Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gajar ka Halwa

Neither I am a big fan of desserts nor can I make them perfect. As HE has got sweet tooth, I have managed to master a few of them and this is one among them. This is must in Winter Season. Warm Halwa in freezing cold is sheer bliss. The traditional recipe requires milk and khoya hence making cooking process lengthy and little tiresome. Instead, I started using condensed milk and now it’s easier and faster.

Yields 4-5 cup
Preparation Time: 1 Hr
Cooking Time: 30-40 Minute

3 LB carrots (I used 16-18 pc medium thin carrots)
1 cup ghee **
14 oz can of sweet condensed milk
15-20 pc raisins
15-20 cashew nuts
½ tsp cardamom powder
Sugar, if required
** Start with smaller quantity of ghee, add more if required after mixing carrots

1. Grate carrots and keep them aside
2. Heat ghee in sauce pan and add grated carrots
3. Stir continuously until carrots are cooked and ghee starts leaving on the edge
4. Add condensed milk, raisins and cashew nuts
5. Stir constantly until milk evaporates and thick consistent mixture takes place
6. Add sugar, if required
7. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with cardamom powder

Monday, December 20, 2010


I had homemade Enchiladas prepared by a friend the very next day I arrived in US and I fell in love with Mexican Food

Makes 8 Enchiladas (10’)
Preparation Time: 30 Minute + soaking time
Cooking Time: 30 Minute

8 pc corn flour tortillas
1 cup rajma/Kidney Bean **
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
A can of medium enchilada sauce
1 cup Mexican blend cheese
2 tsp taco seasoning
Jalapeno and Olive Slices (Optional)
Salt and Pepper

1. Soak beans for 6-8 hours and pressure cook them
2. Heat oil in skillet, add onions
3. When onions turn translucent, add taco seasoning, beans, half a can of sauce and ½ cup cheese
4. Stir it for couple of minute and turn off the heat when cheese is melted
5. Warm tortillas in microwave for 20 second
6. In a baking tray, spread each tortilla with Avocado Salsa, fill it with bean stuff and turn it into tight roll
7. Pour over remaining sauce and cheese
8. Top with olive and jalapeno slices
9. Bake it at 350 degree for about 12-15 minute or until cheese is melted

Monday, December 13, 2010

Soji Malai Toast

Sandwich is our all time favorite menu for weekend supper. Ranging from conventional alu-mutter to experimental corn and spinach to American sub style sandwich, we try everything. I have always liked open-sandwich, especially after finding it in weight loss diet menu :). I have very fond memories with my sis-in-law for this sandwich. We would love this as a perfect evening snack. Well, here we hardly have a chance for evening snack so along with soup and salad I converted it into dinner menu.

Makes 10 slices
Preparation Time: 25-30 Minute
Cooking Time: 30 Minute

10 slices of white bread
1.5 cup coarse soji
4 tbsp cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 medium tomato
1 medium onion
1 tsp chopped green chili
¼ cup chopped spinach (out 15-20 leaves) **
Salt and Pepper
Oil for frying

** Spinach is optional. You can also use green and/or red peppers

1. Dry roast soji on low flame until it starts turning pink-brown
2. Finely chop all veggies
3. In a mixing bowl, mix soji, veggies and cream cheese
4. Texture should be like a spread. In case, it’s too hard add little water/cream
5. Add salt and pepper
6. Spread this mixture on one side of a slice
7. With little oil, cook it on both sides on griddle until crispy
8. Serve hot with ketchup and green chutney

Cream of Tomato Soup

This soup is pretty common, generally found as an appetizer in most wedding parties and liked by almost everyone. I still remember, in my childhood days this soup and garden salad would be 'a default order' in any North Indian Restaurant :). I make tomato soup quite often but never got typical ‘Cream of Tomato Soup’ Taste. Well, I realized that I had missed basic step, use of plain flour.

Serves 2-3
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: 30 Minute

4 pc medium plum tomatoes
1 tsp butter
8-10 whole pepper corn
A bay leaf
1.5 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp fresh cream
1 tbsp grated cheddar (optional)
Salt and Sugar per taste

1. Dice tomatoes into large cubes
2. Heat butter in sauce pan on low flame
3. Add bay leaf, pepper corn and tomatoes
4. Stir it for about 5 minute until tomatoes become soft
5. Add flour and cook for about 5-10 minute
6. Take out the bay leaf and grind the mixture into puree
7. Add water, salt and sugar and bring to boil
8. Turn off the heat, add cream and cheese
9. Serve hot

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vegetable Machurian

Here I am with another Chinese Dish. The other day I came across video on how to make Veg. Manchurian by Sanjeev Kapoor. After watching video, I was tempted – both to cook and to eat. I used more or less same recipe to make sauce but made some modifications for Manchurian Balls.

Serves 4 (Makes about 25 Manchurian Balls)
Preparation Time: 45 Minute
Cooking Time: 45 Minute

For Manchurian Balls,
1 cup string beans, finely chopped
1 cup cabbage, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, finely chopped
½ cup green pepper, finely chopped
2 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp corn flour
Salt and Pepper per taste
Oil for frying

For Manchurian Sauce,
1 tbsp olive oil
4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp green chili, finely chopped
½ cup onion, finely chopped
¼ cup soya sauce
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
4 tbsp corn flour
Scallions for garnishing
Salt and pepper

1. Mix all finely chopped veggies, add salt and keep them aside
2. Squeeze veggies in muslin cloth to remove access water
3. Add plain flour, corn flour, salt and pepper
4. Deep fry these balls on low flame until crisp brown
5. If balls break or do not come out crispy, add some more flour
6. Heat olive oil in sauce pan, add garlic, ginger, chili and onions
7. Add soya sauce (I used little less than ¼ cup), vinegar, salt and sugar
8. Whisk corn flour with 4-5 cup water and add to sauce pan
9. Bring mixture to boil, add more water/corn flour depending on consistency you want
10. Turn off the heat and add pepper
11. Add Manchurian balls to sauce, leave for 10-15 minute and garnish with scallions

We had it with plain white rice, but brown rice/fried rice tastes even better. Also, in Manchurian Sauce, vegetable stock will bring better taste than just water.

Hakka Noodles

I had never loved Chinese food much while I was in India. My mom would also not make it very often, since almost all dishes require use of soya sauce and vinegar. In USA, I found it difficult to sit and eat in authentic Chinese Restaurants due to smell problems. Gradually I started making few dishes at home. Now I can perfectly make Hakka Noodles. With soup, it has become our favorite Friday Dinner Menu.

Serves 2-4
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minute

7 oz pack of Ching Noodles
½ cup string beans, thinly sliced
½ cup shredded cabbage
½ cup carrots, thinly slices
1 cup onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup green pepper, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp Ching soya sauce
2 tbsp Ching green chili sauce
1 tbsp Ching chili vinegar
2 tbsp scallions, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper

1. Cut/chop all vegetables and keep them aside
2. Boil noodles as per instruction with salt and little oil, it should be little undercooked
3. Meanwhile steam beans and carrots in microwave for 2-3 minutes
4. Heat oil in saucepan, add garlic and onion
5. When onions turn translucent, add carrots, beans, cabbage and pepper
6. Add salt, soya sauce, chili sauce and vinegar
7. Cook covered until desired tenderness is achieved, I like them little crunchy
8. Add noodles, stir gently
9. Turn off the heat, add black pepper and garnish with scallions

Cabbage Curry (Alu-Gobi)

After moving to Maryland, getting fresh vegetables has become pain in neck. Even vegetable like cabbage, which is usually available in Indian/Chinese/American store has become difficult. Due to lack of many options, I ended up buying it though it was not very fresh. After cutting I realized it was very dry and hard. Then I thought to add tomatoes to give gravy like texture. Wait, then I remembered a friend of mine telling me about generous use of curry leaves, udad dal and coconut in cabbage curry made South Indian way. I was little scared while cooking since I had no alternate curry in case something goes wrong with this one. But we both loved the end result and just a simple little twist can give completely different and delicious taste.

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 20 Minute
Cooking Time: 20 Minute

4 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup diced potato
1/3 cup peas
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 green chili, finely chopped
1 tsp udad dal
8-10 pc curry leaves
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds,
Pinch of asafetida
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp sugar
½ tsp red chili powder
1 tsp grated coconut
Coriander leaves for garnishing

1. Heat oil in skillet on medium heat
2. Add mustard seeds, asafetida, curry leaves and udad dal
3. When udad dal turns light brown add tomato, stir it for a minute or two
4. Add cabbage, potato and peas
5. Add salt and turmeric powder and cook covered until tender
6. Add red chili powder and sugar, turn off the heat
7. Add grated coconut and garnish with coriander leaves

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tomato-Broccoli Salad with Mozzarella Cheese

Something good comes out of bad and this salad is a perfect example. Couple of years ago we went to Orlando, FL. By the time we reached hotel, it was already past 10 PM and the only open restaurant was ‘Macaroni Grill’, just across the street. We both love Italian so we were sure that we would get good options to choose from. But there were only a few options and we ended up ordering an appetizer with tomato and mozzarella cheese. It had 5-6 slices of tomatoes, topped with cheese and basil and they charged $7 for it!! I added broccoli in addition to tomatoes to give striking red and green color combo. Fresh basil leaves will definitely be a better option, but I used dried basil and garlic powder.

Serves 2
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: 10-15 Minute

2 medium tomatoes
½ cup broccoli florets (about 6-7 pc)
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried basil-garlic powder
Salt and pepper

1. Steam broccoli in microwave for 40 second
2. Cut tomatoes into thick slices, about ¼ inch
3. Arrange broccoli and tomato slices in baking tray and drizzle generously with olive oil
4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil powder
5. Top each slice with mozzarella cheese
6. Bake at 350 degree for about 10-12 minutes or until cheese has melted and formed a nice crust

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Carrot Ginger Soup

The other day, I found an online deal that Martha Stewart’s Thanksgiving Recipes Books was available for free download. Of course, there were very few vegetarian recipes and there was only one I had all ingredients for. This recipe was from Emrill Lagasse and I could never imagine that combination of carrot and ginger would make delicious soup. The original recipe requires fresh thyme. But I did not have it and I would not buy whole bunch for just couple of springs. Then I searched online for substitute for thyme. Ideally, there is no substitute for thyme, but Italian seasoning contains thyme and it can work for soup.

Serves 3-4
Preparation Time: 15 Minute
Cooking Time: 20 Minute

2 tbsp (1/4 stick) butter
2-cup diced carrots
1-cup diced onions
2 tbsp peeled and sliced fresh ginger
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
4 cup water
Salt and Pepper
Sour cream for garnishing (optional)

1. Melt the butter in sauce pan over high heat. Add carrots, onions, ginger, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper
2. Cook for 2 minutes, add water, cover the pot and bring mixture to boil
3. Now uncover the pot, simmer on low-medium flame until carrots are tender
4. Remove pot from heat and blend the mixture
5. Serve hot, garnished with dollop of sour cream

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

મકાઇનો દાણો/ Corn Curry Cooked in Milk

Here I am with another all time favorite dish- મકાઇનો દાણો. I do not know what it is called in English. I googled it and found somewhat similar recipe with coconut milk under Thai Cuisine. I have very fond memories about this dish too. My dad’s friend used to own a corn farm in a village, so every monsoon (around July-August) we would plan a trip there. They would pick fresh corn and make this delicious dish. Generally people have it with roti but I love it so much that I can have it all by itself. My mom makes even a nicer version by adding lot of dry fruits. Ideally, it should be made using fresh corn, but here fresh sweet corn is very tender, so I use frozen whole corn kernels instead.

Serves 2-3
Preparation Time: 20 Minute
Cooking Time: 40 Minute

4 cup whole corn kernels
3 tbsp ghee (sometimes, I use half ghee + half oil)
2 pc cloves
¼ inch cinnamon stick
½ tsp mustard seeds
Pinch of asafetida
8-10 pc curry leaves
8-10 pc raisins
8-10 pc cashew nuts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped green chili
2 cup whole milk
Salt and lemon juice per taste
Coriander leaves for garnishing

1. Chop whole corn using hand chopper, keep them aside
2. Heat ghee in thick bottom pan, add cloves, cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, asafetida, curry leaves, raisin and cashew nuts
3. When cashew nuts become light brown, add chopped corn, green chili and salt
4. Continuously stir this mixture, so it does not stick to bottom of the pan
5. When mixture becomes dry and starts leaving ghee on edges, add milk
6. Stir it until milk is thoroughly absorbed
7. Add lemon juice, turn off the heat, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot

This dish can be refrigerated for at least 4-5 days. I also use leftover to stuff sandwich and then grill it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

લીલવા કચોરી/ Tuver Kachori

Even middle of the night if I am asked to name my favorite dishes, it will top the list. Not only I, but also my parents and brother love it like anything. We grow તુવેર in our backyard almost every year and hence ultimate dish is very savory and delicious. When I was a kid, my mom would pick fresh green તુવેર, peel them and make all possible dishes. Though here I have to work with frozen ones and taste is not as good as the fresh ones, I still make કચોરી quite often. Probably, it strongly defines my attachment to home or this is how I try to keep memories afresh!

Makes 20-22 pc
Preparation Time: 1 hour + cooling time
Cooking time: 30 Minute

1 pack of frozen pigeon peas (10 oz)
2 tsp oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
Pinch of asafetida
1 tbsp green chili paste
¼ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp clove-cinnamon powder
2 tbsp chopped green garlic
2 tbsp chopped coriander
Salt, sugar and lemon juice as per taste

For dough,
2 cup plain flour
1 tsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp oil

Oil for frying

1. Thaw pigeon peas at room temperature and chop them using hand chopper
2. Heat oil in skillet, add sesame seeds, asafetida and chopped peas
3. Cook it on low flame covered with dip dish filled with water
4. Add chili paste, salt and sugar
5. Stir frequently so it does not stick to the bottom of the skillet
6. When it’s almost cooked, add lemon juice, garam masala and clove-cinnamon powder
7. Turn off the heat, add garlic and coriander leaves
8. Now stuff is ready, let it cool down thoroughly at room temperature
9. Mix flour, oil and salt and knead hard dough like puri
10. Divide the dough into balls, roll them into thin puris and fill with stuff
11. Deep fry on low flame until golden brown

Serve hot with tamarind chutney. I added chili-ginger paste and coriander leaves in chutney.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cheesy Potato Pita Pockets

Last week I made Falafel and had left over pita bread. I had never used them other than Mediterranean dishes. First I thought to trash them, but then suddenly decided to do some experiment. I thought to stuff them with potato, cheese and other veggies and then bake them. It was not that risky considering it was Friday and I am quite good at making potato stuff ;)

Makes 4 Pitas
Preparation Time: 30 Minute
Cooking Time: 20 Minute

For Potato Stuff (This stuff works equally well for veg-kabab and even parathas)
2 cup boiled and mashed potatoes
¼ cup sweet corn kernel
¼ cup sweet peas
¼ cup chopped onions
1 tsp oil
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp sesame seeds
½ tsp green chili paste
¼ tsp ginger paste
¼ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp clove-cinnamon powder
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp lemon juice
Salt per taste

To serve,
4 pc Pocket Pita Bread
¼ cup chopped carrots and green peppers
¼ cup cheddar cheese
Green Chutney

1. Boil and mash potatoes, keep them aside
2. Coarsely chop corn kernels and sweet peas and finely chop onions
3. Heat oil in skillet, add cumin seeds, sesame seeds and then add all veggies
4. Stir this mixture until water is evaporated and it becomes dry
5. Turn off the heat and add them to mashed potatoes
6. Add remaining spices and mix well
7. Cut pita into half, fill with cheese, raw carrot and green pepper and potato mixture (In this order only)
8. Bake them at 350 degrees for about 6-8 minute or until cheese melts and pita becomes crispy
9. Serve hot with green chutney and ketchup

We both loved baked pita that I am thinking to use them for sandwich instead of regular bread.

Parsley Pesto

I had bought big bunch of Flat Leaf Parsley to make Falafel, but I did not know how to use/preserve left over. Then I read somewhere that I can pesto which can stay good for couple of weeks. Generally pesto is made using pine nuts, but I used walnuts instead.

Yields about 1 cup
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: NIL

1-cup freshly chopped parsley
¼ cup walnut
½ tsp basil
½ tsp oregano
2 cloves of garlic
1/6 cup olive oil

1. Toast walnuts on low flame for 3-5 minute
2. Mix them with rest of the ingredients and grind into a paste

I have not tried this pesto with spaghetti/pasta yet. But add salt and pepper and it indeed tastes good with toast, bread or crackers

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dal Palak

Here I am with another simple recipe. I like this kind of dish because it’s a good combination of Protein and Greens. Not only it’s quite simple to make but also it makes a complete meal with rice/roti. The original recipe says Palak-Moong Dal but I used three types of dals instead of just moong dal.

Serves 3-4
Preparation Time: 20 Minute + soaking time
Cooking Time: 15 Minute

3 cup chopped spinach
1/3 cup moong dal
1/3 chana dal
1/3 cup toor dal
1.5 tsp oil
A dried red chili
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp lemon juice
Pinch of garam masala
1/8 tsp ghee
Salt per taste

1. Mix all 3 dals, soak for 3-4 hours and pressure cook them
2. Heat oil in skillet, add dry red chili, mustard and cumin seeds
3. Add spinach and sauté it for about 5-7 minutes or until mixture becomes dry
4. Add cooked dals, mix well and add remaining dry spices
5. Add water, quantity depends on what kind of texture you want (I used about ½ cup)
6. Add ghee and turn off the heat

P.S. We can also sauté spinach along with onion and tomato to give little Punjabi/North Indian touch

Thursday, November 4, 2010

સુખડી/ Sukhadi

It’s the simplest Gujarati Sweet and we both love it, especially when served hot. The best part is, it’s easy to make and all ingredients are always available. And icing on the cake is, though it’s sweet, it has got no sugar. Simple may it sound, let me confess so far I could never make perfect સુખડી. Either it would be too hard or too soft. But this time, I had been very patient and it’s nearly perfect.

Makes 20-25 pieces (Two small plates)
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: 20 Minute

2 cup whole wheat chapatti flour
1 to 1.25 cup ghee
1 cup shredded jaggery

1. Heat ghee in thick bottom pan on low flame. Start with 1 cup
2. When hot enough, add flour and stir continuously, if required add remaining ¼ cup of ghee
3. When this mixture starts leaving ghee on edge and it’s about to change color, turn off the heat
4. Add jaggery and mix well
5. Spread the mixture in plate while hot
6. Let it cool down, cut into pieces and store it at room temperature


Here I am with another typical Gujarati snacks - ચકરી. It comes with several variations, but we just love the simplest version, the one made with whole wheat flour. When I was teenager, mom used to teach me how to make ચકરી using machine. With practice, I could use machine efficiently though I had never tried to make the dough. During this Diwali, I asked HIM what should I make in snacks category and he told me to make just this one item! And when you have please someone by just one dish, you have to be careful ;)

Make 50-60 small pieces
Preparation Time: 30 Minute
Cooking Time: 1 hour

2.5 cup whole wheat chapatti flour
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp ajwain
1 tsp fennel seeds
Salt per taste
Oil for frying

1. Wrap flour in cloth and pressure cook it for about 12-15 minute (4 whistles)
2. Coarsely crush ajwain and fennel seeds
3. Once pressure cooker cools down, take the flour out and mash it so it does not have any lumps
4. Add all dry spices and make soft dough
5. Put the dough in machine and make ચકરી preferably on damp cloth. If it breaks, add little water to dough
6. Deep fry immediately them until golden brown

P.S. Dough can also be made using sour cream.

Malai Kofta

In India, whenever we would go to North Indian/Punjabi Restaurants, we order one sweet or white gravy based vegetable. And mostly it would be Malai Kofta or Khoya Kaju. But here very few places offer these options so I had no choice but to learn making them myself :)

Serves 4-6 (Makes about 22-24 Koftas)
Preparation Time: 40 Minute
Cooking Time: 20 Minute

For Kofta,
2 cup boiled and mashed potatoes
4-6 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp ginger-chili paste
1 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp ricotta cheese
20-25 pc cashew nuts
20-25 pc raisins
Salt per taste
Oil for frying

For Gravy
2.5 cup onion paste
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp મગત્સરીના બી
20 pc cashew nuts
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp chili paste
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp oil
1 bay leaf
¼ cup heavy cream
Salt, sugar and lemon juice per taste

For Garnishing,
Coriander leaves

1. Mix mashed potatoes, flour, salt, coriander leaves and ginger chili paste
2. Divide this mixture into balls.
3. Now take each ball, stuff with little ricotta cheese, cashew and raisin
4. Fry them on medium flame until golden brown
5. Soak cashew nuts, મગત્સરીના બી and poppy seeds in water/milk for about an hour and grind into a paste
6. Heat oil in skillet, add bay leaf, cumin seeds and onion paste and minced garlic
7. When it starts leaving oil on edges, add cashew paste and chili paste
8. Add all remaining spices and mix well
9. Add heavy cream and turn off the heat
10. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot