Stuffed Mirchi Pakora (Stuffed Chilli Fritter)

Chillies come in all different sizes and don’t be scared to use them in your cooking. They can be best used for that tangy flavour and can be a nigthmare if used more. Big ones are a safe bet for not being spicy and are mostly used for making pakoras or fritters. A favorite snack on Mumbai streets (fryed plain without any filling). An ideal tea-time snack for this festive season.

4 big chillies, washed and wiped dry
4tbs refined/olive oil

for batter
1 1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
a pinch of baking soda
1/2tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
2cups of cold water

for stuffing
150gms paneer (cottage cheese)
1tsp chilli powder
salt to taste

De-seed the chillies and slit them in the centre. Mix all the ingredients for the stuffing and stuff the chillies with panner mix.
Mix all the ingredients for the batter. Be careful with the consistency, the mixture should not be very thick or thin.
Heat oil in a skillet and fry the stuffed chillies one by one until golden brown. You can also char grill directly without using  besan batter. Serve hot with chutney or tomato ketchup.

This is my submission to this month’s Only Festive Foods, hosted by Khaugiri and Foodelicious, to Virtual Party Snacks hosted by Ruchika Cooks and From My Home Kitchen and to Say Cheese, hosted by Sara’s Corner.

Pumpkin & Carrot soup – spiced with cinnamon & wasabi

(Image Source: Anonymous)

Halloween is tomorrow and even I wanted to contribute to the blog stream by dishing up some hot soup.It is also the time to eat and share good food. Halloween can be fun and scary at the same time with costumes, hand-crafted pumpkins and trick-or-treating (it is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy). It is also the time to get to know your neighbours. So dress up in your scariest mood and offer your basket of candies.
Happy Halloween!!!

1/4 kg pumpkin,diced
2 carrots, diced
1 cup onion finely chopped
1ltr vegetable stock or water
1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
1tsp cinnamon powder
1tbs oilve oil
1tsp wasabi paste
salt to taste
cinnamon powder for garnish

Steam pumpkin and carrots in a steamer or microwave with ginger and a little stock or water until tender. Purée in a blender and set aside.
Heat oil in a pot and add chopped onions. Stir-fry until the onions are translucent. Add the purée, cinnamon and salt. Add remaining stock and bring back to boil, stirring well.
Combine olive oil with wasabi. Transfer the soup to serving bowls and dot with a drops of wasabi oil. Garnish with some cinnamon and serve hot.Serves 4.

This is my submission to this month’s Food Palette Series – Orange, hosted by Torview and to this week’s Souper Sundays, hosted by Kahakai Kitchen.

Sweet Memories of Badam Ka Halwa

My dad has always been fond of  sweets and they have to be made with lots and lots of ghee…..
When I was a  kid, he would always buy badam halwa from MTR, Bangalore (MTR is famous for it’s spices and ready to make packets).The halwa used to be very heavy and literally ghee used to drip from the packets. My mother would get atleast a tablespoon of ghee, each time she warmed the halwa. You could only taste ghee…and I didn’t like it too much. MTR still makes the halwa  and it’s been ages since I’ve had it.
I remember the halwa, not for it’s ghee or sweetness; I remember it because my dad used to buy it for us with  lots of love and enthusiasm.

I came across DK’s blog – Chefinyou and her post on Badam Ka Halwa. It got me back to my memories of badam halwa and I thought of trying it out myself.  It gets a bit tedious with the constant stirring; nevertheless I enjoyed it…I felt like a Halwai (Indian sweet maker) and I made myself comfortable by  sitting on the kitchen platform 😉

I followed every step of DK and the halwa just turned out perfect. I also sent some to my dad and he liked it too and requested me to use more ghee the next time I make badam halwa.

A quick tip on how to remove the skin of almonds: Boil some water in a pot. Once the water is  hot and bubbly, turn off the stove and add the almonds. Cover the top and let the almonds sit in the pot for about 15mins. After 15mins, wash the badam in cold running water and just slide the skin with your fingers.See how easy that was!!!

This is my submission to this month’s event Tried & Tasted, hosted by Priya from Priya’s Easy N Tasty Recipes and Lakhsmi from Kitchen Chronicles.

Stuffed Zucchini

We are soon approaching  series of festivals before the  main Diwali takes off. Yes it is the time of the year, when you let loose and eat good food without worrying about your diet. It is also the time of the year, where people visit your home and want to know what you have to offer…This Diwali, why not try something different and cut down on the deep-frying part 😉

You would have tried or come across different versions of  stuffed zucchini. The idea here is not to use very dry mixture for the stuffing, as that would call for some sauce. I’ve used tomato and bell pepper sauce for two reasons: it gives a beautiful colour and gives a nice wet taste.

1 medium sized zucchini

for stuffing
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup boiled sweet corn kernels
1tsp dried basil
2 crushed garlic clove
salt & pepper to taste
2tsp olive oil
1/2 cup cheddar or mozzarella cheese (I used cheddar)
parsley for garnish

Cut the zucchini horizontally in the middle and remove the seeds to form boat shapes. Flash-grill the zucchini or bake or microwave them for 5 minutes them  before stuffing. You need them half cooked beforehand, so you can finish them with the stuffing.

For the stuffing
Purée the bell pepper and tomato to a fine paste. Heat oil in a pan and add garlic. Add the purée once the garlic is soft. Cook the purée on low flame until you see the oil coming out from the sides. Once done, add corn and season with dried basil, salt, pepper.Mix well and turn off the stove. Allow the mixture cool.
Stuff the zucchini, top with the grated cheese and bake or microwave (grill option) at medium temperature until the cheese is baked and bubbly.Garnish it with some chopped parsley and serve hot.Serves 2

This is my submission to this month’s Only Festive Foods, hosted by Khaugiri and Foodelicious and to Virtual Party Snacks hosted by Ruchika Cooks and From My Home Kitchen.

Japanese Tofu Salad (Shiraae)

There are times when you want to eat lite after all the binging you have been doing on weekends.Here is a one meal with all the nutrients that you would require. Shiraae is an easy to prepare Japanese salad with mashed tofu; seasoned with sesame paste.I have used substitutes to bring the salad as close to the original.

100gms firm tofu
2 cups diced carrots
1/2 cup peas
1 cup boiled spinach, cut 1 inch in size
1 cup chopped mushroom (optional)
1/2 cup dashi (I used dried mushroom available in India)
1tbs mirin (I substituted it with some rice vinegar and white wine)
2tps Soy sauce
1tsp demerara sugar
for seasoning
2tbs roasted white sesame seeds (I used home-made tahini)
1tbs soy sauce
1tsp demerara sugar

Lightly boil the tofu. Allow it to cool and drain the water out. Mash  tofu and let it sit in a strainer for about 15mins; until water is all drained out.
Put dashi,mirin, soy sauce and sugar in a pan and bring it to boil. Add carrots and peas and simmer on medium heat until the carrots are soft.
Grind sesame and add soy sauce and sugar and mix well.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and serve at room temperature.Serves 4.
(Recipe source:

This is my submission to this month’s destination Japan, hosted by  My Kitchen, My World, to SOS Challenge – Sesame, hosted by Diet, Dessert & Dogs and Affairs of Living, to My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Dil Se..and The Well-Seasoned Cook, to Souper Sundays, hosted by Kahakai Kitchen and to Tasty Tofu Treats, hosted by Seduce Your Tastebuds.

Cocochoco Burfi (Vegan)

Sweets in India have always been rich with milk or ghee/butter. A sweet dish which is ‘Vegan’ an absolutely no, no for us, Indians…. My family will think I have gone nuts!!!
Well, for this festive season; I’ve tried  a fusion of Indo-western sweet…I know it sounds a bit too much to compromise on the  Indian burfi; but why not try something different 🙂

The recipe was  born with some basic ingredients lying in my fridge. A bit of mixing, tasting and hoping….’Cocochoco Burfi’ was  born. The strong taste of tahini takes over the flavour and keeps you wondering on every bite what is so different about it….

2cups grated coconut
1cup demerara sugar
1/2 cup mixed dried fruits (I used cashews, raisins & walnuts)
2tsp cocoa powder
1tbs tahini (I’ve used home-made)
1tsp olive oil
1 tbs dry cocoa powder (mixed with powdered sugar; 1/2tbs cocoa+1/2tbs powdered sugar)for garnish
grated chocolate for garnish ( I used dairy free & organic chocolate)

Melt sugar in a pan on low heat. Once melted; add cocoa powder and keep stirring; turn off the stove immediately.
Take some oil in a pan and add grated coconut. Let it turn a little brown and add dried fruits and turn off the stove.Mix both the cocoa and coconut mixture in a bowl with tahini.

Grease the plate with some oil and add the mixture evenly.Garnish it with dry cocoa and grated chocolate. Allow it to set for 4-5 hrs or refrigerate for 24hrs.
Carefully cut them into pieces and serve cold. You get about 12 medium sized pieces.

Cocochoco burfi is a little sticky and not dry like the coconut burfi. The use of tahini makes it a little moist.

This is my submission to this month’s SOS Challenge – Sesame, hosted by  Diet, Desserts & Dogs and Affairs of Living, to Only Festive Foods, hosted by Khaugiri and Foodelicious, to Virtual Party Snacks hosted by Ruchika Cooks and From My Home Kitchen, and to The Chocolate Fest, hosted by Cook-curry nook.

Yellow & Red Pepper Risotto

I’ve always eaten risotto at some restaurants and never got an opportunity to try some home-made ones….
Some of my friends/cousins have tried their hands at it and they complain that it takes a lot of preparation time to get that perfect texture.
My quest to try my hands at risotto thus begun and I was determined to explore this new found recipe…..I went through a lot of websites online and found that if you follow the right procedure carefully and are patient; you have made yourself the perfect dish.
Risotto, is a rice dish that makes its own sauce.You don’t have to use cream or milk to achieve the creamy or milky effect. It’s all in the rice. The rice has to be short- grained; filled with starch unlike the long-grained rice like Basmati.The starch combined with a small amount of fat and broth makes the velvety sauce risotto.Although not difficult, risotto is somewhat labor-intensive. It takes fairly constant stirring for about 25-30 minutes. This is what releases the rice’s starch and creates the sauce.

Yellow & red pepper risotto is a colourful dish; ideal for any dinner.So go ahead and indulge yourselves; in making yourself an elegant dish of risotto.

1 cup arborio rice
1 yellow pepper chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup sliced yellow zucchini
2 garlic clove, minced
2 tbs butter
1tbs olive oil
5 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (can add more if you like)
2tbs finely chopped parsley

In a skillet cook peppers in water and 1tbs of butter, covered partially, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft.Puree peppers in a food processor or blender and strain through a coarse sieve into a small bowl.

In the cleaned skillet cook onions in 1tbs remaining butter over moderate heat, stirring until turned light brown, add garlic,sliced zucchini and cook until soft, and season with salt and pepper.

In a saucepan heat or broth and keep at a bare simmer or microwave.

Take a non-stick pan (chances of burning the rice is lesser),add olive oil and keep stirring dry rice for several minutes in the oil over medium-high heat until it is golden, but not burnt. This also helps the rice to release the starch later on, and creates a nice nutty flavour.
Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until wine is absorbed.If you are not using wine; you can start adding broth.Add about 1/2 cup simmering broth and cook, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed.
Continue adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, and cooking, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is ‘al dente’, about 20 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and stir in pepper puree, zucchini, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.Serves 2.

This is my submission to this month’s Food palette series – Orange, hosted by Torview and to Virtual Girls Night In: The Indulgent Edition, hosted by Dragon Musings. A word of appreciation for Dragon Musing for aiming at donating $50 to the Cancer Council. All the best!!!
If you would like to donate/contribute, please click here.

Kele ki Halwa/Banana Pudding (Indian style) & Burning Effigy of Ravana

I wanted to try something simple and lite as the coming few days are going to be lined with festivals; with more sweets…… In India, we make all kinds of halwa and I’ve never tried or tasted banana halwa before. So I came up with my own recipe on how to make one…
Banana halwa has of course a strong banana flavour and it’s got a nice nutty and crunchy taste because of the nuts and coconut…..
Beware….it is for those  who don’t mind bananas in any form 🙂

4 big ripe bananas
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2tbs butter or ghee
1 cup grated coconut
1/2 cup cashews and raisins mixed
walnuts and sesame for seasoning

Mash the bananas. Cook the mashed bananas with milk, until the milk dries up.Add butter/ghee and stir continuously. Allow it to cook for 10 minutes on low flame.Add sugar, grated coconut and dry fruits. Allow the sugar to melt and cook for about 5 minutes and turn off the stove.

Grease the plate with butter/ghee and pour the prepared mixture.Pour it evenly and season it with sesame and walnuts. Allow it to set for 4-5 hours or overnight.

Carefully cut into square pieces of desired size or spoon it into a serving dish and serve cold.

This is my submission to this month’s Only Festive Foods, hosted by Khaugiri and Foodelicious and to Virtual Party Snacks hosted by Ruchika Cooks and From My Home Kitchen.

Some clicks on  “Burning effigy of Ravana“, Chowpathy,Mumbai.
Dussera is celebrated as the homecoming of Rama the hero of the epic Ramayana, after his victory over Ravana, the king of Lanka.

A vendor selling  gold armours.
The process begins…
There were crackers too…
 The enitre show takes about 5 minutes and before you realise; Ravana has turned into ashes…

Karela Fry/Bitter Gourd Fry

I’ve started enjoying bitter gourd both for it’s health benefits and taste. It tastes really good with simple dal-chawal (lentil and rice).

Here are some tips on how to select the right bitter gourd:

  • Choose unripe ones,that are firm like a cucumber
  • Avoid those that have turned yellow/orange or  have soft spots
  • Riped ones can be excessively bitter
  • The smaller variety is more bitter than the bigger one
  • You can refrigerate them for 3-4 days
  • Keeping bitter gourds at room temperature or with other fruits and vegetables will hasten them to ripen and become more bitter

Karela Fry is inspired by an aunt of mine and I’ve tried to blend in more flavours to make it more interesting.
This is my first attempt to showcase step by step clicks 🙂

250gms bitter gourd nicely washed and dried
4tbs oil for frying
1tsp jeera
1tsp mustard seeds
2cups of finely chopped onions
1tsp of coriander powder
1tsp of chilli powder
1/4tsp garam massala
1/2tsp amchur powder (dried mango powder)
2tsp jaggery powder
2tsp coarsely grounded peanut
salt to taste
2tsp roasted sesame seeds for garnish
cilantro and grated coconut for garnish

Grate the outer skin of karela.De seed and cut them into pieces.Keep them aside.

Deep fry the cut pieces till golden brown.

Heat oil 1tbs of oil in a pan and add jeera and mustard seed. After the seeds pop, add onions. Let the onions turn golden brown and add the grated karela, coriander powder,chilli powder and salt. Cook the massala on low flame for 20 minutes. Take care not to burn the massala. If sticking to the pan, add 1-2tsp of oil and keep stirring. Don’t add water at any given point.The massala will be ready ones it’s turned blackish-brown in colour.
Add the fried karela,jaggery,peanuts and amchur.Allow it to cook for 10 minutes on low flame.You can also add some lime after you have turned off the stove.
Garnish it with cilantro,sesame and grated coconut.

This is my submission to this month’s Vegetable Marathon – Bitter Gourd, hosted by Nithu from Nithu’s Kitchen and Shilpa from Anita’s Kitchen and to SOS Challenge – Sesame, hosted by Ricki from Diet,Dessert and Dogs and Kim from Affairs of Living.

Punjabi Chole

An authentic dish from Punjab –  pungent and a blend of different flavours,  makes it a very interesting dish.The rare combination of tea and dried pomegranate seeds; makes it a rather rare combination. A must try, for those who love Indian spices.

Before I share the recipe; here are some tips on how to cook chickpeas:
To shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest, chickpeas should be presoaked. There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each you should start by placing the beans in a saucepan and adding two to three cups of water per cup of beans.
The first method is to boil the beans for two minutes, take pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours. The alternative method is to simply soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight. Before cooking them, regardless of method, skim off the any skins that floated to the surface, drain the soaking liquid, and then rinse them with clean water.

To cook chickpeas, you can either cook them on the stove top or use a pressure cooker. I prefer to pressure cook as it takes lesser time. Punjabi chole is cooked in a slightly different manner…

for cooking chickpeas
200gms of channa/chickpeas/garbanzo bean
4-5cups of black tea/tea bag (1no.)

for wet massala
2 cups of finely chopped onions
1 cup of finely chopped tomatoes
2 green chillies, diced
2 tsp of ginger, diced
2nos bay leaf
1tsp amchur powder (dry mango powder)
2tsp dry coriander powder
1tbs oil/ghee (I used ghee)
cilantro for garnish
salt to taste

for dry spice ( to be powdered in the grinder)
1/2tsp garam massala
2tsp roasted jeera
6 roasted cloves
1tsp roasted black pepper corns
1 roasted cinnamon stick
4tsp dried anardana seeds (dry pomegranate seed)

Soak the chickpeas overnight. Boil/pressure cook the chickpeas with black tea/tea bag and some salt. Tea is used for colouring purpose. Take care not to overcook them. Once cooked, keep it aside.

Heat ghee/oil in a pan and bay leaf and fry onions till brown.Add tomatoes and some water and cook till the tomatoes are soft. Add chickpeas, powdered dry massala and salt if required. Add ginger, amchur and dry Coriander Powder.If the curry looks too thick then add some water.Allow it to cook for 15 minutes.Mash some of the chole by pressing it with a spatula to give it a thick consistency like thick cream.

Garnish with cilantro and green chillies and serve hot with puri or tortilla.

This is my submission to this month’s Flavours of Punjab, hosted by Pari from Foodelicious and Nayan from and to My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Divya from Dile Se.. and Susan from The Well Seasoned Cook.