Thursday, March 31, 2011

Moong Bhajiyas

  • 2 cups soaked moong dal (with the skins)
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • oil for frying
This recipe is so simple to make it is ridiculous. Yet it tastes heavenly.

Just blend all the ingredients to a paste with as little water as possible. Heat the oil in a deep pan and drop the batter in the oil a few portions at a time. Deep fry till it is golden brown all over. Serve hot with tomato ketchup or sweet date and tamarind chutney.

Happy Breakfast and Happy Cooking!

Vareka Uperi - Raw Banana and Black eyed beans curry

Here's something new to do with raw banana. Now I know you all are going think that I have some sort of banana fixation. Let me assure you that I have nothing of that sort. It is just that I have somehow been finding myself a little banana-ful lately.

All I knew to do with raw bananas was Avial and a Gujarati preparation. Anyway here's something fantastic that I stumbled upon and it is super-easy to make.

  • 1/4th cup black eyed beans
  • 2 raw bananas
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds
  • 3 to 4 green chillies
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 -3 dry chillies
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • a few curry leaves
  • 1 tsp oil

Pressure cook the beans in plenty of water till they are soft. Chop the raw bananas and mix them with the beans.
Grind the cumin, green chillies, garlic, turmeric and coconut to a paste.

Heat the beans and bananas in a pan and make a well in the center.  Add the ground paste in this well. Cover and let it simmer for three to four minutes.

In a separate pan, heat the oil and add the mustard, red chillies, curry leaves and onions. Fry for a few minutes and add it to the  banana-bean mixture. Add salt and mix up the whole stuff. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes and serve hot!

The first thing my husband said after he tasted this was... Mmmm... Yumm!!

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stuffed Casserole

A slightly time consuming recipe by Ms. Tarla Dalal from her amazing cookbook Exciting Vegetarian Cooking.
 It tastes excellent. Just the right combination of sweet, sour, spicy. It did incorporate a lot of refined flour (maida) and God-knows-how-much butter. So I altered it somewhat to make it healthier. There are some aspects of the recipe which are still fattening, but then I guess, I am not that calorie conscious either.


For the pancakes
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • water (as needed)
For the stuffing
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables finely chopped (cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, french beans)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary 
  • salt to taste 
For the casserole
  • 1 cup white sauce
  • 1 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1 cup baked beans
  • 3 tbsp grated cheese
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • butter (optional)
For the white sauce
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp refined flour (maida)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
First make the white sauce
 Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the refined flour and fry well till it bubbles. Add the milk and pepper powder. Stir well to avoid lumps. If lumps do form eventually, blend it in a mixer.

Now the pancakes
Mix all the ingredients of the pancakes, and add water little by little to make medium soft dough. Divide it into 4 to 5 small portions and roll out each portion into a very very papery thin chapati.

Heat olive oil in a pan and add the garlic. Saute for a minute and add the rosemary. Now add all the chopped vegetables, red chilli powder and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes stirring occasionally or until the vegetables are cooked. Add salt to taste.  

Spoon out a teaspoon or two of the stuffing into the pancakes. Seal it shut using a little bit of water. Keep them aside. Now in a casserole dish apply a small layer of white sauce, then top it off with ketchup. Place the stuffed pancakes side by side on to these layers.

Keep layering the white sauce, ketchup and pancakes in this way. The ketchup layer should be  last. Line along the sides with baked beans. Sprinkle a tsp of oregano and paprika, and top it off with grated cheese.

Preheat an oven to 180 degrees centigrade and place the casserole in it. Bake for about 20 minutes and serve hot!

Okay well, I know that this photograph is not as great as some of the other pictures on this blog. I'll promise to do better next time.

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shahi Methi Rajma Curry

Having to cook for many people can be a daunting task. My husband's maternal uncle and aunt and their son are here for some time. While it is really exciting to have so many people over at my house, I really do wish they were more of rice-eaters. Making thirty chappatis morning and evening is not only difficult, but boring even, in this hot and humid weather. But cook we must, and therefore we should try to find some recipes that are not all that elaborate.

I made this no fuss no frills curry for the same reason. It is easy to make and really yummy to eat.

  • 1 cup kidney beans or rajma soaked in warm water overnight
  • A handful of methi leaves chopped finely
  • 1 medium onion
  • 7 to 8 flakes of garlic
  • 4 to 5 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 to 3 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 to 2 tsp garam masala powder
  • a pinch of asafoetida or hing
  • 1/2 cup curds or yoghurt
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
 Pressure cook rajma and methi leaves together. Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. Once they begin to change color add the cloves and bay leaf. Fry for a minute and let the oil soak up some of the aroma of the spices. Now add the chopped onion and chopped garlic.

Add the turmeric, hing, red chilli powder and garam masala powder. Now pour the pressure cooked kidney beans and methi into the pan. Add salt to taste and the beaten yoghurt. Serve hot with chappati or rice.

And not to forget....

Happy Cooking!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Upwas Pumpkin Soup

This recipe is my own creation. Although seemingly there is very little permutation combination that you can do with the available few upwas ingredients, this soup is testimony that upwas food need not be boring.

Try this one the next time you are fasting.


  • 150 grams red pumpkin peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder 
  • 1-2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 pinches of anar-dana (pomegranate seeds) powder
  • 2 cups water
  • salt
  • 3 cups water
  • grated cheese (optional)
Make sure that the ingredients you use were never used for any other type of cooking before, otherwise they won't be suited for the fast. I do keep separate butter, salt, pepper, red chilli powder and cheese for fasting.

Heat the butter in a saucepan, and add the cumin seeds. Once they have begun to change color, add the pepper powder, red chilli powder, anar dana powder salt and the chopped pumpkin. Saute on high flame for 3 minutes then add one cup of water. Allow the water to boil. Then reduce the flame to medium and simmer for ten minutes or till the pumpkin pieces have turned soft.

Cool the soup for sometime and then blend it in a blender. Add two more cups of water to the smooth creamy mixture and boil once again for 3 to 4 minutes.

Garnish with grated cheese and coriander and serve!

Happy Cooking!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rice Noodles in Sweetened Coconut Milk

This is a typical Goan Saraswat preparation. I was craving this preparation for a long time now. Traditionally this recipe is slightly cumbersome to make. Last night though, while I was wandering the supermarket, looking  for something else, a packet of Thai Rice Noodles caught my eye. My mind started working furiously.

I bought that packet and made the recipe I so craved for. While it was easy to make it this way, it doesn't match taste-wise to what my mother used to make. She would steam the rice flour balls, put the hot rice balls in a vermicelli maker and make fresh vermicelli out of them. It is not as easy as it sounds, and she loved me so much that she would make it whenever I asked her to. I love my mother.

This is an easier version of my all time favorite recipe.

  • One packet Thai rice noodles
  • 1 coconut or 3 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup jaggery
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
Boil the noodles as per the instructions. If the packet is super-large then cook only one third of the noodles.  In the meanwhile, grate the coconut. Blend the grated coconut in a blender with two cups water, jaggery and cardamom powder.

Sieve the coconut milk. Add the cooked rice noodles to this sweetened coconut milk and serve warm!

That's it. Sometimes the best recipes are made with only a few ingredients.

Happy Cooking!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Banana chocolate chip bread

The credit for this recipe goes to my good friend Jayanti. I read Jayu's message to me this morning and her recipe was so tempting that I decided that it will be my breakfast today. Whaddya know, I did have a couple of overripe bananas lying around!

I tweaked the recipe a bit. I added some things that weren't there, but I am sure that even without them the recipe tastes amazing.

  • 1 and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tsp refined flour (Maida)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5-6 tbsp powdered sugar (depends how you like your cake; sweet or semi-sweet)
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 3 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • a pinch of baking powder
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • 2 to 3 drops vanilla essence
Sieve the whole wheat flour, maida, baking powder and baking soda together and keep them aside. Mix the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla essence and cinnamon powder together.

Beat the three eggs for a few minutes. Mash the bananas and add to the beaten eggs. Add the butter-sugar-cinnamon mixture. Lastly add the sieved flour and the chocolate chips. Mix well.

This will be a sticky cake-like batter. Pour this into a pre-greased baking tin.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and push the baking tin on the lower rack. Bake for about 20 minutes or till a knife inserted into the center emerges clean.

What an aroma! Such a delectable mix of  banana,  vanilla, chocolate and cinnamon! Bite into a warm slice and I am sure it will warm the cockles of your heart as it did mine. Nothing like healthy soul food!

Here is what it looked like.

Tut  tut to my husband if he doesn't get  a taste of this when he returns. :-P

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread

It is Friday, and the day of the week when I must send bread in Saee's school lunch box. I know that white bread can be disastrous in the long run, where your digestive system is concerned. I am also concerned with the brown bread available in the market. There has got to be at least some refined flour in there. So I decided some months ago that I will make my own whole wheat bread.


  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • water
  • 1/2 tsp dry yeast
First activate the dry yeast. Warm half a cup of water, add one teaspoon sugar and 1/2 tsp dry yeast. Wait until bubbles form in the water. This will take around 10 minutes.

Now sieve whole wheat flour, add the remaining sugar, a pinch of salt and mix. Make a well in the center and add the butter and the activated dry yeast. Knead into a soft dough. Add more water if necessary. The dough should be slightly sticky.

Place the dough in a plastic or glass container and cover with a cling film. Allow the dough to rise upto double in size. This may take varying amount of time, as the climate is different in different places. Don't keep the dough for too long, or it may get a sour taste.

Once the dough has risen, punch it to remove some of the air and redistribute the rest uniformly through the dough. Grease a baking tin and place the punched dough in it. Cover with cling film and proof it for half an hour. (Proofing means allowing the dough to raise again.)

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees centigrade and then place the tin in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or till the top of the bread appears brown and your home smells of fresh bread.

Cool the bread. Cut into slices and serve!

Okay honestly, this doesn't taste anywhere close to your regular white bread. But at least it is healthy. If someone can give me any better bread recipe with whole wheat... please do so.

In the meanwhile,

Happy Cooking!

Bamboo Shoot Soup

So finally comes my Bamboo Shoot soup. My nephew Sarthak chose soup over stir fry, and since it is his last day here in Mumbai I decided to oblige him with a soup.

When I was thinking about what kind of soup would be nice I decided to go to the local supermarket for some veggies. I found Panama Sweet Corn and Canned mushrooms instead. I remember, as a child, Vasai was a relatively small town. You didn't find many exotic ingredients here (Yes! Mushrooms were considered exotic back then.) There was only one store in Vasai, Sandeep General Stores, which stocked canned button mushrooms. I have always been a fan of mushrooms, but I hadn't had those canned delights in a long time. It was only a few days ago that I felt like eating those mushrooms again. And there they were! Talk about the law of attraction!

So here is my own version of Bamboo Shoot Soup with canned mushrooms.

1/2 cup bamboo shoots finely chopped
5 to 6 button mushrooms chopped
1/2 cup carrot grated
1/2 cup french beans chopped
1 cup canned sweet corn
salt to taste
pepper to taste
4 to 5 cups water
2 tsp olive oil

Heat the oil in a wok. Throw in the fresh veggies and stir fry for some time. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Add the corn, salt and pepper as per your taste. Boil the soup for about 5 minutes and serve hot!

This is not a soup for everyone. Not everyone would like the strong taste of bamboo shoots. It is, to say the least, an acquired taste. Much like fish. But for those who like it, it is the flavor which rules. You don't want to mask the flavor by using strong ingredients like garlic. Keep it basic. That's the way it tastes best.

The sweetness of the corn, carrot, and french beans beautifully offsets the taste of the bamboo shoot. The pepper gives the right touch of well... pepperiness! The mushrooms and the bamboo shoot by themselves are... heavenly pungent!

So if you are someone who has a palate for bamboo shoots, go ahead and try this soup.

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Papar-er Tarkari

This is a mouthwatering Bengali preparation. It is also very simple and easy to make.

  • 4 large potatoes peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 urad papads broken into pieces
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 to 3 tsp red chilli powder (if your papads are too peppery then go easy on the chilli powder)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups water
Wash and peel the potatoes. Chop them into large pieces. Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. Once the seeds start spluttering add the potatoes and fry over medium to high heat till they are evenly brown on both sides.

Add the dry spices. Note that this recipe does not need garam masala. Keep it basic. Add the salt but not too much. Now add the water and bring it to a boil. Throw in the broken papad pieces and cook till the papad pieces are soft and completely done.

Serve hot with chapati or rice!

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Layered Eggplant and tomato curry

I found some amazingly fresh herbs at the local supermarket, and decided to make a new recipe with them. A recipe which is Indian looking and still has the undertones of an international recipe. I didn't know what to name it so I am calling it the Layered Eggplant and tomato curry.

Try it and tell me what you think.

250 g small eggplants
2 onions pureed
4 to 5 large tomatoes finely chopped
1 inch ginger finely grated
3 tsp turmeric
3 to 4 tsp red chilli powder
3 to 4 basil leaves finely chopped
2 to 3 sprigs of parsley finely chopped
1 tsp rosemary finely chopped
3 tbsp butter
8 to 10 garlic cloves chopped
3 tsp olive oil
3 tbsp maida or all purpose flour
salt to taste
cheese optional

Alright here it goes. First wash and slice the  eggplants into small discs. Dry them on kitchen towels. Add 2 teaspoons of turmeric, 2 teaspoons of red chilli powder and salt to the dried slices and keep aside for a an hour or two to marinate.

Meanwhile heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a pan, add the grated ginger and pureed onions and fry till the onions turn slightly brownish. Now add the tomatoes and cook on a medium flame till the tomatoes turn tender. Mix in the chopped basil, parsley and rosemary, 1 tsp turmeric, 3 tsp red chilli powder, salt and a little water and cook so it forms a saucy consistency.

In a separate pan heat the butter, add a drizzle of olive oil and throw in the garlic pieces. Now I love my garlic to be a little chunky and bite sized. If you like it, you can crush the garlic, or mince it or make a paste. It is entirely an individual preference.

Heat some oil in a kadhai. Dip the eggplant slices in maida or rice flour (whichever suits you) and deep fry till they are nice and crispy. Drain the excess oil on tissue papers. (Might I also recommend that you can even use the larger 'Bharta Wala Baingan' and grill it in an oven instead of frying it. So much fleshier and healthier!)

Now comes the best part. Layer the eggplant slices in a plate, pour the tomato curry on top of the layers, drizzle the butter garlic sauce, and garnish with grated cheese (optional).

The older generation may not like the layered look so much, so just mix up the whole thing like a curry and serve. They won't know the difference.

Anyway here is the picture.

I won't write about the taste. I would much rather that my friends tried my recipe and told me what they thought about it.

I have also found some amazingly aromatic bamboo shoots in my local supermarket. I plan to incorporate it in my blog soon. Till then, ta da!

Happy Cooking!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Upwas Modak

It is Monday, again. That day of the week when for reasons of religiosity, curiosity or scientific basis, I fast. I have been following this fast since the last two years and I intend to continue it throughout the rest of my life. More than anything it has given me a sense of personal control.

Yet it gets boring sometimes to eat the same upwas food every Monday. That is why I found this new recipe and decided to try it out. Was I rewarded? You bet. The modaks were really crispy on the outside and soft and sticky sweet inside. The cardamon and cashew I added to the filling was a bonus.

  • 1 cup vari atta 
  • 1 cup rajgira atta
  • 1 cup coconut grated
  • 1/2 cup jaggery
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • a few cashews
  • a pinch of salt
First  mix both the attas and add a pinch of salt to them. Knead them into a soft dough using a little water. Now make the filling. In a pan, combine both the coconut and jaggery and saute for some time. Add the  cardamom powder and cashews and cook till it gets translucent.

Allow the filling mixture to cool down. Now take a small portion of the dough and flatten it using your fingers. Scoop a little filling into the center, gather the edges of the dough, bring them together and press them together so it looks like a small potli.

Deep fry the modaks till they take on a deep golden brown color. Your modaks are ready to be served.

Happy Cooking!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lettuce and sun-dried tomato salad

Okay guys, so I am veering a little off the topic here, since we decided that Indian cooking is what I was going to focus on. Although Indian cooking is where the focus is going to be in future also, I have been advised frequent small meals to lose weight. Therefore it is understood that salads are going to be a part of my daily diet.

Now here is a salad I concocted. This is not made from any set recipe, just that I followed my heart and got an awesome salad. It tastes just so, that I couldn't resist sharing it with you guys. It is so simple to make, I made it in a total of five minutes. Oh but the taste! The havoc it plays on your tongue! The sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes against the pungent taste of the olives and sharp taste of gouda!

Go right ahead and try this one.

By the way I have no name for this salad.

  • Lettuce
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Jalapenos
  • Black Olives
  • Gouda cheese cut into small chunks
  • Dried thyme, and oregano
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt to taste

There is no method really except just tear the lettuce, assemble the rest of the ingredients and drizzle a little olive oil on top of it. Sprinkle a little salt as per your taste.

The magic is in eating it. Pierce your fork into one of each of the elements and eat it as one big bite. It is heaven on your palate!

Also, I may add, to the non-vegetarians who are not diet conscious, add a few fried chopped sausages for that extra something.

Well I know, what the hell, there's cheese in the recipe. The devil in me just reincarnated there and tempted me with the gouda!

Never mind. I have no excuses. :-P

I am at hubby's office at the moment. I will post the picture once I reach home.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Peshawari Chana Masala

To begin with, my mother-in-law brought two fantastic things from Indore. First and foremost is the heavy iron kadhai. I wanted one for so long, and it is absolutely beautiful. You absolutely have to hold it with both your hands. Food tends to turn black, though, in this kadhai. This is because of the iron. It is also the reason why my recipe looks so dark today, but don't worry; yours probably will hold all the beautiful colors of every ingredient in the recipe.

Which brings me to the second thing that she brought from Indore. Farm fresh green chanas from the farm of one of our relatives. The aroma, oh! My stomach starting rumbling from hunger even as I was cooking the chanas in my pressure cooker.


  • 2 cups soaked chana dal (sprouted is even better, and healthier)
  • 1 medium sized onion finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 7 to 8 cloves of garlic
  • 3 large tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala or chana masala (whichever is available)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 green tea bags, or black tea bags or 2 tsp black tea wrapped in a fine muslin cloth
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 to 3 tsp oil

Wash and pressure cook chana with 2 cups of water for about 10 to 15 minutes. Keep them aside.

Heat oil in a kadhai. Add the onion and saute till it is translucent and pinkish in color. Make a paste of green chillies, ginger and garlic. I prefer to do this in a mortar and pestle. I have been wanting to buy one of those old-time grinding stones which our grandmothers used to use to make pastes. It brings out the flavors of all the ingredients so well. I remember once grinding the masala for pani puri on one such grinding stone in my mother's kitchen. My mother was sure that after grinding about 10 green chillies I would be completely disinterested in grinding masalas on the stone, and would never bother her again. My hands started burning soon afterward from the green chillies, and they hurt for quite some time. It was a whole evening before my hands felt normal again. Yet, I have yet to come across a pani puri which tastes as great as the one I ate that evening. My mother was wrong. I was hooked on to the grinding stone for life.

Coming back to the recipe, add the ginger, garlic and green chillies paste to the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Add all the dry masalas and fry again for two to three minutes. Now throw in the chopped tomatoes, and cook till they are tender and spouting oil from every side. Throw in the cooked chanas with the water used for cooking them. dip the two tea bags in the gravy and remove them after about four to five minutes. Add salt to suit your taste. Boil the gravy for about 10 minutes. Serve hot with chapatis or parathas.

Here's how it looked.

This was one particular recipe which was unanimously accepted to be really tasty by all my family members. Even my nephew Sarthak liked it, so there is reason to be hopeful, I guess. :-)

Happy cooking!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Steamed Spinach and Rice Dumplings

In an Indian household, leftover food never gets thrown away. Yet, no one eats leftover food as it is. It generally has to be converted into some other recipe in order to get gustatory acceptance.

This is one such recipe. It is very simple and gets made in barely 15 to 20 minutes.

Handful of washed and finely chopped spinach leaves
2 cups cooked rice
3 tablespoons gram flour (besan)
A pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 and 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp oil
Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients  together in a bowl. Do not add water. Squeeze hard so that the spinach releases some of its water. Roll them in the form of balls.

Grease a plate with oil and place the dumplings in this. Heat the steamer, and place the plate in the steamer. Steam the dumplings for about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.

It is this simple and tastes great too.

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The Imarti is a sweet very commonly found in most sweet shops in India. Native to Uttar Pradesh, this recipe is so named because of the layers you have to build on it. Imarat means building; thus the name Imarti meaning 'like a building.'

I think it is named aptly also because while it is being made in the kitchen, your family is busy building expectations outside. I don't know why I even attempted this recipe in this hot, hot and super-humid weather. I was melting as quickly as the ghee in my frying pan!

Alright on we go to the ingredients:

2 cups urad dal soaked overnight with a whole lot of  water
500 g ghee for frying
250 g sugar for syrup
saffron orange food coloring (optional)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder

Proceed at your own risk :-P

First make the syrup. Take the sugar, and cardamom powder with just enough water to soak it a bit, and boil it. It should be of one thread consistency. This means that when you rub a little syrup in between your thumb and index finger and then pull them apart, the syrup should form a single strand.

Assuming that you have soaked the urad dal overnight, grind it in a blender till it is a smooth puree with as little water as possible. Touch a little bit of the batter and test it between your thumb and index finger to make sure that you feel no granules. Add water only very little at a time. I added a little more than required and my Imartis just wouldn't hold their form.

Once this step has been done, add the food color and then beat the batter well with a beater. If your mother has been kind enough to gift you an electric blender like mine, then you are really blessed. I do remember, as a kid, my mother would spend hours mixing cake batter in a large plate with her bare hands. She would use the flat of the hand to beat the egg. Her hand would smell all egg-ish for a long time afterward. Old timers really had great stamina, hadn't they?

Beat your mixture till it is very light and very fluffy. If you have the jalebi maker, nothing like it. I used my icing bag for squeezing out the mixture.

Heat ghee in a flat frying pan. Now comes the part where you will need to summon all your culinary skills. Pipe out the mixture to form two rings, the inner one should be about 2 inches in diameter, and the outer one just touching the inner one. Now form small ringlets on top of these two circles. HA! This is so much easier said than done!

I remember seeing one sweet maker in action, and he made it look so easy! More than half the imartis are of "whatyoumaycallit" shape. Make the jalebis. I know that presentation is important, but don't kill yourself if your shape isn't exactly... ideal!

Fry your "whatever" shapes till they are crispy on both the sides. The heat should be maintained at medium. Too little heat, and your imartis will become just one big disc (like some of mine), and too much of heat will make them look like a jalebi asked by a police inspector to do "Hands Up!"

Once they are done, remove them and drain them on kitchen towels. Now dip them in the syrup for some time. Taste best when hot.

Look at my attempt at the Imarti. :-(

You may want to search elsewhere on the net for better made Imartis so that you know what the shape should be like.

The taste however was soooooooooooooo good! They are crisp on the outside and when you bite them, gooey viscous syrup flows from it.

This is however not for the diet conscious. It is obscenely rich in fat content. On the other hand, if you are someone like me who loves good food without counting calories, well....

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Aloo puffs

My mother-in-law and my nephew (my darling Saarthak!) arrived by the Avantika Express this morning. Apart from the usual cheer that comes from having more than one kid in the house, I was super-excited about feeding  my latest culinary experiment as well. Excited though I was, I was a little anxious too as to how the dish would eventually turn out.

I have been toiling at this recipe since yesterday, and anyone of you trying to make this recipe, you will also have to devote that much time. The delight, of having golden crusted crispy buttery puffs with a delectable potato filling! The aroma of baking  that fills the home with its homely nature! It is indescribable and must be experienced more than told.

This is not an easy recipe, in that it is kind of messy and sticky. Follow some of my tips and you will have less of a nightmare than I did when I made it for the first time.

For the puff pastry
250 g maida or plain flour
220 g butter
a pinch of salt
4 drops of vinegar
water for making dough

First of all cool all the ingredients except 40 g of butter. Melt 40 g of butter in a separate vessel. Now sieve the flour and make a well in the center, and pour the melted butter, four drops of vinegar and salt into this well. Mix it well so that the dough resembles bread crumbs. Now add water little by little till you make a soft dough. Knead the dough well with punches for about 10 to 15 minutes. This releases the gluten from the flour and helps to hold the dough together. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate.

Now for the remaining butter. Pound the butter with a pestle, add a little flour to it and knead it well using only the tips of your fingers. Once the butter has softened well shape it into a flat-ish rectangle of about 1 inch height. Refrigerate this block of butter for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Now bring the dough out from the refrigerator and remove the cling film. Roll it out into thick sheet of about an inch. Place the butter rectangle in the center of  this dough. Now hold the right hand side flap of the dough and cover it up over the butter. Repeat for the left hand side flap, top and bottom flaps. Now turn the whole assembly over, and roll it out once again. Although technically speaking butter shouldn't escape or be exposed through the dough, but this happens. Don't worry and continue rolling. As long as your butter is cool, things won't get messy. Once you have rolled the assembly into a 1 inch thick sheet, fold the right side flap and then the left side flap (kind of like you fold a letter before putting it in an envelope.)

Put the dough, the rolling platform, the rolling pin, in short, everything into the refrigerator. Wait for about 15 minutes. Place the dough flap side down and roll it again to form a rectangular one inch sheet. Once again fold the flaps and put it in the refrigerator.

Brace yourself. You are going to have to repeat this particular step for four to six times to get the multiple layers of the puff pastry.

After you have finished the sixth time, roll it slightly thinner this time, and cut it into equal squares or rectangles. Wrap each square in cling film and place in the cooling section of the fridge, not the freezer.

For the filling
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 large potatoes boiled and minced
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp each of coriander, cumin, and garam masala.
1/4 tsp amchur powder
1 to 2 tsp red chilli powder
salt to taste.

Heat two teaspoons of oil in a pan. Add the onions and fry till they are tender. Now throw in the potatoes and the dry spices and salt. Go easy on the salt though. Do not add to much. Add a little less than you normally would.

Stir fry for some time and then keep aside to cool.

Now the assembly:
Take each cling film wrapped dough, and  open the cling film only halfway. With the dough covered on the top and bottom side with cling film, roll it out till it becomes thin. (This is much easier way than rolling the sheet on its own without the film, trust me on this one!) Now open the cling film and put a little bit of the aloo filling into the center. Now hold one side of the cling film and match the edges of the puff pastry. Seal the edges shut.

Heat your OTG on Bake mode for about 15 minutes before you put the puff pastry in. Now remove the cling film and place the puffs on a baking sheet, and push it into the oven. You will need to bake it for about 15 minutes, flipping it over once in between.

Your puffs are done when they are golden brown on each side. Remove from the oven and serve crispy and hot with tea or coffee!

Tip: For a more flaky version of the puffs, I have been told that using margarine or dalda is better. This tip has been extended by my good friend Sahana Joshi.

Shahi Mushroom Curry

I had dried oyster mushrooms today, and I was trying to search some good Indian recipe containing oyster mushrooms. Having found none, I decided to try out my own recipe. Technically speaking, it is a mishmash of all the recipes I have tried out till date, but aren't all recipes just a permutation combination of the same basic ingredients?

I didn't have any name for this recipe. Read the recipe to know why I called this the Shahi Mushroom curry. It really tastes like a recipe fit  for kings, given some of the ingredients in this recipe.

2 medium sized onions
2 large tomatoes
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 large potato peeled and chopped
1 cup dried oyster mushrooms
1 teaspoon Nagpuri Savji Masala
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp coriander powder
3/4th tsp jeera powder
2-3 tsp red chilli powder
1/4th tsp turmeric powder
3-4 cloves
6-7 peppercorns
1 inch piece of cinnamon
1 black elaichi
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons cashew paste
Oil for frying
salt to taste

First soak cashews in water for ten to fifteen minutes. This makes it easy to make a paste out of it. Soak mushrooms in water for some time.

Meanwhile, chop onions lengthwise. Take about 4 tablespoons of oil (Yes, you are going to need all that oil. I didn't name it the Shahi Mushroom Curry for nothing!) Fry the onions in oil till they turn golden brown. Tip: Sprinkle a pinch of salt on the onions to fry them faster. Now drain the onions on kitchen towels, and make a paste of these with a little water.

Peel and chop the potatoes into medium sized chunks. Fry these in the same oil till golden brown. Drain them on kitchen towels. Fry the mushrooms in the same oil for about two minutes. Drain these too.

Don't discard the oil. You don't want to lose the flavor of onions, potatoes and the mushrooms. Throw in the cloves, peppercorns, elaichi, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Fry for about a minute or two till the aroma of these spices finds its way into your nose. (My nose ditched me today, I am suffering from a severe bout of flu. But then, a challenge is a challenge, right? So I asked my husband to tell me if he could smell the spices.)

 Now add the onion paste, ginger garlic paste, the dry spices, and fry for about three minutes till you see the oil separating from the gravy. Then add the finely chopped tomatoes, and fry again till the oil separates. Lastly add the cashew paste and fry again for a minute or two.

Throw in the potatoes and mushrooms. (Hopefully most of the oil in it has been drained, and you are spared of at least some of the fattening nature of this curry! I, for one, have given up on that front long, long, looooooooong time ago.) :-(

Add half a cup of water and salt to the curry, and bring it to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes and your Shahi Mushroom Curry is ready to be served.

I just had my lunch, and let me tell you that nothing, absolutely nothing beats the heavenly taste of oyster mushrooms. First of all they are so meaty, and soaked in the heavenly spices, the juices tend to just run out of the mushrooms when you chew into it!

One more tip I would like to add is that, it tends to get annoying to remove the spices from your mouth while you are savoring this curry, so you might as well remove at least some of them from the oil once the aromas have been released into the oil.

Happy Cooking!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tomato poached eggs...

This one is a Parsi recipe, probably called 'Tamatar par Eenda" in Parsi language. It serves as a perfect brunch idea with bread. You can have plain or grilled bread whatever you like best.

3 tomatoes chopped
1 large or two small onion finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
2-3 large cloves of garlic crushed or pounded in a mortar and pestle
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 to 3/4th tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 to 1 tsp red chilli powder (as per your taste)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp white vinegar
3 large eggs
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a flat saucepan. This just makes it easier to poach the eggs. Throw in the chopped onions and cook till they are soft and pink in color. Now throw in the ginger and garlic paste. Add all the dry masala powders and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.

Now add the tomatoes and salt. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes till the gravy is dry and done. Add a little water, cover and cook for about 7 minutes more.

Open the cover off the gravy. Your gravy should have become thick and saucy by now. Stir once more, and make three holes in the gravy with the back of your spoon. Break an egg each into these holes. Cover once again and cook for one two two minutes till the eggs are done.

Here is the picture.

And trust me, this taste just as yummy as it looks. The recipe is borrowed from Ms. Anjum Anand's cookbook Anjum's New Indian. Thanks Anjum for a wonderful recipe.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Besan Gaakar

Today my husband made a demand. He is very undemanding otherwise, but today he made a demand. One which I was happy to oblige. He asked me to make besan gaakar for dinner tonight. It is an easy recipe, typical of GSBs settled in Madhya Pradesh. I learnt this particular recipe from my mother-in-law. Once you have read the recipe, you will know why my husband is a very very simple man.

  • 1 cup besan
  • 2-3 drumsticks cut into pieces
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chillies chopped
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • a pinch of hing
  • 1/4th tsp turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/4th tsp mustard seeds
  • Water 3-4 cups
Soak the besan in 2 cups of water (I'll tell you why later). Now heat  oil in a kadhai and add mustard seeds to it. When they begin crackling add chillies, curry leaves, hing and onions. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes till the onions are soft and tender and add the drumsticks. Add a little water, turmeric and salt and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or till the drumsticks have cooked well. Now add the besan to this. In the traditional recipe, besan is added in the powdered form, but this forms lumps. That is the reason I developed this technique where you mix the besan in cold water and break the lumps with your hands.

Once the besan is added, keep stirring so that it takes the consistency of a thick sauce. If needed add more water. At any cost do not make this very thick. It has to be saucy to taste well.

 Serve either with Gaakars or freshly steamed rice

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-4 tbsp oil
  • Water
Take the wheat flour in a largish dish (I don't know what is 'paraat' called in English!) Make a well in the center and pour the oil into this well. Add the salt into the oil and mix well till all the oil is incorporated in all the flour and no lumps remain.

Now add water little by little to make a firm dough. The dough should be considerably firm, firmer to touch than chapati dough, but not so dry as to be flaky. The consistency has to be just right, and it comes with experience.

Keep the dough aside for atleast an hour or two.

Divide the dough into about 8 large portions. Roll them with a rolling pin, so that the size is just about as big as a largish 'poori'. The thickness will be about 3-4 millimeters. It takes absolutely only 10 seconds to roll it!

Now roast it on a tawa. Just like the chapati, you first half cook one side, and cook till brown spots appear on the other side. Once the other side has cooked well, pick it up and place it on the gas flame, half-cooked side down.

If your dough is right, it will puff up like a chapati.

Serve it  with a dollop of ghee and besan.

Happy Cooking!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Banana Methi Thepla with Raw Mango Chutney

Okay I know that at first breath it sounds weird. I mean, banana and methi in a thepla? I know 'cause that was my first reaction. But what the hell, I had two ripe bananas lying around which no one was willing to touch otherwise, so I decided to follow Ms. Tarla Dalal's recipe in toto and incorporate them into my theplas.

I prayed to God that the dish worked. Hubby was leaving for work at 8:30 p.m. and he was taking the theplas with him in his tiffin. That was all he was going to carry. So I hoped that he would like my new experiment.

This was my recipe.

Banana Methi Thepla
3 cups wheat flour
1 cup besan
A handful of finely chopped fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves
2 ripe bananas
1 tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
2-3 tsp red chilli (lal mirch) powder
1-2 tsp coriander (dhania) powder
1 tsp dry mango (amchur) powder 
one pinch of asafoetida (hing)
salt to taste
water and 2 tsp oil for making dough
oil for frying

Wash and finely chop methi leaves. Sieve both the flours together, add methi leaves and mashed banana. I have seen that grating a banana on your regular cheese grater is a much better way of getting a good pulp. Add turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, amchur powder, salt and mix well. Add water as and when needed to make a soft dough. Use a little oil while kneading to make a dough.

Now divide the dough into smaller portions and roll out thin chapatis. Fry them on a griddle (tawa) with a little oil, till brown blisters appear evenly on both sides. Serve hot.

Raw Mango Chutney
1 raw mango peeled and chopped into pieces
1 tsp dry roasted methi (fenugreek) seeds
2-3 tbsp grated coconut
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
3-4 tsp jaggery (or as per taste)
salt to taste

For the tempering:
2 tsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard (rai) seeds
1/4 tsp cumin (jeera) seeds
a pinch of hing

Gather all the ingredients for the chutney in a blender and blend till you get a good puree. You may leave it slightly chunky as I do.
Heat the oil, and add mustard and cumin seeds. In the end add a pinch of hing and splash this tempering onto the chutney.

Here is the picture:

I may add, that once I tasted it, the banana gave just a subtle hint of its presence. There may be those who may not like it, but my family for one didn't mind.

It goes without saying that a little effort put into presentation goes a long way, especially where kids are concerned. Saee could not wait to eat the thepla even as we were clicking the pictures. The credit for this picture goes to my husband. I have done the styling.

For those who are adventurous as I am, please try this recipe. It tastes good. Not great, but good.

Happy Cooking!

Chicken Chettinad

I have accepted a personal challenge. I have challenged myself to see if it is possible to cook different recipes everyday for 365 days a year. No single recipe can be repeated. Can I succeed? Can this really work? I have named this challenge 'Project Indian Cooking'.

To kick-start the project, I chose Chicken Chettinad. Chicken Chettinad is a subtly spicy South Indian chicken curry, beautifully flavored and textured. I also chose this recipe, as my mother-in-law is in Indore (our hometown). She doesn't like non-vegetarian food being cooked at home, and when she is not home it is my only opportunity to experiment with meat cooking.


  • 1/2 kg chicken pieces with bones ( I love bone pieces because it is in the bones that the real flavor of chicken lies)
  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 large onion sliced vertically
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • paste of 2 tablespoons khus-khus, 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, and 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2-3 teaspoons red chilly powder
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • salt to taste
Wash the chicken and dry the pieces with kitchen towels. The meat cooks better this way. Keep this aside.
I generally use a pressure cooker to make chicken curry. It simulates the slow 'dum' cooking, and makes the chicken pieces really tender, and juicy.

Heat oil in the cooker, and add peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and curry leaves. After some time, throw in the onions and cook till they become tender and translucent. Now add the khus-khus paste and the ginger garlic paste. Add turmeric, coriander powder, red chilly powder and garam masala.
Fry this masala for 8 to 10 minutes and then add the tomatoes and salt. Once the tomatoes have become tender add the pieces of chicken.

Add a little water and put on the lid of the cooker. Cook on a slow flame for about 20 to 25 minutes till the chicken pieces are done and your house smells of the beautiful aromas of Kerala.

I couldn't resist the temptation of tasting the curry before serving it. I can't describe the pure pleasure it inflicted on my senses. My nose was tantalized before my tongue.

I tried making neer dosa to go with the curry, but damn! I am going to have to go to Annu's dad to learn the recipe. I have heard that he makes excellent neer dosas. If someone can help me with the neer dosas, then please let me know!

By the way... the image is an actual picture of the Chicken Chettinad cooked, stylized and clicked by me.

Happy cooking!