Sunday, 31 January 2010

Taking a Break

Hi Friends,

I shall be on a break for a few weeks. February seems to be an extra busy month, and with too many things on my plate (pun intended), blogging seems a bit unlikely.

I hope to return by the 3rd week of February. Till then, sharing with you the picture of the wonderful Gajar ka Halwa that I have been hogging on since the red juicy carrots have been in season.

A better pic, and the recipe to follow as soon as I return. Take care.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Celebrating Indian Republic Day with Besan ka Halwa

Today is a special day for all Indians, as our country celebrates the 60th Republic Day. We celebrated the day by watching the "Republic Day parade" on Doordarshan, and with this rich and delicious Besan ka Halwa!

This halwa is my Grandmother's recipe and I learnt it from her. Its rich, full of calories and delicious. And doesn't really take much time to prepare.
Indulge yourself!


Besan (Gram flour): 3/4 cup
Suji (Semolina): 2 tbsp
Ghee (Clarified Butter): 1/2 cup (or more :) )
Sugar: 3 tbsp (or as per taste)
Water: 3/4 cup
Almonds, to garnish


- Heat ghee in a kadhai / heavy bottomed pan
- Add the besan and suji. Reduce the heat to the minimum, and mix. The consistency of the mixture should not be dry, but slightly wet. If its too dry, add a bit more ghee.
- Keep stirring so that the besan cooks evenly
- When the color starts changing, and a beautiful aroma fills your house, the mixture is about to be done
- When the besan assumes a brownish tinge (as in the pic), add the water while stirring the mixture continuously, to avoid any lumps being formed.
- Mix well and let the water get absorbed by the besan
- Add sugar, and cook on low heat till the sugar dissolves, and mixes in with the halwa.
- Serve hot.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Quick and Healthy Breakfast: Egg in a Basket

Egg in a Basket, or Egg in a Nest is called by many other names. It refers to a breakfast dish, prepared by cutting a hole in the bread slice and cooking an egg in the "hole". It is pretty simple to prepare, and is a good way to make your breakfast interesting.

I love making them on weekends for an early breakfast. All you need is an egg, and a slice of bread. I used slices of multigrain bread to make my breakfast healthier.


- Take a bread slice and cut a hole in the middle using a cookie cutter / a small bowl / katori / lid of a small bottle
- Butter both the sides of the bread slice.
- Heat a pan, preferable a non stick one. Place the bread slice and lightly (or more) brown it from both the sides
- Lower the heat. Drop around 1/2 tsp of oil in the middle of the "hole", and crack an egg inside it - Let the egg cook for a minute or 2
- Flip the bread slice and cook the egg on the other side. You may cook for less time if you prefer the yolk to be runny
- Once done, season the slice with salt and pepper, and serve hot
- The cut portion of the bread can also be fried and served together with the egg

The front...

...and the back

For a step by step illustration, you can also refer Wikihow - How to make Eggs in a Basket

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Chatpata Hara Chana (Green Chickpeas)

Which is your least favourite job in the kitchen?

- Washing the dishes?
- Cleaning the mess after cooking?
- Chopping the veggies?
- Any other?

Well, for me the clear winner will be cleaning and chopping the vegetables - esp. ladies finger / okra, cleaning "saag" (green leafy vegetables) like methi, shelling peas and the likes. Yup, I do not like shelling peas at all. Hence, I find it easier to resort to the frozen alternate available in the market.

But, there comes a time when one is forced to slave and spend 3 hours (yes, 3 long hours) for the love of fresh green chickpeas aka hara chana / choliya. The chana, which grows in bushes (remember, chane ki jhaad?) is in the form of pods. The pods need to be individually opened to make way for the chickpeas, so that they can be cooked.

Image Source:

I love hare chane and aloo ki subzi (green chickpeas cooked with potatoes). My mom would make it when the chickpeas were in season, and it tasted yum. But I always refrained from buying it because of the work it would lead to. However, I could not stop myself this time when I visited the local super market. The pods were being sold in packets of 1 kilo each, and I went ahead and purchased it.
What ensued was a 3 hour work spent shelling the pods. I called my Mom the next day to ask her expert advice on how she does it.


Excerpts of my conversation with Mom on Hara Chana:

Me: Mom, I bought hara chana yesterday at the supermarket yesterday.And guess what, I spent 3 hours shelling them!
Mom: Wow! That's a really long time
Me: I know. How do you do it? What's the trick?
Mom: I don't know.
Me: (confused)
Mom: Our vegetable vendor sells them all cleaned and shelled!
Me (In my mind): (Cursing the vegetable vendors in my city)


So, I made hara chana - in two batches - once with potatoes, and the second time on their own, flavored with lemon and ginger. Sharing the second recipe with you.


Shelled green chickpeas / hara chana: 2 cups
Oil (Mustard / Vegetable): 2 - 3 tablespoon
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Ginger, finely chopped: 1/2 tsp
Green chilles, finely chopped: 2 - 3 (or as per taste)
Coriander powder: 1 - 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp (Optional)
Juice of half a lemon (or more)
Chopped coriander
Salt: To taste


- Boil the chickpeas in around 4 cups of water. If you are using the pressure cooker, it will take 5 minutes on low flame after the first whistle. Drain the water.
- Heat oil in a pan / kadai
- Add the cumin seeds. When they begin to splutter, add the ginger and green chillies. Lower the flame
- When the chillies begin to change color, add the coriander powder and turmeric powder. You may also mix the spices in a few teaspoons of water to prevent burning. Stir on low heat for a few seconds.
- Add the chana and salt. Mix well.
- Turn off heat. Add the lemon juice and coriander.
- Adjust salt and lemon juice. Serve hot

Serve it as a snack, as a filling breakfast or with parathas / rotis. You can also garnish it with chopped onions and tomatoes for added flavour.

I am sending this recipe to My Legume Love Affair - 19th Helping. The event started by Susan, is being hosted this month by EC of Simple Indian Food.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Grape Raita

Winter is my favourite season. Even when I was in North India - when it seemed a herculean task to get out of the confines of quilts and blankets in the morning - I still loved the winter months. But as I moved to the western parts of the country, the season became quite mild. In my current city, we have already started using the fans during the day, while my parents and in - laws in the north have not witnessed sunlight for the past 3 days.

But temperatures aside, winter still has its charms in terms of the fruits and vegetables it offers. Fresh green peas, cauliflowers, red juicy carrots, oranges, grapes, strawberries - the vendor's cart seems quite tempting. It is fun to shop for vegetables. My mind instantly associates each purchase with a recipe I would like to try.

This week we bought green grapes for the first time in the season. And after reaching home, I realised that the quantity was a bit too much for just the two of us. What I experimented with, and which was an instant success, was this Grape Raita. It is adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe of Grape & Walnut Raita. I skipped the walnuts since I did not have any, and substituted the mint with coriander.

The raita works well with pulaos and biryanis, and can also be had on its own. We had it with Coriander Mint Rice and the combination was just awesome.

Curd / Yoghurt: 2 cups
Seedless grapes: 20 - 25, halved lengthwise
Fresh Coriander, finely chopped: 2 - 3 tsp
Sugar (preferably powdered): 1/2 - 3/4 tsp
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Rock Salt (Kala namak): 1/4 tsp
Salt: To taste

- Whisk the curd to a smooth consistency
- Add the sugar, rock salt, cumin powder and salt. Adjust to taste
- Add the grapes and coriander
- Cool it in a refrigerator before serving

This recipe goes to Monthly Mingle, the event organized by Meeta of What's for Lunch, Honey? This month's mingle features Winter fruits and vegetables, and is hosted by Sudeshna of Cook like a Bong.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Sweet Beginnings: Kheer (Rice Pudding)

The past one month, or rather the last month of 2009 seems like a blur. In between traveling, visiting friend's wedding, falling ill, vacationing, several rounds of packing and unpacking, I left my 3.5 year long association with my current (now past) organization.
Even now, my mind is still full of to - do lists and preparation for the new assignment which I am due to begin in a week's time.

So, when I opened my mailbox today after 3 days, and read Ushnishda's mail wishing me a Happy New Year (and reminding me that the Ginger tea has been long drunk), I realized how long it has been since I last blogged. There are quite a few recipes ready to be posted - as in the pics have been clicked, and it was a bit difficult to choose what to post. My impulse was to post about the lunch we had hosted today afternoon for a couple of friends, but I decided to start the new year on a sweet note. Yes, with a dessert.

This is a dessert which is made in most Indian households, though the recipe and the name may vary - Kheer, Payas, Payasam, also referred to as Rice Pudding. I developed the taste for it a bit late in life - I think in my teens. This was the first Indian dessert I learnt to prepare, and I pride myself at making it quite well. I am still trying to perfect it the way my dear Grandma makes, but I think it will take years to reach that level of expertise!

Here's to the year 2010! Wishing you and your family a very happy and healthy new year!

This recipe has been made without condensed milk, and the rice has been "broken" a bit to give the kheer "Rabri" like texture. It is not a quick recipe - and takes around 45 minutes to prepare.

Milk: 1 litre
Rice: 1/4 cup
Sugar: 2 - 3 tbsp / to taste
A few strands of saffron, soaked in 2 tsp warm milk
Almonds / Cashews: To garnish

  • Grind the rice in a mixer for a few seconds to "break" it roughly, not powder it
  • Boil milk in a heavy bottomed pan
  • Add the rice to the milk, and let it simmer on low heat. Keep stirring it from time to time
  • When the milk reduces to around half the quantity, the rice will also have cooked. Add the sugar and saffron, and keep stirring to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom
  • The kheer is done when the milk starts bubbling on the top and makes a "bubbly" sound. The rice and milk are mixed well, and the mixture takes on a creamy hue.
  • Turn off the heat, and cover it with a lid. This is to prevent a layer of "Malai" to form on top
  • Garnish with your favourite nuts and serve hot or chilled