Pav Bhaji

Pav Bhaji

Mumbai monsoons have arrived, said my dad with a chuckle and that we had a long chat reminiscing about how I used to love jumping in puddles of water as a kid when it used to rain! Given the opportunity, I still do 😛

We discussed how the average Mumbaikar’s idea of a good monsoon outing is visiting Juhu beach, eating gola, also known as chuski or shaved ice on a stick submerged in flavored food colored water and downing plates of bhel puri, dahi batata puri and of course the iconic Juhu beach Pav Bhaji.

We got nostalgic about our picnics there when I was a kid, the scary fall I had when horse riding or making sand castles. They were good fun times!

If you visit Mumbai, it is an important to-do in travel iternarary. Over the years the place has been very crowded and now it’s been many years I have not visited Juhu beach. I prefer Worli Seaface instead for the quiet there and listening to the waves!

Below is my take on the Pav Bhaji!

Prep Time : 15 minutes
Cooking Time : 30 minutes
Serves : 4

Ingredients
6 medium potatoes boiled and mashed
1/2 cup green peas
1 1/2 cup caulifower florets
2 green chillies finely chopped (optional)
5 tsp canola oil
2 medium onions finely chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
3 cloves garlic finely grated
6 tomatoes finely chopped
50 ml tomato paste
1 large capsicum finely chopped
2 1/2 tsp pav bhaji masala powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
5-6 tsp butter
Coriander leaves for garnish
A few wedges of lemon

In a pressure cooker, boil the potatoes in salted water. Once cooled, mash them with a potato masher or with a fork. Set it aside.

Cauliflower - Peas Mash

In a pot, blanch caulifower florets and peas and give them a cold bath once out.

Cauliflower - Peas Mash 1

In a food processor, just blend them together to bread crumb consistency. Do not add any water to the blender. Set it aside.

Pav Bhaji - Prep

The key to making great pay bhaji is being sorted with the prep beforehand. The dish comes together quickly this way.

Let get started!

Traditionally, bhaji is cooked on a flat disc shaped iron tawa (griddle) but I had to do with a humble kadhai in my rental kitchen.

Pav Bhaji2

In a kadhai, heat some oil and add green chillies. Once it sizzles, add the ginger and garlic followed by the onions and cook them until they are translucent.

Pav Bhaji 3

Please note traditionally not many people use green chillies in the pav bhaji and use red chill paste instead. I did not have red chillies on hand and hence went for green chillies.

Pav Bhaji5

To the onions, add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes. Once mushy, add tomato paste, it lends a good consistency to the mix and also gives a deep red color. Cook them well.

Pav Bhaji6

Add chopped capsicum, sautee for a while and add the cauliflower and peas to the mixture.

Add pav bhaji masala, coriander powder, red chilly powder, turmeric and salt to taste. Blend the ingredients well with some water.

Add mashed potato to the mixture and mix well. Keep adding water to the mixture as required.

Add dollops of butter and season well with salt, let it simmer for a while. Usually I use Lurpark or Ellie & Vier butter but for pav bhaji I bring out Amul butter.

Amul butter is just synonymous with Juhu beach style pav bhaji and is like a staple ingredient in every kitchen when making pav bhaji or maybe just me!

Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and some more butter.

Prepare this dish when you feel like indulging and need not worry about the pav maska maar ke! (Indian bread with extra butter)

To have the pav with the bhaji, on a tawa just add butter and roast the pav in the buttery goodness for a few minutes until they have evenly browned.

Pav

You can buy good pav at the bakery section of Lulu or even try the portuguese rolls available at Waitrose.

Serve with dollops of butter on the side, lemon wedges and finely chopped onion.

Pav Bhaji1

I hope you relish this as much as I did. Until next time, happy cooking! 🙂

Peas Pulao

Simple home style meals never go out of fashion. I find it difficult to whip up a full fledged meal on weekdays after a 10+ hour work day. And on days like these when I would still want a home cooked meal with minimum effort, I make this peas pulao.

My special touch is only the kasuri methi i.e. dried fenugreek leaves, I usually use the roasted ones. They tend to be less bitter and enhance the flavor.

I put all ingredients in a pressure cooker and 15 minutes later can settle for dinner. Even on rushed mornings, I make this and brown bag it for lunch.

Cooking Time : 15-20 minutes including prep
Ingredients
1 cup basmati rice
1 3/4 cup water
1 stick cinnamon broken in half
5-6 cloves
2 bay leaves
4-5 peppercorns
2 star anise
2 tsp kasuri methi
3 tsp canola oil
1/4 cup green peas
1 medium sized onion thinly sliced
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste

In a pressure cooker, heat some oil and add all dry spices on very low heat so that the spices do not burn.

Spices

Let it sizzle for a while so as the oil absorbs the flavors. Add sized onions, cook until translucent.

Add peas, salt and coriander powder and sauté well.

Add soaked (optional) basmati rice to the mixture and mix it well for a few minutes. This help the flavors to seep in.

Add water and kasuri methi and pressure cook the pulao until 3 whistles or 15 minutes.

Take it off heat and let it rest before you open the lid for the pressure cooker.

Peas Pulao

Serve it with a simple salad, pickle, dal tadka and cumber mint raita.

Until next time, happy cooking! 🙂

Spicy & Tangy Chickpeas

I discussed following a high protein diet for the last few weeks and in continuation to the same I decided to blog about this Spicy & Tangy Chickpeas recipe.

Chickpeas Masala1

Again this is a quick dish I make for office lunches with chapattis. It comes together quickly in 15 minutes and sees me out of the door with a brown bag in hand.

Living in Dubai, opting for take aways and ordering in food regularly at work is often the easy way out. But even if you spend a minimum of AED 20 on lunch everyday, the amount can dig up a hole in your pockets by month end. I rather treat myself to a new cookbook or a massage from the money saved by carrying lunch.

It’s a habit I try to keep at and constantly look of recipes which do not see me in kitchen for long on work day mornings.

In this recipe, I have substituted the chaat masala with sumac powder and I can say that I am not going back. This was a good call.

Sumac is a popular spice used in Middle Eastern cooking. A few spices which I discovered after coming to Dubai and which fascinated me were Zaatar, Sumac and Dried Loomi powder while strolling in the spice souks of Global Village and Union Co-op shelves.

Sumac is a good source of Vitamin C, Omega 3 fatty acids and is an antioxidant. It has a very subtle lemony and tart flavour and I love sprinkling it to on my salads, hummus and chaats.

Serves : 4
Cooking Time : 15 minutes

Ingredients
1 can chickpeas
2 medium sized onions finely chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes finely chopped
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1stick cinnamon
2 star anise
1 green chilly finely chopped (You can add 2 if you can handle the spice)
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp tomato paste (optional)
3 tsp canola oil
1 1/4 tsp sumac powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste
A handful of finely chopped coriander leaves

In a wok, heat oil and add cumin seeds. Once they sizzle, add green chillies and ginger garlic paste.

Let it cook for a minute and add onions.

Add tomatoes once onions have browned. Cook tomatoes with the dry spices until they leave a ring of oil on the sides of the wok.

Add salt to taste and drained and rinsed chickpeas and sauté them with the mixture well.

Cook for a few minutes, take off heat and garnish some freshly chopped coriander leaves and slit green chillies.

Chickpeas Masala

Until next time let me know you quick fix recipes!

Paneer Bhurji

A wall of silence on the blog! While I may have not blogged for the last 2 weeks, a lot of cooking happened. Past few weeks have been all about cooking for family.

Late Holi wishes to everyone out here, this Holi we celebrated with our extended families, lots of food, laughter and a sense of belonging. Gujiyas relished from Old Delhi sweet shop. One of the best festive celebrations we have had since we embraced our expat lives in Dubai.

Gujiya

These days I’m trying to follow a high protein diet. Being a vegetarian, paneer or cottage cheese is the most common substitution for meat in Indian sub-continent. It is also an excellent source of calcium. 

If I’m busy, I just buy a block of cheese from Lulu’s or Bikanerwala or else make it at home. It is a staple in my pantry. While I love my Paneer with vegetables and in Makhni gravy, sometimes all you need is a no-fuss and easy to make dish.
On days like this, I have this recipe of Paneer Bhurji handy. A bhurji is simply means a scramble. On work day mornings, it gets ready in a jiffy including the prep and it means I can brown bag my lunch and not spend my molaah on take-aways.
Paneer Bhurji 1
Serves : 4
Prep Time : 5 minutes
Cooking Time : 10 minutes
 
Ingredients 
200 grams cottage cheese / paneer
2 medium sized onions finely chopped
2 medium sized tomato finely chopped
2 green chillies finely chopped
1 tsp tomato paste
5 tsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
One bunch of Spring onions greens finely chopped
Handful of coriander leaves finely chopped for garnishing
In a wok heat some oil, add cumin seeds. Let them sizzle and add green chillies and ginger garlic paste.
Onions
Add onions after a minute and cook them until they are translucent.
Masala
Add tomatoes, tomato paste and the dry spices and cook them until the mixture leaves a ring of oil on the sides.You can also add green peas and capsicum to the mixture.
With your hand just crumble the paneer lightly or you could use a box grater.
Paneer
Blend the paneer well with the onion-tomato mixture and cook for a while until the mixture is not quite moist.
Spring Onions
Sprinkle with the greens of spring onions and mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves and take the Bhurji off heat. I did not have some on hand hence no garnish for me 😩
Paneer Bhurji
Serve with fluffy phulkas or toasted bread with butter.
Next post I will bring you stories from my meeting with the MasterChef himself, Sanjeev Kapoor and the euphoria that followed after the same. Also my experience of meeting the Curry Queen – Camellia Panjabi, such a lovely lady. Me and Sahil had a really candid and heart warming conversation about differences in coastal cuisines and misrepresentation of Indian cuisine internationally on many instances. How we asked her to please write a new cook book and much more!

 Until next time, happy cooking! 🙂

Aloo Ki Sabzi – Spicy Potato Curry

Potatoes are such a versatile ingredient to work with. From making Fries, patties, hash browns to making Pav Bhaji, you can adapt this crop to whatever catches your fancy.

For a simple weekend lunch, I made this spicy and tangy potato curry and served it with some chapatis. A quick assorted salad and raita on the side make it a complete meal.

Serves : 4
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Cooking Time : 20 minutes

Ingredients
2 large potatoes boiled and cubes
1 large onion finely chopped
1 large tomato finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 dried red chillies broken in half
8-9 curry leaves
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chaat masala
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 cup water
4 tsp tomato paste
Salt to taste
4 tsp canola oil
Handful of fresh coriander leaves to garnish

Boil the potatoes in salted water. Let them cool and peel the outer skin, chop the boiled potatoes in cubes.

Heat oil in a wok, add cumin and mustard seeds. Once they start to crackle, add red chillies and curry leaves.

Let them sizzle for a while, add ginger garlic paste and cook for a minute until the raw flavor diminishes.

Add onions and cook them until they are translucent.

Add tomatoes and cook them for a few minutes.

Add tomato paste to this mixture and cook until it leaves out a ring of oil on the sides of the wok.

Masala1

Add all the dry masalas to this mixture and cook for a minute.

Add boiled potatoes and let it stand in the mixture so that it absorbs the masalas well.

Masala

Slowly add water to the potato mixture, you can choose to use less or more water as per the consistency desired for the gravy.

Cover the wok and let the curry cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Keep stirring the mixture.

Take it off the heat and garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Spicy Potato Curry

Serve this with rotis or rice as per your preference.

The India Pavilion – Mall Of Emirates

I love Mall of Emirates, that was the first place Sahil took me to. It was my first outing when I came to Dubai some more than two and half years back. In the first week of being in Dubai, I visited the mall thrice. There are many firsts associated with this place, the first movie, the first grocery shopping, the first big splurge, the first coffee date (with the husband of course!) and so on.

That’s my go-to place for movies or shopping. On one such tiring shopping spree, we ended up at the first level food court of Mall of Emirates and visited The Indian Pavilion next to Vox Cinemas.

Papad Chatni

It offers good Indian good and the prices and service is pretty decent too. The restaurant provides complimentary fried papas with green chutney and pickle. How nice! Who doesn’t like a good crunchy one!

The restaurant has an interesting concept of ordering mains which is a complete meal or a platter in itself. It comes with an accompaniment of roti (flat bread) or pilaf rice, 2 falafels / aloo tikkis (potato patties), cucumber raita, home style split yellow lentils and mixed salad.

Baigan Bharta Platter

I ordered the Baigan Bharta, it simply means roasted and mashed aubergines cooked with spices. I loved the roasted smokey flavor of aubergine with green peas in onion and diced tomato gravy. The green peas required to be blanched a bit more, they were quite firm.

Baigan Bharta

The Bharta cooked at my place by my grandmother used to have more of tomatoes giving it a rich red color but in the restaurant it was with less tomatoes. I liked how they finished the whole dish with red chill infused oil. This was a hit!

Achari Paneer Platter

We also ordered Achari Paneer Mutter, that’s cottage cheese and green peas cooked in a spicy brown gravy of onions and spices. The cottage cheese was slightly tossed on a pan since it had browned on the edges. It was spicy and I loved the heat in the gravy, it was finished with a garnish of coriander and chili oil.

Paneer Tikka Masala Platter

We also ordered Paneer Tikka Masala on one visit, the paneer was soft and the gravy was tangy but not overtly spicy. The red onions, capsicum and tomato wedges were char grilled and we could see the sides browned evenly.

Paneer Tikka Masala
I am a gravy person and would have loved if it came with little more gravy. Nevertheless it was a good dish with a side of butter naan.

The accompanying pilaf was fragrant and mildly spiced, the dal was the best part of the platter. I can keep going back to this restaurant just for their yummy dal. It is perfect home cooked version of split yellow lentils tempered with green chillies, finely chopped onions and tomato.

The aloo tikkis (potato patties) served had a nice crust on the outside and were piping hot inside, the mashed potatoes had a strong flavor of roasted cumin. It also had soaked chana dal and grated onions.

Mixed salad and cucumber raita provided a refreshing feel to the otherwise spicy platter.

Lamb Madras Platter

Sahil enjoyed his Lamb Madras style, as per him, it was cooked nicely with hot red chilled and curry leaves. But it was quite basic, it was good but that great.

Add On

Being an ad guy, Sahil loved the packaging of their wet tissues and even clicked it as a reference. He finds them quite fragrant.

On a side note, I have also tried their Masala Dosa which was pretty soggy and not up to the mark. The restaurant has consistently disappointed us on it’s desserts. We once ordered Phirni which was served to us hot traditionally it is always served cold and the gulab jamuns they do were quite average hence we keep skipping the dessert order.

However when in MOE and in mood for good Indian food priced decently, I would visit them for more!

Locations : Level 1, Food Court – Next to Vox Cinemas, Mall of Emirates / Spinney’s Umm Suqeim

Pricing : Average AED 120-150 for meal for two

Rajma Masala – Red Kidney Beans Curry

Sundays in Punjabi households usually mean either two things. One the mums or grandmas are off duty and aren’t going to feed you at your beck and call and just make one pot wonders, or they do have a crowd to entertain and would be seen slogging a day before the feast is to be served.

For the casual Sunday mornings, at my place, it used to be poha, upma, bread pakoda or vegetable stuffed sandwiches for breakfast. The fussy ones in the household could eat just jam, butter and toasted bread :/

Lunch used to one pot meals or there comes any curry with basic pilaf rice or steamed rice. My grandma used to make Rajma / Samhar / Kadhi lovingly for us. She used to serve this with Cucumber Mint Raita, onions marinated in vinegar and salt and mango pickle.

Sunday lunch used to be a long affair with conversations drifting around family gossip, plans for the week to come, silly family jokes and general chit chat. Such a heavy meal used to ensure the kids retiring for an afternoon siesta and the ladies after patting them to sleep enjoying long tea sessions.

This recipe is inspired by the way Rajma used to be made at my family house.

Rajma Masala

I usually include legumes and beans in my diet. Red kidney beans being an excellent source of fiber and are recommended to individuals with high cholesterol and diabetics since they help regulate the blood sugar level. It also good source for keeping iron deficiency at bay and being a vegetarian, it helps me up my protein intake as well.

This recipe is inspired by the way Rajma used to be made at my family house.

Ready in 45 minutes
Serves : 6

Indgredients
4 tsp canola oil
1 1/2 cup red kidney beans / rajma
2-3 bay leaves
3 cloves
4 black cardamom
6 medium sized onions grated
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
6-7 large tomatoes pureed
1 tsp tomato paste
2 green chillies slit
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp rajma masala
1 tsp kasuri methi / dried fenugreek
Handful of Coriander Leaves coarsely chopped
Ginger juliennes
Salt to taste

Soak the red kidney beans overnight. In the morning, add some salt, turmeric powder, cloves, bay leaves and black cardamom to soaked kidney beans with 5-6 cups of water and pressure cook until it has 5 whistles. Do not discard the stock once they have been cooked.

If you want to save yourself the trouble of remembering to do this the night before, just grab two cans of red kidney beans and you will be are sorted!

In a deep sauce pot, heat oil and add slit green chillies. Deseed the chillies if you do not want the heat, I prefer to have them as is, it gives a nice kick to the gravy.

Once the green chillies sizzle, add the ginger and garlic paste and cook them for a bit.

Rajma Masala2

Add the grated onions and cook them until they acquire a nice light brown color.

Rajma Masala1

Add the tomato puree and keep cooking the mixture for 8-10 minutes until it forms a ring of oil on the sides.

Mid way while cooking the onion tomato mixture add the tomato paste, coriander powder, salt, kashmiri chill powder, cumin powder, half of the garam masala and half of the rajma masala and blend the spices well.

Rajma Masala3

Add the cooked red kidney beans to the mixture and mix them well. Pay attention not to squish the kidney beans.

Add the stock from the pressure cooked rajma as per the consistency you wish and cook with a lid on. If you have used canned beans then you can use a cubes of vegetable stock.

After 3-4 minutes, mix well and add the remaining rajma masala and gram masala. Add kasuri methi, it makes the gravy quite fragrant. You may choose to skip the same.

At this stage I usually take a ladle full of kidney beans in a bowl and mash them with a back of spoon and add the mashed beans to the pot. This is a old trick my grandma uses to get a smooth consistency. This is how the mixture would look.

Rajma

Cook for another 10 minutes on medium heat and keep stirring at regular intervals. Add ginger juliennes and turn off the heat.

Rajma Masala

Voila! Serve hot with steamed rice and side of pickled onions and masala papad.