November 30, 2005

Egg omelette (my dhaba treats egg as a one-stop food)

What are the growth-promoting elements of food? Are there any one-stop food for growing children? We were interested in this subject lately keeping in mind of our growing 1-yr+2-mo-old Aditya and 4-yr-old Adarsh. We wanted to counteract the nutritional deficiencies normal in an Indian vegetarian diet. We are nonvegetarian only for 2 days in a week - Wednesdays and Sundays :-) It is our find that egg can be treated as a one-stop food for growing children since they are a rich source of proteins, iron, fats, calcium, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin A - all of which are growth-promoting elements. An egg a day, if tolerated and assimilated by our body, will provide all these. We now ensure that kids are feeded with at least one egg a day.

What do you think on this?

There are so many exotic recipes using eggs which are real treats for egg lovers. At my dhaba, we have already discussed about drumstick leaves fried with eggs; poached eggs; egg toast; and scrampled eggs with tomatoes. Here is yet another the most simpler egg recipe - egg omelette. We make egg omelettes adding greens onto it. Do check out my dhaba's egg omelette recipe today.

Egg omelette recipe

Eggs - 2
Onions - 1, medium size, finely chopped
Green chillies - 2, medium size, medium hot, finely chopped for a hot taste (slit at the stalk end for a milder hot taste)
Turmeric powder - a pinch, 1/8th teaspoon
Ginger - 1/8-inch piece, finely chopped and crushed
Milk - 2 teaspoons, cold
Ghee or oil - 2 teaspoons
Greens - 2 teaspoons, finely chopped, fresh (anyone of these which gives totally different flavors - mint leaves, coriander leaves, drumstick leaves, spinach, etc.)
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon or to taste (it is okay with 3/4 teaspoon also)

Method: Beat the eggs well; add the salt, turmeric powder, greens, and milk; and mix well. Heat a frying pan and pour in the ghee. When hot, addd the onion, green chillies, and ginger. Saute all till onions turn limp. Remove from heat and mix it well with the beaten eggs. Heat the frying pan again and grease it with a little ghee. When hot, pour in the egg batter to a round like a dosai or pancake. Cook over low heat till the eggs set. Using a sharp-edged spoon, turn over the egg, and cut it into quarters. A wonderful accompaniment with plain rice, roti, or any of the bread sandwiches. Serve hot and enjoy!


November 27, 2005

My Dhaba's Rock Cookies

When we saw the theme “A Virtual Cookie Swap” jointly hosted by IMBB-SHF, we were so excited and wanted to participate with the ONLY cookie that we have so far made at My Dhaba. There was scarcity of time, but hope we have finally made it through. Thank you IMBB-SHF team especially Jennifer and Albiston for this wonderful theme.

Here is our most favorite and one and the only cookie – the My Dhaba's traditional homemade rock cookies.

Bringing the ingredients together…

My Dhaba’s rock cookie recipe

Butter – ½ cup (at room temperature)
Sugar – ½ cup
Self-raising flour or maida – 1-1/2 cups
Egg - 1
Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
Lemon juice – 2 teaspoons (or orange juice – 2 teaspoons)
Vanilla essence – 1 teaspoon
Raisins – 10-15 (optional), lightly fried in ghee
Cashew nuts – 10 (optional), lightly fried in ghee, broken into quarters
Cinnamon - 1/2-inch piece stick (optional), powdered
Salt – ½ teaspoon

Method: Cream butter, sugar, and egg in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the flour, salt, lemon juice, vanilla essence, baking powder, raisins, cashew nuts, and cinnamon powder. Refrigerate the mix for few minutes if needed to make it firm. Preheat oven to 160 degree celcius. Shape into lime-sized balls, sprinkile some sugar on the top, press down slightly, and place on a lightly greased pizza tray or cookie sheet allowing enough room for spreading. Bake for 10-15 minutes on convection 160 degree celcius or till the edges become slightly brown. They are quite nutritious and tasty – one of our 4-yr-old taste taster Adarsh’s favorites too :-). Serve the cookies towering in a big pile on the table and enjoy!

Here is one more closeup picture of the rock cookies which we had made at My Dhaba few weeks ago. Hope you like those.

Add-on announcement: My Dhaba team requests you to vote for "My Dhaba's Rock Cookies" by e-mailing to stating "My Dhaba's Rock Cookies" are my favourite".

Thank you very much in advance for your vote in favor of our Rock Cookies. Enjoy and have fun. Cheers!

VK Narayanan, Chef de cuisine, My Dhaba

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November 26, 2005

Radish (weekend herb)

Time is fleeting. So soon, here is yet another weekend. It is time for presenting a weekend herb for Kalyn's weekend herb blogging #8. I have chosen Radish for this week (Biological name – Raphanus sativus; Indian vernacular – mooli, mullangi, etc.), which is a root vegetable from the mustard family. It is very popular for its piquant and peppery flavor. Their pungency depends not only on the varieties and age but also on the soil in which they are grown. The tops of radish can be used as a leafy vegetable or mixed along with radish roots in various culinary preparations.

The skin of radish comes in various colors worldwide, most commonly known is the round, red-skinned variety, which is more peppery than other varieties. Other varieties may have pink, white (smooth skinned, long, similar to that of carrots), or grey-black skin. Radish straight from the garden is more hot and peppery.

Radish especially the red radish is almost eaten raw finely sliced and sandwitched in bread and butter, pickled, used in salads, or added to stir-fries. Radish can be stored in a refrigerator for few days. Read more on Radish here.

Ayurvedic medicinal properties of Radish: The juice of Radish mixed with sugar candy is given for coughs and asthma. The juice of its leaves mixed with rock salt is given for indigestion. The decoction of its seeds mixed with honey is given for fever and phlegm troubles. Sliced or chopped radish mixed with curds is given twice a day for piles. Its leaves dried and powdered (on the palm of the hand) is snuffed in through the nostrils for purulent deflection of the nose and for catarrh.

Here are My Dhaba’s two Radish salad recipes:

Radish Salad Recipe – Chinese style

Radish – 2, medium size, grated or julienned, daikon variety (white ones)
Green onions – 2, medium size, finely chopped
Coriander leaves – 1-2 teaspoons, fresh, finely chopped
Salt powser – ¼ teaspoon
Sesame oil – 1-2 teaspoons
Soy sauce – 2 teaspoon
Method: Heat a pan and pour in the sesame oil. When it becomes very hot, add the onions and radish, and saute for 2 minutes taking care not to brown them. Remove from the heat. When cold, garnish with coriander leaves and soy sauce and serve.

Radish Salad Recipe – Indian style

Bringing the ingredients together...

Radish – 2, medium size, grated into shreds or julienned, red ones
Yogurt/curd – 2 tablespoons
Green chilly – 1, medium size, medium hot
Salt powder – ¼ teaspoon
Ghee – 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds – ¼ teaspoons
Curry leaves – a sprig, fresh

Method: Heat a pan and pour in the ghee. When the ghee becomes very hot, add the mustard seeds to splutter, the chopped green chilly, and then the curry leaves taking care not to burn the mustard seeds. Add the radish shreds (both roots and leaves) and fry for 2 minutes taking care not to brown them. Remove from the heat. When cold, combine with the curds and serve. Enjoy!

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My Dhaba's Tandoori Chicken

Succulent chicken pieces in a rich marination...

My Dhaba’s tandoori chicken recipe

Chicken – 2 full leg pieces, skinned
Ginger – 1 inch size, finely chopped
Garlic – 3 cloves, finely chopped
Onion – 1, medium size, finely chopped
Cloves – 2
Cinnamon – ¼- inch stick
Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Yogurt/curd – 2 tablespoons, low-fat, non-salted; alternatively you may use 2 teaspoon soy sauce, teriyaki, or oriental sauce for getting totally different flavors
Vinegar – 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon or as needed to make it more hot
Cummin powder – 1 teaspoon
Black pepper powder – ½ teaspoon
Coriander powder – 1 teaspoonTurmeric powder – ¼ teaspoon
Nutmeg powder – ¼ teaspoon (optional)
Paprika powder – 1 teaspoon (optional)

Method: Blend ginger, garlic, onions, cinnamon, salt, and cloves to a smooth wet paste and keep aside. Mix all the spice powders - red chilli, cummin, black pepper, coriander, turmeric, nutmeg, and paprika. Heat a pan, pour in the spice mix and roast for a minute on high heat. Combine the wet and roasted spice mixtures and spread all over the chicken pieces. Spinkle the vinegar and pour over the yogurt. Marinate the chicken pieces in this marinade covered for a minimum of 2 hours in a refrigerator, the more the better for a delicious flavor (if possible marinate it covered overnight). If marinating overnight, take the chicken pieces from the refrigerator an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree F, place the chicken on the low rack, and cook for 20-25 minutes. Then, turn over and cook for 10 more minutes or till the chicken pieces are completely roasted and get a golden brown color. Adjust the timings accordingly as needed. If chicken pieces are getting dry, you may baste it with a little butter or ghee. Alternatively you may also broil the marinated chicken pieces over an electric or charcoal grill.

Garnish the tandoori chicken with sliced onion rings, tomatoes, lemon wedges, and/or finely chopped coriander leaves and serve it immediately hot-hot. Enjoy!


November 24, 2005

Fried Fish Fingers

Fried fish fingers or crumb fried batons of fish have been one of the most favorite sea foods that we have at my dhaba either eaten as tea-time snacks or as a side dish with plain rice and curries. Our kids, both 4-yr-old Adarsh and 1-yr-old Aditya love, enjoy, and have fun with the food that they have in their table :-); some time they are very picky eaters. Making the mealtime playful can be one of way of persauding the kids to eat what is required for them, all those healthy proteins and nutrients. We do not go for the artificial food colors, flavors, additives, and technology that few hotels and restaurants use to make their food customers happy. We do follow the traditional home cooking methodologies and practices as closely as possible to make our food appetizing.

Here is the recipe for my dhaba's home-made fried fish fingers. Do try this at your home. Take our word for it - you, family members, or your friends would devour it all in one go :-) Enjoy!

Fried fish fingers recipe

Fish fillets – ½ kg, hamour, king fish, or any other firm fish; cut into ½ inch wide x 2-1/2 inches long; dry the fillets with paper towels Soya sauce – 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon
Turmeric powder – 1/8 teaspoon (optional)
Ginger – 1/2-inch piece, chopped and crushed (optional)
Garlic – 2 cloves, chopped and crushed
Black pepper powder – 1 teaspoon (optional)
Salt – ½+1/2 teaspoon or to taste
Egg – 1, well beaten
Bread crumps+flour mix – 1 cup
Oil+ghee – for deep frying

Method: Mix soya sauce, ginger, garlic, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and a few drops of water to make a smooth and thick paste. Marinate the fish pieces in this paste for approximately 15-20 minutes or more to get an exotic flavor. Meanwhile, beat up the eggs and season it with the pepper and the remaining salt. Drain out the excess marinade from the fish pieces, dip it one at a time in the egg mix, and then roll in the bread crumps plus flour powder. Pat the mixture firmly onto the fish pieces. Heat up the mixture of oil and ghee till smoking hot and deep fry the fish fingers on either side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with ginger, garlic, mint chutney or any of your favorite sauces or dips. Enjoy!


Fish fry

Bringing the ingredients together...

Fish fry recipe

Fish - 1/2 kg, slice it into 1-inch thick pieces
Red chilli powder - 3 teaspoons
Black pepper powder - 1 teaspoons (optional, only if you like a hot spicy taste)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Ginger - 1/4-inch small piece, finely chopped and crushed
Vinegar or Tamarind extract - 1 teaspoon
Lime juice - 1 teaspoon
Salt - 1 teaspoon or to taste
Water - a few drops
Sooji - 2 teaspoons

Method: Marinate the fish pieces in a thick and smooth paste of all the above ingredients except sooji for 40 minutes to one hour. Ensure that the marinade is evenly spread and are on the both sides of the fish slices in a thin layer. Roll the fish pieces on the sooji and shallow fry it till golden brown color on both sides. Drain the oil and garnish with lime wedges, green chilli slices, onion, and/or tomato rings. Enjoy!


November 23, 2005

Can you guess what this is? (CYGWTI #1) - Guests, Guesses, and Winners

Dear All:

It is time to reveal the winners of the first edition of CYGWTI #1 (Can You Guess What This Is?) Can you believe how fast one week has gone? We have not even thought in our remotest dreams that CYGWTI would become such a crowd-puller :-). Thank you very much for all of your participation. We just thought of challenging My Dhaba's guests with the picture of the sweets I had received from one of my best friends at work. We just wanted to see if anyone of the guests have the same eagerness and curiosity that I and Adarsh (my 4-yr-old son) had when we got these cute wraps home from office. When we had posted this challenge, the motivation we had was rooted from the fact that these sweets had come from a foreign country, but in look-wise and taste-wise, those were resembling to one of the all-time favorite Indian savories which we all know (?) .

So here is the results of CYGWTI #1.

Background: The picture challenge was posted on November 16, 2005. One week time was given for the guests to come up with their guesses. Please find below the challenged picture.

Here is the summary of the responses from My Dhaba guests:

1. Raji - Pootha rekulu.
2. மதி கந்தசாமி (Mathy) - First attempt - some kind of sweet? almond or cashew based sweet?
3. Paz - No idea.
4. Mika - First attempt - no idea; some sort of dough for the savory etc.
5. Ravi - Kamarkat mittai with jaggery/sugar syrup, shredded coconut, and sesame.
6. Peter Zwart - Pootha rekulu.
7. LERA - Kaaja rolls with sweet filling.
8. Monisha - Badam Halwa.
9. Lavanya - Pootha rekulu - a flaky sugary sweet you only get in Hyderabad, melts in your mouth.
10. Indira - Puta rekulu - the very famous Andhra sweet.
11. Mika - Second attempt - Wheat halvah or elai adai wrapped in wax paper.
12. The Lonely Traveler - Candy/halva wrapped in edible paper.
13. Mika - Third attempt - if paper is edible, then it must be rice paper. Spring rolls of some kind before frying.
14. மதி கந்தசாமி (Mathy) - Second attempt - It is from Phillipines. A sweet made from milk powder.
15. Shakthi - First attempt - toffee.
16. Shakthi - Second attempt - Some sort of burfy.
17. Shakthi - Third attempt - Mysore pak.
18. Sanhita. - Pootha rekulu.

Have you noticed that the most common guess was "Pootha rekulu"? It is Andhra's one of the very famous most popular paper sweets, which is made of maida and sugar. It definitely looks like the same.

Here is the first sweet carefully wrapped by one rectangular hard white paper and one thin Japanese tissue paper. Can you guess now what this is? I know you already had 'hard' time guessing for this all through the week. Thanks for your great patience.

The first sweet is a copycat version of our "Doodh Peda". Our friends Indira and Mika have already written about it wonderfully :-) . Please check it out and give it a reading. It will you the needed inspiration to cook those at home.

CONGRATULATIONS மதி கந்தசாமி (Mathy)! Both of your guesses were perfect ones. This is a Filipino sweet - PASTILLAS DE LECHE came from Philippines. I am quite excited and proud to announce that you are the winner of CYGWTI #1.

Pastillas De Leche recipe:

(Recipe contributed by Julie Z. San Pedro, one of my best friend and colleague at work, thanks Julie). Thanks Suzette for gifting these wonder sweets to us.

Fresh milk - 1 ½ cups
Sugar - 3 tablespoons; 1/2 cup for rolling pastillas
Butter- 1 teaspoon
Full-cream powdered milk - 5 tablespoons

Method: Boil the milk and sugar into a thick paste. Add butter and powdered milk. Mix thoroughly. Let the paste rest until firm enough to handle. Divide into 20 pieces and roll into small cylinders. Roll in sugar. Wrap in colorful/white Japanese paper.

The second sweet is another perfect guess by மதி கந்தசாமி (Mathy)! Kudos once again my friend. It is an almond and cashew based sweet wrapped up in an edible paper. We are yet to confirm its traditional Filipino name and authentic recipe details. We are so sorry for this that we would be able to post its recipe details only after we get confirmation.

What do you think? Shall we go-ahead and make CYGWTI a blog event where someone (YOU or I) regularly pose a picture challenge related to food or drink and announce the winners/runners-up after giving a week's time? Oh yes, some prizes too. We would need to look out for some sponsors to give attractive prizes as well :-).

Have you had fun and enjoyed the first edition of CYGWTI #1? Are you quite happy with the result? Are you now ready for CYGWTI #2?

This is an interactive blog, so please interact already! We will wait for your kind feedback or gratuitous advice, recipe requests/suggestions through comments of this blog or by e-mailing it to Thanks!

November 22, 2005

Fish cutlet

Just got home from the nearby beach market with a bag of some fresh king fish. It is time for our usual evening special masala tea here at Muscat. It has been long time now since we have had any fish snacks, so chosen to cook fish cutlets today. Due to some tech snags at our end which we are trying to sort out, please see the pictures in a separate page. Pictures of fish cutlets are here. Thank you for your patience.

Fish cutlet recipe

Fish fillets – ½ kg, boneless, fresh
Potatoes – ¼ kg, boiled and smashed
Onions – 1, medium size, finely chopped
Green chillies – 2, medium size, finely chopped
Ginger – 1 teaspoon, finely chopped and crushed (optional)
Garlic – 1 teaspoon, finely chopped and crushed (optional)
Garam masala powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Black pepper powder – ¼ teaspoon
Turmeric powder – 1/8 teaspoon
Ghee – 1+2 teaspoons, melted
Oil – as needed for shallow or deep fry
Sugar – ½ teaspoon (optional)
Fine bread crumbs – 1 cupful
Milk – 1 tablespoon, hot
Egg – 1
Salt – 1+1/2 teaspoon or to taste

Method: Boil the fish in a slightly salted boiling water in which turmeric powder and ginger is added. Cook till tender, remove from the heat, remove all bones, and then mash it into flakes. Keep it aside. Boil potatoes separately till tender, peel off the skins, add the hot milk, ghee, and mash to a smooth dough. Mix together the mashed boiled potatoes and the fish flakes. Add the garam masala powder and one teaspoon of salt. Heat up the remaining ghee till smoking hot and saute the onions and green chillies till the onions turn limp. Add the fish-potato dough and saute for a minute and remove from the heat. Allow it to cool and then take lumps of this dough and flatten into oval cakes. Beat up the eggs and season it with pepper and the remaining salt. Dip the fish cakes completely in the egg batter and roll in the bread crumps. Pat the bread crumps firmly onto the fish cakes. Either shallow or deep fry in a mixture of oil and ghee on either side until golden brown. Serve it hot-hot with mint chutney or coriander chutney over a cup of piping hot special masala tea or spicy mint tea. Enjoy!


Fish cutlet (pictures)

Due to some technical snags at my end, I could not post the pictures to the original post. Please find the recipe here. Enjoy!

Bringing ingredients together...

Fish cutlet recipe

Can you guess what this is? (CYGWTI #1)

Has anyone come across these savories? I will give you the details about these only next week. :-)

Meanwhile, can you guess what this is?

Let us see who is coming up with the most correct or somewhere closer to the correct answer. Do you need any clues? Over to you :-)

Posted initially on November 16, 2005
Reposting it on November 22, 2005
Time given - one week; TIME LEFT - 24 hours :-)
A modest summary of the guesses received from My Dhaba guests, links to their blogs (if any), the winner or winners, runners-up(s) :-), and correct answer with details (recipe/s, if any) will be posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2005. :-)
Thank you so much for your great patience.

November 20, 2005

Spicy water melon

One of my farmer friends gifted this to me today who visited us from his Salalah farm. Information on Salalah is here, here, and here - a must-visit location in the Middle-East. This water melon has a slightly red to yellow flesh, guess it is a ice-box kind. Water melon is an excellent summer fruit as it quenches thirst pretty fast. We love to eat water melon just raw making it a little spicy as mentioned below. They taste great. It makes few cool and refreshing drinks as well. On account of its high water content, the water melon is a good diuretic in cases of fever.

Spicy water melon recipe

Watermelon - deseeded and cubed
Black pepper powder - to taste
Salt - to taste

Method: Sprinkle black pepper powder and salt on the cubed watermelon and serve :-) It is that easy. Surprise your family members or guests with this real treat. Enjoy!

Also you may want to try freezing strained watermelon juice in ice cube trays to add to lemonades and fruit punches for a flavorful addition to your drinks.


Pudina Leaves aka Mint Leaves (weekend herb)

Another weekend came and it is about to say good bye. Three herbs were available at My Dhaba today competing against eachother during the last 2 days in seducing me to be chosen for Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging. It was pretty tough for me to select only one and discard others. I could not resist myself and here I am with the ayurvedic pudina leaves aka mint leaves (Mentha arvensis). See the beauty of the leaves in the picture below and can you feel the lovely fragrance? :-). Hope you like it.

Mint is the important source of peppermint oil and menthol. Mint leaves are often used with green peas, lethils, and other dishes which are difficult to digest. Mint with its unforgettable aroma and invigorating qualities has always been a part of Indian beverages in hot weather. Ancient greeks added it to bath water to refresh and strengthen the body. Peppermint tea equalizes circulation and also stimulates the digestive tract, allays nausea and vomiting. Mint leaves may be stored dried retaining its full flavor.

Please find below some of My Dhaba's favorite dishes using pudina leaves. Do you know of any other favorite dish other than listed below where mint leaves are used? Which one is your hot favorite out of all these? :-)

1. Mint rice/pulao.
2. Lenthil rice.
3. Vegetable pulao.
4. Mughlai pulao.
5. Mutton biriyani.
6. Chicken biriyani.
7. Prawns biriyani.
7. Mint-gobi paratha.
8. Meat balls.
9. Lamb chops.
10. Mint chutney with coconut.
11. Mint chutney without coconut.
12. Coriander and mint leaves thuvial.
13. Mint-spinach curry.
14. Chana masala.
15. Rajma curry.
16. Vegetable salad.
17. Mint raita.
18. Vegetable samosa.
19. Meat samosa.
20. Maize vada.
21. Pani puri.

We will be adding all these recipe details at My Dhaba in the coming days. For now, here is our favorite spicy mint tea. Whenever you have any kind of sagging spirit, try to lift it up with a cup of piping hot spicy mint tea. Trust me, it works. It tastes great and is quite refreshing.

Spicy mint tea recipe

Water – 3/4 cup
Tea powder – 1 teaspoon (to make it really strong, we need 1-1/2 teaspoon)
Mint leaves – 6-8, fresh, finely chopped or crushed
Cinnamon stick – 1/4 inch size (optional), whole
Ginger - 1/4-inch size, crushed
Sugar – 2 teaspoons, or enough to make the tea sweet, to taste
Milk – 1/2 cup (optional; we like it without milk, tastes better)

Method: Heat water to roaring boiling. Add the tea powder, lemon grass, ginger, and keep it covered and let it brew for 5 minutes or longer. Do not boil it again. Strain and pour into cups; add sugar and milk as needed. Enjoy a piping cut of hot cup of spicy mint tea. It is just wonderful either hot or cold. Enjoy! Stay warm.

1. It gives a bit pungent or earthy rather than tart taste. So, use the quantity of mint leaves and tea powder as per your taste. It would be my delight to know the feedback from you about your first encounter with the spicy mint tea.
2. Alternatively, you may use the julienned/chopped and dried mint leaves instead of fresh leaves, which can be made at home, which tastes equally good.
3. Also, if you like it cold, just double the strength of tea powder while brewing. After brewing it for 5 minutes or longer, add few ice cubes and cold water, as needed, to make the iced spicy mint tea.
4. Try washing your face with mint tea, it makes a great toner and smells good too.
5. Use a cool peppermint infusion as a light, naturally refreshing rinse after brushing.
6. Mint leaves calm the digestive system, plus it helps heartburn, stomach ache and nausea.

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November 19, 2005

Mattar Paneer Masala

We consume green peas a lot not just because it has got a supercharged nutritional profile but for its delicious flavor, wonderful texture, and eye-catching color. When we were children we used to hate green peas, but still remember how much care my mom and sister used to put in to make it more tastier than before :-) Thanks to mom and my sister - we now love this legume and it is a must have at least twice a week in different forms.

Here is one of our favorite recipes using green peas and home-made paneer - the mattar paneer masala.

Bringing ingredients together...

Mattar Paneer Masala Recipe

Green peas – 1 cup
Sugar – a pinch
Paneer – 1 cup, cubed
Oil – 1+1 teaspoon
Ghee – 1+1 teaspoon
Cinnamon – 1 inch stick, broken into halves
Cloves – 3
Cardamom – 2
Cummin seeds – 1-1/2 teaspoon, whole
Black peppecorns – 8-10, whole
Onions – 2, medium size, finely sliced
Red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon or to taste
Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
Ginger – ½-inch piece, finely chopped and crushed
Garlic – 3 cloves, finely chopped and crushed
Green chillies– 3, medicum size, medium hot, sliced into halves
Tomatoes – 2, medium size, finely chopped
Yogurt/Curd – 1/2 cup
Garam masala powder – 1 teaspoon
Cilantro leaves – chopped for garnishing
Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon or adjusted to taste

Method: Boil the green peas with a cupful of water and a pinch of sugar. Cook till tender and keep aside. We love home-made paneer and prepared it very closely as described by Jenn at Atabela, i.e., heat milk till reduced by 1/4th part, add the lemon juice or yogurt (we use lemon juice and found it is more tastier that way), to seperate the curd and whey, tie the curd in a muslin cloth, after the curd is out of moisture, flatten it and cut into paneer cubes. Thanks Jenn for the inspiration. Please see the picture above to see our results.

Heat a pan and pour in the first part of ghee and oil. When smoking hot, deep fry the paneer pieces in oil until light golden color, remove from heat and keep aside. In the same oil when very hot, add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, cummin seeds, and finally onions. Saute until the onions are golden brown here and there. Add the coriander powder, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder. Saute for a minute taking care not to burn the dry masala powders. Remove from fire, allow it cool, and then grind the onion mixuture to a smooth and thick paste. Heat the remaining ghee and oil. Add ginger, garlic, and green chillies. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the ground onion paste and saute for a minute. Add the tomatoes and saute until the oil separates from it. Add the yogurt, cooked peas, paneer pieces and salt. Allow it to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the garam masala mixture a minute before removing mattar paneer masala from the heat. Garnish with coriander leaves, lemon juice, and a dollop of salted butter on top. Serve hot with chappathis, pooris, bread, or plain white rice. Enjoy mattar paneer masala.

November 17, 2005

Red squash soup and home-made potato vattals (chips)

Stephanie, the happy sorceress, is organising a virtual cocktail party on November 19, 2005. We are sending our maiden entry to participate and celebrate the party. Cold season is upon us. There is no better cold-weather meal with a steamy bowl of heartwarming soup. So here is My Dhaba's red squash soup as a non-alcoholic party drink entry. Hope it helps to keep everyone warm at the party :-)

Bringing the ingredients together...

Red squash soup recipe

Squash – 1 cup, peeled and chopped into small cubes; preferred variety of squash - butternut
Potato – 1 cup, peeled and chopped into small cubes
Ghee/butter – 1 tablespoon
Nutmeg powder – a pinch
Asofoetida – ½ teaspoon
Black pepper powder – 1 teaspoon or adjusted to taste
Salt – 1 teaspoon or adjusted to taste
Water – 1 cup
Milk – 1 cup
Spring onions or parsley – for garnishing, finely chopped
Bread crumbs - for garnishing, cut into thin fingers or cubes

Method: Cook the pumpkin and potato cubes till tender. Heat the ghee in a pan and saute the cooked pumpkin and potatoes for 3-4 minutes. Remove it from the heat, allow it to cool, and grind it to a thick smooth paste. Heat the pan once again and add the ground paste, water, salt, nutmeg powder, asofoetida, and pepper powder. Bring it to boil and then add the milk and cook for 4-5 minutes on low heat or until you get the required thick consistency. Remove from heat, garnish with spring onions and bread crumbs, and serve hot. Enjoy!

Now for the appetizer/finger food entry, we have chosen our traditional Indian home-made potato vattals (chips). See you there at blog party #4 :-)


Chicken stock - 3 different recipes

Jenn Dureja from Atabela is kind enough to send us the following exotic concoctions for making chicken stocks via a comment in one of the previous posts; I am putting all those in this separate post for your convenience.

In Jenn's words - my chicken stock is pretty simple, I have a variety of methods that I'll share with you. Ingredients are the only thing that changes, cooking is all the same. I love garlic, so I add a lot.

Plain chicken stock recipe

It can be used in Asian and American soups and just seasoned when necessary:

1 whole chicken (best) or just the bones. If you can get a bulk of chicken necks, that is good, too.
1 bay leaf
couple tablespoons of salt
enough water to cover by a few inches.

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot, cover with COLD water (very important). Put on high heat and then lower to medium and allow to simmer for 4-5 hours. Do not allow to come to a rolling boil, just gently simmering is best. If any foam rises to the top, skim it off. When done, strain through a mesh style strainer. Place in the fridge and the following day, remove all the fat that has risen to the top.


Chinese Chicken Stock recipe

Add medallions of ginger, skin on, from a 3" piece
if you take pork, can also add pork ribs and bones and duck, too.
salt1 TB
white peppercorns
handful of dried whole red chilies (optional and to taste)
enough water to cover by a few inches

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot, cover with COLD water (very important). Put on high heat and then lower to medium and allow to simmer for 4-5 hours. Do not allow to come to a rolling boil, just gently simmering is best. If any foam rises to the top, skim it off. When done, strain through a mesh style strainer. Place in the fridge and the following day, remove all the fat that has risen to the top.

American/French style chicken stock recipe:

2 whole onions, quartered
3 pieces of celery stock, cut into thirds
3 carrots
1/2 head of garlic
sprig of thyme, tied together
1 TB black peppercorns
bay leaf
enough water to cover by a few inches

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot, cover with COLD water (very important). Put on high heat and then lower to medium and allow to simmer for 4-5 hours. Do not allow to come to a rolling boil, just gently simmering is best. If any foam rises to the top, skim it off. When done, strain through a mesh style strainer. Place in the fridge and the following day, remove all the fat that has risen to the top.

Enjoy making the chicken stocks at your home in these exotic ways. Once again, thank you very much Jenn.

November 15, 2005

Shahi Khichri or Khichdi

Khichri is an Indian dish made from rice, lentils, onion, tomato, and spices. Shahi means 'fit for a royal table'. Shahi khichri, named after Shahjehan - the ruler of the Mughal Empire in India from 1628 until 1658, is a popular dish known to be originally prepared with more than 100 ingredients. Here is how we make Shahi Khichri at My Dhaba.

Bringing the ingredients together...

Shahi Kichri (or Kichdi) recipe
Serves - 4; preparation time - 20 minutes

Basmati rice – 1 cup
Lenthil of your choice – 1 cup (toor dal, split moong dal, or masoor dal)
Green peas – 1 cup
Oil – 2 tablespoon
Ghee – 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon to be added with rice
Cummin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon (whole)
Bay leaf – 3
Cardamom pods – 3 (whole)
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch size, broken into 2 pieces
Dry red chillies – 2, broken into halves
Fennel seeds – ½ teaspoon (whole)
Ginger – 1 inch size, finely chopped and crushed
Garlic – 3 pods, finely chopped and crushed
Green chillies – 3, medium size, medium hot, sliced into half, length-wise
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Tomato – 1 large, finely chopped
Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
Garam masala powder – 1 teaspoon
Black pepper powder – ½ teaspoon
Saffron – a pinch, added to the warm milk
Milk – ½ cup
Salt – 1 teaspoon or adjusted to taste
Sugar – 1 teaspoon
Mint leaves – very finely chopped for garnishing
Coriander leaves – very finely chopped for garnishing
Water – 4 cups

Method: Wash rice and lentil together and keep aside in a colander to drain out all water. Heat a pressure cooker and pour in the oil and ghee. When the ghee becomes smoking hot, add the cummin seeds and bay leaf and saute till light brown followed by cinnamon sticks, cardomom pods, dry red chillies, onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic, and fennel seeds. Saute all till the onions turn limp and light brown here and there. Add in the tomatoes, red chilli powder, and black pepper powder. Saute for 3-4 minutes over moderate heat taking care not to let the spices stick to the bottom of cooker. Add green peas and saute for 3-4 minutes. Now add rice, salt, and sugar. Saute for 5 minutes stirring continually till the rice is light brown. Then add the water, milk, ghee, and garam masala, pressure-cook it, and stop the heat source soon after the first whistle. Keep it under dum in the pressure cooker for 3 minutes and release the pressure. Garnish it with finely chopped mint and coriander leaves and serve it hot with any of your favorite side dish. Mint chutney, onion chutney, tomato chutney or cucumber chutney are digestive adjuncts which are good to have with Shahi khichri. A little fresh lime juice, squeezed on to a serving of Shahi khichri is refereshing and has a digestive effect. Enjoy Shahi Khichri!


November 13, 2005

Chicken Tikka Masala

Presenting to you probably the most popular Indian dish in the world - the Chicken Tikka Masala.

Extract from a speech by British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook.
"Chicken Tikka Masala is now a true British national dish, not only because it is the most popular, but because it is a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences. Chicken Tikka is an Indian dish. The Masala sauce was added to satisfy the desire of British people to have their meat served in gravy."

There are many versions of the same dish, here is our My Dhaba's chicken tikka masala recipe. Enjoy and tantalize your taste buds with it!

Bringing ingredients together...

Chicken Tikka Masala recipe

Chicken – ½ kg, boneless, diced

For marinade:
Yogurt/curd – 2 tablespoons
Ginger – ½ inch size, finely chopped and crushed
Garlic – 2 pods, medium size, finely chopped and crushed
Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
Lime juice – 1 teaspoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Garam masala – 1 teaspoon
Paprika powder - 1 teaspoon (optional)
Saffron – ¼ teaspoon (optional)

For the gravy:
Tomatoes – 2, medium size, fresh, finely chopped
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Chicken stock or boiled water –2 cups or as required
Ginger+garlic paste – 1 teaspoon
Green chillies – 2, medium hot, cut into half length-wise
Cummin powder – 1 teaspoon
Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
Oil – 1+1 teaspoon, for stir-fry
Ghee – 1+1 teaspoon, for stir-fry
Cloves - 3
Cardamom - 3
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece
Salt – adjusted to taste

Method: Marinate the chicken pieces with all the marinade ingredients for 2-3 hours in a refrigerator. (Marinating it overnight will greatly flavor the dish). Heat a wide frying pan or skillet and pour in 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon ghee. When it turns smoking hot, add the marinated chicken pieces and stir-fry vigorously for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and keep aside. (Alternatively, you may bake the chicken pieces in an oven by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F, baking it for 25 minutes, and then baste with some butter or ghee.) Pour in the remaining oil and ghee and when very hot add the cloves, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom together and follow with onions, ginger, and garlic. Precautionary note, cloves may burst right out of the hot oil, so take care to keep some distance away from the pan when adding it to the hot ghee. Saute till onions turn golden brown here and there. Add tomatoes and keep sauteing until oil separates from it. It takes approximately 5 minutes. Now add cummin powder, coriander powder, salt and return back the chicken pieces with chicken stock or hot water. Cover and allow it to boil over moderate heat for the first 5 minutes and then simmer over reduced heat till chicken is tender and till the sauce get the required thick consistency. Garnish it with chopped coriander leaves, onion rings, lemon wedges, etc. Serve hot with white rice and goes well with mint chutney. Enjoy!


November 11, 2005

The date palm (weekend herb)

So soon here comes another weekend! It is time for Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Kalyn. I have chosen an incredible herb “the date palm” as my pick for this week.

A medicinal herb may be a shrub or other woody plant, whereas a culinary herb is a non-woody plant. By contrast, spices are the seeds, berries, bark, or root, or other parts of the plant, even leaves in some cases; although any of these, as well as any edible fruits or vegetables, may be considered "herbs" in medicinal or spiritual use.

The date palm is extensively cultivated for its edible fruit known as dates. Dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be seeded and stuffed with fillings such as almonds, candied orange and lemon peel, and marzipan. Dates can also be chopped and used in a range of sweet and savoury dishes: from tajines in Morocco to puddings, bread, cakes and other dessert items. Dates are also processed into cubes, paste, spread, date syrup or "honey", powder (date sugar), vinegar or alcohol.

Dates have a high tannin content and are used medicinally as a detersive and astringent in intestinal troubles. As an infusion, decoction, syrup or paste, is administered for sore throat, colds, bronchial catarrh, and taken to relieve fever and number of other complaints. One traditional belief is that it can counteract alcohol intoxication. More detailed information about the date palm is here.

A 100 gram portion of fresh dates is a premium source of vitamin C and supplies 230 kcal (960 kJ) of energy. When dried, 100 grams of dates provides 3 grams of dietary fibre and supplies 270 kcal (1130 kJ) of energy.

Please find below a few pictures of the date palm, the dates, and followed by one of our all-time favorite Dates Kheer (pudding) recipe details. Enjoy!

This is my 4-year-old taste-tester, my son Adarsh, whom I had mentioned to you some time before, posing with his freshly plucked dates.

Dates kheer (pudding) recipe

Bringing ingredients together...

Dates – 15
Green gram dal – ½ cup
Milk – 1-1/2 cup
Honey – 3 tablespoons
Raisins – 15
Almonds or cashewnuts – 10-15, cut into half length-wise
Butter – 2 tablespoons

Method: Grind dates with one cup of water to make a smooth paste and keep aside. Cook and mash the green gram dal well. Heat a thick-bottomed vessel and pour in the butter. Fry the cashew and raisin separately and keep aside. Add the ground date and mashed dal in the remaining butter and cook till all liquid is evaporated. Add honey and cook for a minute. Add milk slowly stirring continously. Cook on low heat till thickened. Garnish the kheer with fried almonds and raisin. Serve hot or chilled. In either ways, it is yummy.

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November 10, 2005

Beef (or Mutton) Sukha (dry) Fry

Beef (or mutton) sukha fry is a dry preparation of meat. This is quite tasty used as a side dish accompaniment with plain boiled rice, chappathis, or bread. Instead of meat (beef or mutton) pieces, you may use minced meat and make it in the same way. Instead of making it dry, you may omit the last step of stir-frying soon after the cooked meat is added to the seasoning and make the dish with thick gravy.

Bringing the ingredients together...

Beef (or mutton) sukha (dry) fry recipe
Serves – 4
Preparation time – 40 minutes

Beef or Mutton - 1 kg, remove all (or as much as possible) fat from the meat and dice into small pieces
Onions – 2, medium size, coarsely sliced
Ginger – 1 inch piece, finely chopped and crushed
Garlic – 6-8 pods, finely chopped and crushed
Tomatoes – 2, medium size, finely sliced
Green chillies – 3-4, medium size, medium hot, split into half at the stalk end
Salt – 2 teaspoons or to taste
Coriander powder - 2 teaspoons
Turmeric powder - ½ teaspoon

For ground masala powder:
Fennel seeds - 3 teaspoons
Black peppercorns – 8-10
Cinnamon - 1 inch size
Bay leaves – 3, medium size
Cloves - 4
Cardamom – 4

For Seasoning:
Oil – 1 tablespoon
Ghee – 1 tablespoon
Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
Onions – 1, medium size, coarsly sliced
Curry leaves – 2 sprig
Lemon juice - 1 teaspoon
Coconut – 1 cup, cut into small pieces (optional)

Grind cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns, bay leaves, and fennel seeds to a fine powder. Mix the meat with the ground masala powder and all other ingredients. Pour enough water over the meat to just cover it completely and braise in a flat-bottomed vessel covered with a fitting lid (or use pressure cooker) for approximately 35-40 minutes over a moderate steady heat or till the meat is tender and no water shows over the meat sauce. If the mixture is rather dry, add a cupful of hot water occasionally to stop them from burning.

Heat a frying pan and pour in the oil and ghee. When very hot, add mustard seeds to splutter taking care not to burn the seeds. Add the remaining chopped onions and saute till the edges of the onions turn brown. Add curry leaves and coconut pieces and saute till light brown. Now add the cooked meat and lemon juice. Stir-fry over moderate heat turning over frequently till all the gravy is dried up and the meat turns in to a very dark brown color. Enjoy beef/mutton sukha fry!

November 9, 2005

Ragi (Finger millet) ladoos

Featuring today yet another delicious ragi dish - the ragi ladoos.

Finger millet (Eleusine coracana), also known as African millet or Ragi (Kannada: ರಾಗಿ), is an annual plant widely grown as a cereal in the arid areas of Africa and Asia. Finger millet is originally native in Africa and was introduced into India approximately 3000 years ago. It is very adaptable to higher elevations and is grown in the Himalaya up to 2300 metres altitude. More detailed information on ragi is here at wikipedia.

Bringing the ingredients together...

Ragi ladoos recipe
To make 10-12 ladoos; preparation time 40 minutes

Ragi flour – 1 cup
Ground nuts – 1 cup, roasted and pounded; or gingelly seeds – 1 cup, roasted and pounded
Jaggery – 1 cup, crushed to a fine powder
Salt – ¼ teaspoon

Method: Add the salt powder to the ragi flour. Pour sufficient boiling hot water into the flour to make it to a soft ball of dough. Divide it into 2 balls. Heat a frying pan till very hot over moderate heat. Brush lightly all over with some oil. With a wet hand, place one of the ragi dough balls at the center of the pan and pat gently with wet fingers to a thin round. Turn over on both sides alternatively to bake slowly and thoroughly for 5-6 minutes. If you prefer, pour a little ghee around the edges of the ragi roti while it bakes. Allow it to cool and tear the ragi roti into small bits.

Roast the ground nuts till they become crisp so that we can rub off the skins. Remove the skins and pound the ground nuts to a fine powder. Then add the cold ragi roti bits to it and pound both together till well blended into each other. Now add the crushed jaggery and pound all the three together till well mixed. Shape into lime-sized balls.

Although the color of these ragi ladoos may not look attractive to some, they are quite nutritious and tasty and flavorful. Enjoy!