Friday, May 31, 2013

Sweet Potato Halwa | Shakarkandi ka Halwa | Sakkaravalli kizhangu Halwa

Sweet potato is not a regular item in my vegetable cart when I go shopping. Actually to be honest its been years since I cooked with this vegetable. Sweet potato was forgotten after school-time, Amma used to boil them and keep them ready for an evening snack after a tired day at school. The idea of sweet potato was a thing of the past. So how did it re-appear in my kitchen? We had a potluck party a few weeks back at a friends place and I took the responsibility of bringing dessert for about 25-30 people. I was looking for interesting halwa recipes and decided to make halwa with sweet potato. I usually hesitate to try a brand new recipe while hosting a party at home or while taking food to a friends place, but you know what, you cant go wrong with halwa can you? - milk, sugar, nuts, ghee, sweet potato -  whats not to like ? :). The halwa was very well received and I was a happy lady that day!

While I intended to make this halwa for 15 people, I realized I could get only about 10 serving. I also made this yummy and healthy Carrot Kheer for the potluck party along with this halwa.


Serves - 10
Prep Time - 10 min
Cook time - 45 minutes

Sweet potato - 1 kg, boiled with its skin and then peeled and mashed.
Sugar - 1 cup sugar
Milk - 1.5 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Unsalted butter - 1/3 cup
Cinnamon - 1/2 tsp
Cashews - 20 broken for garnishing

How do you do it

1. Boil the sweet potatoes with its skin on. I pressure cooked for 1-2 whistles. Cool and peel its skin and mash the sweet potato flesh and keep it aside

2. Heat a non-stick pan. Add unsalted butter and let it melt. Add the mashed potatoes now and fry well for about 10 minutes.

3. Add milk and mix well and after the milk boils, add the sugar and mix well.

4. Here comes the tough part, keep stirring the contents of the pan until you get a halwa like texture and the halwa starts to leave the sides of the pan. This took me about 30 minutes of non-stop stirring. It was quite tiring to do this and switched between my left and right hand to do this job continuously. Dont lose heart, it will become halwa eventually ;). The halwa needs to be very moist.

5. Once done, switch off flame, add the cardamom powder, cinnamon powder and mix well.

Garnish with broken cashews.


1. In step 4, if you stop stirring even for a few seconds the mixture will tend to splash, so quickly cover with a lid if you are taking a moments breath.

2. The sweet potatoes I got had orange colored flesh inside - that explains the orange color of the halwa

3. I used a cup of sugar for 1 kg of sweet potatoes. The amount of sugar varies depending on how sweet the potatoes are. So vary the sugar quantity accordingly.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Murgh Kali Mirch Tikka | Black pepper grilled chicken

Appetizers in Indian [Bombay-Bangalore] restaurants are very highly priced, so much for a few pieces of grilled chicken. I used to feel bad about wanting to order them all the time we went to one. You know when you are in between those days when you feel you have been eating at super restaurants too often and want to minimize those visits, but you end up there anyways and try to not order too much. Even then, I cant resist the temptation for kebabs, I just have to eat them if I am dining outside. Back then I had no other choice since I couldn't replicate the restaurant type kebabs at home with my OTG. It took forever to broil chicken and they turned out dry and stretchy. So I am not to be blamed!

Now having access to a very powerful oven in my US kitchen, I am grilling away to my hearts content :). One of my favorite chicken kebab recipe follows.


Serves - 10 pieces
Spice Level - Moderate
Prep Time - 25 min
Cook time - 20 min

250 gm boneless chicken cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Peppercorn - 2 Tbsp
Ginger Garlic paste - 2 Tsp
Green chilli - 3
Oil - 2 Tbsp
Onions - 2 medium sized, sliced thinly
1/2 cup hung curd/Greek Yogurt or normal yogurt which isn't very sour
1/2 tbsp corn flour
1 Tsp garam masala
1 Tsp Tandoori Masala
Salt to taste
1/4 Tsp cardamom powder

How do you do it

1. Dry roast pepper corns on a heated kadai and crush to a coarse powder using mortar-pestle or your mixer grinder. Grind green chillies and ginger-garlic paste to a fine paste.

2. Heat oil in a kadai and saute the onions until brown. Cool and grind to a paste.

3. In a large bowl, combine the brown onion paste, yogurt, corn-flour, ginger-garlic-green chilli paste, crushed peppercorns, salt, garam masala, tandoori masala, cardamom powder. Add the chicken cubes, mix well and marinate for 1 hr in the refrigerator.

4. Pre-heat oven to 400 deg F.

5. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Smear it with oil. Arrange the chicken pieces on this baking sheet.

6. Broil on high for about 20 minutes in total. Turn the chicken over after mid-time.

Serve hot with mint chutney and lemon wedges.

Continue Reading >>

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Khumb Sashlik | Masala Grilled Mushroom

If there is another vegetable that could get the same amount of affection from me other than potatoes it has to be mushroom. Mushroom appetizers, Mushroom pizza, Mushroom fried rice, Mushroom soup you name it, I have had it. Though I have access to all exotic types of mushrooom like shitake, portobello etc, I am used to and like to cook only with the whole button mushroom. When you grill/broil mushrooms one thing you need to be careful about is the time to cook them. Over-grilling them would make the mushrooms dry and rubbery. So the secret of a good mushroom kebab is to grill it right - not underdone, not over-cooked.

The marinade is a very simple one and has ingredients that are almost always present in your pantry. Clean mushrooms, marinate them for about 1 hr and grill them for a yummy snack on the table along with your cup of chai.


Recipe Source - Tandoori cooking at home by Sanjeev Kapoor
Serves - 2
Spice Level Moderate
Prep Time - 10 min
Cook time - 8 min

Mushroom - 200 gm, cleaned and washed well and stems removed
1/3 cup yogurt
2 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
1/2 Tsp Red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp crushed dried fenugreek [kasoori methi]
1/2 tsp tandoori masala powder
Salt - to taste
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp oil

How do you do it

1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade - yogurt, salt, chilli powder, kasoori methi, GG paste, lemon juice, oil, tandoori masala, garam masala and whisk well.

2. Add the mushroom to the marinade and refrigerate for 1 hr.

3. Pre-heat oven to 400 deg F. Meanwhile take a baking sheet, smear with oil. Place the mushroom on it and grill/broil for 6-8 minutes.

Serve this super delicious mushroom starter with green mint chutney

Continue Reading >>

Monday, May 13, 2013

Punjabi Rajma Masala | Red Kidney Beans Curry

I usually try two-three different recipes for the same dish and keep the one we likes most. That is the one that ends up here too. Rajma chawal [Rajma-Rice] is the comfort dish for most North Indians like how we south Indians like rasam and rice. I have had rajma masala at numerous restaurants and in friends places but never made them at home. I finally got around to making it last week and the recipe was so tasty I decided that I am going to keep this version and not search for better recipes. This is the best I have had :). Hope you guys cook this and its a winner recipe for you too.


Recipe Source - Mosoon Spice

Serves - 4
Spice level - Moderate
Prep time - 20 min + 8 hrs soak time
Cook time - 1 hr

Rajam/Red kidney Beans - 1 cup
Tomatoes - 3 large pureed
Tomato paste - 1 Tbsp [optional, I dint use this]
Kasoori methi - 1 Tbsp crushed

To saute and grind to paste

Onions - 2 medium sized, chopped roughly
Garlic - 4 cloves, peeled and chopped
Ginger - 1 inch piece, chopped
Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
Cloves - 3
Coriander seeds/Dhaniya - 1 Tbsp
Cumin seeds/Jeera - 1 tsp
Dry red chilli - 3-4
Oil - 1 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp

How do you do it

1. First wash the kidney beans well in water and let it soak overnight or for 8 hours.

2. Heat a tbsp oil in a kadai. Add the cinnamon, cloves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dry red chilli and saute for a couple of minutes until they change color and give a nice aroma.

3. Add the chopped onions, ginger and garlic now and saute for about 5 minutes until the onions cook well and turn translucent.

4. Cool and grind the above into a smooth paste without any water.

5. Heat a 2 tbsp of oil in a pressure cooker. Add the ground paste from step 4 and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the crushed kasoori methi and mix well.

6. Mix in pureed tomatoes and tomato paste [if using] and simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Drain the soaked rajma now and add it to the pressure cooker. Add 1 cup of water and mix well.

8. Pressure cook for 30-35 minutes. It took me around 45 minutes of pressure cooking to get a soft yet firmly cooked rajma. The pressure cooking time would vary with the kind of kidney bean you have, so to be on the safe side, pressure cook for 30 minutes and then you can check to see if it needs more time and cook accordingly.

9. Once pressure cooked and released, add salt to the curry and mix well. Check for proper consistency of the masala, add more water if needed or let the curry boil to thicken as desired.

10. Switch off flame and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve this yummy and healthy rajama masala with Plain rice or with Jeera Rice or with any flat bread of your choice.

Continue Reading >>

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hara Bhara Paneer Tikka | Coriander- Mint Grilled Cottage cheese

Anything to do with coriander, mint or garlic, we love it and my fridge never runs out of them. This super tongue tickling marinade made with these three aromatic herbs along with some other spices can be used in many ways. I have used the marinade for chicken tikkas, paneer tikkas or mix a few tsp of this with yogurt and you have the restaurant type green chutney that's on the table as a sauce for the tikka starters. This hara bhara chutney has a very addictive taste and its one of my favorite. I always ask for two cups of green chutney on my table at a restaurant right away because I know I would just drink loads of this one. 
When you are craving for something yummy or your evening weekend snack, you can whip this up in minutes, marinate chicken/tofu/paneer/fish or any other vegetable that you like for about 30 minutes, broil in the oven for about 10-15 minutes and you have a delicious appetizer ready for you.


Recipe Source - Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoors Tandoori cooking at home book
Serves - 3
Spice Level - Moderate
Prep time- 15 min + 30 min marination time
Cook time - 15 min

Paneer - 200 gm, cut into 1 inch cubes
Coriander leaves - 3 handful
Mint leaves - 1 handful
Garlic cloves - 5
Serrano peppers green - 2
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Tandoori Masala - 1 tsp
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Gram Flour/Besan - 1 Tbsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Yogurt - 1/2 cup
Salt - as required

How do you do it

1. Grind coriander leaves, mint leaves along with garlic and Serrano peppers to a coarse paste with little water.

2. Mix the above paste with yogurt. Add the spice powders, lemon juice, oil, besan and required salt to the yogurt and whisk well to get a smooth textured marinade.

3. Add the paneer cubes to the marinade, and wrap them well in it. Refrigerate for minimum 30 minutes.

4. Line a cookie baking sheet with aluminium foil and smear it with oil. Place the paneer pieces on it.
Broil on high in pre-heated oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the paneer starts to crisp and browns a little on top. Keep an eye on the oven when you broil. Broiling for too long will toughen the paneer and it wouldnt taste good.

Continue Reading >>

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

Another soup from my no-carb-diet recipe list which dint fail to impress is the butternut squash soup. I had tasted this yummy Butternut-Squash soup at a restaurant called Mylai Masala in New Jersey during our "girls-only" meetup about a month back. Five years after graduation, 7 of us traveled from different states within the US and one of our friends flew in from Europe to make this re-union happen, how great is that?! :) I really cant explain in words how eventful and fun the trip was. Women almost always lose touch with friends post University. They get tied up in a myriad of personal-professional events and the friendship is comfortably forgotten. But somehow, thanks to whats-app  we keep in touch everyday. We share little things right from whats cooking in the kitchen to who should be the prime minister of India ;). Its extremely therapeutic.  I just hope that we continue to do this day in and day out until our hair turns a shade of grey and later than that.


Serves - 2
Spice Level - Moderate
Prep Time - 10 min
Cook time - 15 min

Butternut Squash - 1/2, seeded, peeled and chopped roughly
Potato - 1, peeled and chopped roughly
Garlic cloves - 2, minced
Onion - 1
Salt - as per taste
Pepper - 2 Tsp
Coriander powder - 1 Tsp
Cumin powder - 1 Tsp
Milk - 1/2 cup
Oil - 1 Tbsp

How do you do it

1. Microwave the chopped potatoes until they are 1/2 cooked. Keep aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan, add garlic and let it roast. When it starts to brown, add the onions and saute till translucent

3. Now add the in squash pieces and potato pieces, coriander and cumin powder and saute well for 3-4 minutes. Add 1 cup water and bring to boil.

4. Close the pan with a lid and let the potatoes and squash cook until they are soft. Cool it for a while.

5. Blend using a blender into a smooth paste.

6. Add milk to this paste now and bring to boil, add water as required to get to desired consistency.

7. Season with required salt and pepper.

Enjoy this super healthy soup with any bread of your choice.

Continue Reading >>
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