Egg less Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)

Eggless Spanakopita

Spanakopita is a type of spinach pie made with filo/phyllo pastry, spinach, and feta cheese. Crispy phyllo pastry with melt in mouth spinach filling is one of the best Greek dishes I have tasted. Being a vegetarian in a foreign country can be a tough thing but you also get to try vegetarian dishes from different cultures. I had some wonderful Greek friends who modified their dishes for my no egg diet and this is one of them.

Phyllo Pastry

This is a very simple dish with very few ingredients. Fresh spinach leaves, fresh paneer, and Feta cheese mixed with basic spices like salt and pepper make a wonderful melt in mouth filling. Try to make fresh paneer for the filling and you will not even realize the absence of egg in the filling. Curdle the milk and strain it using a muslin cloth. Hang it for an hour or  till all the water is drained out and you have fresh crumbly paneer ready. You can also use ricotta cheese. Feta cheese by itself is very salty so be careful with salt in the filling.

Spanakopita Filling

Make sure the oven is preheated and keep checking the pastry. Don’t let it get too brown or it will taste bitter. Traditionally it is brushed with butter but olive oil works just fine too. Spankopita can be eaten warm or cold.

Egg Less Spanakopita

Ingredients

Makes 12 pieces

  • 2 cups spinach washed and finely chopped
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbled
  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese or fresh paneer
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 8 phyllo pastry sheets
  • 1 green chilli
  • ¼ tsp black pepper powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil/butter to brush (appx 3-4 tbsp)

Recipe

Feta cheese is very salty. Always taste the filling and add the salt in the end when using feta cheese in any dish.

Defrost or thaw the phyllo sheets. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add chopped garlic and sauté. Add chopped green chillies and onions and cook for 1-2 mins. Add chopped spinach and mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the crumbled feta cheese, crumbled ricotta/paneer, and pepper powder. Mix well and check for seasoning. Add salt now if required.

Take an 8 inch baking dish. Brush olive oil or butter at the base and layer a phyllo sheet to cover the pan. Brush some oil/butter on this sheet and layer one more sheet. Repeat this for two more sheets. Now add the spinach mixture and spread evenly. Cover the spinach filling with a phyllo sheet and brush oil/butter. Add 3 more sheets in the same pattern. Brush the top sheet with oil/butter again and put the baking dish in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins. The top should be golden and filling should be warm. Let the dish cool down for 5-10 minutes before cutting to make pieces.

Cut in squares and serve.

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.

Gatte ke Chawal

Gatte ke Chawal

Gatte ke chawal is my family’s signature monsoon dish. Gatte is type of boiled or fried gram flour dumplings used in Rajasthani cuisine. This delicious rice cooked with fried gatte, potatoes, and basic spices gets ready in a jiffy and tastes best when it is piping hot. This is one of the very few dishes which my whole family enjoys without any complains.

Gatte

You can add cashew nuts, green peas, boiled Bengal gram(kala chana) to this rice. Ours has been a no onion, no garlic home for a very long time. Most of the dishes are still made the same way without onion or garlic. You can add ginger garlic paste, chopped onions, and a dash of lime to add more taste a flavor to this dish.

Gatte ke Chawal

This rice tastes best when it is eaten hot as soon as it is made. It does not need any accompaniment but goes well with plain yogurt.

Gatte ke Chawal

Ingredients           

  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small potato peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp ground nuts
  • 2 bay leaves (tej patta)
  • 5-6 cloves (laung)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • Salt to taste

For Gatte

  • ½ cup gram flour (besan)
  • 2-3 pinches turmeric
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
  • 1 pinch soda
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil to fry

Recipe

For Gatte

Mix all the ingredients of gatte. Add 1 tbsp water at a time and mix till everything comes together to form a stiff dough. Divide the dough into equal portions and roll them into cylindrical rolls using your palms. Cut these rolls into approximate 1 inch pieces. Boil plenty of water in a pan and cook these gattas in boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Drain and keep aside. Heat oil and fry the gattas till they are light brown. Drain and keep aside. In the same oil, fry the cubed potatoes till they are lightly browned and keep aside.

For rice

Wash and soak the rice in 2-3 cups of water for 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a pressure cooker.  Add cumin seeds, cloves, and bay leaves. Once the seeds pop, add curry leaves, green chillies and dry red chillies. Sauté for few seconds. Add groundnuts and cook for 20-30 seconds. Add the fried gatte and potatoes. Drain water from the rice and add rice to the cooker. Mix well making sure not to break the rice. Saute for 45 seconds to a minute. Add 2 cups of water, turmeric, and salt. Mix well and close the pressure cooker and cook for 2 whistles or till the rice is done (the time differs from cooker to cooker). Once the pressure is released, open the lid, add chopped coriander and mix well. Serve hot.

Vegetable Cutlet

Vegetable Cutlet

Vegetable cutlet is a popular south Indian snack made with boiled vegetables and spices. This is a slightly different version of the vegetable cutlets you get at the south Indian restaurants. It is a deep fried snack but I shallow fry it on a non stick pan to make it less oily. You can have it as an appetizer or a tea time snack.

These cutlets can be prepared ahead of time and fried just before eating. You can freeze them and use them when required. The pungent and spicy taste of fennel seeds, garlic, and green chillies is the USP of these cutlets.

Vegetable Cutlet

If you find the cutlets dough watery, you can add ¼ cup of bread crumbs. This will soak the water and also add texture and flavor to the cutlets. I used the Japanese panko bread crumbs. You can use any bread crumbs. You can also use semolina (rava) to coat the cutlets. It adds crunch to the cutlets. You can deep or shallow fry these cutlets depending on your taste.

These cutlets should be served hot with fresh salad and tomato ketchup. Vegetable cutlets also go well with hot tea.

Vegetable Cutlet

Ingredients

Makes 16 cutlets

  • 3 potatoes chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 8-10 beans chopped
  • ¼ cup green peas
  • ¼ cup gram flour (besan)
  • ¼ cup rice flour
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • 5-6 green chillies
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • Bunch of coriander (approximately ½ cup)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds (saunf)
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour (maida)
  • ½ cup water
  • cups of bread crumbs or rava to coat the cutlets
  • oil to fry the cutlets

Recipe

Grind the green chillies, garlic, coriander and fennel seeds to a paste and keep aside.

Pressure cook the potatoes, carrots, beans and green peas till they are soft. Once cooled, squeeze out all the water and mash the vegetables. Put the vegetables in a mixing bowl. Add the gram flour, rice flour, bread crumbs, ground paste, and salt. Mix well. Adjust the seasoning at this stage. Roll into sixteen oval cutlets.

Make a thin watery paste of all purpose flour and water. Dip the cutlet in this water and roll it in rava or bread crumbs. Refrigerate the rolled cutlets for an hour. Deep fry in hot oil or shallow fry on a non stick pan using little oil. Serve hot.

Pav Bhaji Sandwich

Pav Bhaji Sandwich

This is one of my oldest and best experiments so far. Right from my college days, this was (and still is) my go to dish whenever there was turai or brinjal for lunch at home. White or whole wheat bread filled with vegetables filling flavored with pav bhaji masala makes these sandwiches a complete and quick meal without any guilt. My siblings and I have always relished these quick and flavorful sandwiches.

Pav Bhaji Sandwich

You can add finely chopped garlic along with onions if you like. You can also add vegetables like beans or sweetcorn. Do not overcook the veggies or they will lose the crunch. Cheese is optional. You can add a slice of cheese to the filling just before you grill it. I use olive oil to grill the sandwiches, you can use butter too. I grill my sandwiches on a tava; Sandwich maker should give the same results too.

You can prepare the filling in advance and grill the sandwiches just before eating. I pack these sandwiches for lunch sometimes and they taste good but I would still prefer them fresh and hot.

Pav Bhaji Sandwich

Ingredients

Makes 10-12 sandwiches (depending on the size of the bread)

  • ½ cup onions
  • 1 cup carrot
  • ½ cup capsicum
  • ¼ cup green peas
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp pav bhaji masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 20-22 slices of bread
  • Butter/olive oil as required

Recipe

Heat oil in a kadhai or non stick pan. Add onions and sauté for 1-2 minutes till they are translucent. Add capsicum and sauté for a minute. Add carrot and green peas and sauté for another minute. Add pav bhaji masala and salt. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes mixing in between. Transfer the filling to a bowl and let it cool slightly. Fill between two slices of bread and grill on tava or a sandwich maker using butter or olive oil. You can add cheese slice to the sandwich before grilling. Serve hot with ketchup.

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.

Raw Mango Rice (Kairi Ke Chawal)

Raw Mango Rice

Raw mango rice is the summer version of tamarind rice or lemon rice. Cooked rice is mixed with a paste made of raw mango, urad dal, chana dal and ground nuts.

Summers in Hyderabad can get super hot and my mom’s way to avoid getting into the kitchen is to cook dishes that can be made ahead and need very less time in kitchen before serving them. One of such dishes is the raw mango rice. It can not only be prepared ahead but is also good to beat the heat.

Tadka_mangoRice

You can replace groundnuts with cashew nuts if you like. Some people also add heeng and grated coconut to the tadka. Green chilli is the only source of spice in this dish. You can add more or less green chillies based on taste and the spice level of the chillies you are using.

Chatan

The quantity of raw mango depends on the sourness of the mangoes. Mix few table spoons of mixture at a time and keep tasting while mixing to get the desired taste.

You can prepare the mango paste in advance and store it in fridge for six to eight weeks. This is an excellent dish to transform leftover rice to a tangy treat.

Kairi ke Chawal

Ingredients

serves 2-3

  • 1.5 cup cooked rice
  • 4-5 tbsp oil
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • 10-15 curry leaves
  • 4-5 green chillies
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 2 tsp chana dal
  • 2 tbsp groundnut
  • 3 dry red chillies
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 cup grated raw mango
  • Salt to taste

Recipe

Heat oil in a kadhai or thick bottomed pan. Add cumin seeds. Once the seeds splutter, add curry leaves and green chillies. Saute and add urad dal and chana dal. Sauté and cook for 1 min or till the dals are lightly browned. Add ground nuts and dried red chillies. Cook for one more minute. Make sure the dals or groundnuts are not burned. Add the grated raw mango, turmeric powder, and salt. Mix well and cook for two minutes mixing in between. Switch off the gas and mix and let the mixture cool for 2-3 minutes. Mix few tablespoons of raw mango mixture at a time in the cooked rice until you get the desired tanginess. You can store any leftover mixture in the fridge for 1-2 months.