Category Archives: RECIPES

An Interesting Salad Idea-Paneer, Pineapple and Pomegranate Toss-Up

Most of the event-related dinners for our programs at TMTC are hosted at the Taj Blue Diamond and going there always reminds me  of our courtship days, when Shri and I ate their several times at their coffee shop. The place had a very cosy feel, with the highlight of the decor being these pretty lamp posts whose style I recognized as European only a very long time later, when we moved to France two years after we got married and I began to come across the same kind of lamp posts on European streets in cities
like Cannes !

But I digress. What I meant to write about here, lest I forget the ingredients or the idea in all the multitude of things  that happen every day, was the idea for a salad I ate when I was the hotel earlier this month.

The chef(s) had basically tossed together chunks of pineapple with paneer and pomegranate and added some salt and red chilli flakes to season it.

For some reason, the salad had acquired a bitter taste by the time I took some on my plate. But I think if one were to make it carefully, ideally this combination would make for a great and very different kind of salad, a pretty and colorful addition to the table. In fact I intend to make this one of these days and will probably leave out the chilli flakes and add some roughly chopped mint leaves for an extra dash of color.

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Filed under Salads

Tarte au Fraise – Strawberry Pie

Today was the very first time I have ever made a fruit tart/pie.

It’s one of those things Ma’s never made, nor have I ever watched a friend make one.  So I’ve always felt uncertain about so many details – the handling of pastry shells, the right sort of pan to use, the thickness of the sauce/custard that helps set the filling, etc.

But the girls were so keen to try and make this strawberry pie ever since Romi gifted us the book, this summer in India, which has this recipe, that I decided we’d attempt to make this for dessert tonight because we had Celine and her parents, Doris and Jean -Luc, coming over for dinner.

And the result of our maiden effort was very successful indeed; dessert was thoroughly enjoyed by all, with everyone either helping themselves to or gladly accepting seconds.

This recipe is adapted from the one in “Everyday Light Meals”, a great collection published by the Reader’s Digest magazine group.

Tarte au Fraise – Strawberry Pie


While the girls hung around the kitchen and helped a lot – they did the time-consuming job of placing all those strawberries on the pastry shell – I also thanked again, in my mind, the friendly French couple I talked to in the supermarket aisle where I picked up the roll of pastry dough. I was confused by the choices available and asked them to help me choose the appropriate variety. They were very pleased to hear that I was going to make a dessert which they said was “tres typique, un vrai dessert Francais” and so took the time to explain which would be the right kind of pastry dough and why, as well as the right size of pastry dish to look for.

Romi, thanks again for this wonderful addition to our cookbook collection !

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Filed under Desserts

Broccoli,Baby Potato and Tomato Salad

Yesterday, when I realized suddenly that I did not have as much time to cook dinner as I had initially thought, I decided to make this salad on a whim, to go with grilled pesto and onion toast.

I kept the broccoli florets quite small and since the salad also had the girls’ favorite tomate marzounette (a type of small-sized tomatoes that have an oblong shape and are grown from a variety native to San Marzano in Italy) they ate it without comment.

I haven’t combined them before, but potatoes and broccoli do seem to go well together. I can even see this salad as part of a more formal meal, with baby potatoes in place of the regular sort for a nice touch.

Broccoli, Potato and Tomato Salad

steamed broccoli florets

boiled, peeled and diced potatoes (the potatoes should be firm, not overcooked) OR boiled and peeled baby potatoes

cherry tomatoes, sliced in to halves (or quartered lengthwise if the tomatoes are the marzounette variety)

Put the tomatoes, the broccoli and the potatoes in to a large salad bowl. Add some olive oil, toss the vegetables lightly in it, and leave aside for an hour.

Just before serving, sprinkle some sea-salt and lime juice and mix the salad.

Light, colorful, GOOD ! Definitely one to make again.

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Filed under Quick Meal Ideas, Salads

Palak Paneer

The addition of paneer to palak masala creates this more elaborate dish.

This is one of Noor’s favorite subzis – she loves to eat it with phulka and lots of yogurt to mix in to the spinach- and this is what we had for dinner tonight, with some daal and carrot salad on the side.

I usually make a little more than we need of the spinach and the daal, as the leftovers are great for kneading the dough for the next day’s phulkas.

Palak Paneer

4 tablespoons of sunflower oil

400 grams of frozen spinach leaves

2 medium sized onions, chopped fine

2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped fine or 4 tablespoons of canned tomato pulp

1 or 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons each of ginger paste and garlic paste (or equivalent amounts of freshly grated ginger and garlic)

1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder

3 pods of green cardamom, cracked slightly (optional)

salt (about 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons, or to taste)

2 teaspoons of melted ghee

100-150 gms of paneer cubes

Defrost the spinach leaves. When they are at room temperature chop them fine  in a food processor.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil, then add the cardamom pods. When their aroma starts to spread, add the onions and fry till they start to go from a golden brown to a darker brown – but not longer than that. Add the ginger and garlic pastes, fry for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes (or pulp). Fry this mixture till the oil starts to appear on the sides. Add all the dry spices next and fry for a minute. Add the pieces of paneer and fry for a minute to coat them well. Add the spinach now, season with salt, and cook, covered, till it is soft enough. A minute before you take the pan off the fire , add the ghee and mix it in.

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Filed under Everyday Subzis

A One Sentence Recipe – A Simple Carrot Salad

One of things that is so special, , in my opinion,  about the carrot koshimbir that I make very often, is the tangy taste created by the combination of sugar and lime juice.

Inspired by that, I sometimes make this simpler carrot salad which is so much lighter to eat, quicker to make and yet very tasty too.

Carrot Salad

peeled and grated carrots

lime juice, salt and sugar to taste

Toss the carrots with the seasoning and serve.

That surely qualifies for the “world’s shortest recipe” competition !

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Filed under One Sentence Recipes, Salads

Blueberry Muffins – A holiday memory

Yesterday, Indira asked if we could bake blueberry muffins today.

Never having noticed before that she is fond of this variety of muffins, I was curious as to the reason she wanted to make them.

She told me that she loves the muffins they serve for breakfast  on the flight from Nice to Zurich – we almost always  fly on Swiss, when we travel back each year to India – and that it is always a blueberry muffin.

So we picked up fresh blueberries in Carrefour yesterday and made these cupcakes today in the morning for breakfast.

Blueberry Muffins

125-150 g of fresh blueberries

1 and 3/4 cups of flour (all-purpose or whole wheat or semi-wholewheat)

1/2 a cup of sugar

1/4 cup of softened butter

1 tbsp of baking powder

3/4 cup of milk

1 tsp of vanilla

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Wash and dry the blueberries.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, the baking powder and the salt.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the egg and whisk everything together.

Add the milk and the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Now pour in the flour mixture, stir it in well, then add the blueberries and mix them in lightly.

Put a tablespoon or so of the batter in to each of the cups of a muffin tray and bake at 200 degrees C for 25-40 minutes till the muffins are nicely browned.

While using  fresh blueberries as a baking ingredient does feel like a pity to me – the original recipe does say that frozen berries will do as well but the ones we buy here are too sour for my liking and I therefore tend to avoid them –  I have to say that these cupcakes are quite nice too, with the delicious taste of the berries spread through as the fruit softens on baking.

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Cakes and Muffins, THE STUFF OF MEMORIES

Aloo Kulchas

During our stay in Jamshedpur recently- we were there for three weeks till we got to Mumbai this last weekend – I had the most amazing aloo kulchas at Gunchu Didi’s home, which she’d bought from the canteen in her school where they make these to order. In fact I liked them so much that when she and Usha Masi and Vijay Bhaiya cam home for dinner, I asked her to buy some for that evening too.

I can’t remember the last time an Indian bread made such an impression on me; not, I think, since the delicious, wonderfully soft and thin Maharashtrian polis that Vasanti made for us when we visited her in Pune once.

So this is going to be one of the first new recipes I am going to try my hand at once I get back to my kitchen in France.

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Filed under Baked Main Meal Dishes, Breads, Breakfast Ideas

Jenny’s Spinach Pie

I ate this once last summer at Jenny’s and it was really quite nice.

So earlier today evening, when I happened to be in her kitchen as she made it for guests that she will have at lunch tomorrow, I noted down the quantities of the ingredients as she cooked.

It looked quite simple to put together, so I am going to try and make it some time soon.

Spinach Pie

2 rolls of store-bought pie crust

a kilo of frozen,very very finely chopped spinach

3-4 tablespoons of creme fraiche

a 210 gm bag of Gruyere cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 large onion, chopped fine

1 egg, lightly whisked

De-frost the spinach and squeeze out all the water.

In a pan, heat a little oil and fry the onion for a while.

In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach, the onion, the seasoning, the cheese and the creme fraiche.

Place one of the pie crusts at the bottom of a pie dish. Fill with the spinach mixture and spread it evenly. Cover with the second pie crust.

Brush the top with the egg and bake at 175degreesC till done.

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Filed under Baked Main Meal Dishes, Easy One Pot Cooking, Quick Meal Ideas, Versatile Accompaniments

Italian Rice Salad with Tuna, Vegetables and Cheese

At the buffet served after the OIB graduation ceremony held at the CIV tonight – I was there to help with the aperitif and the buffet – there was a delicious rice salad which was contributed by the mum of a student in the Italian section.

Here’s the recipe, as I remember it, which she told me as we served the crowd so I hope I’ve got the details right !

Italian Rice Salad

Cooked and cooled rice (from a region in Italy, if I understood her right, near the one that arborio rice come from) tossed with canned tuna (with the oil), olives, capers, very finely sliced raw carrots(or they may have been very lightly steamed), tomatoes (optional) and small pieces of provolone cheese. Though I forgot to ask if she had used any herbs, I don’t think there was any  seasoning in the salad other than salt.

I am going to try this soon as it would make such a simple, fresh and delicious summer meal though I’ll have to figure out first what the rice variety she’d used might be.  I wonder if it is Carnaroli?  The name she used sounded sort of like that from what I remember and when I google Arborio, I find many references to the Carnaroli rice variety as a great base for risottos and salads – indeed for the former it appears to be a better choice than Arborio.

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Filed under Easy One Pot Cooking, Picnic Food, Quick Meal Ideas, Rice-Pulavs,Biryanis,Baaths, Salads

Warm Spinach and Fennel Salad

At the same hotel – the Sophia Country Club – where I had the avocado and orange salad, I also had a dish for lunch one afternoon which had a very new and unlikely – to me – combination of finely sliced fennel and spinach leaves.

The vegetables seemed to make up a sort of warm salad that included some kind of seafood.

I had only the vegetables from this dish, however, and the combination was surprisingly good.

I need to figure out now how they’d been cooked together.

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Filed under Quick Meal Ideas, Salads, Versatile Accompaniments

Avocado and Orange Salad

This very simple but very nice salad was part of the buffet lunch one afternoon during the conference last week.

It consisted only of alternating, thin slices of avocado and orange, with a very slight drizzle of olive oil, if I remember right, or perhaps not even that.

Light, delicious and perfect for a summer afternoon.

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Filed under Salads

Tomato Chutney-a Desi -and nicer-Ketchup

The boulanger never wants a chutney/sauce to accompany the vadas, tikkis etc. that I make for his customers.  He doesn’t seem to think it is necessary and this is difficult for me to understand, used as I am to eating any finger food with a dip of some kind.

So yesterday, since he was to going to sell summer-inspired platters of salads and finger foods – he asked for both the khamang kakdi and the carrot salad with chicken tikkas, shami kebabs and batata vadas– I decided to give him some complimentary tomato chutney to serve on the side, for him to test the concept again.

This chutney is another bit of nostalgia from my childhood. In the summer months, dinner was often just this chutney and vegetable pulav with yogurt.

I love the flavor that comes from the use of paanchphoran here and of course that it is so easy to make is another plus.

As I made it yesterday, I thought this chutney would be so much nicer to have, with Indian starters such as pakoras and tikkis, than ketchup.

Tomato Chutney

3 large, ripe tomatoes

1 tablespoon of oil

1/4 teaspoon each of mustard seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds

salt and brown sugar to taste

Wash and chop the tomatoes very fine.

In a frying pan, heat the oil, then add the mustard seeds and the nigella seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the fennel seeds and the cumin seeds. When these start to brown, add the fenugreek seeds, fry for just a couple of seconds and put in the tomatoes.  Add salt and cook the tomatoes till they are completely soft. Add some sugar  (the chutney should be tangy, not too sweet), cook for another minute, then add water and simmer for a few minutes till the water is well-blended and the chutney is a little thick.

This chutney is a great accompaniment with puri and jeera-aloo, too.

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Filed under Dips,Chutneys,Sauces,Spreads, Easy One Pot Cooking, Versatile Accompaniments

Shami Kababs

Ma used to make these sometimes, to serve with soup in the winter months or sometimes on Holi.

I was pleased that the ones I made yesterday for the boulangerie tasted quite like the ones I remember from all those years ago.

I have adapted the recipe here from the one in chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s “Khana Khazana”.

I decided to add an egg for binding the kabab mixture, though the original recipe does not require this, since the mixture seemed rather dry and I thought this might cause the kababs to break on frying. I also used a little more lime juice than the original recipe mentions because when Indira tasted a kabab from the trial lot I made last week, she thought a little more lime juice would be nice.

She was right -the kababs I made yesterday definitely benefited from that.

Shami Kababs

350-400 gms of chicken mince

1/3 cup of split pea lentils, soaked in warm water for 4-5 hours

1 and 1/2 teaspoons each of finely chopped ginger and garlic

1 large onion, chopped very fine

2 tablespoons each of finely chopped mint leaves and coriander leaves (or a little less)

about 1 and a 1/2  tablespoons of lime juice

1 egg

2 tablespoons of oil

1/2 a teaspoon of cummin seeds

2 pods of black cardamom

1/2  a teaspoon each of garam masala powder and Kashmiri red chili powder (or  stronger variety if you like)

1/2 teaspoon, or a little more, of coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon of green cardamom powder

salt to taste

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the cummin seeds and the black cardamom, fry for a few seconds and then add the ginger and garlic and fry these for half a minute. Now add the chicken, drained lentils and about 1 and a 1/2 cups of water. When the water begins to boil, cover the pan, turn down the heat and cook till the lentils are completely soft, stirring the mixture occasionally. Then remove the cover and cook the mixture on slightly higher heat till all the water has dried up.

Leave the mixture to cool, then grind it to a smooth paste. Take it out in a large bowl, add the onions, the herbs, the lime juice, the salt,  the spices and the egg (whisk it in a small bowl very lightly with a fork first, to blend the white and the yolk) , mix thoroughly and leave in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Divide the mixture in to equal portions – this quantity will make about 15 – and form these in to little patties. Shallow fry the kababs till they are nicely browned and crisp on both sides.

I made a tomato chutney for the boulanger to serve with the kebabs and he told me today that his customers liked that too.

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Filed under Starters and Snacks

Chicken Pulav(2)

This recipe is quite similar to the other one I’ve used a couple of times to make chicken pulav for the boulangerie. The chief difference is that this one requires tomatoes, while that other recipe calls for lemon juice.

I did without an ingredient that the original recipe – which is from Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s “Khazana of Indian Recipes” – requires  and that’s chicken stock.

I suspect that would add a great deal to the taste but never having got the hang of how to make stock, I made this pulav yesterday with water instead.  Fortunately it passed muster with both Patrick the boulanger – I will be making this for him next Tuesday – and Maria, our guest last night at dinner.

Maria’s daughter was away this week on the same school trip as Indira and since her husband is traveling on work, we asked her to eat with us yesterday.

Dinner was this chicken pulav, rasedar aloo tamatar, salad with mesclun, red bell pepper,corn and asparagus and multi-cereal baguette. I planned the meal this way because I wanted to suggest the first two dishes to Patrick for next week, along with some carrot salad. Luckily he liked both and Maria appeared to enjoy her dinner too so that turned out okay !

Here’s my adaptation –

Chicken Pulav

2 cups of Basmati rice

500 gms of boneless chicken, cut in to small chunks

3 teaspoons each of ginger and garlic paste

1/2 a teaspoon of Kashmiri chili powder



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Filed under Easy One Pot Cooking, Picnic Food, Rice-Pulavs,Biryanis,Baaths

Peanut Chutney – Desi Peanut Butter, could we say?

When I made rava idlis last week, I made this peanut chutney to go with them and it was a big hit with Shri and the girls.

I had found myself thinking, as I made it, that this was almost a desi version of peanut butter. That thought was validated when Indira asked if I could make her a sandwich one day with this chutney 🙂

The recipe here derives from two blogs, here and here.

Peanut Chutney

1 cup of grilled, unsalted peanuts

1 small onion, chopped in to large chunks

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 red chili (or more, as per taste)

3 teaspoons of oil

2-3 tablespoons (or to taste) of thick tamarind paste

salt to taste

1/2 a teaspoon of mustard seeds

1 teaspoon of  dhuli urad daal (skin less black gram lentils)

5-6 curry leaves

Heat two teaspoons of oil in a frying pan. Add half of the red chilli, the onions and the garlic and saute till the onions start to turn a little brown.

Take the pan off the heat and leave the onion mixture to cool.

In a blender, combine the peanuts, the onion mixture, the tamarind paste and salt with about 1/2 to 2/3 of a cup of water.

Take the chutney out in to a serving bowl.

Heat the third spoon of oil in a small frying pan. Add the mustard seeds and when these start to pop, add the curry leaves and the other half of the red chili. Fry for a couple of seconds, then add the lentils, fry till they turn golden brown and pour this mixture in the pan over the chutney and mix everything together well.

I let the chutney sit for a while before serving it; I think the flavors come together better with that.

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Filed under Dips,Chutneys,Sauces,Spreads

Thakkali Sadam or Tomato Fried Rice

This rice preparation – native to the south of India – would make a nice meal on a summer day, with a raita on the side and perhaps a light vegetable dish such as cauliflower with paanchphoran or beans poriyal or jeera aloo.

I have adapted the recipe from “Samayal”, a cookbook by Viji Vardarajan. To make it interesting for the customers of the local boulangerie – where they served this today with mint- and coriander-flavored chicken, pumpkin raita and salad greens- I skipped the green chillies in the original recipe and added cashew nuts on a whim.

Thakkali Sadam

1 and a 1/2 cups of Basmati rice

2 large tomatoes, chopped fine

1 small onion, chopped fine

3 tablespoons of oil plus 1 teaspoon to add to the water in which the rice will be cooked.

1/4 of a teaspoon of mustard seeds

1/4 of a teaspoon of cumin seeds

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder

a few curry leaves

50-60 grams of cashew nuts, halved and then fried lightly for a minute or so in a teaspoon of oil

Wash and soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes , then drain the water and cook the rice with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of oil in 2 and a quarter cups of water.

When the rice has cooled a little, separate the grains a little with a fork.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When these start to pop, add the curry leaves, fry for a couple of seconds and add the cumin seeds. As soon as they start to darken in color, add the onions and fry fora few minutes till they begin to look translucent. Now add the tomatoes, cover the pan and cook till the tomatoes are quite soft and their juice has almost dried up.

Add the turmeric, fry the mixture for another minute, then add the rice and toss everything together. Cover the pan and cook the rice for 6-7 minutes, turning over the rice a couple of times till all of it acquires a uniform yellow color. Just before taking the pan off the heat, mix in the cashew nuts.

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Filed under Easy One Pot Cooking, Quick Meal Ideas, Rice-Pulavs,Biryanis,Baaths

Rava Idlis

This is another of Pooja’s recipes, adapted a little by me.

Maybe I ought to start paying her a royalty for all these inspirations !

Thanks to this one, the girls loved their gouter today and I am looking forward to having the idlis for dinner tonight, with sambhar.

In the background – Ruhin’s artwork, from a year or so ago, which Boudi creatively transformed in to a set of place mats for us.

Rava Idlis

1 cup of suji/semolina/rava, slightly roasted

1 and a 1/2 cups of smooth yogurt

1 large carrot, finely grated

1 or 2 tablespoons of cashew nuts, sliced in half

5-6 curry leaves, finely chopped

1/2 a teaspoon of mustard seeds

2 teaspoons of sunflower oil

salt to taste

1 teaspoon of Eno fruit salt

Mix the yogurt in to the rava, adding a little water – about 1/2 to 1/3 of a small cup – if the batter seems too thick.

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a small frying pan, then add the mustard seeds. When these start to pop, add the curry leaves, fry for a few seconds and then pour this mixture in to the rava batter. Now mix in the rest of the ingredients and stir thoroughly.

Lightly oil the idli mold, pour about 2 tablespoons of batter in each section and steam the idlis till done. This will take about 15 minutes.

Take the idlis out with a butter knife.

The top of some of the idlis was a little damp still when I took them out of their molds but the moisture dried up in a few minutes.

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Picnic Food, Quick Meal Ideas, Starters and Snacks

Chicken Chettinad-or maybe not?

The cuisine of the Chettinad region of Tamilnadu in India is said to be very spicy/hot, if I remember this right. By that yardstick, the Chicken “Chettinad” I made today for dinner does not really qualify for that name.

But neither the girls nor I will ever be able to stomach the four dry red chillies that the recipe in Sanjeev Kapoor’s “Khana Khazana” would have required be added to the ground masala this dish needs.

So I made it today without any whole red chillies at all.

The girls liked the chicken a lot, as did I. It makes a nice change from the usual sort of chicken curry though it is rather heavy because of all the coconut that goes in to it.

I’ll take some tomorrow for the boulanger, and see what he thinks of it.


Chicken Chettinad

450 grams of boneless chicken, cut in to small pieces

3 small onions, sliced fine

2 teaspoons each of ginger paste and garlic paste

6 tablespoons of canned tomato pulp

5 tablespoons of desiccated coconut , or the flesh of 1/4 of a fresh coconut

poppy seeds – 1 teaspoon

fennel seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

coriander seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

cumin seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

cinnamon stick – 1 one inch stick

green cardamom – 2

cloves – 2

turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon

red chilli powder – 1/2 teaspoon ( I use Kashmiri red chilli powder)

4 tablespoons of oil

star anise – 1/4

2 small tomatoes

3 tablespoons of lemon juice

5-6 curry leaves

salt to taste

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Filed under Curries

Curried Potatoes aka Rasedar Aloo Tamatar

Shri loves this potato curry – he calls it aloo shak, which is probably an Indori name for it since he talks fondly of having eaten this many times in the sarafa bazaar of Indore – with puris and if he had his way this is what I would make each time we have friends over for a meal.

Yesterday, for dinner with Vishal and Shefali’s family, we had this curry with palak puris.  And it was so pleasing to see Twisha and Vayun enjoy the carrot salad I had made to go with the aloo-puri as much as Shri, Indira and Noor do.

Curries Potatoes/Rasedar Aloo Tamatar

600 gms of potatoes (enough for 4-6 people)

300 gms of tomatoes or an equivalent amount of canned tomato pulp (about 6 tablespoons)

4-5 tablespoons of oil

1/4 teaspoon each of the ingredients of paanchphoran – mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon of coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon of kashmiri red chilli powder (or to taste)

2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine

1 teaspoon of kasoori methi and/or 1/2 a teaspoon of garam masala (optional)

1 large dry red chili (optional), broken in half

salt to taste

fresh, green coriander,chopped fine

Leave the tomatoes in very hot water – freshly boiled – till their skin comes off easily.  Then drain and leave aside to cool.

In the meanwhile cook the potatoes, till they are soft, in a pressure cooker. When the cooker has cooled a bit, open the lid, drain the water, take out the potatoes in a colander and leave aside to dry and cool.

Peel and chop the tomatoes in to very fine pieces.

When the potatoes are cold, peel them and dice them in to small pieces.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and put in the  red chili, the mustard seeds and the nigella seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the fennel seeds, fry for a couple of seconds, then add the garlic and fry for a few seconds till the garlic loses it’s raw look. Now add the cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and fry for just another couple of seconds else the fenugreek seeds can burn and will develop a bitter taste.

Add the tomatoes next and cook on medium heat till their juice starts to dry up. Then add all the dry spices and fry for a minute or so, till the oil starts to appear on the sides of the mixture. Now stir in the kasoori methi and fry for another few seconds.

Add the potatoes, along with salt. Fry for a few minutes till the potatoes are  well-coated with the tomato mixture.  Then add about 2 cups of water and simmer the curry for a while till the gravy is as thick as you like (add more water if needed). Once way to ensure the curry is well-done is to let it simmer, stirring occasionally, till the surface starts to acquire a rich red color/glaze.

Garnish with green coriander , if you haven’t used kasoori methi.

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Filed under Curries, Everyday Subzis, Picnic Food, Quick Meal Ideas

Lemon Rice

I have always loved this rice dish because it is so light yet flavorful. But then that is a hallmark of so many recipes of the cuisine of Tamil Nadu in India.

I made it for dinner yesterday when we had friends come over to eat with us.

I always make so much more rice than ever gets used so there was lots left over. We had some of that for lunch today with the raita and carrot salad that were also left over from last night.

This recipe borrows from Viji Vardarajan’s “Samayal”.

Lemon Rice

1 cup of Basmati rice

a few curry leaves

1/2 a teaspoon of mustard seeds

2 tablespoons – a little more or a little less would be okay too- of chana daal (yellow split pea lentils), soaked in warm water for 3-4 hours then drained

juice of half a lime

salt to taste

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder

1 green chilli, sliced in to halves (optional)

2 tablespoons of oil

Wash and soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes, then cook with salt, a teaspoon of oil and 1 and a 1/2 cups of water. Leave the rice to cool, then fluff up the rice a little to separate the grains.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the curry leaves and the mustard seeds. When the latter begun to crackle and jump out of the oil, add the lentils and stir fry for a few minutes till they are quite soft. At this point they will begin to look a darker yellow and be just a little bit crisp (but not hard). Now stir in the turmeric powder, add the lime juice and then the rice. Mix everything together, then fry the rice for 3-4 minutes, turning over a couple of times and then take the pan off the heat.

Sambhar is an excellent accompaniment for this rice dish.

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Filed under Rice-Pulavs,Biryanis,Baaths

Cucumber and Tomato Raita

I made this for dinner last night after a very long time, so that for the girls it was quite new. Indira had only the yogurt from the raita yesterday but this afternoon as they ate it for lunch with lemon rice and  carrot salad- both of which were also left over from dinner yesterday – she said more than once “simply delicious !”  which was both pleasing and amusing in the nicest way because it makes her seem all grown up 🙂

2 pots of yogurt (250 gms)

half a cucumber(or a little less or a little more, to taste), peeled and diced fine

3-4 tablespoons of milk

2 small tomatoes, diced

1/2 a teaspoon of mustard seeds

1/2 of a dry red chilli (optional but adds a great flavor)

a pinch of asofetida

1 or 2 teaspoons of oil

salt to taste

Pour the yogurt in a bowl , add the salt and the milk, then whisk the yogurt with a spoon to make it smooth. Mix in the cucumber and the tomatoes.

In a small frying pan, heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and when these start to crackle add the curry leaves, the red chilli and the asofetida. Fry for a few seconds, then pour this mixture in to the yogurt and mix everything well.

This is best made at least a half hour ahead of eating, to allow all the flavors to mingle.

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Mint- and Coriander-flavored Grilled Chicken

This is another recipe adapted from “Tikkas & Kebabs”, one of the “Chef’s Special” series published by Lustre Press in India.

I have wanted to try this one since a long time because of the very clear memory I have of the delicious mint-flavored chicken tikkas I ate once  in a restaurant in Delhi.

The girls loved this dish, when I cooked it for lunch last Wednesday.  When I told the boulanger about it – I wasn’t able to take any for him to taste because the girls and I polished it all off – he seemed to like the idea of it and has agreed to try it one Tuesday soon, instead of the usual tandoori chicken.

10-12 chicken drumsticks

100 grams of yogurt

2 tablespoons of lime juice

1 tablespoon of garlic paste

3-4 teaspoons of ginger paste

1 teaspoon of cummin powder

1 teaspoon of coriander powder

1 teaspoon of garam masala

4 tablespoons of oil

1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

2 tablespoons of finely chopped mint leaves

4-5 tablespoons of melted butter, for basting the chicken

salt to taste ( two teaspoons or a little less, for this quantity of chicken, works for us)

Mix the ginger and garlic pastes with the salt and lemon juice.

Skin the chicken, make 3-4 incisions on each piece, toss the pieces thoroughly in the lemon juice mixture and  leave them in this marinade for 30 minutes in a large bowl.

In the meanwhile, strain the water in the yogurt by leaving it in a fine sieve for 15-20 minutes.

Mix the rest of the ingredients – except the butter – in the yogurt. Add this mixture to the chicken pieces and coat them well in it. Leave the chicken in this marinade for at least 8-1o hours, turning over the pieces once during this time.

Heat the grill to about 240 degrees Celsius, then place the chicken on a wire rack and grill till done (this takes about 40 minutes in my oven), turning the pieces over a couple of times during this time to make sure they are evenly cooked and basting with butter each time.

I love the mild but distinctive flavor of herbs here.

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Filed under Baked Main Meal Dishes, Picnic Food, Starters and Snacks, Versatile Accompaniments

Vegetable Korma

I made this for lunch yesterday, since I was looking for a new idea for a curry for the boulangerie.

Patrick the boulanger seems to have liked the look of it, though he hadn’t tasted it yet when I went back yesterday evening to ask what he thought of it, since he said he’d like me to make this along with the bread rolls for next Tuesday.

The girls did like it a lot though when they had this for lunch with phulkas.

I enjoyed making it because it will make a nice addition to the repertoire of vegetarian dishes to cook when friends come over for a meal.

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Cabbage Poriyal

We had this for dinner last night, with khichdi.

This dish is so easy to make but it has simple, delicious flavors.

My recipe for this dish is an adaptation of the classical version, since I make it from the faint memory I have from a long-ago time in Nagpur, when I saw a Tamilian friend’s wife cook it.

Cabbage Poriyal

3/4 of a small cabbage, shredded very fine

3- 4 tablespoons of yellow split peas(chana daal), soaked in cold water for 3-4 hours then drained completely

6-7 curry leaves

1 large dry red chilli, split in half

1/2 a teaspoon of mustard seeds

2-4 tablespoons of sunflower oil

salt to taste

1/3 spoon of turmeric powder (less is more, in this case)

1/2  a teaspoon of coriander powder

2 tablespoons of fresh, grated coconut (optional)

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Mesclun

We eat this so often – it is my favorite mix of salad greens – that I thought it merits a mention here.

According to sources such as wikipedia and wisegeek, mesclun (“to mix” in the Provencal language of the south of France) is a mixture of young greens (i.e. harvested while they are young, for a great flavor)  and can include  dandelion leaves, sorrel, rocket or arugula, mache or lamb’s lettuce, other leafy lettuces, spinach, mustard, swiss chard, chicory, frisee and sometimes edible flowers such as rose petals and nasturtiums. The original mix apparently consisted of chervil,rocket, types of lettuce and endive mixed in equal amounts.

A delicate olive oil and lime juice dressing is all a mesclun-based salad needs, I feel, so that the fresh flavors of the leaves are not subdued.

http://www.foodreference.com/html/fmesclun.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesclun

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-mesclun.htm

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Filed under Food Discoveries, Salads, The Food Police says...

Potato-stuffed Bread Rolls

Last night, dinner consisted of exactly the same combination that Ma often made for dinner in the winter when we lived in Bokaro – vegetable soup, with these aloo-filled bread rolls on the side.

Ma never served these rolls on salad leaves, but I guess I felt that a few leaves from the bag of mesclun would stop me from thinking about the significant amount of oil which the bread must have soaked up when I fried the rolls !

I actually made these as a sort of  trial-run, since I wanted to take a couple to the boulangerie.

This is another of Pooja’s suggestions and has been a winner too.

Next week’s order from the boulanger is for these rolls and vegetable korma.

April 13th 2010

I did, as planned, hand over bread rolls and korma for 10 to the boulanger this morning. But I have spent the last few days wondering if  this has really been such a good idea, to introduce the girls to this snack (well alright,my own tendency to over-indulge once the rolls are made has been worrying me too).

The combination of bread and potatoes which is then deep fried is surely not a recipe for good health.  I did substitute white bread with multi-cereal bread but then commercial versions of the latter are not the real deal at all.

Then, in what must surely be a Sign, a news story that  highlights once again the problems with high glycemic index foods – of which potatoes and white bread are common examples -caught my eye first thing this morning.

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/04/12/glycemic.diet.heart/?hpt=T2
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/diabetes/articles/2010/04/12/eating-the-wrong-kind-of-carbohydrates-increases-heart-disease-risk.html

So while I fried a few rolls – which have been hugely popular with the girls – this evening for gouter –  with the leftover potato stuffing, I decided that I am not going to include this particular recipe here.

They’ll just have to call me for this one, if they do remember these rolls when they are older. For my part, I am not going to make these again in a hurry !

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Chawal ki Kheer, or Indian Rice Pudding

I go through phases when I feel I must have a small dessert after dinner and the small pots of rice pudding – riz au lait in French – that we buy in the supermarkets do satisfy the craving.  Despite the vanilla flavoring,  they serve as a reasonable substitute for home made chawal ki kheer.

So I haven’t made this kheer in a long while.  Then, this last weekend, we had friends for lunch on Sunday and as I planned the meal the previous day I asked Shri what might make a nice dessert given the weather, since it was forecast to be a cold, rainy day.  He very firmly insisted I make chawal ki kheer, since he loves it too.

I am glad I went along with his idea especially because all the children, including eighteen month old Vihaan, seemed to enjoy it.  As did I, for this is the real Mccoy.

As did Shri, I was pleased to see.  He is usually very cautious about his intake of sugar but this time  he asked for a small bowl of kheer each evening after dinner till it was all gone by tonight.

Chawal ki Kheer

50 gms of Basmati rice

1 kilo of full cream milk

sugar to taste (3-4 large spoons – such as a serving spoon – and then more to taste)

freshly powdered green cardamom, 1/2 a teaspoon

a handful of raisins (about 1/3 of a katora/small bowl), soaked in a cup of hot water for about 15 minutes

15-20 almonds, soaked in hot water for at least an hour, then peeled and sliced in to quarters

Wash and soak the rice in 1-2 cups of cold water for about 30 minutes.Then drain all the water out.

In a large, thick-bottomed pan, bring the milk to a boil on medium heat.  Add the rice and stir.  Continue to simmer the milk and rice mixture on a medium-low heat, stirring often – scrape gently at the bottom each time to make sure that the milk does not stick to the bottom; that will spoil the taste completely as the milk will acquire a burnt smell and flavor – till the rice is very well-cooked (the grains will break up a bit and no longer be long as they originally were) and the milk has thickened a little. At this point, the milk acquires the signature, like-old-cream color of all milk-based desserts which involve cooking for a long time.

Sometimes I find that the milk starts to become too thick before the rice is as soft as I like it, so then I add a little more milk.

Add the sugar, the raisins and the almonds and cook for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the cardamom powder, then take the kheer off the heat.

It’s delicious eaten warm in the winter, it’s delicious eaten cold  in the summer !

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Tandoori Chicken

Though what this is , actually, is oven-grilled chicken.

The girls  have always called it “red” chicken after the color of the excellent chicken that Jitender and Neelam always make at their barbeque parties and which Indira so looks forward to eating when we are invited !

The marinade – and therefore the taste of the chicken – I prepare is different from theirs though and is adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe in his  “Khazana of Indian Recipes”.

Tandoori Chicken

800 gms of chicken drumsticks

1 or 2 teaspoons of kashmiri chilli powder

4 tablespoons of lime juice

200 gms of yogurt

4-5 teaspoons each of ginger and garlic pastes

3/4 teaspoon of garam masala powder

salt to taste

about 100 ml of melted butter

2-3 limes, cut in to wedges

Skin and wash the chicken, then make cuts in several places on each piece.

In a flat bowl, mix half the lime juice and Kashmiri chilli powder and toss the chicken pieces in this mixture. Keep aside for 30 minutes.

In the meanwhile, leave the yogurt in a very fine sieve – to drain the whey – for 15-20 minutes.

Then mix the yogurt with the rest of the ingredients (except the butter),  toss the chicien pieces in this marinade to coat them well and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.

Pre-heat the grill to 240 degrees C, then place the chicken pieces at the top of the oven and cook till they are done, turning them over a couple of times so that all the sides are cooked evenly. Apply butter lightly with a brush each time on the surface just below the grill.

This dish is best eaten hot from the oven and lime wedges are a must-have accompaniment, for the juice to be squeezed on to each piece as it’s eaten.

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Filed under Baked Main Meal Dishes, Picnic Food, Starters and Snacks, Versatile Accompaniments

Mangori – Green Moong Daal Vadas

This is another great dish that I learned to make from Atto.  On our visits to her home in Indore, I used to look forward to eating these – which she made each time – hot and crispy as they came out of the karahi.

These vadas have always been very popular whenever I have made them for get-togethers with friends here so when Pooja suggested I make these for the boulangerie, I thought that a great idea.

And indeed, the boulanger simply loved the mangoris I took for him to taste a couple of days ago.

So this is one of the things I’ll make for next week’s order, along with some vegetable biryani and tandoori chicken.

This recipe is adapted from Atto’s.  I also  add fennel seeds as Pooja does since this adds a wonderful flavor.

Mangoris

1 cup of whole green moong daal (or split/chilka moong)

1/4 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon of ginger paste

1 onion , chopped very fine

3 teaspoons of fennel seeds

1 and a 1/2 teaspoons of salt (or to taste)

oil to deep fry

Soak the lentils with the fenugreek seeds in 3 cups of water for at least 12  hours. then drain the water and grind the daal with as little water as possible to a smooth paste. Take this out in to a bowl and mix in the salt, the chopped onion, the fennel seeds and the ginger paste.

Heat about 400-500 ml of  oil in a deep frying pan till it almost reaches smoking point. Drop small portions of the batter – about 1 or 1/12 teaspoons each – to the oil and fry  the vadas till they are brown – they will be need to be darker than a golden brown so as to be well-cooked inside – and crisp.

These are delicious enough by themselves; coconut chutney on the side would be the icing on the cake.

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Tuna and Potato Cutlets

I first tasted these delicious fish cutlets at a potluck meal to which Jinia brought this dish as one of the starters.

I got the recipe from her when I made them for a “Cuisine de Monde” day at school when Indira was in the maternelle.   She had suggested that I make these, when I discussed the event with her, because in her experience, she said, this was a popular finger food with kids. And she was right about that – most of the children loved them, I remember, as did the mothers who were there.

I hadn’t made them again since then, but today as I mixed a salad for lunch and added some canned tuna to it, I was reminded of these cutlets. So I thought that instead of racking my brains trying to think of another potato-based dish for the boulangerie – since I don’t feel like making aloo tikkis or batata vadas again next week but potatoes do seem to be popular – I would make these cutlets, with the rest of the tuna in the can I opened this afternoon, for the girls’ gouter and take a couple of them to the boulangerie for Patrick to taste.

The girls, especially Noor, liked them a lot; I’ll find out tomorrow whether these will be part of the order for next Tuesday.

Tuna and Potato Cutlets

For 10 small cutlets –

90 grams of tuna (packed in water), drained

3-4 small potatoes

1 small onion, chopped fine

1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon of coriander powder

salt to taste

1/2 red chilli powder (optional) or 1 small green chilli, chopped fine (optional)

1 and a 1/2 tablespoons of cooking oil

2 eggs, whisked in a deep bowl (in which the cutlets can be dipped in to the egg)

6-7 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

Enough oil to deep-fry the cutlets

Boil and then peel the potatoes. Drain the tuna and break up the flesh with a fork. In a small frying pan, heat the oil, fry the onions till they are translucent, then add the tuna and cook for a just a little while till it is dry. Mix in the spices and cook for another minute, then take off the heat.

When the tuna is cool, mash in the potatoes and mix everything together thoroughly. Form 10 cutlets from this mixture. Dip them in the egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs and deep-fry till they are golden brown.

This really does transform plain, canned tuna in the nicest way.

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Filed under Picnic Food, Starters and Snacks, Versatile Accompaniments

Fish Fillets in Coconut-flavored Sauce aka Fish Malai Curry

Inspired by the decent results from the trial run of the Prawn Malai curry – I made a very small portion to take to the boulangerie for Patrick to taste and he liked it a lot – and prompted by Indira who was very curious to know what sort of curry I am going to make for this Tuesday’s order from the boulangerie, I decided to make the same curry with white fish fillets and the result is very nice too.

The fish that I used is called cabillaud in French and that’s haddock/hake/cod in English, I think.

We had this tonight with a peas pulav and a small, very fresh-tasting salad of red bell pepper slices and mesclun (the Provencal term for a mixture of young salad greens) tossed in an olive oil, lime juice and basil flakes dressing.

The girls said they liked their dinner very much so I am glad I gave this a try.

Fish Malai Curry

300 gms of fish fillets, cut in to 2 or 3 inch pieces

2 small onions, chopped really fine

4-5 tablespoons of tomato puree

2 teaspoons each of ginger and garlic paste

a couple of bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon of garam masala powder

3/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 a teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli powder

1 green chilli, slit in half (optional)

salt to taste

3 tablespoons of oil

50-75 ml of packaged coconut milk (vary to taste – I like the coconut flavor to not be too strong)

Cut the fillets into 2 or 3 inch pieces.

Mix the salt and turmeric in a large bowl and turn the pieces of fish in this mixture gently, to coat them well.

In a frying pan, heat the oil, add the bay leaves, fry for a minute, then add the green chilli and the onions and fry till they are a golden color. Now add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry everything for a few minutes till th onions start to turn a golden brown- but without letting the onions burn or brown too much as this will affect the final color of the curry.

Add the tomato puree next and once the oil starts to appear on the sides, add the turmeric powder and the red chilli powder and fry everything for a minute. Now add the fish pieces, turn over gently a couple of times to coat them well with the onion-tomato mixture, then pour in the coconut milk and water. Simmer the curry for about 10 minutes or till it has the right consistency (not thin and runny, but it shouldn’t be too thick either).

Stir in the garam masala and garnish with fresh, chopped coriander leaves.

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Filed under Curries, Easy One Pot Cooking, Quick Meal Ideas

Simple Scrambled Eggs

This is such a simple recipe that maybe it doesn’t need to be written down, but Noor asked me when I cooked eggs this way for dinner one day last week, to go with a vegetable soup, whether I’ll teach her when she is older how to make this dish.

So I figure she likes this a lot, so it may be worth writing about here too.

Scrambled Eggs

6 eggs

3 tablespoons of milk

a teaspoon of butter (or a little more)

a tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Crack the eggs in to a bowl, season with salt and mix the yolks and whites till they are quite well blended with a spoon or fork.

Heat a pan, add the butter and when it  melts spread it all over the base of the pan with a cooking spoon, then pour the eggs in.  Cook the eggs on a low-to-medium heat, stirring very frequently (scrape at the bottom of the pan as well, to lift up the mixture since it will tend to stick) so that the folds that form are small. Take the pan off the heat while the egg mixture still looks a little wet i.e while the eggs are still not completely cooked. The pan will be hot for a little longer and this will finish the cooking process and allow the scrambled eggs to stay soft and creamy when they are served;otherwise they can become a little dry.

Just before taking the pan off the heat, add the cheese and fold it in. This is an optional ingredient but adds a very nice touch.

Add freshly ground pepper to each portion when it’s served.

This dish is ideally made just before it is brought to the table.

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Easy One Pot Cooking, Quick Meal Ideas

Prawn Malai Curry

When the boulanger asked if I could do a fish curry for next Tuesday, my first reaction was to tell him honestly that I have very little experience cooking fish. But then I remembered that I made this Bengali curry, which combines prawns and coconut milk, once a long time ago and the girls did like it.

He was quite happy with that suggestion when I mentioned it so this is what I am going to make for next Tuesday along with some peas pulav, batata vada, mint-coriander chutney and carrot salad.

The classical chingri (that’s Bengali for prawn) malai curry does not include tomatoes I think, but I prefer to make it with them.

Prawn Malai Curry

10-12 medium-sized prawns (shelled and de-veined; so I like to use the frozen, ready-to-use variety)

1 small onion, chopped really fine

3 tablespoons of tomato puree

1 teaspoon each of ginger and garlic paste

a couple of bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon of garam masala powder

3/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 a teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli powder

1 green chilli, slit in to half (optional)

salt to taste

3 tablespoons of oil

50 ml of packaged coconut milk (or a little less would be okay too)

3/4 cup of water

Soak the frozen prawns in some water for a few minutes, then drain the water and pat the prawns dry.

Mix the salt and turmeric in a large bowl and turn the prawns in this mixture gently to coat them well.

In a frying pan, heat the oil and fry the prawns till they are a golden color (don’t fry for too long else the prawns can become a little hard). Take them out and keep them aside.

In the same oil, add the bay leaves, fry for a minute, then add the green chilli and the onions and fry till they are a golden color. Now add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry everything for a couple of minutes, without letting the onions brown as this will affect the final color of the curry.

Add the tomato puree next and once the oil starts to appear on the sides, add the turmeric powder and the red chilli powder and fry everything for a minute. Now add the prawns, stir together everything well, then pour in the coconut milk and water. Simmer the curry for about 10 minutes or till it has the right consistency (not thin and runny, but it shouldn’t be too thick either).

Stir in the garam masala and garnish with fresh, chopped coriander leaves.

This curry is best eaten with plain, hot Basmati rice or a peas pulav, IMO and makes a great change from the more time-consuming chicken or lamb curries. It reminds me of that ad from long ago – I think it was the TV commercial for Maggie noodles when they were first introduced in India – “quick to cook, good to eat!”

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Filed under Curries, Easy One Pot Cooking, Quick Meal Ideas

Chicken Pulav(1)

I wanted to persuade the boulanger to try something other than chicken curry – though that does seem to work well with his clients – for next week’s order.

So since I had some boneless chicken left over in the fridge, I used it to make chicken pulav. The girls liked it a lot and fortunately there is enough that they can have it for dinner tonight.

As for the boulanger, his reaction was so pleasing.  He said, without tasting either the pulav or the upma (which is what I have had made for lunch today so I took some of that too, for him to taste) that he would like me to make both these things for next week; when I asked him to taste both dishes so as  to be sure, he said that wasn’t necessary since “whatever you bring is all delicious “.

Now, I have my fingers crossed that his clients feel the same way next week 🙂

This recipe is adapted from one in Rocky Mohan’s “Art of Indian Cuisine”.

Chicken Pulav

2 cups of basmati rice, washed and soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained thereafter

400-500 gms of boneless chicken, cut in to small pieces

3 teaspoons each of ginger and garlic pastes

2 medium sized onions, chopped fine

4-5 cloves

4 pods of green cardamom

3-4 small sticks of cinnamon

2 green chillies, finely chopped

4 tablespoons of sunflower oil (or 3 of oil and 1 of ghee)

To be mixed together:

150 ml of yoghurt

1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 a teaspoon of red chilli powder

1 tablespoon of coriander powder

1/2 a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

the juice of 1 large lime

salt to taste

To make the Pulav:

In a large frying pan, warm the oil and add the green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Fry for a few seconds till their aroma begins to be released.

Add the onions and fry till they begin to look translucent.

Now add the pastes and the green chillies (optional; I skipped this) and fry again till everything turns a golden-brown color.

Add the chicken pieces next, turn up the heat a little and fry till they are golden all over.

Add the yogurt mixture, season with salt and mix everything together well. Cover the pan, lower the heat and cook till the chicken is tender and the water in the yogurt dries up, turning the mixture over every once in a while.

Add the rice, mix it in thoroughly, then add 3 and a half cups of hot water. Cover the pan, turn up the heat and bring the water to a boil. Now reduce the heat again to quite a low setting and simmer till the rice is cooked and all the water is absorbed.

Leave the pulav covered for a while before serving it as I feel this allows the flavors to develop further.

This is so quick and easy to make; a great alternative to biryani.






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Filed under Easy One Pot Cooking, Picnic Food, Quick Meal Ideas, Rice-Pulavs,Biryanis,Baaths

Vangi Baath: An unorthodox variation

Traditionally, vangi baath is a pulav/fried rice that has only one vegetable in it and that is the aubergine which gives the dish its’ name.

But when I decided to make it for dinner tonight,along with some khatti-meethi daal, I felt there ought to be a dash of green in our meal.

So I made this rice dish today with aubergines and green beans.

The girls don’t know what the original is like, in any case, and Shri usually gamely goes along with all these variations to the classics!

This recipe is adapted from the one in Viji Varadarajan’s “Samayal”, a book about South Indian vegetarian cuisine.

2 cups of rice, cooked-with a little salt-  beforehand in 3 cups of water (which makes this recipe a great way to use leftover rice)

1 thin and long aubergine, diced

1 medium-sized tomato

1 cup of chopped green beans (optional)

1 large onion, chopped fine

1 green chilly , slit in to half (optional)

1/2 or 3/4 of a teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 a tsp of mustard seeds

6-8 curry leaves

1 and a 1/2 tablespoons of pitlai powder

3-4 tablespoons of thick tamarind juice

4 tablespoons of sunflower oil

In a large frying pan, heat the oil, then add the mustard seeds and the curry leaves. After a few seconds, when the seeds crackle, add the green chilly, the onions and sauté till the onions start to look translucent. Add the beans, cover the pan and cook till they start to soften just a little. Now add the aubergine, cover and cook again till the aubergines begin to soften too, turning everything over once in a while.

Now add the tomato and fry for a few minutes till the tomatoes begins to become quite soft.  Add the spices next, fry for a minute or two, then add the tamarind juice and mix it in well.  Season the vegetables with salt, add the rice – separate the grains gently with a fork first – and fry for a few more minutes till everything is thoroughly mixed.

I might try this dish without the tomato – and with peanuts – another time, since I think I remember eating it like that a long time ago.

Tonight, the girls each asked for a second helping of the vangibath with a little ghee, and I tried that too. Yum !

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Filed under Easy One Pot Cooking, Quick Meal Ideas, Rice-Pulavs,Biryanis,Baaths

Tadke vali Masoor ki Daal

The very first time I cam back home for a holiday from boarding school, this daal was one of the things that Ma made for my first meal at home the day I arrived, along with bhindi ki subzi, boondi ka raita and plain white rice, because that combination had always been my favorite meal since I was very small.

I guess Ma saw from my reaction just how much I missed these things in the school mess, so every visit after that first one, for the next six years, till I started working and set up a kitchen of my own, she continued to make these dishes for my first meal each time. She still does, in fact, sometimes when I go back to see her in Jamshedpur with the girls.

So when I made this daal for the boulanger’s customers this Tuesday, I did so with a certain feeling of nostalgia.

It was then all the more wonderful to find out later that day that it got a response the boulanger called “tres bonne” (which means very good, or excellent as when it is said with the appreciation that the boulanger‘s voice showed) and so he wants to include it among the things that I will cook for next Tuesday.

This is one of those recipes of Ma that I follow quite faithfully.

1 cup of dhuli masoor (red lentils)

1 onion, peeled and chopped fine

1 tomato, chopped fine

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 or 1 tablespoon of chopped green coriander

1/4 teaspoon each of the five spices that make up paanchphoron

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil

1 tablespoon of ghee (or a second one of oil)

Wash the daal thoroughly and soak in water for an hour or two (the daal can be cooked without soaking it beforehand and in this case it will usually need a little longer to cook).

Pressure cook the daal with salt till the grains are quite soft and well-blended. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder and mix it in well.

In the meanwhile, heat the oil plus the ghee in a frying pan. Add the paanchphoron as described here and when the seeds begin to crackle, add the onions and fry till they begin to turn a dark-ish brown. Add the tomatoes next, and cook till they are quite soft; by this time the oil will begin to appear a little on the sides of the mixture. Mix in the green coriander now, fry everything together for 1/2 a minute, then add this mixture to the daal and simmer it for 5-6 minutes.

The daal can of course be tempered with only cumin seeds, or with cumin seeds and mustard seeds, instead of with paanchphoran and the green coriander is an extra too. But the latter two ingredients together spell magic here 🙂

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Sevai Upma

A long time ago, Priti and I shared an apartment in Bhopal for three months, while we worked on a project at the BHEL factory.

One of the many things that made it such a memorable time was the cooking we did together.

It was also where I got my tea habit, but that is another story.

This post is about the delicious sevai (vermicelli) upma that Priti used to make, the taste of which has stayed with me all these years.

So recently I asked her to mail the recipe to me  since I had forgotten both the process and the proportions of the various ingredients.

She sent me a picture too –

Here’s what she told me to do, in her words, with  some variations of my own in parentheses.

1 generous tbsp of oil to roast the vermicelli in
1tsp mustard seeds
2-3 carrots julienned
1 green capsicum  julienned (I used red bell pepper today)
julienned hari mirchi (I had no green chillies so I used half a whole red chilli)
1 sliced onion (optional and so I cooked the upma without)
1 cup measure of  vermicelli (I used a thicker variety since the usual kind was not available the day I went looking for it)
6-7 curry leaves
2 tbsp shelled peanuts (optional and so I cooked the upma without)
lime juice
salt

Steps :
1. Roast the vermicelli in the oil on a thick bottom/non stick pan.  You have to keep stirring the vermicelli otherwise it tends to burn quickly. I like to roast it fairly dark brown but not burnt-it’s a fine line (I agree – I found myself stirring constantly !)
2. Set aside the roasted vermicelli. In the now empty pan, add another 1.5 tsp (I used a little more) of oil , then add mustard seeds and curry leaves. If you are using onion cook them until brown. Then add the vegetables, stir 4-5 times (I covered the pan for a few minutes to cook the vegetables, stirring every once in a while)
3. Add  2 cups of water, salt,the vermicelli and the peanuts .
4. Cook, covered, on low heat. Watch for the water- if it dries out and the vermicelli does not become almost double it’s original size then add some more. Sometimes I just turn off the stove and let it cook in the steam.
5. Add lime juice; the vermicelli tend to unstick once the lime juice is added so you can add the juice, leave the upma covered for a couple of minutes and then transfer to the final serving dish.

Here’s how my version looks, which I have made for lunch today.

Some of the girls’ reactions –

After the first forkful, Indira said “ummm, very nice !”

A few minutes later – “It’s delicious, and I am going to call it pasta upma” (I guess that because the thicker vermicelli I used does it make it look

a bit like spaghetti !)

And Noor says “It’s excellent, this noodles upma“.

Thank you, Priti Aunty, for a very successful lunch.

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Carrot and Coconut Soup

Well, what this really is, is a tomato and carrot soup with packaged coconut milk added in towards the end of the cooking process.

The result is a delicious variation on an otherwise regular sort of vegetable soup in our home.

The girls loved it when I served it for dinner yesterday, so I was glad for the impulse that had made me reach for the pack of coconut milk and pour it in while the soup simmered.

The following quantities made enough soup for two meals for the 4 of us.

2 thin (which is what I had in the fridge yesterday) or 1 thick leek

6-7 large tomatoes

7-8 carrots

3 garlic cloves

4 tablespoons of olive oil

salt to taste

one 200 ml pack of coconut milk

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Plum Chutney

The principle/process is just the same as for the mango chutney.


Today when I made this for the boulangerie I got about 16 tablespoons of chutney from –

350 grams of plums

8 tablespoons of brown sugar

1/3 cup of water

The other ingredients are:

salt to taste

3-4 sticks of cinnamon

4-5 cloves

1 teaspoon (or less) of cumin seeds

1/2 of 1 whole red chilli (optional)

1 tablespoon of oil

Cut the plums, remove the seeds and dice the flesh in to small cubes. Heat oil in a pan, then add the cumin seeds and other spices. After a few seconds add the plums, the salt and the water. After the plums have become soft add the sugar and cook everything together for a few minutes till the chutney begins to acquire a syrupy texture.

Another nice accompaniment for things like pakoras ,tikkis and even tandoori chicken.

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Mango Chutney

During my second pregnancy, I developed this craving for the Gujarati mango chutney called chhundo. The odd thing was that I had never liked it’s taste before, since it was always a little too sweet for me, so I couldn’t understand this sudden yearning for it.

I made this chutney for the first time then – since it is not available anywhere near here – with one of those large Peruvian mangoes (like some of the African varieties now available as well, these are not as sweet as most Indian varieties and in fact even a ripe fruit often retains a sour tinge) I found in Carrefour. The recipe itself is adapted from one I found on the net at the time.

This is definitely not the real McCoy, but nice enough. I like it on a slice of toast, or with puris.

Mango Chutney

1 firm mango, peeled and diced very fine, or grated

1 whole red chilly broken in two

a couple of sticks of cinnamon

3-4 cloves

1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1/2 a tablespoon of oil

1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder

salt and sugar to taste

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the whole spices. When these start to release their aroma, add the turmeric powder, the mango

and salt. Cook on a medium heat till the mango is quite soft (I sometimes add a little water to help this along) and then if needed break it up with a potato masher. Add some sugar and cook for a few minutes. Check to see if the chutney needs more sugar or salt, then take off the heat and store in a bottle when it has cooled.

This is nice with pakoras too.

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Sabut Moong ki Daal

This is a delicious daal, made with whole green mung beans. I don’t make it too often, but one that I’d want should stay in the girls’ memories as they grow up, go away and set up kitchens of their own, since it is so nutritious.

So as I made it for dinner tonight, I thought I must include the recipe here.

Like chana daal, this is especially nice with a touch of lime juice.

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Home-made Butter

Our experience with this is here

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Rava Upma

Like poha, the girls have loved to eat upma since they were babies.

For me, it is a convenient option as it is one of those easy to cook and all-in-one meals – carbs plus vegetables plus some protein from the lentils.

This is what we had for lunch today, with yogurt on the side, clementine juice and then fresh pineapple – which Indira prefers to the canned variety – for dessert.

Though coconut chutney and/or sambhar are the ideal accompaniments for upma, I sometimes eat mine with ketchup – a habit acquired in childhood.  Ma has always made the most delicious upma and it was probably sacrilege to smother its’ flavors in ketchup but back then it was the way Bittu b. and I enjoyed eating it most !

Rava Upma

1 cup of suji/rava/semolina

1 medium-sized onion

2 small carrots

1/4-1/2 cup of frozen green peas (less or more, as you like it)

1 small tomato

1 dry red chilli, broken in two

1/2-3/4 teaspoon of mustard seeds

2 tablespoons (or a little less) of yellow split pea lentils (chana daal)

6-8 curry leaves

2-3 tablespoons of sunflower oil, 1/2 of ghee

Roast the semolina in a warm pan for a few minutes till the grains start to turn a very light brown – at this stage there is a very distinct aroma.

In the meanwhile, in another large frying pan, heat the oil a little and add the mustard seeds. When these begin to crackle, add the curry leaves, the chana daal and the red chilli halves. Roast the daal till it begins to turn a light brown, then add the onions. Cook these for a little longer than when they turn translucent,

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Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade

The paste I wrote about here earlier today would also make a great spread, to serve with bread as an aperitif.

It would be nice as a relish too, with oven-baked potatoes, say, or grilled chicken.

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Pasta Salad with Broccoli,Red Bell Pepper and Feta Cheese

I remember that the Italian husband of one of Shri’s colleagues brought a delicious pasta salad, that had feta cheese in it, to a barbeque last summer.

So when I made pasta salad for lunch today, I made it like that one, which had no sauce. The girls were  therefore not too excited when they saw their plates at lunch especially since I had added broccoli to the salad ; some “Pesto Rosso” (a Barilla sauce they adore) would have helped make that vegetable more appealing, I guess.

But despite the broccoli – which, to be fair, they have been eating more easily recently – they ate without fuss or too much comment and I really appreciated that. And hopefully the Feta cheese made it a little better at least for Indira.

I did think that the dressing of olive oil, lime juice and dried basil flakes left the salad somewhat bland. So I added chilli-infused oil to my portion and that certainly gave it a nice kick and flavor. So I would probably add chilli flakes to the dressing if I make this salad again. I think it would bring alive both the Feta cheese and the broccoli.

150-200 grams of pasta

200 grams of broccoli florets, cut in to smaller portions

1 small can of sweet corn, drained

200 grams of feta cheese, cut in to little squares

olive oil

lime juice

1 red bell pepper, sliced fine

salt, dried basil flakes and chilli flakes to taste

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Sun-dried Tomato,Rosemary and Lemon Zest Marinade

At Carrefour they used to sell an excellent “sauce provencale“, a marinade for fish that was made with sun-dried tomatoes and herbs steeped or sauteed in oil.

The girls loved to eat white fish baked with that sauce and since it  is not available any more, I decided a few days ago to have a go at making a similar marinade myself, with some of those ingredients.

I was glad I tried because the fish I baked with this marinade that night was a big hit with both of them, even though the marinade I ended up with looked rather different from the one I used to buy !

Sun-dried Tomato, Rosemary and Lemon Zest Marinade

120-140 grams of sun dried tomatoes (drained weight i.e. after removing them from the oil they’ve been soaked in)

zest of 1 lemon

leaves from 3-4 sprigs of rosemary

2 pods of garlic, peeled and chopped fine

1 onion, peeled and chopped very fine

3-4 tablespoons of olive oil

Warm the oil in a shallow pan, then add the garlic. When it starts to turn a golden color, add the onions and sautee for some time they are quite soft, without letting them brown. Now add the lemon zest, rosemary and tomatoes and cook everything together for just a few minutes.

When the mixture has cooled, blend it to a paste.

This will make enough marinade for about 700-800 grams of fish fillets.

To bake the fish- season the fillets lightly with salt, apply the marinade, wrap each fillet in silver foil and bake till done at 220 degrees C.

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A Very Simple Masoor Daal

Like varan, this is such a convenient and quick way to cook daal.

I had always made red lentils with onions and tomatoes fried in a tadka of either cumin seeds or paanchphoran.  But ever since I watched Radhesh make this daal a few months ago, when she tempered it very simply with only cumin seeds, curry leaves and whole red chilli, I have made it like that more than once. Cooked this way, it has a simple, delicious and wholesome flavor.

Masoor Daal

1 cup of masoor daal (red lentils), washed and soaked for an hour or two

1 and a1/2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

7-8 curry leaves

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 (or half of one) whole, dried red chilli broken in two

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil or ghee

Pressure cook the daal in 3 cups of water, with the salt added in, till it is quite soft.

When the cooker can be opened, add the turmeric and blend the grains well with a hand-churner.

Heat the oil in a small pan, then add the cumin seeds and the red chilli. When the cumin seeds start to crackle, add the curry leaves. After a few seconds, add this tempering to the daal, mix in some boiled water if the daal seems too thick and simmer everything together for 5-6 minutes.

Again, like varan, this is just wonderful to eat on a cold winter evening like tonight.

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Green Chutney with Kairi(raw mango)

This is essentially the same chutney as the one  here, except that Ma would often use chunks of aam ki kairi or raw mango (without the skin) instead of lime juice and that adds a delightfully tangy flavor and taste.

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Til Bhaat

I made this last winter when we had some friends over, then only once again after that.

This is such an unusual, interesting rice dish and I love the crunchiness that comes from all those sesame seeds.

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Coconut Chutney

They all love this, with dosas or vadas or upma.

I skip tempering it – a garnish of curry leaves, mustard seeds and urad daal fried in a little oil – since I worry already about all the natural oil in coconut. And it tastes good enough without.

Coconut Chutney

9 tablespoons of freshly grated coconut

5 tablespoons of chana daal (yellow split pea lentils)

2 teaspoons of sunflower oil

125  grams of yogurt

1/4 cup, or a little more, of water

salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon of asofetida

Heat the oil, then lightly roast the chana daal in the oil till it is golden brown. Add the asofetida towards the end and stir it in well. Take the daal out in to a bowl or plate and let it cool.

Grind the coconut, till it has a much finer texture, with some water and some of the yogurt.

Add the rest of the yogurt, the daal and the salt and blend everything together till the chutney has the texture/consistency you like. Don’t grind it too long though as otherwise it will acquire a pasty taste. It tastes better if there are still very tiny bits of daal which make for a nice crunch.

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