Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Green Palak Paneer without tomatoes!!!

I was longing to have spinach from last couple of days and so today bought this big bag of fresh organic baby spinach.

Somehow the usual palak paneer with lots of cream did not appeal to me,its more in off-white color and hardly seems like spinach . I craved for some puply green spinach which can go well with rice and roti both.Had a big can of whole milk in the fridge, so I made the paneer at home. The result was a very green , delicious curry which you cannot get enough of. I used up the whole bag of spinach and…ah!!I swear it will not last for more than 2 people!!!


fresh or frozen spinach – 2 or 3 cups

1 big red onion

3 cloves garlic

1 inch piece ginger

Paneer cubes  – half cup

cumin seeds – 1 tsp

coriander powder – 2 tsp

green chillies – 5

a pinch of turmeric powder

salt to taste

whole milk/Cream – optional

oil – 2 tsp


1.Wash the spinach and blanch them by dropping them in hot water for 30 seconds, immediatly drop them in cold water and then strain in a colander. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before pureeing. ( If using frozen spinach, defrost them , strain and puree)

2.Chop up the onion to big chunks and puree it with the green chillies. Make a paste of ginger and garlic and keep it aside.

3. Heat up a wok with oil, crackle cumin seeds, pour the onion-chilly paste and ginger garlic paste and saute it till the raw onion smell disappears.

4.Add the turmeric powder and coriander powder and pour in the spinach puree. Let it cook on a low flame for 5 minutes

5.If adding heavy cream , a spoonful would be more than enough.Another low fat option is microwave quarter cup of whole milk for 7 minutes allowing a standing time of 30 seconds in between and add this little by little to the spinach. Coconut milk would also work I guess, though I never tried it. (yes….the green colour stays even after adding cream!!)

6.Broil the paneer cubes for 2-3 minutes and add it to the spinach. Take care while broiling , else you will end up burning them.

Serving suggestions:

Spinach with paneer pieces goes with with warm rotis, parathas, naans etc.,

Spinach minus paneer goes awesome with hot plain rice + ghee

It tastes even more heavenly with curd rice!! 🙂


Carefree Cracked wheat Upma

This was a very common breakfast at my home, simply because it is very easy to prepare , wholesome and very yummy.With some salad and yogurt, can be had at lunch or dinner too.

Upma is usually made with Sooji or Semolina in most parts of India and most are not aware that cracked wheat can be an awesome substitute in this recipe.

Why cracked wheat upma?

Sooji is a refined product and cracked wheat is not

Cracked wheat need not be pre-toasted, this reduces the cooking time considerably

Cracked wheat does not form lumps when you cook…so you can make a Carefree cracked wheat upma!!! absolutely zero concentration required.

Now to the recipe…


Cracked wheat – 1 cup

Water – 2.25 cups

green chillies – 3

red chillies – 3

carrots+peas – 1 cup (if not using veggies reduce the water to 2 cups)

1 mediu onion sliced thin

Mustard seeds – tsp

Channa dal aka broken chickpeas – 1 tsp

chopped ginger – 1 inch piece


oil – 2 tbsp


Heat a wide thick-bottomed vessel with 2 tablespoons of oil and let it reach smoking point. Now crackle the mustard seeds, fry the channa dal to a light pink, add the chillies , ginger and onions.

Once the onions are translucent add the veggies, saute for a minute, add the 2.25 cups of water, season with salt and close it with a lid. It is important that the water is slightly salty than how you want your upma to be. Once the water starts boiling, add the cracked wheat, give it a stir, close the lid and cook it for a couple of minutes till it is done. Once you feel the upma is done and soft, switch off the stove, close it with the lid and leave it to rest for 5 minutes. This step is very important if you do not want a gooey upma. Enjoy the wholesome upma with some pickle and yogurt or coconut chutney.

Poha – all time fav brkfst/lunch/dinner…period!!

Yes, it is  because of the following reasons

1.It can be made in 15 min flat

2.It tastes good

3.Very apt for lunchbox

4.It can be made with normal  ingredients

5.It can be made nutritious  and it still tastes good!!!

It was a sin not to post this recipe for so long, since I end up making it atleast twice a week, today I did the photo shoot and hence thought will post it before I procrastinate.


Poha(thick variety) – 1 cup

grated carrots – 1/2 cup (diced carrots take little longer to cook)

frozen peas – 1/4 cup

chopped onions – 1 small

finely chopped chillies – 4 or 5

salt & sugar

Half a lemon juice

Haldiram’s bhujia / Grated coconut for garnish


Well…cooking poha is pretty simple, it does not involve a process, just a few tips. Whenever I skipped one of these tips, my poha did not turn quite right. So you can skip the steps and just read the tips and that will suffice.

Tip #1 Make sure the poha is of thick variety and make sure you wash it nicely till it is little soft to touch , drain it in a colander and leave it for 10 minutes. This 10 minute wait time is very important, after all cooking it takes only 5 min.

Tip #2 Please try to add the mentioned number of green chillies, because somehow red chilly powder does not go well with this dish and without green chillies this dish will turn out bland

Ok, now coming to the steps…the usual

1.Heat oil in a wok and splutter some mustard and cumin seeds.

2.Add turmeric , green chillies and onion and saute for a couple of minutes till the onions soften

Tip #3 It is important to add turmeric to the oil, else the poha does not get a uniform color!

3.Add the grated carrots & peas and cook them for not more than 2 mins.

Tip #4 Season the veggie mixture with sufficient salt & sugar before mixing in the poha. If you try to add salt in the end, it never mixes up properly and you will salty & bland poha in the same bowl!!

4.Season with salt & sugar, mix in the poha immediatly and switch off the stove. Pour in the lemon juice,some chopped coriander and mix it up well

Tip #5 Make sure the contents in the wok have little bit of moisture when you mix in the poha. Otherwise sprinkle few drops of water. The poha soaks up that little moisture and it stays soft , without this moisture it ends up dry and hard.

I know…there are more tips than the actual steps!!


Garnish with bhujia/coconut depending on your undying love for whichever

You can add raw peanuts/finely diced potatoes while sauteing onions

Gooseberry(Nellikkai) Conserve – Chyawanprash

The sight of fresh green Gooseberries always bring back my sweet childhood days at my grandparent’s place. Unlike todays apartment culture , we had an independent house and a huge garden around it. There were quiet a number of coconut trees, sitapal, red guava, a couple of neem trees , and gooseberry. This was apart from a number of flowering shrubs like hibiscus and mesmerising manoranjitham .This garden was the favourite play area for all the neighbourhood kids. And our favourite in-between snack was nellikkai mixed with a pinch of salt and chilli powder…!! it makes me drool even now 🙂 .These days I do not get a chance to see the small tiny variety which we used to enjoy. What we commonly get in market is the bigger ones known as malai-nellikkai or Amla.The sourness is a bit more than the tiny one , but both are rich in vitamin C and anti-oxidants as most of you would know and relishing one everyday will definitely keep your resistance in check. I dont know whether Apple a day keeps the doctor away but this sour apple definitely does. Well….ok now i really dont understand why the good things are not always tasty….because even I do not have the grit to sit and enjoy this Amla everyday, i do not take a liking for this sourness. So you can imagine how kids will behave. Thats where this Chyawanprash comes to rescue, the sour taste is carefully camouflaged in this gooseberry conserve which can be bottled and kept.The recipe I have given here is the basic one which I learnt from my sister-in-law. With a 5 year old son, she tries all kinds of masking techniques like this to make him eat 🙂

Ingredients :

Malai nellikkai or Amla – 15-18
Sugar – 1 cup or as per taste
Ghee or Clarified butter – 5-6 Tbsp

To powder:

cardamom – 5-6 pods
Cumin seeds – 2 Tsp
Black pepper – 2 Tsp


1.Wash the Amla and then pressure cook them for a whistle with very little water, probably less than half a cup
2.Remove the seeds from the boiled Amla and then mash them nicely.Make sure you remove any excess water. If you cook them with less water, there will not be any need to squueze the water out.
3.Now in a wide mouthed vessel heat the ghee and saute the mashed Amla in it for about 5-6 minutes. This is to evaporate the moisture in the mixture.
4.Once you are sure the Amla ghee mixture is cooked enough add the sugar to it and keep stirring. I added around 1 cup of sugar , but you can reduce or increase the amount depending on how much sourness you like in you chyawanprash
5.Once you add the sugar , the mixture will loosen up a little bit , keep stirring it and within a few minutes all the mixture will come together without sticking to the sides.Now add the cardamom, pepper and cumin powder , give it a mix and turn off the flame.

Allow it to cool completely before bottling it.A spoon of this can be taken along with milk everyday. You can reduce the quantity of sugar in this recipe to half and substitute it with honey. But make sure you add the honey once Chyawanprash cools completely. The Chyawanprash stays good for almost 2 months.

Lauki Koftas in yoghurt sauce

Thanks to all my friends who have encouraged me through their comments. There are also some specific demands , some are asking for south indian recipes while some want me to post north indain dishes. Will definitely post both, my main aim is to bring back the recipes which have almost gone extinct, whether its north or south doe not really matter. And I have my mom and my mom-in-law , great source for both kind of cuisines, so there is lot of fun in store 🙂

I feel that thinking of what to cook is more tougher than actual cooking, because you need to have all the ingredients in your pantry and then it HAS to be tasty, also something which is healthy.Yesterday morning sipping my morning tea i opened my fridge and just stood there thinking hard what to pack for lunch…..all i could find there was a 4 inch long piece of lauki , some tomatoes , a bell pepper. I could have easily made aloo tomato….but then it was all carbs and i HATE potatoes….somehow they do not come under my healthy veggies list….i do not take them out unless it is a emergency code-red situation. There was also a big bowl of homemade yoghurt , so then i thought of this nice exotic dish…..exotic by taste and name, but very simple preparation.I got introduced to this dish through one of my rajasthani friend and i modified it a little bit to suit my preference. From then on i never miss a chance to make these and each and every time(note…each time) AJ says “The koftas were really yummy…very nice”And for my friends who wanted a north indian dish…….here it is

Ingredients :

Grated Lauki/Bottleguord – 1 cup

Besan – couple of spoons to bind the koftas

Youghurt -1.5 cups

Cashewnut powder – 2 tsp (optional)

Onion – 1 medium finely chopped

Green chillies – 2 chopped

Coriander powder – 2 tbsp

Chilli powder and salt to taste

Turmeric powder – a pinch

Coriander leaves for garnishing

Oil for deep frying


To prepare Koftas

Mix the luaki grating with little salt and keep it aside for 5 mins. Now sqeeze out as much water as you can out of the lauki and mix it with little besan and chilli powder. Do not add too much of besan , otherwise you koftas will turn like pakoras :), the quantity should be just enought to bind the koftas and to absorb the little moisture it has.

Now heat oil in a kadai and deep fry the koftas to golden brown. If the water has been sqeezed out properly your koftas will not absorb much of oil.Keep aside the koftas in a tissue or kitchen towel to drain the excess oil

To prepare the sauce

1. Add a spoonful of oil in a skillet and splutter the mustard and cumin seeds.Now add green chillies and onions with little salt.

2.Once the onion get cooked , whisk up the yoghurt nicely with some coriander, turmeric and chilli powder and add it to the skillet. Keep stirring frequently so that the yoghurt does not fall apart.Let it simmer for around 5 mins

3.Now add the powdered cashews and then bring it to a boil and switch it off. The cashew powder just thickens sauce a bit and you can completely do away with them.

In a serving bowl, place the koftas and pour this youghurt sauce over them and garnish with coriander leaves. serve them after 10 mins so that the koftas are soaked in the sauce. This tastes simply superb with chapathis that you will end up licking your fingers 🙂

Kathirikkai Chutney or Baked Eggplants in tamarind juice

Well, this is one unique chutney which they make in the Kongunadu district. Usually kongunadu cuisine is known for its spicy non-veg preparations, but even for vegetarians like me there is a huge spread. Lot of these things have almost gone extinct, people dont know there used to be such a preparation of brinjal at all. The least I can do is to make a post on it, so that its not completely lost and will be of use to someone somewhere.

This chutney does not involve cooking at all except for the initial baking part and it does not require any exotic ingredients too.The preparation is full of rustic flavours and is traditionally served  with  Arisi-paruppu sadham, for which I have already posted the recipe.

Brinjal and tamaring paste

You Need:

Brinjal – 4 (if small) or 1( if big)

Green chillies – 2 to 3 chopped fine

Curry leaves – chopped fine

Onion – 1 chopped fine

a small bunch of Coriander leaves – chopped fine

Thick tamarind juice – 2 Tbsp or according to taste

Salt to taste


1.You can either bake the brinjal or eggplants in a oven or on a gas burner. Either way make sure you keep turning over the eggplants so that its evenly cooked on all sides so that the outer skin can be peeled off. I did this on the gas burner and when you can feel that the eggplant has gone very soft and the outer skin has gone charcoal black you can stop cooking.

2.Now once it cools down , peel of the skin , part them and check for good ones and then put them in a bowl. Now combine with all the other ingredients and mash them nicely.You can add little water to dilute the chutney it its too thick.

Thats it….its very simple and yet makes an excellent combo with arisi-paruppu.Enjoy!!

Coconut Mint Tomato chutney

Chutneys come in all permutations and combinations, you toast some seasoning, add some fresh herbs, blend it and there you go….its as simple as that. The wonderful thing about chutneys is that you can make it out of anything and everything. Here I have given a simple , yet tasty recipe for a chutney which has the punch of mint , sweetness of coconut with a hint of tangy flovour from the tomatoes.

You need

Mint leaves – a bunch

Tomato – 1 chopped

Grated coconut – 2 Tbsp

Putna daal/channa daal – 1 tsp

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Urad daal – 1/2 tsp

Green chillies – 2

Red chilli – 1

oil and salt for seasoning



1. In a kadai heat a tsp of oil and add the jeera and urad daal, let it brown slightly .Add the chillies and the tomatoes

2. Now saute the mixture for a minute and then add the mint leaves

3. Once the mint leaves wilt, add the grated coconut and saute for another minute and put off the flame. Allow the mixture to cool and blend it with the putna daal and little water

This chutney goes very well with idly, dosa, uthappam etc., You can grind it thick with little water and have it with some hot rice and ghee, tastes just excellent.