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!

Dukkah Spiced Chickpea Rice

What do I pack for lunch tomorrow ? This is a question I ask almost every day to my dearest husband and he never has a good enough answer. He does not like to take leftovers of dinner last night as is. This leaves me in a fix!

So I have to work a lot with leftovers in one way or another. Some days I use the curry or vegetable in parathas and make kathi rolls or if I have stir fried veggies, use them up in noodles. On most days, I have a bowl of left over rice staring back at me. When I am at leisure, I sometimes make Spicy Peanut Balls from leftover rice.

On one such instance, I made this rice with chickpeas and spices. This is a easy office lunch option, gets ready in few minutes and is very easy to prep.

Chickpeas add a source of protein to an otherwise basic recipe. I used to always spice this up with the usual coriander and cumin powder. However this time around I decided to experiment with dukkah spice mix.

My colleague recently visited his home back in Egypt and his mum lovingly packed homemade dukkah spice mix for me. See packing brownies for team mates comes with it’s own advantages! 😀

Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mix comprising of toasted sesame seeds, hazelnuts, coriander, almond meal and cumin. I’m no expert about these spice mixes but just sharing the information imparted by my colleague’s mum!

I have used chaat masala previously to add some zing to rice dishes like Tawa Pulao. This time since I was using a Middle Eastern spice mix, I decided to substitute the chaat masala with some sumac. And I’m glad that I did so!

Here’s my recipe for the Dukkah Spiced Chickpea Pulao:

Chole Pulao

Comes together in : 20 Minutes
Ingredients

2 onions finely chopped
2 tomatoes finely chopped
1 green chilly finely chopped
1/3 cup carrots finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup chickpeas
1 1/2 tsp dukkah masala
1 tsp sumac powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp carrom seeds (optional)
1 tsp coriander powder
3 tsp canola oil
4 cups cooked rice
A handful of parsley roughly chopped
Salt to taste

In a sauté pan, heat some oil and add cumin seeds and carom seeds. Once it sizzles, add green chilly followed by onions.

Cook onions until they are translucent, add tomatoes. Let them cook till they are mushy.

Add the spices, salt to taste and blend well together followed by chickpeas. Let it stand in the mixture for a while.

Add the cooked rice and mix it well with the mixture. Garnish with parsley and serve hot with a side of cucumber raita.

Chole Pulao1

Until next time, happy cooking!

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!

Couscous Salad

I have busy first looking for one and then moving houses for the last few weeks now. It is such a tiring process.

But I had a lot of fun looking for new furniture, Nonetheless we finally moved in our new house this weekend and I wanted to make up for all wall of silence on my blog. So here I am, back to the Middle Eastern spread on the blog, sharing an easy recipe for the couscous salad.

Couscous Salad

This is a new favorite and an easy lunch box recipe. It gets ready quickly on weekday mornings. You can chop up the veggies while the couscous is resting.

Couscous is a healthy protein rich option and also low on calories. Add any veggies you love to eat on a given day and you have colorful lunch box which you co-workers would like to dig in.

Comes Together in : 15 Minutes max
Ingredients

1 cup couscous
1 cup boiling water
1 finely chopped cucumber
1 finely chopped red onion
2 finely chopped tomatoes
6 finely chopped baby radish
2 tsp olive oil
3 tsp tomato paste
Juice of 1 lemon or more as needed
Salt to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
Handful of finely chopped dill leaves

In a wide bowl, pour boiling water over couscous and cover it with a lid for 10 minutes.

Let the couscous absorb all the water. After uncovering the lid, when all water is absorbed, use a fork to fluff the couscous and let it cool for a while.

Fluffy Couscous

You could also use vegetable stock to add flavors.

Couscous Tomato Paste

Add the tomato paste and with hands rub the paste in to the couscous.

Veggies

Add all veggies. Dress the salad with olive oil, salt, black pepper and dill leaves.

Couscous Salad1

Toss them well and let it refrigerate for a bit. Savour this on a hot summery afternoon!

Until next time happy cooking!

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! 🙂

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.

IMG_5756

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.

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.