Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Vegetable Coins in Hot Garlic Sauce

Red Hot Chili Pepper and Inchin Bamboo Garden. Two names in the Bay area that can instantly take you back to the Indo-Chinese restaurants from India. These two places serve food that is closest to the taste from Mainland China or China Gate or Dynasty from Mumbai. RHCP, and Inchin serve Vegetable coins in a sauce of your choice. They describe it as: golden fried vegetable dumplings, flattened and served in a sauce of your choice. 

These coins are my favorite from the menu, and it is definitely on my order each time I visit these places. Having tasted and relished this dish many times there, I finally decided to make them at home. The dish essentially has two parts: the fried dumplings, and the sauce. This recipe is for the hot garlic sauce with vegetable coins. Very few basic ingredients and less than 15 minutes is all you need to make this dish. Enjoy these tangy, spicy coins with Vegetable Fried Rice or Chili garlic Noodles. 

The coins in this recipe are deep fried. The coins can also be enjoyed with less oil, i.e by making them in a paniyaram vessel with just a couple of tsp of oil. Make the coins before time, and when it is time to serve, heat the coins a little and dip them in the gravy. Garnish with chopped spring onions and serve warm.


Garlic 3-4 pods
Ginger 1/2 inch grated
Green Chili 2-3
Spring Onion white and greens 1/2 cup
Corn Starch 3-4 tbsp
Soy paste/ sauce
Chili Sauce
Oil, Chili Oil
Salt, pepper


Make the deep fried coins as per this recipe: Vegetable Coins.

In a pan, add some oil and chili oil. The amount of chili oil will depend on how spicy you like the gravy. Add finely diced garlic, grated ginger and some minced green chili. Once the garlic loses its raw flavor, add the spring onion whites and mix well. Let the onions become soft, and then add some salt and pepper. 

In a bowl mix the cornstarch, soy sauce and vinegar in one cup of water.Make a homogeneous mixture, and pour it on the onions. Keep stirring so that the corn starch does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Also ensure the flame is medium to medium low. Keep stirring the gravy till it becomes glossy and deepens in color. Check the salt and spice. Add chili sauce as required and adjust the salt, pepper and vinegar.

For serving, add the vegetable coins to the gravy, top with some roasted sesame seeds and spring onion greens. Enjoy with Vegetable Fried Rice or Chili garlic Noodles.

For many other Indo-Chinese recipes, click here.

Vegetable Coins | Vegetable Manchurian Dry

Indo-Chinese is one cuisine that is really close to my heart. I have loved this cuisine for years and never seem to get tired of eating it. My family and friends sometimes threaten me not to go with them if I am going to drag them to eat Indo-Chinese..again!! It is one cuisine that I do not seem to get tired of :)

So what do I like best in Chinese? Well, almost everything!! And I have been pretty lucky to have two women in my childhood who were always ready to make Chinese food for me. From all the recipes my mother and my grand-mother have made for me, this is a special one. Coming back from school or classes and smelling the flavors of manchurian balls being fried has been one of the good memories from my childhood. My grandmom, then 65 years old used to watch my mother make this evening snack for me, and learnt it too!! And then, she would surprise me by making these lovely golden balls when I get back from school. 

The recipe that I have used here is almost the same as theirs, the only difference being that they used to add some bread to the balls to absorb moisture. However, the balls made with bread are not the best when you want to add them to any gravy, as the bread will absorb the gravy quickly and the balls will fall apart. I have skipped that, as I use the same coins in different sauces too.

For many other Indo-Chinese recipes, click here.


Carrot 1/2 cup
Cabbage 1/2 cup 
French Beans 1/4 cup 
Cauliflower 1/2 cup
Spring Onion Greens 1/2 cup
Cilantro 1/2 cup
Ginger Garlic Green Chili Paste 2 tbsp
Corn Starch 1/4 cup
Salt, Pepper
Soy Sauce
Chili sauce


Wash and shred all the vegetables. Mix them in a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Let the vegetables release all their water in about 10-15 minutes. Then squeeze all the water out and set aside. Add the ginger garlic green chili paste, pepper powder, soy sauce, chili sauce and vinegar. Mix well using a spatula. 

Once the vegetables and seasonings mix well, it is time for using the hands to work the dough for coins. Add the corn starch and mix well. The mixture should come together without any water. However, if the mixture is too dry, add some water from the reserved amount. Make sure you adjust the salt as the water also has salt. 

Apply little oil on your palms to avoid the mixture from sticking to them. Divide the dough into equal sized portions and shape them like a coin, i.e flattened discs. You may also shape them like balls to make Manchurian. Heat oil in a pan. Make a corn starch slurry by mixing two-three tbsp of corn starch with 2 tbsp water. Dip each coin in this slurry, and then fry in hot oil. The slurry gives the coins a crispy top and bottom. 

Serve the coins as an appetizer with hot sauce or sweet chili sauce. Garnish it with some chopped spring onion greens and roasted sesame seeds.

To find the recipe for Vegetable Coins in Garlic Sauce, click here.

For many other Indo-Chinese recipes, click here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Paneer Makhani

Paneer Makhani is a Punjabi sabji made from diced cottage cheese and a spiced tomato gravy. It is one of the most ordered dish in Indian restaurants across the globe. As the name suggests, it is made from pan fried or raw paneer pieces and the gravy made from tomato has Makhan, which means butter or cream in Hindi.

Every cook has a different way of cooking this dish and many restaurants choose to call it by different names. After tasting and ordering this dish at various places, I have come to the conclusion that Panner Makhani, Paneer Makhanwalla and Paneer Butter Masala are almost the same, only the amount of cream used is different! Most chefs use the same ingredients to make these dishes. However, there are some differences. Some like the paneer pan fried, some deep-fried and others use the thawed paneer without frying. In the gravy too, some people add yogurt, few add cream and some skip the magaz.

The gravy made for this dish is the basic Makhani Gravy, which can be used to make many other recipes like Paneer Mutter, Vegetable Makhanwalla or Paneer Butter Masala. I have used store bought Paneer, however some people might like to make their own paneer and use it. the recipe works fine with both! Make a bowl full of this Paneer and serve it with Tandoori Roti or Garlic Kulcha or Naan. And devour the rest of the gravy with steaming Jeera Rice. Complete the Punjabi meal by adding Dal makhani, a side of papad, salad and a glassful of Lassi.  

Paneer 1 block
Garlic 2 cloves, minced
Ginger, 1/2 inch piece
Onion 1 medium, diced
Tomatoes 3 medium, diced
Spices (Bay leaves,  Cloves, Cinnamon, Black Pepper, Dried Red Chili)
Magaj seeds (Watermelon seeds)
Cream 1/4 cup
Condiments ( Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, Asafoetida, Red chili powder, Turmeric powder, Dhania powder, salt, sugar) 
Cilantro, Lime juice


Thaw the paneer for a couple of hours and cut it into equal size dice. In a flat saucepan, add oil and heat. Once hot, place the paneer pieces in it and let them brown on medium to high heat. Once the bottom is brown, turn the pieces over and brown the other side. Take a medium pan and fill it with warm water and add a pinch of salt. Remove each piece from the pan and dip it in the warm salty water. This helps to flavor the paneer and keep it soft till cooking. 

In the same pan, heat some butter and oil. Add the cinnamon, cloves and pepper. Next put in the dried red chili and  and sauté them for a minute. Throw in the garlic and ginger and cook till it is soft. Add diced onions, and salt and cook till they are transparent. Once cooked, add the red chili powder and tomatoes. Cook till the tomatoes are mushy. Turn down the flame and purée  the mixture along with cashewnut and magaz seeds. The cashews can be soaked in warm water for ten minutes to soften them before adding to the mixture. Pass through a sieve to remove the tomato seeds and peels. 

In a pan, heat some butter and add mustard seeds. Once they pop, add cumin seeds. Now, add in the  purée and mix well. Let the mixture come to a boil and you will see the oil separating from the gravy, and the gravy also turns red. This indicates that the gravy is cooked well. At this stage add the haldi, dhania jeera and sugar. Drain the paneer pieces and add to the gravy. Let the mixture simmer on medium flame for 4-5 minutes. 

After the paneer has simmered, it will become thick. Adjust the water to get the required consistency and add salt if required. At this stage add the cream and mix well. Depending on how sour the tomatoes are, add little lime juice and turn down the flame.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with onion rings, pickle and raita. This tastes good with Naan, Garlic Kulcha as well as paratha. Paneer Makhani is often served with steamed or Jeera Rice.

Looking for more Indian Entrees?? Try these.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani is one of the famous Punjabi dishes served with Naan or Steamed Rice. A lot of people enjoy it with Jeera Rice. This dal is made from a mixture of Black Udad Dal and Red Kidney beans or Rajma. It can be made nice and creamy by adding fresh cream to it. That is how the name is derived, Dal Makhani; where Dal is the black udad dal and Makhan means butter. A lot of people tend to make Mah ki Dal with these black dals but the main difference between that and this Dal Makhani is the kidney beans. While Mah ki Dal does not have kidney beans, this one does!

Traditionally, this dal is made slowly simmered in a pot and the earthy flavor that comes from the cooked lentil is remarkable. However, we may not have the right utensil to make this dal or the time to wait for the dal to simmer away. Thus, I have adapted it to modern day method, using a pressure cooker to cook the lentils and then mixing it with onions tomatoes and spices.

This dal is made in a series of simple steps: Wash, soak, boil and cook with onions, tomatoes and a variety of spices. The fragrance and flavors that come from the slowly cooked dal fills the house and makes me hungry. Even before the dal is cooked, I feel like devouring it straight from the pan. The great feeling that comes from mixing this dal with steamed rice cannot be explained. On some week nights, it is perfect comfort food. Dal makhani can either be a part of an elaborate Punjabi meal served with Paneer Mutter, Paratha, Naan and Jeera Rice. Or make it a simple meal by mixing the Dal and steamed rice. Here is a simple recipe to make it at home.


Split Black Gram/ Udad Dal 1 cup
Rajma 1/4 cup
Butter/ Ghee 2 tbsp
Spices ( Bay Leaf, Dry Red Chili)
Condiments ( Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, Asafoetida, Turmeric powder, Dhania Jeera powder)
Onion 1/2 diced
Tomato 1 diced
Curry leaves
Ginger 1 inch, grated
Garlic 2-3 cloves, minced
Cream 1/4 cup
Salt, Lemon Juice


Wash and soak the dal and rajma separately in 2 cups and 3/4 cup of water respectively. After about 3-4 hours, pressure cook with a pinch of salt and turmeric powder. Cook till the dal and rajma are soft. Crush them lightly with a ladle and set aside.

In a pan heat butter and add mustard seeds. Once they pop, add cumin seeds and asafoetida. Add Bay leaf, Curry leaves, Ginger, Garlic, red and green chilies and mix well. Next add the onions and saute till they are translucent. Next, add the tomatoes and red chili powder and cook till they are soft. Add the dal and rajma mixture and blend it all well. 

Adjust the salt, add the dhania jeera and let the dal boil. Once boiled, press the dal and rajma with a ladle and homogenize the mixture. Turn down the heat and add lemon juice. Beat the cream well and mix it into the dal. Garnish with cilantro and some cream. You can reduce the amount of cream if you do not want the dal to be very heavy. Serve the Kaali Dal with rice or naan.  

This recipe appeared in the round-up for 13 best Indian buffet recipes you can re-create at home on Community Table. Check this out: Community Table.

For a variety of Dals, click here.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Crispy Thread Paneer

Crispy Thread Paneer is a very famous Indo-Chinese appetizer. This dish is not only tasty, but looks really interesting too. Logs of paneer are marinated in hot sauces, covered with shredded filo dough and deep fried. Generally served with either hot sauce or a sweet chili sauce, this appetizer is a common dish in most Indo-Chinese joints in Mumbai. 

However, after moving to US, I have not seen this dish in any restaurant in the Bay Area. Then I was on a lookout for shredded filo dough. I finally laid my hands on a box of Kataifi in a near-by Indian store. If you want to look at how Kataifi is, Check this out on Amazon. You can find it in the frozen aisle at a Mediterranean or Indian store. The box is a pretty huge one, and can be used for multiple dishes. 

To store the kataifi, keep it in the freezer. Before using, place the box in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Then place it on the kitchen counter till it is completely thawed. Use the kataifi as required and wrap the remaining in a ziplock bag and store in the freezer.

Crispy thread paneer is such a cute dish to make from filo dough. It essentially has a lot of crispy strands and at the centre is a marinated piece of paneer. The fried dish is tasty and crispy on the outside, with a soft and flavorful centre. Enjoy it as a snack or serve it as an appetizer.    

Paneer 1 block (250 grams)
Kataifi (shredded filo)
Corn Starch 1/2 cup
Sriracha Hot Garlic Sauce 4 tbsp 
Schezwan Sauce 2 tbsp 
Vinegar 1 tsp
Soy Sauce 1 tsp 
Salt, Sugar
Oil to fry
Spring Onion greens to garnish

Remove Kataifi from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Then, rest the kataifi on the kitchen counter. 

Thaw the paneer and cut into logs of half inch thickness and 4-5 inches length. In a large bowl, mix sriracha garlic sauce, schezwan sauce, vinegar, soy sauce and some salt. Add a pinch of sugar too. Mix it well with 1/4 cup corn starch. Dip the paneer pieces in the sauce and coat them on all sides. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

After that time, sprinkle the rest of the corn starch on the paneer pieces. Remove kataifi from packaging and take a quantity of the strands that will cover one paneer piece completely. Wrap the strands around the paneer and use the cornstarch mixture to seal the edges.

Repeat the process for all the paneer pieces. Heat oil in a wok and once hot, fry the paneer wrapped in kataifi. Garnish with finely chopped spring onion greens and serve hot with Sriracha chili sauce or store bought sweet chili sauce. 

For other Indo-Chinese dishes, click here.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Aloo Tindoda Sabzi | Ivy Gourd Stir-fry

Coccinia grandis, the ivy gourd, seems to have multiple names in India. This vegetable also known as baby watermelon, little gourd, gentleman's toes in many parts of the world has these regional names: tindoda in Gujarati, tindora in Hindi, tondli in Marathi, thondekayi in Kannada, dondakaya in Telugu, Kovaykka in Malayalam and Kovaikkai in Tamil. 

Not only are the names different, but also the styles of cutting this vegetable and cooking it. Some slice it horizontally, some make long slices, some cook it with rice, some with gram flour and few people enjoy it just by stir-frying the chips. Here is a gujarati style vegetable made from tindoda and potato, seasoned with Indian spices. It is easy to make and needs just a few ingredients, making it a perfect vegetable of busy mornings. Enjoy it with roti or rice and a side of salad and papad. 

Tindoda/ Ivy-Gourd 2 cups
Potato 1 medium
Indian spices(Turmeric Powder, Red Chili Powder, Dhania Jeera Powder, Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds)
Oil 2 tbsp
Curry leaves
Green Chili
Salt, Lime Juice


Slit the tindoda from the centre and split into two parts. Then chop the halves into two or three parts. Also, slice potato into pieces of similar size. 

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, followed by asafoetida and cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add the curry leaves and green chili. Next, add potato and sauté. In a couple of minutes, add the ivy-gourd and mix gently, ensuring the vegetables do not split or crumble. 

Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and dhania jeera powder. Cover and cook for about ten minutes. After ten minutes check if the tindoda and potato slices are soft turn down the flame. Add lime juice and mix well. 

Garnish with cilantro, and serve hot with Phulka, papad, rice and salad.