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Paalak Paneer Paratha

Baby A started going to formal school in April and I continued my pursuit for nutritious food that I could put in her tiffin box – which keeps her full till she reaches her daycare. One advantage on my side is that A loves methi and everything green for her is methi – even if it is spinach/ paalak or dhania/ coriander. So while methi paratha remained her favorite in winters – spinach came to my rescue as soon as summers arrived and methi disappeared from the market. This one is a spinach paratha, to which I add in ‘ever-available-in-delhi’ paneer. This healthy paratha serves as our breakfast too. Just that we have it with dahi rather than butter – what is baby A’s favorite accompaniments to these or any other parathas.

Paratha and Butter  in tiffin

Paratha and Butter in tiffin

Ingredients –
Paalak/ Spinach – 1 cup (cleaned, washed , chopped fine).
Paneer – 1 cup (grated) – I used Mother Dairy brand.
Whole wheat flour – 2 cups
Salt – to taste
Haldi – a pinch
Ajwain – a pinch
Oil – to cook the parathas.
Water – to knead the dough

Method –
1. Take the wheat flour in a wide bowl.
2. Add the salt, haldi and ajwain . Mix well.
3. Add the spinach, grated paneer and mix.
4. Add water little by little and knead the dough. Remember that both paneer and spinach add moisture and you may need very less water to get a soft, pliable dough.
5. Let it rest for 5 mins. Meanwhile, heat a griddle/ tawa.
6. Pinch out a ball of dough and roll out round parathas . The thickness must be a bit more than rotis/ phulkas.
7. Put the paratha on the heated tawa. Once brown spots appear n one side – apply oil and turn the paratha. Cook the other side similarly.
8. Serve with dahi or butter. These are very soft due to the paneer and can be packed for lunch too.

Heap of paratha rolls - easy to eat between office meetings!

Heap of paratha rolls – easy to eat between office meetings!

Since this is a kid food, comprising of 3 main ingredients – wheat flour, Spinach and Paneer – I am sending this to the Kid’s delight event hosted by Pavani on her blog here. Also linking it to Valli’s announcement page.
Kid's Delight-April 2013-300px

Paneer Methi Chaman

‘Chaman’ is a term we used in my hometown Indore to refer to a weirdo! It always brings a smile on my face when I hear someone being called a chaman! However – while eating out in the north, I realized chaman does not refer to someone, but to something – something that has methi in it. Though I am very conservative at what I eat at restaurants, usually I don’t go out of my comfort zone, but I do make sure I read the entire vegetarian menu – they have the name of the dish and a little description that follows. Something like – ‘Paneer Methi Chaman – A mildly spicy gravy full of soft paneer flavored with methi.’ I am not sure if they hire people specifically for writing these, because if they do, I am a candidate. I say this more as I can also boast of being a compulsive flyer/ pamphlet reader – the ones that come with my daily newspaper – ‘free home delivery’ outlets – most of them have at least two chaman dishes on them.
My curiosity made me order it in my last dinner out and it turned out pretty good – the methi took the regular paneer dish to a new level, though all attempts were made to sideline it with addition of cream and even khoya/ mawa. Maybe they want only the color of the methi, and not the taste. I tried to recreate it at home, minus the cream/khoya/mawa and let methi prevail. It was awesome! Confirmed that ‘chaman’ is meant to bring a smile to the face – be it a person or a dish!

Paneer Methi Chaman - Restaurant Style

Paneer Methi Chaman – Restaurant Style

Ingredients –
Fresh, green methi/ fenugreek leaves – cleaned, washed and chopped fine – 1 cup
Ginger – 1 inch piece, cleaned and chopped.
Onions – 2 large – cut into chunks
Tomatoes – 2 medium – cut to chunks
Paneer cubes – 1.5 cup or a 200 gm block cut into pieces
Kaju/ Cashews – 3 , broken to pieces
Salt – as per taste
Haldi/ Turmeric- 1 tsp
Jeera/ Cumin – half tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala/ Kitchen king masala – 1 tsp
Oil – 3 tsp

Method -
1. Heat oil in a kadhai/ wok.
2. When oil is hot, add jeera, let it crackle. Add onion pieces. The onions should get pale and soft and start browning at the sides. At this point, go to step 3.
3. Add ginger, tomatoes and cashews. Also add haldi and salt. Sauté till tomatoes are soft and pulpy. This takes around 10 -12 minutes.
4. While the tomatoes are cooking, blanch the chopped methi leaves – put them in a cup of water and let it boil on a sim flame for 10 minutes. Cover with a lid once done.
5. Once the onion and tomatoes are cooked, switch off the gas and let it cool.
6. Once cool, put the stuff in a blender. Add a little water (I used the water I boiled the methi in) and blend to a smooth paste. The cashews will give the paste a rich and smooth texture.
7. Put the blended paste in the same wok and put it on flame again. Keep sautéing – add rest of the spices – red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder too. Keep doing this for 5 to 7 minutes, till the deal is bright and oozing oil.
8. Add the paneer cubes. Strain out the boiled methi leaves from the water and add them here. Also add some water (the same water in which you boiled the methi).
9. Mix all of it and let it come to a boil – 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the spices, salt.
10. Serve hot with rotis.

Mooli matar sabji

This is a veggie I saw for the first time at my in-laws place. This is a nice variation to the normal ‘cut vegetables’ routine – it uses grated mooli, and prolly that is the reason it takes very less time to cook. The sweetness of peas complements the radish taste pretty well and this is a great weekngiht dinner candidate.

Ingredients -
3 radish / moolis – washed, peeled and grated (do not remove the water that oozes out. We want the mooli to cook in its own flavors)
radish greens / mooli ke patte – washed and chopped fine (optional)
half cup shelled peas
1 green chilli, half inch piece of ginger – chopped coarsly
Salt as per taste, garam masala – optional
1 tspn jeera, 1 tspn ajwain, half tspn turmeric
2 tspn oil

Mooli Matar ki Sabji

Mooli Matar ki Sabji

Method -
1. Heat oil in a kadhai/frying pan.
2. Once hot, add jeera, ajwain, turmeric.
3. Add the chopped chilli and ginger and let it sizzle for a minute.
4. Add the grated mooli, chopped greens (if using), mix and cook, covered.
5. After nearly 7 to 8 minutes, when you feel the mooli is semi-cooked, add the peas and salt. Cover again till cooked.
6. Add garam masala and mix. Garnish with cilantro, serve with daal and roti.

Matar Paneer

Delhi winters make it to the news every year – we have already been through the coldest day in the last 44 years and not sure how many more records are going to break. The chill factors keeps on getting worse by the day and it is a pain to get out of the quilt and perform mundane day to day tasks. Imagine the torture involved in reporting to work in mornings and going back home in windy evenings. Even if there is a ray of sunlight penetrating through the dense fog during the afternoon – I am not aware of it. One blessing that makes me bicker less about the winters is the availability of vegetables- it’s a total wow! when you reach the vegetable market – and I feel like jumping right into the heap(s) of fresh green peas, like Uncle Scrooge in Duck Tales. The cost of vegetables keep going down with the temperature and I wish I could hoard them for the entire year! Since I cannot do that , I at least make sure we consume as much as green peas as we can during this time and most of my cooking revolves around matar and methi. One of the favorites is matar paneer – pretty uncomplicated, yet yummy. I make it pretty mild – and let the sweetness of green peas and creaminess of paneer prevail.

Creamy Matar Paneer

Creamy Matar Paneer

Ingredients –
Paneer – cubed, 1 cup
Peas/ Matar – shelled, 1.5 cups
Tomatoes – 3 small or 2 big
Ginger – 1 inch piece, peeled
Cream – 0.5 cup or milk – 1 cup
Kasoori methi – 1tsp (optional)
Jeera – 0.5 tsp
Haldi – 0.5 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
Salt as per taste
Sugar – 2 pinches (optional)
Garam masala/ Kitchen King Masala/ Chole Masala – 1 tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp

Method –
1. Put the shelled peas in a bowl, fill it with water and keep it on a low flame on the gas. We want to boil the peas till they get tender. This takes 10-15 minutes on the gas stove.
2. On another burner, keep a thick bottomed wok/ kadhai on a low flame and heat oil.
3. In a blender, blend together the tomatoes and ginger to a paste.
4. Once the oil is hot, add the jeera and let it splutter for a few seconds. Add the haldi too.
5. Pour the tomato paste from the blender jar into the wok and let it cook. Remember to keep the flame low , else it will splash around and may hurt you.
6. As the tomatoes cook, they will start to reduce in volume in ooze out oil. Add the kasuri methi, salt, red chili powder and chole masala (if using) now.
7. Once the tomato paste looks all done – (nearly 20 minutes required here), add in the boiled peas and paneer cubes and fold them gently into the paste.
8. After two minutes ,add the cream or milk, mix it gently and add the pinch of sugar and garam masala (if using).
9. Let this entire thing simmer for 2 minutes and you are done.
10. Serve hot with rotis.

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Gajar (Carrot) ka Halwa – Winter Delight

When hubby N brought in a box of gajar halwa from the best sweets shop in the town – I was really excited! However, I was a bit taken aback when I opened the box – it was not red or anywhere near – but all nearly white with an overload of khoya/ mawa. Still, I put in a spoonful in my mouth and could not believe it qualified to be called ‘gajar’ ka halwa. There was ghee, khoya, sugar, cardamom and whole pieces of dryfruits. Looked like they did not even bother to grate the carrots – there were chunks which still had a bite to them. I don’t think I ate more than a spoon of this – what a huge disappointment. No wonder mom always believed in making her own soft and creamy version – even if it was five kilos for a birthday party. Nostalgic with memories of the entire house filled with the aroma of carrots cooking in bubbling milk with a hint of cardamom – I decided to make my own and could not help swelling in pride when hubby N and baby A kept asking for more.

Gajar ka Halwa in its glory!

Gajar ka Halwa in its glory!

Ingredients –
Carrots – 1 kg, red thick ones
Ghee – 3 tbsp or more if you like
Milk – 2.5 cups or more if you like it creamier
Cardamom powder – 2 tsp
Sugar – 4 tbsp or more if you like things sweeter/ the carrots are not sweet
Dryfruits like cashews and almonds – a handful, chopped

Lets enjoy it together

Lets enjoy it together

Method –
1. Wash and peel the carrots. Grate them. I use my hand grater as I don’t deal with large quantities. It is done in 15 minutes. However, you can use the grating blade of your food processor.
2. Add 2 tbsp of ghee in a wide thick bottomed kadhai and put it on low-medium heat.
3. Add the grated carrots and cook, turning around every few minutes. We want the carrots to go soft and pale – that happens in 15 minutes.
4. Add the milk and let this cook on a low flame. Keep stirring at regular intervals.
5. Now, the liquid released by the carrots and milk will start to boil and evaporate. Once most of it is gone, add in the sugar and cardamom powder.
6. Let this cook till the carrots get glossy and all of the liquid evaporates. This will take nearly 30 more minutes.
7. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of ghee and mix.
8. Cool and store in the refrigerator.
9. When ready to serve, re-heat and add in chopped dry fruits for garnishing.

Notes –
1. You can add as much of ghee, milk, sugar as you want – to make things richer and creamier. The amount of sugar I have added is very less, I like the taste of carrots to prevail.
2. It is a notion that this is a tiresome job, but it is not true. Once you are done with the grating, there is not much active cooking involved. Give it a shot!

Coconut Laddu – Creamier and Easier!

Simply irresistible!

These happen when all of the following grab your attention on a weekend – 1. a can of condensed milk in the fridge begging to be used 2. two coconuts lying in the pantry threatening to go bad 4. A pack of milk powder your hubby looks suspiciously at 4. an idea to use saffron strands mom gave on the phone. Devote 45 minutes to these and voila – you are happily beaming with a plateful and a mouthful of soft, creamy, delicious delights – coconut laddus!
I could not believe it can be so easy after seeing my mom slog her way to create her version all my life, which I have posted here. I was happily following it ignoring the recipe glaring at me from all corners – the cover of the condensed milk can, the 5 page recipe books that come free with most of the kitchen equipment and the entire blogosphere! Being a super believer of the saying ‘There are no shortcuts to success.’, I always assumed I won’t get the real thing unless I spend hours on it. But this one proved me wrong. Here is the recipe – too simple to be believed, unless you try it for yourself – like I did.

There IS a shortcut to success!

Ingredients –
Coconuts – 2 big ones, fresh
Sweetened condensed milk – 1 can/ 400 gms
Milk powder – 2 tbsp
Saffron strands – 2 pinches
Milk – 2 tsp

Method –
1. Grate/ Shred the coconuts using a conventional scraper (refer this post). Or, put the pieces in a food processor/ blender and grind.
2. Put the shredded coconut, milk powder and condensed milk in a heavy bottomed wok and heat on a low flame.
3. Make sure you mix and move the contents with a ladle every few minutes, lest things stick to the bottom of the pan.
4. Meanwhile, warm the 2 tsp of milk and soak the saffron strands.
5. After 20 minutes or so, the mixture in the wok should come along and start to dry up – no liquid oozing out.
6. Switch of the gas and let the mixture cool. I moved it to a bowl and put it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
7. Pull out the mixture and make laddus of desired size. Place a saffron stand of the top of each laddu.
8. Store these in the fridge and pop one in your mouth everytime you open the fridge – that is the shortcut to finish these off in a day!

( Did you notice these need no ghee and no sugar!)

Sending these to the ‘Milk Sweets’ event, hosted by ‘My Culinary Creations’ and to the ‘Lets Celebrate Indian Sweets’ event hosted by ‘UK, Rasoi and Me’.


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