Friday, May 12, 2017

Dark Chocolate Walnuts: Guilt Free Snack



Chocolate is the best dessert one could have-ofcourse in moderation. Dark chocolate (70-80%) is even better. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, iron and magnesium. Studies have shown that dark chocolate improves blood flow and controls high blood pressure. In my world dark chocolate is healthy, use good quality sugar free chocolate and you are good.

I have spoken previously about healthy chocolate barks and why it is a great energy snack. You can see my Roasted Nuts Chocolate Bars and Seeds Nutty Chocolate barks recipes. Today it is another way of consuming chocolate. Heart healthy, omega rich walnuts dipped in glazy dark chocolate-a guilt free snack.


One-quarter cup of walnuts, for instance, provides more than 100 percent of the daily recommended value of plant-based omega-3 fats, along with high amounts of copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin. That’s why it is so so so amazing to unite Dark Chocolate and Walnuts and make these.

Dark Chocolate Walnuts, is a great idea to suffice a sweet tooth without worrying about weight gain and it is so easy to make. I have seen recipes where vanilla essence, walnut oil and cocoa powder is used, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. Melt chocolate and coat walnuts and let it sit in the freezer. That’s it- Could not get easier than this.


Ingredients:
1 bar/100 grams dark chocolate (70-85%)
1 cup shelled walnuts

Method:
Take a baking tray or a plate. Line it with parchment paper or even kitchen foil will do.
Chop chocolate roughly. Melt it in microwave for 20 seconds. You might need to do it for more 10 seconds. Make sure that chocolate doesn’t burn and is melted properly.
Mix walnuts in melted chocolate. Coat the walnuts properly.
Spoon each walnut on the lined tray. Keep the tray in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Remove from the sheet and store it air tight container in the fridge.


Notes:
You can use milk chocolate or white chocolate too for this recipe. Or you can mix all three chocolates and use.
Same can be done with any other nuts like almonds, cashews or pistachios.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Aam Ki Chutney:Khati Meethi Kairi Ki Chutney:Instant Raw Mango Pickle


Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer. A summer under a neem tree; a summer with comics like chacha chaudry; a summer with mangoes.

Raw mangoes, kacha aam, kairi or ambi whatever you might call it but if you are an Indian you can relate to that summer mango pickle scent-a memorable lane to your childhood. Huge sacks of raw mangoes were bought and all the ladies of the house would sit in the veranda and began to work on the pickle. Mangoes were washed, dried on an old bedsheet and finally chopped into wedges. Carefully achaar massala was mixed and later the pickle was filled into cheeni barni. Lots of sunshine, care and devotion would make that pickle, which we would relish all the year long.


Today it is also about raw mango- a sort of a pickle recipe, with the pickle spices but in a chutney form. Khati Meethi Aam ki chutney, is my all time favourite summer mango recipe. This recipe is similar to Aam or kairi ki launji (lonji, loonji) which is very popular in Bengal; mango chunks are coated into sweet and sour flavours with pickle spices.

Aam Ki Chutney is more like a jam or spread, a mashed version. Sweetness from jaggery (gud) and sourness of raw mangoes is balanced with aromatic fennel (saunf) and other basic indian spices. It is an easy peasy homemade pickle or aachaar or jam which is healthy and free of preservatives.

Serve it as a dip along with nachos, chips or plain papad. Spread it on parathas, bread or puri. It also goes well as a side with rice and daal.


Ingredients:
5 small raw mangoes/kairi
2 tablespoons oil
1 pinch asafoetida/heeng
1 tablespoon fennel seeds/saunf
1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds/rai
1/4 cup grated jaggery/gud/gur
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder/lal mirch
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup water

Method:
Wash mangoes. Peel the skin. Discard the seed. Cut into medium pieces and keep aside.
Heat oil in pan. When oil gets hot add heeng. Add rai and jeera. Let it crackle.
Add in haldi and water. Mix.
Add mangoes and all the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on medium flame for 2 minutes.
After two minutes, start mashing the mango pieces with the back of a spoon.
Taste. You might need to add more jaggery (depending on sour the mangoes are).
Let it cool down. Fill it in air tight container.


Notes:
You can use sugar instead of jaggery.
This stays well in the fridge for 1 week.
If you like it like launji where mango pieces are visible (kada or akha or sabut as well call it) then cut mango pieces into wedges and do not add water. Cook it on very slow flame, covered in a non stick pan.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Aloo Lilva Subji: Tuver/Pegion Peas Potatoes Curry


Lilva, tuar, tuver,toovar, or lilva papadi whatever else you call it. Lilva is a type of beans commonly known Pigeon Peas. I would say it’s like green peas but flat like beans. If you just put lilva in Google, the top most recipe it will give you will be Lilva Kachori. Yes Lilva kachori is very famous and its native lies in Gujarat.

Today, I have another recipe, a simple one- Aloo Lilva Subji. Potatoes and Lilva curry. Just like aloo matar (peas and potatoes) this combination is also highly addictive. You can make this curry in pressure cooker just like pressure cooker aloo matar recipe (just replace peas to lilva). Today I am sharing a Gujarat way, restaurant style version.



Most of the thali in Gujarat will have this subji. It will be bit sweet, spicy and garlicy. So this is that version- rich tomato gravy with garlic, spices and jaggery. Serve it with plain chapati or phulka or paratha.

Ingredients:
2 medium size potatoes/aloo
1 cup pigeon peas/lilva
1 large tomato/Tamatar
4 cloves garlic/lehsun
2 tablespoon tamarind pulp/imli
1 tablespoons jaggery/gud
2 tablespoons oil
Pinch asafoetida/hing
1 bay leaf/tej patta
1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder/haldi
1 teaspoon red chilli powder/lal mirch
1 teaspoon coriander powder/dhaniya
1/2 teaspoon garam massala
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves/Kasturi methi
Salt to taste

Method:
Boil potatoes in pressure cooker. Let it cool. Chop and keep aside.
Boil lilva and keep aside.
In a blender, blend tomatoes, garlic, garam massala, red chilli powder, turmeric and coriander powder.
Heat oil in a pan. Add heeng.
Add jeera and let it crackle. Add bay leaf.
Turn the flame/heat to low. Add blended tomato mixture. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Cook till oil separates and starts to float over.
Add 1 cup water and salt. Throw in potatoes and lilva. Cover and cook again for 5 minutes.
Add in imli pulp and gud. Mix and cover again. Cook for 2 minutes.
Garnish with kasuri methi and serve.


Notes:
I used frozen lilva. You can use fresh if you get. In the UK we get frozen lilva easily, some popular brands are cofresh, shana, ashoka and taj.
You can use lemon juice instead of tamarind/imli paste.
Feel free to substitute jaggery/gud from sugar.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Curd Rice: Thayir Sadam



Honestly I never had curd rice before; it was a year ago when I first ever tried it. My office colleague who is from Chennai introduced me to curd rice and its goodness.  She explained me that curd rice is a solution to any problem-be it bad tummy days, after greasy food to just a lazy meal idea.

Yogurt or curd or dahi as we call it in hindi is one super healthy ingredient. Like all milk or dairy product curd is also rich in calcium which offers us healthy bones and teeth. Curd has ‘good bacteria’ present in it which strengthens your immune system by fighting against several microorganisms that are present in the body. Consuming curd can go a long way in maintaining a healthy heart, it reduces cholesterol levels. Lastly yogurt is great booster for healthy digestion.

Rice as we know when eaten in moderation can be a good source of carbohydrates. It also contains some amount of proteins, folic acid and phosphorus. What I like about rice the most that even little quantity of rice can make you feel full.


So, when these two ingredients curd and rice combines together to form this easy peasy south Indian dish called Curd Rice the outcome is just amazing. Every now then when I want my stomach lining to cool down from the spicy Indian food I only think about curd rice. From the time I have returned back from Dubai my health hasn’t been well, from stomach problems to toothache to headaches to feeling weak-everything is going on; it is only Curd Rice that comes to rescue.

Now, I am not from south India so may be my recipe is different. I would suggest all my non south Indian friends and followers to have curd rice once in their lifetime (if you haven’t, like me ;-). It is a perfect summer meal when you don’t want to slave yourself in the kitchen. Serve it with some pickle or chutney and a papad-just perfect.

Ingredients
1 and 1/2 cups yogurt/curd/dahi
2 cups boiled rice/chawal
5 tablespoons milk/doodh
2 tablespoon oil
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida/hing
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds/sarso/rai
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
6 curry leaves/kadi patta
3 green chillies slit
2 tablespoons coriander leaves/dhaniya
Salt to taste

Method:
In a large bowl, add yogurt, milk and rice. With potato masher, mash the rice. Add salt and keep aise.
In a pan heat oil and add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and asafoetida. Let the seeds crackle.
Add in green chillies and curry leaves. Mix.
Pour the oil tempering on curd rice mixture. Give a nice stir.
Add in coriander leaves. Mix and serve.


Notes:
Never ever serve curd rice hot. It should be served at room temperature.
You can add chopped green chillies; I added whole chillies so that I can remove it easily.
You can add channa dal or urad daal in tempering as well. I kept it as simple as possible.
Some people add water instead of milk. Feel free to add water as well.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

5 Off-Beat Things To Do In Cambridge


Summer is round the corner and it is the best time to explore UK. On our Easter long weekend we planned a day trip to Cambridge. I have been to Cambridge during peak winters with my girl friends, but spring in Cambridge is just amazing.

Cambridge is a university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, England, on the River Cam. You can reach Cambridge from London in less than 1 hour. If you will Google on what to do in Cambridge, visiting college campus will be the first thing that would come up. But I feel that there some offbeat things that you must surely do in Cambridge, so here is my list.

5 Off-Beat Things To Do In Cambridge

Punting:
Punting is Cambridge tradition, I would say. You don’t need to book it advance, right on the high street you will find many students offering punting tours. The price is between 10 pounds to 20 pounds per person depending on how busy they are. Just sit back and relax while your chauffeur punts and narrating the tales of Cambridge colleges, scientist and kings. 


Canals/Bridges:
Hop on from one canal to another; from one bridge to another. See mathematical bridge (famous Einstein Bridge, the first pic below). Walk to the lanes as you cross from one canal to another. See the spring in full bloom and bed of tulips in between. Sit by the canal and enjoy the punting and boats' magical world unfolding in front of you. If the weather permits, do not forget to open up your picnic basket here.



Market Square:
When in Cambridge, do not miss this market. Monday-Sunday, 10am-4pm, you will find stalls selling a wide range of goods including: Street Food, Books, vinyl, jewellery and bags Fruit and vegetables, second hand bikes, garden plants and so much more. My tip would be to try a Venezuelan Food called Arepa. Arepa is corn meal bread (gluten free) and you can choose your own filling. We had mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh basil, topped it up with incredible tasty green sauce/chutney.


Petite Cafes:
Oh yeah, I love small, little lovely cafes in Cambridge. If eating street food is not your forte then grab yourself a cup of coffee, ice tea or ‘soup of the day’ in one of the petite cafes. My suggestion would be to visit Indigo Coffee House. Situated in narrow lanes, away from crowd lies this cafe, which has quirky feel to it and food choices range from sweet treats to hot snacks. We had Hot Chocolate, Lemon Ice Tea and Toasted Buttered Bagel.



Free Fudge:
You can not only taste the free fudge samples here but see them make it live. Fudge Kitchen is a fudge heaven. I have tasted their Raspberry Meringue and Salted Chocolate Fudge-both so amazing. After all where do you get to taste warm fudge, right? This is place, I liked it so much that I am listing it as one the thing you must do in Cambridge. 



Below are some random pics that I clicked in Cambridge






Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mint Chutney: Pudhine Ki Chutney: Hari Chutney:Green Chutney



What is chutney? Chutney usually contains some mixture of spice, vegetable, and/or fruit. Chutneys may be either wet or dry, and can have a coarse to a fine texture.  If you are an Indian, you will understand and know that all the snacks are accompanied with chutney. We just can’t have snacks without chutney-it is like a necessity. Serve daal pakodas (lentil fritters) to us without chutney and you will see only frowns. So be it Bombay sandwichaloo tikki or dhokla we need chutney.

Green chutney also known as Hari Chutney (dhaniya ki chutney) and  is the most preferred one. I have posted two other green chutneys before, one with raw mango (kacha aam/kairi/ambi) and lastly the one with the Indian gooseberries (amla). Today’s chutney is the mint version- made with coriander leaves, mint, green chillies and some spices.



Mint Chutney or Pudhine Ki Chutney is my most chosen one for summers. Mint and summers go hand in hand for me. The menthol (minty) cold taste is something you crave for hot days and that’s what makes this chutney even more summery and special. If you will Google the recipe for Pudhine ki chutney you will find a complicated recipe with long ingridents list like peanuts, coconut and garlic; but my recipe is a simpler one with few things.

Just handful of ingredients and this chutney gets ready in jiffy. The best way to serve (I believe) this chutney is with hot snack/meals. For instance I wouldn’t recommend this chutney for chaats or cold snacks –like bhel puri, dahi vada or sev puri. But instead it would compliment and balance a hot meal really well, think- tava pulav, veg kebab, spinach muthiya or any kind of paratha.

Ingridents:
1 cup mint leaves/pudhina
1 cup corineder leaves/dhaniya
1 inch ginger/adrak
3 green chillies/hari mirchi
1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
2 tablespoons yogurt/dahi
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice/nimbu ka ras
1/2 teaspoon black salt/kala namak
Water as needed

Method:
Wash and chop coriander leaves and mint leaves.
In blender or grinder, add coriander leaves, mint leaves, ginger, cumin, green chillies and blend.
Mix in yogurt, lemon juice, salt and black salt. Blend again. Add water if needed. The consistency should be fine.
Put in a airtight container. This will remain fine for 1 week in the fridge.


Notes:
You can add more green chillies for a spicer version.
Add salt carefully, as you are using two types of salt.

Make sure not to use any stalks/stems of mint. Stalks will make the chutney bitter.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sev Tameta Nu Shak –Gujarat Way




Rajasthan and Gujarat are two Indian states located in western India sharing borders with each other. I have a deep connection with both these places. While I was born and brought up in Rajasthan, I did my graduation and eventually got married to a guy from Gujarat. If you are wondering why I am talking about this then let me tell you. My idea is to talk about one dish that is equally popular in both the states.

Sev Tamatar Ki Subji or known as Sev Tameta Nu Shak in Guajarati. I have marwadi/rajasthani style sev Tamatar ki subji before but today its Gujarati way. Now what’s the difference you ask? Well, Rajasthani one is loaded with garlic and lots of chillies. Gujarati way is sour and sweet, made with jaggery (gud). Honestly I like both the ways equally-it just depends on my mood. Mostly in Gujarat this subzi served with bhakri.


Now, sev is deep fried gram/chickpea flour vermicelli. The curry is made with garlic, chopped onions, tomatoes and Indian spices to which finally sev is added. There is no hard and fast rule on how to make the curry but I would say that please add sev just before serving otherwise it will become really soggy and mushy.

So few days back I got an email when someone asked me about the consistency of the sev Tamatar ki sabzi- well, it is again a personal choice and taste. If you like runny gravy, add more water. If you like dry, reduce the water. I like it semi-thick which means you can see the water but not too much.


Which kind of sev should you use? Any kind but which is thicker then nylon sev. Best is to use Ratlami Sev or thick sev. Here is how to make Sev Tameta Nu Shak –Gujarat Way!

Ingredients:
3 medium tomatoes, chopped finely
1 medium tomato, blended
5 cloves garlic minced or grated
1 medium size onion chopped finely
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
1/4 teaspoon turmeric/haldi
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder/dhaniya
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust as per taste)
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons grated jagery/gud (or adjust as per taste)
2 cups water
1/2 cup sev/namkeen/bhujia
2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves

Method:
Heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add cumin, let it splutter.
Add garlic and chopped onion. Cook for 1 minute or till onion turns soft.
Add chopped tomatoes and blended tomato.
Add the spices. Mix and cook tomatoes covered till they turn soft and mushy.
Add 2 cups or water and jaggery. Let it boil for 5 minutes.
Add sev and coriander leaves. Mix and serve.

Notes:
You can add sugar as well instead of jiggery (goor). Also please adjust the sweetens as per you taste
You can use any kind of sev-bikaneri bhujia, ratlami sev, thick sev, massala sev.
Please add or reduce water as per the consistency you decide.
Add sev just before serving.




Monday, April 3, 2017

Watermelon Lemonade: With Indian Twist





Some days just call for drinks.

Summer coolers.

Citrus sweet sips.

Saturday was that kind of day.

I don’t want to go on and on today so I am keeping things pretty simple.

I made us one of the best classic summer drinks and I put my own little spin on it… AND, I made it very healthier too!! YEAH!!

Watermelon Lemonade! When life gives you watermelon, make watermelon lemonade.
No extra sugar or honey, just watermelon juice, lemon juice, ice and some Indian chaat massala-oh yeah baby.



Wait, do not begin to scratch your heads yet, do not worry, you don’t need any fancy juicer for this recipe. A good old mixer/blender is just fine.

My own spin is use of chaat massala. A detailed post on chaat massala and the recipe is hereHonestly this is one easy peasy summer drink with just 4 ingridents-great for parties and get-togethers. Feel free to make this in advance; pop it up in your fridge and serve for later.


Makes:
2 tall glasses

Ingredients:
3 cups chopped watermelon
Lemon juice, adjust as per taste
1 teaspoon chaat massala+ 1 teaspoon for glass
1/2 cup ice

Method:
Put chopped watermelon in a blender. Pulse and blend till watermelon. Sieve the watermelon juice through a sieve.
Mix in lemon juice. The overall taste should be sweet and tangy. If the watermelon is very sweet then balance the quantity of lemon juice.
Finally mix in chaat massala.
Dip the rim of glass into water. Spread the remaining chaat massala on  flat plate. Dip the rim of glass in the chaat massala. The rim should be coated well with chaat massala.
Put ice in the glass. Pour in the watermelon juice and serve.

Notes:
Chaat Massala is easily available in indian grocery stores.
For a fizzy drink mix in equal quantity of plain soda.



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Quick Pressure Cooked: Rajma Massla



What is that one advice you will like to give to someone who is attempting to cook indian food? Most of my non indian friends love to eat indian food but they never want to or are too scared to cook indian meals in their kitchen. Reason- it’s complicated. It’s no lengthy and time consuming. Well, to all those people I will opine one thing-please buy a pressure cooker.

Pressure cooker is a simple utensil that cooks food within minutes without compromising the flavours. Today’s recipe- Rajma Massala is also cooked in pressure cooker which takes half less time to traditional style rajma massla. So lets call this recipe Quick Rajma Massla.



So rajma comes from our north India/Punjab cuisine where red kidney beans are the star ingredient. The most conventional way to serve rajma is with white rice or Rajma Chawal as we call it hindi. Honestly there is nothing better then rajma chawal on a gloomy wet day. Scoops of rajma mixed with the rice is the taste I can die for.

Red kidney beans are very hard and would take hours if you are boiling it in open pan but with pressure cooker you can do it in 5-8 minutes. Also I have used only one bowl/utensil that is cooker to make this. So no kadai/wok or extra pan; just throw everything in cooker, wait for whistles and you are good to go.

Ingredients:
1 cup red kidney beans/rajma
3 cups water
2 tablespoon oil
2 medium tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, finely chopped
2 green chillies slited
2 cloves/laung
1 bay leaf/tej patta
1/4 teaspoon cumin/jeera
1 teaspoon coriander powder/dhaniya powder
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder/lal mirch
1/4 teaspoon turmeric/haldi
1/4 teaspoon garam massala
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves chopped, for garnish


Method:
Soak rajma beans overnight. Next day drain the water and set the beans aside.
Heat oil in cooker. When oil gets hot add bay leaf, cloves and cumin seeds. Cook for 5 seconds. Turn the flame to low.
Add in it chopped garlic and onion. Cook till onions become pinkish-brown.
Add in chopped tomato, salt, turmeric, coriander powder, red chilli powder, garam massala and green chilli. Mix well.  Add 1/2 cup water. Cook for 1 minute or till you hear your pressure cooker is just about to whistle.
Open the cooker carefully. Add in remaining water and beans. Cook on medium-low flame till 7-8 whistles.
When the pressure is released, open the cooker. Mash some beans with a spoon to get thick consistency.
Garnish with ginger and coriander leaves.
Serve hot with steamed rice.



Notes:
Instead of garam massala you can use rajma massla mix (available in Indian stores as well)
Please feel free to add more red chilli powder as per your taste

The quantity of water will depend on the size of your pressure cooker.