Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup

Velvety smooth Butternut Squash Soup made in the Instant Pot. With Thai flavors infused in the soup, this one is definitely a KEEPER through Fall and beyond! 


We are racing through Fall and currently we are gorging on YUMMY soups atleast 3-4 times a week. From creamy soups and stews to broth based soups; we are enjoying them all. Vegetables, lentil, pasta and dals are making an appearance in a soupy form on the dinner table!

All year round I keep waiting for Fall and the delicious squashes the season brings with it. From pumpkin and butternut to acorn and spaghetti squash, we LOVE them all. Every year I enjoy all of them through the season but BUTTERNUT is by far my favorite squash. 

The yummy taste, smooth silky texture and bright orange color always make me want to have it pretty often. Plus a versatile vegetable that is great in curries, soup and other recipes; this squash features on our menu very often. If you are a fan of Butternut squash like me, check out these recipes:


Why make this soup in the Instant Pot?

For the longest time I have been making pumpkin and butternut squash soup in a pan or pressure cooker. But since I started using the Instant Pot, I am loving the ease of using it for soups. The method is similar to the pressure cooker, but I love the consistency this one has.

Using the Instant Pot and an immersion blender, you can make almost all creamy soups really easily. I have tried a lot of them and they are all YUM! From spinach, tomato and pumpkin to celery and sweet corn; I make them all in the Instant Pot and loving it.

One of the BIGGEST advantage of the Instant Pot is that you can sauté and place all the ingredients in the pot in the morning and leave the device on a delay start mode. When you get back from work, the soup is ready to be pureed and served! 

Just toast a few slices of bread or use a sour dough bread bowl to serve the creamy orange soup! Or whip up a salad and enjoy.



Looking for more Instant Pot meals? Try one of these: 


The Ingredients to make it YUM!

There are a LOT of recipes to make butternut squash soup. Some recipes call for roasting the squash, some add apples or pears in the soup. I like those versions too, but my favorite is this version. 

I do love the sweetness of butternut in my soup but my husband loves spicy soups. So I add some Thai Red Curry paste in the soup to balance the sweetness. Plus, he LOVES a splash of chilli oil on top to make the soup a little spicy. It is optional and can be eliminated of you do not like spicy toppings.

I added a stalk of celery in my soup. The stalk is super flavorful and adds a lot of freshness to the soup. I would strongly recommend not skipping it. The other ingredients like onion, garlic and ginger can be added or left out based on preference.

Adding a pinch of turmeric in the soup goes a long way. However, if you do not have it or do not like it, leave it out. Adding some cayenne pepper to the soup is also a great idea! 


Ingredients

Butternut Squash 1 medium
Onion 1 medium
Garlic 2-3 cloves
Ginger 1 inch piece
Celery 1 stalk
Red Curry Paste 1 tbsp
Turmeric Powder 1/4 tsp
Oil/ Unsalted Butter 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Black Pepper Powder 1 tsp
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Water/ Vegetable Broth 1 1/2 cups

To Garnish
Coconut Milk/ half and half 1/2 cup
Pumpkin seeds 1/4 cup
Black pepper powder and Chilli flakes 
Chilli Oil (optional)



Method

Peel and deseed the squash. Cut into cubes and set aside. Chop the onion and celery to 1 inch pieces. Mince garlic and ginger.

Switch on the Instant Pot and set the mode to 'Sauté' and Normal. Add oil or butter. Once hot, sauté ginger and garlic till the raw flavor vanishes. Next add onions and celery. Mix and let them cook for 1-2 minutes.

Next add the butternut squash pieces. Mix and add red curry paste, turmeric, salt, pepper powder and sugar. Let the squash cook for 2 minutes. Then add water or broth. 

Mix well and press 'cancel'. Set the mode to 'pressure cook', high pressure and time to 7 minutes. Close the lid, set valve to sealing and let the soup cook.

One the time is done, let the pressure release naturally for 3-4 minutes and then release the remaining pressure. 

Open the lid and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Alternatively process in a blender. 

Add in the coconut milk or half and half. Mix well and serve topped with pumpkin seeds, black pepper powder and chilli flakes. Add some chilli oil if using. 



Monday, October 15, 2018

Sweet Shakarpara | Sweet Shankarpali

Fried flaky melt-in-the-mouth Indian snack, Sweet Shakarpara is a Diwali MUST-HAVE recipe. Made from simple pantry essentials, this is a NO-FAIL recipe for everyone to try!



I cannot believe we are at stone's throw from Diwali; the KING of Indian festivals. Celebrated across India in different ways, the festival is loved by one and all. 

For those not familiar with the celebration, we celebrate Diwali each year in October-November depending on the Hindu calendar. The celebration starts with cleaning the house, decorating with lamps, lanterns, rangoli and flowers. We make a TON of Indian sweets and snacks and burst a lot of fireworks too. Plus, families dress up in traditional clothes and meet and greet. It is a great time for everyone to take a break, celebrate and come together. 



Every year I try to make a few traditional recipes for the blog. Collecting all the recipes in one place, here is a post that has some amazing recipes to try: Sweet and Savory Diwali Recipes. Here are a few more Diwali treats to try:

This year I started off with this recipe of Shakarpara. This Indian snack is known by several names like Shankarpali or Sakkarpara. Mildly sweet fried cookies these diamond shaped fried snack is addictive and perfect for festivals like Diwali. It is popular in Gujarat and Maharashtra and made by various recipes and variations across the states. 

Though carb-high, this snack is amazing for Diwali. For the longest time I thought that the festival was incomplete without Gujiya, Chakli and Sweet Shakarpara. I promise you will not be able to stop at ONE. You can definitely gobble a bowl full of these! 



No Fail recipe of Shakarpara

There are several ways to make shakarpara. Some folks make it with just flour and then dunk them in sugar syrup. Several people make it with sugar syrup in flour. Some also enjoy them made from jaggery syrup.

However, most of these recipes need the sugar or jaggery syrup to be PERFECT consistency. If it is not, the shakarpara will be too soft or rock hard. This recipe uses powdered sugar, making it super simple. 



The ingredients in this recipe are those that can easily be found in any pantry. Flour, clarified butter, sugar and semolina are the most important ingredients. Sesame seeds is optional. 

I fried these in oil but they can also be fried in ghee. The taste is a little different but depends more on what you like better. This recipe is mildly sweet. However, if you like them SUPER sweet, a
dd 2 tbsp extra sugar in 3 cups of flour.

This is the first recipe in the series of Diwali treats for 2018. I hope you all try this and keep an eye on the next few recipes. There will be a few snack recipe and a couple of sweets too. 




Ingredients

All Purpose Flour 3 cups
Fine Semolina 1/2 cup
Confectioner' Sugar/ Fine powdered sugar 1 cup
Heated Ghee/ Clarified Butter 1/3 cup
Warm Water 1/4 cup
Roasted Sesame seeds 1 tbsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Oil to deep fry



Method

In a bowl add flour, semolina and salt. Heat ghee and add it to the mixture. Mix together till you can make a crumbly mixture. It should be such that the mixture comes together when pressed in a fist. 

Add more ghee if required. Then add sugar as well as roasted sesame seeds and mix. Using warm water make a soft dough. It should not be too tough else it will become crumbly.

Wrap in a shrink wrap and set aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes divide the dough into 8 parts. 

Heat oil in a wok. Use a part of the dough and roll into a round of 1/4 inch thickness. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into diamonds. 

Add a piece of dough to the oil. If it comes to the top immediately, the oil is hot enough.

Add in the dough diamonds in hot oil and fry till golden brown on both sides. Do not make them really dark else they will burn. 

Remove using a slotted spoon and spread on a kitchen towel. Transfer to an airtight container and enjoy! The sakkarpara are great for a week or so.