Monday, August 31, 2015

12 Amazing yet easy Indian Entrees

All so often we want to make something tasty and easy for weeknight dinners, but cannot come up with an alternative. This is a simple list of 12 entrees made from different ingredients, taking different time and effort to cook but a common result, yummy weeknight entrees that can be served with roti, paratha or any kind of rice like steamed rice or jeera rice. This is a collection that I will keep updating as and when I update my blog with a new recipe. So keep an eye on this post!



This list of entrees has a couple of quick recipes like Tindora or Ivy-Gourd and Bharwan Bhindi and a couple of little complex yet amazing dishes like Baingan Bharta and Gobi Musallam. At times when the refrigerator is totally empty, head straight to the pantry and whip up this simple Aloo Gatte ki sabji, that requires few ingredients and hardly any time! So head straight to the recipes listed below and surprise your family tonight!

This is a simple dish that can be prepared when the refrigerator is empty and the only things you have is potato, onion and a few other pantry items like besan and spices. From start to finish, this Aloo Gatte ki sabji can be prepared within 20 minutes.





Go to any Indian restaurant anywhere across the globe and the first item most people will order will be Paneer Makhani. A combination of paneer pieces simmered in makhani sauce makes this tasty Indian entree.



Generally made as a vegan substitute to the roasted turkey on Thanksgiving dinner, this dish is made from a whole roasted cauliflower and put in rich red gravy made from ripe tomatoes and onion. 



Looking for a recipe using fenugreek leaves, but without all the cream and calories? Your search ends with this methi mutter masala curry. Light, healthy and totally delicious!



Bhindi or okra is one of the most loved vegetable in people of all ages. When you get nice and green okra that are similar to the ones we get in India, my family loves to enjoy this Bharwan Bhindi, okra stuffed with besan masala.



This is a recipe that I learnt from my grandmother. A combination of potato sticks and thinly sliced ivy-gourd. The spices in this recipe are simple and the taste unbeatable!



This recipe is a simple variation of the famous Gujarati dish Undhiyu. Using simple things like potato, Surti Papdi and purple yam in a green sauce made from garlic, cilantro and indian spices, this vegetable can be enjoyed with roti or puri.



Eggplant that is first charred over direct heat from the stove and then simmered with onion, garlic, peppers and spring onion. A traditional Kathiawadi dish, Baingan Bharta or Oodo is enjoyed best with Bajra Roti, Chaas and Garlic Chutney.



9. Chole
This Indian curry made from garbanzo beans and a gravy made from onion, garlic, ginger and ripe tomatoes, Chole is generally served with Puri or Bhatura. But if you like a non fried version of the bread, make oven baked kulcha or parathas.



I love this dish a lot. A simple combination of daikon leaves and besan, this is a rarely made dish; mostly owing to the fact that mooli leaves are not very easily available. However, when found, these leaves can be transformed to make this yummy Indian entree. 



Paneer Mutter, one of the famous Punjabi curry can be made differently by substituting paneer with tofu. Not only is this dish lower on calories, but also high on protein. Enjoy this Indian entree with parathas, roti or steamed rice! 



Last but not the least, this Palak Paneer is made a little different from the traditional method. The paneer pieces are just stir fried instead of deep frying and then added to a palak gravy. 



This concludes the list of 12 entrees, but the list on the blog is endless. Refer to this tag and find all the other recipes too!





Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Instant Ricotta Rasmalai

Ricotta is an Italian whey cheese made from sheep (or cow, goat, or Italian water buffalo) milk whey left over from the production of cheese. Ricotta is creamy white in appearance, and slightly sweet in taste. The fat content changes depending on the brand and the type of milk used. In this form, it is somewhat similar in texture to some cottage cheese variants, though considerably lighter. Ricotta is also commonly used in savory dishes, including pasta, calzone, stromboli, pizza, manicotti, lasagne, and ravioli. It also is used as a mayonnaise substitute in traditional egg salad and as a sauce thickener. It is often used as a substitute for paneer in the Indian desserts. Studies suggest that supplementation with whey protein improves blood pressure and vascular function in overweight and obese individuals.





Rossomalai popularly known as Rasmalai is a sweetmeat consumed mainly in India, as well as in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The name ras malai comes from two words in Hindi: ras, meaning juice, and malai, meaning cream. It has been described as "a rich cheesecake without a crust. This dish was invented by the Bengali sweetmeat confectioner and businessman K.C. Das in the year 1930. 

Ras malai consists of sugary white cream, or yellow-coloured (flattened) balls of chena soaked in malai (clotted cream) flavoured with cardamom. It is cooked in sugar syrup and milk with saffron pistachios and kheer as stuffing.Homemade ras malai is usually made from powdered milk, all-purpose flour, baking powder and oil, which are kneaded to form a dough, moulded into balls, and dropped into simmering milk cream.




This recipe is a much shorter and easier one than the one described above. It uses one important ingredient, ricotta cheese to substitute the powdered milk, APF, baking powder and oil! Just add sugar to the ricotta and flavor it with cardamom. Bake the discs to form cooked cheese. Boil milk and sugar in a pan, flavor with saffron and dry fruits and drop the ricotta discs in it. Rasmalai anyone?? In under an hour from start to finish. The recipe is not that of a traditional rasmalai, the taste is really great though. Follow the recipe and do not forget to share your thoughts below and on my facebook page.


Ingredients


Ricotta Cheese 1 can, 15 oz.
Sugar 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup
Cardamom 3-4
Milk (whole or 2%) 3 cups
Almonds, Cashew Nut, Pistachios 
Saffron a pinch
Silver Varak (optional)



Method

To make the ricotta cheese discs, first remove the ricotta in a bowl and mix well. If the cheese has water content in it, microwave for a minute. This will yield a little dry ricotta making it easy to work with. Powder 1/4 cup sugar and crush the cardamom seeds. Add the powdered sugar and cardamom powder to the ricotta cheese and mix well. Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Using a muffin pan, divide the ricotta sugar mixture in all the cavities. With a can of 15 oz, I got exactly 12 discs. 

Place the muffin pan in the oven and bake the discs for 35-40 minutes, till the edges move away from the sides of the pan. Using a toothpick, check for the cooked discs and remove the muffin and let them cool completely. Do not try to remove them while hot else they will crack. 

To make the milk syrup, add 2 cups of milk in a heavy bottom pan. Heat the milk on medium flame till it boils. Once the milk comes to a boil, add 1/2 cup sugar and mix well. Add the saffron and let the milk become colored and sweet. Once the milk and sugar mixes well, turn down the heat and let it cool. Add the chopped almonds, cashew nuts and pistachios and mix well. Let the milk cool completely.

Once the milk as well as the ricotta discs cool completely, add the ricotta discs and garnish with some more almonds, cashew nuts, pistachios and silver varak. You may choose to eat them right away or cool them further in the refrigerator before serving.





Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Non-fried Methi Muthiya | Fenugreek Dumplings

Muthia is an Indian food. The name is derived from the way it is made, from the gripping action of the hand called muthi in gujarati. It resembles sausage, but is a vegan dish. It is made up of Wheat Flour, Chickpea flour, Methi (Fenugreek), Salt, Turmeric, Chili powder, and an optional bonding agent/sweetener such as sugar and oil. It is a very good staple of Gujaratis. This item is known as 'Vaataa' in Charotar area located in Central Gujarat. Other varieties are made by using coarse flour of wheat and leafy vegetables such as amaranth, spinach, Luni or grated bottle gourd or peel of bitter gourd (karela). After steaming, they are tempered with sesame seeds and mustard seeds.





Methi Muthiya is made in different ways in different households and for different purposes. Some people like it steamed and drizzled with oil, some fry it and some people steam them and then saute the cut pieces in oil and spices. The fried version is either enjoyed as a snack or as a part of the vegetable like Undhiyu, Vatana Muthiya or Potato Muthiya. The sauteed one can easily substitute the fried version in most recipes. 

Back in India, my grandmother used to make the steamed rolls for breakfast. Fat rolls of flour and loads of fenugreek leaves, drizzled generously with oil used to be served with hot Masala Chai. It was really a complete and fulfilling breakfast. During winter when it was Undhiya season, fried methi muthiya made their appearance. Apart from being a part of the vegetable, box full of these fried wonders used to be made to enjoy as an evening snack. 



Now, many recipes that are traditionally fried like sabudana vada or steamed like idli have been made in the all so famous paniyaram stand. The pan is such a wonderful one, making most dishes with minimum oil and yet so tasty and nice. This is a variation to the same recipe of traditional muthiya, just made a different way, using Paniyaram stand. Using less oil than frying, this method yields really crisp muthiyas. I have so fallen in love with this wonder pan! 






Ingredients

Wheat Flour 2 cups
Gram flour/Besan 1/2 cup
Semolina/ Rava 1/4 cup
Methi leaves 1 1/2 cup, chopped
Chili Garlic Ginger paste 2 tbsp
Red Chili Powder 2 tbsp, Turmeric powder 1 tsp, asafoetida a pinch 
Sesame seeds 1 tsp, cumin seeds 1 tsp, carom seeds(ajwain) 1/2 tsp 
Salt, Sugar, Lime Juice 
Oil 2 tbsp



Method

Mix wheat flour with semolina and gram flour. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, a pinch of asafoetida, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Also add sesame seeds, cumin seeds and carom seeds(ajwain). Mix it all well and then add chili garlic ginger paste and 2 tbsp oil. Mix the oil into the flour till you get a crumbly texture. Next, add the chopped methi (fenugreek leaves) and mix everything well. 

Add 1/2 cup water slowly, and knead into a firm dough. Add only enough water to get the dough together. If the dough becomes too soft, add some dry flour. Once the hard dough is ready, let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Now, from the rested dough make either round or log shaped muthiya. 




Heat the aebleskiver (appam) pan. Add 1/4 tsp oil in all the cavities and drop one muthiya in each cavity. Let the flame be on high for a few seconds and then reduce it to medium. Let the muthiyas cook on one side. Once brown, turn them around and cook on all sides. Remove and serve hot with ketchup, green cilantro chutney or a cup of masala chai. Or use it to make this tasty Undhiyu.





For other Muthiya recipes, go to Kale Muthiya or Lauki Muthiya.



Monday, August 24, 2015

Carrot, Spinach and Garlic Bread

The smell of fresh bread baking in the oven is one of my favorite fragrances around the kitchen. A perfectly soft and well baked bread adds a visual appeal. The kind words of family and friends on how wonderful the bread tastes completes the circle with immense satisfaction in the heart! I baked this bread a couple of days ago, and it managed to live up to my expectations completely. This Saturday there was a meet-up with some wonderful girls from around the Bay Area. The occasion was to celebrate 69 years of India's Independence and so the theme was tricolor: Saffron, white and green!




I looked up the list of attendees and a quick glance made me realize two things; one, all the easy and most obvious dishes like rice, cake, idli, salad and jelly was already picked by someone; and two, the menu has too many desserts. So I decided to make these breads. Not intending to use any food color, I was hoping my carrots and spinach do not disappoint me. A quick trip to the farmer's market and I had everything I needed to bake these cuties. 




The recipe for this bread is on the same lines as the breads I have baked earlier, like these Rose shaped buns, Garlic Braid and Subway Sandwiches. The only difference is that here there are three doughs to be made with different add-ins. 

I pureed the carrot, garlic and spinach and let the yeast bloom. Then get the dough, divide into three and make the tricolor dough. I was thinking of making a layered loaf but then the colors would only be revealed when I cut it into slices. So instead of the loaf, I decided to make these single serve balls of bread. To ensure that they are of the same size, I used a muffin pan to shape them. 

The result was really great, brightly colored breads with vegetable flavors and absolutely no artificial colors. If you are making these for a kids party, you can change the vegetable to get the color of your choice. Simple substitutions would be: Beetroot for pink, tomato puree for light red and purple cabbage for light violet. Make them on the day of the party or make them ahead of time and store them in an air-tight container, the choice is yours. Hope you enjoy this simple recipe that is bright and colorful!




Ingredients
All Purpose Flour/Maida 3 cups
Rapid Rise Dry Yeast 1 sachet (2 1/4 tsp)
Unsalted Butter 3 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Warm Water 1 cup (100-110 F)
Garlic 3-4 cloves
Spinach 1 cup
Carrot 1 cup



Method
This pull apart bread is made from three colored dough. To start, crush garlic to a smooth paste, and set aside. Next, blend the spinach to a smooth puree without any water and remove in a cup. Also, make a smooth carrot paste without water and set aside.

Heat 1/2 cup of water to 100-110 F. Add a sachet of yeast, sugar and 1 tsp salt. Let the mixture stand for ten minutes till it foams. Melt the unsalted butter in a bowl. In a large mixing bowl, take one cup of flour, 1 tbsp butter, garlic paste and 1/3 bloomed yeast. Use a little water and bring it together to a dough. The mixture may be sticky at first, knead it well till it converts to a soft dough. Apply some oil over the dough and place it in a large bowl, cover it with a moist cloth and let stand for 45 minutes. 

Similarly, make the other two doughs. The carrot and spinach will release moisture on standing, so take the carrot puree from the top of the bowl and add it to 1 cup flour, 1 tbsp butter and 1/3 yeast. This dough will come together without any extra water as there is moisture in the carrots. Make a smooth dough and set aside. Repeat with spinach puree, make a green dough and set aside for 45 minutes.




After 45 minutes, all the dough balls will be almost double it's size. Punch down the dough and knead it for 5 more minutes. Now, start with the oven and preheat to 375 F/ 180 C. Using a muffin pan, apply some oil/ butter in each cavity and place 1 inch ball of all the three doughs in each of them. The balls will almost touch each other. Let the balls rise again for 7-10 minutes. 

Bake the bread balls for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and let them cool little in the pan. Then, remove and cool them on a cooling rack. Serve them as an appetizer or even as a snack with either butter or herbed olive oil. 

































Looking for more tricolor food? Try these: Tricolor Swirl Bread, Layered Baked Casserole and Tricolor Dhokla.




Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Misal Pav

Misal (Marathi:मिसळ, meaning "mixture"), is a delicacy in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. The dish is eaten for breakfast or as a midday snack or meal, often as part of misal pav. It remains a very popular snack since it is easy to make, is relatively cheap and has good nutritional value. The dish originates from the area of Desh, Maharashtra. This popular Maharashtrian snack, enjoyed by scores of Mumbaikars, bagged top honours at the Foodie Hub Awards held in London in June 2015. The accolade went to Dadar eatery Aaswad Upahar located in Shivaji Park. The dish a regular favourite of the patrons received the 'The World’s Tastiest Vegetarian Dish' award.

There are several types of Misal Pav that you can devour in Maharashtra. Most of the places that serve this breakfast dish have their own version and proportion of mixing the ingredients. The spicy and fierce Kolhapuri Misal is a regular staple of Kolhapur, a place in Maharashtra. Then comes the milder Puneri Misal. This type of misal can be found in several eateries in Pune as well as famous joints on the Mumbai Pune Expressway. Then there is Sev Misal, where the mixed farsan is replaced with sev, the same one that goes into our bhel puri. Another famous variety is the Dahi Misal, same recipe as others, but topped with yogurt. 



When you make misal at home, the choice of what all goes into the dish is purely yours. The method to make misal varies from household to household. This recipe is a simple one, not necessarily the most authentic. It comes together quickly as I would not want to spend hours to make breakfast alone. Instead of the traditional matki, I have used a combination of pulses: kidney beans, chole, brown chana, moong, matki and white peas. I simply put a bit of all of them in a bowl and used it without accurately measuring the proportions. You may choose to make misal out of just matki sprouts as well. Then again, the misal is made in a pressure cooker directly, instead of boiling the pulses and then mixing it with the masalas. The Goda masala used in the recipe is store bought from Mumbai. I love the flavors in this masala and always get a packet with me from India. If you do not have goda masala, you can substitute with equal proportion of garam masala.  



Ingredients

For the Misal
Pulses 1 1/2 cups(kidney beans, chole, brown chana, moong, matki, white peas)
Onion 1 medium, diced
Tomato 1 medium, diced
Ginger Garlic Paste 2-3 tsp
Goda Masala 2 tsp
Curry Leaves 2-3
Oil 2 tbsp
Spices (Bay Leaves 2-3, Cloves 1-2, Peppercorns 2-3, Cinnamon 1 inch piece)
Cumin seeds 1 tsp, Mustard seeds 1 tsp, pinch of asafoetida
Red Chili powder 2 tsp, turmeric powder 1 tsp, Dhania Jeera powder 2 tsp
Salt, Lemon Juice

For the Sides
Pav
Any type of Mixed Farsan 2 cups
Lime Juice
Lime Wedges
Finely diced Red Onion
Cilantro





Method
I have used a combination of pulses: kidney beans, chole, brown chana, moong, matki and white peas. I simply put a bit of all of them in a bowl and used it without accurately measuring the proportions. Wash and soak the mixed pulses using about 3 cups of water. Let them soak for 6-8 hours or overnight. Once soaked, drain the water and set aside. Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add the mustard seeds. Once they pop, add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Also add the spices and mix well. Next add the curry leaves and ginger garlic paste. Once the raw flavor of garlic goes away, add the onions. Saute the onions and cook them till they are soft. Once they are soft, add the tomatoes and mix well.

Once the tomatoes are soft in about 4-5 minutes, add the dhania jeera powder and goda masala. If you do not have goda masala, add the same amount of garam masala. Add the salt, red chili powder and turmeric powder. Once the masala cooks and the oil separates, add the mixed pulses and mix well. Then add 2 1/2 cup of water and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles.  




Turn down the flame and let the pressure subside. Open the lid and mix well. Meanwhile, prepare the sides for misal pav. Separate the pav and finely dice the onion, and mince the cilantro. To serve, put the misal in a bowl, top with some namkeen, onions and cilantro and serve with pav on the side. If you would like to bake your own pav, head straight to the recipe here.