Tag Archives: Indian food

In Sickness and in Health: Sweet & sour Spinach soup with nuts

6 Jun

This is a wonderful recipe that belongs to my mum. I have never been an avid eater of spinach. Actually, I mostly try and avoid it. But this particular dish is so yummy that I can help but eat a few bowlfuls.

If you are somebody who cannot stand that distinct smell and taste of spinach, then this dish is worth a try, because by the end you will really not be able to tell that you’re eating spinach! It’s tangy-ness  hits the back of your palate, the balance of sweet and salty and the crunch of the nuts under your teeth, is a delight both taste and texture wise.

This is a great soup when you’re feeling sick (spinach is great for strength. Remember Popeye? Its full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and iron) or when you’re looking for something exciting to go with your meal.

(Although I’m calling it a soup, back home in India this is a ‘bhaji’ or vegetable to be eaten either with roti or rice.)

What you need:

300 gm of Spinach leaves (stalks cut)

7-8  cloves of garlic pounded/ finely sliced

a small piece of ginger grated / finely sliced

half a cup of cashew nuts (I personally prefer peanuts instead of cashews)

2 tbsp gram flour (if gram flour is hard to find, you can use regular flour instead, but it will compromise on the flavour a little)

2 tbsp tamarind pulp (or better still, a lemon-sized portion of fresh tamarind)

4 cups of water

Salt to taste

Sugar to taste

1 tsp fennel seeds

For the Tadka (or garnish)

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp hing

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garlic paste (or 2 cloves of garlic pounded)

1/2 tsp dried corriander powder

1/2 tsp fennel powder

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

(when giving the tadka, try to follow the sequence in which the ingredients are listed)

What to do:

Boil the spinach leaves in 4 cups of water with garlic, ginger and fennel seeds in a pot until soft. Leave it aside to cool.

When cooled, crush the leaves with the back of a wooden spoon (or anything else that is strong) to make them  more fine. Add gram flour, tamrind pulp, cashews , salt and sugar. Keep it on sim till the cashews cook.

For the Tadka, heat oil in a saucepan until its really hot. Now add the ingredients in the same order as given above. Switch off the heat when the spices are sufficiently fried (this usually takes a minute).

Now add the the tadka to the soup. Done!

Serve it hot on its own, or as we traditionally do with plain steamed rice or warm rotis.

(Note: Since the soup tends to get thicker as it cools down, add sufficient water and heat the next time you want to eat it. )


Palak Biriyani

11 Apr

So this is a total throw-all-your-bits and bobs-in-the-pot kind of recipe. Basically, I had some beans, some carrot, half a capsicum and some mushrooms lying around, so I decided to put it all in the biriyani and it turned out quite awesome.

What you need:

1/2 tin chopped Spinach
1 cup yoghurt
1 inch cinnamon
2-3 cloves
2-3 cardamom pods
4-5 pepper corns
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp biriyani masala
2 cups rice
3-4 tbsp oil
chilli powder to raste
salt to taste
any/all vegetables lying about, chopped

What to do:

Boil rice and keep aside.

In a deep vessel, heat up the oil. Once hot, add the whole spices, onions and ginger garlic paste. Saute until the onions are golden brown.

Now add the spinach and saute till the flavours nicely combine. Now add the yoghurt and give it a stir.

Add vegetables, the biriyani masala and cook on medium flame until the vegetables are cooked.

Add to this rice and stir until everything is mixed properly. Now add salt. You’re ready to go!

For garnish, you can fry onion slices until crispy brown and sprinkle them on top.

It don’t taste like Home

30 Mar

The other day someone asked me what I missed most about home. The answer that immediately came to mind was: Food. It’s not that ghar-ka-khana isn’t available here, or that it can’t be made…its just that its different.

For example, I tried to make Baingan Bharta (Roasted Aubergine with spices) last week.

I went and bought the nicest looking egg-plant, put it in the grill and coated it with oil to make it all nice and juicy.

I got a beautiful crack on the skin like you would never see on an eggplant back home.

I used all the right spices and condiments. Heck, I even threw in some peas.

No surprises here.

It tasted nothing like Bharta 😦 The eggplant didn’t even have seeds! And the burnt taste…let me not get started on the burnt taste.

Food Exchange: Dal Makhani (Creamy Black Lentil Stew) for a BLT

6 Feb

In this first attempt at exchanging meals, my classmate and I did a nice cross cultural thing with me making him Dal Makhani with Rice and him returning the favour with a blow-your-mind BLT sandwich.

“So is this the Indian version of stew?” I was asked, and the answer is mostly Yes. Dal is a stew but it is also very much like a soup.

Dal Makhani specifically is a very popular Punjabi-Indian dish made out of split lentils and beans and eaten either with Roti, Naan or Rice.The word ‘Makhani’ specifically comes from the word ‘Makhan’ which means cream or butter, and let me tell you, this Dal has plenty!

Below are recipes for both Dal Makhani and BLT sandwiches. Take your pic, or better still, try both! Bonn Appetite!

P.S: Don’t mind my cutting corners, but this is the best I could do in the hostel. I can assure you, though, that there was no compromise on the yummy-ness.

Dal Makhani (serves 4)

What you need:

1 cup dried red kidney beans

1 cup whole black lentils

2 medium sized red onions, finely chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, mashed into paste

1 inch of ginger, peeled and mashed into paste

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tbsp milk

1 tbsp butter or fresh cream

1 inch cinammon

1 or 2 pods of cardamom

1 bay leaf

1 tsp garam masala

2 or 3 cloves

2 or 3 dried black-pepper seeds

2 tbsp oil

coriander leaves for garnish

2 cups water

What to do:

Soak the beans and lentils overnight so they’re softer and easier to cook.

On a high flame, heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Once the oil is heated, lower the flame to medium. Add the garam masala, bay leaf, pepper, cinammon, cloves and cardamom. Saute for about 3o seconds. Now add the ginger and garlic. Saute until golden brown. Now add the chopped onions and saute for another minute or two.

Once the above mixture has started to form a nice mass, add the tomato puree. Cook for a few minutes till it all comes together well.

Now add the lentils and beans along with the water and stir. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and let it cook for about 20 mins till the lentils and beans are cooked. At this stage, add the milk and boil.

Before serving, add the dulop of cream or butter and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot!

Note: If you dont have a pressure cooker, you can follow the same procedure, except you’ll have to cover the pan with a lid and let it boil for longer so the lentils and beans are cooked.

So thats Dal Makhani. Now, the BLT.

BLT (Bacon Lettuce and Tomato) Sandwich (for 1)

What you need:

2 medium slices of tomato

1 tsp of mayonnaise (go crazy if you love it)

2 slices of white bread

2 leaves of lettuce

2 to 3 bacon strips

1 tsp of oil

What to do:

Heat the oil in a pan. Now put in the bacon slices and lightly fry. You can fry it for longer if you like it a bit crunchy.

While you’re doing that, put in the slices of bread for toasting. Make sure that its medium, so you don’t end up with toast.

Spread the Mayo on the warm slices of bread and put a leaf of lettuce on each. On top of that, put the bacon and finally, top it with the tomato slices.


Chicken with Yogurt, scented with aromatic whole spices

26 Jan

I was reading this article in the Guardian recently, and I thought to myself, “Hmm…I cook meat in yoghurt all the time.” So I thought it fit that I should share my recipe too.  In its current form, its more a curry and not a Bake, but it very well could be.


Spices are essential to this dish. No being miserly with these.

I have to give my Mum the credit for the recipe, though the one below is more of a quick-fix, student budget solution. Again, full points for versatility ( you can even take just the chicken pieces from the ready dish and put them in your sandwich).

What you need:

For Marination:

4 chicken breast fillets cut into square-inch pieces

150 gm plain yogurt

1 tsp  turmeric

1 tsp red chilly powder (you can put in less depending on how hot you want it)

1 tsp ground coriander seed powder

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Mix all the above ingredients and leave aside.

Note: They say the longer you marinate the chicken the better, so even if you’re doing it in a hurry, try and marinate it at least for an hour before you start making your dish.


Marinate the Chicken. Dont be afraid to mix with your hands!

For the dish

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp ground coriander seed powder

2-3 petals of garlic, chopped

1 inch ginger, chopped

2 Bay leaves

3-4 cloves

3-4 cardamom

1 inch Cinnamon

2-3 medium sized onions-chopped fine

2 potatoes – chopped into 2 pieces each

2 tbsp tomato puree

5-6 tbsp oil

1 cup water

salt to taste

What to do:

In a deep vessel heat the oil on a high flame. Once the oil is heated add the bay leaves, cloves, cardamoms cinnamon, tumeric powder, coriander seed powder and fry for a minute.


Smells awesome already...slurrp!

Add the chopped garlic and ginger and fry for one more minute. Keep moving the mixture around constantly to prevent it from burning.

Now add the finely chopped onion into the oil and fry over medium heat. Once onions are soft brown add 2-3 spoon of water and let the onions melt (cook for about 10-15 mins). Now add the tomato puree and stir.

Then add the marinated chicken and the potato, add half a cup of  water, mix them well and let the chicken cook over medium heat. Incase you need to add  more water add warm water only.


Frothing in the pot. Almost there...

Its done!

Enjoy it with rice, bread, roti or just by itself. I gobbled it up with Roti.


Mmm...so warm and comforting.

Quick Rajma for those of us who live on their own/don’t have a cook/don’t have patience to cook

27 May

Rajma is an Indian dish made out of black beans. It’s a gravy eaten with plain steamed rice, and if you follow my recipe, it’s really really simple 🙂

Alright, so this is what you need-

2 medium bowls of black beans
(here I’m just going to add that you get 2 varieties- the red ones and the pink ones. You can use both, but personally I prefer the pink ones because they cook faster)

2 onions finely chopped

2 tomatoes finely chopped

1 spoon of ginger-garlic paste (available at all grocery stores. If you don’t get it, then you can make some yourself)

2 teaspoons of Rajma Masala (also available at all grocer stores. If you don’t find it, use 1 teaspoon of powdered coriander seeds)

4 cloves

2 cardamom pods

2 sticks of cinnamon

4 to 5 black peppercorns

3 tablespoons of oil

1 teaspoon of red chili powder (you can put less if you want it less

salt to taste

a few chopped coriander leaves for garnish

What you need to do-

The black beans, in order to cook easily first need to be soaked. So ensure that the seeds have been soaked in water for atleast 8 hours. If you want to quicken the process, you can add a pinch of baking powder to the water, but its generally avoidable.

Making the Masala

After 8 hours of soaking, drain the water from and set the black beans aside

In a pressure cooker/ large vessel, heat the oil over a medium flame

Once heated, add the red chili powder, Rajma Masala, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and peppercorns. Let it fry in the oil for a minute, till you can smell the aroma of the spices

Now add the ginger-garlic paste and onions. Saute till golden brown.

Add the tomatoes and stir. At this point, put a lid on the cooker/vessel and let the mixture heat up for about 3 to 5 minutes on a low flame.

After 5 minutes, the tomatoes should have disintegrated and the mixture should look like a thick paste, with the oil separating from it. If not, then sprinkle some water in it, and cover it for another 5 mins.

If  the oil still doesn’t separate, don’t fret. It doesn’t happen sometimes. Smile, and breathe in the aroma.

What you’ve essentially got at this stage, is the masala.


Now add the black beans, salt  and 4 cups of water. Cover the pressure cooker/ vessel and let it heat up to a boil for about 20 minutes. (If you’re using a pressure cooker then wait for 2 whistles)

After 20 mins, if you can split a bean, then its cooked.

Now for some fun! With a masher, mash around in the vessel/cooker till you see that the stuff is thickening.

Voila! Its ready!

For garnish, add the chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with steamed rice.

TIP: For an extra tang to the dish, which is always great, squeeze half a small sized lemon into the dish.

Picture of Rajma from