Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stir Fried Onion & Zucchini Raita/Dip

Long lazy summer afternoons, cold moisture sweating glass of iced lemonade, carressing sun peeping randomly from behind the curtains, all the while spread lazily on sofa and in hand kindle displaying pages after pages of  lovely fictional historical "whodunit?" mystery book. Yeap, thats me this afternoon, enjoying Patricia B Ryan's new historical series "Still life with Murder", great read in all, with a bit of drama, wit and hints of romance, not to forget a good suspense and nice revelations at good intervals. Clock strikes 3:30 pm and its already time to cook our early dinner, now thats a bit unfair for such a good lazy afternoon isn't it?!! But then I remembered I did'nt have to cook much coz peas pulav was sitting ready in refridgerator along with maa-choleyaan di dal and mix-veg curry, all leftovers from last evening's dinner and quantity more than enough to serve 2 very hungry food loving monsters, P & Me. So I carried on with my lazy affairs and completed the mystery novel at precisely 4:17 pm, happy and elated with the conclusion that it offered, my mind was filled with images of how would this story playout if made into a movie kinda thing, funny but I do that a lot. :)
Being happy enough I decided to whip up something freshly cooked, again remembered the amount of food stored in fridge, I decided to prepare raita which would not levy extra burden on already copious amount of food I had in hand.

I coarsely grated 2 medium sized zucchini, chopped 1 medium sized red onion, chopped two green chillies, heated 1 tbs of canola oil in a pan, added 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds added chopped green chillies and onions and stir & sauteed it for 2 mins. Removed excess water from zucchini and added that to the pan.
Threw in 1/2 tsp of red chilli flakes and salt to taste and sauteed for another 2 mins or so. Turned off the heat and let the mixture cool down. Added 200 to 250 gms yoghurt, mixed well and garnished it with few coriander/cilantro leaves. I knew at this point that this will be a hit with pulav.
Happy with the outcome I again laid on my sofa, going through my beloved kindle in search of another mystery/suspense novel to devour. :)

Wishing you all same happy lazy afternoons too!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sev Tameta Nu Shaak/Kathiyavadi Sev Tameta

     "Kismat Kathiyavadi" is a very well known dhaba near Vasad, about 22 kms from Vadodara my home town. Known for its authentic kathiyavadi food like ringan no olo, sev tameta nu shaak, bajri rotla, masala khichdi-kadhi, gathiya nu shaak, lasaniya bataka etc, the list is quiet long. It has been long time since we visited this dhaba so I decided to prepare this simple but very tasty dish for dinner tonite, actually I have to confess after returning from our trip to India, I was running low on my rations of veggies, all I had in hand was a handfull of tomatoes and few potatoes, then I remembered I had brought in a bag of sev from India and hence decide to prepare this dish ;)
This dish is very popular in gujarati households. It can be prepared in a giffy and is also a crowd pleaser. Simple ingredients, fast to cook and tastes amazing what else would you want from a dish!

I served this dish along with phulkas, lasan chutney and jeralu wali chaas.

Here goes the recipe.


2 cups chopped red juicy tomatoes
1 1/2 cups thick sev, I used ratlami sev as we prefer spicy food
1 tbs grated ginger
2 tsp dhania-jeera powder/ cumin-coriander powder
1/2 tsp haldi powder/ turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp kashmiri lal mirch powder/ red chilli powder
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups water
Handful of chopped coriander leaves for garnish.

For tempering:
2 tbs oil, I used canola oil
1 tsp jeeru/ cumin seeds
pinch of hing/ asafoetida


Heat oil in a kadhai/wok/heavy bottom pan, add cumin seeds and let them splutter, now add hing and grated ginger and sautee for about 15 seconds.
Add chopped tomatoes and all other ingredients except water and sev. Cook for around 3 minutes and add water.
Cover and cook for another 3-4 minutes and add in sev to the cooked tomato gravy.
Garnish it with chopped coriander leaves and serve immediately with hot phulkas/chappati/bajri na rotla.

This dish should be served as soon as you add sev to the gravy or else it will turn into soggy mess. If you are preparing it in advance then prepare the gravy and keep aside, just before serving the dish heat the gravy and add sev to it and serve warm.
Adding sugar is important as it balances the tang of tomatoes and sharpness of spicies.
Do not add onion or green chillies to this dish as it tends to overburden this dish with sharpness.
Serve it with garlic chutney and chaas along with phulkas/rotla for the authentic kathiyavadi taste.
Use ratlami sev instead of regular thick sev as it adds to extra favour and spice with goes very well with this dish.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Foul/Ful - Egyptian Fava Bean Dip

Foul/Ful, pronounced as Fool, is an ancient middle-eastern dish, which I fell head over heals in love with, after coming to Saudi Arabia. This dish is prepared from Fava Beans aka. Broad Beans. This is staple food in Egypt and is equally popular in Saudi Arabia along with Jordan, Syria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia etc. Prepared in various versions using lemon, garlic, sumac, cumin, green chillies, tomatoes, onion and olive oil, there are so many combinations of preparing this dish, some prefer it chunky I on otherhand, prefer it smooth and buttery. In Syria this dish is prepared using special Aleppo pepper and tahini (sesame seed paste).

There is this place in Riyadh which is very popular for its Afghani Foul, P mentioned it many times when I was just new in Riyadh, come next weekend and he brought this heavenly dish called foul (I know I used to get a kick out of it just hearing it, it made me think of something which would be very silly to eat) along with khubz (pita) and hummus for breakfast and I have to admit Foul rocked my world, it has such a lovely taste, texture and flavour that I just couldn't stop licking my plate clean after finishing.

It is said that foul is the dish of Pharoahs and I say Amen. Mentionable quantities of fava beans have been found in Egyptian Tombs. This beans are mentioned not only in Bible but also in other ancient texts, what more can be said about this beans?! Not to forget the lovely nutritional value they provide other than being food for Pharoahs.

So as I said some prefer chunky kinda foul but I prefer smooth and buttery texture which is the way it is prepared in that Riyadh's famous Afghani foul shop, so here goes the recipe.


1 cup medium sized Egyptian Fava Beans (dry, overnight soak in water along with 2 pinches of soda-bicarb)
6 tbs olive oil, I used extra virgin.
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin powder
3 cloves of garlic, grated
2 tbs tomato paste, you can used fresh tomatoes too, 2-3 medium sized and skin removed would suffice.
Salt to taste

For garnish:
2-3 tbs lemon juice
chopped onions, tomatoes and/or hard boiled egg chopped finely.
Olive oil.


Soak beans overnight in water along with 2 pinches of soda-bicarb, in the morning drain them and wash them with plain water. Pressure cook beans in plain water for upto 8-10 whistles, these beans are bigger than any other usual beans so it takes time for them to get well cooked. Remember we want a very well cooked bean, cooked to a point that its skin is a bit torn and bean itself is mushy.

Drain the beans and reserve the water, it shall be used in cooking later. Let the cooked beans cool off a bit and then start removing their skin, its very easy as we have cooked them to a mushy point, just one pinch and the bean shall pop out.

Using a blender, make a puree of the beans.

In a heavy bottom pan add 1 tbs olive oil and garlic and fry for 10 seconds on medium heat, add beans puree and all other ingredients mentioned above along with olive oil. It is important to add olive oil only after adding puree to the heated pan because we want the flavour of olive oil to stay intact. Add around 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water.
Let this simmer over a low heat for around 30-45 mins. The more this simmers, dish will have more intense flavours. Keep adjusting the consistency of this dish by adding a bit more water if you want as simmer vapourises water and beans puree does have tendency to thicken quite a bit. (I ended up adding 2 1/4 cups of water in all)

Turn off the heat and ladle it into a bowl, garnish it with dash of lemon juice, chopped onions, tomatoes or grated or chopped hard boiled egg.
Serve it with Pita or khubz.

I prefer my foul with a dash of olive oil, a dash of lemon juice and chopped onions on side.

Soaking beans in soda bicarb water is a must. But remember to cook the beans in plain water after thorough wash.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Veg Hyderabadi Biryani

Simple things bring joy to life, today while I was preparing chapati (Indian flat bread), one chapati puffed up so nice and round that it rolled like a ball from my stove top and into my hands, this made me chuckle and I thought food itself likes to play with me a bit.
Riyadh is getting hotter by the day, its important to have light meals but there are days when P and I crave masala food. Last week after pondering how to curb masala desires I decided to prepare veg hyderabadi biryani, though this is not the original version recipe, it has all the flavour that original recipe calls for.

1 cup basmati rice cooked with 2 cups of water for 9 mins in microwave 100% power.
1 medium sized potato cut in half length wise and then cut other way into 1/2 cms slices, forming nice half cirles.
1 large onion thinly sliced.
1 small tomato thinly sliced.
1 large capsicum thinly sliced.
1 cup cauliflower florets.
1 cup mint leaves.
3 small green chillies. The ones I used where hot Indian green chillies.
2 tbs yogurt/curd.
1 tsp turmeric powder.
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 1/2 tsp biryani masala, in case you don't have biryani masala you can use garam masala.
5-6 tbs oil.
Salt to taste
4 drops of red food grade colour. (totally optionaly, I used it just for vanity)


Soak rice for half an hour, cook and keep aside. We need rice to be cool enough before handling it, this avoids breakage. So do this in advance.

Heat 3 tbs of oil in a deep heavy bottom pan/wok and add potatoes. Sprinkle 2 tbs of water, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder, cover and cook on medium flame for about 4 minutes or till half done. Now add cauliflower florets mix ligtly as you don't want to break fragile potato slices. Sprinkle about 1 tbs of water and cover. Cook for few more minutes till the florets are just done. DO NOT OVER COOK.
Turn off the heat and remove the veggies from the wok. Keep aside.

Put the same wok on medium heat and add 3 tbs of oil. Add onions and fry them till they are translucent. Add sliced capsicum, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Sautee them till the capsicum is just cooked, add 1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder and 2 1/2 tsp of biryani masala or garam masala. Mix lightly and cook for 30 seconds, now add in sliced tomato, again mix lightly and cook for around 2 minutes and turn off the heat. Add in potato and cauliflower that had been set aside and mix it.
Adjust salt in veggies at this stage.

Blend mint, green chillies and yogurt for 30 seconds and set aside.

Divide boiled rice into 3/4 th and 1/4 th portions. Pour yogurt-mint mixture to 3/4 th portion and toss lightly. Add 4 drops of red food grade colour to 1/4 th portion and toss that lightly too.
Now in a large serving bowl spread layers of yogurt mint rice, red rice and veggie mixture till you run out of it.
Serve with plain yogurt or raita of your choice.

The real flavour of this dish demands that you keep salt to minimum taste, it brings out nice sweetness of fried onions.
Do not over cook the veggies, it is important that they retain some bite in them.
Use very fresh vegetables as they really are the star of this dish.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Boiled Fruit Cake/Christmas Fruit Cake Cheaters Style

"Here's a big piece for my favourite lill one", with these words heaven descended on a plate and was handed over into my tiny hands, Principal Uncle was the god handing over a piece of heaven to me, a piece of Christmas Fruit Cake. At that tiny age it was hard for me to think beyond eating that cake but Principal Uncle who was my Grandpa's friend and elder to my Grandpa, used to make this wonderful and heavenly Fruit Cake All By Himself. All I knew about him that he was a Christian by religion and was retired principal of Rosary High School, predominantly a boy's school during his term, hence we all kids called him "Principal Uncle". He was a social fixture at my Grandpa's locality and all kids loved him as he bore a cuddly teddy bear exterior and jolly personality beneath. Grandpa and I had a very special bond, I used to tag along with him every time he stepped out of home, we used to visit all of his friends, which was kind of "all male tea party". He too was a teddy bear kinda fellow with a distinct hearty laughter. They all used to talk about their good old days, shared their heroic stories, crack jokes, ponder over political issues & local problems etc while we kids sat munching our Fruit Cakes & Sandwiches. This was almost 24-25 years ago, time passed and people disappeared, I never knew how or when Principal Uncle passed away or what was his real name, now I can't even inquire about it as my Grandpa too passed away in 2006. But since last few days I kept remembering Grandpa and Principal Uncle which made me crave for that Decadent Fruit Cake, so I decided to try my luck making it by myself.

Searching on web I came to a conclusion that authentic Christmas Fruit Cake was a laborious task involving pre-planning, making candied fruit peels and worst of all it involves brushing it with brandy or rum while it ages, now thats the problem, this country being a non-alcoholic I can't find brandy or rum out here and waiting while the cake ages, COME ON, WHO DO YOU THINK P IS?!! His least accessible virtue is patience, especially when it comes to sweet edibles. So I opted a cheat version of Christmas Fruit Cake, Boiled Fruit Cake, adopted from the site
Behold............. the pearly heaven doors have opened and there's a sale, yup, a BOILED FRUIT CAKE SALE. LOL. Kidding aside I just completed my first fruit cake and my home smells like heaven. Right now the cake is duely photographed and done with the taste test, all I can say is its just AAAAWWWESOME and tastes very much like Principal Uncle's Fruit Cake, although not exactly but I can do away with the minor taste differences.
So here's to you Principal Uncle and to you Dada (Grandpa). Christmas has come much much earlier this year for me. :)


1 cup warm water
1 cup light brown sugar or 1 cup refined sugar + 1 tbs molasses
1/4th cup unsalted butter 
1/2 tsp salt (if using salted butter add just 1/4 tsp of salt)
1/2 tsp cloves powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger/ ginger paste
2 cups seedless raisins 

Bring all the above ingredients to a boil and keep boiling them for 5 minutes on a medium to low heat. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down to lukewarm.

While the mixture is cooling down, take a large bowl and seive in
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour/maida
1 tsp baking soda

Mix 1 cup of chopped candied orange peel and 1 tsp vanilla powder/extract to the flour mixture. 

Lightly beat 2 large eggs or 3 small eggs in a bowl and keep aside.

Preheat the oven at 180 degree C. Lightly dust a bundt cake mould or a rectangular 9" x 5" mould and keep aside.

Once the mixture is lukewarm add it to the bowl of flour mixture along with the lightly beaten eggs. Mix them properly and transfer it into the baking mould/tray.
Bake the cake at 175-180 degree C for 45 to 60 minutes or untill the toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Once done let the cake cool in the mould for 10 mins, run a knife along the edge of the mould. Remove the cake carefully and place it on a wire rack to cool it down evenly.

After it has cooled thoroughly store this cake in an airtight plastic container.
This cake ages very well, the flavours enhances after a day or two, hence this cake can be prepared in advance and stored for any occasion later on.
This cake can even be frozen and stored for longer terms.
I had prepared candied orange peels a day before, I shall be posting the recipe soon.
You can use candied fruit peels of various other fruits of your choice.
You can half the quantity of raisins and add in equal amounts of other dry fruits like chopped almonds, walnuts, cashew etc. Just make sure all the dry fruits should not add up more than 2 cups in total. I used only raisins becoz that was the only thing available on hand for me. I'm planning my next batch of boiled fruit cake with dry fruit mix of walnuts+almond+raisins all equal amounts.

This recipe is a keeper, although this is my first fruit cake, it turned out pretty well, it has lovely moist texture, nice aroma of all those spices and a nice punch of orange peel candies. A sure surprise with every bite.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ghaun Na Loat No Sheero/Gehun Ke Atte Ka Halwa/Whole-wheat Flour & Almond Dessert

Gujarati's are born with sweet tooth, well I might be exaggerating a bit, but for my family this stands totally true, my father, my hubby, my grandfather-in-law, infact my whole in-laws bunch are crazy sweet toothers. I have heard mind boggling stories about how my mother-in-law along with my grandmother-in-law and aunt-in-law used to prepare huge quantities of kansaar (sweet dish prepared from broken wheat, jaggery & water) and eat it as LUNCH, imagine just a sweet dish as lunch. These days we all laugh about it mentioning as old habits.
P hates sugar in his everyday meals but he is a die hard fan of sweet dishes. When it comes to choosing his favourite sweet dish, it comes down to roshogulla, soan-papdi, wheat flour halwa, sukhdi, mysore pak, gajar ka halwa etc etc, trust me the list is quiet long. I can surely say that he has one favourite sweet from every state of India.
I remember ghaun na loat no sheero was prepared by my mom on almost every other sunday, my sweet tooth dad devoured almost half of it in one sitting. After meeting P, I came to know he too enjoyed it, so just like my mom I too prepare it once a month atleast.
The best thing about this is that it is prepared using whole-wheat flour- good source of calcium, iron, fiber and other micro & macro nutrients and minerals like selenium, Jaggery- which is considered as wholesome sugar which contains more minerals and lesser chemicals than refined sugar, Ghee-which is clarified butter, milk, water, cardamom and dry fruits like almonds.
P and I both prefer it to be mild in sweetness.

3/4th cup Whole-wheat flour
1/3rd cup ghee/clarified butter
1 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1/2 to 3/4th cup jaggery/gol/gud, crumbled
3 pinches of cardamom powder
5-7 almonds roughly chopped

Heat ghee in a deep heavy bottom pan and add whole wheat flour, mix well. Keep stirring and roast flour on medium heat till it is nice golden brown and releases lovely roasted aroma.
Now add warm milk and warm water to roasted flour, mix well on low-medium heat breaking all the lumps and stirring it till it is nice smooth. Add in jaggery and cardamom powder.
Keep stirring occasionally till jaggery has melted, at this stage do a taste-test and see if you need more sweetness to the dish, if yes add more jaggery. 
Cook for 2-4 minutes more on low-medium heat till sheero starts to separete from the sides releasing ghee.
Garnish it with chopped almonds and serve warm.

You can add 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder/sunth powder along with cardamom powder, it tastes best during wintery months. Dry ginger powder has medicinal properties from combating cold & cholesterol to treating nausea, sea sickness and help thinning blood.
Powder of ginger root gives a nice "aahh whats that?" taste to the dish.
Always remember to use warm milk and warm water or else the roasted flour will turn up in unforgiving lumps.
If you are planning for a low fat version of this dish just replace milk with same quantity of water, ie 2 cups of warm water instead of 1cup warm water and 1 cup warm milk.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Methi Na Thepla/Gujarati Dhebra/Fresh Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread

Dhebra is one of the most loved Gujarati tea time snacks/dishes. It is a type of paratha which has bitterness from fenugreek/methi leaves, sweetness from the sugar, sour taste that come out of curd and heat from the green chili paste. In addition to this, this paratha has the goodness of garlic & ginger, pearl millet and whole wheat flour, not to forget all the green leafy veggies going into it. It can't be healthier than this.
Gujarati's are well known for their handva, muthiya, dhokla and thepla/dhebra. Dhebra can serve different purposes like tea time snack to midnight snack and from travel food to picnic munchies. Dhebra are popular with kids to grown-ups alike.
I remember having dhebra in my school lunch box prepared by my mom, BTW she makes the most flavourful dhebra I've ever tasted. This is her recipe. So here's some recipe which just can't go wrong.

Makes 20-22, 6" diameter dhebra.
3 cups firmly packed chopped fresh fenugreek/ methi leaves
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour/ chapati flour
1 1/2 cups pearl millet/ bajri flour
2 tbs of oil
3 pinches of hing/asofoetida.
2 tbs green chili, ginger & garlic paste
1 1/2 tbs sugar
3 tsp kashmiri red chili powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste, usually requires 2 to 3 1/2 tsp of salt but it can be adjusted according to taste.
1/4th cup yoghurt (a little bit of sour yoghurt is best for this recipe)
Few mls of water for kneading the dough.

For cooking we shall require a few more tbs of oil for shallow frying. About 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour for dusting.

In a deep bowl all both flours and 2 tbs of oil, give it a nice rub till the oil is nicely incorporated in the flour.
Now add all the spices, ground paste, sugar and salt and give it a nice rub once again.
Add fenugreek/methi leaves and mix it well.
Now start to knead a semi soft to hard dough adding a tablespoon of yoghurt at a time, till you run out of 1/4th cup of yoghurt. Add water to knead dough after this, remember pearl millet doesn't need too much liquid to form a dough hence add few tbs of water at a time.
Dough should not be runny at all, you should be able to make ping-pong sized balls out of it.
Let this dough rest for 20-30 mins.

Now make ping pong sized balls out of the dough and roll out 1/4th cm thick paratha, using whole wheat flour for dusting. Heat tava/griddle/non stick pan (if planning to make oil free dhebra) and place rolled out dhebra/paratha on to it. After 30 seconds turn dhebra with spatula and let it cook on the bottom side. Apply 1/4th tsp of oil on the top surface and turn it to shallow fry, press your spatula and keep turning the paratha every 20 seconds till golden brown spots appear on them.
Repeat this with all the remaining dough balls.

Dhebra can be served with pickles,jam, coriander chutney, garlic chutney, spiced curd, sweet curd or any dal or curry of your choice. This paratha/dhebra goes very well with masala chai/tea.
Shallow fried with golden brown spots

Dhebra served with sweet & spicy lemon pickle

Monday, January 23, 2012

Beetroot Stir Fry/ Beetroot No Sambharo

I know I have been neglecting my poor blog since quiet a long time, but here I'm trying to redeem myself. :)
Having many hobbies has its drawbacks. I just finished one of my crafts project which had been pending since long, it took time but its complete now and so I'm back to blogging.
Today I was planning to make a simple healthy dish and found some beetroots, which were neglected since few days, so I decided to do them some justice.
Beetroots either you love them or you hate them. Though they are highly nutritious and loaded with antioxidants, not to mention their importance for our cardiovascular health, these roots are ignore and mostly restricted to salads. So I wanted to make something simple and special with these beauties. To my surprise this dish came out well, tastes good and looks pretty too. For a picky eater like me, I can say I can eat this dish alone in itself.
So here goes the recipe.

2 Large beetroots cubed and boiled
1 tsp canola oil/sunflower oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1/2 tsp mustard seeds/rai
Pinch of asofoetida
1 sprig of curry leaves/mitha limda
2 green chillies cut in half
1/2 tsp amchoor powder/dry mango powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder/haldi
1 tsp kashmiri red chili powder/ mirchi powder
Salt to taste.

Pour oil in nonstick skillet and let it heat up. Add mustard seeds & cumin seeds, let them come to a splutter, then add in curry leaves and green chillies along with asofoetida.
Add boiled beetroot cubes along with all the spices and salt to taste.
Do not add water as this dish is intended to be dry.

This dish can be served as a side dish with any curry or rice dishes.
Amchoor or dry mango powder is added to balance the sweetness of beetroot, it gives this dish a nice tangy kick on the other hand red chili powder adds the spice level making this dish sweet sour and spicy, all at the same time.
I'm planning to enjoy this dish with spinach stir fried with onions and garlic and hot rotis.