Monday, June 27, 2016

Chicken Kadhai

Gravy-based thick dishes delight me so much. They have simple ingredients, are easy to make and make you feel 'home' instantly. Any problem on your mind can be solved with a bowl of curry and some fresh chapatis to scoop and dunk into it. The dark consistency, the right blend of spices and add to that some fresh ingredients and your curry is ready in less than an hour.

North Indian at heart, Chicken Kadhai is a dish that is cooked in so many ways by adding capsicum and whole spices like cloves, bay leaf, cardamom. I think after Dal Makhani (see the recipe for making restaurant-style Dal Makhani hereand butter chicken, this should be the most-ordered dish in any restaurant serving Punjabi or North Indian food. The simplicity of this recipe makes it stand out and is the reason why most of the times when we have chicken at home, I end up cooking this or the biryani.

Chicken kadhai is one such curry-based dish that we enjoy scooping with soft chapatis. I abstain from eating it with parathas since I find this dish a bit on the heavier side. It doesn't have any milk-based thickeners such as cream or milk or yoghurt but the amount of spice powders in this dish can make it hard to handle if you eat too much of it. Albeit once tasted, its simply hard to resist another serving. Go ahead and try it with naan or paratha or even mix it up with some steamed rice and immerse yourself in other interpretations of this dish.

Here is how I make my Chicken Kadhai which is a favourite at home and this recipe guarantees a love-filled whatsapp from husband when I pack it for him in his lunch!

Prepping Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 30 min
Difficulty Level: Easy


Chicken pieces: 1 kg (skinless, bone in)
6-7 onions, sliced or quartered
4-5 tomatoes, pulped
6-7 green chilies
4-5 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
4-5 tbsp Cooking oil
1 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chicken masala
salt, to taste


1) In a thick bottom and wide wok, add oil, fry the chopped garlic until translucent stirring all the time, add chopped ginger. When that browns slightly, add sliced onions. On a low flame, fry onions until brown. Keep stirring to make sure they don't stick to the bottom or they might burn.
2) Add in pulped tomatoes and green chilies. I grind the green chilies but you can add it chopped or sliced into two. When the tomatoes gravy separate from the oil, put red chili powder, salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder and chicken masala. Let the masala cook with the gravy for a minute.
3) Finally put the chicken pieces, a small bowl of water and cover with a lid for 10 min. Open and check if the the chicken is done. If chicken still doesn't leave the bone, cover and cook for 10 min more. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with hot chapatis.

 Thanks for reading! :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dal Makhani

Raise your hand if you have not tasted this epic North Indian dish - Dal Makhani yet! Raise both hands and go run like this to a roadside dhaba or a small Indian restaurant near you and dig in to this divine dish. 

Believe me this is no punishment, only a reward. Dal Makhani is a creamy Punjabi lentil curry simmered and slow cooked until the black gram lentils and kidney beans almost turn to a mush

It is generally cooked with lots of butter and then finally smooth layers of cream are added to finish this aptly titled 'Dal Makhani'.

Makkhan in Hindi translates as butter in English and in India, especially Punjab, a lot of dishes have "Makhani" added to their name.

Their are some very rich gravy dishes with Makkhan cooked in Punjabi style like Paneer Makhani (cottage cheese cooked in butter and cream and tomato gravy) or Murg Makhani (Chicken in a thick creamy buttery sauce).

Usage of dairy products like milk, cream, butter, ghee (clarified butter) and paneer (cottage cheese) is profound in Punjabi cooking. Almost all Punjabi dishes have either one or more of these dairy products in them.

Before I share the recipe here, let me say that like many slow-cooked recipes, Dal Makhani turns out best when you take your time to cook it at leisure. It is not a dish in a jiffy and making it is time-consuming but once you scoop it with pillow-y bites of layered parathas (pan-fried flatbread), you forget about the time and effort put into making it.

I love eating my dal out of the fridge next morning served with hot parathas fresh off the tawa. Believe me, it tastes even better the next morning. This is the way breakfast has been happening at my naani's (grandma's house) since my childhood. Leftover dal from the night served with hot fluffy parathas.

Since it takes long for the black gram lentils and kidney beans to cook, I use a pressure cooker and soak both overnight in water.

Prepping Time: 8 hours
Cooking Time: 1 hour


Black lentils (whole): 3/4th cup
Kidney Beans: 1/4th cup
4-5 tbsp butter
2-3 cloves
1tsp cumin
2 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tomatoes, pulped
4-5 green chilies
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt, to taste
coriander leaves, for garnish
cream 3-4 tbsp


1) A night before or at least 4-5 hours before cooking soak black gram and kidney beans in enough water to speed up the cooking.

2) In a pressure cooker, heat four cups of water. Add some salt, turmeric powder and pressure cook for on medium to low flame for about 30 min.

3) Take a pan, heat butter with just a tbsp cooking oil to avoid it from getting burnt.

4) Now add bay leaf, cloves, cardamom.

5) Put in the cumin seeds and stir until it changes colour and you smell a nice roasted fragrance of cumin.

6) Add chopped onions. Stir fry.

7) Until the onions brown, prepare ginger-garlic paste. Keep aside.

8) Keep checking on the onions and stir. Meanwhile, blend together tomatoes and green chili.

9) Set aside the tomato-green chili paste.

10) Stir the onions.

 11) When onions look like such....

 12) ...put in the ginger-garlic paste and stir fry until the raw smell disappears.

13) Now add in the tomato-green chili pulp.

14) Stir well. When tomatoes seem to be cooked and left some oil on the side, its done.

15) Now add in the red, chili powder, coriander powder, salt. Stir and saute for 2 min.

16) When it looks like this, your tadka is ready! Once the pressure cooker releases its steam, open carefully and add the dal to the tadka. Do not add all the remaining water. You can add it later in parts when the dal is simmering with the tadka. It should be thick and not runny so add little water every then and now. When the dal seems to be mixed well with the tadka, add in the cream and turn off the gas.

Serve hot with paratha or fuluffy phulkas (chapati)!

How do you like to eat your dal?
With parathas or naan? 
Tell me all, I'd love to read what you think!

Thanks for reading! :-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cook With Kids: Mango Cream Parfait

For me, summers spell M-A-N-G-O-E-S and truck loads of them. I make sure to eat my favourite fruit in all its forms. A plate of freshly sliced mangoes after food becomes our dessert. It has been the case since I was little.

I remember my eyes lighting up to see mom bring a plate full of mango and sweet melon slices. At the same moment mom's eyes would signal to finish the meal first if I wanted the fruits. Following in the footsteps of  my mom, I try to bribe my child also into finishing his meal to get his bite of juicy sweet mangoes. It works every time and Little M obliges as his plate is wiped off in minutes without any fuss. :-)

Recently, I had prepared custard and saw a few cake slices lying around so I thought of making my very own Mango Custard Parfait which was a hit with both the boys - Little M and M. Later on Little M also helped me arrange the parfait by layering it with homemade chocolate cake, custard, fresh mango chunks and pomegranate pearls. Creating a parfait is easy and can be done in so many different ways. There are no rules in this game, it only gets better and tastier with more layers and more fruits.

This time, see how Little M and I assemble our glass jars with this yummy Mango Cream. Mango Cream is nothing but mango and cream.

It is so yummy and a great chilled dessert to pamper your family or guests with on hot summer days. Rest assured this one is totally fuss-free and gets ready in under 15 min. Make it at least 3-4 hours before serving as it tastes best once chilled and needs to be chilled in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

See how Little M created his own parfait after I showed him by arranging one glass. You too can make this simple dessert with your children, just make sure to keep the pulp-cream mixture ready and mango chunks chopped before you invite kids into the kitchen.

Serves: 3-4

2 Mangoes, pulped (or about 1 cup mango pulp)
1 cup Mango, diced
350 ml whipping cream (about 1 and 1/2 cup)
A pinch of cardomom powder
Sugar, as needed


1) Start by peeling and pulping mangoes in a blender. Keep aside.
2) Chop a mango into little chunks. Keep aside.
3) Taste your mango pulp, if its not sweet, add sugar to whipping cream and blend for 2 min.
4) Blend together half the amount of mango pulp with 3/4th of the whipped cream and cardamom powder. Leave the rest of the cream and pulp to create layers in the glass or if you do not wish to serve as a parfait blend the cream and mango pulp and serve in a bowl. Top it with mango chunks.

5) To make a parfait, take a jar/glass and using a spoon put in the mango chunks and then create layers with mango pulp-cream mix and then create another layer with cream or pulp and top it with mango chunks.
6) Slide the glasses into the refrigerator and serve chilled.

How did you like this fun dessert?

Do you like making something sweet with mangoes in summers just as I do?

Tell me how do you surprise your family by making mango-based desserts?

I'd love to read all your mango stories!

Thanks for reading! :-)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bhindi fry - Okra stir-fry

Bhindi or lady finger or okra is one of my favourite vegetables. I am so enticed by the simple flavours in the Punjabi dish version of this unique vegetable. With only a few ingredients and less than 20 min to prepare it, the flavours in this dish are worth talking about.

This green vegetable is slim as a lady's finger, so rightly called. It has a neutral taste but don't go by its simple looks, it is packed with fiber, Vitamins and minerals. When I had just gotten married I had no experience of cooking and even selecting vegetables while buying. I remember going to the supermarket and asking a lady to help me select the 'good' bhindi pods. In the store, select the pods that look crispy. One can check that by trying to break the tip of the pod. If it breaks with ease and a crunch, you have found the right bhindi. Also, choose the smaller pods, as they are fresher and tend to be free of worms and will have lesser or smaller seeds. Avoid the pods that look over-ripe, mushy, dull coloured or sunken. If you want your bhindi to be crispy and not slimy or mushy or lacy upon cooking, then you must wash the lady finger whole and then spread them on a newspaper or large cloth to dry overnight or at least an hour before chopping and cooking.

The recipe I am sharing today is a typical Punjabi way of cooking bhindi as a stir fry with lots of onions. Onions are sliced and a few small sized onions are added whole to the stir fry. Just a few slits on top and they are added to the wok. This one tastes great when cooked in slightly smoked mustard oil as it gives the strong pungent flavour of mustard to the bhindi.

Difficulty Level: Easy
Cooking Time: 20 min.
Serves: 4

Lady finger (500 gm), washed and dried overnight or until completely free of moisture
2-3 onions, sliced
1-2 small-sized onions, whole
2-3 green chilies, chopped
1-2 green chilies, whole
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp amchur or dry mango powder
2-3 tbsp mustard oil
salt, to taste


1) Start by chopping the dried bhindi into one-inch pieces. Keep aside.

2) Heat mustard oil in a wok, Let it smoke a little and then turn of the gas.

3) Carefully put onions (both sliced and whole) to it and now turn on the gas.

Add in the green chilies and saute on low flame until onions look golden brown but not burnt.

4) Add all the spices and mix well. Put in the chopped bhindi. Mix well but be careful to not break the bhindi pieces. Saute for 2-3 min. Now cover the wok with a lid and allow the bhindi to cook for about 7-10 min.


5) Open the lid, saute and check if the bhindi is done. If not, cover and cook for another 3-5 min.

6) Serve hot with chapatti.

Hope you liked this simple recipe!

How do you like to make your bhindi?

Do you like the aloo-bhindi version - a stir-fry with potatoes or do you like it to keep it simple with loads of onions?

Tell me all, I'd love to know what you think!

Thanks for reading! :-)