29 February 2016

Masur Dailor Bor (Red Lentil Fritters)

            Exploring the flavours of #NorthEastCuisine for the 29th #FoodieMonday #Bloghop, I picked a popular Assamese dish - 'Masur Dailor bor' or Red Lentil fritters that are usually served on the side with rice and Dal. A variation as always, used Pearl millet / Bajra flour along with Rice.
Masur Dailor bor
Ingredients : 
Red Lentils (Masoor dal) - 1 cup
Rice - 2 tbsps
Pearl millet (Bajra) flour - 2 tbsps
Salt to taste
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1/2 tsp
Green Chili (chopped) - 1 big
Coriander leaves, chopped
Chopped onions (optional)
Spinach leaves, chopped (optional)
Asafoetida powder (hing) - 1/4 tsp (optional)

Method :
1. Wash and soak the lentils and rice together for 3 hours. 
2. Drain water and coarsely grind in a mixer. Add the bajra flour, salt to taste, hing and grind again to a thick paste using as little water as possible. Remove to a bowl.
3. Heat oil for frying. Add the cumin seeds, chopped green chili, coriander and spinach leaves and mix well with the batter. Check for salt.

4. Using a spoon or hands, drop small fritters or portions into the medium hot oil. Take care to let them fry first on low- medium flame then increase so that the batter within gets evenly cooked as well. Remove once fried to golden brown.
Drain excess oil, serve with accompaniment of choice, or as a side with Rice and lentils.

23 February 2016

Panchratni Dal

              The classic Panchratni Dal - a gem of a dish with typically five lentils, combined with spices and served with rice or Indian breads. Make it even more classic by serving some cut onions and green chilies on the side!!!
Ingredients :
Lentils :
Bengal gram (Chana Dal) - 60 gms
Whole Black gram ( Urad dal) - 60 gms
Split pigeon peas ( Arahar dal) - 30 gms
Split green gram (Moong dal) - 60 gms
Split red lentil ( Masoor dal) - 60 gms
Turmeric pwd (haldi )  - 1 tsp
Asafoetida (hing) - a pinch
Curds - 1 tbsp

Salt to taste
Ginger paste - 2 tsps
Onion - 1 small (ground)
Tomato - 1 big (pureed)
Chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Ground black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1 tsp
Clarified butter (Ghee) - 1/3 cup
Green chilies - 2

1. Wash the lentils together, pressure cook with enough water and turmeric powder till 3/4th done. Take care not to over cook. Remove once pressure reduces and transfer to a pan.

2. Prepare a tempering by heating 1 tbsp ghee and adding hing to it. Roast for a minute and add to the cooked lentils. Heat pan containing the lentils, add salt to taste, chili powder, black peppers, curds and let simmer.

3. Heat the remaining ghee in another pan. Add the ground onion and ginger paste and saute till light brown.

4. Add jeera, chopped green chilies and tomato puree and let cook till gravy thickens. Check for salt. Add the simmering lentils to this gravy, mix well and cover-cook for 7-8 minutes.
Remove, garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot.

22 February 2016

Eggless Red Velvet Cupcakes

                 True foodies love to be inspired by others' culinary creations. I recall the time when exchanging recipes on paper, scouring through magazines and proudly possessing that neatly catalogued recipe book was a delight in those good ol' days. 
                 Now that everyone has access to almost every information they seek, the recipe book might have been literally 'shelved', but the trend of being inspired will continue forever. For our 28th bloghop theme, we chose to be inspired by recipes from each other's blogs, and give it a twist if we want too!!
                 I was spoilt for choice in selecting from my Bloghop mate, Preethi's blog I chose a simple Eggless red velvet cupcake recipe as I have been looking to try it for quite sometime now. I liked that fact that this recipe used wheat flour & no fat and looked so simple to make. Baking always makes me nervous, so I found it especially comforting !!!
Only change, I used strawberry compote (happy that they are in season!!) instead of the food colour. 
Red velvet cupcake
150 ml Wheat flour
50 ml Refined flour
6 tbsps + 1 tbsp Powdered Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 cup finely chopped strawberries (if in season, else use red food grade colour)
100ml Milk
Whipped cream, Chopped strawberries for garnishing

1. Heat a non-stick pan, add 1 cup strawberries and 1 tbsp sugar to it and let caramelise. If the strawberries are medium sweet, then use 2 tbsps sugar instead. Stir occasionally and mash lightly till the strawberries are soft. I wanted a bite to them, so did not cook till too soft. This should take about 10 mins or so. Remove and let cool.

2. Sieve together the flours, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Since using wheat flour I sieved them at least thrice. 

3. Add in the milk and mix well. Finally add the cooled strawberry compote and mix again. Pour the batter into greased cupcake moulds. I use a combination microwave oven. I baked at 200 deg C for about 5 minutes followed by 4 more minutes at 170 deg C, or till the knife came out clean. 
Remove and let cool to room temperature. Decorate with whipped cream and strawberries or jam. Serve.

15 February 2016

Achaari Subz Pulao

               Be it a quiet weekend afternoon, guests for lunch or special dinner, this Achaari Subz Pulao is one of those ultimate One-pot meals that will have you craving for more...
My contribution for the 27th Foodie Monday Blog Hop, with the theme of North Indian dishes.

Ingredients :
Basmati Rice - 1.5 cups (washed lightly and soaked for 1 hour)
Warm Milk - 1 tsp
Saffron strands - a pinch
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon stick - 1"piece
Cloves - 2
Green cardamom (Choti Elaichi) - 2
Oil - 2-3 tbsps
Salt to taste
For the marination
Paneer (cubed) - 1 cup
Soya chunks (soaked in warm water for 1 hour) - 1/2 cup
Par-boiled Mixed vegetables (Green peas, carrot, French beans) - 1 cup
Blanched Cauliflower - 1/4 cup
Blanched Broccoli - 1/4 cup
Curds - 3/4 cup (water drained)
Masala paste from Mango or Chili pickle(recipe for Stuffed Chili pickle here) - 1.5 tbsps
Fennel seeds (Saunf) - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds (Methi) - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1 tsp
Turmeric pwd (Haldi ) - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Method :
1. For the achaari marination, blend curds and the achaar (pickle) paste together till smooth. To this, add saunf, sarson, methi seeds, jeera, haldi, oil and salt and blend coarsely. Take care not to grind the spices too fine. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Add paneer, soaked and drained soya chunks, vegetables and marinate for 20 minutes. 
3. Heat a grill pan or non-stick pan. Grill / shallow fry the vegetables and paneer till light golden brown (without the marination mixture) with very little oil. No need to grill the soya chunks. They can be left in the marination till the rice is ready, so they can soak the spices better.

4. For preparing the rice, boil the basmati rice in a vessel full of water and added salt, till 90% done. Take care not to over cook. Drain and let cool to room temperature.

5. Add the saffron strands to 1 tbsp warm milk and let soak. Add to the cooked rice, mix gently and keep aside while we prepare the tempering.

6. Heat oil in a large wok or kadhai, add jeera, cinnamon stick, cloves, elaichi and fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add the fried vegetables, paneer and soya chunks (marination drained) and lightly mix. Finally add the rice and mix gently so that the seasoning spices coat all the ingredients evenly. 
Serve hot with raita and roasted papad.

10 February 2016

Bajra with curd

                 There is a growing interest and fondness for the use of millets and multi grains in our diet. Millets have been the backbone of our cuisine for ages, especially if we talk about the rural cuisine. My mother had the privilege of growing up close to her roots, and she has endless stories to share, about food, festivals, life in those days, and above all, how naturally healthy everyone was!! 
                 For the farmers it was imperative to have a wholesome breakfast, which was defined not by the quantity but the quality of items. It could be something as humble as leftover rice soaked overnight and eaten with an onion the next morning. Or anything made with soaked and cooked millets that would keep them going till lunchtime! 
                 As a replacement to rice at night, we are now using alternatives like cracked wheat, bajra or pearl millet, and the difference in digestion and overall health is quite apparent. Though the suggestion here is for bajra with curd, one can have it in any form they wish, as one would with rice. 
Ingredients :
Bajra (Pearl millet) - 1 cup
Curds - as required
Salt to taste 
Hing (Asafoetida pwd) to taste
Fresh curry leaves 
Method :
1. Lightly crush the bajra using either a mixer or the stone masala crusher. We just want to roughly break it in the form of broken wheat. Wash once and soak for an hour. 

2. Pressure cook using 2.5 cups water up to 4-5 whistles, then reduce flame and let cook for 7-8 minutes more. 

3. Once pressure has subsided, remove and let cool. Lightly beat curds, add salt and hing. Add required amount of cooked bajra and serve garnished with curry leaves.

8 February 2016

Chocolate Cake with Jalebi Crust

Featured on http://www.chefajaychopra.com/chocolate-cake-on-jalebi-crust/                
         Love is in the air! Much heard, much said :) But my principle when it comes to food, as long as one can eat what makes them and their health happy, that for me is true love :)
               Wishing to create something more than just a layered dessert, I thought of using crisp Jalebi as the base for a soft cake. Easier decided than done as I had never tried making Jalebi in my life before. God bless the GITS company for this Jalebi mix with a free nozzle bottle as well!!
                I am not sure how a true dessert connoiseur would interpret this combination, but as a foodie, the layers of crisp, slightly warm jalebi, soft chocolate cake with whipped cream icing, and further topped off with more Jalebi and melted chocolate was "THE WOW" factor for me :) 
On to the recipe....

Ingredients :
For the cake : 
Refined flour / Maida - 1 cup (250 ml) 
Baking pwd -  1 tsp
Baking soda -  1/2 tsp
Salt a pinch
Butter - 60 gms
Pwd sugar - 90gms (3/4 cup)
Lukewarm Milk - 150 ml
Vanilla essence -  1/2 tsp

Other ingredients

Whipped cream
Instant Jalebi mix (Or one can follow any basic Jalebi recipe)
Sugar syrup for the Jalebis
Chocolate syrup


1. For the cake, sieve together the dry ingredients into a clean bowl.
2. In another bowl, beat together butter & sugar. Fold in the sieved flour mixture. 

3. Finally add milk and vanilla essence and lightly mix, till you get a smooth cake batter.
4. Pour into a cake mould and bake @180 for 10 mins. (Since I use a combination microwave, I tend to bake at 200 deg C for about 4-5 minutes, followed by 4 more minutes at 170 deg C.) Remove and cool to room temperature.

5. Using a clean palette knife, apply whipped cream evenly over and around the cake or decorate as desired. Refrigerate till the jalebis are done.

5. Prepare Jalebis as per the instructions, dip for about 20-30 seconds in warm sugar syrup and keep aside. (Note : Try making jalebis in shapes similar to the cake wedges you will serve, for eg, a triangle or meshed square instead of the traditional round design)

6. Now for the assemling and serving... cut the cake into wedges. Place a jalebi on the serving plate. Keep the cake wedge on top of it. Garnish further as desired with more Jalebi pieces, cream and chocolate syrup!!!

4 February 2016

Besanwali bhindi

          Besanwali bhindi has quite a few culinary interpretations. It could be gram flour-coated okra crisp fried or sautéed, spices could vary, and so on. This one here uses my mother's special spice mix that she prepares for a capsicum curry.


Ingredients :
Okra/Ladiesfinger/Bhindi (chopped into 1 cm long pieces) - 1 cup
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds (sarson) - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds (jeera) - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder (haldi ) - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Gram flour (Besan) - 1.5 tbsps

Spice mix :
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds (Methi) - 1 tsp
Dry red chilies - 2 medium

Method :

1. Dry roast the spice mix ingredients, let cool and coarsely grind in a mixer.

2. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and let crackle. Add jeera and once it crackles as well follow it up with the cut okra and haldi. Mix well and let cook (uncovered) till about half done.

3. Add salt at this stage and let cook some more. Meanwhile dry roast the gram flour/Besan on low flame till it lets out an aroma. Take care not to over-roast it. Keep aside.

4. When the okra is 3/4th done, add the ground spices and mix well. Let cook while stirring occasionally for about 7-8 minutes more. Finally add the roasted besan, mix and let cook for just 2 minutes more. Remove and serve hot with desired accompaniment.

Aloo Poha

                Aloo Poha, quite arguably one of the more popular Indian breakfast, or snack dish for that matter, is a humble preparation that's immensely satisfying. There are innumerable varieties to be found, and the flavour and ingredients vary from even household to household!!
                I add here a pretty basic recipe which can be developed in any way one prefers. Sticking to my mantra of less white and more brown, I used Brown Poha or flattened rice for this recipe. Both the thick and semi-thick ones can be used. The paper thin variety might not yield that great a result. If the brown version is not available, use the white one.


Ingredients :

Sesame or Olive oil - 1.5 tbsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1/2 tsp
Slit green chilies - 1 big or 2 medium
Potato - 1 medium (diced)
Turmeric powder (haldi) - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Brown Flattened rice or Poha (Chivda, Aval) - 1 cup
Chopped coriander leaves
Juice of 1 lemon

Method :

1. Wash the poha to remove impurities and soak in about half the quantity of water for 10 minutes or just before beginning the preparation. If using the thicker poha, soak it for longer. Typically the poha would have soaked up all the water, else drain excess water and let it rest in a colander/sieve. Take care not to soak to the extent that the poha or flattened rice becomes squishy. 

2. Heat oil in a pan or wok. Add the mustard seeds and let splutter, followed by cumin seeds. 

3. Now add the slit green chilies and sauté a bit. Tip in the diced potatoes along with haldi and salt. Mix well and cover-cook for about 5-7 minutes or till the potatoes are cooked (but not too soft)

4. Add the soaked poha and mix so the potato mixture coats it well. Check for salt and let cook for about 5-7 minutes more. Turn off the flame and finally add the lemon juice. Mix again. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves and let rest for about 5 minutes more to allow the added flavours to get soaked in.
Serve hot.

1 February 2016

Custard-Fruit Tart

             A fun tart that's sure to be an any-time favourite...


Biscuit base :
Crushed digestive biscuits - 125 gms
Unsalted softened Butter - 85 gms

Fruits layer :
Assorted fruits of choice (finely chopped) - I used Apples, blueberries, banana, plum, melon)
Sugar - 2 tbsps
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
Clove powder (optional) - 1/4 tsp

Custard layer :
Milk - 1/2 litre
Custard powder (Vanilla flavour) - 2.5 tbsps
Sugar - 1.5 tbsps


1. For the biscuit base, mix together the crushed (but not finely powdered) biscuits with softened butter till the butter is well incorporated. Spread evenly in a cake or tart tin and press firmly. Refrigerate until the remaining layers are prepared.

2. For the fruit layer, heat a non-stick pan and add the chopped fruits along with the sugar and let cook on low flame till sugar melts and maximum moisture from fruits evaporates. Sprinkle the cinnamon and clove powder, mix well and let simmer for a minute more. Remove and let cool.

3. Take out the biscuit base and spread the cooled fruits evenly over it, and shove it back into the refrigerator.

4. Finally, for the custard, add custard powder and 4 tbsps cool milk in a small bowl and mix leaving no lumps. Heat the remaining milk and sugar on low flame till it reaches a boil. Add in the custard-milk mix, stirring continuously to avoid lumps. Stir till mixture starts to thicken. Remove from flame immediately and continue stirring. Cool for about 5-7 minutes.

5. Take out the biscuit base again and gently pour the custard over the fruits layer. Even out the surface and refrigerate again for about one hour or till set.
Cut into wedges, garnish with desired fruits and serve.