Author Archives: SrilakshmiNair

Pav bhaji

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Pav bhaji

Ahhh! Pav Bhaji. Its a comfort food, and the perfect mood awakener. Pav is bread, and bhaji is a mixture of vegetables, cooked with tomatoes and spices, and cooked until the vegetables are completely mashed. Its usually a snack, but can also be eaten as a meal. Its an all time favorite of mine. Whenever I have a bad day, and I’m feeling down and low, I just take a bowl of steaming hot bhaji, and soft buns crisply fried in a generous amount of butter, and I take one bite of it and I die and go to heaven…mmm…and yes, there’s butter involved! When you go to the streets of Mumbai, you can get delicious, spicy, tangy, pav bhaji that just oozes butter. But that’s OK if you’re eating it once in a while. When I make it at home, I have my own version, which is both tasty, and healthy, which means you can eat is as much as you like, without feeling too guilty about it. But this dish just cannot be made without bread and butter. Sure, you can have the bhaji with something else, but nothing tastes as good with bhaji as warm, toasted buns. You can reduce the amount of butter, unless you have a certain fondness for cellulite and arteriosclerosis. So come with me into my kitchen, and I’ll show you how to make the most delicious, comforting, hand clapping goodness that fills your belly, and your heart!

You will need the following ingredients:

Unsalted butter.

Jeera/Cumin seeds-1/2 teaspoon

Chopped onions-3/4 cup

Chopped green chillies- a tablespoon

Freshly chopped ginger-1  1/2 tablespoons

Chopped tomatoes-1 cup

Chopped capsicum/green bell peppers-3/4 cup

Red chilli powder-1 teaspoon

Turmeric powder-1/4  teaspoon

Coriander powder-1 1/2 tablespoons

Cumin powder/ jeera powder- a pinch

Boiled mashed potatoes-1 1/2 cups

Cauliflower-1 cup and green peas-3/4 cup cooked with a pinch of turmeric powder, and salt, and mashed.

Water-1/2 cup

Salt- 3/4 teaspoon

Coriander leaves/ Cilantro-a handful

Fresh lemon juice-3 tablespoons

 

In medium flame, heat about 5-6 tablespoons of butter, and add jeera, and sauté for a minute. Do not burn the jeera. Jeera gets bitter when its burnt.

easy pav bhaji recipe

Add the onions, cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions are soft, and add the green chillies…

best pav bhaji recipe

…and cook for a minute. Now, add the chopped ginger, and sauté. Add the juicy tomatoes…

Delicious pav bhaji reipe

…cook the tomatoes in medium flame until the tomatoes are soft and mushy, and add the chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and a pinch of cumin/jeera powder. Stir, and cook for about 2 minutes.

Easy pav bhaji recipe

…Add the mashed potatoes, and capsicum…

Easy pav bhaji recipe

…mix it all together, and add the cooked cauliflower and peas…

Easy pav bhaji recipe

…add water, and salt, stir. Cover and cook on a low flame for 10-15 mins. After 15 minutes, open the lid, and add the coriander leaves..

Best pav bhaji recipe

…and add a big chunk of butter on top, and let the butter slowly melt on top of the bhaji…

Best pav bhaji recipe

….Serve hot with soft buns toasted in butter…

Easy pav bhaji recipe

 

 

 

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Spicy fried chicken bites

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Spicy fried chicken bites

This is a recipe that I created by accident. It was supposed to be chicken 65, but halfway into making it, I decided to change the recipe a bit, and added some ingredients, a dash of this, a pinch of that and voila! The spicy fried chicken bites were born! Kudos to my mom in law for coming up with the name! Anyway, I have served it to other humans, they have survived, and the consensus was that its delicious! So don’t worry about trying this out. I guarantee you, you are going to love it!

You will need the following things, so lets get them ready first, so you wont be running around in your kitchen, while you’re cooking…One thing I learned back in the early days when I just started cooking, was that running around looking for things while you’re cooking something on the stove, is a bad idea..

For marinating the chicken:

 

Boneless chicken pieces-1/2 kg

Red chilli powder-1 teaspoon (Mine is really hot. You may add more if yours is mild)

Turmeric powder-1/2 teaspoon

Fresh ginger-garlic paste-1 tablespoon

Black pepper-3/4 teaspoon

Lemon juice-3-4 tablespoons

 

For frying the chicken:

Rice flour-3-4 tablespoons

Egg-1

Salt-3/4 teaspoon

 

Other ingredients:

Yogurt-3/4 cup

Red chilli powder-1/2 teaspoon

Turmeric powder-1/4 teaspoon

Coriander powder-1 1/2 tablespoons

Chopped green chillies-2 teaspoons

Chopped ginger-1 tablespoon

Chopped garlic-1/2 tablespoon

Fresh curry leaves-a handful

Coriander leaves-a handful

Oil-4-5 tablespoons

 

First lets wash the chicken pieces, and put them into a mixing bowl. Now add the ingredients to marinate the chicken…

easy chicken fry recipe

…Now mix everything together with your hands, so that the chicken pieces are well-coated with all the ingredients that you put in there, and let it marinade for an hour.

 

easy chicken fry recipe

After an hour, deep fry the chicken pieces, until they are a deep brown…

easy chicken fry recipe

In a separate bowl, and add the yogurt, chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and salt, and mix it together, and keep it aside…

easy chicken fry recipe

In another pan, add the oil, chopped ginger and garlic, sauté for 2 mintutes, until you get the nice aroma of the ginger and garlic getting cooked in the oil, and then add the green chillies…

easy chicken fry recipe

…add the curry leaves, coriander leaves, and sauté for a minute. Now add the fried chicken pieces, and sauté for a minute. In a low heat, add the yogurt mixture into the pan, and stir until chicken pieces are coated with the yogurt. Keep stirring, until the yogurt dries up, and there is no water left in the pan. Soon you’ll see the chicken getting crispy, brown, ad getting coated with the dried up yogurt mixture. Drizzle a bit more oil if you like to make it more crispy….and its ready!

easy chicken fry recipe

Serve hot with rice, and curry. Have it with curd rice, eat it as an appetizer. Or, shred it and put some on a chapatti and make it into a roll, or a wrap!

 

 

 

Easiest homestyle pasta with bechamel/white sauce

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I’m not much of a pasta person. There. I said it! Well, its not that I don’t like it….umm, I’m more of a lasagna, or a cannelloni person. I always need meat in my pasta sauce, I don’t know why. There are many non-meat ingredients out there that compliment pasta really well, and I will eat a meal devoid of meat, But I prefer meat in my sauce. I’m a carnivore I guess. But, I’m going to show you one recipe, that my whole family and I absolutely devoured yesterday for dinner. Its one of the tastiest and the simplest pasta recipes I know. Its a total package: its easy, hearty, full of sauce, cheese, veggies, and sausages. Its a carb explosion! But you just make this one day, and you’ll have delicious meal that’ll last for atleast 3 more dinners. And thus, it will give you more time to catch up on your soap-opera/serial dramas, spend time with your husband and kids, or just take some ‘me’ time! Anyway, you will need the following things:

Unsalted butter-3/4 stick or a little more than 1/4 cup

Flour-4 tablespoons

Milk-4 cups

Freshly ground pepper-1 teaspoon

Salt-3/4 teaspoon

Green peas-a handful

Chopped green beans-a handful

Diced carrots-a handful

Cauliflower florets-a handful

Elbow macaroni/or any pasta of your choice-1 1/2 cups (Boiled in water with salt, and a drizzle of olive oil(optional))

Shredded cooked chicken-1 cup (Chicken is cooked with garlic, ground pepper and salt)

Sausage-3/4 cup

Grated parmesan cheese-1 cup

 

Turn on the stove to a medium heat, and heat up the butter…

easy homestyle pasta bechamel sauce

Then add the flour to the butter and stir in medium heat, until the flour is cooked. If the flour is not cooked, you’ll end up with a sauce that tastes floury. So stir the flour in the butter for about 2-3 minutes or until the raw taste is gone…

 

easy pasta recipe with white sauce

Pour in the milk, and stir frequently, so the sauce doesn’t burn.

easy pasta recipe with white sauce

After stirring for a few minutes, the sauce should get thicker, and have a silky, velvety consistency…

easiest homestyle pasta with white sauce

When it thickens add some salt, freshly ground pepper, and gently stir for a minute…

 

easiest homestyle pasta with bechamel sauce

…and take the pan off the stove. Now  heat up another pan, add about 4-5 tablespoons of butter, add the garlic, sauté for about a minute, and toss in the vegetables (Vegetables are cooked in salted water). Sauté the veggies in butter, and add a pinch of pepper.

easiest homestyle pasta bechamel sauce

Now spoon in some of the white sauce into the boiled pasta…

easy pasta recipe with bechamel sauce

…and add the vegetables, chopped sausages, and the chicken and mix everything together, so that everything is coated with the white sauce…

 

easy homestyle pasta with bechamel sauce

…Now grease the baking dish with some butter…

easy pasta recipe with bechamel sauce

….and toss in the contents of the bowl into the baking dish…

easy homestyle pasta with bechamel and chicken

…pour the rest of the rich, and creamy sauce all over the pasta…

easy homestyle pasta with white sauce and chicken

….and sprinkle a generous layer of grated parmesan cheese over the sauce, and put the baking dish into an oven that is pre-heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until the cheese is melted and there is a beautiful golden crust of parmesan cheese on top.

easy homestyle pasta with white sauce

 

You’ll enjoy every single bite of this! Its super fast, and super delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruchi Indian cuisine, Kansas city

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Me and my family went to Kansas city, Missouri this memorial day weekend. It was a hell of a trip. Its a beautiful city with beautiful people, and its the BBQ capital of the world (which was exactly the reason we decided to go there). But I couldn’t wait to get back to my home, take off my high heels, slip into something baggy and comfortable, tie my hair up in a messy bun, and eat like a pig. But while we were there, we decided to go find some good places to eat. We went to Oklahoma Joes, about which I will be writing in another post, and a friend of ours told us about a place called Ruchi. Its an Indian restaurant, and we were told that the food over there is very good, and that we should try it. Me and my husband rarely come across a restaurant that serves good Indian food, but we kept our hopes up. Turns out the food is pretty good over there. I was a happy happy girl! By the time we got there, I was tired from the long drive, and taking care of my 3 month old baby, I just wanted to eat. But I managed to take some pictures.

Ruchi restaurant kansas

I didn’t want to be conspicuous, and disturb the customers. If there is one thing I don’t like is when people stare at me, or take photographs while I’m eating. But I wanted to write about this place, so I took a few quick snaps. Here is another one:

Ruchi restaurant kansas city

The place is clean, the staff was good, and we were quickly seated and given a menu even though the place was crowded. It was a lunch buffet, and it was pretty fair. The price was reasonable. They had some good selection. Whenever I step into an Indian restaurant, almost all the time, I see the same dishes everywhere. But here I found some new ones.

Ruchi Indian restaurant kansas

I wanted to try everything, but there is a limit to how much my stomach can accommodate. For the first round, I decided to try spinach and onion pakora, mini dosa, tindora fry, chicken 65, and the Apollo fish. The pakodas were good, crunchy, and tasty. I find that in some places they go a little heavy handed with the pakoda batter, and that ruins the pakoda. But this was good. Tindora fry is a vegetarian dish coated in a spicy masala, and the vegetable had a nice crunch to it. It was something I never tried before, but I liked it. The mini dosa was ok. Felt it was a little dry. The Apollo fish was absolutely fantastic! The one thing I didn’t like on this plate was the chicken 65. It was mostly food color and chicken. I think they can do much better than that.

Ruchi indian restaurant kansas

For the second round, I wanted to try some rice pilaf, butter chicken, Tandoori chicken, and the restaurants signature dish, Ruchi chicken fry. I thought the butter chicken, the rice, and both the tandoori chicken and the chicken fry were delicious. The butter chicken was creamy, and not too tangy. The chicken was juicy, and tender. The tandoori chicken had a nice smoky flavor to it. All in all I was pleased! Then I moved onto the desserts.

ruchi restaurant kansas city

I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the desserts. It was lacking. There weren’t too many choices. There was ‘Dubai ka meetha’ which was tasty, but way too rich ( it will make your cardiologist very happy), and way too sweet. I had a spoon of that, and I was done with it. It was tasty though, but too sweet for my taste. Then the Bombay Halwa, which I didn’t like much. Then I found mango cakes, and tried one.

ruchi indian restaurant kansas city

I loved the cake. It had just the right sweetness, it was moist, and had that wonderful mango flavor. And it looked so cute and pretty! But I had to stop there. There were so many other things to try, and I wanted to go for more, but thought better of it.

So, the question is, will I go there again? Sure. I loved the food. And good food is kind of hard to find everywhere. In the end it also gave me enough energy to take care of my very cute, but demanding baby!

 

 

 

 

Easy chicken curry with coconut milk

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Easy chicken curry with coconut milk

I woke up today with a huge craving for food from my homeland, Kerala. A poultry dish. Something simple. But that’s just the thing about Kerala cuisine. The cuisine itself is complex. The dishes look simple, but whenever I eat Kerala food (which I do, at least once a day), I am surprised by the dexterity with which meats, vegetables and spices have been cooked. I mean, the recipes may look as if somebody came up with something, and it just happened to taste good. But every recipe, whether it be a fish curry, a mutton curry, poultry, or a vegetable dish, its all designed in such a way that there is harmony between the ingredients. They are perfect with each other.

A great cuisine, I always think, is not just the banquet, and the food made by the greatest chefs out there. I mean, they’re really interesting and delicious, but when you eat the food that ordinary people eat – its delicious, its comforting and memorable. You just never get tired of eating it again and again. My favourite Kerala dishes have always been the simplest ones.

Here is an easy recipe to make delicious Kerala chicken curry. My mother-in-law made this curry for me once, and I just loved it. If you make this chicken curry, you will hear the joyful cries of the people to whom you serve it… I mean, I almost teared up when I ate it first (Then again, my eyes well up after I eat anything that I find delicious). So instead of telling you on and on about how good this curry is, I’ll show you how to make it!

You’re going to need:

Chopped Red onions-1 and a half cups

Freshly chopped garlic-2 tablespoons full

Freshly chopped ginger-1 table spoon full

Chopped green chillies-1 and a half teaspoons

Chopped juicy tomatoes-1 cup

Coriander powder-3 teaspoons

Red chilli powder-1 teaspoon (or less, if you don’t want it too hot)

Turmeric powder-1/2 teaspoon

Freshly ground pepper/black pepper powder-1/2 teaspoon

Garam masala- a good pinch

Vinegar-1 and half tablespoons

Curry leaves

Chicken-3/4 kg

Salt

Water

Coconut cream-2 heaped tablespoons (You can also use coconut milk-a little less than half a cup, or a little more than 1/4 cup…I can’t tell you how much that is, because I hate math. So take half a cup, but don’t pour in the whole thing)

Oil (Preferably coconut oil)-4-5 tablespoons

In a pressure cooker, add the oil…add the chopped garlic, ginger, and the green chillies…

kerala chicken curry

…and sauté for about 4-5 minutes…

kerala chicken curry

…and sauté the onions for about 5 minutes…

kerala nadan chicken curry

…by this time, your kitchen should be filled with the divine smell of the onions, garlic, ginger, and the chillies getting cooked in the coconut oil…ahhhh…its just something beyond words…Now add in the juicy tomatoes…

kerala chicken curry

…and cook until the tomatoes are mushy…

kerala chicken curry

… look how colorful and beautiful this looks…

kerala chicken curry

…Don’t you just feel like diving right into it?…well, just a few more steps and it’ll be even more better…Now, lets add the coriander powder…

tasty kerala chicken curry

…add the chilli powder…

tasty kerala chicken curry

….add the turmeric powder..

tasty kerala chicken curry

…and pepper, and a pinch of garam masala, and sauté..

tasty kerala chicken curry

…now add 1 and a half tablespoons of vinegar…

kerala nadan chicken curry

…add some curry leaves, and the chicken into the cooker…

kerala nadan chicken curry

….and salt, and pour in some water, just enough to cook the chicken…The chicken already has water in it, so if there’s too much water in the cooker/pan, the curry will be too watery, and you will have to boil it for a long time until some of the water is evaporated. Now give everything a nice stir, put on the lid, and let the chicken cook. It’ll take about 15 minutes or so. After the chicken is cooked, let it cool a little bit…You don’t want to add the coconut milk when the gravy is hot.

kerala nadan chicken curry

Add the rich coconut cream/coconut milk…

kerala nadan chicken curry

…let it simmer for about 5 minutes, and its ready!! You can even sauté some chopped onion in coconut oil and pour it into the gravy in the end, to give it that extra bit of flavor. Have it with steamed rice, or any kind of bread like naan or chapatti…whichever way you like to eat it, there are people I know who can confirm that its delicious!

kerala nadan chicken curry

 

 

 

How to make soft chapatis

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indian flatbread rotiI love chapattis. Its tasty, you can have it with almost anything, its unleavened flatbread (which means you don’t need to add yeast or any other leavening ingredients to the dough) which makes it easier to make, its not deep-fried, which makes it a healthier choice compared to some other Indian flatbreads, and its warm dough, I mean what’s not to like?  Naan, pizza dough, tortillas, rolls, cornbread, baguettes, bagels, ciabatta, pita or just plain sandwich bread…whatever bread it may be, its simply delicious. Making bread, or in this case chapattis, from scratch is certainly rewarding, but it takes practice. When I was a little girl, I’ve only seen my mother making chapattis, and it looked pretty simple. I’ve had chapattis from my aunts house. They were so soft and steamy, and so perfectly cooked. When I started cooking, I did what they did, but my chapattis looked nothing like theirs. Mine looked like a Frisbee, I mean it was so hard it can hurt somebody if I threw it at them…

Most of the recipes out there were very simple, with very few instructions. Whenever I ask somebody how they make soft chapattis, they all repeat the same method I’ve already done many times, with no avail. So, after many trial and errors, I figured out what I was doing wrong. And now I have my own way of making soft chapattis. At first, I thought it was just me who was bad at making chapattis, but now I know i’m not alone, and there are people who are looking for that one recipe that explains in detail how to do it the right way. That is why I decided to post a tutorial with ridiculous detail, about how to make chapattis that are soft, round, and not shaped like an amoeba…

You’re going to need:

Whole Wheat flour – 2 cups

Oil ( I use light olive oil, not extra virgin) -4-5 tablespoons

Hot water/milk

Salt

A rolling pin

A clean flat surface to roll out the dough.

A tawa/ griddle pan

And a cook’s greatest tool-clean hands!

Alright. Let’s get started, shall we? In a bowl, add the wheat flour..Indian flatbread chapati

Using good atta/whole wheat flour is important. I use either Pilsbury or Ashirvad. Next, we’ll add about a teaspoon of salt.

Indian flatbread chapati

Like so…and a drizzle of oilindian flatbread roti Now, we’re going to make a little well in the middle of it..indian flatbread roti

Pour in a little water…just a little bit…

indian flatbread roti

And, with your hands start mixing the water into the flour…its going to look something like this..

indian flatbread roti

Add a little more water and mix again…it’ll look like this…

indian flatbread roti

Keep adding water, and keep mixing until you get the dough to this consistency…

indian flatbread roti

Make a big ball out of this dough. Now wet your hands..

indian flatbread roti

and gently rub the surface of the dough..indian flatbread rotiDo not add more water. The secret to making really soft chapatis, is in the kneading. You have to knead the dough until it is evenly mixed, and turns into a really smooth ball. Now take the dough out of the bowl, and put it on to the surface to knead. Knead by pushing the dough down..

indian flatbread roti

…and stretching it out with the heel of your hand…

indian flatbread roti

…fold the top half of the dough towards you, press down, and then stretch it out again with the heels of your hands..

indian flatbread roti

Everyone has their own kneading method, but this how I do it. You can use your own method, but in the end, the dough should be smooth, and it should not stick to your hands. Knead for atleast 15 minutes….

indian flatbread roti…and the resulting dough will look something like this…

indian flatbread roti

Put this dough back into the bowl, and cover with a wet cloth. This is done to prevent the dough from losing moisture.

indian flatbread roti

Let it rest for an hour, and knead again for a 1-2 mintutes. Make golf sized balls out of them, lightly dust the surface…

indian flatbread roti

…and start rolling out the dough, being careful not to roll it out too thin, because then the chapattis will not puff up. I roll it out thin sometimes cause my family likes it that way. It will still be soft and delicious…the only thing is it wont puff up.

indian flatbread roti

You need to hold the rolling pin with both hands, by the way…and just so you know, I do have 2 hands…I was holding a camera in my other hand…so anyway, after rolling it out put it on a really hot iron griddle ( You can also use non-stick pans). Make sure the griddle is really hot! Otherwise, the chapatti will take a long time to bake, and if it takes too much time, it’ll become hard. After putting the chapatti on the griddle, if the griddle is hot enough, within a few seconds you will start to see bubbles forming on top of the chapatti…

indian flatbread roti

…turn it to the other side…

indian flatbread roti

After a few seconds, turn it over again, and it’ll puff up in another few seconds…

indian flatbread roti

After it puffs up take it off the griddle, and put it on a plate…ok, I don’t need to tell you that. I told you this post is ridiculously detailed! Serve it with your favorite curry, and enjoy it hot. Try this out and report back to me!