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.

Besan Ka Chilla – Savoury Gram Flour Pancakes / Crepe

This is a recipe for Besan ka Chilla, simply put Indian savory pancakes made with chickpea / garbanzo bean / gram flour. This is a very easy to make recipe and is perfect for winter mornings or evenings. Goes perfectly with a cup of hot masala chai.

Assembling the ingredients is also very easy. This is my go-to weekend breakfast recipe and is quite filling as well. Chickpeas are an excellent source of proteins and this is an easy gluten free option as well. You can add any vegetables to this versatile crepe / pancake recipe. Sometimes I like to add capsicum or shredded carrots to the mix.

Serves : 3
Prep Time : 5 minutes
Cooking time : 15 minutes

Ingredients
1 cup besan / gram four
3 tsp finely chopped coriander leaves
1 finely chopped green chilly
1 medium sized finely chopped onion
1 medium sized finely chopped tomato
1/2 cup coarsely chopped spinach leaves
1/2 tsp zataar powder
1 tsp carrom seeds
1/4 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chaat masala
A pinch of turmeric powder
Oil for frying
Salt to taste
Water to the consistency desired

In a mixing bowl, sieve the besan and add all the dry spices and salt. Mix well with a spoon.

Add chopped onions, tomatoes, spinach, coriander and chillies to this mixture.

Add little water and mix. Keep adding until it reaches desired consistency.

Some people like the batter to be thick while some like it runny. I prefer reaching a mid point. Here’s how my batter looks like.

Batter

Now on a greased hot pan over low heat, drop a ladle full of the batter and let it take shape. Let the mixture cook.

Besan Ka Chilla

Add any regular oil to the sides and gently flip it over. Here’s where practice comes to the rescue.

Besan Ka Chilla1

Let both the sides get evenly cooked. You are looking for a lovely brown look. I wish I had better pictures for this post.

Besan Ka Chilla2

Serve with tomato chutney or any dip that takes your fancy. I prefer it with toasted bread and butter.

Side Notes:
Adding carom seeds aids digestion.
Zataar powder can be skipped if you do not like it.

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

Bombay Bites Restaurant Review

It’s been a long gap after which I have started posting my old blog posts pending in my ever increasing drafts folder. Work has been crazy off late, leaving me with no time. However I have been cooking to my heart’s content in the last few weeks given the dinner parties I have been hosting for friends and family. Here’s a post I wrote when I was craving Mumbai street food. Read on to know how I found some yummy street food.

I miss Bombay, also known as Mumbai, my home city and there are days when all I want is, to pack my bags and sit at Worli Seaface especially this time around the year. Anyone who is from Bombay will tell you this that Bombay rains are to die for. The scenic lush green cover that the city adorns itself in, the waves splashing against the shores, the odd teen selling cutting chai and chocolates to the lovey-dovey couples holding hands at the sea side, kids jumping in puddles of water on busy roads while returning back from school, the mums reprimanding them. The city has a character and the rains lend it one.

The rainy season is almost over now but it was pouring cats and dogs in Bombay for the last week for so and talking to my folks back home, hearing them taking it easy and enjoying afternoon siestas followed by masala chai with onion bhajjis, I started missing home and the rainy season even more.

I was craving Pav Bhaji and thus began my quest to look for the same. I turned to Twitter to ask for suggestions. Many options were floating like Sukh Sagar, Kailash Parbhat, Aamchi Mumbai, Mumbai Express.  I have had Pav Bhaji at Sukh Sagar and Aamchi Mumbai and it was kinda average.

I eventually went to Bombay Bites, it is based in Bank Street in Bur Dubai. The owner is from Mumbai and prides himself in his Maharashtrian roots. It started as a cafe where only snacks were served, I first had a Misal Pav and Vada Pav over there last year and never went back since it is a long drive from my place in JLT.

This time around we realized that they have taken over a bigger place and opened a full fledged restaurant next door.

Bombay Bites

We tried their Pav Bhaji and it was yummy. It sure left me satisfied, if you after a fancy presentation and a fine dining experience this is definitely not the place to be. But it has got good flavorsome food.

When I first paid them a visit, it was the mango season. The owners had specially bought Alphonso Mangoes which are the speciality of Ratnagiri region in Maharashtra. The texture and flavor of this variety of mango is best for milkshakes, ice creams, preserves and smoothies. They had displayed the bounty just at the entrance to the restaurant, it was enough to make me salivate at the thought of ‘Aamras’.

Aamrkhand : Aamras

Aamras is mango pulp flavored with a very faint hint of elaichi (cardamom) powder. I also followed it up with Aamrkhand, it is mango flavored Shrikhand. It is a traditional dessert made from strained yoghurt mixed with sugar and then flavors are added. It is best served chilled with hot pooris (deep fried Indian bread)

The Pav Bhaji came complete with tava (flat pan) roasted pao (Indian dinner rolls). The best thing about the bhaji is it is doused with spices and not subtle at all. It is really spicy and has the “Aaahaa” factor in every morsel. The complimentary finely chopped onions and lemon wedges play havoc on the palette.

Pav Bhaji

We went there again last week, this time around again we had the pao bhaji and followed it up with Kesar (Saffron) Dryfruit Milkshake, it was loaded with the goodness of nuts and a hint of saffron on top. It was quite a heavy option and Sahil did not touch my dessert later and this doesn’t happen ever!

Dryfruit Kesar Milk

I was reminiscing about Juhu Beach hence ordered Kesar Falooda. It is a chilled dessert. Again I was ecstatic with the result, a tall glass made a grand entry with even layers of fine vermicelli, basil seeds, pistachios, almonds, three scoops of vanilla ice cream, jelly, chilled sweetened milk, almonds and topped with rose syrup.

Kesar Falooda

Everything about this was wonderful. It was just perfect to be had after the spicy meal I had just devoured.

I think in a city where you have many eateries promising you Mumbai style street food, this is one of best of the crop. It is priced very affordably. Finding a parking spot can be tricky on weekends, I usually end up here during weekdays.

Chat up with the owners, they are a friendly couple. I spoke to them in Marathi and the conversations which followed had me walk out smiling!

Disclaimer : All featured dishes and meals were paid for my me and this post is not a sponsored one.

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.

IMG_1499

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.

IMG_1641

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.