Sunday, February 10, 2013

Vanilla cookies

These are a breeze to make and are so crispy. I am not fond of chewy cookies and very fond of crispy ones. Thus this cookie satisfies me to the end of satisfaction. The chocolate chips added on some of the cookies are by my daughter.

Makes : 40 cookies

Preparation time - 15 minutes
Cooking time - 12-15 minutes


Butter - 1/2 cup ~120 grams (at room temperature)
Sugar - 1/2 cup (if you like cookie to be more sweet, add some more sugar. This was sweet enough for me)
Maida / All purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups
Egg - 1 (at room temperature)
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp

- Sift flour baking soda and baking powder together.
- In a mixer  or by hand, cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and beat till it is uniformly creamy.
- Add the vanilla essence to the mixture. Fold this mixture over the sifted flour gently and combine. Knead with hands if needed, but gently to form a dough.
- Pinch small balls from the dough, place them in the centre of your palm and press with the other palm gently  to form a cookie. This recipe yielded roughly 42 cookies for me. You can roll out the dough and use cookie cutters too.
- Place the cookies on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 12-15 minutes. The first batch took 15 minutes and the second only 12 minutes. Keep an eye on them after 10 minutes, so that they do not brown.
- Let them cool, then place in airtight containers.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Vegetable Fried Rice

This is not the chinese/thai style fried rice. My daughter is very fond of fried rice. especially for the colors. In addition, I find this a easier, healthier alternative. The dish is called fried rice because, the steamed rice is stir fried on a wok and mixed with choice of vegetables / meat. This is a whole meal by itself. If required, you can make a sauce and pour over the rice. This is quite easy to prepare, the only effort required is to cut the vegetables.

Serves : 4

Preparation time - 10 minutes
Cooking time - 10 minutes


Rice ~ 200 grams(uncooked). I used Basmati rice. You can use whatever you have at hand.
Vegetables - Beans, carrot, cabbage - 100 grams each
Garlic - 1-2 cloves
Onion - 1 small
Oil - 2 Tbsp
Salt & Pepper - to taste

- Soak the rice for 10 minutes and use water in the ratio 1:2 (rice:water) and cook the rice in a pressure cooker on high for 2 whistles. Remove from heat.
- Chop the vegetables, onion and garlic finely.
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a wok*. Add the garlic, saute for 10 seconds, add onion, saute till it turns translucent. Add the vegetables. Season with salt (Add salt only for the vegetables) Keep the flame high and stir fry for 3 minutes or less. Vegetables should be crisp.
- Fluff the cooked rice with a fork.
- Remove the vegetables. Add the remaining oil and heat the oil so that it starts to smoke. Now add the rice to the wok and fry the rice for another 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.(Add salt keeping in mind, vegetables are already seasoned with salt).
- Add the vegetable mixture to the rice, fry for a minute and turn off the heat.

This rice goes well with spicy chilly eggs or simply a minty raita.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Methi Chicken

Methi / Fenugreek is used in a lot of countries around the world. It is supposed to be one of the oldest cultivated crops as old as 4000BC.  Fenugreek has a whole array of health benefits to its name. It is rich in protein, vitamin c, potassium, calcium, et al., Methi seeds form an important part of the indian cuisine. The fresh leaves impart so much flavor to the dish it is added. Methi stems are not used in cooking as it has a bitter taste.  In places where fresh leaves are hard to get, dry fenugreek leaves, also called as kasuri methi can be used. General tip to substitute fresh with dry leaves is to use the herbs in 3:1 ratio (fresh:dry)

This dish is not the methi murg you get in restaurants. This is lighter on spices but strongly flavorful. The dish delivers what the name promises, taste of methi and chicken. No garam masalas or curry powders to override the fenugreek.

Serves : 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes.
If you do not have a pressure cooker, cooking time could be a bit more.

Chicken (I used curry cut ) - 600 grams
Fenugreek leaves - 1 bunch or  little more than a handful of leaves
Onion - 1 big, finely chopped
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Green chili paste - to taste (optional. If not using, use 1 tsp pepper powder)
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 1/2 Tbsp
Water - 1 cup

- Heat the oil in a pressure cooker, add the onion. Once the onion turns translucent, add ginger garlic paste and green chili paste.
- Fry for a minute. Add the chicken to the pot. Add salt. Fry for 3 minutes on high heat so that the water from the chicken is dry.
- Add the fenugreek leaves. Fry for a minute. Now add water and turmeric powder. Mix well and close the lid of the cooker.
- Keep the flame in high for 2 whistles, and in low for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the gas.
- Goes well with rice and chapati.

If you want the gravy to be a little thick, add some maida mixed in water to the dish before closing the lid.

Monday, February 4, 2013

NolenGurer Payesh

NolenGur / NotunGur / PataliGur as it is called in WestBengal is simply the date palm jaggery. It is easily available in the winter time.The sap is collected from the datepalm tree overnight and is boiled without separating molasses, etc., It is rich in iron and certainly more nutritious and doubly delicious than plain old sugar. If stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, it can stay upto a year. The gur can be substituted for sugar in any recipe, but the payesh is a must do thing.

The rice used for payesh is a special variety called GovindaBhog. Literally it means, food for the God(Govinda). It is not available where I stay, hence I had to make do with substitutes. The rice has a unique flavor to it. If you cannot get the rice where you stay, substitute with other small grain rice or semolina or vermicelli or sago.

According to wiki, Payesh "is a rice pudding, which is a traditional South Asiansweet dish. It is made by boiling rice or broken wheat with milk and sugar, and flavoured with cardamomraisinssaffroncashew nutspistachiosor almonds. It is typically served during a meal or also consumed alone as a dessert."

Serves: 4

Preparation time - 5 minutes
Cooking time - 45 minutes


Whole milk  ~500 ml
GobindoBhog rice - 2 Tbsp
Gur - 100 grams (Place the gur inbetween plastic sheet and pound it with something heavy)
Ghee - 2 tsp
Bayleaf - 1
Clove - 3
Cardamom - 3
Nuts for Garnish 

- Heat a heavy bottomed vessel (else, the milk might burn or rice will get stuck to the bottom of the pan), add 1 tsp of ghee. Add the rice keeping the heat low. Take the rice out in a minute.
- Add 1 tsp of ghee to the same pan. Add bayleaf, clove and cardamom seeds. Fry for 30 seconds.
- Add the milk to the pot and bring it to a light boil. Now add the rice. Keep stirring every minute so that nothing gets stuck at the bottom. Never use high heat while making payesh.
- The milk should reduce to half of the original volume. Takes 30-35 minutes.
- Turn the heat to the minimum possible setting. Add the gur now and mix it.  Some people have mentioned that cooking the payesh after adding gur makes the milk curdle. But, I did continue cooking without issues. 
-  Let the payesh sit on the flame for another 10 minutes. Now turn off the heat. Garnish with raw / fried nuts (cashew, almond, pistachios) and raisins.

Personally, I prefer having the payesh cold. But it can be served warm.
If you are using 500 ml milk, select a vessel which can hold double the volume, i.e 1 litre
If you do not have rice, substitute with equal amount of vermicelli (the thin variety is better) or semolina. It does miss the flavor, but I did not find anything missing in the taste.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Adai -Savory Lentil Pancakes

This is not everyday food. I will start by saying that if your hand is shy of dropping oil on the tava, please do not try this. Not that it cant be made with less oil, but the taste is certainly different.  This uses less rice and more lentils, so might be a good change for people looking out for dishes with more protein than carbohydrates. My mother makes the best adai in town and this is her recipe. I just cut down the number of  red chillies that go in.

Serves 4

Preparation time - 10 minutes
Soaking time - 4-6 hrs
Cooking time - 4 minutes each

Rice - 3/4 cup
Channa Dal - 1/2 cup
Toor Dal - 1/4+1/8 cup
Moong Dal - handful (optional)
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Red chili - 4 (to taste)

Curry leaf - few
Oil - 1 Tbsp each
Salt to taste

- Wash and soak the ingredients under TO SOAK list for minimum 4 hours to overnight.
- Grind the soaked ingredients with little water to a coarse paste. The mixture should be coarse, a smooth adai loses points.
- Add salt and chopped curry leaves to the mixture. Let it sit for minimum 10 minutes before proceeding. There is no necessity for fermentation here.
- Heat a tava, iron tava works best as high heat is needed. Spray the tava with oil. (I have a cheesecloth tied to a potato masher, and I wet the cloth with oil and rub the cloth over the hot tava.
- Take a ladle full of the adai mixture and pour it on the hot tava. Now spread it as much as you can. Make a hole in the center with your ladle. Pour 1 tsp oil in the centre. Pour 1 tsp oil all around the edges. Let it cook for a minute in high heat. Reduce the flame to medium and cook for another minute. Turn over the adai and let it cook for 2 minutes more
- Take it out of the tava on to the plate. Have it hot with sambar / tomato sambar / coconut chutney / Ghee / Jaggery

Friday, January 18, 2013

Carrot halwa

This was the first dessert I prepared and it turned out well on the first attempt. I was a novice in the kitchen arena then, still this was one easy dessert to prepare. You cant go wrong with this one. The ingredients are few and a little less or more of any of the ingredients does not change the outcome drastically.

Serves - 4
Preparation time - 10 min (To grate the carrots)
Cooking time - 25 min

Grated Carrot - 1 1/2 cups packed
Milk - 1 cup ( I used 3% fat milk)
Sugar - 1 cup
Cardamom powder / cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp (optional)
Ghee / Oil - 1 Tbsp

1. Grate the carrots.
2. Heat 1/2 Tbsp oil in a non stick pan and add the grated carrots. Stir for 2 minutes in medium flame.
3. Add 1/2 cup of milk and increase the heat and cook with the lid open till the milk is absorbed, say 5 minutes.
4. Add the remaining milk and reduce the flame to medium low and cover the pan and let it cook for 7 - 10 minutes.
5. The milk must now be absorbed, if not give it another 2 minutes with the lid open.
6. Add the sugar, stir it and cover it to cook till the mixture comes together. If there is little liquid remaining, do not worry, it is absorbed when the halwa cools down.

7. Do not overcook. If the sugar is overcooked, halwa will harden.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Coconut chutney

I feel if there is a dish any south Indian knows to cook, it must be coconut chutney. It is really simple to make, does not involve many spices, and is yummmy. But I have to say, the best chutney is what my father makes. Even my hubby and my MIL agree with me.

Serves - 4
Preparation time - 5 minutes
Cooking time - 2 minutes (optional)

Coconut - 1/4 coconut ~ 3 Tbsp
Green chili - 2 -3 (to taste)
Pottukadalai (Roasted bengal gram / fried gram) - 2 Tbsp

Garlic - 1 clove
Coriander leaves - 2 sprigs
Shallot - 1

Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - few chopped
Oil - 1 tsp

1. Grind all ingredients with water for desired consistency.
2. Heat oil in a tadka / tempering pan and pour the tadka over the chutney.
Serve with idli / dosa / upma / adai