Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Matar Paneer

Hi! Here I am, again, to give ideas for quick, and non-labourious meals to chow down while watching Masterchef Australia after a hard day at work!

One of the mains that really rescues me is paneer. It's tasty, so very versatile, healthy, filling, inexpensive and readily available, or very easily made at home. And you can make it with anything. Capsicum? Done. Nuts? Done. Tomatoes? Done. Mashed up with some mayo and stuffed into a sandwich? Done done done.

My favourite is, however, the quintessential Indian paneer dish, Matar Paneer. The recipe that every non-Indian around the world replicates to mop up with naans and calls it Indian exotic food. The recipe that so many Indians, no matter where they are, replicate when they miss Ma ke haath ka khana. Soft cubes of paneer, fried crisp or not, in a surprisingly light tomato-and-onion based broth like gravy, studded with green peas. It takes not more than a half hour, and goes well with everything.

Presenting, Matar Paneer, from the Lahiri-Khanna kitchen:

Matar Paneer
serves 2 for 2 meals

You need:
  • 250-300 gm paneer
  • a handful of peas, washed (you can increase or decrease this to your liking)
  • 1 large tomato or 2 small tomatoes, cut into cubes or ketchup (please refer to recipe notes at the bottom of the post)
  • 2 medium onions, minced into a paste
  • 1/2 tsp haldi or turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp kashmiri mirch or chilli powder for colour
  • 1/2 tsp deghi mirch or chilli powder for heat
  • 1 tiny pinch of jeera powder or cumin powder
  • Salt and sugar
  • Warm water
  • Oil

The How:
  • Cut the paneer into cubes, not too small but not too large either. If you want, fry these till golden around the edges. I prefer non fried.
  • In a kadhai, heat oil. When hot, lower the flame to medium and add the onions. Fry till pinkish.
  • Add the cubed tomatoes or an equivalent amount of ketchup. Stir and fry on medium-high heat.
  • When the raw smell of the onion leaves and it smells sweet and fried, add turmeric and chilli powders. 
  • Mix well and add the peas. Toss to coat the peas in the masala. Season with salt and sugar.
  • After about 1 minute, add the paneer cubes. Very gently mix so that the masala coats the cubes well.
  • Continue gently mixing for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the warm water, stir everything and let it come to a gentle boil.
  • Let it boil for at least 2 minutes, then turn off the flame.
  • Turn out into the serving bowl, and serve hot with a dollop of butter on top.

Recipe notes:
You can add ketchup in place of tomatoes in this and any other gravy, in case anyone in your family isn't allowed to have tomatoes for health reasons like uric acid, etc.

That's it! You can enjoy this with anything, rotis, parathas, rice, leftover pulao or even bread.

Till the next time!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Coffee Bailey's No-Churn Ice Cream

So. Summer's here eh?


There isn't a minute here in Mumbai when I don't feel like I'm being boiled. It's ridiculous, and for the first time, I'm wondering what have we humans done to this planet? Seasons are all over the place, rainfall schedules are about as dependable as IRCTC, droughts and floods happening at the same time in different parts of the world, pollution simply going through the roof, ruined crops. What have we done to this world? Is there time to make it better? Or is it too late?

But then I notice the bowl of Eggless, No-Churn, creamy Coffee Ice Cream with a serious hit of Hazelnut Bailey's Irish Creme, and all thought goes right out of the window,

This ice cream may just be the best I've had all my life. And I'm not just saying because I've made it. I mean imagine this. Strong Kerala coffee, that you drink from that small cup, milky and frothy, being converted into a popsicle. Cold and smooth. And added to that, you spike it with a good splash of sweet nutty Hazelnut Bailey's Irish Creme. So every nibble of the popsicle introduces your tastebuds to the cold creamy flavour of strong sweet coffee and that mild warmth of Irish creme.

Now this recipe is easy. Easy peasy. You don't need an ice-cream maker. It's infinitely customizable. You don't need to use your elbow grease to churn it. It's eggless. And it uses the stuff that you will be guarantee take not more than 30 minutes to source, and that includes the phone call to the grocery dude.

Presenting, my Eggless, No-Churn, Coffee Ice Cream with Bailey's Irish Creme.

Adapted from Cooking and Me
Makes enough for 6 kulfi-sized popsicles, and a bowl full about 500 ml

You need:
  • 1 can condensed milk, that would be about 400 gm
  • 2 200 ml tetrapacks, that's 400 ml
  • 1 cup very strong coffee, brewed then cooled down. Add only a sprinkling of sugar in this while brewing. You can substitute this with 1 cup of fruit pulp as well.
  • 2 capfuls of Bailey's Irish Creme (you can avoid this if you want to make it non-alcoholic)
  • 2 tsp of butterscotch flavouring, if you have it, else ignore.

The How:
  • In a blender with a tall jar, add the cream. Add only a little bit of the water in the pack, discard the rest. Blend it well till it's thicker than before. But don't overblend it, else it'll split. If it doesn't turn thicker, don't worry, just continue anyway.
  • Add the condensed milk. When you open the can and try to take out every drop of the liquid, PLEASE use a spoon or something. Don't use your finger, the edge of the can might slice into your finger and it'll be ugly, bloody and painful. You might even need to get a tetanus shot in case it's rusty.
  • Blend the cream and condensed milk well.
  • Add in the flavouring, the Irish Creme and the coffee. Hold the lid of the blender well and blend.
  • Turn out into a large bowl, with enough space left over. Cover with foil or cling wrap and freeze overnight. Now I say overnight because the alcohol will prevent it from completely freezing, it will be more like a frozen slush. If you're not using alcohol, 6-7 hours undisturbed might just be enough.
  • When frozen, scoop it out into the blender again, and blend it one more time.
  • Now turn it out into the bowl or moulds if you want, and chuck it back into the freezer for at least 4-6 hours.
  • Scoop out into bowls, and enjoy.

That's it! It's easy, very low on hard work, and so indulgent that it'll knock your socks off.

Till the next time!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Tamil style Chicken Coconut Stew: Chicken Kuzhambu


Time for a chicken recipe!

Seeing as you know me for so long, you'd know that in my pre-married life, I did not cook. I baked. And looked fancy-a** dishes on Pinterest and tried to make them. But regular daily food? Nevah. One of the things I did cook though, was a Chicken Kuzhambu. A gloriously coconutty gravy, embellished with the homey flavour of curry leaves, texture from the poppy seeds, and tender, melt-in-the-mouth chicken. It takes a little time, and the list of ingredients is frighteningly long but its very very worth it!

So here's the recipe for Chicken Kuzhambu. Many readers requested an accompaniment to the Neer Dosa recipe I put up last week, and this is it!

Chicken Kuzhambu
Adapted from Spicy Treats

You need:
  • 1 kg chicken
  • 3 large onions, chopped fine
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 5 green chillies, slit
  • 10-12 curry leaves. Get the larger older leaves, they have more flavour.
  • 10-12 stems of coriander leaves, chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs of mint leaves, 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder/ haldi
  • 2-3 tsp of chilli powder
  • 3 tsp of coriander powder/ dhania
  • 4-5 lemon leaves cut into halves, or 2 1 inch stalks of lemongrass, bruised. (This is optional. If you can't source this, leave it out)
  • Oil
  • Salt and sugar, to taste
For tempering
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds/ rai
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp fennel seeds/ saunf
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 4-5 cloves
For grinding
  • Scant 1 cup shredded coconut or kopra, soaked in very little water
  • 2 tsp dalia or oats
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds/ khus khus

The How:
Okay first wash the chicken very well and marinate in salt, turmeric and chilli powder (over and above what I've mentioned).
Grind the ingredients I've mentioned in "For grinding", with a tiny bit water to make a thick smooth paste.
In a pressure cooker, heat oil. When hot, add the "For tempering" ingredients one by one, then add the curry leaves and green chillies. Add the onions next and saute it.
Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the weird raw smell is gone.
Tip in the tomatoes and fry till mushy.
Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder and coriander powder. Stir to combine, then add the chicken. Stir well so that the masala coats the chicken well. Fry for 3-4 minutes.
Now add the wet ground masala and stir well.
Now add hot water, a little less than how much you want the gravy, because the chicken is going to release moisture. Add the salt (and sugar, if you think it needs it).
Now add the lemon leaves or lemongrass stalks, if you have them. Else, Just add the mint leaves, coriander leaves and pressure cook this for 4-5 whistles.
Let the pressure calm down, then pour into a serving bowl and serve with rice, or neer dosa.
That's it!

It goes wonderfully well with the soft dosa, or even basic steamed rice. The lemon leaves or lemongrass stalks add a different profile of flavour and aroma to the dish, and elevates this from being just a chicken dish. I made it with boneless chicken as well, and it's just as delicious.

Till the next time!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Instant Rice Pancakes: Neer Dosa!

My first foray into South Indian cooking!

Okay so this is one thing you must know about me. I am not a woman of patience. I can't wait. I do not have the patience to wait for dough to rise, or stuff to dry or batter to ferment. I know that completely separates from the bread-making genre, but that's okay. I don't like carbs anyway. (Don't tell bread I said that).

Which is why when I just happened to stumble upon this recipe of a water and rice powder dosa, that did not need to wait to ferment, I found my weekend project. It's called Neer Dosaneer meaning water, because this is a water based batter. This dosa is as soft as your grandmother's saree, and is best presented folded in quarters, making it look like a well-worn (and delicious) handkerchief. It's best served with thick coconut-based stews and gravies, you can mop it right up!

Now it's not complicated to make per se, but you have to be ready for the first 2 to reduce to scrambled rice batter. It's super quick, and you have to be super quick to handle it well. For your guidance I'll provide step by step photos.

Presenting the amazing Neer Dosa!

Neer Dosa

You need:
  • 1 cup short grain rice, soaked in water for an hour
  • shredded coconut, if you want. I omitted this.
  • Coconut milk- 1/2 cup, if you want. I omitted this as well.
  • Salt, a bit
  • Oil
  • Water about 1 1/2 cups. If you're not using the coconut milk, use 2 cups water.

The How:
  • Drain the rice. Put into a grinder and add about 1 cup water, 1/2 cup at a time to make into a fine liquid. Take the batter out into a bowl and add the rest of the water and salt little by little, mixing well to make one very watery batter, like this:

  • Heat a non-stick pan. Add a few drops of oil, and smear it all over with a paper napkin. This helps spread it well, and removes excess at the same time.
  • Pour in one big ladle full of batter. It will automatically spread to form the circle. Cover with a lid and cook on medium heat for about 40-60 seconds. The top will sort of dry out, like this:

  • In one swift move, flip the dosa to the other side and cook it on open for abut 15-20 seconds.

  • It should be done, so fold the dosa in half lengthwise first, then fold it again to form a quarter fold, like this:

  • Take out on the plate. Make the rest of it, and serve hot with your stew.

And that's it! This is literally the easiest bread you can make, with minimal effort! Enjoy!

Till the next time!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mung with Spinach, Fenugreek Greens: Methi Palak Mung Sabzi

One person I have admired forever is Tarla Dalal. The news of her passing, last year, was an utter shock. I have spent many years of my childhood reading her cookbooks, watching Cook It Up With Tarla Dalal and later, after the ease of Internet usage, learnt so many eggless bakes from her site. To know that the soft, happy, butterball of a genius isn't around anymore was, for me, a devastating blow.

And it is on her site, that I found a recipe, close to what I wanted to make. R & I have been trying to eat healthy, protein rich and iron rich foods. In between 9 hour workdays, 3 hours in transit, frequent business trips and the sheer volume of double cheese pizzas we eat while watching Frozen on the computer, our diet is severely compromised in the health department. This needed to be done.

Presenting my adaptation, and my tribute to Tarla Dalal, Methi Palak Mung Sabzi.

This is essentially soaked and boiled split mung dal, stewed with fresh torn spinach, fresh methi leaves, cooked with ginger, garlic, turmeric and cumin. It's like an Incredible India ad eh? :D Have it with rice, have it with rotis, or have it like a stew/salad with a squeeze of lime. It's super healthy, very little oil, and full of proteins, iron and fibre. Plus it's mad delicious!

Methi Palak Mung Sabzi
Adapted from Tarla Dalal

You need:

  • 1/4 cup of yellow split mung dal
  • 1 bunch of spinach leaves
  • 1 bunch of methi leaves
  • 1/2 tsp jeera or cumin
  • 1 large potato, diced into medium to small cubes,
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped/bruised
  • 1-2 green chillies, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
  • 1 large dry chilli
  • 2-3 tsp oil
  • A bit of ginger, julienned
  • Salt to taste

The How:

  • Wash the dal till the water runs clear and soak in salted hot water for 30 minutes. They should get significantly bigger at the end of the soaking.
  • Pluck the spinach leaves. Try to avoid the torn leaves or those that have holes in it. Take it in a large bowl and fill it with tap water. Make sure all the leaves are submerged. Let it stand for 30 minutes. Rinse the leaves. Repeat the submerge-stand-rinse twice more. The last time, don't throw out the water, just rub the leaves in the water and place in a colander. Wash that under running water. Set aside to drain.
  • Do the same with the methi leaves, except you can't rub each individual leaf in water (because they're too small!). So rinse them very very well in the standing water and running water.
  • Chop up both the spinach as well as the methi.
  • Meanwhile, while the soaking thing is happening, fry the potato cubes till they're crispy.
  • Once your leaves are chopped, let's get down to business. In a kadhai, heat the oil.
  • Once hot, reduce heat and add the jeera. Once it begins to splutter, add the garlic and green chillies. Fry but don't let it burn.
  • Break the dry chilli into 2, and add into the oil.
  • Add the haldi into this.
  • Add the soaked mung dal. Stir well to combine.
  • Tip in the greens one fistful at a time. After each fistful, stir it around to mix with the oil, then add the next fistful. The flavour gets better distributed this way.
  • Now increase the heat and add warm water according to how soupy you want it. Remember the water will boil and dry so add accordingly. Add the salt into this as well.
  • Now if you want the potatoes a little melty (like I did in the photo), add the potato now. Else, add it 5 minutes before you switch off the heat.
  • If you feel the gravy is a little too thin, add a teaspoon of besan and mix well. Else, ignore.
  • Turn off the heat, turn it out into a bowl, garnish with the julienned ginger and serve.

And that's it. It's simple, albeit a little time consuming, but seriously healthy. Try it, I'm sure you'll love it.

Till the next time!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Omelette Curry and Home.

This is the weirdest thing I've ever taught you, and I'll ever teach you. This is also one of the utterly tastiest things I've ever taught you, and will ever teach you.

Omelette Curry.

Process that. I'll say it again.

Omelette Curry. The most eclectic mix of ingredients, comes together to form a dish of fluffy cubes of omelettes, soaking up an  almost juicy tomato-ginger-onion-garlic based gravy. It goes well with rice, rotis, parathas anything. It has barely 4-5 minutes of prep time. I don think I need to say more do I?

Now this was taught to me by my Mum. In fact, it was one of the first things I learnt from her post-marriage. I didn't know how to cook real home food, every day food prior to marriage. Like every single time, it was her hand I figuratively held to stepping into the kitchen of our place, R and my place here in Mumbai. Made food that was actually good and healthy. Food that was daily food, not just a celebratory cake. My Mum is My First Expert, and for that I'm grateful! This post is a part of this contest I'm taking part in, but half way through writing this, I realized that it's not just a line I'm using, I actually mean it! The link is below :)

So anyway, back to the recipe.

Omelette Curry
Original recipe
You Need:
  • 4 eggs
  • Any spice mix, like Peri Peri or simply a mix of equal parts haldi, jeera powder, chilli powder, ginger powder, garlic powder, and salt. (If you're having trouble finding any of them, then simply omit)
  • 2 onions, make a paste out of it. If you don't own a mixie, chop it up real fine.
  • 1 inch ginger, make a paste out of it
  • about 6-7 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium/large tomato, cut into eighths.
  • 2 potatoes, cut into eighths.
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi powder
  • 3/4 tsp deghi mirch powder for heat
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri mirch powder for color
  • Salt and sugar, to taste
  • 2 tbsp Maida. Or 2 tbsp besan if you go gluten-free.
  • Water, warmed
  • Mustard oil
  • Milk, about 3 tbsp

The How:
  • Okay first make the omelette. Whip the eggs well, making sure it gains some volume. Add the maida (1 tbsp at a time, mixing well after each addition, making sure no lumps remain), the spice mix, a little bit of the ginger paste, the baking powder and the milk. Whip well.
  • Now grease a square microwave safe dish and pour the mix into it. Microwave on high for about 4-5 minutes, but keep a check, since every oven is different. The egg will swell up like a cloud, but will collapse as soon as you switch off the oven. Cut it into whatever shape you want and leave it there.
  • If you don't own a microwave or are averse to using one, please make an omelette as you usually do in the pan. Just that it won't be as fluffy as the microwave one. But if you have whipped it well, it should still be fluffy. In that case reduce the amount of maida to 1 tbsp only. Cut it into whatever shape you want.
  • Now in a kadhai, heat mustard oil till it smokes. Fry the potato cubes till crispy on the outside. Take out onto a plate.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, add more oil if need be, let it heat and add the onion paste. Let it fry for some time on medium, then go back to high heat and fry till pink.
  • Till then, in a small bowl, take the tomatoes, cumin, chili powders and ginger paste and add about 1/2 tbsp water.
  • Add the garlic paste into the kadhai, fry well but don't let it burn.
  • Add the contents of the bowl in one go and stir well. Fry it.
  • Reduce heat to medium high, add a tiny sprinkling of salt and sugar, stir and put the cover on, leaving a little space.
  • After some time, the tomatoes should have become melty. Crank the heat back to high. Stir vigorously and mix up the tomato pulp. Fry this for a while till the raw ginger smell goes away.
  • Add the potato cubes and mi to coat well.
  • Next, add the omelette pieces, and coat well. Fry it.
  • Add the warmed water, a little more than you want your gravy. Add salt and sugar. Stir.
  • Now leave it to simmer on medium-high. Keep tasting and adjusting.
  • Take out into a bowl and serve with any breads or any rice.
  • That's it!

Trust me on this, this is one of the most easy ways to feed kids eggs if that's a problem. It tastes magical, just like home. And Mum.

Till the next time!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Moti Pulao: Pilaf with Spiced Ricotta Marbles


There's a huge problem which I have no idea how to tackle. Picture this. There are two people living in the house. Neither of them have any idea of quantity. So a pan of rice either lasts them a week, or is just about enough for one meal, if supplemented with a slice of bread each.

Do you see the problem?

Sometimes there's just SO much rice left over, that I can't make enough things to go with rice that's steadily growing staler. It is at such a point, that this recipe of mine steps in. It makes use of leftover rice, adds yummy things into it, spices it up a bit and converts it into a whole new dish that you won't even need a side for. Just pick a fork (or spoon, I won't judge) and dig in.

Presenting, my Moti Pulao. Prepared rice, spiced with onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes, studded with crisp fried tiny marbles of fresh paneer, melting like mozzarella on the inside. Slightly heavy on the prep work, but man is it one impressive dish!

Moti Pulao

You need:
  • Prepared rice, 1-2 cups. It can white or brown, as you have.
  • 1 L milk, if you're making fresh paneer.
  • 3-4 tbsp of vinegar, if you're making fresh paneer.
  • If you're not making fresh paneer, then about 250-300 gms of paneer should do it.
  • 1 large ripe tomato, chopped.
  • 1 large onion, chopped.
  • 1 tbsp of ginger-garlic paste, fresh and not from the packet. (That stuff is yuck!)
  • Oil, enough to deep-fry the marbles and then for the pulao.
  • 1 capsicum chopped into smallish cubes, optional, though it tastes pretty killer.
  • 1 tbsp chana sattu (or if you can't find that, maida is fine)
  • 2-3 pinches amchoor (dried mango) powder
  • Chopped coriander leaves, about 1 fistful
  • Salt, sugar to taste
  • Jeera or cumin powder 1tsp.
  • Turmeric or haldi powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli powder, kashmiri (for the colour) and deghi (for the heat), about 1/2 to 1 tsp, to taste.

The How:
  • If you're making fresh rice for this, make sure you make it well in advance and lay it out under the fan, so that the grains are dry and don't stick to each other.
  • Make the paneer first. Bring the milk to a rolling boil, add the vinegar 1 tbsp at a time, and stir. Soon the milk will completely curdle, leaving behind greyish-green whey and the milk solids. Don't add more vinegar than necessary. Strain the paneer, and retain the water. That stuff is gold for making rotis. Rinse it with drinking water once. Strain the paneer for a while, enough for most of the water to drain, but not so much that the paneer completely dries out. We need some moisture in there. Once that's done, crumble it up.
  • If you're using ready paneer, then completely ignore whatever I wrote above, and just crumble it up.
  • Using a hand blender or a mixie, blend the paneer crumbles till it's completely smooth. This was why we needed moisture in the paneer. If you thing it's turning into powder and not paste, add water 1 teaspoon at a time. Turn this paste out into a bowl.
  • Add a bit of salt, just enough to cut the blandness. Add the sattu, a pinch of the deghi mirch and the amchoor. Add 3/4 of the coriander leaves. Now knead this till completely combined and smooth to touch. You should be able to make balls with it that don't fall apart. Try one, if it does, add just 1 teaspoon or so more of sattu. The ball should under no circumstance be doughy.

  • Make marble sized balls of this mix and lay it out on the plate, like so.

  • Now heat the oil till it smokes. Reduce heat to medium, and very VERY carefully, lower 2-3 balls of paneer at a time int the oil. They will splutter and threaten to fall part, but hang on. Very very gently, push around the balls, turning them in the oil. They will turn brown on the outside very quickly, and even crusty. But don't be fooled, it's like melted cheese on the inside. It doesn't take more than 1 minute for it to be done. Take out very carefully onto a plate lined with paper towels. Finish the rest.

  • Most of your oil should be finished from the frying. If you think you need more, add some more oil. Heat it on high. It should be just about 2-3 tbsp of oil in there.
  • In one small bowl, take the tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, cumin powder, chilli powders. Add a little bit of water, maybe just 1 tbsp.
  • Fry the onions till about pink.
  • Add the capsicum pieces if you're using it.
  • Fry well, then add the contents of the small bowl. Stir around well to fry.
  • Add a tiny pinch of salt and sugar into the tomato. Cover the kadhai for a bit. This helps the tomatoes get all melty.
  • When that happens, stir it vigourously. The add about half a cup of warm water into it to make a smallish gravy. Season it well with salt and sugar. Remember there's a load of rice that'll come into this and neutralise the salt, so add accordingly. 
  • Stir it well, and gently add the paneer balls. Reserve a few. Very delicately, stir it around so that the balls incorporate into the gravy.
  • Next, reduce heat to medium and add the rice, one ladle at a time. After each addition, stir it VERY gently, so that the balls and the gravy get distributed but don't break.
  • Once all the rice is added, mix carefully.
  • Turn off the heat and take out into the serving bowl. Stud with the remaining balls and coriander.
  • Dig in!

This is a stunning dish, and seriously easy, if a little time-consuming. Try it, and I'm telling you, it just won't disappoint!

Till the next time!


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