Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reinvent, Reuse, Recycle.......

I am so proud of myself. I had made Chicken stew for dinner on Saturday(refer post) which I served with Garlic bread roundels and some chicken salad. I had saved some stew for later( cooking with leftovers, part of the job already done).

With half of the leftover stew I made a Chicken Pulao for our Sunday lunch. Served it with a plain cucumber, tomato and onion raita.

Chicken Pulao

Basmati Rice: 2 cups, soak for at least an hour
Onions: 2/3 finely chopped. Sis has got me this amazing chopper. You peel the onion, halve it and place it on the chopper. One hard press and some finely, evenly chopped onion pieces. So, no more tears.
Potatoes: 3/4 halved
Roopak Biryani Masala(use any other Biryani masala or coarsely grind some whole garam masala): 1 tsp. This masala lends a nice flavor to the Biryani. In fact you can smell the Biryani long before you have opened the cooker.
Salt to taste
Chicken stew: 2 cups
Oil/Ghee: 1 tsp


Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker. Once the ghee heats up add the finely chopped onion. Saute till the onion turns glassy. Add the potatoes, cover for a little while. Add the rice and fry for a few minutes. Add the Chicken stew, 1 cup of hot water, Biryani masala, salt. Close the cooker, cook on high and let it give out one whistle, then cook on low flame for another 5/7 minutes. Switch off the cooker and let it cool on its own.

Serve hot with raita.

A no fuss, quick cook pulao. The leftover stew reduces the cooking time without you having to compromise on taste. The Roopak Biryani masala would also work well with a basic Jeera Pulao recipe, would make it more flavorsome.

With the rest of the Chicken stew I made some Chinese konji today. Konji if you recall was my first post( Yan can cook). That was making Konji from scratch. The recipe below is when you are making it with Chicken stew.

Chinese Konji made with leftover Chicken Stew


Basmati: 1/2 cup
Chicken stew: 1 cup
Egg: 1


Pressure cook the Basmati rice with the chicken stew and 2 cups of water. Open the cooker once it has cooled down, the konji would have a gruel like consistency. Put the cooker back on the stove. Beat one egg and add to the dish stirring continuously.
Serve hot, topped with some soya sauce. My son also adds a dash of chilli sauce to it.

Feels lovely to have this dish on a cold winter night, it does make you feel all warm and nice.

And cooking with leftovers made me feel " so clever", :-) Loads of appreciation with half, NO one third the effort. The woman is smarter, that's right!

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More tales about soups and salads.....

The mercury has dropped several notches since my last post. I find myself spending more time in the kitchen( it is the coziest place in the house). But there is lots happening outside the home too like the Delhi Heritage Walks, Music in the Park, Some wonderful movies, Plays Friends and families dropping into town etc. and so it has to be " Interesting, tasty food in the least possible time".

Last night we had stew( refer earlier post for details), garlic bread roundels( from Modern Bazaar, discovered Modern Bazaar in Arjun Market, a foodie's delight stocks up on breads, soups, condiments, exotic vegetables- you name it and they have it) and some Chicken salad. My Mom had taught me this dish when I barely knew the basics. It has been a favorite with the family ever since. While chicken and cabbage form the base of this dish you can also add finely chopped beans and carrots to it.

Chicken Salad


Shredded Chicken: 1 cup. Typically when I am making a stew or soup I remove a few pieces for the salad and shred them

Capsicum: Half a medium sized capsicum, chopped really fine

Onions: One large onion, chopped fine

Cabbage: Quarter of a medium sized cabbage, shredded fine (should be roughly about 3/4th cup). Cabbage gives this salad a really crunchy texture. If you are using cabbage that has been in the refrigerator for a couple of days then refresh it in ice cold water to which a few drops of vinegar has been added

Mayonnaise: 1 tbsp

Milk: 2 tbsp

Lime juice: 1 tsp

Salt: To taste

Freshly ground pepper: 1 tsp. I love using the pepper crusher ......the aroma of freshly ground pepper as it tumbles out in thin flakes. And ever since my SIL gifted me this crusher I have started making a lot more “peppery stuff”.


This is really a one step process. Mix the shredded chicken, cabbage, capsicum and onions together. Mix the mayo and the milk (this is a little trick my dietician had taught me, helps you halve the calories) and add to the salad. Next the lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix well.

This is a very versatile salad. Goes well with a soup/stew and bread. You can also use it as a filling for your sandwiches, as a canapé topping, as a pizza topping. The possibilities are really endless.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container and use within 2/3 days.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

P.S.: I also picked up some Roopak Biryani Masala( coarsely ground whole spices) from Modern Bazaar and am all set to make some Chicken Pulao for our Sunday lunch.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Down Memory Lane.......

I spent close to seven years in a hostel and that makes me a really non-fussy eater. In the first hostel( I spent a good four years there, made some friends for life) we were given only two meals each day(you had to fend for yourself for the other two). And like Oliver Twist you could not ask for more. We did not want to as the food was terrible but then it was the case of " Khana hai to yehi khana hai, nahin khana hai to bhi yehi khana hai"( Sunny Deol, Betaab).

Our indulgent Moms would pack us tuck boxes which lasted for just over two days. Mine would also send Chowmein with loads of prawns every time my Dad was passing through the city. And we kinda survived. Food notwithstanding some of the happiest years of my life.

Though all dishes at the hostel without exception were bad( we learnt to quietly eat them all- hope Gen Next is reading this post) the dish that was most discussed amongst us was the Daal. It made an appearance at all meal times. To the uninitiated it took a while to figure out that the dish was actually Daal. It was so watery in terms of consistency that it settled into two clear layers( remember your Chemistry lesson on Sedimentation; we got our demonstration each day), a ten inch watery layer followed by a two inch daal layer. If you were the canteen didi's favorite she mixed up the daal and water layers swiftly before ladling it out onto your rice but if you had managed to rub her the wrong way all you ended with was a watery mess.

When I would get back home for the holidays home cooked food took on a new meaning and has remained so all through these years. At meal times I would look at my Dad and say " Papa ab ghar ki daal murgi barabar". He was quite amused by the line and often repeated it to guests, much to my embarrassment.

Cooking a basic daal well does require some skill. Very few ingredients are used and the flavoring is very subtle. Here I am talking about the dhuli/yellow daals and not about their tari wali cousins, rajma/chole.

My help( who is originally from Bangladesh) had made some delicious Bengal gram daal. I have some guests coming for dinner. She let me sample a spoonful before whisking it away. Yumm!

Cholar Daal


Cholar Daal( Bengal gram daal): 1 cup( should serve about 6/8 adults)
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
Jeera: 1 tsp
Dry Red Chillies: 4/5
Freshly ground Jeera powder: 1 tsp
Bay Leaves: 1/2
Ginger: One inch, grated fine.
Oil/ghee: 1tsp
Coconut: Cut into very small pieces( 1 inch slice)


Boil the cholar daal with salt and turmeric in a pressure cooker( you could also do this in a Kadai but would take ages to cook).
Once the daal is cooked open the lid of the cooker and half of the grated ginger, 1/2 tsp of Jeera powder and the bay leaves. Let it simmer for a while.
In a tadka pan heat the oil, add jeera, red chillies, jeera powder and the remaining grated ginger. Fry for a couple of minutes and then mix with the daal. Serve hot

Traditionally this Daal is served with Luchi/Puri but I am going to be serving it with a Pulao

There is lots cooking for tomorrow's dinner. Keep watching this space for more recipes and food trivia.

Till then Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One dish meal( well almost), no oil dish all rolled into one

Like I mentioned in my last post: I was in the process of making chicken stew for dinner as I was writing the post. Yes, it is that simple and as with baking pressure cooking ensures you can do other things while your food is cooking( cock your ears for the whistle and turn it to low flame or switch it off depending on how long the dish needs to cook). And then the pressure cooker needs a cool off time which gives you and additional 5/10 minutes. Well, the stew got done, was consumed and a happy man and two boys are fast asleep.

I know I have said this in earlier blogs but I just have to say it again: I love one dish wholesome meals. The ones that are nutritious and get done with out too many ingredients or too much fuss. Khichdi, Pulao, Chinese Konji etc. etc. So not surprising that Chicken Stew is something I like to make on cold wintery evenings. Winter is just about setting in and this was the season's first stew so good reason to blog about it.

Chicken Stew


Chicken: 300 grams( you could use all the pieces that people don't like eating as a curry like the neck and other boney pieces. I keep these pieces separately for stew and soups)
Onion: 1/2, quartered
Beans: 4/5, cut into 1 inch long pieces
Carrot: 1/2, cut into 1 inch long pieces
Potato: 4, peeled and halved
Peas: 1/2 a tea cup
Bay leaf: 1/2
Whole pepper:5/6
Freshly ground pepper: 1 tsp
Capsicum: 1/2 a capsicum cut into small cubes( This addition was thanks to "Knife", years ago in the pre-blog world when we were discussing this recipe he suggested I add capsicum towards the end to give the stew a nice flavor. Thanks Knife)


  • Pressure the chicken pieces with 4/5 cups of water, quartered onions, bay leaves, whole pepper, potatoes and 1 tsp salt. Give it one whistle and let the cooker cool naturally
  • Open the pressure cooker add carrots, beans, peas and put it back on the flame. Simmer for a few minutes. Let the vegetables cook in the chicken stock for a while. Don't overcook them, they should be a little crunchy when you finally bite into them.
  • Once the vegetables are cooked add the capsicum and some freshly ground pepper. Cook for another two minutes.
  • Serve piping hot with brown bread and herbed butter
Store the leftover chicken stew in the refrigerator( try and cook this in larger quantity to ensure you have some of it leftover). Next day heat up the stew, add some boiled noodles to it and Voila you have your very own Thukpa. Thukpa is a hearty tibetan noodle soup. It is a wonderfully nourishing and warming dish. I managed to sample it in a Tibetan home( thanks to a really wonderful host) during my recent trip to Laddakh. So Thukpa it shall be for tomorrow's dinner. Psst! Surprise for the family.

P.S: And did you notice there is just no oil in that dish. That does not take away from the flavor or taste. You have my word for it.

Till then Happy Cooking and Bon Apetit!

Somethings Cooking.....

I am reminded of several ad lines as I write this post. Sardiyan kitni khushnuma hoti hai/Winter Yaani ki kuch extra/Winter's in the breeze...in my heart I am feeling good etc. etc. Yes, Winter is here. Being in Delhi NCR you get to experience all the four seasons. This is our second Winter here. We just loved the first one( also served as inspiration for some of my blog posts). I think I just cook more in Winters and maybe we also eat more( that battle of the bulge always seems a little tougher). Today there was lots cooking/baking in my kitchen. Niece was baking Raindrop's Chocolate Cake(turned out to be really soft and spongy- again as with all Raindrop cakes it is almost gone as I write), then there was a quick vegetable pulao( the aroma of basmati and whole spices was irresistible even my husband agreed to eat rice just for this one day) and some Chinese chilli paneer mushroom and baby corn dish. That was lunch. Right now I am making some Chicken stew( a staple dish for us during Winter/Moonsoon evenings) and some cheesy pasta for the boys. We will have the stew with some brown bread and herbed butter. With all that cooking I just about have time to write about one dish, so Chinese Chilli it shall be. But others shall follow soon.

Chinese Chilli


Mushrooms: 200 grams, halved
Baby corn: 4/5, sliced into long strips( halve the baby corn and cut into two inch long pieces)
Paneer: 100 grams, cubed
Onions: 2 medium sized ones, Quartered( you could also use shallots for this dish)
Capsicum: Half a medium sized capsicum, cubed( same size as the paneer)
Green Chillies: 4/5 slit at the top( this adds a lot of flavor, remove them later if serving to children)
Knorr chinese chilli mix: 1 packet( I always keep a pac
ket handy, the dish really gets done in a jiffy)
Oil: 1 tbsp


  • Heat the oil. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes till they start to look glassy
  • Next add the mushroom and baby corn and saute for a while.
  • Add the paneer, capsicum and green chillies and mix the vegetables around taking care not to break the paneer.
  • Mix the Knorr Chinese chilli mix with three cups of water and add to the dish. Bring the gravy to a boil and simmer for two minutes.
  • Serve hot
Goes equally well with a pulao or plain steamed rice or boiled noodles. If serving with noodles make sure you leave a little more gravy. Delicious whichever way you wish to make it.

Happy Cooking and Bon Apetit!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Satwik Ahaar

Happy Diwali!

It has been a while time since I wrote my last post( Raindrop even sent me a reminder- Thanks Raindrop, sometimes one needs a little nudge to get started again). The past one month has been interesting and I have sampled some amazing food. Sister's grilled tofu, funnel cake(Mousi it is quite like the Indian Jalebi is how my 15 year old niece put it), tandoori salmon( wonderful improvisation by sis), Mango Mousse, Malai Chingdi, Habisa( No, this is no exotic Meditteranean dish but an entirely Satwik one typically consumed during the month of November by people of Odissa).

My early memories of Habisa was at my Granny's place. Made every Monday which was a strictly vegetarian- no onion, no garlic day. Later even my Mother started making it on a regular basis. Habisa has a pure unadulterated taste. It does not use any spice and yet all the ingredients come together so beautifully to create this dish.


Ingredients( I have struggled with English translations of the Ingredients, if any of you know better please do update)

Dhuli Moong Daal( Yellow): 1 cup
Potatoes: 4/5, remove the skin and halve
Parwal: 4/5, halved
Green Banana: 1, remove the skin and cut into large pieces- same size as potato and parwal
Arbi: 4/5, remove skin and halve
Ginger: 1 inch, grated
Desi Aloo: 4/5 pieces( this is the ugly brown looking alu, probably called Jimmykand in Hindi)- optional
Ghee: 1 tbsp
Grated coconut: 2/3 tablespoons
Lal Saag( Kosala in Oriya, sorry but I do know any other name for this one): 1 bundle, chopped into large pieces
Oou( called Chalta in Bengali): 4/5 slices( this is a khatta fibrous fruit and is used to make chutneys and achars in the Eastern part of the country)


Boil the daal with 4/5 cups of water in deep bottom kadai/dekchi. Remove the scum as it rises to the top- you may need to do it a couple of times. Add the vegetables one after the other. Start with Potato, Arbi and Jimmykand as this would take the longest to cook. Then add the Parwal and Green Banana. When you are halfway through the cooking add the ginger and oou. Finally add the saag. Salt to taste. Finish off with ghee and grated coconut.

Serve hot with plain rice.

P.S: I plan to cook this on Sunday so hopefully will upload a picture soon. Till then Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!