Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ricotta Cherry Parfait

Summer is just around the corner. And who does not like light, quick and easy dessert? I have prepared "Must Have Items in Summer" list. If you have them in your pantry, there are quite a few ideas of quick fix desserts. This list includes Ricotta Cheese, Condensed Milk, Cocoa Powder, Graham Crackers, Chocolate Chips, Whipped Cream, Canned/Frozen Cherries/Berries and Confectioner's Sugar. The other night I was looking at my pantry and freeze and came up with this idea; why not to create layers of ricotta cheese and fruits and then add crackers and nuts to have crunchiness? I did not have Sundae Glasses so instead I used regular bowl. If you have this slick and sexy glass, you can taste all the ingredients in every bite.

Anyway, I prepared small sample first and both of us loved it. I was not sure what to name it then. So I started looking online and found out that it was type of an American Dessert where cream/nuts/fruits/yogurt were layered and served cold. It's called parfait which is derived from French Cuisine. So here is my very own version of Ricotta Cherry Parfait.

Serves 2
Preparation Time: 10 Minute
Cooking Time: NIL
Refrigeration Time: 1 to 2 Hr

4 tbsp ricotta cheese
2 tsp Greek yogurt
2 tsp confectioner's sugar
15-20 pc canned cherries along with juice (Alternatively, fruit jam can also be used)
8 pc graham crackers
10-12 pc almonds, slivered

1. Toast almonds at 300 F for about 5-7 minute, keep them aside
2. Mix cheese, yogurt and sugar, whisk thoroughly
3. Roughly chop graham crackers
4. In a glass, create layers of cheese mixture, cherry and crackers. Top it with almonds
5. Serve chilled

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I have always loved this time of the year. During school days, either exams just got over or about to get over. So plans would be made with friends for vacation hangout. By this time, parents also would have finalized summer trip. After coming to US, this time offers the most pleasant climate of the year. Finally we bid adieu to heavy winter jackets. Warm crisp air entices to indulge into outdoor activities. 

But prime reason to feel so special about this time is the most important duo in my life celebrate their special days. My dad's birthday and parents' anniversary are just a day apart. So one day mom would make special feast and other day we would dine out. Mom mostly has made Shrikhand on this day as long as I remember. I am talking about the time where Shrikhnad would be bought occasionally only for special days. So making it home was definitely like going an extra mile. Mom would load it with dry fruits and it would be savored for next few days. 

I am not a big fan of Shrikhand, but K loves it so I thought at least I should start making it for him. And time could not be better. Considering first time venture I used Greek Yogurt. It is thick and creamy so no need to strain it. K was a bit skeptical in the beginning but after tasting it, he compared it with Amul Shrikhand of India :).

Happy Birthday Dad and Happy Anniversary to the most Wonderful Parents!

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 10 Minute + Chilling time
Cooking Time: Nil

2 cup Greek Yogurt
1 Cup Confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
12-15 strands of saffron
2-3 tsp warm milk
2 tbsp pistachio, roughly chopped

1. Mix saffron in warm milk and keep it aside
2. Mix yogurt and sugar, whisk thoroughly
3. Add cardamom, saffron and pistachio
4. Chill it for at least couple of hours before serving

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Veggie Stew with Beans

Being a stay-home mom, I face different dilemma on Sunday evenings. After spending Saturday and most of the Sunday on cooking, cleaning, grocery, outing and entertaining guests, I want my weekend to end in a healthy and tasty way. But neither I want to go out nor use leftovers or frozen food. And cooking a complete menu is entirely out of question. So I always look for simple options like Bhel, Fada Khichdi etc. These dishes are filling and serve as a complete meal i.e they have got veggies, protein and carbs. 

On a cold and dreary Sunday evening, this steaming hot stew is to die for. Whenever we hear about Stew, we think about beef in background of vegetables. But as I do not eat beef, I do not want to be left out. So I have created my own version of stew where I have used tomato and broccoli puree in background.   Have it all by itself or pair it with your favorite bread, this cheesy-chunky stew is definitely a great addition to your list. When I am in a mood of extensive cooking, I make this stew with Dhebra/Thepla or Paratha.

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 30 Minute + soaking time
Cooking Time: 45 Minute

1 cup veggies of your choice, finely diced (I used onion, zucchini, green and orange Peppers, carrot, corn, scallion)
1/2 cup rajma/ beans
1/4 cup small pasta
4 medium tomatoes
2-3 florets of broccoli
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp butter
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
Parsley and fresh cream for garnishing (optional)

1. Soak rajma for 6-8 hours and pressure cook them
2. Pressure cook/ boil tomato and broccoli. Pulse them into puree (You can strain them if you want)
3. Heat oil in a pan, add garlic and saute it for 2-3 minute
4. Add veggies, add salt and cook them covered stirring occasionally

5. When they are half cooked, add tomato puree, beans and pasta. Add water as required

6. Cook it uncovered till pasta are tender
7. Add butter and turn off the heat
8. Add cream, cheese and garnish with parsley

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eggless Black Forest Cake

Back to baking after a long break. I know just a handful of cake recipes. And I am not very confident either. But this time I was very firm to make this cake. Two important people in my life - my brother and husband's birthdates are just two days apart. So it is kind of a tradition to celebrate it on the day in between. Both of them are avid lover of cakes and desserts, so what could be better option?

This happened to be our favorite cake back in India. Even after coming here we go to Indian Bakery quite often to have it.

Makes 9" cake
Preparation Time: 20 Minute
Cooking Time: 45 Minute
Decoration/Cooling Time: 1-2 Hr

1 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
250 ml coke/pepsi
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)

For Filling/Decoration
1.5 to 2 cup cool whip
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate shavings
1 cup cherries
1/2 cup sugar
M & Ms (Optional)

1. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder and sieve them
2. Whisk condensed milk and butter together until soft and fluffy and then add vanilla extract
3.  Now gradually add coke and dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk thoroughly
4. Add chocolate chips
5. Pour mixture in a greased baking pan and bake at 350 F until toothpick comes out clean, about 30 to 40 minute

1. Heat 3/4 cup water in a pan and add sugar into it. Stir it till sugar gets dissolved. Turn off the heat when it starts getting thickened 
2. Once cake cools down completely, cut it from middle and divide it into two parts
3. Moisturize both parts from inside with sugar syrup
4. Apply of cool whip, 1/2 cup cherries and spread 1/2 cup of chocolate shavings. Again spread cool whip and place other half of the layer
5. Apply sugar syrup on top and cover both top and sides with remaining cream
6. Decorate with remaining cherries, chocolate shavings and M&Ms

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Palak Paneer Sandwich

When you grow up in a food-loving family it so happens that some of the dishes become more than just the food. They are like family’s signature dishes. And then when you start your own family, you also try to continue the same legacy. Though both K and I share the same passion for food, we always do not see eye to eye. But when it comes down to ‘Family-Favorite’ Dishes, we are on the same page. We both would die for this sandwich anytime. No matter how full we are, we would not be able to resist a bite of this delicacy. It is executed with same taste and consistency and consumed with same passion, ALWAYS.

Knowing my love for sandwich, my mom shared this recipe after I moved to US. Initially I was bit hesitant to try as I was not sure about the taste of raw spinach in a sandwich. But still it was worth giving a try as mom had successfully tried it and she does not top the list of adventurous cooks :). I made a few changes as per my taste. And being simple, healthy and yummylicious at the same time makes it even more special.

Makes 8 Sandwiches
Preparation Time: 30 Minute
Cooking Time: 30 Minute

16 slices of bread (Whole wheat is healthy, but white tastes better :) )
5 cup spinach, chopped
1 cup paneer, crumbled
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I prefer Amul)
2 tbsp green pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp green chili, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice

To prepare/serve sandwich,
Coriander chutney/ketchcup

1. Mix spinach, pepper, chili, paneer and cheese in a large bowl
2. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice when ready to make sandwich 
3. Now take a slice of bread, spread butter, put the filling and cover with another slice
4. Serve hot with ketchup/chutney

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Moong Dal Chilla

Craving for something spicy and delicious yet healthy dish? Be it a cold afternoon or rainy evening, these spiced lentil crisps are always welcome. The beauty of this dish is that it is a perfect option for breakfast, brunch or even dinner. 

The other day I was craving for something spicy fried stuff, something equivalent to Pakoda.  But these days, I say big NO to fried stuff and hence had hard time finding a dish to settle for. 

Then suddenly I remember this dish, my mom makes this often especially during summer when there are limited varieties of vegetables. She uses combination of green moong dal and rice. I had forgotten the exact proportion and instead of calling her, i searched online. I found several recipes online but none of them use rice. So I came up with my own combination and it came out just perfect. 

Makes 16-18 Chillas
Preparation Time: 20 Minute + Soaking Time
Cooking Time: 40 Minute

2 cup yellow moong dal
1/4 cup udad dal
1/2 cup rice
1 tbsp green chili paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin  seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
3 tbsp kasoori methi
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp soda
Coriander leaves
Veggies of your choice, I used onion and corn
Oil to make Chillas

1. Soak both dals (together) and rice (separately) for 4-6 hours
2. Grind dal and rice with little water to make thick pouring mixture
3. Add salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder, garlic, chili-ginger paste, kasoori methi and cumin seeds
4. When ready to make, add soda, yogurt, coriander leaves and veggies. Batter without these ingredients can be preserved in freezer for at least couple of weeks
5. Make Chillas on a hot griddle with little oil, cook them on both sides until crispy and brown
6. Serve hot with green chutney/ketchup