Carrot Halwa – Instant Pot

Carrot Halwa, AKA ‘gajar ka halwa’, is a sweet stewed carrots dessert with a delicate aroma of cardamom and saffron!

This year we celebrated mothers day with this delicious Indian dessert cooked in the Instant Pot! The traditional carrot halwa recipes uses milk, condensed milk or evaporated milk. Since this is one of my favorite desserts and I can’t stop myself from overeating, I try to make it a little healthier. My carrot halwa recipe is almost dairy free, but I do use homemade ghee which can be substituted for vegetable oil. I substitute the milk and cream with almond milk and almond flour making it a healthier lightly sweetened dessert. Continue reading “Carrot Halwa – Instant Pot”

Mango Shrikhand – A Cool and Creamy Mango Yogurt dessert

Mango Shrikhand – A cool and creamy mango flavored dessert made with lush creamy yogurt and sweet mangoes, garnished with aromatic saffron strands!

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Indian Pulses – A quick guide to lentils, beans and peas

Pulses. A fancy word to describe the ever-so-delicious and protein-packed chickpeas, lentils and dry peas. I am truly fascinated by the different types available and can’t resist picking up a new bag every time I go shopping. My pantry now contains over 20 different varieties! Continue reading “Indian Pulses – A quick guide to lentils, beans and peas”

Lentils with drumstick Leaves

After weeks of indulging into festive foods, its high time to share some healthy and everyday dishes that I cook for my family. Lentils aka Daal is a favorite dish in my home. My boys love all sorts of daals. I feel happy and satisfied to see them eating healthy and protein packed foods (at least for weekday dinners).

During my recent trips to Indian grocery store, I noticed some greens that I had never seen before. The label on them said ‘Drumstick leaves’. Not knowing how to use them I did not buy them. I was curious what they were used for. After researching a little bit I found out that these leaves are a nutritional power-house. Here is the nutrition information from wikipedia: The leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant, being a significant source of B vitaminsvitamin C, provitamin A as beta-carotenevitamin Kmanganese, and protein, among other essential nutrient  Continue reading “Lentils with drumstick Leaves”

Homemade Paneer{Indian cottage cheese}

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Back to basics today. I have to confess that it took me literally years before I tried making paneer at home. Still, at times, I use the store-bought paneer, of course only after checking that it does not have any extra additives or preservatives. Homemade paneer by far has the freshest taste and beautiful soft texture. It is super easy to make with just 2 basic ingredients! So if you have time or can plan ahead homemade paneer is the way to go.

Paneer is fresh unsalted white cheese used in Indian cooking, that can be made at home with just whole milk and lemon juice! It has a very mild creamy flavor and crumbly texture that goes well with many curries and desserts!

Fresh paneer can be grilled on skewers for some fun kebabs and also used in sandwiches, wraps and pita pockets! It is a very versatile ingredient to use in Indian curries like Palak Paneer , Matar Paneer or Paneer Tikka Masala. Homemade paneer can also be used in making many Indian desserts, I love making delicious homemade Rasmalai!

Here is a step by step recipe:

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Purple Cabbage Parathas {flatbreads}

 

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I love buying cabbage, both purple and green, to add to salads and tacos. You’ll probably find some sort of half-cabbage head, in my refrigerator,  tightly wrapped in clear plastic because it keeps forever. It always comes through in a jam when I forget to pick up salad greens or purples! They are my back up veggies in the fridge. Today, I decided to use up the purple cabbage I have been saving in the refrigerator to add in my salad. It has been a rather cold week and I am in no mood to eat cold salad. So decided to use it up to make some ‘garam-garam’ parathas. The best way for me to chop cabbage is to mince it food processor. After all the cabbage was finely chopped, I realized I was out of cilantro. I had some kale (another hardy multi-purpose nutrition powerhouse)  on hand, which I thought would make a good substitute to add some greens. So chopped kale leaves, ginger and green chilies and made a brand new kind of Parathas… Yum! I love starting with simple ingredients and turning them into hearty, filling and super healthy dish. Did you know that Anthocyanin rich purple cabbage (beneficial for the nervous system and fighting free radicals)  has 10 times more vitamin A and twice as much iron as green cabbage?

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Mung bean sprouts salad

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Did you know that 2016 is the United Nations International Year of Pulses (IYP)?

Check out more details on Pulses, the nutritious seeds for a sustainable future at – http://www.fao.org/pulses-2016/about/en/

My pantry is always stocked with variety of pulses that include whole pulse like chickpeas, split pulses with the skin on, and split pulses with the skins removed. Pulses are packed with protein, making a great alternate to animal protein and are low in fat and high in fiber. Pulses when stored in airtight and dry containers have a long shelf life and can be used in a variety of dishes.

One of my favorite beans is the mung bean. The recipe here is a super easy, healthy and filling sprouted mung bean salad that can be prepared in no time. You can add any vegetables that you like, squeeze some lime juice, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and Enjoy!

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Puran Poli – a sweet lentil stuffed flatbread

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Today we celebrate holi, the festival of color; the celebration of victory of good over evil.

Holi, is a popular Hindu festival celebrated over 2-5 days in India. On the evening of the first day, public bonfires are made, called Holika Dahan. On the next day (or 5th day in some states) people play with colors. My memories of Holi are of the bonfires and all of my loved ones gathering around them to pray. The fifth day is the most colorful day where we shower our friends, family and even those we don’t know with vibrant color both powder and liquid. Even after the holiday passes the streets of India look like a Monet covered in a sea of color.

Today we are celebrating with traditional Maharastrian food – Puran Poli /sweet lentil stuffed flatbread. Puran Poli is delicacy made by stuffing soft whole wheat dough with cooked yellow lentils, jaggery/brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg and saffron. It is then rolled thin and cooked on a griddle with lots of ghee to make it into a golden brown, flavorful and aromatic flat bread. When torn apart it is ooey-gooey perfection.

Growing up, I did not enjoy this dish as much; which was a bit odd as the rest of my family devoured this dish for a couple of days. I would beg my Mom to make me a plain bread without the sweet stuffing, but she never entertained my request. I would have to eat at least one before I would get to enjoy the rest of the delicacies that she would have prepared.

Years later, after I moved to the US, with my mom visiting me and me visiting home; I started liking this dish so much that I had to learn how to cook it.  With my mom’s precise instructions, I then made it several times, each time to the perfection that I would have expected from my Mom. Thankfully, both my children and my husband LOVE it and so it makes all the effort worthwhile. I make it a point to make Puran poli at least twice a year, once for Diwali – festival of lights and then for Holi – the festival of colors.

Even though the process sounds a bit long and tedious, it is a no fail recipe for me.I make the stuffing a day ahead and let it cool in the fridge overnight. Usually I use a pressure cooker for cooking lentils but for this dish I let the lentils cook slowly in a big pot on the stove top.

This recipe requires split bengal gram/chana daal and jaggery, which is raw brown sugar. It also uses spices like cardamom, nutmeg, dry ginger and saffron.

Step by step recipe:

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Methi/fenugreek-sweet potato Paratha {flatbreads}

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Parathas in my family can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s everyone’s favorite dish that brings smiles, memories and a fun conversation that always leads to what stuffing we love in our parathas. This is my first paratha blog post and I promise many more with some unique combinations that we love.

While in India, my husband used to travel extensively for work. His most vivid memories while traveling in north India, that he tells us about, are of eating piping hot parathas on cold winter mornings. He loves dipping them with pickles and yogurt. My older son eats them without any condiments, while my younger son loves them with ketchup. For me, Parathas bring memories of my mom making them and the aroma of fenugreek leaves and ghee all over the kitchen as mom served them hot off the pan, ‘garam garam’ as she calls them.

There are lots of recipes for parathas including a variation of fillings that they can be made with. I do not have a favorite yet, as I feel like I am still discovering more. Today’s recipe uses fresh fenugreek/methi and sweet potatoes added directly to the wheat flour, along with some spices to make the dough. Sweet potatoes give these parathas very soft yet crispy texture!

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Chana masala

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Chana masala (spiced chickpeas) is a staple in my kitchen and definitely my go-to dish when entertaining. This intensely spiced, tangy, aromatic dish makes for a healthy, protein packed dinner.

This dish can quickly be made if you have the spices roasted and blended in advance (or you can use ready made chana masala spice which is readily available). I recently made a batch of this spice blend to speedup my weeknight cooking. After researching quiet a few recipes and several trials, I now have the perfect recipe that I am thrilled to share with you! This blend uses Kashmiri red chilies that give the dish a deep orange color and just the right amount of heat and dried mango powder to enhance the tangy tomato flavor. The spice blend uses few basic spices and can be made ahead in a big batch or can also be made while you are sauteing onions for this chana masala recipe. Here is the recipe using my chana masala spice blend that can be made in a jiffy.

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