Saturday, November 6, 2010

So.....Tell Me More Or things You Always wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask

I was tagged by Nancy & Vijay of  yesterday in her post 8 Questions For 8 Food Bloggers. This is described as a rolling interview byAnthony at Flavorful World Food and drink Blog to get to know our fellow food lovers and giving  new comers  to our respective sites a chance to see what makes us tick . I am happy to be a part of this fun exercise,and thanks to Nancy for tagging me . I am more than happy to answer the questions she has asked and then I will tag 8 food bloggers asking them my 8 questions , who then will  tag 8 more food bloggers...

      Here are my 8 questions by Nancy and my answers to them :)

1.   What is the first dish you ever prepared, would you still fix it the same today?
       I have mentioned this on my blog in my very first post -Mushroom Vegetable/Khumbiyun Ji    Bhaji,this        is    the  first vegetable or first anything that I ever made. I made it roughly 25 years back and this is my father's recipe for me :) I will not change anything in this particular dish.
2.   Are you a strict measurer or do you just throw it in when you cook? 
I mostly eyeball ingredients,but for baking I stay loyal to the recipes I am referring to and will follow instructions to the T
3.In most celebrations food is a central theme, do you feel that serving a dish not traditionally served   (such as turkey for Thanksgiving) changes the feel of the celebration?
I will  for example make  turkey for Thanksgiving as that is the tradition but will experiment with the traditional recipe and alter it to suit my Indian palette or my guests palette.
4. Is there any food that makes you cringe just to think about it?
Not really,there are foods I am absolutely crazy about and foods I am OK with but I can't thing of any food that would make me cringe.
5. Someone drops by unexpectedly at dinner time, what would you serve them?
Nothing elaborate as the guests are unexpected. But I will try and fix something quick & decent . I have some quick recipes which are reserved for last minute guests.
6.What or who inspired you to write about food?
Food  itself and plenty of time were my source of inspiration to write about something I was told I am good at :)
7. Is there a charity or a cause dear to your heart that you would consider incorporating into your blog?
Yes there are couple causes I am passionate about,but honestly it never occurred to me that I could incorporate them here on my blog. Thanks so much for bringing it up,I have already started to think about it.
8. Why is it that there are always more lasagna noodles than sauce?
They suck the sauce to breathe and grow when cooked  :0

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  I'm looking forward to knowing you all better!

Nancy of is a wonderful person and one of my first blogger friends :) She has a wonderful blog and I love the way she cooks south Indian food and pictures it at every step. For a non-Indian, cooking Indian food can be intimidating but I must admit that she does it with so much ease and I can tell from the step by step pictures  , that she has completely mastered the art of cooking south Indian food & that does not rule out her other non Indian recipes. They are equally amazing !!!

Nancy had sent me 8 questions which are posted above with my answers and it is about time I tagged 8 friends to answer these questions and keep the ball rolling:) So here are my 8 questions to my dear friends, I look forward to knowing you  some more :)

1. What is your take on organic food , is it a big deal for you ?
2. Do you time your breakfast,lunch & dinner or eat when you are hungry ?
3. What inspired you to write a food blog ?
4. You try a new recipe and it does not turn out good,what will you do ?
5. Name three ingredients you consciously avoid or eliminate even when the recipe calls for it ?
6. Name three things you have to use in most recipes ?
7. How important is eating meals together as a family to you?
8. You do not like a particular dish at your favorite restaurant,what will you do ?

Here are the 8 blogger  I am tagging:
Kairali Sisters:

Thank You for participating :) I look forward to your answers.

Makhani Daal/Black grams with kidney beans

Daal  Makhani is one of Punjabi cuisine's most characterstic signature dishes. This is probably the only one daal I can enjoy with naan/roti without any side dish. Butter and cream along with onions and tomatos makes it quite rich and the slow cooking brings out the best flavors. I have never cooked this daal in a crock-pot but I hear from friends that it is less cumbersome and tastes divine,when cooked on slow for long hours in a crock pot. The key to my success with this daal is soaking it over night and pressure cooking it on reduced flame for 20-25 minutes.


Black gram with kidney beans : 1 cup
Onions: 1 big grated
Ginger: 1 tbsp
garlic: 1 tbsp
Tomato pureed: 1 cup
Salt: 1 tsp
Turmeric: tip of the tsp
Red pepper: 1 tsp
Garam masala: tip of the tsp
Fenugreek leaves: 1 tsp dried and roasted and crushed
Fresh cream: 1 tbsp
Oil: 2 tbsp


Take the soaked daal and pressure cook it on reduced flame with a glass of water salt and turmeric. I normally ,for any pressure cooking estimate cooking time  and not time it by the number of whistles . For this particular daal I will wait for the steam to build up and then when that happens I reduce the flame , and let the daal cook for 15 - 20 minutes. In-between I open it to make sure there is enough water( initially I add less to avoid all the spillage  from the cooker) This daal requires more water.

When the daal is very soft and you can easily mash the kidney beans with the back of the spoon,it is time to mash 70% of it .Doing so will make the daal thick.Now add some water and keep it on low flame for 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile take a kadai and heat 2 tbsp of oil. Now add the grated onions and cook till deep golden brown. Now add the ginger and garlic paste along with salt. Cook for couple minutes and then add tomato puree along with  red pepper and garam masala. Cook till the masala starts to leave oil on the edges of the kadai .

Add this masala to the daal,mix well. Cook for another 10 minutes on low flame. The daal is thick so you do not want it to stick to the bottom of the utensil,you keep stirring it every now & then .

Now take the roasted fenugreek leaves ,crush them and add them to the daal and gently stir in 2 tbsp of fresh cream and serve with hot naan's or roti. Garnish with cilantro ,onion tomato's and green chilli .

Friday, November 5, 2010

Masaledar Bharwan Baingan/ Stuffed Eggplant/Aubergines

 This vegetable for me as a kid  was a complete write off :(  I lost all those years,Really !!!  I would not be able to recall how and when I started to relish this most amazing vegetable,which grows in so many shapes & sizes and can be prepared in innumerably fantastic ways.

This is a Maharashtrian recipe,I think..... ( maharashtrians please correct me if I am wrong) Regular/part time help  and full time help is common in India,we do not have to shell out half  our earnings to afford them. Vandana a part time help in my mom's house in Pune/India, is the original creator of this vegetable for ME. I had never before tried eggplant in peanut sauce. Even though I am aware  of Maharashtrians using peanuts in most vegetable preparations. I enjoy Maharashtrian Cuisine a lot.

My kitchen smelt so rich while the gravy was getting close to being cooked aaaah....the roasted peanuts along with roasted onions and spices,mixed with tomato was  intoxicating & made me so hungry,by the time the dish was ready I was famished and devoured it like no body's business :)

This is my daughter's (she loves the gravy and leaves the eggplant) and my brother's favorite sabji,so this post is for you dear Raju & Manasi

Serves : 6
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Eggplants small : 10
Onion: 1 big
Tomato: 1 big
Peanuts: 1/2 cup
Coriander: 2 tbsp
Red kashmiri chilli dry: 3
Turmeric : 1/3 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Oil: 2 tbsp
Green chilli: 2


Roast peanuts(without the skin) chillis and coriander together on a skillet/griddle. Till they start to emanate a nice roasted aroma. Roast the roughly chopped pieces of onion separately till they turn brownish blackish on the edges.

Grind these to a fine paste along with salt and turmeric.

Take the eggplant and make slits making sure not to break the eggplant,you need to stuff these with the masala/filling.

Now stuff all the eggplants with this masala. There will be some masala left after you have stuffed all the eggplants. ( we are saving that for the gravy)

Take a kadai and heat 2 tbsp oil,when hot drop the  green chillis and don't forget to make  slit the chilli's through the centre ,otherwise the moisture inside the chillis will result in bursting . Now add the eggplants and cook them on high flame,turning them every now & then,till you see the skin  change the color from purple to little charred . Now run the tomato in the food processor and add it to the eggplants. Reduce the flame and add the remaining masala,mix everything well and take a well fitting lid to cover this kadai. Let it cook till the eggplants are cooked and soft.

enjoy this with a tandoori roti/naan/phulka.

 Some Facts About eggplants/Aubergines

Season: June to September in the Northern Hemisphere, but are available all year round thanks to greenhouse cultivation.
-Main beneficial elements: Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin C and B1, B2
-90% is water, but the skin contains a lot of polyphenols so useful against ageing and arteries cleaning!
It is also of a great help to fight diabetes. Source :Shizuoka Gourmet .

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paneer Pasanda/ Cottage Cheese in Onion Tomato Masala

If you have invited friends over for dinner/lunch ,your menu has to be planned around Non-Veg .  You have to have either the hor douveres/Appetizers or at least one  meat dish in the main course ( A good host is all about good food in India :) BUT if the  friends happen to be vegetarians than Paneer/cottage cheese becomes the natural choice. So basically for a non-vegetarian it could be fish ,chicken or goat meat sometimes egg is also categorized under non-vegetarian and Paneer will be considered a rich dish for a vegetarian .

That said - I  always encouraged my daughter to eat paneer,she is a vegetarian mostly ( will try chicken sometimes) but I believe I over encouraged her :(  I put 5 pieces of Paneer on her plate and she will  barely eat corners of one piece and when asked why she did not finish it her refrain is," Mamma I like the pieces to be very small and soft " I will quickly make a note of it mentally. Next time it is small pieces and soft ones and this time two pieces have been nibbled at the corners :)  I have now accepted the fact,that there will be days when she will eat corners off a single piece of paneer and than there will be days when to please me she will take a nibble at two and then there are times when it gets too much and she says,"leave me alone mamma"

I continue to cook paneer and both me & my husband love it and Manasi enjoys the  paneer gravy :)

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Oil: 2 tbsp olive oil
Paneer/Cottage Cheese: 1 pound cut into 1 inch pieces
Onion: 1 large or 2 medium
Ginger: 1tbsp
Garlic: 1tsp
Coconut: 1 tbsp unsweetened flakes or fresh grated 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds: 1 tbsp
Sunflower seeds: 1 tbsp
Poppy seeds/Khus Khus: 1 tbsp
Cumin : 1 tsp
Cloves: 3
Cinnamon: 1 inch
Red pepper; 1/4 tsp
Tomato puree: 1 cup
sugar: 1 tsp
salt: 1/2 tsp
Fresh cream: 4 tbsp or sour cream
Cilantro: To garnish

Roast coriander seeds,poppy seeds,cumin,cinnamon,cloves & sunflower seeds on a skillet. When you get a pleasant whiff of roasted  spices,add the coconut flakes and roast them for a couple minutes. If you are using fresh  coconut than please do not roast it. Let these spices cool and than grind it to a fine powder in a coffee grinder.

Now take a kadai /Pan add oil and when hot add the grated onion. When the onion is a nice golden brown color add the ginger & garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Now add the ground masala powder to this along with the coconut . Cook for a minute or 2 and then add the tomato puree along with salt and red pepper.

Now add the paneer pieces and very little water and cook on reduced flame for couple minutes. Add the sugar .When done,stir in the fresh cream gently just before serving. Enjoy paneer with naan,roti,pulav or even plain basmati rice :)

Note: The gravy is thick and creamy .

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Walnut Burfi/Halva

                                              Happy Dhanteras & a Happy Diwali To All:)!!!

Diwali  is popularly know as the festival of lights ,It is  the most celebrated festival in India and it is also a  day of national holiday in India . Hindus have several significant events  associated with Diwali . The most popular  legend/event   I grew-up  to believe in  is  the , return of Lord Rama from Vanvas/exile/banishment after spending 14 years in a jungle .

Everyone was joyous  and celebrated  his return by lighting Diya's and  eating sweets. His return from Vanvas signifies the triumph of good over evil. Diwali according to the Hindu calender is a celebration which is spread over  5 days. Starting between September & October and ending between October & November. The first day is DhanTeras, which is today and let me throw some light on this festival for my  non -Indian  readers -What Dhanteras stands for- Dhan meaning wealth and Teras signifies the 13th (terah) lunar day krishna paksh in the hindu month of Kartik. The last day is Yama Dvitya which signifies the second day of the light half of Kartika. Each day of Diwali marks one celebration of the six principle stories associated with the festival. There is a very interesting legend attached to Dhanteras as well it goes like this

  A newly wed wife saves her husband from a snake bite( Husbands horoscope predicted that on the 4th day of his marriage he would die of snake bite)  So on the 4th day she lights all the diyas/lamps and gets  out all her gold ornaments and gold coins and   puts them on the entrance of  his bedroom and sits all night singing songs and hymns and does not let her husband sleep. Yama the God of death comes disguised as a snake and his eyes gets dazzled by the brightness of diyas/lamps & the glitter from all the gold blinds him ,thus he was not able to enter the bedroom and he waits there listing to all the melodious songs & hymns and  quietly leaves at dawn :)

Therefore the significance of  adorning the house with diyas/lights  came into existence and buying precious metal on this day is  also considered very auspicious. Also because it is the 1 st day of the 5 day long Diwali festivities,it is celebrated with grandeur .

We worship Goddess Lakshmi (  Goddess Of Wealth) & Lord Ganesha( remover of obstacles) on this day and seek their blessings for a peaceful & prosperous life :)
I have prepared walnut sweet to grace the onset of Diwali festivities. The refrigerator is also loaded with different sweets from India .Thanks to my family and my husbands recent business trip to India. I am all geared for Diwali :)  I will also buy something useful in metal today,I am sooooo excited :)!!!

This recipe is dedicated to Sadaf :) She is a pro at desserts & this is one of her recipes, she shared with me. Here goes:

Walnut Burfi /Halwa
Condensed Milk: 1 tin
Nido milk powder: 2 cups ( you can use the non fat also)
walnut powdered: 2 cups
eggs: 4
butter: 2 sticks
Thin slices of almonds and pistachios to garnish


Take a big Kadai and melt 2 sticks of butter. Now to this add two cups of nido milk powder and cook till it gets a nice rich brown color.

When you get a rich brown color,add the 4 beaten eggs and cook for couple minutes.

Now add condensed milk and let it cook for 10-12 minutes on reduced flame,stirring constantly so that it does not stick to the bottom. When it starts to appear like halwa,add the powdered walnuts and mix well and turn off the flame. You can enjoy this as halwa or set this mix in Thali/plate and garnish it with almonds & pistachios and after it has cooled down cut this into burfi shapes.

Enjoy the walnut burfi with friends& family and I wish everyone a very happy Diwali :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lajawab walnut Murg/ walnut Chicken

It is funny how I have these,"food /meat dreams" I am pretty aware of the origin of these food dreams. It actually all started when I was very desperate to get on  Rajdhani (A train) in Calcutta/India  ,which had started to move and was gaining momentum before my eyes,I was obviously missing the train which meant I would not be able to  visit my family in Pune .

We had driven 3 hours from Haldia to Calcutta to board a train from Calcutta to get to Pune(our home ) Traffic jams in Calcutta are very common and a pain in the neck. We made good timing but got held up on the Howrah bridge ,which happens to be a 5 minutes drive from the Calcutta railway station. This could be touch & go for us , me & my husband and our 2 year daughter, had to get on this train , for which the tickets were booked months in advance and we realized it might not happen. Hearts thumping hard ,fingers crossed,I was praying hard to God and in the heat of the moment I decided I would give-up eating meat  for a year if I was able to get on the train.

Well- It so happened that my husband did get on the train while I was still on the station platform,and he managed to pull the chains.Which is a mechanism used in emergencies for the train to stop. Stop it did. And sure it was an emergency,the husband was on the train while the wifey dear was on the platform with daughter dear on her left shoulder and  a hand bag & cool jug on the other shoulder almost on the verge of tears. We did make it to Pune. But my  brief  Pune sojourn without meat was sheer torture . I did stay off meat for 1 year BUT not in my dreams. Everyday was ," feasting on the meat night" for me hehehehe.

I do dream off & on about food, especially when I have some special dish on my mind  and don't  get around to eating it :)

I dedicate this dish to all  those  who at some point have deprived themselves of meat ,for various reasons and are now back to it .

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Time to cook: 20 minute
Serves: 4

Chicken: 500 gms
Onion: 1 big grated
Curd: 1 cup
Tomato puree: 1 cup
Ginger: 1 tbsp paste
garlic: 1 tbsp paste
green Chili: 2 chopped fine
cumin: 1tbsp
Roasted coriander powder: 1tbsp
garam masala: 1tsp
Cream: 2 tbsp
walnuts ground: 1 cup
salt: 1tsp

Take the chicken pieces,you can use drumsticks/breast/mix pieces ,anything you desire. Put this in
a bowl along with curd, ginger,garlic,salt and  half cumin  powder and mix well. refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile take a pressure cooker and add 2 tbsp oil and add the grated onion  along with fine chopped green chilli and cook till deep golden brown.

Now add tomato puree and cook till you see the oil on the edges. Now add roasted coriander powder and  the remaining cumin powder to this masala. Cook till the dry spices have blended well with the masala. Now add the marinated chicken,cook for couple minutes.

Add very little water(3 tbsp) and pressure cook for 5 minutes on high flame. Depending on your taste medium rare or well cooked chicken. I will cook it for 3 whistles. wait for the steam to escape then remove the lid and if you see too much liquid then cook on high flame,without the lid for some more time,till the consistency is desirable . It should be as thick as the pancake batter. Now add the powdered walnuts , 1 tsp garam masala and cook for 5 minutes then add a dollop of cream and garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy with naan or roti and think of what you would be missing if you  were not eating this yummaayy chicken dish :)

Note: I totally respect the decision of those who  choose  not to eat meat.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Saila Bhindi/ okras in onions& tomato masala

I was in for surprise,when I moved to the east coast from India. Lady Finger is called okra here,which I was aware of even as a kid when at school we learned O for okra to establish our phonetic vocabulary. Well that was then  and long forgotten as in everyday usage these were referred to as lady Fingers. I am happy even though my hands are not as slender as I would like them to be,the fingers are -(Thank God or thank my genes)  not anywhere close to the Lady Fingers in appearance :) so I wonder where and how this name was derived . Well the surprise continued when I  learnt that I will find lady fingers only in an Indian Grocery store. I was sad, I like Bhindi/okra a lot. I was not ready to give up. Even ,if that meant driving 15 miles on a Thursday( the day my Indian Grocer gets his quota of groceries/vegetable) So all the other shopping was  planned around a Thursday and in the vicinity of the Indian grocery store. I have now given up that habit,as some regular stores like shop rite and stop& shop have started to carry Okras also I have now come to realize that 15 miles is  really  not all that far,initially miles were converted into kilometres and dollars in to rupees ;)

I prepare bhindi/okras in a number of ways and hopefully over the  coming months  I will be able to share all the recipes with my readers. For now here is saila bhindi/Okra in onion tomato masala ,I will dedicate this one to my mom and my mom-in-law. They are the original experts when it comes to saila bhindi .

serves: 4
Time: preparation: 15-20 minutes
cooking time: 20 minutes
Okra : 1/2 kg
Red Onion: 1 large or 2 medium
Tomato: 1 large
Ginger: 20 gms
Garlic: 6-7 cloves
green Chilli: 2 number
Oil: 2 tbsp and oil for deep frying
salt: 1tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tbsp
Chilli Powder

Wash & dry the Bhindi/okras well,you can also wipe them dry with a kitchen napkin. Cut them into 1 inch pieces.
Deep fry these in hot oil along with garlic cloves for 5-8 minutes and keep them aside.

Slice the onions very fine and the tomato's also.

Now take a kadai and heat 2 tbsp oil. Saute the onions till light golden brown. Add the finely sliced ginger .
Now add the fine sliced tomato's  along with the green chilli and cook till the tomato is well cooked . Add salt and coriander along with chilli powder and cook till all the  dry spices are cooked well with the tomato onion masala.

Now add the deep fried okras and  garlic cloves & cook for a couple more minutes. Stir the sabji/vegetable gently making sure the okras do not break. You are now ready to enjoy the bhindi/Okra with roti/pav :)