Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mulled Wine

Christmas has just passed and already the new year is upon us! Seems like yesterday that we were ushering in 2015, and now its time to bid it adieu! But there is no sorrow in that. The year has been fair and the new one just offers more to look forward to. For now, I sit back and enjoy the festive air that warms the chill in the wind. I love the happy, carefree feel that comes this time of the year. When we all shed our baggage and Ho Ho Ho our thoughts and speech. It is also the time of year when the vodkas and martinis and sangrias gave way to the more traditional. Tis the season to be jolly... with mulled wine warming my belly! The warm spiced wine gently making its way down my throat. Clearing that lingering cough and cold. Enveloping me in the warm, fuzzy Santa hug. And of course, the best way to use up all that cheap wine languishing at the back of the cupboard! So mull yourself some wine. Pour one for you and yours and wish everyone with all the cheer. Happy New Year guys! Make every moment count!

Water                             2 cups
Sugar                              1/2 cup
Cloves                            12
Cinnamon                       2 inches
Nutmeg powder              1/2 tsp
Dry Ginger Powder         1/2 tsp
Lemon                             1/2
Red wine                         750 ml
Brandy                            1/4 cup

Heat water in a pan. Add sugar, spices and lemon. Reduce heat before it comes to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add wine and heat till just below boiling point. Now add the brandy. Turn off the flame. Serve warm in goblets and inhale the festive spirit!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Oil Free Chicken Raja Mircha

  • Those who have been following this blog would have realized that I am rather partial towards food that is light, wholesome, simple but packs a flavourful punch. This new recipe is no exception. I found the original on soulkitchendiaries and knew it was just what I needed to kickstart the winter weekend on a healthy note. I tweaked the recipe a little, playing around with the flavours from the North eastern part of India. It's an addiction I cannot curb! The result was sublime. Need I say more?

Chicken                  750 gm
Water                      1 litre
Onions                    3, large
Tomatoes                4, large
Raja Mircha            2
Green Chillies         3
Ginger                     1 inch
Garlic                      6
Coriander leaves      1 cup
Mint leaves               1 cup
Coriander powder     1 tsp
Garam Masala          1/2 tsp
Turmeric                   1/2 tsp
Bamboo Shoots         1/2 cup

Grind the onions to a paste. Puree the tomatoes. Grind the mint and coriander leaves coarsely. In a mortar and pestle, coarsely pound the ginger, garlic and green chillies. In a heavy bottomed pan, bring the water to a boil. Add all the ingredients, except the chicken and bamboo shoots. Add salt and bring to a boil once again. Add the chicken and bamboo shoots and cook on high flame for ten minutes. Reduce the flame to sim. Cover and cook till the chicken is done. Serve hot with steamed rice, and do invite me over to slurp some!

1) Raja Mircha (King Chilly/ Boxer Mirchi/ Naga Chilly) is rare to source and also too hot to handle for most palates. So feel free to substitute with any regular dry red chillies,
2) Bamboo Shoots are an acquired taste. Also, like Raja Mircha they are hard to find in the mainstream markets. You can easily substitute with fresh green beans or even potatoes for an equally tasty dish.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Super Simple Pumpkin Soup

Winter is Coming! No, Wait! Winter is here! Not in the Stark way. But more of the 'dilli ki sardi' kinds. And how do I know winter's here? Well, the nip in the air and the extra layer of clothes, sure. But what positively heralds the onset of winters at my place is Soup Dinners!
It is another ritual that harks back to my childhood. The moment the weather turned, Mum would chop up those pesky veggies and dish out some awesome soup. Teamed with hot buttered toast and a baked casserole, this was the perfect weekday comfort food. Luckily, hubby dear is also quite the soup fan. Or maybe mum's soups have converted him! Either way, Soup Dinners live on in my household as well. With the toddler yum yumming every warm sip!
Mum's soups were always made fresh, light and flavourful. No gloopy cornflour from a packet for us. Infact soups are so quick and easy to make that it never ceases to amaze me that people choose the pricey preservatives to the fresh route! So, this winter here's my request. Give my soups a try. I promise to convert you! And come summers, your bikini bod will thank you ;)

Pumpkin, chopped                1 cup
Onion                                     1
Peppercorns                         8
Nutmeg powder                   1/4 tsp
Ginger, chopped                   1 inch
Water                                    4 cups
Salt                                        to taste
Butter                                    2 tsp

In a pressure cooker, heat the butter. Add the onions and saute till translucent. Add the pumpkin and saute for another minute. Now add the rest of the ingredients and pressure cook for 4 whistles. Cool. Run in the blender till well mixed. Heat on low flame just before serving. Super Simple, didn't I say?!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hara Bhara Chicken

The weekend is here, finally! And after all the Diwali madness, it is time for some comfort food. Now don't get me wrong. As far as food goes, it is all comfort to me! But right now I feel like some warm brothy chicken with a no fuss attitude and tankards of taste. Light on the masala and heavy on flavour. The kind of soul chicken that you can dip a  couple of slice of bread in (if you are me), or drown your rice in (if you are hubby). The kind of Chicken, that on a nippy November evening reminds you of a warm fireplace and home. Oh, and the kind of chicken that does not require me spending hours chopping, frying, cleaning!
Now this chicken doesn't look the lurid green required of a hara bhara, but there are some greens in there I promise!

Chicken                      1 kg
Coriander                    1 bunch
Green Chillies             7
Cloves                         4
Black Cardamom        3
Ginger                         1 inch
Garlic                          5 cloves
Mustard oil                 4 tablespoons 
Curds                          2 cups
Kasuri Methi              1/4 cup
Water                          350 ml

Method: Grind together the coriander, cloves, ginger, garlic, cardamom and chillies. Heat oil in a deep pan and add the ground masala. Once the masala browns, and the fat separates, add the curds. Cook for five minutes. Add the chicken and salt. Stir till all the pieces are well coated. Add the water. Reduce the flame to sim. Cover and cook till done. Stir in the kasuri methi. And you are done! Simple, isn't it? 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Date and Nut Balls

My parents are not traditional. This is a shocker in a country like India. As a result I grew up quite oblivious to the varied customs, rituals and festivities that colour the Hindu calendar. The only exception was Diwali. Every year the house would be lit up with pretty fairly lights and traditional clay diyas would make also make an appearance. The highlight undoubtedly were the array of goodies mum would conjure. A week prior to Diwali she would painstakingly spend hours making sweets and savouries. These included mathri, chakli, namkeen paras, gujiyas and gulab jamuns. She would then decorate a plate with these goodies, add a pretty diya or candle and gift one to each of our neighbours.
When I got married, this was the only tradition I brought with me. Though store bought sweets and attractive edible hampers are now the norm, I still prefer making atleast one sweet and savoury at home. They may not be the traditional ones, but they are made with just as much love.
This year though, I wanted to combine the traditional and the healthy. With a little munchkin added to our crazy bunch, I had to ensure the sweets were not just delicious but also healthy. No more empty calories! When I came across Sonal Chowdhury's Bliss Ball in Good Housekeeping, I knew I had found just the thing. I have tweaked and adapted the recipe a little but these are still nutritious nuggets from heaven! Utterly blissful!!

Dates                                1 cup
Broken Cashews              1 cup
Almond powder               2 tablespoons
Dessicated Coconut         1/2 cup

Soak the dates in hot water for 15 minutes. Run the cashews in the mixie for a coarse powder. De-seed the dates and drain the water. Mix the cashews and dates and run them in the mixie together till they form a sticky paste. Turn into a bowl and mix in the almond powder. With wet palms, form into small balls. Roll the balls in dessicated coconut. Store in the refrigerator and serve with a joyous cheer of Happy Diwali!!

Note: The original recipe called for 2 tbsp of cocoa powder but i substituted that with almonds for a kid friendly treat. However, you may choose the chocolate for a twist on taste!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Spicy Crunch

I have a confession. Every evening my husband sneaks out and cheats. I can't blame him really. I would too if I had the time. Its an affair that began as kids, and now no matter how much he tries, he always does give in to the temptation. He does feel guilty. Cheating on my cooking that way. But I object more on the grounds that he is cheating on his health. Alas! The allure of street food is a slutty siren you can't ignore!
So in the spirit of good health, I decided to recreate the street food magic in my home kitchen. It may don healthier clothes and svelter calories, but it still packs a mighty punch. The recipe below is a twist on the tangy, fiery, pungent Mudi.
Mudi is made of puffed rice like it's cousin Bhel. But unlike the Bombay and Delhi sweet- tangy bhel, the Mudi of the east is a tangy, pungent mix of puffed rice, spices, nuts and mustard oil. In my version, the puffed rice is replaced by cornflakes. Well, because I had a lot of boxes in my pantry! No compromise in taste though. After all, hubby dear has stopped sneaking out now!

Cornflakes                         3 cups
Mustard Oil                        8 tablespoons
Roasted Peanuts                 1/2 cup
Sprouted Kala Chana         1/2 cup
Onion                                 1, finely chopped
Green chillies                     4, finely chopped
Red Chilli Powder             1/2 tsp
Chaat Masala                     6 teaspoons
Coriander                           3 teaspoons, chopped

 Heat the oil in a wok. Add the cornflakes and fry stirring continuously till just golden around the edges. Take off the heat. Add the rest of the ingredients. Adjust the seasoning as per your taste, Garnish with coriander, and serve!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Besan Laddoos

It was the summer of '88. My uncle was home from his training academy and my grandmum had spent most of her waking hours in the kitchen. She lovingly doled out all his favourite dishes, and cooked enormous amounts of sweets and savouries for him to carry back. One of the many snacks in his care package was Besan Laddoo. These melt in the mouth balls of sweet, addictive goodness were the perfect pop for a quick dessert fix.
When the time finally came for his departure, and all the goodies were being packed, my granny realized something was amiss. The box of laddoos seemed much lighter than she expected. When she opened it, she was aghast! The box was completely empty! Not a crumb in sight. Uh-Oh! It was confession time! Over the past few days I had snuck into the kitchen at every possible opportunity, and popped a couple of them. And before I knew it, well, the seemingly endless supply ran out! In my defence, there were only 50!
Fast forward to the present. Hubby dear is as fond of these laddoos as I am. So I borrowed this recipe from granny. It is a healthier alternative to the traditional ghee dripping, syrup soaked ones. And as I watch the lil one sneak one into his mouth, I know we don't stand a chance! So I am gonna quickly type this out and go grab one while they are still around!


Besan                    3/4 cup
Melted Ghee         1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon
Sugar                    1/2 cup
Semolina              1/4 cup
Green cardamom     5


Powder the sugar along with the cardamoms and keep aside. Heat 1 teaspoon of ghee in a wok and roast the semolina till golden, but not brown. Empty onto a plate. Now heat the rest of the ghee in th wok and add the besan. Cook on high flame till darkens and turns red. Take care it doesn't burn, so keep stirring continuously. Add it to the semolina on the plate. Spread this mixture and let it cool till it is luke warm. Now add the powdered sugar. Shape into balls, and pop one for instant gratification ;)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Akhni Pulao

In the pre Internet era, I remember my mother meticulously copying recipes from library books and magazines into her diary. Those were also days when she maintained a file filled with recipes clipped from varied newspapers and publications. As a ten year old, this weekly ritual fascinated me. And in an attempt to emulate her, I started my own food file. My love affair with cooking began that day but I rarely revisited the indiscriminate clippings of those early days. 
Recently, however, I was cleaning out the trunk of books and chanced upon the old yellowing clippings. Browsing through those memories I discovered this little gem. Akhni Pulao is a one pot cousin of the Biryani, and ideal for those lazy Sunday brunches. And the quantity is sufficient to feed even last minute weekend guests. So grab a pot and impress everyone this week!

                   Chicken                         1 kg
                   Rice                               1/2 kg
                   Curds                             250 gm
                   Onions                           3
                   Potatoes                         3
                   Ginger Garlic paste       4 teaspoon
                   Garam Masala               4 teaspoon
                   Cumin seeds                  1 teaspoon
                   Oil                                  8 tablespoon

             Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the cumin seeds. When they sizzle, add the onions. When the onions are translucent, add the ginger garlic paste, salt, chicken and garam masala. Pressure cook for 4 whistles. Remove from the flame. Cool slightly and add the potatoes, curd and rice. Cover and cook again for 4-5 whistles. And your minimal fuss Akhni Pulao is now ready! Serve up with some salad and raita.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Quick Mocha Cake

I love baking. I love all its finicky measuring and obsessive temperature control. But there are some days when I still want my cake fix, but minus the long drawn complicated process. Enter the Quick Mocha Cake. Not only is this a one bowl wonder, but it also cooks in double quick time. Really win win in my opinion. Now, the purists can scoff all they want, but the proof is definitely in the eating. And this one is addictively delicious!

Whole Wheat Flour         1 and 1/2 cups
Cocoa Powder                  1/2 cup
Baking Powder                 1 teaspoon
Baking Soda                     1/2 teaspoon
Milk                                  1 cup
Vinegar                             1 tablespoon
Kahlua essence                 a few drops
Sugar                                 1 cup
Butter                                3/4 cup

Mix the vinegar and milk. Keep aside for 10 minutes. Sift all the dry ingredients together. Grease a 7 inch square baking dish. Finally, mix all the ingredients well. Pour into the prepared dish. Level it out. Microwave on full power for 7 minutes. Let it rest for a few minutes more. The Quick Mocha Cake is ready.
Slather it with ganache. Or serve up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Munch it with some coffee. Or jus eat it as is!

Note: The Kahlua essence can be substituted with a mix of 3 heaped teaspoon instant coffee powder and 1 teaspoon hot water.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Jam Swirl Blondies

Blondies are said to be the original brownies. Crumby with just a hint of chocolate. Over time, chocolate took over the entire dessert and came to reign as the crowd favourite. But aah! Blondies have a charm of their own.

                      Jam                            1/2 cup
                      Plain Flour                 3/4 cup
                      Custard Powder         3/4 cup
                      Baking Powder          1/2 teaspoon
                      Salt                             1/2 teaspoon
                      Butter                         1/2 cup
                      Sugar                          3/4 cup
                      Cream                         2 tablespoon
                      Eggs                            2
                      Vanilla essence           1 teaspoon
                      Chocolate chips          1/2 cup

             Microwave the jam for 1 minute. Stir and leave aside to cool.  Sift all the dry ingredients together. Thrice. Beat the sugar and butter together till thick and pale. Add the eggs, cream and essence and beat again till creamy. Fold in the chocolate chips. Now gently fold in the sieved ingredients, until just combined. DO NOT BEAT! Pour into greased 8 inch square dish. smooth the batter evenly. Drop the jam on top. Swirl gently with a fork or toothpick, taking care to not scrape the bottom. Microwave at full power for 7 minutes. Let it stand for 15 minutes before serving.Alternately you can bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30 minutes. Serve up with some chilled coffee or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fada Ni Khichdi

This recipe is a treasure from Tarla Dalal. Nutritious and filling, this is ideal for those breezy days when one just wants to feel the wind on the face and stay away from chores. This one pot meal cooks in a jiffy and appeals to even the most finicky eater. Eliminate the chillies and you have an excellent meal for babies and toddlers alike.

Yellow moong dal              1 cup
Broken Wheat ( Dalia)       3/4 cup
Potatoes, diced                    1 cup
Green Peas                          1 cup
Cauliflower florets              1 cup
Onions, diced                      1 cup
Green chilli-ginger paste     1 tablespoon
Peppercorns                         1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder                 1/2 teaspoon
Chilli powder                       1 teaspoon

                  Cinnamon           1 inch stick
                  Cloves                 3
                  Cumin                 1 teaspoon
                  Heeng                  1/2 teaspoon
                  Ghee                    3 tablespoon

Method: Wash and soak the dal and dalia for atleast 15 minutes. Boil 4 cups of water. Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker and add all the tempering ingredients. When they sizzle, Add the drained dal and dalia as well as all the vegetables, spices and salt. Stir and saute for 5 minutes. Add the hot water. Pressure cook for 4 whistles. Allow the cooker to cool. Stir vigorously, adding more hot water if required to thoroughly mix the dal and dalia well. Serve hot garnished with slivers of chillies, and a side of curds, papad and pickle.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Beer Bread

There is something about baking bread that scares even the most seasoned baker. Well, most breads are quite unforgiving. You have to get the quantities just right, proof the yeast, allow it to rise just so..too much and it will be just air pockets, too little and it will be stone... you have to punch, proof, punch again. A rather long and tedious process that may still leave you with results, well, deflated!

This is where Beer Bread comes in. It is a simple, no fuss bread. Like having drinks with your bumchum in pajamas. Effortless! No complicated ingredients or steps, and with a guarantee of success. Don't take my word for it. Just chuck it all in and surprise your folks with some freshly baked bread this weekend. 

Flour                        3 cups
Baking Powder        4 1/2 teaspooons
Brown Sugar           3 tablespoons
Salt                          1/2 teaspoon
Beer                         1 and 1/2 cup
Butter                       1/4 cup, melted

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together. Thrice. Now that the tough part is over, mix in the rest of the ingredients. Pour into a greased 9x5 inch loaf tin. Top up with some grated cheese if you like. Bake for 50 minutes. Rest for another 15 minutes or so. Turn it out and dazzle!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Sheera is semolina based dessert that is also known as Sooji ka halwa in the northern parts of India, and is  a close cousin of the southern Kesari. This recipe originates from Maharashtra and differs from the others by its use of milk instead of water. 

Sheera is quite a filling and healthy dish so its often eaten for breakfast or as a weaning meal for babies. As for me, I can eat Sheera anytime, especially when I see the raindrops batter my window and fill the room with the scent of the earth.
This recipe is my granny’s who definitely makes the best Sheera in the world!


Semolina     1 cup
Ghee           ½ cup
Milk            1 cup, warmed
Sugar           ¾ cup
Banana        1

Heat the ghee in a wok. Add the semolina and roast till golden. Stirring continuously, add the milk in a slow and steady stream. Cook for a minute and lower the flame. Add the sugar and mashed banana. Mix thoroughly and cover with a lid. Let it cook for another minute. Uncover, mix and cover again. Cook for another minute and switch off the gas. The grains should have separated and lost their stickiness. If not, cook covered on a low flame for another minute. And your sheera is ready to be devoured!
For additional flavour and nutrition, you could add green cardamom powder and garnish with chopped nuts.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Coffee Praline Mousse

This recipe has been gleaned from a very dear friend, Priyanjana. This easy breezy dessert is a family favourite at hers, and very quickly became one at mine as well. it looks gorgeous, tastes sinful and is simple enough for even the most kitchen phobe. So, what's not to like?!

Milk  1/2 ltr
Sugar  8 tablespoon
Custard powder  6 tablespoon
Coffee powder  4 1/2 teaspoon
Butter  25 gm
Cream  200 gm

Praline:  Sugar 1 1/2 cup
                Walnuts  1/2 cup


For the Praline: Heat the sugar in a saucepan over low heat, till the sugar melts and turns golden brown. Turn off the heat. Add the walnuts and spread on a greased tray. Once cool and hardened, place between two sheets of butter paper or in a polybag and crush to shards with a rolling pin.

For the Mousse:
Mix the custard powder with a little milk in a cup. Add it to to the rest of the milk and place on low flame. Mix in the coffee powder and sugar and continue to cook on low flame. Stir frequently to prevent lumps and from the mixture sticking to the bottom. Once it thickens considerably, enough to coat the back of your spoon, take it off the heat. Mix in the butter and leave awhile. Once the mixture cools, run it in the mixie or food processor for about a minute. tip in the cream and churn a couple of times more. Take care to not churn the cream for too long or the mixture will curdle. Transfer to a serving dish. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours, preferably overnight. Top with the shards of praline just before serving. Take a deep breath and sit back to enjoy the dessert and the compliments :)

Handy Hint: If you don't have patience for praline, simply substitute with crushed chikki !

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Spice Trail Chicken Curry

I love just reaching out into the pantry, yanking random ingredients and then combining them subtly into a delicious meal. This is one such recipe. An ode to the myriad spices that line my kitchen shelves, waiting to be paired into just the right blend.
The ingredient list may read long, but rest assured this chicken curry mildly teases your tastebuds without overpowering your senses. Just the perfect dish for a laidback weekend.

Chicken 1 kg
Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Kasuri methi) 2 tbsp
Curds 1 cup
Turmeric Powder 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp
Green Chillies 6-7, slit lengthwise

Masala : 2-3 large onions
              2 inch ginger
              8 cloves garlic
              2 inch cinnamon stick
              4 green cardamoms
              2 black cardamom
              1 tsp peppercorn
              6 cloves
              2 bay leaves
              a pinch of mace
              1/4 tsp nutmeg powder


Grind all the ingredients in the masala list and keep aside. Heat oil in a pot and add the readied masala paste. Once it browns, add the chicken pieces. Cook till the pieces are well coated with the masala and start changing colour. Add the slit green chillies and cook for 2 minutes. Now start adding the curds one tablespoon at a time. After each addition stir well and let it adhere well onto the pieces. Finally when only 1/4 cup of curds are left, beat the turmeric, coriander and red chilli powder into the curds. Pour onto the chicken and mix well. Stir in the crushed dry fenugreek leaves. Add salt to taste and enough water for a gravy of your desired consistency. We like the curry to be a little broth like and so I added about 350 ml of water. Lower the flame. Cover the pot and cook till done, Dish up with some paranthas or steamed rice or even a ciabatta bread.