Dal Maharani

Dal Maharani

Dal maharani – I don’t know the reason for this name or origins of this dal but this is one of my favorite dals. Urad dal cooked with onion, tomato, and spices. This is an in house speciality at my home. Some dishes taste best when cooked by certain people and this is surely one of them. My aunt’s signature dish which I relish with hot parathas or bajra rotis.

Dal Maharani

A very simple dal but with a difference. It does not need any trips to the grocery store but yet will pack a punch on those cold rainy nights. I enjoy this mostly on its own with a dollop of ghee.  Bajra roti or parathas are the perfect companions for this nutritious treat.

Dal Maharani

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup urad dal soaked in plenty of water for 3 hours
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 green chillies
  • 2 tbsp oil/butter
  • ¼ tsp tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 big onion finely chopped
  • 1 big tomato finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala

Recipe

Wash and soak the urad dal in plenty of water for 3 hours. Drain the water and put dal in a pressure cooker.  Add 2 cups of water and some salt and cook for two whistles or until it is cooked. The dal is cooked when it gets mushy when you mix it. Keep it aside.

Grind ginger, garlic, and green chillies coarsely.

Heat 2 tbsp butter/oil in a kadhai or a thick bottomed pan. Add mustard and cumin seeds. Once the seeds pop, add curry leaves, and dry red chillies. Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste and onions. Saute and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and little salt, red chilli powder, turmeric, and garam masala and mix well. Cook till oil separates and tomatoes are mushy. Add the cooked dal and mix well. Taste and adjust salt. Cook on slow gas for 7-10 minutes mixing in between. Serve hot with a dollop of butter and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Paneer Capsicum Masala Restaurant Style

Paneer is a must order curry for most of us when we eat out and it is also one of the most cooked dishes in my kitchen. I have done innumerable experiments (some were successful too) to cook restaurant style capsicum paneer gravy and never came as close as this one. Got this recipe from a friend and who in turn got it from a chef (connections you bet). This comes closest to the Paneer capsicum at the restaurants and that too without an overdose of butter.

I prepare the gravy in advance and use it with paneer, peas, capsicum, corn and even sandwich fillings when required. You can substitute oil with butter if required but it really does not alter the taste much. Fresh paneer tastes the best and if you are using frozen paneer,  do dip it in hot water for few minutes before using it.

You can have this curry with roti and rice both. I have even tried it as a sandwich filling with whole wheat bread and it tastes superb!

Kadai Paneer

Ingredients

Serves 4-5

  • 4 tomatoes quartered
  • 1 big onion quartered
  • ¼ cup cashew nuts broken
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 ½ tsp kitchen king masala
  • 1 small capsicum diced
  • 1 cup paneer
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi (lightly roasted and crushed)
  • 1 tbsp fresh cream for garnishing (optional)

Recipe

Boil tomato, quartered onions, and cashew nuts for around 8-10 minutes. Drain the water and let the onions, tomatoes, and cashews cool down completely. Grind them to a fine paste and keep it aside.

Heat oil in a non stick pan. Add ginger garlic paste and sauté. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped onions and capsicum. Mix well and cook for 2 more minutes. Add paneer and mix well. Add the ground paste, red chilli powder, coriander powder, kitchen king masala, and salt. Mix well and let it cook for 3-4 minutes. Add little water (2-3 tbsp) if you find the gravy too thick. Add honey and kasoori methi and mix. Cook for one more minute and switch off the heat. Garnish with a dollop of fresh cream and serve hot with roti or jeera rice.

Missi Roti

Missi Roti

Missi roti is a north Indian flatbread made with whole wheat flour and gram flour. It is my mom’s favourite. This is healthier and tasty compared to the naan or normal tandoori roti. You can substitute the whole wheat flour with the multigrain aata which is readily available these days. If you want it even healthier, you can cook it like tandoori roti and leave out the ghee. I like it more than the normal naan roti.

Fresh coriander and green chillies add aroma and taste of the roti. You can add the green chillies as per taste if you want your roti spicier. Some people even use the left over dal to make the dough. You can even add fresh greens like spinach or fenugreek if you want it healthier.

Traditionally missi roti is cooked like a paratha using ghee on both sides. But I like it healthier so I cook it like phulka. Cooking both sides on griddle and then cooking it on open flame adds to the taste. Roll it out thicker than rotis and they will turn out softer. This is an all season all meal compatible roti. You can have it for lunch or dinner and this tastes best with dal and curries with gravies.

Missi Roti

Ingredients

Makes 4-5

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (the multi grain aata available these days work perfect too)
  • ¼ cup gram flour (besan)
  • 2 green chillies finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • ¼ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ghee + 4 tsp ghee to drizzle on rotis

Recipe

Mix the flour, gram flour, chillies, turmeric, onion, coriander, carom seeds, cumin seeds, salt, and 1 tsp ghee with enough water to make a soft dough. Cover the dough and keep it aside for 15 minutes.

Knead the dough a little and divide it into equal portions (4-5). Roll out each portion slightly thicker than normal rotis and cook on hot griddle just like the normal phulka. Drizzle about a tea spoon of ghee and brush it evenly on the roti. You can cook it like a paratha too but I prefer the one that is cooked like roti. Serve hot with dal or sabji.

 

 

Chilla/Chilve Vali Kadhi

Chilla/Chilve Vali Kadhi

Kadhi is a tangy, yogurt based north Indian dish that is served with plain rice. There are various types of this dish based on the regions. There is Punjabi kadhi, Rajasthani kadhi, Gujarati kadhi, Sindhi kadhi and a lot more varieties. The basic mixture of gram flour and slightly soured yogurt is same and the tempering and flavours change as per the region.

This recipe is of chilva or chilla vali kadhi. My mom’s family is from Haryana and their cuisine differs from the marwadi cuisine that is made at my place. I don’t know the exact region this kadhi belongs too but this particular kadhi is famous at my maternal grandmom’s place. This is kind of healthy too. Chilva is a gram flour pancake which is made using very less oil compared to the deep fried pakodis that are used in the regular kadhi.

The tempering or tadka for kadhi too differs as per the regions. Just replacing the oil with ghee in the tadka makes a lot of difference to the kadhi. You can even add whole coriander seeds and fennel seeds to the tadka.

Kadhi is usually served with plain rice. I like it more with hot puris. At my place kadhi is served with rice and pressure cooked mung beans. Mung chawal Kadhi is the classic Rajasthani preparation and is a complete meal.

Chilla/Chilve Vali Kadhi

Ingredients

For Kadhi

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ tbsp. gram flour (besan)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

For Chilva/Chilla

  • 3 tbsp gram flour (besan)
  • Few pinches turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 pinches carom seeds (ajwain)
  • 4-5 tbsp oil for frying

For Tempering

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • ½ stick cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 6-8 curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 3 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 1 green chilli slit
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 2 dry red chillies

Recipe

Mix all the ingredients for kadhi using a blender or whisk making sure there are no lumps. Keep aside.

To prepare the chilva or chila, make a paste of pouring consistency (of dosa or dhokla batter consistency) using gram flour, salt, turmeric, carom seeds and water. Heat a griddle and put around half table spoon of oil on it. Take a spoonful of the prepared batter and drop it on the oil. It should be like a small round coin sized pancake. Let it cook for 10-15 seconds. Flip on other side and cook for another 10-15 seconds. Move to the side of the griddle. Make rest of the chilvas using the same method adding oil in between. Remember to flip the chilvas on the side of the griddle and take them off from the griddle once you see brown spots forming on the chilvas. Keep the chilvas aside on an absorbent paper.

In a thick bottomed pan or kadhai, bring to boil the mixture for kadhi. Remember to stir continuously till the kadhi boils. Simmer the gas.

Heat two tablespoon oil in a kadhai. Add mustard and cumin seeds. Once the seeds pop, add curry leaves, dry red chillies, mustard seeds, cloves, and cinnamon. Sauté for 30-40 seconds. Add the green chilli, grated ginger, asafoetida and cook for 30-60 seconds. Add the red chilli powder and switch off the gas immediately. Pour this tempering on the kadhi and mix well.

Add the chilvas to the kadhi just before serving and cook the kadhi for 3-5 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander.

Paneer Capsicum Masala

Paneer Capsicum Masala

Paneer is one of the favorite vegetarian curries at the restaurants. This Indian version of cottage cheese is full of protein. It is a different story that the rich and heavy gravy they prepare at the restaurants almost negates the health benefits. I have tried making restaurant style paneer curry at home many times and this recipe comes closest. For me paneer and capsicum are the best combination. Fresh paneer and capsicum are key to a yummy curry.

I do not get fresh paneer here and I rely on frozen paneer when I have guests at home. Put the frozen paneer in hot water for 3-5 minutes and you have soft paneer ready to cook. Now comes the tricky part. Restaurant style gravy but in a slightly healthier version. I leave out the butter for sure. Second substitution I make is, to reduce the quantity of cashew nuts to half and add melon seeds.

I prepare the gravy in advance and freeze it in batches. Every time I want to cook paneer ki sabji, I just take one batch of gravy and defrost it and cook it with panner and the vegetables of my choice. I have the curry ready in minutes.

This curry can be served with hot roti, naan, or with jeera rice. Do not forget fresh cut or pickled onions and some fresh non spicy green chillies.

Paneer Capsicum Masala

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1 ½ cup paneer
  • 1 cup mixed bell peppers chopped into square medium sized pieces
  • 1 small onion chopped

For Gravy

  • 1 big tomato roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion roughly  chopped
  • 20-22 cashew nuts
  • 3 inch piece of ginger chopped
  • 4 cloves of roughly garlic
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 tbsp melon seeds
  • 1 ½ tbsp kasoori methi
  • 3 tsp chilli powder
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh cream (optional)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tbsp oil

Recipe

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a kadhai or a deep pan. Add green chilli, ginger, and garlic. Once the garlic is lightly browned, add onions and saute. Cook till onions are translucent. Add cashews and melon seeds and cook till the cashews are lightly browned sauteing in between. Add the tomatoes, salt, and red chilli powder and mix well. Cook till oil separates and tomatoes are mushy (2-3 minutes). Switch off the gas and let this mixture cool. Once it is cool, grind this to a fine paste and keep aside.

You can store this gravy in the freezer for future use too.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadhai or thick bottomed pan. Add cumin seeds. Once the seeds pop, add onions and cook till they are translucent. Add bell pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add paneer and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the gravy and mix well. Add little water if the gravy is too thick. Cook for 3-4 minutes or till oil separates. Garnish with fresh cream and chopped coriander and serve with hot rotis or rice.

Naan Roti (Naan Bread)

Naan Roti (Naan Bread)

Naan is one of India’s many famous foods after tikka masala and samosa. It is a tear drop shaped, oven-baked (called tandoor in India) flat bread made with all-purpose flour (maida). It is also known as naan bread and is served with curries or kebabs. Making naan at home is not as tough as it looks. You do not need the tandoor. You can make it in oven or even on a thick griddle. Most of the ingredients are easily available and you can even add the topping of your choice to make it more flavorful.

Just make sure to rest the dough for enough time and cover it well while resting. Some people use eggs for a softer naan but I don’t see any major difference in the softness with or without egg if you use milk to make the dough. You can experiment with the shape and toppings. You can add nigella seeds (kalonji), sesame seeds, kasuri methi, garlic, olives, or fresh herbs like coriander and mint.

As with other recipes on this blog, this is my family recipe of naan. There are different ways of making the dough and cooking the naan. You can make it in an oven, use any thick bottomed utensils like kadhai or cooker, or a clay griddle. My mom makes naan on the griddle used to make rotis at home and she even cooks the naan like she cooks the rotis. Naan can be served with tikkas, kebabs, dal, and curries. It is best eaten hot.

Naan Roti (Naan Bread)

Ingredients

Makes 6-7

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (maida)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup curd
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 pinches soda (appx half of 1/4th tsp)
  • 1 ½ tbsp. oil
  • Little water

Recipe

Take flour in a wide big dish. Make a well in the centre and add salt, sugar, soda, curd, oil, and milk. Make a soft pliable dough using little water at a time. Keep it aside covered with a wet cloth for one hour. Knead it again for few mins (3-4) and divide into 6 rolls.

Take one roll at a time and roll it into a 6-7 inch disc on a lightly floured surface. At this stage you can add the seasoning you prefer. Roll it once or twice for the seasoning to stick to the dough.

Cook it in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees until it is crisp and light brown. Brush liberally with butter/ghee.

If you do not have an oven you can cook it on a griddle too just like you would cook roti. Brush it liberally with butter/ghee and serve hot.

Chole (Chickpeas Curry with Indian Spices)

Chole (Chickpeas Curry with Indian Spices)

Chole, the quintessential dish from north of India is one of the most popular curries in India. This is a curry made with chick peas and Indian spices. As with any popular curries, this too has many names and variations. Chana masala, pindi chole, or Punjabi chole are just a few to name. Chickpeas are known to be rich in fibre and Iron and are a healthy choice as a part of your daily meal.

I learnt this from my Punjabi friend Kriti who doesn’t cook much but when the she cooks its finger licking good J This is when I stopped using the chole masala that is sold in super markets and started relying on fresh ingredients and I just love this version.

Best part about this curry is that it goes well with anything; rice, paratha, puri, bhatura, kulcha or even with bread. I like it as a filling for my sandwich. Try grilling a whole wheat sandwich with this curry and a slice of cheese, you will surely enjoy this high fibre Punjabi sandwich. Here is a slightly modified version of chole that I learnt from my friend.

Chole (Chickpeas Curry with Indian Spices)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chick peas (Garbanzo beans/kabuli channa/chole) soaked overnight and boiled
  • ½ cup coarse paste of boiled chick peas
  • 1 tsp tea leaves (tied into a small muslin cloth to form a pouch/or a tea bag) optional
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Coarse paste of 2 inch piece of ginger, 2 green chillies, and 3-4 pods of garlic
  • 1 onion  finely chopped
  • 1 tomato finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves (optional)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 3 tsp red chilli powder
  • 4 tsp coriander powder (dhania)
  • ½ tsp dry mango (amchur) powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder (cumin seeds roasted and powdered)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 ½ cup water in which chana was boiled

 Recipe

Wash chick peas 3-4 times in running water before cooking. Add salt, tea pouch (if using) and pressure cook the soaked chick peas for 3-4 whistles on a low flame. It should be soft but not mushy.

Do not discard the water in which the chick peas were cooked. Drain the chick peas and keep aside.

Heat oil in a heavy pan. Add cumin seeds, cloves and bay leaves. Add ginger, garlic, and green chilli paste and saute for a min. Add onions and fry for 1-2 mins.  Add tomatoes and little salt and cook for 2-3 minutes or till tomatoes become soft and can easily be mashed with the back of a spoon.

Add red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, amchur, garam masala, and little salt. Mix well and cook till oil separates.

Add 1 cup water in which chick peas were boiled, chick peas and the crushed chick peas paste. Check for salt and seasoning at this point. Cover and cook for 3-4 mins. If you find the consistency too dry add remaining ½ cup of water. Remove the cover and cook on low flame till the gravy is almost dry. Add chopped mint and coriander leaves. Mix well.

Serve with jeera rice, paratha, bhatura, puri or roti.