Mango Phirni

When mangoes are in season, you’ve got to make desserts. And there is nothing better than Alphonoso mangoes from India to add their natural sweetness into the desserts. Phirni is a chilled dessert made with rice, milk and sugar. When you add mangoes to this classic dish, the beautiful yellow colour will leave you wanting more!
Recipe Details :
Serves: 8 pax
Time: 60 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients : 

  • 1 litre milk, preferably full fat
  • 1/4 cup rice, preferably Basmati rice
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 3-4 safrron strands
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup mango pulp, preferably from fresh mangoes or canned mango puree
  • 8-10 pistachios
  • 8-10 almonds
  • 8-10 cashews
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder

Mango phirni
Method:

  • Wash the rice and soak it for an hour.
  • Drain the water and blend the rice in a mixer/blender to form a coarse paste. If water is really required at this stage, just add a few drops.
  • Add ghee in a pan and let it melt on low flame. Once melted, add the milk.
  • Wait for the milk to come to a boil and then add in the rice paste and the saffron strands. Ensure that you stir the rice paste immediately so that no lumps are formed.
  • Lower the heat and cook till the milk reduces to half the original quantity. The phirni consistency is important, so keep stirring at continuous intervals. The phirni will get thicker in around 20-25 minutes on a low flame.The rice should also be cooked at this stage.
  • Now add sugar and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Switch off the phirni and let it cool completely.
  • Once the phirni has cooled, add the mango pulp and mix well.
  • mango phirni

  • Add garnish in the form of slivered pistachios, almonds, cashews and cardamom powder.
  • mango-phirni-two

  • Serve the mango phirni chilled in bowls.

Tips:

  • In case you encounter lumps in the rice paste, remove it off the flame and break the lumps using a blender.

Snake Gourd Mallung (Sri Lankan Snake Gourd Stir Fry)

Over the weekend, I had an inclination to try a non-Indian cuisine and I zeroed in on a Sri Lankan style. Mallung is a form of salad mixing up various ingredients, traditionally made with leafy vegetables. The green veggies are infused with the aromas of coconut and spices through a simple stir fry.
Snake gourd is a vegetable that cooks quickly once you clean it and hence this healthy recipe requires minimal time. It is made with negligible amount of oil and can be eaten in ample quantity. Make sure to choose a fresh gourd which is firm in texture. This vegan snake gourd mallung is best served with rotis or with rice and dal.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 3 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 1 long snake gourd (500 gms)
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic pod, finely minced
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 dried red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup of freshly scraped coconut or desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • Salt to taste

Snake Gourd Mallung
Method:

  • Wash the snake gourd, peel off the skin and also remove the white layer filled with seeds from the inside of the gourd. For peeling off, because the skin is soft, it is preferred if you use the knife to scrape the skin off.
  • Cut the long snake gourds into small sections. Cut each of the smaller parts in half and then into thin crescents. Place these crescents in a bowl and sprinkle salt on them and mix well.
  • Heat a pan on medium flame and add the oil.
  • Add onions and garlic and saute them until the onions turn translucent.
  • Now add the chopped green chillies, red chilli and turmeric powder and mix them well.
  • Gently squeeze and add the snake gourd now and cook for around 10 minutes on medium flame. Add salt at this stage based on the amount of salt you had sprinkled earlier in the bowl.
  • Once the snake gourd crescents turn soft, add the scraped coconut and cook further for around 7 minutes.
  • Vegan snake gourd mallung

  • Switch off the flame and serve the delicious snake gourd mallung when hot.

Dum Arbi / Colocasia Curry

Arbi goes commonly by the name of taro root or colocasia. It is a starchy root vegetable and is high in fibre content. In South India, arbi is prepared in the traditional style with a bit of tempering and turmeric and letting it crisp in oil till it achieves a beautiful golden colour.
This time I decided to try the North Indian gravy based dish using colocasia called Dum Arbi. This is a delectable gravy dish cooked in a spicy yogurt base and goes well with rotis or dal and rice.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 45 mins
Difficulty: Medium
Ingredients : 

  • 500 gms of Arbi
  • 2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes puréed
  • 1 garlic pod, finely minced (optional)
  • 2 tsp ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi
  • A pinch of asafoetida (optional)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped for garnish

Dum Arbi
Method:

  • Wash the arbi nicely so that the mud is washed away. Add the arbi in a pressure cooker with lightly sated water (enough to cover) for 3 whistles on medium flame. Switch off the flame once the whistles are done.
  • Wait for the cooker to come to room temperature. Upon cooling, open the cooker and peel off the skin of the arbi.
  • Cut the arbi into equal cubes, it will be a bit slippery, so cut with a blunt knife if required.
  • Cool the vegetables for a few minutes.
  • Heat oil in a pan for deep frying. Add the arbi cubes in this pan and fry them till golden brown outside and remove them on an absorbent paper and keep them aside.
  • Now in another pan, take 1 tbsp of oil and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida.
  • Add chopped garlic, green chilli and onion and sauté it till the onions become translucent.
  • Add ginger and tomato purée and again sauté it for 3 minutes. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and garam masala and saute it till oil separates.
  • Add the yogurt now, mix it well and stir it continuously in the pan till it comes to boiling point. To balance consistency, add water (around 1/4 cup) to boil the gravy again – keep stirring it at this stage.
  • Now add the fried arbi cubes, salt and mix it well so that the cubes get coated uniformly with this gravy. Cover it with a lid and cook it for 5 minutes on low flame.
  • Dum Arbi
  • Switch off the flame, garnish with coriander leaves and serve it hot.

Tips:

  • Fry the arbi in batches – do not overcrowd the pan.
  • You can shallow fry too , as long as you cut the arbi into small cubes.

Carrot Paniyaram

Many thoughts fill my mind as I write my first post of the new decade. The year 2020 has brought in a lot of uncertainties with it but one thing that I have held on to is hope. The time at hand has allowed me to try quite a few recipes on the weekends and I decided to share them with each of you.
Paniyaram is a South Indian dish prepared by cooking the fermented idli or dosa batter in a mould. They are like dumplings and served during breakfast or as a tea-time snack. Usage of minimal oil with ability to stuff various vegetables as fillings makes this dish an instant hit with the kids. For this recipe, I have used carrots and onions to make this wholesome recipe. Typically, paniyarams are best paired with onion or mint chutney.
Paniyarams are made in a paniyaram maker which is a vessel made of steel or soapstone with mould pits of equal depth.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3 pax
Time: 40 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 2 cups of idli/dosa batter
  • 1/4 cup of finely grated carrot [use the smallest marker size of the grater]
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped or grated onion
  • 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • Salt to taste

 
Carrot Paniyaram

Method: 

  • Heat the oil in a cooking pan. Temper the urad dal and mustard seeds till they splutter and become slightly golden.
  • Now add in the finely chopped green chillies and onions and cook them till they become translucent.
  • The add in the grated carrots, ginger and salt and cook the veggies for five minutes.
  • Cool the vegetables for a few minutes and add them to the batter. Mix well to combine
  • Take the paniyaram maker and heat it on a low flame. Pour 1 tsp of oil into each pit of the pan. Once the pan is hot, pour the batter into each of the pits. While pouring, fill it to 3/4th of the capacity of each pit since the batter will rise once heated.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 4 minutes. Now turn over each paniyaram with the help of a chopstick and cook it till a toothpick inserted at the centre of the paniyaram comes out clean.
  • Serve and eat them while they are piping hot.

 
paniyaramtwo

Tips:

  • Do not overfill the mould with the batter and leave some space in the mould pit for the batter to rise.

Indori Poha

Poha is a very popular breakfast or tea-time dish in India. Due to the diversity in Indian cuisine, there are different variants of poha. Poha is basically a flattened rice flake and is available in different grades of thickness. Having grown up in Maharashtra, I have had the ‘Kande Pohe’ (uses medium poha) which is pretty awesome. This time I tried the ‘Indori Poha’ from the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. So, the first difference I noticed in the preparation method is that for this dish, I had to use thick poha. The second difference is in the ingredients used as the garnish. The presence of fennel seeds and a hint of sweetness in the form of sugar and pomegranate seeds are the prime differences in the two styles of poha. When you add all the flavorful components in this colorful dish, I can assure you that you won’t stop eating it. This dish is also perfect for a teatime party as poha with chai is a divine combination. For those staying in Singapore, I picked the nylon sev from Mustafa and thick poha from Sri Murugan stores.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 3 pax
Time: 20 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 2 cups thick poha / flattened rice flakes
  • 1 big potato cut in cubes
  • 1 big onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts (without skin)
  • 10-12 cashews
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated coconut (optional)
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • A handful of pomegranate seeds
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp nylon sev (for garnish)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 1 lemon
  • Some cilantro leaves for garnish

Indori Poha

Indori Poha


Method:

  • Soak the poha in water for 5 mins. Drain using a strainer and keep aside.
  • Cut the veggies on the side so that the prep work is done.
  • Poha veggie preparation

    Poha veggie preparation

  • Heat oil in a pan on a medium flame. Add the mustard seeds, fennel seeds and curry leaves and wait till they splutter.
  • Once you get the pronounced aroma of fennel seeds, add 75% of the chopped onions and some salt. If you don’t like raw onions as garnish, then add all the chopped onions at this stage.
  • Once the onions turn translucent, add the peanuts, green chillies, cashews and saute them for around 2-3 mins.
  • Next, add the potatoes along with salt and turmeric powder. Cover the pan with a lid so that the steam cooks the potatoes quickly.
  • Once the potatoes are cooked, add the soaked poha and mix it well – such that all the rice flakes are coated with the yellow turmeric powder.
  • Check the salt level at this stage and adjust only if required. If you like a bit of sugar, add at this time.
  • Switch off the flame and keep the pan covered for around 7 mins so that the poha can cook a bit more in the steam.
  • Indori Poha

    Indori Poha

  • Finally garnish it rest of the chopped onions, cilantro leaves and grated coconut before serving. You can also add the pomegranate seeds and nylon sev (I forgot to take the pic with these toppings)
  • Lemon goes great with poha, so squeeze it just before serving. Serve this dish hot / warm only!

Tips:

  • Do not over-soak the poha. If you do that, the flakes will not separate and the dish will become mushy.

Dates and Coffee Milkshake

During summers, you crave cool and refreshing drinks. If that craving is satisfied with a feel-good ingredient combination like dates and coffee, it gives you an upbeat mood. The best part is that you can spin off a milkshake in less than 15 mins, and it does not feel like a lot of work. During one of my visits to Mustafa, I stopped at the dates section and was amazed at the variety they had in stock. I decided instantly that I wanted to use them in some form of drink or dessert. For this Dates and Coffee milkshake, I have used Khudary dates from Mustafa. They ended up being a perfect pick for this aromatic and amazingly refreshing drink.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 2 pax
Time: 15 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 12 de-seeded dates (6 dates per glass)
  • 1.5 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 330 ml milk

Dates and coffee milkshake

Dates and coffee milkshake


Method:

  • Split the cardamom pods and powder the seeds using a mortar and pestle. Freshly pounded cardamom is better since that imparts a pleasant aroma in the drink.
  • Put the cardamom seeds, de-seeded dates, coffee powder, milk and ice cubes into the blender and blend it till the dates and ice have broken down into a smooth drinkable texture. The blending process should take maximum 2 minutes.
  • Dates and coffee milkshake

    Dates and coffee milkshake

  • Serve immediately. This drink can also be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator. In that case, before serving, stir the drink well to redistribute the dates.

Tips:

  • For those who don’t like caffeine, you can substitute coffee powder with hot chocolate powder. I have tried a version of this drink using Hershey’s Hot Chocolate and its equally amazing and refreshing.
  • You can also soak your dates in warm milk before you put them in the blender for 10-15 mins. This is an optional step in case you want a very soft texture.

Bitter Gourd Chips / Karela Chips

It’s quite evident from the name bitter gourd (karela), that not many people would be a fan of this vegetable. Apart from the health benefits, if made well, it can be transformed into amazing snacks. When they take the form of crispy fries, the humble bitter gourd can become a delicacy. The mild bitterness blends well with the spices and makes it a good tea time snack or side dish along with dals, sambhar and rasam.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 3-4 pax
Time: 20 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 4 small sized bitter gourds(karela)
  • 4 tbsp rice flour
  • 3 tbsp besan
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – to shallow fry

bittergourd chips

Bitter gourd/Karela Chips


Method:

  • Wash the bitter gourd, discard the ends, and cut it into uniformly thin rounds. Then pat-dry the pieces using a cloth. I did not de-seed them, but you can choose to do so if you are using the longer bitter gourds.
  • Cut bittergourd pieces

    Cut bittergourd pieces

  • Once dry, take the cut bitter gourd pieces in a bowl and add all the spice powders and mix well. Add 1-2 tsp of oil so that all slices are coated with the spices. Alternatively, you can sprinkle some drops of water but you have to take care that the mixture doesn’t turn soggy.
  • mixing bittergourd with spices

    Mixing the bitter gourd and spices

  • Heat oil in a pan on medium low flame. Since the size of my bitter gourd pieces was small, I just shallow fried them. Add the pieces one by one into the oil in batches.
  • Flip the pieces so that the pieces fry evenly on both sides. Remove them from the flame when they turn crisp. Drain the excess oil using a paper towel.
  • Serve them hot to munch, as snacks or during tea time.
  • bittergourd chips

    Bitter gourd / Karela Chips


Tips:

  • The older and bigger bitter gourds will have the more bitter seeds. I would recommend removing them.
  • You can sprinkle some aamchur / chat masala on the chips once you take them out of oil while they are still very hot.

Urad Dal Chutney – Side Dish for Idli/Dosa

When you want something that’s a little different from the traditional coconut or coriander chutneys, this Urad Dal Chutney steps in as a perfect side dish for idlis and dosas. Since this is a no coconut chutney, it can be prepared in larger quantities and refrigerated – typically for up to a week. The red chillies and tamarind make a spicy and tangy combination and the dish attains balance. This chutney makes me breeze through a work week if I have idlis or dosas in my breakfast plan.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 15 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 1/4 cup urad dal
  • A small ball of tamarind
  • 3 red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic pod, skin peeled (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil

Urad dal chutney

Urad dal chutney


Method:

  • In a pan, add the oil and a pinch of asafoetida. Stir for a bit and then add the urad dal, red chilli and tamarind. Sauté the dal on a low flame till it turns golden brown. Then switch off the flame and remove this aside on a plate to cool.
  • In the same pan, add the chopped onions and garlic and cook them till the onions turn brown. Then switch off the flame.
  • Now allow both sets of roasted items to cool completely.
  • Then put these items into a mixer. Add salt and grind into a smooth paste. Add water depending on the consistency you want and your chutney is ready.
  • Finally temper the chutney in sesame oil with mustard seeds, urad dal and a single red chilli just before serving.
  • Urad dal chutney

    Urad dal chutney


Methi Chole Sabzi / Fenugreek Leaves and Chickpeas Sabzi

When you want to pack proteins in your diet, get going with chickpeas. North Indian style curries with chickpeas are perfect for lunchbox recipes. Methi Chole is a popular Punjabi dish that combines fenugreek leaves with chole in a spicy gravy. It’s also a convenient way to include greens in your meal in a tasty manner. The aroma of this curry is amazing and it’ll make you want to eat it as soon as you make it.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 2 cups methi leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 big tomato, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cardamom pods (break and finely powder)
  • 2 green chillies, slit in half along the length
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tsp aamchur / dry mango powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp oil

Methi Chole

Methi Chole


Method:

  • Wash the fenugreek leaves and chop them roughly.
  • Fenugreek leaves

    Fenugreek leaves

  • Wash and soak the chole in water for 6 – 8 hours.
  • Drain the water and add the chole in a pressure cooker along with 3 tsp of salt and 3 cups water. Pressure cook this for 6 whistles on a medium flame. Then switch off the cooker and let it cool till the pressure is naturally released.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaves, cloves, cardamom powder and let them crackle for a few seconds.
  • Now add the chopped onion, a pinch of salt and saute them till they are translucent. Add ginger garlic paste to the onions and continue cooking till they are golden brown.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and green chillies at this stage and fry them for 2 mins.
  • Then add the turmeric powder, garam masala powder, dry mango powder and coriander powder. Mix well to combine. Let this paste cook for 2-3 mins.
  • Add the chole along with the cooking water. Taste and add more salt, if required.
  • Cook the chole for around 10 mins on a low flame.
  • Finally add the chopped fenugreek leaves and mix them well and cook them for another 3 mins. The aroma of the sabzi is amazing.
  • Methi chole

    Methi chole

  • Tastes good when served hot and best paired with roti or naan.

Tips:

  • Make sure the chole is well cooked before you add it to the gravy. You can cook it for some more time in the pressure cooker if needed.
  • Ensure that the methi leaves are washed well. Rinse them multiple times before cutting.