Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tonight's dinner!

1 amazing rice + 1 amazing curry = An absolutely amazing weekend dinner :) Thank you Ansh!

P.S. I added a pinch of turmeric powder, cashewnuts & raisins to the rice.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mashed Potatoes - Desi Style

I love potatoes. Period.

But thanks to my genetic makeup (I can pile on the pounds with ease!) and the added high carb content of potatoes, I make an effort to avoid them as much as I can. I even have a rule that helps me stay in control: if I can remember the restaurant, place, month and date of the last time I had them, then it's too early to eat potatoes again. Over the years I've extended this rule to anything and everything from brownies to cheese cake to apple pie to pizza etc. It works well for me and my eating binges have considerably been in check. So far at least.

My potato craving set in quite recently when I sprained my ankle and could not stand long enough to cook anything. So I ended up buying a 2 pound bag of potatoes. Now this was way back (on May 31 to be exact) and I used up almost half of it to make oven-roasted potatoes. After that, although I was sufficiently recovered, I traveled all over Europe for 3 weeks and had no further opportunity/need to cook. Last week, after a particularly long day at work, I pulled a muscle in the same ankle once again and had to rest at home. So I re-visited the old bag of potatoes and decided to ignore the rules for once. Another reason was the amazing mashed potatoes with button mushrooms and zucchini stir fry that I had in Paris the weekend before at "L'Autour d'un Verre" on rue de Trévise. Hands-down, the best mashed potatoes I've ever had. Which of course was expected I guess given that I was in France.

So all of these factors combined led me to experiment with mashed potatoes. I looked up recipes online and found out that mashed potatoes is quite a lot of work and called for many ingredients that I was missing. I decided to just go with my guts and experiment a little.

Potatoes - 8, medium size
Garlic - 2 to 4 cloves depending on size
Ginger - 2 inch piece
Butter - 2 to 3 tbsp
Chaat masala powder - 3 tsp
Salt to taste

1. Wash the potatoes and cook them (whole, with skin) with water in a big vessel. About 20 minutes on high. Check with a fork or knife to see if its done. Alternatively, cooking them in a pressure cooker would also work (2 whistles).
2. Drain, peel and mash well until it is smooth without any lumps. You can also add a little water/milk to make the consistency right.
2. Chop the garlic and ginger into small pieces. Heat butter in the vessel and fry the garlic and ginger until they are well browned.
4. Add the mashed potatoes and mix well. Now add the remaining butter and blend it into the potatoes. You can also add water/milk to make the consistency right at this step.
5. Now add the chaat masala and salt. Taste it and add more as needed. Can be garnished with finely chopped coriander leaves if needed.

Alternatively, you can also mix the salt and masalas to the potatoes while mashing them and top it with the fried garlic and ginger and then baking for about 15 minutes in the oven at 250 F would also be a good twist. Experiment away! :)

Tastes real good eaten with vegetable stir fry (I personally prefer zucchini, button mushrooms and spring onions). But for lazy days, it tastes amazing with just rice or roti. Believe me!

Basics of the recipe inspired from this one on Food Network

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Handi Paneer

This is another old recipe that I remember when Amul Paneer had been newly launched in India. It took awhile for it to reach my small city down south. Those were the days when finding things like paneer in Pondichery was difficult and I had to bug my dad to take me all the way into town to buy it from the small store near Manakula Vinayagar temple. I forget the name of the store though. They were one of those stores where you could buy cube cheese, tomato puree and some of those off-beat stuff which were difficult to even explain to the small store around the street corner.

So anyways, this was long ago before I learnt how to make paneer at home. I noticed the recipe behind the packet and decided to follow it to the T. One, it did not call for too many ingredients and two, I had all of them at home. There was no need to bug my dad to take me shopping again.

I bought some paneer from the Indian Store last Diwali and VJ wanted to eat something really spicy. I had a couple of green bell peppers at home and decided to tweak the recipe a bit. Surprisingly I found the recipe online on the Amul website. I make it quite often when we have paneer at home and it's also become quite a favorite with VJ.

Paneer - 250 gms
Green bell peppers - 2 to 3
Onions - 3 medium size
Tomato - 1 medium size
Green chillies - 2 to 3 depending on how spicy they are
Ginger - 1 inch piece cut into strips
Bay Leaf - 1 medium size
Curd - 1/2 cup
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp
Pepper powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Oil - 2 to 3 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Coriander leaves - optional

1. Set the paneer out to defrost. It also helps to immerse them in warm water for about ten minutes. This makes the paneer absorb the gravy and masalas better.
2. Cut the onions, tomato and green bell peppers into 1 inch square pieces. Slit the green chillies.
3. Add oil in a big thick bottomed vessel and splutter the cumin seeds. Add the onions and fry until they are transparent and lightly browned in the corners.
4. Then add the cut bell peppers and fry for another 5 minutes until they begin to soften lightly.
5. Move the vessel over to another stove that is not hot and add the ginger, chilli powder, turmeric powder and garam masala. Mix well and move it back to the hot stove.
6. Add the tomatoes, green chilli and tej patta. Mix and let it cook for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes are completely cooked.
7. Add the curds and cook until it is well blended and starts to leave oil.
8. Add water as needed, paneer and salt. Mix and cook with a lid for about 15 to 20 minutes.
9. Switch off the stove. Now add the pepper powder and coriander leaves. Cover and let it sit on the stove covered.

The website also has some other nice paneer recipes that you can try.

P.S.: My photographer is in the US and I am in Germany for our respective summer internships, so pics will be added soon once I get back home to the US and my photographer :) 
P.P.S.:Updated with pics!!!