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.

Celebrating Dusshera with Alu Pyaz ki Kachori

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Alu Pyaz ki Kachori

Alu Pyaz ki Kachori

Here is wishing everyone a very Happy Dusshera!

What a superb long weekend it has been! Awesome weather for third day in a row, cooking, and eating, meeting up friends, playing cards, sleeping…. am still not ready for tomorrow, I want more of these beautiful days……

Talking of cards, I love to play bluff and I also know how to lose it every time. Charit is shrewd….plain shrewd 🙂 Playing bluff brings back lovely memories…I played bluff all the time with my brother and a few friends. I loved playing it with my bro- it was so much more fun, he has this streak..he would hide few cards, look for short cuts!  Sheer fun 🙂

Coming back to the kachoris, I wanted to make something special for my family today and on popular demand I made Alu Pyaz ki  kachoris. here is how the recipe goes.

Ingredients : (Makes – 20-24 Kachoris)

For the filling-

Boiled Potatoes- 5-6 Medium size

Onions – 2 cups of finely chopped onions

Ginger Garlic Paste

Salt as per taste

Green Chillies- Finely chopped

Fennel/Saunf- 1.5 tsp

1 tsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)

3 tsp coriander seeds (saboot dhania) – semi crushed

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tsp. Amchoor/ Raw Mango Powder

For the dough-

Oil for frying and dough

Salt as per taste

500 gms All purpose flour (maida)

Water For the dough

Method:

For the filling-

Heat a Tbsp oil in a pan Add cumin seeds, saunf and ginger + garlic  paste. Cook for a minute on low flame.

Add half the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook till onion turns brown. Now add  rest of the ingredients (including the other half of chopped onions) and mix very well.

Allow mixture to cool down. Squeeze lime juice and mix and mash well.

For the dough-

Mix maida, salt (or as per taste-just for the dough) and 4 tablespoon oil to form stiff dough. Beat the dough on the kitchen platform to make it stretchable and smoother. This should be made 2 hours prior to making Kachoris.

Preparation-

Make small balls out of dough and the stuffing separately.

Take a small piece of dough, press it nicely and flatten it on the palms, such that the dough is thinner towards the circumference, put  the stuffing mixture (gathered into a ball) and wrap it back carefully into a ball of maida. When you wrap it twist the dough nicely in the center. Packing back is similar to doing a stuffed Paratha, just that this is smaller and you have to be more dexterous with your hands. Take extra care to leave no open ends while wrapping it back.

Flatten it again with the palm of your hands. The Stuffing is equally distributed now.

When you put them in oil, it is ok to let the oil be medium hot- as soon as you put the kachoris- immediately increase the heat slightly- that helps make the dough rise and the Kachoris are crispy.

After a bit, decrease the heat and let them fry until they are crisp and golden brown.

Take a wooden spatula to move around the kachoris when frying them.

Serve it with Dhania (coriander) chutney and enjoy! 🙂

 

Simple & Delectable, Dahi Alu Sabzi

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Simple & Delectable, Dahi Alu Sabzi (Potatoes in Curd based gravy)

Dahi Alu Sabzi

Dahi Alu Sabzi

It has been a while since I posted…..and it has also been a while since I picked up a new book. Not so good 😦  but I intend to do so soon, in fact I have picked up a book, just need to start reading.

Yesterday was one day when I felt the laziest, I wanted to tune out…no work, no swimming, no driving, no grocery shopping, no looking at Arnav’s home work, no eating out…….almost about to say no cooking but that ain’t an option…..so we made this simple veg curry, using basic ingredients, very less time to cook…and yet it is delicious with hot chapatis. (who ended up doing grocery shopping, driving around- Charit and swimming…Arnav 😉 )

Try this one out and you will be surprised as to how a simple side dish can make a routine lunch a yummylicious one!

Ingredients-

Boiled Potatoes- 3-4 Chopped into medium-sized cubes

Besan (Chickpea Flour) – 1.5 Tbsp

Curd- 250 gms

Ghee/Oil- 1 Tbsp

Cumin Seeds (Jeera)

Salt to taste

Method

Beat the curd and add besan,- add approximately 3-4  cups of water and mix so that this it is uniform. Heat ghee in a sauce pan and add cumin seeds. Once they crackle, add  the curd mixture and stir frequently until it comes to a boil. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. Now add the boiled potatoes to this. Add salt, and let this simmer for ~10 minutes. Dahi Alu is ready!

Serve hot with chapatis. Eat on!

 

Hummus – An Addictive Snack

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Hummus served with toasted Pitta Bread

Hummus served with toasted Pitta Bread

Hummus is one of the most Popular Middle Eastern Dip. Arnav loves to have it with fresh toasted Pitta bread. He tried it in different Greek restaurants on our recent trip to NY- but his final verdict- Nobody can make it like Papa does! And what more can I ask for? 🙂 Am sure this compliment pleases Charit as well.

Here is how Charit makes it –

400 gms of chickpeas

3-4 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)

1 1/2 tablespoons tahini

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt or as per taste (keep it on the lesser side)

2.5 – 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation:

Soak chickpeas overnight. Next day pressure cool until soft (they should be soft enough to be crushed between two fingers) and then grind them in a blender or food processor adding all ingredients until the mixture forms a uniform & smooth paste.

Scrape the hummus into a bowl then drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top.

For a spicier hummus, add red chilli or pepper.

You can store hummus by refrigerating in airtight container it for up to 3 days and Add a little olive oil if it appears to be too dry.

 

 

Chole Recipe

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Chole (Chickpeas) Recipe (with Anardana)

 

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I love Chole Bhature 🙂 and my brother loves them even more! I still remember the look on his face while eating the Chole Bhatoore Mom would make- he’d never stop until he burst! Back then Mom would treat us to Chole Bathure so often…our special weekend treats and I do the same now! Here is my recipe.

Ingredients-

Chickpeas- 200 gms

Oil

Salt as per taste

Ginger Garlic Paste

Green Chillies Sliced Long (optional)

Bay leaves- 2-3, 2-3 Cardamoms, 1-2 Cinnamon sticks, 3-4 cloves

Cumin seeds, Coriander (Dhania) powder, Amchoor (Dry Mango) Powder, Garam Masala, Chilly Powder, Anardana (Dry Pomegranate Powder)  & Zeera Powder- as per your taste

 

Method –

Soak the cholas (chickpeas) overnight (8-9 hours), next day pressure cook them adding salt and a tea bag. It will take approximately 25-30 minutes until they are soft. Now discard the tea bag.

In a pan heat a Tbsp oil, add, cumin seeds, once they crackle add the bay leaves, black cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves and then ginger garlic paste, fry this for a minute and add cut green chillies. After a couple of minutes add all the dry spices, roast them for a minute and add the boiled chickpeas to it. Add little water as required for gravy consistency. Let it simmer on slow for 10-15 minutes.

Take it off the heat and garnish with coriander. We enjoyed it with Kulchas, but they go well with almost any bread and rice as well.

 

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