Perfectly Simple…

Sukhe Alu (Sauteed Potatoes)

Perfectly Simple

Most days, by the time I get home in the evenings, I am strved and craving for warm home-cooked meal. And most often than not, I am too tired to dish out something wholesome.

Since hubby dear has been out of town since the past two weeks, I’ve found myself spending much less time in my kitchen. The reason being when I’m alone, I couldn’t care much about how, when and even if I eat. I can be just as happy opening up a pack of instant noodles or having a grilled cheese sandwich.

But last night, after many days of eating left-over and processed foods, I was craving for a good home-cooked meal. Something wholesome, fulfilling and delicious. And not to mention, quick! Oh yes, it just had to be quick. I was tired and hungry. And no one messes with me when either the one. Not even Mr. Time!

As I set a pot of my favourite Dal to cook alongside some steaming rice, I thought of making a real quick side. No guesses as to what it would be made of. I walked into my pantry and found them – a nice big bowl of red baby potatoes!

Potatoes are one of the staples of the classic Indian meal. It is also the most versatile and beautiful vegetables I know. I let a batch of them boil just till tender and the stage was then set for a wonderfully delicious and fulfilling dinners!

SUKHE ALU
SAUTEED POTATOES


Prep time: 20 min, Cooking time: 10 min | Serves: 2  

  • 8-10 red baby potatoes, boiled and peeled
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp aniseeds
  •  
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp light cooking oil
  • CUT boiled potatoes into quarters and set aside.

    HEAT oil in a pan and add dried red chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and aniseeds, and fry till they start to sizzle.

    ADD in red chili powder and potatoes, and stri-fry till spices mix well with potatoes.

    ADD salt and cover cook for five minutes.

    SERVE warm as a side with Dal, and rice or Rotis.

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    Pot(luck) Party

    It’s mid-week. Which just means that energy levels of us regular 9-5 folk are slowly dying out. It’s also raining heavily out side, which means that a warm comfort meal ranks high on the wish-list! The simple solution – a one pot meal warming enough to drive away those heebee-jeebees…

    Mixed Bean Tomato Rice

    One pot meals are a great way on saving time when it’s called for. Sometimes all you want and need to do is put everything but the kitchen sink into one big pot and hope that it forms into something delectable. One pot meals are also a great way fo rme to clean up my fridge of leftovers. Many a times, I’ve added any vegetable within arms reach into a thick hearty stew.

    But not today. I wasn’t in the mood for soup or stew. True, it’s droopy and cold out, but that just makes me crave for a huge helping of warm flavoured rice. A can of mixed beans, some left-over rice and a bag of cherry tomatoes struck a cord in my head. And then… everything was good again!

    Mixed Bean Tomato Rice

    Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked white Basmati rice
  • 1 can of mixed beans (kidney beans, chick peas, lima beans, and anything else you like)
  • 1 medium onion sliced thinly
  • 8-10 chery tomatoes, sliced in half or 1 whole tomato, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 green chillies, finely 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
    • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
    • 2 tbsp cooking oil

    Method:

    1. Heat oil in a large pot and add curry leaves and mustard seeds. Once they start to sizzle, add garlic, green chillies and sliced onions.Saute till lightly browned.
    2. Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes till they begin to pulp. Add salt, turmeric and chili powder and allow spices to blend well.
    3. Add mixed beans and let cook for 5-6 minutes.
    4. Mix in cooked rice and stir-fry till each grain is well coated with all the spices. Add chopped coriander leaves and serve warm.

    Enjoy with a side of Mango Pickle and cool Cucumber Raita.



    Of rainy days and deep-fried foods: Dal Kachoris

    Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

    What is it with rainy days and cravings for deep-fried goodies going hand-in-hand? Well, in my house, its just the norm. So while it drizzled, rained and poured all through the weekend, there was nothing much we could do than watch tons of movies and eat good food! While the movie list was dominated with animated flicks, the kitchen had just one theme – Deep Frying!

    Usually, hubby dear and I would simply settle for a big bowl of fries and spicy wings, but it was not to be the case this time. Yup, we wanted something different and not to mention, GOOD!!

    So as we debated and counter-debated what we wanted to dip our fingers into, there came a point where we both knew it was a fine compromise. Considering the fact that this is one of hubby dear’s favourite rainy-day eats, and the fact that this would be the first time ever I was attempting a hand at it, made it quite an adventure. Needless to say, I found yet another dish I excelled at, and hubby dear, well, let’s just say, he was in food paradise!
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    Cranking up the heat…

    Spring is almost here. But before it arrives, we always get a final snowfall. I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping that we witnessed that yesterday!

    While it snowned outside, and hubby dear napped his way through the afternoon, I needed something warm. Nothing to eat or drink, but warmth for the home. I know turnin on the heat always seems as the obvious option, but not for me! When I want heat, I turn to my trusty stove. And yesterday, it was my oven that did it for me!

    Baingan ka Bharta

    Growing up, I always enjoyed Baingan ka Bharta. Truly, it was a family favourite. As I grew up and moved far away from home, I craved for it. The restaurant version never seems to have the same taste as that of Mom’s recipe. So I craved it even more!

    Until one day, when I decided to give a call to my Mom and asked her for the recipe. She surprised me by making it sound so simple. Well, I did give it a try, and long-distance phone calls between me and Mom discussing recipes have gone on since!

    Baingan ka Bharta (Indian Roasted Eggplant)

    Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 mid-sized tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1-inch chunk of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chilles, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  •  
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/4 tsp garam masala
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • salt, to taste
    • 2 tbsp cooking oil
    • fresh chopped coriander leaves, for garnish

    Method:

    1. Make tiny slits all around the eggplant and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, till eggplant gets a charred coating on all sides.
    2. Remove the charred skin and mash insides of the eggplant. Set aside.
    3. Heat oil in a pan and saute cumin seeds, ginger and green chillies, till they begin to sizzle.
    4. Add in onions and fry till brown. Mix in salt, red chili powder and turmeric and fry spices till fragrant.
    5. Add tomatoes and cook till pulpy.
    6. Add mashed eggplant and cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly to blend in well.
    7. Sprinkle with garam masala and garnish with coriander leaves. Enjoy with warm, fluffy rotis.


    Fusion Cooking at its best…

    I love fusion cooking! I enjoy mixing and matching non-traditional methods and ingredients and creating something different. Its a wonderful feeling to bring This time around, I decided to go my all-time favourite. A wonderful blend of easy Chinese cooking with a dash of Indian spices thrown in!

    Gobi Manchurian

    This has to be one of the most popular and tastiest dishes in the Indo-Chinese menu. You won’t find it in any of the authentic Chinese restaurants, maybe because it must be an Indo-fusion creation that has been perfected by the hawkers on any street in India!But you will surely find it in any Hakka place around Mississauga. Till your next trip there, put on your apron and dish this up. It’s as close to the real thing as it may get!

    When I was in India, I simply loved Chinese food! Anytime we went out for dinner, it was usually Chinese. The food would be spicy and bursting with flavour. Even soups were never simple. The zestier it was, the more it was loved!

    Little did I know that Chinese food usually served in India, is influenced with Indian tastes! It was a surprise to find out that authentic Chinese food is not really all that spicy. Well, as you all already know, I’m a sucker for spicy food, and so the authentic Chinese food, so easily available here doesn’t tantalize my taste buds! Luckily for me, we have all those Hakka joints in Mississauga that serve the so-called Chinese dishes we Indians as so very used to.

    Gobi Machurian (Cauliflower in a Spicy Sauce)

    Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower broken into florets

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp green chili, finely chopped

  • ½ tbsp corn flour mixed with 2 tbsp of water

  •  
    • Salt, to taste

    • 1/4 tsp white pepper

    • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
    • 2 tbsp Tomato-chili sauce
    • ½ cup of water
    • fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped for garnish
    • green onion, finely chopped for garnish

    For the batter:

  • ½ cup all-purpose Flour

  • ¼ cup Corn Flour

  •  
    • ¼ tsp red chili Powder
    • Salt, to taste

    Method:

    1. Combine together all-purpose flour, corn flour, red chili powder, salt and a little bit of water to form a batter thick enough to coat each cauliflower floret.

    2. Heat the oil in a pan and deep fry florets coated with batter, till golden brown. Set aside.

    3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add the chopped onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies. Fry for a minute till fragrant and then add pepper, soy sauce, tomato-chili sauce and salt.

    4. Cook for a minute and add the corn flour and water mixture. Add a little water and let simmer till the sauce becomes thick.

    5. Add the fried cauliflower florets and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

    6. Garnish with chopped spring onions and coriander leaves.



    Bowing to the Queen…

    While I do try and bring as many different flavours and tastes to our table at, sometimes a traditional dal-roti-sabzi meal is all we desire. While I can the veggies I actually enjoy eating on my fingers, I make up for the minimal mumber with the oh so many different variations I use to cook them.

    There is always a way of cooking any veggie you don’t enjoy so much in a way that will keep you asking for more. Okra, or lady-finger as it is known in India, is one such veggie. Known as the queen of veggies, with its elegantly shaped form and crown-like head, it does require some special care while cooking.

    Bhindi Pyaaz

    While I don’t usually pounce on a stack of them to pick the best ones at the store, I do sometimes, however, look forward to one of the simplest and tastiest side dishes I know to make. And while I do bring a batch home every other week (hubby dear totally loves it, you see!), this is one of the few ways I relish it. A simple three-step process of chop-fry-serve makes this dish a definite keeper and especially good for a large crowd!!

    Bhindi Pyaaz (Okra with Onions)

    Ingredients:

  • 10-15 whole fresh okra, washed and dried thoroughly dried with a cloth
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  •  
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • Method:

    1. Make sure the okra is thoroughly dried on the outside. Discard ends and cut into half centimeter thick pieces.
    2. In a no-stick pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds.
    3. Once they start to sizzle, add in okra pieces and saute for a minute or two. Cover the pan and allow it to cook for 10-15 minutes on a medium-low heat.
    4. Once the okra starts to cook and lose its sticky texture, add in onions and spices and stir well to mix in spices evenly.
    5. Cover cook for another 7-10 minutes till onions tenderize and start to brown on the edges.
    6. Serve warm with Dal and fresh rotis.


    Healthy Indulgence…

    When it comes to wholesome winter comfort foods, I most often get inclined to curry-drowned rice dishes. Except when I’m craving for something with more bang! That’s when I dig deep into my kitchen resources and try and fix up a meal comprising of something in the form of rotis.

    Dosas, Puris and Parathas all fit the bill well, and I just go with my inner craving to decide on my course of action. While I don’t tend too creative with my Dosas and Puris, Parathas are something I just love to play around with. Any leftovers could well serve the purpose of filling their pockets and turning into a wholesome and delicious addition to any meal.

    Mooli Parathas

    Some of my all-time favourites remain this and most certainly, this. But this recipe is a definite keeper in my secret stack of pleasurable indulgences. No doubt, the nutritional qualities of raddish excel all else, but don’t let convince you to try this out. Afterall, everyone needs to indulge once in a while, even if it IS good for you!

    Mooli (Raddish) Parathas

    Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (atta)
  • 1 cup grated mooli (long white raddish), excess water squeezed out
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  •  
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • salt, to taste
  • 3 tbsp ghee/oil
  • water as needed
  • Method:

    1. Mix flour (atta) with salt and one tbsp of ghee and form into a smooth dough with water.

    2. Separate dough into golf-sized balls and set aside.

    3. Make sure all the water is thoroughly squeezed out of the grated raddish and mix with salt, coriander seeds, chili powder and garam masala, and set aside.

    4. For each dough ball, roll out the dough into a small circle and put around one tbsp of the raddish mixture in the centre. Bring the ends of the circle together and form into a ball.

    5. Seal the edges completely so that the stuffing does not come out. Roll out these dough balls into a 6 inch circle.

    6. Fry on a heated pan adding a bit of ghee around the edges to crisp it up.

    Enjoy it warm with pickle or onion chutney.



    Taking it easy…

    When it comes to cooking a fulfilling dinner on weeknights, my keyword, or should I say keywords, are QUICK and SIMPLE! I have many a times blogged on how much I love easy recipes that hardly take any of my time and effort and yet seem to please our over-demanding palates.

    Truly, coming home at seven in the evening after a long and tiring day at school doesn’t leave me even in the slightest mood to cook anything. But eat we must and that’s where I make use of my instincts. A little bit of this, a splash of that, and dinner is on the table!

    Alu Pyaaz

    I always wonder why people look at cooking Indian food with such disdain. According to so many non-Indians I’ve come accross, they all have the same thing to say – It takes a lot of time and many more ingredients to cook a traditional Indian meal! Well, all I can say yet again is that you, my dear are mistaken! Now, if you are one of those who thinks that the traditional Indian meal comprises of exotic dishes such as, Briyani, Butter Chicken, Dal Makhani and Naans, then, well, I think you need to invite yourself to an Indian home for a simple dinner.

    When it comes to food, we Indians know how to make a gala of the mere act of eating. But at the same time, we have our home-grown secrets of making a simple “Dal-Chawal” meal seem fit for a King, or Queen ofcourse!

    One look at my long list of recipes and you can easily see that many of them are simple to the touch. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook. Infact, I am known to spend an entire day in the kitchen cooking for parties a day in advance. But sometimes, I just want to take it easy. Afterall, even the greatest rulers of all-time needed to take a break!

    Alu-Pyaaz Fry (Fried Potatoes with Onions)

    Ingredients:

  • 7-8 red baby potatoes, boiled and sliced with skins left on
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  •  
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • Method:

    1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and saute cumin seeds till it starts to sizzle.
    2. Add potato slices and fry till they begin to crisp on the edges.
    3. Add salt, chili powder, turmeric and onions, and fry for a few minutes till spices mix well and onions turn tender and transparent.
    4. Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with a ice helping of Rice and Dal.


    Nestled by the Window: Potato-Pea Samosa

    Recipe for Samosa taken from www.hookedonheat.com

    ‘Tis is the season for love… and so said St. Valentine as we dedicate the 14th of Feb in his honour. Come February and you immediately know that LOVE is in the air!

    I have often heard people say that as couples grow old together, they begin to look more and more alike. I however, fail to see the resemblance. But what I do notice is how much we have begun to think alike. There have been many times when we would say the same thing at the same time, and then there are those days when we just know what the other is thinking. This may not sound so bad to you. But trust me, when you spend a whole month planning a big surprise, only to have the reciever guess it out the week before, it kinda sucks!

    But nontheless, it’s a big comfort to know that the closeness can only increase. And no matter how frustratingly irritating it may seem that surprises don’t work well between us, its a pleasure to know that we understand each other so well.

    One of hubby’s and my all-time favourite munchies to cuddle up with are piping hot samosas dipped into tangy chutney. I remember times when I lived on Samosas for an entire day! Mind you, I still can, and do when I get those cravings of guilty pleasures.

    Most of the Samosas we find at Indian stores here, are the ones usually made with Spring Roll sheets. Though they do satisfy me at times, I still find myself craving of the authentic pyramid-shaped ones I grew up loving in India. Well, desperate times call for desperate measures, and this is no different! It wasn’t until I tried my hand at it last Diwali, that I realized how simple it is to prepare. I often make a big batch and freeze them, frying as many as I want whenever I wish. Try it out, and if you don’t get hooked, I’ll eat it all on my own! :0

    For now, I have a big platter full of these beauties waiting for hubby dear to devour!
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    Grilled to perfection…

    Hubby dear has this undying love for Paninis. Infact, I didn’t even need to tell him twice that I wanted a Panini maker. Just a promise that he would get home-made Paninis to his heart’s desire, seem to convince him enough! Our Honeymoon in the exotic plains of Rome was filled with cups of delicious Cappucino teamed up with warm crispy Paninis.

    Roasted Red Pepper Paninis

    I often try out various Panini combos using mainly whatever I have at home with some Indian touch added in. But this recipe always wins the game. Its simple, light and just plain delicious! This is my way of fusing International favourites with Indian tastes.

    Roasted Red Pepper Paninis

    Ingredients:

  • 2 baguettes (use any kind of bread you like, I love Foccacia for this sandwich)

  • 1 large sweet red pepper

  • a handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  •  
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 tsp garlic butter

  • 1 tbsp butter

  • 1/2 tsp curry powder

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • Method:

    For Roasted Red Pepper:

    1. Spray red pepper lightly with oil and roast over a flame, or broil in the oven at 450 degrees, till charred on the outside.

    2. Set aside and allow to cool. Once it comes to room temperature, peel the outside skin of the pepper and slice thinly.

    For Caramelized Onions:

    1. Heat butter in a non-stick pan and saute finely sliced onions with salt, pepper and curry powder till caramelized and tender.

    For Paninis:

    1. Spread a little garlic butter on one side of the bread.

    2. Layer roasted red pepper slices, caramelized onions, and top with chopped coriander leaves and a dash of pepper.

    3. Top with other slice of bread and heat in a Panini grill till warm.

    4. Serve with a side of fries and warm Cappucino.