Maharashtrian Pithla

Pithla is a traditional Maharashtrian dish prepared with chickpea flour / besan. It pairs up well with steamed rice or Bhakri, with quatered onions and green chilies. Every Maharashtrian household have their own recipe, some add curry leaves, others add spring onions etc. It resembles Kadhi, but its made without yogurt.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup Besan / Chickpea Flour
½ red onion chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 garlic pods sliced
3 green chilies chopped
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp Kolhapuri masala / Red chili Powder
1 tbsp Ghee/ Clarified butter
3 tbsp oil
Handful of chopped Coriander

1 1/2 cup water (use more if needed)

Directions:

Chop onion and coriander. Slice garlic and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pot. When oil is hot add cumin seeds. When cumin seeds start to crackle add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes.

Add in garlic and green chilies. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric powder and Kolhapuri Masala / red chili powder and mix.

Add water and bring it to boil. Add salt and mix in the chickpea flour / besan and whisk well. (if you dont like lumps, mix the besan in a bowl with some water and then put it in the pot)

Place a lid and let it cook. Add more water if needed. Add chopped coriander and mix.

Add a dallop of ghee / clarified butter. Serve it with Bhakri or steamed rice, quatered onions and green chili

Paneer Noorjahani

Paneer Noorjahani is a dish originated from Mughlai Cuisine. It is a preparation made of Paneer (Cottage Cheese), with creamy and mild flavour. The recipe shared is a mild version, so you can adjust the spice level according to your needs, but I recommend to keep it mild so you can enjoy the true flavours of Mughlai Cuisine.

Ingredients:

350 grams paneer

½ cup butter 

70 grams cashews

1 tsp kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves)

3 green cardamoms

1.5tbsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp red chilli powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

½ cup beaten curd/yogurt

A pinch of garam masala

3-4 strings saffron soaked in 1 tsp of warm milk/water

Directions

In a pan saute onions until they are soft and partially caramelized. You don’t want it to be fully caramelized or it will change the colour of the sauce/gravy. Remove and keep aside

In the same pan saute cashews until golden brown. Blend together onions and cashews until fine paste.

Heat butter in a pot, add green cardamoms and saute for a minute. 

Add onion cashew paste and saute for 2-3 minutes on high flame. Add ginger garlic paste and saute for 2-3 minutes until the raw smell disappears and the butter separates from the paste.

Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and saute for a minute. Add kasoori methi (dry Fenugreek leaves) and mix. 

Add beaten yogurt, let it simmer and then add saffron mixture, let it simmer for a minute. (Do not cook for more than a minute or saffron will give a bitter aftertaste to the sauce/gravy)

Sprinkle garam masala and adjust the seasonings before you add paneer (Make sure you dont keep mixing the sauce after adding paneer, or the paneer will crumble and will spoil the texture of the sauce)

Add Paneer and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes on low flame

Serve hot with Kulcha, Roti or Jeera Rice

Nadan Mutta Roast

This Egg roast recipe is Kerala style which is locally known as Nadan Mutta Roast. The Nadan Mutta Roast is a dry dish and is a bit spicy, but you can adjust the spice level according to your needs. You can serve with any flatbreads, but traditionally it is served with Puttu, Appam or Noolappam etc.

Ingredients:

8 Eggs

4 Medium Onions

1 tbsp Ginger garlic Paste

4-5 Green Chilies

1 tsp Fennel seeds

1/2 tsp Pepper Powder

A Handfull Curry Leaves

1 tsp Red Chili Powder

1 tbsp Coriander Powder

1 tsp Garam Masala

3 tbsp Oil/ Coconut Oil

1 Large Tomato

Directions:

Prep:

Crush fennel seeds and keep aside. Hard boil eggs, remove shell and make slits. Slit the green chilies. Slice the onions and remove in a bowl.

Sauce:

In a wok heat oil, when Oil is hot add ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute on high flame.

Add crushed fennel powder and pepper powder. Saute for a minute.

Add in the sliced onions and cook until the onions are brown. the flavour of the dish is of roasted onions so make sure onions are roasted well.

Add in Slit green chilies and curry leaves and saute for a minute.

Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala and saute.

Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft. Add water and let it simmer.

Now add the slit Eggs and let it simmer for couple of minutes, so the eggs get infused with all the flavours.

Adjust the seasonings and serve with rice, puttu or any flatbreads etc.

Shahi Aloo (Potatoes cooked in rich creamy sauce)

Shahi Aloo is a rich creamy curry, with onions, tomatoes and cashew puree cooked in butter and cream. In this recipe I have used potatoes and scooped balls with melon scooper, but you can cut medium dices of potatoes or use baby potatoes. This curry is well balanced and is not too sweet or spicy, but you can adjust the spiciness or sweetness according to your preferences. It is very easy to prepare and is paired well with Naan, Roti’s or Jeera Rice.

Ingredients:

500 grams potatoes

1 medium onion Large cubes

2 Large tomatoes Large Cubes

1 tbsp Kasoori Methi (Dry Fenugreek Leaves)

½ tsp Turmeric powder

1 tbsp Red chilli powder

7 Cloves

½ inch Cinnamon stick

2 Black Cardamoms

1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste

Salt to taste

1 Cup Cream

Oil for Frying and 2 tbsp for cooking

½ cup butter

20-25 cashews

2-3 saffron strands

Directions:

Prep:

Peel the potatoes, scoop medium sized balls and place it in salt water. Cut onions and Tomatoes in large Cubes. Keep aside.

In a pot heat water enough to cover the potatoes. When water is hot, add potatoes and cook until half done. Remove and keep aside.

In the same water add onions, tomatoes and cashews and cook until onions are fully cooked. Remove and keep aside.

In a pan heat oil and fry the potatoes and remove in a bowl with kitchen tissues (this will help to absorb excess oil)

Curry/Gravy:

Heat a kadhai / sauce pot, add butter. When butter is hot, add ginger garlic paste and cook until the raw smell is gone.

Add cloves, cinnamon stick and black cardamom and saute until you smell the aroma of spices. Add kasoori methi and saute on high flame for a minute.

Add tomato puree and cook on medium flame till it starts boiling, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick at bottom of pot. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt. Mix well.

Add potatoes and cook on low flame, so the potatoes absorb all the flavour. In a bowl Add 1 tbsp hot water and add saffron strands. Add this mixture to the curry. Mix. Add cream and cook on low flame.

Add 1 tbsp honey, adjust the seasonings according to your preferences. You can also add raisins and chopped almonds to the curry.

Serve with Naan, Roti or Jeera Rice.

Goli Pulao (Lamb Meatball Pilaf)

Goli Pulao also known as “Meatball Pilaf” is a rice preparation from Kolhapur. Traditionally Kolhapuri masala is added in this preparation, but we can use red chilli powder. The recipe I have shared here is a simple creamy rice preparation. If you like to make rice more spicy add some more green chillies and red chilli powder in the lamb mince and use less cream while preparing rice.

For video click on the link below:

Ingredients:

500 grams Lamb Mince

3 cups Basmati Rice

1 cup hot water

2 cup cream (35% M.F)

(Ratio of Rice to Liquid is 1:1, so adjust the ratio of water and cream according to your taste)

1 Large onion Chopped

1/2 tbsp green chillies chopped

1/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste

Salt to taste

1 tsp Garam Masala

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 Whole Egg beaten (acts a binding agent)

2 cups oil/ghee/clarified butter

(for frying meatballs, same oil can be used for rice)

100 grams cashew nuts

3 green cardamoms

4 cloves

2 black cardamoms

1 large bay leaf

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tsp cumin powder                                                                                   

3-4 saffron strands

Directions:

Mise-en-place

Chop onion and keep in a bowl. Chop green chillis. Beat 1 whole egg and Soak rice in water for at least 30 minutes. Soak the saffron strands in 1-2 tbsp of hot cream or water.

Meatballs preparation

In a bowl add lamb mince, add chopped onion, chopped green chillies, ginger garlic paste, garam masala, red chilli powder, beaten egg and salt. Combine well.

Make small balls of the mixture. In a kadhai, add oil/ghee/clarified butter. When oil is hot fry the meatballs and remove when done. In the same oil fry cashews and remove in a bowl.

Save the oil and use it to prepare rice. It will infuse flavour in the rice.

Rice Preparation

In a kadhai add 3-4 tbsp of oil. When oil is hot, add cloves, green cardamom, black cardamom, bay leaf and saute till aroma pops out. Add cumin seeds and let them crackle.

Add the rice (drain the water from the rice) and saute on medium flame for couple of minutes. Add cumin powder and saute for a minute.

Now add water and cream (the proportion of rice and liquid is 1:1, so you can adjust the quantity of water and cream according to your preferences) add salt, cashew nuts and saffron. Cook until rice is done.

Assemble rice and the meatballs as shown in the pics…garnish with cashews. serve with Raita

Chicken Chettinad

Chettinad Cuisine is from the region of Chettinad in Tamil Nadu, which is dominated by Chettiar community. Chettinad cuisine has gained popularity in non-Tamils speaking community as well. Chicken Chettinad is prepared by freshly grounded coconut with various other grounded spices. This fiery curry is one of the most popular dishes from region of South India. The recipe I have shared here is less spicy, but you can add more peppercorns while roasting spice to adjust the spiciness. It is best served with Dosas, Rice, Chapati.

Ingredients:

For Gravy:

500 grams chicken

2 tbsp oil

1 large onion sliced

8-10 no curry leaves

1 large tomato

1 large bay leaf

1 tsp red chili powder

For Marination

¼ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp red chili powder

1 tbsp yogurt

1tsp oil

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

Salt to taste

Chettinad masala (Roasted and then Grinded)

1 tbsp Poppy Seeds or 8-10 cashews

½ cup grated coconut

1 tsp fennel seeds

5-6 peppercorns

3-4 dry red chilies

3-4 green cardamom pods

3-4 cloves

½ inch cinnamon pods

½ tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp coriander seeds

Directions

Marination:

In a bowl mix yogurt, red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, oil and ginger garlic paste. Apply the marinade to chicken and refrigerate overnight or 8-10 hours.

Chettinad Spice:

On a low flame, dry roast red chilies and coriander seeds. When you can smell the aroma of cumin and red chilies add green cardamom, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and cloves. Roast on low flame till you can smell the aroma.

Now add the poppy seeds and mix it quickly. Now add coconut and roast on low flame till the coconut is brown in colour. Cool down the roasted masala and then grind it and keep aside. In the same blender add tomatoes and make a puree, remove in a bowl and keep aside.

Gravy:

In a pan heat oil, add bay leaf and onions. Saute till the onions start turning brown. Add the marinated chicken and saute it for 5-10 minutes. Now add the tomato puree and let it cook till tomatoes are cooked.

Add salt, red chili powder. Add the grounded paste. Fry for 5 minutes and then add curry leaves. Add 1 cup water and let the chicken cook until it is done. Until the chicken is cooked the gravy will be thick. Add water until you get a desired consistency. Serve with Rice, Dosas, Chapati etc.

Malai Kofta (Cottage Cheese cooked in rich creamy gravy)

Malai means “cream” and Koftas means “meatballs”, Malai Koftas are potato and paneer balls dipped in rich and creamy sauce. In India vegetarian version of koftas are very common. In this recipe, koftas are made with paneer and potatoes with ginger garlic paste and hint of spices, served with delightful and rich gravy made with onion,tomatoes and cashew nuts. To cut down the costs most of the restaurants in India use poppy seeds and magaz seeds (pumpkin seeds) instead of cashew nuts paste. The recipe I have shared is one of the creamiest and tastiest.

Ingredients:

Puree for Gravy

1 medium onion

3 large tomatoes

10-12 cashew nuts

½ inch cinnamon stick

4 green cardamom

4 cloves

2-3 cups water

Kofta Balls

200 grams paneer (grated)

2 large potatoes (boiled and crushed)

3 tbsp corn starch

1 tsp ginger paste

2 tbsp coriander leaves (chopped)

1 tsp garam masala

1 cup oil for frying

2 tbsp cashew nuts (chopped)

2 tbsp raisins (chopped)

Gravy

3tbsp butter (you can use oil, but butter is preferable)

1 bay leaf

3 green cardamoms

½ inch cinnamon stick

2 tsp ginger garlic paste

1-2 tsp red chili powder (depends on spiciness you prefer)

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp coriander powder

½ tsp cumin powder

Salt to taste

Honey/Jaggery depending on sweetness preferred (you can add sugar but honey or jaggery is health option)

2 tsp kasuri methi

5-6 tbsp heavy cream

Water (saved from puree)

Directions:

Puree for Gravy:

Cut onions and tomatoes into large cubes. Heat water in a pot, when it starts simmering add all the ingredients listed under puree. Let it simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes (or until onions and tomatoes are soft).

Turn off the heat, strain and let it cool down. Preserve the water so you can add it later in the gravy. Blend it into a fine puree. Strain if needed (if the puree has chunks of cashew nuts, cardamom and cinnamon). Keep aside

For Gravy:

Heat a pan with butter or oil. Add bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom and saute for a minute. Add ginger garlic paste and saute for 2-3 minutes (make sure the raw smell goes away)

Add chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder. Saute for minute on medium flame. Pour in the puree and mix. Cook if for 2-3 minutes on medium flame. Add water (saved from puree).

Cook until the gravy thickens. Add salt and Jaggery/honey/sugar according to taste desired. Add kasuri methi. Turn the heat low and add cream, stir and turn the heat off.

Malai Kofta:

Boil water in a pot. Add in the potatoes (cut into large cubes). Boil until they are cooked. Strain let them cool down. Grate paneer and keep aside.

In a bowl crumble potato, add in grated paneer, ginger garlic paste, corn starch, salt, garam masala and chopped coriander leaves. Mix everything properly. Divide the dough into 8-10 equal parts and roll them into balls. If you are stuffing the dough with cashew nuts and rasisns, flatten each dough balls and stuff with cashew nuts and raisins and seal them (I have flattened the balls so I can shallow fry instead of deep fry)

Heat oil in a pan for frying, when the oil is hot slide in the kofta balls and fry it. Make sure the oil is not too hot or the koftas will burn. Before frying all the koftas, slide in one kofta ball and check if the oil is in the right temperature.

Fry on medium flame until they are golden brown and crisp. Remove on a plate lined with paper (this will soak most of the oil).

Assembling:

Add the gravy in a bowl, place koftas on top and garnish.

Serve with roti, naan or jeera rice.

Prawns Pulao (Shrimp Pilaf)

Pulao or Pilaf is a rice dish commonly made in Indian home. It is a one pot dish where you cook spices, meat or veggies and rice together unlike Biryani which is multi layered. Also preparing Pulao is less time consuming than Biryani. There are many variations of pulao like Chicken, Mutton (Goat), Egg, Vegetable, Fish etc. to name a few. As I have already shared a Chicken Biryani recipe, I am sharing a pulao recipe with prawns, one of my favorites and my mother’s recipe. Easy to prepare and delicious to eat, I am sure you will love this recipe.

Ingredients:

500 grams Prawns

500 grams Rice

2 tbsp ginger garlic paste

4 large onions sliced

7-8 peppercorns

7-8 cloves

½ inch cinnamon stick

3 bay leaves

3 medium tomatoes

¾ cup oil (for marinating, cooking rice and making

2 tsp cumin seeds

½ bunch coriander

2-3 tbsp red chilli powder (depending on need of spiciness)

½ tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

Mise en place:

Slice onions, chop tomatoes and coriander and slice the green chillies

Marinating the prawns:

Clean and devein prawns. Marinate the prawns with 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste, 1tsp lemon juice, turmeric powder and salt. Refrigerate.

Cooking the rice:

In a pot 1.5 litres of water, add 1 bay leaf, salt, 2 tbsp oil and let the water boil. Once the water starts boiling add rice and cook the rice till its Al dente (tender but still firm to bite). Remove and rinse with cool water (so the rice stops cooking from heat within). Keep aside.

Gravy:

Take a pot and add the remaining oil. When the oil is hot add cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, once you start smelling the fragrance of the spices add cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to crackle add onions, ginger garlic paste and saute on high flame for 2-3 minutes, turn the heat down and cook the onions until they are fully done.

Add tomatoes and cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes and add the green chillies and the red chilli powder saute for a minute and add the marinated prawns and cook until prawns are half cooked (keep an eye or the prawns will be stiff and chewy if overcooked)

Assembling:

Once the prawns are half cooked add half  the amount of chopped coriander and rice in the gravy and mix and let it cook on low flame for 5 mins. Serve it on plate or pasta bowl and garnish with chopped coriander.

Note:

Usually you cook rice along with meat, as prawns cook faster i cooked the rice till its al dante and then mixed it with prawns (when they are half cooked). this will ensure that prawns and rice are perfectly cooked.

Pav Bhaji

Pav bhaji is a savory and spicy dish originated in Mumbai, India in 1860 when civil war started in USA which increased their demand for cotton in the country. India at the time was the largest supplier of cotton, so the employees in Bombay Cotton Exchange had to work late nights. Their wife frustrated from their hectic schedules and they had to sleep empty stomach, which affected their productivity at work. So to feed the workers, vendors would put their stalls outside the mills, mixing all the leftover vegetables, potato and tomatoes and spices and this is how Pav Bhaji came into origin. As the number of mills grew, the vendors started to spread this recipe and over the years it became a friend of Mumbaikars who gave them company late at night. Served with a dollop of butter, Pav (bread) brushed with butter and toasted on the tawa (disc shaped frying pan made of cast iron, aluminum or carbon steel), chopped onions, coriander and lemon slice, its heavenly.

Two favorite hotspots for Pav Bhaji in Mumbai are Sardar Pav Bhaji (at tardeo road junction) and Cannon (opposite CST station), but my personal favorite is Ashraya Restaurant in Dadar, near Shivaji Park.

Ingredients:

For cooking vegetable for bhaji:

4-5 medium potatoes

2 cups cauliflower florets

1 cup carrots, roughly chopped

2 cup green peas

2 medium green bell peppers

1 cup French beans, roughly chopped

Other ingredients:

100 grams unsalted butter

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 large onions finely chopped

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

4-5 green chilis chopped

1 tsp turmeric powder

3 large tomatoes chopped or pureed

2-3 cups water

2-3 tsp red chili powder

4-5 tbsp pav bhaji masala (or more according to your taste)

Accompaniments with Bhaji:

8-10 pav to serve with bhaji

1 chopped onion

4 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp chopped coriander

3-4 lemon wedges

Directions:

Wash peel and chop the potatoes and carrots. Cut cauliflower into medium sized florets. Roughly chop the bell peppers and French beans (roughly chop the vegetables as after cooking we need to mash all the veggies). Chop onions and tomatoes (you can also puree the tomatoes if you want).

Place all the vegetables (apart from onions and tomatoes) in a cooker, cover it with water and cook the vegetables 4-5 whistles or until they are soft and easy to mash. You can also add vegetables like broccoli etc. When they are cooked strain and mash all the vegetables (save the water so you can add it later while cooking)

Heat butter in a pot. Add onions and saute on medium flame on 4-5 minutes. Add ginger garlic paste and saute for 2-3 minutes or until the raw taste of ginger garlic paste is gone. When onions are cooked add chopped green chilies and chopped tomatoes (or puree) and cook until tomatoes are soft and mushy, you will see butter realizing from the sides.

When tomatoes are cooked add the mashed vegetables and mix it well. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and pav bhaji masala and mix well. Add the saved water from the vegetables. Adjust the seasonings. Turn off the heat.

Heat a tawa (pan). Add butter, when butter starts melting add a bit of bhaji in the tawa so the pav absorbs the flavor of butter and masala. Toast it on both sides. When done remove on a plate.

Serving:

Remove bhaji in a bowl. Add chopped onions, coriander, a tbsp of butter and a lemon wedge. Place it in a plate with toasted pav. Add more butter if needed.

Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani one of the most loved dishes in India. But do you know the word Biryani is derived from Persian word “Birian” which means “fried before cooking” and “Birinj” which is the Persian word for “Rice”. Historians believe that Biryani originated in Persia and was introduced to India by Mughals. It was further developed in Indian kitchens according to the different regions in the country (Maharashtra, Punjab, Hyderabad and Kerala etc have their own versions). Traditionally Biryani is cooked on charcoal in earthen pots. Preparing Biryani is a slow and a lengthy process, but the taste totally justifies the time invested in preparing. The recipe I have shared is the one my mom makes at home and one of my favorites (Always use Basmati rice to prepare Biryani)

Marination Time: 10-15 hours                   Cooking and Assembling: 1 hour                               Serves: 4

2 Layered Chicken Biryani in a Handi

Ingredients:

500 grams Chicken

500 grams Basmati Rice

6-7 Peppercorns

6-7 Cloves

5-6 Green cardamom

3-4 Black cardamom

2 Bay leaf’s

2 tsp Shahi Jeera

3 tbsp Ghee / Clarified butter

1 large onion

Few Saffron strands

Half a bunch of Coriander

Oil for deep frying onions

Salt to taste

For Marination:

2 large Onions, sliced (deep fried and crushed)

3 tbsp Yogurt

3 tsp ginger garlic paste

2 tsp Lemon juice

1 tsp Turmeric powder

1 tbsp Garam masala

2 tbsp Red chilli powder

Directions:

Slice the onions, apply some salt and keep aside (this will help the onions to sweat and will be crispier after frying). After 10-15 mins place onions in a cloth and squeeze the water and keep aside. Heat oil in a pot and fry the onions. In the same oil deep fry coriander. Keep onion and coriander aside.

 In a bowl make a marinade with all the ingredients, add crushed deep-fried onions and marinate the chicken. Let it marinate for 10-15 hours

Rice:

Take a pot and boil water (3 times of rice) with a bay leaf, a pinch of salt and a dash of lemon juice. Cook the rice just as you cook the pasta “Al Dante”. Drain rice and rinse it in cold water to avoid overcooking.

Gravy:

In a pot heat ghee/ clarified butter, when the ghee is hot add shahi jeera and let it crackle. Now add peppercorns, cloves, green cardamom, black cardamom, bay-leaf and let it pop. Now add Onions and saute for 2-3 minutes on high flame.  

When Onion is cooked add the marinated chicken and let it cook on medium flame until chicken is cooked. Adjust the seasonings.

Assembling:

Soak saffron in warm water. Take a Handi (Pot), place some gravy on bottom of the pot, now place a layer of rice, repeat it once more. Sprinkle the saffron water on the biryani. Now you will have 4 layers. Garnish with some deep-fried onions, fried coriander leaves, fried cashewnuts and boiled eggs (optional).

Serve hot with Raita, sliced onions.