Cool as a cucumber…

Raita is traditional north Indian salad made of yoghurt. The base is always plain yoghurt and various ingredients and flavours are added to jazz it up in a million ways. It’s a great side to any spicy dish since the coolness of the youghurt balances the spices.

Cucumber raita is hubby’s favourite kind. This is great eaten with Biryani or any simple rice dish.

Cucumber Raita

Ingredients:

1 cup plain yoghurt
2 tbsp water
1 cup grated cucumber
a pinch red chili powder
a pinch of cumin powder
salt, to taste

Method:

Mix everything in a large bowl till smooth and serve chilled.

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A P(l)easing Meal…

Keema or minced meat, has always one of my favourites. There’s just something about the way all the spices and flavours get so well entwined with the ground meat that makes the dish a delight in every bite!

Keema Matar (Ground meat with green Peas), is probably one of THE most popular keema dishes in Indian cuisine, second maybe to only kababs. When we were kids, my mom would mostly make keema, substituting potatoes for peas, since my little brother and sister weren’t too fond of peas. Me, on the other hand, LOVE peas! I add peas in almost everything. And so its no surprise that when I cook keema, it definitely has to be with peas!

Keema Matar (Ground Meat with Peas)

Keema Matar

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground chicken
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 cup frozen green peas
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
5-6 whole green cardamoms
1 cinnamon stick
1-2 dried bay leaves
7-8 whole black peppercorns
7-8 whole cloves
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
salt, to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil
fresh chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Method:

Brown ground chicken in a non-stick pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add cumin seeds, onions and green chillies, all the whole spices, and fry for 5-6 minutes till onions turn brown.

Add tomatoes and cook till all the juices dry up and a thick paste is formed.

Add salt, chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala, cumin powder, and cook till spices blend in well. Add browned chicken, water and peas, and cover cook for about 10 minutes.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with parathas!



Sinful bliss…

There are days when I’m dying for a lavish full-course home-cooked meal, and then, there are days like today, when I’m craving for a richly sinful decadent bite! To be truly honest, I have a sweet-tooth, infact, my hubby always says I have sweet-teeth!!

I’m the kind of person who always looks forward to dessert. No matter how good the food is, I make sure I don’t stuff myself just so I have space for dessert. At times it gets so bad that I even skip the meal and head straight to the dessert table!!

Chocolate and Straberry grilled Croissants

With hubby dear in Chicago for a business meeting, I had the option of NOT cooking dinner today. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to starve. No siree!!, it just means that I get to satisfy my hunger with decadent goodness!

I’m not into baking all that much, so bringing a big fancy cake out of my oven rarely happens. Instead, I love desserts that I can make in a jiffy and enjoy bite after bite. With the sugar craving setting up, I went into the kitchen to see what my choices were. There was my sister’s leftover cake in the fridge, but I decided against it…had too much already!!

Then my eyes set upon a big bowl of fresh strawberries! Two minutes later, I was cooking up a sin!

Chocolate and Strawberry grilled Croissants

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tbsp Nutella
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  • 1 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 large croissant

Method:

  1. Slice croissant lenght-wise into halves.
  2. On the inside of one slice, spread Nutella and layer over with fresh sliced strawberries.
  3. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and cover with other slice of croissant to form a sandwich.
  4. Grill for 4-5 minutes till strawberries soften and chocolate chips start to melt.

Don’t feel guilty while enjoying this taste of heaven!



Brain food…!!!

My Mom would always tell us how fish is supposed to be good for the brain. Doctors and scientists themselves, have said so. But I never complained! I’ve always loved fish, especially the spicy curries and fried dishes that Mom makes so well.

Growing up, we had fish on the menu atleast once every week. Once I left home to live in the real world, I only ate it when I would come home for vacations once a year. The reason for this is that I don’t like eating fish other than what my Mom cooks. Adding to that, I also cannot stand the sight of cleaning raw fish. So to complicate things, I only cook canned fish like Tuna, Sardines or Mackerel; which makes me miss my all-time favourites like Promfret all the more!

But everytime I crave for the delicious taste of home-cooked fish curry, I open up a can of Sardines or Mackerel, ann the result is as close to Mom’s specials as it can get. Brings me one step closer to the taste of home!

Coconut Fish Curry

Coconut Fish Curry

Ingredients:

3-4 pieces of fish (I like using Mackerel or Promfret)
1 can coconut milk
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek
2 tbsp cooking oil
salt, to taste

Method:

Heat oil in a non-stick pan and fry onions till soft and transparent.

Add salt, red chili powder, curry powder and fry for a minute or two. Add in coconut milk, dried fenugreek and fish pieces, and cover cook for 15-20 minutes till fish is cooked through.

Add a little water if desired.

Add cherry tomatoes and let it cook for another 4-5 minutes till tomatoes become soft.

Serve with warm plain rice and fresh cucumber slices.



A big bowl of Indian Comfort

I truly believe that any Indian food is Comfort food! With all the ingredients, time and commitment that goes into its preparation, eating Indian food totally relaxes me and put me in my “happy” place.

Certain dishes in the Indian cuisine, as very simple to make, take very little time and effort and are all-time favourites, especially when one desires comfort. Dal is one such dish. Dal or lentils, is a staple in Indian cuisine. It is eaten in almost every part of India, each having their own variations and tastes. On average, almost every Indian meal consists of rice, rotis, dal and a vegetable, accompanied by pickles, raita (youghurt) and salad.

Dal is a no-brainer when we come home tired and just want something soothing to the soul. With the winter coming at such a fast pace, this is definitely something that will bring comfort to both, your heart and stomach!

This recipe is very simple one and one of my hubby’s favourites!

Dal Fry (Indian-style fried lentils)

Dal Fry

Ingredients:

1 cup red masoor dal (red lentils)
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped green chiliies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp aniseed
a pinch of asafoetida powder
salt, to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp red chili powder
fresh chopped coriander leaves for garnish
2 tbsp ghee
water, as needed

Method:

Boil lentils in about 1-2 cups of water till they become soft. Add more water as required.

Heat ghee in a pan and add asafoetida, cumin and aniseeds. When they start to sizzle, add in the sliced onions and fry till slightly brown.

Add salt, chili powder, turmeric powder, green chillies and tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes till tomatoes dry up.

Add the boiled dal alongwith a little water, depending on consistency desired and let come to a boil.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.



“Eggs”pressing oneself…

When we were kids, my mom always forced us to have at least one egg everyday for breakfast. And I didn’t really mind since I love eggs. Eggs have always been believed to be good for one’s health.

I think eggs are very versatile to take on any flavours. One of favourite egg dishes in the Indian cuisine, is the all-time favourite, Egg Curry. Now, like any dish in the Indian cuisine, it can and is made in many diiferent styles in the various states of the country. I, myself, make many variations of the classic Egg Curry!

Sometimes, when I’m short of time and patience, and yet still crave for a good home cooked meal, I take out my food processor and instead of chopping things, just blend them! This saves time and also makes a deliciously rich gravy, saving up on both, my time and effort. But don’t let it fool you, no matter how easy the style and method of cooking may seem, the end result will always leave you licking your fingers clean!!

Egg Curry

Egg Curry

Ingredients:

3 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
2 medium-sized onions, made into a paste
2-3 large tomatoes, made into a paste (this is not the same as the store-bought canned tomato paste)
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste (equal amounts of fresh ginger and garlic blended together)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
salt, to taste
2 tbsp plain youghurt
fresh chopped coriander leaves for garnish
1 tbsp cooking oil

Method:

Add cumin seeds in hot oil till it begins to sizzle. Add ginger-garlic paste and onion paste, and fry for 3-5 minutes till slightly browned.

Add salt, chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and turmeric powder and cook for another minute till fragrant. Add tomatoe paste and let cook for a few minutes till all the spices blend in.

Add in the youghurt and stir constantly to avoid getting lumps.

Put in the boiled egg halves abd cover cook for another 5 minutes.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve warm with fresh rotis or rice.



Curdy delight!

I love making raitas instead of salads whenever I serve authentic Indian food at my dinner parties. Its a great side dish and mellows down the spiciness of the food. Raitas can be made in practically a million ways, and this is just one of them!

Roasted Cumin Raita

Ingredients:

1 cup plain yoghurt
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp chili powder
salt to taste
1/2 tbsp cooking oil

Method:

In a bowl, beat yoghurt, water and salt, until smooth.

Heat oil in pan and add cumin seeds and chili powder. Saute for a few seconds till it starts to sizzle, and add into the youghurt.

Stir slightly and serve immediately.



Left-overs…on purpose!!

I love having left-over rice. Most times I always cook an extra cup of plain rice just so I will have some left-over to work with the next day. Left-over rice is always a great start to many new variations such as fried rice! Another personal favourite of mine is tomato rice. My hubby A really loves this dish, and devours it with a huge helping of Dal and pickle!

Tomato Rice

Tomato Rice

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked white Basmati rice
1 medium onion sliced thinly
1 tomato chopped
salt, to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
a couple of dried curry leaves
freshly chopped coriander for garnish
1 tbsp cooking oil

Method:

Heat oil in a non-stick pan and add curry leaves and mustard seeds. When they start to sizzle, add sliced onions.

Cook till onions turn transparent and add chopped tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes till tomatoes begin to pulp. Add salt, turmeric and chili powder and allow spices to blend in.

Add in cooked rice and stir-fry till mixes in with all spices. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve warm.



A medley of flavours…

I love stir-frys! They are so easy to make and truly yummy! Stir-fry’s in my kitchen are usually a medley of mixed veggies tossed in various spices and sauces. It hardly takes time to gather the ingredients and once that is ready to go, everythingis tossed together on high heat. Its a very versatile dish where you can add any flavours that you love, making it as sweet, sour or spicy as you like. And for those of you who know me, I love mine SPICY!!

I make my stir-frys on a whim with whatever is available in my fridge. There is no particular recipe I follow and no two stir-frys of mine ever taste the same. I was just cleaning out the fridge today and decided to use the little scraps of left-over veggies to wok up a medley of flavours!

Chicken and Bean Stir-Fry

Chiciken and Bean Stir-fry

Ingredients:

1 chicken breast chopped into tiny bite-size pieces
2 cups green beans (I love having the frozen ones in my freezer all the time)
2 stalks of green onion sliced into 1-inch pieces
3-4 stalks of celery chopped in bite-size pieces
1 cup sliced red pepper
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 cube chicken buillion
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
salt, to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil

Method:

Heat oil in a wok and add chicken pieces. Stir-fry till chicken is cooked through and add chili powder, curry powder, buillion cube and black pepper. Stir-fry for a minute and add celery and beans.

Cook for a minute or two and add red pepper and green onion. Add soya sauce and salt and stir- fry for a few minute till all the flavours blend together.

Serve over warm rice and enjoy!



Sigh…the first sign of winter…

Yup, we had the first snowfall of the season today! I always see that as the first sign that winter has finally arrived. Somehow I don’t think of it as winter until snow starts falling and the trees are barren!

The first few snowfalls always give me a very warm feeling. I look forward to cuddling on the couch with my hubby, staring out the window admiring the snowflakes, while we sip on piping hot chocolate and warm cookies. This winter is going to be no different! With all the warm comforting recipes I have at hand, we are surely lookinh forward to lovely evenings indoors. time for me to crack up the stove and warm our home as well as our stomachs!

I am particularly fond of clear soups. I don’t really like those creamy or thick ones. I would be very happy with a clear broth with loads of delicious veggies, beans or meatswimming in it! But let’s face it, neither do I have the patience nor time to spend hours boiling bones to get a hearty chicken broth. but that doesnt mean I’m deprived of delicious home tasting soups. No sir! I just take the help of store-bought readymade chicken broth and flavour it to my own tastes. Once I’m done with it, it’s hard to believe it came out of a tetrapack!

Spicy Lemon Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

For the Soup:

4 cups chicken broth
2-3 red chillies (I use the large ones)
2-3 pieces of ginger (about an inch in size)
3-4 garlic cloves
a handful of basil leaves
a couple of mint leaves
2 stalks of lemon grass, cut into medium-sized pieces
1 chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes and pan-fried in a little oil

For the Garnish:

1 tbsp olive oil
fresh chopped cilantro
fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
handful of baby spinach
2 tbsp thinly sliced onions

Method:

Boil all the ingredients for the soup together for a couple of minutes.

Garnish with the remaining ingredients and enjoy with buttered toasts or crackers!