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Chole with Palak and Kale – Iron Shakti!

Since the time the doctor suggested Aditi needs more iron, I spent two days on the net reading up all I could about sources of iron. Though it was convincing to know that most of the plant sources do contain iron – the sad part is that it is all ‘non heme’ iron, which means that the body does not absorb it easily. One good way of having iron absorbed better is to combine your food with vitamin C sources like lemon, orange juice.
Now, we have always been green lovers, but this call for iron brought into my fridge bags of spinach, methi, mint, kale and collard. The leaves have started to appear in everywhere – daal, paratha, sabji, cheela and most recently – the humble chole. I had been making palak chole often, but addition of kale was Nilesh’s idea and the result was different and interesting. While pakal loses all its form (and water) when cooked, kale gave body and bite to the dish. I wish kale was available in India too – till that time, try adding any greens you can find to chole and you will be delighted with the result.

Ingredients –
Chole/ chickpeas/ chane – 1.5 cups (source of iron)
Spinach and/or Kale leaves – 2 to 3 cups, cleaned chopped roughly (source of iron)
Tomatoes  – 2, chopped small or pureed (source of iron)
Onions – 2 small or 1 large – chopped small
Ginger  – half inch piece, grated
Garlic – 2 cloves (optional), grated
Kasoori methi – 1.5 tsp
Salt – as per taste
Turmeric- 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Chana masala/ garam masala – 2 tsp
Jeera – half tsp, Rai – half tsp
Oil – 3 tsp

Method -
1. Soak the chole overnight or 6 to 8 hours with lots of water. Wash them and boil in a cooker with a pinch of salt. I dont like them too mushy, so 3 to 4 whistles on a medium flame are good.
2. Heat oil in a non stick kadhai.
3. When oil is hot, add jeera and rai. When they pop and sizzle, add ginger and garlic and let them leave their raw small.
4. Add the onion pieces and keep stirring. The onions should get pale and soft and start browning.
5. Add the tomatoes, chana masala, turmeric, red chili powder, salt and let the tomatoes cook till they get all mushed up and the masala starts to give a good aroma.
4. Now add the kasoori methi, and chopped greens. Cook them for just a minute and add the boiled chole. We want the chole to cook in the juices of kale and spinach – this brings out the flavor and blends everything well.
5. Cook covered for 5 minutes. No need to add water as greens release lots.Taste and adjust the salt etc.
6. Eat with roti/ paratha.

Back with Badam Peda

Badam Peda - soft n chewy

Badam Peda – soft n chewy


So here I am – back to my dear space – from a different world altogether. When I left behind my big kitchen in Delhi with all my gadgets and fancy props, I was nearly sure I wont make it to Aroma of Spices again. My fears were confirmed when I landed up in a small town in Canada, with a student apartment kitchen – 6 plates, 6 spoons and fewer cooking utensils. Now that I look at the past eight months, while the kitchen feels as much my own as was my older one – irrespective of size, I realize I have been cooking more than I did in the past so many years. Thanks to no avail to Indian food restaurants – we were eating fresher and healthier food. I reasoned this was a bigger reason to blog – plus I have started to discover different ingredients which I have started to incorporate in my cooking and am really excited to share my finds with friends!
So here is the first one – badam peda made without blanching almonds. I found this blanched almond flour on sale and could not resist picking it up. Back home, I just used it the traditional way and the results were awesome – soft chewy badam peda. With just 15 minutes of cooking time, it is a must try for anyone who can find this flour in the store.
Found this in Walmart!

Found this in Walmart!


Ingredients:
2 cups of blanched almond flour/ ground almonds
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
3 – 4 generous pinches of cardamom powder (optional)
1 tbsp pistachio slivers (optional)

Method:
1. Mix the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pan. Heat till small bubbles begin to appear on the surface. Should take 5 to 7 minutes on a medium flame.
3. Stir gently and let it come to a rolling boil. No need to check for string consistency etc of the syrup.
4. Pour in almond flour and cardamom powder and stir well to avoid lumps. Keep stirring for a few minutes and you should notice the mixture getting a little thicker.
5. Put a little drop on a chilled plate and test to see if it hardens slightly. You should be able to roll it into a loose ball.
6. If it does, switch off the heat and move the pan away from the hot surface.
7. Let it cool on its own. I forgot about it till I had cooked entire dinner.
8. Just spread the pistachio slivers on the dough. Pull out small balls of the dough, roll and flatten a bit with with your palms using your hands.
9. Store in the fridge. 2 cups of flour gave me 15 bite sized pedas. They are soft and chewy – totally worth the fifteen minutes of time and five bucks you spent on it!

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 WordPress.com 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.

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