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Everyday Cooking/ Maharashtrian/ Spring - Summer Special/ Subji / Curry/ Superfoods

कारल्याची भाजी / Karlyachi Bhaji / Bitter Gourd Stir Fry in Maharashtrian Style

5 different tastes in one bite! It's a culinary master piece!

I have always told people who asked me about my favorite vegetables that I love Karlyachi Bhaji and especially the way my mom makes it. The surprise on their face made me feel proud for earning brownie points for being a good kid who eats all vegetables, including bitter gourd.

Any preparation of bitter gourd will have a pronounced bitter taste and it should, it’s not easy to mask bitter taste but it plays well with well chosen ingredients. This particular preparation which uses tangy tamarind, nutty peanuts, creamy coconut, sweet jaggery and spicy Goda Masala is a classical example of Marathi cuisine from Konkan region.

karlyachi bhaji

I was very happy with my attempt to mimic  mom’s magical taste. The best reward was that my husband really enjoyed it, which was quite a shock for me!karela with Goda masala

Karlyachi Bhaji

Karlyachi Bhaji

5 tastes in one byte! It's a culinary master piece!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. If you are using ready made tamarind paste, skip this step. Else, in a small bowl add 1 spoonful of tamarind and some water, microwave it for 10 seconds and let it sit aside.
  2. Wash bitter melons and cut them length wise, if you see any bigger seeds remove them with a spoon or inner side of a peeler. Now chop them into smaller equal sized pieces.
  3. Add these chopped pieces to a bowl with some water and add 1 tbsp of salt, mix it well. The salt makes the bitter gourd release some juice and it takes away some bitterness. This step is optional but highly recommended.
  4. Now in a kadhai / heavy bottomed pan, heat some oil.  I use peanut oil and it works really well for this dish.
  5. Prepare phodani or tadka, by adding mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, hing and turmeric powder.
  6. Now add bitter melon pieces by removing all the water. If you like squeeze out the water as much as you can.
  7. Stir fry it for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Now add ground peanuts, grated coconut, tamarind paste and mix it well.
  9. Add red chili powder, cumin-coriander powder, Goda masala and finally some salt. Mix everything together and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  10. Add jaggery, cook it further for 2 minutes.
  11. Adjust the amount of jaggery / salt as per your taste.

Enjoy it hot with poli or fulka! Bon apetite!

bitter gourd stir fry

Smoothie/ Spring - Summer Special/ Superfoods

Almond Energy Drink

A drink that makes every morning a good morning!

We seem to be sacrificing more of our time and energy to our high-speed wireless culture and as a result exhaustion has become a familiar aspect of our lives. All too often we forget to take care of ourselves. How many times you consider yourself an important part of your life? Making room in your frantic schedule for some downtime is equally important as intentionally replenishing your energy with healthy and wholesome food.

Here is my recipe for an energizing drink, a perfect start for your day! It contains just 4 simple ingredients, natural sugar. And if you are searching for those buzz words, yes it’s high in protein and fibre.

Almond Energy DrinkThere is a small preparation involved, but the gains are sweet! Soak all the ingredients in water / milk on previous night. Dates provide the perfect sweetness with no added sugar. Almonds give some bite to this nourishing milkshake.

Almond Energy Drink

Almond Energy Drink

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Soak almonds in 1/2 cup of water overnight. No need to refrigerate almond.

In a medium bowl, add 1/2 cup milk and 2 dates, roughly chopped. Mix 1 tsp of poppy seeds and keep it in the refrigerator overnight.

When you are ready to treat yourself, peel the almond skin off and roughly chop them. In a blender all almonds, and the soaked dates and poppy seeds with the milk. Add more milk if you wish. Blend everything together.

Enjoy your nourishing drink!

Almond Date MilkshakeAccording to Ayurveda, almonds are energizing, nourishing and the only “satvic” nuts which do not increase “rajas” or “tamas” properties in our body. Also Date is the only fruit allowed to be paired with milk as it doesn’t contain any vitamin C that would react adversely with milk. Poppy seeds, the tiny little seeds also known as “Khas Khas” in Marathi, are a good source of dietary fibre and are also rich in minerals like Calcium, Manganese and Phosphorous.

Hope you like it. Join us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MyHomeMantra) for more updates!

Happy mothers day!

Breakfast/ Maharashtrian/ Quick n Healthy/ Superfoods

भाजणीचे थालीपीठ / Bhajaniche Thalipeeth

 Comfort, redefined!

There are times when we eat to find a feeling beyond fullness. We eat looking for a feeling of joy, a momentary salve for sore spirits, a feeling of goodness. At times like these, we usually turn to what we call “comfort food”. वरण भात (Varan Bhaat), rice and dal in its simplest cooked form rates high on my list of “comfort foods”. Then comes the khichadi and my all time favorite –  थालीपीठ (Thalipeeth) with metkut and yogurt!

Bhajaniche ThalipeethIt’s a very common and very typical Maharashtrian recipe and it’s speciality is that it’s a perfect menu for morning, noon or night. It’s made with a flour mixture which is called भाजणी or Bhajani. It’s actually a grounded mixture of whole grains like whole wheat, rice, jowar, bajra, urad dal, chana dal and cumin and coriander seeds. “Bhajane” in Marathi translates to dry roast in English. The whole grains are first dry roasted in a pan and hence the name – “bhajani” and then are ground together to form fine flour which can be stored for months. You can think of it as an instant mix.

thalipeethachi bhajaniIt takes less than 10 minutes to make actual thalipeeth if you have the mix ready.

Thalipeeth-1

 

Bhajaniche Thalipeeth

Bhajaniche Thalipeeth

Hearty pancakes, super quick and super healthy, loaded with healthy carbs and fibre!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

If your bhajani mix contains salt and red chili powder, feel free to adjust the amounts accordingly. Ajwain seeds, fennel seeds and sesame seeds are totally optional but they do add more flavor to every bite. Cilantro and onion help make thalipeeth moist but they are optional too. And same is the case with ginger-galric-chili paste., it's for added flavor. If your bhajani doesn't contain cumin and coriander seeds, you can add 1 table spoon of cumin-coriander powder.

Now the more interesting part - It's just 4 step process - mix everything, put it on a pan, cook and eat with butter! I am getting too excited, I know!

  1. Finely chop your onion and cilantro.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix everything together except for oil and water.
  3. Mix in water gradually to form a firm dough. Taste it and adjust salt to your taste.
  4. Use a little bit oil to knead the dough and mix it together. No real kneading is needed.
  5. Heat a tawa / flat skillet on a medium heat.
  6. Take handful of dough and press it down with your fingers to to roll it out like a pancake, around 1/2 inch thick. Be careful with your hand if the skillet is hot.
  7. If it feels sticky, use some water.
  8. Make three to four holes in it and add few drops of oil in each hole. Also add a few drop surrounding the thalipeeth.
  9. Cover it with a lid and let it cook for 5-6 minutes until you hear crackling sound.
  10. Turn it over and let it cook again for 3-4 minutes.
  11. Wipe the skillet with a wet towel before making the next one.

Serve it hot with yogurt and pickle or chutney. By the way, homemade butter is a must!

I like it with metkut mixed with yogurt and topped with talnachi mirchi! Yum!

This is my entry to Jagruti’s Pancake Day celebration.

Appetizers/ Indo-Chinense/ Quick n Healthy/ Superfoods

Tofu Stir Fry

Tofu and I share a strange relation. Whenever I see it in a store I feel inspired to use it in some recipe interesting recipe and a thought of having protein rich food encourage me to buy a packet but then it sits in my refrigerator until I start reminding myself to use in a recipe and finally it ends up in some Thai Curry with other vegetables.

When my friends came over for coffee (without any prior notice) I had noting to offer except for coffee. It was pouring outside and I was thinking of batata wada but deep frying and again cleaning that mess was too much of work … When I saw tofu in the fridge it reminded me of this super simple recipe I had seen on my favorite show. This was enough reason to try it out.

tofu stir fryThe original recipe makes dry stir fry with just some seasoning and no vegetables,I changed it to add some basil leaves and more sauce.

Tofu Stir-Fry

Tofu Stir-Fry

Super quick recipe to enjoy the amazing benefits of Soy!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Drain liquid from Tofu package, cut it into larger pieces and press out excess liquid.
  2. Cut it into bite sized pieces.
  3. In a non-stick skillet, heat some oil.
  4. Add finely chopped garlic and green chilis. (Is you are using Chili sauce skip green chilis). Also add onions.
  5. Add a pinch of salt and stir fry it for 15-20 seconds on medium heat. Make sure that garlic doesn't burn.
  6. Add cut tofu and stir fry again for a minute or so.
  7. Now add soy sauce and tomato chili sauce, sugar and black pepper. Toss it for a minute and allow it to thicken and coat tofu pieces.
  8. Add basil leaves and if seasoning is fine, take it out.
  9. Serve it hot.

Tips

  • Strain out the liquid completely.
  • If you have time, pound garlic, green chilis and spring onions together with a pinch of salt and use it as a sauce.
  • Deep frying tofu will add extra depth.

 

Punjabi/ Rice & Dal/ Superfoods

Dal Makhani

There are some dishes which you never make at home because you always like to have those at restaurants. Dal Makhani was one of these until I had ‘the best dal makhani ever’ made by S. He was famous for his recipe during his college days and I must admit he did a great job. On a second thought the butter, and more butter, the cream and the masala did a fantastic job. Later, I served him dal makhani made without butter and cream and it was still as fabulous as his version, he looked surprised!

dal_makhani
black-urad-dal

Urad Dal is rich in protein and dietary fibre. It’s also a  great source of minerals especially Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, and Copper. It also has good amount of Folate and Vitamin B6.

Black Urad is not commonly used in Maharashtrian cuisine. As the name suggests, its a Punjabi dish and extra cream will make it more “Makhani” like any other Punjabi preparation.

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani

No butter and no cream can still make a delicious dal makhani

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Soak urad dal and kidney beans in water overnight (7-8 hours)
  2. In a pressure cooker, add soaked dal and beans with double amount of water.  Add peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and a bay leaf to the daal. Let it cook with 5-6 whistles.  You can also add a tea spoon of salt.
  3. Meanwhile, you can keep onion, tomato, ginger and garlic ready and start with the tadka.
  4. In a medium pan, heat some oil. Once it becomes hot, add cumin seeds.
  5. Add chopped garlic and let it turn slightly brown.
  6. Add some chopped cilantro and let it fry for a minute.
  7. Now add chopped onion, and cook them nicely. Sprinkle some salt to quicken the process.
  8. Once onions are cooked 80%, add tomatoes and mix well. It takes another 2 minutes.
  9. Smash tomatoes with spatula.
  10. Reduce the heat and add red chili powder and Dal Makhani masala and stir well. You should be able to smell the aroma of the hot masala.
  11. Next, add cooked dal and rajma along with some water.
  12. Add salt if needed and mix well. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes and your dal is ready to serve.
  13. garnish it with chopped onions while serving.

Dall_makhani_bigger

This is going to Vardhini’s Dish it Out – Lentils & Garlic event hosted at nivedhanams.

Breakfast/ Smoothie/ Superfoods/ Winter Special

VitaMAX Smoothie

The inspiration for this smoothie came from the ‘Power Juice’ recipe by Chef Parag. He used beet root and carrot juice together with lemon juice. I was looking for a creamy texture so instead of just using juices I decided to make a smoothie. Needless to mention it’s loaded with vitamins and mineral from beet root and carrots and hence the name! To make sure it’s perfectly sweetened I used dried figs and dried apricots and also raisins, I know I am genius 🙂 The result was outstandingly creamy, sweet, a beautiful pink smoothie which we have made a regular part of our diet!

Very low in calories AND fat, rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, magnesium and dietary fibre, contain no added sugar;  perfect as breakfast smoothie or even as a dessert!

Beetroot Carrot Smoothie aka VitaMAX Smoothie

Beetroot Carrot Smoothie aka VitaMAX Smoothie

A rich, creamy smoothie with no added sugar!

Serves : 2

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, take all dried fruits such as figs and apricots and raisins and and also cashews and add enough milk to immerse all contents. Soak the fruits in milk overnight or for 6-7 hours. Keep it refrigerated. 
  2. Peel a beetroot and also cut both the ends. Then cut it into quarters.
  3. Peel carrots if needed, cut both ends and chop them roughly.
  4. Stem these veggies in a steamer for about 10 minutes or until they become tender. 
  5. Once steamed, let them cool down a bit. Optionally add these to cold water to quicken cooling process.
  6. In a blender, add steamed carrots, beetroot and the soaked dried fruits. Also add the milk used for dried fruits.
  7. Blend everything together. Add more milk as needed. 
  8. Enjoy!

Linking it to Foodomania’s Christmas Cook-Off Contest

Desserts/ Maharashtrian/ Superfoods

नाचणीचे लाडू / Nachaneeche Ladoo / Ragi Laddoo

This is my mom’s speciality and I simply love these laddoos. Forget about being healthy, they are so good, they just melt in your mouth and you won’t be able to make out the main ingredient which is नाचणी / Nachani or Ragi or Finger millet

She always asks me to eat Nachani (Ragi) more often as it contains lot of calcium. Toady on the occasion of Thanksgiving day, I made her speciality to express my gratitude towards my mom.

नाचणीचे लाडू / Nachaneeche Ladoo / Ragi Laddoo

नाचणीचे लाडू / Nachaneeche Ladoo / Ragi Laddoo

The most delicious and healthiest laddoos ever!

Makes 10-11 laddoos

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pan, add 4 table spoons of ghee. Once it melts, add Ragi flour and mix well.
  2. Make sure it does not form any big lumps. If there are lumps, add more flour. Or if it looks very dry, add more Ghee.
  3. Roast the Ragi flour nicely until you can smell it distinctly. It takes 15-18 minutes.
  4. Once done, take it out in a plate and let it cool.
  5. In the same pan, add remaining 1 table spoon of Ghee and roast the Besan (Chick pea flour) nicely. It takes 5-8 minutes.  
  6. Take it out on a plate and let it cool.
  7. Grind sugar in a grinder.
  8. Mix both Ragi and besan flours and also add cardamom powder. Mix well.
  9. Then add sugar one spoon at a time and mix lightly. The mixture should not feel very oily or greasy. 
  10. Add sugar as per your taste. Make sure when you taste it's not too sweet.
  11. Now take handful of mixture and press it together with your hands to make laddoos or balls.
  12. Roll this ball in your palm.
  13. Repeat the steps 11 & 12 for making all laddoos. 
  14. Garnish them with your choice of nuts.

You can keep them for up to 2 weeks but I am sure they won't last that long.

Mom's Tips -

  • Once you form ladoo, roll it in your palm. That's how the ladoo gains shine. It's not excess ghee but the rolling action that adds the shine.
  • Start with less Ghee, you can always add more Ghee before making laddos if needed.
Desserts/ Superfoods

Rose Chia Pudding

Grown in Mexico, Chia was a staple diet of the Aztecs and Mayans. The seeds nutrients provided sustained energy during lng hunts and had numerous medicinal benefits. Revered by the people, Chia was often used in religious ceremonies which led to its ban by the Spanish during their conquest of the region.

In the list of rediscovered forgotten foods, the Chia seeds have topped the “Super-foods” category. The oval shaped, nutty flavored seeds are packed with  ALA(alpha-linolenic acid) an Omega-3 essential fatty acids (150%) and fibre (16%)

Chia seeds are extremely easy to consume, you can add these to oatmeal, yogurt, salads or soups. They gain a unique texture when soaked in water or milk. Their soluble fiber forms a gel that thickens milk or other liquids. Try this pudding recipe and you will start loving chia seeds!

Rose Chia Pudding

Rose Chia Pudding

No pudding recipe can be healthier than this.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Add chia seeds and milk in a big bowl and mix them well.
  2. Keep the seeds soaked in milk overnight in a refrigerator  Also keep these covered with a lid.
  3. Next morning, when ready to serve, add other ingredients. Top the mixture with coconut and keshar masala.

Note -

  • I used Everest Keshar masala that contains almonds, pistachios, keshar (saffron) and cardamom.
  • The Rose syrup I used had sugar. You can adjust the amount of honey / sugar according to your tast
Quick n Healthy/ Snacks/ Spring - Summer Special/ Superfoods

Kale Chips

We all know we should eat green leafy vegetables. And I am sure you have come across Kale Chips too. Are they easy to make? Yes and No. They are easy to make for the most part, but can easily be messed up.

When I first made Kale chips, I had no idea how Kale tastes. Its slight bitter taste does call for Indian touch like chaat masala or your favorite seasoning. If “green” and “leafy” do not strike a bell in your mind, here is why Kale is a clear winner when in comes to nutrition.

Type of Green Calories Vitamin A Vitamin C Vitamin K Calcium Iron Manganese
Collard Greens 11 48% 21% 230% 5% 0% 5%
Kale 33 206% 134% 684% 9% 6% 26%
Mustard Greens 15 118% 65% 384% 6% 5% 13%
Spinach 7 56% 14% 181% 3% 5% 13%
Swiss Chard 7 44% 18% 374% 2% 4% 7%

source-http://www.dailyspark.com/blog.asp?post=the_healthiest_leafy_greenand_how_to_eat_it

Here is the 9 step recipe. Do read my tips for making crunchy chips.

Crunchy Kale Chips

Crunchy Kale Chips

Healthy and crunchy chips packed with vitamins!

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Separate the leaves, and wash them under running water.
  2. Dry the leaves throughly.
  3. Make sure the leaves are completely dry and have no moisture, especially the inner parts. Else go to step 2.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F (180C).
  5. Break the leaves in 3-4 inch pieces, discard the middle tough stem.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the seasoning, salt and Olive oil.
  7. Pour the mixture on top of the leaves and massage gently so that all leaves are coated with oil.
  8. Spread them over a baking sheet. You might have to do these in two batches.
  9. Bake them for 10-12 minutes, until they turn light brown.

 

Tips –

  1. It goes without saying, use fresh Kale leaves.
  2. Dry Dry and Dry – After I wash the leaves, I spread them on paper towels and leave them near a window for couple of hours so that the moisture evaporates. Then I dab them with a kitchen towel. You can also use salad spinner if you have one. The moisture makes it hard for the oil to stick on the leaves and they don’t come out crunchy as you would like.
  3. Don’t use a lot of oil – it does not make the chips crunchier.
  4. Use the salt and seasoning sparingly – as you bake they reduce in volume so don’t overkill them with seasoning. You can always season them afterwards.
  5. Drizzle a few drops of lemon juice once the chips are cooled completely.
Punjabi/ Subji / Curry/ Superfoods/ Winter Special

Methi Malai Mutter with Cashew Cream

Winter is here and so is the smell of fresh Methi leaves. Fenugreek, widely known as “Methi” in India, is a leafy vegetable with small green leaves mainly grown in winter. It’s the bitter taste of its leaves and seeds that makes it so unique.

Methi Malai Mutter as the name says, is rich and flavorful. The slight sweetness of green peas (mutter) and the richness of cream (malai) well compliment the bitterness of methi leaves.

Methi Malai Mutter

Since I didn’t have cooking cream, I decided to use a healthier and an easily available  alternative – cashew cream and the result was outstanding. You have to try it to believe me. Here is what you need.

Methi Malai Mutter

Methi Malai Mutter

An aromatic combination of fresh methi leaves with green peas cooked together in cashew cream sauce.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Separate the leaves from stem and wash them well. Sprinkle some salt and keep them aside.
  2. In a small bowl, take cashews and poppy seeds and let them soak in milk.
  3. In a small pan, mix all dry masala (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black peppercorns and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds) and roast them lightly for 2-3 minutes on low flame.
  4. Add roughly chopped onion, freshly grated ginger, garlic, green chilies and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds with a pinch of salt in a grinder and make a smooth paste.
  5. Heat a medium pan and add 2 table spoon of oil. Once oil becomes hot, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and let them crackle.
  6. Meanwhile, squeeze out all the liquid from methi leaves and give them a quick chop. Add these leaves to the oil and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Once done, remove the leaves from the pan and keep aside.
  8. Add remaining 1 tb spoon oil to the pan. Now add the onion-garlic paste and fry it nicely for 5-6 minutes.
  9. Strain the milk and add cashews and poppy seeds to grinder and make a smooth paste. Add few spoons of milk if needed.
  10. Add this cashew cream to the pan and fry for 1 minute.
  11. Heat the leftover milk and let it simmer.
  12. Add the fresh garam masala (the roasted masala finely powdered) to the pan and mix well.
  13. Add the milk and some water to adjust the consistency.
  14. Add thawed green peas or boiled if using fresh.
  15. Add fenugreek leaves and mix well
  16. Add salt, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of turmeric and let it come to a boil.

Tips -

  • When you soak the cashews in milk, microwave it for 30 seconds, so cashews absorb the milk quicker and become tender.
  • Once the subji is done, sprinkle a pinch of kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) of additional aroma.

 

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