Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jade and Ruby in Ginger sauce

I am back with another Pan-Asian recipe. This recipe has been in drafts for a long time now. As the kiddo had her easter break, hitting the "publish" button somehow took a back seat. Now that her school has reopened, I have started working on all the back logs.

As you may all know about my love for broccoli from this post. I love broccoli and I try to include this healthy vegetable in my meal atlas once a week. Whenever I come home with a broccoli head, it is mostly taken for granted that I would be oven roasting it. While the oven roasted broccoli is still a favorite, I have to give in to the fact that variety is the spice of life. And since I seem to be having a Chinese food kick lately, I thought of preparing broccoli in such a way that it would complement the noodles and the fried rice that I have been making.

In this recipe, the broccoli florets are stir fried along with the gorgeous red bell peppers and garlic. The ginger sauce is prepared separately and then poured over the cooked veggies. This cooking technique works best with the broccoli florets. The vegetables retain the crunch and the color, making them look like jade and rubies. Isn't that beautiful? Although this recipe is great as it is, you might want to add more chili flakes or pepper powder if you prefer your curries extra hot!!

Jade and Ruby in Ginger sauce recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time- 15min
Serves- 4

Broccoli florets- 250gms, Blanched
Red bell pepper- 1 large, deseeded and cubed
Sesame oil- 1tbsp
Garlic- 1/2 tbsp, crushed
Red chili flakes- 1/2tsp
Vegetable stock or water- 3tbsp
Salt to taste
For the Ginger sauce:
Corn flour- 1tbsp
Water- 3tbsp
Oil- 1tbsp
Ginger- 1tbsp, finely chopped
Tomatoes- 2med, blanched and pureed
Vegetable stock- 1/2cup
Soy sauce- 1tsp
Vinegar- 1tsp
Sugar- 1tsp
Salt to taste
Pepper- 1/2tsp
Other Ingredients:
Spring onion greens to garnish

  • Heat the sesame oil in a wok and fry the garlic till it turns brown. Add the chili flakes and fry for a few seconds more. 
  • Add the broccoli florets and the red bell pepper and fry for two mins. Add the stock and salt and cook until the vegetables are tender yet crisp.
For the ginger sauce:
  • Mix the corn flour along with the water to make a paste and set aside.
  • Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan, add the chopped ginger and fry for a min. 
  • Add the pureed tomatoes, the vegetable stock, soy sauce and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Stir in the corn flour mixture, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and cook till the mixture thickens.
To proceed:
  • Pour the sauce over the cooked vegetables. garnish with spring onion greens and serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Methi nu thepla- Fenugreek flat bread

The thepla is a quintessential Gujarati dish. This flat bread can be a part of the regular meal or a snack. The theplas are great for lunch boxes or for picnics as well. Now aren't theplas versatile?

Unlike the Parathas, the theplas are not thick and they don't come with a stuffing. In methi nu thepla, The fenugreek leaves and the spices are mixed along with flours to make a firm dough. The use of the robust herbs and the spices makes this flat bread extremely flavorful and aromatic. 

The recipe of thepla has many versions. But this recipe was given to me by a Gujarati lady who owns a sweet shop. Apart from the mind boggling varieties of sweets she also sells savory snacks like dhoklas, kachoris and theplas. Although I love the kaju katlis and dhoklas she has to offer, it is the theplas that I am slightly partial to. The theplas she makes are barely 4" in diameter but they are soft and melts in the mouth. They are so delicious that I couldn't help but ask her for the recipe. And she gave it out. Just like that. Isn't that sweet? 

These aromatic flat breads are a favorite with Both S and Purvi and that in itself makes me happy. Since these flat breads are filled with nutrient rich ingredients, I can be assured of wholesome goodness on my table.

Methi nu thepla recipe:
Preparation time: 10min+resting time
Cooking time- 15mins
Makes- approximately 8-10 theplas

Whole wheat flour- 2cups+more for dusting
Gram flour or besan- 1tbsp*(see notes)
Finely chopped Fenugreek leaves- 1/2 cup
Finely chopped coriander leaves- 1tbsp (optional)
Yogurt- 2tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4tsp
Red chili powder- 1/2tsp
Salt to taste
Asafetida- a large pinch
Oil for the dough- 2tbsp
Ghee or oil to shallow fry the thepla- as required


  • In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients from whole wheat flour to asafetida and mix well.
  • Add water little by little knead into a firm dough. Smear the 2tbsps of oil over the dough. Cover and set aside to rest for 30min.
  • Divide the dough into 8-10 portions and roll each portion into 6-7" diameter circle using wheat flour for dusting.
  • Heat a girdle and place it on the girdle. After a few seconds, you will see small bulges appear on the thepla. At this point, Smear some ghee or oil and flip the thepla using a spatula. Smear some ghee or oil on the flipped side and cook till brown spots appear on both sides.
  • Repeat the process with the rest of the dough. These theplas can be enjoyed as is or it can be served with mango pickle and curds. 
  • The consistency of the dough should be a little firmer than the phulka or chapati dough.
  • I have used the gram flour in the recipe. But you can exclude the same if you are not consuming the theplas right away.
  • Using ghee to shallow fry increases the tastes as well the shelf life of the theplas.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Restaurant style Chili paneer

If there is one thing that we order every time we eat out, it is the chili paneer. This is one dish that is a favorite with both adults and children alike. A fusion, Indo-chinese dish that can be made dry or with gravy. The dry version can be had as a starter or appetizer. The gravy version however, is more of a side dish. And it goes exceptionally well with fried rice and noodles.

A couple of years back, I used to make chili paneer during every weekend. But after Purvi's birth, I somehow stopped making it. Maybe, it was because we were so used to eating the lip smacking chili paneer in our favorite restaurant. Who would want to toil in front of the stove when your favorite dish is just a phone call away. But off late, I have become wary of chili paneer from the restaurant. I am not saying that it doesn't taste good anymore. It tastes just as great. However, it leaves us feeling bloated and uncomfortably heavy. I am not sure if it was the saturated fat that is used or the ajinomoto. Both of which are extremely harmful. As a mother, I couldn't watch Purvi eat her favorite chili Paneer which was filled with unhealthy stuff. That was when I decided to start making the chili Paneer at home again.

My version of chili paneer tastes just like one that is served in restaurants, but it was way healthier. I decided to shallow fry the paneer in sesame oil as shallow frying provided the same texture. I also skipped the Ajinomoto. The sesame oil lends a nutty and authentic chinese flavor to the dish and it made the chili paneer absolutely delectable. 

I served this chili paneer to Purvi and her best friend and both girls absolutely loved it. It was heart warming to see them gulp down the dish with exclamations of YUM!!! in-between.

Chili Paneer recipe:
Preparation time: 20min+marination time
Cooking time: 20min
Serves- 4

All purpose flour- 2tbsp
Corn flour- 2tbsp
Salt- 1/2tsp
Freshly ground black pepper powder- 1/2tsp
Paneer- 400gms, cubed
Sesame oil or any other oil- 2tsbp+more for shallow frying
Butter- 1tbsp
Garlic- 3cloves, chopped fine
Salt to taste
Shallots- 6-8, peeled and quartered
Green chilies- 4-5, chopped fine
Green bell pepper- 1 med sized, deseeded and cubed
Salt to taste
Black pepper powder- 1/2tsp
Sugar- 1/2tsp
Soya sauce- 1tbsp
Rice vinegar- 1tsp
Water- 2tbsp
Spring onion greens- 1tbsp to garnish

  • Mix the plain flour, corn flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add a few tbsps of water to make a thick paste. Dunk the cubed paneer in the batter and let it stand for 30mins. 
  • Shallow fry the marinated paneer in oil till the paneer is crisp and brown and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tbsp of oil and butter in a separate pan and add the chopped garlic and fry for a min. 
  • Stir In  the chopped shallots, green chilies and bell pepper and fry for 2-3mins. 
  • Add the salt, pepper, soya sauce and vinegar and fry for a min. 
  • Add 2 tbsp of water and the fried paneer, mix well and simmer for couple of minutes. Garnish with spring onion greens and serve immediately.
  • The sesame oil can be replaced with any other oil. But sesame oil lends a unique nutty flavor to the dish.
  • The paneer can be replaced with equal quantity of hard tofu for a vegan version.
  • If you like your chili paneer to be more gravy like, then add one-third cup of water or stock. And add a paste one tbsp of corn flour mixed with two tbsp of water to thicken the gravy.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sabudaana vada- Tapioca fritters

Today I want to share the recipe for one of my favorite snacks- The sabudana vada. These fritters were one of the first few dishes I learnt to make after marriage. I had first tasted these vadas at a friend's place and I had instantly fallen in love with it. My friend was sweet enough to give the recipe to me. From then on, I have been making these vadas from time to time.

The sabudaana vada is a quintessential Maharashtrian dish that is served during Navaratri, dussehra or during Ekadashi. But these fritters are so delicious that they can be enjoyed during anytime of the year or day. All you need is a hot cup of tea or coffee on the side and I bet you can't stop at one.

These fritters come with a myriad of textures. It has a crunchy exterior and a soft, chewy interior. And then there are these crunchy peanut bits that punctuate every bite. This wonderful crunchy texture and the invigorating flavors of this vada, makes it difficult to stop with one serving.

Even though, these vadas are delicious, there is a flip side to it. These vadas tend to soak up a lot of oil. To avoid the retention of oil, ensure that you use proven sago pearls of good quality. Also, make sure to fry the vadas on med high flame. This ensures that the fritters are not soggy from the inside. If you pay attention to these little details you can be rest assured that your vadas will turn out delicious and addictive.

Sabudaana vada recipe:
Preparation time: 25min+ soaking time
Cooking time: 15mins
Makes- approximately 20-25 fritters

Sabudaana or tapioca pearls- 1-1/2 cups or 200gms
Potatoes- 2 small, boiled and peeled
Peanuts- 3tbsps, lightly roasted and coarsely powdered
Green chilies- 2, finely chopped
Chili flakes- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Coriander leaves- 3tbsps, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Cumin seeds- 1tsp
Rice flour- 2tbsp
Oil for deep frying


  • Wash the sago pearls in several changes of water, drain and set aside for 2hrs. Sprinkle water to moisten the sago pearls only if required.
  • Mix the soaked sabudaana along with the boiled potatoes, green chilies, cumin seeds, toasted and crushed peanuts, chili flakes, coriander leaves, rice flour and salt and mix well.
  • Divide the dough into 20-25 portions. With greased hands, shape each portion into a ball and flatten them slightly.
  • Heat the oil in a wok and deep fry the vadas in hot oil till they are golden brown in color. Drain the fried vadas on an absorbent paper and serve hot with chutney or sauce of your choice.
  • Make sure you use good quality Sago pearls to make the fritters.
  • The soaking time of the sago pearls varies depending on the quality. You can proceed with the preparation when the sago absorbs water and becomes transparent.
  • You can replace the peanuts and the rice flour with equal quantities of rajgira ka atta (amaranth flour) or Singhade ka atta (water chestnut flour)
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