Gajar Halwa Tarts

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Gajar Halwa Tarts

As a kid I remember eagerly waiting for winters. Marigold blooms, afternoon picnics, cozy blankets & of course bowls of warm & comforting gajar ka halwa (carrot pudding) made by maa.

I would help her peel & grate the carrots in the hope of getting a bigger share than my sis 😀 Those indeed were the days. During winters, we would rush home from school, throw our bags & run to the kitchen to see what’s in store, just in case we were in for any surprises! Truth be told, my sis was least interested, it was more my thing. Nothing gave me more joy than watching maa or our cook whip up something fancy in the kitchen while I eagerly waited for my turn to relish them 🙂

With the winters approaching, I have been craving gajar ka halwa for a while now & thought of following maa’s recipe with a few tweaks here & there & also turn it into tarts. Not only they taste heavenly but look pretty too! Go ahead & try it out.

Here’s the recipe (for 12 tarts):

Ingredients

450 g peeled & grated carrot

2 tbsp each of almonds, pistachios & cashew

60-70 ml ghee (clarified butter)

200 ml milk (I used oat milk)

130 ml condensed milk

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

12 tart shells (I used store bought)

Pistachios for garnishing

Method

Roughly chop 2 tbsp each of almonds, pistachios & cashew & roast them in 2 tsp ghee. Keep aside. Heat 50 ml ghee in a heavy bottomed pan & add about 450g peeled & grated carrot.

Mix well & cook until the colour changes & the carrot looks well combined.

Halfway add 2-3 tbsp ghee again & stir everything well.

After 10 mins add 200ml milk (I used oat milk).

Keep stirring & simmering on medium heat until the mixture reaches boiling point. This is where you add 130 ml of condensed milk & 1 tbsp sugar. Lower the heat & let everything combine well & come together.

Keep stirring for 10 more mins until the carrot no longer sticks to the pan. Stir in half a tsp of cardamom powder & the fried nuts back into the pan & continue to cook until the halwa turns dark orange/ reddish. 

You can have it as it is or make tarts like I did I used store bought tart shells. Fill each shell with the halwa (pudding) after poking holes in the tarts with a fork. Now line them up on a baking tray.

Before going in the oven

Preheat oven to 180-190 degree celsius & bake the tarts for 12-13 mins. Garnish with chopped pistachios & drizzle some condensed milk before serving.

Little cups of heaven 🙂

Shrimp Noodles with Bok Choy & Spring Onions

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“Grow up, eat some chilli” as Seonkyoung Longest, the queen of Asian cuisine always says 😀 I followed her recipe to create this perfect street style shrimp chowmein or shrimp noodles with bok choy and spring onions (slightly modified). If there’s one dish I could eat all day, everyday, its got to be noodles. mmmmm !

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Growing up, whenever I was down or upset, my mum would cheer me up with a comforting bowl of noodles. Since then, it has pretty much been my constant soul food as life happened!

Do watch her YouTube channel for this and more lip smacking Asian food 🙂

 

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I have always been an ardent Asian food lover and living in Kuala Lumpur for more more than 5 years now, my love has grown by leaps and bounds. The truth is I have probably only scratched the surface on making or experiencing South East Asian food because its so rich and diverse! I am definitely learning more and more with each passing day.

So go ahead and try out this recipe. Whether you are a college student or a busy working woman, I can bet you won’t find any easier noodles recipe that tastes this awesome 😀

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Ingredients:

10-12 peeled and de-veined prawns/ shrimp (medium size is the best)

A pinch of black pepper

1 tbsp vinegar (any type would do)

1/2 cup chicken stock (if you don’t have, then simple warm water would do!)

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 thai red chilli chopped (lovely flavour yet low on heat)

5-6 fat cloves of garlic, chopped

1 inch of thinly julienne d ginger

3 medium sized diced shiitake mushroom

3 baby bok choy

3-4 spring onions, chopped into 2 inch long pieces

2-3 tbsp white oil for stir frying

A splash of sesame oil

Salt to taste

300-350 g cooked spaghetti or egg noodles (I used angel hair spaghetti)

Method:

Marinate the shrimps with vinegar and black pepper for at least 15 minutes. Heat a wok. Add oil and throw in the prawns to be stir fried for about a minute on high heat (important). Take them out and keep aside.

Add some more oil and heat up the wok again. Add chopped ginger, garlic and red chilies into the wok. Again carefully stir fry them for about a minute (make sure the heat is high and stir continuously). Now is the time to add the bok choy and mushrooms. Keep stir frying as you get the wonderful aroma.

Mix the oyster and dark soy sauce in the chicken stock to make the sauce for our chowmein. Now throw in the cooked (al dente) noodles and the sauce into the wok and keep stir frying. Let everything combine well. Add in the spring onion greens and mix again. Turn off the heat and add a splash of sesame oil for the final wonderful touch. That’s it! Voila 🙂

 

6 Classic Wardrobe Essentials for the Modern Indian Woman

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Are you always staring at a wardrobe full of clothes and yet find nothing to wear?

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Source: Tenor

Don’t worry! It’s a common plight of all women and we are all in the same boat 😀

Here’s a recommendation on few wardrobe must-haves that work for both ethnic and western looks, thus seamlessly blending the traditional with contemporary. With this guideline handy, you can create a range of looks suitable for any occasion

  1. Long Shirt Dress

shirt dress

Source: Pinterest

Shirt dresses are such an easy breezy option, especially in tropical climates. It is in fact one of the most versatile pieces you could own. Team it up with jhumkas, leggings and kohlapuri chappals for a desi look or wear it as a shirt dress with a nice slim leather belt clinched on your waist for a chic look.

You could dress it down with sneakers and denims or pair it with well fitted pants, strappy heels and an evening clutch for a night out in style.

    2. Strappy Heels 

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Source: Craftysandals

Carrie Bradshaw would be mighty pleased to see this one in the list. But on a more serious note, strappy heels are a staple in any modern woman’s closet and with neutral shades like nude or black, you can never go wrong!

These go perfectly well with both Indian as well as western looks and will see you through any occasion in style. Women who aren’t too comfortable in pointy heels can go for kitten (midi) heels in same colours. But always keep comfort in mind and look for heels that are practical and sturdy.

      3. Silk Stole

stole

Source: Etsy

A handmade stole is a great fashion accessory with any traditional or western outfit. Whether it is hand embroidered, printed, simple or sequined, a classic silk stole is something everyone needs, to look well put together on days you aren’t sure of your outfit.

Wear it as a dupatta over your salwar suit at a wedding or twirl it around your neck as a scarf over dresses or shirts for a smart-casual look. What better way to keep you warm and cozy when there’s a slight chill in the air and look stylish too!

    4. Relaxed Palazzo

palazzo

Source: The Cut

A palazzo is a no-brainer wardrobe staple. If there’s one fashion item that has been universally accepted by women of all shapes, it’s a relaxed palazzo. Probably one of the most comfortable outfits you could have in your wardrobe and perfect for days when you feel bloated but still want to look presentable.

Opt for a solid coloured or a striped one and team it up with a well fitted shirt for a more work-appropriate look. Alternatively you could even dress it up by wearing a short kurti or a chikankari kameez with chunky earrings for a more ethnic look.

At the end of the day, it’s all about being comfortable, isn’t it? 🙂

 5.  Statement Choker

choker

Source: Macs Jewelry

If you want to amp up an ensemble, a statement choker necklace is the best idea. It has always been on trend and can instantly add some drama and zing to any regular outfit. Be it sarees, cold-shoulder tops, turtle necks or V-neck dresses, a choker perfectly frames your neck and elevates your look to a whole new level.

You can glam up a simple saree with a choker, ear studs and hair tied up in a bun and be assured of turning few heads your way. An equally interesting option would be to pair it with an evening dress (LBD or maxi, up to you!).

6. Long Jacket

jackett

Source: Pinterest

A long brocade jacket is a fantastic fusion between the ethnic and contemporary. If you don’t find one at the store, get your local tailor to create a bespoke piece in brocade, tailor-made just for you. The right fit makes all the difference. I am currently obsessing over the versatility of a structured well-fitted jacket.

There’s no end to the different looks that you could achieve with it!

Think of wearing it over a simple white kurta with jeans or layer over a saree for that elegant look. You could even rock a jacket on an evening dress or a pencil skirt. Invest in the right kind of fabric and ensure that the fit complements your figure to enhance your whole look.

 

POTOLER DOLMA (Stuffed Pointed Gourd in a spicy gravy)

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Potoler Dolma is a delectable Bengali dish which is a quintessential part of any traditional function or festival. The stuffing/ filling used in this recipe is minced mutton (keema). But of course, the options are many, like- grated coconut, paneer (cottage cheese), minced prawns and all are equally delicious! As you know that my mum is here, so it goes without saying that this is her recipe 😀

I realized that I had never bothered to find out about the origin of the word ‘dolma’. Upon researching, I learned that, in Turkish, Dolma means stuffed. It is also commonly found in Middle Eastern cuisines. It was during the time of the Sultanate’s rule in Bengal that this dish ‘Potoler Dolma’ was created using local vegetables/ meat.

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I love the intricacy of the dish. From scooping out the flesh and seeds of potol, to frying it, preparing the stuffing, making the gravy and then cooking everything together. It’s a work of art and the end result is just brilliant! But I never really cooked it at home (lazy me :P) and now living away from home in India, I rarely get to eat it these days. But a small cute incident made me fall in love with the dish all over again and so now, I intend to make it once in a while.

It was during one of our trips back home in Calcutta, when my mum made potoler dolma among a host of other dishes, for her beloved son-in-law and me 😀 As S took a bite, he nonchalantly remarked that this dish was his favourite! It’s very rare that he actually says something like that because he is not much of a foodie and doesn’t really care what you give him to eat (savior at times 😛 ). Of course I know what he enjoys eating but he never says what his favourite is, so this was a sweet revelation for me. And when mum wanted to cook something special on naboborsho (Bengali New Year) which was on 15th of April, this dish was my first choice. It was pure joy to watch him savour his ‘favourite’ dish 🙂

Ingredients:

For Stuffing:

  • 10 potols/ pointed gourds
  • 250 g minced mutton
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 large grated tomato
  • 2 medium potatoes, boiled and crumbled
  • Scooped flesh and seeds of the pointed gourds
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Mustard oil for frying

For Gravy:

  • Whole garam masala, crushed (5-6 green cardamom, 4 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon stick)
  • 1 tsp jeera/ cumin seeds
  • 2-3 green chilies
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 medium tomatoes, pureed
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Mustard oil

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Method:

Deseeding the potol/ pointed gourd

Cut the two ends of a potol and very lightly scrape it using a blunt knife. Now carefully scoop out the flesh and the seeds from inside without breaking the potol. You can use a fork or the back of a small spoon to do this.  Keep the seeds and flesh aside to be used later.

Now rub a little salt and turmeric on inside and outside of the potols and fry them in mustard oil. Keep aside to cool.

Stuffing:

Heat some mustard oil in a kadhai/ wok and add chopped onions. Stir for a while and when they get soft, add ginger-garlic paste. Stir for a minute or till the raw smell goes away, now add the tomatoes and throw in green chilies. Fry well. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and garam masala and mix everything well. Now add the keema (minced mutton), flesh and seeds of potols, salt and mix well. Cook for a while till you see oil separating from the mix. Now mash the potatoes and add into the stuffing mix. Combine everything well and cook till the gravy dries up. Let it cool.

Now fill the scooped out and fried potols with the stuffing. Make sure that they are stuffed till the edge tightly. Keep a little stuffing aside to be added into the gravy later.

Gravy:

In the same wok, heat some more mustard oil, add some sugar to get a rich red colour of the gravy. Once it caramelizes, add crushed whole garam masalas, cumin seeds and green chilies. Once the aroma of the masala releases, add ginger paste. Stir for a while. In a small cup, mix turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder and coriander powder with some water to make a paste and add into the gravy. Throw in the tomato puree and keep stirring till you see oil separating from the masalas. Now add water and salt and cover the kadhai and let it come to a boil (medium flame). Now add the potols into the gravy along with the extra stuffing. Cover and now cook on a low flame. When gravy thickens to your desired consistency, add some freshly ground garam masala and switch off the gas. Cover the wok and let it get a standing time of at least 10 minutes.

Serve hot with plain white rice.

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NOLEN GURER PAYESH (Rice Pudding with Date Palm Jaggery)

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For me, this very name brings back a lot of memories. No festival/ wedding/ function in winters is complete without a dessert made with nolen gur. The sheer variety of desserts that can be made using this lip smacking gur/ jaggery is endless. From payesh to pitheys, ice cream, sandesh, and so much more! Every household has their own version of this dish and today I am going to share with you how my mum cooks it. She is now here with me in KL, and she got some nolen gur packed for me from India. Yay!! S loves anything sweet and I am always looking for ways to satiate his sweet tooth, so what better than homemade payesh. Its gluten free and the best thing? It was cooked by mum and it tasted heavenly! Someone rightly said, Desserts is stressed spelled backwards 😀

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There are certain ‘musts’ in this recipe to make the authentic payesh. The first is Date Palm Jaggery or Nolen Gur/ Notun Gur. In India, this particular jaggery is available only in winters and it is an inherent part of the culinary tradition of Bengal in winters. It has a rich nutty flavour and simply melts in your mouth when you take a bite. The second one is the type of rice to be used, which is Gobindobhog (an aromatic rice). You can substitute it with basmati rice but it won’t be the real deal 🙂

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Ingredients (to serve 4-5 people):

  • 1 Litre full cream milk (full fat or full cream milk is essential for that creamy consistency)
  • 60-65gm gobindobhog/ basmati rice (this ratio is important! For every 1 l milk, approx. 60gm of rice to be used)
  • Nolen gur/ Date Palm Jaggery (no strict measurement for this, as per your taste)

*Note: If you don’t have date palm jaggery, you may substitute it with date syrup available in most groceries or brown sugar*

  • 2 tsp Raisins
  • Few crushed green cardamoms
  • 2-3 bay leaf
  • Almonds for garnishing

Method:

In a deep bottomed pan, heat the milk. Let it come to a boil while stirring continuously, so that no cream is formed. While the milk is boiling, add the crushed cardomoms and the bay leaves and keep stirring with the ladle until the milk thickens. Now add the rice into the pan (the rice should be washed and dried on a flat surface before adding into the milk). Again keep stirring and when the rice is completely cooked, throw in the jaggery or sugar and mix well till completely dissolved in milk. Once the pudding thickens to your desired consistency, add the raisins and switch off the flame after 2-3 minutes. Garnish with dry fruits of your choice. You may serve it hot or chilled, tastes great both ways 🙂

3 important tips to remember for the perfect payesh:

  1. Always use full cream milk for best results.
  2. While cooking, keep stirring the milk continuously so that no cream/ layer forms on top.
  3. Most importantly, keep in mind that the jaggery/ sugar should always be added after the rice is cooked perfectly. Once the sweet goes in, the rice stops getting cooked further.

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The land of temple ruins, stunning beaches & delectable food: Cambodia, A photo blog

Cambodia was on my ‘must travel’ list for quite some time, so I finally flew there with some close friends couple of days back. In fact the locals said that the best time to visit is between Jan to March, the weather being quite pleasant then.

A land known for its ancient temples, stunning architecture, beach parties, amazing seafood & Khmer cuisine and of course simple innocent people, Cambodia should definitely be on the must see list for any travel enthusiast. The sheer variety on offer is impressive enough to spend few days soaking up the local culture.

I have some lovely memories captured in photographs and in today’s blog, I am going to let these pictures do all the talking.

Presenting a photo-blog (of sorts) of my visit to Cambodia:

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Tuk Tuk: the preferred mode of conveyance in Cambodia

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Central market, Siem Reap, selling local handicrafts

 

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From handmade jewelries to wooden home decor items & souvenirs

 

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Some beautiful armbands up for sale!

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Fresh & juicy prawns at the local market

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Wat Preah Prom Rath, Siem Reap

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Typical Cambodian handcrafted basketry on display, in front of our hotel Sekla Villa, Siem Reap

      Angkor Wat in its full glory!

The quintessential shots of Angkor Wat at sunrise..in one word Magical 🙂 You have to be at the site as early as 5am and take your ‘spot’ to get the best shot, but the amazing view is worth all the efforts of waking up early.

                                                                                      the ruins…

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Bayon Temple, Angkor: 4 faces of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara everywhere

 

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Stunning Artistry

I have become a huge fan of Khmer cuisine after sampling some of their lip-smacking dishes in my week long stay. I can now safely say that Cambodian food is my second most favourite after Indonesian cuisine. There are some similarities with Thai cuisine in their use of spices like lemongrass, shallots and galangal and also generous use of coconut milk in some of their dishes. Fish sauce is widely used in stir fries and soups but one can find a lot of contrasts in their flavours, from sweet to salty, sour and even bitter!

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Khmer Chicken Fried rice

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Fish cakes: The best I have ever had

Khmer Chicken Curry: light, bursting with flavours and juicy succulent chicken pieces

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Fish Lok Lak with Black Pepper Dipping Sauce: a stir fried chicken marinated with salt, sugar, pepper, soy sauce & other spices. The highlight of this dish is the fiery dipping sauce which complements the dish.

 

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Fish Amok: My favourite among all. This classic Cambodian dish is a concoction of coconut milk and Khmer spice paste resulting in a creamy, fragrant sauce. Traditionally it is steamed & cooked in banana leaves and served with rice.

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A thin runny gravy version of Fish Amok

 

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Golden Lions Circle, Sihanoukville: The iconic roundabout in the beach town

 

Otres Beach II, Sihanoukville: soft white sand, crystal clear water, very few people and constant gentle breeze makes this the best beach to relax in Sihanoukville.

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Scrumptious Sea-food platter from one of the shacks at Otres II

 

Koh Rong: A speedboat from the main pier of Serendipity beach took us to Koh Rong island (took us about 45-50 mins). The beach is stunning, clear water like Otres, which makes swimming a lot more fun, although it was pretty crowded. The island had a very laid-back vibe to it which I loved and I had the best fish amok at one of the shacks here. Just take a big towel and a book/ music along, lie down with a drink and all is bliss 🙂

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The Mr. & I

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You can see for yourself how clear the water is!

Just avoid Serendipity main pier. Its too crowded, dirty and locals constantly trying to sell things by almost breathing down your neck and not letting you eat/ drink peacefully.

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One of our favourite shacks in Sihanoukville

Don’t miss visiting Pub Street, Siem Reap to experience the vibrant night life. Its a long stretch of road teeming with restaurants and bars and people making merry. The food and drinks are very affordable and after a long day of sight seeing, this is where everyone wants to go to and unwind. My favourites were the Angkor What? Bar and Temple Club.

 

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A very unique concept of an open bar. Loud music playing on laptops behind the counter, some bar stools and a makeshift stall selling alcohol. Voila!

 

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Yummy fried ice-cream

 

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National Museum, Phnom Penh: To get a glimpse of the cultural history of Cambodia

 

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S21, Phnom Penh: The dusty old high school which was turned into a torture and execution center during the regime of Pol Pot

 

Okay Boutique Hotel: Our stay at Phnom Penh was made memorable thanks to this lovely hotel which was more like a beautiful palace with the majestic Mekong river as a backdrop. The interiors were spectacular, each corner was resplendent with gorgeous Cambodian craftmanship. The rooms were quite spacious, awesome breakfast buffet and great service. I would highly recommend this place to anybody looking for a hotel close to the city center in Phnom Penh.

Overall, had a very eventful trip in Cambodia and before I forget I must mention how lovely the local people were, especially in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. They were so full of warmth and affection and genuinely took interest in making our stay memorable.

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Till we meet again

 

Gluten-free Besan Cheela (Savoury Pancakes with Chickpea Flour & Spices)

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Since last few days, S & I have been eating out a lot, mostly junk and calorie rich stuff because let’s just admit that best things in life are always fattening 😀 But as much as we love eating out, we also ensure that we eat clean most of the time. So I keep coming back to wholesome nutritious food and this New Year, I made a resolution to cut out processed food from my life and embrace real food.

The cheelas/ pancakes I made for lunch today were delightfully tasty and very healthy too. Chickpea flour, also known as besan/ gram flour, is gluten free. It is highly nutritious as it’s packed with protein, iron and fiber. For a guilt free indulgence, chickpea flour is definitely one of the best options and in India we use it to cook both savoury and sweet dishes.

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I will share healthy and tasty recipes from time to time. For now, note down the ingredients and method of making besan cheelas.

Ingredients (for 4-5 pancakes):

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies, finely chopped (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 1 inch ginger piece, grated
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • For the batter:
  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (or any white oil would do)
  • Water to make a runny batter
  • Following spices to be added:
  • 1 tsp carom seeds/ ajwain
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds/ jeera
  • ½ tsp asafetida/ heeng
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilly powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of sugar

Method:

In a large bowl, take 2 cups of chickpea flour. Add in all the spices listed above. Mix well with a balloon whisk. Now throw in all the veggies into the bowl before adding water.

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This is done so that the flour absorbs all the moisture from the veggies, making it easy for us to understand the amount of water needed for the batter. Now slowly add water, until you get a runny batter. Mix well. Keep aside for 15-20 minutes.

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Heat oil in a tawa/ griddle. Pour some batter in the center of the griddle and spread evenly with a spatula or the back of a large spoon. Make sure that the pancake is not very thick. Let it cook for at least a minute or until you see the sides becoming brown and bubbles forming on top.

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Now drizzle some oil on the top and flip the pancake over. Drizzle oil on the sides and let it again cook for another 2 minutes. Keep flipping from time to time for a crispy finish.

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Serve hot with green chutney/ ketchup or some yogurt for a simple and nourishing meal 🙂

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Welcoming the Chinese New Year at Absolute Thai Hot Pot, Mid Valley, KL

Gong Xi Fa Cai 🙂 

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Chinese New Year is undoubtedly the most important festival for the Chinese community. KL simply comes alive during these few days, with every nook and corner of the city being lit up, sales and discounts at shops, food stalls everywhere, beautiful decorations at malls, lion dances and fireworks!

Yesterday was the beginning of a long holiday for S and we decided to spend the next couple of days with friends- watching movies, going for drives, potlucks etc., basically chilling without a care 😀 We were at the Mid Valley mall and I suggested S & a friend that we go to Absolute Thai Hot Pot for dinner and they readily agreed. It’s rare that the husband would say no to Thai food 😛

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Our visit to this branch was a first, though we’ve been to a couple of their other outlets. Located at level 2, Center Court, its décor was all black which surprisingly had a very calming effect. We took a table near the corner from where we had a clear view of the outside. Although the restaurant was inside a mall, it felt as if we were sitting at a roadside open café.

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The menu was fairly exhaustive. We didn’t opt for their hotpot menu which was quite tempting, but settled for their usual fare instead.

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The menu

I have a thing for Chicken wrapped in Pandan leaves. It can be quite tricky though. You have to cook it just right to get the perfect texture- crunchy from the outside and soft, juicy inside. A little overcooked and what you have is an inedible hard piece of chicken. However, Absolute Thai nailed it. It was so delicious that it made us even hungrier.

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Pandan Leaves Chicken

The service was quite fast. As the waiter was bringing the other dishes to our table, I noticed S was glued to his phone looking at the highlights of a soccer match. Boys and their toys! After my stern look, he quickly put down his phone and beamed with delight looking at the food on the table.

Unfortunately the Tom Yam Soup with Seafood and Meehoon was the first thing I tasted. Why unfortunate? Because it was one of the worst tom yam soups I’ve ever had. It was so sour that all other flavours were overpowered and I felt as if I was biting on a piece of raw tamarind. I would never recommend it to anyone.

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Tom Yam Soup with Seafood and Meehoon (red base)

That made me somewhat skeptical about the other dishes we ordered. But my presumption was wrong thankfully. The Red Curry Roasted Duck was lip-smacking. The flavours were balanced perfectly. The sweet and spice quotient was just right and it tasted fabulous with plain white rice. The duck was quite soft, unlike a few other places I have had before, where it was hard and chewy.

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Red Curry Roasted Duck

The Green Curry Chicken was nice, so no complaints there but it wasn’t remarkable. I have had much better ones at other Thai restaurants in KL. S was busy removing chunky pieces of eggplant from the curry 😀  Otherwise he seemed to have enjoyed it.

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Green Curry Chicken

The best was saved for last. The Garlic and Black Pepper Fried rice with Fresh Crab was in one word heavenly! The crab was really fresh which elevated the dish to another level. It was mildly spiced and very juicy. The rice was perfectly seasoned with crushed black pepper and overall it was the best dish of the day.

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Garlic and Black Pepper Fried rice with Fresh Crab

Address: Mid Valley Megamall, 1, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, 58000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Phone: +60 3-2201 5308

Open: 10am – 10pm

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Patishapta (Rice flour crepes with coconut filling): Celebrating Makar Sankranti

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In India, the harvesting season is considered extremely auspicious and households all over the country celebrate during the month of January by making sweets of all kinds. Each region has its own take on the festival but the underlying essence remains the same, i.e. to celebrate the prosperity and bring in more luck for the coming seasons. In Bengal, it is known as Makar Sankranti or Poush Sankranti, while in Northern India its Lohri, Bihu in Assam, Uttarayan in Gujarat and Pongal in South India. Different names but similar in spirit 🙂

I have grown up relishing pithey– a sweet made with rice flour, semolina, jaggery, coconut, etc. The sheer variety of pithey can be overwhelming, but one particular which is an absolute favourite and has a lot of fond memories attached to it, is ‘Patishapta’. I am filled with nostalgia as I type on my keyboard because dida (my maternal grandmother) used make the most scrumptious patishaptas I have ever had. Ever since I can recall, I eagerly waited for her to make them and the delightful whiff of her freshly made crepes still lingers in my mind. In fact she couldn’t even take the first batch out from the kitchen as me and my sisters would pounce on the plate to claim our share 😀 She is no longer with us today but the sweet memories still remain fresh as ever.

Last Friday, Makar Sankranti was celebrated in India, and so I decided that I would make Patishapta. I called up mum and noted down the recipe like an obedient student and then checked my pantry. Thankfully I had all the ingredients in stock! Though the magic of my dida couldn’t be recreated but it was tasty nevertheless because S couldn’t stop at just one 😉

So here’s the recipe- (Traditionally, Nolen Gur or Date Palm Jaggery is used but since I didn’t have that so I used brown sugar instead)

* I am not very particular about measurements, unless it is for baking. I just go by my estimation, so you can adjust accordingly.

Ingredients (for about 8 Patishapta):

For the stuffing:

  • 4 cups grated coconut
  • 1 cup brown sugar (or as per your taste)
  • Green cardamom powder (preferably crushed in a mortar pestle)
  • 2 cups milk

For the batter:

  • 1 cup semolina
  • 2 cups maida or all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup rice flour
  • Sugar to taste
  • Water for semi runny batter

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Method:

In a kadhai/ wok on low-medium heat, dry roast grated coconut for a few minutes. Now mix sugar with the coconut and keep stirring continuously. Carry on with it for at least 15-20 minutes. Now add freshly crushed green cardamom powder in the kadhai and mix well.

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The sugar and coconut should combine really well to give a slightly mushy texture. In my case it was taking a lot of time and so I used milk (not used in the original recipe). Maybe my coconut wasn’t that fresh as I used store bought grated coconut. It is very important to use fresh coconut, although after adding milk (you can also use condensed milk for a gooey filling) I got the right texture and it also enhanced the flavour. Once the filling is ready, remove from the kadhai and let it cool.

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Now for the batter, in a large bowl, mix semolina with some water and let it rest for about 30 minutes. After that, add maida and rice flour. Mix well with water to make a batter which is slightly runny. Add some sugar according to your taste.

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Heat a tawa/ round flat griddle. Drizzle few drops of oil and smear it all over using an eggplant stem. Pour a ladle full of the batter into the center of the tawa. Spread it evenly using the back of the ladle.

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When you see bubbles forming on top, put the filling in the center of the crepe and gently fold from both sides. Once folded, press for about 30-40 seconds on each side and remove immediately.

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You can serve them hot just like that or if you have patience, then drizzle some condensed milk/ melted nolen gur (jaggery) on top for a blissful experience 🙂

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Party Special ‘Spicy Chicken Drumsticks Curry’

Indian food is all about contrasting flavours. The way different spices and herbs come together in one dish is amazing and nothing less than a work of art. The once humble Indian chicken curry is now famous all over the world, but let me bust some myths here. There is really nothing called an Indian Chicken Curry because India is a land of cultural miscellany and so is the food- as diverse as it can get. So a chicken curry up north is dramatically different from its southern counterpart. In fact every state has a different take on the curry. So what you get in Jaipur will be quite different from the one in Kashmir or Calcutta or Amritsar or Hyderabad! So you see. You really can’t have a universal Indian Chicken curry.

Today I’ll sharing with you a recipe of my mum’s including her handy tips to cook the perfect chicken! This dish is a party winner and have been appreciated by many. I recently made a big bowl of it for our New Year’s party at a friend’s where we had a potluck night. I guess everyone loves potluck dinners. It’s half the work and double the fun 😀 and what better way to ring in the New Year than enjoying a hearty meal with friends and watching the spectacular fireworks from the terrace 🙂

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Recipe Ingredients:

  • 12-15 Chicken drumsticks
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes (chopped finely)
  • 6 fat cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 inch ginger (crushed)
  • 3-4 slit green chilies (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • Whole garam masala for tempering (4 cloves, 5-6 green cardamom, 10 black pepper, 1 large stick of cinnamon)
  • 2 Bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 3/4th tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder (this gives the gravy a luscious dark red colour)
  • 1 ½ tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 ½ tsp Coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Fried onion juliennes (made from 6 large onions)
  • Fried cashews
  • Chopped coriander leaves
  • 4-5 tbsp Olive oil (you can use any white oil)

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Method:

Wash the chicken well. Heat a tbsp of oil in a deep kadhai/ wok and add the drumsticks. Sauté for couple of minutes until the chicken becomes golden brown. This retains the juices of the chicken which enhances its flavour (#Tip 1). Take out the pieces and the juice in a bowl.

* If you simply add raw pieces of chicken to your cooked masalas, then it won’t taste that great. So this is a handy tip for you guys.

In the same kadhai, heat some oil. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. This softens the onion faster (#Tip 2). Deep fry them until they become dark brown in colour (remember not to over fry them, else they will turn bitter). Remove with a slotted spoon. Take half of the onions and make a paste in a blender. We will use it for our gravy. Keep the remaining for garnishing.

Now add some oil in the same wok. When it becomes hot, add a tsp of sugar. This makes the colour of the gravy red and glossy (#Tip 3). Once the sugar is caramelised, add the whole garam masala, and bay leaf. Saute till you get a lovely aroma of the spices, add slit chilies and the onion paste. Fry well for 2 minutes. Add crushed ginger and garlic. Cook until the raw smell is gone. Now throw in the tomatoes and stir for a minute and cover with a lid. Let it cook on a low-med flame for 3-4 minutes.

This is the time to add all the spices. Take a small cup, add turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and red chili powder. Add some water and make a paste. This is done so that the masala won’t burn while frying (#Tip 4). Now add the paste into the kadhai. Fry for 3-4 minutes on a medium flame.

Now add the chicken pieces into the wok. Keep stirring for atleast 8-10 minutes or until you see oil separating from the spices. This is called ‘Koshano’ in Bengali/ bhuno in Hindi, basically sautéing :D. This step is very essential if you want velvety and succulent chicken (#Tip 5). Don’t add water during this stage.

Add 1 cup of water now and cover and cook on a low flame till the gravy thickens and clings onto the chicken drumsticks. The trick to making juicy, fall off the bone chicken requires cooking it on a low flame for a long time (#Tip 6).

The dish is ready. Garnish with chopped coriander, fried onions and cashew nuts. Serve hot with naan (Indian flat bread) or rice.

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