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Recipes

Korean Spinach Salad (Sigeumchi Namul)

There’s this Korean salad I first tasted about a decade ago and fell in love with it immediately. Subsequently, as a family, the three of us adore it and use it every place we can. The only boring part, is cleaning the spinach.

The best part of this dish for me, is the heavenly aroma of that delicious sesame oil. Take care you use the Chinese style and not the south Indian version. Both are very different.

The ingredients are simple and it graces most platters well, going with most other foods, meat or vegetable. There are a few ingredient variations, and you could try adding your own special touch when you make it at home.

Ingredients:

  • Spinach, blanched, squeezed and chopped
  • Sesame Oil
  • Garlic, sliced
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Serve as a side dish or as part of a platter

Notes:

  • Ingredient variations include roasted sesame seeds, finely sliced green chillies (deseeded or not) and whole, blanched and squeezed spinach instead of chopped, among others. You do what works best with you.
  • The quantities depend on your tastes. A whole bunch of spinach is usually enough for a single person as a whole course. The same bunch is usually enough for the three of us as part of a larger meal.
Categories
Recipes

Breakfast savory muffins

Ingredients:

  • Semolina/suji, ½ cup
  • Chickpea flour/besan, ½ cup
  • Curd, ½ cup
  • Grated carrots, 2tbsp.
  • Chopped capsicum, 2tbsp.
  • Chopped coriander, 2tbsp.
  • Boiled peas, 1tbsp.
  • Cornflakes, 2tbsp.
  • Egg, 1
  • Oil, 3tbsp.
  • Red chilli powder, ½ tbsp.
  • Coriander powder, 1tbsp.
  • Cumin powder, ½ tsp.
  • Salt, to taste

Method:

  1. Sieve the semolina, chickpea flour, baking powder and baking soda together. Keep this aside.  
  2. In a sperate bowl, whisk the egg. Add curd to this and mix well.
  3. Add all the vegetables and oil, mix again.
  4. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together and add the seasoning mentioned above.
  5. Transfer this batter to greased muffin molds and bake at 180 celsius for 10-12 minutes.

Notes:

  1. You can use any veggies of your choice.
  2. Check your oven before deciding on the baking time and temperature.
  3. If you’re feeling indulgent, add a bit of mozzarella in the centre.
Categories
Recipes

Creamy Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

We participated in a potluck this past new year’s eve and my plan was to make a Shepherd’s Pie with minced mutton. As luck would have it, my favourite source for meats was out of minced meat and only minced chicken was available.

Minced chicken, in my experience, is usually quite tasteless, has a rubbery texture, looks pale and watery, and isn’t something I usually like working with, but there appeared to be no other choice, considering I don’t like the hygiene at the local outlet where we live.

I experimented with a slightly different technique of cooking the minced chicken, and it turned out to be quite succulent with an excellent texture that was even better than minced mutton, even if I do say so myself. I’ll leave you to judge when you try this method.

Ingredients:

  • For the chicken
    • Minced chicken, 1 kilo
    • Garlic powder, 2 tbsp
    • Onion powder, 2 tbsp
    • Grind into a fine powder
      • Whole peppercorns, 1 tbsp
      • Star anise, 1 whole piece
    • Salt to taste
  • For the potato topping
    • Potatoes, 1 kilo boiled and peeled
    • Butter, 75 gm
    • Milk, 100 ml
    • Cheese, 50 gm
    • Salt to taste
  • Whole wheat flour, 50 – 75 gm
  • Cooking oil, 3 – 4 tbsp

Method:

  1. Pre Prep
    1. Mix all the spices and salt into the minced chicken and marinate overnight.
    2. Pass the boiled and peeled potatoes through a fine strainer. Heat a little milk, season it and add the butter to the milk. When it’s melted, add the lot to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Reserve.
  2. In a pan, heat some oil, add the whole wheat flour and cook it on medium heat till it’s a deep brown, but take care it doesn’t burn. A sort of roux if you will.
  3. To this mixture, add the minced chicken, and mix well, stirring till the lot is cooked. Takes about 10 minutes.
  4. Pour the cooked minced chicken into a large dish, spreading it across the bottom and top it with potatoes, spreading them across the top. Reserve until it’s time to serve.
  5. When serving
    1. Heat in a microwave for about 6 to 10 minutes to heat the whole dish through.
    2. Pre-heat an oven to the maximum temperature. Turn on the fan if it has one.
    3. Score lines on top of the potatoes with a fork
    4. Brush the top with some melted butter.
    5. Pop it into the oven until the top has browned.
    6. Serve.

Notes:

  1. If you’re not up to passing the potatoes through a strainer/channi, then just mash them with a work. The result isn’t as nice, but it saves time.
  2. Adjust all the seasonings and spices as you wish.
  3. Use fresh garlic and onions if you like.
  4. Use more cheese and butter in the mashed potatoes if you wish.
  5. Serve with a tangy salad and that’s all you’ll need for dinner.
  6. Use any leftover chicken mixture or make it especially if you wish for grilled sandwiches, samosa, pie or open tart filling.
  7. I forgot to score the top with a fork. As you see, it isn’t as nicely browned as it could have been. When you score it, you’ll see faster and better browning.
Categories
Recipes

Mongra Aloo Casserole

Twelve years ago, I posted a dish called Pan Haggerty, about which you can also read a bit more here. Yesterday, for dinner, we made a slightly different version of this dish and it turned out quite nice.

safal

This recipe was created for The Right Side of Life, a Safal community on Facebook. If you’re interested in eating healthier and involving food in different aspects of wellness, this is a group for you. We’re planning lots of activities and content for this group that I’m sure you’ll love!

I find quite a few of us don’t like the taste of mongre-aloo, conditioned as we probably are since childhood. This version has a very different format, thought the flavours remain somewhat the same and doesn’t need much attention, though it takes a while to cook.

The quantities of the ingredients are your call, as they depend upon the size of the pan you’re going to cook in, the number of layers you’re going to apply, the thickness of the slices and so on.

Ingredients:

  • Mongre, washed and finely chopped
  • Potatoes (I used new potatoes that don’t need peeling), finely sliced
  • Cheese (I used Gouda and some mozzarella), optional
  • Salt
  • Chili powder
  • Garam masala powder

Method:

  1. Take a non-stick, preferably heavy bottomed pan.
  2. Add a layer of sliced potatoes to cover the surface.
  3. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt (very important), chilli powder, garam masala and mongre.
  4. If you’re using cheese, sprinkle some evenly all across
  5. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 until the pan is full.
  6. Place the pan on low heat, covered, until the top layer is cooked.
  7. Serve directly from the pan to individual plates at your table.

Notes:

  • On step #3, the salt is important as it’ll cause the potatoes to shed water, which will then generate steam, which will cook everything. Skipping layers with salt may result in uncooked bits.
  • Use a little salt per layer and remember the total amount will add up with each layer.
  • On step #6, if the top is cooked, likely the rest is cooked too.
  • At home, we’re good if the potatoes have a bit of bite, instead of being completely soft. Your call.
  • If you don’t have a heavy bottomed pan, or if you’re using a thin pan, or if your lowest flame is too high (as is mine), put your pan on a roti-tawa, as I’ve done in one of the pictures. This will prevent the bottom layer from burning.
Categories
Recipes

Turnips, Raisins, Seeds

Raw turnips have a great flavour that’s quite close to that of raw radish. When they’re cooked everything changes, but for this dish, we only need to be alright with raw turnips.

safal

This recipe was created for The Right Side of Life, a Safal community on Facebook. If you’re interested in eating healthier and involving food in different aspects of wellness, this is a group for you. We’re planning lots of activities and content for this group that I’m sure you’ll love!

Salads can serve different purposes, to my mind.

  • Entire meals, such as those that are large in quantity and contain a variety of flavours, textures and ingredients, in addition to different formats of ingredients – shreds, leaves, chunks, bits, seeds etc.
  • Accompaniments, such as a coleslaw, which is fairly uniform across recipes, and is great for accompanying fried and grilled foods, especially meats. Similarly, other salads or their dressings work with different types of main courses.
  • Nutrition Round offs, which help if we usually eat the same sort of foods all the time, and salads help in rounding off the nutritional properties of such meals.
  • Snack Replacements, to replace traditional carbohydrate/fat heavy snacks. These fulfil our need for chewing as well as supplement nutrition in a low calorie, nutrient dense package.
  • Meal Engagement, to add more interaction on a platter from the point of view of quantity (an additional item), looks (colours), additional chewing (for increased satisfaction) and eating method (fork, spoon).

This salad works with all of the above.

  • Can be an entire meal due to the diverse ingredients and nutrients within.
  • Can be a good accompaniment to perhaps a mushy food like a khichdi, for texture relief.
  • Can easily round off nutrition due to the nature of the ingredients
  • Can replace a snack due to its nutrient dense nature and engaging flavours and textures.
  • Good for adding to any platter as a filler and to increase overall interaction with the food.

Ingredients:

  • Turnips, 5 small, small dices
  • Dried figs, 4 pieces, tiny dices
  • Pomegranate seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • Pumpkin seeds, 1 tbsp
  • Watermelon seeds, 1 tbsp
  • Black raisins, 1 tbsp
  • Citrus fruit, any, a few chunks

Method:

  1. Mix it all.
  2. Serve.

Notes:

  • This salad doesn’t really need a dressing.
  • If you do want one, I suggest an orange vinaigrette.
  • It can be pre-dressed as there are no leafy ingredients that’ll wilt.

For some reason, this salad also seemed somewhat christmassy to me.

Categories
Recipes

Fruit & Nut Rum Cake

We can all hear Christmas bells ringing which means lights, gifts and decorations, but another tradition that has always been a must is this alcohol soaked rum and fruit cake! Our celebrations remain incomplete without it.

Ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour, 275 gm
  • Brown sugar, 275 gm
  • Butter, 275 gm
  • Orange zest, 1 tbsp
  • Nutmeg and cinnamon powder, ½ tsp each
  • Powdered almonds, 100 gm
  • Chopped pistachios and cashews, ½ cup.
  • Soaked nuts*, 1 ½  cup
  • Baking soda, 1 tsp
  •  Flaky salt, ¼ tsp
  • Eggs, 4

Method:

  1. In a sieve in all-purpose flour, powdered almonds, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon powder. Keep it aside.
  2. Soften the butter until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add brown sugar and keep whisking until you get a light and fluffy texture.
  4. Add the eggs one by one to the mixture and keep mixing.
  5. Add in the orange zest, chopped nuts and the soaked nuts.*
  6. Fold in the dry ingredients to the wet mixture.
  7. Transfer the cake batter to a well-greased cake tin lined with parchment sheet.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 1500 for 80-90 minutes

Notes:

  • Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature
  • These are mixed nuts, I have used blueberries, cranberries, tutti-frutti, cashews, prunes, almonds and dry apricots, soaked in rum for at least 3 weeks.
  • While adding the nuts be careful to drain out extra alcohol if any.
  • Don’t over mix the mixture as it leads to formation of gluten which in turn makes the cake chewy.
Categories
Recipes

Chaar Saag Vyanjan

Greens were never my favourite vegetable and while I never avoided them, they weren’t ever sought out in my kitchen. Today, greens have a special place at home. We eat quite a bit of greens of all sorts, and mix and match them into dishes like this delicious vegetable stew cooked in dahi/yogurt that used both radish greens and spinach.

safal

This recipe was created for The Right Side of Life, a Safal community on Facebook. If you’re interested in eating healthier and involving food in different aspects of wellness, this is a group for you. We’re planning lots of activities and content for this group that I’m sure you’ll love!

At this time, there are so many wonderfully radiant and fresh greens available in the market and we thought we’d have a sort of mega-greens evening, even if it did mean eating a fair bit more carbs and fried stuff than we usually do.

Naming this post was a problem, because this post isn’t about a single dish, it’s about three – rotis and saag, paanch saag paratha and paanch saag kachori, all based on one delicious blend of four different greens – bathua (lamb’s quarters), methi (fenugreek), sarson (mustard) and suva (shepuchi / dill greens).

Ingredients:

  • Chaar Saag
    • Bathua, 150 gm, washed and picked
    • Sarson ka Saag, 150 gm, washed and picked
    • Suva Saag, 100 gm, washed and picked
    • Methi leaves,150 gm, washed and picked
  • Sabat (whole) Masala
    • Saunf (aniseed), 2 tsp
    • Methi (fenugreek) seeds, 1 tsp
  • Powders
    • Heeng (asafoetida), 1/4 tsp
    • Red chilli powder, 1 tsp
    • Saunth (dried ginger) powder, 1 tsp
    • Aamchur (dried mango) powder, 1 tsp
  • Ginger-Garlic paste, 2 tbsp
  • Green chillies, 2 pieces, finely chopped
  • Mustard oil, 2 tbsp
  • Salt, 1 tsp

Method:

  1. Grind all the sabat masalas and mix with all the powders, including the salt.
  2. Heat the mustard oil in a large pot till medium hot.
  3. Add the mixture from step 1, fry for a minute. Add the green chillies. Fry for another 30 seconds.
  4. Add all the leaves. Keep mixing and stirring till the water has all but dried out.
  5. The saag is now ready and can be eaten with rotis.

You can use this saag as a filling for parathas and kachoris too. See notes for more information.

Notes:

  • You can chop the leaves if you want. We didn’t.
  • Don’t heat the oil too much before putting in the mixture from step one, or the whole lot will immediately burn.
  • The sabat masalas can be ground as coarsely or finely as you want. I did it midway.
  • If you’re planning to eat with rotis, you can retain some more moisture within.
  • If you’re planning to use as a stuffing, dry it out quite a bit more. Remember to cool it before using as a stuffing.
  • For the dough for kachoris and parathas, we used the same as in Sweet potato and carrot halwa. The dough turned out quite nice for really crisp and flaky parathas.
  • The saag goes really, really well with dahi/yogurt.
  • Did I mention it goes great with dahi?
Categories
Recipes

No-Ghee Sweet Potato & Carrot Halwa

I’ve been trying to use sweet potatoes in ways other than my usual and this dish came together quite well. Not only was it quite nice as a regular halwa, but it also worked wonderfully as a stuffing for gujiyas and kachoris. We tried a few at home and they turned out quite well. In fact, we even did one in a mooncake mould and that turned out nice too.

This recipe was created for The Right Side of Life, a Safal community on Facebook. If you’re interested in eating healthier and involving food in different aspects of wellness, this is a group for you. We’re planning lots of activities and content for this group that I’m sure you’ll love!

This halwa works great as a stuffing too, if deep fried carbs are your thing.

Ingredients:

  • Sweet potatoes, 2 medium, sliced in half length-ways, steamed
  • Carrots, 3 medium, peeled and grated
  • Sugar per your preferences
  • Cinnamon powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Elaichi / Cardamom, 2 whole, peeled and powdered

Method:

  1. Mash the sweet potatoes. Incorporate the shredded carrots and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Using a non-stick pan pour the mixture, including any shed water, cook the mixture on low heat, until the carrots lose their raw taste – about 15 minutes. Add more water if you think it’s needed, but make sure the mixture is quite dry by the time you’re done.
  3. Adjust sweetness with powdered sugar or honey, as granulated sugar will not blend in easily at this stage.

The halwa is done at this point and can be served. If you find it a little dreary, a little ghee will go a long way in making it more appetising for some of us.

If you want to put it into kachoris or gujiyas, the dough we used was all purpose flour, 25% ghee (25gm in 100gm of flour), a large pinch of powdered sugar and just enough water to make it into a tight dough that was rested in the fridge for about 20 minutes prior to use.

Notes:

  • Some sweet potatoes turn out quite fibrous. If so, blend the steamed sweet potato before mixing with the carrots.
  • We steam the sweet potatoes so it takes less time to dry out later. If you want you can boil them instead.
  • The halwa can be easily used to stuff parathas that’ll hold quite well.
  • When in the pan, you’ll find a silicone spatula quite useful instead of a wooden implement.
Categories
Recipes

Millets, Curd, Vegetables

I ordered a bunch of different types of whole grains a few days ago, including a number of millet varieties from Amazon. The problem with trying to cook healthier, is that so much more time needs to be spent on prepping and purchases, whilst normal cooking is just so very simple. What do you think?

For today’s dinner, I asked Indu to pick up whatever she fancied from the vegetable shop downstairs, and I’d do something or the other with it. So she picked up some fresh coriander, tinda, beans, spinach, carrots, broccoli and aubergines. She also picked up a pack of dahi / yogurt.

We ended up with another take on curd rice, which is one of our favourite dishes, but without the rice.

Ingredients:

  • Millets, 150gm, boiled per your preferences, drained.
  • Yogurt, 200ml or as much as you want
  • Coriander, fresh; chopped
  • Set 1
    • Tinda, 4 pieces; peeled and finely sliced, blanched
    • Broccoli, one small, stalk peeled and sliced, florets very finely chopped
  • Set 2
    • Spinach, half a bunch; blanched and drained
  • Set 3
    • Aubergine 3 pieces; sliced in half lengthwise, salted, drained and rinsed
  • Set 4
    • Carrots, 2 pieces, finely sliced, blanched
    • Beans, handful, finely sliced, blanched
  • Spice mixture for curd + millet mixture
    • Mustard seeds, 2 tsp
    • Ginger, fresh, 1 inch; shredded
    • Kadi patta / curry leaves, 1 stalk
  • Mixture for Tinda + Broccoli
    • Green chillies, fresh; finely chopped
    • Ground into a coarse mixture
      • Aniseed, 1 tsp
      • Methi / fenugreek seeds, 1 tsp
      • Green cardamom, 1 piece, seeds
  • Chili garlic chutney smeared on aubergine before grilling
  • Oil and salt as needed

Method:

  1. In a little oil, splutter mustard seeds, fry kadi patta and ginger. Mix this with the boiled millet and curd.
  2. Grill the chilli chutney smeared aubergine.
  3. In a little oil fry the chillies, spice mixture for tinda and broccoli. Add the blanched tinda and broccoli. Stir fry for a few minutes. Set aside.
  4. Salt the spinach.
  5. Serve.

Notes for organising the cooking.

  1. Chop everything that needs chopping.
  2. Boil a pot of water. Add washed millet. Keep this going till the end. It’ll probably take that long to cook.
  3. Boil another pot of water. Use this to blanch the carrot and beans mixture, the tinda and the spinach. Set aside.
  4. Follow steps 2, 3, 4 from Method above.
  5. Drain and rinse millet.
  6. Follow steps 1, 5 from Method above.