Wednesday, November 3, 2010

7-Layer Bean Dip

Here is a quick, easy and delicious vegetarian bean dip to be served as snack or appetizer. The variety of beans I used is Rajma aka Red Kidney beans.

Sour cream
Pace Picante Sauce
Shredded Cheese
Avacados or store-bought Guacamole
Lime juice

1. Soak Rajma with water overnight and pressure cook with a pinch of salt for upto 7 whistles. Mash Rajma into a soft paste. Mix diced onions with it.
2. Mash and mix avacados with lemon juice, salt and pepper (optional, you can skip guacamole if you wish to)
3. Take a casserole dish. Layer the ingredients in the following order: Rajma, guacamole, sour cream, picante sauce, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce.

You can add green onions or olives in lieu of picante sauce.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Veggie Pasta

I found this recipe in my attempt to pack a smart lunch box for my daughter. She asked me to make 'pasta'. The first thing that crossed my mind was Pasta with Marinara sauce and Macaroni & Cheese. This time I wanted to make something different with a healthy choice of veggies and gave a shot at making this delicious pasta.

Pasta of your choice - 1 1/2 cups
( I used Barilla's Penne Pasta)
Chopped Onion - 3/4 cup
Tomato diced - 1 cup
Mushrooms sliced - 1/2 cup
Spinach chopped - 1 cup
Chopped garlic - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Butter - 2 tbsp
All purpose flour - 2 tsp
Milk - 1 cup
Grated cheese - 3 tbsp
Dried Oregano - 1/2 tsp
Dried Parsley - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste

1. Cook pasta by adding 3 cups of water. The pasta should boil in 8 - 12 min on high flame. Add some salt while boiling. Drain and keep aside
2. Melt butter in a pan and add onions to it. Saute for few minutes and stir in garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach and salt and saute again.
3. Mix flour and fry for sometime. Add milk and pepper powder and allow it to boil till it reaches a thick consistency.
4. Throw in pasta, cheese and herbs - oregano and parsley, simmer for few more minutes and remove.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sajjappalu (Stuffed sweet poori)

For dough:
Maida - 1 cup
Wheat flour - 1/2 cup
1 tsp ghee
A pinch of salt
Water for making dough

Take a bowl, mix all above ingredients to make a soft dough and leave for 1/2 hr.

For sweet filling:
Sooji/Bombay Rava - 1cup
Water - 2 cups
Sugar - 1 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp

1. Heat ghee in a pan and fry sooji till it becomes golden brown.
2. Add sugar and water and mix well. Keep stirring and add cardamom powder as the mix thickens into halwa
3. Remove from heat and let it cool. Make small lemon size balls and keep aside
4. Take the dough. Make small balls and press into small puri. Place halwa ball in the middle of this puri and cover on all sides. Roll it back into small puris.
5. Deep fry the puris in oil. If you are watching your oil intake fry them on tava with 1 tsp ghee on both sides.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer features the wholesome flavor of cooked spinach (palak) with fresh Indian cottage cheese (paneer). I inherited the recipe from my mom. Here is how we make it.

Spinach (fresh or frozen) - 2 bunches
Green chillies - 3
Paneer - 1 1/2 cup
Chole masala - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Butter - 2 tsp
Whipped cream - 2 tsp

1. Wash spinach with water thoroughly and place in a vessel. Cut paneer into cubes and keep aside.
2. Add whole green chillies and 1/2 tsp salt to the spinach and boil on slow-medium flame with lid on. For fresh spinach no need to add water. Any extra water will dilute the consistency of palak in the curry.
3. Let it boil for 10 - 15 min, turn off stove and cool the boiled mixture for a few minutes
4. Grind the mixture to a pulp.
5. Heat a pan, add 2 tbsp oil and add paneer cubes. Fry until they turn slightly brown. Remove them into a plate.
6. In the leftover oil fry cumin seeds and ginger-garlic paste. Stir and add chole masala and turmeric and fry for few seconds.
7. Add the spinach pulp and cook for few min until the gravy starts boiling. To this add coriander and cumin powders and chilli powder. Check for salt.
8. Add the previously fried paneer cubes and mix to coat the pieces.
9. For creamy consistency you can add some whipped cream as you turn off the flame.
10. Garnish with butter and serve hot with chapatis.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bengali Kaja

This is another one of the recipes from Maa TV that clicked. My kids loved it and kept asking for more! The sweet tastes like the traditional 'kaja' sweet, only difference is the shape. It is made by cutting diamond-shaped pieces from maida dough, frying them in ghee and coating with sugary syrup.

Maida flour - 1 cup
Ghee(for frying) - 1 1/2 cup
Oil - 1 tsp

For sugar syrup
Sugar - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp

1. Add some water and 1 tsp oil to the maida and mix well to form a dough like chapathi dough. Let the dough sit aside for 10 min.
2. Roll the dough into flat circles using a rollpin. Using a knife cut the curved edges out first. Then cut diagonally across in straight lines so as to make diamond shapes. In the same way use rest of the dough and collect all the diamond shaped pieces in a plate.
3. Prepare the sugar syrup. Add 2 cups water to 1 cup sugar and let boil until the syrup consistency is just like that of Gulab Jamun's. Turn off the stove before the consistency reaches 1 string, we don't want the syrup too thick.
4. Heat ghee is a vessel, not to the point of smoking, but just hot enough for frying. Fry the diamond pieces on both sides and drain excess ghee on a paper towel. Now dip them in the sugar syrup for a minute, turning them on both sides and place them aside on a plate.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Chicken Kheema (Minced Chicken Fry)

Kheema or mince can be prepared using any meat. I tried making kheema using chicken and ever since it has stayed at the top of our favorite dishes. For kids I use a little less of the spices and chilli powder. Kheema prepared using ground turkey follows the same recipe.

Ground chicken - 1 lb
Onion - 1
Green chillies - 2
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Cloves - 2
Cardamom - 2
Cinnamon - 1-inch stick


1. Wash ground chicken in a colander and drain all the water.
2. Mix chicken with salt, chilli powder, turmeric, ginger-garlic paste and spices - cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and marinate for 30 min.
3. Take a pan and heat it up with 3 tbsp oil. Add onions and green chillies and fry until onions turn light brown.
4. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for a couple of minutes. Now add turmeric, ground chicken marinade and let cook with lid on for 15 - 20 min on medium-high heat. Keep stirring at intervals.
5. When all the water from the chicken has evaporated add garam masala and fry for 5 min.
Garnish with coriander and serve!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tomato Rasam

Tomato Rasam or Tomato Charu is my absolute favorite. With a wonderful sour and spicy taste it looks and tastes delicious. Nothing like some warm and tangy tomato rasam over white rice on a cold wintry day...

Pick red ripe and fresh tomatoes for the best taste and color.

Tomatoes (large) - 4
Toor dal - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1/2 tsp
Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Garlic cloves - 3
Dry red chillies - 2
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves
Tamarind pulp - 2 tsp (optional)
Asofetida (Hing)
Oil - 2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
1. Boil tomatoes and toor dal in a pressure cooker for upto 1 whistle
2. When the cooker cools down grind tomatoes and toor dal to a pulp using a blender.
3. Heat a vessel on medium heat and add oil for tempering. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, crushed garlic pieces, urad dal and dry red chillies. Fry until mustard seeds splutter and garlic slightly changes color. Add a pinch of hing, turmeric and few curry leaves and stir.
4. Add the tomatoes and toor-dal mix from blender. Dilute this with 3/4 cup of water and cook for about 5 - 8 min.
5. Add tamarind paste or pulp from tamarind extract for an improved sour taste. If tomatoes are already sour tamarind is not needed.
6. Prepare rasam powder. Dry roast for a minute - 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seends, 1/2 tsp black pepper. When it cools down grind to a soft powder. Add the rasam powder to boiling tomato pulp mixture.
7. Heat until the rasam starts to boil. Turn off stove and garnish with coriander.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ginger Chicken - Hyderabadi Style

Ever tried Ginger chicken at a Hyderabadi restaurant? It's luscious red color and thick gravy made from onion and ginger paste it has become a popular dish among chicken lovers. I learnt this mouth-watering recipe from my mother.

Chicken with bones - 1 lb
Ginger paste - 2 tbsp
Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1 (large)
Green chillies - 3
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Orange food color
Sugar - 2 tsp
Soya sauce - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp

1. Cut chicken into medium sized pieces. Wash and drain excess water. Mix chicken with chilli powder, salt, turmeric, 1 tsp of ginger-garlic paste and marinate for 1/2 hour.
2. Heat a sauce-pan, add chicken pieces and cook until water evaporates and chicken is 3/4 cooked.
3. In another pan add 1 tbsp oil. Chop onion into large pieces and fry lightly for about 3 min. Let this cool and grind to a paste.
4. Chop green chillies. Take a saute-pan, add oil and heat. Add ground onion paste, green chillies, 2 tbsp ginger paste, 1 tbsp garlic paste, salt as needed and fry on low heat for 8 min or until the raw smell of ginger and garlic goes away. Note that the quantity of ginger paste is twice that of garlic paste.
5. Add boiled chicken pieces, put the lid on and fry in low-medium heat for 10-15 min.
6. In a bowl add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 tsp pepper powder, 1/4 tsp ajinomoto, 1 tsp soya sauce, 2 tsp sugar and a pinch of orange food color and mix. Add this mixture to the chicken and fry for 5 min.
Garnish with coriander and serve! Note that there is no garam masala used in the recipe.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kobbari Bhakshalu (Wheat flour tortillas stuffed with sweet filling)

This is a sweet dish synonymous with Bobbatlu, a traditional stuffed chapathi, but the fillings for stuffing are slightly different. I saw this simple recipe on Maa TV and tried it out. It truly is delllicious!!

Maida flour - 2 cups
Dry coconut powder - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Sesame seeds - 1/2 cup
Cashew powder - 1 tbsp
Elaichi - 3

1. In a bowl mix Maida with 1 tsp oil and water as needed, and knead into a soft dough.
2. Dry roast sesame seeds (raw is fine too). Make a powder of sesame seeds, cashews and elaichi. To this add coconut powder and sugar and mix.
3. Add about 1/4 cup milk to this mixture and mix well. Make small round balls and keep aside.
4. Roll the maida dough into small round patties. Flatten them a bit and place the ball in the middle and cover all sides with the dough. Roll the dough flat into a round like a chapathi.
5. Heat a tava and fry or cook them on medium heat while applying ghee on both sides.
Store in air-tight container or preferably, in the refrigerator.


An Andhra speciality and favorite among kids and adults likewise, Janthikalu or Murukulu stand out to be the most sought after 'pindi vantalu'. Needless to say, you can keep on munching janthikalu until you run out of them! I tried various varieties of Janthikalu with Rice flour and Besan in different propertions. My favorite of them all is Janthikalu made with Rice flour and Urad dal. I prepared them last weekend and they came out very well. My daughter loves them. She's in preschool and as she is munching on them she infers alphabet shapes out of the pieces.


Rice flour - 4 cups
Urad dal - 1 cup
Ajwain -1/2 tsp
Sesame seeds - 1 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Butter - 1 tbsp
Salt as needed
Oil for frying


1. Take a pan, dry roast urad dal in medium heat until it slightly changes color. Let it cool and grind to a powder.
2. In a bowl mix rice flour, urad dal flour, ajwain, sesame seeds, salt, chilli powder, butter and mix. Add water as needed and knead into a soft dough.
3. Heat oil in a pan for frying. Take muruku press, set the disc for star-shape (or any desired shape), put dough into it. When oil is hot enough, press the top of muruku press and drop into hot oil in circular shape to make concentric circles.
4. Fry both sides till golden brown, approximately for 5 min and remove. Repeat till dough is used.
5. Let them cool and store in air-tight container.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Besan Capsicum Fry

I like capsicum in general. Capsicum when cooked with besan gives it a great taste and is one of my favorites! I learnt this from our Gujarati nanny. Here you go..

Capsicum or Green Bell Peppers - 1
Red Bell Peppers -1
Yellow Bell Peppers - 1
Besan or Chick-pea Flour - 1 cup
Groundnuts - 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds - 2 tsp (optional)
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Oil for frying

1. Cut capsicum into small pieces. You can mix green, red and yellow bell peppers to render a colorful look.
2. Dry roast peanuts and sesame seeds together. Let the mixture cool down and grind to a coarse powder
3. Dry roast besan flour for 4 - 5 min until a nice aroma emanates.
4. Put pan on medium heat and pour oil in it. Add cumin, capsicum pieces and fry until pieces turn soft.
5. Now add besan powder, peanuts and sesame powder mix and fry.
6. Add salt and chilli powder and fry. Turn off stove in about 5 min.

Garnish with coriander. Tastes great with rotis! Can be served with rice also.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chilli Pepper Chicken

I love Chinese food, of course, when it is properly cooked. Back in my school days at the University of Illinois, Chicago, there was a small chinese restaurant in our campus that served this dish. The cook was supposedly popular and hosted TV shows on Chinese cooking. No, he did not share the recipe with me because I never asked him! With some experimenting and tips from Chinese cooking sites I created this on my own. It came out somewhat comparable to the dish at the restaurant. It is my most favorite dry chinese dish, also a super-hit at home and both me and my husband love it!

Chicken - Boneless - 1 lb
Corn starch - 2 tbsp
Ginger - minced
Garlic - minced
Soy Sauce - 2 tsp
Rice Vinegar - 2 tsp
Sesame oil - 1 tsp
Dry red chillies - a fistful
Spring onions - 1/2 cup
Pepper - 1/4 tsp
Egg (optional)

1. Cut chicken into thin bite-sized pieces. Wash and drain well. Mix chicken pieces with salt, pepper and corn starch powder. You can add egg to this mixture. This will result in hard and crispier chicken pieces, but I prefer soft pieces so I don't add egg.
2. Heat oil in a wok over high heat until very hot. It should be starting to smoke fumes. Then add the chicken mix and keep stirring for few minutes until the chicken is well cooked. Remove the chicken and set aside.
3. In the same wok add the minced ginger and garlic pieces and let fry for a few seconds. Remove and keep aside.
4. Add 1 tsp oil, dry red chillies (whole or crushed) and spring onions chopped. Stir for about half a minute, remove and keep aside.
5. While the wok is still over high heat mix all the cooked ingredients (chicken, ginger, garlic, dry red chillies, spring onions) and add soya sauce, vinegar and stir well for a couple of minutes. Now add the sesame oil. It gives a nice pungent aroma. Stir for few seconds and turn off the stove.

Remove into a bowl and serve hot with white rice.