May 23, 2012

Murrabo - Mango Marmalade

Its a sweltering hot day today in Houston. It brings back vivid memories of the summer back home in India. Every summer, my mom and Baa (grandma) would be super busy making 'Athaanu' or pickles of various kinds- some sweet like Khaman, Gor keri, Murrabo and many spicy ones like Marwari keri, Pachranga etc. 

Given the elaborate and time consuming process, almost the entire family was in-charge of some step. Baa would peel the raw mangoes, while Mom would cut the mangoes and slather salt-turmeric or other spices on the mango pieces. My sister and I were in-charge of the most mundane bit - placing each mango piece cut side up on large piece of cloth in the sun. Ofcourse, we placed a couple of pieces (or more!) into our mouths! As the sunlight moved through various parts of the house, the pickled mangoes followed. The entire house would smell of fragrant spices and mangoes. If it rained (as it often does in Kolkata, after a few hot-humid days), everyone would run helter-skelter, trying to save the pickled mangoes from the rain. Ah...wonderful days!

The same fragrant flavors filled my kitchen as I made 'keri no murrabo', or mango marmalade. It is a fairly simple recipe that is made on a stovetop, and not under the sun! Here it goes -

Raw mangoes - 2 medium sized
Sugar - about 2 cups
Kesar/ saffron - few strands.
Cardamom seeds - 10-12 seeds(2-3 pods)
Cinnamon - 2-4 pieces, 1" long
Cloves - 3-4

Mango pieces in simmering water
  • Peel mangoes, and cut flesh into 1 inch pieces. Discard the pits. Add to simmering water. Once mango pieces are transclucent, strain water. (You can reserve this water for refreshing mango panna.)
    Translucent mango pieces in a strainer
  • Chaashni/ Sugar syrup - Add sugar in a medium saucepan. Add water just enough to cover the sugar, less than a cup. Heat till sugar dissolves into syrup. Continue to cook on low heat till the syrup thickens. Check for two string consistency by taking a drop of syrup on your thumb (Carefully, the syrup will be hot), and pressing your forefinger on that drop. Once you move the forefinger away repeatedly, you'll see 'strings' form, as the syrup sticks to the thumb and forefinger. The syrup is done when you see two strings form.

Chaashni/ sugar syrup
  • Add the mango pieces into the chaashni. Continue to cook on low heat, stirring gently till the syrup thickens again to almost honey like consistency (~30-35 minutes).
Mango in sugar syrup
  • Turn off heat. Add saffron, cardamom, cinnamon sticks & cloves.
  • Let it stay in the sauce pan overnight - to cool completely. It will thicken further as it cools. The saffron turns the syrup into a lovely amber colour.
Murrabo/ mango marmalade
  • Pour in a medium sized sterilized glass jar. I used two smaller jars. Store in a cool dry place. There is no need for refrigeration, it has a long shelf life of about a year! Its so delicious, I bet it wont last that long. 
Keri no Murrabo
  • It is great with thepla, parathas or even on slice of toast! Enjoy!
Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

May 17, 2012

Mami's yummy sambhar

My J Mami is an artist, an avid crafter and a wonderful cook. Needless to say, she is my favourite. I always looked forward to our trips to Nagpur during the summer vacation. She would teach us something new everyday!! All summer long, she would make the yummiest dishes for us, always with so much love and affection. 
For the last few weeks, she is going through a difficult time in life, battling longterm illness. Today, I made one of her best recipes, Sambhar, thinking of all the times she made dozens of dosas and idly with a smile, as we devoured it all.  Get well soon, Mami! 

Here it goes -

Dry daal for the sambhar powder
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes.

Toor daal -1/2 cup + 1 tsp
Chana daal - 1 tsp 
Urad daal - 1 tsp 
Mung daal- 1 tsp 
Methi/ Fenugreek seeds - 8-10 seeds
Rice - 8-10 seeds
Tomato - 1 medium, finely chopped
Onion -1/2 medium, finely chopped
Coriander leaves - a handful, finely chopped
Curry leaves - 8-10 leaves
Ginger - 1 inch, finely chopped
Green chillies - 2-3, finely chopped.
Sambhar powder
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Oil -1 tsp
Hing/ asafoetida - 1 pinch
Turmeric - 1tsp
Tamarind- 2-4 small segments (or more, depending on sourness)
Drum sticks - 1, cut into smaller 2" segments (optional)
Carrots, eggplants - cubed (optional)

  • Cook 1/2 cup toor daal with water in a sauce pan/ pressure cooker, till soft.
  • Sambhar Powder: Roast the dry daals, methi seeds and rice in a small skillet, till the lentils turn golden brown and aromatic. Let it cool. Grind in mixer-grinder/ coffee grinder into a fine powder.
  • Saute onions, sambhar powder, tomato paste
  • In a mixer-grinder, add chopped tomato, coriander leaves, curry patta, ginger and chilli, and grind together - into paste.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tsp oil. add mustard seeds, hing and chopped onion - till golden brown. 
  • Add 1/2 of the sambhar powder (about 2 tsp). Add tomato - dhania paste. Saute. 
Simmering sambhar
  • Add cooked toor daal. Add salt, haldi and tamirind (2-4 segments). add water as needed (3-4 cups). Add drumsticks/ veggies if desired. Continue to cook till veggies are cooked or desired consistency is reached, about 10-15 mins.
  • Serve hot, with coconut chutney and Idly/ Dosa etc.
Mami's yummy sambhar
Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

May 4, 2012

Khatta-meetha Paneer Gravy in Microwave

Time constraint does not stop any of us from craving for fancy food...does it? I have always relished paneer and when my MIL gave me this unbelievably easy recipe, I had to try it the very next day. I have made it a few times now and it turns out equally tasty every time. Here goes the recipe for the quickest paneer dish I have ever made.

Serves: 5-6 persons
Preparation time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Shredded Paneer
  • 400 g (14oz) paneer i.e. 1 medium sized packet
  • Vegetable oil – 2 tsp
  • Green chillis - 4-5 slit longitudinally
  • Raisins (medium sized)  1 tbsp
  • Garam masala – 1 tbsp
  • Ginger paste – 2 tbsp
  • Tomato paste -5 tbsp or 1 medium sized chopped fresh tomato 
  • Milk-1 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Green peas –1/2 cup
  • Cilantro - 1/4 cup finely chopped
  • Grate paneer  and mix it well with oil in a medium sized microwave-safe container. Cook in microwave for 2 mins.
  • Add garam masala and raisins and stir well .Microwave again for 2 mins .
  • Add green chillies, ginger paste and tomato paste and microwave for another 2 mins after stirring.
  • Add milk,green peas,cilantro and salt to taste and microwave for 4 mins.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Serve hot with homemade chapati or even rice!
Paneer Gravy
Enjoy :)
Ajanta from Amherst

Notes: The step by step adding of ingredients instead of adding everything together is for better mixing because we stir every time we bring the bowl out. Also, cooking time may vary with each microwave.

May 3, 2012

Red Pepper- Pistachio Paneer/ Shrimp

Here in Houston, there are only a handful of restaurants that serve vegetarian dishes that are just as good as their non-vegetarian dishes (Surprise!). So every time we go out for dinner, one of us has to 'settle'. 
At home, I try to make both, but often struggle. I wanted a recipe that would be great for strictly non-vegetarian him and vegetarian me!Thats when I stumbled upon this original Vikas Khanna recipe that called for a pound of shrimp. I swapped that with 1/2 pound of shrimp and 1/2 pound of paneer, so I could make us both happy :) This recipe with only paneer would surely taste just as good. Here it goes-

Serves: 4 persons
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Chopped pepper and onion

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted, shelled pistachios
  • 2 green chillies
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
Raw shelled pistachios
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 pound paneer, cubed
  • 1/2 pound deveined shrimp
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Water

    Golden brown paneer
  • Paneer: In a small skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and 1/2 tbsp garlic, saute till edges turn brown, (~1 minute). Add paneer and salt and cook until golden brown on all sides (~ 5-7 minutes). Transfer paneer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Sauteed shrimp 

  • Shrimp:In another small skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and garlic and cook until edges turn brown, about 1 minute. Add the deveined shrimp and salt and cook until the shrimp turn pinkish opaque (~2 to 3 minutes). Drain on a paper towel.

Red Pepper-Pistachio Sauce

  • Sauce: Blend bell pepper, onion, 1/2 cup pistachios, green chilies and 1/2 cup water to a smooth puree. Add remaining tablespoon oil to medium skillet. Add red pepper mixture and cream and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp red chilli powder. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes - till the sauce is creamy good! :) Divide sauce into two. I used the same skillets I used to fry the paneer and shrimp, respectively.
  • Add paneer and shrimp into the respective skillets and simmer for 4-5 minutes; stir in chopped mint. Season with salt, and garnish with mint/ chopped pistachios. 
  • Serve hot with roti or naan.
  • Red pepper- Pistachio Paneer

    Red pepper Pistachio Shrimp

    Bon Apetit!
    Hetal from Houston