Lentils with drumstick Leaves

After weeks of indulging into festive foods, its high time to share some healthy and everyday dishes that I cook for my family. Lentils aka Daal is a favorite dish in my home. My boys love all sorts of daals. I feel happy and satisfied to see them eating healthy and protein packed foods (at least for weekday dinners).

During my recent trips to Indian grocery store, I noticed some greens that I had never seen before. The label on them said ‘Drumstick leaves’. Not knowing how to use them I did not buy them. I was curious what they were used for. After researching a little bit I found out that these leaves are a nutritional power-house. Here is the nutrition information from wikipedia: The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of B vitaminsvitamin C, provitamin A as beta-carotenevitamin Kmanganese, and protein, among other essential nutrient  Continue reading “Lentils with drumstick Leaves”

Homemade Paneer{Indian cottage cheese}

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Back to basics today. I have to confess that it took me literally years before I tried making paneer at home. Still, at times, I use the store-bought paneer, of course only after checking that it does not have any extra additives or preservatives. Homemade paneer by far has the freshest taste and beautiful soft texture. It is super easy to make with just 2 basic ingredients! So if you have time or can plan ahead homemade paneer is the way to go.

Paneer is fresh unsalted white cheese used in Indian cooking, that can be made at home with just whole milk and lemon juice! It has a very mild creamy flavor and crumbly texture that goes well with many curries and desserts!

Fresh paneer can be grilled on skewers for some fun kebabs and also used in sandwiches, wraps and pita pockets! It is a very versatile ingredient to use in Indian curries like Palak Paneer , Matar Paneer or Paneer Tikka Masala. Homemade paneer can also be used in making many Indian desserts, I love making delicious homemade Rasmalai!

Here is a step by step recipe:

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Purple Cabbage Parathas {flatbreads}

 

 

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I love buying cabbage, both purple and green, to add to salads and tacos. You’ll probably find some sort of half-cabbage head, in my refrigerator,  tightly wrapped in clear plastic because it keeps forever. It always comes through in a jam when I forget to pick up salad greens or purples! They are my back up veggies in the fridge. Today, I decided to use up the purple cabbage I have been saving in the refrigerator to add in my salad. It has been a rather cold week and I am in no mood to eat cold salad. So decided to use it up to make some ‘garam-garam’ parathas. The best way for me to chop cabbage is to mince it food processor. After all the cabbage was finely chopped, I realized I was out of cilantro. I had some kale (another hardy multi-purpose nutrition powerhouse)  on hand, which I thought would make a good substitute to add some greens. So chopped kale leaves, ginger and green chilies and made a brand new kind of Parathas… Yum! I love starting with simple ingredients and turning them into hearty, filling and super healthy dish. Did you know that Anthocyanin rich purple cabbage (beneficial for the nervous system and fighting free radicals)  has 10 times more vitamin A and twice as much iron as green cabbage?

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Mango Shrikhand – A Cool and Creamy Mango Yogurt dessert

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Happy April, new month and new festival to celebrate! Today we are celebrating Gudi Padwa, first day of the month “Chaitra” in hindu calendar, start of spring and beginning of a new year for the people of Maharashtra. Early morning we hang a ‘Gudi’ outside our homes which is a brass pot upside down on a long bamboo stick, adorned with a bright silk cloth, flower garland and a twig of mango leaves. It is a sign of prosperity and good things to come. Gudi Padwa is one of the four most auspicious days in the year. It is beginning of new harvest season and the air is filled with the aroma of ripe mangoes. To celebrate this auspicious day, we are making the authentic Mango Shrikhand (smooth, creamy, strained yogurt sweetened with mango pulp). It is one of our family favorite dessert and we always find reasons to make it through out the year. This probably is the easiest Indian dessert recipe that requires a few basic ingredients. The best part is that it can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to a month.

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Mung bean sprouts salad

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Did you know that 2016 is the United Nations International Year of Pulses (IYP)?

Check out more details on Pulses, the nutritious seeds for a sustainable future at – http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/about/en/

My pantry is always stocked with variety of pulses that include whole pulse like chickpeas, split pulses with the skin on, and split pulses with the skins removed. Pulses are packed with protein, making a great alternate to animal protein and are low in fat and high in fiber. Pulses when stored in airtight and dry containers have a long shelf life and can be used in a variety of dishes.

One of my favorite beans is the mung bean. The recipe here is a super easy, healthy and filling sprouted mung bean salad that can be prepared in no time. You can add any vegetables that you like, squeeze some lime juice, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and Enjoy!

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Puran Poli {sweet lentil stuffed flatbread}

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Today we celebrate holi, the festival of color; the celebration of victory of good over evil.

Holi, is a popular Hindu festival celebrated over 2-5 days in India. On the evening of the first day, public bonfires are made, called Holika Dahan. On the next day (or 5th day in some states) people play with colors. My memories of Holi are of the bonfires and all of my loved ones gathering around them to pray. The fifth day is the most colorful day where we shower our friends, family and even those we don’t know with vibrant color both powder and liquid. Even after the holiday passes the streets of India look like a Monet covered in a sea of color.

Today we are celebrating with traditional Maharastrian food – Puran Poli /sweet lentil stuffed flatbread. Puran Poli is delicacy made by stuffing soft whole wheat dough with cooked yellow lentils, jaggery/brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg and saffron. It is then rolled thin and cooked on a griddle with lots of ghee to make it into a golden brown, flavorful and aromatic flat bread. When torn apart it is ooey-gooey perfection.

Growing up, I did not enjoy this dish as much; which was a bit odd as the rest of my family devoured this dish for a couple of days. I would beg my Mom to make me a plain bread without the sweet stuffing, but she never entertained my request. I would have to eat at least one before I would get to enjoy the rest of the delicacies that she would have prepared.

Years later, after I moved to the US, with my mom visiting me and me visiting home; I started liking this dish so much that I had to learn how to cook it.  With my mom’s precise instructions, I then made it several times, each time to the perfection that I would have expected from my Mom. Thankfully, both my children and my husband LOVE it and so it makes all the effort worthwhile. I make it a point to make Puran poli at least twice a year, once for Diwali – festival of lights and then for Holi – the festival of colors.

Even though the process sounds a bit long and tedious, it is a no fail recipe for me.I make the stuffing a day ahead and let it cool in the fridge overnight. Usually I use a pressure cooker for cooking lentils but for this dish I let the lentils cook slowly in a big pot on the stove top.

This recipe requires split bengal gram/chana daal and jaggery, which is raw brown sugar. It also uses spices like cardamom, nutmeg, dry ginger and saffron.

Step by step recipe:

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Methi/fenugreek-sweet potato Paratha

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Parathas in my family can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s everyone’s favorite dish that brings smiles, memories and a fun conversation that always leads to what stuffing we love in our parathas. This is my first paratha blog post and I promise many more with some unique combinations that we love.

While in India, my husband used to travel extensively for work. His most vivid memories while traveling in north India, that he tells us about, are of eating piping hot parathas on cold winter mornings. He loves dipping them with pickles and yogurt. My older son eats them without any condiments, while my younger son loves them with ketchup. For me, Parathas bring memories of my mom making them and the aroma of fenugreek leaves and ghee all over the kitchen as mom served them hot off the pan, ‘garam garam’ as she calls them.

There are lots of recipes for parathas including a variation of fillings that they can be made with. I do not have a favorite yet, as I feel like I am still discovering more. Today’s recipe uses fresh fenugreek/methi and sweet potatoes added directly to the wheat flour, along with some spices to make the dough. Sweet potatoes give these parathas very soft yet crispy texture!

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Chana masala

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Chana masala (spiced chickpeas) is a staple in my kitchen and definitely my go-to dish when entertaining. This intensely spiced, tangy, aromatic dish makes for a healthy, protein packed dinner.

This dish can quickly be made if you have the spices roasted and blended in advance (or you can use ready made chana masala spice which is readily available). I recently made a batch of this spice blend to speedup my weeknight cooking. After researching quiet a few recipes and several trials, I now have the perfect recipe that I am thrilled to share with you! This blend uses Kashmiri red chilies that give the dish a deep orange color and just the right amount of heat and dried mango powder to enhance the tangy tomato flavor. The spice blend uses few basic spices and can be made ahead in a big batch or can also be made while you are sauteing onions for this chana masala recipe. Here is the recipe using my chana masala spice blend that can be made in a jiffy.

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Spicy Malabar Shrimp curry

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A recipe too good not to share! I recently came across one of Maunika
Govardhan’s shrimp recipes that had my taste buds jumping with
excitement. I had a friend, who loves seafood, coming for dinner so I
thought I should give it a try.

Well my excitement got the best of me… I was so eager to make this
dish that I didn’t stop to read the detailed instructions and instead
started making it simply by going back and forth between the
ingredients and method on my iphone.  Before I knew I was at the last
step of making the sauce and I had poured in 4 tablespoons of tamarind
paste. It took me a minute to realize that it probably is too much as
the recipe also calls for lots of tomatoes but it was too late. Once
the shrimp was cooked, I had a taste and it was sour. I went back to
the recipe and read her detailed notes where she clearly mentioned the
strength of the tamarind paste.

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Stuffed Okra

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Last week when I was shopping for my Indian groceries, I saw fresh okras that immediately took me down the memory lane. Stuffed Okra or Bhindi as we call it in India, is my absolute favorite Indian vegetable that I had almost forgotten about for a while. My mom used to make these often and they tasted simply divine with fresh rotis. Since the time I started cooking I have made many variations of okra,  though my go to recipe is the simple sauteed one with lots of garlic in it. But this time when I saw it I somehow only thought of the stuffed okra that I grew up eating. I couldn’t wait to bring them home and make the stuffed okra. As I was making it, I wondered if my boys would like it. Especially my older son, who really enjoys Indian food. When it was ready and served, he was curious to taste it but also skeptical about eating whole okras. It took me about 5 minutes to find out that he ended up eating pretty much all of it! So glad I made it after so many years. Now I will have to make it more often, as it is so simple to make, with only few basic ingredients!

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Tandoori Salmon

Spicy, flavorful and steaming tandoori salmon served over bed of thinly sliced cabbage, green peppers and red onions!

Salmon is our once a week go to fish. One day I decided to change up my salmon marinate and make it tandoori style knowing how much my boys love the tandoori chicken. It was an instant hit and now I make it at least once a month for our weeknight meals. It is also a great party appetizer.

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Baingan Bharta

I LOVE eggplant! I have eaten it in many restaurants but my mom’s recipe beats them all in taste, texture and aroma. In my recipe I also add tomatoes to add the tangy flavor. I prefer charring the skin directly on my outdoor grill burner but I also sometimes broil it in the oven. Peel the charred skin, mash the eggplant and then saute with green chilies, garlic, onions, tomatoes and scallions.. yumm.

Here is a step by step recipe:

Roast the eggplant directly on a outdoor grill or broil on high for 20 mins until all the outside skin is charred and the eggplant gets mushy all over.

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