no time. They are so simple yet so satisfying. It hits every note – fresh veggies and overwhelming flavors is comforting.

I love the basic vegetarian flavor. The shreds of cabbage, the sweetness from onion, the crunch from the carrots and the freshness from the ginger, all combine well to create something yummy. The whole process of making the stuffing, filling and folding is therapeutic. You can take inspiration  from different places, cuisines, then play with your imagination and create flavors which your family enjoys. Don’t forget to make a tangy, spicy dipping sauce that makes the momos all the more addictive that you can’t stop with just one.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (makes 16-18 pieces)

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, grated
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp soya sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

For the wrappers:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 6 tbsp water, for kneading

For the dipping sauce:

  • 5 dried red chilis
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of white vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, to taste

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METHOD:

For filling:

  • In a saucepan heat the olive oil and once it is hot add the garlic and sauté for a minute.
  • Add the finely chopped onions and sauté until its translucent and soft. Add in the grated ginger and sauté too.
  • Next we need to add the finely chopped carrots and cabbage and sauté on high heat for a couple of minutes.
  • Add salt, soya sauce, red chili sauce and freshly grounded black pepper and mix it well. Cook the mixture on low heat for a minute.
  • Take it off the heat and allow it to cool at room temperature.

For the wrappers:

  • Meanwhile mix all the ingredients for the wrapper in a bowl and knead it well until the dough is soft and all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Take a small portion of the dough and roll it to form thin circles, about 2 – 3 inch in diameter, on a lightly flour dusted board.
  • The edges should be thin and the center should be relatively thick. Make the wrappers and keep aside.
  • Take small portions of the filling and place it at the center of the wrapper.
  • Lift one side and start pleating it slowly. Once pleated, take the top of the pleats and slightly twist it and join it in the center.
  • Keep making the momos. Cover the pleated momos using a damp clothe to avoid the momos from becoming dry.
  • Fill the steamer with water, place the momos on the steamer tray (the momos shouldn’t touch each other on the tray.
  • Cover the lid and allow it to cook using steam for 7 – 8 minutes. The momos should now be transparent and not sticky. This means its done.

For the dipping sauce:

  • Take water in a saucepan and bring it rolling boil. Take it off from the heat and add the dried red chilis into it.
  • Let it soak for 20 minutes.
  • In a blender add garlic cloves, soaked red chilis, a tbsp of the soaking liquid, vinegar, salt and sugar and blend it until its completely blended.
  • Take a saucepan and heat the oil. Once heated add the blended chili mixture and allow the flavor to be infused properly. This will take around 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Mix cornflour and water in a bowl. Make sure there is no lumps.
  • Add this cornflour to the above heating mixture and keep stirring it for 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Take it off the heat, transfer the dipping sauce into a serving bowl to be served with steamed momos.

Enjoy..Monsoon is on its way!