Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tandoori Paneer in a Tawa - Pan Roasted Tandoori Panner

Have not been able to post as regularly as I would like. This summer has been a time of many changes for us some inevitable but tough to handle just the same. There are lots of people for whom change is constant and they deal with it with grace. I on the other hand postpone thinking about change and live through it with trepidation and realize it is not that bad after all. Some changes are just plain hard like sending off your child to college.

With that said I am going to feel guilty every time I cook something she likes. DD and DD2 love paneer. Though I am a recent and reluctant paneer convert. I like the fact that any recipe made with it is hard to mess up.

A colleague of mine is on a diet or challenge of some sort. Any way, it was cottage cheese and fruits for breakfast one morning. She does not like cottage cheese so had this amazing pan roasted paneer(they are cottage cheese too right?) which need I say were fantastic. The recipes calls for only spice powders and ginger and garlic powder which makes the cooking that much faster. You can always use ginger garlic paste if you prefer. The cooking time will take a bit more.

Mix the marinade in oil and set aside. Cut the paneer into cubes or rectangles.
Toss the paneer cubes in the marinade. Heat a flat bottomed pan and lightly coat with oil.
Place the paneer pieces on the pan in a single layer. Let cook on one side, flip and cook on the other side till golden.
Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with onion slices and lemon wedges.

Pan Roasted Tandoori Paneer
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
  1. 12 oz block of Paneer (I used store bought)
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  4. 2 tsp ginger powder
  5. 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  6. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  7. 1/2 tbsp curry masala powder or tandoori masala (any kind of masala powder will work)
  8. salt to taste

  1. Cut the paneer into desired shapes. Thin rectangles is what works best.
  2. Mix the rest of the spices in the olive oil till smooth in a wide mouthed pan.
  3. Now toss the paneer with the spice mixture and set aside.
  4. Now heat a cast iron pan or any flat griddle spread with oil.
  5. Once the oil shimmers place the panner in one layer. Cook on one side for about 3-4 minutes or slightly longer till it become golden brown.
  6. Flip and cook on the other side til golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Serve with lemon wedges and sliced onions.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bitter Gourd in a peanut gravy

For a lot of people bitter gourd means puckering of the mouth and generally avoiding it obviously because of the bitterness. To counteract the bitterness I add tamarind extract, jaggery and cook it down so the bitterness is mostly gone.

So I was intrigued when a colleague/friend got this smooth and creamy gravy which was not too bitter and not too sour or sweet but just right. So of course I asked for the recipe. The gravy was made by her neighbor as was just back from a trip to India. She checked for the recipe from her neighbor and texted it and here we go.

It is soon going to become one of my go to recipes for bitter gourd. Here some of my other bitter gourd recipes,
3 recipes in one
Broiled Bitter gourd
Bitter Gourd Recipes

The smooth gravy is perfect for any kind of Indian breads or even with rice.

Soak the bitter gourd pieces in tamarind extract. Saute the masala ingredients - ginger, garlic, whole spices, coconut and coriander powder
Blend the masala ingredients along with the peanuts to a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a saute pan add cumin and mustard seeds. Saute the onions and tomato till the tomatoes get mushy. Add in the bitter gourd pieces and let them cook completely.
Add the blended peanut paste along with the tamarind pulp and water and cook till the desired thickness is reached or for about 8 minutes..

Bitter Gourd in a peanut gravy
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
  1. 8-10 bitter gourds seeds removed and cut into thick half moon slices.
  2. 1/2 cup of finely chopped onions
  3. 6-8 small tomatoes (about 2 cups)
  4. seasonings: mustard seeds and cumin seeds
  5. tamarind extract about 1 cup + 2 cups of thin tamarind juice
  6. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  7. 1 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder ( or to taste)
  8. 2 tsp of oil
  9. salt to taste
  10. 1 tbsp of jaggery
  11. For the masala
  12. 6-8 garlic cloves
  13. 3 inch piece of ginger
  14. 3/4 cup of roasted peanut
  15. 3-4 tbsp coconut
  16. whole spices - 1 inch piece of cinnamon + 4-6 cloves
  17. 1 tbsp of coriander powder

  1. Soak the bitter gourd in tamarind juice for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or more.
  2. While the bitter gourd is soaking get the masala ready.
  3. Heat oil in a saute pan, from the masala section - add the whole spices and saute for a minute and remove to the blender follwed by the ginger and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Remove to the blender.
  4. Reduce the heat and saute the coconut for a minute, followed by the coriander powder saute for 1/2 minute and remove that to the blender.
  5. Add the roasted peanuts and blend to a fine paste adding 1/2 cup of water. Set aside.
  6. In a wide mouthed pan add oil and when hot add the seasonings. Add the onions and saute till it starts to brown.
  7. Add in the tomatoes and saute till the tomatoes become mushy.
  8. Drain the bitter gourd and add the bitter gourds to the tomatoes. Let the bitter gourd be fully cooked.
  9. Add the turmeric powder, chili powder, salt and the blended masala paste and about 1 1/2 -2 cups or more of water and the tamarind extract. Let it boil in medium heat for about 10 -15 minutes. Check for salt and heat and if required add salt and chili powder. Mix and cook for a minute more and turn off the heat.
  10. Serve with rice or chapathi or paratha.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Tomato Rice with bell pepper and peas in a Pressure cooker

Summer time is perfect for making tomato rice. Abundance of fresh tomatoes makes some fantastic tomato rice. Pressure cookers are a life saver. Takes about 1/2 hour and you have a meal ready. While peas might be perfect with tomato rice any vegetables like bell pepper and beans also work.

Tomato Rice with Bell Pepper and Peas
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
  1. 2 1/2 cups of Basmati Rice (or Seeraga Samaba Rice)
  2. 3 cups of tomatoes chopped
  3. 1 1/2 cups of thinly sliced onions
  4. 6-8 green chilies
  5. handful of coriander leaves chopped
  6. handful of mint leaves chopped
  7. 2 bell peppers seeded and chopped
  8. 1 -2 cups of peas fresh or frozen
  9. 1 tsp of chili powder
  10. 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  11. 2-3 garlic cloves chopped
  12. 1/2 tbsp ginger grated
  13. salt to taste
  14. 3 tsp of oil + 1 tsp of ghee (optional)
  15. seasonings: whole spices - 1 inch piece of cinnamon, few cloves, a piece of star anise and fennel seeds
  1. Wash and soak the rice for about 20 minutes or more.
  2. In a pressure cooker heat oil and add the whole spices followed by the fennel seeds.
  3. Add the onions and green chilies and saute till the onions start to brown.
  4. Add the grated ginger and garlic and saute for a minute more. Keep stirring to avoid the ginger from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add coriander and mint leaves and saute for a couple of minutes till the leaves wilt.
  6. Add in the turmeric powder and chili powder and mix it in.
  7. Add the tomatoes and salt and let it cook till the tomatoes become mushy (about 6-8 minutes.
  8. Add the bell pepper and peas and any vegetables you want at this point and mix.
  9. Drain the water and add the rice and mix it well into the tomato. Now add the required amount of water and let the water come to a boil. Check for salt and heat and add more salt or chili powder if required.
  10. Continue to cook till most of the water is absorbed. Now close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook on medium low heat for about 8 minutes.
  11. Turn off the heat and set the cooker aside for about 20 minutes before opening the lid and fluffing the rice up.
    Note:The amount of water depends on if the rice was soaked or not. If the rice requires 1 1/2 cups of water add only 1 cup of water if the rice was soaked. If you did not soak the rice add the full 1 1/2 cups of water.
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Monday, August 1, 2016


Eating traditional South Indian breakfast foods is not very common during the week, what with our always running life style we seem to lead here in the US. But by the end of the week our taste buds are craving for some authentic South Indian breakfasts. Moreover some of these breakfast items have also become our dinner menu items. After a while when that starts to get a little bit boring we need look to at some other fancy items like this Appam.

I have never tried this Appam before but with folks visiting, it was a good time as any to try it. This is mother in law's recipe. Normally appam is eaten with jaggery and grated coconut or sweetened coconut milk. Did not have any coconut ready to make coconut milk so decided to make some coconut based kurma. Kerla style stew or even sweetened milk will work just as well.

Appam requires fermentation and uses both raw and boiled rice, lentils and fenugreek to make the batter. Very similar to the ingredients for making idli but in different proportions. Slightly more fenugreek seeds are added than for idli which is what keeps the Appam crispy on the outside and soft and spongy on the inside. This is not a dish that can be made on the spur of the moment. You have plan it a couple of days ahead so the batter can be prepared.

Grind the batter, ferment it and get it ready for use. Heat the appam pan.
Add a laddle of batter and holding the pan with both hands on either side and swirl so that the batter spreads with sides thinner and center thicker.
Let it cook till the sides starts to brown and the center is cooked.

There are specialized pans for making Appam. I do not have one, instead we just used a flatter kadai or saute pan and that seems to work fine or even a regular kadai should work.

Fermentation Time: Overnight
Preparation Time: 4-6 hours soaking + 45 minutes grinding
Cooking Time:30 minutes
Preparing the batter
  1. 3 cups raw rice
  2. 1 par boiled rice
  3. 3/4 cup + 2 1/2 tbsp white lentil - urad dal (ulutham paruppu)
  4. 1 1/2 tbsp fenugreek seeds (vendhayam)
  1. Soak the rice, fenugreek and lentils separately for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Using a grinder or blender start with blending the lentils with fenugreek. Remove to a container.
  3. Now blend the rice and remove to the container, add more water if required.
  4. Add salt and mix so it is in a pourable consistency. Slightly looser consistency than idli batter.
  5. Set it in a warm place to ferment overnight.
  6. Once the batter rises mix it well and put in a refrigerator till ready to use.

Preparing the Appam
  1. Heat the kadai and apply some oil to grease it and then pour a laddle of batter.
  2. Take the pan with both your hands and swirl it around so the batter spreads around in such a way that it is thinner on the outside and thicker in the middle.
  3. In medium heat cook till the edges start to crisp. The center will be cooked but still soft. This is the time to remove if from the pan.
  4. Serve with sweetened coconut milk or vegetable kurma.

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