December 13, 2010

Malai Kofta (Potato croquettes in gravy)

A rich creamy dish for a special day, well that is what i had in mind when i used to make it for my friends a decade or more back!  Sweet days where we could accommodate shopping, movies and even a hand at cooking in the middle of reading a book on micro economics. Days of extreme time management i must say ;)

You can look at Malai koftas as the distant vegetarian relatives of the Italian meatballs, eaten along with rice or naan. The croquettes or koftas can be served in red or white gravy, personally preferring the white i detail the recipe for the same.

December 08, 2010

Dal Makhani (Lentils in cream)

A perfect blanket for the cold winters, the recipe will warm your heart and envelope your soul in its smooth astounding flavors!

A stew of sorts, traditionally this dal requires cooking on low flame /charcoals for hours to lend the creamy flavor. But today, along with cooking it low and slow in our modern kitchens , dollops of cream and butter also lend to its buttery texture. 

December 02, 2010

Marinara sauce

The holiday season is finally here!  Bright Christmas lights, cold wintry nights, cuppa hot chocolate, cinnamony delights.. ah the festivities are truly musical. Have been thinking to make something which personifies the season in some aspect and the color, the vivid color red got me cooking this simple yet down-home-comforting recipe. 

So let's get cooking!

December 01, 2010

Dahi bhalle

A picture is more than a thousand words ! i wish i could play silent on this post and let u on your own for a luxurious, comforting, uplifting and an almost ruminating experience through my galleria of dahi bhalle photographs! But only if my wishes had wings and you could read my recipe in invisible ink was the impossible possible ;) 

Dahi bhalle or Dahi bade as they are called, are savory lentil dumplings in yogurt and tamarind sauce. Traditionally served as a chaat item in India , bhalle gives grandeur as a great side dish to any Indian dinner or lunch party. 

Lets hit the right chords to some great bhalle(s) in the making then.

November 20, 2010

Methi parathas (Fresh fenugreek bread)

Bread in some form or the other is a staple in most cultures. In India, it comes in varied  forms especially from the northern and central parts of the country. Among them, Parathas are the epitome of the Indian gorumand bread circle- made with unleavened wheat dough stuffed with veges and shallow fried , it is a complete heaven in the mouth!

What are we waiting for then ,  lets make and break some bread together :)

November 19, 2010

Dhaniye ke ladoo

Dry corainder or dhaniya as they call it, is a common spice which is usually used in savory Indian dishes. Making a ladoo or sweet rounds may be unusual or new to many of us. This recipe has been in our family for a long time with my grandma making it often as an offering to god in her temple at home. These ladoos have been my favorite since childhood and it was only recently that i learned to make them myself.

Again a very simple recipe. Definitely try and taste , you'll certainly love the different flavour and texture to this sweet. 

October 28, 2010


Falafel !!  i have had a love-hate relationship with it for a loooooong time.

A perfectionist that i become when it comes to food  flavors and textures, i totally loathed this meditteranian dish each and every time i had it at the restaurants or tried those boxed mixes from the store -- found they made them taste bitter hard and crumbly dry. I would have totally given up on trying this dish again, if not for a close friend who made the same from scratch at home and i thought wow ya why not.. why not make it at home from the very base ingredients. Like they say, sometimes you  appreciate and understand things more when done in reverse. And believe me from the day i reverse engineered the recipe myself, there's been no looking back. This home made falafel version is a keeper in my recipe book forever . I have made it several times  and each time it comes out- ever so moistened , soft and super flavorful inside .

Tzatziki sauce

A Greek sauce generally served with a bread or pita , making it an excellent first course.

  • 2 Cups Hung yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 a Cucumber, grated and squeezed to remove the juice
  • 1 1/2 Cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1/4 tsp Lemon juice
  • Dill leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients and serve chilled along with some fresh pitas. 

October 27, 2010

Roasted red bell pepper hummus with crudités

We recently had some neighbors over and i wished to serve some snacks on a platter , vibrant and fresh just like our new friends. The all easy hummus with crudités did a brilliant job with loads of compliments and accolades for a full evening.

The recipe is true fusion of cultures- French crudités meeting the Middle eastern hummus. Crudités are basically appetizers consisting of whole or sliced raw vegetables usually dipped in a vinaigrette or sauce.And the all favorite hummus which is believed to have originated in ancient Egypt, is a spread made from chickpeas. Actually hummus in Arabic literally means chickpeas itself.

The basic hummus recipe is very versatile as you can add anything to it and a totally new flavor dimension is on the horizon every time. Ideas for flavored hummus can be as wide as your taste palette. To suggest a  few flavors -- try making roasted garlic hummus , greek hummus with olives, roasted eggplant hummus, sun dried tomato hummus, lemon garlic hummus,lemon cilantro hummus,  jalapeno hummus... i mean the variety is infinite here :) You can even try black bean or white bean hummus where you replace chickpeas with black beans and cannellini beans respectively.

Today being the roasted red bell pepper hummus day, lets - get set and go ..

October 21, 2010

Penne puttanesca

This spicy, tangy and somewhat salty pasta has its racy origins in Naples. Great on taste and quick to make.

October 14, 2010

Corn,black bean and avocado salad

Back home from an evening run , i was relaxing and contemplating what to eat for a light light dinner. Salad with some carbs fitted my idea well. So i headed to my farmland , my fridge .. and i  instantly had a "yum yum ! at first sight " with the innocent avocados, corn and lime..

Super quick and easy.

October 10, 2010

Caramelized onion & goat cheese flatbread

Weekends shout pizza to me. The warm gooey pie entices me often, but Mr lovetoeat seems to have lost an appetite for the same for long. In an attempt to work on both of our taste buds, i tried this healthy low fat semi-homemade version the last weekend. And the results with my humble pie were as satisfying as with the distant Ooey goOey relatives of the same!

October 07, 2010

Orzo with feta and olives

We are variety seekers when it comes to food.  Orzo was a pleasant discovery two years back surfing the aisles in a superstore. Its is a rice shaped pasta with varied uses. 

October 04, 2010


Bruschetta [read as brus-ketta] is a hearty snack from central Italy. Its basically a crusty grilled bread, rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Variations include toppings running as wild as your imagination. I present to you  the classic vegetarian version topped with fresh tomato, basil and garlic in light balsamic. 

This international snack has a very wide appeal, I was pleasantly surprised when my mother in law urged me to  make these almost every week when she was here visiting us..the tart sweet aged taste really grew on her. The recipe was an super duper hit. 

Quick ,easy, delicious !!

October 02, 2010

Paneer Skewers

As "s u r r e a l" as it gets, this recipe is yet another all time favorite appetiser. Done the tandoori style, these skewers are mysteriously earthy smoky tangy and charred !!  The aromas from this dish envelopes and sends you on a reminiscent trip back to India where in the heart of winters we all savoured some amazing hot and fresh delicacies out of a "r e a l" tandoor or clay oven.

October 01, 2010

Arbi Masala

We are all self proclaimed cooks in our family.This finger foods recipe is authored by my father in law and hopefully i did full justice to it by not frying but broiling instead :)

Arbi aka taro, colocasia, arvi, ghuiya-  is a root vegetable. I had nightmares cooking it yrs back myself , but this ugly looking  hairy  knotty root that you see in most international stores is truly underrated and outshined by the likes of potatoes and yams. This is one diamond in the rough which u have to lay your hands on and then you'd be hooked to it forever.

September 30, 2010


We all have times when we have sudden cravings to munch something. This recipe is a quick antidote for hunger in those busy busy hours at work or idle lazy saturday afternoons, equally.  Light, sweet, tangy, awesome..

September 29, 2010


I loved love the nimbu pani / lemonade i used to have at my friend's place when we were kids. Finally, just last year i took the recipe from her mom and since then this magical potion is a keeper in my refrigerator forever. I make it every quarter to be stored and savoured the year round.  A very simple recipe, tastes and looks exactly like fresh lemonade !!

Bengal gram salad

A salad and a light meal in one . For a more wholesome dinner,just buy some fresh pitas, slather some hummus and fill it up with this goodness. Healthy and awesome!!

September 28, 2010

Baingan Bhartha (Indian Baba ganoush)

I wanted to have something down home rustic, smoky and truly tongue tantalizing. For a full bodied flavor, i picked a juicy jumbo eggplant/ aubergine or baingan as we call it back in India. This dish in particular is called "Baingan ka bharta". Ah my  mouth is  watering already, so hitting the recipe straight.

September 27, 2010

Spaghetti with Vodka Sauce

Its was just one of those weeks, the start of the week and my hubby felt exhausted and his voice seemed out of sheen already. I thought what better way to lighten him up than with some comforting food. Italian being his all time favorite,  here's what i cooked to score a perfect 10 :)


July 21, 2010

Stuffed Bitter gourd /Karela

My mom makes these often , so i have had them for my whole life... but there is something to this recipe that never let the flavors out of fashion. Gourds for some do not ring appetising but i'll say try this family favorite  and maybe you discover your refined palate finally :)

July 19, 2010

Tamarind chutney

The soul of Indian chaat is how i'll describe this chutney. Mostly used as a dash of garnish, the tang in the tamarind brings together the flavors unlike any other. And the innate versatility of the same lends to it's wide usage.   

100gms Tamarind 
11/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/2 tsp  black salt/ kala namak
1/2 tsp red chilli pwder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger powder
 salt and granulated sugar to taste

Soak the tamarind in some water and microwave for 2-3 mins. Let it cool and strain the pulp out.

To the pulp add rest of the spices and bring to one boil.Add some water to loosen consistency.

Use it to garnish over samosa chaat , dahi bhalle/ bade and the likes..i  lately tried some over nachos too.

July 17, 2010

Pineapple fried rice

A sweet and savory ten minute fix.

¾ cup rice, cooked (texture : light and fluffed)
scallions / green onions - 3
red bell pepper small, 1
garlic 3-4 cloves, grated
1/4 tsp grated Ginger 
10 oz pineapple chunks (grilled or otherwise)
1/4 tsp chopped jalapeno

2 tsp canola oil
½ tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Scallions to garnish. 

Put oil, add grated garlic and ginger, sautee . Further add scallions. Stir till translucent , Add pineapple pieces and red bell peppers .sautee for a minute.

Add spices and saute some more. Add cooked rice and lightly mix .Server with garniosh of scallions.

You'll be blown away with the surprising flavors.

July 14, 2010

Spinach with cottage cheese ~ Palak paneer

A favorite North Indian main course eaten with naan or roti. .

Recently i had my cousin cook this for us. The extra love to his recipe was the use of nutmeg powder and here's my take on the dish very much inspired by him.

Serves- 8

2 Fresh bunches of spinach, cleaned blanched and grounded
2 big red onions, halfed and then cut in thirds
6-9 cloves  of garlic, sliced thin
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 green chillies , slit and quartered
2-3  roma tomatoes, cubed
1 tsp tomato ketchup
Paneer/ cottage cheese, cubed and sauteed
1/2 a lemon. deseeded

For the masala/ gravy :
1/2 tsp ghee / clarified butter
2 tsp canola oil
11/2 tsp nutmeg powder
half a stick of cinnamon
1-2 green cardamoms
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground roasted cumin powder
3/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander powder
salt to taste
4-5 tsp half and half cream

Take a small pan with the ghee and heat. Add whole cumin seeds,cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon stick , cardamoms. Let the cumin splutter, remove from heat. Take a deep bigger pan now and add onions, garlic , ginger and  chillies - saute on high heat till brown and caramelized.Mix nutmeg powder. Add the small pan whole masala to the bigger pan.Now to the bigger pan add the cubed tomatoes , mix and simmer. After 5-10 mins , add ketchup. Now add rest of the spices. Mix and cook for 10-12 minutes till a film of oil surfaces adding a sprinkle of water in between if needed.

Mix cooked grounded spinach and sauteed cottage cheese pieces. Add half and half cream and mix. Cook till  a boil and remove from heat. Add lemon juice.

And vala, the dish is done.

Fragrant and worth the effort. Yum.

Tip : To keep spinach or any other vegetable green -- make sure as the chlorophyll cooks , the carbon dioxide filled steam so created either escapes the pot by keeping the lid open or u blanch  in loads of salted water ( 1oz of salt per 4 cups of water) as the salt creates a wall around the spinach and thus stops the carbon dioxide from interacting with the vegetable.

July 13, 2010

Stewed apples with light cream

Farewells are never sweet. This dessert warms sweetens and soothes your palate after a heavy main course. So simple yet so sophisticated.

2 granny smith apples,thinly sliced (or any tart and sweet apple)
1 tsp low fat butter
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
11/2 tsp cinnamon powder
4 tsp brown sugar (depends on how tart the apples are)

silvered almonds
3 tsp half and half or light cream

Take a nonstick pan, add butter. Once the butter melts, add the spices and sugar. Stir for a minute. Add the  freshly sliced apples and stir again to coat. Cover and let them simmer for 10-15 mins(thinly sliced apples cook faster). Sprinkle drops of water instaed of additional butter, if it gets sticky.

Serve hot with a garnish of almonds and chilled half and half in individual bowls. Awesome !!

July 12, 2010

Strawberry Daiquiris

You get transported to the caribbeans with the citricy goodness of this drink.  All our friends love it and ask for more every time i make them. A hit for those laid back hot summer evenings or some grilling parties galore.

1 pack of strawberries, cleaned and halfed
half a handful of mint leaves
zest of an orange
juice of a lemon
5tsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup clear vodka 
3 cups of ice cubes

Mix all in a blender  and serve chilled with a garnish of mint leaves or lemon wedges.
Tip: Orange juice is a good substitute for vodka, especially when catering to kids.

Stuffed Mushrooms

The experimental cooking this weekend yielded some sumptuous  recipes. This bite size wonder will be my favorite for a long time to come.

Celebrity on the table:
16 oz button mushrooms,  stems removed

For the stuffing:
2 tsp canola oil
1carrot, shredded
1/4 of a big chopped onion
1/2 jalapeno, de-seeded and chopped
mushroom stems, chopped
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp herbs de provence or oregano
Salt to taste

shredded parmesan cheese
coriander/ cilantro
lemon juice

Take a non stick pan with some oil, saute the mushroom caps and stems till brown on high heat separately- in batches. Be careful not to tamper the shape of the caps when sauteeing. I add this step to remove the raw musky smell of mushrooms. Once done, take them out and cool.

In the same pan, add a tsp of oil-- sautee onions, jalapenos , carrots and chopped sauteed stems on high heat. Add chilli powder, herbs and salt to taste. The mixture browns and comes together. Remove from heat and let it cool.

Take the cooled caps and stuff them with the now cooled mixture, top with some parmesan cheese. Preheat oven at 350 and set your timer to 5 mins. Place the stuffed mushrooms and turn to broil after 5 mins for another minute or two.

Serve hot with a garnish of cilantro and lemon juice. Truly appetising!!

Tip: Never add salt when when sauteeing on high or the mushrooms will sweat and go soggy.

July 09, 2010

Lentil pilaf

Every morning i juggle in my mind on what to cook for lunch,  fortunately today my fridge was empty but again we wanted to grab more than just a sandwich or some noodles in a box -- the lentil pilaf came as  a healthy, flavorful and a quick-to-cook alternative.

This one's a favorite of my husband's, so much so that its even been renamed after him in our house !!

Servings- 4

Cooking with:

1/4 cup pigeon pea /toor dal
3/4 cup basmati rice
1/4 big sliced onion or  half a small onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds (optional)
1 whole dry red chilli
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
 salt to taste

Garnish with:
Coriander/ cilantro leaves
Lemon juice

You can cook the pilaf in either a pressure cooker or a rice cooker. I used the former.

Heat oil in the cooker , add sliced onions and grated garlic, Sauté. When onions are lightly browned , add the rest of the spices ,stir. Sprinkle drops of water before the spices burn.  Cook for a minute and add the washed rice and pigeon peas, add water , mix and close the cooker. Takes a whistle or two and its done.

Serve with a garnish of cilantro leaves and lemon . We usually eat it with a side of raita and papadum.

Tip: You can add some clarified butter over the hot pilaf for added flavour.

July 06, 2010

Spicy Buttermilk ~ Chaach

It is 96 degrees in dallas today.  I had  this sudden urge to fly open the refrigerator and gulp down some boxed juice (read liquid sugar) an hour back when incidentally i remembered the good old buttermilk my dad used to make each day every summer at lunch for us, back in India. Here the recipe to that thirst quenching, cool and refreshing drink we savored every time

Serves : 4

 Stealing the show:
16 oz Plain Non- fat yogurt / Curd

Ingredients for tadka / flavoring :
1/2 tsp Canola oil
11/2 tsp Crushed dry mint
2 tsp Roasted cumin powder
1/2 tsp Whole cumin seeds
1/4 tsp Red chilli powder
1 Whole dried red chilli
2 Pinches asofetida
Salt to taste

Fresh mint leaves

Take a deep vessel , pour the yogurt and add double the amount of water. Mix with the help of a hand mixer so that the two liquids become one completely. This makes plain buttermilk. Now add crushed mint, ground cumin powder and salt, stir.
Take a small pan , add oil - once heated add cumin seeds, whole red chilli, asofetida- let them splutter. Add red chilli powder -mix and sprinkle drops of water . Turn off the heat , pour the tadka / flavoring in the buttermilk , mix and cool in the refrigerator for 1-2 hrs
Serve with a garnish of fresh mint leaves and ice cubes.

Beat the heat, feel quenched!! 

July 01, 2010

No Sauce- No Cheese Pasta

Do you have evenings when your stomach grouches to eat something exotic, a meaty mouthful, umm with a bite ??and midst a mouth running wild with flavors-- do have stark realizations simultaneously, that u ran miles in the mornings or just came off your yoga class....and don't really want to load up "the" calories u just lost ??   Then, hey!!   this recipe is just for you-- a quick, easy and a delicious fix.

Serves: 2 
Star power:
Garlic and Olive oil

3 handfuls of bow-tie and shell pasta, boiled and strained
3-4 tsp olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
1 red bell pepper, cut in squares
11/4 cup of sliced button mushrooms
1 red onion,cut in bite size squares
Salt to taste

Red pepper flakes

To begin, heat the oil at medium in a big flat pan. Add sliced garlic and sauté. Once slightly golden , add mushrooms and bring the stove to its highest heat. Stir and let the mushrooms brown .. oh your kitchen will be infused with the sweet smell of grilled mushrooms and garlic, yum!!   Now add the diced onions and saute ( the stove is on high throughout). See how the onions go from being translucent to brown .. cook them a bit beyond their comfort zone, exactly like the extra push or a mile u just did.. and as u see some of the onions caramelizing , add the red bell peppers. Saute for another minute or two. Switch off the stove , add the boiled and strained pasta.. add salt to your taste when the veges and the pasta are still hot . Mix. Awwh the smoky aromas are out of the world !!

Plate in a serving dish and sprinkle a handful of capers if you like a salty bite. And vala a sumptuous dinner is ready.  Couple it with half a glass of wine and u transported to tuscany :)
This perfect marriage of juicy bright peppers, smoked meaty mushrooms and sweet caramelized onions-- all enveloped in garlic oil  , quenches your heart and satisfies every body cell you worked with when exercising... you'll see a happy glistened look on your face

So here's to some guilt-free dining!! Cheers 

Tip: You can maneuver your mind into thinking u ate more carbs even when you add more vegetables and less pasta to this dinner. Yup, this mind game works !!

June 30, 2010

Red split gram ~ Masoor ki daal

Lentils or daal as it is called in India is a very important source of proteins in a vegetarian diet.

Lentils are mild and earthy so mostly they are cooked with some assertive flavorings but at times so much so that the spices overpower the mild soothing taste of the star ingredient -"daal". So here, i have tried to make the dish with minimal yet perfectly complementary condiments such that one can savour every spoonful of the magical symphony so created. My idea is for you to explore and relish the clean simple yet the complex rendezvous of flavors in this dish.

To draw an analogy, you are an artist who truly appreciates a random stroke of a bright vibrant color on a blank canvass, to get consumed by this dish.

Red split gram in particular is a skinned, salmon-coloured lentil which cooks very quickly and turns golden when done.

3/4 cup red split gram , cleaned & washed

For Tadka/ frying:
11/2 tsp canola oil
3/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 clove of garlic, grated
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
less than 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
salt to taste

Cilantro/ coriander leaves
Juice of half a lemon

The recipe is made in a pressure cooker but in case if u dont have one , use any vessel with a heavy top.

Put the oil in the cooker on medium heat, let it rise to a temperature half way to its smoking point. Add cumin, grated garlic, stir so that the garlic doesnt stick and burn . Let the cumin pop. Now add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt -- stir and add a sprinkle of water so that the spices do not burn.

Once u see a film of oil over the tadka/ spices, add the washed red split gram . Stir and add 1/2 cup of water (My personal measure is a water level above the lentils about 1/3rd the length of my index finger)

Close the cooker and bring the stove to high heat. Remove when the cooker whistles once. Let it sit for some time and then open. In case if you are using a vessel, check if the daal is done by pressing it against the vessel walls-- if it gives in and mushes , its done. 

Importantly, serve with a green garnish of cilantro leaves and lemon juice.  Yum!!

Tip: To keep green leafy vegetables intact for long, Drain excess water if any and wrap them in a thick tissue cloth/ paper to be stored in a ziplock in the refrigerator.

June 29, 2010

Spicy roasted eggplant ~Tawa fry bengan

Weekly grocery shopping lands me with eggplants more often than not. The only way i knew how to make them was how we ate at the dinners held at my grandma's place - oily spicy garlicy good. We frequently called the latter the rajputi bengans- fiery red and bold flavoured. I wondered a week back though, if the latter could be made more figure friendly. So here's my take on one of my favourite vegetables. A guilty awesomeness then, made yummy and healthy now.

Star ingredient :
4-5 baby eggplants

For the masala/ spices :
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
few drops of water
lemon juice

For the tadka /frying :
2-3 tsp canola oil
pinch of asofetida

To start - slit the eggplants lengthwise twice ,at a criss cross leaving the stem intact.

Mix all the masala and help combine with drops of water to make a thick paste. Take some paste and rub in between the eggplant slits. Less is more, so dont overwork the paste in between slits.

Take a nonstick pan- put 11/2 tsp oil , let it heat on medium to high. Remember eggplant acts like a sponge so put only the minimum required oil at first, adding more if the masala sticks. Once the oil is well heated add asofetida. Place each eggplant rubbed with masala in the pan (the stove is still on medium to high) , sprinkle some coarse salt for better roasting. Roast them for 2- mins each side on high heat, till a crust is formed. Once roasted , sprinkle some water (less is more) and cover. Steam them for 3-4 mins, turning them in between. Once done close the stove and keep them covered.

After 2-3 mins , uncover and sprinkle some lemon juice on the eggplants and serve with a garnish of coriander leaves.

Tip: Never crowd your pan when roasting. Take a bigger pan or roast in batches.
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