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 🙂
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 🙂

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 🙂
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…

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Crisp Fried Bombay Duck – Bombil Fry

Now, Bombay Duck is not a duck from Bombay, okay. Rather, it’s a fish. Lizard Fish, to be scientifically precise. Weird, no. So is its unusual, slimy appearance. But the history, I tell you, is a lot more amusing… dates back to the British times. You have to Google it 🙂
Commonly known as Bombil, this peculiar fish has made Maharastrian kitchens its home.
And, this is one fish in particular that has intimidated me all these years. I somehow, couldn’t muster courage even to touch it. Bombil is wobbly, slippery and doesn’t have a taste of its own. It needs to be flavored with a really nice marinade and believe me, it’ll love you right back 🙂
Posting a link that shows how to clean and cut the fish. I followed it too.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D53lpR_GJ2g

Ingredients:
8-10 medium size Bombay Ducks
8 cloves of garlic
1 inch ginger
2 green chilies
4 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Juice of 1 lemon / 2 tbsp tamarind extract
1 cup rice flour (if you don’t have the flour, blitz the rice in the mixer to a really fine powder)
4 tbsp semolina
Sal as per taste
Oil for frying

Method:
1. Slit and pat dry the fish as per the link above and place them in a bowl.
2. Grind together ginger, garlic, green chilies, turmeric powder, red chili powder, salt and lemon juice to a smooth paste.
3. Apply the marinade and 1 tsp of rice flour to the fish. Leave it aside for 30 minutes.
I believe in marinating a little longer. I have it in my head that more the marinating time, the more flavored the fish will be.
4. Heat oil in a non-stick pan.
5. Mix the balance rice flour and semolina together.
6. Now dip the marinated fish in the flour+semolina mixture so it’s coated well on both sides. Dust off the extra bits and shallow fry till crisp and golden brown on both the sides.
7. Drain the excess oil on absorbent paper.
8. Serve with steaming hot rice and curry or just like that with green chutney or ketchup.

P.S.:
1. Oil has to be really hot for the fish to fry properly and turn crisp. Reduce the flame if you feel the crumbs are burning.
2. There’s one central bone or thorn in the fish that is soft and tender. And it cooks well while frying the fish. So don’t bother to chuck it out while slitting the fish. I too didn’t.
3. It’s best to fry the fish when you are ready to serve. That’s when you really enjoy the crispness. Keep it for long and it wears off and turns flat.
May be you can try warming it up in the OTG. I’m yet to try it.

I believe in my heart, whatever dish you cook with all your love and care, it will be the most celebrated dish ever…

Goan Sausage Pulao

A visit to Goa doesn’t need an itinerary or a plan. Because, here things just happen. You don’t plan stuff when you visit your home, do you? Goa is home. Home to its locals and tourists alike. Hire a bike or a car and jet off to make the most of its beaches, nightlife, shopping and food.
I have a proclivity to markets – the bustling Mapusa, Margaon and Panjim markets and their cheeky vendors are the places where I feel, is the actual essence of Goa.

Goan cuisine is a magical amalgamation of the Hindu, Muslim and the Portuguese influence. The indigenous Pork Sausages are a typical reflection of the Indo-Portuguese cuisine. These long, entwined, fiery red and aromatic beaded necklaces dangling from the stalls have always caught my fancy.
The ubiquitous Pork Sausage Pulao is practically every restaurant’s sweetheart and so is my husband’s.

So, I decided to try it back home. It was as inviting, gorgeous and bursting with flavors, as it did in the restaurants in Goa.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 3

Ingredients:
1 cup (250 gms) Basmati rice
2 cups of water
14 beads of homemade Goan Sausages
2 medium size onions, finely chopped
2 medium size tomatoes, finely chopped
2 green chilies, slit
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt as per taste
Oil for frying
Chopped coriander for garnish
Whole Spices:
2 bay leaves
4 green cardamoms
1 black cardamom
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
4 black pepper corns
1 tsp cumin seeds

Method:
1. Wash, drain and soak the basmati rice for about 15 minutes
2. Remove the sausages off their casings.
3. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and add the whole spices. Fry till aromatic.
4. Toss in the onions and fry till translucent and golden brown.
5. Add minced garlic and slit green chilies and saute.
6. Tumble in the chopped tomatoes and cook till they are soft.
7. Add turmeric powder and stir.
8. Now add the sausages and saute till aromatic and the oil starts leaving from the sides.
9. Add the soaked rice and mix well.
10. Pour in the water, sprinkle salt, sugar and stir gently.
11. When it comes to boil, cover it up and cook on low for about 15 minutes or till done.
12. When cooked, leave it covered for about 10 minutes. This helps the flavors and aroma to permeate through.
13. Gently toss the pulao with a fork, so you don’t harm the long, beautiful grains of rice.
14. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with a wedge of lime.

P.S.: Here, simplicity is the key. The tangy vinegar, smoked paprika, a dash of garam masala, spicy pepper and few other ingredients together add an intense flavor to the minced pork.
The Pulao is nothing but heaven sizzling on your plate 🙂

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 🙂
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 🙂
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 – cloves, 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 – chili 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 🙂

Matar Mushroom Masala – Spicy Green Peas and Mushrooms

Matar or Green Peas – high 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 – 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 🙂

Shahi Matar Paneer – Green Peas and Cottage Cheese In Cashews And Cream

‘Shahi’, which means ‘Regal’… a dish that used to be cooked specially for the kings!
Shahi Matar Paneer, born in the North of India, is a serious medley of finger-licking deliciousness, creamy textures, gorgeous colors and aromatic spices. Matar or Green Peas and Paneer or Cottage Cheese are a match made in heaven which marry right here, in our kitchen.
So let’s get cooking… bring in the royalty onto our plate 🙂
Shahi Mutter PaneerPreparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 – 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients: 
For paste:
2 medium size onions roughly chopped
3 tbsps cashwenuts, broken
6 medium size cloves of garlic
One inch or 2 tsps roughly chopped ginger
Grind all the above ingredient into a smooth paste. Don’t add too much of water while grinding.

For gravy:
1 cup of boiled peas
250 grams fresh paneer or cottage cheese
2 tbsp butter
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamoms
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder. This gives that gorgeous red color without burning your tongue.
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp corriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
2 medium size tomatoes, pureed
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup fresh cream. I add bit more for that extra creaminess.
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp corn flour/ plain flour for thickening. Mix in water to make a paste.
Half cup water
Salt as per taste
Chopped coriander for garnishing

Method:
1. Heat butter in a broad, nonstick pan. Add a tsp of oil so it doesn’t burn.
2. Add the whole spices – cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf. Fry on medium till aromatic.
3. Add the cashew-onion paste and fry for 1 minutes.
4. Add chili powder, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder and fenugreek leaves. Add half a cup of water, mix and cook on medium for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add tomato puree and cook for another couple of minutes.
6. Drizzle in the honey, milk, fresh cream and salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes on medium.
7. Add the cornflour / plain flour paste and stir. Cook on medium for 2 minutes.
8. Gently add the paneer and peas and mix, taking care not to bruise or break the paneer pieces. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes on medium, stirring occasionally.
9. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with naan, flaky parathas or rotis.

Great ingredients are right there, on your shelf. Use them to create magic in your kitchen.