Food Archives - Rachna cooks

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Knol khol/Gathgobhi/Kohlrabi stir fry

Knol khol/Gathgobhi/Kohlrabi stir fry

Knol khol stir fry

Knol Khol as it is called here in Bangalore or Gathgobhi in Hindi is like a turnip and belongs to the same family as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. It is very commonly used in the rice pulavs or vegetable kormas that I’ve had here. It also makes for a simple and satisfying dry stir fry which goes really well with rotis or chapatis.

Once you have it grated, you can have a stir fry in less than 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

1/2 Kg. knol khol cleaned, peeled and grated (Discard the fibrous ones)

2 tsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp. mustard seeds

2 sprigs curry leaves

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. urad dal or chana dal

1/2 tsp. cumin seeds

a pinch of asafoetida

2-3 green chillies slit in half

salt to taste

2 tsp. malai or cream (optional)

juice of half lemon

Coriander leaves and grated coconut for garnish

Recipe:

Take oil in a kadhai/wok. Heat it. Tip in mustard seeds, cumin seeds and urad/chana dal. Allow them to sputter. Now add the asafoetida, green chillies and curry leaves. Cook for a minute. Now put in the turmeric powder and grated knol kohl. Mix well. Add salt and let it cook out the moisture for about 5 minutes. Once it is cooked, take it off the flame, add in the malai/ cream and stir well. Now put in the lemon juice and mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves and grated coconut. Serve hot. It is a simple yet tasty dry vegetable dish ready in minutes. You can make a similar stir fry with grated carrots, cabbage or beetroot or a combination of these. They all turn out fairly tasty. Enjoy!

Raw mango chutney/Ambiya ki chutney

Raw mango chutney/Ambiya ki chutney

Mango chutney

Raw mango is a delightful fixture in most Indian kitchens in summer. This simple raw mango chutney is tangy, spicy and delicious. I normally make a large lot which stays in the fridge. Have it with your lunch or dinner or along with your snacks or breakfast. It is versatile and goes with a lot of things. It is quite yummy in bread sandwiches too. It hardly needs about 5 minutes to prepare including the peeling and chopping work. In summer, the mint and the raw mango help to keep the body cool.

Ingredients

1 raw mango (it must be firm)

3-4 green chillies (less or more as per taste)

a few sprigs coriander leaves

a few sprigs mint leaves

3-4 cloves garlic (optional)

salt about 1 tsp. or as per taste

a pinch of sugar

Recipe:

Mango chutney

Peel the raw mango and chop it roughly into pieces. Wash the coriander leaves, mint leaves and green chillies. Chop them coarsely. Take all the ingredients in the blender. Add just about 1-2 tbsp. of water.

Mango chutney

I don’t like my chutneys runny but if you do you can add more water. Now blend till blended well. If you have the old-fashioned sil batta or grinding stone then use it. The chutney is way tastier when prepared on that.

Take it out in a bowl and serve with your favorite tikkis, wadas, fries etc.

Love Me Do!

Love Me Do!

#SoundOfLove
Pic courtesy: www.cute-lovequotes.com

Love is that emotion, which makes the world go round. Love truly catches your breath at the most unexpected of times. When his hand brushes against yours accidentally or when he smiles and looks into your eyes, you are swept with an unbelievable rush of wellbeing.

When in love, you feel on top of the world, ready to conquer it.

This incident happened many years back when we were newlyweds. It was our first Valentine’s Day, and we were in the US back then. My husband has always loved my cooking. I decided to delight him by making his favorite chicken biryani. I had also bought some exquisite liqueur truffles that I had seen him have gastronomic orgasms with. As a surprise, I had bought him a tiny heart-shaped gold locket with my picture. I knew it was cheesy, but you love doing these things for the one you love the most. So, I carefully stashed one in a truffle. He had promised to be back a bit early from work. I waited for him surrounded with the heady aroma of saffron infused Hyderabadi biryani that I had spent the better part of the day making. The truffles sat on the table in a beautiful heart-shaped box. I had butterflies in my stomach anticipating his reaction. I ran to the door when the bell rang.

There he was with a huge bunch of red carnations in his arms and a large smile on his face. He pecked me on the cheek and then I saw him. His old college friend, Chandra, was standing next to him beaming at me. I gave him a big smile. I had heard a lot about him but was meeting him for the first time. My husband moved inside bringing Chandra in. He nodded approvingly at the inviting aroma and then saw the box of truffles. Before I could say a word, he opened it and put one in his mouth, offering the same to his friend. I was in a state of panic. My surprise was in there. I did not want it going inside someone’s tummy. The Sound Of Love that I had imagined coming from his mouth after seeing the gift was turning into a choking sound in my mind. What a horror! I immediately took the truffles out of his hand much to his astonishment. No way out of the sticky situation, I carefully removed the truffle with the locket and handed it to him. With a puzzled look, he took it from me. I asked him to bite it gently. Then, he felt something hard in the soft gooey filling. The expression on his face was priceless on seeing the gift.

He gave me a bear hug. He immediately wore it in his chain. His friend was quite amused. Later the 3 of us enjoyed a lovely dinner of biryani and wine. That was a spectacular night as I heard the two old friends swap funny tales of college, as I lovingly looked at my husband who was wearing my token of love close to his heart.

Borosil creates breathtaking meals!

Borosil creates breathtaking meals!

After getting my bounty of Borosil cookware, I was gung ho about cooking and serving my favorite food in it. So I cooked an elaborate meal made even more beautiful with Borosil. I will let the pictures talk for themselves: Drinks Borosil I used the lovely glasses for my cool Peach Lemon Iced tea. For those in the family who loved their soup, Tomato Basil soup was perfect — hearty and delicious and just right for the slight monsoon nip in the air. Borosil Cook and Serve was a delight to cook, warm and serve in. Easy and so convenient to use. Borosil main course Whether it is Indian Dal Makhani or Thai Yellow Curry, Borosil did complete justice to enhance the beauty of the food. Being sturdy, I could microwave the food in the same dish before serving.   Borosil side dishesThe pulav and yoghurt raita found their perfect partners in Borosil’s glass dishes, sturdy and pretty; they accentuated the riot of colors and sublime beauty of these dishes. Borosil desserts To round up this delightful meal, my favorite Chocolate and Walnut Cake turned out to dark perfection in Borosil’s Bake and Serve cookware. Straight out of the oven to the dining table, it made every satisfied tummy sing in delight.

Try these ideas with your Borosil glassware. Make your meal times breathtakingly beautiful and convenient.

A meal with friends!

A meal with friends!

There is something special about home cooked food. Though we may enjoy eating out in 5-Star eateries yet it is mom’s food that we crave the most. Made of simple, fresh ingredients and redolent with love, it is truly manna from heaven. Back in college, I remember my dabba being usurped by hostelite friends who salivated after mum’s cooking even if someone else’s. These days when I entertain friends, I love to cook for them. Yes, it takes more time and effort than ordering food in. But there is nothing that beats the happy expressions of satiated eaters.

What I do avoid is slogging for hours by planning in advance. There are shortcuts to preparations that don’t really deduct from the taste. When cooking for friends, these tips go a long way:

  • Plan the menu down to the smallest detail.
  • Make chutneys, dips and dressings in advance.
  • Cut vegetables for salads ahead of time and chill them in the fridge. Mix the dressing at the last moment and serve.
  • Make curries earlier. They become tastier as the flavors permeate.
  • Keep meats marinated so that you can just grill or bake them at the last minute.
  • Keep desserts ready.
  • Avoid phulkas as they go dry when stored. Make lightly oiled parathas or phulkas with ghee smeared to keep them soft.
  • Making rice dishes in the rice cooker allows you to cook it perfectly and also keep it warm, just perfect for serving. You can make pulaos in the rice cooker as well.
  • Make sure all your crockery and cutlery is taken out and delegated to various courses. Having everything in place, sparkling clean makes plating and serving easier and stress free. It also ensures that you are not running around to clean plates at the last minute.
  • Plan for drinks and cocktails. Keep everything ready and just leave the mixing for the end. Ensure you have a lot of ice cubes at hand.
  • If you are doing a one-pot meal, then just leave the cooking for the end. Ensure everything else has been taken care of.
  • Cut down on your work of cooking, heating and reheating by using cook and serve utensils. Cook in advance, plop in the fridge and then reheat when required all in the same trendy dishes.
  • Plan your décor. I am a perfume person. Hence some flowers from my garden dispersed in a clear crystal bowl on the dining table and a diffuser to spread my favorite lavender tones are just about perfect.
  • Keep all your serving dishes clean and ready. I prefer using transparent dishes as they show the beauty of food in all its glory.

Keeping these handy tips in mind, I planned for a homely North Indian vegetarian meal for a couple who had recently moved to Bangalore and were missing what else – home-cooked food. Getting everything ready by some smart planning and generous help from the husband, this was the sparkling menu:

Starters:

Steamed vegetarian momos: These dumplings were made in advance and steamed when the guests arrived. Piping hot momos made with minced cottage cheese, ginger, hint of green chilly, some soy sauce and herbs was a huge hit. The fiery red dip that went with it was store bought.

Masala papads: Amritsari papads roasted on fire and served with a luscious kachumbar of finely chopped onions, tomatoes, raw mango and green chillies garnished with a generous helping of chaat masala and freshly-sprinkled lemon juice were loved by all. They went very well with the drinks.

Drinks:

Beer, Cocktails (Orange juice with margarita mix and vodka), fresh lime soda and soft drinks. Pretty transparent glasses were perfect for serving these!

Main Course:

Amritsari chhole: Plump, black chickpeas gleefully floating in the aromatic dark smoothness of thick black gravy. The sinful delight was cooked in advance happily soaking in the spicy flavors bursting with nutrition and taste waiting to be tucked into. Garnished with ginger julienne, onion rings, chopped coriander and lemon slices, it was a delectable delight.

Paneer kadhai: A typical North Indian meal is incomplete without paneer. Thus, I conjured this recipe of succulent little poems in white – fresh paneer peaks in a rich, tomato gravy heaven. They were given graceful company by crunchy slices of bright green capsicum and a distinct kasuri methi embellishment.

Aloo gobhi: Simple and homely, bursting with the freshness of cauliflower and baby potatoes and the subtle seasoning of ginger and cumin; this was a simple treat.

Accompaniments:

Fresh salad: A mélange of colours and wholesome natural goodness cajoled as farm fresh lettuce, plump cherry tomatoes and creamy avocados from my own organic garden played hide and seek with crunchy capsicum, onions and roasted walnuts. Just before serving, they were doused with an olive oil-garlic-freshly ground pepper, and oregano dressing to tantalize the taste buds.

Boondi raita: To cut down on the spices of the main course, precious little balls of boondi were swirled in rich liquid extravagance of sweetened yoghurt enticing  to dig into its mild sweet and salty bliss.

Plain parathas were made with wholewheat flour. They were stored in my cloth roti container to keep them moist.

Steamed basmati rice: Soaked for half an hour before boiling, plain steamed basmati rice left a heady aroma in the entire kitchen. It was left bubbling away in the rice cooker just when the guests arrived. It was done to perfection with each delicious, long strand well cooked and waiting to be doused in chhole nirvana.

Dessert:

Rasmalai: Bought from the nearby Bengali sweet store, these comforting dollops of chenna goodness were left soaking in sweet saffron milk studded with rich and colourful pistachio and almond slivers in the perfect serving dish, ready to be unveiled to the guests.

Malai Kulfi with fresh mango: I love to serve fresh fruit with dinner. And mangoes being in season, I wanted the guests to experience the honey-sweet goodness of Banganpalli mangoes from my mother-in-law’s farm along with original malai kulfi – rich, creamy and luscious.

These were the perfect climax for a delightful home cooked meal cooked with care and served with love. Borosil cookware was my trusted friend in this effort. As the friends went away happy and content after an evening of fun conversations and delightful food, I basked in the glow of their compliments!

Aloo Parwal UP style

Aloo Parwal UP style

DSC_0127

For some reason, I love these staple humble vegetables like parwal, tinda and tori. So, whenever I can lay my hands on them, I cook them. Here is a simple vegetable dish of aloo parwal or potato pointed gourd.

Ingredients:

250 gms. Parwal (cut lengthwise, remove seeds if tough)

2 large potatoes chopped lengthwise similarly

2 tbsp. oil

1/4 tsp. cumin seeds

a pinch asafoetida

1/2 tsp. garam masala powder

2 tsp. coriander powder

1 tsp. cumin powder

1/2 tsp. amchur powder

1 tsp. chilly powder

1/2 tsp. turmeric powder

3-4 cloves garlic minced

salt to taste

Chopped coriander for garnish

Recipe:

DSC_0124

Heat oil in a pan. Put in cumin seeds and allow to crackle. Now add in minced garlic and asafoetida and fry for 1 minute. Add the potato and parwal slices and fry for a few minutes. You can sprinkle a little water if it starts drying out. Add salt and remaining powders, stir and cover. Cook on low flame for 10-15 minutes till both potatoes and parwal are cooked through. Taste and adjust seasoning as per taste. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with chapatis. Quick and easy to make yet tasty.

My love affair with food!

My love affair with food!

Those who know me know my passion for food, health, fitness and nutrition. I cook reasonably well. More than that I love understanding how wellness is related to food. Our health is linked to the nutrition we get from our food. And in my quest to understand wholesome living, I have been reading a lot about food. I understand and appreciate the importance of cooking with love. I like planning the meals I prepare for my family. And these days, I am venturing into trying new things.

So, in this journey of mine, I want to share with you my experiments with cooking, health tips that I have gleaned, fitness as I practice it, recipes and other food-related fun things. I am not a trained chef or a good photographer but someone who loves working instinctively with ingredients and foods at her disposal. My mother continues to be my inspiration in cooking with the massive repertoire that she possessed. It was incredible how she could glean recipes from aunties that held them close to their chests. And also maintain the authenticity of regional cuisine. My stay in the countries across the world has exposed me to global cuisines and also helped in learning and appreciating varied styles. I am essentially a vegetarian who indulges in sea food once in a while. Though I cook chicken for my family.

I experiment and cook many cuisines including the many cuisines of India. My partners in crime are my husband and my two sons. Needless to say that they enjoy eating which works as a motivator for me to try new and different things, not always successful I must admit. And these summer holidays, I did many new things cooking wise. I ventured into pickle making for the first time. I made red chilly pickle the way I remembered my mom making it. And I made two varieties of mango pickle that I am thrilled to inform have turned out well. I also made bread for the first time and marmalade as well as an inspiration from Sangeeta Khanna’s fabulous food blogs.

So, here’s to cooking, to eating and enjoying nutritious food and to good health! I look forward to having you on this journey together!

Such pee-licious food!

Such pee-licious food!

Those yummy panipuris; hot, sizzling tikkis; bhuna bhuttas smeared with butter; buttery pav bhaji, yummy chinese fare and so many others are enticing enough to make our stomachs grumble and taste buds tickle. For all those who swear by the great street food, we seem to have finally uncovered the reason for their taste. It is pee! I mean apart from the dirty, unwashed hands; unhygienic utensils; sometimes nose droppings; flies etc., this seems to be an additive of choice of the roadside panipuriwala, juice fellow, or bhel khopcha. Read these incidents about a juice stall owner who was found peeing in the jar in which he made juice for his customers. When questioned he claimed that he was a diabetic, had no access to a toilet so had no qualms of peeing in the same container in which he prepared juice for his customers. The older incident is of a Thane bhel puriwala who was caught on tape peeing in the utensil in which he mixed his bhel.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-06-20/goa/32334401_1_ice-cream-parlour-video-clip-ponda

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oSj-OSXJzU

As much as these incidents disgust us, we need to understand that with no sanitation facilities available to most of our population, many of them work under “excruciating pressures” of a different kind. They are forced to relieve themselves in unconventional ways. It applies to kirana store owners or just about anyone whose livelihood takes them on the roads where they hardly have access to toilet. What I fail to understand is why do it in the very vessel that is the source of your livelihood? Can’t you use something else to do your business in and then wash your hands well. Oh but there is a lack of water, so you can be pretty certain that most of them don’t wash their hands or maintain any level of hygiene and then use these same hands to prepare your yummy goodies.

 

I wonder what the condition is in most restaurants that we eat out in. Is there anything known as FDA inspection? Are we strengthening our digestive systems or making ourselves vulnerable to diseases by eating out? We don’t know if the cooks and handlers do maintain any hygiene at all because the kitchen areas are normally out of bounds. At any eatery, do visit the rest room, if it is filthy, scoot. Also, most men who are waiters just are not in the habit of washing their hands after using the loo for peeing. So, even when the water and loo facilities are there, they must be just doing the same and then serving you the food with a smile.

 

A relative of mine had a horrifying experience when she ate at the most renowned Biryani place in Hyderabad. She found a cockroach in her chicken wings. Luckily, she was vigilant enough. This is a hugely reputed place in Hyderabad! The staff was not even too apologetic about it. They offered to replace it. Right, that is exactly what she wanted, some more of the coated insects!

 

When you eat out, ignorance is bliss! Close your eyes and shoo away the images of pee and poop. Bon Appétit!

Pic courtesy: Indiantvtoday.com

Spice of our lives!

Spice of our lives!

For once, I am actually talking about just the humble masala that we put in our food and not some juicy gossip to brighten up our dull lives :). As times change, and we find better activities to engage us, we prefer to spend less time in the kitchen. My husband will vouch that I’d rather read a book or watch a movie than actually do some routine housekeeping around the house. The redeeming factor is that I do my own cooking and a pretty decent job at that with a lot of variety at each meal. That brings me to spices that are at the heart of an Indian meal. Spices are an inherent part of Indian cooking. We make special garam masala for our gravies, use chilly powder, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, pepper on a daily basis along with our specialist masala like sambhar powder, chhole masala and many many more powder, masala and chutneys.

Now, just like so many other moms, I have started using packaged masala solely for the convenience angle. But, they really lack both on the freshness and taste front. To add to it, the risk of adulteration. I mean turmeric being bright yellow or the chatak red color of chillies got me inclined to grinding my own spices. I actually made turmeric powder from root turmeric (or khadi haldi easily available at your kirana store) and chilly powder from the regular dried red chillies that we use for tempering. And the turmeric was so very fragrant and tasty really. So was the chilly powder. It actually took me less than 15 minutes to make them, and it was totally worth the time and effort. I know it is not possible to do everything from scratch at home with our time constraints, but I felt this was worth finding the time for.

The homemade garam masala was also wonderful in its aroma. I wish you could have tasted my mutter paneer :). It really enhanced the taste and the flavor. Now I plan to make my own coriander powder, jeera powder and sambhar powder. Not only are they working wonders for the taste of my meal, they stay pretty fresh for at least a month. And, I know that I am not feeding adulterated powders in the name of spices to my family. If you don’t know a recipe, just google it and prepare your own masala.

Try it if you have never made homemade masala.

Image courtesy: http://ravirajspices.com

Food memories and Award :)

Food memories and Award :)

Nimona

It is winter and very cold in Bangalore these days. It made me remember the food that my mom cooked during the really cold winters of the North during my childhood. Gajar ka halwa was a staple. I also remember that she made a curried dish of peas, and I have been trying to recall its name since many days, only remembering that the name resembled a disease :). Yesterday, it struck me — Nimona. I know weird name, but I looked up on the internet and found the recipe for the Awadhi Nimona that my mom made. So, I took the recipe that looked closest to the dish (Tarla Dalal one) I remember and made it yesterday. It did turn out pretty decent. Made with crushed peas and potatoes, it tastes different from the normal peas-potato gravy that we cook perhaps due to the sweetness of fresh peas that are coarsely crushed for the gravy. This is not restaurant-type dish but good, wholesome homecooked food. So, hopefully I will continue making it through the winter. You see the picture of my effort above.

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