Sunday, October 18, 2009

Veggie Rice (to be specific, Palak Khichdi)

My previous attempts at making khichdi or fried rice using the pressure cooker have always resulted in quarter-cooked rice or mushy yucky rice! Not this time. It was just perfect - guess I finally got the knack of making rice in pressure cooker ;)

This is a recipe adapted from Archy's recipe book blog at There are some minor variations in terms of ingredients and measures. Hope you enjoy this too!

Ingredients (Serves 3)
3 tbsp oil
3 Cloves
3 black Caradamons
2 Cinnamon sticks
3 Bay leafs
1/2 tsp Fennel seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds

1/2 onion sliced
1 tsp each of ginger and garlic paste

1 Potato medium cubed
1/2 cup cauliflower chopped into small flowers
1/2 cup of Palak/ spinach leaves chopped
1.5 cup Basmathi Rice
1/2 medium size Tomato cubed
4 green chillies, whole
1/2 tsp Tumeric powder
1/2 tsp Garam masala powder
Salt as per taste - almost a tbsp

3.25 cup Water

1. Heat oil in the presser cooker. Then add the spices (cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, bay leaves), fennel seeds, cumin seeds and let them roast lightly. Add chopped onions. After a few mins, add ginger-garlic paste. Fry them for 1-2 minutes.
2. Now add the cubed potatoes and let it cook for 1-2 mins. Then add chopped cauliflower and spinach leaves. Add basmathi rice and fry for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes, green chillies, turmeric , garam masala powder, salt and water and pressure cook untill 2 whistle as Archy recommends in her recipe. Since I have Futura Pressure Cooker which does not have whistles, I let the mixture boil in high heat, then put the lid on in High heat and let the hiss sound come. After a minute or two of hiss sound, let it continue cooking in Medium heat for another 10 mins. After 10 mins, put the heat off and let it stand till the lid opens freely and the pressure has released.

I loved having it as-is without any accompaniments - maybe the first rice recipe that I don't even want raita. Have it hot in a few minutes of it being done. R had it with yogurt. Am sure some crispy papad will also go well with it.

The non-veg lover part of me tells me that adding some cooked mutton to this recipe will also taste great. Will give that a shot some other day! ;)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Almond Halwa (Almond Kheer depending on consistency)

I organized the Indian-style house-warming aka Grihapravesh Satyanarayan puja. Organizing this puja was quite a experience - particularly in terms of cooking. This was one event when every single thing was taken care of by me. I won't deny that it was quite stressful, however, all's well that end's well. Now when I look back, I did have lots of fun and made some lovely memories for the lifetime to cherish and treasure.

Getting back to cooking, one excruciating factor was that the cooking had to be without onion and garlic. Vegeterian food by itself is quite a challenge in my culinary pallate. Googling for "Puja menu" (try it) was not helping too..for one time, Google was not my best friend! :( Try this search and you will understand what I mean! :) Who else but my mom came to my rescue. She came up with a menu that was not just delicious but easy to make and manage with a morning puja before lunch. Sharing the menu so that it will benefit people in similar dilemma.

Sweet dishes to put for pooja:
Kheer Sagar (recipe here)
Almond Kheer (recipe immediately below)
Kalakand (recipe here)
Besan Laddoo (recipe here)

Fruits for pooja:

Main course:
Jeera Rice

Aloo curry (recipe here)
Gobi Mattar (recipe coming soon)
Kaju Paneer (my mom's recipe coming soon - my favorite Paneer recipe now!)
Palak Dal (recipe here)
Dahi Baingan (recipe coming soon)


2 cups almonds
1 cup milk
1 cup (8 oz) condensed milk
10 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) - melted
6-7 strands of saffron + more for garnish
3/4 cup sugar (optional, if needed)
2 drops yellow food color (optional)
slivered almonds & pistachios - for garnish


Soak the almonds in the milk for an hour or more till the almonds become soft to touch.

Using a blender or food processor, blend the almonds and milk together into a fine thick paste.

Soak the saffron in 2 tbsp warm milk and set aside to bleed.

Take a deep skillet, set it on low-medium heat, and add the almond paste and keep stirring continuously.

After 10 minutes, add the saffron and the melted ghee slowly into the pan (in small increments) while stirring continuously, and cook till the ghee is absorbed by the almonds.

As the mixture thickens, add the condensed milk and the food coloring, then again stir for another 10-15 mins, making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom. Keep stirring for some more time if the consistency appears too liquid-ish!

Remove from the heat and allow to cool just slightly. Lightly grease a square baking tray (about 1/2 inch deep). Transfer the mixture to the tray while it is still warm.

Garnish with some chopped almonds and pistachios, and the remaining saffron strands.Now allow to cool, about half an hour. Then cut into diamonds or squares.

If its still soft, refrigerate for 15 mins then cut. You can store the burfi in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for upto a week.

Mine came out with an consistency that could not cut as burfi. So I served it like a halwa as shown in the pic! :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Entry for My Legume Love Affair Fifteenth Helping - Palak Dal


Any menu, particularly pooja menu that needs to be san onion and garlic, is kinda incomplete without a lentil-based item aka dal. Wikipedia entry for dal or lentil is here. This is very easy to make. It was the first item that I made while prepping for the pooja celebrations.


Toor dal - 2 cups
Salt - per taste
Turmeric - 1 tbsp
Dry red chilli powder - 1 tsp or per taste (optional)

For tempering:
Canola oil - 1 tbsp

Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Dry bay leaves - 3-4
Green chilli or dry red chilli - 2-3 (optional)

Ginger - 1.5 inch to 2 inch, finely grated

Spinach bag - 1, chopped

Tomato - 2 chopped and cubed
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp

For garnish:
Fresh coriander leaves - 2 handful

Pressure cook the dal with twice or thrice the amount of water based on desired consistency. Remember to add salt, turmeric and chilli powder before putting the pressure lid on. Wait till the whistle goes off and let it cook in medium-low heat for another 5 mins.

Note - You can also cook this in a heavy-bottom container with the lid on. It just takes longer to cook in the container.

Once the pressure cooker has released the pressure and the lid can open without any effort, add the tempering ingredients. To prepare the tempering, take a container and add the ingredients in the tempering ingredient list one after the after as they are getting cooked. Finally, garnish with coriander leaves.

This is one item that I always like to have handy in my fridge. For days when I don't feel like cooking, this goes down well with rice or roti with some egg scramble, papad and pickle. And when I am all for cooking some more, even then this dal is a great side-dish. No matter what - this is a winner! :)

This is going for the event "My Legume Love Affair Fifteenth Helping" being hosted by dear Sia of Monsoon Spice. The event announcement is here. This event is the brain-child of Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and the link to her event page is here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My greenery...

New house meant lot of new decor items. Being a horticulturist's daughter, plants have always fancied me. To add on the closed spaces out here, particularly when the chills sets in, needs plant to provide the greenery and freshness. Am trying to fill up my house with living plants how much ever I can maintain rather than the artificial greenery available in most home decor stores.

Following are some of the plants that are part of my growing collection - my treasure troves! I cherish them and hope that they grow to being bright would think I am talking about children! ;) Nazar na lagana (Hindi saying..English translation - Don't put an evil eye on it plzzzz) :)

The Tulsi aka Holy Basil

Indoor Plants including Money Plant :)

Demure and Beautiful Orchids

More pictures from my tiny little herb-garden to follow soon! Watch out. Ciao!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Aai's Nadiya Laddoo (Nariyal ke laddoo)

Hey All,

Sorry for missing from action for so long. Life just took over and whatever little time was left, I just could not get myself to blog. Though have been cooking and feeding relentlessly (hubby may differ on this coz regular lunch-dinners have not been that regular) and trying out different and new stuff.

I cleared my Ph.D. qualification process exams with flying colors. Now when I look back, it was a stressful and eventful seven months with several exams and presentations with plenty of grilling (not bbq, my dear foodie blogger friends ;)) sessions. Every successful completion of an exam had me jumping and rejoicing. During the exam, we liked a house we saw and went swooning for it. Yes, we bought a new house - a house of my dreams near a lake and park with plenty of open space. And a huge kitchen to keep me on my toes and keep my culinary journey kicking! I love my new house. Moving has been stressful, no doubt. But setting it up more than makes up for it...won't exchange it for anything in this world! :)

Almost three months after moving into the house, I organized the Satyanarayan pooja and Ganesh puja. Had planned to do it the day we moved in, however it just did not work out. Better late than never..I had a gala time prepping for the pooja and organizing it. Will post some other day the details of the menu. It will need a separate post as I did not find even a single good link to pooja menu without onion-garlic. Will share my menu just in case someone else needs it. Will also share the prepping schedule soon to help you plan and timely prepare stuff.

As part of the pooja, we had a few coconuts offered. Used part of them to make coconut chutney for uttapam, idli and dosa. Still had quite a few remaining. Got reminded of nariyal laddoos that my nani (I call her "Aai", as most Oriya's call their maternal grandmom's) used to make for me as a kid. Anytime she used to visit us, she will get my favorite nariyal laddoo and Cuttack Peda. Used to finish a good number of them in no time...ah, I so miss those good-metabolism days :) :) I have always mentioned about learning cooking from MIL-SIL and dearest of all mom..guilty of having missed mentioning my sweet ever-loving Aai. Aai has been and will always be a big influence on the way I am. She was one of my best pal in my growing days. I still fondly remember that when I was leaving for hostel for undergraduate study, she had so many beautiful words of advice which even apply in my day-to-day life today. I love you, Aai, for everything that you have ever done and for just being there in your lovely simple ways! As a toddler, being as enthusiastic for setting sail paper boats as me. As a teenager, getting me all those goodies and teaching me card games that kept a number of summer afternoon everyone engaged and having a great time. And as a housewife today, everything that I can think of....

This Nariyal laddoo recipe is dedicated to her. She presently suffers from Alzheimers...due to this, I will not be able to get her recipe. :( Whoever is reading this, please just take a moment and wish her recovery and best wishes. That will mean a lot to me! Thank you!


Grated coconut - 1.5 cups to 2 cups
White sugar - 6 tbsps
Condensed milk - Less than 1/2 can
Ground cardamom powder - 1 tbsp

Take a heavy container. Add all the ingredients one after the other. Heat and stir regularly till the mixture thickens and coconut is cooked. The coconut will become grayish. Cool the mixture slightly and make round balls of the mixture while it is slightly warm. Enjoy it as-is. Or refrigerate and enjoy cold.

Some lovely quotes about grandma's that I would like to share here from

  • Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting. ~Author Unknown
  • Grandmothers are just antique little girls. ~Author Unknown
  • Being grandparents sufficiently removes us from the responsibilities so that we can be friends. ~Allan Frome

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Plain Dosa and Coconut Chutney

Coconut Chutney

Ingredients (Makes approx. 16 servings)

Coconut - 1 small
Fresh Coriander Leaves - 1-2 handful
Roasted Chana Dal (Bengal Gram Lentil) - 3 tbsp
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Green chilli - 2-3, as per taste
Tamarind Concentrate - 1 tsp

Easiest recipe ever - Get all these ingredients into the grinder and go vroom-vroom-vroom till it is a fine paste. Refrigerate and enjoy till it lasts! :)

Devour this chutney with plain dosa, rava dosa and even with puri/paratha. I learnt to enjoy puri with chutney and aloo curry while at my PG place in Bangalore - Thanks, Aunty - you were the best!

Plain Dosa

Ingredients (Makes approx. 16 servings)

Urad dal - 2 cups
Flat Chiwda - 1/2 cup
Methi seeds - 1 tbsp
Rice flour - 3 cups
Canola oil/Butter/Ghee - for garnish on the dosa

Soak cleaned urad dal with methi seeds and flat chiwda overnight. Hot water fastens the process too.
Grind the soaked chiwda in the morning and keep aside. Try to keep it in a warm place (maybe close to the stove) for the ground mixture to ferment. After fermentation, the mixture is raised and fluffy.
About an hour or so before making the dosa, soak the rice flour in some water such that it is slightly runny in consistency.
Add 1:4 ratio of urad dal ground mixture:rice flour mixture and mix well with salt as per taste.
While the tawa is cold or slightly warm, dump a ladle of the ural dal-rice mixture and using concentric circles, spread it out inside-out. Try to avoid lumps in certain places - uneven mixture means you need to take extra care that the lump gets cooked too!
I usually leave it on for 2 mins or so in medium heat so that a brown golden color develops on one side.
Turn it the other side and cook for half a minute or so. Some people just cook on one side.
Dab a little butter (yumm!) and serve with potato filling, chopped onion, chopped green chilli and some sambar/coconut chutney.

A garlic-dry chilli paste can be ground and applied to the dosa as well. I believe adding this paste is a Mysore dosa speciality.

Being a Oriya girl, it has taken me a lot of experiment, trial and tribulation to finally come to a dosa recipe that I like and is kinda similar to the ones we get at restaurants!!! Have never been so proud of myself! :)

I am eagerly waiting to get done with my thesis proposal and make my long long long overdue India trip! Enjoy the winter while it lasts! :)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Vegeterian Thali - A Veggie fun-fare

Last year when my parents were here with me, during Ganesh Chaturthi, my mom had prepared a veggie fun-fare for us. I still remember how tasty it was and that was when I started getting more into veggie food. Prior to that, veggie food was a side-dish in my house and it usually consisted of the regular stuff such as paneeeeeeeeeeer and potatoeeeeeeeeeee :)

I have been meaning to post this since last September but I have not been that regular in posting since then :( School and office-work take precendence and I am also trying to make time for some exercising as well. I realize exercising and blogging are a few of the fun things I do for myself. About exercising, I have not been that organized, but am trying to amend that..Amen!

The veg thali consisted of masala pulao with cholley masala, bhendi bhaja, white mushroom gravy and hot mango pickles. Will post recipes for some of these items shortly. Watch out!

This mango pickle is very distinct and unique to Orissa - it's sweet! Yes, it is sweet - I know a pickle being sweet is akin to blasphemy to some of you out there :) This one is made from Amba-Sada (not sure how this is made from Mango..should find out. Literal translation is rotten mangoes but trust me, that's not what it is!) and I think it came from the Sambalpur district of Orissa. No India trip is complete for us without us coming back with 2 bottles of this pickle! :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kadai Paneer - Gravy version

Over the weekend, our eating schedule goes haywire. We just let it go as it goes. Since the week goes through with planned meals, we let the weekend takes it's own course. Sometimes we have a heavy brunch followed by a light lunch. Or a light breakfast followed by eating out. Or cook up something special and spend the rest of the day watching a movie or two over HBO (too lazy to go to the theater mostly). For me, this is the best way to catch up on movies considering we have almost stopped renting movies - no time to pick, watch and return movies in time - what with the DVDs coming with scratches due to which I don't remember the last time I watched the entire movie uninterrupted on a DVD ?!?

The way I keep moving from one topic to the other, you would think that I suffer from ADD (attention deficit disorder)..No, I don't suffer from it. I just need to blog more often, what say?

Coming back to weekend meals, one such weekend when I decided to treat the two of us was when I decided to make Kadai Paneer. I have two versions of Kadai Paneer - a gravy version and a dry sauted version. The one I am posting today is the gravy version and is a complete meal by itself. Loved it - the flavor is very distinct from anything I have had before. Here is the recipe from my kitchen to yours! :)

Ingredients (Serves 3)
  • Paneer - Small cubes, about 8oz or 30 cubes (Tip from Paneer Mata :p - I usually get the big slab of Nanak Paneer and cut it into small pieces as per the requirements of the dish. Also, Nanak Paneer is available as pre-chopped small cubes - that is very convenient and a time-saver when in hurry)
  • Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chilli ground paste - 12 tbsp (Tip from Masala Mata :p - 2 onion, 6 garlic clove, 1 inch ginger, 2-3 green chilli. Always keep this paste handy - another time saver and helps avoid redundant work chopping-grinding everytime you need this generic paste)
  • Cinnamom stick - 1
  • Sugar - a pinch or 1/4 tsp
  • Dry Bay leaf - 2 leaves
  • Tomato Paste - 2 tbsp
  • Heavy Cream - 1 tbsp
  • Kadai Masala - 1 tbsp
  • Kasoori Methi - 1 tsp, crushed
  • Salt - as per taste
  • Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Canola oil - 1 tbsp
  • Toasted cashewnuts for garnish

Cooking Process:
  • Heat canola oil.
  • As the oil sizzles, add dry Bay leaf, Cinnamom stick and a pinch (or 1/4 tsp) of Sugar.
  • Add the onion-ginger-garlic-green chilli ground paste and let it continue cooking.
  • When the paste is half-done, add the tomato paste with a tbsp of water and mix well with the rest of the mixture. If the masala is sticking to the sides of the pan, add a tbsp or two of water instead of adding extra oil. Tip - This is a neat trick to reduce the oil used in the cooking. No Oil Mata here - did not like the sound of this :p.
  • After 3-4 minutes, add salt, turmeric powder, kadai masala.
  • When the oil separates, add the cubed paneer pieces (you don't need to fry it separately).
  • When the paneer is well coated with the masala in about 3-5 minutes, add the heavy cream and let the dish simmer for sometime for all the flavors to develop.
  • Crush the kasoori methi in your palm and mix it in the gravy about 5 mins before you stop cooking. Thanks, Maa, for introducing me to Kasoori Methi - otherwise I was doomed in the land of Garam Masala. :)
  • Just before serving, garnish the curry with cashewnuts toasted in butter.
Enjoy this with Naan, Paratha or Maida Chakuli as we did on a lazy weekend. Maida Chakuli recipe was posted earlier by me here.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Veg Chowmein with Poached egg

Feels great to be back blogging. Have got a lot of ideas/recipes on what to post next. Let me update on what has been keeping me busy and happy lately.

I have been busy trying to complete the various components of my Ph.D. candidacy examination. Completed last year with the written exam and waiting with bated breath for the result. Come new year and we are back at work on day 1 - an email pops up from my advisor informing that I PASSED. Woo hoo!! I have put in a lot of hard work with lot of support from my parents and hubby. So it was like a wonderful new year gift for me from God. Felt so blessed. Let me make you privy to a little secret - having heard of horror stories from seniors and peers, I was kinda mentally prepared to re-take the exam. My principle - always be prepared for the worst rather than be over-confident, self-confidence not lacking though. :) Atleast try to follow this and not over-stress myself. Easier said than done :)

This past Monday, I got done with the computational component. Hearing the good review comments from my committee regarding my solution and the presentation was absolutely out-of-this-world feeling. A moment I will always cherish and hope the rest of the exams are also accomplished in a similar manner. Amen!

Over New Year's Eve and first few days of the year, we had my hubby's sister, her family and hubby's cousin visiting us. It was a delight having my niece and nephew running around the house. This also meant an opportunity for me to try out quite a few recipes that I have always wanted to try out. Thanks to this blog of mine, I have had a chance to try out a lot of new things and the best part is that I don't lose the recipes and don't have to search all over again for the recipes. My co-sister Debjani and my childhood friend (from Std II days, can you believe that? :)) have been trying out some of these recipes and they always have a kind word to say about my blog whenever we get a chance to catch up. You both are my blog-angels :) Thanks for all the kind means a lot to me and goes a long way in keeping me pepped up about my blog, inspired and raving to try new things! God bless you both.

Over the last year, I have picked up a renewed liking for bowling. We friends hang out and catch up bowling over weekends. Still an amateur, got to go a long way in terms of learning the different strategies and throws - that does not prevent me from enjoying the game and revelling on an occasional good strike! One item that I have included in my "got to do in this lifetime" list is playing in a bowling league - I said "lifetime" not "xyz years", note? ;) In cooking, one thing that I have had repeated failures in trying to get a good consistent taste is noodles. I think I have finally made it. The recipe is shown below.

Ingredients - Serves 2

3 handful Noodles
1/2 Onion Sliced
1/2 Capsicum Sliced
1/2 cup Cabbage Shredded
Carrots and Green Beans can also be used. I did not use them.
1 tbsp Soya Sauce
1/2 tbsp Vinegar
1/2 tbsp Chili Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 to 2 tbsp Canola oil

Step 1

Boil Noodles in enough water. Take care - do not overcook.
Strain Noodles through cold water 2-3 times and drain water and set aside, add few drops of oil to the noodles to avoid sticking. Separate the noodles with hand. Make sure the noodle is cold when adding to the rest of the mixture in the next step. This will ensure the noodles remain separate. Adding hot to hot makes it mushy :(

Step 2

Heat oil in a wok and add sliced onions and stir fry for 20-30 seconds, add all other vegetables and stir fry for 2 minutes.
Add salt and pepper and mix well. Now add boiled noodles and mix well (take care that noodles don't break) .
Add vinegar, chili sauce and soya sauce and stir fry for a minute.

Serve the vegetable chowmein hot.

Note : According to taste vinegar, soya sauce and chili sauce can be increased or decreased.

Take an egg or two and poach it - sunny side up as shown in the pic. Adds to the taste. Or you can gets strips of egg omelette and mix with the noodles towards the end of the cooking process!