About Jagruti Dhanecha

I am a housewife and a mother of two teenage kids settled in the UK for the past 20 years. Originally born and brought up in India, it was from these childhood days that my love for cooking began. I have no formal training in cooking and baking, and everything I’ve learnt has been through good cooks in the family and my circle of friends, through my own experiments, reading and research. My main cooking niche consists of healthy and tasty vegetarian meals but I like to throw in the occasional treat. To share my love for food and culinary art, I have created a food blog, Jagruti’s Cooking Odyssey that displays authentic Indian vegetarian/vegan dishes, special and rich recipes covering different courses in varied cuisines. My cooking enthusiasm led me to cookery shows on a national Asian TV channel. Much like cooking and baking I have other interests too like photography, reading and travelling, which assist me in my culinary skills.

Massor Lentils and Sweetcorn Daal

Did you remember the recent hose pipe ban in the United Kingdom? It was rather strange that our country faced one of the driest periods on record. So the government issued a ban that effected almost 20 million people, introducing fines of up to £1000 if used. The government urged householders to be “smarter about how we use water”.

However, after some praying we were blessed with quite a rainy period lifting the ban and that made me so happy. However, the rain also brought a traffic chaos and I did not leave the house to go shopping much. We didn’t have any Indian vegetables in the house and my daughter seemed to be rather delighted.

So I thought I would soak some lentils and cook them for dinner. Then at the same time I saw that in my freezer we had two open bags of sweet corn and I thought I could make corn curry, too. But then contemplating again I didn’t want to prepare two dishes at the same time. So why not use lentils and sweet corn in the same dish? Here is the recipe I came up with:

You will need:

  • 1 bowl whole Masoor (I used green Masoor) you can use red kidney beans too
  • 1 bowl sweetcorn (I used frozen but tinned should work equally well)
  • 2-3 tbp green chillies, ginger and garlic crushed
  • 2-3 tbp roasted peanuts powder (optional)
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, crushed
  • few fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp kasoori methi (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp dhana jeera powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

Method:

Rinse Masoor 2-3 times, soak for an hour and pressure cook with 2-3 cups of water. I cook mine on a medium heat with 6-7 whistles or until soft.

Grind chillies, garlic and ginger in a grinder with tomatoes. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan, add mustard seeds, and then add curry leaves and kasoori methi, fry for few seconds and add tomato pulp with garlic and ginger paste. Lower the heat, add red chilli ,tumeric, garam masala, dhana jeera powder and salt. Cook masala until oil is appears on the side of the pan.

Now add frozen sweetcorn and peanut powder. Let everything cook for 3-4 minutes. Add boiled Masoor and mix very well. Add 1/2 – 1 cups of water. Cook everything for 10-12 minutes and stir in between. Add a little water if massor dal is too thick. Then cook for another 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat. This dish is now ready to serve with hot roti and mixed salad.

Fiery Apple Chutney

Right now the British apple season is in full swing! From early August until May next year keeping the doctor away defines us as ‘British’! British apples have started making appearances in farmers’ markets and farmers’ shops. If you are lucky, you might have an apple tree within walking distance or in your own garden, the branches soon to be sighing with more fruit than you could possibly eat. So how do you deal with seasonal glut? Apart from eating those juicy apples you can peel them, bake them or make chutney, crumble, pie, jelly and jam to name but a few options.

I am not lucky enough to have an apple tree in my garden, but fortunately enough I have Apple trees close to me, and thus I can have as many as I want. A few days back I picked some apples, but they were a bit too sour to eat as a whole, but good enough make chutney!

I had an idea of making this chutney, after I saw Raw Mango Chutney (the best chutney from her kitchen) from Nivedita’s Kitchen. She is lucky enough to have a mango tree in her garden, which makes me a little bit envious.  Of course I’ve made raw mango chutney numerous times, but this time I thought of using apples instead of raw mangos. The ingredients and the methods are similar. Chutney can be eaten with thali or many other snacks.

You will need:

  • 3-4 small green apples
  • a little oil to roast
  • 1 tbp urad daal
  • 1 tbp channa daal
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup of desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp dry coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp methi seeds
  • half of a fresh ginger
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2-3 dry red chillies
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbp lemon juice
  • 2 tbp jaggery, sugar or dark muscavado sugar
  • 1 tbp oil
  • pinch of hing (asafoetida)

Method:

Heat  the oil in a heavy bottom pan. Roast all the ingredients. Meanwhile wash and peel and cut the apples, add lemon juice to prevent them from getting brown. Once you get a nice roasted aroma, add apples and fry for less than one minute.Turn of the heat. Once  the mixture is cooled, add the remaining ingredients and grind everything into a coarse paste by adding little water. The fiery chutney is ready to serve!

I served mine with thin crackers for starters and spread some on my sandwiches.

Savoury Cereal Snack

A few weeks ago myself and my friend Nayna went to a cupcake decoration class in London. We both had a very great time there.

On the way back Nayna invited me to her house for lunch. She really spoiled me with an elaborate lunch and she cooked Methi Poodla, and Rice Khichee and served them with lots of dips and pickles. Everything was so delicious and she also served this Cereal Chevdo to me. I was amazed by just looking at it and when I ate it I was blown off my feet! Before I had even said anything she filled up a big bag for my family. She told me that this recipe was from one of her other friends.

Thank you so much Nayna! Next time it is your turn to come to my house. Since then I have been making these chevdos every week for my family. Also they are not only a hit in my family, but in my daughter’s friends family too! I adapted the recipe a little bit and did not add turmeric powder or dried red chillies.

You will need:
Basic cereals:

1 small bowl of each around 100 gr

  • Cornflakes
  • Cheerios
  • Bran flakes
  • All bran sticks
  • Rice crisps
  • Shredded wheat
  • Shreddies
  • Multi grain start
  • Almonds
  • Cashew nuts

For the Masala:

  • 2-3 tbp oil
  • 3-4 green chillies sliced (round)
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1-2 small Cinnamon sticks
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbp sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp citric acid  (limbu na phool)
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder

Method:

Roast almonds and cashew nuts in the oven or in microwave for about 5-6 minutes. Place all the cereals and nuts in a large bowl.
Grind sugar and citric acid in a coffee grinder and grind until it turns into fine powder. Add three quarters of that  into the cereals. Add chilli powder and salt to the cereals and mix very well.

Heat oil in a small pan, add cloves and cinnamon and fry them for few seconds, remove them from the oil and add into cereal bowl. To the remaining hot oil add curry leaves and fry until they are a little crispier. Remove them and add them to the cereal bowl. Add green chillies to some oil and fry till they are crispy (be careful as chilli seeds might pop out). Pour the oil and chillies into the cereal mixture.

Gently give it a good mix with your hands, so that all the spices and the sugar coat the cereals really well. If you wish to make the flavour even more intense, then add the remaining ground sugar and the citric acid and give another good mix. When the cereal mixtures cool down transfer them into an air tight container. Serve on its own or with a bowl of yoghurt for breakfast.

Enjoy as much as my family does. I have to warn you as the above measurement of ingredients is not enough for more than one week.

Nut Roast Biryani

I am delighted to announce  that my recipe Nut Roast Biryani  has been published in Take a Break (issue 13) – My favourite magazine in the UK.

If you would like to vote for my recipe, please do so on facebook here (page 42).

Jagruti2

We all love this aromatic vegetarian Biryani, it is delicious !!

For the rice:
200g basmati rice
Salt to taste
Few whole spices like cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves
1 packet of nut roast mix

For the gravy:
1 tbs oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 tin of plum tomatoes (puréed)
2 tbs crushed green chillies and ginger
1 tbs red chilli powder
1/2 tbs ground turmeric
200g spinach, finely chopped
2 tbs
fresh chopped mint leaves
1 tbs garam masala
50ml single cream
1/2 tbs cardamom powder
Salt, to taste

For the topping
75ml single cream
1 tbs butter
7-8 threads saffron

jagruti1

Method:

1 Wash the rice 3-4 times with cold water and leave it to soak for 20-30 mins.
Add rice in a pan with whole spices and salt in a 500ml of boiling water.
Simmer, cook until al dente. Keep aside for later.
2 Cook the nut roast according to packet instruction. Leave it to cool and cut in squares.
3 Make the gravy. Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan, add the onion and fry until light brown. Add the puréed tomatoes, chillies and ginger, red chilli powder and turmeric and cook until you can see oil at the side of the pan .
4 Add the spinach and mint and cook for 2-3 mins. Add the garam masala, cream,
cardamom powder and salt. Mix well and leave aside.
5 Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Grease an ovenproof dish and spread the half the cooked rice to form one layer. Arrange the nut roast squares over the rice. Pour the gravy evenly over the top. Top with the remaining rice.
6 Heat 75ml cream with 1 tbs butter and the saffron threads. Simmer for 2-3 mins and pour over the layered biryani. Cover the biryani dish with a lid and bake for 15-20 mins. Serve hot with raita.

Chana Rice – Chick Pea Rice

Today I will present to you Chana Rice, a delicious rice with chick peas.

You will need :

1 cup basmati rice
1 cup chickpeas boiled (can use tinned chickpeas)
2-3 tsp oil
4-5 slit green chillies
1 big onion finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tsp cumin seeds
salt to taste

Spices:

1/2 tsp whole black pepper
1/4 tsp cloves
2-3 small cinnamon bark
2-3 star anise
4-5 green whole cardamom
2-3 black cardamom
3-4 bay leaves

Method:

Wash the rice with cold water and put it a side to soak for half an hour. Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan or kadai, add the sliced onion and fry until light brown. Now add all the whole spices and green chillies. After 2-3 minutes add chopped tomatoes and boiled chick peas, cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add soaked rice without water and mix well. Now add 1 cup of hot water and salt and lower the heat. Cover with the lid and cook rice until tender. If needed, add another 2-3 tsp water and keep cooking the rice. Now add cumin seeds and cover the rice again with a lid. Now simmer the rice 3-4 minutes on a very low heat. Turn the heat off and leave the rice cool for 5 minutes.

Serve with yogurt, pickle and papad and enjoy!

Hyderabadi Daal

Today I would like to share with you a new dish, that was novel to me too until a few weeks ago.

Many people have a certain mental image of daal when they hear the word. When I saw the recipe for this daal on TV, I was itching to try it. It is something new, yet beautifully Indian and homely!
When I served it for the first time, I received the thumbs up from everyone at the table. My daughter in particular loves this daal. She says it is different to any other daal she has ever eaten before.
I will definitely keep this daal on my menu and I hope you will do so too once you have tried it.

You will need:

(These lentils are widely available in most supermarkets and Indian grocers).

  • 1 cup Toor daal ( split pigeon pea daal )
  • 1 cup Chana daal
  • 1/2 cup Moong daal ( yellow daal )
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ghee – clarified butter (vegans can use oil)
  • 1 tsp tamarind pulp or lemon juice
  • handful freshly chopped coriander

For seasoning:

  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • few curry leaves
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 4-5 bulb chillies

Method:

Mix all the daals, wash them and place them in a big pan. Then, add 5-6 cups of water, salt, ghee and turmeric powder. Make sure the mixture is stirred well, then bring it to a boil and let it simmer for half an hour. Cook the daal until it is tender. Add the tamarind pulp or lemon juice and then turn off the heat.

Seasoning:

In a small pan heat ghee add seeds, hing, curry leaves, garlic and bulb chillies. Once the seeds have popped, add them to the cooked daal. Stir well and garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with steamy rice.

Wholewheat Buns with Chickpeas and Spinach Stuffing

Six weeks of summer holidays finished and the kids go back to school tomorrow. Time flew by very quickly and I really enjoyed some quality time with my kids. We had a few lovely outings together as a family. However, I got stuck in the kitchen for too long, too! Everyday we were trying new dishes, a few were okay, a few needed improvement and some we loved. One of those we loved was ‘Wholewheat Buns with Chickpeas and Spinach stuffing’.

A few weeks ago we went on a long journey, so I wanted to take something which was filling and healthy, rather than crisps or other snacks. I didn’t want to take sandwiches, as they easily can become soggy . So the best choice for me was to bake and take savoury and stuffed buns, which can be eaten cold, too.

I made these buns with wholewheat chapatti flour, and filled them with spinach and chickpeas filling. I happened to have a handful of fresh methi leaves in the fridge, so I added them into the dough. These buns can be eaten at breakfast, lunch or for brunch . Of course, they are ideal for a kid’s lunch box as well!

You will need for the buns:

  • 2 cups of chapatti flour
  • 1 cup of strong white bread flour + more for dusting
  • salt to taste
  • 4-5 tbp melted butter (unsalted) + more for brushing
  • 2 tbp sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp fast action dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup luke warm milk
  • 1 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped fenugreek, coriander leaves or mixed dried herbs
  • luke warm water as needed

You will need for the stuffing:

  • 1 big boiled potato, peeled and mashed
  • 1 big onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup of boiled chickpeas
  • 1 cup of finely chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup of boiled mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, sweetcorn)
  • 2 tbp oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 tsp chana masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp red chilli powder

Method for buns:

In a big bowl sift the flour, add salt, sugar and fenugreek leaves to the flour and leave it aside. Add dried yeast to the luke warm milk, leave it aside until it becomes frothy. Pour melted butter and frothy yeast to the sifted flour. Combine everything and start mixing it with little water at a time. Once the dough starts to come together, keep kneading for 7-8 minutes until it is springy, elastic and soft. When the dough is kneaded leave it in greased bowl, cover it with cling film or wet cloth and leave it in a warm place for 2-2.5 hours to rise. While the dough is rising make the masala stuffing.

Method for the stuffing:

Heat the oil in a non sticky pan on medium heat and add cumin seeds until they splutter. Lower the heat slightly at this time and add chopped onions and saute for 5-6 minutes. Now add red chilli powder, garam masala and chana masala powder. Saute for 30 seconds, add spinach and saute until it is wilt. Now add mashed potatos. Mix everything until all the masala is mixed evenly. Turn the heat off. Let the filling cool uncovered.

Method for stuffed buns:

Line a baking sheet with grease of proof paper. Punch it down and knead the risen dough again on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into equal balls. Roll each ball round with rolling pin into a 2-3″ diameter. Place about 1.5 -2 tbp of the filling into the centre of the circle, then fold the circle until it is closed. Place the stuffed and sealed balls onto a lined baking sheet at least 2″ away from each other. Let them rise for 15-20 minutes.Preheat the oven to gas mark to 4-5 or 375 F/200 C. Brush the melted butter onto the stuffed balls. Bake the stuffed balls for at least 15-20 minutes or until they are brown and you can smell the aroma of baked buns. Transfer the baked buns onto wire rack, let them cool slightly and serve them warm with tea, juice or tomato ketchup as snack or have them with soup for lunch or brunch.

Steamed Bottle Gourd Fist Cakes

For me any type of muthiya and a hot cup of masala tea is a welcome treat any time of the day! For us this perfect spicy snack is always very satisfying! What more can one ask for in life than a cup of tea, a bowl of dudhi na muthiya and a book to read in the garden when the sun is out. Of course I am dreaming still as sunny spells are rare at the moment.

Today I will reveal the secret of how to make dudhi na muthiya, small cakes which are moist and fluffy inside and and have a golden crispy texture outside. Over the years I have tried so many different ingredients to make dudhi na muthiya. I always try to make these lovely cakes even better even though I love them just as they are.

I have tried to use green chillies at times and also pickles or varying flours. A few years back, when I was making dudhi na muthiya, I spotted a bottle of Achaar Masala (Pickle Masala) and I thought instead of pickle oil, I’ll add Achaar Masala and regular flower oil. I improved the recipe and had the result that I wanted. The cakes just melt in your mouth …

You will need:

For the fist cakes (muthiya)

  • 250 g grated dudhi (bottle gourd)
  • 250 g whole wheat flour or chapatti atta (I use wholemeal flour, which is healthy and coarse)
  • 50 g Dhokla flour (alternatively you can use ground rice and gram flour)
  • 25 g semolina
  • 100 ml oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp carom seeds
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp dry mango powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin and coriander
  • 1-2 tsp achaar masala
  • 1 tsp Desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

You will need for the seasoning: 

  • 3-4 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (I use more than that)
  • pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

Method:

Place all the ingredients of muthiya in a big bowl.

Mix very well to make a dough. Do not add any water as dudhi releases its water. Put a little oil onto your hands and divide the mixture into 2-3 parts. Then press the dough in your fists into cylindrical shapes and place them into a steamer.

Insert a knife after 20-30 mins and check if it is cooked by inspecting if the knife comes out clean. Let it cool a little and slice each roll into thin oval-shaped pieces.

Heat more oil for the seasoning and add the mustard seeds, sesame seeds and asafoetida. After a short while add the muthiya pieces and sauté them for few minutes until they get slightly golden brown. Now they are ready to serve.

Enjoy with tea or any type of chutney or dip.

You can serve the cakes for breakfast too.

Allo Bhathure – Deep Fried Bread Stuffed with Potatoes

A few weeks ago my husband wanted to have some choley bhathure for the weekend and so I prepared it for him. While I was preparing the dough I started thinking about my childhood trip to Delhi and my mind was flooded with old memories (read here if you want to know more). I thought of making stiffed bhathure. I made a few bhathures with potato stuffing and they came out so well that I decided to prepare all of them like that. They were delightful and we devoured them with yogurt and pineapple chutney for tea time!

You will need:

For the bhathure.

  • 2 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup semolina(fine)
  • 1 tsp fast action dry yeast
  • 1 tsp each salt and sugar
  • 1tsp ghee or oil
  • oil for deep frying
  • 1/2 cup warm milk

Method:

Sieve the plain flour, add ghee, semolina, milk, yeast and knead into a smooth dough with a little warm water.
Cover with a muslin cloth and keep aside for more than 3-4 hours. This ferments the dough.

You will need :
For the potato stuffing.
  • 2 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
  • 2 tsp green chillies and ginger crushed
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • handful chopped coriander
  • 1 tbp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch of hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder

Method :

Heat oil in a non stick pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter add hing and chilles and ginger and fry for a few seconds and then add ground turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Now add mashed potatoes and mix well. Add sugar, lemon juice and coriander. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Put the mixture aside to cool and then make small balls out of the mixture.

Roll the balls into thick puri (small circles). Put one potato stuffing in each blathure.

Meanwhile put oil in a kadai (wok) to heat on medium heat.
Wrap up the thick puri and close the dough on all sides. Now you have round dough balls once more.

Gently press the stuffed ball and place it on the rolling board to make flat bhathures. Slide them into the hot boiling oil. Press them slightly with perforated spoon to make fluffy bhathuras. Fry until both sides are very light golden brown.
Remove them from the oil with the help of perforated spoon.

Serve hot with choley or any chutney and yogurt.

Chana Masala Spiced Roasted Peanuts

Love it or loathe it, it’s a fact that the IPL (Indian Premier league), cricket’s most glamorous Twenty-20 tournament, has returned in full swing in its fifth season! T-20 fever has not only been spreading all over India, but has spread to every corner of the earth. Certainly it has come to my family too! Being cricket fanatics we love to watch IPL matches with the whole family. However, I personally do not like to support any particular team, as I do not live in India. Also, there is no team from Gujarat state, so I support every team and just want to enjoy good entertaining matches.

And whilst watching and enjoying these matches, the family expect some shandaar (delightful) snacks to munch! So I prepared this Chana Masala and Kasoori Methi peanuts for them. If you think Chris Gayle can hit sixes and watch the ball vanish every time, make these super and mighty spicy Masala peanuts and watch them too vanish in no time! I can guarantee you that they are as highly addictive as IPL.

You will need:

  • 1 cup raw peanuts
  • 2 tsp chana masala (choley masala)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder or red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves)

Method:

In a non sticky or heavy bottom pan heat 1 tsp of oil and add the peanuts, salt and chana masala. Mix well and roast them on a low heat for at least 5-6 minutes. Now add red chilli powder or black pepper powder, kasoori methi and then add one more tsp oil and roast them another 3-4 minutes. Stir every few seconds so that the peanuts don’t get burnt. Turn off the heat and let the peanuts cool completely. Store them in air tight container.

Tip:

You can use any nuts. Instead of kasoori methi use dried basil or rosemary leaves. Chana Masala and dried fenugreek leaves are available in any Indian store.

Nan Khatai – Indian Spiced Shortbread

This week, Jagruti Dhanecha presents her new recipe on City Connect. Nan Khatai (Nan-khat-aa-ee) eggless biscuits originate from South Asia. They are extremley popular in India and Pakistan.

Light, slightly crispy and nutty flavoured cookies; they just melt in your mouth and they are perfect with your tea or coffee.

Delicate enough that it just crumbles … and that’s the way I like it.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g plain flour
  • 50g chickpea flour ( same as gram flour or Besan )
  • 70g Semolina
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 400g ghee (room temperature) or unsalted butter
  • a few threads of saffron
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • few pistachio and almond silvers

Instructions:

Beat the ghee and sugar in a big bowl until fluffy.

Now add Flour, semolina, baking powder and all the spices (except the nuts).

Subsequently, bind everything into a dough.Pre-heat the oven (if you have a gas oven to gas mark 4-5) and make small balls and flatten them slightly.

Place the uncooked cookies on a greased line baking tray and make sure that you leave enough space between them.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 7-8 minutes.

Take the cookies out and place almonds and pistachios in the centre, return them to the oven and bake for another 7-8 minutes.

Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool.

Once they have cooled down, store the biscuits in an completely air-tight container.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe. Many more recipes will follow soon and you can also visit my food blog at: www.jagrutidhanecha.com

Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Paneer (a fresh cheese) is the most commonly used cheese used in traditional South Asian cuisines. It is of Indian origin dating back to 3000 BC and is described in the old Sanskrit texts (The Vedas). It is widespread in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh; countries with a high portion of milk in their cuisine. Unlike many common cheeses, the production of paneer does not utilise rennet as a coagulation reagent. Thus, it is suitable for vegetarians and a major source of protein for Indian vegetarians. It is usually unsalted.

I myself am a vegetarian who does not eat eggs or fish and I use paneer quite often in my cooking. Here I present to you a new dish with this cheese: Tandoori Paneer Tikka.

This dish is a classic dish from the time of the Moguls in India. To achieve the characteristic smoky taste, the traditional way of preparation involves the usage of a clay oven but here in the United Kingdom restaurants usually use gas ovens and at home ovens or grills are used. Tandoor is the Indian word for oven. However, in summer you can use a barbecue to imitate the traditional way of preparing the dish. Tahndoori Paneer Tikka is very tasty and has a tangy and spicy flavour. it is often served with green salad and green chutney.

Ingredients and Tools needed:

Tikka

300 g paneer (pierced with a fork, cut into cubes)
1 orange and green capsicum each, seeded and diced
10-12 cherry tomatoes
1 medium red onion, diced
Oil for brushing
Lemon Wedges and coriander for garnish

10-12 bamboo or metal scewers

Marinating Mix

3-4 tsp plain thick yogurt
1 tsp tandoori masala (barbecued flavoured masala- easily available in asian stores)
1 tsp red chilli powder or flakes
1/2 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
1-2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp of any cooking oil

Method:

If you use bamboo scewers, soak them at least 3-4 hours in water.

Soak the cubed paneer in warm water seasoned with salt for 10-15 minutes. Once soaked, drain the water and pat the cheese dry with a paper towel. Combine the yogurt with the marinating ingredients and mix well. Now add the paneer to the marinating mix, toss gently and place it in fridge after covering the bowl with cling film for at least one hour. Add the vegetables to the mix 5 minutes before cooking.
Once marinated, thread the paneer and vegetables on soaked bamboo skewers. Brush them with oil on all sides.
Grill the skewers on high temperature for 4-5 minutes each side. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with green chutney.

Paneer is easily available in Indian stores and bigger supermarkets. Paneer can be replaced by extra firm Tofu or Halloumi or any cheese which can be grilled or roasting without melting.
You can use any vegetables of choice here –courgette,mushrooms work fine. Just ensure that the cooking times of vegetable don’t vary much.
For non veg- Can use boneless & cubed lamb, beef, chicken or shrimp.
If using red meat or chicken for making this recipe, marinate the meat overnight or at least 6-8 hours to get nice flavors.

Spinach Bread

Since my teenage days I have had a habit to scribble down any recipes that I like. I am not shy or afraid of asking people if I like their dish. I have many notebooks which I have filled with written recipes, rather than bought books. Most of the time I forget about recipes in my notebooks. While I was cleaning the house for spring, I found a few notebooks which are written in Gujarati!

In the United Kingdom, when summer is on it’s way, we get lots of fresh leafy vegetables and greens. In Indian shops greens like palak, methi and dhaniya become very cheap. Sometimes they cost less than 50 pence for 3-4 bunches. I love to get hold of such bargains and thus I bought a few bunches of spinach (palak) from the shop for 99 pence for 4 bunches. I made saag aloo from 3 bunches and one was left over. So the next day I thought that I would make Palak Puri, using a recipe from one of my notebooks.

My kids love to have something different all the time. It was very tasty but I cannot say this dish is particularly healthy, because after all it is deep fried. However, if your kids refuse to eat spinach, this is a good way to convince them otherwise.

Although I have a written recipe in my notebook, I made a few changes to this recipe. I did not add any ghee and I did not use blanched spinach leaves. Palak puri is served mainly for breakfast, although I could have it at any time. It is also good for travelling as deep fried food doesn’t go bad easily.

You will need:

Slotted spoon to fry puris.

  • 1 bunch or packet palak (spinach) – you can use baby spinach
  • Oil to deep fry + 3 tsp
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cup whole wheat flour or chapatti flour
  • 1 tsp carom seeds (ajwain) optional
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes or red chilli powder
  • 2-3 green chillies

Method:

Wash the spinach in cold water. Cook the spinach in microwave for 3-4 minutes with 2-3 tbsp water and then let it cool. Grind the spinach and green chillies in a grinder to make smooth paste. To a big bowl add flour, salt, chilli flakes, 3 tbp of oil and the spinach puree. Make sure there are no lumps in the spinach puree, otherwise the puri will not puff as it should. Mix everything well. I don’t think you’ll need any water to form a dough, but if you think then just add 1-2 tsp of water. Knead the mixture  into a soft dough. Cover the bowl with a cloth, give it a rest and knead again.

Then heat the oil in heavy bottom kadai or wok. Divide the dough into small lime size balls. Lightly oil the surface and roll the balls out into thin round shapes. Use a slotted spoon to gently immerse puris into the heated oil. Turn puri onto the other side and now it should puff. The moment it turns to a light brown colour, take it out and place it on absorbent paper.

Serve hot with tea, any pickle or yogurt. We had ours with homemade instant mango pickle.

Chutney

Some of you might think that I am a regular viewer of the Indian soap opera “Iss pyar ko kya naam doo?” However, I have never watched this show. Have you ever seen this show? As for me, I sometimes just see glimpses of such shows when flickering through the channels.

The recipe I want to present today is a special Chutney I invented myself around three years ago. I made Aloo Bonda one Sunday evening – it was a rainy and windy day. We have this dish with various type of chutneys. On that very day I did not have any chutney in my fridge or freezer and the t kids were hungry and they wanted to eat.

I started to panic and offered my daughter to have aloo bonda with tomato ketchup. She was distressed and replied that it would taste like “having potato chips with ketchup” and was not very fond of my idea. She is a bog fan of fresh coriander chutney after inspecting the fridge I found a few leaves of fresh coriander, but not sufficient for preparing chutney.

Still, I took out the coriander and started crushing it with the pastle and morter. I was thinking about my aunt in law who makes chutney out of  anything and I thought why couldn’t I do the same thing?

I opened my fridge once more and bingo (!), I spotted a few things. Quickly I prepared a new recipe for chutney and I served it to my kids and husband. Praises came straight away and since this day we would never have our aloo bonda without this chutney. I still haven’t decided what name to give this chutney. If you have any ideas, please bring them forward and if we like the name, this chutney shall carry it.

Shall we now look at the recipe ?

You will need:

  1. 2-3 tbsp freshly chopped corinader
  2. 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  3. salt to taste
  4. 1 garlic clove
  5. 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  6. 3-4 tbsp tomato ketchup
  7. 3-4 tbsp chilli sauce
  8. 2-3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Method: 

Place corinader, cumin seeds, garlic and salt (you don’t need much as all the sauces already contain some salt) in a mortar bowl and crush to create a coarse paste with the pastle. You can use a grinder if you want, but do not make it to a very fine paste. Transfer the corinader mixture into a big bowl. Add all the sauces to the corinader mix. Mix well, adjust the seasoning and serve with pakora or savoury pancakes.

The Ultimate Onion Bhajis

Onion bhajis are one of  Britain’s most popular and most frequently consumed Indian snacks. They have a unique and sensational flavour to them. Here in the United Kingdom they are eaten as starter or side dish in Indian restaurants along with poppadoms and chutney, pickle and mint sauce. In India, onion bhaji top the comfort food list when it comes to monsoon and rain season. They are generally relished with a hot coffee or tea.

In my family we adore onion bhajis, and here is my version of it .

You will need:

  • 4 medium onions sliced vertically and horizontally
  • 2 spring onions chopped
  • 1 medium carrot grated
  • 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2-3 fresh green chillies finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup gram flour (same as a chickpea flour or besan)
  • 2 tsp rice flour
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • oil for deep fry
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method:

Mix all the ingredients except th oil, salt, water and bicarbonate of soda. Let it stand for 10 min.
In the meanwhile heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan on a medium heat or in a deep fat fryer. Once the oil reaches a temperature of around 180 C, turn the heat down.
Now add water, salt and bicarbonate of soda to the onion bhaji mix and mix it well. The bhaji batter should be thick at this stage. Now add 2 tsp of hot oil into the batter and mix with a spoon.

Make a loose dumpling and drop it into the hot oil. If the batter rises quickly, the oil is ready to make more bhajis. Start making dumplings and fry them over medium heat, turn them with a slotted spoon and allow them to cook well.
Pierce them with a knife a few times, so they cook very well inside and cook them until they turn golden brown. Remove the bhajis with a slotted spoon and drain the oil. Before frying the next batch, taste the bhajis and adjust seasoning accordingly. Make small dumplings with the remainder of the mixture and deep fry in batches until all the bhajis are cooked well.

Serve hot with mint raita and enjoy!

Instant Mango Pickle

A “crescendo” of mangoes takes place every year in India between the months of March and July. They roll into the markets in small numbers at the start of the season, being quite expensive. By the time the harvest peaks they are all over the place, playfully cheap and ready to be squeezed and used in kitchens all over the country.

Right now, this mango frenzy is in full swing, not only in India, but in the United Kingdom, too! We Indians have indeed become very fond of a fruit that is absent for a long time of the year. Outside the season many must console themselves with their mother’s homemade mango pickles. As soon as the mango season arrives women all over India start picking mangoes. I remember my mother was one of them. Many homes make signature pickles that have been passed on through generations of women.

This recipe of a mango pickle, is one that my mother used to make at the beginning of the mango season. A great thing about this pickle is that you can consume it as soon as it has been made. Also not much heat from the sun is required for it to be prepared here in the United Kingdom, where the sun plays hide and seek with us all the time. This pickle is ideal to be made and consumed in a short amount time. Small portions can be made on the stove and served freshly. Ideally, most type of pickles are made in the blazing sun where the fruit and vegetables required for the pickles are dried. Such pickles have a longer shelf life.

You will need:

  • 1 cup raw mango (green) peeled and cubed
  • 1 tsp panch phoran (optional, if you want just use 1/2 tsp each fennel seeds and nigella seeds)
  • 3-4 tsp dhana jeera powder (dry coriander and cumin seeds powder)
  • 11/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/3 cup jaggary (can use sugar)
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp oil

Method:

Boil water in a pan, add mango pieces and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes. Drain the water but keep it aside. Heat oil in a non stick pan, add the panch phoran or fennel and nigella seeds. As soon as they pop add boiled mango cubes and sauté them for 1-2 minutes. Add all the powder, jaggary or sugar with salt. Add 1-2 tbsp of water. Stir and simmer till the jeggary or sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture cool completely.

You can store the pickle at room temperature for up to 2-3 days and in the fridge for up to 5-6 days.

Ideally, serve with puri, paratha or sandwiches.

Baby Potatoes with Oat Stuffed Aubergine

I am a great fan of aubergines, and in whatever way they are prepared, I am in heaven. My husband and son love them too. I cook and stuff aubergins with diffrent versions of masalas. So every time I prepare them, and I take photographs as I normally do, but for some reason I have not yet posted recipes with stuffed aubergines before. Hence, my daughter forced me to write this article and asked me to publish it as soon as possible. And interestingly, although she get hiccups when hearing the word aubergine she had a whole stuffed eggplant herself! Thus we kept this recipe on our menu and believe me, you won’t be disappointed after trying this:

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 baby potatoes – cut into 2 pieces (you can use normal potatoes, too)
  • 4-5 baby aubergines
  • 3-4 medium onions chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2-3 green chillies finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup plum tomatoes chopped (you can use fresh plum tomatoes, too)
  • 1 tbsp panch pohran
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 /2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3-4 tsp oil

Oat Massala:

  • 3-4 tsp porridge oats
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp each garam masala, tumeric powder, red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp coriander and cumin seeds powder

Mix everything and keep it aside.

Method:

Wash the baby potatoes and prick them with a fork or knife. Wash the aubergines and slice them half way, stopping at the stem. Make another cut in the same way on the other side. Stuff them with oat massala and put them aside. Add the remaining massala .

In a heavy bottom pan heat the oil, add the chopped onions and panch pohran. Fry the onions until they are light golden. Now add ginger-garlic paste and green chillies. Cook for 2-3 minutes, add salt, plum tomatoes and all the massala powder and let it cook on a low heat until oil comes out.

Add  potatoes with oat massala and mix very well. Keep the heat very low. Cover the pan and cook the potatoes until they are half cooked. Check whether they are cooked by piercing with a small knife. Now add stuffed aubergins and mix very gently, cover the pan again and let it cook for about 12-15 minutes.

If the massala gets too dry add some water and cook on a very low heat. Occasionally turn the massala and keep mixing all the massala with vegetables. Cook util potatoes and aubergines are tender and cooked completely. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander and serve hot with paratha, Naan or Roti.

Tawa Rice-Pulao – Indian Street Food

Just when you think the weather is about to take a turn for the better, it ends up getting colder again. The cold weather can cause health problems. Cases of cold, flu and fever spread across the country, and now my daughter got ill, too! She is off school, and at home asking for a list of her favourite foods! She wanted to eat something soft but spicy for lunch, so I thought of making Tawa Rice. I had Tawa rice during my last visit to India and I was so amazed by the taste, that upon my return I made it here in the UK and my family loved it.  Now it has become number 1 in my top rice chart.

Tawa Rice has a very unique spicy flavour with the secret ingredient to achieving this being Pavbhaji masala. Pavbhaji masala is used to make the very typical popular street food Pav-Bhaji.

You will need:

  • 2 cup cooked basmati rice (grains should be separate)
  • 1 cup of boiled or steamed vegetables like carrots, peas, sweetcorn, cauliflower and green beans
  • 1 capsicum – chopped
  • 1 big onion finely – chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 red tomatoes chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 green chillies
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp oil or butter
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp pav bhaji masala

Method:

Heat oil or butter in a heavy bottom or non stick pan. Then add the cumin seeds. Subsequently, add the chopped onions, sauté until the onions turn glassy.  Now add the ginger-garlic paste and add green chillies. After a few minutes add mixed vegetables and capsicum with salt and cook for about 3-4 minutes until the capsicum turns tender. Now add the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes  have become soft and start loosing water, add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder and the pav bhaji masala. Now mix in the cooked rice. Combine well until the rice is nicely mixed with the spice mixture.

Serve hot with some raita and enjoy!

Also, visit Jagruti’s website for more recipes.