Indian Style Pasta

Pasta, noodles, pizzas have become quite popular with kids (even grown-ups!). Not often can we head to the Pizza Corners or restaurants. So why not make it at home?

Basic method of cooking the pasta is the same of all types; boil the pasta with lots of water, a spoon of oil and salt, drain and run in cold water to prevent it sticking to one another.
Once that is done, it is upto our imagination and creativity to add the ingredients and make it all the more appealing! So here's our Indian i-Shtyle Pasta!

Indian Style Pasta
Pasta cooked with onion, tomato and cream
Serves 2

What we need:
Pasta (Spaghetti/Fussili/Macaroni) - 1 Cup, cooked according to instructions
Onion,medium sized - 1, finely chopped
Tomato,medium sized - 1, finely chopped
Garlic - 2 to 3 pods, minced
Red Chilli powder - 1 tbsp.
Cream - 3 to 4 tbsp.
Salt - as needed
Oil - as needed

How to do:
1. Cook the pasta according to instructions on the packet.
2. Heat Oil in a pan, and add the onions and garlic. Fry till they turn soft.
3. Add the tomatoes and salt and fry till the tomatoes pulp out.
4. Add the cooked pasta, chilli powder and mix well. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Stir the cream and let it sit on low flame for 2 minutes.

You can also garnish with some corainder leaves. Serve hot.

Rava Kesari

Kesari or Sojji (as it is derived from sooji) is often associated with the pre-marriage betrothel function or the "groom-meets-bride" ceremony in Tamilnadu (Needless to say that V was served Bajji-Sojji when they came to meet us first !! )

My mom-in-law's perfection of Kesari is still unattainable for me. Whenever I try to copy-cat her version, even without altering a spoonful of sugar, the end-result is just near-perfect and not the same as MIL's version. Probably it has something to do with her experience of cooking for so many years! :)

Rava Kesari
Rava cooked with Sugar and Ghee
Serves 2

What we need:
Rava - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Elachi (Cardamom) powder - 1 tbsp.
Cashew nuts - 8 to 10
Dry grapes - 5 to 7
Ghee - 10 tbsp. or as required
Sliced Almonds(Badam) - 2 to 3 tbsp. Optional

How to do:
1. Heat Ghee in a Kadai or non-stick pan.
2. Roast the cashews till they turn golden brown. Remove, drain and set aside.
3. Roast the dry grapes till they turn fluffy. Remove, drain and set aside.
4. Add the rava to the remaining ghee. If required, add some more ghee.
5. On another stove, simultaneously boil the water in the ratio 1: 2 (i.e 2 cups water for 1 cup rava)
6. Fry till the rava gives out a pleasant aroma. Make sure it does not turn brown.
7. Drop a pinch of kesari color to the boiling water and add the water to the rava. Keep stiring as you add the water to avoid lumps. Stir well till the rava gets cooked.
8. Spread out the sugar all over the surface and close the pan with a lid. Let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
9. Open the lid, and mix well. By now the sugar would have dissolved fully.
10. Add the cardamom powder, roasted cashew, dry grapes and remove from the flame.

Garnish with sliced almonds. Serve as dessert or an evening snack with Bajjis.

Lemon Rasam

Rasam is a house-hold dish in most of the south indian homes. Not all restaurants serve this unique speciality; so if you want to taste an authentic one, you'll have to head to one of these houses. There are a lots of varieties of rasam, and varies with each and every district. Loosely translated, rasam is often known as a soup, that is eaten with rice or drank as an appetizer.

Reminds of a story that my grandma used to tell me.. "Once there was this King who wanted to appoint a "sapattu raman" (one who tests and tastes the dishes before the king can have it). He announced a feast where everyone in the village can eat, but noone should make any "slurping" sound when the rasam is served, or else they'll be beheaded! Ok, now all our villagers are happily enjoying the feast; but when the rasam came, much to the temptation of the people, it was fantastically tasty. But none could make the usual slurping sound and were terribly suppressing their desire. But one man started off slurping and and drinking the rasam straight out of his hand, saying "Never tasted such a rasam in my life! What the hell! They can behead me only once. I am glad to die after eating this fantastic rasam!!" Needless to say, he became the Kings' Saapattu Raman." :)

Rasam tastes best when prepared in an "Eeya sombu" or a lead vessel. This vessel is usually handed-down over generations. But nowadays, people consider it not good for health because of the fear of lead melting down during cooking. Can somebody let me know if this is true? Because of this fear, even my "eeya sombu" is resting in the attic. Albeit all these arguments, nothing can win over the rasam prepared in that vessel.

Now you know how much I like rasam, over to our recipe. This Lemon rasam has lot of medicinal value. It is usually prepared on rainy days, when children come with running noses and flu! It is also a kind of "pathiya samayal" or the "food as medicine".

Lemon rasam / Yelumichai rasam
South Indian dal soup flavored with ginger and lemon
Serves 2

What we need:
Toor dal - 1/2 cup
Ginger - 2" inches, grated
Lemon juice - 5 to 6 spoons
Tomato, small - 1, finely chopped
Green Chillies - 1 or 2, split vertically
Turmeric powder -1 tsp.
Salt - as needed
Water - as needed
Ghee - 1 tbsp.
Mustard - 1 tbsp.
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp.
Asafetida - 1 pinch
Curry leaves - 2 to 3 sprigs

How to do:

Method 1:

1. Cook and mash the dal well.
2. In a deep bottomed pan, heat the ghee and add the mustard seeds.
3. When they start to pop, add the cumin seeds, turmeric powder, curry leaves and asafetida.
4. Add the grated ginger, green chillies and tomato.
5. When the tomato is cooked, add the mashed dal, salt and water.
6. Allow it to come to a boil and remove from flame.
7. Add the lemon juice and stir well.

Method 2: (For those like my hubby who don't like picking out the ginger, curry leaves)

1. In a mixer/blender, grind together ginger, curry leaves, green chillies, turmeric powder.
2. In a deep bottomed vessel, boil tomatoes till done and add the ground paste. Let it come to a boil and add the mashed dal. Let it come to one more boil (or till a slight foam forms) and remove from flame.
3. In a small pan, heat ghee or oil and add the mustard, cumin seeds, asafetida and add this to the rasam.
4. Stir the lemon juice.

Serve with rice and appalam or drink it as a refreshing appetizer.

Watch out for different varieties of Rasam, coming soon!!

Screaming Spicy!!!! Schezwan Fried Rice

Anything marked "extra spicy" will definitely find a place in my plate! Whereas my loving hubby is exactly an opposite (Unlike poles attract, they say!) Well, in contrast to having brought up in Hyderabad, he is such a softie character who can't stand even an extra spoon of pickle. But me? I can eat chilli chutney without flinching!
So one day when I was planning for a lunch for myself, I wanted to have something hot and spicy. I have tried this "schezwan fried rice" in restaurant once and found it appealing. Since then I wanted to try this at home, but the fear of hubby's aversion to chillies kept stopping me.
But I must warn you, please reduce the number of red chillies used if you can't stand hot food. Tears started streaming down my face after having this super hot rice! ;)

Schezwan Fried Rice
Rice cooked with Capsicums and hot red chilli gravy
Serves 2

What we need:
Cooked Rice - 2 cups
Capsicums (Green/Red/Yellow) - 1 cup, finely sliced
Brocolli - 1, finely chopped Optional
White Onion, medium sized - 1, finely sliced
Soya sauce - 1 tbsp.
Garlic - 5 to 6 pods
Dry Red Chilli - 7 to 8 Adjust according to your taste
Salt - as needed
Oil - as needed

How to do:
1. Cook the rice separetely. Each grain of the rice must be separate.
2. Soak the dry red chillies for 2 to 3 hours and grind them to a smooth paste along with garlic and soya sauce.
3. Heat oil in a deep pan and add the onions. Fry them till the onions turn soft.
4. Add the capsicums and brocolli (optional) and sprinkle some water to let them cook.
5. When they are done, add the ground chilli paste and salt. Stir and mix well till the raw smell of garlic starts to leave.
6. Now slowly add the rice and mix well, careful not to break the grains.
7. Let it sit in low flame for 5 minutes and remove it.

Serve with any chinese gravy or starter.

Peas Semiya Upma

Semiya upmaaaaaa......mmmmm..... Thats how V and me drool!! I love all varieties of Upma as they are very light and easy to make. In fact, my MIL has introduced me to much more new varieties which never existed even in my imagination.

Now here is a simple semiya upma recipe with good nutritional value. As most of you know, adding vegetables make the upma all the more healthy and visually-appealing. So here we go with our Peas Semiya Upma.

Peas Semiya Upma
Vermicilli cooked with peas and onion
Serves 2
What we need:
Semiya / Vermicilli - 2 cups
Onion - 1 medium sized, finely chopped
Frozen/Fresh Peas - 1 cup
Green Chillies - 2 to 3, minced
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp.
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp.
Oil - 2 to 3 tbsp.
Salt - as needed
Corainder leaves - to garnish
Water - 3 cups

How to do:
1. Roast the vermicilli in a spoon of oil, till they start turning red. Here I have used roasted vermicilli.
2. In a pan, heat oil and add the mustard. When they start to pop, add cumin seeds.
3. When they are done, add onions and green chilli and fry till the onions turn soft.
4. Add water, salt. When the water starts to boil, add the roasted vermicilli and peas.
5. Cover and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes.
6. Remove from flame and garnish with corainder.

Serve with pickle or yoghurt.

Mor Kozhambu / Plain Kadi

Mor Kozhambu is a very common recipe in most of the south indian house and brahmin families. This is because they do not use onion, garlic (though it is an almost inevitable ingredient in my cabinet!!). Mor kozhambu or Kadi in northern India, is an awesome comfort food on any day. It can be whipped up in minutes and happy enough to go well with simple Appalams or rice crackers.

It can also be prepared without the main thickening agent, Coconut. Some call it "Mor Vendha Saaru" (Buttermilk stew) or just "Vendha saaru".

It was yet another day when I ran out of Coconut and my palates lingering for amma's mor kozhambu. This simple recipe came to my rescue without altering the original taste. The Original MOR KOZHAMBU recipe will be posted soon! :)

Mor Kozhambu / Plain Kadi
Yoghurt/Buttermilk gravy with mild spices
Serves 2

What we need:
Thick Yoghurt - 5 tbsp. or 150 g
Besan/Gram Flour - 3 to 4 tbsp.
Chilli powder - 2 tbsp.
Turmeric powder - 3 pinches/ 1 tsp.
Onion - 1 medium sized, finely chopped
Garlic - 2 pods, minced
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp.
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp.
Dry Red chilli - 2 to 3
Curry leaves - 2 to 3 sprigs
Oil - as needed
Water - as needed
Salt - as needed
How to do:
1. In a bowl, mix together Gram flour, chilli powder, salt, turmeric powder.
2. Add thick yoghurt to this and make into a fine paste without lumps.
3. Now add as much water as needed. While I prefer to have it thick, you can also make it a little diluted.
4. Heat Oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds. When they pop, add cumin seeds, half of the curry leaves and red chilli.
5. Add onions and garlic and fry them till the onion becomes soft and translucent.
6. Now pour in the yoghurt mixture and reduce the flame. Keep stiring for 2 to 3 minutes and remove from the flame.
Garnish with the remaining curry leaves and serve with rice and appalam.
Note: Keep the flame low while cooking this, otherwise chances are that the yoghurt will give out water and become whey.

Palak Paneer - An unbeatable partner for Naan!

So, having ended my cold war with palak, I have now started experimenting this nutritious greens in my daily menus.

The other day, I switched-over to my SCIENTIST mode (to the horror of V!) and tried my hand at Palak Paneer. Not to mention that I had a backup plan of ready-made Aloo Mutter if this doesn't come out well! :) But luckily, it was lip-smacking!!

Do try out and let me know if it was the same for you as well!

Palak Paneer
Indian Cottage cheese cooked in a spinach gravy
Serves 2

What we need:
Spinach leaves - 200 g (or Frozen Creamed Spinach - 150 g)
Tomato puree - 2 cups (made of 1 big ripe Tomato)
Paneer - 100 g, cut to 1" inch cubes
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp.
Cumin powder - 1 tbsp.
Dhania powder - 1 tbsp.
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Ginger paste - 1/2 tbsp.
Garlic paste - 1/2 tbsp.
Asafetida - 1 pinch
Oil/Butter - as needed
Salt - as needed
Cream - 3 to 4 tbsp.

How to do:
Preparing the palax mix:

1. Wash, clean and boil the spinach leaves.
2. Drain the excess water, allow them to cool and blend them in a mixer.
This step can totally be avoided, if you are using the frozen spinach.

Main preparation:
1. Heat Oil in a pan/kadai and fry the Paneer cubes till they start to brown out on the edges. Remove them, set them aside.
2. Heat Oil/Butter in a kadai and add cumin seeds.
3. When they start to sizzle, add a pinch of asafetida and red chilli.
4. Add ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric powder.
5. When the raw smell of garlic starts to leave, add the tomato puree, salt, cumin powder, dhania powder.
6. Fry till the oil starts to separate from the gravy.
7. Now add the Spinach. (Spinach stock can be added at this point if you want to loosen/dilute the gravy a little)
8. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
9. Now add the fried paneer, cream, mix well and remove from the flame.

Serve with Naan and rotis. Indeed an irresistible combo, isn't it? :)