Monday, April 30, 2018

Zaffrani Paneer - Rich paneer gravy, side dish for roti

The last day of Explore the Flavors, i m ending it with a rich and luscious paneer gravy. I started the marathon with a humble dish Poha and today it is rich and luxurious zaffron/saffron. I planned to do a flatbread with zaffron, but then there is something else coming up in September, if at all i m participating i needed that time, so i postponed it and proceeded with a gravy. I planned to do a potato and cauliflower gravy with zaffron, but then hubby prefers paneer gravy, so i changed it to zaffron paneer!
It was one rich gravy and the suttle aroma of saffron was scintillating. Hubby prefered it to be little more spicy, so next time i might pep up the heat a bit. It paired so well with hot roti's and my elder one relished that gravy. It is a perfect dish for lunch box and also for any party. Do try it and let me know how you liked it.
Here is the list of lunch box dishes i did this week. Will post a round up of all the themes i covered during Explore the flavors in a day or 2.

250 grams of paneer
2 medium sized onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
2 nos green chilies
5 nos cashewnuts
1/4 tsp garam masala
2 generous pinches of saffron
1/4 cup thick yogurt

For the spice powder
4-5 nos red chilies
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • If using frozen paneer, remove the paneer from the freezer and keep it outside before you start making the curry.
  • In a pan,  heat oil, add chopped onions, green chilies, garlic and ginger and saute until onions turn translucent. Add cashewnuts to it and saute for a minute and take it off the heat.
  • Let it cool completely. Add 1/4 cup of water and grind it to fine paste. Take the ingredients listed under spice powder in a mixer and grind it to a fine powder.
  • In another sauce pan, heat oil, add the ground paste, saute for a minute. Now add the ground powder to this and mix well.
  • Let the mixture cook in a medium flame for a minute or two. To this add whisked curd and 1/4 cup of water, salt and a generous pinch of saffron. Mix well and let this cook for 5-8 minutes.
  • The gravy will start thickening. Add paneer cubes to it and cook for another 8-10 minutes in a simmer flame for the flavors to infuse well in the paneer. Take it off the stove, add another pinch of saffron to this and garnish with coriander leaves and serve it with roti.

Day 26

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Yam fry/Elephant Foot yam fry/Chenaikizangu fry

Almost last post of Explore th flavors, never imagined it be would this easy as I wasn’t  prepared with the last 2 weeks posts. Since the list was ready I was able to pull it off decently. Y for yam, I decided make a simple yet delicious fry with yam. I have cooked yam frequently after my marriage, but suddenly one day, I got a bad throat-itching after eating yam, so I got scared and totally stopped buying yam, even for my hubby. 
Yam is a safe veggie, if it is cooked well, though I knew this , I needed more time to understand and accept it and come out of fear.  Now I m cooking it frequently, like how I used to do it previously. 
I make yam masiyal, yam fry and sometimes a spicy kootu also. This yam fry is something loved amongst all the other dishes I make with them. My elder one loves it when served hot straight from the pan. I make this for his lunch for one of his stay back days, along with some jeera rice or coconut rice . It tastes divine with some hot rasam rice too! Do try and let me know how you liked it!
500 grams yam/chena/chenaikizhango
1/2 tsp - 3/4 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
A pinch of hing
3-4 curry leaves 

  • Remove hard outer skin of the yam using. Sharp knife. Cut them into thick slabs and further into thin strips and then into cubes. 
  • Take the cut yam into a microwave safe bowl, add water and rinse well. Take fresh water until the yam is submerged, add tumeric powder to it and mix well.
  • Microwave cook at power 100 for about 16-18 minutes or until done. In my microwave it gets done by 16 minutes. The yam must be well cooked, if you press a yam cube with your fingers it should mash well. Drain the water completely.

  • In a wide pan, add oil, splitter mustard seeds, add hing and curry leaves. Now add drained yam cubes to t. Do not disturb it for about a minute or two. Now add red chili powder and salt to it. Mix well, but gently, the yam Is already cooked, we are just seasoning it now.
  • Once mixed let this cook in a medium flame until it gets crisp. Mix once in a while. It will take around 12-15 minutes in a medium flame, do not increase the flame or else it might burn. Once done, remove it and pack it as side for any rice dish. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Xiaomi Pops/Instant Foxtail millet ipaniyaram/Instant Foxtail millet pops

Xiaomi, is not only the name of mobile, it is also the name of foxtail millet in chinese. When doing an A-Z food series, X,Y,& Z are problematic alphabets. I know what all tricks we adapt to get a proper post title xotic, xtra, xmas, and it goes on! While i was breaking my head to get a proper dish with X, wiki came to my help. I was looking for millets name in chinese and japanese languages, thank god, i was put off my misery pretty soon. Chinese use lot of millets in their cuisine. This foxtail millet/Xiaomi is made into a porridge which actuallly is a post-partum dish, that helps new mothers heal well.
 When i read that article in wiki, my happiness knew no bounds. I decided on this quick paniyaram/pops with foxtail millet, which can be made instant. It was super hit breakfast with kids, pack it with a spicy chutney, it will vanish in minutes.
1/2 cup foxtail millet
1/2 cup of cooked rice
1/4 tsp methi seeds
2 green chilies
a sprig of curry leaf
2 pinches of baking soda (read notes)
oil for cooking the pops/kuzhipaniyaram
  • Soak foxtail millet and methi seeds for an hour. Once it is well soaked, drain the excess water, take the soaked millet and cooked rice in a mixer jar, add green chilies, curry leaves to it and grind it to a batter. Do not add more water, just 1/4- 1/3 cup of water.
  • Once ground, remove the batter to another bowl, let it rest for 30 minutes. Add baking soda to this and give it a brisk stir. 
  • Heat the paniyaram pan, brush the holes with oil, pour batter till 3/4th of every hole, add drops of oil to each batter filled hole. Cover and cook for a minute in a medium flame. 
  • Remove the cover, using a fork, turn each paniyaram and cook the other side for another minute with little oil. Remove the cooked paniyaram onto a plate. Repeat the same with the rest of the batter.
  • Pack these cute pops/bombs/paniyaram with some spicy chutney for your kids dabba.
  • This batter can be fermented overnight, if fermented, no need to add baking soda. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

White onion Kootu - Vellai Vengayam Kootu

Kootu are my goto dishes most of the days. I make them almost everyday, as i m used to having a kootu, even when i have a dry curry. Someday it is keerai/spinach kootu, or some veggies kootu. I have my very own kootu powder, which makes it pretty easy to make.Dump all the veggies and dal in the pressure cooker, add the kootu podi/powder, salt and water and pressure cook until done. Once the pressure releases, add tadka, it takes about 15-20 minutes from start to end. Sometimes when i have extra veggies, i chop and freeze them, that makes the process even more quicker. 
White onion kootu, something which amma makes once in a while for the health benefits. White onion is supposed to very good health, it is a good coolant for your body, and also good for your liver. They make white onion dishes for people who recover from jaundice, but people who eat white onion that time, will hate since they make it with less spice and salt. White onions has a sweet taste for themselves, so when it cooked with proper spices they taste amazing and pairs well with roti's and hot rice.
The day i made them i packed this kootu and also paneer curry for my elder one, he prefered the kootu more than the paneer. I have used coconut and chili along with ginger and cumin for the masala, that adds a nice zing to the sweet onions. Do try and let me know how you liked it!

1 big white onion
1/2 cup moong dal
1 medium sized tomato
1/2 tsp salt

For the masala paste
1/3 cup of freshly grated coconut
2 green chilies
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
2  red chilies, broken
4-5 curry leaves
  • Take the ingredients for the masala paste in a mixer jar, add 1/4 cup of water and grind it to a fine paste.
  • Chop the white onion and tomato. In a pressure cooker, take white onions and tomatoes, add moong dal. Add the ground masala paste to this, add 1 cup of water. Add salt and mix well. Pressure cook this for 4-5 whistles. 
  • Let the pressure release on its own. In a small tadka pan, add oil, when its hot, add mustard seeds, let it crackle, add curry leaves, red chilies and finally urad dal, let it turn golden brown, pour this hot tadka over the dal. 
  • I pack them with roti's, you can also enjoy them with steaming hot rice.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Vermicelli puloa - Vermicelli cooked with spices ,coconut milk and vegetables

Vermicelli upma is our very own noodles upma. My lil one calls it that way. It’s been almost 2 years since we stopped buying instant noodles, so whenever kids ask for noodles  it is either this vermicelli or Hakka noodles. I m not confident enough to pack Hakka noodles for their lunch box yet. I have my doubts, that it might go dry or gloggy, uff, mother’s mind! 
When they ask me pack noodles they now what to expect in the box, I either make upma or this puloa. Usually upma I make it just with onions,  but with pulao I try to add their favorite veggies in small quantities. The coconut milk in the pulao gives it a nice flavor and with mild spices and generous ginger it tastes exactly like our rice puloa. So if you are like me giving them vermicelli for noodles, then you should definitely try this pulao! 

1/2 cup vermicelli
3/4 cup mixed veggies ( I have used carrots , capsicums, cauliflower and potato)
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
1&1/2 cup thin coconut milk
Juice of 1/2 a lemon(Indian lemon)
1/2 tsp salt to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 curry leaves, torn into pieces
1/3 tsp freshly shredded ginger 
1 cardamom
1 clove
1 bay leaf
2 green chilies, finely chopped

  • In a heavy bottom pan, dry roast the vermicelli until golden brown. Remove the roasted vermicelli into another plate.
  • Now in the same pan, add coconut oil given under tempering, add cumin seeds, clove, cardamom and bay leaf to to and sauté for a minute.
  • Now to this add chopped onions and green chilies, sauté until onions turn translucent.
  • Now the time to add the mixed veggies, sauté for a minute and add coconut milk. If using thick coconut milk, add 2 cup of wAter along with it. If using thin coconut milk, no need to add water.
  • Add salt and lemon juice, let the water come to a boil, add the roasted vermicelli to his and simmer the flame to medium and let it cook covered until done, takes around 8-10 minutes.
  • Once done, remove the cover and fluff it up with a fork, let it be on the flame for another 2-3 minutes and then take it off the flame. 
  • If using coriander leave, garnish and pack it in lunch boxes along with some crisps or a spicy curry.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Upma - Rava Upma, Tomatoes and Carrot Sooji upma, Vegan Breakfast

I can hear "urghh" while someone read that title - upma! I know it is one of the least favored dish by many. But believe me when i say, i know quite a few you can eat upma anyway, anytime! Upma is a simple sooji savory pudding, tempered with spices. The modern upma is made with lot of veggies, to make it more colorful. I once remember watching, a wedding caterer cook upma for quick dinner, they used so much dalda/shortening, to get that nice, gritty, fluffy upma. 
I make upma atleast once in a fortnight, my goto dish, when i run out of dinner/dabba ideas. My elder one is fine, if i don't add big veggies in it, and as usual he prefers to have peanut chutney or some dal along with it. My younger one, if he is a good mood, would eat it as such or else he needs tomato chutney. 

Upma when made properly tastes really delicious, the proportion of liquid to rava, is the key to get a fluffy upma. It is usually 1: 2, for a cup of rava, it is usually 2 cups of water. If you using veggies i add another 1/4 cup extra. After adding rava, simmer the flame and cook it covered for a soft and fluffy upma. My kids don't like garnishes, go ahead and garnish with coriander leaves, or toasted nuts for a rich upma. 
1/2 cup sooji/rava
1/2 a carrot, shredded
1 tomato,finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt to taste

2 tsp oil/ghee
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 green chilies, chopped fine
hing a pinch
3-4 curry leaves, torn into pieces

  • In a pan, dry roast sooji until golden brown. I do this, even if i m using roasted sooji. Remove the roasted sooji onto a plate. In the same pan, heat oil, splutter mustard seeds, next add chopped green chilies, hing and curry leaves. Saute for a minute.
  • Now add chopped onions and saute until they turn translucent. Now add grated carrots and tomatoes. Add turmeric powder and saute fora minute. Add 1 & 1/4 cup of water and salt to this and let it boil.
  • Once it comes to a rolling boil, add the roasted sooji to it and mix well. Immediately it will start absorbing all the liquid, simmer the flame, cover with a lid and cook until done. It takes around 8-10 minutes

  • Once done, remove the cover, fluff it up well. Add a generous drizzle of ghee and pack  for your kiddo's lunch box.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tomato Coconut milk pulao

Whenever my elder one has stayback for his extra curricular activities in school , i need to pack him 2 boxes, one for his breakfast around 9:45 and other lunch around 1:45.  Packing 1 box itself is such a task , i need to pack 3 breakfast boxes and 1 lunch box on a normal day, so whenever he has extra classes, i need to pack 5 boxes totally. If i don't plan it, i will be standing like a stone! 
So it is always a rice dish for his lunch, makes my job lot easier as he loves to have spicy food, so a one pot jazzy dazzy rice along with some raita or some dal he loves it. He needs a gravy with his rice, he cannot eat pulao or biriyani with chips, whereas my lil one is quite opposite, he loves to have non-greasy type rice dishes, as such, he might ask for some appalam/chips. 
So during lazy days i make a pulao, make some raita and some appalam, both the kiddos are happy.  This tomato-coconut milk pulao is one such happy dish, it gets ready in 20-30 minutes, best recipe to make during the morning rush.
My kiddos don't like peas or carrots in their rice dish, so i havent added them , if you prefer to add please go ahead and add them, they will bring a nice color to the dish.

1/2 cup basmati rice
2 medium sized tomatoes
2 green chilies
1/2 tsp shredded ginger
1/2 cup thick coconut milk (i used store bought)
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp coriander powder
a pinch of garam masala
a pinch of tumeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 cardamom
1 clove
1 bay leaf
1 red chilies 

  • Wash and soak rice in water for 20 minutes. Take tomatoes, green chilies and ginger in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • In a sauce pan, heat oil, crackle cumin, add clove, cardamom and bay leaf. Add red chilies,  now add the blended tomato juice to it, saute for a minute. 
  • Now add the drained basmati rice to it, saute for a minute, next add red chili powder, tumeric powder, coriander powder, garama masala powder to it.
  • Add coconut milk and another 1/2 cup of water to it. Add salt, mix well. Cover and cook in a simmer flame for 15- 20 minutes or until done. Once done, fluff it up with a fork, add a generous drizzle of ghee. 
  • Pack it with some potato curry or appalam for your kiddo's lunch. My elder prefers a liquid along with his rice, so i usually pack it with raita.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Stuffed idly - Idly stuffed with spciy masala veggies

Idly the best breakfast made ever! Ask any south-indian, we love our idlies and dosa's, we cannot live without idly batter in our fridge. Stuffed idlies is something, which i make, when i have sour idly batter, the spicy, masala veggies stuffing, masks the sourness in the batter and makes it delicious. Whenever i want to give something new for my kids dabba, i give them for  their dinner first. Once it is approved, it gets to their dabba. It is kind of me getting their nod for that food and they give me their assurance that it will be eaten. I cannot stand food waste, i don't mind them eating less, but if it comes in their dabba back as such, i go wild. So we both parties, accepted to first try it at home for dinner. This idly was packed after one such experiment. 
Why so much banter, before the recipe, because, this last week of Explore the Flavors, i will be posting Kids lunch box dishes. The dishes approved my by elder one and younger one, sometimes just the elder. So, go on try this soft and fluffy idlies stuffed with spicy masala veggies, a nice flavor to the regular idly.

Idli batter as required
gingely oil for greasing the idly plates
For the stuffing
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1 capsicum, thinly sliced
1/2 a carrot, finely chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced cabbage
1 medium sized tomato
1 green chili
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
a pinch of asafoetida
a pinch of turmeric
3-4 curry leaves, torn into pieces

Do checkout the video on how to make Stuffed Idly
  • Let us first make the filling. Heat a sauce pan, heat oil given under tempering, splutter mustard seeds, add asafoetida, and curry leaves. Next add chopped onions and green chili, saute until onions turn translucent
  • Now add chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and salt and cook until tomatoes turn mushy. Now dump all the chopped veggies, add 1/4 cup of water and salt. Cover and cook until done. 
  • There should be no liquid in the filling. Even after cooking, if there is still liquid, cook without cover until all the liquid is absorbed. Let the filling cool.
  • Now let us prepare the idly plates. Grease the idly plates with gingely oil, fill half the mould with idly batter, spoon 2-3 tsp of filling into each hole, now top it with another ladle of batter. Steam cook for 10-12 minutes. Once done, let it cool for 2-3 minutes, then unmould the idlies onto a serving plate. 
  • The idlies can be made in one single big plate also, if  you make it one single plate, cut and pack as wedges. Pack them with a generous drizzle of gingely oil/ ghee with idly podi on top.
Day 19


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Ram Ladoo - moong dal pakode

Ram Ladoos, a delicious chaat made of moong dal pakora, topped with chutney's and grated radish. These were my last minute resort for today's alphabet 'R'. Originally i planned to make ragda pattice, but then since i didn't have time, i decided to pick an easy to make chat recipe. Ram Ladoos also knowns as gul-gule, a famous street food from delhi. My elder one and my hubby enjoyed it with the chutney and the radish garnish, where as my lil one was happy with just the fried pakode. It is a win-win for all. These make a great snack along with tea, a delicious option for parties too. 
3/4 cup moong dal
1/2 cup chana dal
1/2 an inch ginger
2 green chilies
1/2 tsp cumin
1 radish, grated
hing/asafoetida a pinch
chaat masala, as needed
lemon juice, as needed
salt to taste

Green chutney
1 bunch of fresh coriander
1 green chili
1 clove of garlic
salt to taste

  • Rinse and soak moong dal and chana dal in water for an hour or two. Drain and take the dal in a mixer, add green chilies, ginger,cumin and grind it to batter without adding water. 
  • Once done, remove it to a bowl, add salt and hing, using an electric whisk, whisk the batter fluffy, the yellow color batter, would turn pale white as you whisk, this way you are incorporating air into the batter, which will make the vada fluffy.
  • Heat oil in a pan for frying, pinch balls out of the batter and deep fry them until golden brown. Do not crowd the  batter, add 6-8 pieces to a batch. Once done, remove the fritters using a slotted spoon on to a kitchen towel.
  • Blend the ingredients for green chutney, with 1/4 cup of water. Remove it to a bowl. For serving, add 5-6 moong dal fritters to a bowl, add generous green chutney, you can also use sweet chutney if you like, add grated radish, sprinkle chaat masala, add a squeeze of lemon and serve immediately.

Quinoa and Potato Tikki

Q is the alphabet for which i decided the ingredient even before deciding the dish. I decided to make something with quinoa, then started thinking what to make.I came across a peruvian quinoa salad, which actually is a street food! But then i was not sure whether my people at home would like to eat it! Since i m on a low-carb diet, i cannot eat everything i cook, i need people to eat!So , dropped i idea of salad and settled for this tikki. Glad, i did, the tikki was enjoyed with tea and the leftovers were gobbled for breakfast today. Both the kiddos enjoyed the flavors. 
I have used chili powder here for the spice, if you like green chilies, go ahead pound and use chilis along with some coriander and mint, you will love the flavors. Serve it warm along withsome chai and ketchup or you can jazz it up with some chole and chutnies for a yumm tikki chole!

1/3 cup of quinoa
3 medium sized potatoes
3 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp bread crumbs + 3 tbsp for coating
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 - 3/4 tsp salt or to taste
3 tbsp freshly chopped coriander leaves
1/4 cup of oil for shallow frying
  • Rinse and wash the quinoa once or twice. Since they are very small, i use my tea strainer while straining the water.
  • Add double the amount of water to the quinoa, take it in a microwave safe container and cook at high for 12- 15 minutes, until they cook well. They will leave a white tail once they are cooked. The amount of water added is perfect for cooking them well. Incase there is much water left in the cooked quinoa, drain it completely.
  • Wash and roughly chop the potaeos and cook them until soft. I cooked them in microwave for 12 minutes. Drained the water, peeled and let it cool completely.
  • I cooked the quinoa and potates previous day night and let them cool completely, then made the tikki the next day. It was a breezy job.
  • In a large bowl, add cooked quinoa, potatoes and mash and mix them thoroughly. Now add corn flour, red chili, coriander, garam masala and cumin powder to it. Add bread crumbs, chopped coriander and salt and mix it all together.
  • Now divide the dough into 9 equal parts and make flat patties. Let the patties rest for 15 minutes. Once they are rested, coat each patti with bread crumbs.In a flat pan, heat oil. Cook 3-4 patties at time. 
  • Keep the flame at medium, flip and cook both the sides until golden brown. Drain the patties with a slotted spoon onto a kitchen towel. Serve it warm with some ketchup.

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