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Tomato Chutni

31 Aug

Tangy, spicy with a hint of sweetness and most of the times a great accompaniment like salsa which goes with Idli, Dosa, Chapati, Rice and Dal or Puri. Most Indian recipes need tomatoes, what better way than using them all in one recipe! There are a few variations but finders keepers losers weepers, just kidding. Here’s the recipe that my mom makes and its her birthday this month so Thank you and Love you mom.

Tip: You can keep roasted peanut powder handy, it tastes great when added as a garnish.

All you need:

  1. 4 medium sized ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  2. 1 large onion finely chopped
  3. 2 green chilies slit and chopped
  4. 4-5 curry leaves (optional)
  5. 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  6. pinch of asafoetida(optional, can be found in Indian stores)
  7. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  8. 1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  9. 1 tbsp coriander powder
  10. 1 tsp garam masala(optional)
  11. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  12. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  13. 1 tsp sugar(optional)
  14. Salt (as required)
  15. 2 tbsp oil
  16. 2 tbsp cilantro chopped (garnish)
  17. 1 tbsp roasted peanut powder (optional garnish)

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. Heat oil in a wok or sauce pan on medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, as soon as they pop add cumin and let it sizzle and change color.
  2. Add asafoetida, curry leaves, let them crackle, add green chilies and saute for half a minute.
  3. Add chopped onions and saute them until they are pink in color. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute it until raw smell disappears.
  4. Toss in spices one by one except the garam masala. Stir well. Let this mixture fry well and keep stirring in between making sure nothing sticks to the pan. If you feel the mixture is sticking add a tablespoon of water. Cook it until it starts leaving oil on the sides about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes finally, make sure they get covered with all the spices. Mix well but gently.
  6. Add salt and sugar.
  7. Cook the tomatoes for about 5-7  minutes or until they just begin to soften. You can mash a few pieces gently. I leave them this way, you might choose to cook them down entirely, you will need to cook them for a longer time.
  8. Add garam masala as a finishing spice and let it cook for a minute or two. Skip this step if you are not using garam masala.
  9. Turn off the heat and add the garnishing. Combine.
  10. Serve hot with chapati, roti or naan.

Palak Paneer (Spinach and Cottage Cheese)

28 Jan

I would rather post more non-vegetarian recipes than the vegetarian ones, however, one of my new year resolutions include eating more veggies! I don’t hate vegetables but I just get bored of the process of sorting, plucking, washing, chopping, and every vegetable is different, some require boiling, some soaking, some grinding, unlike meat, cut, wash and ready to use. Among my favorite ones, spinach(Palak), fenugreek leaves (Methi), hard cottage cheese (Paneer), and dill(Shepu; unfortunately the men in my house dislike)but I end up making spinach or use it in some other dish. So, let me zoom in on one of my favorite Indian vegetarian recipes, that is Palak Paneer. It depends if you want to fry the Paneer(cottage cheese pieces) first or just dunk and cook them in the sauce in the last few minutes.

Tip: To keep the color of spinach intact, boil water, once your washing, sorting of spinach is done, drop in the entire spinach to wilt in the water for just about 2-3 minutes, do not cover. Remove or strain and immediately dunk in ice-cold water. Let it sit for a few minutes and then puree it roughly not smoothly in a blender.

All you need:

  1. 1 large fresh Spinach bunch roughly pureed (washed, sorted-only use leaves)
  2. 200 gms or about 8 oz.Paneer (Hard cottage cheese found in Indian stores) cut into squares or rectangles.
  3. 2 medium size onions finely chopped or fine paste ( I prefer chopped)
  4. 2 medium size tomatoes finely chopped or pureed (I prefer chopped)
  5. 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  6. 2-3 green chilies finely chopped (adjust as per your taste)
  7. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  8. 1 bayleaf
  9. 4 cloves
  10. 1 inch stick of cinnamon
  11. pinch of turmeric
  12. 1 tsp cumin powder
  13. 1 tbsp coriander powder
  14. 1 tsp red chili powder
  15. 1 tsp garam masala(I use home-made, will post the combination soon)
  16. 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) – this is optional
  17. salt (as required)
  18. oil 2 tbsps
  19. 1 tbsp roughly chopped cilantro(garnishing)
  20. 1 tbsp beaten cream (optional)

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. Heat oil on a low flame in a deep saucepan(kadhai). (If you wish you can fry the paneer pieces on medium heat until golden at this point and keep them aside and use the remaining oil)
  2. Add all the dry masala(bayleaf, cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon) one by one. Saute for a few seconds until you can smell a nice aroma.
  3. Add chopped onions and saute until translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for about a minute or till the raw smell goes away.
  4. Add the green chilies, saute for another minute. Add the tomatoes and saute until they are soft.
  5. Add all the powdered masala except garam masala (turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili) and let this cook for about 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally  or until oil oozes out from the sides.
  6. Add the pureed spinach and mix it until well blended with the spices. Cook this until the sauce is bubbly and oozing out oil for another 3-5 minutes.
  7. Drop in the raw paneer pieces and gently stir them until everything is well combined and cook this for 4-5 minutes. Add salt.
  8. Add the garam masala and stir gently. Let this simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  9. Crush the dried fenugreek leaves between the palms of your hand and add them to the sauce(remember the fenugreek is optional, skip this step if you don’t have it)
  10. Turn off the heat and let the sauce sit for 2-3 minutes. Just before you serve it hot, add the cilantro and cream. Mix gently, Done! Serve hot with roti or naan.

Masoor Pulao (Red lentil Pulao)

24 May

My mom being on tours never really stepped into the kitchen in her younger days. My Dad was a catering student and someone who enjoyed cooking never complained. But once my mom started taking it easy and started to age gracefully, she wanted to try her hand in the kitchen, and moms when they cook somehow turn food magically into something they pour love into, real love. I can’t figure it out how they do it, but I know  everyone loves moms who cook and can never find the same taste from their sisters, girl-friends, wives and mother-in-laws or grandmoms who by the way are really close in competing with moms that cook.

Well, my mom has mastered this recipe. I don’t know where she learned it from, if its her original recipe or not, but now-a-days who cares, sharing food is the one the greatest virtues! So here goes, the recipe of masoor pulao. I have purposely clicked a picture of red lentil just in case. Any Indian store will have them easily available.split red lentil

Tip: Scraped coconut flakes and fried onions taste best and for the presentation part, wet your fingers and run them through a small bowl or just grease it lightly with ghee(clarified butter) and press the pulao in the bowl and turn it upside down on the serving plate. Dig a little hole in the center and fill it with the coconut flakes and fried onions.

Masoor PulaoAll you need:

  1. 1 cup Masoor or split red lentils (washed and soaked overnight in water)
  2. 2 cups of Basmati or long grain rice (washed and drained)
  3. 2 medium sized sliced onions
  4. Whole garam masala: 8-10 black peppercorns, 1 inch cinnamon stick, 2 green cardamoms, 1 black cardamom, 4-5 cloves
  5. 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  6. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  7. Powdered spices: 1 tsp red chili powder ( I obviously add more, adjust as per your spice level), 1 tbsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tbsp garam masala powder
  8. Optional 1 tomato pureed (chopped tomato will also suffice)
  9. Water double the amount of rice taken
  10. Salt as required
  11. Oil as required
  12. Coconut flakes scraped for garnishing (optional)

Ready, Set, Go:

  1. Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil and fry on low heat one of the two onions until brown and crispy. (I prefer them a little soft, but crispy are more fun). Drain on a paper towel, keep mixing them up on the paper, or else they will wilt down due to the moisture. Once this is done or simultaneously, boil double quantity of water that was measured for rice in a separate vessel.
  2. In the meanwhile, heat up a thick bottomed pot or a saucepan. I like to add 1 tbsp of ghee(clarified butter) and 1 tbsp of oil, but you can adjust oil as required. Add the whole garam masala. Fry it for about a minute or till the spices are fragrant, add the other raw sliced onion and fry till it changes color, do not brown the onion, just fry till it changes color. Check if you have started boiling water separately. Refer to step 1.
  3. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears, take about 30 secs to a minute.
  4. Add all the powder spices (in order of appearance) one by one carefully not burning them, if you feel your spices are burning, just add two tablespoons of water. Stir them and mix them up nicely.
  5. Drain the water from the lentils and add them along with a little salt, rice and stir the mixture gently try not to break the rice.
  6. Add tomato puree and mix well. Skip this step if you are not using tomato.
  7. Add the boiling water. Stir gently
  8. Cover the vessel tightly and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Keep checking if the rice needs more water or is not sticking to the bottom. I recommend using a thick flat iron pan underneath the pot so that it doesn’t burn or stick the rice to the pot.
  9. Refer to the tip for garnishing. Serve hot with yogurt, Indian pickle or any spicy gravy dish.

Grilled Paneer with Avocado Chutney

21 Sep

I was bored to death just directly diving into the main course. My husband also cribs sometimes for having something healthy but appetizing, so I decided to make this quick and easy recipe I saw on television. Without a doubt I gave it some Indian flavors and it turned out pretty decent! With just one additional serving of an appetizer, the entire night was so pleasant with all the praise I got! So if you like Paneer (Hard Cottage cheese) and you can always make your own chutney, but I loved the avocado dip, go ahead and try this one.

Tip: If you do not know how to prepare an avocado, I have mentioned it at the end of the recipe.*****


All you need :

For the Grilled Paneer:

  1. 200 grams Paneer (Hard Cottage Cheese) cut into big squares
  2. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 1 tablespoon red chilli flakes mixed with a pinch of cinnamon powder and cumin powder
  4. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  5. Salt to taste

 For the Chutney:

  1. One ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  2. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  3. 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  5. 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  6. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  7. Salt to taste, Set, Go:

For the Paneer: Heat a non-stick pan over medium flame. Brush with olive oil and season with the ingredients mentioned above.  Grill it for about 2 -3 minutes until golden brown. Remember not to grill it too much otherwise it will be hard to chew.

For the Chutney: Just blend it all together. Adjust salt and pepper as required.

Spread the chutney onto the paneer before serving.


 Preparing an avocado: A ripe avocado is soft to touch and must be used immediately otherwise it will oxidize. Rinse the avocado under running water. Hold it down on a chopping board, I prefer it in my hand, cut through till you feel the pit and rotate the avocado and twist the avocado till you have it in half. Strike your knife with a soft blow in the pit, your knife should be stuck in the pit, pick up the avocado and twist the knife, the pit will come off. Scoop out the avocado flesh  from its cover with a spoon. The flesh is ready to be used.

Paneer Mushroom

22 Jul

My substitute for meat is Paneer! Hard Cottage cheese(found in Indian stores) works better for Indian recipes or Tofu can be used as a healthier option. I prefer Paneer. I generally avoid eating non-vegetarian food on Thursdays. On religious grounds it would be fasting. Fasting is not eating in general or eating only the ‘allowed’ food. But not eating is not an option for me. So eating vegetarian serves the purpose and satisfies me from the inside. Paneer Mushroom is something which is served mostly in restaurants in India and it is not a common dish as many people don’t like mushrooms. This is a dish that you can try only when you know your guests well. An advantage is my husband never complains about what he gets on his plate. He will eat all my experiments on his plate! Lucky me.

Tip : You can add Kasuri methi(Dried fenugreek leaves) about a teaspoon in the end just before turning off the heat for that extra flavor!

All you need :

  1. Paneer or Hard Cottage cheese or Tofu cut into cubes about 1 cup
  2. 10 -15 quartered or sliced mushrooms (I prefer button mushrooms)
  3. 1 medium roughly chopped Onion
  4. 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  5. 1/2 cup Tomato chopped fine or pureed
  6. Ketchup just a blob
  7. 1 tbsp Cashews
  8. 3 tbsp Yogurt
  9. 1 tbsp Coriander powder
  10. 1 tsp Cumin powder
  11. 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  12. 1 tsp Garam masala powder or curry powder
  13. Hing/Asafoetida a pinch
  14. 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
  15. Sugar a little, may be a pinch or two
  16. Salt as required

Ready, Set, Go :

1. Heat a little water in a pan. Add chopped onion, ginger and garlic and saute till  tender.  Add cashews , drain the water and blend to a fine paste.
2. In the same pan heat 1 tsp of oil and saute the paneer cubes till light brown. Set aside.
3. In the same pan on medium heat add the remaining oil and add hing/asafoetida and cumin seeds, cook for a minute and add the onion paste with salt and turmeric and cook while stirring for 3-4 minutes, add the tomato puree, a blob of ketchup and coriander powder and cook till oil separates. This may splutter so be careful.
4. Add in the mushrooms. Reduce heat mix and add yogurt. Mix well till the yogurt mixes in the gravy, add cumin powder garam masala and cook for 3-4 minutes till the mushrooms are tender. Add sugar and a little water, mushrooms tend to sweat so adjust the water accordingly and finally add paneer. Cover and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Garnish with cilantro.Serve hot with roti, or rice.

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