Monday, October 5, 2015

Dal Makhani - with no cream and very little butter

Yes yes - you read the title right. It is the same Dal Makhani ...... but there is no cream and there is very little butter. Don't even think that it wont taste rich or it will taste like other not so healthy cardboard kind of dishes. This tastes divine. And just as the 'Beejee' (from where I took the inspiration for this dish) says..... it flows like butter from your tongue into your throats and to your tummy.
Lets talk a little about where I got the inspiration for this dal from. I have a virtual friend named Ansh who blogs at 'SpiceRoots' - you must visit her blog to read her amazing stories and to see her beautiful pictures and of course to read and recreate her sumptuous recipes. She had posted the recipe for this dal makhani and the story of how "Beejee" had said that a real Dal Makhani need not have all the butter or cream - but, it should glide from your tongue into the throats and then to the tummy. You have to visit the page to read her story. Here is the link Dal Makhani - by Spice Roots
There is the use of mustard oil in this recipe - If you do not like to use mustard oil - its too bad! (just like Ansh says) you can very much use any other oil of your choice. Ofcorse this will alter the taste of the dal. 
I used to be intimidated by mustard oil - like so many other I know of. But, trust me. When you learn how to use mustard oil - its the best one to cook with. Food tastes amazing and the golden hue that the food gets because of this oil - well, that another dimension to the food altogether. 

I tried and made it a little easier for myself - Blame the shortcut 'Me'. In that process I made some changes, mainly the use of some extra spices to get some  spice aroma.
We love this Dal Makhani and it has become a staple at home and even at parties.


2 Cups Maa ki Dal (Whole Black Gram/Urad Dal)
1/2 cup Rajma (Red Kidney Beans)
1 medium onion - chopped
5 garlic cloves - grated
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 Tablespoon mustard oil (or any other oil of your choice)
1 medium tomato - chopped
1 inch ginger - julienned
1 Tablespoon red chilli powder
1 Tablespoon coriander cumin powder
2 teaspoons Ghee (Clarified Butter)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 black cardamom
2 green cardamoms
2 cloves
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
Salt to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish
1 Tablespoon butter for garnish (optional)
1 Tablespoon cream for garnish (optional)


wash the Urad dal and the rajma and then soak them in 6 cups of water for atleast 12 hours (overnight soaking is a good idea to make the dal in the late morning/early afternoon).
When ready to make  the dal - first chop the onions and grate the garlic. Drain the urad dal and rajma and put them into a pressure cooker with 5 cups of water. To this add the onions, garlic, asafoetida, turmeric powder and 1 tablespoon of mustard oil. Pressure cook the dal and rajma for about 5 whistles. Shut the heat and let the pressure be released on its own - would take about 15 minutes.
I use my terracota pot (its similar to a clay pot) to make this dal - but, you can use a saucepan or a kadhai too. Place the pot on the stove and heat it. Add ghee to it - when it gets hot add the cumin and let it splutter. Add the ginger and the chopped tomatoes and saute till ghee leaves the sides. Add the coriander cumin powder, chiili powder and the cooked dal from the pressure cooker. Add salt to taste. Cover and let it come to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat and let it simmer on low heat. In the meantime - pound the black cardamom, green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon into a powder using a mortar and pestle. Add this to the cooking dal and mix well. If the dal is too thick, you can add a little water to get the dal consistency to your liking (remember this is a thick dal and is not runny).
Garnish with chopped cilantro, butter and cream. Serve hot with rotis, naan or white rice that has been steamed. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Banana Bread/Cake with Coconut and Rum

Bananas are something that generally end up getting brown at our home. I still wonder why I get bananas from the store. But, then Lil Miss A will ask for a banana once in a while. If you remember from my earlier posts...... I get barely 4 to 5 bananas when I go to the store and that too once in 2 weeks. And every 2 weeks we end up having banana bread in some way.
This time I tried to make it a fun banana bread for Mr. A and myself. The kid does not like the cake/bread version unless its made with chocolate.
I made use of the coconut rum that was sitting in our small bar. I had got this rum when I had made the Puerto Rican Coconut Rum Cake for last years New Years Eve Party. I will update the recipe here soon.
I think this is our favorite banana bread so far - ofcorse it has rum...... but, you can completely not use it and still make this and enjoy a simple coconut banana bread.


1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut rum (totally optional)
3 bananas
1 and 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour/Maida
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut shreds


In a big mixing bowl add the oil and sugar and mix it well. Now add the eggs and beat it well for about 5 minutes. To this add the coconut rum and the mashed bananas and mix well. To this add the All Purpose Flour, baking soda, salt and coconut shreds and just fold everything together. You do not want to mix this batter too much or the cake will turn flat.
I baked this cake in a bundt pan (just because I love how the bundt pan shapes the cake). You can bake it in a 9X5 loaf pan too. Bake it in a preheated oven at 350 Fahrenheit for about 50 minutes to an hour. A toothpick inserted should come out clean and your cake is ready. Let it cool before cutting it.

  • The rum will actually cook through and you will not taste it except for the coconut flavor. If you want it to be a boozy cake - use a toothpick and make holes in the cake about 1 inch apart and then add 2 tablespoons on rum all through the cake. This will make it taste and smell of rum too
  • If you do not wish to add rum - then add 1/4 cup of milk and 1 tsp of coconut extract or vanilla extract. The cake should still taste great.                          

Mangalorean Chicken Curry (to go with the Sannas)

I had posted the sannas recipe a couple of months ago. This is the recipe to the chicken curry that the sannas were served with. Its a typical Mangalorean curry made with simple spices and coconut. I added some potatoes too as Lil Miss A was in a no chicken phase (well that lasted for only about 10 days). The fiery red colour is from the use of the authentic byadgi mirchi which is very much a favored dried red chili when cooking Mangalorean food.


To marinate

2 pounds chicken (I used boneless/skinless thighs cut into 2 inch pieces)
2 tablespoons yogurt
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt

To roast and grind

5 to 6 byadgi mirchi (you can use more if you like it a bit hot)
1 tsp mustard sees
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
4 green cardamoms
1 black cardamom
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
2 inch cinnamon stick 
3 tablespoons coconut oil (you can use any other oil of choice too)
3 medium onions - sliced
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut (I used frozen)
10 garlic cloves - slices
1 inch ginger - sliced
salt to taste


Marinate the chicken pieces in yogurt, turmeric powder and salt. Keep it covered in the refrigerator till you get the other ingredients prepared. You could even marinate this overnight. I sometimes get organic chicken in bulk and marinate and freeze them in portions in the freezer.
Heat a saucepan (the one in which you will make this curry) and add the mustard seeds to it and keep stirring. They will start to splutter. Remove them in a plate. Now add the cumin seeds and saute them. When a nice aroma comes by, remove onto the same plate as the mustard seeds. Now add the coriander seeds and repeat the same way like the cumin seeds.
Now add the peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, black cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon and let it heat up and leave a nice aroma. Remove into the same plate as the other heated ingredients. Now roast the grated coconut in the heated saucepan and get a nice aroma and a golden color. Remove with all the other ingredients on the same plate.
In the same saucepan add the oil. When it heats up add the onions, garlic and ginger. Fry/saute till the onions turn a nice golden brown. Let it cool. Now add the onions and the other ingredients that were roasted into a mixer/grinder and grind to a very fine paste. Add water, 1/4 cup at a time and no more then 1/2 cup just to ease the grinding process.
In the same saucepan that you used to fry the onions (do not wash it), add the ground masala and let it heat up. When you see bubbles forming on the edge add the marinated chicken pieces. Mix well - if the curry is too thick then add 1/2 cup of water. Cover and let it cook/boil on a medium flame for about 20 minutes. Open the lid and check if the chicken is cooked through - if not, then cover and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Chicken generally leaves some water when it gets cooked - the curry should be the consistency as shown in the picture - if not then add 1/4 cup of water and let it come to a boil. Check and add salt as needed.
serve hot with Sannas, Idilis, Dosas, Neer Dosas, Steamed rice, Bread or even Chappatis.


  • This curry tastes very nice the next day. The spices and the coconut gets into each other and hence a wait period of 12 to 24 hours enhances the curry taste.
  • If you are adding potatoes - just quarter them and add them 10 minutes after adding the chicken and boiling the curry. 
  • you can use the base of the curry to cook cauliflower. peas, potatoes, beans - and get a vegetarian version of the yummy curry too.

Mirchi Ka Salaan

I always had fond memories of the gravy/curry that was served on the side with biryanis at restaurants in Mumbai. It was a nice tangy and spicy gravy that went very well with biryanis.
When I started to explore about food - I educated myself with the name - it as called "Mirchi ka salaan" - Mirchi means chilis and hence the heat. 
This salaan was prepared just once a long time ago and then again I made it yesterday when we had a biryani party at a friends place. Yes, her husband cooks some mean biryani and kebabs. The biryani was super tasty with the great aroma of slow cooked spices with the most perfectly cooked chicken and ofcorse the salaan tasted good. We had the most amazing 'quatro leches' (four milk) cake made by another friend. A lot of laughter and jokes and serious talks and moscow mules were the highlight of the evening. 
Its always uplifting to have such friends and I thank the Lord for getting these beautiful souls into our lives. 


10 to 12 long hot peppers
1 medium onion
4 garlic cloves
1/2 inch ginger piece
1/4 cup groundnut
1/4 cup grated coconut
1/8 cup sesame seeds
1 TBS poppy seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp tamarind paste
1/2 tsp jaggery
2 tsp coriander cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 to 2 cups water
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds/kalonji
10 curry leaves
2 dried red chillis
3 tablespoons oil
salt to taste


Wash the hot peppers and cut them into two pieces right in the middle. You can remove the seeds and the veins if you do not want the salaan to be extra hot. Leave it to dry out on a paper towel.
Heat a kadhai (I used an earthen pot to cook this salaan) and then add the groundnuts. Let them roast and let the color change to a reddish tinge - you will get a nice nutty aroma. Remove it onto a plate. Now add the sesame seeds and let them change their color - this will be quick as the kadhai is hot. Remove onto the same plate as the nuts. Now add the poppy seeds and roast for 2 minutes. Do the same thing with the fenugreek seeds.  Remove to the same plate. Roast the grated coconut and get a nice reddish brown color on them. Add this to the plate too.
Now add 1 tablespoon oil to the kadhai. When it gets hot, add the garlic and immediately add the onions and the ginger. Saute till the onions get a nice golden brown color. Remove it onto the same plate as the nuts and the seeds. Let it cool and then grind to a fine paste. Add very little water just to east the grinding process.
In the same kadhai add the 2 tablespoons of oil. When it gets hot (really hot) add the chillis and get a nice chaar on their kinds. This would take about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove on a paper towel and let it sit. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on these chillis.
The kadhai will have oil in it. To this add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter and then add the nigella seeds, curry leaves and dried red chillis. When the chillis puff up - add the ground paste and mix well with a light hand. When the mixture has oil seeping from the sides, add the coriander cumin powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder and a little salt. Add a cup of water and mix well. Cover and let the curry boil on medium heat. You will see the oil on top of the curry. Open the lid and add tamarind paste and jaggery. If the curry is too thick, you can add 1/4 cup of water at a time to get the desired consistency. Add the fried chillis and check for salt. Cover and let the curry simmer on medium low heat for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with biryani. This goes well with plain steamed rice too.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pyazwali Alu Bhindi (Orka, Onions and Potatoes stirfry)

This is a very simple bhaji to make and very tasty to savor with chappatis and a side of yogurt or even as a simple side wit some comforting dal/chawal.
My 5 year old loves this bhaji and says yummy food whenever we have it on her plate. I have been making this almost once a week for over 9 years now. Thought of sharing it here.

I generally buy Indian Okra called Bhindi from the Indian store close to home. I do not go by pounds or kilos as I generally count about 45 to 50 Okras/bhindis and that makes enough bhaji for the 3 of us for one meal (we eat more vegetables and less chappati or rice)


about 50 bhindis/okra
1 medium onion
2 medium potatoes
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp amchur powder
2 tablespoons oil
salt to taste


Wash the bhindi and dry them. Chop their ends off and then make 1/2 inch slices. Peel the potatoes and then make cubes equal to the size of the bhindi. Chop the onions roughly.
In a kadhai/wok, add the oil. When it gets hot add the onion, potato and bhindi and coat everything with oil. Cover and let it cook on medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the lid and then stir it to get the vegetables on top to go to the bottom. Cover and cook again for 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the turmeric, salt, coriander cumin powder, chilli powder and amchur powder. Mix everything well with a very light hand. Check if the potatoes and bhindi are cooked - if not then cover and let it cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. If its cooked then no need to cover. Let it saute in the masalas for about 5 more minutes and keep lightly stirring it lightly.
Serve hot with chappatis and yogurt or as a side with the humble dal chawal.
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