Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Paneer Jalfrezi

It has been a long and tiring day. 7pm and I needed something quick for dinner. I had paneer in the refrigerator as well as multi colored bell peppers. I decided to make paneer jalfrezi restaurant style. I julienned the paneer and bell pepper instead of cutting it into cubes. I did not have the energy to make poli (phulka) so I served it with hot brown rice. It went very well with rice.


You will need
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp. ginger garlic paste
1 serrano pepper, deseeded and minced
1 tsp. turmeric powder
3 tomatoes, pureed
6 oz. paneer, julienned
1/2 green bell pepper, julienned
1/2 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1 tomato, julienned
salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When they sizzle add the onion and let it brown for about 5 minutes.


Add the ginger garlic paste and serrano pepper. Let it cook for a minute.


Add the tomato puree, bell peppers and turmeric powder. Let it cook for a couple minutes.


Add the paneer and salt to taste. Mix it all well and let it cook for another 5 minutes.


Turn off heat and serve hot with rice or poli (phulka).

Monday, December 30, 2013

Goan Poached Egg Curry

This is my first official entry to the 2014 52 Week Challenge. I found this challenge while surfing the web. A new theme is announced for each week and a new recipe is needed every week to match the theme. I am always looking out for something new to try so this seems like a perfect excuse.

The theme for this week was egg. I decided to make a Goan egg curry. My husband was not too keen on it as he has eaten some terrible versions of this curry in the IIT Delhi hostel mess. But he was a good sport and said he would give it a try.

I found my recipe written down ages ago and then just out of curiosity googled it. I found a recipe on a Goan recipes site. Instead of hard boiled eggs the recipe on this site called for the eggs to be poached in the gravy. I loved that idea so I decided to poach the eggs instead.

Now if you are Goan or have ever lived in Goa (like I did) you would know that there are slight differences in Goan food cooked in Hindu and Catholic homes. Both versions taste just as good but the ingredients differ. The kitchen smelled so good as the curry was cooking it made me wonder why I don't cook Goan food more often.

Coming back to the recipe, my family liked it. My husband could not bring himself to take seconds. My daughter found it spicy but loved it vey much.


You will need
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tsp. tamarind extract
3 eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup coconut milk (I bought a can at the Indian store)

For the masala
3 dried red chilies
3 tbsp. grated coconut (I used fresh frozen)
2 pods garlic crushed
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds

Grind the ingredients for the masala to a fine paste. Mix it with the tamarind extract and turmeric powder. Heat oil in a pan and add the onions and tomato. Cook until most of the liquid disappears.


Add the fresh ground masala to the pan and let it cook for a 5 minutes.


This is where I used the poached egg recipe. Break each egg over the pan and add it in the gravy with the yolk intact.


Cover the egg with gravy and let it cook. Add the coconut milk and salt to taste.


Let the curry simmer until the eggs are well done.



Turn off the heat and serve hot. In Goa this curry is served with rice. I served it with hot


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Spinach and Cannellini Bean Quesadilla

Today my daughter wanted Quesadilla for dinner so I made one of my favorite's. This quesadilla is healthy, filling and rich in protein. And it tastes great!

Use a good quality parmesan cheese. Never buy the boxed grated version. Instead invest in a block. It will last a year and will taste great in your recipes.

You can use store bought tortilla but I find the homemade one tastes much better and is easy to make. Here is the recipe.


You will need
5 prepared poli or phulka for the base (you will find the recipe here)

For the filling
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bunch of spinach
1 15oz. carton cannellini beans (I use Whole foods)
1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. grated cheddar cheese
olive oil
salt to taste

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil on a pan and add the chopped onions. Let them brown on a medium heat stirring occasionally. Wash and clean the spinach. Break of the stems and discard. Chop the leaves in small strips. When the onions have browned add the spinach to it. Let the spinach cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes.


Wash and drain the cannellini beans. Once the spinach is cooked add the beans.


Mash them with a potato masher. Add salt to taste and turn off the heat.


Grate 1 tbsp. of parmesan cheese and 1 tbsp. of cheddar cheese over the spinach mixture. Mix well, divide into 5 portions and keep aside.


Heat a flat pan and place one poli on it. When one side is heated through flip it over. Put one portion of the filling on the poli and spread it over one half.


Fold the poli in half and heat both sides. Take it off the pan. Repeat the process for all the poli. To serve cut it up into wedges.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Upama (Semolina snack)

Upama is a standby snack recipe in my house. It does not take much time, is healthy and the ingredients are readily available in the pantry.


You will need
1.5 cups semolina
1/2 onion, chopped
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 tsp. cumin seeds
4-5 curry leaves
1 serrano pepper, deseeded and minced
salt to taste
olive oil

Roast semolina in a pan until you can run it through your fingers without sticking.


Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in the same pan and add cumin seeds to the hot oil. When the seeds sizzle add the curry leaves, serrano pepper and onion. Let it cook for a few minutes and then add the peas. Occasionally stir as the peas cook for about 10 minutes on low medium heat. Once done add salt to season not just the onion and peas but also the semolina that will be added to it.


In a microwavable bowl bring just over 3 cups of water to a boil. If using store top to boil water make sure you put it on the stove top when you start roasting the semolina.

To the pan add the semolina and mix well.



Add the just boiled water to the pan and mix well. Lower the heat, cover and let it steam for a 3 minutes. The upama may seem watery but the water will all be absorbed after steaming.



Uncover and mix well. Cover and steam another 3 minutes. Turn off heat and serve hot with pickle.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Misal

Misal is a classic Maharashtrian snack. It can be very filling and works well as light dinner. The base of misal can be prepared with a variety of whole dals and beans. I prefer to use whole mung. Mung are easy to digest and taste great with the add-ons. They are also a great source of protein. This recipe brings simple ingredients together and is sure to please children.


You will need
For the usal or base
2 cups mung dal soaked
1/2 onion
1 Serrano pepper, de-seeded and minced
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. asafetida
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. Madhava agave nectar (or 1 tsp. sugar)
salt to taste
olive oil

For the topping
2 cups sev
1 cup onions chopped
1 cup tomatoes chopped
1 cup cilantro chopped

Mung should be soaked in water for 12 hours. Alternately, you can soak them for 1 minutes and then pressure cook them.

Chop the onion, cilantro and tomato for the topping and keep aside in separate bowls. Drain the tomatoes and reserve the liquid.

Heat oil in large pan and add the mustard seeds. When they crackle add the cumin seeds, asafetida and turmeric powder. Give the pan a twirl with your wrist to soak the turmeric powder and then add the minced serrano pepper and onion. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the mung dal, mix well and let it cook uncovered for about 5 minutes. Add salt to taste, the agave nectar and the reserved tomato juice. Let it cook until al the juices are absorbed. Turn of heat and allow to cool a little. The usal is ready.


To put the Misal together, in a bowl put a thick layer of the usal. Add the toppings one by one starting with sev followed by onion.


Then add the tomatoes.


Then the cilantro.


Sprinkle some more sev on the top for color. Enjoy!

Basic White Sauce

White sauce is used as a base for a lot of recipes. It adds a creamy texture and provides a flavored base to build on.


You will need
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
3/4 cup warm milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pan melt butter on medium heat. Add in the flour a half tbsp. at a time and whisk in. Cook the mixture for a couple minutes. Pour in warm milk whisking all the time to prevent lumps. Never add cold milk to the sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat. Used as called for in the recipe.

Fresh Green Beans with Peanuts

This recipe is basically the same as frozen green beans with peanuts. In this recipe I used fresh green beans and added a cup of chopped cilantro.


Wash the bean. Using your fingers break off the tough end on either side. Discard the ends. Chop the beans in 1/2 inch pieces. Follow the recipe for frozen beans using the fresh chopped beans. When done add a handful of cilantro and mix it in. Serve hot with poli (flat bread).

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Banoffee Pie

Earlier this month I joined a great group of gals who call themselves the Sweet Fantasy Club. Banoffee Pie was part of their December challenge. I did not get the time to make the pie before the deadline on the 22nd, however, I had already purchased the ingredients so I decided to try it today.

If you have never tried this dessert than you are truly missing out. It is simple enough to make in less than an hour. If you had soft toffee candy as a child this recipe will take you back to those days.

I used the recipe on the Nestle Carnation UK site and you can find it here. The group recommended recipe called for cooking the condensed milk in the can. I am vary of cooking contents inside a can. The Carnation recipe made the toffee on the stove top. It was quick and easy.

The crushed digestive biscuit and toffee base can be stored in the refrigerator for a week. Once you add the bananas you have to eat it within a few hours. If you do not wish to finish the pie right away, I suggest cutting out a piece of pie and then adding the bananas and whipping cream to it.


You will need
For the pie base
6 oz. Digestive biscuits
2 oz. butter

For the caramel
1 14 oz. can Borden sweetened condensed milk
3 1/4 oz. soft brown sugar
3 1/4 oz. butter

For the topping
4 bananas, sliced
1 tbsp. cinnamon powder
whipped cream

Put the digestive biscuits in a Ziploc bag. Seal the bag and run a rolling pin over it. Make sure all the biscuits are crushed to a coarse powder. Transfer to a pie plate, mix in the butter and the cover the bottom of the dish. Put it in a refrigerator while you get the caramel ready.

To make the caramel heat the brown sugar and butter in a pan until the sugar dissolves. Add the condensed milk. Now turn up the heat stirring continuously to prevent burning. Let the mixture come to a boil and keep it boiling for about a minute. Switch off the heat and transfer to the pie as its base. Cool for at last an hour to set. The pie with the base can be stored for about a week in the refrigerator.

To serve top the pie with sliced bananas and whipped cream. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon powder.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Baked Cabbage Rolls

This is the second recipe from the Daring Cook's archives that I had tried. It looked easy enough to make but took a long time to prep. There are a lot of steps though each one of them is fairly simple. I had made a timeline for myself so I would have lunch on the table on time. One by one I saw my timed deadlines slipping away. Finally at noon I sent my husband and daughter to practice her parallel parking skills. She will need it if she is going to get her license next month. And I figured I would get everything done faster if I did not have them watching me and the time.

I bought the ingredients for this recipe about 4 days back. Every day after that we seemed to go out in the morning. Since this recipe requires a lot of prep time I had to make something else for lunch instead. Today when I woke up I decided I would make the cabbage rolls.

I had never used parsnips in my cooking before. I am not very fond of its taste. But this recipe called for it so I decided to use it. I made variations to suit my family's taste. I replaced rice with cracked wheat as my husband is trying to avoid rice.


You will need
1 large cabbage
1/2 cup cracked wheat, soaked for an hour
1 cup black lentils
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, grated
1 parsnip, grated
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
a bunch cilantro, chopped
1 serrano pepper, deseeded and minced
6 tomatoes, Roma, pureed
2 tomato, diced
1 tsp. ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp. coriander-cumin powder
1 tsp. Madhava agave nectar
1 tsp. siracha hot sauce
olive oil

Drain the cracked wheat and transfer to a pan with 2 cups water. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the wheat is soft but not fully cooked. Take it off the heat, drain and keep aside. In a pan heat 3 cups of water. Wash, clean the black lentils and add them to the heated water. Boil on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Take it off the heat, drain and keep aside.

Add 1 tbsp. of olive oil to a pan and cook the onions and carrots for about 5 minutes or until soft. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and in the same pan heat another tbsp. of olive oil. Add the bell peppers and parsnip. Cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Turn off the heat and transfer to the same large bowl. Add the partially cooked cracked wheat and black lentils to the bowl along with the chopped coriander, serrano pepper and salt to taste.


Mix well. This is the filling. Keep aside until needed.


To a large deep pan add enough to soak the large cabbage. Bring the water to a boil and lower the heat. Immerse the cabbage whole into the water and let it cook for about 5 minutes. The cabbage will float in the water stalk side up. Using a sharp knife cut all around the stalk to release the leaves. Using a fork loosen up the leaves on the outer layers and carefully peel them off. Stack the leaves on a dry plate. Keep working your way to the center of the cabbage. When all the leaves are taken off turn off the heat.



Chop the Roma tomatoes into rough big pieces and puree in a blender. Dice the other tomatoes. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a pan and add the ginger-garlic paste. Season with salt, agave nectar and hot sauce. Let it cook for a minute and then add all the tomatoes. Let it heat through then add a cup of water. Let it come to a boil and cook until the tomatoes are cooked through. turn off heat.


Preheat oven to 375F. On a flat working surface place a leaf of cabbage. Trim any tough stalk. Depending upon the size of the leaf, add one or more heaped tbsp. of filling near the stalk. Fold the sides over and roll from stalk side to the other end to form a roll. Place it in a casserole dish. Work your way through all the cabbage leaves.


Pour the tomato sauce over the prepared cabbage rolls and cook in a 375F oven for 1.5 hours covered with foil. After about an hour the kitchen should smell wonderful.


After 1.5 hours, remove the casserole from the oven and let it sit on the countertop for about 10 minutes. Remove the foil and serve hot with a dollop of sour cream.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wheat Flour Dhirdi (Pancakes)

Dhirdi is a Maharastrian favorite. It can be made with a combination of any flour you have in the house. Today I used wheat flour with besan, semolina and rice flour. The dough can be flavored any way you like.


You will need
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rice flour
2 tbsp. besan
2 tbsp. semolina
1/2 onion, chopped
a bunch cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. ginger garlic paste
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. coriander and cumin powder
1 serrano pepper, deseeded and minced
5 curry leaves
2 cups yogurt
salt to taste

In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients except yogurt.


Add the yogurt and 2 cups water. Whisk together. The resultant batter should be thick but pouring consistency. Add more water if needed.



Heat a griddle pan. Coat with oil an in a couple minutes wipe clean with moist paper towel. On the hot griddle put a ladle of the mixture. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes. Uncover, turn over and cook for another 4 minutes.


Take off heat and serve hot with yogurt or tomato chutney.

Tomato Chutney with peanuts

This chutney goes well the savory pancakes or dhirdi. It can also be served with poli bhaji. Today I made wheat flour dhirdi and tomato chutney for lunch.

Roasted peanut powder is added to a lot of Maharastrian dishes. The peanuts in this recipe give it a nutty texture and complete the medley of flavors.


You will need
3 medium sized salad tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 serrano pepper, deseeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. asafetida
1 tsp. turmeric powder
3 curry leaves
1 tbsp. roasted peanut powder
salt to taste
olive oil

Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds crackle add the asafetida and turmeric powder. To this add the serrano pepper and garlic. Sauté for a minute and add the onions. Let the onions cook for about 5 minutes.


Add the curry leaves and saut√© for a couple minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, turn up the heat and let it cook. Stir frequently to avoid burning.


When the tomato juice evaporates add the roasted peanut powder. Turn off heat and mix well. The chutney is ready.