Monday, November 30, 2009

Paneer Tandoori with Green Masala

I made tandoori paneer a few weeks back for dinner. Lately we have been eating lot of the regular panner dishes with the red- onion + tomato+adrak+lasun masala, so last week I made this green paneer tandoori for a change. The concept is not new to me as I occasionally bake fish or mushrooms coated with this paste.

In the past few weeks I am caught up with work, vacationing and engaged in doing shopping and packing for my upcoming India trip. I have been keeping a close track of posts by my blogger friends but I have not found much time on hand to write and post any of my drafts. In fact I was lucky to see my to do posts in my drafts folder in the nick of time and posted this recipe just few minutes before the event deadline :P. This recipe goes to the JFI:Paneer event. Enjoy the tandoori paneer with basmati rice.

500 gm paneer or Indian cottage cheese
vegetables (I used onions, tomatoes, capsicum)
handful of coriander leaves or as per taste
10-15 mint leaves or as per taste
250 gm curd or yogurt or 150 gm cakka or hung curd
2-3 green chilies or as per taste
1 teaspoon jal jeera powder or chaat masala powder (optional..if you are not using this add a pinch of black pepper to the marinate)
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1/2 medium sized onion
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
3 tablespoon oil
salt for taste

If yogurt or curd is used, hang it in a muslin cloth for about an hour to allow the water to drain and to obtain curd of thicker consistency. Chop the vegetables andpaneer into 2 inch pieces. Grind all the ingredients except the curd, vegetables and paneer into a smooth paste. Mix in the hung curd or cakka well with the ground paste. Apply to the vegetables and let it marinate for about 1 hour.

Line the vegetables on a greased pan or on skewers. Bake in a pre-heated oven for around 30-40 minutes at 450 degrees. I baked the paneer for around 20 minutes and the vegetables for longer time.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you and family a very happy and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving special at my home:
Vegetable Pot Pie
Pumpkin and Corn Soup
Butternut Squash Soup

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pav Bhaji

Pav Bhaji is a very popular street food served especially in the western part of India. I am reposting this post from one of my archives and sending it for the RCI MUMBAI event orgamized by Lakshmi event and Lakshmi. Read more about pav bhaji here.


For Bhaji:
4 medium sized potatoes
1/2 capsicum
1 carrot
1/2 beetroot
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup finely chopped french beans
1 medium onion
3/4 cup tomato paste or 3 tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoon pav bhaji masala (I used Badshah Bombay Pav Bhaji Masala)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 green chilies
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon jeera or cumin seeds
4 pinches asafoetida or heeng

1 teaspoon chili powder or as per taste
1 tablespoon butter
salt as per taste

1 medium onion
2 tablespoon pomegranate seeds (optional)
chopped coriander leaves or cilantro
1 teaspoon butter

For Pav
pav slices
butter for frying

Boil the potato till soft. Finely chop the vegetables(carrots, beans, beetroot, peas) and boil them with very little water. Chop onion very finely. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Add heeng, garlic paste and ginger. Add onions, chopped capsicum and finely chopped green chilies. Fry till the onions are light brown. Add tomato paste or chopped tomatoes and fry till the tomato is cooked. Add pav bhaji masala, garam masala, turmeric powder and chili powder. Fry for a minute and add all the vegetables. Cook uncovered till the vegetables are well coated with the masala. Peel and mash the boiled potatoes and add to the bhaji. Add water as per desired consistency. Stir and cook well till. Mash the bhaji with a masher. Add salt for taste and mix in butter.

Fry the pav on both sides with butter on a tava. To serve, garnish the bhaji with finely chopped onions and coriander leaves. Serve with a lemon wedge on the side.

Preparation time: 1 hour
Serves: 3-4

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Italian Bread

Few weeks back, it was a cold rainy day when we visited this nice, cozy Italian restaurant in downtown Palo Alto (Bay Area). We had given up on a hike in the hills earlier because of the extreme cold weather. We searched for Italian restaurants around on the GPS and found one called Bella Luna and decided to try out this restaurant. Both of us were cold and hungry, and the soft, warm and sweet smelling bread they served looked like heaven. They serve this comforting bread with garlic and olive oil dip. It was only 6 pm, so we had our dinner leisurely. That's when I decided I should try baking Italian bread at home. Italian bread is such a versatile dish- it can be made into bruschetta, served with soup or any other entree. Or it can be served in a simpler way, like with just some cracked pepper, salt and olive oil. I tried making this bread with both white flour and also using whole wheat flour or roti atta. Both the version turned out to be very tasty. The best part is that it doesn't take much time to make this bread. The dough can be made prior and stored in the freezer and can be baked whenever needed. The online recipe called for water, but I used milk to knead the dough. I am so excited with the success of this recipe that I am planning to bake different breads like olive bread, garlic, jalapeno bread and spice bread with this basic dough.

2-2 1/2 cups flour. All purpose flour or maida can be used. I used 50% whole wheat flour and 50% all purpose flour
1 packet rapid rise yeast
3 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
warm milk or water

Combine yeast, salt and flour and mix well. Add olive oil and warm milk and made a smooth dough. Add rest of the flour and knead for 8-10 minutes till a smooth dough is obtained. Cover with a cloth towel and keep aside for 15 minutes or till the dough doubles in size. Knead again for 4-5 minutes. Grease the bread pan with olive oil and pat the bread dough inside the pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or till light brown on the bottom at 400 degrees. Glaze the top with olive oil as soon as the bread is removed from the oven.

Garlic-Olive Oil dip:


1/4 cup olive oil
5-6 garlic cloves very finely chopped
sea salt

Mix all the ingredients together and leave aside for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavor of garlic to infuse into the olive oil. Serve with warm Italian bread.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Peanut Chutney / Moongfali Chutney

Peanut chutney is another of my mom's speciality dishes. This chutney is heavily influenced by Maharashtrian cuisine and it uses peanuts as its main ingredient instead of coconut. It is ready within minutes when one doesn't want to spend time grating coconuts. It goes well with spicy dosas (Indian crepes), rava idli, rava upma and I specifically love to have this with sabudana khichdi. I am re-posting this post sending this recipe to My Legume Love Affair hosted by Sra and Susan.

1 cup roasted peanuts
teaspoon chana dal
1 tablespoon grated coconut (optional)
1 teaspoon oil
small piece of tamarind (size of 2 peas )
3-4 tablespoon coriander leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
5-6 curry leaves
2-3 thai green chilies/ 1/2 Jalapeno or as per taste
salt for taste

Fry the chana dal on low flame till light brown. Roast the peanuts till crisp and brown on all sides.
Grind all ingredients except mustard, oil, curry leaves and asafoetida into a fine paste with as little water as possible. Season the chutney with mustard, curry leaves, asafoetida.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Val Usal / Valachi Usal / Field Beans Curry

Vaal or Bitter field beans are apart of the Maharashtrian staple diet. These beans taste like Soy beans but have a little bitter taste. I find these at Cash & Carry in Sunnyvale but I have not seen these at my other regular grocery stores. When I bought it the first time I used the field beans without removing the skin. The curry was good but the beans had a leathery texture. Then my mother told me that these beans were to be used after being skinned. The skinning process is a little tedious but worth the trouble for the fabulous tasting usal.

Soaking the vaal beans in warm water for 12-14 hours makes them absorb water and puff up. I change the water every 5-6 hours. Drain the water and put them in a muslin cloth. Cover the beans with the edges of the muslin cloth and keep it in a warm place for another 12-14 hours. The Vaal will have small sprouts. It is very similar to sprouting moong gram. Once the vaal beans have sprouted, keep the vaal bean between the index finder and the thumb and press them to separate the skin. This procedure needs to be done with every bean. The best time to do this procedure is while watching TV. The whole family can be involved in this procedure and if you have kids they will have a lot of fun skinning the beans.

Usal is a Maharashtrian or Konkan dish which is made with a variety of lentils including moong. It is similar to the Konkani Usli but has a addition of spices like turmeric, cumin and coriander. Usal gets its sweetish taste from the jaggery. The sour flavor comes from the kokum which is commonly used in the coastal areas. I use byadgi chili powder which imparts a deep red color to the dish without imparting a very spicy flavor. Kashmiri chili powder can also be used as an alternative. Here is the recipe for making vaal usal. I am reposting it and sending it for the RCI MUMBAI event orgamized by Lakshmi event and Lakshmi.

2 cups skinned vaal beans
4-5 kokum peels or 1/4 teaspoon tamarind paste
1 medium red onion
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
2 pinches asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon crushed jaggery
1/2 teaspoon goda masala (optional)
1 teaspoon byadgi or kashmiri chili powder or as per taste
5 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves or cilantro
1 tablespoon oil
salt for taste

Soak the kokum pieces in water for 3-4 hours or overnight. Peel and finely chop the onion. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida. Add chopped onion and fry it till onion is brown. Add the vaal beans and add 2 cups of water. Cover and cook till the vaal is soft. Crush the kokum with your fingers to extract all the juice from the kokum. Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, chili powder, kokum juice or tamarind paste, jaggery, goda masala, coriander leaves and salt for taste to the vaal. Mix well and cook uncovered for 5 minutes and serve hot with roti.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Solkadi is a drink made with kokum.
To know more about kokum click here. Kokum is also called bhirand or amsul. It is abundantly available near the western region of Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra. Fresh kokum is used when in season. The fruit is dried with salt and preserved for using all year round. The fruit is dried and the dried kokum skin is used to impart tangy sour flavor to dishes like daal and kadi. Dry kokum skin is usually soaked preferably overnight or for 6-8 hours before use.

The kokum fruit also has medicinal properties and is considered good for digestion. Solkadi is made up of two words- sol which means skin in Konkani (pronounced as "sole" or as "sol" as in "solution"), and Kadi, which is liquidish soup, and can be had with rice or simply like soup. This drink is famous all over the Konkan region in India which has an abundance of coconuts and kokum. This is a cool and refreshing drink to have during the hot summers, with lunch or dinner. Solkadi is served with fried fish, or spicy fish or chicken curry.

The recipe uses coconut milk, which can be easily found in Indian stores in the US or can be prepared using the following recipe.
I am reposting it and sending it for the
RCI MUMBAI event orgamized by Lakshmi event and Lakshmi.


around 10 dried Kokum skin
250 ml coconut milk (for thick consistency solkadi. you may use 150 ml for a thinner consistency)
1-2 green chili
salt to taste
2 tablespoon chopped coriander or cilantro
1 clove of garlic (optional)


Soak kokum in 1 cup water for 8-9 hours. Squeeze the soaked kokum to extract maximum juice. Gring coconut milk, green chili, garlic, salt till well blended. Add this mixture to the kokum juice and mix well. Serve with chopped coriander leaves. To get more flavor of the cilantro, I added 4-5 cilantro leaves while griding the coconut mixture and used the rest to garnish the solkadi. Serve chilled as a side dish with rice or roti.

Preparation time: 10 minutes excluding soaking time
Serves: 2-3

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beetroot Chutney

This is a very simple chutney and a great way to use the nutritious beetroot leaves. I got amazingly fresh beetroot from the farmer's market. I used the tender and fresh leaves to make this chutney. It goes well with roti and rice.

1 cup beetroot leaves (washed and coarsely chopped)
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon urad dal or split and skinned black lentil
1/2 teaspoon chana dal or bengal gram split
2 roasted red chilies
pea size tamarind
1 tablespoon oil
salt for taste

Put oil in a pan and add the chana dal and urad dal. Roast till light brown. Roast the red chili till crisp. Add finely chopped onion and fry till light brown. Add the beetroot leaves and cook till soft. Grind the leaves with rest of the ingredients into a smooth paste. Serve immediately.


Everyone at my home are very passionate about fruits so it was a great idea to end our dinner with a healthy fruit custard. Every week we return home from the farmer's market with bagful of organic apples, mangoes, blueberries, oranges, grapes, pomegranates (which are in season now), guavas and many more. This egg-less custard with fruits is a very healthy way to increase the daily intake of fruits especially for kids. It also does not require much effort to make this colorful dessert. As kids, both I and my sister N loved to eating custard with strawberry jelly . My husband is also a great fan of this dessert. So I make an extra batch and store it in the refrigerator for the next day. Fat free milk can be used to make it a healthier recipe. I am re-posting this recipe and sending it to the CFK-Veggies and Fruits event and Food for 7 stages of Life – Kids (4-14 yrs) event.


3 tablespoon mango custard powder or any other flavor
3/4 liter milk (I used low fat milk)
7 tablespoon sugar or as per taste
2 cups of fruits ( pick from pomegranate,
chopped mango, chopped apple, grapes, sliced banana, strawberry, chopped chikoo, blueberries, sweet limes, oranges)

Dissolve the custard powder in 1/4 liter of cold milk. Boil the rest of the 1/2 liter milk. Dissolve the sugar in the hot milk. Add the cold milk into the hot milk and stir it well. Get it to boil while continuously stirring it to avoid lumps. If there are any lumps, blend the custard in the blender to make it smooth. Chill the custard in the refrigerator.

To serve, put the custard in a bowl and top it with fruits. Sponge cake and jelly can be added to the custard. The custard can be topped with nuts like walnuts, almonds, cashewnuts and raisins too or served with a dollop of ice cream.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Udupi Sambar / Lentils with Vegetables

Udupi cuisine strictly includes vegetarian recipes as it is part of temple cuisine. The cuisine in this part of the region revolves around fresh vegetables, leaves, pulses and fruits. The rich soil and abundant rainfall in the region helps to support variety of vegetables, grains and fruit crops. The commonly grown vegetables include beans, pumpkin, gourds, ivy gourds, raw bananas, raw jackfruit. Different leaves used are Valli (Malabar Spinach), colocasia, turmeric leaves, banana leaves, curry leaves, coriander leaves, brahmi leaves and many others. Variety of fruits like mango, pineapple, jackfruit, grapes and banana are used to prepare desserts like halwas and main course dishes like sassam. The vegetable is used to its fullest--even skins of ridge gourds, bottle gourds are used to prepare chutney and the skin of raw banana is used to prepare "Upkari" or sabzi. Coconut is used in abundance to prepare chutneys, curries, sweets and in salads like koshimbiris. Mangalorean and Konkani cuisine is also derives lot from Udipi cuisine, but it also includes seafood and meat dishes which contain onion and garlic and are a strict no-no in Udupi cuisine.
Udupi sambar is another kind of sambar which we make at home. I use Madras onions or shallots in this recipe. Onions can be skipped if it is not desired in the sambar. This recipe calls for making the sambar masala from scratch. It has a very different taste and texture than the other sambar recipe which I posted earlier. It goes well with rice, dosa or idli. I am reposting this recipe for the WYF:Specialty food event.

1/2 cup toor dal
1/2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
1 green chili
1 tomato
1 cup chopped vegetables (potato (is a must at my home), lady's finger (okra), eggplant (brinjal), drumstick, cauliflower, ivy gourd (tendli), carrot, beans, pumpkin (squash), ash gourd, bottle gourd, peas -- use just one vegetable or combination of which ever vegetable is available on hand )
15-20 shallots or small red onions (washed and peeled)
1 teaspoon jaggery
3 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves

Ground Paste:
1/2 cup grated coconut
1 1/2 teaspoon urad dal
1 teaspoon chana dal
1 teaspoon fenugreek or methi seeds
3 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon tuemeric powder
1/4 teaspoon jeera or cumin seeds
7-8 byadgi red chilies or as per taste
3-4 pepper corns

1 teaspoon mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
around 15 curry leaves
coconut oil or any other oil
salt for taste

Fry methi seeds till it is pink. Then fry tor dal and chana dal till it is crisp and light pink in color. Then fry coriander seeds, cumin, pepper corns and red chilies. Add 6 curry leaves and fry till they are crisp. Add the grated coconut and fry on low flame till crisp. Fry all the ingredients on a low or medium flame so that they don't burn. Cool the ingredients and then grind them with little water into a smooth paste.
Boil the toor dal, mash it and keep it aside.
Add 2 tablespoon oil in a pan and add slit green chili. Fry for a minute and then add the onions. Fry for 5-6 minutes and add chopped tomato and vegetables. Fry for 5 minutes and add the tamarind concentrate and jaggery. Add 2 cups of water and cook the vegetables till soft.
Mix the toor dal, the masala paste and the vegetables in a vessel and add desired quantity of water. Salt it as per taste. Get the sambar to a boil. Season the sambar with oil, mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice, dosa or idli.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Beetroot Kurma and Ridge Gourd Tamboli

I saw this kurma recipe on Keerthana's blog. It is perfect recipe to go with cold Ridge Gourd tamboli which is also another recipe I tried from her blog. I told my mom about these recipes and she also wanted to try them. I find such recipes more healthier than the coconut laden traditional curries. I made this kurma from the fresh beets I bought from the farmer's market and it really enhanced the taste of the kurma. Click Here to see the recipe for the beetroot kurma from Keerthana's blog.

Ridge Gourd Kadhi, Beetroot Kurma, Beetroot Leaf Chutney

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Alambe Phodi / Mushroom Fritters

Latest addition to our local farmer's market is a stall which sells different varieties of mushrooms. I bought button mushrooms from them this week and made fritters (called phodi in Konkani). It does not involve deep frying, though one can always deep fry it as frying always is enchanting to the taste buds. One can also have these as a appetizer.

I remember watching a show on Travel channel where they reviewed the country's most popular Deep Fry eateries. Here is a site which gives a list of Deep Fried Paradises in US. The strangest of them all was one called Chipshop. Here is a description of the shop in their own words. " In 2001, a British-born cook named Chris Sell established CHIPSHOP in Brooklyn, NY. His goal was to bring British comfort food to the city of New York. Although CHIPSHOP is famous for its fish and chips, it is also famous for its willingness to fry anything. From pizza to chocolate bars, you name it, and CHIPSHOP will fry it.". Interesting!!

Coming back to my humble mushroom fritters, these can be made in in a short period of time. If there are unexpected visitors for lunch or dinner and if you want to add an additional side dish, phodis or fritters are a very useful addition.

10-15 mushrooms
Rava or sooji for coating
red chili powder for taste
oil for frying

Wipe the mushrooms and cut off part of the woody stem. Cut each mushroom into thin slices. Apply salt and chili powder and keep aside for 20 minutes. Grease a tava with oil and heat it. Roll the mushroom slices in the rava or sooji and place on the tava. Cook covered till golden brown on one side. Then flip the mushroom slices to the other side. Cook uncovered till golden brown on the other side. Serve hot.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Microwaved Pear with Dryfruits

I saw a baked pear recipe on the food network long time ago. I was not familiar with baking fruits and never tried it. This week when we visited the farmers market, I heard a lady asking a farmer if the pears he was selling were good for baking. He said yes and I remembered the recipe which I had seen on the food network channel. I microwaved the pears with the apricots, raisins and walnuts and it turned to be a very delicious dessert. It takes just around 10 minutes to make this pear dessert.


2 pears
3 walnuts
2 apricots
16 raisins
2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
vanilla extract

Cut the pear into half. De-core it and place it on a microwave safe plate. Fill the core with chopped walnuts, apricots and raisins. Mix cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle it on the pears. Add a drop of vanilla extract into the core of each pear. Top it with honey as per the level of sweetness desired.

Microwave it for 8-10 minutes or till the pears are soft. Let it stay for 5 minutes before serving. The pears can also be baked in the oven at 300 degrees for around 15-20 minutes.