Wednesday, January 19, 2011

desi tadka!!!

For me no sophisticated meal can beat the taste of good old "chulhe di roti "with a dollop of home made white butter on it...yum"!! ("Chulha" is the clay oven that uses fire wood and is found in most rural indian households) The hearty and robust food that is made from freshly procured goodies in these households are not just yummy tasting but can also put any of those so called"healthy and low calorie fancy sounding fancy tasting"foods to shame in terms of their nutritional value.I try and source these ingredients from the best possible places(read nearby village markets)which is easier for me beacause i live in a place that makes   shopping in local rural markets as easy as shopping in an upmarket store for ingredients from far off shores.

Now "makke di roti and sarson saag"(corn/maize meal tortillas and mustard greens curry) is one such favourite combination that almost all of us would have loved at some point.This recipe originated from rural areas of punjab where farmers would eat this after a long and tiring day of working in the fields.This is usually accompanied by a tall glass of full cream sweet to the core" lassi"(a drink made from sweetened yoghurt).
But i decided to stay away from it because it is so popular that almost everyone knows the recipe so well its no point retelling it again.
Instead; i did a jowar (sorghum)roti with a hearty palak paneer with a twist(i called it patiala palak paneer because i couldnt find a heartier sounding name).Here is the recipe:

patiala palak paneer


fresh paneer(cottage cheese)-250 gms
palak(spinach)puree-1 cup(i blanched the spinach leaves in hot salted water for a minute before pureeing it)
tomatoes(sliced in strips)-2 medium sized ripe ones(if u want u can deseed them)
grated onions-1 medium sized bulb
garlic cloves-8 to 10
grated ginger-1"inch
whole coriander seeds-i tspn
cumin seeds-1 tspn
whole dry red chillies-2 or 3
cumin powder-1 tspn
garam masala powder-1 tspn chilli powder-1 tspn
turmeric powder-1 tspn
salt to taste
oil/ghee to saute

  • heat a tblspn of oil/ghee in a heavy bottommed pan or wok.when the oil is hot enough add cumin seeds and the whole coriander seeds followed by the red chillies.

  • Add the whole garlic cloves and then throw in the grated onion and ginger.saute till the mixture is well cooked and is golden in colour.

  • Add the powdered spices i.e. turmeric,paprika,cumin powder and then add the tomatoes.add a little water to bring together the spices and cook till the masalas start to leave oil from the sides.

  • Now add the pureed spinach,salt and garam masala.Cover and cook at low heat for about 6-7 stir it in between.add paneer and cook for further 3 or 4 mts.water can be added according to the desired consistency,just remember to season it accordingly.add some white butter in the end(optional) and remove from heat.serve with hot bread/chapati/paranthas.

Jowar rotis(sorghum flat bread)

Mix a cup full of jowar meal with a three quarters cup of very hot water.Mix vigourously with a spatula and cover immediately.keep this covered for 10 to 12 mts(after which it also gets easier to handle as it cools down by then).Now take out the dough on a floured surface and knead it adding some wheat flour when needed to.also add a big spoonfull of sesame seeds to enhance the taste if you like it.i added it while rolling the dough into chapatis though.this much dough will make some 4-5 medium sized ,slightly thick rotis.
roll the chapatis and when needed use some wheat flour to dust.
note: do not roll the chapatis too thin or else they'll turn very hard and chewy after cooking.

  • cook on the griddle/pan on  medium heat on both the sides till well done,use some ghee if required.Serve hot with daal or curry and some pickles on the side.

Health tip:

Including slower carbs(maize,sorghum,whole wheat and millets etc) in our daily dinner menu is far more beneficial for our bodies as opposed to excluding carbs totally in dinner(i know this is what most health freaks do)because not only it helps bring satiety and thus better sleep;but also when combined with good  proteins(paneer,tofu, legumes and lentils etc),ensures that the body effieciently repairs itself overnight hence increasing the chances of fat burning through the day.Happy eating!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

winter nights and hot skewers!!!

Its been more than two decades that my parents have been living in Lucknow..the city of nawabs and i've  virtually grown up sighting and smelling biryanis and kebabs that this city is most famous for.Now after moving to bhopal with my husband ; which is another city that belonged to nawabs..i've been often tempted to replicate the mouth watering kebabs that are specially good in this winter season.Here is the recipe

  • minced meat(goat or lamb)-400 gms(it will make around 12 to 14 kebabs)
  • roasted chickpea flour(besan)-1½ tbsp
  • grated ginger-1"inch
  • garlic mince-around 8 to 10 cloves
  • roasted cumin powder-2 tspn
  • red chilly powder- 1 tspn(or more if you like it hot) ,you can also bash up a few green chillies and use it...but i did not.
  • garam masala powder-i tspn
  • grated raw papaya-1 tbsp
  • egg-1
  • lemon juice-1 tspn
  • chopped coriander/parsley-1 tbsp
  • salt to taste
  • ghee/oil to bast
  • The first step here is to marinate the mince for atleast an hour before cooking it else the flavours don't come out nicely and the texture remains very grainy.Just mix everything sans the egg and the salt(preferabely in a glass or a ceramic bowl).Cover and keep in the refrigerator.After and hour or so mix the egg and salt with the mince and knead it thoroughly.Heat the skewers slightly if you are using a charcoal /conventional oven before layering the mince on it.cook at appx 170°c for 8 to 10 mts.
note: The heat in the skewer helps in holding the mince in place without dropping it.Try to layer it as thinly as you can.
  • If you are using the griddle(like me),keep ghee or oil handy for basting the kebabs in between turning around.

  • Cook at medium heat on all sides until lightly browned.Cut diagonally and serve with hot chapatis,lemon wedges,green chutney and onion slivers for a complete meal or just with the green chutney for a quick snack.Hot masala chai is a great friend of this kebab...have fun eating!!!

health tip:

Its not a great idea to include red meat often in your daily has high level of saturated fats and with faster carbs(i.e.carbs with higher glycemic index like white bread or maida rotis or say white rice) is bad news for your cholestrol levels.Eat it with whole wheat chapati if you have to and keep it for special days only.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

simple flavours are often the best!!

yes i know,my first recipes was suppose to be a mango recipe..but sadly this time in india we dont get any mangoes around.Its not the season of mangoes here..although i have a recipe for a raw mango chutney that my mom made when we were younger and i wanted to share it but again that wouldn't be any fun without i decided that i'll do another recipe this time and mangoes later.Its fish...and its something we find in abundant in this winter season here simply because the cold helps increasing the shelf life of the catch and hence it can be transported over a longer distance.i used basa fish for the recipe which is a sweet water fish from south east asia and belongs to the catfish is the recipe which is loosly based on meen moilley from cochin..


basa fish fillets(skin removed)-400 gms
green peas/pea brinjals-half a cup
coconut milk(thick)-200 ml
coconut milk(thin)-120 ml
red chilly paste(dry chillies soaked in water for a few hrs and grounded to a paste)-1 tbl spn
julienned onions-1 large bulb
julienned ginger-1 inch
garlic flakes-6 to 8 cloves
green chillies-2 or 3
lemon/lime-1 tbl spn
curry leaves- a few
mustard seeds- 1 tspn
cardamom pods-2
turmeric powder- 1 tspn
salt and sugar to taste
coconut/vegetable oil to cook


1.Use a flat and thick bottomed pan for this( i mostly use my longpi ham stone pot that i bought from a manipur handicrafts store; to cook fish and other meat dishes becausei love its earthy look,its thick bottommed...and  spreads the heat cooks the food really nicely).heat a tablespoon of oil (ghee works here as well)over medium heat and drop the cardamom and cloves in it.
2.Drop in mustard seeds,slit green chillies,curry leaves and finally the onions.fry till onions get transluscent.

3. add garlic,ginger,red chillie paste and turmeric followed by a little splash of water so that the spices don't burn.

4. add the thinner extract of cocnut milk first and let it simmer before adding the fish fillets.It is a good time to add green peas/pea brinjals if u like them well cooked or else u can add them later.cover and cook for 6 mnts or more depending on how big ur fillets are.Now add salt ,a pinch or so of sugar and squeeze in the lemon.
remember not to stir the pot at this stage or else the fish will break.add the thick extract now and cover the pot for another two to three mnts.

5. In the meen moiley recipe, tomatoes are used at this stage...but we dont like tomato in this dish so i omitted it.If u want u can add a chopped tomato.add chopped parsley/coriader and serve hot with rice.

i served it with brown basmati rice...let me know how you all like it.

why mangoes of all the things?

Why mangoes? Because i love them...not just because of how they taste but also because of how much its been a part of my childhood.A bite and i am transported back to the small village in Faizabad(in Uttar Pradesh,India.For those who dont know its a town near ayodhya where its believed lord Sri Raam was born)where my grandparents lived.We spend most of our summer vacations there and it was surrounded with acres of mango orchards...which not only served as our play ground but also provided us with lush,tangy and freshest mangoes on demand....hmm what a feast!! now eating mangoes these days have begun to have a  nostalgic affect on me...mostly because our childhood holiday home is no more there...and also because things around there have changed so much that it exists only in my memories.These recipes are  my dedication to those long gone happy childhood days.

That said,its just not about mangoes...but about everything else i eat,feel and enjoy...mostly the food that i grew up on (my mum's recipes mostly) and a lot of food i came across while staying away from home especially in mumbai.Here are also some recipes i borrowed from my mom in law,my friends and other relatives and also some tv shows,blogs and magazine inspirations...which are definately tweaked according to my and my family's taste.i hope all of you enjoy making and sharing my recipes just as long as you dont forget to mention the source.bon appetite!!!