February 28, 2013

Soya Chunks Pulao

Carbs - Yes ; Protein - Ofcourse ; Vegetables - Certainly ; Fat - Sure ;

How about a pulao loaded with all the goodness that you would want in a meal?! Served with raitha, this pulao makes a well rounded & complete meal packed with lot of flavors!

There are few recipes that never make it to the blog; a few others finds their place in the blog, but rarely attempted for a second time; but there are few recipes that are repeated again & again even before making it to the blog and soya chunks pulao is one! I have made this pulao 3-4 times in the last 3 weeks and I know for sure that I will be making it often hereafter. VJ & my daughter loved this pulao especially for that chewy protein-packed soya chunks!

I know a few families who do not like soya chunks. My family is one among them - I think my parents couldn't appreciate soya for its meat-like texture and also for that distinct smell that soya has. I was very doubtful when I bought a pack of soya chunks (Nutrela brand) mainly for its health benefits, but I totally gave in after tasting the pulao. The flavor of soya chunks is really amazing mainly from the marination and the texture is something that you have to get used to. All in all, this is a low cost / high protein product with long shelf life that comes handy whenever you want a wholesome variety!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 30-45 mins
Cook time - 20 mins
Serves - 4

Basmati rice - 1 cup (I replace it with sona masoori if I run out of Basmati rice)
Soya chunks - 1 cup
Onion - 2 nos (chopped)
Tomato - 1 no (chopped)
Green chillies - 4 nos (vertically slit open)
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Garlic - 4 pods (minced)
Mint leaves - 2 tbsp (optional)
Carrot - 1 no (peeled & chopped)
Potatoes - 2 nos (peeled & chopped)
Peas - a handful (chopped)
Beans - 15 nos (chopped)
Fresh coconut - 1/8 cup
Oil - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp (substitute with 1 tbsp of oil)
Lime juice - from 1 lime

For marination
Yogurt - 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 3/4 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp

Dry MasalaFennel seeds - 1 tsp
Poppy seeds - 1 tsp
Cashews - 10 nos
Bay leaf - 1
Star anise - 1
Cinnamon stick - 1 inch
Cloves - 4 nos
Cardamom - 2 pods

Grind fresh coconut into a fine paste by adding few drops of water. Set aside.

In a saucepan, add 1-2 cups of water and when it comes to a boil, add soya chunks. Let it boil for 2-3 mins (or) until soft. Drain the water and squeeze the soya chunks to take out the extra water. Marinate soya chunks for atleast 20 mins in a mix of yogurt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala. Set aside.

Wash and soak rice in water for atleast 30 mins. Set aside.

Heat oil & ghee in a pressure pan. When hot, add all the ingredients in the same order given under "dry masala" and fry till cashews are golden brown. Now, add chopped onion, green chillies and saute until onion turns translucent. Add garlic, ginger, mint leaves and saute until the raw smell of garlic is gone. Add tomatoes and saute until soft. 

Now, add all the vegetables, marinated soya chunks, salt, coconut paste and give it a nice mix.

After 2-3 mins, add drained rice, and water (1:1), give it one last mix and pressure cook for 1 whistle. Set the cooker aside until all the pressure is released and the cooker is cooled down.

Add lime juice to the rice & mix well before serving. Serve this delicious pulao with cool raitha!

February 27, 2013

Orange Juice

With summer just around the corner, now is a good time to look at some 'cool' tips to beat the heat and keep ourselves hydrated. This is one of a kind of a juice that you 'll keep coming back to for its simplicity & taste!

Fresh, healthy, delicious, refreshing - what more do you want in a summer drink?

When it comes to juice, there is no hard & fast rules. Add some lime/lemon juice to make it a cool summer (alcohol-free) cocktail. Add some soda water for a fizzy-fancy treat. Just go by your instincts and you 'll always end up with something delicious!!

Basic Info
Complexity - Easy
Prep time - 15 mins
Cook time - n/a
Serves - 3 cups

Oranges - 6 nos (about 3 cups of juice)
Sugar syrup - 1/8 cup (optional)
Ice cubes - as needed

Use a citrus reamer / juicer and squeeze the juice out of the fruits. Strain the pulp.

Bring equal parts of sugar & water to a boil until sugar is completely dissolved. Let it cool and mix it with the orange juice. Add ice cubes and serve cold!

  • Wash the produce really well before juicing.
  • Skip sugar syrup if the fruit is sweet enough.
  • Do not squeeze the fruit too hard, else your juice will end up having a bitter taste.
  • For the best nutritional value and taste, juice only enough oranges to drink and enjoy right away!

Strawberry Banana Lassi

It happens to everyone! You buy pounds & pounds of fresh strawberries from farmer 's market and inevitably, they get spoilt in 3-4 days before you could finish them off! Instead, you can use those ripe/overly-ripe strawberries to make this tasty strawberry-banana lassi and.... voila!!! 

You've just made yourself & your family a healthy drink to go with breakfast/snacks!

I usually make strawberry juice with milk. Replacing that with buttermilk was definitely a welcome change. Strawberry-banana lassi tasted similar to the one that you get in Jamba Juice! 

Try this at home, and you will probably save lot of money & time waiting in long lines of those juice stores!!

Basic Info
Complexity - Easy
Prep time - 10 mins
Cook time - NA
Serves - 1 cup

Buttermilk - 1/2 cup (full-fat)
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Salt - a pinch
Ripe Banana - 1/2 no
Strawberries - 6-8 nos (medium sized)
Water - 2-3 tbsp
Ice cubes - 2-3 nos

Blend strawberry, banana, sugar, salt with 2-3 tbsp of water using a blender. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain the juice and discard the residual.

Blend the strained juice, ice cubes & buttermilk until frothy. Garnish with a strawberry / a thin slice of banana and enjoy!

  • You can totally skip sugar and replace it with honey (equal amounts for sugar)
  • It is okay to leave out banana if you don't have them in stock. You 'll get to drink strawberry lassi which is equally tasty!
  • You can also use partly skimmed buttermilk, but the texture of the lassi might get compromised.

February 26, 2013

Veggie Puffs

Ingredients can make all the difference! Sometimes, adding a simple spice can make or break a recipe. Veggie puffs proved to be a great example for that!

Couple of months ago, we had a potluck arranged and I offered to make veggies puffs for the party! Though veggie puffs came out good, it was missing a little something.. that little magical touch of  the bakery!

Oh btw, did I tell you that I am a great fan of veggie puffs that you get in Indian bakeries! I love the smell of freshly baked puffs and simply cannot resist them! Even if there are loads of baked goodies in front of me, my heart beats only for these buttery, flaky treats. A crunchy bite here, a spicy bite there, a sip of cool drinks to wash everything down amidst a lot of gossip with friends = total fun!

So, as I was blog-hopping & comparing other recipes to see where I was missing out, I saw that some of the recipes were using fennel seeds. Initially, I was very skeptical about how big of a flavor boost that fennel seeds would give to the recipe. But, my doubts quickly dispelled after tasting the results! Would you believe if I tell you that a tsp of fennel seeds enhanced the flavor to be top notch and veggie puffs were tasting very much like bakery puffs!

Well, If you still aren't believing me, try this recipe & see it for yourself!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 20-30 mins
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 9-10 puffs

Onion - 1 no (medium sized, chopped)
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Garlic - 2 pods (minced)
Green chilli - 1 no (finely chopped)
Carrot - 1 no (medium sized, chopped into tiny bits)
Beans - 15 nos (cut into thin pieces)
Peas - a handful
Potatoes - 3 nos (small sized, chopped into tiny bits)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves - to garnish
Salt - as required
Vegetable oil - 2 tbsp

Olive oil / Melted butter - to brush on top
Frozen Puff Pastry Sheets (I used piccadeli brand)
All purpose flour - as required (To work with the pastry sheets)

Take the puff pastry sheets out of the freezer. Follow the instructions given in the cover and thaw them for atleast 4-5 hrs or until soft.

Heat oil in a deep pan. When hot, add fennel seeds and let it splutter. To this, add onions, grated ginger, minced garlic, green chillies and saute until onion is transparent. Then, add chopped tomatoes and saute until tomatoes are soft & tender.

Add all the finely chopped vegetables, turmeric powder, garam masala, chilli powder, salt and give it a good mix. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft & completely cooked through.

Finally, garnish it with chopped coriander leaves and remove from heat. Let the vegetable stuffing cool down completely.

Preheat oven to 375 deg F for 20 mins.

The puff pastry brand that I used had pre-cut squares. If not, cut them into squares of about 3-4" inches. Dust your hands with all purpose flour and lay the puff pastry sheets on to your working space. If the pastry sheets are too sticky, you can use some all purpose flour to dust them too!

Add 2 tbsp of the stuffing on one side of the pastry sheet and cover the stuffing by folding over the other side. 

Use a fork to press & seal the edges.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper, grease it with little oil and arrange the prepared veggie puffs. Brush olive oil / melted butter on top of each puffs. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown whichever is first.

Serve and enjoy with a hot cup of coffee/tea!

February 21, 2013

Aloo Matar Paratha

No blog is complete without a post for Aloo Paratha! Well, in my case it is 'Aloo-Matar-Paratha' - unleavened Indian whole wheat bread stuffed with spicy potato & green peas filling. 

Parathas were very filling and tasted really good with tomato thokku on the side. If you like your filling to be on the spicier side, just follow my measurements for the ingredients, else cut down on chillies/chilli powder according to your spice level.

Basic Info
Complexity - difficult
Prep time - 30-45 mins
Cook time - 1 hr
Serves - 10 parathas

For dough
Atta - 2 cups (I used pillsbury chakki fresh atta)
Oil - 1 tsp
Salt - about 1/2 tsp (or) to taste
Water - a little more than 1 cup (or) as needed
Ghee - to smear on top of parathas (substitute with vegetable oil, if you are not a fan of ghee)

For Filling
Russet potatoes - 2 nos (large, boiled & mashed about 1.5 cups, you could use other potatoes also)
Peas - 1 cup (I used frozen peas)
Onion - 1/2 no (Medium sized)
Green chillies - 2 nos (finely chopped)
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Hing - a pinch
Cilantro - 1-2 tbsp (finely chopped)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Pav bhaji masala - 1 tsp (I used MTR brand, substitute it with garam masala)
Amchur powder - 1/2 tsp (for the tangy touch, optional)
Oil - 1 tbsp

How to make dough
Mix all the ingredients under "For dough", except water. Add water little by little and knead the dry ingredients into a soft but firm dough. Cover the bowl and let it rest for atleast 20 - 30 mins.

How to make filling
Heat oil in a wide pan. When hot, add cumin seeds, hing and let them splutter. Add green chillies, grated ginger and saute for a min. To this, add in onion and cook until onion turns soft & translucent.

Add peas and cook until peas are soft. Sprinkle little water, if required. Mash peas with the back of a spoon/ladle. Now, add boiled & mashed potatoes, dry masala powders, salt and give it a good mix. Let it cook for about 3-4 mins or until the raw smell of masala powders are gone.

Finally add cilantro and remove from heat. Let the filling cool down to room temperature.

How to make Parathas
Divide the dough into 10 equal sized balls. Divide the filling into 10 equal sized balls.

Roll the dough for about 3-4 inches wide. Brush it with a little ghee / oil and place a ball of filling in the center.

Now cover the filling from all sides with the dough.

Flatten it slightly with your palm and carefully roll out this stuffed ball into thin disc of about 6-7 inches wide.

Heat a tawa/griddle on medium heat. Make sure that the griddle is hot enough and place a paratha in centre of the pan. When color of the paratha is slightly changed, flip it to the other side and brush it with a dash of ghee on top. When it starts to bubble up, flip it to the other side and brush it again with a dash of ghee. Wait for paratha to completely bubble up and then, remove from heat.

Keep them covered in an insulated container.

Serve hot with raitha, pickle or any curry of your choice.


- I used russet potatoes for the filling and I must say that the russet potatoes added a rich & creamy flavor to the filling.
- When stuffing the parathas, make about equal size of balls of dough & filling.
- Chop all the ingredients very finely, potatoes & peas must be mashed without any lumps, onions & cilantro should be finely minced. If you have lumps/big pieces, it will tear the dough when rolling out.
- Make sure you add enough water for the dough to be soft but not sticky, so that when rolling out the parathas you can use negligent amount of atta for dusting.
- Sticky dough will be difficult to handle whereas hard dough will result in stiff parathas.
- With practice, you too can make perfect parathas.

Linking this to the event "What's with my cuppa" hosted by Nivedhanams & UK-Rasoi

February 20, 2013

Methi Pulao

First, let me admit that I am a total methi (fenugreek) freak. I always tend to add a tbsp of dry / fresh methi leaves (whichever in stock) in almost every north Indian recipe that I make. Though these leaves are said to be slightly on the bitter side, I love them for the flavor & aroma that it adds to the recipes.

Apart from its medicinal properties for treating diabetes, methi leaves are also known to increase lactation in nursing mothers. I was on balanced diet (pathiya samayal) during the first 2 months of my postpartum (with both the deliveries), and my mom used to prepare "methi leaves - moong dal" kootu (stew) for atleast 3-4 times a week. Surprisingly, I have never gotten bored of these teeny-tiny leaves. Probably, I am one among the "not-so-common" few who actually enjoys pathiya samayal!

Well, that 's just me. VJ is not very fond of methi leaves. Every time, I try some recipe using methi leaves, he neither complains nor appreciates. But, methi pulao definitely came in as a surprise for him. He loved the pulao, especially for that extra zing in the flavor from methi leaves. He suggested a small change though - to add fried cashews for texture. "Sure, you got it next time dear!"

Methi pulao indeed tasted great with cool cucumber raitha - finely chopped pieces of cucumber mixed with yogurt & spices - Yum!!

Check out my other recipes using fresh methi leaves - Methi Malai MatarAloo MethiMethi Thepla.

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 30-35 mins
Cook time - 20 mins
Serves - 3-4

Rice - 1.5 cups
Fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves - 2 cups (packed)
Mint leaves - 1-2 tbsp (finely chopped)
Onion - 1 no (big sized)
Garlic - 6-7 pods (minced)
Green chillies - 2 no (slit open vertically)
Tomato - 3 nos (medium sized)
Oil - 3 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste

Dry Masala
Cardamom - 2 pods
Cloves - 4 nos
Bay leaf - 1 no
Poppy seeds - 1 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Star anise - 1 no
Cinnamon stick - 1 inch

Wash and soak rice in water for about 30 mins. Set aside.

Separate methi leaves from its stem and soak the leaves in about 2 cups of water with a tsp of salt. Set aside.

In a pressure cooker, heat 3 tbsp of oil. When hot, add all of the ingredients under "dry masala" and fry for 2-3 mins until a nice aroma comes out of it.

Add chopped onion, minced garlic, slit green chillies and fry until onion is soft.

To this, add methi leaves & mint leaves and stir for about a min until the leaves wilt. Add chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, salt and give it a mix. Let the tomatoes cook for about 2-3 mins until soft.

Add rice & water (use 1:1 ratio if rice is soaked in water for atleast 30 mins otherwise use 1:1.5 ratio). Adjust salt and pressure cook for 1 whistle. Let it cool, and fluff it up with a fork.

Enjoy this hot & tasty methi pulao with cool raita!

February 18, 2013

"Eggless" French Toast

After the recipe for "Desi Toast" was well received by my family & my readers, I decided to give its sweeter version a try! I am only too happy that I tried, especially for the sweet tooth I have! If you enjoy pancakes, waffles, crepes or any other sweet breakfast treats, then you must try this classic yet eggless version of French toast.

Thick slices of bread, soaked in a mixture of milk, corn flour, sugar and cinnamon, toasted in a pan smeared with ghee, and served with a drizzle of honey/maple syrup - can you even think of a better breakfast?! A guaranteed hit with the kids, this 'eggless' french toast recipe is ideal for your busy mornings!

Basic Info
Complexity - Simple
Prep time - 10 mins
Cook time - 20 mins
Serves - 5-6 slices

Bread - 6 slices (I used Oroweat buttermilk bread, you can use other white / wheat varieties too)
Almond milk - 1/4 cup (You can also use regular milk)
Corn flour - 3/4 tbsp (You can alternatively use custard powder)
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp (Skip this if using custard powder)
Cinnamon powder - a generous pinch (optional)
Sugar - 1 tsp
Ghee - As required to toast

Microwave 1/4 cup of almond milk on high for 30 secs and pour it into a wide mixing bowl. To this, add corn flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon powder & sugar. Use a hand whisk and mix it well until corn flour & sugar dissolves in the milk.

Heat a skillet on medium. When hot, drizzle a tsp of ghee over the skillet. Dip the bread slices on both sides in the milk briefly (for about 2-3 secs). 

Toast the bread slices on hot skillet until golden brown & crispy on both sides.

Serve hot with a drizzle of honey / maple syrup on top and enjoy!

Linking this to the event "What's with my cuppa" hosted by Nivedhanams & UK-Rasoi