Aloo Mutter – Potatoes & Pea Stew

Simple meals are sometime the trickiest to create. Many a days all you are left with is limited pantry staples. That for me would be canned chickpeas, herbs, dried pasta, potatoes, ginger, garlic, onion and tomatoes.

Either one of these said ingredients needs to be replenished, in order for me to make the run to the supermarket. These days my run to the supermarket is slightly different, I mostly visit the Fruits and Vegetable Market.

It gives me immense pleasure to get the fresh produce straight from the market, not your fancy farmer’s market setup but very economical. I have made some friends with a few stall owners who provide me with their freshest produce of the day. One stall owner Mehran whom we visit for buying greens and herbs, keeps stock of basil and spinach handy for me. He knows I visit Saturdays.

I have successfully been able to slash my grocery budget substantially. Moving on to the recipe of home style Aloo Mutter served with Jeera Rice and yogurt.

Aloo Mutter

Cooking Time : 25 minutes
Ingredients

3 tsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp carrom seeds
2 green chillies finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 onions finely chopped
300 ml tomato puree / 2 tomatoes finely chopped
3/4 cup frozen peas thawed
2 cups diced potatoes
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chaat masala
3 cups water
Salt to taste
Handful of fresh coriander roughly chopped to garnish

In a pressure cooker, heat some oil, add cumin seeds.

Let it splutter, add carom seeds followed by onions. Once cooked, add minced ginger and garlic and tomatoes, cook them well.

Add dry spices, salt and then the potatoes to the mix. Blend well, add water as required.

Close the lid and pressure cook until there are 2-3 whistles. Uncover after a while and garnish with some freshly chopped coriander.

Aloo Mutter1

Serve with fluffy rotis or Jeera Rice. 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!

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

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.