As someone who loves a good meal, cooking one, came to me as a natural passion. I belong to a family where meal times consisted of not just food, but also noisy conversation centered around the events of the day and discussing the menu for the next. (ah yes, we are a greedy lot! )

For the most part of my life so far, my contribution in the kitchen was assisting mom and my duties were limited, to chopping veggies and laying the table. Then along came the great Indian wedding, and I was suddenly the queen of my very own kingdom. My curiosity about this magical world, coupled with an enthusiastic sous-chef (my husband, Vineet), led me to take on the challenge of preparing meals on a daily basis, and not succumbing to the convenience of hiring a cook.

This blog is a product of my experiments with food (not all are life threatening :D) for my fellow culinary enthusiasts - especially the newly weds and hungry bachelors and is dedicated to the women who've inspired me in the kitchen;
Aji (s),Ma and Nigella Lawson.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chef's Salad & Buttermilk Roast chicken

Iceberg lettuce - torn roughly
Purple cabbage - roughly chopped
Cherry tomatoes - quartered
Avocado - chopped into cubes
Chicken sausage - cubed
Feta Cheese - crumbled

2 tbsp Extra virgin Olive oil + 1 tbsp Red wine vinegar + 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard + Salt

1. Toss all the chopped veggies and chicken sausage together. Set aside.

2. Whisk the ingredients of the dressing together and pour over the veggies. Toss lightly to mix well. Serve Chilled!

6 nos. Chicken drumsticks
3/4 cup plain Dahi (preferably sour)
1 large Garlic clove - bruised
1-1/2 tbsp Cumin powder
1 tsp Pepper powder (coarsely ground)
1 tbsp Honey
Pinch of Salt

1.  Take a ziplock bag. Add the dahi, garlic, cumin powder, pepper powder, honey and salt and squish around in the bag.
2.  Put the chicken drumsticks into the marinade and seal the bag. Leave to marinate in the fridge for atleast 2-3 hours. ( I marinated the chicken for close to 6 hours)
3.  Preheat the oven to 220deg C. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. 
4.  Shake off the excess marinade and arrange the drumsticks onto the baking tray. Cook in the oven for about 30-45 mins - till the chicken is tender and slightly scorched in parts. Enjoy along with the Salad and Garlic bread.

For garlic butter -
2 tbsp softened Salted butter + 1 Garlic clove - grated + 1/2 tsp Extra Virgin olive oil + 1/2 tsp Pepper powder + 1/2 tsp Oregano flakes + pinch Salt.

Mix all the ingredients well and spread onto a thickly cut slice of bread (fresh or grilled) of your choice. Happy Eating!!

Guilt-free Carrot-Cranberry muffins

Sunday morning, and I was up long before Vineet realised he'd slept through half of the day. I walked around the house rather aimlessly, wondering what we'd have for lunch when I found a bunch of carrots stashed on the bottom rack of the refrigerator, and I thought of making Carrot bread which would make for a good breakfast in the coming week... I then remembered the packet of dried cranberries, that I had picked up a few weeks ago, and instantly knew I wanted to finally use those.
So I changed my bread-making plan into a muffin making one, and substituted a couple of ingredients from my mum's carrot cake recipe and voila! a batch of guilt-free carrot-cranberry muffins was born!
And oh yea, we had left over palak-paneer and rajma for lunch ;)

So here goes my experiment with muffins - No maida. No butter. and if you feel up to it, No sugar either!

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup Whole wheat flour(atta)
1 cup Brown bread crumbs
2/3rd cup Brown sugar*
1 tbsp ground Cinnamon
1 tbsp ground Nutmeg
1/2 tbsp Baking powder
1/2 tbsp Baking soda
1/2 tbsp grated Orange zest
2 cups grated Carrots
1 cup dried Cranberries*

* Substitute the 2/3 cup brown sugar with 1/2 cup honey & use Raisins incase you don't find dried cranberries.

Wet Ingredients:
1 Egg + 1/4 tbsp Vanilla extract + 1/2 cup Milk
1/2 cup Orange Juice

Kitchen Essentials:
Large mixing bowl | Hand-held blender | muffin tray | paper-muffin cups (optional) | Oven preheated to 190 dec C

1.  Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Set aside

2. Crack the egg into the dry mixing and beat on slow. Add the Milk, Vanilla essence and Orange juice and beat slowly till nicely blended.

3.  Line the muffin tray with the paper cups. Alternatively, grease the inside of the muffin tray with a little butter, and dust with a little Maida (all purpose flour).

4.  Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and bake at 190deg C for about 20 mins. To check if done, gently insert a knife/fork /toothpick and see if it comes out clean.

5.  Cool on a wire rack and Enjoy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mutton curry & Naan

I started work this week. Needless to say spending 9 hours at work post a 3 month sabbatical was not exactly easy. Long story-short, Vineet graciously offered to make dinner, and I played sous-chef this time around...This is Vineet's version of Mutton curry, a loose adaption of the receipe that we use to make Chana masala.
I decided to stay out of his way and let him do his thing, and got on with experimenting with home made naan instead.... needless to say, we had a fun evening and a VERY satisfying meal!

Ingredient list:
Mutton - 500gm boneless
5 tbsp Oil 
2 Onions (finely chopped)
2 largish Tomatoes (pureed)
1 large Potato (chopped into cubes)
3 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
6-8 Curry leaves (kadipatta)
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Red Chilli powder
2 tbsp Coriander powder (dhania) 
Dry whole spices:
1-1/2" Cinnamon stick + 5-6 Cloves + 2 Bay leaves + 1 tbsp Fennel seeds (saunf) + 5-6 Whole black peppercorns + 1 Black Cardamom (kali elaichi)

1.  Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Saute the whole dry spices till they begin to sizzle and are aromatic. Add the chopped onions & ginger-garlic paste and sautee till nice and browned. Add the Potato and sautee till slightly soft and golden brown.

2.  Add the Curry leaves, tomato puree and turmeric powder, red chilli powder & coriander powder. Let the gravy bubble away till the tomato is cooked through.

3.  Add the mutton pieces and stir gently to ensure that each piece is coated nicely in the thick gravy. Add a cup of water and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Switch off the heat.

4.  Open the lid of the pressure cooker and open cook the gravy till it thickens to your liking. Add a little water if if thickens too much. Add Salt as per taste.

5.  Garnish with chopped fresh Coriander and Dig in!!

( Makes 3-4 naans)

250g Plain flour (maida)
1 tsp Dried yeast
125 ml Milk (room temperature)
3/4 tsp Salt + 1/2 tsp sugar
1-1/2 tbsp Plain Dahi
15g ghee / unsalted butter

Kitchen Essentials:
Glass bowl / Wooden spoon &
Oven with Grill - preheated to highest temperature setting

1.  Sprinkle the yeast into 50ml of milk and let it stand for about 5 minutes. Stir it in to dissolve an make into a paste.

2.  Mix the flour + salt + sugar in a glass/plastic bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeasted milk + dahi + butter/ghee and gently stir with a wooden spoon to make a sticky soft dough using the remaining milk if needed.

3. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. The stickiness of the dough will gradually reduce and it will be easier to knead as you go along. Knead for about 8-10 minutes to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well throughout the dough.

4.  Put into a clean glass/plastic* bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Leave it to rise for about 3-4 hours till it doubles in size.

5.  When the dough rises it appears to be puffed as it is filled with gases. Gently punch the risen dough to deflate it and let it rest for another 5-6 minutes.

6.  Divide into 3-4 pieces and roll out till its about 3-5 mm thick. Put onto a baking tray and Grill in a preheated oven-grill for about 4-5 minutes** on one side and about 2 minutes on the second side. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Dab a little butter onto the cooked naan and heat hot, straight outta the grill!

*Yeast reacts with mettalic bowls and the metal will impart a strange and unpleasant flavour to the dough. So ensure you use a plastic/glass bowl/ and wooden spoons to mix the dough.

**The first naan takes the longest (4-5 mins) to cook. Progressive naans need lesser time as the baking sheet is also hot and accelerates the cooking. I'd advise you to stand by and watch, and time the cooking duration depending on how your oven behaves. 

The only disadvantage that making naan using a small oven is that it makes 1 naan at a time... but they turned out so soft and delicious, that they seemed well worth the wait!

Bon appetit!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No fuss Chocolate chip Cookies

Whipped up a batch of these for Vineet's office gang as a post-lunch treat... thank goodness, he is taking all of them to work, or we'd be gobbling them down like the greedy pigs that we are! This receipe makes approximately 15-18 cookies - depending on how large or small you make them.

Dry Ingredients:
110 gms Unsalted butter (soft)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Plain Sugar
1 large Egg
1/4 tsp Vanilla extract

Wet ingredients:
1-1/2 cups Maida
1/2 tbsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Chocolate chips
1/2 cup Walnuts (chopped)

Kitchen Essentials:
Oven @ 180 deg C | Baking sheet | Mixing bowl | Saucepan | Wooden spoon | Table spoon


1.  Heat the saucepan and melt the butter. Switch off the heat. Dissolve both Sugars. Set aside. Cool slightly.

2.  Sift together the Maida + Baking powder + Salt. Add the Chocolate chips & chopped walnuts.

3.  Add the Egg and Vanilla extract to the butter-sugar mixture and whisk gently till mixed well. Ensure that the butter has cooled slightly or the egg might get scrambled!

4.  Pour the liquid contents of the saucepan into the dry mixture and stir using the wooden spoon till it forms a sticky but firm dough. Use a table spoon to drop equal sized mounds on a baking tray with atleast 1" gap between each mound.

5. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180 deg. C for 15-16 mins  / or / till cookies are puffed up and golden brown around the edges.

6. Cool on a wire rack.... EAT!

STORAGE: Store in a air tight container in a cool dry place for upto 5-6 days, if they last that long!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Palak Kadhi

So, Monday evening comes around, and I'm sitting around chatting on facebook  reading, celebrating my last free Monday ( I'm starting on a new job next week!) and I suddenly realize, I need to get dinner together...After spending a day generally vegetating, I wanted to be in and out of the kitchen in a jiffy, so I used up the left over dahi i had in the fridge, and a bunch of Spinach and made some (very yummy) Palak kadhi i.e. taakatli palak bhaaji.  
Bachelor boys, this is simple, filling and super quick. Totally do-able at the end of a tiring work day.... Here goes:

(Serves 2 with ample leftovers) 
1 bunch Spinach (chopped)
1-1/2 cups Plain dahi (sour)
1/2 cup Peanuts (boiled)
2 tbsp Oil / or Ghee
1 tsp Mustard Seeds (rai)
1 tsp Cumin seeds (jeera)
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Ginger paste
4-5 Curry leaves (kadipatta) 
1 green Chilli (chopped in 1/2" pcs) 
Salt + Sugar.

1. Heat oil and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds. When the seeds stop sputtering, add the Turmeric powder and Ginger paste. 

2. Saute the ginger for a few seconds and add the Curry leaves, and chopped chillies.

3. Add the boiled peanuts and lightly fry for a minute or so, then add the chopped Spinach and stir, till the Spinach wilts and cooks through.

4. Finally, add the Dahi and a 1/4 cup of water and stir to mix well. Bring to a boil while stirring continuously to keep the dahi from curdling. Add salt & sugar as per preferance.

*If the dahi that you have is'nt sour enough, add a few drops of lemon juice or 1/2 tsp of Tamarind paste.*

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quick 'n Easy Green Chilli Pickle

My grandmother makes this brilliant, spicy yet tangy pickled green chillies, that go very well with, well, almost anything... plain warm rotis, dal-rice, paranthas, and even just a slice of bread! I made this to go with the assorted paranthas I made for Sunday lunch.

*Since this pickle is low on salt and oil, store it in a glass bottle in the refrigerator.*

1 cup Green chillies (chopped into 1/2" pieces)
1 tbsp whole black Mustard seeds( rai)
1 tbsp whole Fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
1/2 tbsp Mustard seeds- coarsely ground
1/2 tbsp Fenugreek seeds-coarsely ground
4-5 Lemons ( juice)
1/4 cup Olive / refined vegetable Oil
1/2 tsp Asafoetida powder (Heeng)
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder + Salt (as per taste)

1.  Wash and dry the green chillies and chop them into 1/2" long pieces. Put into a glass bowl and set aside.
2.  Mix the Turmeric powder, Salt , coarsely ground Mustard & Fenugreek seeds into the chopped chillies (dry mixture)
3.  Heat the oil and lightly fry the whole fenugreek & mustard seeds till they start sputtering. Switch off the flame and add the heeng. Pour entire mixture onto the chillies.
4.  Add the lemon juice and mix well.
5. Cover tightly and let this sit in the refrigerator overnight (atleast 5-6 hours) till all the flavours are released into the oil and the juices. Enjoy!

Paraanthe - waala Blog

Our friends Manasi & Piyush are getting married in a few months. Now both are fans of the great 'Stuffed Indian flatbreads', and Manasi requested I include this one in my blog, for a ready reference on lazy Sunday mornings!
So,I made up a batch of mixed paranthas, to help me quantify the ingredients, and we've had a very satisfying Sunday lunch! :-)

How to stuff a parantha: Take a largish piece of dough and roll it into a thick circle, about the size of a saucer. Put the stuffing in the centre and fold the rest of the dough and seal the stuffing into the dough using your fingers. Roll into desired size using a rolling pin, and fry using a little oil.
Serve with plain dahi / boondi raita / pickles of your choice. 

Good ol' Aaloo Parantha
Ingredients for stuffing:
2 medium sized Potatoes (boiled, mashed)
1 small Onion (finely chopped)
2 tbsp fresh Coriander (chopped)
1 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
1 green Chilli (finely chopped)
1 tbsp Cumin powder (jeera) + 1 tbsp Coriander powder (dhania) +1 tsp Carom seeds (ajwain)
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
Salt (as per taste)

Paneer Parantha:
Ingredients for stuffing:
1-1/2 cups Paneer (grated)
2 tbsp fresh Coriander
1 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
1 green Chilli
1 tbsp Cumin powder
1 tbsp Coriander powder
1 tsp Carom seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder + 1/2 tsp Garam masala
Salt (as per taste)

Kheema parantha:
This is a good way to use up any left over kheema curry, if not, a fresh batch takes hardly any time to make.
Ingredients for Kheema:
1 cup Chicken keema (minced chicken)
1 medium Onion (finely chopped)
1/2 Green Capsicum (finely chopped)
1 medium tomato (pureed)
1 green Chilli (chopped)
1 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tbsp Cumin powder (jeera)
1 tbsp Coriander powder (dhania)

2 tbsp Meat masala powder + 1 tsp Red Chilli powder
2 tbsp fresh Coriander + 2 tbsp fresh Mint leaves (chopped)

Salt (as per taste)

Preparation of the Chicken kheema:
1.  Sautee the chopped Onion, chilli, ginger-garlic paste till light brown. Add chopped Capsicum. Saute till capsicum is cooked.
2.  Add Tomato puree and all the dry spice powders and salt- and cook till fragrant.
3.  Add the Chicken kheema and cook through ( alternatively, pressure cook for 1 or 2 whistles) 
4. Once the kheema is cooked through, remove the lid and open cook and dry out the kheema till it is moist, but all the water is absorbed. 
5. Add the chopped Coriander and mint leaves and mix well. Stuff into dough and roll out the parantha as usual.

Andaa (egg) Parantha:
Ingredients for stuffing:
2 large Eggs
1 medium Onion (chopped)
1 medium tomato (chopped)
1 green Chilli (chopped)
1/2 tsp Garam masala
2 tbsp Cheese grated (optional)
1 tbsp Fresh green Coriander (chopped)

Preparation of the Andaa Parantha: 
1.  Whisk the eggs along with the onions, tomato,chilli,cheese and garam masala.
2.  Roll out a 2 plain rotis to the required size.
3.  Put the rolled out roti onto the frying pan and wait for a few seconds till it begins to set. Pour the whisked egg mixture onto the roti and sprinkle the coriander leaves over the setting omlette.
4. Place 2nd the rolled out roti onto the omlette when it is almost set,and wait for it to cook through and become firm.
5. Drizzle a little oil over the roti and flip over and fry till golden brown.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Home made Bread & French Style Roast Lamb!

Now, I'm not exactly the kind of person who follows a given recipe religiously, but when it comes to baking, I am careful. Its always a good idea to go over the details of a recipe a couple of times, to accustom oneself with the process and not miss out a key ingredient.
My fascination with food, has resulted in my being hooked to Food Network Asia, a channel that has been sent from the gods above for people like me. A show on the history & technique of bread making, encouraged me give it a shot! I also have a book on French family cooking , bought at a book sale in Gurgaon, that I was yet to use.

So, armed with the books and the determination, we spent the better part of our afternoon in baking some bread to go with the French style Roast lamb for dinner, as a treat for Vineet, who has been working very hard these past few weeks! I have done my best in trying to simplify the explanation and keep it as concise as possible... Its my attempt to encourage you to try this at home! :) Bon appetit! 

(Pain Ordinaire, makes 1, 16" long loaf)

250g Whole wheat flour
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Dried yeast (rehydrated with 50ml water) 
125 ml Water

Kitchen essentials:
Glass bowl
Wooden Spoon
Oven @ 200 deg. C
Clean hands!

The Process: 
Making one loaf took me about 3-1/2 hours - of which the actual work was just 20-25 minutes. The main chunk of time is spent in letting the dough rise - So don't let the time frame worry you :)

01. Dissolve the yeast in 50ml of water and let it rest till it foams and rises (about 5-7 mins).

02. Put the flour & salt into a bowl and make a 'well' in the centre. Pour the frothy yeast into the well and gently mix a little of the flour into it till it makes a soft paste. Leave to rest for about 15 mins. The frothy mixture will rise.

03. Slowly, start pouring in about 100 ml of the water, and stir gently to form into a soft-sticky dough.

04. Gently mix the flour into a dough- at this point it will start pulling away from the surface of the bowl and become very sticky.

05. Knead the dough gently on a floured surface and keep turning it as you go, to ensure that you apply even pressure throughout and mix the yeast evenly throughout the dough.

06. Knead for about 10 mins, till the dough is soft and silky to touch.

 07. Transfer the kneaded dough into a clean glass bowl (large) and leave it to rise and double in size for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. If your kitchen is warm like mine, the dough will rise in about 1 hr 15 mins. Cover it with a cotton towel/napkin.
08. The dough will double in size and be full of air. Gently deflate the risen dough with a clean fist, and let it rest for another 5-10 minutes. (This process is called 'Knocking')

 09. Transfer the dough to a clean surface and flatten it into a thick circular shape. Fold one half of the circle towards the centre and then the other, till it looks like shown in the picture. Seal the joint line with a little pressure using your fingers.
10. Cover with a napkin and let it rise to double its size-for about 30-40 mins.
 11. Transfer the shaped & risen dough upside down onto a floured baking tray. The bread will rise a little during baking as well, so ensure your tray is large enough

12. Use a sharp knife and score diagonal lines on the surface
12. Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 220 deg C, or till the crust is golden brown in colour.

13. To check if it is completely baked, pick up the loaf and tap the underside with your knuckles - it should sound 'hollow'.

14. Cut 1/2" thick slices and
eat Greedily!

(Feeds 2 relatively hungry tummies)

450g Boneless leg/shoulder of lamb
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
Salt + Pepper (for seasoning)
1/4 cup White Wine 
5-6 nos baby Potatoes (peeled)
5-6 nos baby Onions (peeled)

For stuffing:
2 tbsp Butter (saltless)
1 medium Onion - chopped
1 tbsp chopped garlic                                                                          
1/4 cup long grained rice ( I used Basmati                             
1 bunch baby Spinach leaves                                                                 
1 pkt Button Mushrooms ( 4-5 thickly sliced, leave the rest whole)                                                 
2 tbsp concentrated chicken stock
1/2 tsp dried thyme + 1/2 tsp dried basil 

Kitchen equipment:
Oven preheated to 220 deg C | Wooden Skewers | Saucepans | Mallet / rolling pin | Baking tray | Aluminum foil

01. Preheat the oven to 220 deg C.

02. Flatten the lamb meat using a mallet or rolling pin till its about 1/2" thick. Season with salt, pepper and thyme and set aside.
03. Heat the butter in a Saucepan till it starts frothing. Saute the chopped onions and garlic till the onions appear slightly translucent.

04. Add the rice and chicken stock along with 1/2 cup of water. Season with the thyme and basil and simmer on a gentle flame till the rice is tender and almost cooked. Cover with a lid. Set aside.
05. Saute the sliced mushrooms, baby potatoes & baby onions separately.Brown well. Set aside. (ensure you saute the mushrooms separately as they release water and will make the potatoes and onions soggy)

06. Saute the baby spinach leaves till they're wilted.Get rid of any extra liquid that might be released during cooking and ensure that the leaves are moist but not drippy.

07. Lay the lamb seasoned lamb meat flat on your the work surface. Lay the layer of sauteed spinach, followed by the rice and lastly with the sauteed mushrooms. Fold the meat around the stuffing and secure the shape with wooden/metal skewers.

08. Arrange in a baking tray lined with aluminum foil (to collect the juices). Arrange the sauteed baby potatoes and onions and remaining whole button mushrooms around the lamb.

09. Roast in a preheated oven @ 220 deg C for 45-60 mins, depending on how 'well done' you'd prefer the meat to be.

10. Carve and serve with freshly grilled garlic bread. 
(For garlic butter, mix 1 crushed garlic clove+ 2 tbsp soft salted butter+pinch of salt)

11. Enjoy with a glass of chilled wine of your choice. 

Feel free to add more sauteed veggies to the baking pan along with the baby onions&potatoes... Capsicum, tomatoes (cut in half), sweet potatoes (cut into chunks) should work really well!