Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tawa pulao ( Pan Pilaf)



I always have cooked rice in my refrigerator. Does that sound weird??? No, not because I like leftover rice. There are several reasons why. First and foremost, I don't like to eat too much outside food. Funnily enough, neither do my kids. My way of thinking is that if I have atleast some cooked rice in the fridge, I can quickly rustle up something.. A veggie stir fry, some dal.. Just papad and pickle or yogurt and pickle or make fried rice or tawa pulao as I have done here. This is another one of my quick meals, a complete meal, perfect for weeknight dinners. This meal can be ready in 15 mins! Yes, it is that easy! I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday # 57 for all my friends who work but love to rustle up a good meal!

Servings: 3-4


Ingredients:


Cooked white rice: 2-3 cups
Ghee( Clarified butter): 1 tbsp
Cooking oil: 1 tbsp
Jeera( cumin seeds): 1 tsp
Cinnamon stick: 1 inch
Cloves:2-3, whole
Cardamom: 2-3 whole,
Bay leaf: 1 small
Cashew nut halves: 1 tbsp ( optional)
Raisins: 1 tsp ( optional)
Onion: 1 medium, chopped lengthwise
Ginger garlic paste: 1 heaped tsp
Green chilli: 2 ( optional) , adjust according to your spice level.
Frozen peas and carrots: 1 cup
Parboiled cauliflower florets: 1 cup
Salt: 1 tsp
Sugar: a pinch
Black pepper: freshly ground, 1 tsp
Cilantro : 1 tbsp ( for garnishing)( optional).

Method:


Heat ghee/ oil in a sauté pan/ wok/ skillet . 

Add the cumin seeds and sauté for 30 seconds. 

Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and cashewnut halves and sauté for a 30 seconds.

Add ginger garlic paste, sauté for 30 seconds.

Add the chopped onion and green chillies, raisins and sauté until the onion turns transparent. 

Add the peas, carrots and cauliflower florets. Mix well. Cover and cook for 4-5 mins until the vegetables have cooked.

Add the cold cooked rice, salt, sugar, black pepper powder and mix well. Reduce the flame,cover and let it cook until the rice has warmed.


Garnish with chopped cilantro if you wish.

Serve hot with a side-dish of your choice, raita or some cucumber slices.

Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


I have used frozen vegetables as it was convenient for me. You can also use boiled vegetables.
Cauliflower can be cooked slightly by either letting it sit in warm water for few minutes or cooking it in the microwave for 3-4 mins.

Tip for healthy living:


Bulk up your carbs with vegetables so that it is more filling without loading up on the carbs. For example, for the above pulao, you can bulk it up with equal amount of veggies, so that you are not filling up with just rice but also get the much needed vegetables.


Food for thought:


The present time has one advantage over every other- it is our own. Charles Caleb Colton

Friday, February 27, 2015

Quick Tangy Egg Curry in under 20 minutes!






I love eggs! Eggs are so versatile! You could do anything and everything with them. You could fry them, boil them, poach them, scramble them, whip them, beat them.. The variations are endless. They taste good with just salt and pepper or you could go the whole nine yards and add a whole bunch of spices like I did, and curry them! Again there are hundreds of way you could curry eggs! I have previously posted a few ways of making them: egg masala,  jhat phat egg chilli, tangy egg curry and quick egg curry.



So how is this one different?? This is the result of another of my whims and fancies: my experiments in my kitchen. Depending on my mood, I tend to add whatever I feel like from my pantry! Don't fear: the result is good 99% of the times. The 1% of the time, I have had my husband go " Baby, please don't make this again". And yes,there have been times when I have  to toss it into the trash can. But that's very very rare!! You see, at a very young age, my mother taught me a very basic premise about cooking: " for food to taste good, all it needs is a nice balance of salt and spice. If those two things exist, then anything will taste good.




Coming back to this particular egg curry, this is perfect for that weeknight dinner when you have come home after a hard day's work and want to rustle up something nice and spicy for your dinner. This can be made in under 15-20 mins! I am bringing this today to Angie and all my other wonderful friends at Fiesta Friday!


Servings: 2-3


Ingredients:


Eggs: 4-6 hard-boiled, peeled .
Cooking Oil: 1 tbsp( I use coconut oil)
Onions: 1 medium, diced small
Tomato: 1 medium, diced small
Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tsp
Mutton/ chicken masala powder: 1 -2tsp based on your spice level.
Haldi ( turmeric powder): 1/2 tsp
Tamarind pulp: 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Water: 1 cup

Method:



Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan.Sauté one chopped onion, 1 tsp ginger garlic paste, until golden brown. 

Add one chopped tomato . Sauté until it leaves oil. 

Add 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp Kubal Mutton Masala powder( it is just a spice mix from Mumbai. It is very spicy!) you can also use any chicken masala powder or Malvani powder or ussal powder.

Add the boiled eggs into which slits have been made while keeping the egg whole. Sauté so that the egg is s little fried .

Make a tamarind solution and add this with salt to the above mixture.Mix together do that it binds well.



Serve hot with a rice or roti/bread.

Ready in less than 15 mins!

Enjoy! 

Cooking made easy:


Cook without stressing about it.  Always improvise and make use of whatever that is available in your kitchen. You will be surprised at what you can rustle up by being a little adventurous in the kitchen!

Tip for healthy living:


Turmeric is great for our good health. It is a natural anti-inflammatory agent and therefore helps with a number of ailments from cough-cold to arthritis. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric which is responsible for its strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. 

References:
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-turmeric.aspx?activeingredientid=662&activeingredientname=turmeric
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/18/turmeric-health-benefits-curcumin_n_5978482.html
http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric/

Food for thought:


We adore chaos because we love to produce order. M.C. Escher

Monday, February 23, 2015

Dal palak ( Lentil and spinach medley) made easy; Meatless Monday.



Dal palak is another popular, basic, everyday dish in Indian cuisine. Traditionally, this is made  with toor dal (split-pigeon peas).At times, I make it that way too.. but the whole premise of this blog is to share recipes that are quick and easy to make. Hence, I have re-invented dal-palak in such a way that you can have delicious dal-palak on the table ready to be consumed in under 30 minutes!





How did I do it? Very simple, first and foremost I swapped toor dal(split pegion peas)with masoor dal(split red lentil). This is the step that is most time consuming as toor dal ( split pigeon peas) takes a long time to cook, even in the pressure cooker. You then have to wait for the steam from the pressure cooker to be completely let out before opening it.



I have also reduced the cooking time by combining a few other steps of the regular method of preparation of this dish. None of these steps have compromised the taste of the dish. Did I forget to mention that this is a one-pot dish? So no washing multiple pots! How much easier can it get??



I am entering this dish for the Canadian Lentil Recipe Revelation challenge. The inspiration for this entry is my silent mentor Sonal Gupta. She is not only a great blogger but also a great person. I have learnt so much from her. Thank you Sonal.


Servings: 4-6


Ingredients:


Masoor dal ( split red lentil): 1 cup
Water : 3 cups
Fresh Spinach : 1/2 small bunch( around 4 cups)
Onion: 1 small, chopped fine
Tomato: 1 small, diced small.
Ginger: 1 inch piece, chopped
Green chilli: 2, slit
Turmeric powder( haldi): 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Asofoetida ( hing): pinch
Salt: to taste
Sugar: 1/2 tsp

For Tempering:

Coconut oil: 1 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Red chilli powder: 1/4 tsp ( optional)

Method:


Wash the masoor dal(split red lentil ) thoroughly and soak it in 3 cups water for 10-15 minutes, preferably in the same  pot that you are going to cook in.



While the dal( lentil) is being soaked, chop the onion, tomatoes, green chillies and ginger and add it to the pot.

Wash, clean and chop the spinach and keep ready.



Now cook the lentil on medium flame for 5-10 minutes. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, asofoetida , sugar and salt while it is cooking.


Now add the spinach to the pot , stir and mix well. Cover and cook for 5 -10 more minutes or until the spinach and lentils have reached the desired consistency.



If it gets too thick, you can add water as needed, little at a time.

Tempering:

In a small frying pan, heat oil, add jeera( cumin seeds) and a few seconds later, mustard seeds .


Once the mustard seeds splutter, turn off the flame.Add curry leaves. Add red chilli powder if you wish at this point.

Add this tempering to the above pot. Give it a nice stir.



Serve hot as a soup with some crusty bread / garlic bread or as a side dish with rice.

Served with rice, crab cakes, pickle and fried accompaniments. 




Comfort food at it's best!

Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


If you are using baby spinach in the above dish, it needs to be cooked only for a minute or two.

If using regular spinach, remember spinach upon cooking, wilts and releases water. Hence adjust the amount of  water used accordingly and as per the desired consistency of the dish. You can make it thick if you wish to use it as a side dish, or make it thin if you wish to serve it soup-style.

You can also use frozen chopped spinach if you are out of fresh spinach.

Tip for healthy living:


Lentils are a great source of protein for vegetarians.


Food for thought:


All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. Ellen Glasgow

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sambhar ( Mixed vegetable- lentil stew ) made easy!


There would hardly be an Indian who does not know what "Sambhar" is! While it is a staple dish in South Indian households, it also has the honor of being one of those few South Indian dishes that North Indians are not only familiar with but like it , make it and relish it! That says a lot about "sambhar".


To understand this a little better, let me explain a few things: first and foresmost, for those who are unaware: India is the 7 largest country in the world area-wise and the second largest population wise. India has 30 states.Unlike most countries in this world,  the uniqueness of India is the fact that each state has a separate cuisine, spoken/written language , culture/attire etc. India is very diverse. Adjoining states may have a few commonalities but the differences are a lot more than the similarities. However, we could roughly divide India mainly into two major parts: Northern India which would be from Jammu and Kashmir in the North to Maharashtra( the capital of which is Mumbai) in the south. Southern India is mainly comprised of 5 states: Karnataka ( the capital of which is Bangalore), Andhra Pradesh , Telangana ( both of which have Hyderabad as their capital), Kerala ( whose capital is Trivandrum) and Tamilnadu ( whose capital is Chennai). North Indians are said to have originated from the Aryan race and therefore have a fair complexion, are tall and have straight hair. On the contrary, South Indians are believe to be descendants of the Dravidian race and are therefore short and stout with  curly hair and have a darker complexion. Because of this, North Indians  usually have a superior attitude and tend to look down on the South Indians.

I hope now you understand why it is a big deal that "Sambhar" is so popular! Traditionally, Sambhar is make with split pigeon peas. Using any other dal( lentil ) is like blasphemy to the South Indians! Well, guess what?? That's exactly what I have done here!!!




Cooking split pigeon peas takes a long time, even with the use of a pressure cooker. I like to make things quick and easy.. Especially on weeknights or if I am rushing. I have therefore swapped the split pigeon peas with split orange lentils. I have found that these lentils cook really fast( almost one-fourth the time) and in no way alters the taste of the Sambhar! Bonus: The split orange lentil is not gassy. It is gentle on the tummy while the split pigeon peas can  be extremely gassy! This was another reason that made me do this swap!




By the way did I mention that I am a South Indian with North Indian roots???

Servings: 4-6


Ingredients:


Masoor  dal ( split red lentil): 1 cup
Potato: 1 medium, peeled and diced medium.
Chayote : 1 medium, peeled and diced small .
Carrots: 1 small, peeled and chopped.
Cauliflower florets : 1 cup
Broccoli stems: 1 cup
Onion: 1 medium, diced large.
Sambar powder: 1 tbsp ( I use MDH or Everest brand).
Tamarind paste: 1/4 tsp
Jaggery or brown sugar: 1 tsp
Asofoetida( hing): pinch
Water:  3 cups + 3 cups + 1/2 cup
Cilantro: 1 tbsp, chopped

For tempering:

Coconut oil: 1 tsp( any cooking oil will do).
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig

Method:


Soak masoor dal( split red lentil)  in 3 cups of water for 10 mins. Add 1 tsp haldi ( turmeric powder and cook it in a pot until the lentil is well cooked ( around 15 mins). Turn off the flame and keep aside.  When cooled, whip it lightly so that it becomes homogenous.

Boil  3 cups water in a pot and cook the vegetables until tender adding the ones requiring the longest cooking time first and the least last. Also , add the chopped onions last. Cook it just a little so that the onions retain a slight crunch.

In the mean time take 1/2 cup warm water and make a tamarind solution by dissolving dried tamarind /tamarind pulp in it. Add sambar powder,  jaggery/ brown sugar and mix well. Keep aside.

Now add the whipped lentil to the cooked vegetables.Mix well.

Add the tamarind & sambar powder mixture and let it come to a boil. Turn off the flame.

Tempering:

In a small frying pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds . Once the mustard seeds splutter, turn off the flame.Add curry leaves. Add it to the sambar.

Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro/ coriander leaves.


Serve hot with rice/ idlis/ dosa or even a crusty slice of bread!




Enjoy!


Cooking made easy:


You can swap all the vegetables listed above to whatever you have on hand. You could even make it with one or two vegetable and onion. There is no set rule.  I make Sambhar when I have a little bit of this and a little bit of that vegetable left in my refrigerator and pantry.

Tip for healthy living:


Try to include 3-4 colors of vegetables and fruits in your every meal. This ensures that you get your daily dose of vitamins and nutrients. Each color represents a vitamin that the fruit/vegetable is rich in. Hence, more variety, the better.

Food for thought:


We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are. Max de Pree

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Chole bhature ( Puffed Indian bread served with garbanzo beans)




Bhature is nothing but this gigantic puffed bread that is usually served with Chana masala or Chole. The dough for this bread is made by kneading flour with yogurt, adding a little baking soda and letting it ferment for a while. After fermentation, portions of the dough are rolled out into a big poori which is then deep fried. There is absolutely NOTHING healthy about this very popular snack/ breakfast but it is delicious and once in a while if you indulge, it's ok. 






When you go to restaurants, they serve you this humongous puffed up single bhature with Chole that has been garnished with finely chopped onions, cilantro and lemon wedge on the side. Yummy! You just cannot eat more than one! It is rather hard to replicate the huge restaurant- size bhatura at home as you would need to use a huge wok and lots of oil! It would be a crime to waste all that oil after frying only a few bhaturas! I therefore have made smaller bhaturas but the taste is the same restaurant style. It is pretty easy to make too and a joy to eat!
I was looking for a good bhature recipe for the longest and I found it here.





For the Chole or Chana masala recipe kindly go here.


Servings: makes 4-6 medium sized bhaturas


Ingredients:


All purpose flour ( maida): 1cup
Cream of wheat ( semolina): 4 tbsp
Yogurt: 4 tbsp
Cooking oil: 1 tbsp
Baking soda: a pinch
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Lukewarm water: 1/2 cup
Oil for frying

Method:


Mix the flour and sooji in a bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add to it yogurt, oil, sugar, salt and baking soda. Mix then all together to make a soft dough.



Now using a little lukewarm water at a time knead the dough well to get a really nice soft consistency. Do not attempt to add all the water at once. Bhature is like bread; kneading is the key. When done, apply some oil on the outside of the flour, cover with a damp cloth/ paper towel and leave it to ferment for atleast 2 hours.

After fermentation, take the dough, knead it again well. Pinch big lemon size dough and roll it into a circle that is atleast 0.25 cms thick. Don't roll it too thin as it will not puff up.

Heat oil in a wok/kadai . Once the oil is hot enough, reduce the flame and drop the bhatura.


 Using the back of the slotted spoon slightly press the poori down. This helps it puff.


Turn it over once it puffs up and floats to the surface of the oil.Fry on the other side until the bhatura is light golden brown in color.


Drain it on paper towels.



Serve hot with Chole/ Chana masala. If not served hot, it will lose it's puffiness!

Enjoy! I am bringing these yummy bhature to Angie and the girls to go with the Chole I took there yesterday! Aunt Juju@cooking with auntJuju and Tina@Mademoiselle Gourmande are co-hosting this week.

Cooking made easy:


You can make the bhature dough the previous night, cover it with a wet cloth and leave it overnight. Next morning, the dough will be ready to be rolled and fried.

Tip for healthy living:

If it is hard for one to eat healthy all the time, maintain a food intake diary and balance between the unhealthy and healthy in a given day.


Food for thought:


You can't sweep other people off their feet, if you can't be swept off your own. Clarence Day.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Chole aka Chana masala ( Chick peas in tangy tomato-onion sauce)



Chole or Chana masala is one of the popular Indian dishes  both at home and abroad. There are very few Indians  who are not familiar with this dish. Almost all Indian restaurants abroad have this dish on their menu. It is a very non-controversial dish that is simple and delicious. The primary ingredient in this dish is chickpeas, and chick peas is rather inexpensive. The yield of this dish is good and gives more bang for the buck. It is also easy to make. There are several versions of Chole: Amritsari Chole, Punjabi Chole etc based on regional influences. This dish could be made slightly dry or with lots of sauce. Either ways you make it, it tastes great. It is usually paired with bhature ( puffed bread made with yogurt based dough) or pooris ( puffed whole wheat bread) You could pair it with rice, bread, roti, naan, dinner roll or even tortillas! My version is very simple and quick.



Servings: 4-6



Ingredients:


Garbanzo beans/Chick peas ( Kabuli Chana): One 15 oz can
( you could also use 1 cup dried chick peas soaked overnight and then cooked to required level of tenderness).
Cooking oil: 1 + 1 tbsp
Jeera( cumin seeds): 1/2 tsp
Onion: 2 medium, chopped.
Garlic: 6 small cloves, chopped fine
Ginger: 1 inch piece, chopped fine.
Green chillies: 4, chopped fine
Tomato paste: 2 tbsp ( can also use 2 fresh medium sized tomatoes).
Chole masala: 1 tbsp ( I use Everest or MDH brands)
Red chili powder: 1/4 tsp
Kasoori methi( dried fenugreek leaves): 1 tbsp
Tea decoction : 1 cup
Salt: as per taste
Sugar: 1/4 tsp
Water: 2 cups
Chaat masala: 1/4 tsp ( I use Everest brand)
Cilantro ( coriander leaves): 2 tbsp, chopped.

Method:


Heat 1 tbsp cooking  oil in a sauté pan. Add jeera( cumin seeds). Sauté for 30 seconds.



Add the garlic, ginger, sauté for a minute.




Add in the chopped onions and sauté until the onions sweat. Add in the green chillies. If using fresh tomatoes, you may add it now. If using tomato paste, DO NOT ADD at this stage. Once the fresh tomatoes wilt a little, turn off the flame and let the mixture cool down. Once cooled take it in a blender/food processor and pulse it to a fine paste. Keep it aside.

Making tea decoction : seep 2 tea bags in one cup of hot water for 5 mins. Remove  and discard the tea bags.

Rinse and drain the chick peas and keep aside.



Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in the same the pan. Add the ground paste and saute for 2-3 minutes.


Now add the tomato paste ( if you have not used fresh tomatoes earlier). Sauté for 4-5 mins on medium flame until the tomato paste starts leaving oil.. Add the Chole masala powder, red chilli powder and mix well.



Add the rinsed and drained chick peas, kasoori methi, salt, sugar, tea decoction and mix well. Add water as needed to achieve the desired level of thickness of the sauce. Cover and let it simmer for 15 mins.




Garnish with  chaat masala and chopped fresh cilantro( coriander leaves).



Serve hot with bhature/ poori/ roti/ jeera rice/ peas and carrot pulao/ plain rice or just bread.

Chole served with Bhature


Chole served with peas and carrot pulao


Enjoy! I am bringing this to Angie's Fiesta Friday! Aunt Juju@cooking with auntJuju and Tina@Mademoiselle Gourmande are this week's co-hosts.


Cooking made easy:


If you don't have time, you can skip the blending of the onion-ginger-garlic-tomato-green chilli mixture. Grinding it gives the dish a nice creamy sauce.

The tea decoction gives the dish the classic blackish color and a nice taste.

Another trick to make the sauce thicker and creamier is by taking 1/2 cup of the drained Garbanzo beans( chick peas) and mashing them using a pestle or potato masher.  Mix this into the sauce with the rest of the chick peas.

Tip for healthy living:


Garbanzo beans or chick peas is a great source of protein for vegetarians. It also provides carbohydrates and is rich in dietary fiber. It is packed with magnesium and potassium and is cholesterol and trans-fat free.It also provides anti-oxidants to the body.It is also rich in iron and is a low glycemic index food, therefore great for diabetics.

References: