26 May 2008

Amarkhand = Mango Shrikhand

Shrikhand is traditionally made from thick, hung yoghurt or chakka. The yoghurt is placed in a muslin cloth which is tied up and hung till all the whey has drained off. An easier alternate is using labneh, which is strained yoghurt having a cheeselike consistency. Labneh or yoghurt cheese is widely consumed in the Middle East and Mediterranean region as a dip with pita bread. Labneh lends itself very well to a creamy, delicious shrikhand and is not very sour like the store bought shrikhand. Amarkhand is mango flavoured shrikhand. With the mango season in full swing, it is important to balance the heat from the mangoes with cooling yoghurt - amarkhand fits the bill. Serve it with puris for breakfast or as a dessert or have it whenenver you feel like, it's yummy!
You'll need:
1 sweet, ripe mango - preferably alphonso
200 gms labneh
a pinch of cardamom powder
powdered sugar as per taste
Remove the pulp from the mango. Whisk it along with the labneh and cardamom powder till smooth and creamy. Add sugar only if required. Now fetch a spoon and dig in....aah, you're in heaven!
For a variation, you can add chooped fruits to it or saffron and nuts like almonds, pistachios or chironji.
My entry to:

22 May 2008

Babycorn-Carrot-Koosa Masala

A packet of babycorn, a handful of baby carrots and koosa were languishing in the crisper. That is when Sia's Babycorn-carrot masala came to the rescue. The unusual combination of carrots and babycorn in a creamy gravy was enticing. One of the changes incorporated into it was the addition of koosa, the Arabic name for a pale green, cucumber-like vegetable also called "squash", "zucchini" and "marrow vegetable" on signboards in supermarkets - I have no idea what it is called in English. It is widely used in Lebanese cuisine and tastes great in curries.

For the ground masala, I replaced the cashew nuts and sugar with 1 tbsp of yoghurt which gave the gravy a creamy richness without the extra fat and sweetness. I also pressure cooked the vegetables along with the masala for 2 whistles. The carrots and babycorn were just tender and had absorbed the masalas very well.
The verdict: It was a change from the routine and we particularly liked the creamy gravy. The addition of kasuri methi and kitchen king masala lent a nice balance to the sweet taste of the vegetables. Next time I'll try adding a different combination of vegetables, paneer or chicken to the gravy or even cook the gravy with cashew nuts and some cream!
Here's the recipe with Sia's permission and my own changes. Thanks, Sia!

For Ground Masala:
1 small Onion, quartered
3 large Tomatoes
2-3 cloves of Garlic
¾ -1 inch Ginger, peeled and chopped
2-3 Dry Red Chilli
¾ -1 tsp Garam Masala
½-1 tsp Kitchen King Masala
½ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Coriander Seeds

Grind the above ingredients to a smooth paste and keep aside.

Other Ingredients:
One packet Baby Corn, cut into fingers
10-12 Baby Carrots
2-3 koosa, cut into fingers
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
2-3 Green Chillies, slit
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
½ tbsp Kasuri Methi/Dried Fenugreek Leaves
1 tbsp Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp Yoghurt
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tbsp Oil/Ghee
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds to it. When cumin splutters, add finely chopped onion and slit chillies and sauté till it turns golden brown. Add ground paste, kasuri methi, yoghurt and sauté for 2-3 minutes till raw smell of masala disappears. Add salt, turmeric and the vegetables and sauté for a minute. Add sufficient water and pressure cook for two whistles. Turn off from the flame. When the cooker cools, open lid and adjust consistency if required. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rotis/parathas.

19 May 2008


Every summer, we visit a small, family-run Gujarati restaurant in Dubai, to tuck into their weekend thali. The menu is the same every week - puris, undhiyo, chhole, potato curry, gujarati kadhi, dhoklas and aamras. While we don't care too much for most of the items in the thali, the undhiyo and aamras are outstanding. Everytime we scoop off a few spoons of aamras, the cup is promptly refilled. After downing atleast five cups of aamras, and the food, the staff will still insist on "some more aamras". Any refusal on our part, and the old cook appears at the table, lovingly serving the aamras himself and gently coaxing us into relenting - "the mango season is so short, have all you can now". Now we can't refuse, can we?

I tried making aamras at home without any extra flavouring and loved it. Then I saw a recipe which mentioned adding elaichi/cardamom to it and tried that. We hated it. Elaichi takes away the true mango flavour - it is a distraction in the the taste!! Going back to the original way, this is how I made it.

You'll need:

2 ripe mangoes - I used the Alphonso variety
a tbsp milk
a little water
sugar, if needed

Soak the mangoes in water for 2 hours - this takes the heat out of the mangoes. Then peel the mangoes and chop of the pulp. Reserve the seeds in the water - this is said to retain the flavour. Blend the pulp with milk till smooth. Check for sweetness and add sugar if needed. Add a little water (in which the seeds were retained) to make it a little thin and blend again. Serve chilled with puris or palak puris.
The original way of making aamras is by squishing the soaked mango with fingers and extracting the pulp. Blending it does not make a difference to the taste and is less time consuming.

14 May 2008

Doodhi Koftas

Growing up, most of the vegetables found on this planet fell into the category of vegetables I disliked. I can imagine how hard it was for my mother to come up with ideas to make me relish the ones on my "dislike" list. Much has changed since I've had to cook myself. The discovery of the fact that my husband too had a similar "dislike" list and the sheer lack of innovative ideas to come up with varieties with the veggies we liked, pushed me into experimenting with the ones we both disliked earlier. Doodhi/lauki/bottle gourd is one such vegetable that found acceptance rather quickly. The fact that it is tasteless by itself helps, as it absorbs flavours of the spices in which it is cooked. Our favourite way of consuming doodhi is making koftas which disguises the doodhi itself and whoever says no to koftas!

You'll need:

For the koftas:
1 cup grated bottlegourd
1/2 cup besan/chickpea flour
1 tsp garlic paste
1 green chilli chopped finely
3 tbsp coriander leaves chopped finely
1/4 tsp amchur/mango powder
a pinch of black pepper powder
salt to taste
oil for frying

Peel and grate the doodhi, keep aside for 15 minutes and squeeze out the excess water. (The water can be used to knead roti dough.) Add the remaining ingredients to the grated doodhi and mix well. Form tiny balls or koftas and deep fry in oil till done. Keep aside.

Koftas can be stored in the freezer for a month.

For the gravy:

1 cup tomato puree
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp chilli powder
a pinch of turmeric
1 tsp garam masala powder
salt to taste

For the garnish: (optional)
finely chopped coriander leaves

Heat oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds and let it splutter. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the spices and tomato puree and cook till the oil separates. Add sufficient water, bring it to a boil and simmer to get the consistency you like.
Just before serving, add the koftas to the gravy and simmer for a few minutes. garnish with cream and coriander leaves and serve.

7 May 2008


There are days when I open the fridge and it seems I'm cooking for a marriage party at home! This feeling surfaces right after I've stuffed my fridge with the week's quota of vegetables, fresh from the wholesale market. The veggies are mostly wiped out by the end of the week with barely twos and threes of something or the other left. A nice way to use up veggies from a stuffed fridge is to prepare saibhaji, a Sindhi dish made of leafy greens, pulses and a variety of vegetables. Not only is it packed with nutrition, it is really delicious and you can even get the fussy ones eating their greens and veggies.

You will need:

2 cups spinach - washed, cleaned and finely chopped
1/4 cup fenugreek leaves/methi - washed, cleaned and finely chopped
1/4 cup green moong dal
1/4 cup yellow moong dal
1/2 cup onions chopped
1 tsp garlic chopped
1 tsp gingerchopped
1 tsp green chillies chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup doodhi chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped cluster beans
1/4 cup brinjal/eggplant chopped
a pinch of turmeric powder
a pinch of garam masala
salt and red chilli powder to taste

Note 1: You can substitute the moong dals with 1/2 cup channa dal.
Note 2: You can also add 1/2 cup chopped dill leaves(suva) and 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves for an enhanced flavour.
Note 3: You can also add vegetables like potato, capsicum, okra.

Heat oil in a pan and fry te onions till golden-brown. Add the minced ginger, garlic and green chillies and fry for a minute. Then add all the chopped vegetables and stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Now add the spinach, fenugreek leaves, dals, salt, chilli powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and little water and pressure cook for 4 -5 whistles. Turn off from heat. After the cooker has cooled, open the lid and mash the saibhaji lightly (it should not become a paste). Just before serving, temper with ghee and red chilli powder (optional). Saibhaji is served with rice but taste great with rotis too.