Friday, September 26, 2014

Capsicum Massala/Indian Capsicum Stir Fry. 1 Teaspoon Oil Side Dish.

You know blue is for water, white is for peace, red is for romance, black is for darkness, green is for prosperity, yellow is for sunshine etc etc. Don’t you think colours are the best feature of the world? Colours are everywhere-in maps, flags, uniforms, monuments-everywhere! There is something about every colour-it might bring smile to your face, or might change your mood completely. But when many colours come together as one, it is magical. Like rainbow, you love it because it has many colours, a plain blue colour rainbow would be no fun-right? Or a game of football, where you get to see many colours, imagine all players, referee and the goal keepers in one colour-how boring-isn’t it? Well now you get my point.

Colours in the same way play an important role in our food too. You see with your eyes first and then eat your mouth. Everything green on a plate is so dull, until you throw in some yellow or red. Or imagine some red dish served in the red plates or bowls- no fun either-right? So your food becomes your colours and your serving wear becomes your canvas. Use the colours and paint the canvas the way you like. Ha ha ha, am I talking like a painter? May be yes, I will tell you why.

A year back I prepared capsicum dry curry using green capsicums, and it was not liked or appreciated at all. After that I used Capsicums or bell peppers only in some of the Chinese dishes- be it in Schezwan Noodles, Desi Bell Peppers Noodles or in Indo-Chinese rice. However, the fact is bell peppers play a very important role if you are on weight loss regime (which is my case), it is full of fiber and the pepper tinch helps to lose weight. After knowing this I wanted to include it more in the diet and not just some tiny bits used in rice or pasta.

After thinking a lot, I decided to play with the colors. I used yellow, green and red bell peppers with some Indian spices to make a dry curry-more like a stir fry. The plan was not to overcook the capsicum and use very little oil. So the dish that was once hated and disliked is now a huge hit at our place-reason?? COLOURS. Yes for Massala Shimla Mirch Subji/ Capsicum Stir Fry you need just 1 teaspoon of oil, play of colours and some patience-Period!

1/4 cup each of coloured capsicums/shimla mirch Chopped
1 medium size chopped onion/pyaz
1 tablespoon grated ginger/adrak
5-6 curry leaves
1 green chilli chopped
1 teaspoon oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin/jeera
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds/rai
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder/haldi
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder/dhaniya
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder/lal mirch
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice/nimbu ka ras
1/4 teaspoon Pav bhaji massala (optimal)
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan. Add in curry leaves, mustard seeds and cumin. Let it splutter.
Add in chopped onions, grated ginger and chopped green chilli. Add in 1/4 cup of water, cover and cook till onions turn soft.
Mix all the remaining spices with 4 tablespoons of water and make a paste.
Throw in chopped capsicums and mix. Also add in spices paste and stir well.
Cover and cook on a medium heat till capsicums turn soft. Mix in lemon juice and serve.

Remember the recipe uses only 1 teaspoon of oil so use a non stick utensil to cook.
Make sure that capsicums do not overcook; else you will end up with mushy curry.
Pav bhaji massala is easily available in Indian grocery stores. If you want you can omit it.
If you can’t find coloured capsicums, its okay, no change will occur it taste. Just that coloured ones look more appealing.
This recipe is for 2 people.

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot with any Indian bread- parathas, roti, kulchas or puri.
Serve as a side with rice and daal.
Just roll up in the parathas, or rotis. Great for tiffins and luch boxes.
This will make a great stuffing for sandwiches too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Marwadi Mangodi Mattar, A Classic Rajasthani Dish

If you are married women you will surely relate to my post today. The house where you were born, the house where you spent your childhood, the house where you parents live, the lanes, the neighborhood all is very very close to your heart and no other place on this planet can be like that. Agree?? There is something so special about your childhood house isn't it? The feel of the veranda, the freshness in the rooms, and the smell in the kitchen everything makes it no less than a heaven. Now, you might have your own house, the one you decorated yourself but the happiness and bliss you feel when you go to your first house is something inexpressible.

I used to come back from my tuition class at about 7pm, the time when my maa would be in kitchen preparing dinner. When I close my eyes, I can visualize everything very clearly. My mom is clad in a printed chiffon sari ,is adding spices in the curry and after a quick mix she covers it and lets it cook. In the meantime, she is kneading the dough, I can hear her bangles making noise; suddenly she turns and say to me-beta tu aagayi, chal garam garam khana kha le. I am sure it is the story of every house, no one in this world can love you so selflessly.

Whenever I try my maa’s specialty dishes, I give her a call and take all the instructions. Instant mango pickle, green tomato chutney, chilli pickle, gond ke ladoos and baigan ka bharta are some of my mom’s recipes that I shared in my blog (do take a look). Just few days back when I was planning to make Marwadi Mangodi Mattar, I rang her and asked her about the authentic marwadi way of making this subji.

Those of you don't know, mangodi or badi is sun dried lentils dumplings. Mangodi is another classic example of Rajasthani or marwadi cuisine. The shortage of rains and water always made Rajasthanis think out of the box and thus they commenced using gram flour to make gatte; lentils to make mangodi and flour to make papad- and these final products were used in curries-Mastermind ideas. Totally brilliant-isn't it??? So the days when you are out of veggies think about this recipes- Papad ki subji or Gatte ki subji.

There are ofcourse many ways to prepare this subji, but I will go ahead and claim that this the authentic way of making it. All the households in Rajasthan make this subji in the pressure cooker and they add only peas and tomato in it-no potatoes, carrots, garlic or onions. The mongodi are broken into small pieces which is later roasted the in ghee(clarified butter) with hing(asafoetida) and jeera(cumin). Finally all the spices are added and subji is garnished with spoonful of lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves. There goes the recipe.

Green peas - 2 cups
Mangodi - 1 cup
Tomatoes -2 (medium size)
Green chilli - 2
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Ghee – 4 tablespoons
Asafoetida – 1/4 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - ½ teaspoon
Turmeric powder - ½ teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder - ¼ teaspoon
Salt - as per taste
Lemon juice-1 teaspoon
Green coriander – 4 tablespoon (finely chopped)

Chop green chillies, tomatoes and ginger finely.
Break Mangodi into small pieces. You can do this in mortar and pestle.
Heat ghee in pressure cooker. When ghee is hot turn the flame to slow, add in cumin seeds, asafoetida and broken mangodi pieces. On a slow flame roast till cumin seeds become brown and release aroma.
Add in turmeric powder, salt, red chilli powder, coriander powder and green chillies. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water and mix well.
Throw in peas and tomatoes. Mix and 3 cups of water. Cover the pressure cooker and increase the flame to medium.
Let it cook till pressure cooker releases 3 whistles.
Open the cooker and mash peas from the back of the spoon.
Mix in lemon juice and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Ghee is the best option, but if you want you can use oil as well.
Make sure you don’t break mangodi into very small bits.
The consistency is semi liquid. Adjust water as per your preference.
I used mangodi that was made with yellow moong dal, you can use any type.

Serving suggestions:
This recipe serves 4-5 family members.
Goes well with parathas or rotis.
To make rajasthani thali,  serve it with bajre ki roti, marwadi lehsun ki chutney and marwadi Bharwa Bhindi.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sukhi Gobi Mutter/Dry Cauliflower And Peas Curry. And 1 Question

Few days back my friend asked me, what makes you happy? She asked what makes you really happy, not the monetary things, but simple pleasures that life has to offer?? What are the 10 things that makes you happy??? Please do mentions in the comments. Here goes mine not in any particular order.
  1. Sunset and walk on the beach with my partner.
  2. Spending time with my parents and brother.
  3. Looking at the old photos.
  4. Finding money/notes in an old pair of jeans. Or finding money I didn’t know I had
  5. Having some me time-while I am reading a book or just having a quiet moment for myself.
  6. Seeing an elderly couple hold hands.
  7. Hearing a baby laugh.
  8. Realizing I have more time to sleep.
  9. Receiving an unexpected compliment. 
  10. A hug, anytime and anywhere.
Now I am excited to know your 10 things. Do comment.

Just like simple things, simple food gives me pleasure-both in cooking and in eating. Would you prefer rich gravies or fried royal food every day? Well No, Sometimes all you want is comfort in the food, like basic aloo tamatar ki subji cooked in pressure cooker, or plain yellow dal and rice. There are days when you are tired; the days when your kids have snapped all your energy, or the days when your boss is really mad at you-For such days, you seek contentment and happiness in the food.

For me, a Subji that is not over cooked, the one that is not loaded which spices-just plain Indian massala and roti as an accompaniment is pure bliss. One of those subji is Sukhi Gobi Mattar /Dry Cauliflower And Peas Curry. This is an ordinary dish and that’s what makes it extra ordinary. No fuss, nothing special –everything plain, yet so fresh and rural that with every bite you get the divine satisfaction.

To bring out the best taste, you need to make use of mustard oil, this bitter oil will enhance the profile value of the subji. Next you have to let ajwain and jeera fry in the oil till it becomes dark golden, this brings the earthy taste and the beautiful aroma. Finish it up sprinkle of lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves-that's it. Here goes the recipe.

Cauliflower/gobi– 1kg
Peas/mattar – 1/2 cup
Green chillies/hari mirch-2 chopped
Cumin seeds/jeera- 1 teaspoon
Carom seeds/ajwain – 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds/sarso/rai- 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder/dhaniya – 1 tablespoon
Turmeric powder/haldi- 1/4 teaspoon
Chilli powder – 1/4 teaspoon
Lemon juice/nimbu ka ras-1 tablespoon
Coriander leaves–  4-5 tablespoons chopped
Mustard oil/sarso ka tel – 2 tablespoons
Salt to taste

Separate the flowers from the cauliflower. Heat 5 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of salt in a big pot and bring it to boil. Add in all the cauliflower in the water and let it sit in hot water for 2 minutes. Sieve the cauliflower and drain the excess water. (See notes)
Next heat oil in a pan/kadai. When oil is smoking hot, remove the pan from heat. Add in cumin seeds, mustard seeds and carom seeds. Let them turn golden.
Finally add in cauliflower, peas, green chillies, coriander powder, turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder. Mix properly, such that all the spices are coated on peas and cauliflower. On a slow flame cook it covered till peas and cauliflowers turn soft.
Finally add in lime juice and mix. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Letting cauliflower sit in boiling salted water for some time, helps to get rid of worms that might be inside the cauliflower.
Add salt in the last; remember that you boiled cauliflower in salted water.
Always make sure that mustard oil reaches to smoking point. If you want you can use any other oil also.
Make sure you cook it covered on slow heat. The steam will help in cooking, if you want you can sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water in it.
Do not over mix this dish. You don't want that mushy cauliflower.

Serving suggestions:
Serve as a side with rice and daal.
Just roll up in the parathas, or rotis. Great for tiffins and luch boxes.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Saturday Snapshots Series #4- Whole Spices

Week 4 at Saturday Snapshots was to shoot Whole Spices and this is what I clicked:)

Live life with a little spice

Sending this at Saturday Snapshots'' hosted at Merry Tummy and Siris Food.

If you are interested please see the announcement page HERE.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Turkey Through My Lens. Istanbul And Antalya

Turkey is an European country, an Asian country, a middle eastern country, Balkan country, Black sea country, Caspian sea country-all these.Turkey is one among the top 10 tourist attraction in the world and we went to two cities in Turkey- Istanbul and Antalya.

Our first stop was Istanbul. As said by Edmondo De Amicis- “Istanbul, a universal beauty where poet and archaeologist, diplomat and merchant, princess and sailor, northerner and westerner screams with same admiration. The whole world thinks that this city is the most beautiful place on earth.” Istanbul is a city where the Asian and European continents meet across the Bosphorous River. It is a city of wonder - a fast-paced, sprawling metropolis, an exotic cultural melting-pot, and a harbor city of phenomenal beauty. No matter how much time you spend here it will never be enough, so prepare yourself for an exhilarating experience. I walked this city and looked at it through the eyes of a foreigner. It was beautiful, full of passion, mystery, magic and heavy with history. I hope you enjoy the pictures, I will do a separate post about its food and cuisine.

The grand- Blue Mosque and New Mosque
Inside Hagia Spohia
Beautiful walls- Inside Aya Spohia
The colours, the pillars- Magnificent structure inside Blue Mosque
Us posing inside Blue Mosque
Inside Grand Bazaar- the oldest bazaar in the world
Heaven for food props lovers ;)
Just a shot, inside Topkapi Palace
I loved this sparkling gold beauty
Galata Tower
Bosporus bridge that unites Asia and Europe
Shot from the cruise- The Asian side
Spice Bazaar- you will get any/all kinds of spices here
Turkish delights and tea shops
Local vendors- Selling honey and Turkish bread- Simit
Istanbul is a sheer beauty in the night!
Night life at Taksim Square
We saw this amazing Whirling Dervishes dance!

Antalya is on the long coastline along the sea which makes it apt for summer beach holidays. In 2013, Antalya became the third most visited city in the world by number of international arrivals, ranking behind Paris and London, respectively (source:wiki). If you don’t like busy city life and you wish to relax by the sea side-then you must visit Antalya. We were there for 3 days and we snorkeled, swam, read and relaxed on the sun bed. A walk on the beach just before sunset is worth thousand words (sometimes more).  I did not click even one picture here :(

One day went to Pamukkale and we chose Nirvana Tours for that. The day started early-the tour bus picked us from our hotel at 6.30 and after 5 hours drive we reached Pamukkale. It was my idea to go to Pammukale, because the pictures were stunning and the reviews on TripAdvisor were excellent. Pamukkale, means "cotton castle" in Turkish, it contains hot springs and travertine, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. I was told and informed that being there would be like being in fairyland, it would be magical but after such a long drive, and spending 55 Euros each I was disappointed. Why?? Because all the thermal pools are almost empty and the ones that have little water in them were overcrowded by the tourists. Yes there is another thermal pool called as Cleopatra pools, which has great spring water to swim but you need to pay extra. So to conclude, yes it was nice, it was something that you won’t see anywhere- but was it worth the time and money- we say No. But enjoy the pics:)

First view of the Cotton Castle
Pamukkale- thermal pools

I love him ;) Us !
Another view from Pamukkale
Hierapolis-Amphitheater, some ruins left
Again- us!

 Let me know how you find this post. Please comment :) If you are planing to go to Turkey and need  any help just shoot me an email :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Plain Namak Pare, Cubes of Salted Crackers. Munch While You Read

Reading gives you a place to go when you have to stay where you are. Only the person who loves to read will understand the depth of the above sentence. So what’s there in a book- a black and white book with no pictures? Why do people enjoy reading? Well a book is one’s best companion-The smell and the feel of the paper, the way the story visualizes right in the front of your eyes- it is so magical and satisfying. Blissful!

Mr. Husband and I, we both love to read and get lost in the world the writer has painted but our choices are so different. What kind of books do you like to read, ofcourse apart from cookbooks? I like the ones that are not real, one that is not based on true events- I prefer fictitious novels, the ones that are light, dramatic; the ones that I can envisage. For example, even though Harry Potter novels are not based on real happenings, I just cannot imagine the magic school, wizards etc, so I just don’t read them but Mr. Husband is a huge fan of Harry Potter series.

Recently I finished reading The Fault In Our Stars and I have to say it is such a masterpiece, so well written in plain simple words. Currently a friend who visited us from India gave me 3 novels. All these novels are written by Indian writers, ah! upcoming writers-the college graduates. The story, the description, the narration is so simple and plain that I finished 2 books in 2 days. Yours Sarcastically was just okay, nothing special-just okay. Oh! Shit Not Again was bad-a real bad novel; there was nothing impressive at all. 

Out of the three, I am enjoying reading Urban Shots Bright Lights and I can say it’s good. It contains many short stories (2-3 pages each) written by fresh writers. Each story is light, clean, subtle and nice. Some stories are real heart touching ones that keeps you hooked; some gives you a message for life in the end; some you can just relate to; while some were just satisfactory. As I read and turn the pages I need something to nibble along. A cup of my favorite green tea with something namkeen/salty is my favorite thing.

Tea time snacks in India are must. Be it cold snacks like Mathri or Haldiram Channa Dal or be it hot snacks like Kanda Poha or Kothimbir Vadi. Well, having hot accompaniment with tea is a good idea but for morning teatime, in evening cold crispy snacks is what I wish for. And for such time, I stick to Plain Namak Pare, Cubes of Salted Crackers.

Namak Pare- are traditional snack made in India, generally during festive period. There is nothing special about them- yes, they are plain salty tiny bits of crackers that are deep fried for the crunchy finish. Some people add cumin (jeera) or even carom seeds (ajwain) in the dough but I think-The simplicity- no over use of spices and flavours is what make this snack outstanding from other Indian things. Plain and simple is better- All I can say is- Do try!

All purpose flour (Maida) - 1 cup
Semolina (coarse sooji or rava) - 2 tablespoons
Black pepper powder - ¼ teaspoon
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tablespoons +for frying
Water - ¼ cup + ½ tablespoon

Take all purpose flour, coarse sooji, salt in a bowl. Mix well.
Add oil. And rub it with flour mixture and it will resemble crumbly texture.
Now add little water at a time and start kneading the dough. Make semi-soft dough.
Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, knead the dough once again. Divide it into two equal portions.
Flatten it our between your palm. Start rolling it into a big circle (9 inch in diameter) using rolling pin and rolling board. While you are rolling, heat the oil in a pan on medium heat for frying namak para.
Cut into desired shape using sharp knife. (see notes)
Once oil is hot, add few pieces of namak para in the oil. Do not over crowd them. Flip them half way through for even browning. Fry it from both sides till it become golden brown and crispy.
Remove it to the paper towel lined plate, so it absorbs the excess oil.
Let it cool completely, about 20 minutes.

You can cut into any shape you want to. Like diamonds, squares and even rectangle.
I opted to make plain salted ones, you can add sesame(til), carom seeds(ajwain) or cumin seeds(jeera) if you want extra flavour.
For a healthier version, use half wheat flour and half all purpose flour.
Once it gets cooled completely, store it in air tight container. This stays fresh for 3-4 weeks.

Serving suggestions:
Serve with tea or coffee, or enjoy as it is.

It is a great alternative to chips. So you can serve as a side with burgers, sandwiches or frankie rolls.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

10 Patties Recipes That You Must Try

We all slave ourselves in the kitchen when there is a party or a get together preparing snacks and appetizers. One snack that never gets old, one that never fails to impress, one that everyone loves, one that is easy to prepare --- Tikki, tikia, patties, cakes- whatever you name it. 

Serve them plain with chutney, dips, yogurt, pickle or ketchup or in tortilla wraps or pita pockets with some salad and dressing

Here are 10 patties recipes from my kitchen. From classic  to exotic ones, from cheesy bits to crunchy ones, from healthy to deep fried ones.

1.Baked Chickpeas Patties :- Healthy ones made with chola. Great for weight watchers.

2.Corn Cheese Patties: Deep fried, very cheesy with the crunch of corn. Will impress anyone.

3.Kidney Beans Patties: Protein rich, spicy nibble- made using rajma.

4.Potato Patties Coated With Sesame: Gold coins coated with til-looks beautiful.

5.Ragda Patties: The simple aloo patties served with spicy ragda on top. Classic one.

6.Paneer Mint Patties: My personnel favorite. Made with crumbled paneer with hint of mint.

7.Leftover Rice Patties: Tikki recipe that uses leftover rice. A must try.

8.Almond Potato Patties: Tikki with handful of spices and badam to give some crunch.

9.Spring Onion And Chese Patties: Very elegant and posh. Cheesy and tasty. Hit on foodgwaker.

10.Italian Couscous Patties: Made with fresh Italian herbs. Healthy-oh yes!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Marwadi/Rajasthani Methi Moong Dal, Lentils With Fenugreek Leaves

Dal-roti or dal-chawal is the staple Indian food. No matter what religion you follow, no matter what and how much you earn, no matter if you are a non vegetarian or not- one thing that every Indian love is daal. Again, there are many types of daal and many ways to make each one of it but no one can ever get over with their love for lentils. Lunch or dinner, served in party as well as on a daily basis- the fact is no Indian meal is complete without daal. For vegetarians eating daal is more important as it the only healthy source of proteins for them, ofcourse after paneer.

As said, there are many ways of preparing daal and if not thousand there are atleast hundred recipes to make it. Be it very simple yellow daal that can be relished with plain rice, or another version of the same dal but made in microwave. Or you might fancy- Lehsuni daal tadka which is infused with strong garlic flavours and is a perfect match for jowar ki roti. If runny and smooth dal is not your preference then you must have Massala Dal which contains whole grains of lentils and is quite dry- a must have with jeera rice.

Having said that, today I bring before you my favorite dal recipe which is very healthy as it includes green leafy vegetable- interesting isn't it? I am talking about Marwadi/Rajasthani Methi Moong Dal. This daal is thick and smooth flavoured with chopped fenugreek/methi leaves, spiced up with green chillies and a final tang is given by sprinkle of lemon juice. The idea is to have dark yellow colour with only green bits visible, and that is why the recipe doesn't call for tomato or even red chilli powder.

If you ever visit Rajasthan or a marwadi family over lunch or dinner during winters, you will surely find this dal in the menu. Reason?? Well, methi leaves are available in abundance throughout the winters and the usage of it crafts the boring moong daal to be very appealing and appetizing. One fine day, when it was raining really bad and the temperatures went down, I craved for this daal. Remember my tip on how to preserve/store fresh methi leaves?- well I used the same leaves to make this daal- who wants to wait till winters??

This daal is really thick and you have to enjoy this with parathas or rotis. All you need is dollop of ghee, some marwadi lehsun ki chutney and bajre ki roti to make it perfect meal.

1/2 cup yellow moong dal/split yellow gram
1/4 cup chopped methi leaves/fenugreek leaves
2-3 green chillies/hari mirch
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste/adrak lenhsun
1 tablespoon lemon/juice nimbu ka ras
1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder/haldi
Pinch aseofetida/hing
1 tablespoon ghee/clarified butter
1 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoon chopped coriander leaves/dhaniya
Salt to taste

In a pressure cooker, add moong daal with 1 cup water, turmeric and salt. Cook till 2 whistles releases.
In kadai/wok heat 1/2 tablespoon of ghee and 1 tablespoon of oil. When hot, add in hing and jeera.
Also add in ginger garlic paste, cook till raw smell fades away. Mix in green chillies and methi leaves. Cook till methi leaves becomes mushy.
Finally mix in cooked daal and lemon juice. Mix and let it boil.
Serve with dollop of remaining ghee and chopped coriander leaves.

I have shared authentic marwadi way of making this daal. If you want you can gram massala, tomatoes and even chopped onion.
Some people don't like chopped methi leaves, in that case puree methi leaves and that add. Doing so, will make the dal look green, but there will be no change in the taste.
For better results, it is advisable to soak moong dal for 30 minutes in the water before cooking.

Serving suggestions:
This is smooth but a thick daal, so serve this with thick rotis- like jowar or bajre ki roti.
For thali menu- serve it with roti, kachumber salad, bharwa bhindi and lehsun ki chutney.