Category Archives: Recipes

Not so bitter Bitter Gourd

Strange how it is that the foods that are really good for you, never rate very high on taste. They are either too boring, too slimy, too rubbery or in the case of the bitter gourd…too bitter! By the way, did you know that bitter gourd is actually a fruit? Or that this bitter beauty is a close cousin of zucchini and cucumber? The bitter gourd is packed with health benefits; it reduces blood sugar, its good for your cholesterol, it is rich in fibre and it may aid in weight loss.

But how does one get past its bitterness? One way, is frying it but then you tend to lose out on the nutrients and say goodbye to any weight loss dreams. Or you may stuff it with something yummy, tie it with a thread and again…fry it. Too time consuming? Then try the following simple, quick and delicious karela subzi recipe and I promise, if you do not overnight turn into a bitter gourd fan, you will be able to easily incorporate this healthy fruit in your menu.

Ingredients:

3 medium sized bitter gourd, cut into small rectangular pieces ( discard the pith and seeds)

1 big onion, chopped roughly

1 big tomato, thinly chopped

1 slit green chilli

1 and a half tablespoon jaggery

½ tablespoon tamarind

1 teaspoon coriander powder

½ teaspoon cumin powder

Pinch of turmeric

Salt to taste

Oil as required

Method:

Rinse the bitter gourd a few times with water then cut vertically, removing the pith and seeds. Cut it into thin small rectangles. If you wish, you can add some salt to the bitter gourd at this stage and set aside for a couple of minutes. Be sure to throw away the resultant juice and wash the bitter gourd well before cooking it. Also, if using salt here, taste the dish when it is just about done and only add salt, if required. In a glass bowl, soak the jaggery and tamarind in water. You can adjust the proportion of jaggery and tamarind, depending on how tangy you want your bitter gourd.

In a pan, heat some oil. Add onions and saute for a few minutes till they turn pink. Next, add the bitter gourd, giving it a good stir and then cover and cook on low flame for 7-10 minutes. Once the bitter gourd lose their distinctive green colour, add in the tomatoes and all the spices. Check for salt and add accordingly, cover and cook on low flame. Open and stir after 5 minutes; add a 2 tablespoons of water then cover and cook again till the oil oozes out from the sides and the bitter gourd and tomatoes are soft and cooked. Then add the tamarind pulp and jaggery (discarding the used tamarind pulp and sees) to the sabzi. Give it a quick stir, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Switch off the flame, sneak a taste and wonder why you always gave such a wide berth to the lovely bitter gourd!

Finger-licking Vegetable Biriyani

Sundays are always good food days at my house. And what dish can beat biriyani? Chicken and mutton biriyani are always scrumptious but I thought of making a vegetable biriyani today. (Also because owing to the Covid, have bid goodbye to non-vegetarian fare) This was the mood in which I began making my preparations but in a little while as I put some potatoes to fry and grilled my cottage cheese, I began to feel excited about how this biriyani will turn out. And let me tell you, it turned out absolutely delicious. We enjoyed it for itself, not as a poor substitute for a non-vegetarian biriyani. Agreed, it took almost as much time to make as a chicken biriyani. But with the lockdown in effect, time is one thing which I have in plenty 🙂 So, do try out this recipe. I can bet you will love it.

Ingredients:

2 big potatoes, cut long and thin (to make french fries)

3 onions, chopped

1 small cauliflower, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 capsicum, cut into cubes

A handful of french beans, chopped

100 gms paneer

1 tablespoon processed cheese spread or 1 cube processed cheese

1 tablespoon curd

1 tablespoon tomato puree

2 1/2 cups basmati rice

8-10, cloves

10-14, peppercorns

3 cardamoms

2-3 bay leaves

1 1/2 tablespoon clarified butter

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 cup fried onion or birista

1 cup coriander, chopped

1 cup mint leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste 

1 teaspoon red chilli powder, adjust as per taste

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

2 teaspoon butter chicken masala or biriyani masala

1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Handful of raisins

Oil

Yellow and green food color mixed with milk

Salt, as per taste

Method:

To start, put water to boil in a deep bottomed pan. To this add, the whol cardamoms, cardamom powder, oil, bay leaves and half of the cloves and peppercorn and salt. Once the water starts to boil, add the rice. Boil till almost cooked. Drain and set aside. Add the yellow color to part of the rice and mix gently. Add the green color to the balance rice, mix and keep aside. Add black pepper and salt to your potatoes. Heat oil in a deep bottomed pan and make your french fries. Once cooked, in the same pan, grill your cottage cheese in a little oil.

Heat oil in a separate pan and add your remaining whole spices. Stir for two minutes and add the onions. Once the onions turn pinkish brown about ten minutes, add your tomatoes. Cover and cook for about 7-8 minutes, then add all your vegetables. Cover and cook for 5 minutes then add half a cup of water, salt and all the remaining spices. Cover and cook till vegetables are almost done. Then add the curd and tomato puree. Let everything simmer for a couple of minutes then add your cottage cheese, butter, cheese and about a quarter of your fried onions. Cook for five minutes and switch of the flame. Garnish with coriander and add half of the clarified butter.

Now, time to assemble your biriyani. In a big deep bottomed pan, pour some oil and spread it out to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Add a thin layer of rice. Top the rice with some french fries. Then add half of your vegetables mixture and a little fried onion. Add another layer of rice. Then all of your chopped capsicum and the remaining vegetables mixture. Cover with remaining rice. Drizzle the remaining clarified butter. Garnish with raisins, remaining fried onion, french fries, mint and coriander leaves. Cover with a lid and place a flat plate on top. Weigh it down with something heavy. You can also seal the plate and pan together with some kneaded flour if you have the energy left. I just went with the weight! Cook on slow flame for 10-12 minutes. Make some raita while this is getting done. Then open the lid, give yourself a pat on the back and dig in!

Egg Curry

The good old egg is really good to have in the current climate. Eggs are a good source of protein and also rich in vitamins. There is no end of different recipes which the egg lends itself to. Today I am sharing my recipe of egg curry. Its easy to make and tastes absolutely delicious. It goes best with rice tempered with cumin.

Ingredients:

5 eggs, hard boiled

2 onions, fried till golden brown

2 tablespoon curd

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 teaspoon red chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

1 1/2 cups water

Oil

Salt, as per taste

Method:

In a bowl, use your hands to crumble the fried onion. Add the curd and mix the two together. In a pan, heat oil. Add the fried onion and curd, tomato puree and some water. Stir everything together and cook on low flame for five minutes. Then add all the spices, salt and remaining water. Let it simmer on low flame for about ten-twelve minutes, till the oil separates from the gravy. Make a small slit on your boiled eggs and then add them to your gravy. Coat the eggs with the gravy and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Garnish with coriander and serve with a bowl of rice!

The Lockdown Soup

Yeah, you read it right. Hot, nourishing soups are supposed to be good for safeguarding oneself from the dreaded Covid. But the thing is, with the lockdown in effect, what is one supposed to make a soup with? If you are facing this problem then this soup is your answer. It goes easy on the ingredients, is hot and tangy and is absolutely yum. I have used veggies in small quantities and a couple of sauce sachets sitting in our fridge from the pre-Covid takeout days! So, here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 small carrot, chopped

4-5 florets of cauliflower

A small handful of corn

1 tablespoon, chopped spring onion

1 tiny onion, chopped

1 sachet soya sauce

1 sachet chilli sauce

1 sachet tomato ketchup

1 tablespoon schezwan sauce or ginger garlic paste

1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce or you can use 1 teaspoon chili powder and sugar

Pinch of black pepper powder

Salt, as per taste

Whole wheat flour mixed with water for thickening

Method:

In a deep pan, bring the carrot, cauliflower and corn to boil. Drizzle some oil in another pan. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onions and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Then add all your sauces and salt. Let it all simmer for 5-7 minutes and turn off the heat. Pour this mixture to your boiled vegetables pan and add the whole wheat flour mixed with water for thickening. Let the soup simmer for about ten minutes and then add the spring onions. You can use coriander or mint or even some chopped capsicum if you do not have any spring onions. Cover and simmer for some five minutes and you are through! Pour out a big bowlful for yourself and enjoy!

Dee-lightful Doodhi Halwa or Bottle Gourd Sweet

I adore halwas, especially those made at home. Sitting down with a bowl of piping hot halwa with a good book to read..bliss! Doodhi halwa is yummy and healthy being full of the good old bottle gourd. Its the easiest and most delicious way to have doodhi, if you ask me. Of course, it is very rich and oozing with calories but that is the way it should be. And you can always climb the stairs or go for a walk or something. But this beauty deserves to be made…and devoured! Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

2 bottle gourd, grated

2 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter

1 1/2 cup full fat milk

200 gms condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Sugar, as per taste

Raisins, chopped almonds and pistachios

Green food color, optional

Method:

Firstly and most importantly, before you begin to grate your bottle gourd taste and check for bitterness. If it is, scrap the halwa plan. If it isn’t, full steam ahead! In a deep bottomed pan, heat the ghee and then add the grated doodhi to it. Then stir it patiently, on and off, till the gourd starts to shrivel. Now this takes time, a lot of time because the gourd has lots of moisture in it. I would suggest you make this halwa when you are anyhow going to be stuck in the kitchen for some time. So, after patiently stirring for about 15-20 minutes, you can now add the milk and start stirring again. 5-10 minutes later, add the condensed milk. Go on stirring off and on, till all the moisture evaporates. Add the green cardamom powder. Check for sweetness. If required, add sugar and keep stirring on slow flame till the water from the sugar evaporates. Add some raisins and chopped nuts. Give it once last stir and DIG IN. I can challenge you, it is impossible to stop with one helping. Don’t believe me? Cook up this scrumptious halwa and see for yourself.

Tangy Quinoa Fried Rice

Sometimes, it seems you can’t make anything nice without using rice! And rice is so white, so fluffy, so yummy, soo fattening 😦 I can do without rice all right but I do love all the lovely rice delicacies.. fried rice, pulao, biriyani!!! Recently, I have discovered that I quite like quinoa and that it lends itself wonderfully for making any kind of dish which needs rice. So, here is my recipe for my favorite quinoa fried rice.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, grated

1 green capsicum, cut into long thin strips

1/2 cup green peas and corn

1/2 cup spring onion, chopped

 1 green chilli, slit diagonally

2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

1 tablespoon schezwan sauce

1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

Oil

Salt as per taste

Method:

Wash the quinoa in water till the water runs clear, about three times. Soak the quinoa in water for 5-10 minutes. Now in a pan pour 1 cup water and the half cup quinoa. Cook on high flame till the water begins to boil. Then lower the flame, cover and cook till all the water soaks into the quinoa and the quinoa becomes transparent. Let it remain covered for a couple of minutes and then fluff it with a fork. Keep aside.

In a seperate pan, drizzle some oil. Once oil turns hot, add the green chilli and onion. When the onion turns pink, add all the vegetables, season with salt, cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Add all spices and sauces and let it simmer for another couple of minutes. Then add the quinoa, mix everything together and cook for about 5 mins. Yummy yet healthy fried rice is ready!

Chicken Tikka Biryani

I lovvve biriyani! The fragrant, colorful rice, the tangy, spicy sauce, the succulent pieces of meat. What’s not to love. And chicken tikka biriyani is my absolute favourite. You get good biriyani in restaurants for sure but nothing beats the scrumptiousness of good old homemade biriyani. Biriyani is really not difficult to make, it is just a lengthy process. So, go for it when you are really in the mood to cook. Onward to the recipe.

Ingredients:

1/2 kg boneless chicken, cut into small chunks
2 cups basmati rice
2 big onions, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cup curd
1 cup birista or thinly sliced, fried onion
10-12 peppercorns
8-10 cloves
5-6 cardamom
2 bayleafs
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 cup chopped coriander
1 cup chopped mint leaves
2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
3 teaspoon tandoori chicken masala
20-25 cashewnuts
3 tablespoons raisins
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
2 green chillies, slit
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin and coriander seeds powder
2 tablespoons butter
Pinch of cardamom powder
Salt, as per taste
Oil
Yellow, red and green food color


Method:


Phew! That is a long list of ingredients all right. But nothing worth doing is easy, right? Start with the chicken. Marinate the chicken in half of the curd, half of the ginger garlic paste and red chilli powder and the tandoori chicken masala. Let it Marinate for at least an hour. Just before grilling the chicken, add some red food color. I have used a grill pan to make my chicken tikka. It takes very little oil and is quite quick. You can also use an oven or tandoor to make your tikka. Moving on to the rice. In a big, deep pan bring to boil about 6 cups of water. To the water add cardamom powder, oil, bay leafs and half of the cardamom, cloves and peppercorn. When the water is nicely boiling, add the rice. Cook till almost done. Strain and set aside. Lightly fluff the rice with a fork after a few minutes, add yellow color on part of the rice and green on the other and gently mix it so that about a fifth of the rice gets colored.

Now, for the masala. In a pan, heat oil and some butter. Add the remaining whole condiments. Once they emit fragrance, about 2-3 minutes, add the chopped onions. Once the onions are pinkish brown, add the chopped tomatoes and salt, cover and let simmer for about 5-7 minutes. In a mixie, grind half of the cashewnuts with some water. Now, add the curd, tomato puree, cashew paste, all remaining spices, one cup water, cover and cook till the oil separates from the sauce, about 7-10 minutes. Add your chicken and let it all simmer together for another 10 minutes. Open add a tablespoon of birista, 1/2 tablespoon butter, third of the raisins and sprinkle with coriander and mint leaves. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

Now, for the assembling. In a big, deep bottomed pan heat some butter and fry the remaining cashews for 2-3 minutes. Remove the cashews on a plate. To the pan, add a thin layer of rice. Sprinkle the rice with some birista. Now add a layer of the chicken tikka masala. Now another player of rice. Top it with birista, butter, coriander and mint. To this, add all the remaining chicken masala. Top with remaining rice, butter, fried cashews, raisins, birista, mint leaves and coriander. Cover with a plate and place something heavy on the lid so that the flavours remain inside. You can also seal the lid and vessel together with some wheat dough. Let it cook on slow flame for 10-15 minutes. Open the lid, take a moment to swoon, pat yourself on the back and dig in!

Samosa Chaat

I love samosas. The crunchy exterior and the yummy potato filling inside..what’s not to like! But some times you are left with a few samosas lying around..everyone simply refuses to have just have another one. So, what do you do? Throw them away or give it to your maid? There is a third delicious alternative. You can turn it into a scrumptious chaat. That is exactly what I did the other day and the chaat turned out really well. Onward to the recipe then.

Ingredients:

2 samosas, broken into small chunks

200 gms curd

1 1/2  cup sev

1 onion, chopped

2 tbsp tamarind

2 dates

2 tbsp jaggery

Red chilli powder, as per taste

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon chaat masala

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

1 tbsp sugar

Salt, as per taste

1/2 cup chopped coriander

Method:

Soak together dates, tamarind and jaggery in some water. Keep aside. In a bowl, whisk together 150 gms curd along with all the condimentss, sugar and salt. Dilute it with a little water and whisk again. You need to thin out the curd because chaat has the tendency to become dry really fast. Now add the samosa chunks, the chopped onions and half of the pomegranate. Using your hand, squeeze out the juice from the tamarind mixture and discard the used tamarind. Now, add half of this chutney to the bowl with the curd and samosas. Sprinkle half cup sev and gently mix everything together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining curd along with some salt and sugar. Pour this curd over the samosa mixture. Pour the remaining tamarind chutney, sev and pomegranate seeds. Garnish with chopped coriander. Let it sit in the fridge for 10 minutes and dig in!

Chicken Shami Kebab

Try this dish when your body is craving proteins and yumminess both at the same time. Traditionally made with red meat in patties form, this is a variation which uses tender chunks of chicken while retaining all the flavours of the original mutton shami kebab. I have always had a love-hate relationship with red meat. Sometimes, I can gorge on it, wondering why I don’t have more of it while at others, even its smell puts me off. So, its no wonder, I prefer shami kebabs made with chicken, especially when I am the one making them. I can vouch for them; they turn out mouth wateringly delicious. Try them out!

Ingredients:

½ kg boneless chicken

¼ kg split chickpeas or chane ki dal

1 large onion, chopped

6-7 pods of garlic

Small chunk of ginger, equal to your garlic

4-5 kashmiri chillies

2 green chillies

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup chopped coriander

1 cup chopped mint leaves

5-6 whole black peppercorns

3-4 cloves

1 small cinnamon stick

1-2 whole cardamoms

Salt as per taste

Method:

Soak your chickpeas for about an hour before using. Wash your chicken and cut into small pieces. Boil your chickpeas and chicken together with all the ingredients excepts for the onion, eggs, coriander and mint. Do not put too much water. Keep checking whether your chicken and chickpeas are tender and put water accordingly. Cool your mixture and coarsely grind it in a mixer. Add the onions, coriander, mint leaves and two of the beaten eggs. Check for taste and add some garam masala powder. Shape it into patties, shallow dip in eggs (you can even do without them) and shallow fry your kebabs. Sprinkle some lemon, get out the ketchup and mint chutney and enjoy!

Creamy Veggies Pasta (sans flour)

Ingredients:

250 gms boiled pasta of your choice

1 large onion, chopped

1 carrot, grated

1 capsicum, cut into long, thin slices

½ cup boiled corn

2 tablespoon black olives

1 green chilli or 1 teaspoon black pepper powder

5-6 pods of chopped garlic or 2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon tomato puree

2 tablespoon tomato ketchup

1 cup milk

3-4 cheese cubes, grated

2 teaspoon oregano seasoning

2 teaspoon crushed parsley

NO REFINED FLOUR for the sauce

Method:

Boil the pasta, give it a quick wash in cold water, drizzle some oil and keep aside. In a pan, heat oil. Once hot, add the chopped garlic and green chilli. Once the garlic turns aromatic, add the onions. Add the other vegetables once the onion turns pink. Add some salt, stir and cook covered for about 5-7 minutes. Once your veggies are almost cooked, add the milk, tomato puree and cheese. Add your remaining seasoning after another couple of minutes. And then the tomato ketchup. Let everything mingle for 5 minutes and your pasta is ready. Enjoy!