26 October 2015

Stuffed Karela in Gravy

        What's the one vegetable that tops the list of 'Least liked veggies' ??? Of course, Bitter gourd, or the humble 'Karela'!! It's always a challenge to serve the more likeable vegetables in as different and interesting variations as possible, so imagine how much the mind needs to rake up its creative juices to make the un-interesting vegetables, appealing!!
Here, I attempt a simple stuffed Karela in a basic gravy....

Ingredients :
Tender Bitter gourd (Karela) - 2 medium
Salt - 2 tbsps
Chili powder - 1 tsp

Gravy :
Tomatoes - 3 medium
Red Pumpkin (cubed) - 1 cup
Onions - 2 medium
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Garlic - 2 to 3 cloves
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 tbsps
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 2 tsps
Turmeric poweder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 2 tsps

Stuffing :
Crumbled paneer - 1 cup
Finely chopped spinach (palak) - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp

Oil for shallow frying


1. Peel the bitter gourd to remove the ridges and make it as smooth as possible. Cut into 1cm thick roundels, scoop out to make them hollow and add to a bowl. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and 1 tsp chili powder. Shake well and keep aside for about 10 minutes. 

2. Meanwhile, grind onions, ginger and garlic into a fine paste. Grind tomato and red pumpkin separately.

3. Wash the bitter gourd roundels well in running water and drain. Steam cook with a little bit of salt sprinkled over them, for about 10 minutes or till 3/4th tender. Keep aside.

4. Heat 2 tbsps oil in a kadhai/pan. Add jeera and let crackle. Add the onion-ginger-garlic paste along and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.

5. Add salt, turmeric pwder, chili powder, garam masala and let fry. Once the oil separates, add in the tomato-pumpkin gravy. Stir occasionally and let cook for 5 to 7 minutes more. Check for salt and turn off the flame once gravy is done.

6. For the stuffing, just keeping it simple - mix together the crumbled paneer, spinach, salt, chili powder and garam masala. 

7. Fill this stuffing inside each steamed karela round. Heat oil for shallow frying. Gently drop in the stuffed karelas and fry on low to medium heat, on both sides till golden brown. Remove and drain excess oil.

8. When ready to serve, warm the gravy. Place the fried karela on the serving plates and gently pour the gravy on top or around. Garnish with coriander.

19 October 2015

Stuffed Multi-grain Parathas

Day 5 of Navratri and third day of Lakshmi pooja (3 days each for Durga-Lakshmi-Saraswathi), this also coincided with something to prepare for our 10th #FoodieMonday #BlogHop, and this week the theme was food that we prepare during the festival. Anything ranging from Faraali dishes to sweets, to simple daily prasad....My preparation...stuffed Multi-grain Parathas. 
With my new-found love, actually turning into obsession (!!), for millets, this one has both Bajra and Ragi flours with multi-grain wheat flour to supplement and to help in binding.

Ingredients :

For the dough :
Pearl Millet (Bajra) flour - 1/2 cup
Finger Millet (Ragi) flour - 1/2 cup
Soya flour - 1/4 cup
Multi-grain or whole wheat flour - 1 cup
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp
Water as required

For the stuffing :
Finely chopped carrot - 1/2 cup
Finely chopped capsicum - 1/2 cup
Roughly chopped or torn Spinach leaves - 1 cup
Crumbled Paneer - 1 cup
Cumin (Jeera) seeds - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Turmeric (Haldi) powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1 & 1/2 tsps
Chili powder - 2 tsps
Oil - 2 tbsps

Method :

1. To prepare the dough, add the flours and salt to a bowl. Knead into a soft dough using enough water. Pour a little oil over the top and knead lightly just once. Leave aside to rest for about 10 minutes.

2. Now the stuffing, heat 2 tbsps oil in a pan, add jeera and let crackle.

3. Add chopped carrot along with turmeric powder, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Now add in the capsicum and spinach leaves as well, salt to taste, mix and again cover cook for 5 minutes more. Stir once and finally add the paneer and let cook uncovered for 5 minutes more. 

4. Add garam masala, chili powder and check salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes more and transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. 

5. Divide the dough and stuffing into equal portions. Make a cup of the one dough round and place the stuffing inside. Seal properly and flatten gently. Now roll out into a thick roti of about 1/2 cm thickness. Repeat with remaining dough.

6. Heat a tawa and place the paratha on it to cook. Cook for a bit on both sides, then let cook using oil / ghee till golden brown and well-cooked. 
Note : Due to use of millet, cook the parathas slightly longer till well done.
Remove and serve hot with desired accompaniment.

16 October 2015

Sweet Pongal

Pongal/ Makar Sankranti/Bihu...celebrated under many names across India...One of the greatest Indian festivals..our own Thanksgiving, to nature, our crops, farmers, all that make our every day life great and worth living and looking forward to..
Ingredients :
Rice - 1 cup
Split Green gram(moong dal) - 1/4 cup
Milk - 2 cups
Water - 3 cups + 1/4 cup
Jaggery - 2 cups
Green cardamom (Elaichi) powder - 1/4 tsp
Clarified butter (Ghee) - 1/4 cup
Nutmeg (Jaiphal) powder - 1/4 tsp
Clove (Laung) powder - a pinch (optional)
Cashews - a few
Raisins - a few

1. Lightly toast Moong dal in a pan, only until it lets out aroma. Add to the rice and wash both together. Pressure cook with 3 cups water and milk till well done and very soft. It should be easily mashable.
2. Add jaggery and 1/4 cup water to a wok. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, till all water content evaporates and you get a really sticky syrup. 
3. Remove the cooked rice+dal from the cooker and mash well while still hot. Once the jaggery syrup is ready, add the mashed rice to it a little at a time. Stir really well so that the jaggery and rice+dal are well mixed. Add the ghee and mix.
4. In another pan, heat 1 tbsp ghee and roast Cashews and raising till golden brown. Add to the rice mix in the wok.
5. Sprinkle elaichi powder, nutmeg powder and clove powder. Mix well. 
Serve warm, and to make it even better, pour a generous ladle of ghee over it !!!

15 October 2015

Sprouted Moong Sundal

Day 2 of Navratri, continuing with Ma Durga (3 days each for Durga-Lakshmi-Saraswathi), plus it being Wednesday, Mom & I decided on a "green" prasad. Well..what better than Sprouted Moong Sundal, also known as Pacchai-Payaru Sundal !!!


Ingredients :

Sprouted whole Green gram(Moong) - 1 cup
Oil - 2 tbsps
Mustard (Rai ) seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin (Jeera) seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Chili powder  - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Turmeric (Haldi ) powder - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) powder - 1/4 tsp

Method :

1. Heat oil in a wok or kadhai. Add mustard seeds and let crackle.

2. Add the cumin seeds and curry leaves, sauté for a minute. 

3. Add the moong sprouts, along with turmeric powder, salt, chili powder and hing. mix well. Let cook for about 5-7 minutes, stir once or twice in between.
Remove and serve as desired.

Lemon Rice

Day 3 of Navrathri, and mum completed the 3 days of Durga Pooja (3 days each for Durga-Lakshmi-Saraswathi) Today the prasadam was Lemon Rice, a simple to make, yet delicious rice variety that's quite popular in South Indian kitchens. The variations one can make with this dish is quite amazing, from a simple seasoning to veggies, peanuts, one's creativity is the limit!!

Here comes the recipe ......


Ingredients :

Rice - 1/2 cup
Turmeric (Haldi) powder - 1/2 tsp
Finely chopped vegetables (Mix of carrot & capsicum) - 1/2 cup
Peas - 1/4 cup
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

For seasoning :
Sesame Oil - 2 tbsps
Mustard (Rai) seeds - 1/2 tsp
Bengal gram - 1 tsp
Green chili - 1 large
Curry leaves - a few

Method :

1. Boil or pressure cook washed rice with 1 cup water. Take care not to over-cook, we need a pulao consistency where the grains are separated but cooked. Once done, spread on a plate gently using a fork and let cool to room temperature.

2. Heat oil in a wok, add mustard seeds and let crackle. Add the bengal gram, curry leaves and chopped green chili. Saute for 1 minute. 

3. Now tip in the vegetables along with turmeric powder and salt and let cook till 3/4th done. 

4. Once the vegetables are done, add to the rice. Add lemon juice as well and again using a fork, gently mix all of these with the rice till uniformly done. Check for salt. Optional to garnish with chopped coriander.
Warm the rice before serving.

11 October 2015

Papaya Banana Smoothie

Got some over-ripe fruits at home? Papaya and banana especially can look quite discouraging to consume on their own if too ripe!! But it's criminal to waste food! So here's a healthy and yummy alternative to not just use, but enjoy them!!


Ingredients :

Semi-ripe Papaya (cubed) - 1/2 (or 1 whole if small)
Ripe Banana (cubed) - 1 (I used robusta)
Honey - 3 to 4 tbsps
Thick curd - 1 cup
Milk - 2 tbsps
Clove powder - a pinch

Method :
1. Blend together the papaya and banana pieces.

2. Add the curd and milk and give it another whirl.

3. Finally add the honey and pinch of clove powder, pulse once and transfer to serving jar.

4. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Optional to add fruit chunks and/or dry fruits for added nutrition.

5 October 2015

Potato & Cheese stuffed tartlets

     Starters are just that, a great start to any meal, or just on their own, the perfect accompaniment to catching up on some gossip, or in more technical terms...preparing and balancing one's appetite for the bigger meal ahead!!
For this tartlet, I chose an English-style stuffing, simple potatoes and peas with minimal spices. The stuffing tasted simply wonderful and proved that, sometimes, less is more!! 

Ingredients :

For the tartlets :
All purpose flour -1 cup
Bajra (Pearl Millet flour) - 1/2 cup
Soya flour - 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder - to taste

Stuffing (for the spicy version):
Oil - 1 & 1/2 tbsps
Boiled and mashed potatoes (with salt)- 1 cup
Boiled peas - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Garlic powder - 1/2 tsp
Mixed herbs - 1/2 tsp
Black pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Crushed chili flakes - 1/4 cup
Grated processed cheese - 1/4 cup or 1 cheese slice

Stuffing (for the sweet version) :
Butter - 1/2 tbsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Boiled and mashed Sweet potatoes - 1 cup
Chopped apples - 1/2 cup
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Black pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Chili powder - 1/2 tsp

Grated cheese - for sprinkling
Oil for frying

Method :

1. Let's prepare the stuffing first. [The sweet version is totally optional, I just made it for a variation and since apples are so in season and with the right crunch :) ] Heat 1.5 tbsps oil in a pan, and add the mashed potatoes and peas. Stir the mixture till the oil is well mixed in.

2. Add salt to taste, garlic powder, pepper powder, chili flakes or chili powder and stir well into the mashed veggies. Let cook for about 2 minutes on low flame. Now add the grated cheese/cheese slice and the herbs. Stir again and check for salt. Let cook for 1 minute more and turn off the flame. 
 3. For the sweet version, heat butter and oil in a pan. Add the chopped apples and let cook on low flame for 2-3 minutes. Add in the cooked sweet potatoes and mix well. Add salt to taste, very little as we only want to enhance the sweetness in contrast! Add pepper and chili powder as well and stir in till well-mixed. Let cook for 2-3 minutes more and remove. Let cool.
4. Now for the 'tartlets'..... Sieve together the flours and add the salt and pepper powder. Knead into a soft but firm dough using sufficient water. Divide into small and equal portions. 

5. Heat oil for frying. Roll out a dough portion into a puri or a round 2 inches in diameter. Wrap over an aluminium cupcake mould and press gently. Prick all over with fork and drop carefully into the oil. 
Press down to hold the mould in place for few seconds and to let the fried puri retain its shape before the mould frees itself. Then remove the cupcake mould out of the oil and let the puri fry on low heat for few seconds more. 
Do not fry till golden brown and crisp as we will be further baking these along with the stuffing.

6. Repeat with the rest of the dough and drain excess oil. Now fill the puris with the prepared stuffing and sprinkle grated cheese on top. Preheat oven at 170 deg C. 
[Note : I use a microwave oven, so to pre-heat I tend to place some water in a micro-proof bowl and run it on high for a minute or so. ]

7. Arrange the stuffed puris or tartlets in a baking dish and bake for about 10-15 minutes till cheese turns golden brown. In the micro, I baked them for about 7-8 minutes.
Serve hot with desired accompaniment.