Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hello All! My NEW CAMERA is here! I know that I am un-naturally excited but its becos I have missed it SOOOO much while blogging!!!! How do you explain 'drips off a spoon..........but not too quickly'? Well..........I neednt anymore! Its here!!!!

So my first few pics are of Egg Masala Chaaru, courtesy of Latha of

There arent poppy seeds at home.......but I am making the best of it!

Expect more pics soon! Also, any suggestion for camera names?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Almost-there Beans Tempura

So you buy a bag of fresh green beans thinking that you will make something delicious out of them soon. Then the bag gets pushed further and further back into the fridge plus you have a deadline+ an exam to make. What do you get? An almost-gone to heaven bag of beans! What a tragedy!
So you turn it around! Like a true heroine, you take on the challenge and come up with.......this!
Note: I thought of this BEFORE a major chain started advertising a similar 'new' item on TV.

1 bag almost there beans
2 tblsp Gram flour
1 tsp Corriander powder
1/2 tsp Red chili pwd
1/4 tsp Garam masala
Salt to taste
Oil to fry

Ok---oil to fry doesnt sound too good, does it? But there was a solid reason behind the frying decision--since the beans were almost gone, I needed to make sure that they cooked really well so that I killed all bacteria and other evil stuff that might have escaped my cutting and scrapping.

How to do?
1. Put all ingredients (except beans and oil) in a bowl and mix. Add some water and make a batter of thick-ish consistency. The kind that will drip off a spoon...but not too fast.
2. Dip the beans into the batter and then deep fry till light brown.

So basically these are bean 'pakora's. Unsual but really good! The beans were nice and crisp despite the frying and I am seriously thinking of adding beans to my library of things to fry.

Friday, September 22, 2006

On-pot 'Shahi' (Royal) Khichdi (hotch-potch)!!

So as readers may know, I am having trouble cooking for one person. I have realised that it is quite difficult to eat balanced meals when one is alone, for 2 reasons. 1. It doesnt seem worth it for 1 person. 2. Optimal allocation and use of fresh veggies! So taking Mom's (and Nupur's) suggestion, I am trying out various one-pot dinners. This is my variation on Mom's recipe of khichdi (the word literally means a hotch-potch or a mish-mash of things). Simple and nutritious and easy.


1 cup Moong dal (yellow in color) or any lentils that you may have.
1/2 cup Rice
1/2 cup chopped Onions
1/2 cup assorted veggies (anything in the fridge or the freezer)
1 tsp Oil
5-6 Pepper pods
2-3 Big(black) cardamom seeds
2-3 Laung (cloves)
1/2 tsp Jeera seeds (cumin)
1/4 tsp Red chili pwd
1/4 tsp Corriander pwd
1/8 tsp Garam masala
Oil or ghee


1. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil/ghee, put on the pepper pods, big cardamom seeds, cloves and cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds have popped, add the chopped onions and saute for 3-5 minutes.
2. Add the assorted mix veggies to the pot along with the powders. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
3. Put in the washed lentils and rice, add salt to taste and 4 CUPS OF WATER (yes, it sounds like a lot....the whole idea is to get a consistency of baby food, almost).
4. Give 2-3 whistles in pressure cooker. Ready!

It is usually served with yogurt, poppadums and any hot pickle. For the ultimate comfort food, pour some hot 'ghee' over the serving and dig in!

Note: It looks quite wierd once it cools down! It totally sticks together, kinda like! But not to worry cos with a sprinkle of water, it heats up really well for lunch or next-day dinner. I took it to work and was amazed at how a 2 minute microwave turn changed its personality as well as edibility (that a word?).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Work Picnic Salad

I had to go for a work-picnic thingie and signed up to get salad. Didnt want to do the usual potato thing and had the foresight to soak some chick peas, black beans (rajma) and black eyed peas. Coincidently, on the morning of the picnic I was watching Ellie Krieger on the Food Network and saw this great dressing called Tzatziki. Traditionally it dresses grated cucumber but ince it was so interesting I decided to try it with my combinatio of beans and peas.

1 can each Chick peas, black beans and black eyed peas (or dry peas and beans, soaked for 2 days)
1 cup hung yogurt
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp lemon zest
3 tsp lemon/lime juice
6-7 chopped mint leaves (or corriander leaves)
salt and pepper

In a big bowl, put the hung yogurt and olive oil, combine. Put in everything else, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss. You can make it as garlic-y and as lemon-y as you want.

It really came out well and I love the combination of yogurt and lemon. Very refreshing and it set of the beans and peas very well.

Also, hanging yogurt always seems like such a pain and hassle. But the way Ellie did it was really simple. A bowl with a fine colander lined with a paper towel. The paper towel was a really good trick which didnt demand a cheese cloth (i never have it on hand) or the use of one of my dupatta's (ever had pink yogurt?).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Pindi Chana
Hello All! Its been some time since I blogged. Sorry about that. Am facing several living-alone issues. One of them I have already mentioned---since I am used to cooking for 6-8 people (at least) on a regular basis, its VERY difficult getting up the enthu to cook for one! And now another issue---I love using fresh veggies + I dont have a car so dont go grocery shopping regularly=A lot of the veggies I buy go bad before I get around to using them. If you use a whole cauliflower then you get stuck eating it for at least 7 days.....if you use half, then what to do with the other half? Shove it at the back of the fridge until it starts to smell and you need to throw it away............?

So food management is a big problem. I dont like wasting stuff but I dont want to shift completely into frozen things either. Any solutions? It would be great to hear from people about their ideas.

Today, I am a little enthusiastic so I am going to make Bhatura's with Punjabi Chana. Usual preparations of chick peas are usually what we call 'Chhole'. Punjabi or Pindi chana, on the other hand uses different spices, is dark in color and is quite dry. The perfect pindi chana will have the exactly right consistency--there is enough moisture to wrap the spices all around each and every pea.........and no more. Lets see if we can achieve it today.


Chick peas- 1 can or 1 cup soaked overnight and pressure cooked till they are soft but NOT falling apart.
Pindi/Punjabi Chana masala-2 tsp store bought
Onions- 1 big red one, chopped
Green chillies- 4 sliced long
Bay leaves- 2, Big cardamom 4, Cinammon stick 1, Pepper corns 15
Haldi 1/2 tsp, Red chilli pwd 1/2 tsp, Dhania pwd 1 tsp, Garam masala 1/4 tsp, Amchur 1/2 tsp

1. Heat 2 tsp oil in a big pan. Add the "khadha" masala (literally translates into "Standing" spices, means all non-powder spices). Once the oil is infused with all the flavors, remove the pieces of spices. Put in the onion and garlic and on medium heat, saute for about 10 mins stirring as and when. Put off the heat when the onions smell nice and roasted and have left pretty much all their water. Leave to cool.
2. One the above is cool, put it into a blender and pulse a few times until you have an imperfect paste (not tooooo smooth, should have a home-made touch). Heat the used pan on lowish-medium heat and put in the roasted, ground onion-garlic paste. Put in the powders and green chillies. Stir and roast, stir and roast, stir and roast....until the spices start giving a nice, done smell (about 15 mins). If it starts sticking, you can sprinkle a little water from time to time.
3. Put in the boiled chickpeas, stir thoroughly, sprinkle half cup water and cook on medium-low flame. Season to taste. Cook till it reaches the perfect consistency................DONE! Oh! And its NECESSARY to put lots of lime/lemon juice on top before serving.

Serve with...: Chop some onions and green chillies finely, dress with lemon juice, salt, red chillie pwder and vinegar (if you like).

As I mentioned earlier, Pindi chana are quite dark in color. Usually the ingredients of the store-bought powder (in particular, pomegranate) should darken the chanas. But in case they dont, substitute some cooled-down tea water in Step 3 for normal water. Tea water=water in which tea has been brewed for about 7-8 minutes.