Pav – Bhaji Pot Pie – Indian spiced vegetable pot pie

Pav Bhaji is a famous Indian fast food, especially in Mumbai and the regions of Maharashtra. You can find almost every roadside food vendor with a big masher mashing away something on a huge flat round griddle or Tava. And frying some crisp pav or bread.


Pav Bhaji literally means Bread with vegetables. A spicy lovely combination of numerous vegetables, mashed, cooked and saute’d with a magic spice mix! The Pav- fluffy buns are toasted untill crisp on the hot iron tawa, and the Bhaji is served with dollop of butter! The bhaji is garnished with chopped onions, sev and lemon juice! Now this is the epitome of deliciousness and various flavors combined in one dish! I can imagine all you guys out there just drooling over the thought of the last time you had this yummy dish :)

Having spent almost all my life in Maharashtra, Pav bhaji was a part of all my growing up years. The birthday parties of my school friends, where the moms served yummy homemade pav bhaji with birthday cake. The special holiday treats when Dad would take us for a pav bhaji meal followed by ice cream! The girls meet up with my best friends during college days, perfect combination of gossip and a yum spicy pav bhaji. :) The life saver and happy meal after a bad day at work ! Gosh I am getting nostalgic!! :)

So this is how badly I love Pav Bhaji!! :) And that’s what made me think of this delicious version of  Veggie Pot Pie for a chilly winter evening! This is a beautiful vegetarian option to capture the flavors of the vegetables and a pie! And it’s so worth it when you dive in for a bite full of deep flavors, magically spiced soft vegetables and the flaky crispy pastry! Please try this and you are gonna to love this! :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cauliflower florets
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and boiled, cut into large chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper,chopped
  • 4-5 fresh green beans, diced
  • 1/2 cup green peas, fresh or thawed
  • 1/2 cup baby carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion chopped (preferably red onions)
  • 1 ripe tomato, chopped
  • 2 tspn oil
  • 1/2 tspn. turmeric powder
  • 1 tspn chili powder or red chili paste
  • 1 heaped tspn Pav Bhaji masala powder ( Use Everest or Shaan)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tspn sugar
  • Frozen Puff Pastry , thawed ( I used Pepperidge farm pastry sheet)

For garnishing:

  • Chopped cilantro
  • Grated mozarella cheese
  • 2 tspn Lemon Juice
  • Finely chopped onion
  • Crispy Sev (optional)
  • Fresh Butter

Directions: 

  • For the filling, heat the oil in a deep saucepan. Saute the onions in the oil until the onions are golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Then add the cauliflower florets, baby carrots, green beans and green peppers. Mix well, sprinkle with 1/2 tspn salt and fry the vegetables on medium heat. For about 5 minutes.The vegetables should be crunchy but should not turn mushy.
  • Then add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chili powder, sugar and pav bhaji masala, mix well and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • The add in the green peas, and the boiled potatoes. Mix well and saute further for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Taste the filling for salt and Pav bhaji masala, you can add in more of the masala if required. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • At least 1/2 hour before the filling is ready, roll the puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface to a square.
  • Place the sheet on a cutting board. Directly onto the dough, invert the mini ramekin or the bowl. With a sharp knife, cut around the bowl or ramekin so that you have a perfect circle, leaving a 2 inch space.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Transfer the filling to the ramekins or the bowl you are using for your pot pies. Sprinkle with cheese.
  • Invert the pastry sheet on the ramekin or the bowl, pressing lightly to seal overhanging crust to the side of the bowl. With a fork make small holes in the center of the pastry, this will allow the steam to vent.
  • Place the ramekins on a baking sheet, bake for 20- 25 minutes. After 20 minutes keep checking and bake until the crust is golden brown. Serve hot.
  • Your house will be filled with the smell of the vegetables and the magical spices!
  • Garnish with cilantro and chopped onions, and a dollop of butter. Serve with crispy Indian sev alongside to get that Mumbai feel!

Masoor Dal Rasam – Spicy Red lentil soup

Rasam is a very popular South Indian Lentil soup. Its a simple hot soup with blend of various spices. There are various varieties of this soup, they mainly vary with the use of different lentils. I have been making rasam with yellow dal, roast gram dal and even without the dal. The other day, I came up with this idea of making this hot soup with masoor dal (red lentils) as a box full of red lentils in my pantry were glaring at me to use them!

Rasam tastes great with hot steamed rice topped with a spoon of ghee, along side potato chips. This is both a simple and grand meal at the same time, in any south Indian home. The blend of strong spices and garlic makes it a very comforting meal and it is also very effective when taken during fever or cold.

This is one of my life saver recipes because of its simplicity, and when I serve it for dinner with hot rice my husband marvels (?!) about how quickly I’ve made such a grande dinner! :) So go ahead, and you will see this is such an effortless recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Masoor dal (Red leentils) – 1 small cup
  • Tomatoes – 2 medium or 1 big (halved)
  • Tamarind –  1 small tspn
  • Mustard seeds -1 tspn
  • Garlic – 4 cloves
  • Turmeric powder – a pinch
  • Rasam Powder – 2 tspn (use the store bought rasam powder, I use MTR)
  • red chili – 1/2 tspn
  • Curry leaves – 5-6 nos
  • Jaggery – 1 tspn
  • Salt – as needed
  • Coriander leaves – 2 tspn finely chopped
  • Dried red chilies – 3-4 (optional)
  • Oil – 2 tspn

Directions:

  • In a pressure cooker, add masoor dal, tomatoes, tamarind, jaggery , garlic, turmeric, and red chili powder. Pressure cook all these up to 3 whistles.
  • Once, it cools add 3 cups of water, Rasam powder, salt and few stalks of coriander & bring it to a boil.
  • Simmer on low heat for about 10 mins until the raw smell of the Rasam powder disappears & the flavours incorporate well.
  • After 10 mins, add a dollop of ghee. This is optional, I add ghee as it adds lovely aroma to the soup and balances the strong spices. You home will be filled with the aroma!
  • Heat oil in a small griddle, add mustard seeds. Be careful as the mustard seeds splutter, then add the curry leaves, dried red chilies.
  • Add this tempering to the rasam and garnish with fresh coriander.
  • Serve HOT with steamed rice, pickles & potato chips on the side .. Makes such a Happy Meal .. Enjoy !!!

 

 

 

Egg Biryani – My way

 

 

When it comes to comfort food it has to be rice, hot and flavorful rice! I have a list of different ‘rice one pot’ meal recipes, I mean they are life savers for me :) I remember the initial days of my cooking, it took long hours for me to cook my hubby’s favorite dish- Egg Dum Biryani! It has been his favorite weekend dish for years, and hence we had biryani literally every weekend!! On one weekend, back from a tiring shopping spree, I was almost reluctant to slave on the long process of making biryani though my heart was not ready to settle with anything other than biryani!

And tada…necessity is the mother of invention!! :D I came up with this quick and simple recipe for egg biryani :) And guess what, my hubby just  loved it! And ever since we’ve having this delish even on weekdays :) :) So if you are craving for a  delicious and quick comfort food, definitely this is it!

Biryani is a rice based dish made by layering cooked basmati rice with cooked/marinated vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood. The basmati rice and the meat/veggies are slow cooked together as the spices slowly flavor the rice and vegetables/meat/eggs. The aroma of the basmati rice when slow cooked with the spices is just divine.

Biryani is  considered as an elaborate and lengthy preparation with layers of lovely flavors. But I find them pretty easy to put together, just like pot pies. And the best part is you can experiment with this dish by using different meat, poultry, even vegetables and fascinating combinations of spices. For my Egg Biryani, I have marinated hard boiled eggs and vegetables, with a lovely spice and vegetable gravy. Trust me, you can never go wrong in any family dinner or party with ‘this’ dish on your side!! Compliments will just flow in :) Give this recipe a try,you will surely love it.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 full cups basmati rice
  • 1 tspn ghee (optional)

For the Gravy:

  • 1 cup very finely chopped onions
  • 1 large diced
  • 2 heaping tspn coconut powder (dessicated/fresh)
  • 3 big cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves
  • 1 cup diced vegetables (baby carrots, green beans, green peas)
  • 1 tspn chili powder (adjust as per taste)
  • 1/4 tspn turmeric powder
  • 2 leveled tspn biryani masala (I use Shaan Biryani masala)
  • 1 leveled tspn cumin-coriander powder
  • 1/2 cup full fat yogurt (full fat curd)
  • 1/2 coconut milk (you can use coconut milk powder)
  • 4 tspn vegetable oil / ghee
  • salt to taste

For the layering

  • 1/4 cup cashew nuts
  • 2-3 stalks of cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion sliced finely
  • a few strands of saffron
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • oil or ghee

Directions:

Boil the eggs:

  • Place the eggs in a wide, deep pan filled with enough water to cover them and bring the water to a rolling boil. Continue to boil for 2 minutes, turn off the flame, cover the eggs with a lid and set them aside. After 10 minutes transfer them to cold water & peel off the shells. Make 2 vertical long slits to the eggs from outside. Keep them aside.

Prepare the rice:

  • Wash & soak the rice for about 10-15 minutes. In a deep pan, boil water. Add the drained rice to this boiling water, add salt to taste. Boil the rice on medium for about 3-4 minutes, then check if the rice is done. The rice must be 90 % cooked, check the rice grain by pressing it in your fingers. It should be a bit hard to feel. Now drain the rice off the excess cooking water, and spread it on a wide pan and let it cool. This separates the rice grains as they cools.
Prepare the Gravy:
  • In a large pan heat 3 tspn oil and saute the chopped onions.Add salt to taste and fry them till they turn pale pink.
  • Meanwhile, blend the tomato, coconut powder and garlic into a fine paste.
  • Now add this paste to the onions and fry nicely for about 5-7 minutes, until the oil separates from the paste.
  • Now toss in the diced vegetables (green beans,baby carrots, peas, cauliflower), I like to add few veggies to the gravy. But you can do without these too.
  • Saute the veggies for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the biryani masala, turmeric, cumin-coriander, and red chili powder.
  • Mix well, add 2-3 tspns of water and let it cook on medium for 3-4 minutes.
  • In a bowl, take the yogurt and the coconut milk and blend in to a fine paste with a fork and keep aside.
  • Take the gravy pan off the heat, and then gradually add the yogurt blend and mix softly. Also add the chopped cilantro. Put the pan on the stove and simmer it for about 2-3 minutes on low heat.
  • Then remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Also soak the saffron in the milk and set aside.

Layering the dish:

  • Take a wide thick bottomed pan, heat 2-3 tspn of oil and coat the pan nicely with oil. When the oil is heated, layer the thinly sliced onions all over the pan, and let the onions fry until they are just brown.Keep stirring the onions while they brown.
  • Also add cashews when the onions are half done, and saute them until they turn golden brown.
  • Once the onions and cashews are browned ( the onions should be slightly browned, else they will taste bitter), take the pan off the heat.
  • Spread the onions evenly in the pan, layer half of the cooked rice on the onions.
  • Then place the boiled eggs on the rice, and layer the gravy evenly on the rice and egg layer. Sprinkle the cilantro on the gravy.
  • Again add the rest of the rice on the gravy, spread evenly.
  • Sprinkle the surface of rice with the saffron milk. Cover the pan with a well fitting lid. You can also cover the pan first with aluminium foil so that no steam escapes.
  • Place the pan on very low heat, and cook for about 10-15 minutes.

Serving:
  • Enjoy the aroma, your house will be filled with the magical aroma of the dish :)
  • For serving dig in all the way down and remove the layers of rice & egg mixture onto a serving dish.Serve hot with a simple yogurt raita.

Onion Tomato Chutney

This my most favorite chutney recipe because of the simple ingredients it takes and its such an effortless dish. 

Its my ‘magic wand’ recipe whenever I need to build a meal in hurry, as this goes perfectly well with chapatis, rice, idlis, dosas and even toasted bread! I got this recipe from my mom, she used to call it tomato chutney. This is my special version with some additional ingredients and flavors. This chutney can be perfect for about a week if stored in the refrigerator.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tspns vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tspn turmeric
  • 1 heaping tspn red chili powder (cayenne pepper)
  • 2 heaping tspn dessicated coconut powder (or fresh coconut)
  • 1/2 tspn urad dal
  • 4 tspn chana dal
  • 3-4 dried red chili (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 large tomato diced
  • 1/2 tspn tamarind paste
  • 1  tspn jaggery
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large pan.  When the oil is hot add urad dal and chana dal. Saute for 2-3 minutes until the dals turn golden brown.
  • Add dessicated coconut powder, and saute for about 1 minute.
  • Add the onions and 1/2 tspn salt and mix well. Saute for 2 minutes.
  • Now add the turmeric powder and red chili powder. Add the tomatoes, tamarind and jaggery. Mix well and cook covered  on medium heat for about 2 minutes or till the tomatoes are completely soft.
  • Cool the chutney a little and then puree in a blender, till smooth. (Make sure to vent the blender lid slightly when blending hot stuff).
  • Serve with rice, rotis and dosa. You can also serve this with corn chips or pita bread as a dip.

Potato – Veg Puffs

Veggie Puffs

Oh my God… veg puffs is my favorite snack and I am super excited about bringing this recipe in my blog!! Although this is a favorite snack back home, this is rarely made my moms at home. We get veg puffs in the famous Iyengar bakeries, the smell of fresh hot vegg puffs near the bakery is absolutely tempting. I can still remember the endless times we’ve had these after college. The first thought that came to my mind when I knew we had an oven in my kitchen was to make puffs!!! :) So here we go…

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (thawed, this will make about 9 puffs)
  • 2 potatoes (boiled)
  • ½ cup fresh/frozen peas
  • 1 big onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tspn Garam masala/Pav bhaji masala
  • ½ tspn Cumin powder
  • ½ tspn Chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tspn Oil
  • 1 tspn lemon juice
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  • Heat oil in a pan. Add onions and saute the onion medium-high heat until they turn golden, for about 3-4 mins. Now add the cumin powder, chili powder, garam masala and salt to taste.Mix well and then add the peas and boiled potatoes, after crushing them randomly by hand.
  • Mix the potatoes and saute for 2 mins, then remove from the heat and add lemon juice and let the mixture cool.
  • Meanwhile spread the thawed puff pastry sheet, and lightly roll to thin it out a little.If the sheets are sticky to handle, then use all purpose flour to roll them evenly. Cut into equal sized rectangles. Place a spoon of the filling on one half of the cut rectangle, and fold the other half diagonally over the filling. Press sides to seal the pastry.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. Keep a close watch after 20 minutes and remove when the puffs turn into golden color.

Veg puff

Quick fix birthday cake

The smell of fresh baked breads and cakes when I visit bakeries is just tempting. My eyes wander across the glass shelves lined with baked goodies.

But when it comes to surprising your dear ones, nothing’s better than a self baked cake!
One main advantage of baking your own goods is the fact that you know and control the ingredients that go into it, so as to customize it for your dear ones.

Most people find baking strenuous because the outcome flops. I’ve had a lot of friends ask me for cake recipes and all they emphasize on is “easy”. Here’s a no fail recipe, which I used to make a simple birthday cake for my husband. You can use this cake batter to make cup cakes too. The key to making a good cake is to follow the recipe exactly!

Ingredients for the Cake:

  • Butter( at room temperature) – 1 stick( 115 gms)
  • Sugar – 3/4 cup
  • Eggs(large) – 2
  • Pure vanilla extract – 1 tspn
  • All purpose flour – 1 cup
  • Baking powder – 1 tspn
  • Salt – 1/8 tspn(optional)
  • Milk – 1/3 cup

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F( 177 C)
  • Butter an 8″ round cake pan or line it with parchment paper.Set aside
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
  • Add vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Now add the flour mixture and mix
    Stir in the milk until batter is smooth. (Do not over beat the cake batter as it will result in a hard cake)
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes in the preheated oven.Do the toothpick test to see if the cake is done.
  • If the cake is not done, bake for 5-10 more mins.Repeat tooth pick test.
  • When the cake is done, take it out of the oven and let it rest in the cake pan for 10 mins.Then remove the cake from the cake pan gradually by making resting it upside down on a flat .
  • Never allow the batter to sit for a long time as this will make the cake hard.

Toothpick test:  Take a tooth pick or a knife or a bamboo skewer and poke it till the bottom of the cake.If it comes out clean the cake is ready.If it comes out with wet cake batter, it needs additional time to bake.

"Vanilla sponge cake"

Cake frosting:

There are many variations of butter-cream frosting. There is the American butter-cream which uses powdered (confectioners’) sugar and becomes stiff when dried. French butter-cream combines egg yolks, sugar syrup and butter into a deliciously smooth and rich frosting (that must be refrigerated). Butter-cream icing can also be tinted or flavored. I have made the simple American butter-cream frosting for this cake.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
  • 3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Instructions:
  1. Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer or a hand blender on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.
  2. Frost the sponge cake with the butter-cream frosting and give it a smooth finish.
  3. As this was a quick fix cake, I ended up with topping my cake with fresh strawberries. And yes this was a delight for my hubby, thankfully he loves fruits…infact everything with fruits !!

And tada! You are a great baker :)

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