Recipe: Pasta Salad

This recipe for Pasta Salad has been with us for a while now. I think I may have made it after seeing something similar some years back or even discovered it accidentally. Anyways, this is a go-to recipe for me when we are bored of Indian food and this makes a great lunch box idea for children and even adults when you want a no-mess lunch which you can eat on the go or at your desk.

Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet raw pasta
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen paneer
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the pack. Let the pasta be al dente and not overcooked. Drain and keep aside to cool.
  • Heat up the frozen corn and when thawed, drained and keep aside.
  • Soak the paneer in hot water for 10 minutes, drain and chop into small pieces.
  • When cool, mix together the pasta, onions, bell peppers, olives, paneer and corn and mix well.
  • In a smaller dish, mix the spices, olive oil and lemon juice into a marinade.
  • Pour the marinade into the pasta salad and mix well. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves. Check for seasoning.
  • Cover and keep in the fridge for a couple of hours. Serve cool.

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Recipes: Sweet Sour Potatoes

When I was in college, I used to make a potato recipe in a tamarind sauce a lot. That was a signature dish I had discovered in a magazine, most likely Women’s Era and had written it down. I did not bring that notebook with me when I moved to Singapore and now that recipe is lost.

The other day I suddenly started thinking of that recipe and turned to Google to see if I can find it somewhere in the world wide web. Unfortunately, I could not remember most of the ingredients and hence could not verify if any of the recipes were the same.

I did read a recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor which I felt was the closest to what I remembered and so adapted this recipe to my own. So here’s my version of tangy and sweet-sour potatoes.

Sweet Sour Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into long fingers with the jacket on
  • 1 lemon-sized ball of tamarind, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and pulped and make it into 2 cups of tamarind water (or if you are using tamarind paste, use 2-3 tsp of the same)
  • 2 tbsp (more or less) Jaggery (you can alternate this with brown sugar if you don’t have access to jaggery)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3-4 dried red chillies
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • In a dry pan, dry roast the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and chillies separately till they start to emit a nice aroma. Make sure you don’t burn the spices. Keep aside, cool and blend into a fine powder.
  • Heat oil in a largish pan and when the oil heats up, add the mustard seeds and let them pop. When they pop, add the asafoetida and stir for a couple of seconds. Then add in the powdered spice mix and stir for a couple of seconds.
  • Then pour in the tamarind water and jaggery and some salt and let it come to a nice rolling boil.
  • After about five minutes, when the raw smell of the tamarind goes away, add the potatoes and let them cook. Cook the potatoes till a knife pierced through one, goes in cleanly. Don’t overcook them. Check for salt at this point and add more if needed.
  • Finish off with taking the kasuri methi in the palms of your hands and crush it to release the oils and aroma and sprinkle it over the potatoes and gravy.
  • Switch off the gas and garnish with chopped coriander. Serve with rice or rotis (Indian flatbreads)
  • Recipes: Dried Red Chilli & Raisin Chutney

    I made dosai (a South Indian crepe) earlier this week and wanted a chutney to go with it. I was not in the mood for a coconut based chutney which is what is traditionally made with dosai, so I thought of a dried red chilli one and whipped this up in less than 20 minutes, including prep time. It also has a total of five ingredients, including spices. So let’s go.

    Dried Red Chilli and Raisin Chutney

    Ingredients:

    • 12-15 dried red Kashmiri chillies
    • 2 tbsp raisins
    • 8-10 cloves garlic
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
    • Salt to taste

    Method:

    • Soak the red chillies and raisins separately in hot water for 10-15 minutes until soft.
    • Drain the water and reserve it to blend.
    • Then blend all the ingredients with reserved water to a fine paste. Check for seasoning (salt and lemon juice) and adjust accordingly.

    This was wonderful with the dosai and was also very good as a spicy dip and I have also eaten this with bread and wraps and it was yummy. Enjoy and let me know how you liked it.

    Recipes: Vegetable Makhanwala

    One weekend, I was wondering what to cook and neither S nor the children were being helpful. When asked what do you want to eat, they’d say “Anything”. So when I searched online, I found a couple of recipes for Butten chicken and also for Paneer Makhanwala. So I decided to play around with these recipes and came up with this Vegetable Makhanwala recipe.

    Makhanwala means with butter and true to its name, this recipe is not for the faint of heart, it needs loads of butter, ghee and oil, not to mention cholesterol inducing items like cream and dry fruits like almonds and cashew nuts. If you are making this for a special occasion, please go full steam ahead and don’t hold back.

    Vegetable Makhanwala

    Ingredients:

    • 2 cups mixed vegetables, chopped into slightly larger than bite-sized pieces (I used cauliflower, green capsicum, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, french beans and frozen corn. You can also add peas and broccoli to this mix)
    •  1cup frozen paneer, refreshed in hot water for 20 minutes to soften it
    • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped
    • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
    • 1-inch piece of ginger
    • 6-7 cloves of garlic
    • 4-5 dried red chillies
    • 4 fresh red chillies
    • 7-8 cashew nuts
    • 7-8 almonds
    • 3-4 cardamom pods
    • 3-4 cloves
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 tsp fennel seeds
    • 4 tbsp butter
    • 2 tbsp ghee
    • 2 tbsp oil
    • 2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • 1 tsp coriander powder
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1-2 tsp garam masala powder
    •  2 tsp kasuri methi
    • 200 ml cup cooking cream
    • Salt to taste
    • Coriander

    Method:

    • In a pan, heat 2 tbsp butter, 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp ghee and when the ghee and butter melts, add the cumin seeds and fennel seeds.
    • When the seeds splutter, add the garlic and let it stir for a few seconds. Then add in the ginger, fresh and dried chillies and stir for a few seconds. Next, add the onions and let it stir until it becomes translucent. Then add the almonds and cashew nuts and give it a good stir. Lastly, add the tomatoes and a tsp of salt to allow the tomatoes to start disintegrating.
    • When the tomatoes and mushy and cooked, remove from the flame, cool down and blend to a very fine paste.
    • In the same pan, heat up the remaining ghee, oil and butter and add the chopped vegetables in it. Add the dry spices – turmeric powder, chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and some salt and cover and cook till the vegetables are three quarters done.
    • When the vegetables are almost done, pour in the blended paste and add water if needed to make the gravy to the consistency you require. Check for salt and add if needed. Also, add in the paneer, kasuri methi and garam masala and let it come to a rolling boil.
    • After about 5-7 minutes at a rolling boil, reduce the flame and add in the cooking cream. Let it come to a gentle boil and switch off the fire, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with any rice or Indian flatbread.

    Notes:

    • Kasuri Methi is dried fenugreek leaves which can be omitted if you don’t have them.
    • If you don’t have access to either fresh or dried red chillies, just substitute one for the other. Kashmiri red chillies give you the best colour without the spice factor.
    • If you are not eating immediately after cooking, omit the last step until you are ready to serve the dish. This is because cooking cream may curdle when you heat it time and again. When you are ready to serve, heat it in a pan and when it comes to a gentle roll, lower the flame and add the cream and finally the coriander. You can omit the cream totally if you want, it tastes very good even without it.

    Recipes: Tomato Carrot Capsicum Soup

    Last weekend, S wanted a light lunch as I was planning to make pizza for dinner. When I probed further, S said he wanted a carrot and tomato soup. So I went online and searched a few sites and then came up with this version. It is a keeper and a winner! It kept well and we finished it the next day.

    Tomato Carrot Capsicum Soup

    Ingredients:

    • 6 medium-sized tomatoes
    • 2 large carrots, chopped
    • 1 large red capsicum, chopped
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
    • 1-inch piece of  ginger, chopped
    • 2 dried red chillies (optional)
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 tsp fennel seeds
    • Salt to taste

    Method:

    • In a large pan or pressure cooker, heat the oil and when it heats, add the cumin seeds and fennel seeds and let it splutter.
    • When the seeds splutter, add the onions, ginger and garlic and let them brown.
    • When the onions brown, add the carrots and stir for a couple of minutes.
    • Make a small cross at the top of the tomato (where the stalk is) and put the whole tomatoes into the cooker or pan.
    • If using a pressure cooker, cover and cook for 3 whistles. If using a pan, cover and cook until the vegetables are completely cooked.
    • When cool, remove the tomatoes carefully and peel the skin and return it back to the pan.
    • Using a handheld blender, blend the cooked vegetables to a smooth paste. If you don’t have a handheld blender, then transfer to a normal blender, blend it and return it back to the pan.
    • Heat the pan again and thin it with water as needed. Season with salt and pepper according to taste.
    • Serve hot with bread croutons.