Posted in Indian Curries, Kitchen 101, Recipes

Paneer Bhurji – Soft creamy paneer scrambled with spices!

For me, there are two kinds of Paneer, the one I make routinely, dryish not so spicy or indulgent. And then there is another Bhurji which is a rare phenomenon, once in a while Bhurji Pav occasion of celebration. I know that most people associate rainy nights with Fried food, Bhajiya and Bajjis and the sorts. But on the kind of nights when it rains as if there will be no tomorrow, when the pitter…patter…drippp…droop.. glupp symphony is accompanied by an occasional thunder, something reminds of this Paneer Bhurji. When street creatures huddle – half wet, half dry and fully miserable – under whatever they can find, I crave this. Those souls, for whom the streets are both their workplace and the place they crash in after a long day, use tarp to shelter themselves, the kind ones cuddle their street pets with them. The unlucky strays crouch under whatever dry shelter they can manage. On nights like these, you groan at your smartphone because, either the Ola Uber and their ilk have very few cabs running on the roads. Or because Swiggy tells you that due to bad weather conditions, their executives cannot service your area. But if you go back to times before Ola, Uber and Swiggy made us to painfully dependent and stripped us of the small joys of life, every street corner in the Metros had a Bhurji cart dimg brisk business. It was mostly Egg Bhurji, but one particular cart I knew also served Paneer Bhurji, as concession to those who are “Vegetarian in Tuesdays and Fridays” and their kin. In any case, the assembly, apparatus and ambience remained the same. A huge iron tava perched atop a kerosene stove, continously heating, has almost hypnotic powers. The troika of sight, smell and sound work harmoniously to warm your insides and draw you closer to the cart. Pretty much every Bhurji that takes birth on that Tava looks similar. Beautiful ruby red colour, a free flowing smooth consistency and the broth speckled with scrambled eggs, or scambled paneer. It is deftly swiped with a flat spatula on a plate, two fluffy pav are swirled around in some butter and leftover masala and placed next to the pooled Bhurji, almost taking a dip into the pool. Some sliced onions, a miserable wedge of a lemon but who is complaining. I am already won over by the aroma. Recipe for the Bhurji is now up on the blog! 💕

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes, Traditional Gujarati Recipes

Sev Tameta nu Shaak!

Sev Tameta nu Shaak ( Sev added to a cooked gravy of tomatoes, a dab of jaggery and a few basic spices ) for the evening when you lose track of time panicking about something and realise that you are “cannot-afford-to-spend-more-than-10-minutes-on-fixing-dinner” kind of desperately hungry! Sev Tameta nu Shaak is quite popular in Gujarati, specifically Kathiyawadi, restaurants. Tangy, garlicky curry of 🍅, trailing ruby red oil with crispy Sev added to it makes for a beautiful sensory experience when eaten out doors, sitting on a ખાટલો | charpoy, on a chilly winters nights with fresh off the stove રોટલા | hand crafted millet rotis smeared with ghee. Bite into a fried green chilli ( mild ) or a hand smashed onion on the side, and all five senses feel an indescribable bliss. But the origins of the curry remain a classic “chicken or egg” conundrum to me. Whether it was a quick-witted and impromptu invention by a quick thinking lady of the house on a day when the guests arrived unannounced and then it made its way to restaurant menus because of the popularity. Or if it made a bold, sensational entry in home kitchens at the demands of clamouring kids and husband who wanted to eat out, I cannot say. All I can say is that the combination is 🔥!

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes

Shahi Paneer – Rich, Luscious but Easy restaurant style gravy!

Today, Shahi Paneer isn’t a big deal or a speciality for dinner for me but as a kid, I was so so fascinated by it. Creamy, silky orange gravy a little on the sweeter side than the paneer Butter Masala with fat Paneer chunks floating around. Paneer was such a rarity then that I remember mom making sure one of us didn’t monopolised or took more than our share of pieces 😆. So, before YouTube and Blogs came out, we used to buy those small satchets of spice mixes ( often from small brands like Suhana and Rasoi Magic ) hoping to recreate some of that magic in our kitchens. Dissolve the mix in milk, simmer, add cream and viola!!! The Shaahi Paneer would appear magically on the dinner table making dinner an eagerly anticipated affair. Not too different from Open Sesame for a middle class Indian kid, no? 😁 To be honest, those satchets were pretty ordinary, but it was still had an enigma around them from the minute they were put into the shopping bag and until it was made into curry. Good ol days! 💕 Sigh! Now ofcourse I make it frequently, and it is no longer a novelty and make it more frequently. But those portioned pieces of my childhood have brought me more joy than the today’s unlimited portions at the restaurant buffets. I have made this recipe several times now and it comes out perfect every single time. Hope you like it! ☺️💕

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes

Baghare Tamatar | Tamatar ka Salan – juicy, ripe tomatoes cooked in a thin, flavourful broth of sesame seeds, peanuts and spices!

If you are even vaguely familiar with the cuisine from the Deccan Plateau, often called the cuisine of the Nizams and their princely legacy, I am pretty sure you would have heard of the brinjals cooked in a nutty, slightly sour and aromatic base, where the final dish is called Baghare Baigan. Baghare Tamatar are cooked in a very similar way in the same flavourful base. Some people even drop hard boiled and lightly fried eggs into this same base after cutting into half. In fact, the curry called Ande ka Salan is again pretty similar to this version. So, call it what you like best and if you do eat eggs, add some! Or else skip them like I did. It tastes awesome the either way.

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes

Al Yakhni , Bottle gourd cooked in a mustard oil flavoured, yogurt based broth with fragrant spices!

My relationship with bottle gourd, aka Lauki/Gheeya/Doodhi, is pretty complicated. I have got nothing against its taste which is, to be honest, pretty neutral. But I did not grow up eating several versions of curries made with Lauki. We Gujaratis love our Doodhi Na Muthiya and Doodhi Na Theplas/Dhebras but Lauki doesn’t really shine in those preparations. It definitely adds a lovely moist texture to them and helps make soft Muthiyas and Theplas without adding too much oil ( moisture from grated bottlegourd does the trick ) but I suppose most moms employ the vegetable here in order to feed fussy kids not the budding vegetable connoisseurs. So the only curries I prepare with bittlegourd is the standard Gujarati Doodhi Chana ni Daal nu Shaak and the slightly more interesting Doodhi ma Gaanthiya nu Shaak . And occasionally the one with potatoes. So you would understand why I need to expand my bottle gourd repertoire. And Al Yakhni is exactly and endeavour to do that. Internet tells me that while typically Yakhni is a meat broth and yogurt based preparation in Kashmiri cuisine, here it is nothing but Al ( bottle gourd ) cooked in a thin yogurt ( curd ) broth redolent with fragrant spices. It is also redolent of the three spices that are iconic to Kashmiri Pandit cuisine: fennel | Saunf, dried ginger | Saunth and asafoetida | Hing. While these three spices are used here and there in Gujarati cuisine, it is nothing like how Kashmiri Pandits do it, its magic! Without further ado I will jump to the recipe.

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Daals/Lentils/Sides for Rice, Indian Curries, Recipes

Takatli Paalak Bhaji / Palakachi Patal Bhaji!

Palakachi Patal Bhaji a.k.a Takatli Palak Bhaji since the spinach/Palak cooked in a mixture of buttermilk with a little amount of Besan, is a Maharastrian style curry usually eaten with steamed rice or rotis. It is made with a variety of green colocasia ( aloochi bhaji ), sorrel leaves ( gongura / ambat chuka ), red amaranth ( laal math ) and so on. Along with it, the curry also also has peanuts and chana daal for some nice texture. Patalbhajis are typically kept thin and hence I used about 1 tbsp of besan in 1 cup of curd + 1 cup of water mixture. Patalbhaji had been on my mind since I first tasted it in Vadodara on one of our visits. Vadodara has a sizeable Marathi population and therefore the food at Maharashtra Restaurant ( previously called Maharashtra Lodge ) is pretty close if not exactly the same as that cooked in Marathi homes. It was a part of the regular meal that they serve there on one of the days of the week ( they rotate the curries on the menu ). The place has an absolute old world vibe. Formica tables arranged to absolute optimisation in a small enclosed place, basic decor that is nothing more than a Kalnirnay Almanac hanging from the wall along with garlanded portraits of fondly remembered ancestors and gods & goddesses, a staff that moves deftly without any incidents even when the premises are jam-packed, and a crowd that is doing one of the following three things – eating while trying to keep up with the rapid pace of the servers, coming out with a satisfied expression and a laziness brought on only by good food or waiting for their tiffin carriers to be filled with takeaway (environment-friendly and efficiently!) Their Patalbaji has more besan than mine but it was still really delicious. Kamalbai Ogole’s Ruchira and Kaumudi Marathé’s Essential Marathi Cookbook both have excellent recipes you should try. I will type down my recipe below and edit the caption when it is done ! 🙂

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes, Traditional Gujarati Recipes

Vatana Muthiya nu Shaak!

Hello you lovely, lovely folks! Hope you are doing well. If it is summer in your part of the world, I hope you are staying in shade as much as you can and staying adequately hydrated. Bengaluru weather is behaving like a petulant teenager who has been denied parental permission to attend a likely-to-get-wild party. There have been sporadic showers when it is feeling particularly rebellious, but it still hasn’t completely overthrown the cruel yoke of summer and the restrictions that this heat puts on opportunities of outdoor activities. It is a lovely mid-week holiday that we are enjoying today as I type this. I wanted to cook something nice today, but just nice enough to not make me feel like it is a crazy weekday. So, instead of making Sheer Khurma, which is what I had thought I will make, a few days ago, I settled for Vatana Muthiya nu Shaak with the usual Fulkas and Kachumbar which means less effort and enough fun to make me feel like I didn’t throw away an opportunity to cook something new. Okay, as usual this is spiralling into a monologue and I know you came here for the real food and not food for thought, but please don’t mind the girl while she says a bit more, will you? This is the reason I don’t hop onto WordPress to share everything I cook.

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes, Traditional Gujarati Recipes

Drumstick ( Moringa sticks ) and Potato Sabzi !

While Southern India consumes Drumstick or better known as Saragvo | Saragvani Seeng | સરગવાની શીંગ , in Gujarati cuisine, it is a fairly infrequently used ingredient. Though not uncommon, I must admit. Forgotten could be a better choice in my opinion because my mom always tells me stories about the various kinds of drumstick curries her grandmother used to make. But me being me , I have mostly cooked drumsticks into that occasional Sambar. Which is why I am writing down this સરગવાની શીંગ બટેટા નું શાક | Drumsticks and Potato Curry in a spicy gravy of curd and gram flour here, preserving it for posterity.

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes

Malai Kofta and a once in 5 years expedition to the land of decadent curries!

There are only two kinds of people in the world, those you like Malai Kofta and those you pretend to not like the sweetish ( not necessarily though, more on that later ), but ooh so luscious, beauty of a curry called Malai Kofta. Before you throw bricks at me, let me clarify that there is nothing wrong with the second kind, I myself was one until a few years ago. I loved it as a kid. But then, there was this phase where I buckled under peer pressure and started chanting “But why would someone order that mithai like thing called Malai Kofta when eating out when there is this beauty called Paneer Tikka Masala?” ( I know it looks my options started and stopped at these two but believe me, that is what growing up in the 90s India was like ). Anyway, good sense prevailed and I realised that well, life is really about moderation and there is no such think as “bad” or “unclean” eating while you keep moderation in mind. No, this is not a post where I preach, so lets get back to Malai Kofta. Unfortunately for poor thing, the time consuming nature of its preparation also contributes to half of all the bad rep it gets, where we ( I certainly do it!!) hide behind “Oh but I don’t like it” excuse to not make it. Last week, I decided I will shrug off some of that. Some, because I still have cut corners around a few things. But it still retains its essence. You can always knead paneer and potatoes together, make it into balls and fry. I took a longer route of shaping them like Scotch eggs / Nargisi Koftas ( or a sober, vegetarian version of the eggs enveloped in minced meat and deep fried to gloriousness ) this time , wanted to do things with proper fanfare. I guess, by now, you have realised that I can ramble about anything for 30 minutes at a stretch even without preparation, so I will stop rambling and go to the recipe. Kindly do not skip reading the notes I have added in between ! Happy Cooking and Eating!

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Posted in Indian Curries, Recipes

Achaari Broccoli Aloo – Broccoli and Potatoes in a mix of pickling spices!

 Achaar translates to pickle in Hindi so anything Achaari in Indian Cuisine implies something flavoured with pickling spices and usually some oil to bring out their flavours. So the Achaari Broccoli Aloo below are simply broccoli florets and potato chunked seasoned with these mouth watering spices and cooked into a dry, story fry kind of dish. It is spicy, a little sour and tongue tickling for sure! I keep the skins on the potatoes intact after soaking them in water for a while and scrubbing well to get all the soil off. But that’s just me! Use Potatoes whatever way you like them. You can marinate these in the spices listed below with a generous glut of oil and push them into an oven to roast! That slight char from roasting will only add to charm. If you are looking for a gravy/curried version , try this Cauliflower Peas Rassa ( where you can substitute Broccoli with Cauliflower ) for a milder but an equally flavourful curry!

Achaari Broccoli Aloo, Masoor Daal and Fulkas!

The image is from my own Instagram account d.srujan and can be viewed here.

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