Instant Pot Rajma (Kidney Beans)

I feel like almost every culture has their version of beans and rice.  There’s the Latin style with adobo seasoning, the African style flavored with smoked paprika and garlic, Creoles use the “holy trinity” for theirs, Jamaican red beans and rice have coconut milk and scotch bonnet peppers, the Japanese use Adzuki beans with their rice, and the Indians have Rajma Chawal.

Why are red beans and rice so common everywhere?

I don’t know.  But what I do know is they make a complete protein when eaten together so it’s really beneficial to vegetarians and vegans who don’t get their complete proteins from animal protein to feel full.

I never thought Rajma was all that special until my friend Sumit made it one day.  He makes the most amazing Rajma so I never bothered to learn because I could just call him up!  But now he’s moved to a different state and it’s not as readily available so I have tried and tried and tried to perfect my Rajma.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this classic dish of Rajma!

Samosa Puffs

Every Indian household is sure to have samosas for any occasion.  Whether we were visiting relatives or friends, at a wedding, holidays, celebrations of any kind…. well, you get the point!  Samosas everywhere.  When I went off to college, my mom used to make dozens and dozens and put them in large zip top bags that I would freeze and microwave them as I was in the mood for them.

My roommates and friends at college also benefited.  There were many nights sitting in our common room studying over samosas, sharing heartbreaks or girl talk or just hanging out.

These samosa puffs are a fun twist to the traditional samosas that are usually filled in a cone made of freshly  kneaded dough.  The girls had fun with the flaky pastry and loved that I kept the filling with the traditional potatoes and peas that they are used to.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy these delicious Samosa Puffs!

Methi Thepla

Growing up in a Gujarati household, anywhere we went, you were guaranteed to have theplas packed.  Whether we were traveling by car, plane, train, pretty much any vehicle, Mom would always have a foil packet filled with theplas.  I would always get annoyed that we would be the family opening a packet of “Indian smelling food” but guess what…. I am my mother now.  Quick to make, easy to pack, not much fuss and muss associated with them, and filled with nutrition, they are the perfect snack or meal to have.

Easy to eat anywhere on the go, similar to a thin tortilla, theplas are made by adding fenugreek leaves (methi) to the dough before kneading it.  Instead of water, this dough uses yogurt as a binder making it a healthy and delicious meal or snack.

Fenugreek leaves are an under appreciated green that I have not seen outside of Indian food culture.  Some of the healthy benefits they provide are:

  • lowering blood sugar
  • reducing cholesterol levels
  • reducing inflammation
  • increasing milk production for nursing mothers
  • help with appetite control

Adding in the yogurt to knead the dough helps provide calcium and protein.  I use a multi grain flour to make these and between that, the yogurt, and the fenugreek leaves, 3 of the food groups are already incorporated into these theplas!

Added benefit, “roti” and yogurt is one of the girls’ favorite meals so it’s easy to sneak in different veggies and they’ll gobble it up.

Try out these methi theplas at home and I hope you like them as much as we do!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!

Mango Lassi

Growing up, mango lassis were one of my favorite to order when we ate out at Indian restaurants.  The sweet mangoes, the tangy yogurt, and the hint of rose at the end of each sip…. oh so delicious!  The fact that mangoes are my absolute favorite fruit just adds to my love for this lassi!
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A summer time must have, even my girls look forward to having a glass almost daily which just makes my heart happy.  Easy to whip up, you don’t need much.  A blender and the ingredients are all you have to use.  I did use a dash of rose syrup to give it a summer-y floral hint which takes this lassi to a whole new level.
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Have this delicious mango lassi as an afternoon snack to cool down in the heat, or pair it with some delicious Indian food.  It pairs well with Masala Omelette for breakfast, or even a lunch time drink with a Desi Masala Bowl or with dinner when you try out this Instant Pot Chole.

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From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this delicious treat!


Baingan Bharta (Punjabi Eggplant)

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that growing up I was not an eggplant fan.  So why am I posting 2 recipes (Baba Ghanouj and this one) with eggplant within a month?  They became a part of my adult life and I learned what I was missing out on.
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I’m not sure about the timeline but I do remember maybe a few months after I got married, we had gone down to see my in-laws for the weekend.  Mom had made baingan bharta and I was trying to be nice so I ate it without telling her I was not a big fan of eggplant.  It was ingrained in me since I was a kid that you ate what you got, especially at someone else’s house without a fuss.  Man am I thankful for that specific rule!
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Though I took maybe only about a tablespoon’s worth (and spread it out so my MIL wouldn’t notice – yep…. totally resorting to childhood antics), baingan bharta became a new favorite of mine.  Since then, I have tried it at various restaurants and at home but nothing compares to the way my MIL makes it.  This recipe is hers and I’m excited to share it.
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Notes:
Try to pick eggplants with fewer seeds as this will give you more flesh and will be less bitter.  Male eggplants tend to have fewer seeds and to tell the difference, at the bottom of the eggplant, there will be an indentation.  If it is deep and shaped like a dash, the eggplant is female, if it is shallow and round, it is a male.
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If you do end up with an eggplant with more seeds, after roasting the eggplant, don’t skin it right away.  Let the eggplants sit on a tray and continue steaming to soften the seeds.
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You can store the roasted eggplant in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

From my Mother-in-Law’s kitchen to yours, we hope you enjoy this one!

Homemade Paneer

Paneer is a staple in any Indian household.  It is so versatile, the possibilities are endless.  I’ve marinated it in Roasted Cilantro Mint Chutney and grilled it over the BBQ, you can also grill it and use it as an addition to a salad, make Paneer Cabbage Cups, Matar Paneer, and most famously known Palak Paneer.
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It may sound daunting but making paneer at home is actually very easy.  There’s literally 2 ingredients involved – milk, and an acidic agent to separate the curd.  I like homemade better than store bought because you can choose which type of milk you want (low-fat or full-fat) and there are no preservatives like in the store bought ones.
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How to make paneer at home:
Step 1: Boil the milk
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Step 2: Add in your acidic agent and keep stirring to help the solids separate from the whey
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Step 3: Drain the whey so you have just the solids left over
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Step 4: Rinse the solids to remove smell and taste of acidic agent
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Step 5: Squeeze out excess water and hang the paneer to remove moisture
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Step 6: Mold the paneer into desired shape
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Step 7: Remove the block of paneer from the cheesecloth and use as desired
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Notes:
1. I suggest double lining the cheesecloth so that it is more sturdy and holds the paneer well when draining. This is the cheesecloth that I use and love!
2. Acidic agents that can be used are lemon juice or vinegar.  I’ve found vinegar works better with curdling the solids without leaving behind a tart taste in the paneer
3. Keep the acidic agent close by so you can use it as soon as the milk is ready so it doesn’t boil over.
4. If you need to add more acid, add a teaspoon at a time.  Adding too much can make the paneer rubbery

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you have fun and enjoy making your own paneer!

Roasted Cilantro Mint Chutney

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Growing up in an Indian household, chutneys are a must. They are an integral part of any Indian household. Whether you are eating Dosa or Adai Waffles / Lentil Waffles with tomato or coconut chutney, or samosas with cilantro or tamarind chutney, or Kati Rolls or Bombay Masala Sandwiches with chutney used as a spread, it’s always prominent in Indian food.
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There are so many different kinds of chutneys prepared so many different ways, I just love the versatility of these dips.  I tried to a different approach to my Roasted Cilantro Mint Chutney by roasting the cilantro and mint with some cashews, chickpea flour, and plenty of spices.
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As you roast the herbs, they develop a char which carries into the final product and gives it just a hint of smoky flavor and smell when you eat it.
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I’ve used this chutney recipe to eat with Adai Waffles / Lentil Waffles, Paneer Cabbage Cups, Spinach Dal Paratha, Aloo Paratha, and Avocado Roti.  What will you eat it with?
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From my kitchen to yours, I hope this chutney becomes a staple for you!

Bhinda Bataka nu Shaak / Okra Potato Sabzi

Growing up, my mom would make traditional Gujarati food for dinner most days.  My brother and I loved eating a Gujarati thaali (not all the time) and one of my favorites was Bhinda Bataka nu Shaak.  The crunchy exterior of the potato that’s just soft enough to melt on the inside and the crispy okra to finish off the dish is just the perfect reminder of home to me.
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When I made this dish, I was so excited to share my love for it with kids.  I’ll be honest though, they didn’t take to the okra which broke my heart.  Sort of.  They ate the potatoes though.  But I’m going to keep trying to share my love of okra and hope one day they do like it as much as I do.
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But okra is so slimy!

Trust me, I know!  So my hack…. use frozen or pre-cut okra.  And fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Wait, what?  Yep, lemon juice helps break down the slime without turning your veggies into mush.
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Want to know something even more cool?  The “slime” (known as mucilage) actually contains soluble fiber.  Here are a few more benefits of eating okra:

  • High in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin, and lutein
  • Good source of Folate
  • Good source of Vit. C, Vit. A, and Vit. K
  • Good source of Non-Dairy Calcium, Iron, Manganese, and Magnesium

So try this delicious sabzi for your next Gujarati thaali.  It’s delicious and healthy and so easy to make.  Try it out!
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From my kitchen to yours, I hope this dish brings you the joy it brings me.

 

Roasted Masala Chickpeas

I’ve been making these chickpeas at home as a healthy snack option so I don’t turn to junk food and my girls have fallen in love with them too.  I initially started them with a basic salt, pepper, olive oil and paprika seasoning.  We love the basic and use them not only for snacking, but in salads, tacos, as a topping for soups (yup), and pretty much in anything I can add it to. Continue reading “Roasted Masala Chickpeas”

Adai Waffles / Lentil Waffles

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of my friend Janani. I’ve mentioned her in a few recipes, especially the Greek Inspired Crepes and Instant Pot Kali Dal. She and I met when we were both about 7 months pregnant with our first child at an Indian store where the owner introduced us. We have been pretty close friends since and shared many recipes during our play dates and this one is inspired by her.wp-1592520709205.jpg
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When Aishani was a few months old, I remember Janani came over for a play date with her eldest. She brought over this batter and asked if I had veggies she could use. I was extremely curious as Sanaya was in a picky phase (honestly, I feel both my kids have always been in a picky phase!).wp-1592520709227.jpg

She explained what Adai is and I was instantly fascinated. Basically, it is a batter made out of 4 different lentils and a little bit of rice, soaked, ground, and cooked over the stove with veggies similar to a dosa or crepe fashion. So with one meal, I’m getting protein, fiber, non-dairy calcium, folic acid, and plenty of vitamins and minerals from the veggies. Seriously, major mom win! My kids love it and eat it with yogurt and it’s a family hit.wp-1592520709178.jpg

The basic batter recipe is Janani’s. I’ve never tried to change it because it’s perfect and it works. I did play around with it and turned the Adai crepes into waffles. It’s something fun for the kids; they get a kick out of eating waffles for lunch or dinner and I know it’s one of the healthiest waffles around! The texture keeps well and tastes so soft and fluffy. It’s really delicious.wp-1592520709677.jpg

For the girls, I served this with yogurt as that’s their favorite way of eating Adai. For the hubby and I, we had a topping of masala salsa on top which tasted amazing and completed this dish for us!

From our kitchen to yours, we hope you love these Adai Waffles!


Adai Waffles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A savory lentil waffle filled with veggies that is healthy and delicious.

Notes:

1. The ratio of all the lentils and rice is always 1:1. Whether you want to make a lesser amount or more, the ratio before soaking will remain the same.

2. It is important to soak these lentils at least 4 hours. Soaking lentils helps remove the phytic acid which impairs the absorption of nutrients such iron, zinc and calcium.

3. If you make extra, and want to keep it for future use, you can store in the freezer. Just be sure to keep the batter plain without adding any of the ingredients as it will ruin when you thaw it out. Stores well up to 3 months in the freezer. Stores well up to 3 days in the fridge.

4. Parboiled or Idli rice works great for this recipe. If you don’t have it, regular jasmine rice works, but just be aware that when it is ground, you will get a bit of a grainy texture.

5. It is important to shred the veggies to help them and the lentils cook through properly. If the veggies are chopped and chunky, the lentils may not cook through completely (I speak from experience).

6. Use any veggies you have in your fridge. I’ve listed our favorites below.

Ingredients:

For the batter:

½ c toor / toovar dal

½ c urad dal

½ c chana dal

½ c red masoor dal

½ c idli rice / parboiled rice

1-2 dried red chilies

For the Waffles:

1 zucchini, shredded

1 large carrot, shredded

½ c broccoli, shredded

1″ ginger knob, shredded

1 tsp hing (asafoetida)

1 tsp salt

For the Masala Salsa:

½ c onions, chopped finely

1 tomato, chopped finely

1 serrano pepper, chopped finely (for a less spicy option, take out the seeds and ribs)

¼ c cilantro, chopped finely

1 lemon, juiced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp chaat masala

Directions:

For the Masala Salsa:

1. Mix all of the ingredients tog⁸ether in a bowl and set aside to use for topping.

For the Adai Batter:

1. Soak each of the lentils and rice separately in water at least for 4 hours, preferably overnight.

2. Once they are soaked, add rice (drained of water) and red chilies to a blender with 3 Tbsp water. Blend to a thick batter.

3. Transfer to a bowl and repeat process with the lentils. If you want to combine them and blend them, that works also. Add water a little at a time so the batter is not too thin.

4. Mix this batter with the rice batter.

This batter is your base. You can make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge or freezer and use as needed.

For the Waffles:

1. In a bowl, add 1½ c Adai batter, hing and salt. Mix well.

2. Fold in the shredded veggies. If the batter is too thick, add in water, 1 Tbsp at a time, but don’t make the batter too thin and runny.

3. Heat the waffle maker on high and spray both sides with cooking spray.

4. Using a ladle, pour the batter into the waffle maker and spread across. Close the waffle maker and seal or flip and let it cook as a regular waffle.

5. Remove the waffle and repeat the process for the remaining batter.

6. To serve, spoon some of the masala salsa on top of the waffles and serve hot!

Serve with masala salsa, yogurt, mango pickle or all 3!

Enjoy!

Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas Curry

When Sanaya, my eldest, was about 3 years old, we had gone to Pankaj’s cousin’s house for a play date.  Sanaya and her cousin Aarya are besties.  They’re only 2 months apart in age and our families have gone through the journey of parenting together since we were pregnant.

Anyways, this story is from a time when Sanaya was very picky about food, especially Indian food.  Though I feel like in her short life, she’s either been picky or a proper foodie.  Kids!
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My sister-in-law, Aarya’s mother had made a black eyed peas curry.  I remember growing up my mom making this often so I got excited but nervous also.  Will Saanu eat it?  Will she like it?  I’m hoping she likes it because I’m really trying to get the girls to have an appreciation for Indian food.
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Surprisingly, and luckily, she loved it and for once, ate most of her food without a fuss.  I felt like I found a magical key.  Since then, this is one recipe I make often for the girls, especially when I’m in a pinch as it takes less than 30 minutes to make.
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These black eyed peas are perfect for a weeknight meal.  Not only are they delicious and quick to make, they are also rich in fiber, protein and non-dairy calcium.
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Notes:
I soak them at the beginning of meal prep.  If you don’t want to soak them, simply increase the cook time from 12 minutes to 20.

You can store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

For Stovetop: Soak black eyed peas for at least 1 hour.  Then boil them in 4 cups of water for 45 minutes.  Drain and add to spices as indicated in step 5.  Add only 1 c water and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

For Slow Cooker:  Follow directions below and cook on low for 6 hours.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this Dal (Lentil)!


Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas Curry

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

1 c dried black eyed peas, soaked

1 onion, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1″ ginger knob, grated

1 bay leaf

1 tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp turmeric

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

2 c water for cooking

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp hing (asafoetida)

Directions:

1. Set Instant pot to saute mode.  Add oil and let heat.

2. Add cumin seeds and hing.

3. When the cumin seeds start to splutter, add in onions, ginger and garlic.  Saute for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are tender and translucent.

4. Add in the tomatoes and spices and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the oil starts separating from the tomatoes.

5. Drain the water from the black eyed peas and add to the instant pot.  Add the 2 c water and mix well.

6. Cover instant pot and set vent to sealing postion.

7. Change setting to manual/pressure cook mode and set timer for 12 minutes.

8. When the timer goes off, let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure.

9. Add lemon juice and give a quick stir before serving.

Serve with Naan or Rice.

Instant Pot Chole Yum

Growing up, one of my favorite North Indian dishes has always been Chole.  Whether we were eating at a wedding, an Indian restaurant, or requesting it as my special birthday dinner, Chole has always been a constant and a comfort in my life.  The aroma of it freshly made in the air, just pulls at you.
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There are so many different versions of making this recipe based on where in North India you are.  Sometimes, even in the same region, recipes differ vastly from home to home.  I prefer mine to have a thick red gravy, which is best achieved I’ve found by adding an abundance of tomatoes (and I really mean A LOT)  and spices.  The best part is that this dish is such a classic, you can never go wrong.  Serve it hot with rice, naan or Bhatura and be prepared to be wowed!
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From my Kitchen to yours, I really hope you enjoy this.

Ingredients:
1 c dried chickpeas, washed and soaked overnight (at least 4 hours)
1 ½ c water
1 Tbsp Olive or Avocado Oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1″ ginger, grated
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 med-large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 ¾ c tomato sauce
2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp coriander powder
1 Tbsp Chole Masala
1 tsp aamchur (dry mango) powder
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
2-3 bay leaves
½ tsp peppercorns
1″ cinnamon stick
cilantro to garnish

Directions:
1. Start the instant pot on sauté mode.  Add oil and let it heat up.
2. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.  Add in the cinnamon stick, peppercorns and bay leaf.  Sauté for 30 seconds.
3. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.
4. Add in the onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes until they turn translucent and start shrinking.
5. Add in the tomatoes, cayenne pepper, coriander powder, chole masala, and salt.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes start softening.  Add in the tomato sauce and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
6. Drain the water from the chickpeas and add them to the instant pot.  Mix well with the gravy and cook for 2-3 minutes.
7. Add in the water and mix well.  Turn off the instant pot, cover with vent to sealing position and change setting to manual/pressure cook for 40 minutes.
8.  When the instant pot beeps, do a 20 minute NPR (natural pressure release).  If the pin has not dropped at this point, release the pressure and open the instant pot.
9.  Change setting to sauté, add in the aamchur powder and let boil for 3-5 minutes.  Taste and adjust for salt.
10. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with rice, naan or bhature.

Enjoy!