Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tawa Paneer

As much as I love to cook, I love to laze around as well. Last week was one of the weeks I hardly cooked anything. Not that I had no time or my routine was unusal. But just didn't feel like spending more time in the kitchen. Well, somehow I was managing with some quick and easy comfort food to feed our hungry stomachs. But then today, while I went to drop my daughter for her music class, I could smell this delicious spicy curry from someone's house! Usually my nose is very adept at recognizing my favorite food from a distance, but today I couldn't. I'm still debating if it was chicken or potatoes :) Well, thanks to whoever was making it, that aroma triggered me to make something good in the kitchen today!

With not much left in the fridge, I decided to make this warm, simple and flavorful paneer dish. As I started cooking this dish, I realized how much I was enjoying the cooking. The stirring of the onions, their roasted texture glittering beautifully from the bottom of the pan, and the seductive aroma of those spices... Hmm, I felt so great and rejuvenated! And was glad to be back into my very own kitchen world.. As silly as it sounds, it still true that I can't stay away from my kitchen for a long time :)

My daughter loves Paneer. So do I. But her intensity far surpasses mine. Because of her, I keep trying different recipes with Paneer, and thats one of the few things that she likes. Whenever she comes to the dinner table, if she sees a Paneer dish, she quietly finishes her dinner without her usual whine or groan - a very rare scene in our house. This dish is one of our family's most favorite paneer dishes. I learned this from my very good friend a while back. I fortunately also happened to watch her cook this yummy dish and since then it has taken a permanant place in my recipe book, and ends up in our dinner table frequently. What I like about this dish is the consistency - neither gravy nor dry - a perfect side dish for rotis and naans. I enjoy gravies mostly with rice and for rotis I usually prefer little dry side dishes.

Note: If you have a food processor, this dish is a perfect candidate for it! Use the food processor to chop the paneer and to prepare the tomato mixture given below.
  • Paneer - chopped (2 cups)
  • Onions - 1 medium
  • Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp
  • Roma Tomatoes - 2 large
  • G.chillies - 3
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Cumin powder - 1 tsp
  • Kasuri Methi - 2 tsp (crushed)
  • Cinnamon - 1/2 inch
  • Cloves - 3
  • Cardamom - 1
  • Ajwain seeds - a pinch (optional)
  • Cream - 2 or 3 tbsp
  • Corriander leaves - to garnish
  • Start with boiling the whole tomatoes for 5 mins. Drop them into cold water and let them rest for a few mins.
  • Meanwhile give the paneer cubes a quick spin in the food processor. Don't make them too powdery. They should be still in mini bitable chunks. Otherwise, slice or chop them finely using regular knife. It should come to 2 cups after chopping. Set aside.
  • Chop the onions in food processor too. If no food processor, chop them extra fine.
  • Peel off the tomato skin, puree in food-processor along with the g.chillies, 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
  • Heat oil in a pan, season with Ajwain seeds (if using), add onions and fry in medium heat for 3 mins.
  • Add the remaining 1tsp Ginger/Garlic paste and fry for a min.
  • Now add the tomato puree, chilli powder and Kasoori methi and mix well. Add salt and cover and cook for 5-6 mins. You can add 2 tbsp of water if you need.
  • Finally add the paneer and give it a good stir. Cover for 2 more mins. Add corriander leaves and mix well.
  • Keep frying the mixture in medium heat until it turns almost dry (Be cautious not to let it too dry).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mushroom Badami (Mushrooms in Almond gravy)

Wouldn't it be nice if we cook a new dish everyday? A new recipe with a new twist, and with a new ingredient that gives a new flavor? That would be awesome! I sometimes get amazed seeing those artistic chefs taking part in cooking competitions. I believe their minds have to be constantly thinking about some creative ideas to come-up with a new dish , a new presentaion for a dish, a new mixture of ingredients that can result in a palatable dish - yet not compromising on quality and taste! That sounds complicated to me, and sure does require a lot of dedication and passion.

Once in a while, after watching an inspiring cooking show on TV, with my stomach already growling, my mind gets into this ingenious mood of trying something on my own with some new combination of ingredients that can hopefully result in a master-piece. Whenever I enter into that world of imagination, I roll-up my sleeves right away and with great enthusiasm I open my refregirator. And there I see this pile of left-overs that haunt me right in front! I feel as if they are tapping my head and daunting me, "Attend to me first before starting your innovative cooking project and creating more leftovers". That little tap is all I require to come back to reality! My enthusisam plunges down like a torn balloon. Then with a long face I finish my leftovers for that day. Well, thats my story of Culinary Innovations! Hopefully I'll have a better story to share with you all soon. Failures are Stepping Stones for Success! Aren't they? ;-D

Having said that, today I decided on cooking something new that I've never cooked before. What else could be a better starting point than browsing my long waited bookmarks of yummy recipes from my blogging friends! Trying a recipe that someone has already tried and certified sounds more safer than creating my-own-way recipes. And this, I would love to do it anytime - doesn't matter even if my left-overs haunt me when I open my refregirator :) I knew there were quite a few dishes that I would love to try. So I went through a myriad of recipes - some were super complicated, and some were too simplistic! I was getting a virtual treat from those blogs with those delectable presentations and beautifully written recipes. I liked a few of them, but with my time constraints and with what was available in my veggie tray, I could pick only one. I finally settled on making this wonderful mushroom recipe posted by Harini. You can find her orignal recipe here, but I've made some slight changes to the recipe to suit my taste. Thanks Harini, for sharing such a yummy recipe! It brings a nice rich and creamy taste, and this is one of the best mushroom dishes I've ever tasted!

  • Almonds - 10
  • Buttom Mushrooms - 2 cups (chopped)
  • Green peas - 1/2 cup
  • Onion - 1 medium
  • Tomatoes - 2 medium
  • Ginger/garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch
  • Cloves - 3
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Corrinader leaves - a hand full.
  • Finely chopped almonds (or sliced) - 1 tbsp
  • Soak the almonds in hot water atleast for 15 mins. Then peel off the skin and make a smooth paste with almonds.
  • Leave the tomatoes in boiling water for 5 mins. Cool them, peel off the skin and puree them along with ginger/garlic paste. (Don't add water)
  • Chop the mushrooms in either slices or 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Heat oil and season with Cinnamon, Cloves and cumin seeds. Then add chopped onions and fry for a few mins until they become light brown.
  • Now add the tomato-ginger-garlic puree and fry for 5 mins in medium heat. I usually cover and leave for 5 mins.
  • Add all the spice powders, mushrooms and salt and mix well. No need to add water as the mushrooms release lots of moisture. Cover in low heat for 8-10 mins. The mushrooms should have been almost cooked.
  • Finally add the green peas, corriander leaves and the almond paste, mix well and let it boil for 5 mins.
  • Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with chopped almonds.

Enjoy with Rotis, Plain rice.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Raddish & Beans curry with Capsicum

It seems our winter has come to an end, lasting just for two months. I hope! Until last week everyone in our area were trembling in the single digit temperature - bundled up in jackets, scarves and furry boots. And suddenly since last weekend the weather has become quite warmer in the 50's & 60's with nice pleasant breeze unlike the typical february weather. Feels like Spring is here already! Its been like a roller coaster ride - Way down and Way up, Fast!

Though I'm looking forward to Spring, I do like winter in some aspects -- To me, its a time to catch up on some stuffs that I usually neglect in summer -- my closet cleanup, rearrange my kitchen pantry, watch DVDs, cook my favorite soups etc. I love to sit on my couch and have a cup of hot-chocolate while watching the snowfall through my window. Oh, and then one important thing - Food lasts longer in the refregirator during winter, so I don't have to cook everyday..he.. he... I missed some of these things this winter as I spent quite a bit of winter in India this year. Especially, I miss my soups! I've been planning to make them since last week.. but the warmer days change my mind. I know thats ridiculous, but its hard to convince my mind :) I think I still have time to re-arrange my kitchen pantry. Even though my pantry is the cleanest place in my kitchen, ever since I read this article by Mark Bittman on how to wisely organize your pantry, I've gotten some new ideas in re-arranging my pantry and can't wait to see my pantry with a new look. Its still in my to-do tasks for this winter, and hopefully I'll have time to fix it.

Alright, after a tough debate about my dinner, I settled on making this vegetable dish and drumsticks sambar for dinner yesterday. Sometimes just tasting a dish changes my perception of a vegetable. I'm sure this applies to many of us. Raddish is one vegetable that I often tend to ignore during my grocery shopping, inspite of seeing some fresh white raddishes waiting to be picked-up. The reason for my ignorance is just because I don't know a lot of recipes with raddish. I usually add them in sambar, or sometimes use them for stuffing parathas. And thats about it. But this all changed when I tried a couple of excellent radish dishes in India last month. One was Raddish Chutney, which I will be posting soon and the other was this mild vegetable curry with Raddish. A new recipe that I learnt from my mother-in-law. She told she's been cooking this often after watching the recipe in a tv show. I've never cooked raddish this way and I thought its a nice change from my usual radish sambar. I really liked this recipe because it's easy, it's healthy, and it's simple! The ingredients list may seem to be longer, but they're all fairly common ingredients and get tossed in around the same time.


  • White Raddish (Sliced into semi cirles) & Chopped Green Beans - 1 cup each
  • Capsicum - 1
  • Onions - 1 medium
  • Ginger/Garlic paste - 2 tsp
  • Red Chillies - 3 or 4
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Garam masala - 1 tsp
  • Peanut powder - 1 tbsp (optional).
  • Mustard seeds & Urad dal - 1 tsp each
  • Asafoetida - 1 pinch
  • Corriander leaves - to garnish.


  • Start by chopping the raddish to semi-circled slices. Then chop the beans and capsicum to 1 inch long stripes.
  • Dry roast and powder the peanuts. I usually do this in large quantity and store in the fridge.
  • Heat oil in a pan, season with mustard seeds and Urad dal, then add the red chillies and asafoetida and fry for a min in medium heat.
  • Add onions and fry for a few mins. Now add ginger/garlic paste and fry for a few more mins.
  • Add the chopped raddish and fry for 3-5 mins. Then add the capsicum, beans, turmeric & salt and fry for a few mins. Add 2 tbsps of water, cover and cook for 15 mins in low heat.
  • Once the vegetables are well cooked, add the garam masala, corriander leaves and peanut powder. Mix well for a min and remove from heat.

Goes well with Rotis and any form of rice.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Rava Fruit Kheer (Ravai Pazha Payasam) and... 1 year of Blogging!

Its a year, already! My first post on this blog, was exactly one year ago.. Its just incredible to think back my journey in this blogosphere for the past 1 year. What a great year it has been! Though creating this blog was so unplanned, I think this was one of the best spontaneous decisions I've ever made! When I started taking baby steps into my blog, I was a little pessimistic that I may not have time to keep it going after a few posts, but it has far surpassed my expectations, and I can't believe that I've made 77 posts in a year and still managing to maintain the pace! Just the feeling that I could write something atleast a week, in spite of my regular family commitments and routine, keeps my morale high.

Although the original intention for this blog was just share my favorite recipes, this blog now has also become an outlet for me - a space to express all my thoughts through my regular rants and ramblings... about my Excitement and Frustration, Likings and Dislikings, Laziness and Energy.... and ofcourse about my Passion for cooking! Becoming a blogger and blog-reader, has taught me so many things along the way. I've improved my photography and writing skills (atleast a little bit), and ofcourse, I learned a lots of wonderful recipes! Every step along the way has been so much fun.. selecting the blog's name, designing the layout, clicking photos, first post.. and I still remember how much I was excited to see the first comment on my blog! I danced a little after knowing that somebody has taken the time to read my content and is willing to try my recipe!

Embarking into this blogging journey, I had no idea that I will be making so many wonderful and inspiring blogger friends on my way! Its amazing how well I got connected with you all. What something started as a simple recipe site to share just with my family, has now grown into something much beyond, with a wider range of readers and a community of friends! I thank you all for visiting my blog as and when you can and leaving such nice and encouraging words. A special thanks to my family & friends for their support and encouragement. Without you all, I probably wouldn't have come this far.

To celebrate my little blog's first year, I'm posting a dessert today. This is a slight variation from the regular kheer and I first tasted this at my friends place a while ago. I liked this healthy and tasty recipe with the addition of rava which brings a nice consistency to the dish. As usual, a simple and easy party dessert!

  • Milk - 1 cup
  • Water - 3 cups
  • Sugar - 1 cup
  • Fresh fruits - 1 cup (banana, grapes, apple, cherries etc. Do not use sour fruits like pineapple or orange)
  • Rava - 2.5 tbsp
  • Almonds - 12 to15
  • Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp (or) 5 cardamoms crushed finely.
  • Soak the almonds in hot water for atleast 15 mins.
  • Dry roast the rava and set aside.
  • Mix the milk and water and bring it to boil. Simmer for 5 - 10 mins.
  • Meanwhile, peel off the skin from the almonds and make a paste out of them. Add this to the boiling milk and mix gently. Boil for 2 mins.
  • Now add the rava little by little and keep stirring so that no lumps are formed. Boil for 5 mins under medium flame while stirring often.
  • Now add the fruits, sugar and the cardamom powder one by one and mix gently. Boil for 5 more mins in low heat. Remove from heat.
Delicious fruit kheer is ready!