Monday, June 18, 2012

Away On Vacay!

The past week's been pretty hectic and this one promises to be the same. First came the last day at school, so shopping for teacher's gifts. Then came graduation day and all that it entailed! This was followed by the class year end picnic. And the inevitable mad rush, shopping for everyone back home. Followed by packing, weighing, repacking & reweighing!

Now, am all set to go. Passport - check, GC- check, PIO Card - check, Tickets - check. Just getting out. Going to India after almost 3 years. Really excited.

So, will try an post off and one, but won't be a regular here! See you guys after a break...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flavored Basmati Rice

There are days when dinner is a simple dal and rice with may be some salad or papad as a side. Tonight's dinner was one such simple affair. I was too lazy to even make a salad! So, I just added some vegetables while pressure cooking the dal. But when it came to rice, I did not want to just cook plain rice.

Instead I used some whole spices to add flavor to the dish and cooked it with some vegetable bouillon and some cilantro seasoning cubes. This was very similar to jeera fried rice, except that I added more spices than just cumin. You could omit the vegetable bouillon and cilantro seasoning cubes, but I just felt that it enhanced the flavors.

This is a very simple recipe, but the flavors and aroma made it seem like an elaborate preparation!

Rice Soaking Time: 15 minutes       Cooking Time: 12 minutes            Serves: 2

Basmati Rice - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Black Cumin/Kala Jeera - 1 teaspoon
Bay Leaves - 2-3
Cinnamon Sticks - 2
Green Cardamom Pods - 4
Cloves - 4
Star Anise - 2
Mace - 2-3
Roasted Jeera/Cumin Powder - 1 teaspoon
Vegetable Bouillon - 1 cube
Cilantro Seasoning - 2 cubes
Ghee - 1 tablespoon
Oil - 1 tablespoon (I used Olive Oil)
Salt - to taste

  • Rinse and soak rice in water for 15 minutes.
  • Heat the ghee and oil in a sauce pan and add all the whole spices to it. Saute this for a minute.
  • Add in the cumin powder and soaked rice, after draining out the water. Give this a good stir.
  • Now add in the salt,vegetable bouillon, cilantro seasoning cubes and water and bring it to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, reduce the flame, cover the rice and let it simmer for around 10 minutes.
  • By this time the water should have evaporated and the rice will be cooked. Spread the rice out on a a tray or cookie sheet so that the grains or rice don't stick to each other, but remain separate.
  • After the rice cools down completely, remove and discard the whole spices.

Heat it again before serving. This rice goes well with dal or any other gravy based vegetable.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stuffed Bread Pakora

Today was the last working day at kiddo's school, tomorrow being the "Celebration Day"! But it was a washout day what with the non-stop raining and all. He had been looking forward to spending a long day at the park as a fun start to his vacation (apart from a class picnic that also got cancelled). So, that put a damper on our spirits.

But rainy weather always makes me yearn for two things - spicy roasted corn on the cob and hot pakoras! Well, I did not have any corn on hand, but I could definitely make pakoras. Decided to make stuffed bread pakoras.

A steaming cup of tea (chocolate milk for the little one) and bread pakoras with ketchup - just what the heart desired!

Preparation & Cooking: 15 minutes              Makes: 6

Bread Slices - 6, edges sliced off
Oil - for deep frying the pakoras
For the filling:
Dried Potato Flakes - ¼ cup
Peas - 2 tablespoons
Haldi/Turmeric Powder - ¼ teaspoon
Dhania/Coriander Powder - 1 teaspoon

Jeera/Cumin Powder - ½ teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder - ½ teaspoon
Salt - to taste
For the batter:
Besan/Chickpea Flour - ¼ cup
Rice Flour - 2 heaped tablespoons
Red Chilli Powder - 1 teaspoon
Hing/Asafoetida - a pinch
Salt - to taste

  • Mix all the ingredients for the filling, add ¼ cup of water and microwave this for 2 minutes.
  • In another bowl, take all the ingredients for the batter and add water gradually to make a smooth paste of a slightly thick consistency. Mix thoroughly, making sure there are no lumps.
  • Spread the filling on each of the bread slices and dip them into the batter, coating it well.
  • Deep fry this batter coated bread and once they are brown.
  • Drain them out on absorbent paper or kitchen towel.
Serve hot with tomato ketchup.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kadhai Paneer

My husband and me belong to the rare breed of species who don't like Paneer! Pretty much everyone I know loves it, so I was really surprised when I heard my husband say for the first time, lets not order any paneer dish, I am not a big fan of it! My sister is crazy about paneer. Growing up she was really glad that I did not like it as I would simply pick out the pieces from my plate and pass it on to her! Nowadays though, I eat it, but am not exactly excited about eating it!

My little one, I can't really say anything. There was a time when he loved paneer and was ready to eat a paneer dish everyday. Now, he hates it. I think this is also a passing phase and he'll be back to his "I want paneer" days very soon.

All said and done, whenever I have people over for dinner, I try and include a paneer dish on the menu, because it something that people love eating, and also because its easier to cook as a side dish when you need something in a larger quantity - cubing paneer any day beats chopping up a ton of veggies!

This weekend we had guests over for dinner and I made kadhai paneer. This is a simple and quick dish well liked by most people.

Preparation & Cooking: 20 minutes               Serves:5-6
Paneer - 2 cups, cubed
Capsicum/Green Bell Pepper - 3, medium, diced into big pieces
Tomatoes - 4 large, pureed
Tomato Paste - 2 heaped tablespoons
Jeera/Cumin Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Ginger - 1 teaspoon, minced
Haldi/Turmeric Powder - ¼ teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder - ½ teaspoon
Coriander Powder - 2 teaspoons
Cumin Powder - 1 teaspoon
Kasuri Methi/Dried Fenugreek Leaves - 2 tablespoons, crushed
Salt - to taste
Sugar - a pinch
Cilantro Leaves - for garnish

  • Heat oil in a pan and fry the paneer and capsicum separately till they begin to brown. Set aside on a paper towel. Frying paneer is optional, you could directly use it as well.
  • In the same pan, reserve one tablespoon of oil and add the cumin seeds to it.
  • When the cumin seeds crackle, add the minced ginger and give it a good stir.
  • Now add in the tomato puree, tomato paste, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, sugar and kasuri methi and cook till the oil begins to separate and ooze out, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Finally add in the paneer and capsicum and cook for another minute.
Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve hot with phulkas.