Imli Ka Amlana|Refreshing Tamarind Summer Cooler

Would you like to know about a tangy, super refreshing drink that would be just perfect for the hot summer days that seem to be reigning the country right now? Yes? What if I tell you such a drink can be made in a very healthy way, and would require just a few minutes of your time to make at home? Sounds too far-fetched? Not at all!

Here’s presenting to you – Imli Ka Amlana, a summer-special beverage from the hot and arid land of Rajasthan. Traditionally made with tamarind pulp and sugar, this drink is a mix of tangy and sweet, spiced mildly. The Indian spices that go into it make this extremely flavourful, at the same time aiding one’s digestion as well. It is a yummy way to get all the health benefits that tamarind possesses into one’s system, I would say!

Imli Ka Amlana is typically served as part of a Rajasthani thali, and is also served in gatherings of friends and family on festive occasions. It is, after all, an apt way to digest all the heavy food that is consumed during such festivals!

I have made the Imli Ka Amlana with Kitchen D’Lite’s Tamarind Powder, a highly convenient substitute that saved me the hassle of soaking tamarind and extracting juice from it. For the uninitiated, Kitchen D’Lite offers a variety of powders made from dehydrated ingredients, without any preservatives, chemicals or artificial flavouring and colouring agents. They sent me packs of their Tomato Powder, Tamarind Powder, Garlic Powder, Ginger Powder, Green Chilli Powder and Red Onion Powder to test in my kitchen and, I dare say, I am loving them. The powders are great in quality and extremely fresh, and can be easily substituted for the real ingredient without guilt. They have a good shelf life too, of up to 1-1/2 years.

I also substituted the sugar that is generally used in the drink with jaggery powder, to make it healthier. I always have a ready stock of the other spice powders used in the Imli Ka Amlana – black salt, cardamom powder, black pepper powder and the like – so making it was such a breeze! I served it alongside a simple lunch of roti and sabzi, and it was such a huge hit!

Do try out the Imli Ka Amlana too and, I’m sure, you’ll be making it more than once. We surely will be!

Recipe Source: Adapted from Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 4 teaspoons Kitchen D’Lite tamarind powder
  2. 6 tablespoons jaggery powder
  3. 1/2 teaspoon black salt
  4. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  5. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  7. 2 cups chilled water
  8. 4-6 fresh mint leaves

Method:

  1. Grind the black salt, black pepper powder, roasted cumin powder and cardamom powder together till fine. Keep aside.
  2. Take the tamarind powder and the jaggery powder in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the chilled water. Mix till the tamarind powder and jaggery powder are dissolved completely in the water.
  3. Add in the powder we ground earlier. Mix well.
  4. Pour the Imli Ka Amlana into 2 serving glasses. Serve, garnished with fresh mint leaves that have been roughly torn.

Notes:

  1. In the absence of tamarind powder, you can use fresh tamarind instead. Soak a lemon-sized ball of tamarind in a little warm water, in that case, and extract a thick paste out of it. Use the tamarind paste the same way as tamarind powder, in the above recipe.
  2. Adjust the quantities of jaggery powder, tamarind powder, black salt, roasted cumin powder, black pepper powder, cardamom powder and water, as per personal taste preferences.
  3. You may use sugar instead of jaggery powder, in the above Imli Ka Amlana recipe.
  4. If you think there are impurities in the jaggery you use, do filter the water once after mixing it in. I use organic jaggery which is free of impurities, so I do not filter the water.
  5. For best results, grind the spice powder really fine.
  6. If you don’t have black salt, you can substitute it with regular table salt and add in some chaat masala instead. However, I would personally not recommend that – black salt has a unique fragrance and taste that works wonders to the flavour of the Imli Ka Amlana.
  7. If you so desire, you can add a dash of lemon juice to the Imli Ka Amlana, in addition to the tamarind.
  8. The Kitchen D’Lite products were sent to me free of cost, to sample in my home kitchen. The opinions expressed herein about the products are entirely my own, entirely honest, without any external influence. I really loved the products, and have been enjoying using them.
  9. In case you are interested in buying Kitchen D’Lite’s amazing products, they are available on Amazon.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #272. The co-hosts this week are Antonia @ Zoale.com.

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Gajar Mula Beet No Sambharo|Gujarati Root Vegetable Stir Fry Recipe

This Gajar Mula Beet No Sambharo is something you must absolutely try out!

Sambharo‘ is the Gujarati version of a stir-fry, or a warm salad of sorts. It can be prepared using a variety of vegetables – raw papaya, cabbage, carrot, beetroot and radish, for example. Quite a simple (but nutritious and delicious!) thing to make, the sambharo commonly makes an appearance as a part of the Gujarati thali, or is served alongside local snacks like fafda, thepla, khaman and dhokla.

This Gajar Mula Beet No Sambharo is made using the root vegetables of carrot, radish and beetroot. I loved the bright red of the stir-fry and its gorgeous taste. It made for just the perfect accompaniment to the Mixed Vegetable Roti that I served it with.

The very simple stir-fry that this is, it takes bare minutes to put together. Very little oil goes into it, the veggies cooked just enough to retain their crunch. The carrot, radish and beetroot meld together beautifully to create a delicious whole. What more can you ask for from a dish? If you are looking for an easy-peasy, healthy and delish accompaniment for your meals this summer, this is it!

This Gajar Mula Beet No Sambharo is a vegan, entirely plant-based, dish. Omit the asafoetida in the tempering, and it becomes a gluten-free food as well.

Here’s the recipe!

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 1 big beetroot
  2. 2 medium-sized carrots
  3. 1 small radish
  4. 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  5. 1 tablespoon oil
  6. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  7. A pinch of fenugreek seeds
  8. 3-4 green chillies
  9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  10. Salt to taste
  11. A dash of red chilli powder or to taste (optional)
  12. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  13. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  14. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste

Method:

1. Peel the beetroot, carrot and radish. Grate them medium thick. Keep aside.

2. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

3. Dry roast the sesame seeds in a pan till they start turning brown, about a minute. Transfer the roasted sesame to a plate and keep aside.

4. Heat oil in the same pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Now, add the fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and slit green chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

5. Add the grated beetroot, carrot and radish to the pan. Cook on medium flame for a minute.

6. Now, add salt to taste, turmeric powder and red chilli powder (if using). Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 1-2 minutes more or till the water from the radish dries up and all the ingredients are well incorporated together. Switch off gas.

7. Mix in the roasted sesame seeds, lemon juice and finely chopped fresh coriander. Your Gajar Mula Beet No Sambharo is ready. You can serve it hot or at room temperature, along with rotis or rice.

Notes:

1. Adjust the quantity of beetroot, radish and carrot you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

2. You can let the grated radish rest for a while till it releases water, squeeze out the water and then use the radish in making the sambharo. I chose not to do that.

3. The original recipe suggests the use of seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and the likes) to garnish the stir-fry. I decided to use sesame seeds instead, and loved how beautifully they went with the sambharo.

4. If you think the heat from the green chillies is enough, you can skip the red chilli powder altogether.

5. You can add a dash of sugar or jaggery powder to the sambharo too. I chose not to – the sweetness of the beetroot was enough.

6. You can cook the beetroot, carrot and radish as much as you want to – slightly crunchy or well-done. I sauteed them till they were cooked through but still retained a bit of a crunch.

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This post is for the Food Bloggers Recipe Swap, a Facebook group that I am part of. Every month, a group of us food bloggers form pairs, and then each person proceeds to cook a dish from their partner’s blogs.

This month, I was paired with Jagruti of Jagruti’s Cooking Odyssey. I was thrilled to find several classic Gujarati dishes on her blog, and chose this Gujarati Root Vegetable Stir Fry of hers to prepare.

Check out the recipes that the other members of the Food Bloggers Recipe Swap group have recreated: Blackberry Lime Cupcakes| Spicy Mint Quinoa| Jeera Rice| Easy Chicken Wraps| Bengali Dum Aloo| Andhra Tomato Pickle| Apple Date Chutney |Pesto Pasta ChaatHoney Toasted Sesame Paneer| Ghee Rice| Coconut Rava Ladoo |Gulab Jamun Cupcakes Carrot & Zucchini Noodle Salad

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #271. Ai @ Ai Made It For You is the co-host this week.

Moraiya Ni Khichdi| Samai Arisi Khichdi

Growing up in Ahmedabad, I would turn up my nose in disdain whenever the word ‘khichdi’ was mentioned. For me, ‘Khichdi‘ translated into boring, bland food that was for the sick or the elderly. Khichdi for lunch or dinner meant a lacklustre meal that I had no interest in consuming. And, then, one fine day, one of my Gujarati friends introduced me to Moraiya Ni Khichdi, a dish made with ‘moraiyo‘, the local name for barnyard millet. I fell for the delicious khichdi hook, line and sinker and the rest, as they say, is history. It remains a favourite of mine till date.

Moraiyo or Moriyo in Gujarati, Samak Ke Chawal or Sama Ke Chawal, Samai Arisi in Tamil, the barnyard millet goes by so many names. As it is technically not a grain, it is commonly used in the preparation of food during fasts, particularly so in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and surrounding parts. This is why you will also find it referred to as ‘Vrat Ke Chawal‘ (literally ‘the rice that you can consume during fasts’ in Northern India. Moraiyo is a very versatile ingredient too, lending itself beautifully to khichdi, kheer, dhokla and tikkis alike. It is gluten-free as well.

Today, I present to you the recipe for Moraiya Ni Khichdi or Samai Arisi Khichdi, the way my friend taught me all those years ago. It is a delicious confection, potatoes and peanuts added to it for flavour, scented by ginger and green chillies, coriander and curry leaves, soured with curd. The Gujaratis refer to this dish as ‘Farali Khichdi‘, i.e. khichdi that can be eaten during fasting. I’m sure you will love this khichdi too, fast or no fast!

A little goes a long way, as far as moraiyo or barnyard millet is concerned. Use just 1/2 cup of the millet, and it will yield enough khichdi to generously serve two. The husband loves Moraiya Ni Khichdi too, and I make it often for breakfast or dinner. It is quite light on the stomach and easily digestible, perfect for the hot, hot, hot days prevailing in Bangalore right about now. What’s more, the little grain cooks super fast too. Tell me what is not to love, with this khichdi? 🙂

Now, without further ado, here’s the recipe for Moraiya Ni Khichdi or Samai Arisi Khichdi.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  1. 1/2 cup moraiyo aka sama rice (samai arisi)
  2. 1 medium-sized potato (urulai kizhangu)
  3. 2 tablespoons raw peanuts (kadalai)
  4. 1 tablespoon oil (ennai)
  5. 1 teaspoon cumin (jeeragam) seeds
  6. 4 green chillies (pacha milagai)
  7. 2-3 dry red chillies (vara milagai)
  8. A 1-inch piece of ginger (inji)
  9. 1 sprig of curry leaves (karuvepillai)
  10. Rock salt to taste (kallu uppu)
  11. About 3/4 cup sour curd (thayir)
  12. 1/2 cup + 2-1/2 cup water (neeru)
  13. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander (kothamalli)

Method:

1. Dry roast the peanuts till crisp. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. When they cool down completely, coarsely crush them in a mixer. Don’t make a fine powder. Keep aside.

2. Peel the ginger and chop very finely. Keep aside.

3. Cut each green chilly into two, and slit length-wise. Keep aside.

4. Peel the potato and grate thick. Keep aside.

5. Wash the sama rice in running water a couple of times, draining out the excess water. Keep aside.

6. Now, heat the oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds. Add the finely chopped ginger, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

7. Add the grated potatoes to the pan, along with a little salt and 1/2 cup water. Cook on medium flame till the potatoes are done, 1-2 minutes.

8. Now, add the remaining 2-1/2 cups of water to the pan, along with salt to taste and slit green chillies. Let it come to a boil.

9. Add the washed and drained sama rice to the pan. Keeping the flame medium, cook till the sama rice is completely done. This should take about 2 minutes. You will need to keep stirring constantly, to ensure that no lumps are formed.

10. Now, keeping the flame medium, add the sour curd to the pan. Mix well, and let the mixture cook on medium flame for a minute more. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas while the Moraiya Ni Khichdi is still runny, as it will thicken on cooling.

11. Serve immediately, garnished with finely chopped coriander and roasted, crushed peanuts.

Notes:

  1. You can adjust the amount of water and buttermilk, depending upon the consistency of the Moraiya Ni Khichdi you require.
  2. If the khichdi has become too hard on cooling, you can add in a bit more water and/or curd, and reheat it. It will loosen.
  3. Samai Arisi Khichdi is best served hot, when it is still runny.
  4. In this recipe, I have used only ingredients that are ‘allowed’ during fasting in a Gujarati household – rock salt, peanuts, buttermilk, cumin, ginger, green chillies and the like, with no asafoetida added in. If you plan to prepare this Samai Arisi Khichdi on a fasting day, please ensure that you use ingredients in accordance with the customs and traditions prevailing for the fast in your household. On a regular day, you can use common table salt instead of rock salt and add in asafoetida in the tempering too.
  5. This khichdi can also be made without the potatoes. Just skip the potatoes in that case, keeping the rest of the proceedure the same as above.
  6. You can also use ghee for the tempering, instead of oil.
  7. I have used home-made curd in the above Moraiya Ni Khichdi recipe, which is preferred on a fasting day. On a regular day, you may use store-bought curd instead.
  8. For best results, use curd that is sour but not overly so.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, a Facebook group that I am part of. Every Monday, a bunch of us food bloggers get together and cook for a pre-determined theme. The theme this week, suggested by me, is #DahiDelights, wherein all of us will be showcasing dishes made using curd.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #271. Ai @ Ai Made It For You is the co-host this week.

Pasi Parippu Kosumalli|Simple South Indian Lentil Salad

Best wishes for Sri Rama Navami!

Today, I present to you the recipe for Pasi Parippu Kosumalli, a simple South Indian-style lentil salad. This mildly spiced salad is extremely delicious and healthy, and is a breeze to put together. A dish that is traditionally prepared in Tamilian households on the occasion of Sri Rama Navami, this cooling salad is just perfect to beat the summer heat that is soaring by the day.

Pasi Parippu Kosumalli is also quite commonly prepared in Karnataka. On the day of Rama Navami, you will come across make-shift stalls on the roadsides in Bangalore, handing out leaf bowls full of this kosumalli (‘kosambari‘ in Kannada) and disposable glasses of neer more (‘majjige‘ in the local language) and panagam (‘panaka‘ in Kannada).

I have fond memories of watching my grandmother preparing a big bowl full of this beautiful salad on Rama Navami, for the entire extended family. My mom continued the tradition after her, and she passed on the recipe to me too. All those memories came flooding back as I prepared a bowl of Pasi Parippu Kosumalli this morning. My little one munched on it delightfully, amidst tales of how ‘Rama Umachi‘s (God) birthday came to be. 🙂

This is a gluten-free preparation that can be made vegan if you skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. If you skip the tempering altogether, this becomes a no-cook recipe, perfect for a raw food diet. The split moong daal that goes into it makes this salad full of protein, the carrot and cucumber adding to its nutritional value.

Let’s now check out the recipe for this Pasi Parippu Kosumalli.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1/2 cup split moong daal (pasi parippu)
  2. 1 medium-sized carrot
  3. 1 medium-sized seedless cucumber (vellarikkai)
  4. 3-4 green chillies or as per taste (paccha milagai)
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
  7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  8. 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut (thengai)
  9. 1 tablespoon oil (ennai)
  10. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (kadugu)
  11. 1 sprig curry leaves (karuveppilai)
  12. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida (perungayam)

Method:

  1. Wash the moong daal well under running water, a couple of times, draining out all the water each time. Then, add in enough fresh water to cover the daal, and let it soak for 1-2 hours.
  2. When the moong daal is done soaking, drain out all the water from it. Place the soaked moong daal in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Chop the cucumber finely. Add to the mixing bowl.
  4. Peel the carrot and grate it medium-thick. Add to the mixing bowl.
  5. Add the fresh grated coconut to the mixing bowl, along with the finely chopped coriander.
  6. Now, we will prepare the tempering for the salad. Slit the green chillies length-wise, and keep them ready. Heat the oil in a small pan. Add in the mustard, and allow it to sputter. Turn the flame to low. Add the asafoetida, curry leaves and slit green chillies – allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds. Ensure that the tempering does not burn. Add this tempering to the salad in the mixing bowl.
  7. Add in salt to taste and lemon juice to the salad. Mix well. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. 1-2 hours of soaking makes the moong daal soft and adds flavour to the salad. However, if you are in a hurry, about 30 minutes of soaking also works.
  2. Pomegranate arils and grated raw mango can also be added to the Pasi Parippu Kosumalli. I have kept it very basic, and skipped these two ingredients.
  3. Adjust the quantity of salt, lemon juice, green chillies and coconut as per personal taste preferences.
  4. Add the salt at the very end. The salad will start leaving water once you add salt, so do not let it sit for too long after salt is added.
  5. For best results, use ‘European’ or ‘English’ cucumbers that have very few seeds. These are also called ‘seedless cucumbers’.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #271. Ai @ Ai Made It For You is the co-host this week.

I’m also submitting this recipe to the 127th edition of My Legume Love Affair (MLLA), a monthly event that celebrates legumes. This event was started by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen and Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. This month, MLLA is being hosted by Amrita of Motions And Emotions.

Neer More With A Difference| Spiced Buttermilk Recipe

It is Sri Rama Navami this weekend, the birthday of God Rama. In Tamilian households, this occasion is marked by the preparation of Neer More (literally, ‘watered-down buttermilk’ in Tamil), Panakam (a mildly spiced beverage prepared with jaggery water), and Kosumalli (a salad made using split moong daal).

Each of these delicacies possesses cooling properties, just what our bodies need in the heat of summer. Sri Rama Navami falls bang in the midst of summer and, I am pretty sure, the special foods prepared for the occasion were inspired by the season. I am constantly awed by how our ancestors drew inspiration from the world around them!

Today, I present to you a recipe for Neer More that is different from the usual. This is not your regular South Indian-style spiced buttermilk, but one infused with kaffir lime and chilli. This version is just as delicious, just as cooling as the traditional one, and is equally simple to prepare. Do try out this new Spiced Buttermilk Recipe this summer!

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 3 cups slightly sour buttermilk
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1 green chilly
  4. 7-8 medium-sized kaffir lime leaves

Method:

  1. Whisk the buttermilk well, ensuring that no lumps remain.
  2. Add salt to taste.
  3. Slit the green chilly length-wise and add it to the buttermilk.
  4. Tear the kaffir lime leaves roughly with your hands. Add them to the buttermilk.
  5. Mix up all the ingredients.
  6. Let the buttermilk sit, covered, for at least 15-20 minutes for all the flavours to get infused into it. After it has rested, you can serve it at room temperature or after chilling it a bit in the refrigerator.

Notes:

1. Mix 2 cups of runny curd with 1 cup of water to get the 3 cups of buttermilk needed for the above Spiced Buttermilk Recipe. Adjust the quantity of curd and water, depending upon personal taste preferences.

2. I have used home-made curd here, but you can use a store-bought version as well.

3. Use buttermilk that is slightly sour, but not overly so, for best results.

4. Let the prepared Neer More sit for at least 15-20 minutes before serving, for the flavours of the kaffir lime and chilli to get infused into the buttermilk. You can even chill the prepared Neer More in the refrigerator before serving. Alternatively, you can use chilled curd and water (or chilled buttermilk) to prepare the Neer More.

5. You may strain out the chilli and kaffir lime before serving the Neer More. I prefer letting them stay in.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #271. Ai @ Ai Made It For You is the co-host this week.

Classic Cupcake Recipe| Easy Vanilla Cupcakes

I consider myself a very amateur baker. Baking befuddles me. Getting together the right kind of ingredients, mixing them up perfectly, setting the oven at just the correct temperature and creating a bake that not only tastes lovely but looks pretty as well – that’s a tall ask for me. Tell me I need to ‘bake’ something, and my brain freezes, something I hardly ever encounter in case of stovetop cooking. With cooking the traditional way on the stovetop, my movements are fluid and natural, my thoughts flowing rapidly and easily.

Or, maybe, it’s all in my mind.

Maybe I just need more practice with baking.

Maybe I need to put my heart and soul into baking to crack it, the way I have with stovetop cooking.

I need to do it. I want to. For the sake of my little one who adores baked goodies. For the sake of my family’s sweet toothed-members who love their pastries and muffins.

I will definitely give it my best shot. I will try, stumble and learn.

So, here goes. Here I am, trying to expand my limited baking repertoire with these Easy Vanilla Cupcakes, which I made a couple of days ago and met my harsh critical appraisal. Then, they went on to be approved of by my daughter and her little friend, too. Here’s hoping there will be many more successful bakes from my kitchen in the times to come.

This is a Classic Cupcake Recipe, a recipe for the most basic of cupcakes, an easy-peasy one that needs barely 5 minutes to put together. There are no fancy ingredients in there, no egg replacer – I’ve used old-fashioned maida and eggs to achieve these little vanilla-scented beauties. There’s no icing of any kind, either. Just sprinkle some powdered sugar on them and they are ready to munch on! A right beginner baker’s recipe this is. 🙂

If you, like me, have been scared of baking and want to break that barrier, this is the recipe you must be trying out. It’s so simple, really, so tough to mess up. Soft, fluffy, cute cupcakes will be your reward.

Here’s presenting to you the recipe for these Easy Vanilla Cupcakes.

Recipe Source: www.eggs.ca

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes):

  1. 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  2. 1 cup powdered sugar + a little more to dust the cupcakes
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  5. 1-1/2 cups maida
  6. A pinch of salt
  7. 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 3/4 cup milk

Method:

  1. Preheat oven at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes.
  2. Place muffin liners in a muffin-baking tray. Keep ready.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the maida, salt and baking powder. Keep aside.
  4. Take the butter and sugar in another bowl. Cream them together until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs and the vanilla essence to the creamed butter and sugar. Whisk well, until all the ingredients are well incorporated together.
  6. Now, add in the eggs-vanilla-sugar-butter mixture into the mixing bowl with the flour in it, little by little, combining all the ingredients well together.
  7. Add in the milk to the mixture. Mix in well. The batter for your Easy Vanilla Cupcakes is ready.
  8. Pour in the batter into the prepared muffin-baking tray, until the liners are 3/4 filled up. Leave space for the cupcakes to rise during baking.
  9. Place the tray into the pre-heated oven. Bake at around 170 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. At this point, your Easy Vanilla Cupcakes are ready.
  10. Let the cupcakes cool down fully, then dust each one with a little powdered sugar. They are now ready to serve.

Notes:

  1. Use all ingredients at room temperature, for best results.
  2. The cupcake batter should be mixed just right. Mix until the ingredients are well combined together, and that is it. Undermixing is a big no-no, while overmixing will give you dense cupcakes.
  3. I have used boiled and cooled milk, in this Classic Cupcake Recipe.
  4. These Easy Vanilla Cupcakes can be stored in a clean, dry, air-tight box for 2-3 days, at room temperature. Storing them in the refrigerator will increase their shelf life further, but I don’t really prefer doing that.

Did you like this Classic Cupcake Recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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Foodie Monday Blog HopThis recipe is for Foodie Monday Blog Hop, a Facebook group that I am part of. Every Monday, a bunch of us food bloggers cook and share recipes for a pre-determined theme. The theme for this week is #MiniCake, suggested by Preethi of Preethi’s Cuisine. Each one of us is showcasing little baked goodies from their kitchen, for the theme, and I decided to conquer my fear of baking with these Easy Vanilla Cupcakes.

Here are some other amateur bakes by me, which met my approval as well as that of my family:

Boiled Fruit Cake| Baked Mango Cheesecake| Strawberry Bhapa Doi| Basic Butter Cookies and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #270. The co-host this week is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Niramish Aloor Dum|Bengali Dum Aloo Recipe

Aloor Dum is perhaps one of the best-known foods from the Bengali cuisine, apart from the gorgeous sweets of course. The special way the Bengalis have of cooking potatoes – spicy, with a sweetish tinge to them – has bowled over many, including me.

I tried Bengali Dum Aloo for the first ever time at a Durga Pujo pandal in Bangalore, and loved it to bits. Sadly, I never really got around to learning how to make it. While my understanding of Bengali cuisine now definitely extends beyond the Aloor Dum, my repertoire of Bengali food remained restricted to Bhoger Khichuri and Bhapa Doi. This changed when I came across this Bengali Dum Aloo recipe at Batter Up With Sujata last week. I decided it was high time I made the sabzi I had loved so vehemently. So, make it I did, and it turned out to be glorious – the beautiful medley of flavours I still remember from all those years ago.

I made the sabzi in a pressure cooker, as opposed to the pan-cooking that the original Bengali Dum Aloo recipe advocates. I also made a few little variations to the recipe, to make it healthier. Please don’t baulk at me for that, you guys – I can assure you that the little changes I made did not affect the wonderful taste of the Aloor Dum in any way! 🙂

This is Niramish Aloor Dum (literally ‘no-meat dum aloo‘ in Bengali), in other words an entirely vegetarian sabzi. Since this dish is typically prepared for Pujo and other religious occasions, it is made vegetarian, without the use of even onion or garlic. That makes this an entirely plant-based recipe, which can be made vegan if you do not use the asafoetida. It is gluten-free as well.

So, here’s presenting to you my take on the Niramish Aloor Dum, a healthier version that gets cooked in a jiffy but tastes every bit as scrumptious as the traditional version.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 6 medium-sized potatoes
  2. 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 2 green chillies
  5. 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  6. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  7. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  8. A 1-inch piece of cinnamon
  9. 4-5 cardamom
  10. 4-5 cloves
  11. 2 small bay leaves
  12. Salt to taste
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. Red chilli powder to taste
  15. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  16. 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
  17. 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
  18. 3/4 cup water
  19. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Wash the potatoes thoroughly under running water, and remove any traces of mud on them. Cut the potatoes into quarters and place them in a wide vessel. Add in just enough water to cover the potatoes. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker, close and put the whistle on. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles or till the potatoes are cooked through. Let the pressure release naturally.
  2. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Grind the tomatoes and ginger to a puree, in a mixer. Keep aside.
  3. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.
  4. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down completely, remove the cooked potatoes. Discard the water they were cooked in. Allow the potatoes to cool down fully and then peel them. Keep aside.
  5. In the same pressure cooker bottom (after discarding the water from it and drying it up completely), add in the mustard oil. When the oil heats up, add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and bay leaves. Saute for 2-3 seconds.
  6. Now, add the tomato-ginger puree to the pressure cooker. Saute for 2-3 minutes or till the raw smell of the tomatoes goes away completely.
  7. Add in salt and red chilli powder to taste, garam masala, turmeric powder and jaggery powder. Mix well.
  8. Add in the water. Mix well.
  9. Add in the cooked and peeled potatoes. Mix gently, ensuring that all the potato quarters are evenly coated with the gravy.
  10. Close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Cook for 2 whistles on high heat. Let the pressure release naturally. After the pressure has fully gone down, mix in the finely chopped coriander leaves.
  11. Serve the Niramish Aloor Dum hot or at room temperature, with pooris, luchis, rotis or parathas.

Notes:

  1. I used a 5-litre pressure cooker to make this Niramish Aloor Dum.
  2. Since I had only medium-sized potatoes, I quartered them to make this dish. If you have baby potatoes, you could use them instead too.
  3. If you don’t have mustard oil, you can use any regular oil instead. However, the typical Bengali Aloor Dum has to have that fragrance of mustard oil, without which it is incomplete.
  4. Traditionally, the Bengali Aloor Dum is cooked in a pan, using a lot of oil. I have used very limited oil here, considering I made it in a pressure cooker. You can use more oil if you prefer it that way.
  5. I have used garam masala by Ciba Taaza Spices, which comes without any preservatives or additives, to make this Aloor Dum. You can use home-made garam masala instead, too.
  6. Traditionally, potatoes are boiled, then fried in mustard oil and then cooked in the tomato-ginger gravy. I have not fried them, because I wanted to use limited oil. You may do so, if you wish.
  7. Adjust the number of green chillies and the quantity of red chilli powder you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
  8. Sugar is typically used to make Bengali Aloor Dum, but I have used jaggery powder here instead.
  9. If you feel the Aloor Dum is a little watery after the pressure releases, you can simmer it for a couple of minutes.
  10. I have used country (Nati) tomatoes here. They are quite sour, as compared to the regular ‘farm’ tomatoes, and added a lovely tang to the dish.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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This post is for the Recipe Swap Challenge group that I am part of. Every alternate month, a group of us food bloggers get together, pair up, and cook from each other’s blogs based on a particular theme. This month, I have been paired with the very talented Sujata Roy, who writes at Batter Up With Sujata. ‘Regional Cuisine’ is the theme for the month, so I zeroed in on this Niramish Aloor Dum from among the several beautiful Bengali dishes on Sujata’s blog.

I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #270. The co-host this week is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Healthy Thai Carrot Salad Recipe

You guys probably already know how big we are, as a family, on salads, especially healthy ones that are simple yet filled with flavour. Today, I present to you one more such salad – a Healthy Thai Carrot Salad Recipe.

Like most Thai dishes, this one too is a beautiful medley of flavours. Every single ingredient that goes into it lends a pronounced flavour and texture to the salad, making it sweet and salty and spicy and sour all at once. This is a vegetarian version of the typical Thai Carrot Salad Recipe, sans the fish sauce or oyster sauce, vegan and gluten-free as well. This is an absolutely zero-oil salad! I have also tried to make it as healthy as possible, using wholesome ingredients and a healthy sweetener. It is super easy to make as well! You know those days when you are dying to eat something lovely, but know you just cannot do unhealthy? This is definitely the kind of salad you should try out on such days! It makes for a wonderfully refreshing mid-morning or evening snack, or a lovely accompaniment to lunch or dinner.

I have used ‘Delhi carrots’ in this Healthy Thai Carrot Salad Recipe, those long, fat carrots that are a brilliant red when grated. I absolutely adore these carrots! They are winter delicacies, abundantly available in the cold months, supremely sweet when in season. For this reason, these carrots lend themselves beautifully to Gajar Ka Halwa, that all-time favourite dessert of Indians. Gajar Ka Halwa is all I ever thought of when I saw these red carrots – as opposed to the orange-coloured, smaller Ooty carrots. Recently, though, I picked up what are probably the last of the Delhi carrots for this year, and decided to go ahead and use them in something very different – this bursting-with-flavour Thai Carrot Salad!

Let us know check out the Healthy Thai Carrot Salad Recipe, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 2 large Delhi carrots
  2. 1/4 cup groundnuts
  3. Salt to taste
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. 2 green chillies
  6. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  7. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
  8. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame till they get crisp. Take care not to burn them. Switch off gas and allow the roasted groundnuts to cool down fully.

2. Peel the carrots and julienne them. Place the carrot juliennes in a large mixing bowl.

3. Peel the ginger and chop it very finely. Add to the mixing bowl.

4. Chop the green chillies very finely. Add to the mixing bowl.

5. Add salt to taste, jaggery powder and finely chopped fresh coriander to the mixing bowl.

6. When the roasted peanuts have completely cooled down, pulse in a mixer to coarsely crush them. Add the crushed peanuts to the mixing bowl.

7. Add lemon juice to taste to the mixing bowl.

8. Mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl well. Serve the Thai Carrot Salad immediately.

Notes:

  1. I have used Delhi carrots here, but you can use any other variety you prefer. Since the Delhi carrots are quite sweet, the need for sweetener in the salad is reduced quite a bit.
  2. You can also grate the carrots if you don’t want to julienne them.
  3. Honey or maple syrup can be used in place of the jaggery powder. You could also use refined sugar instead, which isn’t a very healthy substitute.
  4. You may use more or less peanuts, depending upon personal taste preferences. The above quantity is just perfect for us.
  5. Make sure you grind the peanuts coarsely and not make a fine powder. Just pulse once in the mixer for a second – that is enough.
  6. Make sure you chop the ginger and green chillies really, really fine.
  7. Do not let the Thai Carrot Salad sit around for too long after making it. Serve it immediately after making, otherwise it will start leaving water and losing flavour.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, a Facebook group that I am part of. Every Monday, a bunch of us food bloggers get together and cook for a pre-determined theme. The theme this week is #GajarKaJalwa, wherein we dish up various recipes using carrots, in honour of the upcoming International Carrot Day on April 4. Poonam, the very talented author of the food blog Annapurna, was the one who suggested this beautiful theme.

Check out the carrot recipes that the other participants have come up with!

  1. Gajar ka khatta mitha achar by Swaty

  2. Gluten free cornmeal carrot cake by Sujata

  3. Carrot oatmeal pancake by Poonam

  4. Healthy Thai carrot salad by Priya

  5. Carrot oatmeal cookies by Mayuri

  6. Carrot Vada by Preethi

  7. Indian spice roasted carrot hummus by Kalyani

  8. Oven roasted carrot by Archana

  9. Carrot mini crescent rolls by Sasmita

  10. Instapot carrot halwa

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #269. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Cauliflower Stalk Bai| Mizoram Bai Recipe

Have you heard of a dish called Bai?

For the uninitiated, Bai is a kind of soup that hails from the exotic north-eastern state of Mizoram. The state boasts of a number of indigenous leafy greens, many of which are unheard of outside – and several of these greens go into the Bai. Whatever vegetables are in season also find their way into the Bai. Some Rajah chillies (aka Bhut Jholokia or Ghost Pepper) and fermented mustard – both commonly used ingredients in Mizo kitchens – also form a part of this soup. If it is being served to non-vegetarians, pork sauce is also added. Very simple to prepare and very nutritious, bai is something you will typically find cooked across Mizo households.

Today, I present to you the recipe for Cauliflower Stalk Baibai made with the stalks of cauliflower – yes, you read that right! This is a vegetarian Mizoram Bai Recipe, which I have made with ingredients commonly available where I live.

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I made the Cauliflower Stalk Bai following the recipe outlined by Eat Your Kappa, with a few small variations of my own. What struck me the most about the recipe was just how simple it was, how basic. Well, that is how most food in all of the North East is – simply cooked but hearty, using a few seasonal and local ingredients. Another thing that stuck with me about this recipe is the use of cauliflower stalks, which would otherwise have gone into the trash – keeping wastage in the kitchen minimal, another trait that is quite common in all of the North East.

To be honest, the Bai was quite bland for all of us at home. I had to add in a few condiments – pepper, soya sauce and a bit of tomato ketchup – for it to become acceptable to our city-dweller palates. That’s not how it was intended to be consumed, I’m sure, but that’s how it went.

Well, here is the Mizoram Bai Recipe, the way I made it.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 5-6 cups of water
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 2 cups of cauliflower stalks + leaves + florets (finely chopped)
  5. 5-6 beans, finely chopped
  6. 1 medium-sized potato, peeled and finely chopped
  7. 4 green chillies or to taste, slit length-wise
  8. 1/4 cup cooked rice

Method:

1. Take the water in a thick-bottomed pan. Place it on high heat and bring to a boil.

2. Add in salt to taste and the soda. Mix well.

3. Add in the chopped cauliflower stalks, florets and leaves, as well as the chopped beans and potato. Also, add in the slit green chillies. Mix well.

4. Cook covered on medium flame till the vegetables are tender, but not overly mushy. This should take 15-20 minutes. Keep checking on the pan periodically, adding more water if the mixture feels like it is too thick, stirring intermittently. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

5. Now, add the cooked rice to the pan. Mix well.

6. Cook uncovered on medium flame for a couple of minutes more. Your Cauliflower Stalk Bai is ready!

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This recipe is for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly group that I am part of. Every month, a bunch of us food bloggers get paired together, with each pair exchanging two secret ingredients and cooking dishes from a particular part of the country. This month, we are all cooking from the North Eastern state of Mizoram.

For the challenge this month, I was paired with Mayuri of Mayuri’s Jikoni, who gave me the two secret ingredients of cauliflower and chillies. I decided to use these two ingredients to make this Mizoram Bai Recipe.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #269. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Tangy Carrot Salad With Gooseberry| Gajar Amla Salad

You get beautiful gooseberries in Bangalore right about now – big, fat, juicy ones that are bursting with flavour. I absolutely had to pick up some, while I was vegetable shopping recently. This lovely, lovely Tangy Carrot Salad With Gooseberry or Gajar Amla Salad is what happened to them!

The Indian gooseberry (also called Amla) is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Thanks to these properties, it helps in curing a number of minor ailments, flushing out toxins from the body, and also strengthens one’s immunity. Amla also aids in slowing down cellular degeneration and ageing, stimulates the heart, helps in improving eyesight, and prevents premature greying of hair. Low in sugar and high in fibre content, it is a berry you shouldn’t be missing out on. This is our very own local superfood, and a great one at that.

When Sangeeta Khanna wrote about this Gajar Amla Salad on her Instagram handle, I knew I had to try it out. Have I told you how much I adore this lady’s recipes? The author of Health Food Desi Videshi and Banaras Ka Khana, she is a treasure trove of beautiful recipes. Extremely knowledgeable and talented, Sangeeta Khanna is all about eating local, eating seasonal, eating fresh and eating right, philosophies that also resound with me. She has counselled a number of people on how to reverse various lifestyle diseases using just food – just how marvellous is that?! Anyhow, I found this salad of hers to be a brilliant way of getting all that goodness of amla into our systems, and it did turn out absolutely delicious!

The Gajar Amla Salad is tangy and refreshing, full of flavour and a treat to the tastebuds. It is super easy to make, with minimal effort and zero oil required! What’s more, it is low-fat, raw, vegan and gluten-free, too. It paired perfectly with the Mixed Vegetable Roti I served it with. This Tangy Carrot Salad With Gooseberry is definitely something you must try out too!

Here’s how I made the Gajar Amla Salad, following Sangeeta Khanna’s recipe to the T.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 2 medium-sized gooseberries
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 3 small carrots or 2 medium-sized ones
  4. 1 small onion
  5. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  6. 2 green chillies or as per taste

Method:

1. Peel the carrots and grate them medium-thick. Transfer the grated carrots to a large mixing bowl.

2. Peel the onion and chop it finely. Add to the mixing bowl.

3. Grate the gooseberries finely. Add to the mixing bowl.

4. Chop the green chillies really fine. Add to the mixing bowl.

5. To the mixing bowl, add salt to taste and finely chopped coriander.

6. Mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl, well. Serve the Gajar Amla Salad immediately.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #269. The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Check out the other Indian gooseberry (amla) recipes on my blog:

Nellikai Sadam| Amla Rice

Nellikai Urugai| Amla Pickle

Nellikai Arachakalakki| Amla Raita