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!

Puran Poli – Ganesh Chaturthi Special

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Indian festivals means myraid of colors all around, lots of happiness and smiles and most importantly lots of good food to eat. When I say eat, I actually mean indulge. The gas flame continuously on, everyone gathered in the kitchen, someone being the executive chef of the house making sure everything is on track and as per the plan, some being the sous chef making those sweet and exotic Indian dishes while some being the critic. It is an absolute sight to witness!

Staying away from home makes me nostaligic about every festival. I miss the fun amidst choas and commotion. Childhood memories stir back when mum spent hours in the kitchen making traditional food, everyone wore new clothes and the entire house beautifully adorned with fresh flowers. And not to forget the mandir (temple) of the house is lit up so well and everyone offers their prayer to the Almighty.

Being a mother to a 2 year old little (not so little anymore) master, I try to imbibe traditional values in him. Needless to say his grandparents have nutured the spiritual and religious side in him right from birth and I can already see the seed growing. He loves his Ganpati Bappa, wakes up every morning chanting loudly “Ganpati Bappa Moriya”. He chants the aarti in his sweet little obscure language, wants to blow the mini conch and ring the bell kept in our mandir. And… when he looks at the sweets offered to God, he wants to pounce on it almost instantaneaously.

With Ganesh Chaturthi almost a day away, the prepartions have already started. Festive bells ringing in the house. And this Puran Poli is a traditional dish offered to Lord Ganesha for his love of sweet Indian flatbreads. Soft, sweet and bursting with Indian aromatic spices, this flatbread is a must try recipe to celebrate the coming on Lord Ganesha this year!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 8 parathas)

For the Puri dough:

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour + more for rolling out the parathas
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of salt
  • water, to knead

For the filling:

  • 1 cup Chana Dal
  • 3/4 cup jaggery powder (you can remove 1 tbsp jaggeory if you don’t like it too sweet)
  • 2 tbsp ghee + more for frying the flatbread
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3/4 tsp dry ginger powder
  • 5 cardamom pods

METHOD:

For the filling:

  • Soak the chana dal in water for atleast 20 minutes. Once done wash it under running water and drain the water.
  • In a pressure cooker, put the chana daal with water. Cover the lid and allow it to cook for 7 – 8 whistles.
  • Once done, remove it from the heat and allow the steam to escpe completely before opening the lid. Open the lid, strain the excess water and keep the water and the cooked dal aside separately.
  • Meanwhile in a mixer grinder, take fennel seeds, dry ginger power and cardamom pods and grind it until it forms a lump free powder.
  • Heat a saucepan on medium flame. Add ghee and the the spice powder mix made in the previous step. Stir it for 30 – 40 seconds.
  • Add the cooked chana dal and mix it for a minute or so. Now add the jaggery powder and put the gas on low flame. Mix the mixture and allow it to cook stirring occasionaly in a gap of 60 – 90 seconds.
  • The entire mixture should be dry and slightly thick. Once done, remove it from the flame and allow the mixture to cool.
  • In case you can see chana dal pieces, then mash it using a potato masher while it is hot. Keep the mixture aside.

For the dough:

  • Mix whole wheat atta, turmeric powder, salt, oil and water in a bowl and knead it to form a soft dough. Do not add all the water at once. Keep adding water little by little.
  • Cover the dough with a damp cloth and keep aside for 10 minutes.

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For the Puris:

  • Put the tawa on medium flame.
  • Take 1 1/2 tbsp of the filling and form a ball and keep aside.
  • Take a bit of the dough and using a rolling pin form a small circle. Put the filling in the center. Bring all the edges of the dough to the center and seal it.
  • Sprinkle some flour on the paratha and roll it out to a 7 – 8 inch paratha.
  • Once the tawa is hot put the parathas with spread some ghee on one side.
  • Flip it to the other side after a minute or so and spread some ghee again.
  • Remove it from the pan once cooked on either side.
  • Serve it with homemade ghee or curd.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

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!

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!