Friday, October 22, 2010

Veg. Paneer Pulao

In Indian cuisine, Pulao (also spelt as Pulav) is a dish made with rice and vegetables or meat. Typically, paneer pulao is an easy rice dish that uses paneer and peas. I decided to use some veggies instead of just peas. You can let your imagination decide as to what kind of pulao you want to try. Here's my recipe...


1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables, fresh or frozen (peas, carrots, beans, corn, lima beans)
1 cup paneer (indian cottage cheese), cut into small cubes
1 1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
4-5 green chillies, cut each lengthwise into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 large onion, cut lengthwise into thin slices
1 large tomato, finely chopped
2 tsp chilli powder (adjust according to taste)
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice (adjust according to taste)
5-6 cloves
4-5 bay leaves
1-2 cinnamon sticks (small pieces)
Salt, to taste
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt (whisked) or buttermilk + 1 1/4 cup water (yields 2 3/4 cups)


Rinse and soak the basmati rice for 20-25 minutes.

In a pan, shallow fry the paneer cubes using some cooking spray until they turn slightly golden brown.

In a deep pan or stockpot, heat oil & ghee, add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and bay leaves. Add the onions and green chillies and fry until the onions are slightly brown. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes until it turns pulpy. Add the ginger-garlic paste and chilli powder. Cook until the raw smell fades away.

Now, add the mixed vegetables (if you feel that its too much veggies, you can reduce the quantity... but it never hurts to have more veggies!!!) and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the paneer and soaked rice. Mix well with the vegetables and spices and fry the rice for 3 minutes or so. Add the yogurt and water to rice and salt to taste. When the liquid starts to boil, add chopped cilantro and stir well. Close the lid and cook on medium flame for 15-20 minutes until the rice is cooked (do not stir in between).

Squeeze the lemon juice on the rice and slightly mix it. Serve with raitha.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mirchi Ka Salan

Mirchi ka salan is a curry made with chillies, peanuts and sesame seeds that originates from Hyderabad, India.  It is typically served with the famous hyderabad biriyani. As this curry is made using green chillies, people wrongly assume it to be very spicy. It all depends on the type of peppers you choose for this curry. With the right amount of spices, you can end up with a tasty dish that might soon become a favorite in your household.


6-8 anaheim peppers (you can use jalapeno or serrano peppers too)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3-4 tbsp tamarind pulp (adjust to taste)
1 tsp red chili powder
Salt, to taste

For the Salan:

1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup peanuts, dry roasted and skin removed
6-7 red chillies, dry roasted
3 tbsp shredded coconut, dry roasted
1 tsp coriander seeds, dry roasted

For seasoning:

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3-4 tbsp oil


Wash the anaheim peppers and pat them dry.  Slit each pepper and remove the seeds from the peppers to reduce the spiciness.

In a medium-heat pan, dry roast the coconut, sesame seeds, peanuts, red chillies and coriander seeds one by one separately for 2-3 minutes until they are slightly brown and place them separately on a plate.

In a blender, add all the roasted ingredients, salt (to taste) and 1-2 tbsp tamarind pulp. Grind to a smooth paste, adding little water, if necessary.

In a deep pan, heat 1tbsp oil and add the anaheim peppers. Sear the peppers for 4-5 mins but make sure not to burn them. Remove the peppers and set aside.

In the same pan, add 3-4 tbsp oil, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. After it splutters, add the finely chopped onions and fry them until they turn slightly brown. Now, add the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Stir the ingredients and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the ground salan paste to the above ingredients and add more salt and tamarind pulp, if desired.  Cook the gravy for 15-20 minutes on medium-low heat until the gravy starts to thicken. If you find the gravy to be too thick, you can add 1/4 -1/2 cup water and mix well.

Finally, add the seared peppers to the gravy and cook for 10 minutes or so until the peppers blend well with the gravy. Remove from heat and serve with rice or rotis.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wheat Oat Idli

Idli, a staple of south indian food is enjoyed by many. I have never been a fan of traditional idli and always found excuses to opt for something else. But, the only time I make an exception is when there is a right combination to go with it.

Recently, I came across a recipe which used Oats and Semolina that changed my opinion about Idlis. I tried out that recipe and it turned out to be soft and pretty good that I started recommending that recipe to friends and family. I wanted to try using Oats with cracked wheat as its similar in texture to the Semolina but a lot more healthier than its lighter counterpart. Being the healthy food that Oats is, it makes it all the more appetizing because of its soft texture when making these Idlis. One of the best things about this recipe is that you can make it instantly and store the leftover idli mix for later use.


2 cups instant oats
1 cup cracked wheat, powdered to semolina (sooji) consistency
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
Plain yogurt, depending on the quantity of the idli mixture (typically, 1:1 ratio)
Oil, for greasing the idli plates

For seasoning:

1 tbsp oil
1 tsp chana dhal (split chickpea lentil)
1 tsp urad dhal (split black gram lentil)
1 tsp mustard seeds
4-5 green chillies, finely chopped
5-6 curry leaves
1/2 tsp grated ginger


Powder the cracked wheat to semolina consistency and set aside.

In a pan on medium heat, dry roast the instant oats until it turns light brown. Cool the oats for few minutes. After it cools down, in a blender or food processor, grind the oats coarsely (as oats grinds quickly, make sure you don't grind it too fine).

In a large bowl, mix the powdered cracked wheat and the powdered oats together. Add salt and baking soda and mix well.

In a pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds, urad dhal and chana dhal. When the mustard seeds splutters and the dhals turn slightly brown, add the green chillies, curry leaves and grated ginger.

Now, add the seasoning to the dry idli powder and mix well. In a mixing bowl, add the required quantity of the dry mix and plain yogurt (1:1 ratio) and mix well. Prepare the idli-yogurt batter just before steaming as it tends to thicken.

Pour the batter on the greased idli plates and place them in the pressure cooker and steam (do not use the weight) for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, cool the idlis for 1-2 minutes and serve the idlis with sambar and/or chutney. 

For this recipe, I used 2 cups of the dry mix and 2 cups of plain yogurt which yields 16  idlis.

Makes 16 idlis.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mango Lassi

Lassi is one of the most popular Punjabi yogurt-based drink. The traditional lassi is made using yogurt, milk and indian spices. There are several variations like sweet lassi, salted lassi and mango lassi. It is also one of the easiest drinks to make.


3/4 cup canned mango pulp
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp honey or 3-4 tbsp sugar (adjust sweetness according to your taste)
1/4 cup ice
1/4 cup mango, diced (optional)
Few saffron strands (optional)


Add mango pulp, nonfat yogurt, milk, sugar and ice into a blender and puree until the ice is crushed.  Now, mix the diced mangoes with the lassi and pour into individual glasses. Garnish with few strands of saffron and serve cold.

Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dum Aloo

Dum Aloo is a north indian recipe, primarily, a kashmiri cuisine. Baby potatoes (red or white) are used for this recipe. The traditional recipe is made with a rich spicy gravy.  This recipe is a lighter version without coconut or cashews. Dum Aloo is cooked slowly with a yogurt based gravy filled with flavorful indian spices.


1 large onion, cut into chunks
3-4 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 inch ginger
2 green chillies
12 red baby potatoes
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 cup plain yogurt (whisk it to make a smooth paste)
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp oil


Boil the baby potatoes until they are slightly tender (make sure that you don't overcook them). Cool the potatoes and peel the skin. Prick the potatoes with a fork and set aside.

Grind onion, tomatoes, ginger and green chillies to a fine paste.  In a pan, heat oil, add cumin seeds and after it splutters, add the ground paste.  Allow it to cook for 5 mins.

Now, add chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder and salt to the gravy. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the raw smell fades away.

Add the baby potatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes. To the gravy, add the yogurt and stir constantly, so that the yogurt doesn't break in the gravy.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until the yogurt blends well.  Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve with rotis.

Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mexican Pizza

Mexican Pizza, as you might think, is not of mexican origin. Mexican Pizza is made with ingredients used in mexican cuisine. It is a spin-off from the Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza. This vegetarian recipe is a healthier version as I don't use any fried tortilla but bake it instead. You can add as many ingredients as you like but I have kept it simple.


4 whole wheat tortilla
1 1/2 tsp spicy taco seasoning (optional)
1 can (16 oz) fat-free refried beans
1 cup Picante sauce/ hot salsa (I like Pace Hot Salsa...very spicy)
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
3/4 cup spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup of jalapeno slices
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup light sour cream (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Bake the wheat tortillas for 2-3 minutes on each side.

In a sauce pan, heat the refried beans and mix with taco seasoning, if you wish. Set aside.

Now, place the wheat tortilla on the cookie sheet. Layer it with the refried beans (make sure that its not too thick). Add a layer of the hot salsa to the layered refried beans. Top with chopped tomatoes, spring onions, jalapeno slices and cilantro leaves. Finally, top it with shredded cheddar cheese. Repeat for each wheat tortilla.

Bake the tortillas for 10-12 minutes until the base starts to get crispy and the cheese is melted (you can bake 2 tortillas, if you are using a medium size cookie sheet). Cut each tortilla into 4 pieces and serve with a dollop of sour cream and a side of mexican/spanish rice.

 Makes 4 pizzas.