October 25, 2011

Diwali Special - Anjeer Khajur Diyas

Sugar free sweet for health conscious foodies! :)

Khajur/ Dates (pitted) - 14-15 pieces
Anjeer/ figs - 7-8 pieces
Milk - 1/3 cup
Chopped almonds, walnuts etc -1/2 cup. I usually roast nuts on a dry skillet. It brings out all the wonderful flavours
Goond/ tree resin - 1 tbsp for garnishing; readily available in most Indian grocery stores. (Optional)
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Silver foil (optional)

  • Soak khajur/ dates and Anjeer/figs in milk for couple of hours.
  • Crush the soaked dates and figs in a blender/ food processor.
Anjeer Khajur mixture - cooling in a plate
  • Saute the mixture in ghee for a few minutes on medium heat till the milk evaporates.
  • Let the mixture cool.
Shaped into diyas, and placed in mini cupcake liners
  • Make small bowls or diyas (about the size of a quarter) out of the mixture. Its a lot of fun, much like playing with play doh! 
  • If using silver foil, apply it on the outside of these small bowls.
  • Fill with chopped nuts
  • Fry the goond in 1 tbsp ghee. Let it cool, and garnish at the time of serving.

These are perfect for people who are watching what they eat!  It satisfies the sweet tooth, without any artificial sugar or flavours :)

Happy Diwali and Happy New Year! :)

Hetal from Houston

Diwali special - Orange Delight

Diwali is just round the corner. Its the best time of the year - with all the festivities, diyas, fire crackers, rangolis  and ofcourse - sweets. :)

I have a sweet tooth, and love to try out new sweets each year. This year I'm trying to make simple sweets entirely from things that are readily available in our pantry/ refrigerators.

Here's the recipe for Orange Delight, a quick and easy sweet.

Crumbled paneer
1 cup crumbled Paneer. I made the paneer at home from whole milk and yogurt. You can use any method you prefer. One of popular methods uses lemon juice as here
1 whole naval orange.
1/4 cup super fine sugar (sieved)
Orange food color (1-2 drops optional)
Orange or vanilla essense (optional)

Special equipment:
Cookie cutters (optional)
Mini Cupcake liners

Orange segments
  • Peel oranges, and remove skin and seed from each segment. Roughly chop the segments. Reserve  pulp from 4-5 segments for garnishing.

Orange and sugar mixed into the paneer
  • Gently mix the paneer and sugar into the orange pulp.
  • Add orange food color and essense (if desired) and mix.
  • Roll into small balls or cut with cookie cutter of desired shape.
  • Place each piece into a mini cupcake liner gingerly. 
  • Garnish with reserved orange segment pieces.
  • Serve cool. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-4 days.

Orange Delight

Note: Using crushed pineapple and yellow food color would create another variation and could be called "Pineapple Delight" :)

Happy Diwali!

Hetal from Houston

October 19, 2011

Oven Roasted Vegetables

Last week, I saw some yellow and orange organic beets at the Central Market. I just had to try them, so I bought them.  Both of us love roasted vegetables, so that was the easiest thing to whip up after a long day!
I used most of the root vegetables I had available, and then some other seasonal ones like acorn squash.
Since I had the oven already preheating at 400 F, I decided to have an oven roasted apple for dessert. So dinner and dessert were both ready together.
Here it goes:

Sweet Potato - 1 medium sized; peeled and diced in 1" cubes
Beet roots - 2 medium sized (I used one orange and one red); peeled and diced in 1" cubes
Onion - 1 small; peeled and diced in 1" cubes
Acorn squash - 1 small (sliced cross wise)
Cauliflower florets - 1 cup
Salt - to taste
Pepper - to taste
Olive oil - couple of drizzles
Herbs de Provence - 1 tsp
Garlic - few cloves; roughly chopped (optional)

Fuji Apple - 1 piece (cut in 1" cubes)
Cinnamon pwd - 1 pinch
Sugar - 1 pinch

  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Line baking sheets with aluminum foil for easy cleaning. I used a separate one for the red beets since I didnt want the color to ooze into the remaining vegetables. 
  • Place sweet potatoes, orange beet, onion, garlic and cauliflower florets on one baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt -pepper. Sprinkle the Herbs de Provence and toss so that all vegetables are coated and evenly seasoned.

  • On another sheet, place the acorn squash and red beet (slightly apart so the colour doesnt ooze onto the squash). Drizzle olive oil and seasoning as above.
Red beets and Acorn squash
  • In a separate small oven safe dish, place the chopped apples. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon powder, and toss.

Apple sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon
  • Put all three trays into the oven and let the vegetables roast for 25-30 minutes or until fork tender. You might want to toss the vegetables once after 15 minutes or so, for even cooking. 
  • Serve with bread, cous cous or just by itself.
Oven roasted vegetables - ready to serve
  • Dont forget to enjoy the baked cinnamon apple :). It turned out so well, that I forgot to click a picture. :(
Bon Apetit!

Hetal from Houston

October 17, 2011

Palak Idlis

Spinach is one of my favourite leafy vegetable- nutritious and versatile. There are a gazillion recipes in various Indian cuisines. Here's my take on idlis with spinach.


  • 11/2 cup rice flour
  • 2 tbsp Urad daal
  • 2 tbsp Chana daal
  • 2 tbsp Mung daal
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen Palak /spinach (thawed). You can also use fresh spinach. Blanch it in hot water for five minutes and squeeze the excess water.
  • 1 green chilli (optional)
  • a pinch salt(optional)
  • 1 tsp Eno/ fruit salt

Special equipment
Idli mould (available in any Indian grocery store)
Pressure cooker/ steamer.

Rice-daal soaked in yogurt
  • Grind the urad, chana and mung daal in a grinder into fine powder. I find a coffee grinder works best, but a regular grinder should also work. 
  • Mix the ground daal into rice flour in a medium sized bowl, and soak it in yogurt. The consistency would be very dense. Add a little water if you feel the batter is still not moist. Let it soak for 4-5 hours.
Palak paste
  • Grind the palak /spinach and green chilli with a pinch of salt to a smooth paste.
  • Add palak paste to the Idli batter and mix gently.  
Rice-Daal batter and palak paste - before mixing
  • Fill pressure cooker/ steamer with 1-2 inch water, and set on medium high heat.
  • Add Eno into the batter, and mix gently. Tiny bubbles should form in the batter.

  • Grease idli mould and pour 3/4th in each cavity of the mould.
Palak Idli batter in the idli mould
  • Place the mould carefully in the steamer and cover. If using pressure cooker, do not use the whistle/ pressure. Steam for 10-12 minutes.
  • Palak Idli is ready. Serve with coconut chutney. It is great as an appetizer or even a nice healthy lunch.

Bon Apetit!

Hetal from Houston
Palak Idlis

Spicy Tofu in Spinach Sauce

Last weekend we mostly ate out so Sunday night had to be  a healthy dine-in session. Tofu it is.. I thought…. but again food could not be too bland with Monday blues in mind !  So decided to experiment a little by cooking it the Indian way with some frozen spinach I had at home. It tasted so good that it deserved to be our blog’s next dish !!
Cut pieces of tofu
1.     Tofu (14 oz cut into medium sized pieces)
2.    Chopped Frozen Spinach ( 10oz / small packet); 
   fresh spinach would be healthier and tastier is my guess
3.     Onion (1 medium sized, finely chopped)
4.     Garlic (3-4 cloves finely chopped)
5.     Tomato (1 medium sized, chopped well)
6.     Fresh Cilantro (chopped,  3-4 tbsp)
7.     Green chillies (2 , chopped well)
8.     Vegetable oil (1 tsp)
9.     Cumin seeds(1 tsp)
10.  Turmeric (1tsp)
11. Red chilli powder (1/2 -1  tsp); totally avoidable.I like food hot !!
12. Lime juice (1 tsp)

1.     Heat vegetable oil in a non stick pan and add cumin seeds. After oil is flavored , add green chillies and garlic and sauté for 2-3 mins . 
2.     Add chopped onions and fry for 5 mins
3.     Add tomatoes next and after 5-7 mins add turmeric and redchilli powder.
4.     Let it simmer for a few mins and add spinach and cilantro to the pan.
5.     Cook in medium flame for ~ 10 mins and add tofu.
6.     Simmer for 5 mins in low flame after mixing tofu well with the gravy.
Serve hot with rice, couscous or even bread !!! The dish was healthy enough with its share of greens and protein chunks with perfect zest of spices in it. Tofu of course can be well substituted with anything healthy or not so healthy depending on your preference !! :)
Enjoy :)
Ajanta from Amherst

October 16, 2011

Lakshmi Puja special 'Besan ka laddoo'!

 I had made besan ka laddoo, on the occasion of ‘Kojagari Lakshmi Puja’,  which is celebrated on the same day as  ‘Sharad Poonam’. I wanted to follow my mom’s tradition of making  some sweet at home on this day just to get a feel for the festival. 

This sweet is not a Bengali mishti but had to make something which was fast and involved readily available ingredients as it was a last minute decision.
Recipe Courtesy: Sis-in-law who has a passion for cooking as well!
1.     Besan/ gram flour: 1 ½  cup
2.     Suji/ Semolina: 4 tbsp
3.     Ghee: ½ cup
4.     Sugar: 1 cup
5.     Cardamom powder: 1 tbsp
6.     Nuts ; I used cashews but almonds/ pistachios will be good too.
Roasted besan
1.   Mix besan, suji and ghee well in a bowl.
2.   Tranfer this mix to a nonstick pan and roast in medium flame for  10- 15 minutes. The color would change to brown at this point. If you feel that besan is not cooked well (as  stoves have different heating capacities, so the time may vary) roast for some more time.
3.   Remove from flame and allow it to cool for ~15 mins
4.  Add sugar, cardamom powder and nuts and make into laddoos.
Sugar and nuts added to roasted besan

Happy Festive season!
The home made laddoos did give a ‘feel good’ quotient to a very simple Lakshmi puja at home.
Ajanta from Amherst.

October 12, 2011

Doodh Poha on Sharad Poonam

Its Sharad Poonam tonight. It brought back memories of the Sharad Poonam celebrations at my Baa's (grandma's) place in Asansol. They lived in a huge house with a lovely courtyard right in the middle. I was very little, but I clearly remember my Baa making the traditional Gujarati Doodh Pauva (Poha), and letting it "cook" (and cool) in the full moon light. After devouring the doodh pauva, we would enjoy Garba- Raas way past our bedtime :)

All that nostalgia made me crave for some doodh pauva just the way Baa made it, so I called mom and got the recipe. Here it goes.

Serves: 4-6 persons
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes plus cooling time
3 cups milk - I used 2% milk
1 cup poha/ rice flakes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp powdered elaichi/ cardamom

Simmering milk with sugar and cardamom powder

  • Boil milk in a non-stick pan for few minutes on medium heat. Add sugar once the milk is frothy and tiny bubbles form on the edge of the pan. Also add the cardamom powder.

Poha/ rice flakes -rinsed

  • While milk is boiling, rinse the poha/ rice flakes thoroughly (2-3 times, or till water runs clear).

  • Add rinsed poha to the boiling milk, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let it cool. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, and serve cool.
Doodh Pauva

Happy Sharad Poonam!

P.S. You could also add vanilla or nuts or even saffron. I skipped these, since I wanted to make it just the way my Grandma did.
Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

October 9, 2011

Thai Red Pork Curry

My husband and I are not routine pork eaters but a tempting deal at Whole Foods was too much to resist and we ended up buying a lot !! I did not want to cook all of it the Indian way so tried a recipe that I had noted down from a Thai recipe book borrowed from library quite a while back. It did not need any prior marinating, which is always an added bonus for any recipe and it did come out really well.


1.    Pork (~ 1lb) sliced into medium pieces
2.     Grated Ginger (1 tbsp)
3.     Red curry paste (3tbsp); readily available in any Oriental / International  grocery store
4.     Lime leaves; I had used lime juice instead which worked fine
5.     Fish sauce (2tbsp) ; optional . I skipped it !
6.     Coconut milk (400mL/14floz)
7.     Sugar (2tbsp)
8.     Basil leaves
9.     Vegetable oil

  • Add vegetable oil in a large frying pan (I always feel choosing the correct vessel to cook is a key to a satisfactory cooking session !!).
  • Add red curry paste and stir for ~ 30 seconds.
  • Add pork slices and stir fry for about 1 minute  or until coated well with curry paste.
  •  Add ginger and stir fry for 10 seconds and set aside pork
  • In same pan, stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, lime leaves and sugar. Bring this to boil and let simmer for 3-5 mins.
  • Return the pork to this sauce and simmer for ~10 mins.
  • Toss in the basil and give it a final stir.
The dish goes very well with sticky jasmine rice but plain rice should be good too !! Wish had taken pics while cooking ..will be more organized the next time !

Ajanta from Amherst.