Thursday, 30 August 2012


If there is a dish that intrigued me yet made me very wary of trying was shrikand. It is an incredibly simple dish so it was not the process of making it or the work involved that made me hesitant but the actual combination of flavour. I am not a sweet lassi person so combining sugar with yogurt was not really for me. Yet, I once gathered the willingness and enthusiasm to give this a shot. It was Gokulashtami and that seemed like a good occasion to try this. Being a food blogger now, I do feel I have some sort of self imposed responsibility to try a variety of food and make as many as possible in a practical and sustainable way. The first time I made this, I made just enough for one person really and the recipe for that is below. For each additional serving, add another 500g yogurt and required sugar and more saffron. It is hard to believe how much of a difference in texture and flavour the process of hanging the yogurt can bring in. Ideally, try to use greek yogurt but that said, I made it with low fat yogurt and it still came out yummy. When blending the sugar make sure only to pulse the hung yogurt and sugar as if you just blend it through, you will lose the lovely texture of the hung yogurt. Refrigerate for sometime before serving as that helps infuse he saffron’s flavour. Trust me, it made so much difference when I ate this out of an earthen pot. The pot brings a lovely aroma and also imparts some chillness, oh just heavenly!
500g yogurt
2 tablespoon sugar
A pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon milk
Few chopped nuts
Pour the yogurt into a clean white towel or even thick kitchen towel and place on a sieve with a bowl underneath. You are making hung yogurt in simple terms. Leave it for about 2-3 hours or even overnight in the refrigerator

 Heat the milk and add saffron strands and allow it to sit for ten minutes or so. This is to bring out the saffron’s flavour

Pulse the hung yogurt with sugar and saffron in a blender/food processor

Garnish with nuts and serve chilled!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Malai Methi Gobi

Malai Methi Gobi
Gravies are an important part of my menu especially because my husband does not like the dry subjis with rotis etc. Making delicious and healthy gravies without monotony is a challenge I like to take. I was making naan one evening and thought it needs a rather rich side dish. I chose to make this malai gobi methi. There is something unique and wonderful about methi that imparts richness and aroma to dishes. If you have guests and you want to impress them with a rich gravy, I would recommend one with methi and cream combined with other vegetables. If you do not have cream, add milk and simmer so it thickens and is creamy. There are a number of variations of this recipe, most of them involve far more steps but I like to kep things simple and quicker. Here is the recipe...
1 cup chopped methi (fenugreek leaves)
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
2 green chillies
1 small piece ginger
4-5 almonds
2 tablespoon cream
1 large onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped roughly
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon chilly powder
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Cooking oil and or butter

Heat some oil in a pan and fry the onions until brown

Cool the onions and grind along with tomato, ginger, green chilly, almonds to a fine paste

In the mean time, heat some butter and oil and add the methi leaves and cook until wilted

Add the cauliflower florets and turmeric powder and sauté for couple of minutes

Add the ground paste and add little water and salt and cook covered for about five minutes

Once the cauliflower is cooked, add the coriander powder, chilly powder and cumin powder and cook for couple of minutes

Add cream and simmer for about ten minutes, make sure there is enough liquid and it does not burn

Serve with rice or naan or roti.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Channa Masala

Channa Masala
Channa masala is a very popular gravy back home. It is great with poori, roti, naan, rice and even with chat items. I think the secret to wonderful channa masala is the actual masala powder used. In India, I used to like Everest brand of masala powder but here I use MDH or Mangal and am quite happy with them. Channa aka chickpea is rich in low fat protein. It is important to soak it in adequate water for atleast eight hours. The soaking process is not only to enable cooking but also to make the protein digestible by human body. Without soaking, some contents of such legumes, also called anti-nutrients, interfere with the absorption of the goodness in these. It is not recommended to add salt while cooking as it is said to make the skin hard. In order to ease digestion and enhance flavour, I cook the channa with cinnamon, ginger and cloves. You could use other whole spices too. If you are running out of time or forgotten to soak, you can always keep a tin of chickpea handy and use it. I normally drain and rinse tinned legumes as they have far too much salt. Here is the recipe...
½ cup channa, soaked for 8-12 hours
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon channa masala
½ teaspoon chilly powder
2 pinches kasoori methi
Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste (optional)
Salt to taste
Cooking oil
1 cinnamon
2 cloves
Small piece ginger

Pressure cook the channa dal with the cloves, cinnamon and ginger. Make sure it is cooked well

Heat some oil and fry the onions until brown

Add the tomatoes and cook until mushy and oil begins to separate

Add coriander powder, cumin powder, channa masala, chilly powder and kasoori methi. Also add required salt and cook for 3-5 minutes

Add the cooked channa dal and required water and simmer until it thickens. Mash some channa to thicken the gravy

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with any Indian bread or rice

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Bajra Cranberry Biscuit (Millet Cranberry Biscuit)

Bajra Cranberry Biscuit
How often do you end up wondering how on earth you are going to make your child eat healthy food? Or for that matter, how often have you been guilty of snacking of high sugar or high fat food? Recently, I have been concerned about my son’s food intake as he barely seems to be eating. Or this reason, I have been thinking hard to find ways of increasing his nutrition in every bite he takes.  I have always found finger foods or snacks an easy way to pack with nutrients because it fits with their ‘busy schedule’ of nonstop playing. At this day and age, we seem to have a need to sneak in good ingredients rather than taking them consciously, knowing exactly what it is. My ancestors used to include so many different grains, millets, vegetables etc. and lived quite healthy. Sometimes when I add some ‘healthy’ ingredients in some dishes I do get a funny look from my husband, although he eventually eats them and appreciates but he still gives me that look. Anyway, long story short, I found a great way to include millets – biscuit. If it is added in increased quantity, it is not particularly tasty, so it was better to combine with wheat flour. I added dried fruits to lend some sugar and more taste in every bite. The millet flour has no gluten so it tends not to come together really so I decided to make my own egg substitute – cornflour paste. You could not tell it had millets and trust me the satisfaction of knowing you are having a rather healthy snack is immense.
½ cup bajra flour
½ cup wholewheat flour
¾ cup all purpose four
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup dried cranberry
¼ cup black currants, soaked in water for five minutes or so
1/3 cup butter/margarine
1-2 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon cornflour mixed in 2 tablespoon water

Combine the butter/margarine and sugar together

Add the cornflour water mixture and whisk

Add the flours with baking powder, cranberries and currants and mix to make a dough. You may need to add a spoon or two of milk to make the dough

Divide the dough and make discs about 3mm thick and cut to desired shapes (cutting them in attractive shapes makes them even more appealing)

Bake at 180degC for 13-15 minutes, until edges brown and you smell the wonderful biscuit

Transfer to cooling rack and store in air tight container

Monday, 13 August 2012

Pumpkin Pachadi (Pumpkin curry)

Pumpkin Pachadi (Pumpkin curry)
When I was a child, I was not at all a fan of pumpkin and preferred ash gourd. Over time, I relaise my taste has changed and now I quite like pumpkin. It is a shame that I do not get it all through the year. I barely see it in the supermarkets here and if lucky, I get my hands around it or my brother and his wife buy it for me from Indian shop. I usually buy a full pumpkin, cut it and freeze. The lovely colour of the pumpkin flesh simply means it is very good for us. It contains beta carotene which has anti inflammatory properties and also contains alpha carotenes which can slow ageing and even prevent tumor growth. It has vitamin E which promotes healthy skin and could also prevent some cancers. It is also rich in fibre. Having said all the good stuff about this lovely fruit, it is a shame that it is normally seen only during Halloween, that too for carving. Anyway, this particular dish is a traditional dish and ayurveda based. You can pair this with any other dish that may be slightly bitter so the sweetness complements. Here is the recipe...

1 teapsoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urd dal
Turmeric powder
2 cups pumpkin, cubed
½ teaspoon tamarind paste
½ teaspoon chilly powder (optional)
1 tablespoon crushed jaggery
2-3 dry red chillies
Salt to taste
One sprig curry leaves
Cooking oil

Heat little oil and add mustard seeds, urd dal, asafoetida, turmeric powder and dry red chillies. Allow the seeds to crackle

Add the pumpkin and sauté for couple of minutes

Add little water and tamarind paste and cook until pumpkin is done

Add the chilly powder, salt, jaggery, curry leaves and simmer until raw smell goes


Saturday, 11 August 2012

Fig Rolls (eggless)

Fig rolls
Newton bar need no introduction and it is not a surprise that they appealed to me straight away. The idea of using dried fruit stuffing to lend sweetness to a snack and reducing added sugar is obviously attractive. I wanted to make eggless version and here it is. The use of jam, I think makes the bars soft the next day but you could try baking it longer to make it crisper. I made it with wholewheat four making it even healthier. This made these bars an ideal snack. They were especially handy when I was desperate for food but had to cook and absolutely had to snack on something. This recipe is a keeper because of the rich iron content, wholesome nature, far less added fat and sugar. Here is my version...
¾ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup wholewheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoon butter/margarine/oil
2-3 tablespoon milk
For filling:
10 dried figs
3 tablespoon date syrup
3 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoon apricot jam or any other jam of choice
Few nuts, chopped

Bring together the flours, baking powder, brown sugar, butter and required milk to make a soft dough

For the filling, blend together all ingredients mentioned, except the nuts. Try not to puree it too much, coarsely blended consistency should be fine

Divide the dough into two and roll into a 5mm thick disc and cut into half

Towards one side of the dough place generous portion of filling as shown in the picture. Sprinkle some nuts on top

Fold the dough over to make a log and place on greaseproof baking paper

Bake in a preheated oven at 180degC for 20-25 minutes, until it starts to brown (longer if you like the outer even crisper)

Cool and cut the log into smaller pieces and enjoy the goodies

Monday, 6 August 2012

Bread and Butter Pudding (eggless and wholemeal)

Bread and Butter Pudding (eggless and wholemeal)
If any of you see me at the end of the billing counter while buying groceries, you will think I am crazy because of the amount of fuss I make about packing. I like to keep things to be refrigerated in a separate bag, freezer items separate if possible and food items that can stay on the counter separate; food to go into cupboard in a bag and any cleaning stuff separate. All this fuss makes unpacking at home easy, especially when I am tired because I just stick things in the fridge and freezer and leave the rest for later. However, my husband usually finds all this a bit too much. I try to keep them in such an order on the conveyer belt while billing. What may help is shopping in the same order but I think that could be a bit too obsessive. Anyway, reason I am telling you this is because I had a big pack of bread that had completely lost its shape as it was kept down in the bag with loads of other stuff on top of it. The bread was so shapeless that there were no takers at home. I had to use as much as possible and also had another cupboard item, custard powder, I am trying to use up. I was fancying bread and butter pudding with a crusty top and pudding like consistency inside. Bread and butter pudding is suppose to be a very traditional British pudding but from what I have seen on the tele (food channels), it needs loads of eggs and butter. If you know me or my way of cooking, you guessed it right, I just cannot dump all those eggs and butter in. It had to be eggless and much low in butter but full of flavours. I also had a small tin of evaporated milk to finish off. Evaporated milk, I believe was used in the past as fresh milk was not always available. When diluted with equal amount of water, evaporated milk can be used in place of fresh milk. If you do not have custard powder, use cornflour and add some vanilla essence.If you like chocolate bread pudding, add some coco powder to the milk. This is really easy to make, specially handy for times when you want to focus on main meal. Here is the recipe...

6-7 slices wholemeal bread (white would do as well)
½ cup sugar (just shy of half cup, add more if you have a sweet tooth)
2 tablespoon custard powder
1 ½ cups milk
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon raisin
2 tablespoon chopped nuts

Put torn pieces of bread in an oven proof dish and pour melted butter over it

Dissolve the custard powder in about quarter cup milk and heat the rest of the milk

Add the custard milk mixture to warm milk and heat until the sauce thickens slightly. Add sugar to this and dissolve the same (you can take it off the flame to mix sugar)

Pour the custard over the bread and using a fork gently mix so the custard gets into every nook and corner. Put the raisins and nuts and mix very gently

Bake at 180degC for 30-35 minutes until top is golden brown and custard is set