Monday, June 30, 2014

Pav Bhaji, A Story About Mumbai Monsoons

A day in Mumbai is hot and humid, a day in Mumbai is busy- everything and everyone around is running-no one stops or pauses. But if you have experienced Mumbai monsoons then there is no place like it. That day I was in bad mood, I just thought I am the most unlucky one and mind was engulfed with all kinds of negativity. I locked myself in a room and asked my husband to leave me alone. I sat by a window, engrossed deeply in thoughts and suddenly I felt sprinkles of rain on my face, the wind blew by hair and I closed my eyes to feel it. The longer I sat there the more I purified my mind, my thoughts and my soul...With showers of rain, the magic of monsoons I found my inner peace. I was satisfied with what I had, I was thankful to God for what he had bestowed on me, I took a deep breath of positivity, and finally I wiped tears off my cheeks and smiled. I opened the door of the room and hugged my husband - the storm in me was now quite and calm.

That day I learnt- some people come in your life as blessings and some come as lessons. My husband’s love and care is what I am blessed with and I will always nourish it. That day we decided to celebrate the spirit of Mumbai monsoons- that life need not be so dry, that there are good days and bad days. We took the umbrella and wandered on the streets of Mumbai and there he was the- Pav Bhaji vendor.  We both knew that there could be no other way of rejoicing that moment but to enjoy the most beloved street food of Mumbai. Half wet, we bit into the scoops of garlicy spicy Bhaji with buttery Pav. So that was my very first experience with Mumbai monsoons- today I don't even remember what made me so sad that day, all I memorize is good food, rains and my partner.

Sunday it rained in London, even though it was not heavenly like the one in Mumbai, I somewhat felt same. As I stood in the balcony, Mr. Husband came from behind and said- Pav Bhaji banaye (lets make Pav Bhaji) and I grinned with the flashback of memories.  Those of you don’t know, Bhaji is a spicy vegetable mash served with a couple of yeasty pull apart rolls along with chopped onions and lemon wedges. There are hundreds if not thousands way of making it and no particular way is right or wrong, but I do believe that slow cooking is must here. The more you cook the massalas with veggies, garlic and onions on a slow flame, the better it will be.  Another thing, please skip the spoon, just lick the fingers- trust me it is one huge satisfaction.

4 large potatoes/ aloo
1/2 cauliflower/ phool gobi
1 capsicum/shimla mirch
2 carrots/gajar
1 cup peas/mutter
1 large onion/pyaz
5 cloves of garlic/lehsun
5 tomatoes chopped fine
2 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons of pav bhaji massala (see notes)
1 teaspoon red chilli powder/lal mirch
1/4 cup of chopped coriander leaves/dhaniya
Bread/Pav to serve with

Peal potatoes and chop in quaters. Also chop cauliflower, carrots and capsicum. Boil all the chopped vegetables and peas with 1 cup of water for 2 whistles in a pressure cooker.
In the grinder, grind together onion and garlic to fine paste.
Heat oil in a wok/kadai. When hot add in onion garlic paste. On a medium heat cook till there is no raw smell.
Next add in chopped tomatoes, pav bhaji massala, red chilli powder, salt and 1 cup of water. Cover and cook till 10 minutes on a slow flame. After 10 minutes stir, cover and cook again for 5 minutes. You must be able to see that oil has separated and water has evaporated.
To it add the boiled vegetables. With the help of masher, mash the veggies.  Add 2 cups of water cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for next 5 minutes.
Mix in copped coriander leaves.
Serve hot with warm toasted Pav and chopped onions and lemon wedges.

Pav bhaji massala is available in all the Indian grocery stores. I used MDH brand.
Add in or omit any vegetable as per your wants.
You can also grate onion and garlic instead of grinding it.
Slit the pav/bread in between and toast both the sides on tava/pan before serving. If you can't find pav, use burger breads.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mutter Paneer, Indian Cottage Cheese And Green Peas Curry

If you are a vegetarian, I am sure you must be in love with paneer dishes. Why not after all the good old Indian cottage cheese is such a versatile ingredient that is used in all the way- be it dessert, soup or main. Who thought that plain, simple white milk could be turned into one magical product? Having guest at home or having a special occasion to celebrate, paneer dish is always in our menu-do you also have same story? If yes below are some Paneer dishes that I have prepared-

Paneer Chocolate Sandesh (chocolate balls with paneer)
Kesar Paneer Kalakand (mashed paneer mixed with saffron and nuts)

Paneer Tikka (Marinated and roasted paneer)
Paneer Pudhina Tikki (Paneer patties with chopped mint leaves)
Tomatoes stuffed with paneer ( grated paneer and spices stuffed in baby tomatoes)
Palak Paneer Paratha (Indian flat bread stuffed with paneer and spinach)

Paneer Kofta (fried paneer balls in tomato gravy)
Palak Paneer (Healthy paneer dish with spinach and cream)
Achari Paneer (Paneer curry in spicy pickled spices)
Palak Mutter Paneer (combination of spinach and peas in tomato gravy)
Paneer Makai Bhurji (grated paneer with chunks of corn)
Hydarbadi Paneer (paneer stir fry with bell peppers)
Paneer Butter Masala (paneer in creamy and rich tomato gravy with butter and tomatoes)
Kadai Paneer (paneer cooked in wok with whole spices)
Paneer Tikka Masala (marinated paneer chunks coated with spicy garlic gravy)

.......But one paneer dish that is very common and is one of the most popular ordered dishes in the Indian restaurants is Mutter Paneer. Mutter in English means peas and Paneer as we know is Indian cottage cheese; both these ingredients are cooked in rich tomato garlic gravy with the hint of coriander leaves and are then called as Mutter Paneer. The fried chunks of paneer and soft peas smothered in spicy gravy are so magical and perfect that you are ought to enjoy it. Serve it with plain rice, parathas or chapatti.Every home and restaurant has its own way of preparing this curry, but I am sharing the old and traditional method.

2 cups of cubed paneer/ Indian cottage cheese
1/2 cup of peas/mutter (frozen or fresh
1 large onion/pyaz
2 cloves garlic/lehsun
1 1/2 cups tomato puree
1 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder/dhainya
1 teaspoon turmeric powder/haldi
2 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder/lal mirch
1 teaspoon cumin seed/jeera
1 bayleaf/tej patta
1 teaspoon garam massala (recipe HERE)
2 1/2 tbsp oil 
Salt to taste
chopped coriander leaves for garnish (optional)

Heat t teaspoon of oil in a pan and roast paneer peices till they turn golden.
In a grinder grind onion and garlic to paste.
Next, heat remaining oil in the wok/kadai. Add cumin seed and bay leaf. Let seeds splutter.
Mix the onion garlic paste in the wok. Cook on medium low heat till raw smell goes.
Add in tomato puree and cook till mixture reduces to half and oil is separated.
Add all the spices with 1/2 cup of water. Cook covered for 2 minutes on medium heat.
Finally add in cubes of paneer and peas with 1 cup of water.
Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes on low heat.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

If you are using fresh peas, boil them separately and then add to the gravy.
I used kashmiri red chilli powder, it is very less spicy but gives great red colour. You can use any red chilli powder; just make sure you adjust the quantity depending on its heat level.
I used 2 large tomatoes puree. You can use 1 can of tomatoes instead.
Onion and garlic is optional.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Red Wine Walnut Bread, No Knead Bread

How was the weekend ladies? What did you do? We had friends at our place and so it was lot of fun. Lot of chit chats, games, football match and yes food. How do you decide what to serve your guest? For me it always depends on the weather. When it is raining I would probably go for some mixed daal pakoras (mixed lentils fried balls) or spicy pav bhaji (spicy vegetable mashed curry served with bread). This weekend sun was crisp and shining without a little haze of rain, so the menu had to be simple, cold and not fried. After lot of discussion with Mr. Husband I decided to serve orange lemonade in drinks, spinach muthiya with green chutney as mains and chocolate brownies with ice creams in desserts. For starters I decided to bake bread. 

Who will not like the recipes that is not elaborate, doesn't have tons of steps to follow? Well I am that kind of a person who tries to stay far from complicated recipes. Bread is one such product that needs lot of preparation, too many ingredients and an expensive kitchen aid. So no knead bread is what I am always looking to bake at home. I looked for recipes depending on the ingredients available in the kitchen and then I discovered one amazing RED WINE WALNUT BREAD recipe. My world stopped-my heart, tummy and soul just wanted to make it. I did make lot of changes to the original recipes and it turned out to be absolutely fine, if you want original recipe, click here.

Now, imagine- soft bread with hard crust, crunchy walnut bits and hint of red wine-sounds exciting right?? Oh yes red wine walnut bread is beautifully pink inside and brown outside and those of you who don’t like red wine don’t worry the final taste is so mild and subtle that you won’t even notice.  We were left with crumbs, the bread finished in one go. I served it with fennel roasted cherry tomatoes like bruschetta and everyone loved it. You go ahead serve with roasted tomatoes chutney, chocolate spread or as a side with tomato garlic soup. Who said making bread is technical and complex-try this may be you change your mind (like me)

200g all purpose flour and little to dust
100g strong whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 sachet active yeast
1 glass red wine (125ml), plus water to make total 200ml
50g whole walnuts, plus 100g coarsely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil

Lightly mix the flours, salt and yeast in a bowl.
In a blender, blend wine, water and the whole walnuts and the oil until smooth, then pour into the flour. Add the chopped walnuts and stir briskly to make a soft, sticky dough. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
Rub a spoonful of oil on the work surface and a bit on your hands. Remove the dough and knead on the oiled surface for 10-15 seconds. Return to the bowl, cover again, and leave for another 10 minutes. Finally, repeat the light knead, put the dough back in the bowl and leave for 45 minutes, or until almost doubled in height.
Lightly flour the work surface and roll the dough to desired shape.  I made into triangle with some walnut bits in the centre.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Lightly dust the top of the loaf with flour and. And Bake for 40 minutes until the bread pulls away from the baking tray. Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a rack.

Make sure that all the ingredients are at room temperature.
Use pecan, pine nuts or almonds instead of walnuts if you wish.

Serving ideas:
Serve with butter, nuttella, hummus or chutney of your choice.
Make a sandwich with any filling using the slices.
Serve as a side with soup.

Sending this to Made With Love Mondays

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hydrabadi Paneer, Spicy Cottage Cheese Stir Fry

Did anyone ever asked you what were the best days of your life? The one period of life you always want to go back to? When I close my eyes and think, I travel back to my hostel days. The days when life meant fun, the days when things were simpler, the days those are now passed.  That’s life, when I was in school, I wanted to go to college and when I did start going to college-I wanted to earn money. And now when I have my own earnings, guess what I wish for? I wish I could go back to my hostel days.

Life was easy, we had to go to college, study and pass in the exams-that’s all. We never had to worry about hostel fees, world news-nothing. But we were stupid enough to make life complicated by trying to grow up or giving importance to brainless boyfriend-girlfriend relationships. Anyways, I had some amazing friends or I must say roommates then but NISHTHA was indeed special. I knew her since school days and she was a year junior to me. Come what may-we were always there for each other. Hmmm! she is a partner in crime, a guide, a shopping companion and a soul sister. She is strong, straightforward, beautiful and a big-time FOODIE.

That's Nishtha...the pics shows that she is a huge Foodie ;)

Back then we had little pocket money and when mess food was inedible, pale or boring (which was most of the time) we would go on the streets of Ahemadabad and search for economical and tasty food. Sometimes it was a plate of pani puri and at times a bowl of bhelpuri on CG road; tasty and filling thali from Vaibhav or spicy Aloo Parathas from Bermis....we went anywhere and everywhere looking for good and inexpensive food. She infact discovered about a restaurant ‘Seva Cafe’ that served food on pay as much as you like basis –yeah I know we were so nasty but we had no money *evil grin*.Occasionally we walked on to the lanes of IIM where hawkers sold all kinds of cuisines out of which VIP Punjabi was our favourite.

The vendor arranged the red plastic chairs and tables on the side of the road and start preparing his tandoor for Naan. With spark in our eyes and mouth filled with saliva we waited for our beloved Hydrabadi Paneer and naan to arrive on our table. We were serenaded by the constant stream of honking, foot traffic, and hawkers but who cared- for us there was nothing better than biting into the scoops of Hydrabadi Panner, naan and raw onion salad. We then returned back to hostel with broad smile on our face and huge contentment to our tongue and tummy. Thank you Nish for always being there for me, for giving those wonderful memories.  Friendship is not a big thing, its a million little things.

So last weekend I thought of replicating the same Hydrabadi Paneer subji and let Mr. Husband know why Nishtha and myself liked it so much. Huge chunks of Paneer/cottage cheese and capsicum are coated with the hot blend of spices and tomatoes- more like a stir fry. Pair it with parathas, naans, puri or simple chapatti- you are ought to enjoy this curry. Mr. Husband loved it and would like to go to VIP Punjabi with me when we visit Ahmedabad *happy dance*. But you ladies must totally make this and please your partners too :-)

1 and 1/2 cups of paneer
4 cloves garlic/lehsun
2 medium size onion
2 tomatoes/Tamatar
1 large capsicum/bell-pepper/shimla mirch
2 dried red chilies
1 teaspoon coriander seeds/dhaniya
1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder/haldi 
1 tablespoon red chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon garam massala (recipe HERE)
Salt to taste 
1 teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves/kasthuri methi
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon coriander leaves


  1. Chop paneer, 1 onion and capsicum into cubes or large chunks.
  2. In a grinder make a paste of 1 onion, garlic cloves and whole coriander seeds.
  3. Heat oil in wok/kadai. When oil is hot add dried red chilies and cumin. Let it splutter.
  4. To this add the grinded paste with 1/4 cup water. Let it cook till there is no raw smell.
  5. Next, mix in chopped tomatoes and all the remaining spices with 1 cup of water. Cover and cook it on a low flame till it gets soft and mushy.
  6. In a separate pan sauté the chunks onion and capsicum. It should be soft but yet crunchy. Do not overcook them. Keep aside
  7. In the same pan toss the pieces of paneer till it gets light brown colour.
  8. Finally add onions, capsicum and paneer to the tomatoes paste. Stir well. Cook covered for 5 minutes.
  9. Garnish with coriander leaves and Serve hot.
You can skip onion and garlic if you want. 
For more richer taste, add 2 tablespoons of cream in the gravy.

Sending this for Independence Day Event at Cooking With SJ for Hudson giveway

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Aam Ras/Keri Nu Ras

Oh! How much I waited for you. How much I longed for you. How much I missed you. Summers! You are finally here. Now I can throw my coats and gloves away and pull out those flowery loose skirts and dresses. People are flocking all around on bicycles, sun bathing in the park with cold beverages in hands and I sit and think about summers in India. Summers in India means scorching heat and sweaty days but it was still quite fun. It was the time when we were free, when we had no studies to do...yes it was the summer vacations.

Do you miss that time? I do. I miss being free, I miss playing all day, I miss being a child, I miss being served by my mother after battling with heat all day. You can never have summers in India without refreshing drinks; be it massala chaas, gulkand ice tea or the very staple AAM RAS or Keri Nu Ras. Mangoes as you know are supposed to be the king of the fruits but I never believed so. I never liked mangoes growing up as it would mess up my teeth and due to its heat I would end up with pimples on my face *sad sad*. Only after marriage when we were in Mumbai I tasted the alphonso mangoes and rest as we say is history. Oh I do get pimples even now but alphonso are tasty that I don’t care anymore.

This year summers started with one bad news. News, that UK government has banned the export of all the varieties of Indian Mangoes till 2016. Oh my I was so sad and I am sure all the Indian in the UK feel the same. But I was still hopeful, I checked so many Asian stores and supermarkets but all in vain *sad face*. Last weekend I visited the local Bangladeshi shop I saw mangoes there, no no they were not alphonso but had similar fragrance. I picked up 4 mangoes with a thought of making Aam Ras with them.*happy dance*

Aam Ras means mango pulp and is very popular dish in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is creamy, thick and sweet mixture that is served with Pooris (fried Indian bread) or just like a dessert after meals. This aam ras is made with hint of cardamom that uplifts the taste to the new level and you will end up licking the bowl . Oh yes! I believe that everyone must make Aam Ras atleast once in the summers. No matter how you serve it you are ought to enjoy. A yellow refreshing drink that soothe your soul and convince you that everything is alright.

3 mangoes
1/2 cup milk (I used low fat)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder/elyachi
Sugar to adjust the sweetness
4 ice cubes

Peel the mangoes and chop into pieces. Try to take our maximum pulp from the mangoes.
In a blender blend everything together till it becomes creamy (like smoothie or lassi).
Sieve the whole mixture.
Refrigerate atleast 4 hours and then serve cold.

Always soak mangoes in water for atleast 1 hour before use. This helps to eliminate the heat content from the mangoes.
You will need to adjust sugar depending on the taste of the mangoes.
Even adjust milk as per the consistency you prefer.
Using cardamom is optional.
You can also garnish with chopped almonds and pistachios before serving.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Green Tomatoes Chutney/ Kache Tamatar Ki Chutney- Father's Day Special

Father- a son’s first hero and a daughter’s first love. When a child is born he/she is hardly able to open the eyes, but when my dad held me in his hands for the first time I was looking at him with wide opened eyes- ah for me it was love at first sight. Papa, as I call him is my world and I am so glad he is my dad. Have you ever wondered why every daughter loves her dad the most? Because he is the ONLY man who will never ever hurt her. My dad is special, he is the best and he is my hero. For me he is never wrong- not when he scolded me, not when he did not permit me to go out with friends, not when he was angry when I scored less in exams, not when he said something I dint like-he was , he is and he always will be right. He smiled at me when I was good, he pampered me with ice creams, he celebrated my every birthday, he always loved me more then my brother, he gave me all I needed- I am a complete daddy’s little girl. Happy father’s day Papa- I love you.

Even though I learnt cooking from my maa but my dad too plays a role there. My dad is one fussy picky eater and is very particular about the colour, taste and flavours of the dish. Impressing my papa is one huge task and only mummy can do it well. Even mummy says that it is papa’s comments, criticism and appreciation that bring out the best out of her kitchen skills. When I first rolled out rotis, they were hard and rubbery but he ate without any complains- I am sure every dad does that :) Kudos to all the dads!

On this Father’s Day occasion I chose to make his favourite and most beloved Green Tomatoes Chutney, or as he call is it Kache Tamatar Ki Chutney which means Raw Tomatoes Chutney. Chutney to marwadi agrawals is like chocolate to a kid. Oh yes we need chutneys with all our meals- green chutney with punjabi aloo parathas; raw mango chutney forpani puris or spicy eggplant/baigan chutney for winters.

In the span of 3 years in London, I never saw green tomatoes in the market, so lately when I saw these petite and raw green tomatoes I had to pick them up. They are very sour and with correct spices it can be transformed to one great dip. I geared up making this chutney soon after marriage in Mumbai where these tomatoes are available easily and even Mr. Husband became fond of it. I prepare it exactly the way my mom does and the way my dad likes. As mentioned above he is keen on colour of the dish as well so mummy uses red chilli powder to enhance the colour otherwise it would look really pale and inedible. Freshly grounded mustard and fenugreek seeds are the soul of this chutney which provides richness and amazing depth of flavour to finished dish. So here it goes:-

2 cups green cherry tomatoes
2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds/rai/sarso
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds/methi
2 green chillies/hari micrh
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon fennel seeds/saunf
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon each of Mustard seeds and fennel seeds

Using a coffee grinder, grind the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds to coarse powder.
In a bowl, mix the grinded powder with chopped silted green chilies and 2 tablespoon water. Mash it to form a paste like consistency.
Cut the tomatoes in halves. In a pan, heat oil and add mustard and fennel seeds. Let it cook for a few seconds.
Then drop the tomato pieces with 1/2 cup of water. Season with salt and let it simmer at medium heat until it is tender when poked with a fork. Keep stirring to avoid it from getting burnt.
Then, add mustard paste, red chilli powder and sugar, mix properly and allow it to cook for a couple more minutes.
Add fennel powder, stir and let it cook for 1 minute.
Switch off the heat and serve it warm or at room temperature.

You can use 4-5 medium size green tomatoes instead of petite ones.
If you prefer less spicy chutneys then don’t use red chilli powder.
This chutney is always semi-thick in consistency but adjust water as per your taste.

Serving Ideas:
Serve with any stuffed parathas.
Great for sandwiches or picnic snacks.
Use as a dip for crackers or nachos

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Food Props Hunt In London

Taking good photos is an art, it is about being creative. People ask which camera you use. Well it is not always about the camera. It is the connection between your eyes and the camera- your eyes sees and then your camera captures. Food that you present must look good to eyes first and then your camera will be able to click good pictures.  So for me it’s more about styling, more about colours, more about being creative-so now we are talking!!. I began with plain black and white plates and bowls and now I enjoy hunting props. What to keep in mind while buying props? Well I follow these guidelines.
  • Budget- yes anything above 2 pounds is way too expensive for me.
  • Patterns- hunt for unique shapes, patterns and designs.
  • Colours- look for vibrant colours. Think about colour combinations.
  • Size-Don’t buy too large or too small items.
If you are in London just head to a car boot sale. Have you ever been to any car boots sale? I visited one few weeks back and I was quite fascinated by the idea. It is an outdoor sale at which people sell unwanted possessions, typically from the boots of their cars. 

Source: Time Out

Source: Capital Car Boot
London has tons of choices when it comes to car boots sale. But we chose to go to Capital Car Boot Sale- it is central’s London only indoor and outdoor car boot sale throughout the year.  There were sellers selling video games, computers, shoes, jewellery but my eyes were looking only for FOOD PROPS. I ended up buying 4 props.

This bowl. I got this for just 1 pound. The white bowl with blue prints and touch of flowers gave very summery feel to it and it was the love at first sight for me. It is perfect for serving chutneys, dips and even dry curries. You can use white or blue plates or napkins to enhance its beauty.
It has that spring touch!

2 cups and 1 saucer- I got all three for 1 pound. The curvy plate with golden design proposed very Victorian and royal look to me. The size is just perfect too. It will be great to accompany it with my bakes and snacks. What do you think?
Those wavy rims with gold

This bowl- this was only for 75 pence. Oh yes I dint even bargain for it. It has very rustic and Indian feel to it and those handles-totally love it. I have already used it twice HERE and HERE. Again it will be great for chutneys, pickles, seeds and even ice creams.
Gives that rural feel

This glass- my husband bargained hard and the lady finally sold this to us for 1 pound. Don’t you just love this lime green colour with carvings of flowers and leaves on it? I don’t know what will I use this for-any ideas? Well If nothing else I am sure this will be great to keep in the background with curries. Hmmm I can also keep tea candles in it.
Those carvings and colour
So yes that’s it. All these lovely props for 3.75 pounds and paid 1 pound as entry fees, still everything under 5 pounds. Not bad-isn't it?? Above all Mr. Husband enjoyed shopping with me and also helped me bargain. So visit this place and keep your eyes open you might get something amazing too.

Capital Car Boot Sale
Nearest tubes and trains are Pimlico -(2 mins walk) and Victoria (5 mins walk).
Timings- Every Sunday 11.30 am to 2.45 pm (please check timings before you leave)
Did you like the post? Where do you hunt for props? Do you know some interesting place in London? What do you keep in mind while buying props? Comments please :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday's Tip- What To Do With Leftover Daal?

Using leftovers is a great practice, after all who wants to waste the delicious food that you cook with love and passion. I have a friend who throws food out daily and it pains my heart. I have argued with her, explained her and even requested her not to do that-but all in vain- sigh! The best idea will be to prepare the food in the quantity that you family needs- I always do that. But there are times when I am still left with the food- like, when I made Cabbage And Peas Subji for my cousin and he mentioned he doesn't eat cabbage, I had to use it to make parathas- you can see HERE.

Last Friday same situation took place. Mr. Husband loves daal, any kind, in any form. So here is what happened- I cooked simple daal and rice for us- he called and said he will be late for dinner as he has lot of work in the office- he already ate something filling in the office-finally he came back at 11pm- at home he had just 1 bowl of daal. So I was left with lots of daal. Serving same menu the next day is a big no no for us. So What To Do With Leftover Daal? I made thin and crispy chilla/cheela/ pancake with it.

I have prepared Moong Dal Chillas before and it is truly one delightful healthy snack. But using leftover daal was one bang on idea and that is why I wanted to share with you all. I used garlic, onions, tomatoes, curry leaves and green chilies to make the daal and all these ingredients finally uplifted the taste for the chillas. So here is what you have to do.

2 bowls thick daal
1/4 cup gram flour/chickpeas flour/besan
5 tablespoons semolina/suji/rawa
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons Coriander leaves/dhaniya
Oil to make chillas
Water to make the batter

In a blender/grinder/mixer blend the daal to a smooth paste
Mix daal with gram flour, semolina, salt, coriander leaves and water. Use water little at a time. The batter should be of ribbon consistency.
Heat a non stick pan/tawa and spread ladle full of batter on it. Spread the batter as thinly as possible into circle. Sprinkle some oil. Let it cook. With the help of spatula, turn the chilla and cook other side.
Serve hot with green chutney.

Remember there is salt in the daal.
I used thick daal, if the dal you are using is runny then you might need to add more besan and rava.
If you wish you can add chopped onions and green chilies in the batter as well.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Penne In Red Wine Sauce, Pasta For Adults

It was the first restaurant we tried in Mumbai after wedding. It was one classy, over priced Italian restaurant- serving huge collections of pasta, wine and pizza. He said- let’s order, while I was still gazing the menu card and was unable to decide what I wanted to eat. C’mon choose he interrupted, you already took the big decision of marrying the right guy, deciding the dish should not take this much time.  I smiled broadly and looked at him behind the menu card. He said, fine I will order for us. I nodded in affirmative. And that was when we tasted Penne in Red Wine Sauce for the first time. Till date we cherish it.

A way to man’s heart is through his stomach and when he is not in a good mood, the tasty food reaches the stomach and heart faster. Too much work in office, too much things happening with the family back in India, too much pending tasks can make a man frustrated. So to ease down his mind I planned to replicate the pasta we had in Mumbai. And I was right, it diverted his mind from all the tensions and we enjoyed the pasta in the balcony chatting about our 1st year of marriage. Sometimes it is nice to walk down the memory lane and think how beautiful life is. Enjoy- you might not even realize that you are making memories.

Oh man don’t you just love the shapes of pasta? Which is your favorite one? Pasta to Indians is one pot meal, quick and filling dinner idea. The same is my story, when I am lazy- making pasta pops in my mind- just chop some vegetables and you are good to go. I always keep roasted bell pepper pasta sauce ready to mix with pasta. Sometimes I make spaghetti in arbiata sauce from scratch but pasta is atleast once a week at our place.

Penne In Red Wine Sauce is for adults, it is boozy, spicy and sharp. Don’t bother to buy some expensive red wine, infact any dry red wine will do. If you don’t know what dry wine is, just read the label. I wanted to give authentic Italian touch so I used Italian wine form Naked Wines. People in the UK, do see Naked Wines website HERE- the collection and price is awesome. Red wine sauce is great for wine lovers or people who want to develop the taste for red wine. When red wine mixes with garlic, pepper and tomatoes it provides richness and amazing depth of flavour to finished dish. The alcohol in the wine will cook off as the mixture simmers, leaving a robust sauce. Do try; I am sure your partners will be happy.

1 and 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic/lehsun
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
6 tomatoes
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups of penne
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat huge pot with lot of water. When water comes to boil, add penne pasta with little salt. Cook and let it boil till it is soft but not mushy. Drain and keep aside.
Heat oil in pan and sauté garlic till it becomes brown over medium heat.
Chop 4 tomatoes finely and make puree of 2 tomatoes.
In the pan add tomatoes, red chili flakes, basil, oregano, sugar, black pepper and salt.
Add red wine and cover. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until thickened.
Finally mix the sauce with penne pasta and cheese.
Serve hot.

You can use any kind of pasta.
Use 2 cans of tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes.
Use 1 tablespoon of fresh basil or oregano for more flavours instead of dried.
Use non stick pan for making sauce.
This sauce can be stored in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tuesday's Tip- How To Grow Fenugreek Leaves/Methi At Home

Do you like DIYs? Do you find DIYs exciting? DIYs in India use to be knitting, painting, making cards –just plain simple crafty things. Once I landed in the UK DIY store grabbed my attention. DIY is an interesting concept to some extent, I mean I enjoy making DIY gifts for Mr. Husband on his birthday or make my own books rack, or paint wood boards for photography but screwing tables or fitting tiles in the bathroom is not for me.  I like creative stuff, I like using my brain and follow instructions that are written in the guide.

Other than making colorful items for home, I tried growing herbs and plants in the balcony. Just like BBQ, gardening is another thing that one MUST try atleast once in lifetime. I have planted seeds of oregano, basil, thyme in small pots and it is amazing how fragrant the balcony gets when they bloom completely.  Back in India I never ever thought that I will grow some plant of herb in my home. Slowly I used bigger pots and grew aubergine and capsicum as well. But today I will share how to grow fenugreek/methi leaves at home?

This is very easy, you need not have fancy pots –just compost and methi seeds (that you already have in your kitchen). Last year I grew in leftover dabba that I had, I have grown in foil containers as well. No rocket science at all. Best part- it starts blooming in a 1 week. So do try this- indeed the best therapy. And you people in India, just plant it now because the climate is in your favor.

  1. Take any pot and fill 3/4 of it with compost.
  2. Take handful of fenugreek seeds and spread evenly.
  3. Water little, the compost should become moist.
  4. Just cover the seeds with compost and water again.
  5. Water every day- but never over-water. You need it to be moist and not water lodged.
  6. See the magic- in 1 week seeds will bloom to leaves.
Next see my tip on howto freeze/preserve fenugreek/methi leaves for months without drying?

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Best Walnut Chocolate Brownies Ever

All you need is love but a little chocolate now and then won’t hurt-Charles M. 
Well that is so true- happy or sad all a gal needs is chocolate. When you give someone a chocolate to share do you secretly wish that he/she refuses to accept it? I do, sharing chocolate with someone is a huge thing for me but sushhh! Don’t tell anyone ;-).  Do you also have a secret affair with chocolate? Chocolate to me is smile, happiness, partner in crime and mood up-lifter, but I don’t like sweet chocolate like dairy milk or galaxy; I love dark chocolate-the bitter ones. The one that doesn't melt in mouth but the one that leaves its bitterness.

So now you get the whole story –you now understand my fondness for chocolate.  I have only one word to describe any chocolate dessert-AWESOME. Be it creamy Black Forest Cake, or zesty Ginger Brownies; be it spicy Chilli Chocolate Cake or nutty Chocolate Fudge- all I say is OH YES, GIVE ME MORE. Right from Vanilla Cookies Coated with chocolate to chocolate cookies ice-cream –I just love chocolate in desserts.

One fine day when it was raining and I was missing family back in India, I was missing Indian Monsoons- I was depressed deeply. All I wanted was chocolate. I needed something to cheer me up and bring smile back on my face. I decided to make brownies. Now imagine, when it is pouring outside and your home is smelling warm and chocolaty...wait it gets better...imagine a piece of chocolate that is chewy and crumbly with walnutty crunch.....Well yes chocolate doesn't ask silly questions-it just understands:)

WALNUT CHOCOLATE BROWNIES is such a chocolaty, bitter, sweet delight that no one can have just one. A pair made in heaven-chocolate and walnut-oh so well they complement each other, understand each other and finally combine up to please your taste buds and feelings. These Brownies are so scrumptious that you have got to bake it NOW. Summers-have with dollop of ice-cream; Rainy-have with drizzle of chocolate sauce; Winters- just warm it and enjoy. Trust me –gulping this brownie is no less than a therapy.

Cocoa powder- 1/2 cup
Unsalted Butter- 1/2 cup
Sugar- 1 cup
Eggs- 2
All purpose flour- 1/4 cup
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Bitter sweet/ Dark chocolate, broken into small pieces- 1/4 cup
Walnuts, cut into small pieces- 1/4 cup
Salt- a pinch

Preheat the oven at 165C. Grease the pan. I used glass rectangle pan.
Take microwave safe bowl and heat cocoa powder and butter on high for 20 seconds. Let it cool for 15 seconds.
To it add sugar and mix. Mix till sugar is half dissolved.
Add one egg at a time and mix well and quickly. Add another egg and mix.
Finally add in all purpose flour, salt and fold. Just mix don’t over mix.
Add in chopped chocolate. Pour the mixture in the pan. Sprinkle the walnuts on it.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or till when toothpick inserted in between comes clean.

I used 70% dark chocolate. You can use less bitter one as well. Even Cadbury dairy milk.
Using walnuts is optional. You can use any chopped nut or nuts at all. Choice is yours.
Don’t let sugar dissolve completely in the batter because sugar caramelizes and gives you those chewy brownies.
I used self raising flour and it worked fine.
Don't panic if brownies don’t rise-they are supposed to be like that.

Sending this to Made With Love Mondays