March 23, 2018

Butternut squash chicken

Pumpkin chicken

This recipe comes from the depth of winter, on a Friday. It was too cold and snowy outside, and I was getting ready to make dinner.

Chicken curry was on the menu and what is a chicken curry that does not have some chunky potatoes that soaks up the flavor, right? As I went to the pantry I realized there were no potatoes. No Potatoes! I searched the fridge to see if I had half-potato lurking in the back. No luck.

Then I saw the half butternut squash hanging out in the fridge and I wondered if the squash could be added. It was too cold, too late to go out.

So I decided to substitute potatoes with squash and  chicken curry with the butternut squash. Guess what?  Everyone loved it. The sweetish notes of the squash with the garam masala and chicken were natural partners. In, fact we liked it so much that I have made chicken curry with potatoes and squash many times since that snowy evening.

8-9 pieces of chicken
1/2 butternut squash (acorn squash and pumpkin would also work)- chopped
11/2 tspoon garlic-ginger paste
1 medium onion - chopped
1 medium tomato - chopped
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 cardamom
2-3 cloves
2 bay leaves
1/2 tspoon cumin seeds
1/2 tspoon red chilli powder
1 tbspoon yogurt
3/4 tspoon cumin powder
3/4 tspoon turmeric powder
2 tbspoon oil
salt to taste
handful of cilantro to garnish

(serves 4-5)

Marinate the chicken with 1 tspoon garlic-ginger paste,  1/2 tspoon turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder.

Heat oil and temper it with cumin seeds and bay leaves. Then add the cinnamon, cardamon and cloves and and let it sizzle. Then add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for 1-2 minutes.

Add the onions and saute for 5-6 minutes. Once they start turning brown, add in the tomatoes, rest of the turmeric powder and cumin powder.

Saute and let it cook on closed lid for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Then add the marinated chicken and cook for another 5-8 minutes. Then add the butternut squash pieces, 2 cups of water and let it cook closed lid for about 20 minutes on medium heat till the chicken and butternut squash is tender.


Add in the ghee and cilantro and keep it covered.

Serve hot with hot chapati or rice. Enjoy.

March 04, 2018

Alu pyazkoli diye tilapia macher jhol (tilapia curry with potatoes and spring onions)

Tilapia curry with green onions and potato

There is something about the sunlight that tells me that spring is near even though we had a snow storm yesterday. And when Aswin got some spring onions this week, I knew some macher jhol or fish curry has to be made.

I usually have to defrost the fish and I get lazy which means fish curries have not been a frequent occurrence in this new year, but this time I did it right away.

In a few hours, the fish was being sauteed, and the fish curry was bubbling away. My father makes delicious patla macher jhol (a light soupy curry), and I took inspiration from that to make this tilapia jhol with lomba patla aalu (long, thin potato strips).

I added some panko to the tilapia right before frying which added an extra crunchiness to the fish. So if you see any spring onions in the store, pick up a bunch and make this. The tilapia can easily be substituted with cod or white fish.

January 05, 2018

Starting the year right - pasta, garbanzo beans salad

Pasta, garbanzo beans salad

The end of the year went by quickly, the fall was busy with some travel.

I was in Boston in October and right across from the hotel was Eatly. So before I had to leave, I did a quick tour of the store and picked up different kinds of pasta.

I used one of them to make a pasta salad in the new year. It says on the packet that it is a Sardinian pasta . The shape and size was perfect for the salad, the kids called it a worm pasta and Aswin called it larvae pasta.

Despite the name challenge, we all enjoyed it. Aswin and I ate the pasta salad which is really easy to put together. The kids ate a deconstructed version of the same salad - veggies, garbanzo beans and pasta separate.

How about you? Hope your New Year is starting on a good note.

1 cup small pasta - boiled
1 cup boiled garbanzo salad
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped avocado
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup chopped carrots

For the dressing:

bunch or cilantro and parsley - chopped
1/4 tspoon smoked paprika powder
1/4 tspoon roasted cumin seed powder
1/4 tspoon fresh ground black pepper powder
1 tbspoon lime/lemon juice
1 tbspoon oliveoil
salt to taste

Pasta, garbanzo beans salad
The ingredients list may sound long, but it really depends on what you have at home. You can always substitute one vegetable or ingredient for another.

I made it as a warm  salad (especially with the cold weather) by freshly boiling the pasta and garbanzo beans and mixing the vegetable in the still warm mix.

I like to add the mix all the dressing ingredients separately, but you can also add them directly in the salad mix.

Mix it serve immediately.Enjoy!

December 13, 2017

Mirchi bhajji or stuffed banana peppers

Mirchi bhajji (spicy pepper fritters)

It is snowing hard, a snowstorm warning is in effect and by the time it is done, there will be more than 9 inches on the ground.

On days like this, my mind wanders to the summer, to the garden, to the fresh vegetables in the farmers market. It helps, you know. :-)

For the last couple of years I have been growing banana peppers in the garden. It was by accident really. I had picked up a bunch of pepper plants and these were part of them.

Once they started growing bigger, I was excited. The potential of mirchi bhajji was on the horizon. But I had to be patient, to let them grow. And soon, it was ready, I had a few fresh, plump banana peppers ready for mirchi bhajji.

When I was in Jaipur, my mama would bring piping hot mirchi bhajjis and we would eat it hot making the shh sound when one eats something spicy and hot.

These banana peppers are not super spicy, but don't underestimate them. They pack a punch in these bhajjis.

I made a potato stuffing, but I can imagine several different kinds of fillings. I would love to hear how you make or like your mirchi bhajjis or vadas.

Here is how I did it.

6 banana peppers
1 cup chickpea flour
About 1/2 cup water
salt to taste
pinch of red chilli powder
1 cup oil for frying

For the filling
2 small potatoes - boiled
1/2 tspoon chopped ginger
handful of chopped cilantro
pinch of turmeric powder
1/4 tspoon red chilli powder
1/4 tspoon chaat maala powder
salt to taste

The first step is to clean the peppers.

Mirchi bhajji (spicy pepper fritters)Slit them in the middle and then take out the veins and the seeds. If you want more heat, save some of the seeds to add to the potatoes.

Take the boiled potatoes and mash them with your hands. Add in the spices and mix it together.

Now take each pepper and stuff it with the potato mix. Run a hand over the peppers to take any extra away once the peppers are filled.

Mirchi bhajji (spicy pepper fritters) Make the chickpea flour batter. Add the spices to chickpea flour and then add in water, little bit at a time till you get a thick pancake batter consistency.

Heat oil in a wok, while the oil heats up, dip the peppers in the chickpea flour batter.

Once the oil is hot, fry the battered mirchis 3-4 minutes on each side till they turn deep golden.

Take them out and serve hot with chutney.

October 19, 2017

7 cup, actually 6 cup barfi this Diwali

7er 6cup barfi

Happy Diwali everyone. Lots of sweets, fun and joy on this festival of lights. 

I missed the boat when 7 cup barfi was all the rage. My introduction came this summer when a cousin brought some and it was so good! I immediately made a mental note to try it this year. And what perfect time to try it than Diwali, right?

The process is straightforward and after all the stirring it was rewarding to put this in your mouth even when it is not cooled all the way.

I made a few rounds mostly to tweak the sugar amount and to try taking coconut out with other ingredients. I ended up with almond meal and about 2 cups and 2 tbspoon of sugar.

I would have taken sugar out more but was not sure of if the barfi would set.

(makes about 10-12medium sized barfis)

1 cup besan/chickpea flour
1 cup ghee
1 cup milk
3/4 cup almond meal/ ground almonds
1/4 cup fresh shredded coconut
2 cup 2 tbspoon sugar


7 cup barfi for Diwali
Sieve the besan and make sure it is smooth.Take some ghee and coat a plate you would be using later. Set it aside.

Take 2-3 tspoon of ghee and roast the chickpea flour till the raw smell disappears.

7 cup barfi for Diwali
Take a thick bottomed pan and add the milk and sugar. Mix till it starts bubbling over. Then add the ghee, and start adding in the besan/checkpea flour, almond meal and the coconut slowly few tbspoons at a time.

It will be quite watery. Don't worry it will start to thicken soon.

7 cup barfi for Diwali
Keep stirring as soon as it started to thicken. Make sure there are no lumps or sticking at the bottom.

7 cup barfi for Diwali
Once it starts leaving the sides and comes together, take it off the heat and out it on the ghee-coated plate. Use a spatula to flatten the mixture and then let it cool. Cut it in squares or diamond shape and it's ready.

7 cup barfi for Diwali

October 02, 2017

Shubho Bijoya with rajbhog

Bengali sweet Rajbhog

I haven't been in India for durga pujo for many years now, but pujo still revolves around food, friends adda and happiness no matter where. Shubho Bijoya and Happy Dushera. I hope you had a wonderful festive season too.

I try to make something special during this season and this year decided to tackle rajbhog or as my kids call it - giant rasgulla.

There were many recipes I saw that involved adding food color, filling the rajbhog with mawa, or dry fruits. Instead I have tried to keep the recipe simple mostly for kids and for me. 

I tried it a few times with a few variations before posting.

Here is my cheat sheet.

I make homemade chana/paneer.

Don't let the chana/paneer sit out for two long. Mix it while it still has some moisture.

Mix some saffron and sugar in the chana/paneer.

Make sure the sugar syrup is bubbling nicely when the chana/paneer balls are in.

(makes 10-12)
1/2 gallon whole milk
juice of 1 lemon
1 tspoon suji
1 tspoon flour
1 tspoon sugar
few strands of saffron

For syrup
21/2 cups of water + 1 cup of warm water
1 cup sugar
few strands of saffron
4-5 cardamom
1 tspoon rose water (optional)

Heat the milk in a deep bottomed pan till it  boils over then add in the juice of the lemon. Keep it on heat till milk separates.

Bengali sweet Rajbhog
Wash the chana well to get any excess smell out and strain it in a cheesecloth and hang it for 1-2 hours to drain excess water.

Bengali sweet Rajbhog
Then take the chana/paneer and mix in the saffrons, semolina/suji, flour and sugar and mix it well for a good 5-7 minutes, till it all come together smoothly.

Bengali sweet Rajbhog
Divide the mix into equal 10-12 parts. Then take each part, mix it in your hand and make a smooth ball. Repeat for each part. Know that the rajbhog will double in size during boiling.

Making sugar syrup:
Take a deep thich bottomed pan and add 1 cup sugar in 2 1/2 cups water. Once the sugar dissolves add in the saffron, cardamom, and the rose water. Let is boil for about 5-6 minutes till it is not so watery.

Add in the chana/paneer balls in the boiling sugar syrup and close the lid. Let it boil for 15-20 minutes. In the middle, you will have to add the extra 1 cup warm water, because the syrup should not get thick. It's consistency is important.

Keep the lid closed otherwise.

Bengali sweet Rajbhog
Let it cool preferably overnight before serving.

September 22, 2017

Lamb kofta (meatball) Pulao

Lamb meatball pulao

Another school year has started and this year brings a big change for us. Tiny M has started in a Young Five program this year and goes to the same school as his older brother Lil A. So far he is transitioning into his new school well. He likes his classroom and that he gets to do music, gym and especially library.

I just want to take a minute to slow down and remember this because before I know he will be finishing his elementary school.

Coming back to the recipe, I have something special to celebrate the pujo season.

I have made this lamb kofta pulao a few times now experimenting with some spices, herbs and fried onions. Now I stick to cooking the rice and the meatballs separately and combining them towards the end.

If you are entertaining this pujo season, it is a special dish. It does involve a few steps especially if you are making the meatballs but totally worth the effort.


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