Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Baingan Bharta

Baingan Bharta is a very special dish, not because this recipe contains some special ingredient, but it has a little story which means a lot to me. Baingan ka bharta is a very common dish in Punjabi households. I grew up enjoying the dish with hot chappatis and raita for a complete meal, at least once a week. When I got married, I came to know this is the favorite dish of my husband. But unfortunately we don't have the burner cooking range with flame here like we have in India on which the eggplant is wonderfully roasted, cooled and mashed and cooked into a delicious dish; and that was the reason I could never cook his favorite dish.

I always used to feel sad that he can enjoy his favorite dish just once in an year when we visit India. He was lately craving for bharta and this summer we got the idea for bar-be-cue and bought a mini grill, and planned to grill the eggplants and prepare baingan bharta. We could never find the time and opportunity to use the grill, but one fine day I got this thought of giving it a try in the oven.

So I put the eggplants in the oven and called my dad with crossed fingers for the recipe. He is an awesome cook and he makes some of the most wonderful dishes. I wrote this very simple recipe and gave it a try with the oven-roasted eggplants. I tried to prepare bharta in the oven many times, and finally I nailed it in the fourth attempt and my hubby was extremely delighted. This dish has become his absolute favorite since then and now I'm always seeing 2-3 eggplants in our grocery cart during our weekly grocery shopping. So here is the simple, homely and lovely recipe of baingan bharta which I have been making a lot lately.


Eggplants: 3
Cooking oil: 3 tsp. + for oiling the eggplants
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp.
Onions (chopped): 2
Tomatoes (chopped): 2
Green chilli (chopped): 1
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder: 1/2 tsp.
Peas: 1 cup

  1. The first step is to roast the eggplants in the oven. Wash and pat dry the eggplants and poke holes on all the sides using a knife. Oil the outer layer of the eggplants from all the sides.
  2. Keep on the oven grill and let them broil for about 40-45 minutes on 150 C. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit. Then put in a big bowl filled with cold water.
  3. Remove the outer skin of the eggplants and cut off the top. Mash the eggplants nicely with hands and keep aside.
  4. Heat oil in a pan and crackle the cumin seeds. Add the onions and fry until they are transparent. 
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and green chilli and sprinkle salt. Let cook until the tomatoes are completely soft and mushy.
  6. Add red chilli powder and the mashed eggplant. Mix well and add the peas. Mix everything well and let cook on medium flame for about 10 minutes. 
  7. Ready !! Serve hot with chappatis or parathas and raita for a complete light, quick and homely lunch/dinner.

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Looking for more Punjabi recipes? You might like Paneer MakhaniAaloo Methi Subzi and Bhindi Masala

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Restaurant style tomato gravy and 10 recipes using gravy

Tomato gravy is one common base for so many Indian recipes and every household has their own version of tomato base curry. This tomato gravy can be used as a base for chicken, paneer, kofta etc. and can also be frozen to always have ready gravy to be added to any dish and your lunch/dinner will be ready in no time !!


Cooking oil: 6 tsp.
Cardamom (green): 2
Black cardamom: 1
Javitri: 1
Jaiphal: 1 (this will impart a little sweet taste to the curry so skip this if you wish)
Cinnamon stick: 1 inch
Onion (chopped): 2
Tomato (chopped): 3
Cashews: 10-12
Bay leaf: 1
Ginger-garlic paste: 3 tbsp.
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp.
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp.
Coriander powder: 1 tsp.
Cumin powder: 1 tsp.
Kasoori methi: 1 tsp.
Sugar: 1 tsp.

  1. Soak the cashews in a little water and keep aside.
  2. Heat half the oil and crackle all the whole spices: green cardamom (seeds and covers both), black cardamom, javitri, jaiphal and cinnamon. 
  3. Fry for half a minute and add the chopped onions. Stir and fry until the onions turn transparent but not brown. 
  4. Add the tomatoes and sprinkle salt. Let cook until the tomatoes are cooked and become soft and mushy. 
  5. Turn off the flame and let this mix cool completely. Grind it to a fine paste without using any water. 
  6. Drain the water from the cashews and make a coarse paste of cashews in a mortal pestle and keep aside.
  7. Heat the other half of oil and add bay leaf. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry until the raw smell goes away. 
  8. Add the dry spices: red chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and kasoori methi. Mix well and let cook for a minute.
  9. Add the ground onion-tomato paste and mix everything well. Add the cashew paste and sugar after a minute and let everything fry well until the gravy starts leaving oil on the sides. 
  10. Turn off the flame and use it in dishes directly or let cool completely and freeze in batches for future use. 

Here are some recipes to use this tomato gravy:

To make butter paneer masala: In this gravy, add the paneer and in a separate pan, heat a little butter, crackle mustard seeds and dried red chilli. Let fry for a minute and add garam masala; mix and turn off the flame. Pour this over the gravy with paneer. Butter Paneer Masala is ready.

To make palak paneer: Boil and blanch the spinach and let cool. Grind to a fine paste with green chillis. Add paneer cubes to the tomato gravy and the spinach paste; mix and stir, let cook for a minute and turn off the flame. Do not cover. Palak Paneer is ready.

To make kofta: Use this gravy for lauki kofta or malai kofta. Skip the sugar, kasoori methi and cashews and dunk the koftas in this gravy and enjoy.

To make green chicken: marinate chicken in a paste of green chilli, mint, coriander and lemon juice for 4 hours or overnight. Heat oil and add cumin seeds and cloves. Add the marinated chicken and fry for few minutes. Cover and let cook until done. Add this chicken mix to the tomato gravy and green chicken curry is ready.

To make vegetable korma: Heat oil in a pan and crackle the mustard seeds and dried red chilli. Add the vegetables: potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, peas and fry for about 5 minutes. Add yogurt and mix well. Let cook covered until the vegetables are done. Add a cup of tomato gravy to this mix and your vegetable korma is ready. 

To make vegetable pulao: In the same method as making vegetable korma, add boiled rice and mix everything well. Vegetable pulao is ready. 

To make egg curry: Boil eggs and peel them. Heat little oil and add ginger-garlic paste to the oil. Add the eggs and sprinkle little red chilli powder and fry the eggs from all sides. Remove from flame. Add the fried eggs to the tomato gravy and egg curry is ready. 

To make chhole masala: Heat oil in a pan and crackle cumin seeds. Add chopped onions and fry well until they are transparent. Add 1/2 cup of tomato gravy and mix well. Let fry until the gravy starts to thicken up. Add the boiled chhole (white chickpeas) and mix well. Adjust salt and red chilli. Let cook for 5-7 minutes and turn off the flame. Garnish with coriander and serve as a quick side dish or to carry in lunch box. 

To make Aaloo Matar Subzi: Heat oil in a pressure cooker and crackle mustard seeds. Add chopped onions and fry until they are transparent. Add the chopped potatoes and peas and salt and turmeric powder. Add little water and close the lid. Pressure cook for 3 whistles and let the pressure release. Open and add tomato gravy and mix well, let cook everything for 5 minutes and turn off the flame. Aaloo Matar Subzi is ready.

To make Achaari Mix Vegetable: Dry roast dry red chilli, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cloves and bay leaf. Cool and grind to a powder. Heat oil in a pan and add the vegetables: potatoes, cauliflower, beans, carrots, peas and sprinkle salt. Let cook for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the spice powder and add little yogurt. Cover and let cook until the vegetables are done. Remove cover and add tomato gravy (don't add a lot of gravy, just about 1/2 cup) and mix everything well. Cook for 2-3 minutes and Achaari Mix Veg is ready.    

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Namkeen Sev

Who doesn't love Namkeen? These mildly spiced, crunchy and tasty savory snack; namkeens are everyone's favorite and more often than not, we can't stop munching on them once we begin. But sadly, the namkeens bought from the stores contain so many preservatives and added flavors it's scary and nobody has any idea what the "added flavors" actually are.

But we love our namkeen, right? So what's the best way to satisfy our cravings without consuming those extra preservatives which do no good for our health and body? Yes of course, make it at home !! No trust me, it's easier than it seems. You just need a kitchen press and some basic ingredients found in every household and you are done ! Let's move over to the recipe..

This is the kitchen press I have used for making this namkeen sev and I have used the second jali from the right, the one with small round holes.


Besan (chickpea flour): 1 cup
Salt to taste
Asafoetida: 1/4 tsp.
Peppercorns: 1 tsp.
Oil for frying
Water for making dough

  1. Take the besan in a wide bowl and add salt and asafoetida. Keep aside.
  2. Dry roast the peppercorns and crush in a mortal pestle. Add to the chickpea flour in the bowl. 
  3. Now slowly add water and make a dough which is not too hard but not in a flowing consistency as well. 
  4. Now open the kitchen press and wash well. Insert the dough and close with the 'jali with rounds' tightly.
  5. Heat the oil on medium high flame and when the oil is hot, slowly start to press the handle to the kitchen press so that the dough is extracted from the bottom directly into the hot oil. 
  6. Add the dough in batches (depending upon the size of your vessel) and let it fry and keep turning the sides so all the namkeen sev will turn crispy from all sides. 
  7. Drain the oil and take out the whole namkeen on kitchen papers with the help of a slotted spoon. Let cool completely and store in an air tight container at room temperature. 
  8. This will make a wonderful snack at tea time; or better still, munch away the crispy goodness anytime you like without worrying for the preservatives. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Instant Gulab Jamun

I know you are already drooling, aren't you?
Well who doesn't loveeeee these little dumplings dunked in a sweet syrup? Yet to find someone who will say no to this drool-some dessert !!
Gulab Jamun is one of the India's most popular desserts (and of course I would not wonder if it's even on the top of that list). It gets it's name from gulab (meaning rose flower: because the syrup is typically rose flavored) and jamun (a purple Indian berry: because when fried, the sweet dumpling gets a typical purple hue).

I know, I know.. I'm coming to the recipe. Typically this sweet is made of khoya, but this is an instant version and I have not used khoya because for one it takes long time to prepare; and for two I did not have khoya instantly available. So how did I make this? I used bread. Yes, I used left over bread to make this delicacy. Can't believe it? Read the recipe to know; and the pictures are the proof !!


For the sugar syrup:

Water: 2 cups
Sugar: 1.5 cups (can reduce the quantity of sugar till 1 cup which will make syrup less sweeter)
Saffron strands: a few
Green cardamom: 2 (seeds and covers)

For the dumpling balls:

Bread slices: 6 (each slice makes one gulab jamun approximately)
Milk: 1/2 cup
Saffron strands: a few
Little oil to grease your palms
Oil to deep fry

  1. First, begin to prepare the sugar syrup because it will take time and it should be warm when the balls are ready. Add the water to a heavy bottomed pot and begin to heat it on medium flame. 
  2. When it is getting warm, add the sugar slowly and stirring the sugar in water. The sugar will dissolve quickly as the water is warm. 
  3. Add all the sugar and stir the water nicely and bring it to a boil.
  4. Simmer and leave it on low flame until the syrup is ready and is of one-thread consistency. By the time we prepare the dumplings.
  5. Take the milk in a wide bowl and warm it a bit. You can microwave it for about 5 seconds. 
  6. Cut the edges of all the bread slices and discard the corners brown part. Please use plain unflavored bread. 
  7. Dip each slice of bread in the milk and quickly remove back and squeeze out the extra milk back to the bowl. Add this bread to the blender. Repeat for all the slices and add all of the milk dipped-squeezed out slices to the blender and discard the remaining milk.
  8. Blend till smooth and take out in a wide bowl. Add a few saffron strands and start kneading the mix carefully; you can add a little milk powder if required but I did not add anything else. Do not knead a lot, but enough to get a smooth consistency.
  9. Grease your palms with oil and pinch out a little ball from the dough. Roll carefully between your palms to make a smooth ball. Do not make very tight balls, just roll to a smooth ball and ensure there are no cracks in the balls, because then the balls will break while frying.
  10. Make soft and smooth balls from all the dough and keep aside.
  11. Now heat the oil on medium high heat first and when the oil is hot (test by adding a small pinch of dough), add the dumplings one by one in the oil. Do not touch the balls in oil but stir the oil with a slotted spoon so the balls keep moving. 
  12. As you see the dumplings are beginning to change color from white to a darker shade, immediately turn the flame to low to ensure they cook well from inside. Stir the dumplings a little and let cook until they become a darker shade of brown and evenly cooked on all sides; keep stirring to ensure they are fully cooked.
  13. Remove the balls with a slotted spoon and take out on a kitchen tissue and let them cool for about 2 minutes. 
  14. By this time, the syrup will be ready and warm; so now add the balls to the warm syrup and turn off the flame for the syrup. You can add a few drops of lemon to keep the syrup from crystallization. 
  15. Don't keep the dumpling out to cool for long time as they will cool and won't absorb the syrup.
  16. After about 10 minutes, the balls will soak in the sugar syrup and become heavy and bigger in size. Now remove them on a flat plate with the help of a spoon and let them cool completely. 
  17. After they have cooled, transfer to a big bowl and add the sugar syrup over the dumplings slowly to let them soak more syrup. Serve hot or cold as you like !! Decorate with pistachio and saffron strands if you like. 

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Looking for more dessert recipes? Do try this Gulab jamun from ready mixGurudwara Kadha Prasad recipeMango Shrikhand and Strawberry Kaju Katli


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