Category Archives: Main dish

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!

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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!! 😀 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.

10 min Eggplant stir fry

I love the whole process of cooking a meal, its exciting to see how your dish develops step by step.And the thrill part is that you just cannot predict and know how the dish is gonna to be until the last straw! Cooking is also about patience, you have to give the food its deserved time with whatever you are doing with it. I remember instances when I’ve goofed up recipes by being impatient, now I know better 🙂 And that is why for me cooking on weekdays is more difficult, as I am short of both patience and time. So I always refer my list of tried and tasted ’10 min’ recipes on weekdays! The Eggplant (Baingan) stir fry is one of those, savior recipes. Its hard to believe that some one might hate eggplants, but this dish can tempt even an eggplant hater to change ones mind! This dish requires a few basic ingredients, takes very time to cook and goes so well with rotis, rice, and even with pita or sourdough bread.

Ingredients:

  • 4 baby eggplants
  • 1 small onion (sliced)
  • 2 tspn roasted peanut powder
  • 1 tspn mustard seeds
  • 1/3 tspn turmeric
  • 1 tspn cumin-coriander powder
  • 1 tspn red chili powder
  • 2 tspn oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tspn powdered sugar

Directions:

  • Slice the baby eggplants into long slices and keep them in cold water. You can cut them in long slices or small pieces. I like them in thin long slices, they cook pretty fast.
  • Heat oil in a wok and add mustard seeds to it. Be careful while the mustard seeds splutter, then add the sliced onions.
  • While the onions are frying, drain the eggplants and add to the pan and mix well.
  • Now add the turmeric powder, cumin-coriander powder, red chili powder, salt and sugar. The sugar gives a very slight sweet taste, you can skip this if you wish.Mix properly to coat the eggplants with the spices.
  • Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat till the eggplants are soft. Do not overcook and make the eggplant mushy, they need to be just done but still slightly on the crunchier side.
  • Now take the eggplants off the heat, mix in the roasted peanut powder and here you go!
  • I make this roasted peanut powder beforehand and store it, so that you can use it with various curries. You just have to roast the peanuts on the pan for about 10 mins and powder them in a mixer. And store it in an airtight container to use whenever needed.
  • Garnish the eggplants with coriander and serve with rice, rotis and bread.

Aloo jeera (cumin spiced potatoes)

Potatoes are one of the staple foods back home, as they are easily available all year round in India. And there are innumerable variety of dishes that can be made with these, boil them, fry them, grill them! The recipe below is the simplest one to relish the potatoes. I’ve used olive oil here instead of the regular vegetable oil, please go ahead and prepare this and relish the taste and aroma of the dish…

Ingredients:

  • 2 big potatoes (I prefer yellow potatoes but you can use any)
  • 1 tsp salt or according taste
  • 4-5 green chilies (slit lengthwise)
  • 1 tspn cumin seeds
  • 2-3 tspn dessicated coconut (powdered)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 tspn powdered sugar
  • pinch of asafoetida (optional)
  • 10 curry leaves, chopped (optional)
  • handful fresh coriander chopped
  • 1 tspn lemon juice
  • handful of peanuts

Directions:

  • Boil the potatoes with a pinch of salt, until cooked and tender. You can also cook them in a microwave for approx 12 minutes. Chop into even, cubes on a board.
  • Sprinkle salt to taste, sugar and the lemon juice to the cubed potatoes.
  • Heat the oil in a non stick wide pan or wok. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and peanuts. When they begin to sizzle, add the green chilies and the coconut powder. Stir well and add the potatoes.
  • Mix the potatoes and add the coriander.
  • You’re done! Serve it with hot chapatis, or bread or even better eat it just by itself… and enjoy.

Roasted bell pepper pasta

When it comes to pasta, penne and macaroni are favorites. And I count them in my comfort food list as they are quick and guilt free (I use wholewheat penne rigate pasta). Penne makes an excellent and versatile pasta for many sauces because of its shape. The hollow center allows it to hold sauce, the angular ends act as scoops and penne rigate’s ridges allow it to hold still more sauce!!

I always like my pasta spicy and chatpata, with an indian spice to it.After all what’s a comfort food…that’s not spicy and hot!! The roasted bell pepper gives a wild spicy flavor and a lovely texture to the sauce. This one must try recipe for all the pasta lovers out there, so here we go!! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 small onion,chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (you can use soy yogurt for a vegan recipe)
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder / cayenne pepper
  • Penne rigate (I used whole wheat pasta)

Directions:

  • Roast red peppers over gas flame, under the broiler, or on the grill. I manage to roast the peppers on my electric stove. Wash the peppers thoroughly.I thread the peppers on a long fork to make roasting easier over the electric burner.Turn on the electric stove burner to high heat. Hold the peppers as close as you can to the heating element without touching it and without risking burning yourself.
  • Watch the peppers closely and turn them as soon as one side begins to blacken. Continue turning until all sides of the peppers are dark. Each side will take between one and five minutes to roast, depending upon temperature and proximity to the heating element.
  • Place the roasted peppers in a paper bag and fold the top of the bag down to seal in most of the steam that the peppers release. Allow the peppers to sweat, let them rest for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the peppers from the paper bag and peel the charred skins from the peppers and remove the skins.For skin that doesn’t come off easily in your hands, use a small knife.
  • Remove the seeds and chop the peppers and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the 2 tspn olive oil over medium heat. Add onion  and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until softened. Blend the chopped roasted peppers with 1 tspn oil to a smooth texture. Now add the red pepper to the pan and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat.
  • Add freshly chopped parsley and sour cream (if using soy yogurt, beat the yogurt lightly with a fork and take the pan off the heat and mix it well with the red pepper sauce) then season with salt and red chili to taste. I also add 1/2 tspn of store bought chili-garlic sauce to make it hot.
  • Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Let the pasta simmer on low-med heat for 5 mins.
  • Garnish with Parmesan cheese , if desired.