Kadai Paneer

Kadai Paneer

Ingredients:

Paneer – 400 gms
Cumin seeds – 1.5 tsp
Onion – 1/2
Asafoetida – a pinch
Tomatoes – 4
Capsicum/Bell pepper – 1
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Red chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1.5 tsp
Green chilli – 1
Ginger – 1-inch piece, minced
Oil

Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan/wok
  • Fry cube-sized pieces of paneer in the oil until they are brown on two sides
  • Remove and set aside
  • In the same pan, fry bite-size pieces of capsicum until they become crisp (You can use the leftover oil from frying the paneer)
  • Remove and set aside
  • Meanwhile, make a puree of the four tomatoes and set aside
  • In the same pan that you fried and paneer and capsicum, add cumin seeds and fry for about 30 seconds on medium heat (if there isn’t enough oil remaining after frying the paneer and capsicum, add 2 tablespoons of oil)
  • Add finely chopped onion and fry till golden brown
  • Add pureed tomatoes, minced ginger, turmeric, red chilli powder, finely chopped green chilli, and coriander powder
  • Fry this until the masalas are cooked, and oil begins to separate
  • At this stage, add the fried paneer and capsicum
  • Allow the paneer to soak up the masala and mix well
  • Serve hot with roti or rice

Simple Veg Fried Rice

This is a very easy recipe for veg fried rice and hardly takes any time to prepare. This was one of the dishes my mom used to prepare often for my sister’s and my birthday parties. This is a great accompaniment for any type of Manchurian or egg curry. This is also a good way to make kids to eat their veggies!

Fried Rice

Ingredients:

Basmati rice – 1 cup
Garlic, minced – 1 tbsp
Ginger, minced – 1/2 tbsp
Green chillies, finely chopped – 3/4 tbsp
Scallions, chopped – 1 cup
Carrots, chopped – 1/2 cup
Green beans, chopped – 1/2 cup
Green bell pepper, chopped – 1/2 cup
Cabbage, chopped – 1/2 cup, optional
Ground black pepper – 1/2 tsp
Soy sauce – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Method:

  • Cook the basmati rice and set aside making sure not to overcook it which will cause the dish to get mushy. See tip below
  • Heat oil in a wok
  • Add garlic, green chillies and ginger and saute well
  • Add all the veggies except the scallion and saute well
  • Add black pepper and salt and cover and cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Sprinkle some water if needed. Chopping the vegetables finely helps in cooking them faster
  • Add the scallions and saute for 3-4 more minutes. At this point increase the heat
  • Add the cooked rice and soy sauce and mix well. Add more salt if needed. The high heat will help in keeping the rice nice and dry. You can also vary the amount of soy sauce according to your taste
  • Remove from heat, garnish with some chopped scallions before serving

Fried Rice 2Tip: Add 4 cups of water to the rice and cook on medium heat. When the rice is 3/4th done, turn off heat. Wait for 5 minutes and drain excess water.

Green Gram/Moong Bean Curry

This is yet another recipe from my sister. The only difference between her version and mine is that I make it like a curry while she makes it dry. I prefer it slightly watered down simply because I can have just a bowl of these lentils like soup for dinner. It’s hearty and healthy and so easy to make! You can even have it with roti or white rice.

Green Gram Curry

Ingredients:

Green Gram – 1 cup
Cinnamon – 1-inch piece
Cloves – 3
Onion – 1
Garlic – 5 cloves
Tomato – 1
Turmeric – a pinch
Chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil
Water
Fresh Coriander – 1/2 cup

Method:

  • Soak the green gram in about 2 cups of water and rest overnight or for at least 6 hours
  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker
  • Add cinnamon and cloves and fry for about a minute
  • Add finely chopped onions and fry till they turn translucent
  • Add finely chopped garlic and fry for a couple minutes
  • Add chopped tomato
  • Add turmeric, chilli powder and coriander powder and fry for a few minutes till the masalas are cooked
  • Drain the green gram and add to the cooker
  • Pour enough water to cover the lentils or as per required consistency and add salt to taste
  • Pressure cook for 3 whistles
  • Once cooked and pressure is released, garnish with fresh coriander

Note: If you prefer a dry consistency, reduce the cooked curry on an open flame; If you feel it’s too dry, add more water and cook on an open flame

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good Mac n Cheese. I sure do! It’s a comforting dish with a rich flavor, ideal for a weeknight supper. I took inspiration for this recipe from the book Foodprints by Priya Bala, a former colleague. You can make this dish even if you don’t have an oven. Just reduce the amount of milk you use and make a thick sauce instead and then combine with the pasta.

This post goes out to my nephew, who enjoys macaroni and cheese, and turned 10 last week!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Macaroni Pasta – 200 gms
Butter – 2 tbsp
All-purpose flour/Maida – 2 tbsp
Milk – 400 ml
Cheese – 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup
Red pepper flakes/Chilli flakes – 1 tbsp (optional)
Salt to taste
Bread crumbs – 2 tbsp

Method: 

  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit or 230 degrees Celsius
  • Grease a round or square baking dish and set aside
  • To a pot of boiling salted water, add the macaroni and boil for about 8 minutes
  • Drain and transfer to the prepared baking dish
  • In a saucepan, heat the butter
  • Add all-purpose flour and stir on medium flame
  • Pour in the milk and whisk continuously
  • After a couple minutes, add salt to taste and chilli flakes
  • Keep whisking and add half cup of cheese 
  • Take off the heat after 2 minutes and pour over the pasta
  • Sprinkle bread crumbs and quarter cup of cheese
  • Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes till most of the milk is absorbed and pasta is bubbling
  • Serve hot!

Baked Mac and Cheese

Note:
– If you are making this for kids, you can leave out the chilli flakes. Personally, I like a little bit of heat in this dish
– You could use dried herbs like thyme or oregano as well
– I used a mix of cheddar and parmesan cheese. You can use any cheese that melts quickly and isn’t stringy
– You can leave out bread crumbs if you don’t happen to have it. But it does add a bit of crunch to the dish

Shrimp Biryani

I learnt this recipe from my mother-in-law and this has become one of my favorite shrimp preparations. I prefer using medium sized shrimp/prawn in biryani as opposed to the smaller ones that are typically used in curries.They are also a lot easier to clean as I usually get the fresh variety and peel/devein them myself. 

Shrimp Biryani

Ingredients:

Shrimp, cleaned and deveined – 25
Basmati rice, washed and soaked – 2 cups
Onion, finely chopped – 3 cups
Cinnamon – 1/2 inch piece
Cloves – 3
Bay leaf – 1
Coriander leaves, finely chopped – 4 tbsp
Garlic cloves, crushed – 5
Tomato, finely chopped – 3/4 cup
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 3/4 tsp
Oil – 4 tbsp
Ghee – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste

To grind:
Coconut pieces – 1/4 cup
Green chillies – 2
Garlic cloves – 4
Ginger, chopped – 1 tbsp

Method:

  • Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan
  • Add the crushed garlic and 2 cups of chopped onion and saute well
  • When the onion starts changing color, add the tomato and saute for few more minutes
  • Add turmeric, chilly powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder and mix well
  • Add salt and enough water to cover the shrimp. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes
  • While the shrimp cooks, grind the coconut, ginger, garlic and green chillies together into a smooth paste
  • Heat the ghee in another pan, drain and add the basmati rice. Saute it for 3 to 4 minutes and transfer to a bowl
  • In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil
  • Add cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf
  • Add the remaining 1 cup of chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes
  • Add the ground paste and coriander leaves and saute for couple more minutes
  • Add the cooked shrimp along with any water remaining
  • Add the rice and add more water making sure that the total number of cups of water is twice as that of the rice
  • Add salt, cover and cook on medium heat for approximately 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed and the rice is cooked

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

Milk – 1 cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder – 2 tbsp
Brown Sugar – 2 tbsp
Salt – a pinch
Vanilla extract – 1/4 tsp

Method:

  • In a mug, mix cocoa powder, sugar and salt
  • In a bowl, heat milk till it reaches desired temperature or heat in microwave for 1.5 minutes
  • Pour the milk into the mug containing cocoa mixture
  • Stir till it’s well mixed 
  • Add the vanilla extract and stir again
  • Serve hot!

Note:
– You can use white sugar instead of brown sugar
– Sift the cocoa powder before adding to the mug as it prevents lumps after adding milk
– If you still get lumps after stirring in the milk, pass it through a strainer before serving
– You could even add a 1/4 teaspoon of instant coffee powder to enhance the chocolate flavor

Beet Burger with Basil Pesto

The inspiration for this recipe was the veggie burger I had at HopDoddy burger bar here in Austin. This place is rated as one of the best burger joints in the country and do try it if you are in Austin. The restaurant version is a black bean burger with cilantro pesto, arugula and goat cheese. I wanted to try something different using beets and came up with this recipe with what I had in my pantry at that moment along with some leftovers (see tip below). You don’t have to worry about it being too sweet plus the basil pesto is an amazing combination with these burgers. Healthy and filled with nutrients, you can prepare the patties well ahead and freeze them and use them as needed. You can also try different toppings and sauces. If you do not have pesto, a slice of pepper-jack or Swiss cheese goes well too.

Beet burger

Ingredients:

Whole wheat burger buns – 4
Baby spinach leaves – 1 cup
Basil pesto – 2 tbsp per burger, see recipe here
Onion, finely chopped – 2/3 cup
Garlic, minced – 2 tbsp
Serrano pepper, minced – 1 tbsp
Beets, grated – 2 cups
Potato, boiled and mashed – 1/2 cup
Brown rice, cooked – 1/2 cup
Garam masala – 3/4 tsp
Cilantro, finely chopped – 2 tbsp
Ground black pepper – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 3 tsp + for grilling the patties
Butter – 1/2 tsp per half bun

Yield: 4 burgers

Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan and add the minced garlic and serrano peppers
  • Add onions and saute well
  • Add the grated beets and saute for about 5 minutes
  • Add garam masala, cilantro, ground black pepper and salt and mix well
  • Continue to saute for few more minutes to ensure that all the moisure is absorbed
  • Add the rice and mashed potato. Mix well and remove from heat
  • Let it cool and transfer it to a food processor and pulse it a few times just to get a coarse mixture as shown below so that it will be easy to shape them into patties

Beet burger mix 2 Beet burger mix Beet burger patties

  • When you are ready to make the burgers, heat oil in a skillet and place the patties. Do not overcrowd them as it will get difficult to flip them
  • Cook the patties on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Cook extra 2-3 minutes to get a nice brown crust
  • Do not worry if they break while flipping. Just patch them up and shape them into a patty again. As they continue to cook, they will less likely break
  • Butter the halves of the buns and grill them slightly in the skillet
  • To assemble the burger, place few spinach leaves on one half of the bun, place the patty over it and top it with the pesto and cover with the other half. Serve warm

IMG_5082

Tip: You can substitute the potato and garam masala with leftover Aloo paratha filling. This is also a great way to use up leftover rice.

Coconut Cupcakes

Coconut Cupcakes

Yield: 10 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

Unsalted butter – 12 tbsp
Sugar – 1/2 cup
Eggs – 3
Vanilla Extract – 3/4 tsp
Pure Almond Extract – 3/4 tsp
Buttermilk – 1/2 cup
All-purpose flour/Maida – 1.5 cups
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda – 1/4 tsp
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes – 100 gms

For the topping:

Unsweetened Coconut flakes, toasted – 1/4 cup
Coconut Water – 1/4 cup

Method:

Making the cupcakes:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or 160 degrees Celsius
  • Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners
  • In a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar and beat for about 5 minutes on medium to high speed till the mixture becomes light and fluffy (You can use a stand mixer or a hand-held one for this step)
  • Add the eggs one by one while mixing simultaneously on slow speed
  • Stir in the vanilla and almond extract
  • In a separate bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients including flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda
  • Add this dry mixture and buttermilk, alternately, to the batter (original recipe says begin and end with the dry ingredients); continue to mix this till everything is well-combined
  • Stir in the coconut flakes and mix well
  • Spoon in the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them up to the brim
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes till an inserted skewer comes out clean and the cupcakes are just about turning brown
  • Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely

Assembling the cupcakes:

  • Place the toasted coconut flakes in a plate
  • In another plate, pour the coconut water
  • Take a cupcake and dip the top in the coconut water, ensuring that its surface is wet
  • Now dip the top in the coconut, so that the flakes stick
  • Do this with all 10 cupcakes
  • These cupcakes stay in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days

Coconut Cupcakes

Notes:
– Ensure that the butter is soft and at room temperature before using it. The eggs must also be at room temperature when using
– Avoid using almond essence and instead use pure almond extract
– If you do not have buttermilk, you can make your own by combining a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with milk to form half a cup. Do this right at the beginning and set aside
– The original recipe calls for the use of sweetened coconut and at least 1 cup of sugar. I chose to use unsweetened coconut as I happened to have it in my pantry. And 1/2 cup of sugar was more than sufficient, not making the cupcakes too sweet
– To toast coconut flakes, heat them in a pan till they turn golden brown. Cool completely before using
– Original recipe is here

Coconut Cupcakes

Meen/Fish Kuzhambu

Meen Kuzhambu is one of the most traditional and commonly prepared dish of Tamil Nadu. It is also one of the few dishes the recipe for which is pretty much the same across all households and also, hasn’t been modified over time. It is said that this dish tastes best the next day and it is also adviced not to reheat the kuzhambu once it has been prepared. Fish that are typically used in this dish are Vanjaram(King fish), Kanangeluthi(Mackerel) or Shankara(Red Snapper). I have used Black Drum that is local to Texas. You can also use any freshwater variety. This dish tastes best when using the fish with the bones. Request your fish monger to cut them as steaks. I also add the head as it adds more flavor. There are lots of YouTube videos on cleaning fish heads but if you live in India, you can get it cleaned from the store itself.

Meen kuzhambu

Ingredients:

Fish slices – 10 to 12
Sesame oil – 2 tbsp
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 5 to 6
Tamarind juice – 1 cup
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder – 2 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Jaggery – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste

To grind;
Olive oil – 2 tsp
Onion, roughly chopped – 2 cups
Tomato, roughly chopped – 1 cup
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black peppercorns – 1/2 tsp
Garlic cloves – 6
Curry leaves – 10

Method:

  • Clean the fish and set aside
  • Prepare the masala first by heating oil in a pan
  • Add cumin seeds, peppercorns, garlic and curry leaves followed by onion and tomato. Saute for 3-4 minutes
  • Remove from heat, let it cool and grind to a smooth paste 
  • Mix the paste with tamarind juice, turmeric, chilly powder and coriander powder
  • Heat the olive oil and sesame oil in a wide pan. Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. You can substitute these with Vadagam
  • Add the mixture previously prepared along with salt and jaggery
  • Add water and bring it to a boil which will take 10-12 minutes
  • Once the curry comes to a boil and you notice the oil at the surface, add the fish pieces. Cover and cook for 10 minutes
  • Serve hot with rice

Tip: Use a wide pan so that there is room for all the fish pieces. This will also ensure they don’t break. Using an earthenware pot adds to the flavor.

Brookies

I’ve been meaning to try Masterchef Australia Season 8 contestant Harry Foster’s Dark Chocolate Brookies and finally got around to it! It’s one of the more simpler recipes on the TV show and Nigella Lawson (I love her!) loved it, so I had to give it a shot. A first for me!
For those who don’t watch the show, brookies are a cross between brownies and cookies. 
While I made a couple of changes to the original recipe, the end result was mouth-watering deliciousness – chewy, rich and heavenly! If you love all things chocolate, this dessert is most certainly for you 🙂 With this recipe I also hope to attempt more Masterchef Australia recipes, at least as an ode to my favorite food show on TV!

Brookies

Makes: 12

Ingredients:

72% Dark Chocolate – 175 gms
Butter – 25 gms
Brown Sugar – 1/2 cup
Corn flour – 40 gms
Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
Eggs – 2
Vanilla Extract – 1/2 tsp
Bittersweet Chocolate chips – 50 gms

Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside
  • Place the 72% dark chocolate and butter in a bowl and set over a pot of simmering water (double boiler method)

Brookies

  • Once the chocolate and butter melt completely, remove from heat to cool down
  • In a separate bowl, place the sugar, sifted corn flour, baking powder, eggs and vanilla extract

Brookies

  • Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes till all the ingredients are well-combined and you see tiny bubbles forming (the batter will be quite runny, but don’t worry about that)
  • Now add the cooled chocolate-butter mixture and combine well 
  • The batter will thicken as you mix well to form a wet dough
  • Spoon this mixture on to the prepared baking tray (do not worry too much about the shape) to get about 12 brookies
  • Place a few chocolate chips on each of the brookies and press down a little into the dough
  • Bake for 15 to 17 minutes
  • When you take it out of the oven, the brookies will not exactly look cooked, but allow it too cool completely on the baking tray
  • Once cool, refrigerate immediately
  • Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a glass of warm milk!

Brookies

Note:
– While the original recipe calls for the use of an electric stand mixer, I used a hand mixer since I have only that
– I refrigerated the brookies after they cooled completely as I felt they were a bit gooey. Refrigerating helped with keeping their shape
– You can use regular white sugar instead of brown sugar
– I used bittersweet chocolate chips in the recipe. You can use any kind, including dark, milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips