Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shahi Paneer

Shahi Paneer is a mildly spiced paneer dish with rich and creamy gravy. Depending on the restaurant you go to here in the Seattle area, you might see shredded paneer or cubes of paneer in the creamy gravy. We, at my house like the shredded variation better, so I am posting the recipe for the same. This dish is known by many names such as paneer bhurji, mughlai paneer, paneer korma etc. All of them have the same gravy base with minor variations.

500 Grams Paneer, At Room Temperature
2 Tablespoon Ghee,
1-1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder,
¼ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder,
¼ Teaspoon Asafoetida (Hing),
1 Teaspoon Ginger, Grated
1 Medium Onion, Finley Chopped
1 Cup Frozen Green Peas,
2 Medium Tomatoes,
2 Teaspoon Tomato Paste,
¾ Cup Heavy Cream, or Whole Milk,
¾ cup Water,
1 Teaspoon Poppy Seeds,
1 Teaspoon Watermelon Seeds, or 2 Teaspoon Cashews,
Salt to Taste
1 Tablespoon Sugar,
1-1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala,
1/8 Teaspoon Cardamom Powder

Keep the paneer out of the fridge for an hour to bring it to room temperature. Once it becomes soft, grate it using the coarse side of the grater. Keep aside. Cut the tomatoes into big pieces. Soak the poppy seeds and watermelon seeds (or cashews) in three tablespoon water for 10-15 minutes then combine it with tomato pieces and grind to a fine paste.

Heat the ghee in a pan. When it is hot, add the cumin seeds. When the seeds start to crackle, add the asafoetida powder and onions. Turn the heat to medium and cover. Cook until the onions turn translucent. Add the peas and stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Now add the ground tomatoes, and the tomato paste. Cover and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until the ghee starts separating on sides. Now add the cream, water, chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and salt. Stir to combine the well. Now add the paneer and stir ones making sure not to break the shreds as much as possible. Cover with a splatter and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the paneer has turned soft and the gravy has thickened. Add the cardamom powder and sugar at this point. Cook for a minute, and then take off the heat. Serve hot with paratha.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quinoa Pilaf or Quinoa Upma

Quinoa is a type of edible seed native to South America. It is high in protein, iron fiber and contains a lot of minerals. It is sometimes called “super grain” or “super food”. It can also be substituted for a rice dish, though it imparts a distinct nutty flavor to the dish. You can get Quinoa at any health food store here in the USA.

My husband doesn’t like rice as much, but he can happily have Quinoa with any curry dish.

I am posting a recipe for Quinoa pilaf here. I had this pilaf for the first time at the Iskon Temple here in Wa. Since Quinoa is not considered a grain, they serve this dish here along with other curries for fasts. I liked its taste, and realized that we can cook Quinoa with some Indian spices too. So I decided to try to make it at home.

Here is what you will need for making Quinoa Pilaf (or Quinoa Upma as my friend calls it).
½ Cup Quinoa Seeds,
1.5 Cups Water,
Salt to Taste,
¼ Cup Frozen Green Peas (You Can Also Use Mixed Vegetables),
1 Small Potato, Cut Into 2 Inch Cubes
1 Tomato, Cut into Medium Pieces,
2 Teaspoon Oil,
3 Green Chilis, Slit
½ Teaspoon Grated Ginger, or a ½ Inch Piece Cut into Slices,
½ Teaspoon Mustard Seeds,
½ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds,
¼ Teaspoon Asafoetida,
½ Teaspoon Lemon Juice,
¼ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder,
½ Teaspoon Garam Masala

Wash the seeds twice. Let it drain in a colander or in a strainer for atleast 15-20 minute. Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Once the seeds start crackling, add the slit chilies, cumin seeds and ginger. Cook for a minute or two then add the asafoetida powder. Cook for 30 more seconds.

Lower the heat to medium, and add the peas (or frozen vegetables) potatoes and some salt. If the veggies start sticking to the bottom of the pan, sprinkle some water. Stir once to coat the veggies with the oil and the spices, then cover and cook until the potatoes just start to turn soft. Then add the drained quinoa seeds and stir and roast for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, water, turmeric powder and the garam masala powder. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat to low (simmer) and cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until the seeds have absorbed all the water.

Take off the heat, fluff it with a fork, and add the lemon juice. Mix well and serve hot with cold yogurt or any curry on side.

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Fangavela Mag or Sprouted & Stir Fried Mung Beans

Fangavela mag (sprouted mung beans) is a very healthy and popular Gujarati dish, which requires no time to cook once you have sprouted mung beans ready.

To sprout mung beans follow the method below.
1. Soak 1 cup mung beans overnight in two cups of water.
2. The next day, drain the water out into another container. TIP: You can use the saved water in other curries or also to make chapatti dough. The water has nutrients so don’t throw it away.
3. Transfer the mung beans in a flat container or even better… in a strainer. Sometimes, when I use a flat bottom container, I find that the beans on the bottom of the container don’t get sprouts for a long time, so I prefer a strainer myself. Cover and leave for 12 hours.
4. The next day you will see that the beans have swollen up and tiny sprouts have started to form. For the next few days wash and drain the mung beans every 12 hours until the sprouts reach a desired size. The key is to not let the beans dry-out completely.

I usually let the sprouts grow about ½ inch long.

Now for the stir fry, here is what you will need.
2 Cups Sprouted Mung beans
3 Green Chilies, Slit,
½ Teaspoon Ginger, Grated or a 1/4 Inch Piece Cut into Thin Slices,
2 Teaspoon Oil,
¾ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds,
1-1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice,
½ Teaspoon Sugar, Optional,
¼ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder,
1/8 Teaspoon Asafoetida,
Salt to Taste

Wash and drain the mung beans once. Heat oil in a pan, when it is hot, add the cumin seeds. When the seeds start spluttering, add the asafoetida, ginger, slit chilies and the turmeric powder. Let it cook for about 30-40 seconds, and then add the mung bean sprouts. Add salt, and stir thoroughly to coat the sprouts with oil and turmeric mixture. Turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. Sprinkle some water if needed while cooking. Cook until the beans have turned soft but still retained their shape. We do not want the beans to be mushy. Check by pressing a few beans with the help of your forefinger and thumb. You should be able to crush the beans when you apply some pressure.

Turn off the heat. Now add the sugar and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly and serve hot as is.

Serving Tip:
-- This dish can be had as is.
-- You can also serve this with hot rice and kadhi.
-- A friend of mine in college used to bring this in lunch box. She would add finely chopped onions, and tomatoes to add some crunch, and sprinkle some chat masala at the end.

I think this dish tastes great in anyway. Try it with roti, rice-kadhi, paratha, as a chat or just as is, and see how you like it the best.

Sorry for the picture quality. I didn't get a change to take pictures with the camera. So I took this one with my phone while I was at work.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sukha Bhel and Sukha Bhel Chutney

Sukha bhel is one of my favourite street side foods sold in Bombay. Actually when I think of the street side food sold in Bombay, I have to ask myself, which dish do I not like??:). Excluding a dish or two, I think I like all the chaat/rekdi food sold in Bombay, sukha bhel being one of them.

Sukha (dry) bhel, as the name suggests, is the bhel served without (wet) chutneys. The main ingredient which gives this bhel a unique taste is a special dry chtuney used to make this bhel, and my building's bhelwala baiya used to make it the best:). I still miss the sukhabhel I used to get when I was in India. I had been looking for the dry chtuney recipe for such a long time, and atlast I found it on Tarla Dalal's website.

As soon as I saw the recipe, I HAD to try it:). It turned out pretty close to the dry chutney I am used to eating in sukha bhel. Here I am giving you the recipe for making sukha bhel, including the recipe for the sukha chutney.

Sukha Bhel Ingredients:
1 Cup Puffed Rice,
1/4 Cup Fine Sev,
1/4 Teaspoon Black Salt (Sanchal),
1/4 Teaspoon Chaat Masala
2 Tablespoon Roasted and Salted Chana Dal, (I used masala chana dal)
1 Teaspoon Roasted and Salted Peanuts,
1 Tablespoon Chopped Onion,
1 Green Chili, Finley Chopped (Optional)
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice,
1 Teaspoon Sukha Chutney, (Recipe Follows), or to Taste
3 Puris (Used For Sev Puri), Broken into Small Pieces
1 Puri (For Serving/Decoration)

Method for Sukha Bhel:
Combine all of the above ingredients together. Mix well and serve.

Ingredients for Sukha Tikha Chutney (from Tarla Dalal's Website)
1 Cup Mint Leaves, Washed and Patted Dry
1/4 Cup Coriander Leaves, Washed and Patted Dry
1.5 Tablespoon Roasted Chana Daal or Daria, (I used about 2.5 Teaspoon)
2-3 Green Chilies, Chopped, or to Taste ( I used 5)
2 Tablespoon Puffed Rice (Kurmura or Mamra),
Salt to Taste,
A Pinch Turmeric Powder
A Pinch Asafoetida,

Method for Sukha Tikha Chutney
Combine all of the above ingredients and grind to a coarse powder. When ground using a mixer grinder, this should result in a big lump (ball).

Note: I used Tarla Dalal's recipe as a base and modified it to suit my taste. The recipe calls out for 2-3 green chilies, which resulted in a pretty bland chutney for my taste, so I add 2 more chilies. I also added a little more roasted chana dal, because I felt that when I mixed the chutney with the bhel, the lump didn't break down, so it needed to be a bit more drier.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stuffed Karela

Karela or Bitter Gourd is a vegetable which has many good medicinal properties, but it is disliked by the most because of its bitter taste. Click Here to read about some of its medicinal properties.

Some people coat this vegetable with salt for an hour and drain out the liquid to reduce the bitterness, and some people add gud (jaggery) for the same. I prefer adding jaggery rather than squeezing out all the liquid because, the liquid has a lot of nutritional value.

I am Gujarati, and as you know that all traditional Gujarati dishes have to have jaggery or sugar added to it:), karela is no exception either. I know some people who make this subzi by squeezing out the liquid (removing bitterness and nutrition) AND adding gud (for better taste). I think it is the worst of all the options.

I agree that karela is too bitter to eat without adding a lot of gud to the subzi, but I think, if you can add some other ingredients to the subzi to subside the bitterness, but still retain its nutritional value, it is more beneficial.

Usually, when I make karela, I make it like any other subzis, but last night, I tried a little different method. I made stuffed karela. I had never made this before, and I didn’t have any recipe to follow, so I added the ingredients that I thought might go well with the subzi. Here is how I made it.

5-6 Small Karelas (Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon),
2 Tablespoon Oil (You can add more oil if you want to make the subzi a bit crunchy)
1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
¼ Teaspoon Hing (Asafoetida)

4 Tablespoon Besan (Gram Flour),
2 Tablespoon Coarsely Ground Roasted Peanuts,
2 Teaspoon Jaggery, Shredded or Cut into Very Small Pieces,
1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds,
Salt to taste
¼ Teaspoon Turmeric,
1.5 Teaspoon Chili Powder, or to Taste,
1.5 Teaspoon Coriander-Cumin Powder,
1/8 Teaspoon Garam Masala

Mix all the stuffing ingredients and keep aside.

Wash the karelas thoroughly and scrape off the skin. Make a lengthwise slit and hollow them out by removing the seeds. Stuff the besan mixture in the karelas and steam them for 20 minutes or until they are tender, but can still hold their shape.

Take out of the steamer and cut them into small pieces (small rounds).

Heat oil in a frying pan; when it is hot, add the cumin seeds. Once the seeds start to crackle, add the asafoetida. Now add about 1/8th cup water to this. Add the steamed and cut karela pieces and stir gently. Cover and cook on low flame for 5-7 minutes. Take off of the stove, and serve hot with roti or paratha.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Makai ni Khichdi or Makai no Chevdo

Makai ni khichdi or Makai no chevdo as it is know by the most people, is a popular snack in Gujarat, but I had never heard of it until I got married:). It is prepared by cooking fresh corn kernels in milk, along with coconut, coriander and some spices.

I was born and brought up in Bombay. Despite of being Gujarati, I never realized that we (in my family) didn’t make many authentic Gujarati dishes, and had never even heard of them. My MIL makes many authentic Gujarati dishes, which either I hadn’t tasted before, or I had never heard of them before. Makai no chevdo is one of them. They call it chevdo, but to me it looks more like khichdi. This is one of the healthy and tasty Gujarati dishes which everyone should try.

My MIL makes it with yellow corn kernels available here in the USA. I am not sure if they make it with white corn in India. I personally think that the yellow corn version is better, because it is naturally sweet, and no additional sugar is needed in this recipe.

Here is the recipe.
1 Cup Frozen Corn Kernels, Thawed (You can use fresh corn too),
½ Cup Milk,
¼ Cup Water,
Salt to Taste
1 Teaspoon Chili-Ginger Paste (or Per Taste)
¼ Cup Shredded Coconut (Fresh or Frozen),
½ Cup Chopped Cilantro,
1/8 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder, Optional
1 Tablespoon Oil,
¼ Teaspoon Mustard Seeds,
¼ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds,
A Pinch Asafoetida
Lemon Slices, Optional

Pulse the corn kernels in a grinder 2-3 times such that it resembles a coarse mixture. You can leave some kernels unbroken, it is perfectly fine. Just make sure to not make a smooth paste out of the corn.

Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds to it. Once they finish crackling, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Wait for 30 seconds, and then add the corn, salt and chili ginger paste. Stir and cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes making sure that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Now add the milk, water, cilantro, coconut and the turmeric powder. Turn the heat to medium, cover the pan with a splatter guard and cook the mixture until most of the liquid evaporates. The resulting mixture should have khichdi-like (rice pudding) consistency. I prefer mine a little on drier side, so I cook it a little longer. This is it, your Makai no Chevdo or Makai ni Khichdi is ready to be served.

Serve hot by garnishing with some chopped cilantro and putting some lemon slices on side.

Note: No pictures of this dish. My husband loves it so much that as soon as it is off of the stove and onto a serving plate, it goes into his tummy. Next time, I will remember to take a picture of it before I serving.

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Churma Laddus or Churma na Ladwa(Ladva)

Churma laddu or Churma na ladva is a very famous sweet made from whole wheat flour, ghee and jaggery. We usually make these laddus during Ganesh Chaturthi. This year, I was a bit busy during Ganesh Chaturthi, and never got time to make these laddus, so I made them during navaratri:)

Churma na ladva are made by making a stiff dough out of wheat flour and ghee. This dough is then divided into small portions and deep fried in ghee until crispy. Then it is ground to a coarse powder. This powder is called Churma. Warm ghee and jaggery is added to the churma in order to form ladva.

This was my first time making these laddus, so I was a bit nervous. Ofcourse I didn’t want to fry the flour in ghee, so I took a healthier approach (suggested by my mom). My first trial didn’t turn out very good, so I tried them again the next day, and the result was very good.

Here is the recipe
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (Coarse flour if possible)
1/4th Cup Ghee
1/3rd Cup Jaggery (Gud), Grated or Broken into Very Small Pieces
A Pinch Nutmeg Powder
1/4th Cup Milk
1 Tablespoon Khus Khus (Poppy Seeds)
1 Tablespoon Slivered Almonds, Toasted


Melt half of the ghee and add to the flour. Mix well. Now add 3-4 Tablespoon of milk in order to form stiff dough. Add more milk if needed. Cover the dough and keep aside for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough in equal portions and roll out a 4 inch diameter disc. This is called Bhakhari. Heat a tava (non stick pan) at low-medium heat. Cook the bhakhari on both sides until it turns golden brown and crispy. Cook the rest of the bhakhari and allow them to cool. Now break the bhakharis into small pieces and grind them to a coarse powder. This powder is called churma.

Heat the remaining ghee and milk in separate containers. Combine the ground powder (churma), nutmeg powder, almond and jaggery in a plate. Pour the melted ghee over the mixture and mix well. While mixing make sure to break the gud with your hands so that no lumps are formed and the gud gets evenly mixed with the flour. Now add 2-3 tablespoon of the milk and mix well. We are adding milk just to bind the flour so that we can form laddus out of it. After adding a little milk, check and see if you can form round balls out of the flour. If not, add some more milk until you are able to form balls.

Spread the poppy seeds in a plate. Roll the balls in the seeds to coat all sides. Let them cool completely and put them in an airtight container. Store them in refrigerator since it contains milk.

(Pictures to be uploaded shortly:))

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