Bringing Imagination to your Cooking…!!!


Paneer Shimla Mirchi…

Paneer Shimla Mirchi…

Food for thought..! Ever wondered how some dishes/recipes were named.. !?! I’m sure every cuisine has some very interesting names.. Since my interaction has been the most with Indian food … Indian food  does have some real bizarre names like – pasanda, navratan, jalfrezi, tikka, ragda patties etc.. whoever came up with such fancy names.. hats off! Now come the other boring names, probably named by someone who was simply caught up on a day like this where he could not just come up with anything fancy…I’m talking about the use of names like masala, fry, curry, kadai, handi, tandoori etc. The name of this dish sounds familiar huh… just like Aloo Shimla Mirchi.. I know! But I couldn’t come up with a more innovative name…! I kept racking my brains over it.. Not one of my very innovative days when it comes to naming dishes I suppose & of course not for K as well..! I asked K to try the dish & give this dish a name.. he came up with this tacky name…! I smiled & asked him if it’s all he could come up with.. he replied “I’m hungry, right now this is what I can come up with!”. I did not want to bug him more.. so I just stuck with naming it this way.. !!!

Paneer Shimla Mirchi…

I had a huge stash of Paneer in my fridge which I had completely forgotten about… Thanks to my 3 year twin nephews who were fighting for more Paneer on their plate during our Skype Video chat, I decided I’ll cook K a paneer dish for dinner!

With all the shows on TLC I watch.. K is always drooling on the Bacon, the numerous cheese’s, pink salmon, Ham & cheese, fish & chips, .. the list goes on..! You place paneer in front of K along with some roti’s, he is happy..! K’s vegetarian happy meal formula in Indian food has to have some Paneer…!

This dish is again something I just made up on the go.. ! It tangy, sweet & sour and mildly hot… with some lovely flavour & crunch added by the green peppers/capsicum/Shimla mirchi.

Shimla Mirchi & coriander if you were wondering what were those things in the background which were out of focus…

This is one of the first time I tried to shoot pictures this way.. not too much on the background, a less busy picture.. Just a little bored with my usual style of photography. Hope you guys find these pictures appealing..! Change is the only constant isn’t it??!

Ingredients: (Serves 2-3 ) Preparation Time: 30 mins
Paneer – 175 gms, cubed
Onions – 2 medium-sized, finely chopped
Bay leaves – 1/2 of a medium-sized leaf, roughly torn into 2-3 pieces
Dried red chilli’s – 2, medium spicy variety, each roughly torn into 2-3 pieces
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric – a pinch
Tamarind – 1/2 of a marble-sized ball, without seeds, soak in 1/4 warm cup water & keep aside
Sugar – 1/2 tsp
Capsicum – 1 medium-sized, de-seeded and cubed
Coriander – 2 sprigs, finely chopped to garnish
Cashews – 5, soaked in 1/4 cup milk for at least 30 mins, make a paste of the cashews with the milk
Tip: Skip the Cashews if you wanna go skinny with this dish
Cooking oil – 1.5 tbsp
Salt to taste

For the fresh paste:
Tomato – 1 medium-sized, roughly chopped
Coriander – 10-12 sprigs with the stems
Green chilli’s – 1, roughly chopped
Garlic – 8 plump cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
Ginger – 1 small piece,roughly chopped
Cardamom – 3 whole
Cinnamon – 1 inch piece

Heat oil in a kadai/deep bottom fry pan. Once the oil heats up, set heat to medium. Throw in the bay leaves bits & let them sizzle. In about 30 seconds, throw in the cumin seeds & let them sizzle, do not let them turn black. Add the finely chopped onion & add some salt to help fry them quicker. Let them turn translucent.

Meanwhile, grind all the ingredients mentioned for a paste except the tomatoes. Once the rest of the ingredients have turned into a rough paste, add the tomatoes & blend to as smooth a paste as possible. Add a bit of water if required.

Squeeze the juice out of the soaking tamarind & throw the pulp away, reserving all the water.

When the onion begins to turn a light brown, add the roughly torn dried red chilli’s, mix it around. Next add the freshly ground paste along with 1 cup water. Simmer. When the sauce thickens throw in the turmeric & coriander powder. Mix it around. Let it fry for a couple of minutes. Now throw in the sugar, tamarind juice & give the sauce a good mix.

Note: Do not let the sauce burn, reduce heat & add a little water if it is too dry.

When all the raw flavours fade away add the cashew paste if you wish to add & throw in the capsicum & fry till the capsicum cooks in to a way you like it, I like a bit crunch in them so I cook them halfway.

Note: If you need some gravy in this dish, add about 1/2 cup of water before you add the capsicum. Else you can let all the water evaporate & make this a dry dish.

Lastly add the paneer cubes, mix well so that the sauce coats the paneer. Cook the paneer till tender. 

Garnish with some chopped coriander.

Paneer Shimla Mirchi…

Serving Suggestions:
Serve hot as an accompaniment with hot Indian breads.

Paneer Shimla Mirchi…

Else you can make them into rolls. Add a couple of spoons of the sabji with some freshly chopped onions, coloured peppers and make yourself a roll or a wrap. :) This sounds perfect if you have just enough leftovers right?

Steamed Momos/dumplings with an aromatic Veggie filling…

Steamed Momos/dumplings with an aromatic Veggie filling…

Allison from the food blog – Spontaneous Tomato had a post on Nepali momo’s a while back. I’m a sucker for dumplings. I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, snack & dinner. Sigh no one serves dumplings for breakfast in restaurants :(. I have been on the quest to find that perfect recipe to prepare the wrappers for the momo’s at home from a while now. I have tried at least half a dozen recipes out but never could I master the art of preparing the wrappers just like how they are supposed to be. When Allison posted her recipe, I was way too tempted to try it out because her method was different from the way I have ended up making wrappers earlier. The previous recipe’s I tried always left me with thick wrappers, the wrappers themselves filled me up that I did not prefer to eat more than a couple of them.. :(.

I’m sure no one needs an introduction to this dish. If you do, then I have to say Oh My Goodness, you have clearly missed something wonderful all these years of your existence..! Really???….. what were you busy with???? Just like many other quick eats you can grab from street stalls (Pani Puri or other chat’s, sweet corn, Frankie’s, sandwiches etc.), you find small stalls for steamed momo’s in the streets of most popular cities in India. They serve yummy dumplings too. But indulge only if your tummy works well with street food.

It has been in the back of my mind. I even promised Allison that I would give her recipe a try. She has a lovely blog with truckloads of recipe’s. She made a wonderful tomato based dip for her recipe. I opted to create a soy-based sauce for my dumplings. I halved her recipe & made some changes to suit my taste buds. You can check her recipe out at  her blog – recipe link.  I can’t thank her enough for helping me find my prefect dumpling wrapper making method. :) 

You will see more pics for this recipe post the next time I make them. For now you have to do with pics clicked via my phone. I just have a couple of pics.

Don’t the dumplings look so glossy & lovely?? Rather, they look perfect don’t they :D. So inviting & they give you a perfect sneak peek into their contents??? You will say so too and never look at ordering a plate of momo’s or dumplings the next time you visit your fav haunt for them & begin trying out other starter options :D. I’ll give myself a pat on my shoulder since I finally mastered it.. :D. The gloss is not from oil.. it just comes out naturally.. Again another shocker.. isn’t it?? these are oil free too.. ! The only draw-back is that they are made of All purpose flour or maida. Oh well.. you can’t have such yummy tasting food without there being a single flaw in it can you…?? Wish wheat could have been a more accommodating flour.. Let us start with our stairway to Heaven.. ;)

Ingredients for the wrappers : (Makes 25 – 30) Preparation Time: 60 mins (Excludes time for the dough resting)
All purpose flour/Maida – 1 + 1 cup,
Hot steaming water – 3/4 cup
Salt – 1/4 tsp

Take a heat proof mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of the flour to the bowl. Add 1/4 salt & whisk to mix the salt & flour well. Make a well in between & add the hot water. Using a spatula, mix the water & the flour together.

Note: Remember the water is hot, do not add your hand in.

Once the dough gets lumpy add the other cup of flour. Continue mixing with the spatula. Try to handle the dough with your hand once it has cooled down & it is warm enough to be handled by hand.

Lightly flour your counter & transfer the dough over the floured surface. Knead your dough to a smooth ball. Say, takes about 4-5 minutes. Add flour little by little if required.

Let the dough rest in a clean bowl, cover the bowl with a wet cloth to prevent the dough from drying up. Let the dough rest for at least an hour.

After an hour, make small marble or gooseberry sized balls out of the dough. Lightly flour your counter & roll the small balls into round shaped flat breads. Roll it as thin as possible.

Now fill the centre with your favourite kind of stuffing with minced meat, veggies or a mix of both. I used a veggie mix. Continue reading for my mix-veg filling.

Mix-Veggie filling for Momo’s/Dumplings:
Ingredients: (Fills 25-30 dumplings) Time: 10-15 mins
Cabbage leaves – 4-5 medium-sized leaves
Shallots – 15, peeled Note: Use a medium-sized red onion if you do not have shallots, roughly chop it into cubes.
Garlic – 5 cloves
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Tip: Please do not use store-bought Ginger-Garlic paste as a substitute for fresh ginger & garlic for this recipe. You might as well give up trying this recipe out if you only have store-bought paste with you.
Coriander leaves – 5-6 fresh sprigs, with stalk
Spring onions – 2 whole with the with the greens, peel the onion bulb & roughly chop them
Carrot – 1 medium-sized, peeled & cut into cubes
Green Chilli’s – 2 medium-sized, stalk removed
Mushrooms (optional) – 5-6, washed & drained. I skipped using mushrooms as I did not have any.
Grated Cheddar Cheese (optional) – If you love your dumplings with cheese, go ahead, mix about a cup of grated cheese to your veggie-mix
Salt to taste

For the meat variant: If you wish to add some meat, then leave out the carrot, mushrooms out of the veggie mix & add some pre-cooked mince of your favourite meat to the rest of the ingredients once they are chopped in a food processor.

Throw all these ingredients mentioned, other than the salt into a food processor & finely chop this ingredients together. Transfer the chopped ingredients into a bowl, season with salt. Check if you want to add a wee bit crushed black pepper.

Note: Do not add salt if you don’t plan to begin making the dumplings right away. The salt releases the water from the veggies & will make it soggy. So, add salt just about 5 minutes before you begin rolling the dough to make small circular dics.

I was not planning to post this recipe this soon on the blog, so I did not click pictures of the making. :( I ended up posting some pics clicked via my phone on Instagram & FaceBook & I had requests to post the recipe. So bear with me till I make this dish again for more detailed pics.

Let us continue with adding the filling to the rolled flour discs. Place a 2 tsp or lesser amount of the prepared filling in the centre of the disc. (The quantity of the filling used depends on how big/small a disc you have rolled). Now slowly bring together the edges together just like a money bag or in other traditional momo/dumpling shapes like I have.

Yes, no oil at all. Isn’t that just brilliant. So you can indulge, it is really ok if you gobble up some all-purpose flour covered steamed vegetable goodness.

I used a traditional dumpling steamer. So I did not need to oil it. If you are using a stainless steel steamer, you may need to grease it before you place your momo/dumplings in it to cook.

Being about a litre of water to a boil, simmer & place you steamer or top. Make sure that your steamer does not touch the water. So choose your vessel carefully. Similar to any double boiling method you have used.

Steaming momo's...

Prepare just about 4-5 dumplings per batch (Unless you have a steamer that is used to feed giants.. I’m kidding I’m sure you won’t own a steamer enough to feed 4 people at the same time unless you run a restaurant. :D). Never crowd the steamer. We need to let the steam circulate well to help cook the dumplings. Steam each batch for about 8-10 minutes or till the dumplings come off the base of the steamer easily (Use a silicone spatula to turn to check if they are done), usually the top turns translucent letting you see whats filled when they are ready. Again only if you have rolled the discs real thin will the wrapper turn translucent when ready.

Note: 1. Don’t use your hand to pick the dumplings out if the steamer is still on the vessel producing the steam, you may burn yourself. 2. Also keep checking on the water & re-filling it, if all the water evaporates, then the vessel will start imparting a burnt flavour to the momo’s.

Repeat the same process to prepare & steam more dumplings.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve hot with your favourite dip.

Steamed Momos/dumplings with an aromatic Veggie filling…

A friend introduced me to eating my dumplings with soy sauce. I loved that variant so much that I wanted to create a lovely soy based dip to accompany my dumplings. Click the link for my soy-based dip recipe.

If you like this recipe, then you may also like – Chicken Frankie RollAloo Tikki Chole Chaat…Chole Chaat…Egg Pakodi ChaatGreek Souvlaki wrap with salad & tzatziki etc.


Cheesy Red Onion & Pimento Olive Focaccia…

Cheesy Red Onion & Pimento Olive Focaccia...

Sorry for playing the disappearing act too often. I’m still scouting around for my ingredients & equipment. I just managed to select the oven I wanted & guess what??!?? its out of stock.. :( So while I wait for everything to fall into place I’m catching up with friends & family. Another couple of days & i’m heading to Mangalore,,!! After about 2 yrs.. & yes I’m damn excited.. being home.. lazing around, going out with mum, the food & all my favourite people around.. :))

Cheesy Red Onion & Pimento Olive Focaccia...

Again this is another recipe I managed photographing between all the packing & moving back to India..

Ingredients: (Serves 6-8)      Preparation Time: 120 mins
Strong white Bread flour – 350 gms
Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
Active dry yeast – 1 sachet
Honey – 1/2 tsp
Black pepper – 1/4 tsp freshly ground,
Warm water – 250 ml
Plain Olive oil – 3 tbsp + extra for greasing
Red onion – 1 small, diced
Pimento Olives – 8-10, each cut into 4 discs
Mature Cheddar Cheese – 3-4 tbsp grated
Parsley – 1 tsp freshly chopped
Salt – 1 tsp

Some of the ingredients..

Tip: You could mix up the olives, parsley & onions with some salt in a bowl & let the flavours mix. 

In a saucepan, mix the olive oil, black pepper & minced garlic. Heat the oil mixture over low heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure the garlic does not change colour. Turn off the heat & let the mixture cool. The best part about this focaccia is you infuse olive oil with the flavours you want & you do not need to hunt stores for infused olive oil.

Now in a large bowl, mix the yeast with the honey & water. Stir a couple of times & let it rest for about 5 minutes. Add about 140 gms of flour & the cooled olive oil mixture. Mix about 5-6 times, till the flour is moistened. Let this sit for about 5 minutes. Now add rest of the flour & salt. Mix till the dough comes together. Now knead the dough till its smooth. Oil the bowl & place the dough in the bowl & cover with a warm damp cloth & let the yeast work on the dough for around an hour. Place the dough in a warm area so that this helps it rise better.

Let the dough rise..

Pre-heat your oven to 230 degrees C or 450 degrees F. Use some olive oil to grease a 9 by 13 inch rimmed baking sheet. I used a slightly larger sheet hence my focaccia is a little flatter than usual.

When an hour is up & the dough has risen well, knead it again a couple of times, then transfer it to the greased baking sheet & flatten it out using your hands. Else use a rolling pin. Let it be for another 20 mins so that the dough rises again. Spread a tsp of olive oil over the top using a pastry brush. Press down the strands of red onion evenly on top of the dough. Add the olive discs between the onions.

Arrange the veggies around..

Doesn’t this look colourful??? I couldn’t help but pop in some olives when slicing them.. :) & the bread is so spongy it was springing back as I was placing the veggies around.. 

Sprinkle the chopped parsley around & then finally spread the grated cheese around evenly.

Sprinkle the cheese around..

I just love how this looks even before its out of the oven.. :)

Now bake for 15 – 20 minutes in the centre of the oven or until the top is golden brown.

Since I used a larger pan the dough was spread a little flatter, hence my focaccia was ready in 15 minutes.

The aroma is just brilliant. Makes you all warm & you crave for some creamy soup/pasta to go with it. Once done, let it cool on a cooling rack.

Serving Suggestions:
Cut into pieces of the desired size & serve warm. They are yummy as is or they go really well with some Pasta or soup or just as is with some wine.

Cheesy Red Onion & Pimento Olive Focaccia...

Note: The bread tastes best when warm & out of the oven. If you plan to save some for later, then it lasts for a couple of days in the refrigerator.

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Cauliflower, Broccoli & Red onion Flan..

Cauliflower, Broccoli & Red onion Flan..

Back in Bangalore.. during the early 2000’s there was a bakery chain called “Sweet Chariot”,that was where I had tasted quiche’s for the first time. Since I’m a savoury food freak.. I loved it.. the cheese, the pepper & baked veggies with the crispy base.. bliss for sure.. !!! By saying “there was” I don’t mean to say the chain is closed, still exists for sure.. but now there are so many options when it comes to food in Bangalore.. Bangalore is so Cosmo when it comes to food and beer.. You will be truly amazed at the variety now. Since I landed here in Glasgow, about 1 year 8 months.. my friends keep talking about their new favourite haunts & the yummy food that’s been making these new places a big hit..!!

Cauliflower, Broccoli & Red onion Flan..

While I was thinking about being back in Bangalore & the places that I missed eating, I remembered my fav quiche place.. & from then on I have been looking to buy a nice flan tin.. so over the last weekend when I went out, I bought myself a tin to bake a flan.. :)

This is a super easy & tasty recipe. Its from a treasured book of mine from M&S. The book it filled with easy peasy pies, tarts & flans.. This flan has wonderful flavours.. & its so cheesy that it will surely be a heavenly trip for your taste buds..!

Cauliflower, Broccoli & Red onion Flan..

If your lazy to prepare the pastry at home, go ahead & use a store-bought shortcrust pastry.. :) as easy to please your friends/guests for a sudden party at home.. :)

Ingredients: (Serves 4)       Preparation Time: 1 hr 20 mins (Excludes time to chill the pastry)
For the pastry:
Plain flour – 175g + extra for dusting
Cayenne Pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
Butter – 85 gms
Iced water – 2 tbsp
Salt – a pinch

For the Filling:
Cauliflower florets – 100g
Broccoli florets – 100g
Red onion – 1 medium-sized, cut into 8-10 wedges
Butter – 2 tbsp
Plain four – 1 tbsp
Vegetable stock – 6 tbsp
Milk – 125ml
Cheddar Cheese – 85g, grated
Black pepper – 1/2 tsp, freshly ground
Cayenne Pepper powder – 1/4 tsp to garnish
Salt to taste

To prepare the Pastry:
Sift the flour into a bowl & add salt to the bowl. Add the cayenne pepper powder & mix. (Optional, you can add a tsp of dried thyme if you wish to). Add the butter & cut into the flour, rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the water & mix to a smooth dough. Add more water, only if necessary. Shape into a ball & chill for 30 mins in the refrigerator. Since I have a square flan tin I chilled it in a rectangular shape.

The pastry, chilled & ready to be rolled..

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Line a 18cm, 7 inch loose-based flan/tart tin with some grease-proof paper. Now place the rolled pastry on the grease-proof paper & gently press against the sides. Cut off any extra pastry using the sharp sides of the flan tin. Place in the oven & bake for 20 mins.

Transfer the rolled pastry sheet to the tin lined with greaseproof paper..

While the pastry is getting baked, you can work on preparing the filling.

The veggies...

Fill a large saucepan with about a litre of lightly salted water. When the water comes to a boil, throw in the washed cauliflower,broccoli florets & onion.Lower heat & let the veggies cook till tender, about 8-10 mins. Drain & reserve the stock.

Keep an eye on the pastry & take it out when 20 minutes are up. Let it cool.

Note: The pastry may tend to move away from the edges of the tin, that is fine. Do not get worried about it.

For the sauce:
Melt butter in a saucepan, add the flour, mix well. Keep stirring for a minute so that no lumps are formed. Turn off the heat & stir in the milk & stock. Turn the heat back on & bring to a boil, remember to stir constantly. Now add 55g of grated cheddar. Mix, turn off the heat once the cheese melts. Season with salt & crushed black pepper.

The sauce..

Note: Do not prepare the sauce well in advance, it tends to thicken as time passes by. Prepare it only when the tin with the pastry is about 10 minutes into the baking in the oven.

Now spoon the veggies evenly on to the pastry. Pour over the prepared sauce & sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese over the top & bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Hmmm… after all the wait… was it worth it?? Yes, of course it was.. :) Look at the colours.. :) truly enticing for sure….  The pastry is so fresh & melts in your mouth.. :)

Tip: The one’s who want to add some meat can go ahead & add some ham if you wish to. Add it with the veggies before pouring the sauce.

Just out of the oven....

Garnish with the cayenne pepper.

Garnish with Cayenne pepper powder before you serve..

Serving Suggestions:
Slice & serve immediately.. I prepared this the day before.. typing out this recipe is making me crave for it again…!! Food blogging is a tough job I must say..!! First you end up eating all that you make, then you crave for more if it’s already history when you type the recipe out…

Cauliflower, Broccoli & Red onion Flan..

Lesson learnt – always type the recipe the day you make it.. that way you can avoid these uncontrollable cravings..!!

Any leftovers can be couriered to me ! You can wrap them up in an airtight container & warm it up in the microwave oven for a minute before you serve. Lasts for 2-3 days. I wish it did in my case.. :( sadly it vanished with an hour…! 

If you like this recipe, then you may also like – Egg Puffs – A South Indian, Savoury Bakery treatOlive & Basil breadRosemary, Lemon thyme Focaccia.. etc.

Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand.. A Diwali Special post..

Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand..

While I was adding the picture slideshow to the different recipe category pages, I noticed that the dessert section hardly had any entries, I may not be have a sweet tooth but people who follow my blog sure do, why should I deprive them of the sweet adventures! Having said this, does not mean that I don’t know to make some of the Indian sweet dishes.. K loves sweets.. So, I do make some for him.. :)

Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand..

Indians love sweets.. & with not even a fortnight left for Diwali I got to post a few sweet dishes before some of my friends begin to ask for some recipes. Since Greek set yogurt is easily available here, thought I should try my hands at making some Shrikhand… Oh, for those who are wondering what Diwali is, it is an Indian festival; called the festival of lights..!! It’s a huge festival celebrated by exchanging sweets, lighting small oil lamps around the house when the sun sets, new clothes, colours & festivities everywhere around.. & not to forget the sky filled with beautiful & colourful firecrackers..!!

You would have guessed from all the chatter above & the pictures that Shrikhand is an Indian sweet dish. It is famous in the states of Gujarat & Maharashtra.. It is made from strained yogurt,sweetened with sugar & flavoured with the most famous flavours – cardamom & saffron. Sometimes just with cardamom. It is also available in Pistachio & Mango flavours. It is silky smooth… & filled with loads of calories.. Don’t worry you can’t possibly eat the whole bowl.. it’s too heavy.. So you can’t indulge on loads of it unless you’re a glutton.. :) A version with fresh fruits is also available. It usually chilled before being served.. So you can imagine how heavenly & silky smooth this is.. :)

Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand..

In the state of Gujarat this is eaten as an accompaniment with the Indian bread called Puri/Poori’s. Yes, Gujarat is another state obsessed with sweets & closely competes with Bengal.. :) Both these states have a variety of sweets to offer. Now you know which states not to miss if you have a sweet tooth & you happen to visit India.. :)

Ingredients: (Serves 6 – 8)       Preparation Time: 20 mins (Excludes time to strain the yogurt & chill the Shrikhand)
Greek yogurt/full fat thick-set yogurt – 2 tubs of a litre each
Muslin Cloth
Sugar – 1 cup or more, based on your taste
Elaichi/Caedmon – 12-14 cloves, de-skinned, seeds coarsely powdered
Kesar/Saffron – a pinch soaked in a tsp of warm milk (love the aroma of saffron in milk & of course the colour is so beautiful) + a pinch to serve (optional)
Powdered almonds/chopped pistachios – 1-2 tbsp (optional, sprinkled just before you serve) (I ran out of powdered almonds so used whole almonds)

Fold the large piece of muslin cloth into 2, so that is a wee bit thick. Now place the cloth in a large bowl. Make sure there is enough cloth & it comes out of the bowl. Empty one tub of a litre of greek yogurt into the cloth. Do the same with the next one. The excess water will start to trickle out once you lift the cloth with all the loose ends held tightly in your fist. Make sure you have the bowl at the bottom when you do this, to avoid any mess from the dripping water.

Tightly tie the yogurt in the muslin cloth & let this contraption hang as shown.

Yogurt being strained overnight using Muslin cloth..

Make sure you have a bowl to collect all the dripping water. Leave this overnight to get strained completely.

Note: The amount of yogurt left behind after straining solely depends on the thickness of the yogurt used. Hence your servings depends on the amount left behind. Use a good quality yogurt to end up with more servings.

Next day, add the 1 tsp of warm milk to a pinch of Saffron & keep aside. Take the muslin cloth contraption down, open up the cloth as shown & transfer the contents into a clean dry bowl. Add sugar tbsp by tbsp.

Mix well. Taste & stop adding sugar when you reach the desired level of sugar. Now use a sieve & strain the sweetened hung yogurt as shown. This removes any lumps present. The resulting product is so silky that you will love its texture..

Now coarsely powder the cardamom seeds. Add the saffron milk & the powdered cardamom to the strained sweetened yogurt mixture & mix well till well combined. The colour of the Shrikhand changes to a light yellow. If you have added more than a pinch then the colour may be a deep yellow.

Cover the bowl & chill it in the refrigerator.

Garnishing: (optional)
Garnish with some powdered almonds/chopped pistachios & a few strands of saffron before serving.

Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand..

This pic was clicked when I still had some daylight left & also it was before chilling the Srikhand.. :) 

Serving Suggestions:
Serve chilled as mentioned earlier with or without the garnishing as a dessert or as an accompaniment with some hot fluffy puri/poori’s. Yummmy…!!

Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand..

If you like this recipe, then you may also like – Gaajar Halwa/ Carrot HalwaMadgane – one of the quintessential Konkani Payasam/sweet-dish….Charmure Undo.. A guest post by Manjula.. etc.


Shahi Paneer.. Cottage Cheese Curry with a royal touch…

Shahi Paneer..

Thanks to all the love you guys showered upon me for the 200th post.. :) This just makes me wanna get back to my routine of posting a recipe everyday.. but I know it’s not really possible.. We are going on a holiday today.. So I won’t be around for the next few days..

Oh doesn’t this curry just look lovely.. look at the rich colour & texture.. Sure is tempting isn’t it? That is what I thought when Anil made it & I tasted it the first time.. the very look of it blew my mind.. the aroma is totally another thing,.. you will know what I’m talking about if you end up making this :) Anil is a friend of mine. He loves cooking as well. He is more into the Indian cooking & has some lovely recipe’s with his unique touch to it. 

 Shahi Paneer..

In this recipe he uses Paprika for the lovely colour.. The paprika adds its flavours which blend in so well.. so, this ain’t the usual restaurant curry that you get.. I’m so glad he shared this recipe with me. The secret ingredient is the garam masala here. He is a big fan of Badshah Garam Masala. I had never used that brand of until he asked me the secret.. & believe me I have discovered the perfect garam masala & now its my favourite as well. Try using this brand if you can get your hands on it.. :) Naah.. I’m not marketing for them…!

Paneer is K’s favourite & I have never heard him say no to Paneer. Yes, I have caught him stealing pieces of it from my plate many times.. That is how madly in love he is with them..!! So he absolutely loved this recipe.. licked his plate clean..! I don’t blame him at all.. I do the same with some of my favourites…. ;)
Tweak the red chilli powder as per your taste if you’re a mild curry eater.. Or go ahead & use a milder red chilli powder.. What I use is pretty hot..

Shahi Paneer..

Ingredients: (Serves 3-4)       Preparation Time: 30 – 40 mins
Paneer – 250 g, cubed
Onions – 4, medium-sized, roughly chopped
Tomatoes – 3, medium-sized, roughly chopped
Garlic – 6, cloves, roughly chopped
Ginger – 1 inch piece, roughly chopped
Paprika – 2 tsp
Red Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala powder – 1 tsp
Cashews/Almonds – 15-20, soaked in hot water for over an hour.
Milk – full fat, 1/2 cup
Kasuri Methi – 1 tsp, crushed between the palms of your hand
Cooking oil/butter – 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Heat 1 tbsp of oil/butter in a deep bottom fry pan & when hot add the ginger,garlic, onions & tomatoes & set heat to medium. Throw in some salt to help cook them faster. Cook them, do not fry them. When the onions turn translucent, the tomatoes loose their stiffness & turn into pulp, turn the heat off. Set aside & let them cool.

Meanwhile you can peel the skin off the almonds if you opted to use almonds instead of cashews & add them to a blender jar along with the milk & grind them to a smooth paste. Keep aside.

Add the cooked onion,tomato, Ginger & garlic paste to a blender jar & turn it into a smooth paste. Do not add water.

Now, turn the heat back on & add 1 tbsp of oil. Add the ground onion-tomato paste to the oil when hot. Throw in the spice powders one by one. Simmer & cook till the raw flavours fade away & the oil/butter begins to separate. Check seasoning & adjust. Once the raw flavours fade away add the almond/cashew milk paste & mix well. Lower heat.If the curry turns too thick, add some more milk to achieve the required consistency. Add the paneer cubes & cook further for another 5-6 minutes or till the curry begins to bubble. Turn the heat off.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the crushed kasuri methi. You may also want to add a small cube of butter on top before adding the Kasuri Methi. :)

Shahi Paneer served with Jeera Rice...

Serving Suggestions:
Serve hot with Indian breads of your choice or any rice dish like Jeera rice or peas pulav/pilaf & dig in right away… :)


If you like this recipe, then you may also like – Paneer/Cottage cheese burji with hints of Celery…Paneer/Cottage Cheese Tava Masala…Paneer Enchiladas/Cottage cheese Enchiladas infused with Indian flavoursPaneer Methi Malai Kali Mirch etc.

Dark Chocolate & Mocha Cheesecake with Rum…

This cheesecake has so many different flavours that blend so beautifully that it will definitely be a treat for your taste buds..

We had a wee bit of an Indian Dark Rum called Old Monk left with us; it wasn’t enough for a drink & it was not going to be wasted :). I had noted this recipe down sometime back from a magazine & found it while I was cleaning up some old documents in my laptop. Guess its meant to be.. I had everything that I needed to make this cheesecake.. did not have to make a run to the grocers at all..

The only thing was that it needed to be set for at least 6-8 hours before you dig your fork into it for a bite.. ! Well, I know it’s easier to buy a slice from the bakery or your favourite restaurant because your wait time is just from the time you place your order & till the plate is brought to your table.. But think on the brighter side.. here for the same price of the slice you have a whole cheesecake which is yours!! That’s just one way to think about it… then it always involves all your precious time & love that goes into baking it is definitely special.. :)

Dark Chocolate & Mocha Cheesecake with Rum...

This is the first time I tried a cheesecake which involved baking. The last time I had tried a no bake cheesecake.. I fancy cheesecakes because it’s a bit sour & salty when compared to other cakes which are only on the sweeter side.. Its been unbearably hot from a couple of days & a chilled cheesecake just helped me cool down.. :)

As I did not have a 18 cm tin, I used 2 smaller tins to make this. One was a midnight snack.. I could not wait to let it set overnight & ate it.. shared it with K .. :)  The other one I patiently waited till the next day & went through the process of garnishing it & clicking pictures for the blog.. :)

Ingredients: (Serves 4 – 6) Preparation Time: 75-80 mins
For the cheesecake base:
Dark chocolate digestive biscuits – 150 gms
Butter – 50 gms, melted
Tip: I used unsalted butter, you can use salted butter for a nice salty flavour to add a nice salty biscuit base.
Mixed spice (optional) – 1/4 tsp, I used this just for the twist :)

For the filling:
Dark chocolate – 100 gms, I used Bournville
Cream cheese or soft cheese – 400 gms
Sugar – 90 gms
Eggs – 2
Cornflour – 3/4 tsp
Granulated coffee of your choice – 3/4 tsp
Sour cream – 150 gms
Dark Rum of your choice – 2 tbsp

Pre-heat your oven to 130 degrees. While the oven is heating up, break each biscuit into 2-3 pieces. Using a blender, blend the biscuit pieces into tiny bits.

Blend the biscuit pieces into a bits in a blender...

Take a medium-sized mixing bowl, & mix together the blended biscuit bits, melted butter & mixed spice powder if you plan to add it using a spatula.

Mix the biscuit bits with melted butter & mixed spice..

Line the base of a 18 cm springform tin/ a loose bottom sandwich tin with grease proof paper & transfer the biscuit mix to it. Evenly spread & press this to make a base. Once the oven has pre-heated, bake this in the oven for 10 mins.

While the biscuit base is baking, take a large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, eggs, corn flour & using an electric beater, beat all the ingredients together. Mix the coffee granules in 3/4 tsp water & let it dissolve completely. Add this to the cheese mixture. Mix well.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a bowl of simmering, bubbling hot water. Once its melted, add this to the cheese mixture along with the rum & give it a good mix with the beater. Make sure everything has blended well.

Mix all the ingredients well....

Cover & keep aside.

Meanwhile the base should be ready, let the base cool down to room temperature. Now pour the cheese mixture over the biscuit base.

Pour the mixture over the baked & cooled biscuit base...

The mixture should fill it to 3/4 the height of the cake pan. Give the pan at least 4-5 sharp taps so that any air bubble will escape.

Place the cake pan on a baking tray & bake at the same temperature 130 degrees for around 40 – 50 minutes or till done. The centre should wobble & the sides should be firm; that’s when its done.

Take the cheesecake out, place it on a wire rack & let it cool down completely.

Baked & cooling on the rack...

The sides should loosen up & get separated from the tin, else use a blunt knife to separate the edges. Cover with cling film or with a ceramic plate & chill in the freezer for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Once chilled, take out the cheesecake from the tin.

Garnish with shavings of dark chocolate & white chocolate or dust with some cocoa or coffee powder.

You can even add chocolate chips if you wish to. Or  you can eat it as is… :)

Serving Suggestions:
Slice, serve & enjoy chilled..

Dark Chocolate & Mocha Cheesecake with Rum

If you like this recipe, then you may also like -Lime n Lemon Cheesecake PotsCaramel CustardMuhallabia.. a Lebanese sweet dish….Gaajar Halwa/ Carrot Halwa etc.

Fiery Cheesy Tomato Macaroni Bake with Mushrooms & Frankfurters.. made using a homemade sauce…

Fiery Cheesy Tomato Macaroni Bake with Mushrooms & Frankfurters..

K & I love pasta bakes.. we normally buy ready sauces from the grocers & reserve it for those days when I don’t find time to cook.. or K wants to have something warm & cheesy..!It’s been on my mind to try out my own pasta bake sauce from sometime now.. Since I wanted a recipe that does not involve too much of chopping, I ended up preparing this today for lunch..

It turned out to be yummy..& we loved it.. Mission accomplished.. no need to buy ready sauces from the grocers as this sauce is ready in 5 minutes…No preservatives present in ready store bought sauces… When you prepare the sauce at home you can add the flavours you want..& customise it.. what more can you ask for?

I added some diced mushrooms & chopped frankfurters to the sauce before baking it.. You can add the veggies/frozen meat of your choice.. for example add some spinach/sweet corn/ courgette’s/chorizo slices/sausages/bacon bits etc.

Ingredients: (Serves 2)      Preparation Time: 45 mins
Macaroni – 80 gms
Soft Cheese – 3 tbsp
Mushrooms – 2-3 medium-sized, diced
Passata – 4 tbsp
Chilli flakes – 1/4 tsp
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Dried chives – 1 tsp
Frankfurter – 2, cut into small 1/2 inch rounds
Crushed black pepper – as per taste
Garlic – 2 cloves, finely chopped
Basil – 3-4 medium-sized leaves, final
Cooking oil/Olive oil – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven in the baking 180 degrees if it is fan assisted else to 200 degrees.

Meanwhile when the oven is getting preheated you can start to prepare the sauce..

For the sauce:

Heat oil in a fry pan, add the garlic when the oil is hot. Make sure heat is set to medium & sauté the garlic of a minute.. add the chopped onions & as always.. add some salt to help the onions turn translucent quickly..

Once the onions turn translucent add the dried chives, fry for another minute..Next add passata… mix cook on low heat for a couple of minutes..add salt to taste…add a little extra for the pasta as well..add the soft cheese. Mix well.Turn the heat off.. Add the chilli flakes… mix well…

Sauce & the uncooked macaroni..

Add the macaroni to a bake safe dish.. add the prepared sauce on top of the macaroni. Now add a cup of water..approximately 200 ml to the saucepan/fry pan used & give it a good,slow swirl & add this water to the baking dish. Add the mushrooms & the frankfurters & mix well.

Add 200 ml water to the baking dish & mix..

Tip: If you wish to serve in the same dish you can use individual bake dishes.

Bake this for 20 minutes by placing it in the centre of the oven. Take the dish out & mix well, return the dish to the oven again for another 20 minutes. Turn off the oven. Take the dish out & let it stand for a couple of minutes.

Let the baked pasta stand for 2 minutes once out of the oven & then mix well..
Garnish with basil & add crushed black pepper as per your taste.

Garnish with some crushed black pepper & basil..

Serving Suggestions:
Serve with warm garlic bread by the side.. Enjoy.. :D

Fiery Cheesy Tomato Macaroni Bake with Mushrooms & Frankfurters..

Serves 2 people with a decent appetite.. But if your a poor eater like K & me then 3 can comfortably eat… ;)

If you like this recipe.. check some similar recipes like – Watercress flavoured Penne Pasta with PeasWhole wheat spaghetti with BaconPasta infused in tomato and mozzarella..Creamy Egg Pasta etc.



Paneer Enchiladas/Cottage cheese Enchiladas infused with Indian flavours

Paneer Enchiladas/Cottage cheese Enchiladas infused with Indian flavours...

Most Indians seem to love Mexican food because their food is hot & tangy just like most Indian dishes. Some days back, I got busy watching movies at the cinema & the thought of coming home & cooking did not seem very pleasant. So I was walking around in the supermarket looking for some ready meal to pick on the way back. My eyes fell on some yummy looking Chicken Enchilada’s. I picked them up since I could not resist having a spicy meal. It was so yummy that I wanted more.

Making enchilada’s has been on my list of recipe’s to be tried from a long time. One of the first recipe’s sent in by a friend Pratibha. This happens to be her kids favourite. Her recipe involves making enchilada’s with chapatis’ instead of tortilla’s & her recipe had more Indian ingredients to it. Since K loves Paneer, I decided to make Paneer enchilada’s but I altered the recipe sent in by Pratibha to my liking. I also included some Jalapeños to add some extra zing to this.

Yummy paneer enchilada's out of the oven... :)

The Indian flavours blended really well into the sauce & my variation turned out real well. Hot & yummy :).

Note: For those who plan to make this with Chicken, cook the chicken before mixing it with the prepared sauce.

Ingredients: (Serves 2, Makes 4 Enchiladas)      Preparation Time: 30 mins (Includes time for sauce preparation)
Tomatoes – 5-6 medium-sized puree’d, should make about 250 ml tomato puree, I used 250 ready Passata
Tortilla’s – 4 medium-sized,
Garlic – 2 cloves, finely chopped
Onion – 1 small-sized, finely chopped
Red Chilli powder – 3/4 tsp or more, based on the kind of red chilli powder you have with you. I ended up adding just 3/4 tsp as I have some homemade red chilli powder passed on to me by a friend & its HOT!
Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Sugar – 1/2-1 tsp, based on your taste
Cottage cheese – 225 gms, crumbled into small pieces
Grated cheese – 100 gms
Jalapeños – 6-8, medium-sized
Cooking oil – 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a fry pan/ small pot. Set heat to medium. Add the chopped onions when the oil is hot. Add some salt to accelerate the onion frying. When the onions are translucent add the garlic & fry for a minute.

Next add the tomato puree, let it come to a boil, then simmer. Add salt to taste along with cumin & coriander powder. Mix well. Keep stirring in between. After about 2-3 minutes add red chilli powder. Mix well. Taste & check if the sauce is hot enough for you. Else add more red chilli powder. Add the sugar. Mix well.

Tip: If the tomatoes are too tangy then add some more sugar.

Let the sauce cook & simmer till the raw flavours fade away & the sauce begins to thicken. It should have the consistency of tomato ketchup.If it thickens beyond that add some water & mix well. Turn off the heat & keep the sauce aside.

Heat another fry pan for heating the tortilla’s. Meanwhile add 1/4 of the prepared sauce to the crumbled paneer.

Add 1/4 of the sauce into the crumbled paneer..

Sprinkle some salt for the paneer. Mix well. This will be the filling. Keep aside.

The fry pan should be hot by now. Add a few drops of oil, maintain the heat to medium & dip the tortilla into the prepared sauce just so that it has a light coating of the sauce on both sides, add this tortilla to the fry pan & fry on both sides for just about a minute.


Transfer this tortilla to a plate or worktop & add 2-3 spoons of the paneer filling. Roll up the tortilla & place it in a baking tray. Make the other 3 in the way & place them next to each other as shown. Make sure you use a baking tray/glass vessel where they fit snuggly.

Tip: If you find the method of dipping the tortilla into the sauce &  frying them messy then fry them without dipping them into the sauce. I like dipping in the sauce method as this is more flavourful.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Once you have lined up all the tortilla’s, pour the rest of the sauce over the top of these lined up beauties. Spread it around evenly with a spatula. Spread the jalapeños on top. Now spread the grated cheese as the final layer. Place the dish/tray in the centre of the oven & then bake this for 10 – 12 mins.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve hot.

Paneer Enchiladas/Cottage cheese Enchiladas infused with Indian flavours...

Enjoy with some beer or a nice cocktail by the side.. :)

If you liked this recipe you may also like other recipe’s like – Mushroom WrapsGreek Souvlaki wrap with salad & tzatzikiSweet n Spicy Spinach Chicken – Chinese stylePepper chicken in cream and basil with roast potatoes etc

Watercress flavoured Penne Pasta with Peas

Watercress flavoured Penne Pasta with Peas..

Watercress has a very strong peppery flavour which I’m ok with at times. But then for the days when I really do not want that flavour I use them to make this pasta recipe & mask most of that flavour away using some fresh peas, spring onions & garlic. :D Yes, at times I act like a kid who hates his healthy greens. Sadly can’t make faces at myself, so the angel at one side urges me to eat them while the devil says no. Just like the good always wins the bad, I shut up & end up eating watercress this way. I also add some cheese to this pasta & make it sinful enough to please that devil. ;) You can do without the cheese.

Watercress has a lot of nutritional value, that’s the reason for all this fuss. It contains a good amount of Iron, calcium, Iodine & folic acid.

Ingredients: (Serves 2) Preparation Time: 15 – 20 mins
Watercress – 100 gms, washed & drained
Spring onions – 3 whole, chopped roughly along with the greens
Garlic clove – 1, chopped
Fresh garden peas – 2 -3 tbsp
Black pepper – 1/4 tsp or more, freshly ground
Milk – 30 ml
Grated cheese – the one you like, since this is optional
Water – 200 ml
Penne Pasta – about 50 gms, uncooked
Salt to taste
No oil required.

Blend the watercress, spring onions, 1 tbsp of green peas and garlic in a blender to make a paste.

Transfer the paste into a pot and add water. Bring it to a boil. Add salt to taste. When the war flavours go away, add the milk. Next add the penne pasta. Cook the pasta in this broth. Make sure there is enough water to cook the pasta, but not too much. Keep stirring from time to time so that the pasta doesn’t stick to each other or stick to the bottom of the pot.

Cooking the pasta in watercress...

When the pasta is cooked, add 1-2 tbsp of garden peas. Give it a good mix. Turn off the heat.

Garnish with freshly ground black pepper. I also add some grated/powdered cheese.

 Watercress flavoured Penne Pasta with Peas....

Serving suggestions:
Serve along with some plain bread or garlic bread by the side.

 Watercress flavoured Penne Pasta with Peas..

If you liked this recipe do check out - Pasta Mayo Salad, Creamy Egg Pasta, Fried Halloumi Pasta Salad etc.


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