Toast Cups

Toast Cups

Toast cups or mini quiches as they look like are a quick way to upgrade a simple toasted sandwich to look like a gourmet snack . It is a very easy dish to make. Bread is rolled, cut, and baked into cups, filled with different savory filling, topped with cheese, and baked into delicious hot snacks.

You can practically fill the toast cups with any filling you like. I like this Mexican filling with corn, capsicum, and paneer. The Mexican taco spice mix or the chili spice mix adds a new flavor and spice to the filling. It also makes it quick to cook.

You can choose to cut the edges of the bread if you like. Rolling the bread will make it easier to cut it and fit in the muffin mould. To add flavor to your toast cups, you can brush the cups with olive oil mixed with dried herbs like oregano, basil, thyme etc. You can use any cheese you like to top the toast cups. If you want to prepare the dish in advance, you can prepare the filling and toast the cups lightly. Assemble and bake the cups just before serving. This snack tastes best when it is hot.

Ingredients

  • 12 slices of bread with the edges cut
  • ½ cup boiled/steamed sweet corn
  • ¼ cup mixed bell peppers chopped
  • ¼ cup paneer chopped
  • ¼ cup onion finely chopped
  • 35 gms Taco seasoning/any Mexican seasoning
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • Cheese to taste ( used cheddar cheese)
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

Heat oil in a pan. Add onions and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the bell peppers, paneer, and sweet corn. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the taco seasoning and 2 tbsp water and mix well. Taste and add salt if required. Cook for 3-4 minutes mixing in between. Transfer to a bowl and keep aside.

For the toast cups, roll a bread slice using a rolling pin. Cut a circle using a cookie cutter or a sharp edged bowl. Divide the circle into two. Adjust the semi circles in a muffin tray to make a cup. Follow the same procedure for rest of the bread slices.  Spray the toast cups with olive oil. Pre-heat an oven to 180 degrees Celsius and bake the cups for 10-12 minutes.

Take the tray out of the oven. Add a table spoon of filling in each cup. Top it with grated cheese and bake for 8-10 minutes till the cheese melts. Serve hot.

Tzatziki (Healthy Greek Dip)

Tzatziki

One of the reasons I love winters more is the barbecues.  A nice chilly weather, traditional coal barbecue grill, and family and friends are a perfect definition of happy family time for me. I can sit and cook all night.

My most favorite part of barbecues is the different dips and sauces. I like to keep them healthier and don’t want to lose the taste at the same time. This Greek dip is one of the healthiest dip I know. This can be enjoyed with kebabs, grills, burgers, falafels, chips, vegetables etc.

Greek yogurt is one of the healthiest things to eat. If the quality is right, you will not even realize the absence of cream, cream cheese, or any other fatty stuff. I get the Greek yogurt available in store and hang it for further 2-3 hours to get any remaining water out. you can use the yogurt set at home too. The idea is to get all the water out of the yogurt to get a creamy and thick yogurt. Once it is whipped well, it is as creamy as mayonnaise, or fresh cream.

Cucumber with its cooling properties is a perfect choice for this dip. Make sure to de-seed the cucumber and chop it as finely as you can. Dill is cucumber’s best friend when it comes to salads or dips. If you can add fresh dill, that’s the best. I like this dip with nachos, slivered carrots and bell peppers. This can be stored in fridge for 2-3 days. I made this for the Halloween party recently and it was loved by everyone.

Tzatziki

Ingredients

Makes 3 cups

  • 2 cup hung yogurt/Greek yogurt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ tbsp vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1 cucumber peeled, de-seeded, and diced finely
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped finely

Recipe

I used around  800-900 gms of Greek yogurt  and hanged it in a muslin cloth for around 3 hours to get 2 cups of hung yogurt.

Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix until well combined. Using a whisk, blend the yogurt well. Add the olive oil mixture to the yogurt mixture and mix well. Add the cucumber and dill and mix well. Chill for at least 2-3 hours before serving. Serve with vegetable crudités, chips, or nachos.

Spicy Pizza Sandwich

Spicy Pizza Sandwich

Sandwich is one of the most versatile snacks. You can fill it with anything you like and the Spicy Pizza sandwich is my version of one of the most loved food on the planet. This very easy, quick, and spicy recipe can be changed as per individual tastes by adding the toppings(or fillings) of one’s choice. If you love pizza, you will surely enjoy this sandwich version of pizza.

Just think of the toppings you like on your pizza and add them to this filling. You can make it healthier by reducing the amount of cheese, using whole wheat bread instead of white bread and by adding more vegetables. I use a mix of cheddar and mozzarella cheese but just cheddar or just mozzarella works fine too.

Coming to spice, I like my snacks spicier. I add very finely chopped ginger to the filling. It adds both spice and flavor to the filling. You can add or reduce the quantity of ginger and chilli flakes as per taste. You can also add other fresh or dried herbs like basil, thyme, or pizza seasoning.

You can prepare the filling in advance and refrigerate it for up to a week. This is a quick snack for evening or even a light dinner when you are too tired to cook.  Serve the sandwiches hot with ketchup or a dip of your choice.

Spicy Pizza Sandwich

Ingredients

Makes 4 sandwiches

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ginger finely chopped
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp onion chopped
  • 3 tbsp corn boiled
  • 3 tbsp mixed bell peppers chopped or julienned
  • 1 tbsp olives
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ tsp black pepper powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Cheese to taste
  • 8 slices of bread
  • Olive oil/butter to grill the sandwich

Recipe

Heat oil in a non stick pan. Add oregano and ginger. Sauté and cook on low flame for 30-40 seconds. Add chilli flakes and onions. Cook till onions are translucent but still crisp (30-40 seconds). Add the bell peppers, corn, and olive. Cook for a minute on high heat. Add tomato paste, salt, and black pepper. Mix well and cook for a minute. Switch off the heat and let the filling cool down a little.

Divide the filling into four portions. Spread one portion on a piece of bread. Top it with the cheese of your choice and put another piece of bread on the top. Spray olive oil or spread butter and grill the sandwich till brown on both sides. You can grill it on a tava too (griddle). Serve hot with ketchup or dip of your choice.

Kachori (Rajasthani Savory Snack)

Kachori (Rajasthani Savory Snack)

Kachori is an Indian snack similar to samosa (its more famous cousin) but yet different. It is a flaky pastry filled with different spices and lentils. Just like other famous snacks, there are lots of varieties of kachoris in different parts of India. This one is my grandmother’s recipe aka Bhoji wali Kachori and one of her most famous ones. Everyone in our family loves this snack made by my grandmother. I love this kachori so much that I do not eat the kachoris available outside. For me THIS is kachori 🙂

The filling made with besan is what makes this kachori different from the other kachoris. Mostly kachoris are filled with different lentils but this one has no lentils. Roasted gram flour and spices complement the flaky crust perfectly.

Only tricky part with this filling/masala is to roast the gram flour(besan) well. If the besan is not roasted properly, the kachoris will not be fluffy. If it is roasted too much, the taste is ruined. It is very important to keep mixing the besan continuously while you roast it. Our house lives on no onion garlic diet most of the times so no onion in this one. You can add onions to this masala if you like.

The dough for kachori should not be too firm. Soft and pliable dough makes better kachoris. Another trick that I learnt from my grandmother is to roll the kachoris twice (only twice) after you have filled the masala and shaped the kachori. This distributes the filling evenly and each and every kachori puffs when you do this.

These kachoris can be stored up to a week in airtight container. Eat them plain or with chutney of your choice or make a chat by adding yogurt and different chutneys.

Kachori (Rajasthani Savory Snack)

Ingredients

Makes 20 kachoris

For Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • ½ tsp salt

For Masala

  • 2/3 cup gram flour (besan)
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp citric acid (nimbu sat)
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 4-5 green chillies coarsely ground
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Oil for frying

Recipe

For Dough

Mix the all purpose flour, salt, and oil. Add little water at a time and make soft dough. Cover and keep aside for 15 minutes.

For the Masala

Put oil and besan in a thick bottomed pan/non stick pan and mix well. Do not heat the oil before adding the besan. This will help you avoid lumps in the masala. Now switch on the flame and roast the besan and oil mixture for 3-4 minutes on low flame. Roasting time varies according to the heat. The color of the mixture should be light brown. Besan can burn quickly so make sure to keep mixing it nonstop. Switch off the flame. Add green chillies, coriander, red chilli powder, turmeric, citric acid, garam masala, salt, and 1 tbsp water. Mix well. Keep aide to cool.

Divide the dough and masala into 20 equal portions. Take one portion of the dough and stretch it (appx 3 inches) using your fingers. Put one portion of masala in the center and seal the edges and flatten it very lightly.  Roll the kachori twice using a rolling pin. Follow the same process for rest of the kachoris.

Warm oil in a kadhai/thick bottomed pan. Oil should be just warm and not hot when you put the kachoris in for frying. Fry on low flame till the kachoris are golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.

 

 

Namak Para (Indian Savory Pastry)

Namak Para (Indian Savory Pastry)

Namak para is a popular savory tea time snack. It is a part of the variety of sweets and snacks made in marwadi homes during Diwali. This fried Indian pastry seasoned with cumin and carom seeds is a favorite with tea. My mom makes this snack in batches of huge tin boxes as every one at home loves to have them with the morning tea. This used to be a popular travel snack whenever we travelled. Namak para with lime pickle is an awesome combination.

The crunch of this snack should be like a pastry and that calls for ghee or butter to be added in the dough. You can use oil too but I like it light, flaky, and buttery. The basic rule of pastry applies with namak para too. Add all the dry ingredients before adding butter. Use cold butter and work quickly using your finger tips for a lighter pastry. The flour should resemble bread crumbs. If the fat you are adding is hot, it will absorb more oil while frying and the namak para will be heavier. Add cold water and add as less water as possible and add it gradually.  Do not over knead the dough. After you rest the dough, just knead it lightly.

You can make namak paras in any shape. The diamond shape is the most popular one in India. Fry the namak para on a slow or medium flame. Cumin and carom seeds are the most common flavours. You can experiment with other herbs too like kasuri methi or even oregano. Coarsely ground black pepper can be added for a hint of spice. Namak para can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 weeks. These can be served with tamarind chutney or lime pickle.

Namak Para (Indian Savory Pastry)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (maida)
  • 1 tbsp semolina (optional)
  • 4 tbsp Oil/butter
  • 1 tsp salt (you can add the salt as per taste)
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • ½ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
  • Ice cold water
  • Oil for frying

Recipe

Lightly pound the cumin and carom seeds. Mix the all purpose flour, salt, cumin and carom seeds. Rub the butter using finger tips. The flour should resemble bread crumbs. Add little cold water at a time and knead stiff dough. Cover with a damp cloth and keep aside for 15 minutes. Knead again lightly and divide the dough into four portions.

Roll each portion to a 1/8cm thick circle. Cut into desired shape. Diamond is the commonly used shape. Heat oil in a kadhai or a deep pan and fry the namak para on slow flame till they turn light brown on both sides.

Cool and store in an airtight container.

Manchurian Pav

Manchurian Pav

Manchurian Pav or Manchuria Pav as it is known in Hyderabad is a street food from Hyderabad. It is a twist to Pav Bhaji and what a yummy twist! I love it. Despite the fat. That is why I decided to try making it at home so that I can make it healthier. I am yet to find a city (with exception to Mumbai) where you can get yummy food 24×7. Street food in Hyderabad is amazing. The city is dotted with tons of stalls selling roadside snacks. One such place is a juice/pan shop called Mayur. I don’t know if this dish is available elsewhere but I love it at this place.  I always prepare extra bhaji and freeze it for the days I am too tired to cook. It comes in handy for quick snacks like this one.

This snack should be cooked on high heat throughout. Idea is not to let the capsicum lose it’s crunch or not to overcook the onions. It should be cooked but still crunchy.  You can cook it in butter if you like but using oil or even olive oil does not alter the taste a lot.

This dish gets soggy very fast. You need to make it just before eating. You can prepare the ingredients in advance and cook it just before eating/serving. This is a perfect snack with evening tea or for that 5 pm hunger. You can enjoy this Indian fast food with hot tea or finish it off with a glass of chilled juice.

Manchurian Pav

Ingredients

  • 2 Pavs/burger buns cut into 8 pieces each
  • 4-5 tbsp bhaji
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 small green chilli chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tbsp onions chopped
  • 2 tbsp capsicum chopped
  • 2 tsp pav bhaji masala
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp fresh coriander chopped
  • 1 tbsp sev
  • salt to taste

Recipe

Heat oil in a deep pan or kadhai.  Add ginger, garlic, and green chillies and cook for a minute. Add onions and cook for a minute or till the onions are translucent. Add capsicum and cook for 30-45 seconds. Add pav bhaji masala, garam masala, bhaji, and salt. Mix well. Add the pav pieces and mix well. Transfer to the serving dish and top it with sev and chopped coriander. Serve immediately.

Pav Bhaji (Indian Street Food)

 “Pav Bhaji (Indian Street Food)” is locked Pav Bhaji (Indian Street Food)

Pav bhaji is one of the most famous street foods from India. It is a snack made with mixed vegetables mashed and cooked in spices and butter. It is served with a bread called pav (similar to hamburger buns). While it is made with fresh vegetables, the amount of butter added to it makes it an unhealthy snack. This recipe is my mom’s pav bhaji recipe which she makes without butter, onion, and garlic. For years, this was the only pav bhaji I knew. It was kind of fixed menu for our birthday parties. I have made slight change to the recipe and added onions.

Whenever my mom is left with a less quantity of different vegetables, she just boils them all and makes pav bhaji for us. This was her idea of not wasting the vegetables and giving us something healthy and tasty to eat. I remember her using even bottle gourd (lauki) in the bhaji. I love the flavour capsicum and peas add to this dish. You can add fresh red chilli paste and garlic to enhance the flavor. My mom makes it in oil and I made it with olive oil last time and did not miss the butter at all in this yummy dish. For the butter lovers in my family, I just top the individual serving of bhaji with a generous dollop of butter.  

The interesting thing about bhaji is that it tastes best the next day. It is a perfect dish to make ahead for any party. You can even freeze it and heat it for a quick snack. At my place it is more of dinner than a snack and my siblings and I enjoy this dish a lot. We eat it with naan, we spread it on dosa, and we even use it as a grilled sandwich filling. The latest is Manchuria pav. Shall post the recipe soon.

Pav Bhaji (Indian Street Food)

 

Ingredients

Serves 3-4

For Pav

  • 10 pav or burger buns
  • 1-2 tbsp butter/ghee/oil
  • 1 tsp pav bhaji masala
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

For Bhaji

  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 green chilli chopped
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped capsicum
  • 2/3 cup chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ cup peas
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp pav bhaji masala
  • 1 cup chopped potatoes
  • 1 cup cabbage
  • ½ cup beans
  • ½ cup carrot
  • ¼ cup cauliflower florets (optional)

Recipe

Boil or pressure cook potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, and carrots. Drain excess water (Do not throw the water). Keep aside. Boil peas and keep aside.

Heat oil. Add green chillies and ginger. Cook for 30-45 seconds. Add onions and sauté. Cook for 1-2 minutes or till onions are translucent. Add capsicum and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 3-5 minutes till oil separates. Add tomato paste, salt, red chilli powder, pav bhaji masala and ¼ cup of water reserved from boiled vegetables. Cook for 5-7 minutes mixing in between till oil separates. Add the boiled vegetables and peas. Mash the bhaji well using a potato masher. Add more of reserved water from boiled vegetables as per desired consistency (1/2 cup should be good). Let it cook on slow flame for 10-5 minutes mixing in between. Serve with hot pav/dinner rolls and chopped onions with a wedge of lime.

For Pav

There are two ways to serve/eat pav with bhaji. One is, Slice the pav/dinner roll into two pieces, smear with generous amount of butter and warm or lightly toast on a hot griddle.

Another way is to cut each pav or dinner roll into 4-6 bite sized pieces. Sprinkle the pav bhaji masala, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, and salt on the pav pieces. Heat oil or butter in a thick bottomed deep skillet or a kadhai. Add the pav pieces and mix well. Cook for 1-2 minutes mixing very frequently. Serve with hot bhaji, chopped onions, and a wedge of lime.