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Tag Archives: north indian

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens

Khichdi – the comfort food of one half of the Indian population!

I say this specifically because khichdi is not a dish that is popular in my hometown, Kerala. And hence I was not aware of its existence for a very long time.

My first tryst with khichdi happened somewhere along the Pune-Mahabaleshwar route. We were living in Pune at that time and were visiting the hill station when we stopped at a roadside dhaba for a quick meal. Sam suggested that I try the khichdi (he had already developed a taste for it, thanks to his office mates) and hesitatingly I did. But oh boy, it was a revelation.

The rich, spicy, almost creamy consistency of rice and lentils with that generous drizzle of ghee made my tastebuds sing with joy.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

And while I consumed many plates of khichdi during my stay in Pune, I never ventured to cook it in my kitchen till about 2 years ago.

I think it’s the memory of that taste that encouraged me to make a khichdi at home. It’s no rocket science, but often we need a motivation or purpose to try out something new.

At its heart, a khichdi is nothing but rice and lentils cooked together, mashed and then tempered with spices. But that tempering is what makes all the difference. It can be as simple or as complex as you want and in my opinion, the whole flavour profile of the khichdi depends on it.

My version of the khichdi is not the most traditional but neither a fusion. It is perhaps an amalgamation of various styles based on flavours and spices that I like best.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Khichdi is an extremely healthy dish because of its powerful combination of carbs and proteins. Usually prepared with just one type of lentils, but my version has a mixture of lentils and pulses along with some sort of greens like spinach, fenugreek or even carrot greens, as I have done today.

You can either make a mix of the lentils from what you have at home or pick up a packet of the soup mix like I do. Or use just one type of lentil; it’s totally your wish. When using a soup mix, it’s best to soak it overnight so that the cooking process is much faster.

How many of you use carrot greens as an ingredient? It has gained a lot of attention with the raw food movement and is often found as an ingredient in salads, pesto etc…. But I also love to use it in my dal (lentil) preparations just the way I would use spinach. Beetroot leaves can also be used this way but needs to be cooked more than the carrot greens.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Even though I pressure cook the lentils and rice for time constraints, I always slow cook for a good 15-20 minutes after adding the tempering. A bit of extra time only helps intensify the flavours which I really want from my plate of khichdi. And a final drizzle of hot ghee is an absolute must!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup mixed lentils; washed and soaked overnight
  2. ½ cup medium grain white rice
  3. Carrot greens (I used the greens from 4 small carrots); chopped
  4. Salt, to season
  5. Ghee/clarified butter; for serving
  6. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  7. For tempering:
  • 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp caraway/shahi jeera seeds
  • 2 dry red chilli
  • 3 large shallots/small onion; finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 large ripe red tomatoes; finely chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • ½ inch piece of jaggery or ½ tsp raw sugar

Method:

  1. Wash the soaked lentils and rice together. Add to a pressure cooker or deep bottom pan and cook well with enough water (remember to season with a pinch of salt). The lentils and rice must be cooked enough to be able to mash well.
  2. In another pan, heat ghee and oil; add the mustard seeds and allow to splutter.
  3. Then add the cumin and caraway seeds; as it begins to crackle, add the dry chillies and shallots and sauté till softened.
  4. Then add the garlic and ginger; sauté till the onions have turned light brown.
  5. Next add the tomatoes and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes have softened and turned mushy.
  6. Then add all the spice powders and jaggery; sauté till the whole masala comes together and oil starts appearing at the sides.
  7. Meanwhile mash the lentils and rice using the back end of a ladle or potato masher.
  8. Add the chopped greens along with the masala to the lentils and mix well; season with salt if necessary.
  9. Add more water if necessary and cook on the low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  10. Finish off with the chopped coriander leaves.
  11. Serve warm with a drizzle of ghee on top.
  12. Tuck in!

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

 

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Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy)

Okra/bhindi/ladysfinger – my absolute favourite vegetable. In fact if you ask me what would I like my last meal on Earth to be, I would say chappathi, lentils and okra (just the way my mom makes).

I have loved every single okra preparation I have had till now in my life. Guess I love this veggie so much that even a bad dish wins approval from me. My love for okra is quite legendary at home that my siblings often tell my mom not to ask what I would like to eat (when on vacation) as I would say an okra dish.

While I enjoy every style of okra preparation, one of my all time favourites is the stir fried one with lots of onions, garlic and chillies. This okra/bhindi raita is another favourite of mine; pairs so well with a simple pilaf.

But today, I am sharing an okra dish that I have had only at restaurants till now. Dahi Bhindi or okra in creamy yoghurt based gravy is a popular dish in the Northern parts of India. Best paired with chappathis (Indian flatbread), this dish is an absolute winner if you love okra.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

Most people are put off by the slimy texture of okra and there are a few tips by which you can prevent this. The first tip is to wash and dry the okra well. After draining the excess water, I use a kitchen towel to completely dry the okra before cutting it which greatly helps to reduce the slimy texture.

Also, lightly frying the okra before adding it to the gravy helps to prevent it getting slimy. In a non stick or cast iron pan, add the okra pieces and lightly fry with no oil (or with just a tsp of oil) on low heat. I always follow this method if I am using the okra especially for curries or gravies.

Another tip is not to stir the okra around too much while cooking. Always cook on medium heat and stir only occasionally.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 400gms okra/bhindi/ladysfinger, remove head and cut into half
  2. 1 Spanish onion; finely chopped
  3. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  4. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  5. Salt, to season
  6. 1 cup thick yoghurt
  7. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  8. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  9. Ground masala
  • ¾ cup freshly grated coconut
  • 3-4 green chillies (adjust according to heat preferences)
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 5 shallots/small onion or 1 small red onion; chopped 

Method:

  1. In a non stick pan/kadai, heat 1 tbsp oil and lightly fry the okra till half done. Remove and keep aside.
  2. Grind all the ingredients given under the ground masala to a fine paste like consistency and keep aside.
  3. In the same pan that the okra was fried, heat the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds. Once it begins to crackle, add the chopped onions. Sauté till softened and translucent.
  4. Then add the ground masala, turmeric powder and season with salt. Cook on low heat till the rawness of the ingredients has gone away and oil begins to appear at the sides.
  5. Beat the curd well and add this to the masala; mix well and add enough water to get thick gravy.
  6. Then add the okra and cook on low heat till done.
  7. Remove from heat and add the coriander leaves; mix well.
  8. Keep for atleast 15 minutes for the flavours to develop.

Note – The gravy can thicken on standing or when refrigerated. Add a little water while reheating to get the desired consistency.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style Lamb Ribs)

Kashmir – a mysterious, beautiful land that always evokes a deep sense of calmness and peace within me.

Ironic, isn’t it…especially given its turbulent geo-political issues. I have never visited Kashmir except through the thousands of breathtaking photographs of the place but everytime I think of the land, it’s ‘Garden of Eden’ that I remember. And everytime I visualize Adam and Eve eating that apple, its pictures of Kashmir that flash through my mind.

Travelling through Kashmir remains one of the top wishes on my bucket list, and particularly visiting the saffron fields and picking out the flowers; I want to experience that at least once in my life. Though today’s dish has nothing to do with saffron, it has all to do with the cuisine of the region. Tabakh Maaz or Kashmiri style Lamb Ribs!

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

A very traditional preparation of the region, Tabakh Maaz is one of the integral dishes of a wazwan. (You can check out more about wazwan on the Internet or read my mutton roganjosh post). And I learnt this recipe too from my dear friend, Supriya who remains my expert on Kashmiri cuisine. I am a lucky gal indeed!

Making Tabakh Maaz is rather simple but one which takes a bit of time and some good quality ingredients. It is a brilliant example of how spices flavour a fish without adding any heat. The lamb ribs are slow cooked in a broth flavoured with whole spices and then fried off in ghee. It is rich and indulgent, a dish that warms you from within and definitely not one if you are calorie-conscious.

I left the fat layer on the ribs for that extra flavour but you can choose to trim it off. Traditionally it is served as 2-3 ribs together on the bone but I have kept it 1-2. Tabakh Maaz is usually a starter type dish of the wazwan but I had it as the main protein for dinner, so served it with Afghan style bread, cucumber yoghurt dip with sumac and a fresh green salad. One of the ways of adapting a traditional recipe to your family’s needs.

Whole spices to make Tabakh Maaz or Kashmiri style lamb ribs - thespiceadventuress.com

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

So here we have a very traditional lamb dish from Kashmir – Tabakh Maaz or Kashmiri style Lamb Ribs.

Ingredients:

  1. 500 gms lamb ribs; cut into 2-3 pieces
  2. 2 inch cinnamon bark
  3. 3 black cardamom
  4. 5 green cardamom
  5. 2 dried bay leaf
  6. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  7. 1 tbsp crushed fennel seeds
  8. ½ tbsp dried ginger powder
  9. A pinch of asafoetida/hing
  10. 2 large garlic cloves; crushed
  11. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  12. Salt, to season
  13. 1 cup milk
  14. 2-3 tbsp ghee/clarified butter

Method:

  1. In a heavy bottomed vessel, add the lamb ribs and fill with water, enough to just cover the ribs.
  2. Bring to boil and remove the scum that floats on the surface.
  3. Then add all the spices, garlic and season generously with salt. Also add 1 cup milk and stir well to combine.
  4. Cover the vessel, reduce the flame and slow cook the ribs for 1 hour or till the meat has become tender and almost fall off the bone.
  5. Remove from heat and take out the ribs slowly and keep aside. You can either keep the ribs in large chunks or cut into smaller pieces.
  6. Heat another flat pan, add the ghee and add the ribs one by one. Fry on medium to high heat till one side has caramelized before turning over. Remove when the other side has also caramelized well.
  7. Serve warm.

Though the basic recipe for making Tabakh Maaz is the same across the state, there can be variations from region to region. For eg: Kashmiri Pandits soak the ribs in plain yoghurt before frying it off in the ghee.

Note – The broth in which the ribs were cooked has a beautiful flavour. It can be strained and use as a stock for making soups and risottos.

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review

Quite often I get asked the question, ‘Can you suggest a good Indian restaurant we can dine at?’ or ‘What do you think about this new Indian restaurant that has opened in XYZ location?’ And I find it quite challenging to answer both of these questions because firstly, I do not eat out much at Indian restaurants and secondly, there are very few Indian cuisine restaurants that I actually enjoy in Melbourne.

So when a friend who lives in Cheltenham asked about Indian Burrp, I was clueless. She was keen to know my opinion about the food there (which made me feel rather important!!!!).  But with the usual problem of having too many places to try out in Melbourne, it just never happened.

Until…..another friend (do check out this lady’s amazing YouTube channel) won a dining voucher to Indian Burrp.

Indian Burrp, Cheltenham, Melbourne - a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The restaurant is located on Nepean Highway; quite an accessible location to most. On entering, you will be immediately drawn to the beautiful ambience and décor. Soft dim lights, beautiful centre lighting, comfortable dark seating and a small bar at the end all add to the slow paced dining experience that the restaurant has tried to create for its customers.

Indian Burrp, Cheltenham, Melbourne - a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Indian Burrp defines itself as a fine dining restaurant. But I do not really agree with that term as the menu is quite classic heavily leaning towards the North Indian style of cooking. There aren’t any surprises with regard to the dishes, style of cooking or presentation. I really wonder why the Indian restaurants here are so afraid to veer away from the familiar path. Having said that, you can find all the much loved and popular Indian dishes on the menu. Not disappointing if you are looking at classic North Indian food. There are also combo deals which work great if you are looking to sample many dishes.

The wine list is a good one albeit a small one but I was quite happy to see a bunch of good Australian wines carefully chosen to go with the flavours of the food. We did sample the wines, both white and red which went really well with the food but I was so busy talking with my friends that I forgot to note the names. Sorrrry!!

Indian Burrp, Cheltenham, Melbourne - a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Another factor that stands out at Indian Burrp is the friendly customer service. The owner Rash Banker is always around being the perfect host, getting your orders sorted, making enquiries etc… It was welcoming to see him around making sure that everyone is having a good time.

The first starter to arrive was the Tandoori Prawns. It was good but the spice paste had a bit of rawness to it from not being cooked through but nevertheless flavourful.

Tandoori Prawns at Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The next starter we got was the Chef’s special Burrpie Chicken. The menu stated half for $13.95 and full for $22.95. Reading it, one would assume that half meant half chicken but it is not so. What arrived at the table were 2 medium sized chicken thighs which was a bit of a bummer; a clear menu would help rather than having to call the staff to find out more about every dish. The chicken was cooked well, moist and juicy with a good spice rub. Quite similar to a tandoori but without the smoky chargilled flavour.

Burrpie Chicken at Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we ordered the Lamb biryani, butter rotis and Chicken Hutke (Chef’s Special). The chicken dish felt a little heavy but the flavours were good. An onion based gravy, medium spicy and paired really well with the rotis.

Coming to the biryani, hands down, it was the dish of the day for all of us. It was a Mughlai style biryani with succulent lamb pieces, right amount of spices, full of flavour and the rice cooked to perfection. A must try if you are a biryani lover. The only bummer was that the biryani is served without any raita/yoghurt dip or salan; you need to order a raita for extra cost. Biryani always comes with a raita folks!

Chicken Hutke - Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Mughlai style Lamb Biryani - Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For dessert, we got the Mango Kulfi and Gulab Jamuns. Sorry guys, no pics again (this time, the effect of too much wine!). The kulfi had a good flavour of the mangoes, creamy and delicious. It is served in a bowl instead of the traditional stick format. The jamuns were soft, syrupy and just the right amount of sweetness. Totally recommend both.

Overall, a nice experience. There were some misses but plenty of hits too. Loved the service, ambience, a good wine list and decent food. And ofcourse, a great song selection playing throughout the night. Would return back to this place.

Indian Burrp
Shop 6
1291-1293 Nepean Highway
Cheltenham
Melbourne, Victoria
Phone: 03 8524 5096
Website: http://indianburrp.com/
Timings:
Monday – closed
Tuesday to Thursday – 5.30pm to 10.00pm
Friday & Saturday – 5.30pm to 11.00pm
Sunday – 5.30pm to 10.00pm

Indian Burrp Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – My friend had a gift voucher which was redeemed and the remaining amount was paid by her.

 

 

 

 

Tandoori Paneer Skewers with Goat’s Yoghurt

My first taste of goat’s milk was when I was around 10, while living in the Middle East.

We had friends who used to work on dairy farms owned by the rich Arabs and they would bring us all sorts of delicious and exotic foods that were not so commonly available back then. Exotic varieties of dates, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, yoghurt…..the best kind which were exclusively farmed for the rich families and not for sale.

I had almost forgotten what goat’s milk or yoghurt tastes like until recently when I got the opportunity to sample the same from CapriLac.

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Remember this vegan, dairy free almond yoghurt green smoothie and coconut yoghurt zucchini dip using No Udder products? CapriLac belongs to the same group but specializes in goat’s milk, yoghurt and goat’s milk powder.

Now you would ask, why goat’s milk?

Goat’s milk is not necessarily healthier than cow’s milk on a strict comparison basis. But it definitely has its merits. It has less lactose, a tab bit less sugar and also more calcium, potassium and Vitamin A than cow’s milk. It is also more easily digestible as it has a chemical structure which is quite similar to breast milk and hence is a great dairy alternative for those who have sensitive tummies. It is also less allergenic. So in a nutshell, it can be a great alternative to cow’s milk.

Goat’s yoghurt does not taste much different to cow’s yoghurt. I felt it is creamy but less sour than the cow’s yoghurt which makes it perfect for today’s paneer skewers.

CapriLac Goat products are Australian made (the milk comes from their own farms). No preservatives, no flavours, no additives…..which makes it a really good product for your family’s use.

I wanted to use goat’s yoghurt for a traditional Indian dish that has become a global favourite – tandoori.

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Myths and misconceptions regarding tandoori are rife and rampant. To being with tandoori refers to a dish that has been cooked inside a tandoor, a specialized kind of clay oven. The tandoor arrived in India through the Persian traders and even today, you can find plenty of households in Iran use the tandoor on a daily basis.

So technically the ‘tandoori’ refers to any dish prepared inside a tandoor but these days, the name has also been extended to dishes which use the traditional spice marinade. Again, this marinade has quite a few variations and this one is my version perfected after a lot of trial and error. I do not like to use besan (chickpea flour) in the marinade but prefer to keep it light with just yoghurt, aromatics and spices.

Paneer, as all of us know is Indian cottage cheese and now so commonly available in mainstream supermarkets. Now this is made from cow’s milk so those of you who wish to avoid it can use the same recipe for preparing mixed vegetable skewers (mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower), tofu, chicken or prawn skewers.

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Tandoori Paneer Skewers are an excellent party starter. In fact, it is a hit every time I make it for guests.  It’s flavourful, delicious, pairs equally well with beer, cocktails or wine and just the right summer party food. Perfect for your meatless Mondays too; pair with a simple green peas pilaf and mint coriander dip like I did.

If you have a tandoor at home, that’s great but since most of us will not have it…grilling or pan fry is the best option.

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Note – I have seen many photographs with perfect looking paneer cubes with hardly any signs of charring. But remember, it is those brown charred bits that you actually need because that’s where the deliciousness is!

Ingredients:

  1. 400 gms paneer (Indian cottage cheese); cut into equal sized cubes
  2. 1 medium red onion; cubed
  3. 2 ripe, yet firm tomatoes; remove pulp and cut into cubes
  4. 1 green bell pepper; cubed
  5. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  6. 5-6 tbsp tandoori marinade
  • 4-5 tbsp Goat’s yoghurt
  • ½ tsp ginger paste
  • ½ tsp garlic paste
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • A pinch of black salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  1. Salt, to season
  2. Lemon wedges, to garnish
  3. Bamboo skewers

Note:

  • Kashmiri chilli powder is mainly for a deeper red colour. It is optional and the level of heat can be adjusted with regular red chilli powder.
  • Chaat masala and black salt (kala namak) are available at all Indian stores.

Method:

  1. To make the tandoori marinade, mix the goat’s yoghurt with all the aromatics, spices and coriander leaves in a non reactive bowl.
  2. Add the paneer and vegetable cubes into the marinade and mix well. Season with salt and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or as long as possible. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least 15 minutes before using to prevent burning.
  4. Skewer the paneer cubes and vegetables alternately so that each skewer has paneer, tomato, onion and bell pepper.
  5. Oil a flat pan or grill well and heat to smoking point. Reduce heat and place the skewers. Increase heat to medium and grill till done on all sides. Paneer cooks really fast so a minute or two on each side would be enough.
  6. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with a mint coriander dip.

 

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Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post in association with CapriLac Foods. But the recipe and all the opinions expressed are entirely mine. 

Punjabi style Green Beans Fry

Today, I am going to take you all on a short trip to my childhood….

I have never been a fussy eater at all but I am a slow eater…..a terribly slow eater! And I can only eat very less quantities at a given time. This has been the case since childhood which has irritated and frustrated my poor mom as long as I can remember.

Coupled with the irritation of having to deal with the ranting from others, ‘Oh this child is so thin, doesn’t she eat anything?’ and the frustration of getting me to finish my meal, she decided that feeding me herself was the only solution.

And thus began the saga of getting fed by hand – every meal from morning to night except my school break would be fed by my mom. And I relished it! To the extent that the practice continued till I was in Grade 9. Then we made the shift from Dubai to India, and all hell broke loose.

Shocking! A teenage girl who had to be fed by her mom’s hand everyday…..I was mercilessly teased and made fun of. But I couldn’t bother a bit…I continued to enjoy getting fed. And believe me…in her hands, even the most basic dish would taste delicious. But don’t worry, it didn’t last even for a month. India has a strange way of knocking sense into you and teaching you the facts of life. I learnt to feed myself…..quite well actually though, I am still a bit slow. But now that I am a food blogger….I would call it relishing the flavours in each mouthful!

Now the reason for oversharing this rather embarrassing part of my childhood is this; even when I used to be fed by my mom, if there was anything that I was particularly fond of on the plate, I wouldn’t wait for her to give it. I will eat that on my own. And green beans always used to be one of the veggies…..

I love green beans, all varieties and in all forms. Stir fried with spices and grated coconut, steamed with garlic and butter, sautéed with spices and caramelized onions, blanched..there are a million ways to cook with beans and I love all of them.

Today’s style was a new one I learnt from the book, ‘The Vegetarian Table’ by renowned food writer, Yamuna Devi.

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This Punjabi style green beans fry is simple, robust but so moreish and full of flavours. A thick batter of chickpea flour is also added to the dish and cooked in such a way that it forms nuggets of goodness to be mixed through the dish. Makes it high on the protein quotient too.

These beans are just perfect to be combined with an enriching yet comforting meal of steamed rice and dal. Simple yet nourishing….just as food is meant to be.

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Ingredients:

1. 600 gms fresh green beans (I used French beans); cut into one inch pieces
2. ½ cup chickpea flour/besan
3. 2 tsp Punjabi garam masala
4. 2 tbs ghee/clarified butter
5. ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
6. ¼ tsp ajwain/carrom seeds
7. ½ tsp red chilli flakes (adjust to heat preferences)
8. 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
9. Salt, to season

To make Punjabi garam masala:

1. ¼ cup cumin seeds
2. 1/3 cup coriander seeds
3. ½ tbsp green cardamom seeds
4. ½ tbsp black peppercorns
5. 15 cloves
6. 2 inch cinnamon

Method:

To make the garam masala:

• Dry roast all the spices over low heat till fragrant. Cool well and powder. Store in an airtight container.

To make the dish:

1. Heat ghee in a pan; crackle mustard seeds and add the carrom seeds and red chilli flakes. Mix and add the green beans and fry on low to medium heat. Season with salt.
2. In a bowl, add the chickpea flour, garam masala and a pinch of salt. Add a few spoonfuls of water to make a thick batter; you must be able to pour it but still thick.
3. When the beans are half done, turn to high heat and move the beans to the centre of the pan using the ladle and pour the chickpea batter along the edges in a single motion around the pan. Do not mix.
4. Lower the heat and cook undisturbed for two minutes.
5. Using the ladle, break up the batter lightly; it would have firmed up a bit so break it up into little nuggets.
6. Continue to cook on low heat for another 2 minutes and then mix the beans into these. Season with salt, if necessary and cook till the nuggets are browned well and the beans are done.
7. Garnish with coriander leaves

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Dhaba Style Kheema Masala

Any food enthusiast will tell you that the true way to enjoy the gastronomic flavours of a country is to eat their street food.

It’s the same with Indian food too. If you were to take a journey along the highways of India across the length and breadth of the country, then you will have a true glimpse into what Indian cuisine is all about. You will be able to understand how food changes from region to region depending on local produce, weather, environment, religion and habits of the people residing there.

Much like the food trucks of the West, India is home to innumerable street food stalls which are referred to by different names depending on the region. In the Northern parts of the country, these food stalls that mostly line the highways (but not exclusively!) are called dhabas. And it is a commonly acknowledged fact that the dhabas serve some of the best Indian food, which perhaps cannot be found anywhere else in the country.

Today’s dish is a delicious Punjabi dhaba style kheema masala that can be easily prepared at home. Resplendent with spices and aromatics, this is an extremely flavourful dish that you will want to make over and over again. Highly recommended to be tried with pav (a type of Indian bread) or with phulkas or rotis if pav is not available.

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Kheema or khaima (as known in many parts of India) actually means meat mince but the term has become synonymous with lamb mince. This is an ingredient that graces the kitchens across the globe and is such a versatile one.

The best way to buy mince is to choose the meat yourself and get it freshly minced from your butcher; this enables you to control the amount of meat to fat ratio, as required for the dish. There are commercial brands that sell good quality mince but most often, the cheap parts get thrown in which makes it sinewy and chewy instead of melt-in-the-mouth.

This dhaba style kheema masala is a rich dish with bold flavours that is just perfect on a cold evening. There is warmth from the spices and aromatics but not overly hot. The flavours are balanced out with the addition of tangy tomatoes; the milk and butter lend a rich creaminess which just makes you go ‘ooh la la’!

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Make it, eat it, enjoy it!

Ingredients:

1. 1 tbsp vegetable oil
2. 2 tbsp butter (1 tbsp for cooking + 1 tbsp for garnish)
3. 1 dried bay leaf
4. 4 green cardamom
5. 2 tsp jeera/cumin seeds

Find the full recipe here.

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Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood

Ambarsari Fish Masala

Today, my little one turns 6.

Flash back 6 years ago to the moment I became a mother, the very first time I laid my eyes on him. Love at first sight!

Being a mother is an experience beyond words and I know every single woman who has mothered a child will agree to it. As someone rightly put it, it’s a decision to let your heart walk outside your body forever.

Adi is the most beautiful child; sensitive, caring, friendly…..he is a beautiful human being. And all I ask my Lord for him today is to enable him always to be the amazing person he is, never to lose his kindness, stay humble in this greedy world, never be too busy for his friends and always have time to appreciate the wonders of Nature.

Happy Birthday, my precious little one.

This is a picture of Adi, when he was a few days old. Always been a deep thinker!

This is a picture of Adi, when he was a few days old. Always been a deep thinker!

Adi loves seafood and today’s dish, Ambarsari fish masala, has become one of our family favourites.

This delicacy comes from the beautiful city of Amritsar in Punjab. Bold in flavours and resplendent with spices, the Ambarsari fish masala is rich and indulgent.

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While frying the fish in ghee might sound like a bit of calorific indulgence, it really helps to add a complexity of flavour that frying in oil cannot provide. But go ahead and use oil if you wish to do so for health reasons. Another critical point is the use of mustard oil to prepare the gravy; again vegetable oil will not do the job as mustard oil provides a nutty smokiness which adds to the multilayered flavours of this dish.

Ambarsari fish masala pairs deliciously with steamed rice and dal or with laccha parathas; the former combination is our favourite.

Seer fish is a good choice for this preparation but you can also use halibut, snapper, cod or tilapia.

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Remember I mentioned a couple of blog posts back that I am onto an exciting project. Well, I have joined hands with an extremely popular seafood company, Supreme Seafood, in Chennai, India to develop recipes for their website. This Ambarsari fish masala is a part of that project.

Ingredients:

1. 5 large seer fish steaks/slices
2. 3-4 tbsp ghee, to fry the fish
3. To marinate the fish:
• Juice of 1 fresh lemon

For full recipe, visit this page.

Enjoy!

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Recipe Courtesy – Jaspreet Nirula

Adzuki Beans and Potatoes in Charmagaz Curry

‘Charmagaz’ refers to an assortment of four different seeds – watermelon, muskmelon, cucumber and pumpkin (all members of the Cucurbitaceous plants).

These seeds are quite popular as delicious and healthy snacks but are extensively used for cooking in the Rajasthani cuisine of India. Just as nuts are used to add texture and creaminess to a gravy or curry, a paste of these seeds are used to lend creaminess to the dish and at one-fourth of the cost.

One of my favourite snacks from my childhood was these seeds; I would also add sunflower seeds to the list. Snacking on seeds is extremely popular in the Middle East and that’s how I picked it up. But quite recently, I tumbled upon the use of these seeds in rich, flavourful Indian curries.

And this piece of wisdom came from this amazing blog; Sanjeeta is a well known food blogger, photographer and stylist. She had posted a recipe for mushroom charmagaz and that’s how I learnt how to use these seeds.

The charmagaz remains the same, but the recipes are highly varied so you actually get two ideas on how to incorporate these healthy seeds into your diet. And these are easily available at all Indian stores or you could buy a mix from any shop selling seeds and nuts, especially the Middle Eastern ones.

Adzuki beans and potatoes in charmagaz curry; this dish is high on nutrition. There’s protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, essential fats and a whole lot of other nutrients from the seeds. Paired with wholewheat rotis and a fresh, garden salad on the side; this one is a delicious, flavourful vegetarian delight!

Adzuki Beans and Potatoes in Charmagaz Curry - a healthy vegetarian delight - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Ingredients:

1. 1 cup adzuki beans; soaked overnight
2. 2 large potatoes, cut into cubes
3. 3 tbsp charmagaz; soaked in warm water
4. ½ tbsp poppy seeds; soaked in warm water
5. 3 dry red chilli; soaked in warm water
6. 3-4 tbsp milk
7. 1 large onion, finely chopped
8. Half of a ripe tomato, finely chopped
9. 3 garlic cloves
10. 1 inch ginger
11. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
12. 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
13. 1 tsp coriander powder
14. ¼ tsp cumin powder
15. 2 tbsp oil
16. 1 dry bay leaf
17. 3 cloves
18. 1 inch cinnamon bark
19. Salt, to season
20. 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method:

1. Soak the charmagaz, poppy seeds and dry red chilli in warm water or at least 30 minutes.
2. After 30 min, drain and grind to a paste with milk, garlic and ginger. Add water, if necessary. Keep aside.
3. Heat oil in a pan and add the bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon bark. Cook for a few seconds on low heat till fragrant and then add the chopped onions.
4. Saute till light brown and then add the spice powders. Cook for a further minute and then add the tomatoes. Saute till all the ingredients come together and a mushy consistency is achieved.
5. Then add the ground paste and mix well to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, season with salt and add 2 cups of water. Bring to boil.
6. Then add the adzuki beans and cook till ¾ ths done. Add water to loosen up the gravy if too dry.
7. Add the potatoes and cook till done (at this stage, the beans will be soft but not mushy).
8. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
9. Serve warm.

Adzuki Beans and Potatoes in Charmagaz Curry - a healthy vegetarian delight - thespiceadventuress.com

Adzuki Beans and Potatoes in Charmagaz Curry - a healthy vegetarian delight - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Paneer Tawa Masala (Indian Cottage Cheese Curry with Spices and Aromatics)

This is going to be my last post for 2014. Oh! What a year it has been….personally and professionally. A lot of ups and downs, good and bad……every bit a learning curve or an experience that has matured and wizened me plenty.

Super-busy days, I have not been cooking much. Christmas was at a friend’s place so put up my feet and let someone else feed me for a change. And since we really cannot think of or take a long vacation, we are having little outings most days with trips to the CBD, local eateries, movies etc…..

But the break from the kitchen is not for long; we are hosting the New Year’s Eve party for our friends at our place. So it’s back to menu planning, shopping and preparations for the big day.

I wanted to share one last post with all of my readers before bidding adieu to 2014. Today’s dish is rather special as it is one of the first paneer dishes that I learnt to cook at the beginning of my culinary journey. And I thought this is the perfect way to end this festive or must I say, the ‘feast’ive season.

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Paneer tawa masala is famous as a street dish, as this is usually prepared on a large tawa or flat cast iron pan which really lends a lot of flavour and oomph to this dish. But at home, I do not have a tawa and used a regular pan. The flavours are still delicious and this is undoubtedly my favourite paneer dish of all.

Paneer is often referred to as the Indian cottage cheese; it is available at most stores these days, especially the Indian specialty ones. It is also super easy to prepare paneer at home and if you would like to, then this is the page you must visit.

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The medley of spices and aromatics simmered in ghee or clarified butter is what makes this paneer tawa masala super delicious. It is perfectly spiced, not too hot and is a dish that anyone who loves Indian flavours would enjoy. Pair it with hot Indian flat breads and a yoghurt dip on the side and you have an amazing dish on your hands. I also included a side of saffron rice with nuts to go with this meal to complete the thali.

So, here’s how you make paneer tawa masala; succulent cubes of cottage cheese simmered in a gravy of spices, aromatics and tomatoes. Yumm!

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Ingredients:

1. Paneer – 500gm, cubed
2. 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
3. 2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
4. 1 inch ginger root
5. 4 cloves garlic
6. Green chillies – 2, chopped
7. 4 cloves
8. 3 green cardamom
9. 1tbsp butter
10. ½ tsp dry fenugreek leaves
11. ¼ tsp garam masala
12. ¼ tsp carrom/ajwain seeds
13. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
14. ½ inch ginger, cut into fine slivers
15. ¼ th tsp turmeric powder
16. ½ tsp red chilli powder
17. 1 tsp coriander powder
18. Salt – to taste
19. Coriander leaves – a handful, chopped
20. 1 tsp cream/grated cheese, for garnish

Method:

• Blend the ginger and garlic to a paste.
• Heat ghee in a pan and add the ginger-garlic paste. Saute till the raw smell disappears and the garlic browns lightly.
• Then add the finely chopped chillies and tomatoes. Saute on medium heat till the tomatoes turn mushy (this takes about 5 minutes).
• Meanwhile, crush the green cardamom and cloves.
• Once the tomatoes turn mushy, add the cardamom-clove powder and mix well to combine.
• Next switch off the heat, cool lightly and blend the mixture; use this as the base gravy for the dish.
• Heat the same pan again, add butter followed by the blended gravy. Add water to adjust thickness of gravy.
• Add the dry fenugreek leaves and garam masala and cook on low flame till the gravy thickens. Remove from heat and keep aside.
• Next, heat a tawa (flat girdle) or pan (if you don’t have a tawa like me) and add a tbsp or two of ghee.
• Crackle ajwain or carom seeds and then add one chopped onion.
• Next add ginger slivers and sauté well.
• Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, salt and paneer cubes. Mix this thoroughly to coat the paneer cubes. Add a few tbsps of water if necessary. Cook on low heat for around 2 minutes and remove from flame.
• Add this to the prepared gravy and bring to boil.
• Switch off flame and garnish with coriander leaves.
• Add a dash of cream or grated cheese on top as garnish just before serving.

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And before signing off, wishing all of you a blessed and prosperous New Year….filled with love, peace, joy and more food!

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