Comfort food

I am immensely happy to update all my readers that my blog has been mentioned in The Telegraph article. This is the first time my blog has been mentioned in any newspaper. However, there is a spelling mistake regarding the title of my blog in that article. When contacted the author said she will not be able to rectify it now.. Regardless, I am immensely elated and joyous. I thank everyone for your support and appreciation.

Yesterday, we witnessed the first glimpse of flurries for this season of winter. I love winter, the use of layers of warm clothes, oceans of lotions, the lovely snowfall, the sparkly sunshine when the rays fall on the snow spead everywhere.. but there are also things that I dont like about winter, like the really short days with the dark setting in by as early as four in the evening, or the immense difficulty in leaving the warm and cozy blanket to get up and get ready in the morning, watery eyes, runny noses, boring darkness, dangerously slippery side walks and the wearisome task of scraping ice after every snowfall.. Nevertheless Canadian winter is a beauty in itself for the tourists (..and just for the first few weeks for the residents here after which we all get irked, fed up..)

After a day of work in these long, chilly and wintry days, one craves for comfort Indian food prepared fresh and ready to enjoy along with a few warm rotis. One such dish that I love is this preperation of Tuvar dal which I had learnt from my aunt.

Tuvar ki dal served along with warm rotis and Sukhi Arvi

Dals are an essential part of an Indian diet. They are prepared in various ways, dry, thin or saucy in consistency, and relished as either a side dish or used to wet rice. They serve as excellent protein sources. Tuvar dal is a little sweeter in comparision to other dals and mostly widely used. It is my favorite dal.

The following Tuvar dal preperation is a regular item in my house. It tastes absolutely yummy along with a vegetable side dish and rotis as a comforting meal for the soul.

Tuvar ki Dal – Yellow Lentils currry

Ingredients:

  • Tuvar dal – 1 cup
  • Water – to soak and cook
  • Canola oil – 2 tsp
  • Curry leaves – about 10
  • Cumin seeds/Zeera – 1/2 tsp
  • Canned tomato paste – 3 tbsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – to taste

Method:

  • Soak the dal in surplus water for about 6 hours. Later drain the dal and wash it well prior to cooking.
  • Put the washed dal in a tall saucepan along with about 2 cups water and salt and let it cook on medium until the dal is soft but retains its shape. You can add a little water if needed for the dal to cook.
  • Meanwhile, in a frying pan, pour oil and as soon as it warms up, add the cumin seeds and curry leaves. Add tomato paste, red chilli powder and let it cook for 2-4 minutes on medium heat. Dump it all into the saucepan with the cooked tuvar dal. Add a little more water for all the ingredients to get properly mixed together. Let cook for about 5 more minutes. Serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: Warm rotis and a vegetarian or non-vegetarian side dish.

Takecare and Keep warm!

Luv,
Mona

Basic How To’s: Series II~ Paneer and Matar Paneer

Basic How To: Paneer

Paneer is fresh Indian cheese, easy to prepare but the only drawback is that it takes a lot of milk to prepare a little paneer. It perhaps the only kind of cheese most commonly eaten in India with a sweet smell, kind of rubbery with a mild flavor and the best form of protein source for vegetarians in their diet next to Soya protein(TSP_TVP). It is a block of condensed milk solids made my curdling milk (low fat or high fat) with acid, then strained with a muslim cloth and left to set under a weight until it is set into a block of white smooth textured cheese.

The first time I tasted Paneer was when I was in my teens during my school days. At the lunch break, I and my class mates would sit under the trees for shade in fresh air in the school playground with napkins spread on our laps and share our tiffin boxes passing about a spoonful of what each one of us had brought that day until we all had a sample of everyone else’s to taste. Soft, spongy and meaty. I immediately fell in love with it. There are always memories associated with food. Since then, I love to add paneer in my food.

Vacuum-packed paneer is available ready made, either frozen or fresh, at most of the Indian stores. I love to prepare my own Paneer whenever possible as I find it more soft, fresh and delectable. The procedure is effortless. You can later cut it into cubes and store them either frozen if you plan to use it after a while or refrigerate it in a plastic wrap to use it the next day.

Basic How To’s: Series II ~ Homemade Paneer – Indian (Unaged) Cheese

Ingredients:

Milk (low fat or full fat) – 2 litres
Buttermilk – 4 cups

Homemade block of Paneer – Indian (Unaged) Cheese

Method:

1. Line a sieve with a moistened muslin cloth and put it over a large pot.
2. Bring milk in a saucepan to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
3. Add the buttermilk, and lower the heat. Keep stirring the milk for a few minutes until you see the milk has curdled completely.
4. Carefully strain the curdled milk through the sieve lined with the muslin cloth. Let the whey collect in the bottom saucepan. The whey is highly nutritious. Store it to use later on in other curries instead of water (at this stage if you wish, you can experiment and add a few flavors that you like to the curds in the muslin cloth, like dried herbs, etc. Mix the dried herbs well with the curds and continue). Later, lift the edges of the cloth and tie the corners of the cloth into a bag completely enclosing the curds.
5. Remove the sieve from saucepan and place it in the sink. Place the bag of curds back in the sieve. Set aside under a heavy weight for about 3-4 hours to press to a flat shape about 2 cm thick. Later, transfer the Paneer block to a zip-lock packet and store refrigerated. Use within a week.

Tip: Paneer can also be made from failed yogurt.

This post is my contribution to the event Back to Basics originally stated by Jaya, and currently being hosted by Aqua at Served with Love.

The following is a curry I prepare quite often using paneer and frozen peas. The rich and subtle spicing in this curry is worth trying out. You will all love this gluttingly delicious side dish.

***

Matar Paneer – Indian Cheese and Peas curry

Ingredients:

Home-Made Soft Paneer/Cottage Cheese – 200 gms, cut into bite sized cubes
Fresh or Frozen Peas/Matar – 2 cups
Dry Roasted Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Dry Roasted Cumin seed powder – 1 tbsp
Onion – 1, large, finely chopped
Tomato paste – 6 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Red Chilli powder – 2 tsp
Canola Oil – 2 tbsp

Matar Paneer – Indian Cheese and Peas curry

Method:

1. Pour oil into a large frying fan with lid on medium heat, and as soon as it warms up add the chopped onion. Stir fry it till lightly browned, then add the tomato paste, coriander and cumin seed powder and mix well. Let cook for 5-8 minutes.
2. Add the cubed paneer, red chilli powder, salt, half cup water and gently mix. Close the lid and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Add peas and gently fold them in. Cover the lid and let cook for a minute more. Serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: Serve it warm along with freshly prepared Rotis.

Luv,
Mona

Kaddu Ki Kheer

Eid-ul-Fitr Celebrations after the month of Ramadhan

Eid Mubarak Everyone!

Alhamdulillah its been a wonderful Eid, May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) accept all our Duas and make us better Muslims inshallah.

I prepared Kaddu ki Kheer on the second day of the celebrations of the Eid-ul-Fitr, after coming back from work. Its a pity that its not a public holiday on the religious festivals. I think, especially in a multi-cultural place like Canada, this should definitely be given a thought.

Kaddu Ki Kheer – Bottle Gourd Milk Pudding

Kheer is one the most delicious, simple and quick pudding/dessert to prepare. I usually use rice, bottle-gourd, sago, white potato and sweet-potato to prepare different varieties of Kheer. The basic steps remain the same, boiling milk with sugar, cardamom, nuts and saffron for flavor.

Kaddu ki Kheer is also referred to as Gil-e-Firdaus (or Gul-e-Firdaus or Dil-e-Firdaus). This pudding is prepared by cooking grated Opo Squash/Kaddu in sweetened milk along with nuts and Tapioca pearls to give it body/thickness.

Kaddu Ki Kheer – Bottle Gourd Milk Pudding

Ingredients:

Bottle Gourd/Opo Squash/Kaddu – small sized, 400 gms (approx)
Full fat or Low fat Milk – 2 1/2 cups
Sabudana/Tapioca pearls – 1/2 cup, soaked in water for 15-30 minutes
Chopped Pistachios – 1 tbsp
Sliced Almonds – 1 tbsp
Chopped Walnuts – 1 tbsp
Chopped Raisins – 1 tbsp
Khoa – 1/4 cup, grated (or) Milk Powder – 1/4 cup
Sugar – 55 gms
Ground Cardamom seeds – a pinch
Saffron strands/Zafraan – a pinch

Method:

  • Wash, peel and remove the seeds from the bottle gourd, reserve only the flesh. Shred it either in a food processor or using a grater.
  • Pour 2 cups milk into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the drained sabudana and simmer heat and let it cook uncovered for 10 mins. half cover witha  lid, keep an eye on it, and stir frequently so that it does not boil away.
  • Add khoa or milk powder, whatever using, to the remaining 1/2 cup milk. Pour this into the saucepan. Also add the shredded bottle gourd, ground cardamom seeds, sugar and chopped nuts.
  • Let it cook for 10 more minutes on simmer. As the milk cooks it begins to turn light yellow in colour, and gets more concentrated and cremier. Once done, remove from heat and serve warm or chilled.

(Note: To make it more rich for a special occasion and for an indulgence, you can even use Unsweetened Condensed milk/Evaporated Milk in the recipe)

Luv,
Mona