Tag Archives: indian

3 Easy steps + 3 Tips for a creamy Blueberry Shrikhand

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Nutella, peanut butter, Dulche de leche, Speculoos, jams, lemon curd, flavoured butters or cheese, when it comes to spreads/dips, the list is indeed long. But I root for Shrikhand. A little dollop spread out on a chapati and rolled up along with a hot cup of tea makes a simple breakfast to fill my day. Shrikhand is basically sweetened hung yoghurt that has flavours added to enhance it. In India, the most popular ones would be Kesar-Pista Shrikhand (Shrikhand with saffron and pistachios) or Amrakhand (Mango Shrikhand).

While yogurt with fruit has been a fad lately, Shrikhand has been a part of the Indian culinary heritage. For breakfast with rotis or for lunch/dinner with Puris, or as an accompaniment – something cool and sweet along with the hot and spicy food, the perfect Yin-yang of Indian meals. Or just a little scoop for dessert.

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On a regular I’m missing home kind of a day, an expat like me, would probably rush to Lulu or Al Adil to get our comfort fixed. I did that once. But unlike in India, here in Dubai, you get the big packs for store bought Shrikhand. And since I’m the only Shrikhand consumer in my household, the pack stays longer in my fridge than it should. The next time I shared the thought of wanting to have some Shrikhand, I received an ultimatum that we won’t be buying it any more because a lot just gets wasted. Seemed right to me, but I had to find my way out. And so I decided to make it at home. That way I could not only make it in a smaller quantity, with the flavours I want, but I could also make it anytime. Win-Win situation right?

The recipe is so simple, that I actually found it funny. I don’t know why I had always thought of it as something so complicated. All you need is a little patience (since you need to strain the yogurt overnight). Here are 3 easy steps for making the Blueberry Shrikhand, followed by 3 tips that will ensure you have a nice deliciously creamy Shrikhand.

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Blueberry Shrikhand

Ingredients:

  • Hung yogurt 160 gms (I used 400 gms of regular yogurt, strained in a muslin cloth for 24 hours in the fridge that yielded around 160 gms of thick hung yogurt – See note)
  • Sifted Icing sugar 55 gms
  • Blueberries 80 gms

Method:

  • Whisk the hung yogurt and the icing sugar together, to get a smooth creamy Shrikhand base. Whisk it gently but firmly, you essentially need a lump free, thick and smooth texture. You can use the hand blender in short bursts. The important thing is not to over beat the yogurt, else it will be too runny.
  • Pulse or puree the blueberries in the mixer. Gently fold the puree in the Shrikhand. Serve chilled. Fruits which are sweet and slightly tart go well.
  • You can add chopped nuts of your choice. Add the nuts only before serving to retain the crunch.
  • You can store this Shrikhand in a clean, airtight jar, refrigerated for up to 7 days.

Note: For preparing the hung yogurt, I referred to this guide which has step by step pictures. I referred to it ONLY for the preparation of the hung yogurt, nothing other than that.

3 Tips for a deliciously creamy Shrikhand

  1. Use regular (non-sour) yogurt. The packaged ones we get in Dubai are anyways not sour. But local Indian dairy shops have really sour yogurt. The mass manufactured and packaged one is less sour so I suggest you use that.
  2. Use sifted icing sugar. This ensures two things – a) That the sugar is lump free, so that you wont have to whisk it much at the risk of making the yogurt runny. b) Icing sugar dissolves quickly compared to other sugars, again ensuring that you don’t have to whisk way too much than required.
  3. Gently fold in the fruit puree till well combined.
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Bottle gourd Curry (Doodhi/Lauki kadi)

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There is immense joy in putting your heart and soul to offer your love to someone.

There is immense joy in putting your heart and soul to offer your love to someone. And I offer my love through food. It was way back somewhere in early 2011 that I started making soups. For my cousin who had just delivered a couple of months ago. For me healthy soups were essentially about boiling vegetables, adding flavours and pureeing them to a smooth soupy consistency. It was well received. But she moved out and then I completely forgot about it. It was only when my dad was back home after a series of surgeries that I wanted to make something for him. Mom was quick to suggest that the doctors mentioned bottle gourd being good for him. And I made the bottle gourd and tomato soup. Time passed by, dad was well and I completely forgot about soups, again!

Only until recently, when I was in the home-cooks dilemma of what to prepare for the next meal, utterly bored of just adding chopped bottle gourd to daals when I suddenly thought of soups. But to include it in our family meals it just had to be something more. So off I was to give the humble bottle gourd another avatar. I hope you will find it as comforting as I do.

I am growing quite fond of the Bottle gourd. I find its simplicity charming. What attracts me is its versatility, such that with utmost ease it can be made into a sweet or a savory dish. Previously, I have blogged about baking the Bottle gourd and clove tea cake and this time I chose to cook something savoury. What makes this recipe different is that cooked bottle gourd itself is pureed to make it into a thick gravy.

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Bottlegourd Curry:
(Serves approx. 4)

Ingredients:

Oil 1 tbsp
Cumin Seeds 1/2 tsp
Onion 1 medium
Garlic -Ginger paste 1/2 tsp
Tomato 1 medium
Turmeric 1 tsp
Bafat Powder 1 tsp
Coriander powder 1 and 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder 1/2 tsp
Bottle gourd 1 (approx 360 gms when peeled, deseeded and chopped)
Salt to taste (approx 2 tsp)
Water 2 cups (for pressure cooking)
Coriander leaves chopped (approx 1 tbsp) for garnishing

Method:

In a pressure cooker, add oil. When it is hot, add cumin seeds. When it sizzles, added chopped onion and garlic-ginger paste. Saute it till the onion is translucent. Add all the spice powders and saute for 30 secs. If it sticks to the cooker, add 1 tbsp of water. Add tomato, salt and allow it to cook. After a minute or so when the tomatoes are soft, with the back of the spoon gently mash the tomatoes. Add the bottle gourd and water, pressure cook it for 1 whistle. After a whistle immediately switch off the gas and allow it to cool for 10-15 mins.

Once it has cooled, transfer some of the bottle gourd and onion/tomato mix into a blender. Leave some pieces behind. You can take little of the soupy water as well and blend it to a smooth puree. Add the puree back to the soupy liquid. Prepare for tempering.

For Tempering: (OPTIONAL)

Oil 1 tbsp
Mustard Seeds 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 6-8
Garlic 3-4 small pods crushed
Dried red chillies (small round/ boriya mirch) 2

Take oil in a tempering dish. Add mustard seeds, when it begins to splutter add curry leaves, garlic and dried chilles. When the garlic browns a little, add this to the curry and cover for about a min.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve with steamed rice, papad and pickle.

 

Introducing: Indian meal recipes + Granny’s Green Masala Masoor daal

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My journey in the culinary world started with Baking. Yes, BAKING! Neither chopping vegetables, nor with a simple salads. Nope, I did not help in cooking. I dived straight into baking, head first. And I loved every bit of it.

I was young, naive and also not the one responsible for preparing our daily meals. Our meals did not involve baking. It was mostly rice, curry, vegetables and something fried on the side, like fish. It was simple and nourishing. I couldn’t be intrigued, it was the food I grew up eating. I honestly didn’t find it interesting to even attempt to understand it better. I said I was young and naive, so just stay with me here and don’t roll your eyes.

At that time, I was still studying and Baking was my ‘extra curricular activity’. A hobby that I engaged in to keep occupied in my spare time. Although a hobby, it meant a lot to me, A LOT! and still does.

As I continued this journey, I discovered the world of blogging. I connected with bloggers. I also met people who blogged about regular/ daily home cooking. Simple soul-food, comforting and nourishing. Back then I wouldn’t have used these words to describe it. But anyways, I wondered why would someone blog about Indian home cooking, don’t we all know it already. Truth is, I didn’t. And what I didn’t know is that years later I would be the one struggling, frantically making calls back home and jotting down recipes and going back and forth these blogs to prepare a meal. Blogs, which feature regional Indian curry, rice and vegetables, turned out to be my lifesaving grace.

Initially, it was just to put some food on the table and later to beat the monotony, that I started trying out different recipes. Who knew there would be a thousand different ways to make daal? Ok, that’s exaggerating, but you get the drift. Indian food, as complex as it may seem in terms of flavours, is equally challenging in terms of techniques. How thin in consistency should the neer dosa batter be ? or how long should you leave the idli batter to ferment? These are somethings you learn only by doing. It all takes time and practice to get it right.

So while I have started stalking family members in the kitchen each time I visit my country, I am also going to share with you some of these recipes here. These are mostly my family heirloom recipes, recipes that they adopted from other sources, some traditional manglorean recipes, recipes that are successful attempts of my experiments, recipes that might help someone somewhere stuck in a dilemma regarding what to cook for the next meal. I will document these recipes under the ‘Indian Meals’ tab.

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Since you have been so patiently reading, I will leave here the first recipe. It’s something my grand mother used to prepare often and one of my favourites.

Green Masala Masoor Daal

Step 1: Cook the Daal

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Whole masoor daal (Whole red lentils)  1/2 cup
Onion 1 medium, chopped
Tomato 1 medium, chopped
Oil 1 1/2-2 tbsp
Salt to taste

In a heated pressure cooker, add oil and saute the onions till translucent. Next, add the tomato, salt.Add the daal and sufficient water (almost 2 inches above the daal). Cover the lid, top it with the whistle and pressure cook it for 4 whistles. Once done, allow the cooker to cool for 15 mins before you remove the whistle and open the lid. Once done, add the green masala paste.

Step 2: Prepare the Green masala paste 
(This paste can be prepared in advance and stored in the freezer for upto a week. Just thaw it to room temperature before use. Do not confuse this with Green Chutney, it’s different)

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Coriander leaves with stalk 1 bunch ( 3/4 cup when chopped)
Ginger 1 inch
Green chillies 2 (spicy ones)
Cumin seeds (Jeera) 1/2 tsp
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Bafat masala 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt to taste

Roughly chop the coriander and ginger. In a mixer, grind all the above ingredients to a paste. Avoid water, if required add very little water only to aid the grinding process. Add the green masala paste to the daal and simmer on low-medium heat for roughly around 7-8 mins. The raw dark green colour of the masala should change to a bit brownish olive green or mehendi green. Once done, take it off the heat and temper it (add the tadka).

Step 3: Tempering/ Tadka

Oil 1 tbsp (sunflower oil)
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) a pinch
Curry leaves 5-6
Garlic cloves 3-4 (crushed)
Dried red chillies ( small, round ones) 2

Heat oil in a tadka pan. Add mustard seeds. When the seeds start to splutter, add the asafoetida, curry leaves, garlic and dried red chilles. Allow it all to sizzle for a minute and quickly transfer it to the daal and masala mixture and cover for a minute or two. Serve hot.

Tastes best when consumed with steamed rice, vegetable and something crispy on the side like papad or along with steamed rice and a fried fish. 

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Cooking Fusion Food – Pasta in Spinach sauce

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Everyone has a style of cooking. Whether you’ve picked up recipes from your family members or dabbled with disasters learning on your own, each one who cooks does it in their own unique way.

Some rely on recreating dishes they are familiar with while some others are bold enough to think out of the box and come up with some splendid creations. And then there are people like me, heavily influenced with international cook shows/cook books, mapping familiar flavours from local dishes to prepare a different dish, that I refer to as “Fusion Food”.

I hope to share with you some of my Fusion Food ideas. Here’s one – “Pasta in spinach sauce”
Pasta, classic Italian. Need I say more about it? In India, the Palak Paneer (spinach and cottage cheese) combination is famous as a dish in itself. The attempt here is not to just put some palak paneer over pasta but to use palak/ spinach as the base for the sauce and to add paneer/cottage cheese and peanuts to give the dish another dimension.

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Pasta in spinach sauce with cottage cheese and peanuts
(Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:
Pasta (penne) 1 1/2 cup
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Spinach chopped 1 cup
Coriander leaves chopped 1 tbsp
Garlic crushed 4 pods
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Pepper 1/4 tsp
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Butter 1/2 tbsp
Plain flour/ maida 1 tsp
Milk 1/2 cup
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Cottage cheese cubes 6-7
Olive oil, Salt & Pepper to taste (to coat & fry the cottage cheese)
Roasted peanuts 1 tbsp

Method:
1. In a pan add olive oil and garlic. When the garlic turns golden add spinach and coriander and saute. Add salt and pepper. When the spinach leaves have wilted and turned dark green (about 3-4 mins), take it off the flame, cool to room temperature and puree this mix.
2. Add butter, flour and milk in another pan and keep stirring. Once the mixture starts to thicken. Take it off the flame. Mix the spinach puree with this white sauce and set aside.
3. Drizzle olive oil on the cottage cheese and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Fry the cottage cheese cubes in a pan till the sides turn golden.
4. Boil the pasta as per instructions on the pack or Al Dente. Drain the pasta and start assembling.
Assembling:
Spread out cooked pasta in a dish, add the spinach sauce over it. Top it with cottage cheese cubes and roasted peanuts.

Breaking the monotony…with Fish Biryani

I really look forward to weekends. I don’t have to wake up early, I don’t have to rush anywhere, I can just laze around at home if I want to all day long.

And then there’s good food on weekends. I mean we do cook good food everyday, but it’s just the regular stuff- rice, curry, veggies, daal, etc.. But on weekends it’s usually Pulav/Biryani, chicken curry or fried, sometimes mutton/pork.

fish biryani

Off late, we’ve been having chicken every weekend. And after having so much chicken during the Christmas/ New Year party season, I just don’t want to look at another piece of chicken anymore.

So to break the monotony, I decided to make Fish Biryani. Because I love Biryani 🙂

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I used:
Half the recipe mentioned here
Pomfret fillets (2 pomfrets)
Excluded fennel seeds

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I had it with Raita made of plain yoghurt, cucumber, tomato, coriander leaves, mint leaves and green chillies.

I tried this recipe for the first time and I am already so in love with it, this ones for keeps.