Friday, September 30, 2011

Bhindi Achari

When you are too bored of eating the same bhindi recipe, try this easy recipe with a twist. Tastes good, and gets ready in a jiffy.

  • 3 cups chopped bhindi (okra)
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric seeds
  • 2 tsp dry red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp pickle gravy (any)
  • salt to taste
  1. Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds
  2. Once they begin to splutter add the onions. Saute till they are browned evenly.
  3. Add the chopped okra, and all the dried spices.
  4. Mix it all well and cover and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once the okra has cooked, add pickle gravy (the masala in the pickle, not the pickled  ingredients)
  6. Add the salt. Add very little in beginning, taste and then adjust accordingly.
  7. Serve hot with chapati or parantha.

Happy Cooking!

Kids-friendly Mini Pizzas

Ah, the feeling, when everything goes exactly as it should! When the pizza base is soft as a cushion, when the sauce is just right! I am about to float...

This time there is a change. I have taken pics at almost every step, to show you exactly how to make the pizza base.

 Gloating! And how!

I won't blabber much, just write the recipe.

For the base
  • 3 cups flour
  • 5 g yeast 
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 130 ml warm water
For the sauce

  • 2 large tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 2 large sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (more if you are making for grown ups)
  • salt to taste

  • as per your choice
  • large quantities of mozarella cheese

This is how much of the base ingredients you will require. Roughly. That is one cup flour. You will need 3 cups. And that is not wine in the wine glass, it's olive oil!

 2. Warm the water. Do not make it hot otherwise you will end up killing the yeast. You should be able to comfortably dip your finger in the water for more than 5 seconds. Add the yeast, and sugar to the water. Keep aside for ten minutes. The above picture is an examply of how frothy it gets. Looks like the foam on top of a latte, doesn't it?
 3. Add the above frothy mixture to the flour. This is EXACTLY how sticky it gets. Says who that kneading dough is therapeutic? Bread doughs get irritatingly messy. But that's just it... the stickier the better. Try and manipulate it somehow kneading to and fro, squishing between your fingers, picking it up and  throwing it down, for a good fifteen minutes. Anything to release the gluten!

4. Rub a little olive oil into a bowl and place the dough in it. Pat a little olive oil on top of the dough. This is how much the dough will be initially. Cover with a damp cloth and leave it for one hour (or more depending upon the heat  and draught.) The point is, it should double in size.

This is where you cross your fingers and pray that you have done everything right.

 5. And this is where your prayer gets answered! Look, look! It doubled up, yay! Now the disappointing part. Poke your finger in the dough and deflate it and knead it flat again. Sadly, this must be done to redistribute the air through the dough. Let it sit for 45 more minutes.

Meanwhile make the sauce.

  1.  Heat the oil. Add garlic and let them brown.
  2. Throw in the chopped tomatoes.
  3. Toss in the herbs and red chilli powder
  4. Add ketchup.
  5. Add salt.
  6. Cook for five minutes till tomatoes are soft.
  7. Remove the thyme twigs, and puree the sauce. It is ready.
Assemble everything.

  1. Your dough will have risen again. Knead it again to make it flat. 
  2. Dust your work area with dry flour.
  3. Make a small ball of dough and place it in the dusted work area. Push the dough apart with your fingers (greased) till the dough becomes flat and round, with raised edges. 
  4. Place the dough in a tray. 
  5. Spoon a little sauce on top of the base.
  6. Add the toppings. (I used tomatoes, capsicum, mushrooms and onions)
  7. Top it off with grated mozarella cheese.
  8. Push it on the top rack of your oven or microwave.
  9. Grill for ten minutes till the edges turn golden brown.

Yum! This is what you get!

Too good to be true, man! Simply amazing! Saee ate them with gusto. Thank God!

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Onion Rice

Coming to think of it, whenever you sample some really good Indian food, and ask what's in it, the answer will definitely have onion and garlic. Of course, there are many recipes without onion and garlic which I equally love. One of them is Rishi chi Bhaaji. This recipe is made on the second day of Ganesh Chaturthi which is called Rishi Panchami. I absolutely love this recipe and can eat bowlfuls of it just like a stew. It is a classic example of how simple food can taste absolutely exotic.

Yet, there is no substitute for onions and garlic. Used a lot, they overpower the flavors of other ingredients, but used in the correct quantity, they yield that subtle sweet and pungent taste which is so unmistakeable in Indian curries.

This recipe, like most of my recipes is very very simple. I saw a lot of recipes using a plethora of ingredients, but I wanted something which could be quick and easy, and yet bursting full with flavor. So this is my version of onion rice, which I can say is a variant of the usual jeera rice.

  • 1 cup basmati rice washed 
  • 2 small onions sliced
  • 4 pods garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil (I use sunflower oil, because it is non-fattening as compared to peanut oil, and the difference is visible)
  • salt to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a wok, and add cumin seeds and cinnamon. 
  2. Once they begin to change color, add the garlic. 
  3. Allow the garlic  to brown a little and add the onions. Saute the onions well for about four minutes till they turn a lovely golden brown color. This really brings out the sweetness of the onions. 
  4. Now drain the rice and add to the onions. Saute for a minute and add one and half cups of water. 
  5. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  6. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for five to ten minutes till all the water is soaked up. 
  7. Serve hot. (I have garnished mine with fried potato wedges. So much for dieting!) Skip the potato garnish, and use brown rice to make a recipe which is low in fat and high in dietary fiber.

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kid-Friendly Potato Peas and Cheese Surprise!

Okay the name is a little dramatic, I admit. For a lack of any good cutlet recipes, or should I say, different cutlet recipes, I came up with my own. It isn't fancy, neither does it take too much time. Just the idea that when you bite into the cutlet, through the soft potatoes and peas shell... Surprise! Say cheese?

The cutlet is children-friendly, though you can notch up the spiciness quotient to make it an ideal snack for a small tea-party too. Though you may better watch it. Since it is a kid-friendly cutlet, I have incorporated chunks of cheese. Cheese, as we all know isn't adults-friendly, especially women and it tends to, shall we say 'show' in all the wrong places! Damn. Why are all good things in life so sinful.

Anyway, read up. Make it, and let me know how it turned out.

  • 2 medium sized potatoes, boiled
  • 1/2 cup peas, boiled
  • 10 rectangular chunks of processed cheese (big sized  for kids, microscopic for us!)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour + 2 tbsp for coating
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (more if grown-ups are going to eat it)
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp dry mango powder (amchur)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (trust me!)
  • 1/2 cup semolina for coating
  • oil for shallow frying
  1. Mash the boiled potatoes well. This is first and foremost a necessity if you want to make good tikkis. The potatoes must be mashed till atleast most of of the large chunks are gone. 
  2. Add the peas, cornflour, dry spices, sesame seeds, salt and sugar.  Mix it well. (although bread slices are preferred, I didn't have any, so I used cornstarch. Works just as well.)
  3. Divide the above mixture into ten equal portions. 
  4. Grease your hands with a little oil. Roll the potato and peas mixture into a ball. Make a deep long indentation in the center using your index finger. 
  5. Place a cheese stick in this indentation.
  6. Roll the edges of the potato mixture over the cheese and shape into a rectangular block. (this makes it easy to fry.)
  7. Prepare all the ten cutlets in this manner and set them aside.
  8. Heat a skillet and pour just enough oil to shallow fry.
  9. Make a thin paste of cornflour in water.
  10. Roll each cutlet in the cornflour paste, then into the semolina and place in the skillet to shallow fry.
  11. These are delicate things, so do NOT attempt to pick them up and roll them over. They are rectangular remember? So just nudge them on to their adjacent side once the base has cooked to a crisp and brown purrrfection!
  12. Fry on all sides.
  13. Dip them in ketchup, and pop them in your mouth and feel ecstasy as the cheese melts like so much yummy molten lava!
I admit that the pic is not very good. But I made these in the evening and the light these days is really fickle. (Plus I need to get my eyes checked, but I am not going to say that, am I?)

 Happy Cooking!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bottle Gourd and Red Lentil Curry

It's Monday again, and the time of the week when no onion or garlic ever find their way into the food. However, food without onion and garlic can be just as delicious. This is one of those recipes.

  • 2 cups peeled and chopped bottle gourd (doodhi)
  • 1 cup red lentils, washed
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 4 dry red chillies
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp dry mango powder (amchoor)
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • chopped coriander, to garnish
Pressure cook the bottle gourd and red lentils with 1 cup water, salt and turmeric powder.

Open the pressure cooker after the steam has escaped and keep the cooked bottle gourd and lentils aside.

Heat the oil in a wok, and add the cumin seeds. Once they begin changing color, add the fenugreek seeds, red chillies, and one pinch of asafoetida. Add the ginger, and pour the cooked dal into this tempering.

Add coriander powder, red chilli powder, dry mango powder. Bring the curry to a boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot!

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wangyache Kaap

This is a brilliant side dish made from aubergines. A perfect way to complement your regular chapati bhaaji, or pulao rice. The beauty of the dish is in its simplicity.

  • 1 large aubergine (brinjal)
  • 3 to 4 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • salt to taste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • semolina for rolling
  • oil for shallow frying.
Cut the aubergine into 1/4th inch diskettes. Apply all the dry spices, lemon and salt to the diskettes and marinate them for about an hour.

Roll each diskette and shallow fry them on both sides till they are golden brown.

Serve hot!

Happy Cooking!

Ukadiche Modak

Ganesh Chaturthi means a lot of things to a lot of people. Fun, festivities and relatives and friends coming together to pay obeisance to the God of good times. To me, it means one of my most favorite and loved recipes of all time... Ukadiche modak.

These were made by mom, though. Yet, even when I make them, this is the exact procedure I follow.

Sorry Naina for posting this recipe so late!  :-(

For the covering
  • 250 g rice flour
  • 250 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
For the filling
  • one large coconut grated
  • equal quantity of jaggery (as the coconut)
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • a steamer
  • a few turmeric leaves 
Boil the water and add salt and oil to it. Once it has begun boiling add the rice flour to it and mix well. Remove from the heat and let it sit for some time till the dough cools down. Once it cools, knead well to make a smooth dough. Cover with a damp muslin cloth and set aside.

In a large wok, heat the coconut and jaggery together. Add the cardamom powder. Cook well till not only the jaggery as dissolved but the coconut emits a nice roasted aroma. Let the mixture cool.

Now make a large lemon sized ball of the dough and make a deep depression in the center of the ball. Put a teaspoon of stuffing in the center of the depression and shape the dough like a dimsum. Make all the modaks in this manner and cover them with a damp muslin cloth.

Start the steamer. Place turmeric leaves on the steamer tray. Dip each modak in cold water (this is a trick I learned from my mom, and it makes for really soft modaks) and place on the turmeric leaves. Cover the steamer and steam for about ten to fifteen minutes. Remove from the steamer.

(Tip: If you want to re-heat modaks, and make them soft again, just dip them in water and steam them for 3 minutes or dip them in water and microwave on high power for a minute.)

I do not have any pictures though. :-(

Happy Cooking!

Serve hot or cold. They taste amazing either way.

Besan Kachori

This time they puffed up. Each and every last one of them. And they were so crispy and crunchy, they were just right. Too bad, though. My husband's not going to come home tonight. He will just have to eat them tomorrow, re-heated in a microwave. Too bad.


For the covering

  • 2 cups plain flour (maida)
  • 1/2 cup semolina (rawa)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp soda bicarb
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp hot clarified butter (ghee) or vegetable shortening (dalda)
  • water  
For the stuffing
  • 2 cups gram flour (besan)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder (dhania powder)
  • 1 tsp dry mango powder (amchur)
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 tsp oil
  • a pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 tsp sugar
First make the dough. Mix the plain flour and semolina with baking powder, soda bicarb and salt. Pile it up into a heap and make a deep well in the center. Pour hot ghee in this well and mix it all up. The flour should now look like bread crumbs.Mix water slowly to form a dough. The dough should be soft. Cover the dough with a damp muslin cloth and set it aside.

Now make the stuffing. Roast the cumin and fennel seeds and grind them to a powder. Roast gram flour till all its raw smell disappears. Now add all the dry spices except hing. Heat oil in a separate wok and add hing to it. Pour this oil into the besan and spice mixture. Add salt and sugar and a little water to make it moist.Just a little sprinkle of water should be enough.

Cool the stuffing mixture and divide into small portions. Make balls of each portion. Make equal number of dough balls.

Heat oil in a deep wok for deep frying. Now roll a dough ball into a thin diskette. Place the stuffing ball in the center of the diskette. Bring up the edges together and press them together firmly. Now press the ball slightly and roll it again carefully into a diskette about 5 mm in thickness.

Deep fry the kachoris till they are golden brown. Fry on medium heat for five to seven minutes so that the kachoris become crunchy or "khasta".

Happy Cooking!

Healthy Carrot and Raisin Muffins

Might I say these taste really good, and you absolutely must must try them on your own. It is just so satisfying to bite into a spongy, soft and sinfully moist muffin, that is a healthier version as compared to most other muffins available in the market. I made these from wheat flour and plain flour combined and they turned out really good. Happily I watched my kid bite into her second cake and love, absolutely love the raisin when they made their mushy sweet appearance in her mouth.

  • 100 g sugar (you can have 120 g for a sweeter version or 80 g for a less sweet alternative)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 tsp butter
  • 130 ml buttermilk
  • 1 egg (if you are a vegetarian, substitute with 1/2 cup condensed milk)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 large pinches cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 75 g plain flour
  • 100 g whole wheat flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 level tsp soda bicarbonate
  • 1/2 tsp salt (it brings out the rest of the flavors so well)
In a large mixing bowl, whip the sugar, oil, butter, buttermilk, egg (or condensed milk), vanilla and cinnamon powder. Once they are well blended and the sugar has dissolved, add the carrots and raisins and give them a good mix.

Sieve together the flour, wheat flour, baking powder, soda bicarbonate and salt directly into the above mixture. With a rubber or wooden spatula, carefully mix the batter. DO NOT OVERMIX. About five large mixing strokes in a figure of eight motion (give or take one or two more strokes) should suffice. You mix the batter too much, and your muffins will go rock hard. It doesn't matter if a little dry flour remains here or there.

Spoon it out into prepared muffin tins. Fill the muffin tin about 3/4th full. If you fill the cup to its full capacity the muffins will have a flat top.

Place in the oven and bake for about ten to fifteen minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin emerges clean.

(As an alternative, I also made chocolate puffins. Dip the back of your spoon into melted butter and make a well in the center of the batter. Fill this well with chocolate syrup or a jam of your choice. Place in the oven and bake as usual.)

Good to eat freshly made in the morning with tea!

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings Casserole

I first saw this recipe on Rachel Allen's Home Cooking, and I have been dying to make it ever since. But I also realized that the ingredients in the original recipe didn't account for Indian palates. So I increased the hotness factor of  the recipe and tweaked it a bit here and there, but the end result was really good.

It tastes as a variation somewhat of the East Indian chicken curry I have had so many times at so many good friends' homes.


For the gravy
  • 1 kilo chicken
  • 100g streaky bacon
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled but not chopped
  • 2 medium onions chopped into large pieces
  • 4 large mushrooms sliced
  • 2  tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp red chilli paste
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp tarragon (tastes amazing with chicken)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • a dash of vinegar

For the dumplings
  • 2 cups plain flour (maida)
  • about 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4th tsp soda bicarb
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp mixed chopped herbs  
Mix the ginger, garlic and red chilli pastes. Add the juice of two lemons to it and marinate the chicken pieces in this paste. I marinated the chicken overnight, but an hour of  marination is good enough.
 Heat the oven-safe pot in which you are going to make the chicken casserole. Pour only 1 tbsp of olive oil in it. Roughly chop the streaky bacon into large pieces. Place them in the pot at some distance from each other. Brown them well on both sides. Then remove them and place them in a separate plate.

Now dry the chicken pieces (Do not worry, not much of the marinade comes off). I cannot stress on this point too much, that drying the chicken pieces thoroughly before frying them allows them to brown better. Place the dried pieces of chicken into the pot, again at some distance from each other. Don't crowd the pieces otherwise they won't brown. Brown them well on both sides and then remove them in the same plate as the bacon.

Now place the mushroom slices in the same pot. With the same principle of not crowding them, brown them evenly on both sides and remove them on a plate.

Finally you will have a little fat remaining in the pot. Toss in the onions and carrots till they are evenly coated with the blissful pork fat, olive oil mixture. Add the mushrooms to it, topped off by the chicken and bacon pieces. Pour any remaining oil in the plate back into the pot. Add about half a tsp of vinegar, and the remaining marinade.

Add salt and two cups of stock to the pot. (This is how I make stock. I remove the bony pieces from the raw chicken, which no one likes to eat, like the neck piece for example. I boil these bony pieces with three cups of water, 1 sliced onion and whichever herbs I have till the water reduces by one third. Finally I remove the pieces of chicken, onions and sieve the stock. I store it in a bottle in my refrigerator.)

Place the pot on heat and bring the gravy to a boil. Now cover the pot and place it in your oven at 180 degrees C for about 20 minutes.

In the meanwhile, make the dumplings. Take the chopped herbs in a mixing bowl. Sieve together the flour with the soda bicarb and salt. Now make a well in the center of the flour and add buttermilk, slowly. Make a claw of your hand and mix the flour. Do not knead the dough, only mix all the ingredients till they are just combined. Press down lightly till the mixture is about an inch thick.

Dust your cookie cutter with flour and cut away small portions from the flour mixture till you have none left.

After the casserole has been in the oven for twenty minutes, remove the pot and place the dumplings on top of it. (Optional: You can add shredded cheese on top of the dumplings for added flavor). Place it back into the oven, lower the temperature to 150 degrees C and bake it for fifteen more minutes. When you touch the top of the dumplings they should feel springy to touch. That way you will know that they are done well.

Serve hot!

Happy Cooking!