Oats Vegetable Tikki

Oats Tikki

Oats Vegetable Tikki 

I am a huge appetizer fan and usually love to serve a variety whenever I have dinner parties or friends over for chai.

On one such occasion, I served this crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside tikki. Patties, cutlets or tikkis are a staple snack in Northen parts of India. Aloo Tikki is mostly featured in the appetiser section in most Indian eateries and serves as a base for many chaat items.

Move up towards western India and Mumbai has aloo tikki’s popular cousin Ragda Pattice. The spicy chutneys the tikkis are usually served with make it a medley of flavours. Sweet, tangy, spicy and crunchy what more would you need!

These are fairly quick to assemble and make and perfect way to use up leftover boiled potatoes. Since I wanted to feel less guilty, I added some oats and vegetables to them. Adding oats also helped up the crunch factor in the tikkis.

Cooking Time : 10 minutes
Serves : 4

Ingredients
1 cup rolled oats + 1/4 cup ground oats
2 potatoes boiled and mashed
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp dried mango/ amchur powder
1/4 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp minced ginger
2 green chilled finely chopped
1 red onion finely chopped
2 carrots grated
1 tsp wheat bran
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp finely chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Canola Oil for shallow frying

Grind the oats. In a bowl, add all the ingredients and mix them well.

Now with greased hands, make 12 equal portions and roll out in flat tikki (cutlet) shape.

Dust them in a plate with equal portions of ground oats and breadcrumbs.

Shallow fry on each side until they acquire a even brown color. Serve immediately with coriander mint chutney.

Let me know if you liked this recipe and any variations I can try the next time.

Until next time, happy cooking!

Coffee Speculoos Ice cream

A dinner party is a great time to dish up something new and keep the options exciting for the guests.

I usually bake cakes on such occasions. Like Julia Child quotes – “A party without a cake is just a meeting”. However this time around friends called to say they would be bringing in some cake.

I have been waiting to experiment with frozen delights for quite a while now. This summer I want to perfect the art of making granitas, ice creams and sorbets. So this is the very first recipe amongst the more to follow.

I came across this fantastic coffee ice cream recipe on Food52. I just made slight changes to the recipe and here I present my version. I lowered the cinnamon and increased the coffee content plus did add some speculoos!

My guests loved the icecream very much and honestly I did not manage to click any good pictures. We were already halfway through the icecream container when I hurriedly clicked one.

Coffee & Speculoos Icecream

Serves : 8

Ingredients
750ml heavy cream
4 tsp + 2 tsp speculoos chocolate powder to make the swirl pattern
125 ml brewed coffee
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cans of condensed milk
1 tsp coffee powder

Pour heavy cream and condensed milk in a bowl and use electric whisk until the mixture is has started to thicken.

Coffee & Speculoos Icecream2

I wanted a really strong flavor of coffee in the icecream hence I used 3 teaspoon of Dark Roast Davidoff coffee and brewed the same. To further intensify the flavors, I added another teaspoon of the coffee powder and it sure did pack a punch!

Add cooled coffee, cinnamon, coffee and speculoos powder to the mix and whisk again until the mixture has blended well together and is super thick in consistency.

Coffee & Speculoos Icecream3

Pour in airtight container and sprinkle some speculoos powder on top. Now with help of three toothpicks held together, get swirling.

Coffee & Speculoos Icecream1

Freeze overnight and don’t be too tempted to eat spoonsful of the ice cream mixture right then!

The swirls looked lovely after the ice cream had freezed. This is a no-churn ice-cream hence does not take much time as well.

Coffee & Speculoos Icecream

Serve with a smile and see your party come alive. It was a very rewarding feeling seeing my friends smile while taking every spoonful! 🙂

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

It’s getting cooler these days and what’s more comforting than a bowl of home made soup!

At my parents home, having soup before meals is quite the norm. My grandfather was so very fond of having soups! And my mom used to ensure she serves him a variety to choose from.

He loved every ounce of liquid from the vegetables which were just blanched or boiled. I remember him asking my mom to use the whey left from home made paneer to make dough for chapatis. Not wasting any nutrients from food was his mantra. He was also a great at recommending home made remedies and most of them worked. Yes! Even the weird ones worked much to our amusement.

I have loved tomato soup since childhood. It’s got to be my favorite soup to order when at a restaurant. My love of tomatoes is evident since most of my recipes have one in them!

He used to lovingly ask my mum or grandma to make this especially on days I was in low spirits. This is how dearly and selflessly he loved me. His first grandchild and perhaps the luckiest one who got to spend 27 glorious years under his wings.

Well this is turning out to be quite an emotional post. Let’s get on to the recipe of his favorite tomato soup.

I have modified a popular Sanjeev Kapoor recipe as shown in Khana Khazana to my family’s liking.

Cooking Time : 30 minutes

Ingredients
2 tsp canola oil
6 tomatoes roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 onion thinly sliced
1 carrot chopped
6 tomatoes chopped
700 ml water or more as required
1/2 tsp sugar
5-6 whole black peppercorns
Freshly cracked black pepper powder as per taste
Salt to taste
Full fat cream to drizzle (Optional)
Mint / Basil leaves for garnishing
Toasted Bread Croutons to Serve

In a big pot, heat the oil and add bay leaf, peppercorns and sautee it for a minute.

Add garlic cloves and cook them until the raw flavor goes away. Add onions, tomatoes and carrots and cook them they are soft but not mushy.

Tomato Soup 1

Add water and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Take the mixture off heat and after cooling it for a while, strain the mixture. Reserve the stock on the side.

Veggies

Tomato Soup2

Now in a blender add the strained vegetables with a little water to facilitate smooth blending.

Tomato Soup3

Once the mixture has blended well and is at a consistency you like, pour the puree back in the sauce pot and let it simmer. You could add tomato paste at this point of time if you prefer to enhance the color.

Add salt and black pepper powder to taste, sugar and the stock set on the side and cook for another 10-12 minutes uncovered.

You can skip sugar from the recipe however I prefer adding the same since it helps to cut the sourness of the tomatoes.

Once the soup reaches the consistency you desire. Take it off heat and strain once more.

Serve with a drizzle of cooking cream and garnish with any herbs you prefer. Until next time happy cooking!

Cottage Cheese & Spinach Falafel Bites

Throwing in a get together can be exhausting especially when you are clocking in a 10 hour work days and have a crowd to feed and every one has a very specific palette. A little planning goes a long way and making a to-do list for all the prep can ease off any anxiety.

I threw a Holi dinner party for my newly wed brother-in-law and the extended family. Now this is a traditional Punjabi family set up and while we might be Indo-Chinese style Spring Roll, Momos and Pav Bhaji loving folks, on festivals we like to belong where our roots are and so I braced myself to make an out and out Punjabi feast. I took some liberty to tweak only the starters and appetizers.

We thought of bringing in some variety and playing with flavors which are not quite alien to them. My mum-in-law said why not marry a version of palak paneer (spinach & cottage cheese) and chana masala (chickpeas) for them. I remembered this recipe for Spinach & Feta Falafel Balls from BBC Good Food website and adapted the same to my family’s liking.

The result was great! Two recipes which I would keep handy for future get togethers will be this one and my Spicy Peanut Balls recipe served with Tomato Thokku. The textures and flavor combinations are great.

Platter

Serves : 6
Makes about : 30-35 bite sized balls
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Cooking Time : 10 Minutes

Ingredients
200 grams baby spinach
1 can chickpeas
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
50 grams Cottage Cheese
2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 green chilly
1 tsp coriander powder
4 tsp plain flour
4 tsp herbed breadcrumbs
2 tsp chaat masala
Handful of fresh coriander leaves
Salt to taste

The original recipe called for blanching the spinach by poring boiling water over it. I just sautéed the spinach with onions just until it was soft.

In a food processor, add the onion spinach mixture along with the chickpeas. Rinse and pat dry the chickpeas to avoid more moisture in the mix.

Add cottage cheese, coriander leaves, roasted cumin powder, coriander powder, chat masala, green chilly and salt to taste and pulse well.

Once the mixture is grainy, add flour and breadcrumbs and blend well.

Remove from the food processor, grease your hands and make roll bite sized balls.

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Deep fry over medium heat until they have a pretty brown color. I really wish that I had some pictures for this post.

Cottage Cheese & Spinach Falafel

Serve with tzatziki and hummus.

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.

Tzatziki – Cucumber & Yoghurt Dip

As a kid I used to hate drinking milk and this habit has stayed with me even in my adult years. I like all dairy products and also enjoy my milk shakes but cannot stand the sight of plain white milk.

So how do I ensure my calcium intake ? By eating loads and loads of yoghurt. I never miss a small cup with my lunch or an occasional fruit yoghurt smoothie to keep the mid day hunger pangs at bay.

I also like incorporating yoghurt in different dips and sauces. This recipe is for a Greek sauce Tzatziki, simply said a yoghurt and cucumber dip. This is closer to the Cucumber Raita minus the garlic, we Indians are used to eating at home with Vegetable Pulao (pilaf).

Cucumber Dip

1 400 ml tub full cream yoghurt / store bought Greek yoghurt
3 cloves garlic finely grated
2 cucumber finely chopped / grated
Few sprigs of fresh dill leaves chopped
3 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
A pinch of black pepper
Few drops of lemon juice

I usually use a cheese cloth to strain the yoghurt for 4-5 hours or even longer if you wish. Else you can also buy Greek yoghurt readily sold in supermarkets, which I find horribly expensive. You can also use low fat yoghurt but I like the full cream yoghurt since the texture for the dip comes out beautifully.

After all the water has been drained from the yoghurt, you can add finely grated cucumbers. You can even chop them finely if you wish. Make sure to drain all the juice from cucumbers beforehand. You don’t want a runny dip.

Now add the cucumbers, finely grated garlic and dill leaves to the mixture. You can choose any herbs you prefer like mint or parsley. Once I did not have any fresh herbs, so I just used dried mint powder and it still tasted good. Here’s a picture for the same, this time around I did not strain the yoghurt enough and hence it is runny.

Tzatziki

Add a generous drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and mix it well.

Refrigerate for 2 hours or more for the flavours to seep in and the dip is ready to be served. Finish it off with a garnish of few sprigs of dill.

Serve with toasted pita bread, roast baby potatoes or carrots. This dip stays well for up to 3 days when refrigerated.

Tomato & Roasted Pepper Dip

Tomatoes are my favourite ingredient to work with. With an abundance of so many varieties available in supermarkets, it is interesting how different varieties result in getting different textures. I prefer the Plum, Roma or cherry tomatoes the most while cooking.

As a kid, I used to eat tomato ketchup with everything – be it fries, crackers, roti, bread, rice, crisps. I used to even put it in a bowl and just eat it as is. And who can forget painting lips with ketchup and licking it clean later. Yumm! Don’t judge me, we all have done crazy things as kids!

I think as a teen, I took a liking to Italian cuisine since they use tomatoes liberally in their sauce base and other wise. Picture Caprese salad looking pretty with rings of mozzarella nestled between thick slices of tomatoes cut round and with a generous drizzle of olive oil and basil leaves or give me tomato soup at the end of the day with toasted garlic bread on the side and I’m back to being my chirpy self again.

Dinner parties see me making this tomato dip often. This also happens to be a staple dip at home, I’d even eat this with dal (lentils) rice or plain roti (Indian flat bread).

Salsa

Cooking Time : 20 minutes
Ingredients

5 large plum tomatoes finely chopped
1 medium red onion finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 Thai red chilly deseeded and finely chopped
20 ml olive oil
1/2 tsp rock salt
Salt to taste
Ground Black Pepper to taste (optional)

Blanch the tomatoes in warm water until the skin comes out clean. Let them cool and dice them finely. If you are running short of time, just chop them finely.

In a pan, warm the olive oil and add the thai red chillies. Do not deseed them since they impart the heat to this mixture. Once they splutter add the onion and cook them until they are translucent. If you would like to keep the heat quotient low, use cayenne pepper or red chilly flakes as per your preference.

Add tomatoes, cook them until they are mushy and leave the oil on the sides of the pan.

Add red bell pepper and cook them until they are soft. You can also toss them separately in a pan with little olive oil on high flame until they wilt. When I am not short of time I prefer roasting the bell pepper on high flame, peeling off the skin and then adding it to the tomato mixture. It gives a nice roasted flavor to the dip!

Season it well with salt to taste and pepper. You may also add dried herbs if you wish. I also add little garlic butter towards the end to give the mixture a glossy finish.

Dip & Dhokla

Serve with Crackers, Falafel, Pita Bread, Potato Wedges, Chips, Nachos or even Dhokla.

Spicy Peanut Balls

I like to work with left overs in the fridge. The most common left over in my kitchen happens to be cooked rice. Some days you do not want to go the traditional route and make a dal, curry or stew to go along with left over cooked rice from the night before.

Whenever I’m out at a book store I either gravitate towards the cook books featuring appetizers, baking, party food or books on entertaining and hosting dinner parties. I came across this recipe in “Party Food & Appetizers” and I immediately bookmarked it to try out later. I picked this cook book from Borders.

Cookbook

I have made this recipe many times with a slight changes and it has consistently been a crowd pleaser. It’s amazing how people try and guess what these were made with. I usually cook a batch of rice and leave it for 2 hours to cool at room temperature before I start making this. I first made this for a dinner party I hosted for my colleagues and served it with an assortment of dips to choose from like Creamy Spinach Dip, Homemade Hummus, Tomato Roasted Pepper Dip and Tzatziki.

Look wise they almost seem like “Falafel” but are crunchy and crumbly at the same time.

Spicy Peanut Balls1

Cooking Time : 20 minutes
Ingredients

2 garlic cloves
1 tsp ginger
2 green chillies finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
2 tsp soy sauce
3 tsp coriander finely chopped
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup peanuts coarsely chopped
Bread crumbs as required
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

In a blender, put garlic cloves, ginger, green chillies, coriander, peanuts, sugar, turmeric powder and salt.

You can choose to dry roast the peanuts before hand. They would add to the crunch.

Blend well and now add soy sauce and lemon juice. If your guests can take spice, add chilli sauce. I prefer Nando’s Peri Peri sauce.

Add cooked rice to the mixture one cup at a time and blend until it turns in to a slightly sticky mixture.

Remove in a bowl and add bread crumbs as required for binding. I also use bread crumbs sparingly to coat the spicy peanut balls before deep frying. As per the original recipe, roasted peanuts were used to coat the balls.

Grease your palms with little cooking oil and shape in small round balls. Deep fry and serve hot with tomato ketchup.

Until next time happy cooking!

Paneer Sabz Bahaar- Stir Fried Cottage Cheese With Mix Vegetables

Mix Veg Paneer

Being a Punjabi and a vegeterian to that, Paneer (Cottage Cheese) is a staple in our meals at homes, be it Paneer Kulcha, Paneer Pakoda or Paneer bhurji made in a jiffy. I have adapted this recipe from Chef Vikas Khanna’s “Flavours First”. This book has got simple wholesome recipes using everyday ingredients.

Now I doubt that someone would have not heard about Vikas Khanna, however to just brief you. He is the poster boy of Indian cooking abroad. He is a Michelin starred chef who heads Junoon Hospitality based in New York. He has cooked for the US President umpteen times on invitation and also hailed as the “Sexiest Man Alive” by People Magazine. He is a judge on Master Chef India and I must say his boyish charm and down to earth nature, make him a delight to watch.

I especially loved his series “Holy Kitchens” wherein he explored the food sharing traditions of various religions. Here’s more on him from Wikipedia if you would like to know about Chef Vikas Khanna and his journey.

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I like cook books wherein you read a recipe and don’t have to resist the urge to cook right away just because the recipe demands a gourmet or exotic indegrient. Flavours First is one such book, Chef Vikas has enlisted his family recipes handed over to him by his Biji “grandmother”. The reason I was able to connect with his food philosophy so much was because like him, even my inspiration happens to me my grandmother. She taught me how the simple home cooked food can be soul nourishing and if made with love can be tasty.

I adapted this Cottage Cheese Cooked with Vegetables recipes from his book when my in-laws visited me in March. It was an instant hit with everyone. One Friday we all packed our picnic basket full of home made goodies and went to Al Safa park, the al fresco weather in Dubai was perfect and the slight nip in the air made our family get together just perfect.

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As you can see, we just ate them with Rajma Chawal (red kidney beans stew with steamed rice) and also Vanilla Sponge Cake Coated with Chocolate Ganache and garnished with Pistachios.

Vanilla Sponge Cake

You see when you got to please a big crowd, you need to incorporate elements to make everyone feel special.

A closer lookServes : 6

Ingredients

4 tsp canola oil
1 tsp minced ginger
2 large garlic cloves minced
2 small red onions thinly sliced
4 medium tomatoes chopped
1 large capsicum thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper diced
1 small yellow bell pepper diced
200 grams paneer diced
4-5 scallions green part thinly trimmed
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 red chilly flakes
1 tsp fennel powder
2 pinch cardamom powder
2 slit green chillies(optional)
1 tsp tomato puree / ketchup (optional)
Black pepper powder to taste
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a large wok (kadai) on medium heat, add cumin and let it splutter. Add slit green chillies if you can handle spice.

Add ginger and garlic and sauté it well for a minute.

Add onions and cook them until they are golden and start to brown.

Add tomatoes and cook them well with all the dry spices. Cook them for 2-3 minutes until they are saucy, make sure you don’t dry out the mixture.

Add bell peppers and cook until they are soft but not mushy. Keep stirring the mixture, you may add little water if need be.

At this point, I added little tomato puree. This is purely optional since I like the red color the puree lends to the veggies.

Add paneer at this point. You may shallow fry the paneer before adding it to the mixture. I omitted this since me and familia do not like deep fried paneer.

Cook the paneer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. This will enable the paneer to absorb the flavors from the mixture.

Add the scallions just before you remove the vegetable off heat or mix it towards the end, like I did. Sprinkle with black pepper and it’s good to be relished with hot chapattis or garlic naans.