Sunday, 29 January 2017

Lahsooni Jeera Prawns / Prawns cooked with garlic and cumin paste .... a light yet delightful dish

Lahsooni jeera prawns
When the new year started, I had really surprised myself at the number of posts I did back to back.
Little did I know that in the coming few days I would get bitten by the travel bug .... again.
So before I could create a record of sorts by posting a good number of recipes in one month straight, I had hit the road.
But not before I kept up with tradition and made some pithes for Sankranti.
On Sankaranti day we set off on our way to Bangalore .... by road.
It was a long time wish for both of us and this time I knew I could do that journey. Passing through new lands and landscapes, calculating time and responsible travel planning, not to mention the new kinds of food one gets to try out at new places .... gives  a different kind of high.

Mid way, we stopped at Hampi for a night and feasted our eyes on the gorgeous ruins of what was once a thriving empire.
Hampi has been on my wish list for years and this was the only way I could see it ... reaching it by road. It was an experience of a lifetime!
Will do a post on that soon. I say soon, with all good intentions, but my New York travel posts are not done with, yet. But I will try to.

After returning we had only one night at hand before setting off for our home in Rajasthan to plan a surprise party and be with the family for a milestone birthday.
I had wanted to do at least one more post before January is over ... hence this quick recipe.

Lasooni jeera prawns
 The best thing about having foodie friends and being on social media is that when you ask for a recipe, you get enough replies to last a lifetime.
My readers and followers on my facebook page have often bailed me out with some awesome recipes everytime I turn to them. Some I get to post, most of them not.
But I am eternally grateful to them for introducing me to such wonderful food from their world.

Once, long back, I had bought some fresh water prawns and had turned to my blogger friends for a recipe. Since, after cooking a full vegetarian meal, I get very little time on my hands to rustle something up for myself, I picked the easiest one that belonged to Anjali.  
It is ridiculously simple. And absolutely, stunningly tasty.
And if you have prawns or chicken or eggs in your stock, then you have a gem in your hands.
Or plate.

I have cooked this over and over again, ever since.
Always finger licking good.
You can call this Jeere Rosun diye Chingri Mach er jhol in Bengali ... in case you need a name. :-)

Need :

Fresh water prawns - 250 gms, shelled and deveined (you can use frozen ones too )
Garlic - 12 fat cloves
Jeera or Cumin seeds - 2 tbsp
Whole dry red chillies - 1 tbsp (take out the seeds )
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp , I use mustard oil
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste

How to :

Grind the garlic + jeera + red chillies into a paste.

Marinate the prawns with some turmeric + salt + the above paste.

Heat oil in a kadahi or wok.

Add a little sugar.
When it starts to turn red, add the prawns and cook till the masala is fried well.

Lasooni jeera prawns

Great with plain white rice.
Just that gravy, when mixed with the rice, can take you to food heaven in just one mouthful.

And don't forget to leave a line here if you have tried this and loved it. I know you will.

Now let me get back to what I have been doing all these days .... gorging on the fabulous Rajasthani kachoris and namkeens and going on trips and family picnics .... etc. etc.
Basically having a helluva a good time. :-)

See you all again, soon!!

Leaving you with a glimpse of the gorgeous Hampi.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Kacche Haldi ka Achar / Raw Turmeric pickle

Haldi ka achar
Just read the line "The weather outside is so frightful!" in one of my knitting groups on face book and my heart went "No, no, you are wrong! The weather outside is so delightful!"

That's right.
The weather outside is absolutely delightful.
The mornings are very cold ... but not the cold of like four degrees or such. They are a beautiful, lightly foggy nine degrees. The air is so clean and sharp that if you step out  and take a deep breathe, you will feel you have inhaled something sharp yet very refreshing.

It takes all of my mental strength to step out from the comforting warmth of the room heater. And yet, love doing it every single day. I hesitantly touch the iron grill door ... it is sharp cold ... and push it open.
And step out.
The bright sunlight from the east has already overtaken the building and has reached the trees ... my balcony is on the west. The parrots are already flying around with great energy .... they have been up from day break and hence 7 o'clock is pretty late for them .... screeching their voices out. Their long tails draw green streaks all over the tree tops and the skyline.
I glance to check if the bird bath is full. It isn't.
As usual there is a splatter of water all over ... the plants below it are wet. The birds have had their bath and won't be coming over for a drink till late afternoon.

I sit in my blue cane swing and watch the world below go by. The green grocer's van has just come in ... yet  there are a few ladies already waiting. The old man at the tea shop shanty near the temple already has the stove running. I can see the smoke wafting from a big pan.
School buses make a line, surprisingly calm ... no honking at each other.
I turn the swing back .... towards the trees and the small jungle. The leaves are quivering in the early morning breeze. The haze hangs on the still existing small piece of Jowar field.
And the small stream has a couple of white herons standing sleepily on one leg ... waiting for their next catch.
I don't think there is any other place on earth where winter can be so beautiful.
Yes, I love Pune in the winters.

Kacche haldi ka achar

The sun turns warm.
The couple staying in the hut just below the stream have started their makeshift fire .... the smoke of dry woods burning fills the air.
I love that smell ... every morning and evening.
Time to make some tea for myself.
I get up and step in ... for the day. And the chores waiting.

 Today's recipe takes me back to my childhood, often.
When I was young, back home, Thamma made sure we had our proper doses of different kinds of things to keep different kinds of illnesses that the change of seasons brought along, away.
On some days, it was the Neem on our plates, on some days it would be the raw papaya juice and on other days it would be the Kancha Holud er rosh or the juice of raw turmeric.
Raw turmeric is easily available in winters and is very good for the body.
So along with the daily masalas to be made, the house help had this chore of making the juice of raw turmeric for the children. Also, she needed to take care to use only the shil nora (mortar and pestle ) meant for this and not the usual one in which she might have ground the chillies or ginger.
Haldi ka achar

I got respite from this only after I left home for studies.
But after I got married, raw turmeric entered my life again. In the form of pickles.
B got a big batch of them home once after we got married and I stared at him in dismay.
Till he said "I will ask Mummy when I call tonight how she makes Haldi ka achar."
 I had never thought of making pickles before that.
And I did not even eat achar!
But later, the recipe turned out to be an easy one ... almost like a cooked sabzi.
So I made it.
And have been making it ever since.
My only condition was .... somebody else peels and cuts the raw haldi.
I hate to see my fingers turn such an adamant yellow that it refuses to leave for even a week.
Of course, now I have the kitchen gloves.

So, here is Ma in law's recipe of the Haldi ka achar.
Pretty easy to make. And quite tasty too, not to mention healthy.
You can grate the haldi too ... I just cut it into thin strips. I also threw in a few green chillies ... you may or may not.

Haldi ka achar
Need :

Raw Turmeric / Kacche Haldi - cut into thin strips, 2 cupsful
Mustard oil - 4 tbsp
Hing / Asafoetida - 1 tsp
Fresh green chillies - a few, broken
Black mustard seeds - 1 tbsp
Saunf / Fennel seeds - 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Amchur / dry mango powder - 1 tsp (or more if you like it sour )
Salt - to taste

How to :

Heat mustard oil in a thick bottomed kadahi or pan.

Add hing.
Add haldi and fresh green chillies and fry.

Add salt and cover and fry till done.

Run the mustard seeds + saunf seeds in a mixer to grind coarsely.

Add to the haldi and add red chilli powder.

Fry well till all water dries up.

Add amchur powder.

Mix together.


Store in an airtight bottle.

Enjoy with parathas or with plain dal and rice.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Aloo Matar ki sukhi sabzi / Masala fried Potatoes and Peas

 Aloo matar ki sabzi
Before moving on to other recipes, I thought I will make a post of the stir fried potato and peas that I had made along with the Dal Palak for lunch that day.
Just so that you can enjoy it when fresh peas are still in season.

Of course, you can make it any time of the year, but you won't get that sweetness that the fresh peas have. And that makes a big difference.
Nothing like fresh vegetables after all ... eh?

I love this fry or bhaja because  ... one, it has fresh peas ( I am absolutely love them) .... two, it has a different kind of taste ... that is quite uncommon to this Bengali palate .... and three, this is such a versatile dish ... not to mention the very little time that it takes to be made.
Pair it with anything and it is sure to be a hit.
It is dry but has the moistness of the fresh peas.
It goes fabulously with rice and dal, perfect with luchis or parathas and can be a great friend to our daily roti too.

I have been a little under the weather of late ... hence resorting to quick cooking.
And fry is the quickest that one can rustle up.

Am not in a mood to write much today ... so let's get straight to the recipe.
Aloo matar ki sabzi
 Need :

Potatoes - 4, cut into very small cubes ... they should complement the size of the peas
Fresh green peas - around 1 cup
Amchur / Dry mango powder - 1 tsp 
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Lal mirch / Red chilli powder - 1 tsp ( more if you like spicy )
Hing / Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Black pepper powder - 1 tsp
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp ( I used mustard oil )
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped

How to :

Heat oil in a kadahi or wok.
Add the hing and the potatoes.

Raise heat and stir well.

Add haldi + salt.
Cover and cook on low flame till the potatoes are done.

Remove cover, add the fresh peas + red chilli powder + amchur powder + black pepper powder.
Stir well and mix everything together.

Remove , sprinkle fresh coriander leaves and serve immediately. 
Aloo matar ki sukho sabzi


Friday, 6 January 2017

Toor Dal Palak / Spinach leaves cooked with split pigeon peas

 Toor dal palak
Winter is the only time when Pune sees beautiful, fresh vegetables.
The beans so green, the carrots so juicy you can break them with a snap, the green peas so sweet and the leaves ... methi, dhaniya and palak ever so fresh.
The cauliflowers look healthy and creamy white ... just the way they should be.
And the cabbages resonate with that hollow sound perfectly, when you tap them, that tells you they are well done inside and will be crisp and make that squeaky sound as you cut into it.
I am loving cooking them these days ... there is no satisfaction greater than cutting into fresh vegetables and dunking them into a kadahi and hear that loud sizzle as the moisture touches the hot oil.
That is how vegetables should be. That is exactly how home cooking should sound like.

I have already made Gobhi parathas twice for dinner and once for breakfast. There is something about grating a fresh cauliflower .... also I do not cook the stuffing ... they are too fresh to spoil the taste by cooking and adding too many masalas.
Even Mooli parathas have been enjoyed. As well as Aloo parathas.
Methi parathas have been done just once.
Right now, there are the Palak and the Bathua in my fridge. And also some Sarson(mustard).
Will be making the Sarson ka saag and Makke di roti this weekend for lunch.

And as for fresh green peas ... I love them so much that I add them to everything that I am cooking.
Like the Rui macher jhol that I made for lunch yesterday, the Jhalmuri that I munch on as an evening snack with my tea and also to the scrambled eggs or Egg bhurji that I made for dinner tonight.

This is basically what dominates our winter meals.
The same goes for dessert too.
Ma in law tells us to eat a little gur / jaggery everyday. And some ghee too.
So I usually make my instant Moong dal halwa on some nights and the Lapsi on others.
Both are healthy and hence guilt free.
Toor dal palak

With the Palak, I often make this Dal Palak.
But this time, when I made it for our lunch, I used the Toor dal instead of the Cholar dal.
And the flavour was so distinctly different that I promptly decided to make a post. It is already very late into the night right now ( gosh! it is already 4:07 in the morning!!) ... could not sleep hence decided to make this post.
So, I will go to the recipe now.

This dal is full of the flavour of garlic as well as the palak.
The addition of ghee also boosts the flavours.
Light, healthy and simple, this dal can be a meal by itself or when paired with just rotis or rice.
A little achar on the side and you are good to go.

Need :

Toor dal / Spilt pigeon peas - 1 cup , washed
Palak / Spinach leaves - 2 cups, washed and chopped roughly
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Garlic - around 10 to 12 cloves, chopped
Ginger - 1", chopped
Green chillies - chopped
Turmeric powder - 2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp ( I use the one I make at home )
Roasted jeera powder - 1 tsp
Ghee - 2 tbsp (skip if you are vegan)
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Water - 2 cups and a little more
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped

Toor dal palak

How to :

Pressure cook the dal with salt+haldi and 2 cups of water till two whistles on low flame.
Remove from heat, cool and keep aside.

Heat oil in a kadahi or wok.
Add jeera + chopped garlic + chopped ginger + chopped green chillies.
Fry for a minute on low heat.
Do not brown.

Add the chopped palak + a pinch of sugar.
Cover and cook till the palak is done.

Remove cover and add the dal + salt + dal's water and bring to a boil.
Cover and cook on low heat till everything comes together.

Add roasted jeera powder + home made red chilli powder + ghee.

Cover and simmer for a minute.

Sprinkle fresh coriander leaves and a little of the roasted jeera powder and red chilli powder.
Serve hot.
Toor dal palak
Here is a look of our lunch table today.
I had also made a spicy Aloo matar ki sukhi sabzi ... recipe in the next post.

Till then ... enjoy winter and its bounty of vegetables as well as fruits!!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Vegetable Uttapam

 Vegetable uttapam

 Hello! Hello!!
Wish you a very happy new year 2017!!
Hope you had fun on the last day of the past year and rang in the new one with a bang.

We did too ... in our own quiet way. On the evening of the 31st, we went to our favourite cafe ... Flourworks ... for a cuppa.
B had his usual black one and I went for my favourite coffee l'orange. This is dark too but has orange peels soaked in and a dash of cocoa. It is my all time favourite here.
Of course, we had something to munch on. B took grilled sandwiches and I asked for the chicken stir fried with garlic and Italian herbs much like the one I make at home.
What was beautiful was the evening.
The sun was about to call it a day but there was still a warmth in its last rays. The cafe had a warm ambience too ... all wooden and decked up to greet the enthusiasts who would start coming in when the night starts.
All this helped in fighting the chill in the light breeze ... that made the yellow leaves shower down on the tables and those sitting outdoors.

We sat and reflected on the past year and its happenings.
I, as usual, am a little apprehensive about what the new year would bring for me.
All I pray is that we have good health and stay well.

The past few days have been complete mayhem for us. A friend was visiting with his family and we were totally caught up with them.
While they do have relatives here, which made the tug of war even tougher, they banked on us to take them around. So there I was, managing the home front as well as planning their visits all around the city.
I had to keep in mind the various demands .... temples for the elderly, malls for the teens, toy stores for the kids and of course, shopping in the old city by the ladies.
The days went by in a whiff.
Vegetable uttapam

We had the last two days of the year to ourselves and hence, spent them quietly. For dinner, we went to this small, unassuming little place called Gavran Kolhapuri to have a light meal of Pithla and crisp, hot bajra and jowar bhakris. There was a spicy thecha too.
Both of us enjoyed the early dinner while the city geared up for the display of loud music, garish dresses and a splurge on food and drinks. And came back to a peaceful home and the telly.
We did watch the fireworks from our balcony at midnight as well as the burning of Old man 2016.
And then, it was all over. All too soon.
And the next day was just another day.

I made a breakfast of a spicy, vegetable sambar ( I really must put up the recipe one of these days ) and some thick, soft kaal dosas sprinkle with milagai podi ... on the first day of the new year.
I had also made a couple of Patishaptas with the same batter ... my first pithe of the season.
Here is quick look ... a phone photo that I shot to share with my facebook page readers.
New year breakfast
And then remembered that I have these pictures of the vegetable uttapam that I had made one these mornings.
And decided to make a quick post.

 I had grated in some carrots and added a handful of fresh green peas too.
I love green peas and if it is winter, I add them to almost anything that I am making. You can add beets, coriander leaves or curry leaves ... or anything that fancies you.
Just make sure that it cooks fast as the uttapam takes very less time to cook.

Need :

Idli batter - the recipe is here
Grated vegetables - I used carrots
Fresh green peas
Onion - chopped
Green chillies - chopped
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped
Oil - to smear pan
Salt - to taste
How to :

Mix in salt and a spoonful of oil to the batter.
Add a little water to make it of pouring consistency.

Heat a well seasoned flat tawa or griddle.

Smear a little oil on it.

Pour in a ladleful of batter and spread thickly.
Sprinkle the top of the uttapam with grated vegetables, peas and coriander leaves.

Cover and cook till the base turns crisp and golden brown.

Remove cover and flip it over.

Cook without cover for a round 5 minutes.

Serve hot with chutney.

 Here is a closer look at the spongy, soft inside.

I paired it with my Garlic Tomato chutney. And a cup of ginger tea.
Perfect winter breakfast!

Since I make this very often, here is another photograph that I found. This one has no vegetables in it ... just chopped onions + chopped red and green chillies + curry leaves + coriander leaves.
It is more like the Saantlano (tempered) pithe.

C'ya all around.
Wish you all a wonderful year ahead.

Here are a few ways that I make Idlis.

Here are a few other Breakfast ideas.