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

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.

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.

Dahiwala Karela (Bitter gourd cooked in yogurt)

Bitter gourd is one of the most hated vegetable around the world. Most people are force fed the vegetable as a child. Bitter gourd has so many health benefits such as it has anti-diabetic properties, is rich in vitamin A and C, iron, magnesium and potassium. It also has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It helps in reducing the risks of heart disease, lowers the cholesterol level etc. It is low in calories, carbohydrates and fat which boosts in weight loss and improves metabolism. It contains 80-85% water, which reduces hunger. I have grown up eating bitter gourd which is fried in oil with some spices (my mom makes it, and its my favourite). The recipe I have shared here is something I have tried in my kitchen and it turned out delicious. So try and let me know your views.

Ingredients:

500 gms bitter gourd (Karela)

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 large onion sliced

1 medium tomato

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

3 chopped green chillies

½ cup yogurt

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp garam masala powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

Salt to taste

1 tbsp Oil

1 tbsp Jaggery

Directions:

Wash and clean Bitter gourd and slice them in roundels. Apply some salt and keep aside for 5-10 minutes. This will help reduce the bitterness. Slice onions, chop tomatoes and green chillies and keep it aside. In a bowl mix yogurt, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and a pinch of salt. Keep the mixture aside.

In a pan heat oil, when oil is hot add cumin, when cumin starts to crackle add onion and green chillies. Saute for 5 mins on medium flame. Add ginger and garlic paste and cook on medium flame for 5 minutes.

When onions are cooked add tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Now add bitter gourd and cook it on medium flame for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now add the yogurt mixture and cook on high flame until bitter gourd is cooked and all water from yogurt is evaporated. Mix in jaggery and adjust the seasonings.

Garnish with Mint leave or coriander. Serve with Garlic naan.