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!

Vegetable Daliya / Bulgur Porridge

Breakfast 1

I am always on the look out for healthy recipes which are quick to make and are comforting as well. Past few weeks have not been great health wise and thus comes the focus on nutritious food packed with goodness of essential nutrients.

I love having couscous in my salads but this time around I was running out of it hence decided to go for a porridge like dish made of bulgur or broken wheat. I was bored with oats so did not opt for it.

It is a diabetic friendly dish which is high on fibre and protein. Easy to make and something which you can lay on the table in 20 minutes.

Daliya 1

Cooking Time : 20 minutes
Serves : 4

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup daliya / broken wheat / bulgur
1 finely chopped onion
1 finely chopped tomato
1 finely chopped capsicum
1/4 cup shredded carrot (optional)
1/4 cup peas
2 finely chopped green chillies
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp carrom seeds
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cups water
Salt to taste

In a pressure cooker, heat some oil and add cumin seeds followed by carom seeds.

Once they sizzle, add some green chillies followed by onions.

Cook them until translucent, add tomatoes and cook them for a minute.

Add capsicum, peas and sautee them well. You could also add broccoli, sweet corn to the mixture.

Add all the dry spices and mix well and season it with salt as required.

Vegetables

Add bulgur to this mixture and roast it well until the spices are coated well with it.

Daliya

Add 3 cup warm water to the mixture, mix well and close the lid of the pressure cooker.

Pressure cook until 3 whistles and turn off the heat.

Breakfast

I served this with mango milkshake on a weekend taking in the views from my balcony. 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.

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