Thursday, June 30, 2016

Carrot Rice ( A light and healthy Lunchbox favorite )

Some days back I had done a lunchbox collaboration with a few of my blogger friends where we had shared quite diverse and easy recipes that could fit in for breakfast, lunch or even the smaller breaks. Now it is almost 4 weeks since the schools have reopened and most of us would have exhausted the multiple permutations and combinations of those recipes. Even kiddo has started getting bored with some of the stuff that I put into his box. Hence, it is time to work out on a fresh set of recipes.

With rice dishes being his favorite, I almost always turn to some version of a pulao or fried rice by the end of every week (blame it on the weegarlickend blues that stay-at-home moms get). Recently I tried out this rather simple but very delicious 'Carrot rice' recipe for his box. Limiting the spice content for the monsoon season which adversely affects digestion and enriching it with loads of antioxidants ( read carrot and garlic), I have kept it filling as well as healthy. And if you have any doubts about the carbs in rice, kids really need those carbs given that they are quite prone to running around all day. 

Read on for the recipe -

















Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 small onion ( finely chopped )
  • 3-4 garlic flakes ( finely chopped )
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 1 green chili ( optional )
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp oil
  • pinch of turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp chopped cilantro for garnishing

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in a non-stick pan. Add the cloves and cinnamon. Fry till fragrant.

Add the finely chopped onion and garlic. Throw in the whole green chili as we just want a little flavor and not the heat.

Once the onion is translucent, add the grated carrot and fry for 3-4 mins.

Add the cooked rice along with salt and a pinch of turmeric. Toss lightly for 3 mins.

Finally add chopped cilantro , ghee and lemon juice. Mix gently and remove from flame.

Let it cool down a bit before packing it into the lunchbox. Or have it right away if not in the mood to do any cooking.


















For more lunchbox recipes check HERE .

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Kamal Kakdi ke Kofte ( Vegan Side Dish )

First the promise. For the longest time, I have have been bombarding you all with dishes made with 'Lotus Stem'. No prizes for guessing that it is my current obsession/fixation/or whatever you choose to call it. But I swear upon all my years of cumulative culinary experience that this the last one I will be posting. That is at least for another month or two.

Ok. Now coming back to the recipe, it is yet another delicious preparation that goes rather well with rotis or even pulao. Unlike the melt in the mouth koftas that one is accustomed to, this one is quite a mouthful. But that does not mean that it is anything less delicious. When combined with the sweet, tangy and mildly spicy gravy, it is a most welcome change.

Read on for the recipe -


















Preparation Time - 40 mins

Ingredients -


  • 100 gm Lotus stem
  • 1 small potato
  • 3 tbsp besan
  • 1/2 tsp GG paste
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • Fortune Vivo oil for deep frying
For the gravy -

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 tsp GG paste
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 2 dry red chili
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • salt to taste
  • kasuri methi
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 4-5 cashews
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • cilantro for garnishing


Preparation - Wash, peel and chop the lotus stem into 2-3 inch long pieces. Transfer to a pressure cooker along with 2 cups water and a little salt. Cook for 3 whistles.

Chop the potato into very small pieces. Or even better, grate it.

Keep aside till steam is released. Take out the lotus stem and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Mash it up. Add chopped/grated potato, besan, GG paste, chili powder and salt to the mixing bowl. Mix and bring everything together. Take small portions of it and shape into small lemon sized balls.

Cooking - Heat sufficient oil in a wok. Add 4-5 koftas at a time and fry to an even brown color . Remove and drain it on paper towels.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a nonstick pan. Add the whole spices and fry till aromatic.

Add the chopped onions and fry till translucent. Put in the GG paste and cook till raw smell goes away.

Finally add the chopped tomatoes and cook till mushy.

Add the kasuri methi and broken cashew to the wok and switch off the flame. Once it cools down, blend into a smooth puree.

Heat 1 tsp oil in the same pan. Add the cumin seeds and allow to splutter.

Add the puree along with 1 1/2 cups water, sugar and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer for 5-7 mins.

Once it reaches the right consistency, add the koftas and switch off the flame.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot/warm.
















For more 'Kamal Kakdi/Lotus Root' recipes , click HERE.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Aish-el-saraya ( A Luscious Lebanese Pudding for Ramadan )

Orange blossoms. Rose water. Toasted pistachios. Some of these heavenly ingredients they put in the Middle Eastern desserts just makes me wonder if any of those aromas would be still be lingering in the air after nightfall and adding to the magic of the Arabian nights. Just the vast expanse of white sand, the deep blue canopy of the sky punctuated with a million twinkling stars and the air smelling of roses. Quite the setting to imagine the legendary romance of Alladin and Jasmine.

That bring me to another kind of love. The love for good food. And Ramzan is quite the right time for spreading some foodie love. 'Aish-el-saraya' is one of those luscious middle eastern desserts that can make one forget all about keeping a tab on the calories. It glides like velvet in the tongue and bombards the senses with a zillion delicious sensations that cannot be called anything unlike an orgasm. Yeah, it's that sinful and addictive too. But the good part is that it is quite easy to whip up. Sadly, it takes a while to set.

There are quite a few recipes for 'Aish-el-saraya' floating about on the net. I got mine from Youtube channel 'Heghineh Cooking Show'. It is run by an Armenian Youtuber who makes these really nice real-time videos and is also a mum with a kid running amok in the kitchen. No surprise that she has all my sympathy and support too. Have put the video at the bottom of this page.

Read on for the recipe -

















Preparation Time - 40 mins ( plus loads of standby time )

Ingredients -

  • 1 packet of rusk 
  • 1/2 liter milk
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water or syrup ( I could not find it hence skipped )
  • sliced/crushed pistachios for the garnishing 


For the syrup -


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • juice of 1 lemon


Preparation - Take the bread rusk in a food processor. Pulverize into a fine powder.

For making syrup, take 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let it boil for 4-5 mins.

Remove from heat and them add the rose water, orange blossom water and lemon juice.

For making the custard, take 1 cup milk and dissolve the cornflour in it. Bring the rest of the milk to a boil, add the cornflour paste and whisk it till it becomes thick. Dissolve the condensed milk and remove from the flame.

Add the rose water and orange blossom water to the custard and mix it in.

Finally when it cools down somewhat, add the whipped cream to it and fold it in.

For the layering - Take a deep glass dish ( 1.2 lt capacity ).

Mix the powdered rusk with just enough sugar syrup in a mixing bowl. Transfer to the deep dish.

Spread into a uniform layer and tap it all over with the bottom surface of a bowl to pack it tightly.

Pour the custard and whipped cream mixture over it.

Sprinkle the pistachios all over the cream mixture. Put it in the fridge and let it set for 6-7 hours.

Just before serving, remove it from the fridge. Cut it carefully and drizzle some over the remaining syrup over the slices.

















Enjoy this delectable dessert for Ramadan !!





Monday, June 27, 2016

Soya Stuffed Peppers ( A healthier take on Mirchi Bhajji )

There is something about the rains that brings out the foodie in me. The splattering sounds made by the water, the ever present chill in the air and even the lovely smells that the rains unleash gets me into a good mood. Being ravenous is a not-so-desirable side effect of the monsoon showers but these days I am hardly complaining. I have managed to lost a bit of weight by turning partly vegan and have been working out regularly. So, a once in a while indulgence is kinda welcome.

Tea and mirchi bhajjis is one such combination that makes me go weak in the knees. But the amount of oil that goes into making the bhajjis always makes me change my mind at the last moment. However, today I had skipped lunch and ended up quite hungry around 5 in the evening. I wanted something quite filling with my tea . So, I decided to give the bhajjis a healthy makeover by stuffing them with some spicy soya filling and then pan frying them.

It is quite a simple recipe yet it turned out delicious. Read on for my 'Soya Stuffed Peppers' -

















Preparation Time - 20-25 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup soya chunks
  • 1 medium potato
  • 5-6 large peppers 
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup besan
  • 1/2 of a medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 2 pinch garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp chopped cilantro

Preparation - Cook the soya chunks and potato in a pressure cooker for 1-2 whistles.

Allow steam to escape. Open lid, take out the soya chunks, squeeze them and rinse 2-3 times in clear water.

Squeeze out all the water from the soya chunks, put in a mixing bowl and mash to a coarse paste. Peel the potato, mash and add to the same mixing bowl.

Add some water, salt and a bit of chili powder to the besan. Mix well to make a paste of medium consistency.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in pan. Add the chopped onion and ginger garlic paste. Saute for a while till the raw smell goes off.

Add the soya and potato paste along with salt and chili powder. Mix everything together and cook for 4-5 mins.

Finally add the garam masala and chopped cilantro. Mix and remove from the flame. Let it come down to room temperature.

Make a single slit on the side for each pepper. Remove the insides and stuff the soya masala into it.

Dip the stuffed pepper into the besan paste and take it out. Shake lightly to remove excess batter clinging to it.

Spread the oats on a plate. Roll the battered peppers over the oats taking care to form a uniform layer. Repeat this process for all the peppers.

Heat a non-stick frying pan. Add 1 tsp oil to it and place the stuffed peppers. Drizzle some more oil over them.

Fry on a medium flame till they turn golden brown on all sides.

Remove from pan.































Serve hot with mayonnaise and ketchup.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Maharastrian Amti Dal ( with Kokum )

The ascent of monsoon marks a period of lethargy and frequent bouts of illness for most people. My household is no exception to that and I find myself reluctant to cook elaborate meals during the rains. Dal-chawal-bhaji, parata-dalma, roti-subzi or even khichdi with alu bharta (mashed potato) are regulars on the monsoon menu. While I do prepare a variety of dals, I am always looking for new versions that would do away with the need to cook another curry. Just a dash of pickle and maybe a papad, and I am good to go.

This Maharashtrian Amti dal had been on my list for sometime now. Just that I could not lay my hands on some good quality Kokum so had been putting it off till last week. Once I found that I could purchase it off the net, I ordered it along with a cache of exotic foods like the chia seeds, quinoa and black rice. Since June is the birthday month for my blog and I am also inching close to the 1K mark, I was in a mood to indulge myself and surprise my readers with something new. Yes, my baby has turned 7 !!! Thanks to all you lovely folks out there for being an indispensable part of this most amazing journey !

The deluge of recipes like quinoa kheer, quinoa and kidney beans salad, Kung pao lotus root and chia pudding on my blog is just the beginning as I plan to give a more cosmopolitan touch to this space. More surprises are on the way, so stay tuned !

Read on for the recipe of 'Amti' -























Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -
  • 1 cup toor dal
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 pinch asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala ( use Goda masala for authentic taste )
  • a pinch of stone flower (pathar ke phool) (optional)
  • 3-4 kokum petals ( can be substituted with a thumb sized piece of tamarind )
  • 2 tsp powdred jaggery
  • 3-4 tsp grated coconut
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp oil

Preparation - Soak the kokum in 1 cup hot water.

Cooking - Wash the toor dal and transfer to pressure cooker with 2 cups water, salt and turmeric. Close lid and cook for 2-3 whistles.

Keep aside till steam escapes. Open and give it a good stir with a heavy spoon.

Heat the oil and ghee on a pan. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, stone flower, curry leaves and asafoetida. Once the seeds start to splutter, add the cooked dal.

Mash the kokum slightly and add to the pan along with the water in which it was soaked. Also put in the jaggery, chili powder and garam masala. 

Finally add the coconut and the cilantro. Give it a good stir and take it off the burner.





































Serve hot with white rice and papad.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Quinoa Pudding ( A healthy take on 'Chaula Khiri' from Odisha )

Rice kheer or Chaula Kheeri is one of the most frequently prepared dishes at home. If not for a festival, I find myself cooking some for guests or even on husband's request. And I prefer doing it the hard way. Slow cooked to a rich creamy texture and caramelized flavour, the taste is something just out of the world. But at times, the effort and time required proves to be just too much and I end up with a delicious kheer but a grumpy mood to go with it.

That is precisely why I ended up trying to cook Kheer with quinoa as soon as I got my hands on this wonder grain. I wanted to find out if I could save time by doing so and yes, I had guessed it right. The grains being smaller tend to acquire that melt-in-the-mouth texture quite faster as compared to Basmati rice or even the small grained 'arua chaula' that we use in Odisha. Have not used any thickening agents like milk powder, khoya or condensed milk to keep it as healthy as possible.

Quinoa being a superfood, has a high amount of protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, iron and B2. Apart from the fact that it is gluten-free, it is also one of those food grains that remain non-GMO (GMO stands for Genetically modified and while it may be the only answer to a billowing population and the only hope of abating global hunger, I can't help being scared of what Frankensteins one might be consuming). It is the grain of choice for diabetics as it has a low glycemic index. Plus people trying to lose weight will benefit from eating quinoa as it makes one feel fuller and also takes time to get digested.

Without much ado, read on for the recipe -




















Preparation Time - 1 hr

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 ltrs whole milk
  • 8-10 pepperorns
  • 2-3 green cardamom
  • 4 tbsp sugar ( adjust as per taste )
  • 1 tsp ghee

Preparation - Wash the quinoa under running water. Let it soak for 30 mins.

Cooking - Bring the milk to boil in a large pan. Keep stirring it at regular interval so that it does not catch at  the bottom and the layer does not form on top. Switch off after boiling for 15 mins and keep aside.

Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker. Put about 1 tsp sugar in it and wait for it to turn brown. Before it starts to smoke, add the rinsed and drained quinoa to the pressure cooker. Roast it for 5 mins to give it brownish shade and also to ensure that it's typical smell goes off. Now add 1 cup water and close the lid. Cook on medium flame for 2 whistles.

Keep it aside till steam escapes.

Now add the cooked quinoa to the boiled milk. Cook on a low flame for about an hour or till you reach the desired consistency. (remember that it get still thicker after cooling down)

Add the powdered peppercorns and cardamom to the kheer and give it a stir. Keep aside till it coold down.


















Serve at room temperature or even chilled.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kung Pao Lotus Root

Blog hopping is one of my favorite pastimes . And I find that I get to pick up a lot of stuff off the blogs these days. Being an avid reader myself, I can tell you that a few of them are so well researched that they may as well compete with books but for the fact that they are so concise. However that is fast turning into a advantage as people increasingly look for short reads to fill up the gaps in their schedule.

Be it when you are waiting for the cab to arrive or a friend to show up at the coffee shop, reading a short blog is just the right way to utilize that time. Of course, it is a matter of habit and one can as well read a book in that time, but I prefer to pick one when I am in a more relaxed setting and with enough time to cover a few chapters. Travelling to a foodie event a few weeks back, I was checking out some blogs to kill the time and take my attention off the crazy traffic at MG Road. And I found this blog called 'The Mala Project' . I liked one of the recipes but it was only when I read the brief about this blog, that I truly fell in love with it. Even though I may not be cooking Chinese on a particular day, I just pay a short visit to this blog and enjoy going through the posts.

Kung Pao Lotus Root is the only recipe that I have had the time to replicate in my kitchen and it turned out to be amazing. Even though I did not have a few ingredients mentioned in the list, I hardly found anything to be amiss. Hot, sweet, sour and spicy, this is a great option when you are in the mood to serve some vegan starters to your family .

Read on for the recipe -


















Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients -


  • 100 gm lotus root ( Use one that is unblemished and thick )
  • 3 tbsp chopped spring onions (greens only)
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic (thin slices )
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger ( thin slices )
  • 3 dry red chili peppers ( medium heat ones )
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1/3 tsp peppercorns 
  • 3 tbsp canola oil


For the sauce -


  • 1 tsp thin soy sauce
  • 2 tsp vinegar 
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1/5 tsp salt (or to taste)


Preparation - Peel and slice the lotus root. Soak in water till you use them.

Take the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt and cornflour in a cup . Add 2-3 tbsp water to the cup and mix into a thin paste.

Cooking - Heat the canola oil in a wok.

Remove the lotus root from water and dry them on paper towels. Shallow fry in small batches on medium flame till they turn brown on the edges.

Remove from wok and drain on paper towels.

Drain most of the oil from the wok leaving just about 1 tsp oil. Add the broken red peppers and peppercorns. Once they release their fragrance , add the spring onions, garlic and ginger. Fry for 2 mins without browning them.

Add the fried lotus root along with the sauce. Stir fry till the sauce thickens in consistency.

Finally add the peanuts, give it a toss and switch off the flame.

Serve hot.

















Note - You can check out the original recipe HERE . I have skipped a few ingredients which are not available easily and substituted the chicken stock with vegetable stock to keep it vegan