Bruschetta with Tomato & Basil Recipe

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Appetizing and Delectable- Bruschetta Recipe

Bruschetta with tomato & basil

Bruschetta with tomato & basil

 

I love Bruschetta, the tinge of olive oil, the aroma of basil, the freshness of tomatoes leaves one craving for more. Served as brunch on a Sunday morning, they make perfect appetizers. Icing on the cake….your husband makes them to perfection for you! :-)

Ingredients

Time for preparation- 10 minutes

Time to toast less than 10 minutes

Serves 4-5 as an appetizer

  • 5 or 6 ripe tomatoes (~300 gms)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (We used garlic flavoured bread so I did not add garlic)
  • 1.5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped (alternatively dried basil)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper & oregano to taste
  • 1 baguette French bread or any bread of your choice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Cheese (optional)

Method-

Prepare the tomatoes first.  Chop the tomatoes finely.

Turn on the oven to ~ 230 C(450°F) to preheat. Now while the oven is heating, put  tomatoes, garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and mix. Add the chopped basil. Add salt, oregano and pepper to taste.

Slice the baguette or the bread on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick slices. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil or butter. Now  spread the topping prepared above on the bread. And then grate cheese evenly over the bread (optional)

Once the oven has reached 450°F, I placed the tray of bread slices in the oven on the middle rack. Toast for ~ 8 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.

Alternatively, you can toast just the bread (olive side up) and then either place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon for people to serve themselves over the bread, or place some topping on each slice of bread and serve. If you top each slice with the tomatoes, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy.

Once done, munch away ;-)

 

 

Shakarparas- Deep fried, sugar coated flour recipes

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Arnav enjoying the Shakarparas

Arnav enjoying the Shakarparas

Shakarparas- Deep fried, sugar coated flour recipes

This is my second post this year…. is something amiss…or maybe not….we have a cook this year & he is a pro. I have been busy putting those extra pounds and enjoying the yummylicious dishes that he prepares.

Moving on, Mom is here for a month, can I ask for more…NO! Mom here means, endless hours of chit chat, gossip, I don’t need to do any laundry, no cooking….she looks after me, Arnav & home. Bliss!

My Mom got along these Shakarparas with her…Shakarpare are sugar coated flour pieces which are deep fried. And they can be stored for 2 -3 weeks. I loved them, the sugar was just right. I finished them soon enough, Mom being Mom, made more of them and here is the simple recipe.

Ingredients-
All-purpose flour – 500 gms
Ghee – 100 gms
Water to knead
Oil for frying
For Sugar Coating
Sugar – 500 gms
Water – ~200 ml

Preparation-

Add ghee to the flour and mix it until it resembles breadcrumbs. Now add water required to knead this into a stiff dough. Keep Aside.
Heat oil in a kadai or a saucepan. Divide the dough into four to five long rolls.
Roll each portion to ~6mm inch thickness and cut in a criss cross with knife into 1/2 inch diamond shaped pieces.
When the oil gets perfectly hot (120 – 140 C) fry the pieces for a couple of minutes on high flame then medium flame for ~10 minutes or till the pare are crisp and light golden. Drain them on a paper tissue and fry the remaining pieces in the same way.

To make the syrup (coating)-

In a pan boil the water and the sugar till the sugar dissolves and it reaches one-string consistency – I don’t really measure- however the amount of water that I took was enough to cover the sugar.

Add the pare all together (or in batches) and coat the pare evenly with the help of a flat spoon.
Do not mix too much, as the sugar will harden. Take them out and let them dry for a while. Store in airtight container. Enjoy!

Matar (Peas) Paratha for Sunday Brunch

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Matar (Peas) Paratha

 

Matar Paratha

Matar Paratha served with alu sabzi, green chillies pickle & curd

Nobody makes these like my Mom does :-) I always freaked out on the matar pooris that she made and the yum alu sabji to go with it, good old days when one did not have to count calories! I think I and bro actually competed as to who would eat more! Poor Mom! without any help she would put these treats together and add that special zing to our weekends. You are awesome Mom! And I can’t wait for you to visit us again and make yummilicious stuff ; Now I can compete with Arnav when it comes to the number of pooris ;-)

 Here is how the recipe goes..

 To prepare dough

  • Wheat flour – 400 grams (2 cup)

Oil and salt to taste- optional, I did not use it.  You can also add kalonji (Nigella) or ajwain (carom) to the dough to add to the flavor. I love to keep it simple and let the flavor of peas rule, so I did not add anything to the dough.

For pea stuffing :

  • Green peas – 500 grams/1 cup(peeled)- You can use frozen peas but fresh peas are preferrable
  • Salt – add to taste(1/2 tsp)
  • Green chilies – 2 chopped fine
  • Ginger – 1  inch long piece- chopped
  • Fennel seeds (Saunf) – 2 tsp (I love the flavour of saunf with peas)
  • Cumin seeds (Zeera) – 2 tsp
  • Asafetida- Hing
  • Oil- I Tbsp

- How to make Matar Paratha

Knead soft dough using warm water. Cover the dough and keep aside for 15-20 minutes.

Prepare Pea Stuffing :

Grind peas, green chilies, ginger and fennel seeds into a coarse paste (don’t add any water). Place pan on  heat. Add slight oil and cumin seeds  and a pinch of asafetida. Once the cumin seeds crackle add the green peas paste prepared above. Keep on medium heat and stir. Add salt as per taste. Usually when it is fresh peas the paste would be completely dry, however the frozen peas tend to have moisture and it takes a little more time on heat for the paste to dry.

It shouldn’t take more than 7-10 minutes in either case. Once the paste is ready keep aside to cool.

Take some dough and roll out into a medium sized chapatti, spread some oil on this and place ball of the peas paste stuffing in the center of this chapatti.  Draw the edges of the chapatti towards the center to cover the filling.  Slightly press this and dust it with flour.  Roll this with a rolling pin and dust liberally with more flour as you are rolling.  When done, pat out the excess flour.

Heat a tava and fry the paratha both sides to crispy and brown.  Put some oil over the paratha as you do this. Stuffed Peas(Matar) Paratha is ready

You can serve the stuffed paratha hot with dhania chutney/curd/pickle or like we had it with some alu sabzi.

Perfect Sunday Brunch….and I can’t wait for the next weekend, we’d already be in February! Am hoping the week is a quick one (read less work ;-) )and I already have an idea of what I am going to prepare and post next week!

 

 

Place ball of the peas paste stuffing in the center of this chapatti

Place ball of the peas paste stuffing in the center of this chapatti

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Hot & Spicy Chilli Paneer

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Hot & Spicy Chilli Paneer  with gravy        

Chilli Paneer with gravy

Chilli Paneer with gravy

I and Arnav love this- Charit is not a big fan of this but for once he joined us for our Sunday treat. I had to learn making this as it is Arnav’s favorite- though I am sure he’d prefer the chicken instead of paneer cubes J

Ingredients (Serves 6)

Ingredients for Chilli Paneer

Ingredients for Chilli Paneer

400 gms. Paneer (Cottage cheese) cut it into medium-sized cubes 
Spring onions chopped fine along with the leaves

2 medium-sized onions, each cut it into four-five pieces as shown
2 large capsicum, cut into slices (Shimla mirch) Usually only the green capsicum is used however I had the yellow and red capsicum handy and used them as well today
2 table-spoon Corn flour (Makai ka aata)
(Additional 3 Tbsp corn flour + 2 Tbsp spoon Maida – needed to coat the paneer if you are deep-frying it)
2 Green chillies, chopped fine
10 Garlic pods (Lahsun) chopped fine and ginger chopped fine
Salt as per taste

Black pepper (Kali mirch) & Red Chilli flakes as per taste

 

                                                                                                                                     Sauces

IMG_8153

4  t spoon Vinegar (sirca) (we like the chilli, so I used the Chili vinegar)
~1 Tbsp  Soya sauce 
~1 Tbsp Tomato sauce/ Ketchup
~ 1 tbsp Hot Chili sauce + Sweet Chili sauce (optional)

Oil for frying

 

 

 

 

Method-

Sauté paneer in 1 Tbsp oil, add black pepper, salt and red chili flakes as per your taste as you shallow fry it on medium heat – this will add flavor to the Paneer

Take a small bowl and add 2 table-spoon corn flour and ~5-6 table-spoon water and mix it well to form a paste- keep this aside.

Take 3 table-spoon of oil in a separate pan and heat it over medium flame. Now add chopped onions to this, sauté for a couple of minutes, add the chopped garlic & ginger, add green chillies, stir and cook for ~ 2 minutes- add capsicum, stir well and cook them until they get half-cooked (~5 minutes) Very important to remember that the veggies for this sauce should not start getting over cooked or stick to the pan- the burnt flavor does not go well here. Now add the spring onions and leaves (set aside half the chopped spring onion leaves for garnishing) Add a tbsp water if you see the vegetables start sticking to the pan.

Now add all the sauces, vinegar, salt to taste and cook on medium heat for 1 minute.

Add over 2 cups of water to the pan and bring the mixture to boil. Once this starts boiling, then, add corn flour paste that we had kept aside. Let the mixture boil again until you get the desired thickness of gravy. Stir in every 1 minute. (Remember the gravy thickens and settles as it cools so get this off the heat at slightly more liquid consistency than desired)

Add paneer pieces to the pan and stir well, put the heat to low and cook for 3-4 mins, stirring every minute. Then, turn off the heat and serve immediately. Garnish with chopped spring onion leaves.

Serve Chili Paneer with Gravy hot with noodles or fried rice.

 In case you are planning to deep fry the paneer- in a medium-sized bowl add 2 tbsp maida, 3 table-spoon (corn flour, the maida adds to the softness, however by itself, maida would crumble in the gravy-  corn flour’s job is to bind this together therefore the corn flour amount should be more than maida)  Add 1 t-spoon salt, tsp vinegar and ginger garlic paste as per your taste- this adds flavor to the paneer which can otherwise taste bland. Add some water and mix them well to form a thick paste, add more water if needed. The thickness of the paste should be such that it can coat paneer cubes properly. Now deep fry the paneer cubes on medium flame.  

Chilli Paneer served with rice

Chilli Paneer served with rice

Besan Karela (Bitter Gourd)

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Karela or Bitter gourd, a versatile vegetable that’s cooked in so many ways. I learnt making it in a different way today and loved it with hot chapattis. Of course Arnav isn’t yet fond of this vegetable but I am sure he is soon going to love it.

 

Besan Karela

Besan Karela

Here is how I made them today-

Ingredients:

4-6 Bitter Gourds (Karelas) – peeled (optional)

1.5 tbsp Gram Flour (Besan)

2 tsp Coriander Powder (Dhaniya Powder), 1.5 tsp Dry Mango Powder (Amchoor), 1/4 tsp Garam Masala

1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder, Red Chili powder as per taste

1 tsp Cumin seeds (Zeera)

1 tsp Methi dana (Fenugreek seeds) & Saunf (Fennel seeds) each

Salt as per taste

Finely chopped green chilies

~2 tsp ginger paste

Chopped Cilantro

Oil- 1 Tablespoon and for deep frying the bitter gourd or steam for a healthier option

Method

Chopped karelas mixed with salt, vinegar and turmeric powder

Chopped karelas mixed with salt, vinegar and turmeric powder

Wash, drain and scrape the skin of the bitter gourd (scraping is optional). Chop to small pieces.  Add 1/2 tea spoon salt,  1 tsp vinegar and a pinch of turmeric powder mix and leave it aside for 10-15 minutes.  Add a cup of water. Squeeze and remove the water.  This reduces the bitterness. Now you can either deep fry the chopped bitter gourd or steam it- the latter being a healthier option any day.

Once done, heat oil in a pan.  Add cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds.  When is starts spluttering add finely sliced green chilies and ginger paste.  Fry them for a minute or two and now add the gram flour.  Add about a small bowl of water to this and stir so that the ingredients mix and form a paste.

Now add all the spices – as well as salt- (keep it less as we had already added it to the karelas and it absorbs) Keep stirring so that the besan is cooked properly. After 3-4 minutes add the bitter gourd pieces, mix and stir. Since we have already fried or steamed the karelas, it should not take too much time- cook for 7-8 minutes more and done!

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Tip : Karelas when cooked properly can be refrigerated for a month :-)

Flavorsome Veg Biryani

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Vegetable Biryani

Vegetable Biryani

Vegetable Biryani

Having stayed in Hyderabad for over thirteen years, I had to learn how to make Biryani and so I did! finally! It is so good to learn from a professional (the chef’s name is Narayan) – I learnt so many small tips and tricks along the way as we made the biryani.

I have to mention that there is a lot of ghee and oil that goes into this- which is not very healthy- but you can limit the use and the next time I do it for my family I am going to boil the veggies rather than fry them. It might take a bit off the richness in taste and texture too, but well, health comes first.

For now I want to come back to the taste. I honestly couldn’t find the right adjectives, the rice were cooked to perfection, the aroma infused by the spices making the biryani delicious, the ghee adding richness to the texture, the veggies adding the flavor to the mix and an underlying taste of mint. As I sat down to relish the biryani, I knew that my taste buds are not going to get over this ambrosial flavor for a long time to come :-)

Serves 3-4, Cooking time – 1.5 – 2 hours

Ingredients- 

For Rice

300 Gms of basmati or any long-grained rice

1 bay leaf (tejpatta)

25 mm (1”) piece cinnamon (dalchini) sticks

1-2 cloves (laung)

2-3 green cardamom (elaichi) & 2 Black Cardamoms(badi elaichi),

Shah Zeera (black cumin seeds) 2 tsp

Whole black pepper (sabut kali mirch) 2-3

Nutmeg (Jaiphal) – 1 tsp

Mace (Javitri)

Salt to taste

Ghee (Clarified Butter) – 2 Tbsp

Mint and Coriander leaves chopped fine

For The Vegetables

Oil to fry veggies- or the healthier choice is to boil them.

In terms of quantity- veggies should be 1/3 of the rice- so in this case 100 Gms

~1 1/2 cups chopped mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, French beans, paneer cubes and potatoes) I don’t prefer capsicum and cauliflower as they their flavor tends to overpower the biryani- the vegetables can be cut in diamond shape.

2 tbsp oil

3 onions chopped long

2 tsp ginger- garlic paste

1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)

1.5 Tbsp curd

Salt, chili powder, coriander powder, Garam Masala (fresh- home made preferable)

Chopped Coriander and Mint leaves

Cashew nuts for garnishing

Soak a few saffron strands in milk

Method

Wash the rice (not more than two times) Soak rice in water. Keep aside.

In a vessel pour water (for rice) – slightly more than double the quantity of rice and then add ghee, cloves, small cardamom, black pepper, shah zeera, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, black cardamom, nutmeg and mace. Add some chopped coriander and mint leaves as well. Cover this with a lid and let it simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Once the spices have released their flavor, strain the rice and add it to simmering water. Let it cook.

It will take another 10 to 15 minutes- once you notice they are cooked (80%) strain them with a help of sieve. All excess water will be drained out. Cook the rice 80% only because they will be pressurized later.

While the rice/water are simmering, slice onions- thin and long- and fry them in  2 tbsp oil, once they are golden brown, take them out and keep aside.

Now fry the rest of the chopped vegetables in the leftover oil. (You can boil them as well which is a healthier option)

Place the veggies in a bowl and add half of the fried onions. Now add approx 1.5 tbsp of curd and spices such as coriander powder, red chili powder, freshly ground Garam Masala, turmeric powder and salt as per taste. Add the ginger Garlic paste. Again, add chopped coriander and mint leaves. Mix well and keep aside. If there is  oil left after frying the veggies and onions, add to this. Combine all the ingredients and mix well.

Now you are almost done with it!

Transfer ½ of the rice mixture in a handi- a big and heavy utensil, and spread half of the rice evenly with the back of a spoon. Now layer the marinated vegetables on top of the rice and spread it evenly. Layer rest of the rice on top the vegetables and spread them evenly. Sprinkle the remaining onions, cashew nuts and raisins on surface of the rice, add green coriander and mint leaves too. Pour 2 tbsp melted ghee from top. Sprinkle the saffron soaked in milk on top of the rice. Now cover the biryani tightly and properly and dum (pressurize) it for 10 -15 minutes- keep it on low heat- alternatively you can place the handi on a non-stick tava (griddle) and cook on a slow flame for 25 to 30 minutes.

Open the lid and let the rich Biryani aroma spread!  Biryani is always served hot. You can serve it with Raita, curd or Chutney.  What a meal this makes!

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Mellow & Smooth Lentil Soup

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Mellow & Smooth Lentil Soup (Split Green Beans – Mung Dal)

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

After a week of binging on Diwali sweets, Kachoris & Poha Jalebi, it is time to slow down.

I love soups and today was a perfect day to try a new one- with Arnav and Charit going for Mutton Biryani- I can delve into a simple vegetarian soup of my choice. What’s in store for me? It is Split Green Beans or as we call it, Mung Dal Soup!

Mung Beans have a sweet flavor, soft texture, and are easy to digest. They  are the most common beans to be sprouted here in India.

This soup is nutritious & quick to make. I kept the soup really simple- like I said, time to slow down….aah but to add to the zing, I did shallow fry tofu slices to go with the soup, which spruced and made it a complete meal…well almost!

Here is how it goes-

Ingredients (serves 2)-

Split Green Beans- 50 gms

Salt as per taste

Turmeric Powder- 1 tsp

Garlic cloves finely shopped

Green chillies finely chopped (optional)

Olive Oil – ½ Tbsp

Lemon juice- 2 tsp

Finely Chopped corriander

Method

Pressure cook (5-6 whistles on medium heat)  lentils with salt and turmeric powder.

Whisk it so that it is smooth. In a sauce pan, take a spoon of olive oil, add the finely chopped garlic flakes, green chillies, fry for a couple of minutes until they release their aroma,  now add this to the lentils.

Garnish with  finely chopped corriander and add lemon juice before serving. Enjoy the soup.

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