Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The tooth extraction special!

I've been making too many rounds to the dentist lately, and the evening before my first extraction, as I was walking around the grocery store, I was struck with a massive, irrational panic that I won't be able to eat for a long time. So I bought a lot of food, and then the morning of, I spent an hour cooking soups to get through the rest of the day.

Spinach Soup:
Heat some oil (and a small knob of butter), add chopped ginger, garlic and white onion. Saute till soft. Add baby spinach, and saute. Also add one chopped tomato, salt, and lots of pepper. Add some water and let it cook for a bit. Once cool, also add a handful of fresh mint leaves, some milk and a dash of lime. Blend using the hand blender. (The mint gives a great flavor! Thanks to Tarla Dalal)


White pumpkin and daal soup:

If I have more of this often, I bet I would lose a lot of weight. It was also delicious. In the instant pot, heat oil, add cumin, onions, ginger and garlic (heavy on the garlic). Saute till lightly brown. Add washed green mung daal, and lots of big chunks of white pumpkin (the kind used in making sambhar). Add turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, salt and water, and put on "porridge" mode. After it's cooked, blend with a hand blender. Eat it with some yoghurt. Super hearty (and nutritious, and tasty too!).

Papaya + Orange juice + honey + lime juice. Blend. This tastes good (but I'm not allowed acidic food now, so I'll wait another day or two, or L. will finish it).

Other ideas for days when the teeth are not too happy:
Instant oats
cream of rice
Different kinds of khichdis
Apple sauce
hallah bread
creamy peanut butter and seedless jam
mashed potatoes
cooked sweet potatoes
Soups: Mashroom, cauliflower, butternut squash, carrot and coconut, peas, almond
Smoothies/milkshakes: banana and protein powder,  banana and peanut butter
Smooth guacamole

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Special "Everyday" recipes

Here's a couple of recipes that add a little something extra to "everyday" recipes:


Methi Malai Paneer.
I actually used "malai paneer" for this recipe and also added green peas.
Finely chop and clean methi. In a pan, heat some oil and saute for a couple od minutes. Take it out and set aside. In the same pan, heat some more oil/ghee, add cumin, bay leaf, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Add chopped ginger garlic onions and saute. Add turmeric, red chilli, corriander powder. Add tomato sauce and saute. Add methi, sugar salt, milk (and cream optional). I also added some cashew paste to make it creamy, since we dind't have cream. Add Paneer, green peas, a pinch of garam masala. Simmer for a couple of minutes.  


Saunf wali Hari Ghobi

Heat oil, add saunf, bay leaves, ginger and tomato (I used fresh + sauce). Saute for a bit. Add turmeric, red chilli powder, corriander powder, salt, also add yoghurt, and green chutney (with mint). Add ghobi and let it cook covered for a few minutes. L. missed having potatoes in it, so next time, I'll add that too.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Diwali Peda

1 pack Nanak khoya (defrosted). Big glass bowl, 2 mins in microwave. Stir. 1 min in the microwave. Stir. A pinch of saffron soaked in milk. Stir. 1 min in the microwave. Stir. Let cool will slightly warm. Blanch, peel and slice a few pistachios. 1 cup sugar (regular white cane sugar..not the Indian kind) and a big pinch of cardamom powder. Stir until the sugar starts to dissolve. Grease palms with ghee. Prepare pedas and garnish with slices of pistachios. Refrigerate after they set.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Guest Post: Onam Sadya

Onam Sadya Menu:
Plate Preparation:
Salt, ginger pickle, ? chutney, banana chips, fresh banana, fried kerala papad, plantains, cabbage Thoran, Avial
Course 1:
Rice, Parappu, ghee, 
Course 2: 
Rice, Sambar
Course 3: 
Rice Kalan
Course 4 : 
Brown payasam
Course 5:
Pal Payasam 


Cabbage Thoran:




2 plantains (ripe) 
1/4 tsp turmeric powder 
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 cup water

Cut plantain length wise, remove the black part. Cut into cubes. Boil with the turmeric powder and chilli powder and water and you cook. Keep stirring. Add a bit of salt. Keep it aside. 

1 cup grated coconut (frozen). Microwave. 3/4 cup is also enough
1 tsp cumin
5-6 whole black pepper
1 tsp ghee + 1/4tsp fenugreek. Roast well. Raw smell should go away. 

Grind the masala to a smooth paste. 

Now pour the coconut paste to the cooked plantains. Add salt.  Put this on the stove. Let it come to a boil. Check for salt. 

Add 1 tsp jaggary.  

Turn off the stove. Take it off the gas. 

Beat 2 cup curds. Add to the pot. Check consistency. 

Heat Ghee, add mustard seeds, red chillies, curry leaves. Pour over the kalan. Serve cold. 

Serve with Rice. 

Brown Payasam:

1 cup yellow moong daal. Dry roast well till it turns brown. Don’t leave unattended. Then wash well. Now add to the pressure cooker with 2 cups + a bit more water. 1 or 2 whistle. Turn off the stove. 1 to 11/2 cup jaggery. Cut into pieces. In a separate bowl, take 2 cups of water, boil, add the jaggery, let it melt. Then strain the syrup (if required). Take a thick bottomed vessel on the stove on a medium flame. 2 tbsp ghee. Add the cooked daal into the ghee. Add strained jaggery. Now keep stirring until everything is mixed well. Add thin (2nd milk) coconut milk. Then let it boil. 

5-6 Dry roast cardamom, remove the cover, and grind with sugar. 

Manthra brand dry ginger (soonth) - 1 pinch. 

Now add cadmom powder and soonth into only a part of 1st coconut milk and then add to the main pot. Stir well. All on medium heat. Cook for about 5-10 milk. 

Now add the first milk. Now no boiling. Remove from stove. 

In a nonstick pan, add 2 spoons a ghee, bring to medium flame, add golden raisins, roast (do not let it burnt)..now add 5-6 cashew pieces (split in halves). Should not get burnt. Add to the payasam as a garnish. Do not mix. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pantry Cleaning Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Not sure if I can replicate this recipe, given that I was throwing in all sorts of leftovers, but here's a rough description of what I did:

- Butter and flour a 10" spring form pan.
- Toast about a cup of hazelnuts. Keep aside a handful for garnish, and grind the rest coarsely in a food processor. Remove and keep aside.
- In the food processor, mix 1 stick soft butter and about 3 tbsp sugar. Now add 4 egg yolks and mix until pale and fluffy. Add 3 squares of melted ghiarardeli semi sweet chocolate (that's all I had), 1/2 container of hazelnut chocolate spread (that's all I had left), a table spoon of chocolate liquor (have something sitting around for a while in the fridge). Blend everything in the processor.
- In a stand mixer, beat the 4 egg whites. Add some of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten it, and then add it to the egg white bowl and slowly fold. Also fold in half pack of white cake mix (yeah, I know, it's all very approximate), and the nut powder.
-Add this mixture to the cake pan, and bake for about 35-40 mins at 350-375.
- Once cool, drizzle with melted chocolate (also leftover), and garnish with roughly chopped hazelnuts.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Make ahead Summer meal

Some friends were visiting on a Friday evening, so I prepped the night before, and the meal came together beautifully. The awesome produce at Whole Foods helped too.

Corn Salad

Watermelon Feta Salad

Lavash Pizza with Mushroom and Gorgonzola

Spinach manicotti

Ladies finger with peach, raspberries and yoghurt

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Lemon Almond Cake

Here's an easy, casual cake, which can add a special touch to a nice, relaxed evening with friends. For me, the recipe really worked when our friend, D. said that it reminded him of his childhood in Spain.

Here's the original recipe, but I made a whole bunch of tweaks:

I added some flour, baking powder and almond extract, got rid of the cinnamon and added a lemon glaze and sliced almonds. Here's what I did:

Preheat oven to 375. Butter and flour one 9 inch cake pan. Separate 4 eggs. Beat the yolks with a pinch of salt, and 2 Tbsp sugar until pale. Add the zest of about 4 lemons, a small dash of almond extract (~1/2 tsp), 1 1/3 cup almond flour,  2 Tbsp flour, and 1/4 tsp baking powder. Remove this thick paste (almost dough-like consistency) in another container. Clean the mixer bowl and whisk really well. Beat the egg whites and 1/8 tsp cream of tarter until soft peak forms. Add about 5 Tbsp sugar and beat until stiff peaks. Mix about 1/3 of the whites with the yolk and almond mixture to lighten it up. Now fold it back into the whites gently and transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake in the 375 oven for about 25 mins (cake tester comes out clean). Cool on a wire rack, after a few minutes, remove from the pan and cool further.

Mix the juice of one lemon with about 1 cup of confectioner's sugar to get a thick glaze consistency. While the cake is still warm, transfer it to the serving plate with the bottom of the cake on top. Spread the glaze evenly on the top and let drip on the sides (some of the glaze will get absorbed by the cake). Once it cools a bit further, sprinkle sliced almonds all over the top, so they stick to the glaze. Cool completely and serve at room temperature.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Milk Masala

This makes for a perfect hostess gift, packed tightly in a mason jar, with a nice card with instructions on using it. 

Use all nuts in raw form unless specified. Also, they should all be unsalted.
2 cups almonds
2 cups cashews 
2 cups walnuts, very lightly toasted 
1 cup pistachios 
1 cup flax seeds, toasted until they start popping. 
2 tbsp cardamom seeds (not pods, but seeds)
3/4 whole nutmeg
1 really big pinch saffron
2 1/2 cups sugar 

In a food processor, grind each nut separately until fine or coarse. Towards the end, add a quarter cup of sugar for each cup of nut to aid grinding. The nuts
Should not turn to butter. Grind flax seeds finely in a grinder or magic bullet. Grind each of the spice separately with a couple of tablespoon of sugar in a spice grinder. Mix everything together nicely and pack in air tight container. 

For serving: mix 2-3 tbsp of powder with a cup of milk. Microwave for a minute, let steep for 30 sec and enjoy. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Party Menu: Holi

The idea is to make almost everything ahead of time and set it out. Ragda Pattice is the only thing that needs to be warm.

Mango Lassi
Pani Puri
Ragda Pattice
Papdi chaat
Gulab Jamun

Party Menu: Diwali

I figured I should start writing down the menus I plan for parties...

This one was a potluck:

Diwali snacks: chakli, chevdo, farsi puri, cholafali, mathia, mawa peda (prasad), chocolate cookies
Amiri Khaman
Dahi vada
Fried balls of awesomeness
Methi Malai Matar
Mix veg. Korma
Triangle paratha
Boondi raita
Moong daal halwa

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Birthday weekend grand finale: Homemade cashew salted caramel icecream.

In a small ziploc bag, crush half a pack of swad cashew chikki into big crumbs using a rolling pin. 
In a small pan, heat about 1/3 cup sugar until amber colored. Add about a tablespoon of salted butter, and a few splashes of heavy cream. Add a good pinch of sea salt, and cook until the sauce get a nice consistency.
Prepare ice-cream base according to the machine instructions (this was our first time using it). I used  1 cup milk + 3/4 cup sugar + 2 cups heavy cream + 1 tablespoon vanilla + 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste. I removed about half of the vanilla ice-cream to eat by itself. In the remaining mixture, stir in most of the chikki crumbs, and some of the caramel sauce. Remove into a container, and then drizzle more caramel sauce, and sprinkle the chikki crumbs, followed by more caramel drizzle. Cover and keep in the freezer.

Easier Almond sponge with two frostings

This cake for L.'s Birthday started with grand plans which quickly turned into a series of shortcuts due to complete lack of energy to bake on a Friday night. It turned out to be one of the tastiest cakes I've ever made and L. simply loved it. So I figured I'm going to keep this shortcut recipe. I did end up using two frostings, which I think was worth it, since I couldn't have had the correct balance of chocolate and hazelnut flavors otherwise. I did end up winging most of the measurements though..

The cake had five main components: sponge, syrup, ganache, frosting and nuts. 

The sponge was inspired by this original version (but I ended up changing the process a lot):

The Nutella frosting was inspired by this:

For the sponge, here's what I did. Preheated over at 425 and prepared two 9 inch round pans with butter, flour and parchment paper. In a stand mixer with whist attachment, I added 2 whole eggs + 2 egg whites and whipped until frothy. I added about 2 tablespoon regular sugar and whipped until pale. Melted 2 tbsp butter and cooled. I placed a strainer on top of the bowl (this really is important), to which I added 1 cup of almond flour, 3 tbsp regular AP flour, a dash of salt, 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon baking powder (I know there's no baking powder in a genoise, but hey, remember, I skipped the separate whisking of egg whites and cream of tarter business?) and strained the mixture on the eggs. Then gently folded it in. Added the cooled melted butter and folded that in as well. Divided the batter among the prepared pans and baked for about 10-12 minutes. Then the usual cooling on the wire rack, etc. You get relatively thin layers this way, but it's an almond cake, so I think it's just the right size. This sponge recipe is definitely a keeper.

Syrup: I'm completely making up these measurements: 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup sugar. Boil till sugar dissolves. Add about 3-4 tbsp Disaronno. I could have added a bit more, but I was pouring it directly from a bottle, and didn't want to over do it.

Ganache: 1 slab ghirardeli semi sweet chocolate (I think it's 4 oz). About 1/2 cup (?) heavy cream. Microwave for 30 seconds to a minute until cream is heated through. Let it stand for a minute or so, and whisk the ganache until smooth. Keep it in the fridge for 15-20 mins until it thickens slightly. Sorry, I need to be more precise, but as I said, I was winging it.

Frosting: I used a slightly different version of Nutella (something I got it whole foods, but I don't think it was much different..it didn't have any hydrogenated oil). In the stand mixer with whisk attachment, about 2 tbsp of cool to room temperature butter, about 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, about 1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread. Whisk until everything is mixed nicely. Add about 2-3 tbsp of heavy cream (and more sugar if needed). I might have added a dash of vanilla. Or not. Whip it until you get a nice stiff consistency.  This one's a keeper too, for quick cupcake frosting.

Nuts: With your hands, roughly break down thinly sliced almonds, so you get smaller pieces.

Assembly: This is slightly unusual. I didn't know what I was doing until it all came together. For each layer brush with half the syrup. spread chocolate ganache and keep it in the fridge. Leave some ganache for the sides. Once the ganache is slightly set, spread a thick layer of the chocolate hazelnut frosting on the base layer. Add the top layer (with the ganache side up). Ice the sides of the cake with the remaining ganache. Cover the sides of the cake with almond pieces. Also bring up the almond on the outer perimeter of the cake in a ring shape. Now with a star tip, create three concentric rings of the chocolate hazelnut frosting. This is not just decorative, but it also adds to the hazelnut flavor of the cake. There will be a small circle remaining in the center. Fill it with almond pieces again. This design not only looks pretty, but helps achieve the correct almond-chocolate-hazelnut balance. Or just do what your heart pleases.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Back to Basics: Potato Sandwich

It's L.'s Birthday today, and I wanted to make a nice, comforting breakfast for him. Instead of going the fancy route, I went back to basics, and he loved it. Here's what I did:

Microwave one russet potato till cooked. Peel and mash by hand. Take about 1/4 cup of store bought shredded carrots and chop it further to get a very fine dice. Prep about a tablespoon of
In a small pan, heat about 1 teaspoon of oil. Add a few mustard seeds, add 1/4 teaspoon each of crushed ginger and green chillies, and a pinch of hing. Add the carrots and saute for a few seconds. Add about 1/4 cup, or less of peptite green peas, and saute a little more. Add a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of red chilli powder, a big pinch of amchur powder, a pinch of chat masala and salt. Add the potatoes, 2 tbsp ricotta cheese (or fresh paneer crumbs), cilantro, juice of half a lime, mix everything and turn off the flame.

I used four slices of a nice pane bread (with sunflower seeds) for two sandwiches. Spread green chutney one one side, and Maggie hot and sweet tomato chilli sauce (it's different!) on another. Spread the potato mixture and close the sandwich. Heat a little bit of butter on a tawa, keep the sandwiches on it, apply a little more butter on top, cover with a piece of foil, and keep a heavy object, such as a can of beans on it. Toast on a low flame, turn and repeat. Cut in half on a bias, and serve warm.

I served it with a banana-almond butter smoothie. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Simple, but nice Paneer Pulao

With a little bit of weekend prep, this comes together easily on a weeknight.
Prep: Dark Brown sauteed, sliced onions (about 1/3 cup..after browning). About 1/3 cup of onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, turmeric masala (prepared in a slow cooker).

Wash and soak 11/2 cups of basmati rice. Thaw paneer in the microwave (about two minutes), and cut into smallish cubes. Heat ~2 tbsp oil in a big pan. Fry Paneer cubes on 2-3 sides till golden brown. Take out the pieces and set aside. Add a tbsp of ghee to the same pan, add jeera, 2 cloves, 1 small piece of cinnamon stick, a few peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 1 whole cardamom, 1 javintri. Now add the pre-browned onions, ~1/4 of green bell pepper, diced, 2 tbsp cashew pieces, 1 tbsp golden raisins, a handful of shredded carrots, and saute a bit. Add 2 tbsp dhania powder, the onion-tomato masala and saute everything nicely. Add the soaked rice and saute. Add 2 cups water, 1 piece of green chilli split, and salt and cook until most of the water evaporates. Add half the paneer pieces and ~1 cup of green peas, stir, cover and cook on low for about 10-12 mins. Garnish with fresh cilantro and remaining paneer pieces and serve with raita and papad.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Streamlined, three pot, pantry-based, relatively healthy, totally doable....and tasty.....Malai Kofta

The fact that I needed so many qualifiers should tell you that Malai Kofta is originally a fussy recipe. Which is why I always order it in an Indian restaurant, whether they make it well or not, since I really don't like to deal with it at home. But here's a version I tried today, which almost puts in the weekday rotation...well, not really, but certainly in the make-more-often realm.

Paneer could be homemade or store bought. I avoided using khoya and cream, since I usually never have those at home (well, I try not to keep cream at home). This makes it much more pantry-based, and relatively healthier (assuming you can ignore all the ghee). Instead of stuffing the kofta, I mix everything, without much change in the final results. Saves a lot of time. The gravy is a lot simpler than the usual multi-step version. I also used Appe-pan for frying, which also helped make it more streamlined from clean up perspective.

Start with making the paneer: Bring about 4 cups of milk in a pot, add lime juice or citric acid dissolved in water. Once the milk curdles, strain it while you prepare other stuff. It should yield about a cup of paneer crumbles. It doesn't need to drain for too long.

Microwave three medium sized potatoes. Peel and mash in a bowl, add squeezed paneer, about half a cup of milk powder (this is the khoya substitute), one finely chopped green chili, about a teaspoon of ginger (I had some frozen on hand, which, again, saves time), 1/4 cup finely chopped cashews, 3 Tbsp finely chopped golden raisins, 1 big pinch garam masala and salt to taste. Don't need corn starch for this. Mix everything nicely, knead lightly, and split into a dozen portions, and roll into balls.

In a steel pot, boil about a cup of water, add two medium-large white onions, roughly diced (big dice), three small cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon ginger, one tomato, cut in four wedges, and about 3/4 cup cashews. After a minute or so, pick out the tomatoes, remove the skin and put them back in the pot. Boil everything for about five mins or so, till the onions and cashews soften up. Make sure there's not too much water left in the pot. Turn off the heat, and grind into a fine paste using an immersion blender.

In an appe pan, add about 1/4 tsp ghee (or oil) in each section. Once it's hot, add the balls, and fry on each side on medium heat till golden brown. 

In a non stick pan, heat about a Tbsp of ghee, add two bay leaves and 3-4 slightly smashed whole green cardamoms. After a few seconds, add the gravy paste, and fry well for about 5 minutes. Don't skip this step, otherwise the gravy will not taste good. Add some water (I clean up the previous post, etc with some water and add), about 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, one pinch garam masala, and salt to taste. Let the gravy boil for another couple of minutes.

Serve the warm gravy on top of fried koftas with parathas....and enjoy the bliss.....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Kurkuri Bhindi - Sanjyot Keer

The one minute video recipes are all the rage since last year (one of the few good things to come out of 2016). This one by chef Sanjyot Keer on Facebook is brilliant! I think it's Rajasthani cuisine at its chatpata, yet sublime best.


I ate it with fulkas, but would make an excellent appetizer for a fancy party. The only downside of the recipe is the wastage of oil, but it is totally worth it.

For the base: 1 Tbsp oil + 1 cup sliced red onion. Saute till lightly brown. Add 3/4 cup sliced tomatoes, and stir till soft. Add haldi, red chilli, dhania powder, garam masala and anar dana powder (I used chaat masala instead). Add 1/2 cup curd and salt to taste. Add fresh mint leaves. Cook until the water from the yoghurt dries up. Add a Tbsp fresh cream (I added greek yoghurt). Set aside.

For the bhindi: I used slightly larger bhindi for this. Remove the top and bottoms of bhindi, slit vertically, and de-seed (this is slightly time consuming, but totally worth it). Slice vertically thinly. So now you have long, thin strands of bhindi. Heat oil in a small kadai or frying pan for frying. To the bhindi, add amchur powder, red chilli powder and dhania powder, Besan, rice flour. Mix everything, and then add salt to taste. No I'm not forgetting water. This one is fried completely dry, and hence the wastage of oil. Just pick up the whole mess with your hands with as much flour attached to the bhindi as possible, and drop the big handful into hot oil. fry on medium to high flame (not low, unless the oil gets too hot) until golden brown. Drain and take out on a plate with a paper towel. It actually doesn't get too oily.

Re-heat the base, spoon on the center of the plate, and arrange the fried bhindi on top. Serve immediately.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Instant freakin Pot Kheer

Feeling Sick on a cold winter evening? No one to pamper you? Plug in your instant pot, add a couple of tablespoons of water (supposed to prevent sticking), left over whole milk (~2 cups), around a quarter cup of washed arborio rice, close, put on "porridge mode", and settle on your couch with a nice throw and turn on the tv.. make sure the throw is soft and plush....after around one episode of whatever you're watching (food related tv shows are preferred), release the remaining pressure carefully, open and stir, add about 1/2 to 3/4th cup of sugar, and a couple of tablespoons of my special morning milk masala (or even just a pinch of cardamom..or a dash of vanilla)....stir, ladle into a bowl, get a big spoon, and settle back on the couch. Eat. You will instantly feel better. guaranteed!

And here's the milk masala recipe (makes ~4 cups):
Everything is raw, except flax seeds, which are lightly roasted. All proportions are approximate.
About 1 cup of almonds, 1/2 cup cashews, 1/2 cup pistachios, 3/4 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup flax seeds, 1 tablespoon of cardamom seeds, about a quarter nutmeg, a very generous pinch of saffron. Grind each ingredient  separately (or with a bit of sugar for saffron and cardamom), add about 1 cup of sugar, mix and store in a jar. Put in the fridge. Add to your morning smoothies, hot milk, or the Instant Pot kheer on a cold winter evening.