Thursday, December 27, 2012

One Pot Meal- Khichdi

What is the easiest thing to make after a long day out? Dal and Rice. Easier than that? Put the dal and rice together to make Khichdi :) It is my go to food when i am in a hurry. A lot of people don't like the look of it. But for me, it figures on top of my comfort food list. Hot and spicy, with a big dollop of ghee and my meal is taken care of!
To make it a little more healthy, i add some veggies to it. My Gujarati colleague told me that they normally pre soak the rice and lentils, fry the vegetables separately, and then cook everything together in a big pot. But when you are short of time and don't have the patience to go through any process, it is ok to take a short cut. Here is how i do it.

Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 20 Minutes
Difficulty: Very Low


There are some basic ingredients that need to go in. Beyond that, you can just add whatever you want. I just chopped up a little bit of this and that of whatever i had.
For the tadka:

Ghee                       1 tbsp
Mustard seeds         1 tsp
Cumin Seeds            1 tsp
Hing                         1 pinch
Turmeric                    1 pinch

Other Ingredients:

Assorted vegetables        1 cup
Rice                                1 cup
Dal                                 1/2 cup
Salt                                 to taste
Green Chillies                 Slit, as per your requirement
Ginger+ garlic                  1 tsp, chopped
Onion                               1, sliced


Wash the rice and dal and keep it aside. I normally use 1:1 mixture of moong and toor dal. Chop all the vegetables that you are putting in. I added potato, beans, capsicum and green peas. You can also add  Cauliflower, brinjal, carrots, double beans- anything goes!
In the pressure cooker, add the ghee and all the tadka ingredients one by one. I had fresh turmeric with me. So i skipped the turmeric powder in the tadka.
Now add the onions and fry well.
Once the onions turn brown, add all the other ingredients except the rice and lentils.
After it all fries for a few minutes, add the washed rice and lentils. Saute for five minutes.Add enough water for the rice and dal to cook. Adjust seasoning. Cover and pressure cook on low for two whistles.
Mash it a little after it is done. Check for seasoning. Add some ghee on top and mix well. Be generous this one time. It is the ghee that enhances the taste. :) Scoop out into a bowl, curl up in your favorite spot and eat a hearty meal!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Basil Pesto

I make pasta on a regular basis. One of the main reasons is that it takes very less time to toss a big bowl of pasta. Until now, i always made fresh pasta sauce each time i would cook pasta. Last week, I bought a whole big bag of basil and did not know what to do with it. That is when i set out to make and store Basil pesto. I did not have pine nuts at hand. I knew that the neighboring supermarket had it. But i certainly was not going to buy the pricey pine nuts just to make use of the basil that was going waste. I did not have to look far for replacement. I had peanuts at home! I set out to roasting them and getting rid of the peel. In less than half hour, i had my basil pesto ready, to make pasta a couple of times over!
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Yield                     : 100 gms of pesto sauce 


Basil leaves             2 cups packed 
Peanuts                   a handful
Garlic                      3-4 pods
Olive Oil                  2 Tbsp
Salt and pepper       to taste                

That is it. 6 ingredients and you are good to go! 


Wash the basil well and dry it on a kitchen towel or paper napkin.

Dry roast the peanuts and remove the peel. 

Now in a mixer, add the remaining ingredients. 
Give it a whizz. Doesnt matter if a couple of things are coarse. I like to retain a little bit of a crunch while making it. That is all there is to the recipe :) Your lovely green pesto sauce is ready to be used! 
Mix it in with some cheese as you use it. Store in an air tight bottle and keep it in the fridge for upto a week. All you would need it to boil some pasta, saute some veggies in olive oil and seasoning, mix the sauce and cheese and toss everything together! I also secretly spike some of this in my salad for that kick! Just get innovative and maybe even use it as a spread for the sandwich. So many uses and so simple to make! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Foxnut or Makhana Seeds as a Snack

I am the five meals a day person. Small portions, almost healthy food. One disadvantage of this method is that you are never full. Always on the lookout for the next thing to much on. It is at times like these that small batches of healthy snacks come handy. I normally have a box of spiced avil/flattened rice, dry fruits or khakhra. My recent addition to this list is Makhana seeds. They are white seeds, appear like puffed pop corn and are available in most super markets. At places like Food World and MK Retail, i have found them to be pricey. My neighborhood supermarket, for some strange reason, sells a 100 gram pack for 35 rupees. If you have seen Makhana, you know that 100 g is a lot. It is known to be fat free and packed with protein and carbs.

So what i do is really simple. Spread it out on a microwave safe plate. Microwave on high for 3 mins. Take it out. Sprinkle black salt and pepper or chaat masala and red chilli, any combination of spices of your choice. Mix well. Microwave again for 2 mins.
There you go! Your healthy snack is ready! Pop it in as is like pop corn to accompany a hot cup of chai. Or mix in it with veggies and pudina chutney.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup

I love one pot meals. Khichdi, Bisi bele baath, pasta or a heartwarming soup. With the nip in the air becoming a little too hard to bear, i was craving for something warm and light for dinner. I had a quarter of a pumpkin and one sweet potato. With yellow sunshine in mind, i set out to make a soup with what i had.

Preparation Time: 15 Mins
Cooking Time :      15 Mins


Pumpkin                    1 cup, chopped into cubes
Sweet Potato             1 cup, chopped into cubes
Onion                         1 , sliced
Garlic                         3 cloves, sliced
Ginger                        1 inch, sliced
Salt                             to taste
Pepper                        to taste
Cumin Powder            1/2 tsp
Lemongrass                 a few sprigs
Milk                            half a cup
Water                         1 1/2 cups


Chop the ingredients as mentioned above.

In a pressure cooker, add some olive oil and some butter. Add in the ingredients shown above and saute for a few minutes.
Now add the diced pumpkin and sweet potato and toss. Add the water, salt to taste and the lemongrass.

Cover and pressure cook on low flame until two whistles. Let it cool. Once it has cooled, take off the lemon grass, add the veggies with the stock to a mixer and puree it well. It should have a smooth consistency. 
Now in a deep pan, add in the vegetable puree, some pepper powder and cumin powder.

Let the mixture boil for a minute. Lower the heat and mix in the milk. Give it a stir and turn off the heat.
Transfer the hot soup into your bowl. Top it with a basil leaf. Serve with any bread of your choice or khakhra. Enjoy your soup - a little sweet from the veggies, hot from the pepper and zingy from the ginger.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Easy Cut Mango Pickle

I was in for a surprise recently when my neighborhood grocery store started stocking banana flower, raw mango, fresh turmeric, kumquat and many other veggies and fruits that i generally don't get to see. So though it was off season, i bought one raw mango to give the cut mango pickle a try.

Preparation Time - 15 Mins


Raw Mango           1 No.
Salt                        1 tsp
Red Chili Powder   1 tsp
Mustard                 1 tsp
Fenugreek Seeds   1/2 tsp
Hing                      a big pinch
Oil                         for tempering


Wash the mango and wipe it dry. Chop it into bite sized pieces.
Now add to this the salt, chili powder and asafoetida. Mix well and leave for a few minutes.
In your tadka ladle, add the oil. One it starts smoking, add in the mustard. When it splutters, add the crushed fenugreek seeds.

 Turn off the heat. Pour it on the mango. Mix well. Transfer the mango into a sterilized glass bottle. 

This takes just a couple of minutes to put together. Adds a tang when accompanied with rice or roti. Stays for a week when refrigerated. But since it is not very heavy on oil and spice, one tends to eat more of it. So a small batch like this,will get finished before you know it!
My favorite way of eating this is with potato chips.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Masala Chapathi

I had leftover roti dough in the fridge that i was planning to use tonight for making phulkas as usual. Suddenly i was reminded of a sindhi dish called Koki that my friend had made a couple of days back and posted about. It was a really simple recipe with not too many ingredients. I decided to use the existing chapathi dough that i had and extend it by adding the other ingredients. I have adapted the recipe from Jyothi's Sindhi Koki recipe and made what i called the Masala Chapathi.

Preparation Time     5 Mins
Cooking Time         15 Mins


Wheat Flour          1 cup
Onion                    1, finely chopped
Coriander Leaves   a few sprigs, finely chopped
Jeera                      1 tsp
Salt                         to taste
Green Chili              2, chopped
Water                     for making the dough
Oil                           for the dough
Butter                      for greasing the chapathis


I already had a little bit of the chapathi dough. So what i did was to add the remaining ingredients, a little more wheat flour for binding along with some water and kneaded it well.

Now divide the dough into equal sized balls to make the chapathis. Use some flour and roll out the dough just as you would make the chapathi. On a tava, cook it on both sides on medium heat.

Grease the chapathis with butter. You could use ghee or oil instead. Serve hot with dahi or pickle. Apparently, it can be eaten alongwith tea too. Am gonna try it tomorrow morning :)
For now, dinner is the masala chapathi with rice and a sprouted brown lentils curry.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quick Chole Masala

I have had the pleasure of eating some really yummy chole made by friends and neighbors. My mom normally makes the chana as sundal or in a coconut based gravy. And for some reason, i don't really pick the  kabuli chana too often while buying grocery. This time around, determined to give the chole a try, i picked up chana and Everest Chole Masala. I did not really do too much research for the recipe - just flipped the masala pack and found instructions for cooking. I tweaked it a bit to make it real quick and easy!

Preparation Time  10 Mins
Cooking Time       15+15 Mins


Kabuli Channa  - 1 cup, soaked overnight
Onion               -  2 small
Tomatoes         -  3 small
Ginger              -  1 inch piece
Garlic               - a couple of pods, optional
Green Chillies   - a couple, as per your desired level of spice
Dhania Powder - 1 tsp
Chana Masala   - 1 tsp
Salt                   - to taste
Kasuri Methi     - for garnishing
Coriander Leaves- for garnishing
Amchur             - 1/2 tsp

For Tempering 
Oil                      1 tbsp
Butter                  1 tsp
Jeera                    1 tsp
Hing                    One pinch

Wash the soaked chana and pressure cook with some salt and water for two whistles.
Since i wanted to take the easy way out, I skipped the chopping and took to grinding the ingredients. I had found fragrant fresh turmeric when i had gone to buy this week's veggies. I added that also for good measure for its color and flavor. So i ground together the onions, garlic, ginger, chillies and the turmeric coarsely.

In the pressure cooker, heat the oil and add jeera and hing. The original recipe does not call for hing to be used. But i develop severe gas trouble on making anything with too much aloo or pulses. Hence the precaution by adding the asafoetida.
Now add to it the ground mixture and fry for 5 minutes. Once the onions start browning, puree the tomatoes and add them to the onion. Saute for another 5 mins. Add the chana masala and the coriander powder to this and fry for a couple of minutes.
Adjust the salt and add the cooked chana to this. Add extra water since we need the final product to be slightly watery.
Close and pressure cook for another 2 whistles. This will ensure that the chana is well cooked and the masala is incorporated well into it. After the pressure releases, top it with some kasuri methi and amchur powder. Mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve piping hot with garma garam rotis and a dollop of butter.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Basale Soppu in Curd

Basale Soppu or Basella Alba is a leafy vegetable which I was introduced to sometime ago, thanks to my Havyaka friends. The leaf, that is also known as Malabar Spinach is supposedly as healthy as regular spinach, containing Vit C,A and iron. First look, it is bright green with big leaves and a sturdy stalk.

When you operate it on the chopping board, you will see that it gives out the sticky mucous, like the ladies finger.Simply wash it well and chop it roughly in order to use it in your preparations.

Common way of cooking it is to make a stir fry or a sambar. What i made is a  Thayir Pachadi or tambLi as it is known in Karnataka, just as i make one out of bhindi. Once the leaves are prepped, it just goes into the pan for frying, doesn't need constant attention and is easy to put together.

Preparation Time  10 Mins
Cooking time        10 Mins


Basale Soppu/ Malabar Spinach                1 Bunch
Mustard Seeds                                          1 Tsp
Jeera Seeds                                               1 Tsp
Hing                                                          1 Pinch
Garlic                                                        2-3 pods, crushed
Ghee                                                         for tempering
Curd                                                        1 cup
Coconut                                                   2 Tbsp, grated
Salt                                                          to taste

Heat a Tbsp of ghee in a pan. Add to it the mustard, jeera and hing. Once the mustard splutters, add to it the crushed garlic and roughly broken red chillies.

Once the garlic changes color, add the chopped basale leaves. Add salt immediately if you want the leaves to retain color. Cook until the leaves wilt and lose their crunch.

Now simply stir in this mixture into a bowl of curd. Add the grated coconut and adjust the salt.

The stalk of these leaves makes for a great ingredient for chutney. The chutney recipe is for another time. For now, the Basale Soppu TambLi is ready to eat with hot rice or rotis.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Quick and easy dal

On days when i make a sabji with roti and am sure that it would not be enough, this is a kind of recipe that i turn to- a nice, hot dal. It is something that is easy to stir up, tastes great and goes well with the rotis too.  I normally dunk into it any kind of vegetable that i have in stock- to make sure that it is not just plain dal with a tadka but is also packed with some nutrition. Same goes with the dal- can be toor dal, moong dal or masoor dal.
Today, i just added onions, tomatoes and some pudina leaves to it. Here is how i made it.

Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time :      20 mins


Onions             1 big, chopped
Tomatoes         2 small, chopped
Green Chilles    2, slit lengthwise
Ginger              1 inch, finely chopped
Garlic               a few pods, sliced
Mint leaves       about 10 leaves, chopped
Groundnuts       a few,  Optional, i add it for the nutty taste
Toor Da+Moong dal          1 cup
Lemon Juice      from half a lime
Salt                   to taste

For the Tadka:
Oil                     1 tbsp
Mustard Seeds  1 tsp
Jeera                 1 tsp
Hing                  a pinch
Turmeric            a pinch

I make it directly in the pressure cooker. Heat a tbs of oil in the cooker. When it is sufficiently hot, add to it mustard seeds. When it starts spluttering, add in the jeera and hing. After a minute, add to this the rest of the ingredients except the tomatoes, dal and lemon juice. Allow it to fry for a few minutes.
 Then add the tomatoes. Wash the dal and add it after the tomatoes start turning squishy. Add water just to cover the dal up in the cooker. Close and leave it on low flame until two whistles.

Once the pressure reduces, check the dal. Mash it well with a ladle. Adjust the salt and top it off with some lemon juice. The mint leaves add a fresh taste to it. So there is no need to add coriander leaves as a garnish.
Add a dollop of butter on top and serve hot with rotis!

 Feel free to add any vegetable of your choice and make a nutritious, healthy and heart warming dal. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Votive Lights for this Diwali

I picked up these pretty looking votive candle holders from EasyDay for a steal - 4 holders for a hundred rupees. Place into them fragrant candles and look how they transform your living room. Warm light, a sweet lime-ginger fragrance and loads of happiness this Diwali season. Season's greetings to all of you.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Green Chilli with Besan

I remember tasting this for the first time in the Gujarati Thali at the Rajdhani Restaurant. They had served it alongside the fried snacks and pickles. I gingerly picked up the whole chilli and wondered whether i could stomach it. Let alone stomach, i was not sure if i could eat it in the first place. But the crispy chilies which were coated with besan and a nice sweet and hot masala were yum and left me asking them for more helpings. Ever since, i have wanted to make it as an accompaniment for the thayir saadam ( curd rice) that i eat everyday or for dishes that are not hot enough.
I found organic green chilies at the nearby supermarket and picked them up with this dish in mind. Got back home and immediately set out to make the green chilies with gram flour. The chilies were large, not too hot and were perfect for the side dish. It gets done without much fuss.

Prep Time - 5 mins
Cooking Time - 30 mins

Green Chilies              About 10-15

For the masala
Saunf ( fennel seeds)          -  half a tsp
Ajwain (Carom seeds)       -  half a tsp
Hing ( Asafoetida )             - a large pinch
Coriander Seeds                -  half a tsp , crushed well
Salt                                    - to taste
Sugar                                 - 1 tsp
Jeera Powder                     - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric                             - One large pinch
Besan (Gram Four)             - 3 tbsp
Oil                                      - 2 tbsp

Wash the chilies well.

Wipe and dry the chilies. Halve the chilies and then slit them lengthwise. You could also make diagonal slices if the chilies are too hot.

Heat a large pan and add 2 tbsp of oil to it. Add in the saunf, Ajwain and hing to it.
Stir it around for a minute and add the chilies to it.
Let the chilies cook and get coated with the tadka. This could take about 15 mins when you cover and cook it. Check whether the chillies have wilted and changed color.
Once it is done, add the rest of the ingredients. I like the nutty taste of the coriander and hence added the seeds. But many people don't like it as a whole spice. You could add coriander powder instead.
Make sure to stir it well so that the masala and the gram flour evenly coat the chilies and that there are no lumps in the gram flour. Fry until the raw smell of the besan goes off. If you want to speed up the cooking time, then you could add the besan after it is dry roasted.
Once done, turn off the heat and let it cool. You could store it in an air tight box and serve it alongwith paratha, khichdi, curd rice or eat it just like that :).

Friday, November 9, 2012

|| A New Beginning ||

Of all the things in the world, the one constant is that things will change. Change is challenging and it is fun! I look back now to what i used to cook when i started off in the kitchen, the clothes i bought and my tastes when it came to home decor and i know that it has changed and matured over the years. But despite all the changes happening, one thing remains constant -my unending love for food, crafts and textiles. Hence the thought of cataloging it in this blog. A little bit of sugar and a lot of spice and a journal of all things pretty and nice.

And what better than a sweet during the festive season as the first post? I started off with the idea of making a Lauki ka halwa. Turned out there was not enough lauki to make a substantial amount. So i decided to add carrots to it. While grating the carrots, my eyes fell on the pumpkin, waiting to be used. And thus i set out to make the Tiranga Halwa 

Preparation time - 15 mins
Cooking time      - 30 mins
You would need

Carrots, Pumpkin and Bottle gourd    2 cups in all, grated well
Milk                                                  1 cup
Sugar                                                3/4th cup
Green cardamom                               2 pods, powdered
Ghee                                                 5 tbs
Cashew or almonds                           a handful, finely slivered

In a thick bottomed pan, add in 1 table spoon of ghee and fry the dry fruits until it changes color. Remove and set aside.
Add the remaining ghee to the same pan and add in the vegetables one by one. Pumpkin goes in first cause it takes the longest to cook. After sauteing for about 5 mins, add the carrots and let it cook. Finally, dunk in the grated lauki, when the other two vegetables appear half done. 
Continue frying till the vegetables soak in all the ghee and lose all their water. Now add in the milk, cover and cook for 10 mins on low heat. The vegetables should be fully cooked in that time. Remove the cover, add the sugar and the elaichi powder and give it a nice stir. On medium heat, without the cover, work on the halwa by constantly stirring it, until all the moisture is soaked up and the ghee starts separating on the sides. Switch off the flame and top it with the fried nuts. Allow it to cool and serve as it is or with a scoop of ice cream.

Happy Diwali!