Shallot Sambar

Quick and easy sambar using shallots

Pasta Caprese

Fresh and easy pasta with the Caprese flavours

Spinach and cottage cheese koftas

A flavourful, tasty dish inspired from Masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor

Roasted red pepper hummus

A 'smoky - sweet' version of the popular Arabic dip - hummus

Linguine 'Veg'enaise

Spaghetti Bolognaise for vegetarians.

And it's time for a short break!

Hey Folks!

I think it is time for me to take a break from blogging. My busy work life has literally drained off all my creative juices and my state is best depicted by Garfield above - it is soooo true!! For those of you who actually manage to blog despite having a job and kids(!!) I would love to hear from you as to how you find the time to be creative. Well I guess engaging yourself in doing something creative is actually meant to be a 'break' by itself but right now I am just too bogged down by other thoughts and have reached a mental block!

I started off thinking I wouldn't continue beyond a couple of posts, but blogging has been real fun and I cannot believe I actually put up 94 recipes :) That is definitely a huge achievement for me lol It was great to interact with all you fellow bloggers, participate in some wonderful events and to be hugely inspired by just browsing through the fantastic recipes you guys share. Kudos to all!

I like to cook for my husband but what I discovered during blogging is a keen interest in food styling and food photography...something I would have never considered before and of course to keep writing! Never really thought I could actually write beyond a couple of lines :D This probably sounds like a farewell message than a break but nah! I have every intention of coming back (once I have cleared my thoughts and found a fresh new 'vision' to continue blogging ;P). Thank you for all your wonderful comments that kept me come back. See you guys soon...will catch up on Facebook.

Till then happy cooking my blogger friends....have fun :) And a parting thought...

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." - Robert Brault


Leek & Mushroom Pilaf

This is an extremely simple pilaf flavoured with leek and button mushrooms alone. Normally people add stock (like vegetable or chicken stock) but I like to keep it simple with clean flavours and free from any MSG! Leek is yet another vegetable that I have never cooked with before. I always find it next to celery in our grocery store and keep wondering how people use this thing. Then recently I read about the health benefits of leeks in a health magazine and I had to try it!

Leeks belong to the family of onion and garlic. In fact they resemble a lot to the green spring onions in appearance and flavour. So you can basically use leeks just like you would use the onions. I am not sure how good they taste raw but on cooking they impart this amazing flavour to the dish; just like celery. Leeks offer the following nutrients (source: WHFoods):

Like spring onions they tend to contain a lot of grit so they must be rinsed well. You can slice the leeks,  put them in cold water for five minutes and then drain well. This will ensure that they are clean and also enhance their flavour. Use only the white to light green part of the leeks. The green leaves, unlike that of spring onions, are tough and thick and are normally not used in cooking. Slim cylindrical leeks have more flavour than the real thick ones as they are mature - especially if the bottom of the stem begins to develop round bulbs. So always go for the young, tender leeks. Leeks are known to have diuretic, anti-arthritic,laxative and antiseptic properties along with being a good source of dietary fiber. So next time don't shy away from these awesome veggies. Try and include them in your diet and reap all the benefits :)

Leek & Mushroom Pilaf: Recipe

  • Leek - 1 large (about 200g), thinly sliced
  • Button mushrooms - 250g, thinly sliced
  • Garlic - 6 pods finely sliced
  • Green chilli - 2 finely chopped
  • Bay leaf - 1
  • Basmati rice - 1 cup, washed, soaked for half an hour and drained well
  • Olive oil - 2 to 3 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper - to taste
  • Dried herbs - 1 tsp
  • Parsley finely chopped to garnish
  • Water - 2 cups
  1. Warm  olive oil in a deep pan. Fry the bay leaf for few seconds and then add the finely sliced garlic and green chillies. Saute well for couple of minutes.
  2. Add the finely sliced leek and saute well till they begin to brown.
  3. Add the mushrooms and keep frying till the water evaporates and they begin to brown.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Add the dried herbs.
  5. Add the two cups of water and bring it to a boil. Do a taste test and adjust salt and pepper.
  6. Add the rice. Stir gently. Cover and cook on low flame till rice is soft and nicely done. Keep stirring gently once in a while.
  7. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.

Dal Makhani - The Low Cal Way

Dal Makhani is a very popular Punjabi lentil dish that is made with whole black lentils (also called urad dal) and red kidney beans (or rajma). It has always been one of my favourite items on the menu of any Indian restaurant but not all places serve the same dish. Our favourite version is the one served in a typical Punjabi restaurant right around the corner and nothing can ever beat that taste, as per moi! The traditional, authentic Dal Makhani is slow cooked for several hours or even over night and has a very rich, creamy texture as it is cooked with butter and cream. So this may not be the ideal lentil dish that can be served every supper!

Here in this recipe I am making my low cal version of this dish by reducing butter and substituting cream with milk. It still retains the creaminess but the richness is definitely not there. To make it rich simply add butter and heavy cream instead ;) I have always tried making Dal Makhani in so many different ways, used so many different recipes but there is always something lacking. My Punjabi colleague once told me that the secret to a delicious Dal Makhani lies in the tempering or the tadka. That's what makes all the difference! After a lot of trials and experimenting I have finally settled down on the below recipe as a healthy yet tasty way to enjoy Dal Makhani at home. Whenever we crave for the rich, creamy version we simply go to our favourite restaurant as there is still no substitute for that!

Dal Makhani - Low Cal: Recipe

  • Whole black urad dal - 1/2 cup, washed, soaked overnight and drained
  • Red kidney beans - a handful, washed, soaked overnight and drained
  • Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
  • Garlic - 6 to 8 cloves, finely chopped
  • Ginger paste - 1/2 tsp
  • Green chilli - 2. finely chopped
  • Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Garam masala - 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Butter - 1 tsp
  • Vegetable oil - 2 tbsp
  • Milk - less than 1/ 4 cup or as required
  • Tomato paste - 1 tbsp
  • Tomato puree - less than 1/4 cup
  • Water - 2 cups
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Chopped cilantro - for garnish
  1. Take the drained lentils in a pressure cooker, add some salt and pour two cups of water. Cook till the lentils are soft and mushy (takes around 7 to 8 whistles for me). Set aside.
  2. Heat butter and oil in a kadai. Add the cumin seeds and fry well for few seconds.
  3. Then add the chopped onion, garlic, green chilli and ginger paste and saute well for few minutes till they begin to brown.
  4. Add the tomato paste, tomato puree and the dry spices - turmeric, red chilli and garam masala along with some salt. Fry well till the oil begins to appear.
  5. Add milk and stir well. Followed by the cooked lentils and combine well. Let it simmer on low flame for about 15 minutes. Keep stirring from time to time.
  6. Do a final taste test to adjust the salt. If it is too thick you can add some more water or milk and bring it to a boil. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with rotis.

Pumpkin Sabzi

Pumpkin is a vegetable I rarely buy and I think that is because I am not sure of how to use it. The first time I actually tried cooking with pumpkin is while making Pumpkin Sambar (click here for the recipe). That is how I realised the unique sweet taste of pumpkin that actually goes well with spices. I had never had a pumpkin sabzi before until one of my colleagues (who is from Punjab) shared her tiffin with me one day, during our office lunch. I was quite surprised at how delicious it was. 

Unfortunately I cannot recollect the recipe she shared with me but I do remember it was very simple. So I thought of trying out my own way and it turned out to be a yummy side dish for rotis. I guess now I can add pumpkins also to my list of veggies. Once in a while it is a good change! I enjoy this sabzi with raita and pickle of my choice as then you can get a sense of all the flavours - sweet, sour, spicy :)

Check out this interesting slideshow from huffingtonpost to know more about the health benefits of pumpkins. Definitely worth adding it to your diet! And here is one way...

Pumpkin Sabzi: Recipe

  • Pumpkin - 500g, diced into medium size 
  • Onion - 2 medium, finely chopped
  • Garlic - 4 cloves, finely chopped
  • Dry red chilli - 2
  • Green chilli - 2 slit
  • Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder - 1 tsp
  • Garam masala - 1/4 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Amchur (dry mango) powder - 1 tsp
  • Water - less than 1/4 cup
  • Oil - 2 tbsp
  1. Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. As they begin to crackle, add the dry red chilli, finely chopped onion and garlic. Saute well for few minutes till they are golden brown.
  2. Add the slit green chilly and the dry spices - red chilly, turmeric, coriander, garam masala and amchur. Add salt to taste and mix well.
  3. Add the pumpkin pieces followed by the water. Cover and let it cook on medium flame till soft and mushy. Keep stirring from time to time so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. 
  4. Once done serve hot with roti, raita and pickle.

Bengal Gram Stir Fry

This is a simple and spicy stir fry with Bengal gram or Black Chickpea. Bengal gram is a variety of chickpea and we commonly use this as whole or as split Bengal gram which is also called Channa dal. Unlike their white variant - the Garbanzo beans (or white chickpea), these remain crunchy even after being cooked. Soaking them overnight decreases the cooking time considerably and also ensures that they are cooked well. It is a good source of proteins along with minerals like calcium, phosphorus and iron.

I always add a fair amount of chopped garlic in this stir fry as it greatly enhances the flavour of the whole dish. As much as I enjoy it with steamed rice and curd, I also like to have this as a spicy - crunchy chaat with a squeeze of lime. Once cooked in a pressure cooker this dish takes very few minutes to prepare and therefore is also a handy recipe when you want to make a side dish for rice in a jiffy ;)

Bengal Gram Stir Fry: Recipe

  • Bengal gram - 1/2 cup, washed, soaked overnight and drained well.
  • Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
  • Garlic - 5 to 6 cloves, finely chopped
  • Red chilli flakes - 1/2 tsp or to taste
  • Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Black pepper - freshly ground, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Turmeric powder - a pinch
  • Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  • Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
  1. Take the drained Bengal gram in a pressure cook, add some salt, turmeric powder and water just barely covering the chickpea. Pressure cook till they are well cooked - I usually keep it for 5 to 6 whistles. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a kadai and add the mustard seeds.
  3. Once they splutter add the curry leaves and fry for few seconds.
  4. Then add the chopped onion and garlic and fry well till they are golden brown.
  5. Add the red chilli flakes and saute for few seconds.
  6. Add the cooked chickpea along with very little of the water (strain any excess water) and mix well.  Do a taste test and adjust the salt. Saute for few minutes till the water is absorbed. Add a dash of freshly ground pepper. Combine and serve hot.


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