Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mint Sambol (Spicy Mint Salad with Shredded Coconut)

Mint Sambol (Spicy Mint Salad with shredded coconut)
I wish I could share a seasonal cake or cookie recipe with you. There are seasonal sweets and desserts everywhere and also in food blogging world. Even though I indulge in all of them by buying from outside, I hardly make anything sweet because we are ‘weight watchers’. If I make them at home, it’ll be both of us indulging and it will not reflect well in our scale. So whenever there is craving / tempt we buy small portions. That way our consumption is limited to one piece a day. We satisfy our sweet tooth as well as prevent us from the guilt of over indulgence.

So as usual I’m sticking to a spciy recipe for the season. This time it is mint. Ever since I got to know about this herb, I'm absolutely in love with it. I love mint fragrance, mint tea and mint and lemon infused water and mint in my food. I even started growing them in my balcony. Mint sambol is very similar to pesto or even chutney. Difference is I’ve used shredded coconut to bind the flavors together; hence it is thicker in consistency compared to pesto or chutney.
Mint Sambol (Spicy Mint Salad with shredded coconut)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lotus Root Stir-fry

Lotus Root Stir Fry

First of all apologies for my short period of absence. It had been very challenging and struggling few weeks. Gradually things are coming back to normal phase and I'm getting back to routine. 
Lotus Root is not a common vegetable. As it is in the name, this is the root of lotus flower mainly used in Asian cuisine. It is used in soups, stir fries, deep fried, braised, pickled in hot and sour garlic chili sauce and also used in traditional herbal medicine. Click here to see picture of lotus root.

I picked this vegetable due to its nutritional benefits; lotus root is rich in Vitamin C, B group of vitamins and also has healthy amounts of minerals like copper and iron.  You can buy this vegetable from Chinese grocery stores.

It has a crunchy sweet taste; a close comparison could be raw carrot. However compared to carrot it is mild in sweetness and it remains crunchy even after cooking.

My recipe is a fusion between Chinese style and Sri Lankan style, to spice it up I’ve added curry powder and curry leaves for its pungent aroma and I’ve also added vinegar as sour flavor nicely blends with crunchy lotus root.

Lotus Root Stir Fry 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vegetable Kottu (Flat bread pieces mixed with spicy sauce & vegetables)

Kottu Roti is a popular comfort cum street food in Sri Lanka. When you are strolling around in Sri Lankan streets, you cannot miss the sight, sounds and aroma of kottu. Kottu literally means “chop”. It’s made with flat bread called “Gothamba roti” mixed with meat, spicy gravy, and vegetables.  Kottu is blended together in a heated iron sheet using blunt metal blades. Clashing of metal creates a distinctive sound. This sound and aroma of kottu will invite any passerby to stop and indulge in this mouthwatering meal.

I first learnt to make this at home from my Aunt, who prepares roti and everything at home from scratch. I’m not a good roti maker. I’ve never been successful in my previous attempts and also I'm not a big fan of wheat flour. That’s why you find most of my recipes “Gluten-free”. As a Sri Lankan Tamil from North, I’m used to preparing meals with red rice flour and millet flour instead of wheat flour.  These are low glycemic as well.

So for this meal I bought 'Roti Canai' (Malaysian name for pararatha’s), shredded them into thin strips, mixed it with spicy sauce made with onion, garlic, soy sauce and curry powder and added vegetables. When you are not making paratha’s at home which is a time consuming job, you can assemble this meal in 10-15 minutes.

You can ask for flaky parathas (flat bread) from Indian / Sri Lankan / Pakistani restaurants or “Roti Canai” from Malaysian Restaurants.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dal Makhani – Black Lentils in Spicy Cream Sauce

Dal Makhani - Black lentils in spicy cream base
Dal Makhani is one of my favorite dish in North Indian Restaurants. I love its nutty taste in tangy cream, flavored with pungent garlic. I never bothered to try it at home. Didn't even know what type of lentils is used to make this dish. Later on only when I checked it with one of my Indian friend, I got to know the type of lentils used to make this awesome dish.

I’m glad I like lentils and legumes, as it’s a good source of low fat protein for vegetarians. Quinoa is the best protein source for vegetarians and vegans. However I’m still not that fond of quinoa, even though I’ve tried them on salads and soups I really didn’t like its taste. Second best protein source is tofu, which is a very versatile product. You can use them in fried rice, noodles, soups, salads and stir fries. Stir fried tofu in spicy chili sauce would be a wonderful dish. You can apply the same method I used to make stir- fried eggplant and cook tofu.

My preferred protein sources are lentils, legumes and dairy instead of tofu or quinoa. But lentils are not a complete source of protein, you always have to combine number of lentils or consume dairy to get complete protein. Black lentils, red lentils and chickpeas are my favorites. Black lentils are also used to make Dosa – Indian Crepes.
Dal Makhani - Black lentils in spicy cream base

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Green Chili Chutney (Green chili Pesto made with Indian Ingredients)

Green Chili Chutney (Green chili Pesto made with Indian Ingredients)
I always prefer shopping fresh vegetables on my own, but sometimes I do have to delegate it to my DH. He is ok, I would not rank him bad, compared to some other spouses I know ;) but he would sometimes buy things like 250g of long green chilies. He is one of those people who can eat raw chilies. But you can’t have them on a daily basis right? I only use green chilies to season curries or for salads, but what do you do with so much green chilies in fridge? If you get enough sun light you can also marinate them in yogurt and salt and sun dry, once it’s completely dried you can store them and use as curd chilies.
Sun dried curd chilis
Luckily he bought less spicy chili, so I made chutney with them. I sauteed green chili, so it becomes much milder in spiciness. Added dry roasted fennel and coriander seeds to infuse aroma and tamarind pulp to balance all flavors with its tangy sour flavor.

Green chili chutney is such a versatile side dish, you can spread it in your bread or wraps to make sandwiches, mix it with pasta, have them with nacho’s, take it as a side for rice, or Indian crepes - dosa or Indian rice cake –Idly.
Green Chili Chutney (Green chili Pesto made with Indian Ingredients)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Zero Chili Curry Powder

Zero Chili Curry Powder
However much we master our cooking, Mom’s food is very special, and we often crave for Mom’s food. I don’t know, whether it’s her love or a secret recipe she’s yet to share with me, that makes her food so special.

I attribute reasons to be her love and purity she practices. Let me give you a brief background. My mom is a converted vegetarian. All of us started practicing vegetarianism, when we were introduced to meditation by Brahma Kumaris. She strictly practices ‘Purity’; she only takes food cooked with God’s remembrance and doesn’t take onion and garlic. Hinduism promotes Saatvic food i.e. vegetarian food but avoiding certain type of vegetables. Onion and garlic is believed to be increasing impure feelings.

Whatever she cooks at home she will offer it to God, before serving to family. Hence it could be her love, pure feeling and on top of it, God’s love that make’s mom’s food so special.

I always bring something along with me from home, something that I could cook and bring mom’s food taste into my dishes. Curry powder is a wonderful ingredient to bring back from Mom’s kitchen. Her curry powder is influenced by Sri Lankan Tamil (Northern) origins, but with some modifications. She only consumes very little chili (unlike me), again it is believed to be increasing heat and anger in oneself.

This curry powder has zero chili and has protein from Soya, yellow split peas, orid dhal and toor dhal. It also has rice. Adding these legumes and rice helps to give tanginess to gravies made with this curry powder. Gravy will be much thicker and tastier. So here you go…. secret recipe for my mom’s curry powder.
Zero Chili Curry Powder

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spicy Legumes & Tomato Soup

We have been on a constant battle with our weight. We both feel if we lose couple of stones, we’ll look and feel much greater. Somehow this realization strikes in front of the scale and seem to disappear in front of food. Hence we are on a constant battle.

Some time back I used to have notebook jotting down everything that went inside and calorie counting, rigorous exercise and having soups and stews for dinner. But after having soups very regularly I’ve lost appetite for them. I’m bored doing the same type of exercise repeatedly. Now I’m looking for new suggestions to help me conquer my weight. (All your suggestions are most welcome)
My DH still likes taking soups for dinner. This is one of soups I made for him. It had to be mildly spicy for which I added coriander and chili powder, tanginess from juicy pulp of tomatoes, and of course wholesome - by adding three type of legumes i.e. red lentils, Black beans and Garbanzo beans. You can try it out with your own preferred legumes.

Legumes are a good source of protein for vegetarians. They are low in fat, good source of fiber, and are rich in vitamins and minerals. It’s always recommended that vegetarians combine legumes because one legume can compensate certain type of protein lacking in other and vice versa.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Stir Fried Eggplant in Spicy Chilli Sauce

Stir Fried Eggplant in Spicy Chili Sauce
Eggplant is my all-time favorite vegetable. There are variety of ways to cook them. You could make smoked eggplant salad, fried eggplant, eggplant gravy, mashed eggplant curry (North Indian Baigan Bartha) and this one is Chinese style. Even though I’ve tried similar style eggplant in Singapore Chinese vegetarian restaurant; I never bothered to try it at home.

But once I saw it demonstrated by Kylie kwong in Masterchef Australia, I immediately noted it down and tried it no sooner I got all the ingredients. We can call it Ami’s twisted version, because I made small modifications in steps as well as ingredients. My DH’s reaction to this dish is “Superb”. Eggplant’s taste is relatively bland that’s why it easily blends with any type to spices or gravy. Fried eggplant has a mild sweetness and when it is mixed with a spicy hot and sour sauce, eggplant absorbs and blends well with this aromatic tangy sauce. It’s a “must try” for all eggplant lovers like me.
Stir Fried Eggplant in Spicy Chili Sauce
How often do you get inspired by cooking shows? I always do. Some of my favorite chefs on TV are Michael Smith, Jamie Oliver, Chef Wan (Malaysian), Anna Olson, Nigella Lawson and Laura Calder. These are some of the other celebrity chef inspired recipe creations in my kitchen.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Soy Marinated Curry Chicken (100% Vegan & Vegetarian)

This curry is deceptive; because you can make them (non-vegetarians) believe that it’s real meat. I always make this curry when I’m entertaining non-vegetarian guests. Some of them think that I’ve prepared a meat curry especially for them.

Mock chicken, lamb, chicken breasts, prawns and fish are some of the popular fake meats available here in Southeast Asia.  They are made with soya, mushroom stems and other preservatives. Its texture is very much like meat.

It’s a very popular delicacy among Chinese served in restaurants. Some Chinese practice vegetarianism on 1st and 15th of each month of Chinese lunar calendar.

It’s not one of my favorite, as I’m used to being a vegetarian for 18+ years and even when I was non-vegetarian I only liked sea food and didn’t really enjoy meat. But my DH loves mock meat. But I only cook them during special occasions. It’s not advisable to consume mock meat regularly as they are highly processed.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pumpkin Chunks in Garlic Spiced Coconut Cream

Pumpkin chunks in garlic spiced coconut cream
This is a re-post of my previous post pumpkin curry in April this year. Ever since I started focusing on improving my food photos, I've felt I should replace all my previous posts with basic compact camera.  Re-posting all of them with new improved photos will take time. One of them for which I just replaced the photos has become a great hit and now is the most popular post - Eggplant Curry.

Pumpkin curry, eggplant curry, and a leafy vegetable stir fry served with rice as a main meal, along with crunchy papadams and curd chili would be a perfect authentic Sri Lankan lunch. Hot and sour taste of eggplant curry goes well with this sweet garlic spiced pumpkin chunks and rice. It’s one of my favorite combinations of curries with rice.
Pumpkin chunks in garlic spiced coconut cream
Pumpkin is full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A and antioxidant carotenes. Also it’s a good source of vitamins C, K, and E, and lots of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and iron. 

In this curry I’ve cooked them with skin, that’s how authentic Sri Lankan pumpkin curry is made and it tastes good with skin. At home they also make simple stir-fry dish with diced pumpkin.
Pumpkin chunks in garlic spiced coconut cream

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Spinach & Yellow Split Peas Soup & a Free Recipe Book Giveaway

Spinach & Yellow Split pea Soup
I first tasted this as a side dish served with banana leaf lunch. Typically in a banana leaf lunch they serve around 8+ side dishes. So some of them I eat alone without rice. As soon as I tasted this curry it stroked me that what a healthy curry that can be made as a soup.

Spinach combined with legume – yellow split peas provides complete nutrition and protein.  Spinach is ranked as one of world’s healthiest vegetable. It’s rich in vitamins (vitamin A, K & C) and minerals (Iron, magnesium, folate etc) and also a powerful anti-oxidant. It is best to eat spinach in raw form, (in salads & sandwiches) else if you are cooking spinach it has to be cooked for less than a minute to preserve its nutrition’s.
Spinach & Yellow Split pea Soup
I had to put some extra effort to do this post, as I’m still recovering from post holiday syndrome. Slowly getting back to my routine. I really enjoyed this holiday in Europe, wonderful weather, indulged in scrumptious food and took 1000+ photos in picturesque sights. Stay tuned I’ll share some photos with you’ll in photography page. Some of you may wonder why I’ve enjoyed weather, it’s because I come from a hot, humid 24*7 sweating weather, I love to walk outdoors, but I can’t do that here because of weather. That’s why from morning till 10pm or so, I was out enjoying 20+C weather in Europe.
Spinach & Yellow Split pea Soup

Friday, July 29, 2011

Green Beans Spicy Stir-fry

This dish reminds me of my mum’s scrumptious cooking and family lunches. My father always remind us about nutritional benefits of eating green beans. We grew up in a boarding house while schooling. So I’d wait till school holidays to indulge. I guess mom too planned to entertain us with variety of food. I still cherish those days where all four of us will sit together and enjoy scrumptious food. I really miss those special days. Now we are all scattered. Those days my mum teases me telling that I’m a balloon. Because I gain during school holidays and lose weight when I’m back in boarding house.

I never managed to get this dish the way my mom made. But somehow with practice I’ve got it.

Eat more green beans to prevent osteoporosis. Green vegetables are very good source of Vitamin K which is important for bone health. Vitamin K deficiency is associated with low bone mineral density, and an increase in bone fractures. Green beans are good for heart because its high fiber content helps to lower cholesterol. They are also a good source of protein, folic acid, iron, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bitter Melon Salad

I grew up seeing my grandma eating fresh bitter melon salad, juice and bitter melon curry to control her diabetics. As it is in the name it is very bitter in taste. My mom would soak them overnight in coconut water and cook them with tamarind pulp and pinch of sugar to reduce bitterness. Memories of my mum’s delicious bitter melon curry is making me salivate as I’m writing about it.

There are different variety of bitter melons, dark green small ones, green long ones and light green long ones. Some of my Chinese friends like it just in a stir-fry dish with tofu. Small dark green one’s are much bitter compared to other two varieties. Hence I guess you could stir fry other two varieties i.e long green and light green ones. You can also find bitter melon juice in all fruit juice joints in Southeast Asia.

This vegetable is rich in iron and its calcium content is said to be twice that of spinach. Even the beta carotene content in bitter melon is double the amount nutrient in broccoli. It is also a rich source of potassium, phosphorous, dietary fiber, etc.

One of the most important health benefits of bitter melon is its blood sugar lowering properties. So, it is said to be best for diabetics. Bitter melon is also said to be beneficial for those with intestinal parasites.  Other benefits of bitter melon is it is useful for cleansing blood, boosting immunity and balancing hormones.

This recipe is something I learnt from mom, when bitter melon is fried with salt and turmeric it’s crunchiness and savory taste overpowers its bitterness. It’s also a very popular side dish served with banana leaf meals in Malaysian Indian Restaurants.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Paneer Tikka Masala

Panneer tikka masala served with vegetable biryani and raita (Indian salad) is one my favorite comfort food. Needless to say being a spice lover, I love this yum cottage cheese cubes marinated in tandoori spices and served in a tangy gravy made with full cream milk, minced onion, chili, garlic, ginger and other Indian spices. The main meal is fragrant basmati rice infused with Biryani spices. And definitely something very charming and to cool your body is salad in yogurt base. It is mouth watering as it looks; this is the kind of a food that takes you above the grounds…. You know what I mean right? Such a comforting meal to have for a weekend lunch. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Greek Style Tomato & Bean Stew

Everyone has their own successful weight loss formula. For me it’s taking soups for dinner, sandwich and milk for lunch combined with regular exercise. When I switched to carb meals for dinner it started showing up in the scale. So with much determination I’m trying to take more soups / stews for dinner.

Idea for this soup is adapted from one of my favorite Spanish Vegetarian food blog. But I’ve added / subtracted some ingredients and modified the method to suite our taste preferences. Spanish food blogger Natalie also shares lovely pictures of country side surrounding she lives in. I’m so much in love with that type of country side living.

This stew is packed with legumes that are rich in nutrition, including protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals. Legumes are being used to lower cholesterol levels, improve blood glucose control in diabetics, and reduce the risk of many cancers. Legumes contain many important nutrients and phytochemicals, and when combined with grains, they form a complete protein.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Caramelized Onion and Garlic in Hot and Sour Fenugreek Gravy (Venthaya Kuzhambu)

Gravy curry known as Kootu or kuzhambu in tamil is one of the main curry in south Indian meals. It goes well with rice, which is the staple food of South Asians. This curry has an aromatic flavorful gravy base, which is made with coconut cream and spices such as curry powder, coriander powder, tamarind pulp, chili powder and garam masala is added to enhance flavors of this curry. Similar type of curries are popular in Malaysian, Thai and Sri Lankan cuisine. Curries of each cuisine will have its own distinctive ingredient. For example Thai curry will be flavored with aromatics like kaffir lime leaf and lemon grass. Distinctive ingredients in Malay curries are shrimp paste or fried shrimp or fried anchovies. Sri Lankan curries are lot spicier than other curries due to heavy use of chilies. You can see lot of similarities as well as differences in these curries.

This tangy gravy is made of coconut cream and flavored with tamarind, chili and curry powder. Caramelized onion and sautéed garlic gives a pungent flavor to this gravy. Fenugreek seeds help to cool down your body from extra heat created by garlic and chili. This spicy gravy is best to serve with rice or pittu (Popular Sri Lankan meal, it’s texture is like Israli couscous, but its made with red rice flour) or roti.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Broccoli and Tofu Stir-fry with Thai Red Rice (Low Glycemic Meal)

I'm glad that I got the habit of reading health related articles and books from my dearest Dad. So when my DH asked me to read this book on "Healthy for Life" by Ray D Strand, MD, I willingly accepted.  I strongly believe in this quote “Prevention is better than cure”.

Below are some insights I gathered from this book.

The way to manage weight and maintain healthy life is to consume protein rich food combined with complex carbohydrates and to avoid high sugar and refined flour food. Our diet plays an important role in managing the insulin levels in blood.  When we consume high sugar food, the level of blood sugar rises, resulting in high insulin levels. The role of insulin is to drive sugar into a cell to be either utilized or stored as fat. In fat cells insulin enhances the conversion of glucose into fat resulting in weight gain. Hence higher insulin levels converts sugar into fat, and also holds on to stored fat like a sponge holds on to water.

The opposing hormone to insulin is Glucagon – a fat releasing hormone stimulated by the intake of protein. It is suppressed by the intake of carbohydrates. Hence when we eat a lot of high-glycemic carbohydrates rich food such as cakes, doughnut, croissant, sugar, white bread, polished rice, potatoes etc., insulin levels rises and glucagon levels drop. On the other hand when we eat balanced food having protein, good fat, and low glycemic carbohydrates in a meal, insulin and glucagon levels remain in a healthy balance. Examples of low glycemic food are fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, tofu, unpolished brown and red rice, parboiled long grain rice, nuts, rolled oats, low fat yoghurt and skim milk.

Knowledge from this book has inspired me to add more protein, and create a meal around protein.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vegetarian Spaghetti

Spaghetti and noodles are my favorite dinner meals. However they are high in starch, hence especially if you’re taking it as dinner it has to be consumed in moderation. I picked up this spaghetti sauce idea from Jamie Oliver; however I did not want to serve them only with sauce. Because I was only going to use around 100g -150g of spaghetti for 2, so I had to make it filling by adding more vegetables and legumes. I added other Italian ingredients like olives, 3 colored peppers, zucchini and kidney beans. Just as I’m writing this post I got an idea; next time I should add some spinach or basil leaves. Try it out…. I’m sure you guyz will like it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Soy Tikka Masala served with Carrot Rice & Raita (Salad)

Chicken tikka and paneer tikka are some of the most popular Indian dishes served in restaurants. Tikka means pieces. Specialty of this dish is paneer is marinated in tadoori spices and yoghurt and baked or barbequed in skewers. Then it’s added to tangy creamy gravy which is the base of this dish. It can be served with rice, biryani or Indian breads like naan or chapatti.

I tried the same cooking style with textured soy protein chunks. I recommend using soy chunks because similar to paneer (cottage cheese) it’s bland in taste; also textured soy protein has soft spongy texture. Hence its texture helps to absorb maximum flavors when marinated and roasted in oven.

I chose to serve Soy tikka masala with carrot rice, again a rice recipe I picked up from my mom. My version has roasted peanuts and yellow split peas for protein and crunchiness. Whenever I make main meals like rice, pasta or noodles, I look for other ingredients to add volume so that I can serve a meal with less carbohydrate and more vegetables and nuts or legumes.

Carrot gives mild sweetness to this rice, served with spicy soy tikka masala, and raita (Indian Salad) is a perfect combination for a special occasion.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) Salad

Whenever I make salads, I add legumes as a protein source. Nutty flavor of chick peas goes well combined with sour green apple and colored peppers.

Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are a very good source of folic acid, fiber, and protein.  They are also a good source of protein, as well as minerals such as iron, copper, zinc and magnesium. As a good source of fiber, garbanzo beans can help lower cholesterol and  improve blood sugar levels. This makes them a great food especially for diabetics and insulin-resistant individuals. When served with high quality grains, garbanzo beans are an extremely-low-fat, complete protein food.  

Print recipe here
Serves 2-3

100g boiled chickpeas
¼ of each red, yellow and green peppers, thinly sliced
1 green granny smith apple, diced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
½ of Japanese cucumber, thinly sliced
2 red chilies, halved and sliced
50g pitted black olives                                                                50g cherry tomatoes, halved

For Dressing
2 tbsp low fat yogurt (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic and ginger
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried parsley
Pinch of salt and pepper


Mix all the dressing ingredients, set them aside.

Add all vegetables to a large salad bowl, drizzle dressing over the vegetables. Mix well with wooden spoon, serve immediately.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Malaysian Mee Goreng (Fried Noodles)

Making tasty noodles has evolved in my kitchen with age and places I’ve been living. My childhood memories of home cooked noodles is simple. Noodles slightly colored in yellow using turmeric powder, mixed with leeks and carrots served with fried fish curry. (yes I’m a converted vegetarian, for 18 years) After a while when my mom became vegetarian and chose to avoid garlic and onion, she’d make the noodles with french beans, cabbage and carrot and serve it with some curry. South Asians cannot live without curry. (Some of Hindus (Brahmins, Jains) and Chinese vegetarians do not consume garlic and onion)

As we moved to South East Asia I was introduced to variety of noodles, and different methods of cooking them. Noodles in curry bowl (Laksa), Bee Hoon (Rice Noodles), chow mein (Chinese style stir-fried noodles), char kway teow  etc., While I tried most of them I also developed my style of making noodles incorporating Malaysian, Chinese, Thai as well as my mom’s style.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tomato and Rice Stew

This is a satisfying meal made with savory blend of rice and tomato.

Serves 2-3

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic and ginger
50g long grain white / red rice washed
200g can tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 potato diced
1 celery stalk sliced
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
1 vegetable soup cube
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of roasted peanuts and coriander leaves for garnishing


Heat oil in a large pan sauté onion, garlic ginger for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, chili powder, stock cube, potatoes, celery and rice. Stir occasionally till liquid is absorbed by rice.

Add one bowl of water, close the lid, lower the heat, and cook for 15 minutes till rice is soft.

Turn off heat add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in soup bowls garnish with coriander and roasted peanuts.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Paneer (Cottage Cheese) Masala

Paneer is a special food item in North Indian cuisine. Paneer (cottage cheese) with its delicate milky flavor is used all over India to make delicious dishes. Available at most supermarkets in block form or even as curds, it readily takes on the flavor of the spices in which it is cooked. 

Paneer is a good source of calcium, which in later years helps to prevent osteoporosis. Cheese provides 25% of the calcium in the food supply. Paneer in moderation, is associated with lower body weight as well as reduced risk of developing insulin resistance syndrome.

Please note Vegans can make similar dish with firm tofu.

Serves 3-4

To make paste
2 large tomatoes
1 onion
4 dry red chilis 
Handful of coriander leaves
Few curry leaves
4 garlic cloves
1 piece of ginger
(Add all of above ingredients in food processor and blend to a smooth paste)

To make the masala
200 ml soy bean oil
500g Paneer cut into cube sizes
1 tsp of each cummin and mustard seeds
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp chili powder

200g low fat yoghurt / 200ml full cream milk
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves. Can be bought in Indian grocery stores. It's sold in packets)
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a large pan, deep fry paneer cubes, till they are slightly golden. Drain them using slotted spoon, let them dry in kitchen towel.

Heat 2-3 tbsp of the remaining oil and stir in ground paste for 4-5 minutes till raw smell evaporates. When the paste starts to change color add fennel, mustard seeds stir for few more minutes.

Add curry powder, chili powder, tomato puree stir well. Mix yoghurt till it forms into a creamy gravy. When the gravy starts simmering add paneer, garam masala, kasuri methi and salt to taste.

If you like green peas you may add 100g thawed green peas with paneer. First photo I've added green peas.

Paneer Masala is best to serve with biryani and raita (Salad made with yoghurt, onion and green chili) or roti / naan/  paratha. 

Stay tuned for future post on Paneer Tikka Masala....

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