Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mushroom Masala - One Pot One Shot (OPOS) style

Mushroom Masala

Today was yet another hectic day. Hats off to all the parents who ferry their kids around to extra curricular classes every single school evening. T is currently enrolled in Taekwondo classes and getting her to the 5:30pm classes on time is a mammoth task! Apart from driving 45 mins from work to school, convincing a tired kid that Taekwondo will strengthen her immunity and make her strong seemed like a futile effort. Hubby offered to take T to the class which gave me an hour to myself. After 15 mins of lazing around, I wanted to make a quick curry for dinner. The mushrooms from Costco had to be used up before they start turning brown. I searched for recipes using mushroom on the OPOS Facebook group and decided on one.

OPOS (One Pot One Shot) is an efficient way of cooking which is all about layering your ingredients. While OPOS calls for a 2L stovetop pressure cooker, I made this recipe in an Instant Pot.

It took about 10 mins to clean and chop the mushrooms and marinate them in the paste specified in the recipe. Altogether it took 15 mins to prep and another 15 mins in the IP, not counting the time needed for natural pressure release.

The curry turned out scrumptious. I can't thank Mr.RK enough for introducing this concept of cooking and the time it saves. There is no need to sauté onions and tomatoes. I was skeptical if it will even work out, but it did. 

Onto the recipe now:

Mushroom Masala:

Mushrooms - 24 oz, chopped
1 big onion - chopped
Tomatoes - 2
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder - 2 tsps
Salt to taste
Almonds - 5
Cashews - 5
Frozen shredded coconut - 1/4 cup
Fennel seeds - 2 tsps
Ghee or butter - 2 tsps
Water - 2 tsps
Chopped Coriander - 1 tbsp (optional)

Blend tomatoes, fennel seeds, coconut, cashews and almonds to a smooth paste without any added water. Mix chopped mushrooms with salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala powder and the tomato spice paste. Let rest for 10 mins.

The key to OPOS is layering. Start with the water followed by ghee/butter. Layer the chopped onions next. Spread the marinated mushrooms next. Cook on manual high pressure for 15 mins and natural pressure release.

Give it a stir and garnish with chopped coriander. Enjoy with rice, roti or naan.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rava Muffins

Rava Muffins

T is a picky eater. 
T is a picky and slow eater.
T is a picky and slow eater only when it comes to food she doesn't normally enjoy. That narrows it down to anything which is not chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Not once, I repeat, not once was there a need to remind her to finish her chocolate or vanilla ice cream. And not once did she finish her lunch or dinner without a million reminders!

Every morning, her lunch is crafted carefully with the hope her lunch box will come back empty. Nutella or cheese sandwiches cut into animal shapes using these molds. Cucumbers, carrots, olives, grapes or apples cut and filled into the recesses of the lunch box. And the ever familiar phrase which I mumble even in my sleep 'Finish your lunch, sweetie!'.

And every evening, there would be left overs dotted with reasons 'Mommy, I didn't have time.', 'Mommy, there was too much food. I have a small tummy.' 

Now you get the idea. I am always on the hunt for recipes which would entice her into eating every single morsel. I can't blame her, because I was a picky eater when I was a kid. I have grown out of it which gives hope that T would get better too.

Rava, also Suji, an Indian term for semolina is extensively used in my kitchen. From the humble upma to the delicious kesari, rava is used in a wide variety of recipes. My go to recipe on week nights and weekend brunches is rava idly. It's very easy to make and paired with a chutney, makes a satisfying meal. 

Today, instead of steaming the batter in idly molds, I decided to bake in muffin molds. The result was scrumptious. The muffins held their shape and were still soft enough. They can absolutely go into a lunch box either for office or school. Easy to handle and easy to dunk into a chutney or sambar, these rava muffins were a winner. 

Rava Muffin Recipe:

Rava/Suji - 1 cup
Plain Yogurt - 2 cups
Baking Soda - 1/4 tsp
Salt - As per taste
Onion - 1 medium (finely chopped)
Carrots - 2 (peeled and grated)
Minced Ginger - 1 tsp (optional)
Minted Coriander - 1tbsp (optional)

Roast rava till it turns light brown. Add yogurt, baking soda and salt and stir till the ingredients are blended without any lumps. Keep it aside for 5 mins. Then stir in the onion, carrot, ginger and coriander. 

You can pour this batter into a greased baking pan or muffin tray and bake at 360F for 20 mins. I poured the batter into muffin molds and air fried it at 360F for 15 mins. I use my air fryer for baking too. I find it convenient than having to fire up a big oven.

The muffins are done when a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let rest for 10 mins and enjoy with peanut or coconut chutney or a little sugar. 

As to whether T gobbled this up without a fuss is a story for another day!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Airfried Tindora

AirFried Tindora

It's such a cold day today. Being sick with cough and cold doesn't help at all. But just the thought it's a Friday cheers me up. No homework. No need to rush to get to bed on time. No need to wake up early tomorrow. What more can I ask for?  By the time I completed my work today, it was almost 6 pm. There were no leftovers in the fridge. Time to get cooking.. Or can we order take-out? Sure, take out was an option. But the vegetables languishing in the fridge stirred up an enormous amount of guilt. So I put aside my sniffles and set to work. A few beans, lentils, tomatoes and condiments went into the Instant Pot for T's dinner. Next rummaging through the vegetable compartment, I found a bag of tindoras, sadly forgotten. 

Tindora called Ivy Gourd in English, Dhondakaya in Telugu and Kovaikkai in Tamil, is one of my favorite vegetables. Nutrition wise, it is rich in beta-carotene, helps regulate blood sugar levels and it tastes delicious. My mom slices it into thin rounds and sautés them patiently on the stove top till they crisp up. But I best love this vegetable in sambar. After soaking up the flavors in the sambar, it tastes simply divine. I will post that recipe one of these days. You can munch on raw green or ripe red tindoras. The ripe ones are sweet. Back home, the red ones were compared to the red beaks of parrots. 

So, how did I prepare Tindora today? 

I just trimmed the ends and chopped each into two. Mixed it with spices and salt and air fried it for about 20 mins. (The duration depends on the quantity of  the vegetable and the capacity of your air fryer. I use Philips XL AirFryer and quantity was more than two pounds. You can make this on the stove top or in the oven too.

Air Fryer Fried Tindora:

Tindora - 2 lbs
Chilli Powder - 1 tbsp (Adjust acc. to taste)
Turmeric - 1/2 
Salt - Acc. to taste
Jeera Powder - 1 tbsp 
Oil - 1 tbsp

Mix everything. Add it to the air fryer basket. Air fry at 360F for 20 mins, shaking in between. 

That's it. Tindora is ready. It took me 10 mins to clean, chop and prep. And the rest of the cooking time was spent relaxing on the couch. 

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Breakfast Smoothie

Breakfast Smoothie
Breakfast Smoothie

Winter is fast approaching.. the days are colder and nights even more.. Summer clothes have been packed away.. Plants are wilting.. The few which need to be saved like my beloved banana plant and my curry leaf plant have been brought indoors...The last few weeks were riddled with episodes of cough, cold and sore throats. Hubby was down with a bad respiratory infection for three weeks and is slowly getting back to normalcy. T is ok. I caught a sore throat which is steadily becoming a cough. Inspite of these minor inconveniences which cold weather brings, I simply love winter. I eagerly look forward to the first snow every year. My family usually finds me standing by the window transfixed watching the delicate snowflakes fall to the ground. Oh, it's a magical sight! I never cease to wonder at this marvel of nature. As if shaking me out of my reverie, a cough or a sniffle would echo through the room, bringing me back to reality.

When T was little, she was a picky eater and had frequent episodes of cold and cough. One particular year was very hard with multiple visits to the ER. In her case, a cold turns into a cough and a cold cannot be avoided in daycare. The only logical way was to strengthen her immune system. I started looking for an immunity booster and found Amazing Grass. I had used it before and it helped stopped my allergies within a week. There was no harm in giving it a try. If T benefits from it, what more could I ask for?

But how do I make her take it? I usually have a scoop mixed into juice or water and gulp it down. T drinking it that way is not going to happen even in the wildest of my dreams. That's when this smoothie came to the rescue. Did I tell you that T was a picky eater? I started her on this smoothie when she was 2 years old. It packed a good amount of calories, enough to kick start the day. And even if she didn't eat much the rest of the day, the calorie count tallied because of the smoothie.

So, to this miraculous smoothie I added a scoop of Amazing Grass and T drank it upwithout a fuss. Her health did improve and to this day, I trust this smoothie and the green powder.

Let's take a look at the recipe:

Breakfast Smoothie Recipe:

Banana - 1
Raw almonds - 5
Pitted/Seedless Dates - 3
Milk - 1/2 Cup
Plain Yogurt - 1/3 cup
Amazing Grass for Kids - 1 scoop (Optional)

Blend till smooth. I use a Vitamix. In case your blender doesn't ground almonds finely, use almond flour. Banana adds a definite smoothness to the drink. You can add berries or other fruits to the mix as well.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Onion Spinach Frittata and Pina Colada Smoothie

Onion Spinach Frittata
Today was yet another Sunday where thoughts of reviving this blog were playing peek-a-boo as usual. Of late, family and friends were enquiring when they would see a post. Sure, that was encouraging but of the umpteen things which occupied the week ranging from work, home and school activities, blogging always took a backseat. Did I mention that my toddler is now a second grader??

I was planning on a post for almost 5 years and even though I had made many recipes worthy of a blog post, my past experience with plagiarism and the fact that the pages of many of my fellow bloggers like Indira and Saffron Hut were dormant didn't do much to stir me from my stupor. 

It was raining and I had just settled down with a cup of espresso. T was playing a game on her iPad and asked me how watermelon jam would taste. I promptly and proudly showed her a picture of it on this space. What followed were questions arising out of awe and curiosity as is expected from a 7 year old, "Did you make that?" "Who took a photo of that?" "What is a blog?' and finally "Can we post something?".

Her choice for lunch and the post was an omelette. When I told her we need to make it special with vegetables, she sighed and said 'Ok, I will eat all the vegetables you add to it." 

That, my friends was my inspiration! :)

Over the years, I have added a few appliances to my kitchen counter. Notably, the Philips Air Fryer and the Instant Pot stand out for their convenience.   

With the advent of the Instant Pot in my kitchen over the past few months, life has become a little easier. Though Indians are no stranger to stove top pressure cookers, Instant Pot has revolutionized that space with it's 'No Supervision Needed' model. The Air Fryer helps by making delectables with less oil. Another use of the Air Fryer is to use it in the place of an oven.

For today's veggie omelette or frittata, I used the Air Fryer instead of firing up the oven. Along with the frittata, I made a Pina Colada smoothie. I simply love the combination of pineapple, banana and coconut.

Onion Spinach Frittata Recipe:

3 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream/milk/half and half
1/2 of a small onion, minced
Handful of fresh spinach or frozen chopped spinach 
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheese as per taste ( I used mozzarella and quite a lot as you can see from the picture!)

Beat the eggs with the heavy cream/milk/half and half. Add salt and black pepper. Stir in the onion and spinach.

Pour the egg mixture into a greased baking dish. Bake in the air fryer at 360F for 8 mins. Sprinkle cheese on top and let it brown for another 2 or 3 mins.

In case you are using the oven, bake it at 400F for 8 to 10 mins.

You can add whatever you fancy to the frittata. Vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, potato, broccoli and cauliflower, meat like chicken, ham, sausage and non-meat options like tofu and soya chunks are all welcome. 

Pina Colada Smoothie:

Pina Colada Smoothie

Pina Colada Smoothie Recipe:

1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 banana
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup water

Add everything listed to the blender and blend till smooth. Add honey if needed. Enjoy!

Overall, I feel very good that I checked off one item from my procrastination list, thanks to T! And the lunch was yummy too.. Give it a try! 

Friday, June 01, 2012

I am back!

Its been three long years since i wrote on this page of mine. I was busy battling a few travails that life sent my way. But in the end i have emerged victorious. Thank you God! 

I am now a mother to a 2 yr old and needless to say she keeps me busy. So time in the kitchen means cooking the barest minimum required to satiate both hunger and the palate. 

Nevertheless I want to continue with this blog, so stay tuned for some yummy recipes, good photographs and of course meaningful stories.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year

Dear All,

Wish you and your families a very Happy New Year!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

This post has been pending for way too long...The last few months have been very busy for us and blogging has taken a back seat. It was more of a cook comething, eat something and rush kind of routine, with no memory of what was eaten. So, where is the space for a camera here? :-)

But anyway, today I made it a point to publish this simple recipe. We had gone vegetable picking twice over the last two months. Of the bounty which was gathered, were Cherry tomatoes - Wickedly red, deliciously ripe and mildly sweet. I have not tried them in anything other than a salad, to be devoured raw.

Here is one more of my pasta recipes, which I make very often:
Uncooked Pasta ( Any small variety like elbows, penne) - 2 Cups
Cherry Tomatoes - 2 to 3 Cups - Halved
Onion - 1 Medium - Finely Chopped
Capsicum - 1 Big - Finely Chopped
Garlic Powder - 1 to 1.5 Tbsp
Black Pepper - As per taste
Salt - To season the pasta water and additionally - As per taste
For the Dressing:
Olive oil - 1/4 Cup
Lemon Juice - Juice from 1/2 a lime
Boil pasta as per the instructions on the package. Drain into a big bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the ingredients listed for the dressing and mix well. To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Pour over the pasta and mix well. Set aside for 15 mins and serve. It can be served hot or cold.
Plum or Romano tomatoes can be used instead of Cherry tomatoes. Reduce the quantity a bit and use about 1 and a half tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Creamy Penne with Spinach And Peas

Creamy Spinach Peas Penne

This is one of my favorite pasta recipes and I make it very often. The sauce used is the mother of all sauces, the Bechamel. Nutmeg is a must in bechamel and blends with the milk to create an enticing base.

Think Nutmeg


Uncooked Pasta - 1 Cup ( Any small variety like penne, elbows, shells)

Garlic Powder - 1 Tbsp

Black Pepper Powder - 1/2 Tbsp

Lime Juice - From 1 Lime

For the Bechamel Sauce:

Milk - 1 Cup

Butter - 1 1/4 Tbsp

All Purpose Flour - 1 Tbsp

Ground Nutmeg - 1/8 tsp

Salt - As per taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and stir till smooth. Let it cook for a couple of minutes till it turns a sandy color. Do not burn it. Next add the milk and whisk to remove any lumps. Cook till the sauce thickens, and keep stirring all the while to prevent lumps. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.

Cook a cup of pasta as per the instructions on the pasta container. Drain. Saute a cup of frozen peas and 3 handfuls of spinach leaves, using a little oil. Cook till done.

Add the sauce to the drained pasta, along with the sauteed vegetables. Add 1 Tbsp garlic powder and 1/2 Tbsp black pepper. Next add the juice of 1 lime. Adjust salt according to taste. Mix well and serve.

The nutmeg in the bechamel sauce adds a very distinct flavor and binds the rest of the ingredients superbly in this simple pasta dish. This recipe goes to 'Think Spice' event initially started by Sunita of Sunita's World and being hosted by Aparna of 'My Diverse Kitchen'. Aparna has chosen Nutmeg as the star ingredient this month.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Spinach Lime Dal

Spinach Lime Dal

Hello friends,
I am back after a 6 month blogosphere hibernation. I was ill and could not come anywhere near blogs or cooking. It was sudden and hence I could not leave a message here. I hope you will continue visiting as usual...

On to the recipe now...

This is a simple Spinach dal which has been recreated on a lot many blogs till now. I have tweaked my mom's recipe a bit and the result was very good. Instead of using tamarind to add the sour quotient, I used lime juice and I had no complaints.


Spinach - 1 Bunch

Toor Dal - 1/3 Cup

Onion - Half of a medium onion

Green Chilles - 7 to 8

Lime - 1

Asafoetida / Hing - 1/8 Tsp

For seasoning:

Mustard - 1/2 Tsp

Cumin / Jeera - 1/2 Tsp

Urad dal - 1/2 tsp

Turmeric - 1/8 Tsp

Garlic - 2 cloves crushed

Oil - 1 Tbsp

Wash toor dal and clean spinach. Dice the onion and slit the green chillies. In a pressure cooker, cook together the dal, spinach, onion, green chillies, asafoetida using about a cup of water. Once they are cooked, mash together to a coarse consistency using a wooden/steel ladle or a hand blender. Add salt as per taste. Next, juice the lime and add to the dal. Check for tartness and add according to your taste. Finally for seasoning, heat oil, add the turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal and garlic. Wait till the mustard splutters and add to the dal.