Recipe: Aloo Matar Paneer

Another simple, rustic recipe, straight from the Punjabi heartland, this recipe is also courtesy of my helper R. According to her, this version is what is made in weddings in her village and is a super yummy dish which goes very well with any Indian flatbread. A version of this recipe was what I also made when I cooked a non-South Indian dish for the first time. This recipe was taught to me by a neighbour.

Aloo Matar Paneer

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 pack frozen paneer, refreshed in a pan with hot water for 30 minutes
  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped roughly
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped roughly
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsps oil (I use a canola-olive blend)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp cumin seed powder
  • a handful of cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Pour hot water over the cashew nuts in a dish and keep aside for 30 minutes till the nuts are soft.
  • Grind together onion, tomatoes, ginger, dried red chillies, garlic and cashew nuts and keep aside. Try not to use any water to make the paste and keep the paste smooth.
  • Chop the potatoes into 1-inch pieces and wash and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds and saute for a few seconds.
  • Add the ground tomato-onion paste and saute till it is browned. Keep stirring so it does not burn. Keep stirring till the oil starts leaving the pan.
  • Add the dry spices now – salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and stir well.
  • Next, add potatoes and mix well.
  • Add around a quarter cup of water and mix well and cover and cook till the potatoes are almost done.
  • Now add the frozen green peas and mix. Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
  • If the gravy appears to be thick, add some water to thin it.
  • Now add the paneer pieces and sprinkle the garam masala powder and let it simmer for five minutes.
  • Remove from the flame, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with any rotis or Indian flatbread.

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Recipe: Bottle Gourd (Lauki) Raita

This is an amazingly simple raita which was made by my helper R. This is an earthy Punjabi recipe, which is made at homes during the summer.  Bottle Gourd is a very cooling vegetable which is full of water (about 92%), keeps your body hydrated, and is also a rich source of vitamin C, A and K and essential minerals like sodium, calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium. Bottle gourd also promotes a healthy heart by bringing down the bad cholesterol levels. It is rich in both soluble and insoluble fibers, does not only facilitate smoother digestion but also helps curing tummy problems like constipation, piles and flatulence. Bottle gourd is excellent in quenching thirst, and lending a cooling effect on the body, especially during summers.

Bottle Gourd aka Lauki Raita

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle gourd, peeled and grated
  • 3 cups yogurt, beaten
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seed POWDER

Method:

  • Boil the grated bottle gourd in a pan with just enough water to cover it and some salt for five minutes till it is cooked.
  • Remove and drain the grated bottle groud and when cool, squeeze well between your palms to remove all excess water
  • In another pan, whisk the yogurt well and add salt and pepper powder keep aside.
  • Add the boiled bottle gourd and check for seasoning.
  • Sprinkle cumin seed powder and chopped coriander and serve cold with any rotis or rice.

Recipe: Milagu Kozambu

This is another typical tambram recipe which is probably made in every tambram household at some point or the other. I love this recipe and always used to ask my mum to make it. It is said this is good when you have an upset stomach, as this recipe will clear your stomach.

Both BB & GG also love this recipe and it is usually made plain with no vegetables and is really useful when there’s nothing to cook at home. This time around, I added some vegetables and it was super delicious!

Milagu Kozambu

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, chopped into big pieces
  • 10 ladies fingers, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 4-5 pieces of drumstick, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tsp Peppercorns
  • 5 Red Chillies
  • 1 tsp Urad Dal
  • 2 tsps Chana Dal
  • ½ tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 2 tsps Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • Tamarind piece as big as a piece of lime (make sure you remove all fibre from the tamarind as well as any seeds which may be there)
  • Salt to taste
  • A handful of curry leaves
  • 1/8 tsp of Asafoetida
  • 2 tsps Oil

Method:

  • In a bowl, put the tamarind and pour boiling water over it to release the water and flavour and keep aside for 30 minutes. When cool, mash it well to remove the juice and keep aside. There’s no need to remove the flesh for this recipe.
  • Heat oil in a kadhai and when warm, fry the peppercorns, red chillies, urad dal, chana dal, cumin seeds and coriander seeds.
  • When the dals turn red, add the curry leaves and fry till the curry leaves are crisp.
  • At this point, add the asafoetida and let it cool down.
  • When cool, grind to a smooth paste with the tamarind and a little water into a smooth paste.
  • Heat oil and fry the mustard seeds. Now add the onions and fry them so it starts becoming translucent. Then add the drumstick and ladies finger and let them fry for a  couple of minutes.
  • Mix the blended paste with enough water to make 1.5 cups of the paste and add this to the vegetables cooking and let it cook.
  • Add salt to taste as well as some jaggery if you find it spicy and let it cook till the vegetables are fully cooked and the mixture becomes thick and reduces.
  • Check for seasoning and switch off the gas.

This kozambu will keep for about 2 days outside and about a week in the fridge. Eat with hot rice and some papad. So soul satisfying on a cold or rainy day!

Recipe: Tofu Sambal

Tofu is something that everyone in my house, with the exception of me, love. In fact, even my helper who is from India loves tofu. I  am the odd one out, so this recipe is actually an anomaly. It was actually made my by my helper, but I am putting it down here, in case I need to make it when she is no longer with us.

This recipe is a local one, which has been adapted from Chinese cooking, but Indianised to suit an Indian palate.

Tofu Sambal

Ingredients:

  • 2 packs of hard tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 red onions, chopped roughly
  • 1 onion, chopped finely lengthwise
  • 4-5 fresh red chillies (use more if you want it spicier)
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1-inch piece of ginger
  • 2 tbsps oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Dry the tofu lightly and bake in an oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. Keep aside.
  • In a blender, blend together the onions, garlic, ginger and red chillies into a fine paste and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and when warm, add the onions chopped lengthwise and let it become translucent.
  • Pour the blended chilli mixture and stir until the mixture becomes thick and the oil starts oozing out.
  • In the same blender, blend the tomatoes until it becomes a fine paste. You can also use tomato puree here instead. Add the tomato paste to the pan and let it cook well.
  • Now add the baked tofu into the pan and season to taste.
  • Let it all come to a nice rolling boil and switch off the flame.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with plain rice.

Recipe: Aval Payasam or Poha Kheer

Earlier this week was Avani Avittam, the only festival dedicated to men in Hinduism (or rather tambramism) and since it was BB’s first one, we had to go down to the temple for a special prayer and then the next day was the recitation of the Gayatri Mantra. This sacred mantra is said to be the root mantra and it is said that reciting it 1008 times is said to be very beneficial.

On Avani Avittam, I made my Vermicelli payasam and the day of Gayatri Mantra, I made this easy Aval payasam or Poha Kheer. It’s a simple dish that can be made in less than 30 minutes, start to finish so even an FTWM can make this on a festival.

Aval Payasam/Poha Kheer

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup poha
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-litre full cream milk
  • a handful of cashew nuts
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 tbsps ghee

Method:

  • In a pan heat the ghee and fry the cashew nuts and once brown, keep aside.
  • In the same pan, fry the poha till they slightly turn brown and at this point, add half the milk. Let the poha absorb the milk and then add the remainder of the milk.
  • When the milk comes to a rolling boil, let it boil for another 5 minutes until the poha is soft and has completely absorbed the milk
  • Add the sugar, cashew nuts, saffron and cardamom powder and let the kheer boil for another five minutes.
  • The kheer is ready to serve. Drink hot or cold, though we prefer to drink it cold!

Enjoy!!