Pasta With Lentils

This is one-pot, wholesome and super-easy dish that definitely deserves a flaunting. If you’re done with the monotony of cooking lentils the same old ways – soups, stews, salads, etc. – this will come as a respite. This is me. I get bored easily, cooking the same recipes over and over again. Need, as they say, is the mother of all inventions… this applies in the kitchen too. Thus, this recipe. The deep, rich flavored sauce when tossed with pasta, is a crowd-pleaser, specially the kids. Pasta doesn’t need any cajoling after all ūüôā

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
200 gms brown lentils, washed thoroughly and soaked in water for 15 minutes.
200gms pasta of your choice. I’ve used Macaroni here.
2 medium size onions, finely chopped.
2 medium size tomatoes, pureed. I always go an extra mile by roasting the tomatoes before pureeing them. This I feel, makes the puree more flavorful.
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
2 tbsps chili sauce
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 heaped tsps Kashmiri chili powder or smoked or regular paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsps corriander powder
3 cloves
3 green cardamoms
1 bay leaf
1 medium cinnamon stick
5-6 cups of water
Oil for frying. I’ve used Olive oil. Any cooking oil will suffice.
Salt as per taste
Chopped corriander
Grated parmesan cheese

Method:
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add all the whole spices ‚Äď cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf. Fry¬†for few seconds till¬†aromatic.
2. Tumble in the onions and fry till translucent.
3. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for a minute till the raw smell goes away.
4. Now add the spice powders ‚Äď chili, turmeric, corriander and fry on low for a minute.
5. Add the pureed tomatoes and saute on medium till the oil starts leaving from sides.
6. Add the tomato ketchup and chili sauce and stir.
7. Now add the soaked lentils, water and salt. Mix well and simmer on medium for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender, lid on.
8. Stir occasionally. Add more water if you feel the sauce is drying out.
9. Toss the pasta into the sauce and cook on medium, lid on. This should take about ten minutes, depending on the type of pasta you use.
Alternatively, you can cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and then tumble it into the sauce along with some pasta water.
10. While plating, generously grate Parmesan and garnish with chopped corriander.

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Whole Masoor Dal – Pressure Cooked

Whole Masoor or Sabut Masoor are these mighty nutritional members of the legume family, typically dark brown on the outside and salmon-pink on the inside. They cook super fast, even without a pressure cooker and are a powerhouse of proteins, dietary fibre, iron, zinc, vitamins, minerals and are super low on calories. These wholesome food staple are quite versatile when it comes to cooking…soups, salads, stews, lentil bowls or simply a delicious dal that I’ve cooked here.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:
1 cup black masoor or sabut masoor, washed thoroughly. Soak it in water for about 15 minutes.
2 medium size onions, finely chopped
2 medium onions, sliced, for tadka
4 green chilies, slit, for tadka
2 medium size tomatoes, finely chopped (or pureed)
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tsps Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsps corriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2 tsp cumin seeds for dal and 1 tsp for tadka
3 cloves
3 green cardamoms
1 black cardamom
1 bay leaf
1 medium cinnamon stick
5 cups of water
Oil for frying
2 tbsp ghee for tadka
Salt as per taste

Method:
1. Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add asafoetida, cumin seeds and fry for a bit.
2. Add all the whole spices ‚Äď cloves, cinnamon, green and black cardamom and bay leaf. Fry¬†for few seconds till¬†aromatic.
3. Tumble in the onions and fry till translucent and golden brown.
4. Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for a minute till the raw smell goes away.
5. Now add the spice powders ‚Äď chili, turmeric, cumin and garam masala and fry on low for one minute.
6. Add the pureed tomatoes and saute on medium till the oil starts leaving from sides.
7. Now add the soaked masoor, water and salt. Stir and pressure cook on medium for about 15 minutes after the first whistle.
8. Open the lid and add more water if you feel the consistency is too thick. Boil for few minutes.
9. In a separate pan, heat ghee and add a tsp of cumin seeds and sliced onions. Fry till the onions are dark brown and crisp. Be careful not to burn.
10. Now add the slit green chilies and fry for few seconds.
11. Lastly, add this tadka to the cooked lentils and mix well.
12. Garnish with chopped coriander. Mix and leave the lid on for about 5 minutes so all the flavours are thoroughly absorbed. Serve hot with steamed rice or parathas

Pasta Verduras – Pasta in Veggies, Wine And Tomato Sauce

Every dish has a story to tell. Like my Pasta Verduras. The idea was to rustle up a quick stew for Sunday lunch. Pasta just came waddling around for a stroll. But, glancing at this inviting, aromatic stew bursting with colors, the pasta decided to take a dip. So, that’s that ūüôā
It’s a one-pot recipe that’ll make for a quick, hearty lunch and also a comforting dinner.
All you need to do is get chopping ūüôā

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 red peppers, deseeded and diced
2 yellow peppers, deseeded and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium size red onions, finely chopped
1 medium aubergine, cut into big chunks
1 medium broccoli, roughly chopped
1 large courgettes, diced
1/2 cup green peas
2 tbsp, garlic, grated. I use lots of it. I’m a huge garlic fan ūüôā
1 ripe tomato, roughly chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, pureed
3 tbsp, tomato ketchup or sauce
1/2 cup any red wine. I used Port Wine
400 gm macaroni, penne or spaghetti pasta
A cup of grated parmesan cheese. Save a little for garnishing.
Chopped coriander for garnishing
2 tsp lemon juice
Olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Method:
1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent.
2. Toss in all the chopped peppers. Put the lid on and cook on medium, till soft.
3. Now add carrots and courgettes and cook.
4. Once the carrots are soft, add peas, aubergine, tomatoes, broccoli and cook with lid on.
5. Add the tomato puree, sause and the seasoning and cook on medium for another 3-4 of minutes.
6. Lastly add the slosh of wine and lemon juice and stir. Let it simmer on low for 5 minutes. Do the taste test and add more seasoning if needed.
7. Add the grated parmesan, stir and let it cook on low for a minute. Save some of it for plating.
8. Meanwhile, put a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions. When cooked, drain in a colander, reserving some of the cooking water.
9. Now pop the pasta and cooking water into the stew, add the chopped coriander and give a good toss.
10. Serve hot with a garnish of coriander, gorgeous long ribbons of grated parmesan and a poached egg mounted on the top, its sun-kissed yolk streaming down.
I like it medium-poached.

Good and nutritious food isn’t always the outcome of lengthy, rigorous cooking. It can also be like that story, short and simple; yet it leaves an indelible effect on you that lasts forever…

Quinoa with Garlic, Mushrooms and Thai Basil

‘Quinoa’ – ‘Kinwa’ as it is rightly pronounced, is¬†one such super-food that has achieved a rapid global¬†stardom… television, websites, food magazines, blogs, it’s everywhere. Dietitians are raving about the¬†benefits and it has found a stellar place¬†on almost every celebrity’s menu. Intriguing!
And rightly so. This health food is gluten-free, high in proteins, fiber, iron, vitamin B, calcium, vitamin E and is packed with antioxidants.
With summer glaring¬†from a distance, it’s time to come up with dishes that are easy on stomach, loaded with nutrition and most importantly, adored¬†by the taste-buds.

Thus Quinoa entered my kitchen… for the very first time. And, pairing it with Mushrooms, tonnes of Garlic and Thai Basil has totally blown me away.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Soaking time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Serves: 3

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Quinoa
1 cup water for cooking Quinoa
7-8 Thai basil leaves, finely chopped
7 cloves of garlic, minced
100 gms mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Olive oil
Salt as per taste

Method:
1. Rinse, soak and cook the Quinoa as per the packet instructions and leave it aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan, add minced garlic and saute for a minute.
3. Add chopped Thai Basil leaves and stir for a bit.
4. Toss in the mushrooms and saute. Then cover and cook till the mushrooms are done.
5. Season with salt, stir and cook for another couple of minutes.
6. Now add the cooked quinoa and mix it all up. Cook on low for a minute. Add more salt if needed.
7. Drizzle in the lemon juice, stir and turn off the flame.
8. Serve hot garnished with chopped coriander and Thai basil leaves.

P.S.: Quinoa can also be cooked in Chicken/Fish/Vegetable stock instead of plain water.
Garnish with grated Parmesan, if desired.

 

Exotic Dal Makhani

Makhani, literally translates to Buttery in Punjabi. Dal Makhani, the North Indian sweetheart, is a delightful melange of whole Urad Dal (Black Lentils)¬†and Rajma (Red Kidney Beans), laden with butter, butter, more butter and… cream ūüôā
This dish is a buffet-regular in almost every restaurant you visit. Its thick, smooth consistency and buttery goodness has always intrigued me.
Last week, a friend sent me a bowl of it to taste. It started with a spoon and ended with me licking the bowl clean… at 1.15 am.
It was about time I made it myself.

So I did…today. After serving my dear husband, I¬†stared at him in anticipation. And he¬†blurted, “just one word…EXOTIC!”
So, here it is… my Exotic Dal Makhni, slow cooked to perfection.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Soaking time: overnight / 8-9 hours
Serves: 5

Ingredients:
3/4 cup whole urad dal (black lentils)
1/4 cup rajma (red kidney beans)
4 cups water for pressure cooking dal and rajma
2 medium size onions, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, pureed
2 green chilies, finely chopped
2 tsps ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp kasuri methi, crushed (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 cloves
3 green cardamoms
1 black cardamom
1 bay leaf
1 medium cinnamon stick
2 tsps, red chili powder. I use Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
3 heaped tbsps butter
1 tsp oil. So the butter doesn’t burn
2 tbsp cream. I don’t mind a tbsp more ūüôā
Chopped coriander to garnish
Wedges of a lime while serving
Salt as per taste

Method:
Soaking and Cooking:
1. Wash thoroughly and soak the lentils and rajma in enough water overnight or for 8-9 hours at least. Soaking reduces the cooking time, thereby saving the fuel.
2. Drain them well. Rinse again a couple of times before pressure cooking in 4 cups of water.
3. Pressure cook on high flame for about 10 minutes or until the lentils and rajma are soft. They should be melt-in-mouth soft and not resistant or tough when eaten.

Dal Makhani:
1. Heat oil, then add butter in a kadhai or a non-stick heavy bottomed pan.
2. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
3. Add all the whole spices Рcloves, cinnamon, green and black cardamom and bay leaf. Fry for few seconds till aromatic.
4. Toss in the onions and fry till translucent and golden brown.
5. Add chopped green chilies and fry a bit.
6. Then add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for a minute. The raw smell should go away.
7. Add the pureed tomatoes and stir for another minute.
8. Now add the spice powders Рchili and turmeric and saute on medium till the oil starts leaving from sides.
9. Add the cooked lentils and rajma and stir.
10. Add salt and water as required.
11. Cook on low and let it simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, so the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Do not put the lid.
12. Add garam masala and fenugreek. Stir and cook on medium for another 2-3 minutes.
13. Lastly, drizzle over the cream and mix well. Switch off the flame.
14. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander, wedge of lime and serve with Naan, Tandoori Roti, Jeera Rice or plain rice.

Dollop more¬†butter while serving… yourself. Pure foodgasm!
You can always run an extra mile and burn those newly piled calories. But, who cares about them when the food is so yummm, isn’t it ūüôā

Rajma Masala

Rajma or Red Kidney Beans are a staple in almost every North Indian household. Rajma Chawal – Rajma served with Steamed Rice, is a legend in Punjab.
About their health benefits, I can go on and on…
High fiber aids¬†weight loss. They are loaded with proteins, powerhouse of¬†energy¬†and stuffed with¬†antioxidants that increase immunity. They¬†maintain the blood sugar levels, thus preventing diabetes. They also maintain the blood pressure, leading to a healthy heart. Anti-aging, excellent for glowing skin and lustrous hair. Need I say more…

Move over the restaurants that lure you with a good-looking dish and then dig a big hole in your pockets. And all that with really small portions that make you think whether to eat it or just look at it. After Version 1, 2, 3…¬†I’ve finally nailed it¬†with Version Lipsmaking,¬†that’ll beat these hole-diggers hands down.
rajma-masalaSoaking time: Overnight or minimum 10 hours
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
200 grams Rajma (you can also use the canned beans)
3¬†tbsp butter (I’m very generous with butter)
1 tbsp oil
3 medium or 2 large onions, finely chopped
2 medium size tomatoes, pureed
11/2 tbsp ginger+garlic+green chili paste
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp Kashmiri / red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp corriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) – optional
2 tbsp fresh cream
1/2 to 1 cup water…as per your desired thickness of the gravy
Salt as per taste
2 tsp lemon juice
Chopped coriander for garnishing

Method:
Soaking and Cooking Rajma:
1. Wash the beans and soak them in enough water overnight or for at least 10 hours. This softens the beans and expedites the cooking process.
2. Discard the liquid and wash the soaked beans under cold water.
3. Pressure cook the beans till done. They¬†should be really soft… melt-in-mouth kind of soft.
4. If boiling, remember Rajma is a really stubborn bean. It’ll consume whole lot of time and fuel. So pressure cooking is advisable.
5. Save the cooking liquor – the liquid that’s left after cooking the beans.
6. Mash 2 tbsps of the cooked beans. They thicken the gravy.

Rajma Masala:
1. Heat oil, then add butter in a kadhai or a non-stick heavy bottomed pan.
2. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
3. Add the cinnamon and bay leaf. Fry for few seconds till aromatic and the oil is flavored.
4. Toss in the onions and fry till translucent and golden brown. Be careful not to burn.
5. Add the ginger+garlic+chili paste and saute for a minute. The raw smell should go away.
6. Add the spice powders ‚Äď turmeric, coriander, cumin, red¬†chili, garam masala and saute for a minute.
7. Add the tomato puree and fry till the oil starts leaving from sides.
8. Tumble in the beans, add the cooking liquor, mashed beans, sprinkle salt and give it a good stir. Add more water if needed.
9. Let it simmer without lid, on low for around 10 minutes.
10. After the gravy has attained the desired consistency, sprinkle the kasuri methi, add the fresh cream and lime juice.
11. Let it cook on low for another one last minute.
12. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with Steamed Rice, Jeera (Cumin) Rice, Roti or Naan slathered with butter.

P.S. : *There are two varieties of Rajma available in the market РRed and pinkish one. Cooking time varies for both. I prefer the red ones.
*If undercooked, the beans aren’t as flavorful as they should be. Also, under-cooked Rajma isn’t good for your stomach. So ensure it’s cooked thoroughly.
*If using canned beans, discard the liquid and take just the beans after giving them a quick run under cold water.

Matar Mushroom Masala – Spicy Green Peas and Mushrooms

Matar or Green Peas Рhigh on antioxidants, loaded with fiber and proteins, generous amount of vitamins, yet low on calories. Excellent for your heart and bones.
Mushrooms – a storehouse of iron, packed with proteins and antioxidants and a wealth of vitamins and minerals. No fats, no cholesterol and very¬†low on carbohydrates… a staple for diabetics.
When these two stars come together, backed with a thick luscious gravy, what you get is a guaranteed super-tasty, super-healthy, super super super dish.
matar-mushroom-masalaPreparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 cups of boiled peas
200 grams button mushrooms, cut into halves or quarters, depending on the size
3 medium or 2 large onions, finely chopped
2 medium size tomatoes, pureed
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
3 tbsp butter / oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamoms
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder. This gives that gorgeous red color without burning your tongue.
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp corriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp honey or sugar
1/2 to 1¬†cup water…as per your¬†desired thickness of the gravy
Salt as per taste
1 tsp lemon juice
Chopped coriander for garnishing

Method:
1. Heat butter / oil in a kadhai or a broad, nonstick pan.
2. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
3. Add the whole spices ‚Äď cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf. Fry on medium till aromatic.
4. Fry onions till translucent and golden brown. Be careful not to burn.
5. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute.
6. Add the spice powders – turmeric, coriander, Kashmiri chili… and fry for a minute.
7. Add the tomato puree and fry till the oil starts leaving from sides.
8. Tumble in the boiled peas and mushrooms and give a good stir.
9. Now add water, sprinkle salt and let it simmer for around 10 minutes or till the veggies are cooked.
10. Lastly, sprinkle the garam masala powder, squeeze lime juice and add a dash of honey / sugar
11. Let it cook on low for another 3-4 minutes.
10. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve hot with chapatis, fulkas, naan, jeera rice or steamed rice.

P.S.: You can also use Paneer or Cottage Cheese in place of mushrooms.
Adding honey / sugar gives a lift to the flavors.
Step 3 can be kept optional.

Always remember…the more time you invest cooking each step, the more flavors you add to your dish. Patience is the key ūüôā