Dim Poshto: Eggs in Poppy Seeds Gravy

image1 (6).JPGNavratri is my favourite festival! In Gujarat, the cities takes on a whole new appearance during Navratri.

But for the last couple of years, I have been really excited about attending the Durga Puja in Ahmedabad for the amazing energy around the pandaal and most importantly, the delicious fish delicacies. I have made some wonderful Bengali friends over the last one year and that makes this year’s Durga Puja even more special for me.

As the Ahmedabad skies cleared up this morning, my enthusiasm for attending the puja tonight has doubled and I made Dim Poshto, a delicious combo of eggs in a rich poppy seeds’ gravy to mark the festivities.

My recipe is the same as that of Egg Masala, except with the addition of poppy seeds paste and coconut milk. There are three steps to the recipe:

  1. Soak poppy seeds for an hour and grind them to a paste
  2. Boil eggs and marinate them
  3. Cook a gravy

Dim Poshto

Ingredients:

Poppy seeds (half a cup, soaked for an hour and ground to a paste)
Eggs 4 nos
Onions 2 medium, chopped
Ginger-Garlic paste, 1 tsp
Green chillies 4 nos, chopped
Whole red chillies 2 nos
Turmeric, a pinch
Red chilli powder, 1 tsp
Coriander powder, 1 tsp
Garam masala powder, 1/2 tsp
Clove, 2-4 nos
Bay leaf 1
Mustard oil 4 tbsp, for frying and gravy
Salt to taste
Water

Method:

Boil eggs and cut them in halves. Marinate them in salt, turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, red chilli powder and a little oil and keep aside for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the eggs with the yolk side down. Turn them over carefully and cook till the masala turns brown. Keep aside.

Once the poppy seeds remain soaked for an hour, grind them into a smooth paste with green chillies.

To make the gravy, heat oil, add clove and bay leaf. Add onion and ginger-garlic paste. Stir and cook till the onions turn translucent. Add turmeric, coriander and red chilli powder. Add water to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan. Cover and cook. After a couple of minutes, add the poppy-green chilly paste. Bring it to a boil and cook till you get the desired consistency. Serve with a drizzle of mustard oil on top. Tastes best with hot, steamed rice.

 

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Onam Festival & Avial

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Avial: An inseparable part of Onasadya

Onam, the biggest festival of Malayalis, falls tomorrow. For me, the day is all about food, family, friends and a lot of fun. Onasadhya, the Onam lunch, is the most delicious part about this festival of Kerala. It’s a feast, if enjoyed once, will be relished forever!

Legend goes that Onam is celebrated to invite the spirit of King Mahabali, a former king of Kerala in whose reign there was no unhappy person. Meals are strictly vegetarian on Onam and there are essentially 13 food items served on a banana leaf. There are pickles of various kinds, banana chips for crunch, fruits, chutneys, curries, side-dishes, buttermilk and two or three types of payasam (kheer/pudding). Rice is the main component of this elaborate meal.

We Malayalis don’t need a reason to celebrate Kerala cuisine but we look forward to Onam to enjoy a combination of deliciousness on this day. Here, I am sharing the recipe of Avial, a mixed vegetable side dish, without which any Onasadya is incomplete.

Kerala’s Avial 

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Packed with veggies, this Onam special Avial can be relished all round the year

Ingredients:

The following vegetables, peeled and sliced:
Elephant Foot Yam (Suran in Hindi) – 1 cup
Raw Plantain – 1 cup
Winter melon/Ash gourd – one cup
Snake gourd (padavalanga in Malayalam)
Carrot – 1
Beans – 1/2 cup
Drumstick – 1
Raw Mangoes (if available), half a piece

To be ground together:
Coconut, grated – 1 cup
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Garlic – 3-4 small cloves
Green chillies – 3

For seasoning:
Salt
Turmeric, a pinch
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
Curry leaves, a handful
Curd (to be substituted for raw mangoes)

Method: 

In a deep pan, cook together yam and plantain with a little salt and turmeric. Once half done, add winter melon and other vegetables with some more salt and cook till soft but not mushy. Use very less water to cook but make sure it does not get overcooked. Each vegetable should hold its individual identity and taste.

Add the ground paste and cook for a few minutes. Add curd and remove switch off the flame.  Add coconut oil and curry leaves. Serve with rice and rasam.

 

Paneer Corn Masala

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Spice up the rainy season with this delicious Paneer dish
There is something about Paneer. This fresh cheese is common to households in South Asian countries. Also called the Indian cottage cheese, paneer is a rich source of protein for vegetarians.

A variety of dishes–from hearty, royal curries to light and refreshing salads–can be made using paneer. My lunch box on Mondays is all about paneer. In fact, cooking a rich paneer curry on Monday mornings has sort of become a tradition, for me. And since it’s monsoon in India, I decided to combine paneer with a monsoon favourite: corn to make a delicious Paneer Corn Masala Curry!

Paneer and corn together make a wonderful combination. The sweetness of the corn enriches the milky flavour of the paneer.

Paneer Corn Masala

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Paneer Corn Masala
Ingredients:
200 gm Paneer (homemade or store-bought)
100 gm sweet corn
Onions-2 large, sliced
Tomatoes-2 medium, chopped or sliced
Green chillies-2, slit
Ginger-Garlic paste-1 tbsp
Fennel seeds-1 tsp
Cumin seeds-1 tsp
Red chilli powder-1 tsp
Coriander powder-1 tsp
A pinch of turmeric
Garam Masala-1 tsp
Oil-2 tbsp
Ghee-2 tbsp
Fresh cream-2 tbsp
Coriander leaves to garnish
Salt to taste
Water – 1 cup

Method:

In a pan, add cumin and fennel seeds and let them splutter. Add onions, green chillies and ginger-garlic paste. Saute till the onions turn translucent. Add tomatoes and saute till they soften. Add a little water, cover and cook till oil separates. Keep aside to cool.

While the sauce mixture cools, cut paneer into cubes and shallow fry them in oil. Keep aside. Boil corn till soft, drain water and keep aside.

Once the ingredients for the sauce cools, blend it in a mixer till it is a thick, gravy-like consistency. Heat ghee in a pan, add this mixture to the pan with some water if the gravy is too thick. Add turmeric, red chilli powder and coriander powder. Let the masala cook. Add the paneer and corn and let it simmer. Add garam masala and switch off the stove. Add cream and coriander leaves for garnish. Enjoy hot with chappati, paratha, pulao or plain steamed rice.

Moraiyo idli: Steamed, savoury barnyard millet cakes

Yesterday was the birthday of the person who has given me #careergoals and #leadershipgoals. Mr Ajay Umat is the editor of Navgujarat Samay, a Gujarati newspaper from the Times Group. He is one of the few celebrated journalists in Gujarat.

He is an example of how being a gentleman never goes out of style. Most of my friends in the media admire Mr. Umat for his journalistic

skills or aspire to be like him someday.  It’s his interpersonal networking skills that make him such an endearing personality. But what sets him apart as a leader is his ability to keep his team happy. I know a lot of his team members but am yet to come across a single person who is unhappy with his boss. And that’s some achievement for a boss in a world where most work environments are toxic and most employees are unsatisfied with their jobs.

For someone who follows a restrained diet, Mr. Umat comes across as a person who loves to talk about food. And today’s Indian recipe is dedicated to him because I heard about some healthy ingredients from him, long back. In spite of being born in Gujarat, I had never heard about Moraiyo (barnyard millet) till Mr. Umat mentioned to me about it (Although, I don’t remember the context). Low in calorie, Moraiyo has a lot of health benefits and is generally eaten in India during fasts.

Moraiyo Idli 
Savoury, steamed cakes made from barnyard millet

 

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Moraiyo Idli

 

Ingredients:
1 cup Moraiyo, soaked for 2 hours
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Yogurt/Buttermilk
Salt to taste
1 tsp Baking powder

Method:

Grind the soaked moraiyo in a grinder with water to form a pancake batter-like consistency. Add baking powder, buttermilk and salt and leave it for 30 minutes to ferment. Pour the batter into a stove-top idli maker or a microwave idli maker and steam for 10 minutes. Serve with coconut chutney.

Note: These idlis may not be fluffy and white but they will definitely satisfy your idli cravings in a healthier way. They are diabetics-friendly and perfect as a Shraavan/Navratri fasting dish.

Khajoor ki Kheer (Dates Pudding)

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Khajoor ki Kheer or Dates Pudding

Recently, I hosted my grandmother-in-law along with my uncle-in-law and aunt-in-law for dinner. Like most elders in Indian families, they are all highly inspiring in the way they lead their lives. But it’s their discipline that i am most awed about.

While I have been truly blessed to have parents-in-law with a very modern outlook, it’s the grandma-in-law that’s the coolest with a mix of deep-rooted traditions and an open mind. She has been so generous in sharing her food wisdom when I was a novice! Grandma’s warm, inviting kitchen is the place where love and health are guaranteed.

Today’s recipe is not only dedicated to the grandma-in-law but also to the young-at-heart couple that accompanied her to my place for dinner. They have been married for close to three decades. After almost two decades of being a teacher at a school, the aunt suddenly decided to quit and study psychology. She went on to complete her doctorate in psychotherapy and is now a fairly successful hypnotherapist and psychotherapist. If this isn’t the epitome of companionship, I don’t know what is.

So, when they were at my place for dinner, I wanted to make something special yet healthy as all three of them are diabetics. My pantry is always stocked up with the highly nutritious khajoor (dates) so I came up with this quick and easy, diabetic-friendly khajoor kheer or dates pudding. I have not added sugar to this pudding as the natural sweetness of the dates suffices.

Khajoor ki Kheer (Dates Pudding)

Ingredients:

15 Dates, de-seeded
1 litre Milk
A handful of Tapioca pearls or sago pearls (optional), soaked for 4 hours in water and drained
Dried fruits like almonds, walnuts, raisins, cashew and pista for garnish
2 tbsp ghee

Method:

In a bowl, soak the dates in half a cup of warm milk and leave it aside for 15 minutes while you fry the dry fruits. In a pan, heat ghee and fry the sago pearls. Remove and fry the dry fruits. If you are using raisins, fry them in a separate batch as they tend to turn brown soon. In a blender, make a paste of the milk and dates mixture.  Boil the remaining milk and add the dates paste. Stir, mix and let it boil till it forms a thick, pudding like consistency.

Serve in pudding bowls and garnish with the dried fruits. You can serve it hot, cold or chilled.

 

Delicious Grilled Cheese

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Gooey, buttery, crisp, salty Grilled Cheese Sandwich! Comforting in all the right ways!

August is the month when Americans celebrate National Sandwich Month. And this post is a tribute to my all time favourite food–the Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

It’s not only one of the simplest foods but also one of the most versatile foods. Imagine a delicious Grilled Cheese for breakfast/lunch/snack or as soup accompaniment for dinner! Grilled Cheese is perfect for any time of the year. It’s great for kids’ lunch boxes but can also be perfectly comforting for an adult. Bet you can’t say no to a buttery, gooey, salty, crisp Grilled Cheese!

My recipe is different from the Classic Grilled Cheese as I have used a bit of feta along with cheddar for this sandwich. You can use any cheese like the American yellow and white cheese, Swiss cheese or Muenster.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices soft sandwich breads
2 spoons full of Butter
Grated Cheddar and Feta, used in proportion to the bread

Method

Heat a flat or deep pan over medium heat.
Evenly apply butter to both the slices of bread.
Place the bread on the pan with the buttered side facing down.
Flip the breads and divide the cheese evenly on both breads.
Once the cheese begins to melt, flip on slice gently on top of another.
Press lightly and keep turning the sandwich till the crusts are golden crisp and the cheese has melted.
Serve hot.

 

Khajoor Milkshake

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Khajoor (dates) are one of the most nutritious fruits that can be eaten during fasts

It’s that time of the year in this part of the country, where many give up eating non-vegetarian food for a month. Shravan is the holiest month in a traditional Hindu calendar, when most abstain from eating non-vegetarian food as well as some vegetarian food items. Some fast for the entire month, consuming just fruits and fruit juices, while others observe one-meal-a-day fasts. Some observe partial fasts, where they eat normal vegetarian food in one meal and consume faraal food (food that is allowed during fasting) at other times.

I observed my first Shravan month fast last year and I felt really proud of myself, managing with just one meal in a day. The Shravan month began in Gujarat on August 3rd this year and I was so thrilled about fasting that I started it two days in advance 😀

Here is one of my recipes for a healthy breakfast/dinner during Shravan. The easiest milkshake!

Khajoor (dates) Milkshake IMG_9301

Ingredients for 1 cup milkshake:

Dates, chopped: 3 or 4 pieces
Milk: 3/4th cup
Chopped dry fruits like walnut, pista, almond, cashew (optional)
A pinch of cardamom powder (optional and only if you like it. I avoid it)

Method:

In a blender, mix the two ingredients till milk turns frothy. Garnish with chopped dry fruits and cardamom powder. You can add ice if you like it chilled. Enjoy it cold/chilled.

Forming Food Friendships at Workplace

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Matar Paneer

Food can be great ice breakers!

I just completed three months of employment at my current workplace and when I look back at my last 10 years of being employed by different companies, I realize that food has been an integral part of how I connect with my colleagues.

Most of my wonderful friendships at work can be attributed to food. When it comes to forming new food friendships, my new workplace is no different.  I have bonded over my new friends at work over food. So much, that one of my senior colleagues keeps wondering aloud how my group of work buddies can talk about food all day! 😀

I firmly believe that colleagues who eat together, work better together. Harvard Business Review’s December 2015 issue focused on the aspect of team building in the cafeteria. It basically talks about how corporations plan expensive outings to encourage teamwork. But a better way to do that now, according to research by Cornell University is deceptively simple: Encourage teams to eat together.

For me, knowing that there is an interesting dish waiting in my tiffin (or of one of my colleagues’), brings an unexplainable excitement to work till lunch. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel like working post-lunch. Because then there is a delicious snack waiting for later! And I have managed to convert some of my colleagues into “Good Morning! What have you brought for lunch?” kind of conversationalists.

While we don’t need the weather to behave in a particular way so that we can talk about food, the rain somehow makes it an even better time to talk about food. This particular post is about my favourite combination during winter and monsoon: paneer (cottage cheese) and matar (peas).

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What’s in your lunch box?

Matar Paneer

Ingredients:

250 gm cubed paneer, fried till firm and light brown
1 cup green peas, boiled till a little mushy but retaining its bright colour
Paste of 2 onions
2 tomatoes boiled and pureed
1 tsp each of chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 tsp powdered red chilli
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander seeds powder
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ghee (clarified butter), oil or butter
Salt to taste
A pinch of asafoetida (optional)
One cup of water

Method:

Heat ghee and add cumin seeds and bay leaf. Add the onion paste and saute till the raw smell fades. Add ginger, garlic and green chillies and saute. Add tomato puree and all the powdered masalas, except garam masala. Stir fry till the fat separates.

Add peas and paneer along with water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer till the gravy thickens. Add garam masala and switch off the stove a minute later. Serve hot with roti or rice.

 

 

 

 

Sun-dried Green Chilly

The simplest of things can bring the most happiness. When it comes to food, it’s the simple recipes that are sometimes the most extraordinary!

Today’s post is about one such simple recipe that elevates the most bland food to greatness. Sun-dried curd chilly, which has different names in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh but similar recipes, is a delicacy that is served as a substitute for pickles in these states.

I find it hard to describe the delight when I bite into one of these fried chillies, accompanied by curd rice!

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Green chillies marinated in curd, dried in the sun and then deep-fried

Sun-dried  Curd Chilly

Ingredients:

250 gms green chillies (you can choose if you want them spicy or mild, according to your taste)

500 gms sour curd or yogurt

Salt to taste

Method:

Wash the chillies and wipe them individually. Spread them on a large plate or a paper and leave them to dry for a day. Once they have dried completely, slit each chilly from the stem to end. Keep the stem intact.

In a large bowl, add curd and salt. Marinate the chillies with this mixture and then leave them in the bowl overnight. The next day, spread the chillies onto a plate and leave them out in the sun till evening but keep the curd mixture in the fridge. The next day, add some of the curd mixture and leave the chillies out in the sun. Repeat this procedure on the third day. The chillies may take up to five days to dry completely. The dried chillies will take on a beautiful beige colour. Once done, store them in airtight containers.

To use the chilly as an accompaniment with meals, deep fry the required quantity till they turn nice, golden brown in colour. Enjoy the crunch with a simple meal of saambar rice or curd rice.

 

 

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Image-1Who eats ice cream during cold, rainy days? Well, someone who has just baked a fresh batch of gooey, hot chocolate fudge brownies!

Usually when it pours, I crave for deep-fried, spicy and crunchy food. But this time while it poured, I was looking at celebrating one of the biggest achievements of my life! And the fact that this news has renewed my bond with all of my loved ones, long lost friends and people who mean a lot to me!

Rain or shine, I love fudge brownies with ice cream. Most recipes I know call for a lot of separate mixing of ingredients but since it was raining and I had to eat almost immediately, I decided to mix all the ingredients in one large bowl.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
3/4th cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 tbsp refined vegetable oil
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

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Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°. Grease a 9″ × 13″ baking tray.

Mix together all the ingredients in the order that they are written in. Beat them till they are no lumps. Spoon in the mixture in the baking tray. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check if they are done by inserting a fork or toothpick in the brownies. If it comes out clean, the brownies are done.

Let them cool completely before cutting them into squares. Enjoy the moist, sticky fudge and ditch the ice cream, if you please!