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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chifferi Rigate in two-tomato sauce

[Pasta facts - Did you know that Durum wheat has a yellow endosperm, which is what gives pasta its distinctive color ?? Also, Durum is a high protein but low gluten variety of wheat which makes it a healthier option as compared to other wheat variants.]

As the name suggest this is an easy sauce which has the smoky flavour of roasted tomato and the juicy tang of the fresh one. With some garlic and basil thrown in for adding more flavour, one can choose to omit the heat ( but i prefer chili flakes too along with the usual freshly ground pepper in mine).

Read on for the easy recipe -







Preparation Time - 12-15 mins


Ingredients -


  • 2/3 cup chifferi rigate pasta
  • 2 medium sized ripe tomatoes
  • 3-4 garlic flakes
  • 5-6 Italian basil leaves
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • a dash of freshly ground pepper
  • salt for the pasta water

Cooking - Boil 6-7 cups water in a large saucepan. Once it gets to bubble, add enough salt. As you put the pasta water to boil, start roasting one of the tomatoes on a low flame. It should be done by the time your pasta is ready.

Add the pasta next and cook it till al-dente. (that is it should be cooked yet firm)

Drain the pasta while reserving 1 cup of the pasta water for adding to the sauce.

Skin the roasted tomato, dice and add to a food processor jar. Dice the fresh one and drop into the same jar. Add olive oil, chili flakes, basil leaves and a few teaspoons of the pasta water. Buzz for a second or two so that you get a numbly/coarse sauce.


















Toss the pasta along with the tomato sauce adding a little more pasta water if required.

Dig in.

Schezuan-Style Prawns Fried Rice

Life is all about choices. What we wear, who are friends are, the career decisions that we make, these are some of the important decisions where we would like to have complete freedom of choosing. With too many things on our mind, we often forgo some of the smaller pleasures of life. Hardly a surprise since we are reminded day in and day out to focus on the big picture.

Food happens to be vital part of our lives and we all admit that we would love to eat a fresh and piping hot meal every single day. However with deadlines snapping at our heels, traffic snarls eating into our time and the overpowering need to spend quality time with our loved ones, cooking up a 'real' meal takes a backseat. And we find our choices limited to ordering pizza from the neighborhood joint or just heating up leftover. After all, when it involves slogging an extra hour or two over that all important presentation which is going to give you an edge over your peers, would you trade it for the delights of 'rajma-chawal'? This is a no-brainer.

But fret no more as our foodie-buddy is here. Yep, that is how I choose to refer to Foodpanda India, the leading food delivery website. 'Fuss-free, fast and definitely fun' is what they claim to be. And boy, they do live up to the word. 

Just log in to their page, choose city, locality and you are good to go. For example, click here to view the city page for Delhi. If you stay in some other city (and they do deliver at more than 20 cities for that matter), replace 'delhi' in the URL with the name of your city, hit 'enter' and voila, all the restaurant names appear on your screen. Details like cuisine type, minimum order amount and delivery time are also provided to help you narrow down a particular restaurant. 

And if you are one of those smartphone yielding types, here is where you can download their cool app. (scroll to the bottom of this post for the QR code)

Coming back to today's recipe, it is a simple schezuan style prawns fried rice. Most of you might have already guessed by my ramblings that I am in the mood for lazy one-pot meals these days. Fried rice happens to fit the bill perfectly. Some leftover rice thrown in with a bit of this and a bit of that, and a nice hot meal is ready. 

Read on for the easy breezy recipe - 





Preparation Time - 10-15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup cooked rice 
  • 1/3 cup tiny freshwater prawns (if you are using big ones, chop them up)
  • 1 1/2 tsp schezuan sauce ( I used Delmonte brand, it is quite good )
  • 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 5-6 garlic flakes (finely chopped)
  • 2 tsp chopped spring onions ( whites only )
  • 1 small onion (optional)(finely sliced)
  • 3 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • few drops vinegar



Preparation - Wash the prawn and mariante with salt and vinegar.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Add the prawns and fry till they are pink all over. Remove and keep aside.

Add the remaining oil to the same wok. Toss in the onion and garlic flakes. Fry till the garlic turns slightly golden.

Add the schezuan sauce, soy sauce, tomato sauce, chili flakes along with 2-3 tsp water. Cook for a minute before adding the rice.

Throw in the prawns, check for salt and toss everything on a high flame for 2-3 mins. Finally add the spring onions just before turning off the flame.

Serve hot.

Note - Check the illustration for ordering from Foodpanda -

















Scan the QR code shown below for downloading the Foodpanda App -


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Overnight Oats and Sago (No cooking required)

How many times have you skipped eating breakfast at home just because felt lazy to cook someting in the mornings ? Quite a few of us would have done so. But in most cases it makes us hungry and we end up gorging on something unhealthy by noon. Which is a double whammy when you are trying to lose weight !!

Overnight oats is just what the doctor prescribed for such days. Easy breezy recipe that requires no cooking. One just needs to take the trouble of measuring out the oats into a bowl and covering it with milk before popping it into the fridge for the night.

I decided to add some sago to the oats as I am very fond of soaked sago. It is quite popular in Odisha to soak the sago and then eat it milk, yogurt, sugar/jaggery, fruits or sweetened boondi on fasting 'vrat' days.But I sometimes have it on regular days too. Read on for more info on this interesting dish -

















Preparation time - 5 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2/3 cup rolled/instant oats
  • 1/3 cup fine sago (subudana)
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 small banana/ half of an apple/ 1 kiwi
  • few dried cranberries
  • 7-8 almonds
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp honey


Preparation - Take the oats and sago in a bowl. Add sugar and 1 cup milk to the same bowl. It should be sufficient to cover the oats and sago. Keep it in the fridge for the night.

Also soak the almonds separately in a cup of water. Peel and chop them in the morning.

Take out the bowl in the morning. Add the cut fruit of you choice along with the cranberries and almonds.

Drizzle with honey.

Dig in.

















Note - One can omit the sago if one doe not like/prefer it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bendakaya bhaath (Okra/Bhindi Rice)

A yummy variation of the very popular Vangi Baath from Andhra/Karnataka, this one simply replaces the eggplant with okra and throws in some garlic seasoning. The recipe is sure to find a lot of takers among the kids who usually shun the eggplant version. I personally love it as it is very easy to make and it is one of the best (and easiest) things that one can with leftover rice.

Read on for the easy breezy recipe  -


















Preparation Time - 15 mins ( if you have cooked rice else add time needed to prepare rice )

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 10-12 ladies finger
  • 8-10 cashews
  • 2 tsp whole urad dal (skinless)
  • 1/2 tsp thick tamarind paste
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • a pinch of fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 7-8 curry leaves
  • 3-4 garlic flakes (crushed)
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 4 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • salt to taste

For the Masala

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
  • 6-7 cloves
  • 2 red chilli
  • 1 marathi moggu
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp split urad dal
  • 1 tsp oil

Preparation - Cut the ladies finger into 1 1/2 inch long pieces.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in a frying pan. Add all the ingredients for Masala and fry till a  fragrance starts to fill the kitchen. Remove and allow to cool a bit. Grind into a fine powder.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the ladies finger pieces along with a bit of salt and turmeric. Fry till cooked.

Add 1 1/2 tsp of the Masala Powder ( I keep it less spicy ) along with the tamarind paste (diluted with 3-4 tsp water). Fry for 1 minute.

Add the cooked rice and mix in. Adjust salt.

Heat 1 tsp oil for the tempering. Add broken red chilli, asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and urad dal. After urad dal turns a little brown, add garlic, cashews and curry leaves. Pour the tempering over the rice. Mix in.

Serve hot with appalam and papad.


















Note -

1. If you want to keep it more healthy, swap the white rice with brown rice/parboiled rice.

2. If preparing this for your kid, do remember to cut the okra into tiny pieces and go easy on the powdered masala.

Maccha Ambila

Maccha ambila can be broadly described as fish cooked in a light sweet-tangy gravy. The tang could come from anything ranging from 'ambula' (sun-dried raw mango), tamarind, tomatoes to even curd being used in a few versions. There are too many versions of this recipe to pin-point the original one if at all there is one. I had not come it during my growing up years in the Western part of Odisha. Ofcourse, there was the delightful kanjee or ambila which was a kind of light vegetarian soup. Maybe it was created by some fish worshiping person who took his muse to another level by combining it with the tang of the 'ambila'. It is reminiscent of the Bengali 'Tawk' which my parlour lady had told me about but I feel the spicing is different for both the recipes.

It is during moments like this that I feel a wave of resentment towards the Odia ladies of yore who were so busy cooking up 'chaa tiana, naa bhaja' ( roughly translated into six curries and nine fries ) for the male members of the house that they never found the time nor the inclination to chronicle their vast gastronomic experiences. But then these ladies would lovingly ply the plates of the male members and the kids with second or even third helpings, only to eat a bowl of 'basi pakhala' (stale rice soaked in water) with some 'kandia-lanka paga' and some raw onions. Personal ambition was not their forte. Things would have been different had it been so.  Maybe it is kind of touchy, but then it reflects on the status of women in Odisha. Personally I feel that things have changed but only on a superficial level. However this is hardly the platform to lament on social issues. "Its a food blog for God's sake", I have to keep reminding myself.

Coming back to the recipe, it has hardly been documented just like the vast Odia cuisine. So I decide to give myself a free reign. Kind of liberating, isn't it ? No set rules to be adhered to. But then I do have the spiraling tomato prices on my mind which is why I decide to skip this foreign import. We call it 'bilati baigana' for a reason, don't we ??

Read on for my version -





Preparation Time - 20 mins


Ingredients -


  • 3 pieces of Rohu fish 
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 inch ginger
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 1/3 tsp cumin
  • a pinch of fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard paste
  • 2 nos of ambula (dry mango)
  • 1/3 cup curd
  • 2 tbsp jaggery (one can also use sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/3 tsp chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • 4-5 tsp oil


For tempering -


  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 2 pinch mustard seeds
  • 6-7 fenugreek seeds
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 tsp oil



Preparation - Add a pinch of turmeric and a bit of salt to the fish. Marinate for 10 mins.

Take the garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and dry red chili in a grinder. Make into a paste. Add the onion (diced) to the same grinder and buzz for 1 sec to get a coarse paste.

Soak the ambula in 1/2 cup hot water for 20 mins. Dissolve the mustard paste in 1 cup water.

Lightly beat the curd to break the lumps. Add a little water to it.

Cooking - Heat the oil in a wok. Add the marinated fish and fry on both sides till lightly browned.

Remove and keep aside.

Add the onion and masala paste to the same wok and fry till the raw smell goes off. Add the strained mustard to the wok. Add salt, turmeric and red chili powder. Bring to a light boil.

Slowly add the curd with constant stirring. Once it gets to a boil, add the soaked mango along with the water used for soaking it. Sprinkle the jaggery and allow it to dissolve.

Add the fish pieces to the grvay and cook on medium flame till you get the desired consistency. It will take about 5-6 mins.

Heat oil for tempering. Add the mustard and fenugreek seeds. Follow with the asafoetida and curry leaves. Fry the leaves for 4-5 seconds. Pour the tempering over the fish gravy, mix in and remove from flame.

Serve at room temperature. Tastes best with white rice.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Chingudi Jholo (Odia Prawn Curry)

The staple Chingudi (prawn) recipe from Odisha had been missing from my blog for so long. This I realized with a shock (or was it more of a disappointment ?) when I was trying to do some minor changes on my posts. This version is more popular than the 'Chingudi Besara' that is prevalent only in the western regions of the state. While the masala used is the staple 'onion-garlic-ginger-green cardamom-cinnamon' combo, one must take care to get the right texture. Too fine a paste makes it a thick gravy while over-frying the masala tends to caramelize it and changes the flavour (kind of intensifies it)of the curry. My family prefers this curry to be mellow and kind of watery ('pania jholo' as we say in Odia) but then different folks have different preferences.

Read on for the recipe -

















Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

  • 500 gms prawns (I have used small ones)
  • 1 large potato 
  • 1 large onion + 1 small one
  • 12-13 garlic flakes
  • 1 1/2 inch ginger
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  • 2 inch long cinnamon
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder, 
  • 1/3 tsp red chili powder ( I have used less as the whole chilis were very spicy, adjust as per taste )
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 tbs oil


Preparation - Clean prawn and add salt and turmeric. Allow to marinate for 15 mins.

Grind the cumin seeds, 2 cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon and red chillis into a powder. Add  the small onion, half of the garlic flakes and 1 inch ginger to the same grinder jar. Grind till the paste is smooth.Keep aside.

Finely chop the tomatoes and keep aside.

Coarsely grind the remaining onion and keep aside. Crush together the remaining garlic pod and ginger using a mortar and pestle. Take care not to make a very fine paste.

Cut the potato into cubes.

Cooking- Heat 1 tbs oil in a pan. Add the marinated prawns and fry till golden. Remove and keep aside.

Add another tbs of oil into the wok. Add the potato pieces. Fry for 2-3 minutes. Remove and keep aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a wok. Add coarse onion paste and fry for 1 minute. Add the sugar and allow it to turn brown. Add the crushed garlic-ginger and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the ground masala along with turmeric and chilli powder. Fry for 4-5 minutes till the raw smell goes off.

Add tomato and fry for another 3-4 minutes or till it turns mushy.

Add 3 cups of boiling water to the wok. Bring to a boil on high flame.

Add fried potatoes and prawns to the wok. Cover with a lid and allow to boil for 7-8 minutes or till potatoes are cooked.

Powder the remaining cinnamon and cardamom and add to the curry. After 1-2 minutes, switch off the flame.

Serve hot with white rice.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rajma Galouti Kebab

Had my eyes on this for a long time but finally got a chance this week as I was running a little short on vegetables. A good thing that my timing coincides with the holy month of Ramzan as this would be great on the 'iftar' menu. Read about it for the first time in one of those handy cookbooks written by the late Tarla Dalal and quite liked it for its simplicity. Then came an episode on Khana khazana featuring another strikingly different version of this delicacy which seemed to have originated in some far away universe. The latter was loaded by spices and too much of nuts I felt.

I decided to go with my favorite cook's recipe and modify/tweak it a bit while making the best use of ingredients available in my pantry. But when I made the first lot, I realized that the rajma gives a dry texture to these kebabs. Typical of any lentil fritters. So the potato/panner/khoya/nuts paste are very much required to impart that silken melt-in-the-mouth kinda texture to the kebabs. The addition of ghee is also crucial for the same reason. They turned out fine with the addition of more potato and unsweetened khoya.Read on for my version -






Preparation Time - 30 mins

Ingredients -

1 cup rajma/kidney beans
1 medium sized potato (boiled & peeled)
1/3 cup grated paneer
4 tbsp grated/crumbled unsweetened khoya
1 medium sized onion
2-3 green chilis
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
2-3 tsp chopped coriander leaves
1-2 tsp chopped mint leaves
1/4 tsp coriander powder
1/5 tsp cumin powder
1/3 tsp red chilli powder
2 pinch garam masala
1/3 turmeric
salt to taste
5-6 tsp oil/clarified butter (gives a more authentic taste)


Preparation - Wash and soak the rajma beans overnight.

Finely chop the onions and green chillis.

Cooking - Transfer the rajma to a pressure cooker with salt, turmeric and 1 1/2 cups water. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles till soft but not too mushy. Allow steam to escape naturally. Then drain the kidney beans and keep aside.

Heat 3 tsp oil in a wok. Add the onions and fry till translucent.

Add the ginger and saute for 30 seconds. Add the powdered masalas and fry for another 20-30 seconds.

Add the kidney beans along with the grated potato, paneer and khoya. Use a heavy spoon or ladle to mash up the beans and get a uniform mix of the ingredients. Adjust salt.

Finally add the chopped green chili, mint and coriander leaves. Mix well. Remove from flame and keep aside till it cools down a bit.

Take small portions from the above mixture and shape into flattened circles or tikkis.

Heat a flat non-stick pan and brush with some oil/ghee. Place 3-4 of the flattened circles on it. Let it cook on one side for 3-4 minutes on low to medium flame. Brush on some oil/ghee on the top of each before flipping it over. Let it cook on this side for another 3 mins. Remove and keep aside.

Serve hot with mint-coriander chutney/ketchup or even a yogurt dip.



















Note - There kebabs are actually meant to be deep fried but I wanted to keep the calories in check with all the ghee and khoya going into it. Hence pan-fried them.