Friday, April 29, 2016

Peri Peri chicken

Tonight's Menu
Piri Piri Chicken
Portuguese Rice


Piri piri is an African bird's eye chili that has been growing wild in Africa for centuries and is now cultivated commercially in Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Way back in the 15th century, the Portuguese explorers were introduced to the Bird’s Eye Chili growing under the warm sun in the rich soils of Africa. This was a spice so nice, it had to be named twice. Piri piri is the Swahili word for 'pepper pepper'. These hot and sweet peppers are the inspiration for this spice mix. 
Piri piri chicken is a smoky spicy dish with a multitude of flavor. Its complex spiciness is a result of using, sweet, hot and smoked peppers all in one. Serve it alongside the Portuguese rice and a green salad to complete the meal.

Piri Piri Chicken
Ingredients: (serves 4-5)
4 chicken breasts
Peri peri spice mix (recipe)
1 T olive oil
1 T lime juice
  1. Clean and pat dry the chicken breasts. Season well with salt.
  2. Preheat grill or oven to 400 F.
  3. Make a paste of peri-peri spice mix (quantity as desired) with olive oil and lime juice. Use this as a rub for the chicken breasts. You can add additional olive oil if you are using a lot of the spice mix.
  4. Place the marinated chicken breasts on a greased baking sheet.
  5. Grill for about 20 minutes, flipping side midway till an internal temperature of 165 - 170 F is achieved. 
  6. Remove from heat and let rest covered for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. 
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Portuguese Rice
Ingredients: (serves 4-5)
1 1/2 cup rice
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups tomato
1 small red onion
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
  1. Chop onion, garlic and tomato. 
  2. Wash and drain the rice. 
  3. Heat oil in a pan and add onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes till translucent.
  4. Add the tomatoes and salt and stir well. Let cook on medium for 2-3 minutes till tomatoes start to break down. 
  5. Add the rice and stir to combine all the flavors of the pan into the rice grains. 
  6. Add water and bring to boil. Simmer covered for 15-20 minutes till all the water is absorbed and rice is cooked through. Serve hot.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Piri-Piri Spice Mix


Piri piri is an African bird's eye chili that has been growing wild in Africa for centuries and is now cultivated commercially in Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Way back in the 15th century, the Portuguese explorers were introduced to the Bird’s Eye Chili growing under the warm sun in the rich soils of Africa. This was a spice so nice, it had to be named twice. Piri piri is the Swahili word for 'pepper pepper'. These hot and sweet peppers are the inspiration for this spice mix. 
Add a handful of herbs, spices, a squeeze of sun-ripened lemons and a dash of garlic to these peppers to get a spice rub that tantalizes your taste buds and adds a tonne of flavor to a meal. 

How to use peri-peri spice mix:
  1. Make a paste of spice mix with lime juice and olive oil and use it as a rub for chicken, pork or shrimp. 
  2. For a vegetarian option, the spice mix can be used as a marination for tofu, paneer/cottage cheese, veggies like cauliflower, potatoes, mushrooms, capsicum, eggplants to be grilled or roasted. 
  3. Use the spice as is for stir fries and sauteed dishes.   
Ingredients: (makes about 3/4 Cup)
1 T sweet paprika
1 T smoked paprika
2 T Piri Piri pepper (or cayenne)
2 T cumin powder 
2 T coriander powder 
11/2 T garlic powder 
1 1/2 T onion powder
1 t sugar
1 t oregano
1 tsp black pepper
Dash of nutmeg and cinnamon
  1. Lightly toast the cumin and coriander powder in a dry skillet till fragrant.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together. I usually place them in a grinder and give it a quick wiz. 
  3. Store in an air tight container. 
  4. I don't add any salt to my spice mixes. I find it better to season the meat with salt as per taste. If you want you can add salt to the mix. 
  5. Use the spice mix to make Peri-Peri chicken.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Kashmiri thali

Kashmiri thali
Saffron Rice
Kashmiri haaq (Collard greens)
Tsok Vangun (Tangy Eggplant)
Munji Chetin (Radish Raita)
Roti

This collection of dishes comes from Kashmir the land of exquisite scenic beauty. Kashmiri cuisine has been influenced by the cooking traditions of its various invaders and is a harmonious fusion of several cultures.
Some of the finest gourmet delicacies form a part of this cuisine. Unlike other parts of India, the Kashmiri brahmin is allowed to eat lamb and fish. Traditionally chicken and eggs were considered unclean and not cooked in the Pundit kitchen, but with passage of time this belief has disappeared and many lamb recipes are now cooked with chicken as a variation. Yakhni - a rich meat stock cooked in yogurt, Hak - a leafy green vegetable cooked in spices and boiled rice form a characteristic Kashmiri meal. Roganjosh - a meat preparation is necessary to complete a typical spread. Goshtaba and Rista are gourmet delicacies that are made for special occasions.
Kashmiri food is dominated by a variety of powdered and whole spices. Onion, garlic and fresh ginger are not used much. Curries are flavored with dry spices, a variety of dry fruits, nuts and yogurt. Most of the dishes use asafoetida (hing), dry ginger (sonth) and aniseed (saunf) in large quantities along with saffron for that truely exotic taste.  
Crisp, tangy, nutritious, spicy, wholesome and exotic - just about sums up the Kashmiri table.

Goshtaba
This delicacy is made with minced mutton, yogurt and a bunch of aromatic spices. It is basically spiced meatballs cooked in a flavorful yogurt gravy. An important dish, Goshtaba is made on all the auspicious occasions and is the last meat dish to be served in Wazwan (the multi - course Kashmiri feast) just before the dessert.
A must try for all meat lovers.
For recipe click here.





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Kokur (Chicken)Roghanjosh
This recipe comes from the Hindu Brahmin community or pundits of Kashmir with a definite Mughal influence.
The color and a gentle heat in this dish is contributed by the addition of Kashmiri chili powder and sweet paprika. Lamb is braised in yogurt and loads of aromatic spices. The bold flavors and aroma are imparted by fennel, ginger powder, black cardamom and asafoetida.
You will enjoy this one for its subtlety and complexity of flavor and undoubtedly aroma.
For recipe click here.




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Rajma
Curried red kidney beans served on a bed of steamed rice hits the spot on a cold wet evening. A perfect one dish meal for Sunday lunch.
For recipe click here.
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Saffron Rice
It kind of evolves from the pilaf recipes of the Mughlai cuisine, and goes very well with shrimp.
Ingredients: serves 4
1/2 tsp saffron threads plus 1tbsp milk
2 Tbsp ghee or clarified butter
4 green cardamom pods
1 small (2-inch) cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 cups water
Salt to taste (optional)
1 tbsp orange zest
3 Tbsp pistachios
3 Tbsp blanched almonds
1/3 cup cranberries
  1. Wash rice and drain the water.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pan heat ghee and add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon. stir for 10 seconds and add rice along with zest and cranberries. stir to coat the rice with ghee and spices.
  3. Add water and salt. mix well. Add the saffron threads soaked in milk. Stir well if you want the entire rice to turn yellow OR just give it one random stir to get the effect you see in the picture.
  4. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes till rice is cooked through and all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the almonds and pistachios.
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Kashmiri haaq (collard greens)
Collard greens, a true leafy superstar has more calcium than a glass of milk per serving. Antioxidant and anti inflammatory benefits along with cardiovascular support properties makes this a super food. The cholesterol-lowering ability of collard greens may be the greatest of all commonly eaten cruciferous vegetables. These tough slightly bitter tasting leaves flavored with cloves and ginger powder are the most commonly cooked greens in Kashmiri households. Absolutely an exotic tasting dish and a perfect accompaniment to almost every meal.
Ingredients:
1 bunch fresh collard greens
2 tbsp mustard/olive oil
pinch asafoetida
5-6 cloves
2-3 dry red chilies
1/3 tsp fennel (saunf), roughly pounded
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp each coriander and cumin powder
salt to taste
  1. Wash drain and finely chop the green leaves. 
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add cloves and asafoetida, followed by broken red whole chilies and saunf. Let these hang out in the oil for about 15 seconds and then add the greens. 
  3. Add other spices. Add just a sprinkle or two of water and mix well to incorporate all the spices into the leaves. 
  4. Cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes till soft, stirring once in the middle. 
  5. Haaq leaves do not get mushy and wilty like spinach. They will still have a bite left. 
  6. Serve hot with rice or roti. 
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Tsok vangun 
Recipe from the book 'Kashmiri kitchen'
Tangy eggplant with tamarind.
1 lb baby eggplants
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp aniseed (saunf) powder
Pinch asafoetida
4 tsp tamarind paste
2 green chilies (optional)
salt and red chili powder to taste
Oil for frying
  1. Remove the tails of the eggplants and quarter them. Fry them in a few tablespoons of oil till golden brown. Keep aside.
  2. In the same pan add all the spices and 1 cup of water. Stir to combine. Bring to boil and add the fried eggplant and salt. Cook on high for 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the tamarind paste and green chili and cook till gravy thickens up and you see oil separating on the sides of the pan. Serve hot. 
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Munji Chetin 
Call it radish chutney or radish raita. Add 3/4 cup of peeled and grated white radish (diacon) to a cup of whisked plain yogurt. Add salt to taste and some red chili powder. Tastes absolutely wonderful and cooling with the spicy spread. A great side dish to serve with any pulao, biryani, stuffed parathas or poori.

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Barith Marchavangun (stuffed chilies)
The sweet, sour and nutty filling is a result of combining walnuts and pomegranate seeds, giving a unique flavor explosion in the mouth. This is a wonderful side dish with lamb korma or Biryani. Serve it hot or at room temperature.
For recipe click here.












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Nadru Kabab
This exotic starter is an absolute treat for the vegetarian foodie. The meaty texture of lotus stem is a perfect substitute to any meat. Also called nadru or kamal kakdi, lotus stem has a mild sweet flavor and is liberally used in the Kashmiri kitchen. The bold flavors are that of fennel, ginger powder, cardamom and asafoetida while a gentle heat comes from the Kashmiri chili powder.
For recipe click here.



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Shufta
Shufta is just dry fruits in sugar syrup. The addition of delicate flavors makes it a special dish for festivals and marriages. A lavish assortment of dry fruits with saffron and warming spices, it warms up the body quickly. So a wonderful dish for those cold winter months.
For recipe click here.









References:
http://www.culturalindia.net/indian-food/kashmiri.html
Kashmiri kitchen by Purnima Kachru

Friday, April 15, 2016

Phalahaar fasting thali five

Thali Menu
Jeera Aloo (जीरा आलू)
Pumpkin stir fry
Buttermilk
Kuttu ka cheela (Buckwheat Crepes) 
Phool Makhane ki kheer (Puffed lotus seed pudding)
Panjeeri laddoo


Fasting is a spiritual practice observed in many religions. In Hinduism fasting stands for denial of the physical needs of the body for the sake of spiritual gains. By this act of self discipline devotees starve their senses (since food means gratification of senses), strengthening their mind  as well as hardening their body for hardships. It helps establish a harmonious relationship between body and soul.
Fasting can be of several types. Complete abstinence is called upavaas, avoiding any cereal and only eating fruits and root vegetables is called phalahaar. During the Navratri festival a lot of Hindus observe eight days of fasting. For Navratri its mostly phalahaar. People eat only once in the evening and consume no cereal even in that meal. Meal itself consists of simply cooked ingredients without the use of onion and garlic. Palahaar is also the way to go when fasting for Janamashtami, Shivratri or every fortnight for Ekadashi.
Here is an example of a phalahaar meal.

Potato stir fry  (जीरा आलू)
Ingredients: (serves 4)
8 baking potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp red chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds.
  2. Let them splatter for 30 seconds, then add potatoes. Coat then evenly with oil and cumin.
  3. Add coriander, turmeric, salt, cracked black pepper and red chili powder to taste. Mix well.
  4. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring 2-3 times to allow even cooking. Cook till tender crisp. Garnish with fresh coriander.
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Pumpkin stir fry
Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin
1/5 tsp each of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, methi seeds, coriander seeds 
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a pan and add all the seeds.
  2. Let them splatter for 30 seconds, then add the cubed pumpkin. Coat then evenly with oil and seeds.
  3. Add coriander, turmeric, salt, cracked black pepper and red chili powder to taste. Mix well.
  4. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring 2-3 times to allow even cooking. Cook till tender crisp. Garnish with fresh coriander.
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Kuttu ka cheela (Buckwheat Crepes)
Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 1/2 cups of kuttu flour (Buckwheat) 
Water to make a thin batter
salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Finely chopped fresh coriander and green chilies
Vegetable oil for shallow frying
  1. Make a thin batter of pouring consistency using the buckwheat flour and water. Add salt and pepper(if using) and coriander and chilies. Mix well.
  2. In a medium hot flat pan make small pancakes or cheelas with the batter. Serve hot and crisp.
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Phool Makhane ki kheer (Puffed lotus seed pudding)
Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 cups whole milk
One cup Flower makhana
Two Tbsp sago (OMS Pans) 
sugar to taste
2-3 tbsp sliced almonds
1/3 tsp green cardamom powder
Pistachios for garnish
  1. Clean phool makhane. Mix these with sago pearls, add 1/4 cup of water and keep aside to soak and soften.
  2. Meanwhile bring the milk to a rolling boil. Add the soaked lotus seed mixture to the boiling milk and stir well. Keep an eye on the milk as it can boil over. Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered stirring frequently. Make sure the milk doesn't burn at the bottom of the pan. 
  3. Cook for about 15-20 minutes till the mixture thickens slightly and lotus seeds and sago pearls are cooked through. 
  4. Add sugar and bring to boil again. Remove from heat. Add almonds and cardamom powder. Chill. Serve decorated with crushed pistachios.
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Panjeeri Laddoo
Ingredients: (makes 12)
2 cups dry unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup each chopped walnuts, pumpkin seeds and almonds 
2-3 tbsp ginger powder (more or less as per taste)
3 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
  1. Dry roast coriander powder in a medium hot pan till aromatic and lightly brown. 
  2. Boil water and sugar together till sugar dissolves.
  3. Now mix all the ingredients together. Work quickly with the warm batter to form laddoos. They will feel a little soft right now but as they cool they will be the right texture.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Phalahaar fasting thali four

Thali Menu
Vrat wali kadhi
Sabutdana aloo tikki
Dry arbi stir fry 
Green chutney
Fasting rice (Barnyard millet) 


Fasting is a spiritual practice observed in many religions. In Hinduism fasting stands for denial of the physical needs of the body for the sake of spiritual gains. By this act of self discipline devotees starve their senses (since food means gratification of senses), strengthening their mind  as well as hardening their body for hardships. It helps establish a harmonious relationship between body and soul.
Fasting can be of several types. Complete abstinence is called upavaas, avoiding any cereal and only eating fruits and root vegetables is called phalahaar. During the Navratri festival a lot of Hindus observe eight days of fasting. For Navratri its mostly phalahaar. People eat only once in the evening and consume no cereal even in that meal. Meal itself consists of simply cooked ingredients without the use of onion and garlic. Palahaar is also the way to go when fasting for Janamashtami, Shivratri or every fortnight for Ekadashi.
Here is an example of a phalahaar meal.

Vrat wali kadhi
Ingredients: 
1 cup thick plain yogurt
2-3 tbsp buckwheat flour (kuttu ka atta)
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Salt and red chili powder to taste
2 cups water
  1. Whisk the yogurt to a smooth consistency. Add buckwheat flour and water to make a smooth mixture. Add ginger, turmeric powder, coriander powder, salt and red chili powder and mix well. Keep aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin and mustard seeds.
  3. Let them splatter for 30 seconds, then add the above yogurt mixture. 
  4. Mix and bring to boil.
  5. Simmer uncovered for 10-20 minutes, stirring often to allow even cooking. 
  6. Cook till desired consistency is reached and all ingredients are cooked through. You can add more water if needed. 
  7. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve with samvat ke chawal for a delicious vrat dinner.  
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Dry Arbi (eddos) stir fry
Ingredients: 
1 lb arbi (peeled and sliced)
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
Pinch hing (asafoetida)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Salt and red chili powder to taste
  1. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds followed by hing.
  2. Let them splatter for 30 seconds, then add arbi. Coat then evenly with oil and cumin.
  3. Add all the spices. Mix well.
  4. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring 2-3 times to allow even cooking. Cook till tender crisp. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot.
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Sago potato cutlets
A delicious snack best served with the green chutney. Addition of sago gives it a slight crispness.
Ingredients: (makes 6-8)
1/4 cup sago
2 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 tbsp grated ginger
Some fresh chopped coriander
2 green chilies chopped
1/4 tsp garam masala
Salt and red chili powder to taste
Oil for frying
  1. Soak sago in cold water for 2-3 hours. Drain all the water well.
  2. Place in a large bowl and add potato, and all other ingredients.
  3. Mix well and taste for seasoning.
  4. Shape into small round cutlets.
  5. Shallow fry till golden brown.
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Green mint coriander chutney
Place mint leaves, coriander leaves, ginger and green chilies in a blender and add salt and lime juice. Blend till smooth. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.






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Samvat Rice (Barnyard millet)
These are tiny, white, round seeds belonging to the millet family. These are not true grains hence they can be used for phalahaar during fasting. Barnyard millet does not cook into separate grains like long grained rice. Once cooked its sticky and stays a bit soggy. Millet in general are starchy and their protein content is comparable to that of wheat and maize. Barnyard millet has the lowest carbohydrate content and energy value among all the varieties of millet.
To Cook:
Add 1 cup of millet to 2 cups of salted boiling water. Bring back to boil and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes till cooked through. Fluff a bit with fork and serve hot.

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Apricot pecan orange marbles
This one combines the tangy and sweet flavors with a bit of crunch. The addition of cranberries adds color and tang and the orange zest just enhances the flavor overall. I like these chunky and chewy. If you prefer a smooth marble then grind the apricots after heating in a food processor with all the ingredients to get a smooth mixture. Be sure to try out these vegan beauties next time you are craving for a healthy and delicious dessert.
For recipe click here.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Phalahaar fasting thali three

Thali menu
Eddos in yogurt gravy
Buckwheat spinach fritters
Sago khichri

Fasting is a spiritual practice observed in many religions. In Hinduism fasting stands for denial of the physical needs of the body for the sake of spiritual gains. By this act of self discipline devotees starve their senses (since food means gratification of senses), strengthening their mind  as well as hardening their body for hardships. It helps establish a harmonious relationship between body and soul.
Fasting can be of several types. Complete abstinence is called upavaas, avoiding any cereal and only eating fruits and root vegetables is called phalahaar. During the Navratri festival a lot of Hindus observe eight days of fasting. For Navratri its mostly phalahaar. People eat only once in the evening and consume no cereal even in that meal. Meal itself consists of simply cooked ingredients without the use of onion and garlic. Palahaar is also the way to go when fasting for Janamashtami, Shivratri or every fortnight for Ekadashi
Here is an example of a phalahaar meal.

Eddos in yogurt gravy (Dahi wali arbi)
Gravy made of yogurt gives this dish a slight tangy and creamy taste. Add more or less yogurt as per desired taste.
Ingredients:
1 lb arbi
1 tsp oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
I nch ginger, julienne
1-2 green chilies, chopped.
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup plain yogurt
  1. Wash the eddoes and peel. Cut them into half inch rings. 
  2. In a pressure cooker heat a tsp of oil and add cumin and mustard seeds. Roast for a few seconds and add the eddoes, ginger and green chilies.
  3. Add all the spices and water and mix well. 
  4. Pressure cook till the first whistle and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Open the lid of the pressure cooker and place the pan back on heat. Add well whisked plain yogurt and mix. Bring to boil and then simmer for a few minutes till the desired consistency is reached.  
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Sago (Sabutdana) Khichdi

This dish is popularly made during the fasting season. Soaked sago pearls are cooked with potatoes and peanuts and flavored with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Every variety of sago pearls need different soaking times. Just experiment and make sure they don't become soggy.
Ingredients: 
1 cup sabutdana (sago)
1 small potato, boiled
2-3 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves
2 tbsp peanuts
1 inch ginger, julienne
2-3 green chilies, chopped
Salt to taste
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Red chili powder to taste
  1. Wash the sago 2-3 times and soak in enough cold water to immerse fully. Soak for 2-3 hours. The grains should not mush up but should be moist and separate. Drain out all the water, fluff with fork and keep aside
  2. Peel and chop the potato to small pieces. Keep aside. 
  3. In another pan heat oil and add mustard seeds, let them roast for a few seconds. 
  4. Add the curry leaves, potatoes, peanuts, green chilies and ginger and roast till peanuts are golden. 
  5. Add the sabutdana, salt and chili powder. Stir well to combine till all the flavors get incorporated into them. Remove from heat and sprinkle lime juice and zest. Mix.
  6. Serve hot garnished with fresh coriander.
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Buckwheat Fritters Spinach (Spinach Kuttu Pakode)
These deep fried fritters are delicious served with a green chutney.
Ingredients: (makes 25)
2 cups spinach
3/4 cup buckwheat flour (kuttu ka atta)
1 inch ginger grated
2-3 green chilies, chopped
1/4 tsp ajwain
Salt to taste
Oil for frying.
  1. Wash and drain the spinach. Chop finely and place in a bowl.
  2. Add the buckwheat flour, ginger, green chilies, salt and palm crushed ajwain.
  3. Add enough water to make a thick droppable batter.
  4. Drop spoonfuls into hot oil and deep fry till cooked through. Serve hot. 
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Apple ginger cranberry chutney

This flavorful condiment is a simple combo of apple and ginger. I prefer to add cranberries since they add a slight sour flavor, but you can use raisins as well. Use tart granny smith apples for a more sour chutney and any red apple for a mellow sweet chutney. Either way you will enjoy the flavor explosion.
Find the recipe here.
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Fruit and nut raita
A cooling yogurt side dish that is perfect when served alongside spicy curries, biryani and rice pilafs. You can use any fruit and nut combination you fancy for this dish.
Find the recipe here.
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Shakarkandi ka halwa
Yam or sweet potato fudge makes for a delicious prasad and dessert for the day of fasting. A must try for everyone, fast or not.
Find the recipe here.
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Friday, April 8, 2016

Phalahaar fasting thali two

Thali menu
Raw banana stir fry
Cucumber raita
Curried potatoes in tomato gravy
Buckwheat groats khichri


Fasting is a spiritual practice observed in many religions. In Hinduism fasting stands for denial of the physical needs of the body for the sake of spiritual gains. By this act of self discipline devotees starve their senses (since food means gratification of senses), strengthening their mind  as well as hardening their body for hardships. It helps establish a harmonious relationship between body and soul.
Fasting can be of several types. Complete abstinence is called upavaas, avoiding any cereal and only eating fruits and root vegetables is called phalahaar. During the Navratri festival a lot of Hindus observe eight days of fasting. For Navratri its mostly phalahaar. People eat only once in the evening and consume no cereal even in that meal. Meal itself consists of simply cooked ingredients without the use of onion and garlic. Palahaar is also the way to go when fasting for Janamashtami, Shivratri or every fortnight for Ekadashi
Here is an example of a phalahaar meal.

Raw banana stir fry
Buy firm green bananas for this stir fry. Green bananas have a thick tough peel. No need to peel it off like a ripe banana. Just lightly peel with a peeler to remove a thin green layer leaving the rest of the peel intact.
Ingredients:
2 large raw bananas
1 inch ginger, julienne
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1 whole dry red chili
1 tsp dhuli urad dal
1/5 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Red chili powder to taste
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
Fresh coriander to serve
  1. Peel the bananas lightly. Cut them in even sized 1/4 inch rings.
  2. In a pan heat oil and add the mustard seeds. Let them roast for a few seconds.
  3. Add the urad dal, dry whole red chili and stir till lightly golden. 
  4. Add the ginger and stir to combine.
  5. Now add the banana rings and all other spices. Stir well to combine, reduce heat to medium, cover and let it cook. Stir occasionally to check if bananas are cooked through.
  6. Garnish with fresh coriander before serving.
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Cucumber raita
A cooling yogurt side dish that complements any meal. Grate cucumber and ginger and combine with whipped plain yogurt. Flavor with salt, red chili powder and roasted cumin powder. Chill before serving. 
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Curried potatoes in tomato
This delicious potato curry tastes great with anything. I make this in the pressure cooker. If you are using a pan instead, just increase the cooking time till potatoes are tender. 
Ingredients:
3 large potatoes
2 medium tomatoes
1 inch ginger, julienne
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/5 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Red chili powder to taste
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil
Fresh coriander to serve
  1. Peel and dice the potatoes. Chop the tomatoes roughly and process them to puree.  
  2. In a pressure cooker heat 2 tsp oil and add the cumin seeds. Let them roast for a few seconds.
  3. Add the potatoes and ginger and stir to combine.
  4. Now add the pureed tomatoes and all other spices and cook on medium high. Stir occasionally and cook till oil separates from the sides. 
  5. Add 1 cups of water and mix well. 
  6. Close the lid and cook in the pressure cooker for two whistles. Let cool.
  7. Open the lid and mix. Mash a couple of potatoes to thicken the gravy a bit. Garnish with fresh coriander.
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Buckwheat groats khichri
Raw buckwheat groats (Image source)
Buckwheat groats, or roasted buckwheat grains, are the seeds of a Polygonaceae family member. Though not a cereal, nutritional values are similar to those of cereals, and use is similar and as diverse as rice, barley and millet.
These have a low glycemic index, which means that unlike wheat flour, its carbohydrates break down slower, which make them more filling for a longer period of time, with less of an undesirable impact on blood glucose and insulin. Buckwheat groat protein also has a better make-up than wheat protein, with twice the amount of fiber compared to wheat, while boasting all the other beneficial properties. Buckwheat groats have a very distinct scent and taste and can be made into a porridge or side dish. To cook these: two cups of water for every cup of groats, with seasonings. Bring water to a boil, add the buckwheat groats. Simmer and cook covered until the water finishes seeping. (Source)

Ingredients:
1 cup buckwheat groats
1 inch ginger, julienne
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp peanuts
Salt and red chili powder to taste
2 tbsp oil
  1. Cook the groats as described above seasoned with salt. Fluff with fork when cooked and keep aside
  2. In another pan heat oil and add mustard seeds, let them roast for a few seconds. 
  3. Add the peanuts and ginger and roast till peanuts are golden. 
  4. Add the cooked groats and chili powder. Stir well to combine till all the flavors get incorporated into them.
  5. Serve hot garnished with fresh coriander.
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Dry Figs Chutney
This chutney is very easy to make and tastes just wonderful. The main ingredient in this dish are figs, which are full of nutritional benefits.
For recipe click here.
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Cinnamon apple pudding
Kheer gets a fruity makeover. Apple imparts a natural sweetness and some tartness giving this dessert a fresh and interesting taste. This dish makes very quickly unlike the traditional rice pudding. You can use it as offering during any phalahaar festival like Navratri, Janamashtami, Shivratri.
For recipe click here.



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Monday, April 4, 2016

Apricot pecan orange marbles


Apricots are a delicious addition to any dessert options. This one combines the tangy and sweet flavors with a bit of crunch. The addition of cranberries adds color and tang and the orange zest just enhances the flavor overall. I like these chunky and chewy. If you prefer a smooth marble then grind the apricots after heating in a food processor with all the ingredients to get a smooth mixture. Be sure to try out these vegan beauties next time you are craving for a healthy and delicious dessert.

Ingredients: 
11/2 cup apricots
1 cup pecans
4 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp orange jest
1/4 - 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder
Handful dried cranberries
Unsweetened shredded coconut for rolling(optional)
  1. Chop the apricots and pecans to small pieces.
  2. Combine apricot and orange juice in a non stick pan and heat gently till the mixture becomes sticky, about 2-4 minutes.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. 
  4. Cool enough to touch easily and using wet palms roll the mixture into small marbles. 
  5. Roll over shredded coconut (optional) and cool completely.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Dry Figs chutney



Chutney is a versatile spread/condiment that is usually associated with Indian cuisine. Chutney could be sweet, spicy, tangy depending on its main ingredient and could be made of herbs, fruits, veggies, dry fruits or a combination of one or more of these. Most chutneys have similar ingredients, fruits or veggies, sugar, salt, spices and vinegar/acid and these all balance out to adds flavor to whatever it is served with. This chutney is very easy to make and tastes just wonderful. The main ingredient in this dish are figs, which are full of nutritional benefits.
  1. Rich in potassium, that is crucial for a normal heart, kidney and muscular function.
  2. Rich in soluble dietary fiber and pigment anti-oxidants.
  3. Rich in calcium - that helps to promote bone density
  4. Tryptophan, present in figs, induces good sleep and helps get rid of sleeping disorders like insomnia.
Ingredients:
11/2 cups chopped dry figs (about 200 gm)
1/3 - 1/2 cup sugar (as per desired sweetness)
1 inch ginger, grated
1/3 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/3 tsp salt
1/3 tsp red chili powder
6 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup hot water
  1. Put all the ingredients in a pan and bring to boil. 
  2. Simmer and cook on medium, stirring continuously, till the fig pieces soften up and the chutney becomes syrupy and a little thick. 
  3. Do not overcook as it thickens considerably as it cools down. 
Serving suggestions
  1. Spread on toasted baguette slices/crostini
  2. As an accompaniment with any grilled or BBQ dish
  3. Serve over slices of fruit and cheese
  4. Serve over cheese and crackers
  5. Use as a sandwich spread