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!

Kaju Peda – Cashew Truffles

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It’s the eighth day of Chaitra Navratri today. Navratri is a festival of nine nights, “Nav” means nine and “Ratri” means night.
The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are considered to be important junctions of climatic and solar influences hence it is observed as an auspicious period of worship for Hindus.
During this period, people fast and do not eat non-vegeterian food and avoid onions and garlic. We ended our fast today with prayers in the morning and made the ‘bhog’ i.e. offerings of poori, Semolina Halwa and Kale Chane.
 
I have featured here a recipe for Kaju peda, it’s a traditional Indian cashew nut fudge recipe. It’s very simple to assemble and easy to make as well. I made this for Diwali last and again on Gudi Padwa.
Gudi Padwa is celebrated on the first day of Navratris and marks the start of a Marati new year.  Gudi Padwa is mainly celebrated in the Indian state of Maharashtra where I was brought up.
Cashew Pedas
 
Makes Approximately: 20 pedas
 
Ingredients
200 grams cashew nuts
2 tsp clarified butter / ghee
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
Few tsp of full fat milk
Slivered Pistachios to garnish (optional)
Soak the cashews in warm water for 2-3 hours. Once the cashews are soft, drain them and blend with very little water in a blender.
Pulse the cashews until they are creamy.
Cashew Mixture
In a thick bottom wok on low heat, heat ghee and add the cashew mixture. I usually oil the wok so that the cashew mixture does not stick to the wok.
Add powdered sugar, cardamom powder and full fat milk to this mixture and keep blending it well until the sugar dissolves.
Cooking
After a few minutes, the mixture will start leaving the sides of the wok. Turn off the heat at this point.
Cooling the Mixture
Let the mixture cool until it is ok to handle the mixture. Make bite sized balls from the cashew mixture. Let me show you my attempt previously around Diwali which I was not quite happy with.
Diwali
Result this time, the difference just adding 2-3 tsp of milk to the mixture so that it does not dry out. Also I did grease my palms well and hence you see the sheen on the peda this time around. Win!
Cashew Peda2
Press down a pistachio sliver in the cashew ball and roll it well.
You can also use silver vark easily available in Al Adil stores to add a nice festive touch to the pedas.
I will bring you some Navratri recipes over this week before it’s too late. Happy Cooking! 🙂

Tomato Thokku / Chutney

Everyone has a version of a tomato thokku (cooked down relish or chutney). This recipe is a favorite in my household. I was introduced to Tomato Thokku many years back, by my school friend who used to have this almost everyday in her lunch box. I remember the texture for the Thokku her mum made to be slightly runny.

Tomato Thokku

I serve this with Idli, Dosa or just plain rice and dal. I was even forced to serve this with some Cheese & Herb Garlic Bread. Look!

Garlic Bread

Sahil says this is better and healthier alternative to having pickles \o/

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are my favorite ingredient to work with and tomato chutneys with different variations are a staple in my refrigerator, I make them almost on a weekly basis.

Tomato Thokku

Ready in 20-25 minutes
Ingredients

5 Plum or Romano Tomatoes finely chopped
1 medium sized red onion finely chopped
4 tsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp carrom seeds
2 dried red chillies
8-10 curry leaves
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1/2 tsp brown sugar
2-3 tsp tomato paste
Salt to taste

In a thick bottom saucepan or kadai, heat oil on medium heat.

Tempering

Add cumin seeds followed by mustard seeds, let them splutter.

Add carrom seeds, curry leaves and dried red chillies broken in half. You can choose to remove the seeds from the chillies if you want the chutney less spicy.

Now add red onion, cook them until they are translucent.

Add chopped tomatoes and let it cook until the tomatoes are soft and mushy.

Now on medium heat, add salt, coriander powder, cayenne pepper powder and brown sugar to the mixture and cook them until there is a ring of oil on the sides of the wok.

Add tomato paste to the mixture and cook for another 1-2 minutes. I add tomato paste since I like how it lends good consistency and color to the chutney.

Tomato Thokku

Take it off heat and transfer in a clean and dry mason jar. It stays well for 4-5 days if kept refrigerated.

I’m gearing up for Diwali next week and you will a lot of posts in the coming days for sweets and savoury items traditionally made to kick start the festivities.

Red Cabbage & Carrot Salad

Off late I have taken a liking to eating carrots with a side of hummus or zataar labneh. It’s my usual go-to snack at work as well. I have always liked eating the red carrots I find back home. When I first came to Dubai, finding red carrots also referred as Pakistani carrots became a rarity.

I took my own sweet time liking the orange-tinged New Zealand or Australian carrots but now I use them in mostly everything. I put diced carrot in tomato soup (it lends a beautiful color and adds an undertone of sweetness to the acidity of the tomatoes) in savoury snacks like Poha, Upma or just carrots in salads.

Orange carrots are a good source of beta carotene and Vitamin A. Long hours spent glaring at the computer screens have left my eyes looking tired so I munch on these apart from investing in an eye cream.

I have family come over often for weekend lunch. My brother in law likes experimenting with salads and his favorite is the sprouts salad I make. However this time around he asked me to make something different.

Salad 2

I instantly remembered a bookmarked recipe from BBC Good Food’s website. I had red cabbage in the fridge and decided to make this Red Cabbage and Carrot Salad. It’s an adapted version.

Ready in 10 minutes max
Serves : 4 people

Ingredients

3 carrots grated
1 baby red cabbage
1 medium sized red onion thinly sliced
4 sprigs of coriander and mint leaves each
1/3 cup toasted and coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Dressing

Juice of 2 limes
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1 tsp organic brown sugar

Toss all the veggies in a salad bowl. I have added more of the peanuts since we like a bit more crunch in the salad. I have used a pack of pre-toasted and salted peanuts which you easily get in Indian supermarkets.

In a small bowl mix the ingredients for the dressing and blend them well.

Add the chopped herbs and pour the dressing over it. Add the toasted peanuts and serve immediately or chill for 10 minutes.

Salad

I hope you like this recipe as much as my family did.

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.

Oats Masala Idli

My love for traditional Indian fare is well known and I have discussed this in my previous posts. I do not like to tamper with the classics but sometimes you like to give it your own twist. One such craft master whose expertise is well known Michelin star awarded Chef Vineet Bhatia who owns Rasoi in London, Geneva and Indego by Vineet in Dubai.

I have been following his culinary journey to Indian cities looking for unique flavors and incorporating his own take on them in his popular series showcased on “Twist of Taste” on Fox Traveller with his beautiful wife Rashima in Season 1 who used to uncover the tourist attractions or shopping secrets the city had to offer.

In the first season of the show, Chef Vineet made Tomato Sev Rice with Ghatta Sabzi(Gramflour dumplings in tangy sauce)and Shikari Murg. Being a vegetarian I substituted the chicken with paneer and the result came out well. My husband loves this recipe so much that now even when I do not have the Paneer(Cottage Cheese) handy, I just make the ghatta sabzi with sev rice. This looks pretty too, recipe to follow soon 🙂

Tomato Sev Rice

I even tried the Besan Chilla stuffed with Dal served with a side of crispy okra. Unfortunately I’m not able to find a picture for that as yet.

I was at my mum’s place last month and was catching up on Season 2 wherein this recipe for Oats Masala Idli was showcased. I immediately tried this recipe since I knew it would be great as a evening snack. Healthy, nutritious and a quick savoury dish which can be served to a hungry army in a jiffy.

Oats Masala Idli

Ingredients
1 cup oats
1/2 cup semolina
1 cup yoghurt
2 tsp fresh coriander roughly chopped

Tempering
2 tsp oil
1 tsp urad dal
Few fenugreek seeds
7-8 curry leaves finely chopped
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 green chillies finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
1/4 cup grated carrots
Salt to taste

Dry roast cooking oats and semolina in separate pans on medium heat and keep it aside.

Whisk yoghurt and add the oats and semolina to it. Blend well and let the mixture rest for a while.

Now prepare the tempering, heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, once it splutters add curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, urad dal, green chillies and let the flavors get infused.

Add onions and cook them until they are translucent. Now add grated carrots to the mixture. Add salt to taste, you may also add coriander powder I skipped this.

Saute them for a minute and take it off the heat. Allow it to cool for sometime and then add this to the oats mixture.

Add fresh coriander to the mixture and blend well.

In a idli steamer, pour little water and grease the idli moulds with little oil. Add a spoonful of batter to the idli moulds and put them in the steamer.

Cover the steamer with a lid and let it cook for 7-8 mins. This mixture yields 18 Idlis in total.

Uncover the goodness after a while and serve with Garlic Rasam, Tomato Thokku, Coriander Chutney or Tiffin Sambhar.

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!

Creamy Spinach Dip


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Few weekends back saw me and hubby partying with my set of work colleagues. I get very excited for throwing house parties and love the entire ritual of deciding the menu, grocery shopping, having the cutlery sorted and having the house look prim and propah. I usually like to have elaborate appetizers hence the dips come in handy.

This dip has always been a hit whenever I throw house parties. This also happens to be husband’s favourite hence had to be featured. I love this for the creamy and buttery texture and the subtle flavour of white pepper powder which gives the much required kick to the palette.



10 parts Frozen Spinach / 2 bunches of Fresh Spinach Leaves
1 pack thick cooking cream (I used Puck’s)
50 ml Full Fat Milk
1 tsp Garlic Butter
2 tsp Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic crushed
1 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
Salt to taste

Heat Olive oil on medium heat in a saucepan.

Add crushed garlic and sauté for a minute.

Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze out all the excess water and add the pan. Let it simmer for 2 mins. Don’t over cook the spinach else it will lose it’s bright green color.

Add sea salt and white pepper and mix it well. Lower the heat.

Dilute the cream with little milk, blend it well and add to the spinach mixture. Cook it for another 2 minutes and add milk.

Keep stirring the mixture continuously. When the cream becomes half, remove from heat.

Let the mixture cool completely and refrigerate it for a minimum of 2 hours.

Serve with Nachos, Crackers, Baby Carrots or Pita Bread. This dip can be stored for 3 days if refrigerated.

Vegetable Poha (Flattened Rice Flakes Cooked with Spices & Veggies)

This popular breakfast dish is made using flattened rice flakes also known as poha. These swell when water is added at room temperature as they are super absorbent.

Having born and brought up in Mumbai, I have had any variations of this yummy easy to make, light to digest snack. I have listed here the recipe my mother used to cook for us on Sunday mornings. Traditionally the dish is called “Kande Pohe” i.e. Flattened rice flakes cooked with spices and thinly sliced onions.

 

 

 

However my mother used to add lot of veggies so that we get our fill our nutrients. My brother was a fussy kid when it came to eating vegetables hence mum smuggled it into our lunch boxes by way of Pohe. She used to make a smiley face using tomato ketchup to distract my brother, so that he did not end up weeding out the veggies.

She used to dice the veggies, I have used finely chopped and shredded versions of the same. I have skipped french beans in the recipe. I hope you like it.

2 1/2 cup flattened rice flakes (Poha)
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 medium sized capsicum finely chopped
1 medium sized tomato finely chopped
1 big onion thinly sliced
2 green chillies finely chopped
7-8 curry leaves
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp coriander powder
5 tsp canola oil
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
Few sprigs of coriander leaves

Sprinkle water on the poha and mix it well and keep it aside for 20 minutes. Use water only to coat the poha well.
Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder to the poha and allow it to bloom. This is how it will look after this step.

 

In a pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds, curry leaves and green chillies. Once they start popping add onions.
Cook onions until they are translucent and have a pale pink color.

 

Add tomatoes, cook until they are soft but let them not reach them to a level where they look mashed.

 

Add capsicum and carrot together and mix well. Now time to spice up things, add 1/2 tsp salt followed by all the spices.

 

Mix well and let the mixture cook for 2 minutes. Now add the poha and fold it in the vegetables lightly.

Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add juice of 1 seedless lemon and finish it with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with toasted bread with garlic butter and masala chai. This is a perfect and easy breakfast option to feed when you have guests.