Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Alu Parwal: Potatoes cooked with Pointed Gourd

Someone once asked me, “What is the English name for Parwal?” I did not know the answer then, but today, after a Google search, and a wiki research, I feel enlightened. It’s “Pointed Gourd”. Not “Snake Gourd” as the first search told me.
Pointed Gourd, or Parwal / Potol as it is commonly known in India, is botanically termed as
Trichosanthes dioica. Snake Gourd, on the other hand, is Trichosanthes cucumerina.

Parwal is a popular vegetable in India and is commonly cooked along with Potatoes. Alu Parwal or Alu Potol, whether dry or with gravy is a side dish eaten with rice or chapattis. Another variation is a dessert – Khoye ke Parwal – where the parwal is made hollow from inside, steamed, filled with sweetened khoya and dry fruits, and dipped in sweet syrup.

The tricky part for me when I first made Parwal was – how to peel it. One needs to scrape off the skin with a knife rather than peeling it completely with a peeler, cut off both the ends, and slice it length wise.
If the gourd is fresh, the seeds will be soft and it is not important to remove the same. If it has ripened, the seeds tend to be hard with a blackish / brownish tinge. I prefer removing the seeds in the latter case.

Sharing my recipe for a very simple Alu Parwal Dry, flavoured with only cumin and turmeric. It works best with Dal – Rice, or with Roti.

Parwal: 5 – 6
Potato: 1 medium
Mustard Oil: 2 - 3 tbsp
Turmeric: ½ - ¾ tsp
Jeera / Cumin Seeds: ½ tsp
Red Chili Powder (optional)

- Scrape the skin off the Parwals, and cut off the ends. Wash it and slice it lengthwise
- Wash the potato well, and cut it length wise, with the skin on
- Heat the oil in a pan / kadhai.
- Add jeera / cumin. When the seeds begin to splutter, add the turmeric, sliced parwal, potatoes and salt.
- Mix well, cover and cook on low heat till the vegetables are soft.
- Keep stirring in between to ensure that the vegetables donot stick to the bottom. You may add little water if the oil seems to be less
- Serve hot as an accompaniment to dal – rice and / or chapattis.

This is also my entry to
Weekend Herb Blogging # 203, the event started by Kalyn, adopted by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything Atleast Once, and hosted this week by Marija.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Moong ki Dal ka Cheela … On Bread

Chilla / Cheela are savoury crepes served for breakfast, or even as snacks. They are prepared either with Besan (gram flour) or with Moong (lentils).
Moong dal cheela is something my Mom used to make quite often for breakfast, and I developed a taste for them only recently. They are a great option for Sunday breakfasts.
I also experimented with the leftover batter by dipping pieces of bread and shallow frying them for evening snacks.


Dhuli Moong ki dal (De-husked split moong dal): 1 cup
Ginger: 1 inch piece
Green Chili, chopped: 1
Salt: To taste
Fresh Coriander, finely chopped

Method (For the Batter)

- Wash and soak the moong dal in warm water for around 2 hours.
- Grind the dal, green chili and ginger to a smooth paste. Add water if required.
- Add salt and chopped coriander
- Add water to make the batter of a thick pouring consistency (as you would do for dosas / pancakes). Mix well

For the Cheela / Chilla

- Heat a tawa / pan, and lightly grease it with oil
- Pour around 2 ladles of the batter and spread it in a circle, moving from the center to the outer edges in a circular format
- Pour a teaspoon of oil along the sides, and let it cook on medium heat. Lift the side slightly to check if the color has changed
- Flip and cook on the other side, adding oil on the sides
- Take care not to cook it on slow heat or else the cheela will become too crusty. Similarly if the heat is high, the cheela will change color too soon and it will remain uncooked inside
- Serve hot with your favourite chutney / ketchup

For the Moong Dal Bread Snack

- Cut bread slice in quarters
- Dip the bread in batter, coating the pieces evenly on both sides
- Heat a tawa / pan, and lightly grease it with oil
- Gently place the pieces on the hot pan, and pur drops of oil on the sides
- Cook on low heat, and flip when the colour changes to golden brown
- Add a few more drops of oil and cook the other side as well
- You may want to repeat the above two steps for a more crusty top
- Serve hot with your favourite chutney / ketchup

The Moong Dal Cheela goes to Susan’s My Legume Love Affair - 15th Helping, hosted this time by Sia of Monsoon Spice.

The Moong Dal Bread Snack goes to Sunday Snacks Event – Snacks with Bread hosted by Priya.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Maggi Noodle Soup: A dedication to the 2 – minute Noodles

As Nestle “Maggi Noodles” celebrates its 25 years of association with India, I do feel nostalgic. The “2 minute” noodles were introduced in India in the early 80’s, and Nestle had really tried hard to sell it to the Indian Market. They realized it would be easier to please the children, rather than their parents. I remember schemes like getting a toy car (Zoomie!) if you buy 10 packs together, or being part of Maggi Clubs if you could send 3 empty wrappers. We even had the Nestle folks in school, distributing hot noodles to the children (for free)!
And I must say that they were quite successful in making an impact. Our generation (and the ones after ours) definitely associates with the product – instant, for the bachelors, a meal when you are in no mood to cook are phrases which are linked with it. Statements like “I – cannot – cook – anything –except – tea – and – Maggi” have been heard quite often.

My memories with Maggi are so many. Sitting with friends on the terrace during winters, with plates of steaming Maggi, and hot cups of coffee is by far the favorite.
Another is in the early 90’s, when my brother and I were going thru my Mom’s recipe collection and we found this old pamphlet which had been distributed by Maggi at some point of time – it had recipes you could prepare using the noodles. The pamphlet was surely an old one because it featured flavors which had long been discontinued – “Capsica” and “Sweet and Sour”. It had one recipe which we tried and it became an instant favorite. It was the Maggi Noodle Soup using the “Masala Tastemaker”.

I still make it, even after so many years, and so does my brother. Though my brother claims that I have forgotten the “original version”, it still tastes yummy!

Ingredients (Serves 2):
1 packet Maggi Noodles with Masala Tastemaker
One small onion, sliced
One medium tomato, chopped roughly
A handful of spring onion greens, chopped
2 tsp oil
3 cups water
Salt to taste

- Heat oil in a pan. Add the onions and sauté till translucent
- Add the tomatoes and stir fry till they are cooked, and the oil begins to separate
- Add the spring onions and cook for another minute
- Add the water and the tastemaker, and bring to a boil
- Add the noodles, and cook till they are soft
- Adjust salt to taste
- Serve hot!

This recipe also goes to the Soup 'N' Juice Event, hosted by Sireesha.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Apple Iced Tea

This is one of the most refreshing drinks I have had. The first time I tasted it was during a Sunday brunch at Marriott Courtyard. And I have been hooked on to it ever since.

Ingredients (To make 2 glasses):
Water: 1 glass
Tea Leaves: 1 tsp or 1 tea bag
Apple Juice: ½ glass
Sugar: To taste
Ice Cubes: Lots

- Bring water to boil in a pan. Add the tea leaves / tea bag, and let it boil for a few seconds. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let it sit for a 4 – 5 minutes
- Sieve the brew and let it cool
- Add the apple juice. Add sugar as per taste.
- Pour it in individual glasses, add ice cubes and enjoy!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Dry Fruit Kheer

Posting this recipe took some research. Not that the recipe itself is complicated, but because I wasn’t very sure of the English / popular terms used for two of the ingredients - “Makhana” and “Chiraunji”.
Wikipedia refers to Makhana as Fox nut or Eurale Fox. While a Google told me that it is also referred to as Popped / puffed Lotus Seeds.
Chiraunji was simpler.
Google / Wikipedia tell me that the alternate name is Chiroli.
They both are categorized as dry fruits, and are used in Indian dishes. While Chironji is popularly used as garnish to flavor desserts, makhana forms a key ingredient in desserts as well as savoury preparations. Makhana is also used to prepare snacks which can be consumed during religious fasting in Hindu festivals.

Makhana Kheer has always been one of my favourites. As a kid, I remember it being prepared on festivals like Janmashtami or Shivratri.

This year on Janmashtami, we had purchased a large packet of makhanas, and I had made up my mind then to prepare this dessert. It’s simple and I made it richer by adding an assortment of dry fruits which were available.
This recipe is dedicated to my Mom, who gave me the idea for the preparation.

Milk: 750 ml
Makhana (Puffed Lotus seeds / Fox nut), cut in halves: 2 cups
Almonds: 15 – 20, finely chopped
Cashew nuts: 15 – 20, finely chopped
Chironji / Chiraunji / Chiroli: 2 tbsp
Cardamom / Ilaichi powder: 1 tsp
Saffron threads: a few, soaked in 2 tsp of warm milk
Condensed milk: ¼ cup, or Sugar: 3 tbsp (Can be adjusted as per taste)

- Heat milk in a heavy bottomed pan. When it comes to a boil, add the makhana, cashew, almonds and chironji
- Let it cook on low heat, stirring occasionally
- When the milk thickens and reduces to almost half the original quantity, add the condensed milk / sugar, saffron threads and cardamom powder
- Keep stirring till the sugar / condensed milk is mixed completely. Let it cook for another 3 – 4 minutes
- Serve hot or chilled

This recipe goes to FIL – Milk, the event hosted by Sanghi.

This recipe also goes to WYF: Festive Treat Event at Simple Indian Food

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Vegetarian Keema Matar – made with Soya Granules

This was something I have wanted to make for a long time, and got the opportunity yesterday. A great recipe if you are a vegetarian, or are having vegetarian friends over.
I used Meat Masala, which is readily available in the market, as the key spice. However, if you are averse to using it, or if it is not readily available, you can substitute it with other spices as mentioned below.

Soya Granules: 1 cup
Shelled peas: ½ cup
Onion: 1 medium, blended to a paste
Tomato: 1 medium, pureed
Ginger garlic paste: 1 ½ tsp
Meat Masala: 1 ½ tsp
Ground cumin (Jeera Powder): ½ tsp, Coriander Powder: 1tsp, Garam Masala: ¾ - 1 tsp
Salt: To Taste
Oil: 3 tbs
- Add the soya granules along with ½ tsp salt to 2 cups of water, and microwave it for 2 minutes. Let it remain in the water for another 2 minutes. Drain the water and lightly squeeze the granules so that they are dry. Keep aside
- Heat the oil in a pan / kadhai. Add the onion paste and stir it on low heat till it becomes translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and stir it till it becomes golden brown.
- Add the tomato puree and the spices. Let it cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, till the oil separates
- Add the soya granules, peas, salt and ¼ cup water. Mix well, cover and cook till the peas are soft
- In case there is water left in the pan, stir it on high heat till dry
- Serve hot with chapattis / parathas.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Vegetable Biryani Pulao

Wikipedia differentiates Biryani and Pulao (aka pilaf, pulav, pilau) as:

“The difference between biryani and pullao is that while pullao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice is cooked separately from the other ingredients.”

Also, a biryani usually has rice layered with either meat or vegetables and flavoured with spices such as saffron.

For this reason, I have never attempted to cook a biryani. I find it too complicated even though there are numerous recipes which are available on the internet. And yet, I discovered last weekend that my pantry included an unopened box of “Biryani Masala”.

The memory rewound to the fateful month last year when I had employed a cook and she had claimed to be an expert at making biryani. The day never came and she left within a month (not her fault). The Masala had been purchased especially for her. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, the packet indicated that the expiry date was still a few months away and I could make use of it…if I wanted to. And I did use it. Not to make the traditional biryani. But to make pulao – which tasted quite like biryani! And hence the name Biryani Pulao. Since I donot cook non vegetarian food, this is a vegetarian recipe.

Rice (preferably Basmati): 1 cup

Onion, sliced: 1 medium
Potato, cut in small cubes: 1 medium
Cauliflower: a few florets
Soya Chunks: ½ cup
Peas: ¼ cup
Biryani Masala: 1 – 1 ½ tsp
Turmeric Powder: ½ tsp
Bayleaf: 1
Cumin Seeds: ½ tsp
Oil: 1 – 2 tbsp
Salt: To taste


- Soak the soya chunks in hot water for around 5 minutes, or till they are soft. I usually microwave them for around 2 minutes. Drain the water and squeeze the chunks till they are dry. Keep aside
- Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan or a pressure cooker. When the oil is hot enough, add the cumin seeds and the bayleaf.
- When the seeds begin to splutter, add the sliced onions and sauté on medium heat till they start turning golden
- Add the potato cubes and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes
- Add the rest of the vegetables, soya chunks, biryani masala and turmeric. Stir for another 3 – 4 minutes
- Add the rice, 1 ¾ cup water, salt and pressure cook on high heat till 2 whistles. Remove from heat and open the lid when the steam has subsided
- In the absence of pressure cooker, add 2 ¼ cups water and cover and cook on low heat till the rice is cooked.
- Serve hot with raita / curd and pickle