Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas wishes: Making Santa with kids

Christmas is just around the corner and everywhere it's cold and beautiful. There are beautiful Christmas lights on the roads and Christmas starts in every window and the lovely red and white Christmas decorations in the whole market, and even in grocery shops. Basically it's Christmas and festivities in the air.. So how would the kids left behind? Apart from eating gingerbread cookies and amazing Christmas cakes, here's a lovely and easy Christmas Santa kids can make which can be hanged on your Christmas tree. Sounds lovely, isn't it? This is so easy I did it with 4-5 year old kids and it was lovely and beautiful for kids to have their own Santa!

Things you require:

White paper
Pencil to draw
Red color paper
Fevistick or liquid sticking gum

  1. Begin by the kid tracing out his/her hand on the bottom of the paper with the pencil on the white paper. 
  2. Rotate the paper and draw a line from the thumb across the hand as shown in the picture. 
  3. Draw the eyes and the mouth. 
  4. Cut little bits of the red paper and begin sticking them over the top portion as shown in the picture. This will become Santa's hat. Kids can stick small or big bits as they want. 
  5. Now, as shown in the picture, begin applying the sticking gum over the fingers and take out small cotton balls to stick on the fingers to make Santa's white beard. Apply a little gum over the thumb tip as well and stick a little cotton (at the tip of Santa's hat). 
  6. The kids can cut small squares (or any other shapes) and stick on the bottom of the Santa as presents from Santa. 
  7. Done! Kids can add their own creativity and add sparkles, stars or decorations over the presents or on the sides. 
  8. Punch holes on the top and hang on your Christmas tree with the help of a thread. 

Here are the awesome gingerbread cookies we made with the kids.

Gingerbread cookies recipe: 

Ingredients: All purpose flour, unsalted butter, ground spices: ginger, cinnamon, green cardamom and cloves, molasses, dark brown sugar, baking powder, salt and warm water. Mix everything and make a firm dough. Cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour. Take out and make small balls in palms and roll with a rolling pin about 2-3 mm thick. Cut in desired shapes using cookie cutters. Line a baking paper in a baking tray and bake the cookies for 6 minutes at 200 C. The cookies will become slightly dark brown. Remove and store in air tight containers. Enjoy!

Wishing everyone a great Christmas and a very Happy New Year 2016.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Biryani Masala

It's been a long while I have been experimenting with various types of biryanis: both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Most of the times I just add garam masala for the taste and earlier I used to add the store bought garam masala but was never satisfied with the taste of either. Recently I asked my Nani if she knows to prepare biryani masala at home. I was not sure because I have never known her making biryani of any kind but she did have a recipe for the masala! Lucky me, right? I instantly penned down her recipe for the masala and recently made this flavorful spice powder. My house was filled with the aromatic essence of spices and the final spice powder is dark brown in color, and smells so awesome I can't describe in words; you just have to prepare it to experience the heavenly aroma.

When I had this spice powder, immediately the next day I prepared a Hyderabadi Fish Biryani using this biryani powder, and trust me, it tasted so wonderfully awesome with a taste I have never had before. I'm never going back to adding simply garam masala or using store bought ones for my biryani recipes.


Cumin seeds: 2 tsp.
Caraway seeds (Shahi jeera): 2 tsp.
Coriander seeds: 2 tsp.
Black peppercorns: 1 tsp.
Black cardamom: 1
Green cardamom: 2 (with cover)
Nutmeg powder: 2 heaped pinches
Mace: 1
Dried red chilli: 3
Dry fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi): 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp.
Cloves: 4
Dagad phool: 2 (if available; I did not have it so did not add it)
Cinnamon stick: 1 inch

  1. Dry roast the following one by one on a medium-low flame: cumin seeds, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, dried red chili, cinnamon and cloves. 
  2. Let cool and mix all the ingredients (dry roasted and others) and grind to a fine powder. I used my coffee jar for grinding. 
  3. Sieve through a muslin cloth and store in a dry and air-tight container. It stays good for very long time. No need to refrigerate. 

I know for sure after you have made this biryani spice powder, you will totally be craving to prepare a biryani asap.. so here are the 13 biryani recipes I have blogged till date. There are many more I have tried but have not been able to write the recipes, will keep on updating this post as I share more biryani recipes. 



Zafrani Chicken biryani

How to use the biryani masala: Just add one heaped teaspoon every cup of rice in any biryani recipe. Just add a little more powder if you like more strong flavor. Add half a teaspoon of this powder to any rice preparation and feel the difference! 

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Please leave a comment and/or feedback in the comments section. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tabota par Eda - Eggs on tomato

Eggs are a forever favorite in our home and that's why I constantly try to find out new ways to cook eggs to make boredom at bay. That is why, after I had made a special post about How to make the perfect hard boiled eggs which helped many, I posted an array of Egg recipes; specially egg curries.  
Punjabi style quick bhurji was always an instant option in our home. But when I tried this recipe for the first time about an year ago, I have literally stopped preparing our basic bhurji as this recipe gave me a different style and gave a total wonderful transformation to the fried eggs. 

This is a Parsi recipe which is a little spicy balanced with a dash of sugar and the use of Parsi Dhansak Masala
I found this wonderful recipe on a website and this is the original recipe link:
I have not covered and cooked  like in the recipe but did it a little my way and I've lost count how many times I've tried this recipe now. I had even prepared this for my non-Indian guest and she simply loved it ! 

Here's the simple recipe:


Eggs: 4
Cooking oil: 3 tsp.
Onion (finely chopped): 1
Green chilli (finely chopped): 1
Cinnamon stick: 1 inch
Ginger-garlic paste: 3 tsp. (I use grated ginger and garlic)
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp.
Red chilli powder: 1/2 tsp.
Cumin powder: 1/4 tsp.
Coriander powder: 1/4 tsp. 
Salt to taste
Tomato (chopped): 1 big
Coriander leaves: a handful
Sugar: 2 tsp.

  1. Heat oil and add the cinnamon stick and immediately add the green chili. Let fry for a bit and add the onions. Let them fry until they are slightly brown. 
  2. Add the ginger-garlic paste and mix well. Let cook until the raw smell goes away. 
  3. Add the dry spices at this point: red chili powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and Dhansak masala. 
  4. Mix well and add the chopped tomato. Sprinkle salt and mix well. Let cook until the tomatoes are almost soft and mushy. 
  5. Add the chopped coriander leaves and the sugar. Mix everything well and let cook for another 2 minutes. 
  6. Break the eggs and add the this masala. Mix well and let cook. Turn off the flame and serve hot with chappati and raita for a complete easy and quick meal. 

And here are the pictures from the lunch I prepared for my non-Indian guest in April this year where I had prepared this with Butter Chicken, plain rice, salad, mint-coriander chutney and chappati: 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bengali Fish Curry

Neither am I from Bengal nor do I have any connection to Bengal, but still sharing a Bengali Fish curry recipe; and no, this is not an online recipe I tried. This is a recipe I got from a dear friend Writu who is a fun loving and cheerful Bengali girl and her name means season (ऋतु). I have never met anyone with a name beginning from letter 'W' and so when I heard her name for the first time, I believed her name spells as Ritu. There was a big confusion around her name and I once messed up things for her because of how her name was spelled and I thought it was something else; and then in a guilty attempt of getting things right for her, we became close friends. Today we have drifted apart as friends but I still remember the time I had this simple yet subtle taste of fish curry with rice at her place, and she wrote the basic recipe her mom and she follows for the fish curry.

This blog did not exist at that time and the memories of the recipe and the fish curry also faded as the friendship drifted apart. But last year, when I visited my parents in India, I was going through my old things in the wardrobe and there I found in an old diary a dusty page stuck in the diary with this amazing recipe and on the top was written her name "Writu". All the old memories came back of the awesome time we had, and I decided to try the recipe in my kitchen. I can't say for sure if this is an authentic recipe or is this how it is made in all or many Bengali households, but that's what she told me and said this is a very basic recipe.

To our friendship! Writu!


Fish: 400 gm (I used salmon fillets)
Mustard oil: 4 tsp.
Panch phoran (5-spice mix):

  • Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp.
  • Mustard seeds: 1/4 tsp.
  • Fennel seeds: 1/4 tsp.
  • Black cumin seeds: 1/4 tsp.
  • Fenugreek seeds. 1/4 tsp.

Dried red chilli: 1
Onion (finely chopped): 2
Ginger-garlic paste: 4 tsp. (I used grated ginger and garlic)
Tomato (chopped): 2
Green chili (chopped): 1
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp.
Tamarind extract: 1 tsp.
Coriander leaves to garnish

  1. Wash and clean the fish fillets and marinate them with salt, 1/2 tsp. red chilli powder, turmeric, 1 tsp. mustard oil and tamarind for 20 minutes. 
  2. Heat the remaining mustard oil and fry the fish from both sides, flipping alternatively so that it cooks nicely from both sides. 
  3. Drain and remove, keep aside. 
  4. Heat the same oil and add the panch phoran or the five spice mix (cumin, mustard, fennel, black cumin and fenugreek). 
  5. When they crackle, add the dried red chilli and add ginger-garlic after few seconds. Let cook until the raw smell goes away. 
  6. Add the onions and fry until they are transparent and beginning to get brown; but don't let them brown. 
  7. Add the tomato and green chilli and sprinkle little salt. Cover and let cook for 5-7 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and mushy. 
  8. Remove cover, add the red chilli powder and mix well. Add a cup of water and cover again for 15 minutes on medium flame. 
  9. Remove cover. The entire curry will be done and the tomatoes and the masala is nicely absorbed together. Let cook uncovered for 5 more minutes.
  10. Turn off the flame and add fried fish pieces. Cover and leave for 10 minutes so that the fish absorbs the curry's flavor in the steam. 
  11. Remove cover and garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with rice. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Three decades: Summed up !!

Ah yes! Guess who's turning 30 tomorrow,the 16th? Yeah, pretty much me !!

Do I feel 30 came too soon? Yes, totally. I'm realizing it pretty very much in the last few hours of my 20s and my life will forever be changed, now that I'm entering my 30s.

But are the 30s something to be scared of? Something to freak out? Not to me.
Almost all my batch-mates are (or have already) turning 30 this year and I'm not very sure why almost everyone I know is freaking out at the thought of turning 30, and they want me too. But the thing is, I refuse to freak out and hate my entering in the 30s. I feel like I'm ready to accept this change and to feel and be my age. I feel this isn't just getting old, it's getting new, it's getting much more from life....

Last birthday I got a card from a close friend which said "Forever 29" ! and it got me thinking: why do my friends feel I must feel anxious at the thought of turning 30? Why forever 29?
I, for one would be 30 rather than 29 today. Not because I love getting old, but because I love understanding life, I love living life which I was not doing so well until the last year.
I would never want to go back a year in my life, because from 29 to 30, I have become a changed person in many different ways.

At 29, I expected a lot from life. I have become less irritable and short tempered in the past year.
I have understood my food choices better (read: started eating salads for lunch). I have finally gotten out of the procrastination zone to keep my body fit because I have realized that's the only place I have to live in forever (and have been consistently walking and exercising). I have become more patient, have learnt to let things go and it's okay not to know all the answers all the time.

I would rather be 30 today than the fat, cranky 16 year old school girl who sulked at the thought of exercising and was super choosy for food; who used to hate everything about herself: from her name to her weight and her parents.
I would rather be 30 today than the 18 year old, confused about her career choices and weather the direction is right or wrong; one who was shy and scared to wear a jeans in collage and to talk to strangers; who wanted to be hidden from the world and wore baggy clothes and covered her face and head with a scarf most of the times in public.
I would rather be 30 today than the 20 year, still confused collage girl with zero friends and an introvert girl who was being made fun of every single day and who was mortified at the thought of being around or looking in the eye of boys in her class, let alone striking a conversation or even responding to one.
I would rather be 30 today than the 22 year old myself, who was uncertain about love and relationships, the future ahead in my career and making bad choices in life; one who constantly felt pressured by the society to contemplate with the so-called standards, to look and dress a particular way, to make a career, to earn this much, to be able to cook and take care of the house, to get married, have kids...
I would rather be 30 today than the 25 year old young woman and a young professional, who was facing heartbreaks and sometimes crying herself to sleep; one who did not know who to trust and how much; one who was so uncertain about the future with so much instability in life with the young energy; one who opened herself up and regretted later every single time; one who chased after people who ignored her all the time, one who did not know how to identify true friends in the overwhelming crowd of so-called friends; one who was not getting proper sleep; one who was failing to establish trust and ended up trusting strangers more than her parents.
I would rather be 30 today than the newly-married 27 year old who constantly had understanding issues with husband and thought everyday that her relationship was a failure; who did not understand her husband and always felt misunderstood by the husband; who did not have an idea about valuing her home, parents, food and everything else; who was having a hard time understanding the difference between dreams and reality.
I would rather be 30 than the 29 year old myself, who was struggling with the new language of the new country, who was looked down upon in a totally different world and all she wanted was to be able to be a part of the people and the society of the country, who was uncaring about her health, who was yet to experience a lot of realities of the world, and so much more...

These three decades have made me what I am today.
In these three decades I have:

  • lost weight
  • cared for my fitness
  • become less cranky
  • not choosy for food
  • loved my name
  • loved and valued my parents more than ever
  • acquired a huge amount of patience
  • cultivated virtues of life I never before knew
  • on track with my career
  • have made money
  • not shy of any living being in this world
  • baggy clothes? never.
  • have talked and been and wonderful friends with so many of the opposite sex
  • got the ability to choose the right and wrong
  • know whom to trust, when and how much
  • created and running a food website (Oh.My.God. !!!!)
  • have few friends, but real ones.
  • never cry myself to sleep.
  • have a stable love (married) life.
  • don't give a damn about what the society thinks or says.
  • stable life.
  • better food choices.
  • getting my eight hour sleep.
  • getting better understanding between me and my husband.
  • cooking and experimenting with new and innovative dishes.
  • valued my home and parents.
  • stopped judging. 
  • can integrate well in this new country.
  • more confidence.
I would rather have all this and be a proud 30 year old than go back to the so-called "sweet 16", 20 years old myself, or 25 or 29, for the matter of fact !! So, bring on the 30s... !! 

I never had a bucket list to do before I turned 30 or something, but I did have a fair collection of quotes and words I intended to adopt in my life and here's the ones I have successfully been able to adopt and finally believing them firmly..

  1. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.
  2. May we have the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Alan Watts
  3. Be good, but don't waste time proving it.
  4. This too shall pass.
  5. People may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
  6. Smile.
  7. Never judge.
  8. Forgive. 
  9. Do not compare your life to others, you have no idea what their journey is all about.
  10. It's alright not to know all the answers; stop thinking so hard.
  11. Worry is like a rocking chair; it keeps you occupied but takes you nowhere.
  12. You have to be odd to be number 1.
  13. There is no path to happiness; happiness is the path.
  14. You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and still there is going to be someone who doesn't like peaches. It's okay.
  15. The ship is always safe at the shore, but that's not what it was made for. Sail. 
  16. Life goes on. 
  17. Let go. 
  18. Everything happens for a reason, that's always good. Might be difficult to believe in difficult times, but yes it is. 
  19. Hard times make you stronger. 
And did I say growth is a continual process and of course age is just a number!
There are a lot, lot and lot many more things I need to do, learn, grow and believe but trust me it's not that easy.. That's the reason I don't have a bucket list but here's a few I need to incorporate in my life as soon as possible and that's why I hope I must get them by my next birthday !!
  1. Say no without explaining yourself.  
  2. It's just a bad day, not a bad life. 
  3. Over-thinking ruins you, twists things around and makes everything worse than  it is. 
  4. No expectations = no disappointments. 
  5. Enjoy your own life without comparisons with others. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer is one of the most common recipe in Punjabi households and it's also served in parties and to our guests. I just love the cottage cheese cubes dunked in a this green curry with the rich, awesome taste without the use of any heavy ingredients like cashews, milk, yogurt, cream etc. This is the perfect recipe of my dad who is an amazing cook and prepares the brightest of green curry in palak paneer.

Other paneer recipes from the blog:

Achaari Paneer Masala
Paneer Lababdar
Paneer Makhani


Spinach leaves: 3 cups
Cottage cheese: 1 cup
Cooking oil: 2 tsp.
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp.
Onion (diced): 1 big
Ginger (chopped): 1 inch
Garlic (chopped): 4 cloves
Green chilli (choped): 1
Tomato (chopped): 1 big
Salt to taste
Red chili powder: 1 tsp.
Garam masala: 1/2 tsp.

  1. Blanch the spinach and grind to a puree and keep aside. Blanching process: boil water in a pot and add the washed and cleaned spinach leaves and after a minute, remove the leaves and add to the ice cold water. Drain the water and grind. 
  2. Grind the onion and garlic to a smooth paste and keep aside. Similarly, grind the ginger, green chili and the tomato to a smooth paste and keep aside. 
  3. Heat the oil on medium flame and crackle the cumin seeds. Add the onion paste and begin to fry. Keep stirring and frying until the onion paste starts getting brown and cooked. 
  4. Add the second paste: paste of ginger, green chilli and tomato. Mix well and add salt and red chili and fry. Keep stirring regularly so the masala does not stick to the base. 
  5. When the masala starts turning little darker in shade and starts to leave oil at the sides, then the masala is done. 
  6. Add the garam masala and give a stir. Add the cubed cottage cheese at this stage and mix everything well. Add little water to the curry if required. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes. 
  7. Remove cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes. 
  8. Add the spinach puree and mix well. Turn off the flame. DO NOT COVER. Never cover it even when reheating, it will lose its beautiful green color in the steam. 
  9. Serve hot with chappati, laccha paratha or even Jeera rice. Enjoy !!

Loved this recipe? Please do leave your comment/feedback in the comments section and don't forget to connect with me on my Facebook Page

Friday, November 13, 2015

How to freeze spinach

Spinach is my favorite leafy green vegetable. I love to have these greens whenever possible as spinach is very healthy: it's an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B1 and B2, magnesium, iron, calcium and is a very good source of dietary fiber.

But fresh spinach is not always available. Or sometimes there is too much of spinach which cannot all be used up quickly, so instead of letting it go bad looking for ideas to use it all up, I feel it's a better way to blanch and freeze and use whenever required.

How to freeze spinach:
  1. Wash and clean the spinach leaves and blanch them. Blanching process: add to the boiling water and when it begins to wilt, remove and add to ice-cold water. Spinach is one of those vegetables which is recommend boiling to free up acids and allow them to leach into the boiling water; this brings out a sweeter taste from the spinach. Discard the boiling water after cooking; do not drink it or use it for stock because of its acid content. 
  2. Grind to a smooth puree without adding any water. 
  3. Fill in ice trays and freeze for 24 hours. 
  4. Remove the ice trays from the freezer. 
  5. Store the spinach cubes in ziplock bag and date the bag so you remember to use it up quickly. 
  6. You can use this frozen spinach cubes in many healthy ways: add the cubes to soups, add to boiled dal to get a different and wonderful flavor, sambhar, add to curries (curries for koftas, egg curries, chicken curries), palak paneer, even add to dough to make spinach parathas, add to dosa or idli batter etc.


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