Rava Kesari ( Sooji ka halwa) –

rava kesari

This one is a popular dish all over India. Maharashtrians call it Sheera, the Tamilians call it kesari and north Indians call it Suji ka halwa. This is also made by all but in different styles. This is my style and I keep making this on festive occasions like on the occasion of Ram Navami and most recently i.e. today on the day of Sankata Hara Chaturthi as naivedyam. It is easy to make a lovely dessert to indulge in both for the deities and us!

Serves: 2 to 3 people

Ingredients –
½ cup rava / sooji
2 tbsp ghee + 2tbsp ghee
10 cashew nuts
10 raisins
2 tbsp milk
water
½ cup sugar
Pinch of saffron or food colour (optional)

Recipe –
1. Heat a pan, add ghee, roast cashews and raisins and set aside.
2. Heat the same pan with remaining ghee. Add rava and roast it till it slightly turns brown. Once it is brown, add water which will help it cook.
3. Once rava gets cooked, add milk. This gives it the richness we all like in a kesari.
4. You can add saffron or food color (optional) in the milk if you are using it.
5. Add sugar and give it a stir continuously so that it gets evenly mixed. ( If you like it sweeter, you can add sugar)
6. Adjust water if it becomes dry, and if it’s too runny keep it on flame it will eventually dry
7. Right texture is when it is smooth and does not stick to the sides of the pan.
8. Take off the stove; garnish it with roasted cashews and raisins.

Serve or offer as naivedyam, and enjoy as your “meal is ready!!”

Note –

The more the ghee the better and rich texture this kesari enjoys. But in my house, we like it this way. Just the right amount of ghee, and sugar means we aren’t too guilty!

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No oil Dudhi / Lauki gravy curry (Bottle guard in no-oil gravy sauce)

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I love potatoes – the same applies to onions, ladies finger, tomato, cauliflower and even colocasia (arbi in Hindi and seppakazhangu in Tamil). But when it comes to Lauki or dudhi, my reaction is tepid at best.

Now I like lauki ka halwa, but not curries. Especially, the dreaded kootu which no one in my family fancies. So when I had some spare dudhi, I was looking for ideas. That is when I came across a blog post of dudhi gravy. And that too without using a single drop of oil. That’s it; it piqued my curiosity enough to try it. And you won’t believe it, it was just brilliant!  Now I make it on and off whenever I get this from the Indian market.

Now, you must be thinking – gravy without oil is impossible but yes it’s true. Even I was surprised when I found this recipe. I found this on a fellow blog “saffron trail” and I adapted the recipe to my needs and based on the ingredients in hand.

Hope you will enjoy this and do let me know how it turned out for you. Let’s get to the recipe.

Serves : 2 person

Ingredients –

1 dudhi ( bottle gourd) – peeled and chopped to cubes
3 to 4 cups water
Pinch of turmeric powder
Salt to taste

For dry masala
5 to 6 dry red chillies
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoon roasted groundnuts / peanuts
1 tablespoon toor dal

Method –

1. Dry roast all the ingredients mentioned in “for dry masalas”.

2. Allow to cool and then grind it to a powder along with roasted peanuts. Set aside.

3. Take a heavy bottomed pan, add water and to this add chopped dudhi pieces. Add turmeric and adjust salt.

4. Let water boil and dudhi gets cooked by becoming soft yet retaining its shape.

5. Once dudhi becomes soft, in the same pan mix in the powdered masalas and give it a stir.

As soon as you put the masalas, the water will have a gravy-like consistency. If it seems to be too dry you can adjust water and salt as per your taste.

Remove off the stove and serve this no oil gravy as a side dish with roti and rice.

Enjoy, your meal is ready!”

Note –
The use of groundnuts gives it the richness, you can adjust the amount of groundnuts as per individual taste. And yes the use of groundnuts is the reason why normal oil is omitted here.

Tomato sweet pachadi

tomato pachadi

If you are a Tam–Brahm, you surely must have come across this dish either in Kalyana sappadu (marriage feast), or in poojais like sumangali prarthanai. I have a sweet tooth so I enjoy everything that is sweet. And this is no exception. The irony is that this is usually served in small quantities and common items like rice and sambar will be served plenty!

This pachadi goes well with chapathis or even with bread. Or it can be enjoyed simply in a cup with a spoon.

Now, in the UK, if I wish to eat this, where will I get this except my own kitchen? So, for the first time – I tried making this at home.

Ingredients should not be a problem for this recipe – Tomatoes are essential to every pantry. I had brown sugar at home so I used it in addition to our normal sugar. If you don’t have brown sugar at home, you can use white sugar.

I hope you will love this as much as I did and let me know how it turned out for you.

Ingredients

8-10 tomatoes blanched and puréed
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
6-8 cashews
6-8 raisins
2 tablespoon ghee
2 teaspoon corn flour
Water
Pinch of salt

Recipe –

1. Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Fry cashews and raisins separately and set aside.
2. In the same pan, add tomato purée and let it cook.
3. Once tomato purée starts leaving the sides, add sugar based on how sweet you like things.
4. Mix it evenly. Add a pinch of salt and let it simmer.
5. Once you notice a glazy finish in the tomato paste, add corn flour paste (Corn flour mixed in 2 to 3 tablespoon water ) and keep stirring such that no lumps are formed.
6. Once the pachadi has come to a semi-liquid consistency, garnish it with cashews and raisins. And serve as a side dish.

Side dish to your meal is ready. Enjoy!!

Bagara baingan gravy (Stuffed brinjal in rich gravy)

bagara baingan

Everyone doesn’t like Brinjal. Few of us think it is awesome, while few others think it is just okay. But the fact remains, with the right amount of oil, we can enjoy it in different ways. Most of us have enjoyed normal brinjal curry. Now, Let us try a variation – Brinjal in a rich gravy with a stuffing inside.

Few years back, I wasn’t fond of brinjal. But after marrying a person who loves Brinjal, I can say this is history. I started making it and eating it. Now I try different experiments with the same vegetable as it is easily available everywhere.

This particular recipe requires small round or small long brinjals (This variety is abundant in India but outside India, you may need to visit an Indian market ). The brinjal is filled with and fried before being added to a rich gravy.

Let’s get to the recipe. This is dedicated to all the brinjal–lovers and also the brinjal-haters. I hope this recipe changes you!

I hope you will enjoy making this just like I did and do share how it turned out for you.

Ingredients –

Main ingredient – 10 brinjals
( Round ones are perfect but here I used long ones )

For the stuffing –
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
Small cinnamon stick
2 tbsp lemon juice

For the gravy

2 medium onions roughly chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 green chillies finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
6 – 7 cashews
3 tbsp milk
Salt

Recipe –

1. Grind all the ingredients mentioned under “stuffing” in a mixer grinder. Set aside.

2. Slit brinjals with a plus sign at top to let you fill a stuffing.

3. Keep slit brinjals in salt water for ten minutes.

4. Pat dry the brinjals, and fill the stuffing powder using a spoon. You can even tie the brinjal using a thread such that stuffing doesn’t spill out (optional)

5. Heat oil in a wide bottomed pan, add the stuffed brinjals into it and shallow fry.

6. Once the brinjal pieces become brown on all sides, remove and set aside. [ If used a thread, untie the thread here]

7. In the same oil, add mustard and cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add onions. Cook till onions turn golden brown.

8. In the meantime, soak cashews in milk for ten minutes and then grind into a smooth paste. Set aside.

9. Once the onion is cooked, add ginger garlic paste and cook till the raw smell fades away.

10. Once it’s cooked, add the left over stuffing mixture and give it a stir. Adjust salt according to taste.

11. Add cashew paste and let it cook for a minute or two.

12. Now add the set aside fried stuffed brinjal into the gravy and simmer it for 5 minutes.

13. Adjust water if gravy is very thick. Switch off the gas when gravy is of right consistency. Take off the stove.

Serve with roti or rice and enjoy as your meal is ready !!

Pasta in white spinach sauce

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My son enjoys eating pasta and experimenting with plastic spoons and forks sitting on his highchair. He particularly likes this white pasta compared to tomato, vegetable, or paneer pasta.

Before my kid was born, we used to enjoy pasta with shop bought pasta sauce but with him eating now, I try to make everything from scratch to make it healthier. The only thing I haven’t tried is making pasta from scratch. For now, I just use the shop brought ones.

Every now and then I make this at my home. The original recipe involves use of cheese and full cream for richness. But to avoid making it very fattening, I replace cream and cheese with milk. I have found that milk gives the same taste with lesser fat.

I hope you will love this as much as I did and let me know how it turned out for you.

Ingredients –

Cooking pasta –
200 gms durum wheat pasta ( penne or fusili )
Water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oil

For the sauce
1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp oil
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 tbsp maida
3 cups milk ( you can use –either  warm milk or cold milk directly from the fridge)
2 cups spinach chopped finely
1 tsp black pepper powder
Salt to taste

Method –

Cooking pasta –

1. Take a heavy bottomed pan, add water with salt and oil and let it boil.

2. Once water starts boiling, add pasta to it and cook till it becomes soft.

(I cook it till it becomes soft and opposed to al dente to allow my son to easily eat and digest the pasta)

3. Once it’s soft, take off the stove, drain the water and toss the cooked pasta under cold running water. Set aside.

Preparation of white sauce –

1. Heat a heavy bottomed pan. Add butter and oil and let it turn hot.

2. Once it’s hot, add garlic and let it roast a little.

3. To this, add maida and give it a stir, you will notice a frothy solution – keep it stirring, otherwise lumps will start forming.

4. To this add milk and let it boil with good bubbles.

5. Once it is boiling, add chopped spinach and cook in the milk.

6. Once the spinach wilts and cooks, add black pepper powder and adjust salt.

7. Finally toss in the cooked pasta and stir it in.

8. Take off the stove and serve immediately.

It is best enjoyed when served hot. The crunchiness of garlic, richness of milk, fusion of butter-oil-milk-spinach, will give it a creamy texture.

Enjoy as your “meal is ready!!”

 

Thecha recipe

This is a Maharashtrian side-dish and people who love chilli will like this. Whenever we visit my in-laws at Aurangabad, their neighbour always gets this along with Jowar / bajra ki roti for my husband. I am not too fond of very spicy foods, so this one is made just for my husband to enjoy. It was my first time trying to make this and it came out nice. He said that it tastes just like the authentic one means one made in Maharashtra.

 It is a very simple recipe and the ingredients are very basic. So everyone should have the required ingredients in the pantry. Best enjoyed with roti, one can try with curd rice too.

 I hope you will love this as much as I did and let me know how it turned out for you.

Ingredients –

15 to 20 green chillies (yes, you read that right!)
15 garlic cloves
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp roasted groundnut powder
1/2 tsp hing
Salt to taste

Recipe –

1. Remove stalks from the green chillies and set aside.
2. Peel the garlic cloves and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a pan, once it’s hot, add whole green chillies and garlic together.
4. Fry till it brown in color.
5. Add hing and salt to taste. Mix it. Take off the stove and let it cool down.

6. Once it has cooled down, blend it in a mixer. 

[The best ones are done using mortar and pestle but since I don’t have one here, so used mixer grinder]

Thecha is ready for spice lovers to enjoy!