Matar Pulav| Green Peas Pulav

Matar Pulav is a mildly spiced rice dish made using green peas. It is a one-pot pulav that you can easily put together in a pressure cooker in a matter of minutes. For me, it is the perfect choice for lunch or dinner on a busy weekday. It’s a great family favourite, with all of us at home loving the simple flavours of this dish.

Today, let me take you through the process of making Matar Pulav (also called Green Peas Pulav), my way.

Matar Pulav or Green Peas Pulav

Matar Pulav recipe for Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is run by a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every month. The participants are grouped into pairs, and every pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, unknown to the rest of the group. These two ingredients are then used by each pair to cook a dish that fits the month’s theme. The other group members see the picture of the dish, and try to guess the two secret ingredients that have been used in it.

The group’s theme for the month of September was ‘Pulav and Biryani‘, as suggested by Swaty of Food Trails. Swaty has a large collection of interesting pulav and biryani recipes on her blog, including this beautiful Sprouted Moong Pulav and this flavourful Jodhpuri Pulav.

For the month of September, I was paired with Mayuri ji, the author of Mayuri’s Jikoni. I gave her the secret ingredients of ‘mint’ and ‘garlic’, which she used to prepare this hearty Turkish Bulgur Pilaf. Mayuri ji assigned me ‘garlic’ and ‘shahi jeera‘ as my secret ingredients, which fit right into my Matar Pulav recipe.

What goes into my Matar Pulav

Rice, green peas and whole spices are the major ingredients here.

I alternate between using Sona Masoori and Basmati rice, in the making of this pulav. You can use any variety you prefer.

Whole spices like shahi jeera (caraway seeds), bay leaves, Marathi moggu (kapok buds), cinnamon, cloves and mace go into this pulav. This eliminates the need for garam masala or any pulav masala powder.

I personally think this pulav tastes best with fresh green peas, when in season. However, frozen peas work just as well. I have seen restaurants substituting dried green peas (soaked overnight and cooked) in this dish but, for me, that just doesn’t work. I can’t make this dish if I don’t have fresh or frozen green peas available.

A freshly ground paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies adds spice to this pulav.

How to make Matar Pulav

Without further ado, let’s get to the recipe for Matar Pulav or Green Peas Pulav.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):

Whole spices:

1. 1/2 teaspoon shahi jeera (caraway seeds)

2. A small piece of cinnamon

3. 1 Marathi moggu (kapok buds)

4. 1 clove

5. A small piece of mace

6. 1 bay leaf

Other ingredients:

1. 1 cup Sona Masoori rice

2. 1 heaped cup green peas

3. 1 medium-sized onion

4. 4 cloves of garlic

5. A 1-inch piece of ginger

6. 1-1/2 green chillies or as per taste

7. 3/4 tablespoon ghee

8. 1/2 tablespoon oil

9. Salt to taste

10. 2.75 cups of water

Method:

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Bottom left, centre and right: Steps 4, 5 and 6

1. Peel the onion and chop finely. Keep aside.

2. Peel the garlic cloves and ginger and chop roughly. Chop off the tops of the green chillies and chop roughly.

3. Grind the chopped garlic, ginger and green chillies together to a paste, in a small mixer jar. Use very little water to help with the grinding. Keep the paste ready.

4. Wash the green peas thoroughly. Place in a colander and allow all the water to drain out.

5. Wash the rice well under running water. Drain out all the water. Keep ready.

6. Put together the whole spices you will need to use in the Green Peas Pulav.

Top left and right: Steps 7 and 8, Below top right: Step 9, Bottom left and right: Step 10

7. Take the oil and ghee together in a pressure cooker bottom. Place on high flame and allow them to get heated up. Once hot, add in the whole spices. Allow them to stay in for a few seconds, taking care to ensure that they do not burn.

8. Reduce the flame down to medium. Add in the chopped onion. Saute on medium heat for about 2 minutes or till the onion turns soft.

9. Add in the ground garlic-ginger-chilli paste. Saute for a few seconds.

10. Now, add in the washed and drained green peas and rice. Saute on medium flame for a few seconds.

Top left: The rice mixture, after sauteeing, Top right and below: Step 12, Bottom left and right: Steps 13 and 14

11. At this stage, add in the water and salt to taste. Mix well. Do a taste test and adjust salt if needed. Turn the flame up to high and let the water come to a boil.

12. Close the pressure cooker now, and put the whistle on. Allow 4 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure drop naturally.

13. Wait for 7-10 minutes after the pressure drops off, then open the cooker.

14. Wait for 5-7 more minutes, then fluff up the rice gently. Your Green Peas Pulav is ready. Serve hot or warm with an accompaniment of your choice.

Is this Matar Pulav vegan and gluten-free?

This is a completely vegetarian recipe, but not vegan (plant-based) because of the use of ghee. To make the dish plant-based, skip the ghee entirely and use only oil.

The above recipe is gluten-free.

Skip the onion and garlic if you wish to prepare a Sattvik version.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used Sona Masoori rice here. You may use Basmati or any other variety of rice you prefer, instead. Adjust the quantity of water you need accordingly. The number of whistles you allow would also depend on the type of rice used and how grainy you want the pulav to be.

2. The above recipe yields pulav that is well-cooked, not mushy but not very grainy either. If you need the pulav to be grainy, you could reduce the amount of water further.

3. I have used a large 8.5-litre pressure cooker here.

4. Fresh green peas in season work best in this pulav. If you don’t have access to them, frozen ones work as well. Do not use dried green peas.

5. Go easy on the whole spices. Using too many whole spices or in large quantities will overpower the pulav.

6. If you don’t have one or two of the whole spices listed above, you can skip them – try to use at least bay leaves, clove and cinnamon, though. Other whole spices like black and green cardamom, nutmeg or stone flower can be used too.

7. If you don’t prefer onion and garlic, you can skip them. Use a paste of just ginger and green chillies in that case.

8. Adjust the number of green chillies you use as per personal taste preferences. If the chillies are too mild, you may use more.

9. Do not open the cooker immediately and fluff up the rice as soon as the pressure has gone down. Mixing overly hot pulav can cause it to become a mushy mess.

10. Finely chopped fresh coriander and mint leaves can be used to garnish the pulav, as can fried cashewnuts. Here, I haven’t.

11. There is no need to, but you could add in about 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala if you want to. Go easy on the garam masala. Using too much will overpower the dish. Here’s how to make garam masala at home.

12. I have used a mix of oil and ghee here. You can use only one of these too – 1/2 tablespoon + 3/4 tablespoon.

13. Since this is a mild-tasting pulav, it needs an accompaniment like Chana Masala or Paneer Butter Masala. Toor Dal Fry, Punjabi Aloo Matar Ki Sabzi or Matar Paneer go beautifully with this pulav too.

14. I do not soak the rice before making the pulav.

15. After salting, when you taste the water, it should be slightly spicy. The salt would later get perfectly adjusted.

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

Makai Kabab| Corn Cutlets

Makai Kabab aka Corn Cutlets are a simple but delicious appetiser. They are just the perfect thing for a get-together or celebration, and works equally well as a rainy-day snack. Let’s check out how to make these kababs, shall we?

What goes into these Makai Kababs

I have used frozen sweet corn from a store-bought packet, here. You may use the kernels from whole corn cobs instead, too.

These Makai Kababs have been made using the most minimal of spices – some red chilli powder, garam masala and kasoori methi – to let the flavour of the sweet corn shine through. I have used potato as a binding agent, and have cooked the kababs on a pan, using very little oil.

It’s raining kababs at the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge!

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every month. The participants are grouped into pairs, with each pair exchanging two ingredients secretly. Each pair then uses these ingredients to prepare a dish that fits the theme for the month, while the other group members try to guess the secret ingredients. It’s super fun!

The theme for August was ‘kababs‘, as suggested by Sujata ji of Batter Up With Sujata. She proposed all of us make different types of the much-loved kababs. I’m loving the Veg Galouti Kabab she has prepared for the theme, using lentils and mixed legumes.

I was paired up with Shobha ji of Shobha’s Food Mazaa for the theme. I chose the ingredients ‘coriander leaves’ and ‘milk’ for her, which she used to make these lip-smackingly delish Khumb Kabab. In turn, she gave me the ingredients ‘garam masala‘ and ‘kasoori methi‘, and I chose to make use of them to make these Makai Kababs.


How to make Makai Kabab or Corn Cutlets

Makai Kabab are very easy to put together, requiring the bare minimum of ingredients, time and effort. Here is how to go about making these.

Ingredients (makes 8-10 pieces):

1. 2 cups sweet corn kernels

2. 2 medium-sized potatoes or 1 large potato

3. Salt to taste

4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

5. Red chilli powder to taste

6. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala or to taste

7. 3/4 tablespoon kasoori methi

8. 3/4 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

9. 1/2 tablespoon oil + more as needed to cook the kababs

Method:

1. Take the sweet corn kernels in a wide vessel and add in about 1 tablespoon of water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 2 whistles or till the corn is cooked through. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked sweet corn kernels out. Drain out any remaining water. Let the kernels cool down completely, then grind them coarsely in a mixer.

3. In the meantime, chop the potatoes into halves. Place in a wide vessel and add in enough water to cover the potato fully. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker. Cook on high flame for 2 whistles or till the potato is cooked through.

4. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked potatoes out. Drain out all the water from them. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and mash them.

5. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Now, turn the flame down to medium and add in the crushed sweet corn. Saute on medium flame for 2-3 minutes or till it gets dry. Now, add in the salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and garam masala.

6. Now, add in the mashed potatoes, kasoori methi and finely chopped coriander.

7. Allow the mixture to cool down, then mix everything well using your hands.

8. Heat a thick pan, drizzled with some oil. When the pan is hot enough, shape a few flat patties out of the mixture and place on the pan. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till it starts getting brown and crisp on the bottom. Now, flip the patties over with a spatula, and drizzle some oil all around them. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes on the other side. Transfer the prepared Makai Kababs to a serving plate, and serve hot.

9. Drizzle some more oil over the pan and prepare more kababs in the same manner, till the corn mixture is entirely used up.

Are these Makai Kababs vegan and gluten-free?

Yes, they are! The above recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. They are 100% gluten-free as well.

I have used home-made garam masala which is gluten-free. However, if you are using a store-bought spice mix, do check the list of ingredients on the pack, to make sure they meet your dietary requirements.


Tips & Tricks

1. Do not grind the cooked corn into a fine paste. Just crush them coarsely, for best results.

2. Make sure the potato is cooked but not overly soft. Only then will the mixture not stick to your hands and will be easy to shape into kababs.

3. Adjust the quantity of salt, red chilli powder, garam masala and kasoori methi as per personal taste preferences. Here is how I make the garam masala at home.

4. I did not need any binding agent here to make the kababs firm, other than the potato. If you find it difficult to shape the kababs, you may add in some bread crumbs, corn flour or roasted gram flour (besan).

5. I have shaped flat patties out of the corn mixture. You may shape the kababs differently if you so prefer.

6. I have cooked the Makai Kababs on a grill pan with minimal oil. They turn out slightly crisp on the exterior and soft inside. If you want the kababs to be crispy, you can coat them with bread crumbs and deep-fry.

7. Do not add too much water while cooking the sweet corn. That will make the kababs sticky and difficult to handle.

8. I have used minimal spices in the making of these Makai Kababs. You may add more if you prefer – some chaat masala and amchoor would be great additions.

9. Make sure you cook the kababs on a heavy pan on medium flame. Give them a few minutes on both sides, taking care not to burn them. Do not overcrowd the pan.

10. The Makai Kababs can be served with some sliced onions and mint chutney, or with tomato sauce or any other accompaniment of your choice.

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

Baked Beans| How To Make Baked Beans From Scratch

Baked beans spell out ‘holidays’ to me. Over years of travelling, I have come to expect baked beans as part of the breakfast buffet at most resorts. A bite of warm toasted bread dipped into the saucy goodness of baked beans and the feeling hits me – ‘I’m on a holiday!’ 🙂 I do love myself a well-made bowl of the beans, oh so comforting.

My craving for baked beans extends beyond holidays and breakfast buffets at resorts, though, so I taught myself to make them from scratch at home. Ready-to-use tins from departmental store shelves aren’t really my thing. I made some baked beans recently, because the chilly weather in Bangalore warranted it, and I’m here to share my recipe for the same. Interested? Read on!

Home-made baked beans from scratch

What are baked beans?

‘Baked beans’ refers to a delicious dish that is made using dry beans, cooked in a rich tomato sauce. Traditionally, the beans would be parboiled, then baked in the tomato sauce for a long time, allowing the flavours to seep in – this is where the dish gets its name from. Baked beans as we know them are believed to have been popularised in the USA by Heinz in the 1800s, though its actual origins might date far before this.

As the popularity of the dish increased beyond borders, many different versions emerged. Today, different countries make baked beans in their own way, with different types of beans and other ingredients being used. Cooking techniques also underwent a change. The cans of beans commonly available in supermarkets today (like Heinz) are not baked, from what I understand, but go through a steaming process. They can be eaten hot or at room temperature, preferably with toasted bread, while some also like eating it on its own.

My version of baked beans

The recipe I am sharing today is a stove-top one, developed after several trials and errors. This is a vegetarian version, unlike the several non-vegetarian variants of baked beans eaten throughout the world. It is not vegan (plant-based), but it is gluten-free. Also, while the USA and UK typically use white beans (aka navy beans or haricot beans) in this dish, I have made it using the more ubiquitous black-eyed peas. I have also used very Indian ingredients in my version, as well as dried Italian herbs for seasoning.

I’m definitely not claiming that this is an authentic recipe. It is something I put together based on the ingredients listed on ready-to-eat tins and from my experiences eating the dish at hotels several times over. The black-eyed peas (also called ‘cowpeas’) make for a great (and cheaper) substitute for white beans, and I think the dish tastes just as lovely made at home as the ones I have had while on vacations.

Monsoon treats for the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is undertaken by a group of passionate food bloggers, who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme every month. Group members are paired together every month, with each pair exchanging two ingredients secretly. These two ingredients are then used by each pair to create a dish that fits the month’s theme.

The group theme for July was ‘Monsoon Treats’, wherein members are sharing dishes that are best eaten hot during the rainy season. It was Shobha ji, author of Shobha’s Food Mazaa, suggested the theme the month. I am loving the healthy Drumstick Soup that Shobha ji has shared for the theme – can’t wait to try it out!

For the July theme, I was paired with Mayuri ji, the very talented blogger behind Mayuri’s Jikoni. She prepared this beautiful Warm Mexican Corn Salad for the theme. Mayuri ji suggested that I use tomato and garlic to create my dish, and I decided to use them to make my beloved Baked Beans.

How to make baked beans from scratch

Here is how I go about it. It is a simple proceedure that does not require too much time.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

1. 1 cup dry black-eyed peas

2. 4 medium-sized tomatoes

3. 1 medium-sized onion

4. 5-6 cloves of garlic

5. A finger of butter

6. 1-1/2 tablespoons cornflour

7. Salt to taste

8. Red chilli powder to taste

9. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder

10. Dried Italian herbs as needed

11. 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Below top right: Step 3, Bottom left and right: Step 4

1. Soak the black-eyed peas in enough water for 8-10 hours or overnight. When they are done soaking, drain out all the water from them.

2. Transfer the drained black-eyed peas to a wide vessel. Add in about 1-1/2 cups of water – the level of the water should be about an inch higher than the peas. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for about 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Peel the garlic cloves and onion. Chop the garlic and onion finely. Keep aside.

4. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Grind into a fine puree. Keep aside.

Top left: Step 5, Bottom left and top right: Step 6, Below top right: Step 7, Bottom right: Step 8

5. Take the cornflour in a small cup and add in about 2 tablespoons of water. Mix to make a lump-free slurry. Keep aside.

6. Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the finely chopped onion and garlic. Saute on medium flame till the onion starts browning.

7. Add in the tomato puree, still keeping the flame at medium. Add in a little salt. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tomatoes goes away. Add salt and red chilli powder to taste.

8. Add in the cooked black-eyed peas, along with the water they were cooked in.

Top left and right: Steps 9 and 10, Below top right: The baked beans thickened up, Bottom left and right: Step 11

9. Add jaggery powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes.

10. Add in the cornflour slurry, stirring constantly. Continue to cook on medium flame for 2-3 more minutes or till the mixture thickens. If it gets too thick, add a little water. Switch off gas when the mixture is still a little runny, as it thickens up further later.

11. Mix in the dried Italian herbs and tomato ketchup. The Baked Beans are ready. Serve hot with toasted bread.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used black-eyed peas, also called cowpeas, instead of the white beans typically used in this dish. Some varieties of black-eyed beans cook really fast, while some take longer. You might need to experiment with cooking times to figure out exactly how long. These beans I had took 4 whistles on a high flame after overnight soaking.

2. Remember that the beans need to be cooked through but not overly mushy. Overcooked beans might spoil the taste of the dish.

3. You may use fresh black-eyed peas (or any other variety of beans) instead of the dried ones I have used here. In that case, no soaking is required. Just cook the fresh beans directly.

4. I have used country (Nati) tomatoes here, instead of the ‘farmed’ version. I like the light sour taste they impart to the dish. If you don’t find country tomatoes, you may use regular farmed ones instead.

5. I have used onions here, instead of which you may use onion powder. I prefer finely chopped onions.

6. I have used red chilli powder here, instead of which you may use paprika (or smoked paprika). Adjust the quantity you use as per personal taste preferences.

7. I have used dried Italian herbs by Keya as we love it in this dish. To make an Indianised version, you may add a bit of roasted cumin and coriander powder or a dash of garam masala. Some even add in soya sauce or Worcestershire sauce, both of which I don’t use.

8. Sugar can be used instead of the jaggery I have used here. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.

9. Do remember that the mixture continues to thicken up even after the cooking stops. Hence, switch off gas when the mixture is still on the runnier side.

10. I have used home-made tomato ketchup here. You may use a store-bought version instead. Adjust the quantity you use as per personal taste preferences.

11. Use oil instead of butter to make this dish vegan (plant-based).

12. I have used cornflour here to thicken the baked beans. I think wheat flour would work just as well, though I have never tried that out. Do not use wheat flour if you want to create a gluten-free dish.

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

No-Cream Methi Malai Paneer| Methi Paneer

Methi Paneer or Methi Malai Paneer is a delicious North Indian-style gravy, a lovely accompaniment for rotis, naan, parathas and the like. Cottage cheese (paneer) is cooked in a flavourful, rich and creamy gravy with fenugreek greens (methi) in it. In today’s post, allow me to take you through the way I make Methi Paneer.

Methi Paneer or Methi Malai Paneer

A closer look at the Methi Paneer I make

Like most of my recipes, this Methi Paneer recipe too is simple at heart and doesn’t use very fancy ingredients – everything that goes in is commonly found in a typical Indian kitchen. I have tried to keep processed ingredients to a minimum, in an endeavour to keep it healthier. This gravy turns out creamy and delicious, in spite of the fact that I have not used any fresh cream in it. I have used minimal oil in it, too.

This recipe is completely vegetarian and gluten-free, but NOT vegan (plant-based). I have used home-made garam masala and chana masala here, both of which are gluten-free. In case you are using store-bought spice blends, do check the list of ingredients and make sure they align with your dietary requirements.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

This recipe is brought to you in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is run by a group of passionate food bloggers. Every month, the group members share recipes based on a pre-determined theme. The participants are paired up, and each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, which are then used to prepare a dish that fits into the theme for the month.

The theme this month is ‘Fear Not The Bitter’, suggested by Seema of Mildly Indian. Participants need to showcase recipes made using bitter-tasting ingredients like coffee, bitter gourd, fenugreek leaves and seeds. You guys should absolutely check out the amazing Karele Ka Bharta that Seema has made for the theme!

I was paired with Aruna of Vasu’s Veg Kitchen for the month, and gave the two secret ingredients of ‘tamarind’ and ‘jaggery’. She used them to make this wonderful, wonderful Kakarakaya Pulusu or Andhra-Style Bitter Gourd Gravy! Aruna gave me ‘turmeric’ and ‘fenugreek leaves’ as my secret ingredients, which I went on to use in this Methi Paneer recipe.


Other paneer dishes on my blog

You might also be interested in some other paneer recipes on my blog:

Paneer Butter Masala

Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Beetroot And Paneer Cutlets

Paneer Masala Dosa

Shahi Paneer Matar

Matar Paneer

Paneer Paratha

Palak Paneer

No-Fry Paneer Kofta

Mixed Vegetable And Paneer Dosa

Baked Mango Cheesecake

Orange-Infused Sweet Paneer

How To Make Methi Paneer

Here’s how I go about it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

1. A small bunch of fenugreek (methi), about 1 cup when finely chopped

2. 3 medium-sized tomatoes

3. 1 small onion

4. 10-12 almonds

5. A 1-inch piece of ginger

6. 7-8 garlic cloves

7. 200 grams paneer

8. 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon oil

9. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

10. Salt to taste

11. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

12. Red chilli powder to taste

13. 1 cup milk or as needed

14. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder

15. 2 pinches of garam masala

16. 3/4 teaspoon chana masala

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left: Step 3, Above bottom right and bottom right: Step 4

1. Wash the methi leaves thoroughly under running water, to remove any traces of mud from them. Place them in a colander and let all the water drain out. Then, chop up the leaves finely.

2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the finely chopped methi. Saute on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the leaves wilt and are cooked through. If needed, sprinkle very little water when the leaves are cooking. Take off heat and keep aside when done.

3. Chop the paneer into cubes. Keep aside.

4. Peel the ginger, garlic cloves and onion. Chop roughly. Chop the tomatoes roughly too. Take the chopped ginger, garlic, onion and tomatoes in a mixer jar and add in the almonds. Grind everything together to a smooth paste, without adding any water. Keep aside.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Centre left and right: Steps 7 and 8, Bottom left and right: Steps 9

5. Now, we will start preparing the Methi Paneer. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cumin seeds and let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Add the tomato-onion puree we prepared earlier to the pan. Turn the flame down to medium. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the puree goes away completely. Stir intermittently. The puree would have thickened up by this time.

7. At this stage, add in the salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.

8. Add in the jaggery powder.

9. Still keeping the flame at medium, add the milk at this stage, along with about 1/2 cup of water. Add the garam masala and chana masala. Taste the gravy and adjust salt and red chilli powder if needed. Mix well and cook on medium flame for about a minute.

Top left and right: Steps 10 and 11, Bottom right: Step 11, Bottom left: The Methi Paneer, ready to serve

10. Now, add in the cooked methi leaves. Keep the flame at medium. Adjust water if needed. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 2 minutes.

11. Now add in the paneer cubes. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, stirring intermittently. Switch off gas when all the ingredients are well integrated together, but the gravy is still a bit on the runny side. Your Methi Paneer is ready – it will thicken further in a few minutes. Serve hot with rotis or parathas.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use soft, good-quality paneer and very fresh methi, for best results. I usually use the paneer from Akshayakalpa or Milky Mist (not sponsored). I’m guessing kasoori methi can be used in place of the fresh greens I have used here, but I have never tried that.

2. Do not use more than the specified amount of fenugreek greens, otherwise the gravy might turn bitter.

3. I have used boiled and cooled full-fat milk from Nandini, here. I haven’t tried making this with vegan milk, and am not sure if it would work.

4. I have used almonds here, to thicken the gravy and make it creamy. You may use cashewnuts instead, or a mix of cashewnuts and almonds.

5. I like adding a bit of jaggery to my gravies, to give it a light hint of sweetness and round off the other flavours beautifully. I would not suggest skipping it.

6. I have used a mix of garam masala and chana masala here – I love the flavour this combination imparts to North Indian gravies. You may use either one of these spice blends instead, too. Since home-made masala is quite strong, you need to use very little – just a couple of pinches of garam masala and about 3/4 teaspoon of chana masala is enough. If you are using store-bought spice blends, you might need to use a little more.

7. I do not blanch the tomatoes or saute them with the onions, before pureeing them.

8. I add the paneer cubes directly into the gravy, without deep-frying them. You may fry them if you prefer.

9. Do not cook the gravy for too long after adding in the paneer – 3-4 minutes is good. Overcooking may cause the paneer to become hard and rubbery.

10. The Methi Paneer gravy thickens up in a few minutes after it is made. Remember to switch off the gas when the gravy is well-cooked but it is still a bit on the runnier side.

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

Malai Kulfi| Creamy Kulfi Without Cornflour

Malai Kulfi is an evergreen classic in the world of frozen delicacies. I’m sure the simple dessert has many fans – I’m definitely one of them!

Today, let me share with you all how to make absolutely divine, creamy and delectable Malai Kulfi at home from scratch. The best part – it is made using natural ingredients, with no cornflour, store-bought cream, condensed milk or other processed ingredients. This is how my mom used to make it back when I was a school-going kid, and things like cornflour and condensed milk weren’t big. It’s such a simple thing to make, to be honest, with just the bare minimum of ingredients.

Delectable Malai Kulfi

It’s raining frozen delights at the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Shhhh Cooking Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a group of food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every month. The theme for this month, suggested by Pavani of Pavani’s Kitchen, is ‘Frozen Delights’. I’m drooling, looking at the gorgeous Easy Oreo Ice Cream that Pavani has created for the theme. I’m soooo trying it out!

For those of you who are interested, I’ll tell you about how the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge works. Every month, the group members are divided into pairs. Each pair then goes on to exchange two ingredients, unknown to the rest of the group. The pair has to use these ‘secret’ ingredients in creating a recipe that fits the theme of the month. Isn’t that super interesting?

I was paired with Narmadha, the warm and bubbly author of Nams Corner, for the month. She suggested I make a frozen food using ‘cardamom’ and ‘rose essence,’ and here I am with this Malai Kulfi recipe! I gave Narmadha ‘sugar’ and ‘raw mango’ as her secret ingredients, and she made these absolutely brilliant Raw Mango Popsicles using them.

How to make Malai Kulfi

Here is how I make it.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1 litre full-fat milk
  2. 1/3 cup sugar or to taste
  3. 20 cashewnuts
  4. 3/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  5. 4-5 drops of rose essence (optional)
  6. 5-6 almonds for garnishing (optional)
  7. A generous pinch of saffron threads for garnishing (optional)

Method:

1. Take the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place on high flame. Allow the milk to come to a boil, which should take about 5-6 minutes.

2. Add the sugar to the pan. Mix well. Reduce flame to low-medium. Allow the sugar to get completely dissolved in the milk. Taste and adjust sugar if needed.

3. Take the cashewnuts in a small mixer jar. Powder them coarsely.

4. Keeping the flame at low-medium, add the coarsely powdered cashewnuts to the milk, stirring constantly.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left and right: Steps 3 and 4

5. Continue to cook the milk at low-medium flame for a good 15-20 minutes or till it is well reduced and thick. Stir intermittently. Cream will form on the sides of the pan – scrape it back into the pan with a spatula. When the milk has reduced more than half of its original volume, switch off the gas.

6. Mix in the cardamom powder.

7. Mix in the rose essence, if using.

8. Allow the milk mixture to cool down completely. Now, transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight freezer box. Place in the freezer. Freeze for at least 4-6 hours, after which the Malai Kulfi will be ready. Cut into slices using a knife and serve immediately, garnished with saffron threads and chopped almonds (if using).

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom right and left: Steps 7 and 8

Tips & Tricks

1. Use full-fat milk for best results. I have used Nandini full-cream milk here.

2. The rose essence is optional, but I would highly recommend using it. I think it elevates the appeal of the Malai Kulfi quite a bit. If you are sceptical about using essence, use a 100% natural brand that does not contain any chemicals.

3. I have used cashewnut powder here to thicken the milk. You may use almond powder or cornflour instead.

4. Adjust the quantity of sugar you use as per personal taste preferences.

5. Make sure you use a heavy-bottomed pan to cook the milk.

6. I have used home-made cardamom powder here. I grind a good handful of cardamom to a fine powder, along with the skins, and store it in an air-tight bottle. I use it as required. You may use store-bought cardamom powder instead, too.

7. You may add some finely chopped almonds to the milk, while it is reducing. I have not done so.

8. Make sure the milk mixture has thickened well and it has reduced more than half of its original volume. Only then will the Malai Kulfi be creamy and delicious and set beautifully.

9. Make sure the milk mixture has completely cooled down before you go about freezing it.

10. I have used a simple, air-tight stainless steel box to freeze the Malai Kulfi. You may use a plastic or Tupperware freezer box instead, or use kulfi moulds.

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