Showing posts with label Chutney/Dips and Raita. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chutney/Dips and Raita. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sweet N Spicy tofu and Pears on a bed of cabbage salad

#IndianChutney, #Dip, #PearChutney, #SweetNSpicyChutney
#IndianChutney, #Dip, #PearChutney, #SweetNSpicyChutney
Finally, it’s nice and warm, believe it or not I have still not planted my annuals, I don’t know where my time is going. I think I might need a book on time management. The last fortnight was a bit hectic. 2 weeks?? It has been a fortnight since I did a post on TNS??  For one, my sister was visiting with her family from India, even thou she was here just for the weekend, before that I was busy spring cleaning and getting a part of the house renovated. You know how that goes, am glad that’s behind me… Got some great props from my sister, I did put it up on FB for you all to gawk. If you missed it, here…an iPhone image. Got some great paper to use as the background, the green I have used in this post and the maroon in the prop pix too. Prop envy :) the aluminum box on the bottom right is two generations old (my mom’s)….can’t wait to use it.

  The other day I was eating some spicy tofu in salad, I thought it was missing something. I wanted to add a gooey sweet n spicy chutney to it….some pears, spice and  molasses …fell in love with the flavors. Since then we have been having this chutney with crackers, mini toasts, even in a burger. I must say the best pairing is with spicy tofu on a bed of salad. It’s a great lunch option with a bowl of soup. That’s exactly what I did today, some roasted red pepper soup with the tofu. It will pair very well with roasted chicken.
#IndianChutney, #Dip, #PearChutney, #SweetNSpicyChutney

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Spicy Garlic Oil

Spice is a tool, a powerhouse of flavors. You can mix and match, using your tools to create the flavors you want on your canvas, with no rules (I love the sound of that.) A small teaspoon can go a long way.  Every time that I add masalas (spice blend) to my vegetables, I feel like I am breathing life into the dish.

Bland flavorless food is like watching a boring movie on a dull, rainy day. I have had the opportunity to  to taste some pretty bland food and it left me with a rather dull empty feeling.  Spicy is sometimes misunderstood as a synonym for 'hot'; however, spicy simply means flavored with spice. Spicy does not always mean it is sharp and/or hot. Cinnamon is not sharp, but it is a spice... Then there is fennel, which is sweet in flavor. It might be intimidating for some to embrace these flavors, it is indeed an acquired taste. If you are sniffing cumin for the first time, don't stick your nose into a bag of cumin, you might just faint (OK! that's a bad joke) But seriously, it does have a strong aroma, most spices do. But remember that you are not going to add a cup of cumin or any other spice,  into your dish. It's going to be just 1/2 tsp or even 1/4th tsp. It provides flavor and mixes in with the other main ingredients to give a subtle flavor. A better way could be to rub the spice between your finger and thumb and sniff the aroma. I think spiced oils are a good way to start, as you can add a bit of the spiced oil onto your dish and try it. Also, I love customizing my dinner meals to my own taste buds, hence I love food that has a lot of movement and creativity; where you can add the dips, chutneys and oils, mix them...and every bite of the food is unique. That is food nirvana for me. And most importantly, oils love flavor.

This particular spicy oil is a mix of red chili, garlic and a bit of garam masala.  The oil I have used is a blend of olive and sesame.  Sesame is pretty strong, the olive oil dilutes the flavor of the sesame and adds it's own sweet nutty taste. Why oils?? Well, it's the same reason why fried food is one of the best tasting foods. It's because fat devolves flavor (flavor solvents).  I know you're probably falling asleep here, but there is serious science behind why fried food is more flavorful. So, don't blame yourself for gawking over french fries rather than apples. (no offense to apples here).  Just one advice, don't drink it like a beverage... use a teaspoon.

My other favorite is olive oil with fennel seeds... coming soon on the blog.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

Absolutely love Pinterest and can spend a lifetime there... being a visual person, I always get inspired from beautiful photography, art and inspirational quotes. I was pinning on Pinterest and my eye caught some beautiful inspirational words....

"The privilege of a lifetime, is being who you are" - unknown. 

" You can be the ripest, juiciest peach  in the world and there is still going to be somebody who hates peaches. " - Dita Von Ceese

It triggered a series of thoughts....and I always like to pen my is an excerpt from my diary....

It's amazing how I have evolved in the last few years. Done things I thought I would never do because I am not that young or just the fear of negative response from people around me. I don't live on validation.... Ok! a whee bit of a people pleaser. It's not as bad as it sounds- I like to see people happy, ok! Dad was strong-minded  and a very straight forward man - but on the social aspect I was trained (subconsciously) by mother  - great with people management. Somehow she always knows what to say and say it in a way that the message is well received and she's successful in communicating her pleasure or displeasure.  She's a charmer and knows how to use her words well. I guess, I did not inherit that quality and am a bit like dad (all the training from mom, did not do much). Also, married to a man who uses his words wisely but diplomacy is not in his vocabulary. ( lol! makes me laugh at the things he says sometimes) He's a great life coach and always tells me to live my life as an exclamation not an explanation. Can't thank you enough for this ! In this journey, I have realized that there are some people who have pushed me and I have made stronger bonds with them - ( they even do prop shopping for me and gift me things they buy for themselves ). I would not like to talk about the nay sayers, their existence does not bother me  - they exist in their world and me in mine and these two world don't meet.  Even thou, it is important to keep people around us happy but not at the cost of your own self. You really can't live your life trying to please everyone....! As dad would say "....have a dream, follow it, don't trample anyone for your dreams but don't get trampled either....." 

Not everything I write in this space is related to what's cooking....but it is almost always followed by a recipe or at least a photograph of food . :) Today, am sharing an all time favorite pesto recipe. It is a very versatile chutney and you can whip so many variations and each one absolutely delish. You guys are going to love this!

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Spicy pickled veggies

Pickle making is a fancy fair in India. I remember when my mother would see the first crop of raw mangoes hit the street veggie vendors, she would plan elaborately. Spotless green mangoes, washed and wiped clean, cut with the cleanest of knives with precision and then bottled into big mustard and cream pickle jar and during the process, we were told to stay away from the  kitchen and keep our filthy hands to ourselves for fear of soiling the 'batch' of pickle. The mouth of the jar always tied with a cloth and the lid would go on it, it would be kept in a warm draft free area of the kitchen.  God forbid, a batch was ever spoilt, the blame would almost always be on me...I was often seen lurking in the kitchen, in the late afternoons and when I did not have any business in there, so there was no one else to point fingers at. I don't think I have ever dug my finger into the pickle jar ...hmm maybe just once or twice ;) 

Most of the oil based pickles do not need refrigeration and takes anywhere form a month to three to mature, some of the brine based pickles are long-term too and does not need refrigeration. However the instant pickles like this one only needs 24 hours to ferment and needs refrigeration after 24 hours and can last only for a couple of months. 

Picking has gone through an evolution with time....apparently we have traded off good old fashion taste and natural pickling resulting in healthy micro nutrients in the pickles to a longer shelf life and pickles that have more preservatives than nutrients. Traditionally instant pickles like this one was fermented in basic whey (tie kefir yogurt in a cheesecloth, the water from the yogurt is whey) or just salt with some acid like lemon or vinegar ( acid often helps in preventing spoilage) thus, resulting in better taste and full of micro nutrients but a very short shelf life and  of-course a need for refrigeration. However, most of the pickles that we buy has been pasteurized for longer shelf life. 

It's hard for me to stop myself from sharing all the nerd facts about fermentation...from all the books I have read ....did you not notice the halo around me!! 

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pumpkin and fenugreek flatbread/Paratha with pomegranate in yogurt raita

Parathas always take me back in time, when I lived in Delhi. Anyone who has ever lived or visited Delhi will know about the famous 'Gali paranthe Wali' or ' Parathe Wali Gali' in Chandni  chowk. The world's best place for stuffed Indian flat bread...hands down! I don't think there is any other place that can be a close contender.  I do not recommend you to peak into the don't ask why ! But you got to eat there with your eyes focusing on just the food, not the kitchen....and yes if you do have a sensitive digestive system....let's say your palette will thank you but I don't guarantee anything else. I have never had issues eating there, but you make your call.  Most of the stores only serve vegetarian parathas not even onion and garlic. Big history for a small narrow gali (lane) . Chandni chowk dates back to Shah Jahan era (1670), the first paratha shop in the gali was opened in 1870. Till date the parathas are shallow fried in pure ghee. Some of the recipes dates back to a century - that is what I have been told. You will find all kinds of filling - from cashew n almonds to the more common potatoes. I do recollect Anthony Bourdain feasting on some of the parathas @ CC, then again am not sure, maybe it was Rajasthan. Anyway Paratha gali is surely a haven for paratha lovers with some history .....

While this one is an original from my kitchen, I could not help but think about the paratha gali and different exotic parathas they serve there. Flaky, juicy and full of flavors.  The sweetness and mushiness of pumkin with the mild bitterness and crunchiness of fenugreek leaves and the spices makes this a perfect combination.  I went a little easy on the ghee, but if you don't believe in the philosophy of less is more....go for it!!It's worth the extra calorie :)) 
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cranberry Sauce with a kick

 Mixed feelings about the holidays this year. Every year we travel during the holidays, usually to India. Last year we spent a week in Germany and the rest of the vacation in India. No travel plans this year. Excited that after many years we will be home for the holidays, but will also miss seeing family in India. Am certainly looking forward to lots of parties and pot lucks. There is something magical about a warm home with the aroma of spicy breads and fruit cakes in the oven and snow falling outside. So much to be thankful for....! Cranberry sauce is a must-have with many traditional menus and for the holidays. What are your plans for the holidays ?

I wanted to try cranberry sauce with a hint of spice and a kick of red chili - I was really happy with the outcome.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tamarind n Dates chutney

The week went by too quickly .....!! I love spring break, its a sneak peak of my favorite season - summer!! It was a great week - the best part being, no alarms to ruin the morning slumber - and the birds chirping happy songs. We had so many things on our to do  wish list, we could accomplish only a few, went and watched "hunger games", ate out, shopping and cooked some yumicious food, but the pix were a disaster. I was in so much of a hurry to take pix that I forgot to re-set the white balance and ended up a bluish hue on all the pix, yes all of them :( !! haste does make waste!! Well on the brighter side the next week will be a repeat - telecast of all the yumminess !!  I did manage to salvage this one. Thanks to Photoshop!! It is not the best :( sorry guys!!

 I always yes you read it right always have tamarind n dates chutney in the refrigerator. It is one of those chutneys that is so versatile, it is the back bone of chaat. Chaat is a staple in our household - almost every other weekend, so much so that I have friends who just walk in and expect chaat  if it is a Friday and I love  surprises and since chaat is such a quick snack, with so many variations it never gets boring. It has taken me many trials to perfect this chutney and this is the recipe I have been using for over 10yrs now.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Coriander and Mint chutney

Am not so crazy about the time change . I just feel we have hardly any daylight. Well not the best thing when you get your creative juices going at 4 pm on a cloudy evening with hardly any day light.  It has been on my mind forever to start using my camera the way it should be used  - to understand light better and to use it to my advantage. I started reading - Plate to Pixel - digital food photography and styling by Helene Dujardin. Love the way she explains every aspect of capturing the food and sharing it thru photography. You must visit her blog- its spectacular. 

After I spent a few hours reading , my hands were itching to try something new with my camera. It was 4pm on a cloudy day with hardly any day light, I had made some coriander mint chutney that afternoon, I got out my camera and started using different combinations of settings. I was really happy with the outcome and am glad to use the pixs. Am looking fwd to more learning and rediscovering my camera.  Any photography tips and advise are welcome. 

You will need
a big bunch of coriander leaves
a small bunch of mint leaves (optional)
small tomato (optional)
2-3 tsp lime juice or  2 tbsp of tamarind paste
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp sugar or jaggery
7-8 green chillies
1-2 garlic pod 
1-2 tsp dried cranberries (optional)
1/4 th inch grated ginger (optional)
salt per taste

Add all the ingredients in the blender add some water ( not much - you don't want the chutney to be watery consistency) blend till it is nice and smooth...almost creamy. Use it with parathas or sandwich or in bhel puri, sev puri and dahi vada.

This is a very multi- purpose chutney - adds the oomph in a meal !! One of my favorite use is with grilled cheese sandwich.....add a slice of cheese and a tbsp of chutney between two slices of bread and is a simple and divine snack - add some chips and a glass of mango lassi and you got a meal.  You can store this in your refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vegetables steamed Dumplings

Vegetable dumplings is a family favorite and it takes less time to devour them than it takes to make them. Can't blame us, these little munchkins are so delicious that it is never enough!! A great snack for every age. Every time I make them I try different sauces.......that is the best part !! You can never go wrong with a combo of savory, sweet n spicy ! Hope you like it as much as we do !!

for the dumplings :

1/2 cup coarsely grated carrots
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
2 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon  salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bowl of water, plus additional water for steamer
10 - 15  small wonton wrappers

In a bowl add the carrots, cabbage,  pepper, scallions, ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, sesame oil, egg, salt, and pepper. Lightly stir to combine.

For the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush the edges of the wrapper  with water. Place the vegi mixture in the center of the wrapper. Shape as desired. Set aside and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure using up all the filling.

In a steamer steam the dumplings for 10-12 min on medium heat. I used the the idli stand in steamer for the dumplings.

The sauce

This is my favorite part of the dish, it was fun getting creative with all the sauces.

sauce 1 : soy sauce mix with honey and mustard.
sauce 2:  ketchup with hot and sweet bbq sauce
sauce 3: honey  mixed with hot sauce, vinegar and dried mint powder.

Serve hot !! enjoy !! Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, March 4, 2011

Coconut and Curry leaves chutney

Growing up we had a curry plant in the house, it was a huge plant almost a tree. It was a treat to pick the leaves from the tree, the aroma of the leaves was almost I write ....I can almost smell the fresh leaves of the curry plant....childhood memories :) It has a spicy-sweet smell very hard to put in words.... Curry leaf is a must in almost every south Indian kitchen, it is not uncommon to see a curry plant in many Indian households. Easy to grow and bursting with flavors is indeed a treat in your herb garden.  

1 cup fresh coconut gratings
12- 15 curry leaves washed
4 -5 red chili or green chili
1 tbsp mustard seeds
 1  tbs bengal gram daal (chana daal)
1 tbsp urad dhal
5-6 tsp tamarind paste. (soak lemon size tamarind in warm water and squeeze the pulp)
salt per taste
1/4 th tsp oil

In a pan heat the oil and roast mustard, urad daal and chana daal. Now add the washed curry leaves and roast it on a low flame till it shrivels up a bit. Wizz the blender with the roasted ingredients, coconut,green chili, tamarind and salt. Serve with your favorite idlis or dosa ... also tastes great with aloo-puri. It cannot get easier than this ;-) less than 20 min !!
 Have a great weekend!
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thambhuli -Ajwain leaves in yogurt

Indian cuisine is all about rich aromatic spices and herbs. From rasam powder to garam masala, there must be some gazillion recipes with exotic spices like saffron to a more down to earth coriander..each having its own character, aroma and flavor. Today's showcase - Ajwain or Carom, a well known herb, famous for its medicinal properties and for its aroma..almost like thyme only stronger. Member of the parsley family, ajwain's main flavor comes from thymol, the essential oil that makes thyme taste like thyme. But while thyme is floral and sweet, ajwain is sharp. The ajwain seed is mostly used in breads, biscuits, naans and parathas. Due to its strong flavor it does not pair well with every spice and herb.  

The combo of ajwain leaves and yogurt called thambhuli in Kannada is a southern delicacy. It is a no-cook recipe and  traditionally enjoyed with steaming hot rice.  Can also be great as a dip, side or a raita. 

In a saucepans, heat 1/2 tsp of oil and roast jeera/cumin- 1/2 tsp, pepper corns - 5-6, now add 5-6 leaves of ajwain, washed and clean. Roast on low flame till the leaves become mushy and give off an aroma. Wait till it cools, add 1-2, Thai peppers or as per taste and salt and grind into fine paste. you can store this paste (without the yogurt) for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Add yogurt...about 1/2 to3/4 cup, depending on how strong or mild you want the flavors.

For tempering: In 1/2 tsp oil add mustard, let it pop, add curry leaves.

Enjoy as a chatni with hot rice or as a dip.

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Monday, November 1, 2010


I really enjoy dips, sauces, chutneys and it tapenade or good old peanut sauce. What is a salad with out dressing or a chip without a dip! It just brings life to an appetizer/salad. Somehow, I am not crazy about Hummus . The same thing is not true with most of my friends, as far as they are concerned...they love hummus. To them: my friends- thanks for being there and enjoying what I create. On popular demand am posting hummus as promised to you all :)

This recipe has been adapted from 'Real Simple' magazine.

Ingredients:  Serves 4-6

 Kabuli chana/Chickpeas: 4 handfuls
Garlic clove : 2
Olive oil: 2 tsp
Fresh lemon Juice: 2-3 tbsp
Sesame seed roasted and powdered: 1 tbsp
Cumin powder: roasted and powdered : 1 tsp
Chili flakes: 1-2 tbsp
Basil flakes: 1-2 tbsp
Salt to taste

Soak kabuli chana overnight and pressure cook it till tender. Keep aside and let it cool. In a blender add all the ingredients, except  olive oil, chili flakes, basil flakes. You can add water as necessary to achieve the desired consistency. Add the olive oil in a stream and mix into the smooth and creamy paste. Now add the chili flakes, basil flakes and freshly ground black pepper (optional). Serve with crackers, or your favorite bread.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mint & Cococnut Chutney

  The best part of summer is being able to grow herbs and vegetables in your backyard and enjoy them in your recipes. Great! ... saves a trip to the grocery store...  and is always exciting and fulfilling to use home grown ingredients. When there is more fresh herbs than we can use, we dry them. Place the leaves on a plate and set aside in a cool, dry place for several days or oven dry them on the lowest heat setting ... not  as aromatic as fresh herbs...but they are home grown and grown with love. We are always looking for ways to store our herbs, so if you have a better way, please share it with us.

Ingredients: serves 3-4

Oil: 1/4th tsp
Mustard Seed: 1/2 tsp
Urad Daal: 3/4 tsp
Chana daal: 3/4 tsp
Tamarind Juice: 1 tsp
Green chili: 2-3
Mint leaves: Handful
Ginger root: 1/2 inch (optional)
Fresh Coconut grated: 1/2 cup
Salt: to taste

In a pan heat the oil and roast mustard, urad daal and chana daal. Now add the washed mint leaves and roast it on a low flame till it shrivels up a bit. Wizz the blender with the roasted ingredients, coconut, ginger, green chili, tamarind and salt. Serve with your favorite idlis, dosas or even paratha.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010



    It's finally summer !!!!

 It has been much awaited, the hubby do list has  finally emerged from the back of the" junk drawer",  the barbecue has been set up all ready to fire and we are ready to do some real gardening.   The pantry has been stocked up  on  junk food , knowing well we will be  miserable by fall when our sweaters start to look bulky!

    After the initial enthusiasm, the summer heat can get to us, it is by then that we long for cool salads, light appetizers and chilled punches, but  this year we started early, we roasted  asparagus, sprinkled it with spicy tandoori masala..  and served  it with some cold yogurt dip ... simply good!

Snap the tough end of the asparagus and stir fry them in your favorite oil/butter...sprinkle on some tandoori masala and salt and stir them so the masala evenly coats all the stems.                                                          
For the dip: To 1/2 a cup of thick yogurt add 1tsp of sour cream, 1/2tsp jalapeno mustard, some chopped mint leaves or a little bit of mint chutney, whisk still it is nice and creamy...Enjoy as a snack or an appetizer.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pineapple Raitha

       Our first meeting with Pineapple Raitha, was at a restaurant in a small town, tucked away in rural Maharashtra,India . It was love at first sight! This  simple rustic homey place was situated by the fields  and used all the produce that they grew, farm fresh eggs, poultry, veggies and  exotic fruits like figs. The food used to be fresh and flavorful beyond words! 

         So far we have not been able to replicate that taste and flavor and we usually blame it on the pineapple!;-) but you and we know better....some dishes just cannot be the same !

 So until our next trip there ....we make do with this recipe.....

Ingredients: serves 4

Fresh or canned pineapple chunks: 1&1/2 cup
Yogurt: plain 3-4 cups
Sugar: 1-2 tbsp
Salt: to taste
Red chili Powder: 1 tsp
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Chaat Masala: ½ tsp (optional)

In a bowl whip yogurt, sugar, salt, ½ tsp red chili powder, ½ tsp cumin powder and chaat masala till it is nice and creamy. Mix in the pineapple chunks and garnish with the rest of red chili powder, cumin powder and finely chopped cilantro. Serve chilled. Pineapple raita goes very well with spicy curries and biryani. Print Friendly and PDF

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