Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Chicken Burger Recipe

I am on a cook at home spree. So whatever I crave for, I make at home. It's a great idea for me to try cooking new things and learn more cooking.

Chicken Burger Recipe

My latest cravings were that of a chicken burger. A juicy minced chicken patty, some lovely spread between crispy lettuce and soft buns. Well, I thought if I've imagined so much,  I might as well make it!

Chicken Burger Recipe

This burger combines the recipes of many burger specials I've seen on TV and online. The ideas which have appealed to me, I've taken them. I've come up with this recipe for my juicy chicken burger. All the ingredients are easily available to an Indian kitchen, so there are no worries there!

Chicken Burger Recipe

Chicken Burger Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Making Time: 30 minutes

Makes:  4 burgers

Ingredients:

For the burger patties:

500 gms minced chicken
2 cups bread crumbs
1 tbsp mustard sauce
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp mixed herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme and parsley)
1 tbsp garlic powder
Oil to shallow fry
Salt to taste

For the burger spread:

4 tbsps mayonnaise
2 tbsps mustard sauce

For Serving:

4 burger buns
4 leaves of lettuce
1 medium tomato sliced


Method:

First take the chicken mince in a bowl. Add in the mustard, ketchup, garlic powder, salt and herbs.

Next, add in the bread crumbs and mix with very light hands. Using a lot of pressure with make the burgers dry.

Make 4 patties of this mixture and refrigerate for 20 minutes at least.

In a bowl mix together the mayonnaise and mustard sauce to make a yummy burger spread.

In a bowl take some ice water. Dip the lettuce leaves in it and keep for at least 15 minutes. Pat dry.

Heat oil in a flat pan till it becomes very hot. Lower the flame to a medium high and cook the chicken patties for 5 minutes on each side.

In the meanwhile cut the burger buns, spread the burger spread on it and put the lettuce and tomato slices on the lower half of the bread.

When the patty is done, put it on top of the tomato slice and serve!

You can also serve the lettuce and tomato on the side to prevent the burger from soggy.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Palak Paneer Recipe

So I hear winter is here. Not in Mumbai where it's still hot in the afternoons (come on weather, it's December!) But I see across India temperatures are mellowing. And I am seeing fresher greens in the market (my favourite part of winter!) so I have hope. 

Palak Paneer Recipe
Greens like the ones I see in the market are to be celebrated. And I do. I love these leafy vegetables so much that I get them home at least twice a week and make different versions of them. You'll hear more about these treats I make as we go.

Palak Paneer Recipe
Palak paneer is the qunitessential Indian spinach dish. Ask anyone to name an Indian dish with spinach in it and palak paneer will be in the top 3 (if not the top). And why not? This dish has soft cottage cheese cooked in a creamy, flavourful spinach gravy. Who can resist that? Here's my recipe of palak paneer for all you lovely people reading this.

Palak Paneer Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

30-35 spinach leaves separated from the stalk
5 cups water
2 tbsps oil
1 tbsp garlic paste
1/2 tbsp ginger paste
1 medium onion choppped
1 medium sized tomato
2 green chillies
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
200 grams paneer cut into 1 inch peices
2 tbsps cream
Salt to taste

Method

Bring the water to a boil. When it's done, dip the spinach leaves in it for about 2 minutes. Remove and run them under cold water. 

Blend these in a mixer with the tomato and green chillies.

Heat oil in a pan. Add in the ginger and the garlic paste. Fry for 30 seconds.

Add in the onions and saute till they turn pink.

Now add the spinach puree, garam masala and salt and cook for 2 minutes on a low flame.

Add in the paneer and cream and mix well. Keep for a minute.

Serve hot.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Gula Melaka Sheera with Caramelised Banana Topping Recipe

Hello dear readers. I am back. Sorry for being out for so long without so much as a word. My health took a bit of a tumble because of the weather. A cold and throat infection got to me! I was completely keeping away from any electronic devices. I just was not in the mood to type. Trust me, I have had quite an earful from quite a few people about being so offline!

Gula Melaka Sheera with Caramelised Banana Topping Recipe

During this last week, my one hubby has been by my side constantly. He was amazingly caring, kind and supportive. He took such great care of me, my doctor's appointments, medicines and my moods. I have known my husband since we were young 20 year old undergraduates and in this week I saw how mature my best friend has become. And how he has lovingly taken on the role of a husband.

Gula Melaka Sheera with Caramelised Banana Topping Recipe

When I got better (thanks to his loving care), I wanted to thank him in my own way. So I created a dish, trying to put together things he'd love. First it HAD to be sweet. My husband has the proverbial sweet tooth. One of his most favourite sweets is sheera... so I thought why not make sheera for him with a twist. The twist comes by sweetening it with gula melaka which I still have in stock and which he likes! He also likes the bananas his grandma puts in the sheera we make as a prasad for Satyanarayan Pooja. I thought, why not add in a element of this. So I said lets add in some caramelised bananas on top for a lovely take on bananas in sheera. Thus was born my recipe of Gula Melaka Sheera with Caramelised Banana Topping.

Gula Melaka Sheera with Caramelised Banana Topping Recipe

Well, here's my warm and sweet thank you to my hubby. It was a big hit with him! The smile on his face was amazing! And this Diwali, I had a new recipe to make for the family too!

Gula Melaka Sheera with Caramelised Banana Topping Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 cup rawa
3 tbsps ghee
1 cup grated gula melaka or any other jaggery will do
3 cups heated  milk
1 tbsp butter
1 banana cut into chunks
3 tbsps sugar

Method

In a pan heat ghee. Add in the rawa and roast till brownish.

Add in the milk and let the sheera cook for about 7-8 minutes.

When it is almost done, add in the gula melaka/ jaggery and cook for anther 3-4 minutes.

In a shallow frying pan, melt butter.

Add in the banana and fry for about 30 seconds.

Pour in the sugar and let it caramelise on low heat for 3-4 minutes.

Arrange the caramelised bananas over the prepared sheera and serve hot.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Mixed Vegetable Thalipeeth Recipe

Cabbage, carrots and beetroots were never this interesting to eat!

Mixed Vegetable Thalipeeth Recipe

This thalipeeth is mainly made of vegetables with very little crushed peanuts and rice flour for binding. The taste of pan-fried crispy vegetables with salt, chilly powder and a dash of lemon juice makes this easy on our palate.

Mixed Vegetable Thalipeeth Recipe

The thalipeeth also has an interesting combination of textures. The slight softness of cooked vegetables goes really well with the crispiness that the rice flour and cooking brings to the dish.

Mixed Vegetable Thalipeeth

I served the thalipeeth with a chutney made of yoghurt, salt, red chilly powder, finely crushed peanuts and red garlic chutney (see recipe here). Plain yoghurt with just salt and red chilly powder will also go well with this.

Mixed Vegetable Thalipeeth Recipe:

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes per thalipeeth

Makes: 6 thalipeeths

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups grated cabbage
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 beetroot grated

1 tsp asafoetida powder
2 tsps red chilly powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp finely crushed peanuts
2 tbsps rice flour
Salt to taste

Oil for shallow frying

Method:

In a large bowl mix all the grated vegetables.

Add in the salt, red chilly powder and the asafoetida. Mix well with your fingers.

Next add the lemon juice, finely crushed peanuts and rice flour. Knead lightly with your fingers till a dough is formed. The vegetables will release water that will help the binding. This might take a couple of minutes. Add about a couple of tbsps of water if needed here. 

Take a cold tawa or a flat shallow frying pan. Don't heat it yet!! Spread about 2 tsps oil all over it. 

Make a ball of about 3 inch diameter from the dough and put it on the tawa . 

Wet your fingers a little and pat the dough ball lightly with them to flatten it. Do it from the center outwards till you get  a flat thalipeeth. It should be about 2 cms in thickness when done. 

Don't worry  about the shape. It's better when it's not  a perfect circle. It makes it look nice and rustic.

Make three holes in the center of the thalipeeth with your index finger (see picture). It will help the thalipeeth cook through.

Put the tawa on the gas now and start heating  it on a high flame. Lower the flame to medium high after about 1 minute. 

Cook the thalipeeth on a medium high flame for about 3 minutes till it is crisp and golden brown on one side. 

Flip and cook for another 2 minutes on the other side. 

Serve hot with chutney or yoghurt!

Tip: Let the tawa cool a little after making one thalipeeth. It makes it easier to pat the next one with your fingers. I use two tawas at a time to serve the thalipeeths faster. 









Wednesday, 9 September 2015

7 Amazing Cuisines Indians Should Not Miss!

We Indians tend to be wary of trying out new cuisines. We have our very particular preferences because of our traditional food habits. So here are some cuisines from around the world that Indians can start experimenting with. 

1. Thai Cuisine
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Thai food… ooh la la! Thai cuisine is based on the philosophy of a balance of five tastes in every dish: salty, sweet, spicy, sour and bitter. This is very close to our Indian philosophy of balancing six rasas. Thai cuisine is also very adaptable to vegetarian cooking. And they even do curries! No wonder it has started becoming such a popular cuisine in India.
Dishes to try: Apart from the quintessential red and green Thai curry, try Pad Thai (flat noodle in a spicy sauce), Som Tam (spicy raw papaya salad), Khao Pad (fried rice), Thai Pineapple Fried Rice and their Stir-Fried Greens. Wash it down with some refreshing Lemongrass juice and end on a sweet note with a dessert of sticky rice with Thai mango. 
2. Turkish Cuisine
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Turkish cuisine has many influences that make for tastes which Indians will enjoy. Turkish cuisine has a lot of dips and Mezze platters for spice lovers. It uses a lot of fresh vegetables for salads and vegetarian meals. And for the meat eaters they have fantastic kebabs.
Dishes to Try: At the heart of Turkish cuisine are their lavish Mezze platters which you simply should not miss! Their Icli Kofte (minced meat croquettes), lamb Kebabs, Dolma (stuffed vegetable dish) are fantastic too. You can have some ayran (salty yoghurt drink) or Turkish mint tea to digest the meal. Don’t forget their Baklava and Lokum if you like your sweets!
3. South African Cuisine
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South African cuisine has a variety of vegetable and meat dishes for the Indian palate. It uses a lot of spices in cooking, and like our garam masala it has different spice mixes for curries. It has also been greatly influenced by Indian immigrants over the years. So there are a lot of dishes which have origins in traditional Indian cooking.
Dishes to Try: Their Chakalaka (vegetables in onion and tomato gravy), Potjiekos (a slow-cooked meat and vegetable curry), Boerewors (spicy grilled sausages),  and Bredie ( a hearty meat stew made in winters) are to die for! You can drink their traditional local beer or rock shandy (South African style lemonade) to quench your thirst. For the sweet tooth they have Koeksisters (fried twists dunked in sugar syrup) and Malva pudding. 
4. Brazilian Cuisine
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Like Indian cuisine, Brazilian cuisine varies greatly from region to region. This means there is a wide variety of food for all our preferences. For fish lovers, North Brazilian cuisine is the way to go while meat lovers can opt for South Brazilian cuisine. Brazil also has a lot of rice and bean dishes, fruits and breads for vegetarians.
Dishes to Try: Feijoada (a stew of meats and vegetables served with rice), Moqueca (salt water fish stew in coconut milk), Acarajé (black-eyed peas’ fritters) are all great to chow down.  In desserts, you can try Beijinho (candy of condensed milk and coconut) and Quindim (a baked custard).  If you’re thirsty from all the eating, look no further than Cachaça (a distilled spirit made from sugarcane), Cajuína (non-alcoholic drink of cashew apples) and cocktails made from a combination of these with other mixers!
5. Mexican Cuisine
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Mexicans use chilli peppers in their food like we use our red chilly powder! That makes their dishes spicy and appealing to chilli-starved Indians across the world. They also use corn and beans and it’s easier to adapt their cuisine to a vegetarian version. Just order with no meat and only beans, and you’re good to go!
Dishes to Try: Chilaquiles (corn tortillas with red or green salsa and chicken and egg toppings) huevos rancheros  (eggs cooked in a spicy pepper and tomato sauce), torta cubana (Mexican version of a sandwich), pozole (slow cooked corn stew with meats) and tacos al pastor (Mexican version of a shawarma) are great apart from the nachos and burritos. For dessert, try their churros dipped in chocolate, flan (an open pastry with a sweet filling) and sopaipillas (fried breads with sweet accompaniments)  . In beverages you have tequila, cervaza preparada (a beer and tomato juice cocktail) and pox for alcoholics whereas teetotalers can sip on the spicy Aztec Hot Chocolate or refreshing fruit aguas frescas. 
6. Italian Cuisine
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Italian cooking is quite similar to Indian cooking. The best food is homemade food from mom’s kitchen. There are family recipes that are highly secretive and passed down from generation to generation. And there are no measures except a handful of this or a pinch of that! They use a lot of fresh herbs and flavourings that are absolutely delightful to the Indian palate.
Dishes to Try: Pizzas, pastas and risottos are all good, but try their risi e bisi (rice and peas dish like our khichdi), eggplant parmesan, robust spiced meatballs and preserved meats. Pair the meats with amazing local wines and round up your meal with the ever-popular tiramisu and gelato or the lesser known panna cotta (pudding of cooked cream), cannoli (fried pastry dough tubes filled with ricotta-based creamy filling or Zuppa Inglese (custard based dessert).
7. Spanish Cuisine
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Spanish cuisine is gaining popularity in India, mainly due to the culture of tapas which are small dishes had with a drink while bar-hopping. The cuisine of Spain is primarily focused on fresh ingredients, seafood and lightly flavoured sauces. Their use of olive oil and garlic is legendary. They also use a lot of herbs like paprika (smoky chilli pepper), saffron, oregano, rosemary and thyme, cheeses and hams and sausages.
Dishes to Try:  The most famous tapas are Gambas al Ajillo (garlic shrimps), Patatas Bravas (chunky fried potatoes topped with spicy sauces) and Tortilla Espanola (Spanish omlette). You should not miss Paella (seafood and rice dish), Spanish fish and clams in Garlic Wine Sauce, Jamon Serrano and Chorizo Sausage. Spanish wines go great with their food. And you can end on a sweet note with Panellets (small cakes and cookies), quince paste (jelly), teja (dumpling shaped confectionary with sweet filling) or crème brulee.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Wholewheat Banana-Walnut Pancake Recipe

Aai baba recently took a trip to Singapore for my sister-in-law's convocation. They've come back loaded with a lot of food goodies for the home and me. One of the best ones is a bear-shaped pancake pan that tai has sent for me as an early birthday gift!

Wholewheat Banana-Walnut Pancake Recipe

She saw how many pancakes I and later hubby had devoured last year in Singapore at her place. And she very thoughtfully sent me the pan to make more. Now that the pan's here, I HAD to make pancakes!

Wholewheat Banana-Walnut Pancake Recipe

I prefer not to use maida (all-purpose flour) as far as possible. So I made these pancakes with wholewheat flour. A problem that people think wholewheat flour has is that it makes for denser pancakes. To that I say, "Nope!" Once you get the eggs frothy, these pancakes are anything but dense. Add in bananas and walnuts with a sprinkling of sugar and you've got yourselves a quick breakfast treat!

Wholewheat Banana-Walnut Pancake Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 minutes per pancake

Makes: 4 pancakes

Ingredients:

3 eggs
2 cups wholewheat flour
1 large banana
5 walnuts de-shelled
2 tsps powdered sugar
1/2 cup water

Butter for brushing the cooking pan
Powdered sugar for sprinkling on top.

Method:

Peel the banana and cut it into small chunks of about 3 cms each.

Cut the walnut kernels into 4-5 pieces.

In a bowl, break the eggs. Whisk with a beater or fork in quick circular motions till a thick layer of froth is formed at the top.

Fold the flour and sugar in gently. Add water, banana chunks and walnuts and mix gently.

Heat a pan. Brush it with butter on one side. Pour a quarter of the batter and cook till golden brown on one side. Flip and cook on the other side,

Use a sieve to sprinkle the powdered sugar on top and serve hot!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Garlic Chutney Recipe

This fiery red garlicky chutney can be a life-saver. It's a 3-ingredient recipe that takes very little time to make. And it can be stored for up to a month in the freezer.

Garlic Chutney Recipe

And there are so many uses of this chutney. Add it to pav bhaji (recipe here) while cooking after the tomatoes are done and before you add the potatoes. Use it as a topping for your ragda patties (recipe here). Add it as a spread to your frankie (recipe here). Mix it into your dal ke parathe (recipe here) dough for an extra zing! Or serve it as an accompaniment to your wada pav (recipe here), bhajiyas/ pakoras (recipe here) and cutlets (recipe here)

Garlic Chutney Recipe

The uses of this 'wonder' chutney are only limited by your imagination! 

Garlic Chutney Recipe

Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Making Time: 5 minutes

Makes: about 1 cup of chutney

Ingredients:

20 dried whole red kashmiri chillies
2 cups warm water to soak
30-35 cloves of garlic
1 tsp corriander powder
2-3 tsps water to grind
Salt to taste

Method:

De-seed the kashmiri chillies. A trick to do this is to use a scissor, cut the top open and squeeze till the seeds all fall out.

Soak the deseeded chilles in the warm water for half an hour. Drain the water away.

In a grinder, grind together the soaked chillies, garlic, corriander powder and salt with a little water to form a smooth paste.

Store in a clean airtight container in the freezer.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Methi Na Thepla (Fresh Fenugreek Flatbreads) Recipe

After my wedding, I find myself getting closer to traditional Gujarati cooking. Firstly because hubby and aai-baba love it. And of course, because when I feel the (very rare) cravings for some simple Gujju food, my mom and maasis can't be around. 


Methi na Thepla (Fresh Fenugreek Flatbreads) Recipe

Any Gujju worth the name "Gujju" loves methi na thepla. These very lightly spiced fenugreek flatbreads are our go-to meal when in doubt! Pair them up with a potato sukhi bhaaji (recipe will be up soon) and some homemade chhundo (sweet grated mango pickle/ relish) and you've got yourself the ultimate Gujju meal!

Methi na Thepla (Fresh Fenugreek Flatbreads) Recipe

Thepla easily last for about a week without refrigeration, so they make for great travel food. My most fond memories of thepla are the heaps that my maasi used to carry for our overnight train journeys to Ahmedabad. Mom used to get her amazing chhundo and sukhi bhaaji and we'd have a fest having avoided the bland train food. Those meals are some of the best travel stories I have. 

Methi na Thepla (Fresh Fenugreek Flatbreads) Recipe

Methi Na Thepla (Fresh Fenugreek Flatbreads) Recipe

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 minutes per thepla

Makes: 10 theplas

Ingredients:

2 tbsps yoghurt 
2 tbsps sugar
1 cup packed fresh methi leaves (fenugreek)
2 cups whole wheat flour
4-5 garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
1 1/2- 2 cups water
Salt to taste

Whole wheat flour as required for dusting when rolling
Vegetable oil as required for roasting theplas

Method:

In a small bowl whisk together sugar and yoghurt till the sugar dissolves completely. A fork should be good enough to whisk it, you don't need a whisk for this!

In a large plate take the cleaned methi (fenugreek) leaves. Add the salt, turmeric, red chilly powder and the garlic cloves. Now add the prepared yoghurt and sugar mix. Mix all of these well with your fingers.

Add the whole wheat flour and mix this dry mixture again with your fingers.

Slowly start adding water and make a hard dough like the one for paranthas. Cover and rest it for 10 minutes. 

Heat a tawa/ flat griddle pan.

Make balls of the dough of about 2 inches in diameter. Dust with wheat flour and roll out a parantha. Keep dusting while rolling, as required.

Roast on the pan on both sides till half done without oil. Then brush oil and roast on both sides till done. 

Relish hot with chhundo, pickles, yoghurt, or even chutney! 




Thursday, 16 July 2015

5 Unique Indian Curries You Shouldn't Miss!

I've been thinking Indian food. And I have been thinking curries. Indian curries have been stereotyped as tomato and cream-based with lots of curry powder or garam masala. Honestly, if we ate like that everyday we'd be a nation with a lot of health problems.

India is a land of diversity even in it's food and curries. We make so many different types of curries with different bases and different spice mixes. Here's a compilation of my favourite curries which you may not have even heard of!

1. Laal Kaalwan (Maharashtrian Red Fish Curry)

The recipe can be found here.

Laal Kaalwan (Maharashtrian Red Fish Curry)
Laal kaalwan is the latest entrant on my list of favourite curries! It's a spicy, tangy curry with an underlying flavour of coconut and onions. It's best served with plain steamed rice and is a must-eat for seafood lovers who are tired of the same old chicken curries.

2. Pink Guava Curry

The recipe can be found here.

Pink Guava Curry
Yes, that's right! It's a curry made of pink guavas. Fruity with hints of spice, it's curry like you many have never had (or even heard of!) before! This curry is great for days when  you don't feel like having the same old vegetables. Pair it with some wheat paranthas (like these) and you're good to go!

3. Papad ki Dahiwali Sabzi

The recipe can be found here.


Papad ki Dahiwali Sabzi

Run out of vegetables in the fridge? Don't worry, this curry is here to save the day! This curry is a unique experience of roasted namkeen papads cooked in a lightly spiced rich yogurt gravy. Pair it with some phulkas or steamed rice and relish fresh!

Kerala Style Vegetable Stew

The recipe can be found here.


Kerala Style Vegetable Stew
A medley of vegetables slowly cooked in coconut milk with whole spices. The fragrance of the spices seeps into the curry giving it a gentle taste without being overpowering. This beautiful dish pairs best with steamed rice to make a great one-dish meal. Or you can eat it with some appams if you know how to make them or get your hands on some good ones.

5. Vendakka Moor Kolumbu (Okra in Yoghurt Gravy)

The recipe can be found here.


Vendakka Moor Kolumbu (Okra in Yoghurt Gravy)

Sauted okra is cooked in a creamy yoghurt gravy with a South Indian tempering of curry leaves, mustard seeds and onions. A rich yet light curry, this one is greatly satisfying for the taste buds and the stomach. It is best had with parathas or phulkas.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Quick Aloo Tikki Chaat Recipe

A few of hubby's friends had decided to meet up at our local Starbucks a few days back. I thought, "Why?!" I asked him to just invite them home! Since the wedding I've been looking out for chances to show off my cooking and inventing skills. I jumped at another chance to do so!

Quick Aloo Tikki Chaat Recipe

Since it was evening time just before dinner and we had not made dinner plans, I thought chaat would just be perfect for this time! I also had the chutneys ready. But I had only a half an hour head's up so I couldn't boil potatoes and make the regular tikkis. I needed something quick.

Quick Aloo Tikki Chaat Recipe

That's when I this idea came to me. Hubby and I had had this amazing chaat at a friend's wedding in Bangalore where the aloo tikki was a shallow fried patty of grated potato. Since I love tikkis made this way, I thought why not try it at home?! They're very easy to make, need only 3 ingredients that are always in our pantry, and don't take much time... pretty much a great combination of things for me!

The chaat was a quick cooking affair. The tikkis were made in about 20 minutes. I had made and stocked the chutneys from before like I always do. And I quickly chopped an onion for topping. It took less than half and hour and was more-so satisfying because because it got hubby's and his friends' thumbs-ups! It is a great recipe to put in my quick party starters brain file.

Quick Aloo Tikki Chaat Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

200 gms potatoes
2 tsps red chilly powder
Salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying

For Serving

2 cups yoghurt
1 tsp red chilly powder
6 tbsps date and tamarind chutney (recipe here)
4 tbsps green mint chutney (recipe here)
2 medium sized onions finely chopped
4 tbsps sev
2 tbsps corriander leaves

Method

Peel and grate the potatoes with a grater of medium thickness.

Squeeze the potatoes a couple of times with your hand to remove the starchy water in them. There is no salt added yet, the potatoes will give out water even before salt is added.

In a shallow frying pan, heat the oil.

Lower the flame. Take a handful lump of the grated potato and press onto the pan. It should be like this.


Quick Aloo Tikki Chaat Recipe

Press down with the help of a spatula. Make 5-6 such tikkis in one go.

Sprinkle salt and a pinch of red chilly powder on each tikki.

Quick Aloo Tikki Chaat Recipe


Let the tikkis cook on one side till golden brown. Keep pressing with a spatula every 30 seconds or so to make sure it binds together. It takes about 5 minutes on a medium high flame to cook it to golden brown.

Quick Aloo Tikki Chaat Recipe

Flip and cook the other side by pressing it again and again till it's golden brown.

When it's done on both sides, remove from the pan.

Quick Aloo Tikki (Aloo Tikki Chaat Recipe)

To serve, take a tikki. Top it with yoghurt, date and tamarind chutney, green mint chutney, onions, sev and corriander leaves.

Relish it with great delight! 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Cooking 101: Tempering




Tempering is an essential part of Indian cooking. It is used in almost all vegetable, rice, meat and lentil dishes in India. Known as 'tadka', 'baghar', 'vaghar', 'fodni', 'chaukna' in various Indian languages, tempering can be used at the beginning of cooking the dish or also as a garnish.

Tempering
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Tempering begins by heating a small quantity of vegetable oil in a kadhai (if it is used at the beginning of making a dish) or a small tempering spoon/ vessel (if used as a garnish). Whole spices like mustard seeds and cumin seeds are then added and allowed to crackle, If needed other tempering ingredients like asafoetida powder, curry leaves, dried red chillies, garlic, ginger, etc are added last.


Tips for Tempering

Heat the Oil Enough

Make sure the oil is heated enough. Ideally the mustard and cumin seeds should start crackling about 30 seconds after they're put in. This takes some practice to get right, but don't worry after 5 or 6 tries, you'll get it!

Be Safe

When adding the mustard seeds and cumin seeds or whole spices, lower the flame so the hot oil doesn't splatter all over you. Also stand as far away as possible and move back immediately after you add in the spices.

Curry Leaves in Tempering

Curry leaves tend to make hot oil splatter even more than seeds. Well, that's simply because after you wash them, the water stays on them. When water is added to hot oil, it's a splatter explosion! Dry the curry leaves a little and it won't splatter as much. And yes, stay as far away as possible.

Recipes To Try out Tempering:

1. Tuvero no Bhaath
2. Dal Fry
3. Pink Guava Curry

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Anna's Baked Beans and Toast Recipe

Baked beans and toast hold a lot of memories for me. They were my early morning sustenance for almost three years at Xavier's.

Baked Beans and Toast Recipe
Our undergraduate classes at Xavier's used to start at 8 am in the morning. Which meant I HAD to leave from home by 6.15 am sharp. There was no way I'd feel hungry that early in the morning... I'd have barely woken up! So the first thing I would do on reaching college is go to the canteen or mess and order myself a large breakfast!

Baked Beans and Toast Recipe

Anna's (our mess owner) baked beans and toast were the first time I'd ever had baked beans. We'd never gotten them home before because we did not know what they were. I had loved them and I started eating them regularly. I also thought that's how they came out of the can. Till one day I had them at a restaurant... the ones served straight out of the can were horrible! That's when I realised Anna did something magical with them. It seems I have finally made that recipe work!

Anna's Baked Beans and Toast Recipe

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients

2 tbsps peanut/ sunflower/ olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
2 cups baked beans
1 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsps mixed herbs (oregano, parsley, thyme, basil etc)  or pizza mix
1 tsp black pepper powder
Salt to taste

Bread slices and butter to serve.

Method

Heat oil in a pan. Saute the onions till they turn translucent.

Add in the baked beans, red chilly powder, and mixed herbs.

Season with pepper and salt to taste.

Cook for about 2 minutes on high flame.


Serve with buttered toast.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Cooking 101: Frying



For the Cooking 101 series, I thought I'd start with some basic cooking methods or techniques that are essential to Indian cooking. I will cover each technique's definition, the science behind it and the best practices, particularly for Indian food. So next time you read a technique I use, you will know how to best use it! 

Today's technique is frying.

Frying:

Frying is essentially cooking food in a fatty medium. There are many fats that can be used for frying like oils, animal fats etc. Indian cooking primarily uses vegetable oils such as peanut oil, sunflower oil, rice bran oil and olive oil. 

There are two kinds of frying that we use to make our food: deep frying and shallow frying, 

Deep Frying 


Deep Frying
In deep frying, the item to be cooked is completely submerged in the oil or fat for cooking. So you need a large, deep vessel and lots of oil for deep frying. Samosas, pooris, wadas, pakoras/ bhajiyas all are our eternal favourite fried foods. 

Tips for Deep Frying: 

Testing the Heated Oil

You need to make sure the oil is hot enough. A traditional way to test this (while deep frying) is to put a bit of the batter or snack being fried into the oil. If it rises from the bottom to the top of the oil in less 2-3 seconds, it's hot enough! 

Putting the Items In

Put in the items to be fried from a distance using a long slotted spoon. This will prevent hot oil splattering on you which happens when water comes in contact with hot oil. The hot oil will try to throw the water out. Hence you need to be extra careful when frying stuff with water in the batter or wet stuff.

Frying in Batches:

When you have a large number of items to deep fry, they're best done in small batches. So if I have 10 wadas to fry, I will do in batches of 3 or 4 to the max. This allows them to cook evenly. It also uses lesser oil because less is needed to submerge lesser food items. Allow time between batches for the oil to heat again. 

Recipes for Trying Out Deep Frying: 

1. Wada pav


2. Shallow Frying 

Shallow frying

Shallow frying is when the food is only partially in contact with the oil. It is usually done on a a flat surface like a tawa (flat iron griddle). It's considered the healthier version of cooking dishes by frying as it needs much less oil for cooking and the food absorbs lesser oil too. Patties, parathas and cutlets are best served by shallow frying till they become crispy. In our home we also shallow fry marinated fish coated in rice flour (recipe of marination here).

Tips for Shallow Frying:

Testing Heated Oil

The oil should be decently hot for shallow frying. There should be a loud sizzling noise when you put the shallow frying item on it to cook. If there isn't, give it some more time to heat. 

Crispy Crusts

Shallow fried items mean crispy crusts. To get the best crispy crusts, heat oil well, lower the flame to medium high and cook one side till done. When you flip over, add some more oil and put the flame on high to heat oil well. You'll get a beautiful golden-brown crust! 

Recipes for Trying Out Shallow Frying:









Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Misal Pav Recipe

Misal pav has recently beat many dishes around the world to be named as the world's tastiest vegetarian snack! I was not surprised when I read this. Who'd be? If you've had misal pav, you'll know what I am talking of!

Misal Pav Recipe

Misal pav comes from Maharashtra in India. The snack usually comprises of sprouted moth beans cooked in a thin gravy of onion, garlic, coconut and a special spice mix. This gravy is topped with a farsan mix that has gathiya, theekha gathiya, shev, chana dal etc, sev, chopped onions and tomatoes. A squeeze of lime is the final touch needed to mix it all up. And you have it with soft laadi pavs dipped in the gravy.

Misal Pav Recipe

There are however some regional differences in how misal is made and served. In some places like Nashik, misal is made of a combination of pulses and not just moth beans. Some places serve misal pav with khajur imli or teekhi chutney. And of course, the main difference, the spice mix varies from place to place. However, it's easy to find misal masala around the country in stores. If not, chana masala or chhole masala can be used, but try for the misal masala! 

Misal Pav recipe
Misal Recipe 

Preparation Time: 20 minutes (not including sprouting time for moth beans)
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

For the vaatan (ground paste for gravy)

2 tbsps peanut/ sunflower/ olive oil
3 medium sized onions roughly diced
3 tbsps dried coconut shavings
10 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup water


For the misal 

3 tbsps peanut/ sunflower/ olive oil
2 tps asafoetida powder
2 star anises
3 dried bay leaves
Vaatan as made above
2 tbsps misal masala
2 cups sprouted moth beans
3 cups water
Salt to taste

For Serving

Laadi pav
Lemon wedges
150 grms mixed farsaan
150 grms sev
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped corriander leaves

Method

Put the moth beans to pressure cook first. Cook for about 3 whistles and they'll be done.

In a kadhai heat 2 tbsps oil. Add in the roughly diced onions and saute on a medium high flame. Keep stirring. The onions will start turning brownish in about 5-7 minuutes.

Add in the dried coconut shavings immediately to the browning onions. Keep stirring. In about 3-4 minutes, they'll start turning brown.

When the coconut turns brown, add in the garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes on medium high flame.

Grind the mixture with 1/2 cup water till it forms a smooth paste. This is our vaatan.

To make the misal, heat oil in a kadhai. Add the asafoetida, star anises and bay leaves. Fry for about 30 seconds.

Add in the prepared vaatan and the misal masala. Saute on a medium high flame till the  mixture starts releasing oil (about 10-12 minutes). This shows that the mixture is cooked and the spices have bloomed.

Add in the pressure cooked moth beans, salt and water. The consistency should be of a thin gravy. Bring to a boil and then lower the flame and cook for about 5 minutes.

To serve, fill a bowl with about 4-5 serving spoonfuls of misal. Add in 2 tbsps of mixed farsan, 1 tbsp of onion, 1 tbsp of tomatoes, 1 tbsps of sev and 1/2 tsps of corriander leaves. Serve with two pavs and wedge of lime to be squeezed on top as per preference.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Cooking 101: The Basics of Cooking Series

Why the basics of cooking series?

While writing recipes, I have understood that there is no way around using technical terms or certain basic assumptions. Though I try to give explanations and keep it simple, I have always had something at the back of my mind that needs to be done. I finally had that 'aha! moment' today. I need to write about the basics of cooking. 

How will a person who has never cooked before get around to feeling more comfortable with it? Simple, by knowing the beauty of each technique and spice that goes into the process and what outcomes it brings. For that I need to write down all this implicit knowledge that we have of cooking. 

I have picked up a lot of knowledge about cooking from my grandma, mom, aai, aaji, bhabhi, professional chefs' articles and recipes. Most of this has been passed down orally or during show and tell. And I WRITE recipes. That's the gap that needs to be filled.

I need to write down why do I feel comfortable when I read a recipe. Why do I know what I know about the steps in a recipe when I read it? These things can't be explained in every recipe. But having explanations of it can make new readers of recipes and budding cooks feel more competent to attempt them. 

So here's writing down the goals of this series that I am attempting. This is to the knowledge of cooking that we know and have not easily expressed in recipes! This goes out to all the first-time cooks to whom I say welcome to magic!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Laal Kaalwan (Maharashtrian Red Fish Curry) Recipe

Move over Thai red curry, I just found a beautiful fish curry right here in aai's kitchen!

Laal Kaalwan (Maharashtrian Red Fish Curry) Recipe 

There it is! The beautiful laal kaalwan.

Laal kaalwan literally means red curry. It is one of the two fish curries aai makes at home. The other one is surprise surprise hirva kaalwan or green fish curry (sounds familiar?). I am not surprised by this great similarity between Thai food and Maharashtrian food. Both are coastal cuisines with a fondness for fish. Both are heavy on spices. And both use loads of coconut. There had to be some similar dishes, right?

Enjoying laal kaalwan is bit of a matter of pride for me. I come from a mostly vegetarian home and I used to occasionally have chicken outside. I had fish for the first time very late in life with my hubby. I fell in love with it so much, that I even love kaalwan which I am told is something that only hardcore fish eaters love. For me, it has also been about being absolutely unafraid of eating new dishes and cuisines, and finding the merits in them.

Laal Kaalwan (Maharashtrian Red Fish Curry) Recipe 

This recipe has been passed down from aaji (my grandmother-in-law) to aai and now even I have tried it. It's not rocket science but tastes like it is! It is a versatile curry that can be made with quite a few salt water fishes like pomfret, prawns, Indian salmon etc. It is also a great way to use up those parts of the fish which we normally can't shallow fry and eat like the head, the tough parts near the stomach or the tail.

Laal kaalwan, like any other fish curry, is best had with steamed rice. We also squeeze a wedge of lime over it.  Baba likes to add ghee  and salt to the mix while eating it. Any way you have it, you will enjoy this beautiful spicy and sour flavourful fish curry.

Laal Kaalwan (Maharashtrian Red Fish Curry) Recipe 

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

For Marinating the Fish

100 gms promfret/ Indian salmon (raawas)/ ghol (Jew fish)/ prawns/ surmai (seer fish) cut into 2 inch pieces
3 tbsps corriander-garlic-ginger paste (recipe here)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2 tsps laal masala/ garam masala
Salt to taste

For the Curry

Marinated fish as above
3 tbsps oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2 medium sized onions roughly sliced
2 tbsps grated fresh coconut
2 tsps magaj (dried melon seeds) (optional)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp red chilly powder
3 tsps laal masala/ garam masala
1 1/2 tbsps lemon juice
Water to adjust consistency
Salt to taste

Method

Take the fish in a bowl. Put in the corriander-ginger-garlic paste.

Now put the turmeric powder, asafoetida, laal masala/ garam masala and the salt.

Coat the fish well and marinate for at least 10 mins.

Soak the dried melon seeds in water for about 10 minutes.

Grind together the onions, coconut and the melon seeds with a little water (about 3 tbsps) till they form a smooth paste.

Heat oil in a deep pan. Add in the turmeric and asafoetida.

When it starts to sizzle in about 10-15 seconds, add in the fish pieces. Saute them in it for about 2 mins. Don't cook it completely or the fish will overcook when we cook the curry.

Add the paste we grinded of onions, coconut and melon seeds.

Add in the red chilly powder, the laal masala/ garam masala and mix well.

Pour in about 1 cup water to get a thin curry consistency.

Season with salt.

Bring the curry to a boil and lower the flame. Let it simmer on low flame for about 5 minutes.

After 4 minutes of simmering, add in the lime juice (not before that or it will go bitter). Simmer for about a minute and turn off the gas.

Serve fresh with steamed rice and a wedge of lime!



Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Spicy Thai Rice Noodle Salad Recipe

I've had a box of rice noodles lying around in the kitchen cupboard for quite some time now. They have been unopened because I couldn't think of a good recipe for them. I did not want to make a regular stir-fried Thai noodle dish from them. So I kept thinking, and these noodles have been lying around in the kitchen cupboard for some time.

Spicy Thai Rice Noodle Salad Recipe
A few days back, I heard them call out to me... they were desperate to see the light of the day! And so I decided I had to make something out of them soon. Even if it is as simple as a salad. That's it! Why not try a salad out of them? And the salad had to be Thai-style salad that would go with the noodles.


Spicy Thai Rice Noodle Salad Recipe

I have made the dressing of the salad in the philosophy of Thai cuisine. It has a delicate balance of sour, salty, sweet and pungent tastes that Thai cuisine is so famous for. Another interesting aspect of the salad is the jugalbandi of the textures of the noodles (softness) and the cabbage (crunchiness).

Spicy Thai Rice Noodle Salad Recipe
This salad can be had as a side dish with some Asian-style grilled meats or by itself as a meal. I like pairing it with some soothing jasmine green tea that adds an interesting floral note to the meal.

Spicy Thai Rice Noodle Salad Recipe

Spicy Thai Rice Noodle Salad Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Making Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

For the Salad:

50 gms 3mm thick rice noodles
500 ml water
50 gms green cabbage shredded
10-15 fresh corriander leaves
6-7 Thai basil leaves (optional)

For the Dressing:

1 tsp peanut/ sesame oil
2 tsps soya sauce
2 tsps white vinegar
3 cloves of garlic chopped
3 Thai red bird's eye chilly (or 1 fresh regular red chilly ) sliced
1 1/2 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Method:

First mix together all the dressing ingredients. Stir well till the sugar dissolves... a fork is very helpful in doing this!

Put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to let the garlic and red chilly's flavours infuse into the dressing.

Bring the water to a boil. Lower the flame and put in the rice noodles for 2 minutes in the boiling water. Drain and rinse the noodles under cold water. Let them cool.

In a bowl, mix the shredded cabbage, the noodles, the corriander and Thai basil leaves.

Pour the dressing over it. Mix well with your hands till the dressing coats the noodles evenly.

Serve with some jasmine green tea.