A website dedicated to bringing the Indian food lovers together, around one community table. Indian Simmer has since been featured in a multitude of publications and received numerous recognitions, most notably as a winner of Saveur Best Food Blog awards in 2014. In 2015, expanding on the idea of creating a space for Indian food lovers around the world, it had a rebirth for Indian recipes.
Back in the day when I religiously ate home cooked meals there was almost little to no fuss involved in eating whatever my mother prepared for the day. A fantastic cook (that many would attest to) and an even better host, her meals were indeed scrumptious leaving eaters with larger bellies and happier hearts. Just like majority of Indian mothers, mine wouldn’t give me the liberty to choose what I ate and hence had me forcibly shove every green vegetable (which many of my peers do not!) down my throat- many of which were done under fear of being reprimanded.
One such vegetable is bitter gourd also known as karela in hindi. Like its name suggests, this vegetable, mildly resembling a porcupine, is extremely pungent due to its bitter taste. Known for its health benefits- or at least that’s how my mother would coax me into having it, eventually I would succumb to eating it with the help of a few or maybe more glasses of water.
Honestly, ever since I’ve ventured into cooking myself, the thought about experimenting with different dishes had me standing before this dreaded vegetable several times. Also the thought of its health benefits almost forcing me to start including it in my daily cooking regime.
To the unknown, the health benefits of bitter gourd is great:-
It helps effectively maintain blood sugar levels
Aids in depreciating the bad cholesterol levels
Karela (bitter gourd) is a pure anti-oxidant which helps in achieving glowing skin and lustrous locks.
A handy dandy tip for those working with the vegetable for the first time- soak sliced karela in a bowl of warm salted water to reduce its bitterness. On soaking for 15-20 minutes strain the water from the karela and begin cooking.
Karele Ki Sabzi
Karele ki sabzi, bitter gourd stir fry cooked in a simple, minimalistic way to make the dish easy to cook and taste delicious
Ah, the aroma of ginger and cinnamon, married together with the depth of nutmeg, these gingersnap cookies will bring you right in the mood for holidays as soon as they start baking in the oven!
As dreamy as this sounds, I have to admit, I am not much of a baker. I am not one of those people who look at the ingredients and immediately start dreaming of how a tablespoon of this and a cup of that can bring something divine out. I do not know what would happen if I add a tablespoon more of butter or a 1/4 teaspoon less of baking soda to my cake. Nope, not that person. At my best, I am good at following a basic recipe, first word to word and then slowly giving it my own spin.
Having said that, I love baking and I love playing around with recipes. Mastering the basics and then putting two and two together. That is me! And it’s an especially fun ride when I am doing so with my little munchkins in the kitchen. And before you start rolling your eyes on the cliche of ” Oh what a perfect mom letting the kids go loose in the kitchen and get creative” story, let me tell you, it’s not easy. In fact it is far from that specially when you always have a long list of things to get to, at any point in time. Life of any parent! But then to keep things under my control while the kids (and I) have fun, I follow some tricks.
Useful tips while baking with kids at home:
First things first, aim to do only one thing at a time. If you try to multi task while working with kids in the kitchen, it can confuse them and fluster you. So pick one recipe and follow that.
Explain the kitchen rules before you start. If you regularly work the kiddos in the kitchen then you must already have rules on what to do and what not but if this is your first time, setting some ground rules, always help in maintaining the sanity.
Stand mixers are a godsend when baking with kids. Keeps the mixing bowl in place and mixing, whipping etc. is a breeze.
Print recipe on paper for the kids who can read and follow instructions. Helps them get an overall idea of what needs to be done AND also slows them down and makes your life easier!
If working with more than one kid, assign tasks before you start. Do not forget to add cleanup after, into the list of things they will be doing as part of the project.
For younger kids, measure the ingredients and lay them out for them to just start mixing and baking.
Kitchen aprons save their clothes from the mess and save you an extra load of laundry. But if you do not have one for all the kids, put one of your old tees over their clothes. Makes for cheap aprons for the little ones.
Lastly, best mantra for having a fun baking with kids in the kitchen, take it easy! Mess will happen, however hard you try, when working with the kiddos in the kitchen, so just relax, put on some music and play around with your lovelies. Later, you can also have fun cleaning up that mess together. After all that matters is the fun you had, so enjoy!
With the aroma of ginger and cinnamon, married together with depth of nutmeg, these gingersnap cookies will bring you right in the mood for holidays as soon as they start baking in the oven.
1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon honey
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon (ground)
1/2 teaspoon cloves (ground)
2 pinches nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar (for rolling, optional)
30-35 chocolate kisses (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed, until light and creamy. Add egg, vanilla extract and honey. Continue mixing until fully incorporated, 1-2 minutes.
In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients.
With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Once it all combined, add the remaining dry ingredients into the bowl. Mix until combined.
Take the cookie dough out of the mixing bowl. One tablespoon size a time, roll cookies dough into balls. Roll balls gently in a bowl with 1/4 cup sugar. Line on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, 1 inch apart. Wrap a chocolate kisses and press on top on the cookie dough ball. Cover with a cling wrap and pop into the refrigerator for 2 hours or for a day.
When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven at 350 deg. F. Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes or until the cookie turns golden with little cracks on the surface.
Pull out from the oven. Let it cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet itself and then line on a cooling rack until cooled down completely. Serve with a glass of milk.
Born and brought up in North India and it was not until I was 7 or 8 years of age and I was visiting Delhi (capital of India) that I had eaten Chole Bhature. Almost feels unbelievable to me specially considering how popular the dish is around the world as a North Indian street food. But as diverse as India is with its regional cuisine and in the day and age with no internet, it wasn’t as easy as today to learn, let alone taste the cuisine of places as close as a few hundred miles away. This suddenly makes me realize how far we have come with making the distances closer with internet, technology and globalization.
Anyway, what I was trying to tell you about was my first encounter with Chole Bhature. A dish that originated in Punjab, northern state of India with one of the most fertile agricultural land in the country. But I got to taste my first chole bhature on the streets of New Delhi, outside Qutab Minar, by a roadside stall. Even as a restless 7 year old who also happened to be a picky eater, that experience was something that is still etched in my brain.
All the hustle and commotion around me, the sounds of street hawkers and that of honking auto rickshaws, aroma of all that mad varieties of food being served around me and me propped on a worn wooden bench with green paint chipping off it. Unirked by the all that going around myself, just going at the puffed steaming bhatura filled with spicy chole served in green leaf dona (bowls made with green leaf). My 7 year old self so impressed by the taste that she is still looking for a retake. So much so that every time I give Chole Bhature recipe a try in my kitchen I rank it against the one I tasted on the streets of Delhi. This one was close!
This Chole Bhature recipe hails from the state of Punjab but has gained popularity across the world. Crispy yet soft bhatura bread is typically paired with spicy chole and served as breakfast and sometimes also for dinner.
2 cups all purpose flour+ extra for dusting
½ tsp baking soda
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon kasuri methi (optional)
1/2 cup milk (lukewarm)
½ cup 125 mL plain yogurt
1 tsp olive oil + extra cooking oil for deep frying
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
Now mix milk and yogurt together and pour half of it into the well and slowly combine it together. Slowly mixing the ingredients together, add rest of the liquid into the bowl and kneed into a loose (somewhat sticky) dough.
Oil another bowl (or the same bowl but take the dough out before oiling the bowl) with 1 teaspoon oil. Transfer the dough back in the bowl. Cover with a tight lid and set in a dark, warm place for dough to rise. Wait for it to rise to almost double its original size with air pockets inside.
After a few hours, dust your working board, take out the dough and knead it for about 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough into smaller balls (in this case you should get about 8 balls).
Dust the board again and flatten the balls using rolling pin to make oval shapes, approx. 4″long.
Heat oil in a fryer or wok. Carefully drop the flattened dough into the oil and fry. Gently press the bread with a slotted spoon ad it will begin to puff in 5-8 seconds. Flip the bread and fry until the bread is puffed and golden in color.
Serve Hot puffed bhature with Chole Masala.
Rising time for the dough greatly depends on the temperature of the environment. At around 70-75°F (158-167°C) dough takes approx. 6-8 hours. Wait for it to rise to almost double its original size with air pockets inside.
When you have little ones at home and even more so if you have a picky eater, you must be familiar with all kinds of strategies you have to use in order to sneak some “healthy” into their meals. Now, even though I have two young ones at home, one of them being pickier than the other, I am still lucky that they eat their greens pretty decently. Dishes like okra fry and green beans and tofu stir fry are always welcomed in my household.
Having said that, some vegetables are a hard sell than others. Spinach, kale and pretty much any green leafy ones are a no no for the older one. It is sometimes funny to see the 3 year old gobbling bowl after bowl of quinoa kale salad, while the 9 year old is fishing cilantro out of her salsa. So you find ways to sneak them into their diet and serve them in a way they might like or many times in ways they can be deceived!
So dishes like Palak Kale Paneer , Beetroot Paratha, Leftover Dal Paratha OR vegetable poori are what come to my rescue. I have sneaked in practically every vegetable into her paratha or poori from pumpkin to kale to carrots. But her favorite and even mine, since childhood, still remains Palak Ki Puri or spinach flatbread.
Palak Ki Puri is a traditional recipe where spinach puree is added to whole wheat flour along with salt and some whole spices. I used nigella seeds in this recipe but you can add caraway seeds, cumin or even garam masala to give it a different flavor. Feel free to stay away from the spices if you prefer that instead. Oil is added to the flour to make the poori nice and flaky. You can also add a small amount of milk to make them soft and this tip also works great if you are planning to make poori a few hours or up to a couple days in advance. I send these as lunchbox food with my kids, serve as part of a luxurious meal on special days (like the Diwali celebration that you might be preparing for- hint hint!) and serve as a whole meal when out on a trip.
Palak Ki Poori
Palak poori are soft deep fried circular flatbread made with a spinach and whole wheat flour dough. These palak pooris are a testament that healthy can taste delicious too!
2 cups Whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups Spinach (washed, soft stalks are fine too)
1/2 teaspoon Nigella seeds
1 1/2 tsp Cooking Oil- 1 1/2 teaspoon (extra for deep frying)
Salt (to taste)
Water (as required for kneading)
In a food processor, blend spinach into a puree. Can add a couple tablespoons of water if you need to, for turning the blades.
Transfer whole wheat flour (or durum atta) in a large mixing bowl. Add nigella, salt, 1 1/2 teaspoon oil and mix it together. Now add spinach puree to the flour and knead for 5 minutes to form smooth dough. Add a few tablespoons of water if required. Divide into 12-15 parts. Roll into balls and set aside.
Heat oil in a large wok for deep frying, to 350°F (175°C).
Lightly grease rolling board with oil, just enough to prevent the dough from sticking, approx. a couple drops. Use a lightly greased rolling pin to roll dough into a flat circle about 2” (5 cm) wide. Repeat the same for all the dough balls.
Drop one poori into hot oil for deep frying. Gently press the poori, with slotted spoon. Poori should puff in 8-10 seconds. Flip and cook other side for 8-10 seconds or until both sides turn golden brown.
Serve hot with choice of raita and pickle.
Poori dough should be firmer than a regular roti or paratha dough. It takes a little muscle to roll a poori as the dough is not as free moving as a roti dough while rolling.
Use oil or ghee to grease the poori dough for an easy rolling. Try not to dust it with flour as dry flour will leave the poori in the oil when frying and can just leave the oil dirty and not fir for further use.
When rolling, cover the remaining dough (other than the ball you are rolling) with a damp cloth to keep it from drying.
India is a pretty big country. And diverse. So much so that you travel 50 miles in any direction and you will start noticing a change in language, culture, attire and of course the cuisine. The prime crop of the particular region would determine what the cuisine would look like. If you come from a region with soil rich for rice then you would mainly be eating rice and if a region grew lentils well then you can expect an array of dishes cooked with lentils coming out of the kitchens. And the language, culture and food played (and still does) such a deep role in people’s lives that back in the days people would even hesitate marrying a person far away from their region in fear of the huge adjustments one will have to make because of the differences.
Such a dilemma arose when my parents decided to get married. Papa from central India and Mummy from a region nestled in the eastern part of India. Although that did not stop them from coming together but my brother and I got lucky because we got exposed to two different sets of traditions, languages to a certain extent, at least the dialect and food.
Mummy having born and brought up in a city on the border of Bihar and Bengal, and having gone to a Bengali school, her cooking was very much influenced by Bengali cuisine. Lets just say that I have had my fair share of Macher Jhol and Panch Foran spices growing up. So when I found out that my friend Kankana is writing a cookbook, I was of course ecstatic. But when I learned that the book is on Bengali cuisine, it became much more personal to me, because much of this food was what I grew up eating. And there are several parts and pieces of this cuisine that I always craved to learn, how to cook. And what a great job Kankana has done to make that food approachable to many!
Another reason why this cookbook is special to me is because this is her first cookbook, her baby. And I feel like an aunt to that baby. I was there at every step of this baby, from the conception to development to its delivery. I have also seen how much heart and soul Kankana has put into it which by the way you will also see in every page of the book, when you hold it. It’s a stunner with Kankana’s foolproof recipes and masterful photography.
When the thought came of sharing something from the cookbook, I was clear in my mind what recipe I was going to share. This was one of the first recipes I tested for Kankana when she was writing the book. Then I also got to enjoy it again when she was shooting the cover and once I’d pick up a bowl of this dish, it was tough for me to put it down. AND I have shared my own experience of a Sunday Chicken Curry cooked by my Papa before. So I chose one of Kankana’s favorite from the book, and mine too- a recipe for Sunday Chicken Curry, her dad used to cook for them growing up. Robibar Er Murgi Jhol or just a Bengali name for Sunday Chicken Curry is a mildly spiced curry and soul warming comfort food in Bengali homes. I hope you love it as much I did it.
Oh, and funnest part for the end. I am giving away a copy of Kankana’s gorgeous cookbook on Bengali Cuisine- Taste of Eastern India, Delicious Authentic Bengali Meals you need to try.
All you gotta do you is tell us, in the comments section below, what is one of your favorite dishes to cook and share with your dad.
Entries open till Nov. 4th, 11:59 pm. One random winner will be announced on Nov. 5th. Open only for US residents.
Sunday Chicken Curry (Bengali Style)
The author calls this recipe Robibar Er Murgi Jhol or just a bengali name for Sunday Chicken Curry. Mildly spiced curry, ladled onto hot rice with a sprinkle of freshly squeezed lemon juice, she calls this simple dish one of her all-time favorite comfort food.
1 lb 500g bite-size chicken pieces (mix of bone-in and boneless, also skinless)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp 15ml lemon juice
1 tbsp 15g salt, divided
1 red onion
2 tbsp 30ml oil, divided
1 tsp sugar
3 green cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1- inch 3-cm cinnamon stick
1 tbsp 10g grated garlic
1 tbsp 8g grated ginger
1 cup 237 ml water
3 green chillies
1 tsp garam masala
Fresh cilantro leaves (for garnish)
Put the chicken pieces in a big mixing bowl. Add the cumin, coriander, chili powder, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt. Massage with your hands so the spices coat the pieces evenly. Cover the bowl and allow the chicken to marinate for a minimum of 4 hours. Letting it marinate overnight would make the flavor better.
Peel the potato and cut it into quarters. Set aside. Peel the onion. Slice three-fourths of the onion into thin slices and grate the remaining one-fourth of the onion.
When ready to prepare the chicken curry, place a heavy- bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon (15ml) of oil. When the oil heats up, add the potato. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. Stir and fry the potato until mildly golden in color, about 3 minutes. Remove the potato from the pan to a separate bowl and set aside.
To the same pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) of oil and the sugar. Allow the sugar to caramelize for a few seconds and then add the green cardamom, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Allow them to sizzle for a few seconds, then add garlic, ginger and grated onion. Stir and cook for 5 minutes, then ass the sliced onion. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons (8g) of salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric. Stir and allow the onion to cook and turn golden brown in color, about 5 minutes.
Add the marinated chicken, stir to combine everything evenly and cook for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add the fried potatoes, water and green chillies and cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Finally, sprinkle with the garam masala, stir and check for salt at this point. Add any if required. Cook for 2 minutes and turn off the heat.
Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, squeeze fresh lime juice on top and serve warm.
I would always smirk when people would say that you transform into a different person once you have a baby. The way you feel, the way you react to things, the way you talk. It all felt like an exaggeration to me. Well, until I had a baby!
Now I am not sure how much I have changed, for better or worse, after being a mother but I can assure you my taste buds have definitely taken a turn. So many flavors that I mostly stayed away from before I was pregnant with my first child, were suddenly all I’d crave for. As if a switch was flicked in my head and suddenly all the gulab jamuns, jalebis and biryanis in the world were not enough to satiate me.
That was the time when really Biryani and I became friends. Biryani, a Mughlai Indian rice dish, with its roots deep in the Persian cuisine, is prepared with rice, spices, herbs and meat or vegetables, layered and packed into a clay pot. Then sealed from all the sides the pot is placed on heat and cooked following a cooking method very traditional in India called “dum” which if translated literally, means pressure. Biryani is slow cooked for a prolonged period of time until the meat and the spices and the dry fruits get acquainted with the rice and with each other. This dish is a powerhouse of flavors and in Hyderabad, the Indian epicenter of Biryani, it is cooked more than a hundred ways.
When I thought of cooking something in Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi-Cooker, Mutton curry and Biryani were the two things that popped first in my head. These two recipes are two of my favorites but because they take so long to cook in a traditional way, I end up staying away from them. But because the Express Crock cooks 70% faster than the traditional ways of cooking, I am warming up to these dishes again!
I made a Pressure Cooker Veg Biryani which is loaded with healthy and hearty vegetables. I wanted to add some protein to the dish to make it a wholesome one pot meal, so added edamame seeds. You can also use soy chunks which are another great source of protein and go well with a biryani. I have simplified a traditional biryani recipe to make it easier, quicker (thanks to this multi-cooker’s brown/sauté and pressure cook settings!) and definitely delicious. To make it more appealing to a larger group of people, including my kids who are not huge fans of spicy food, I kept the spice a minimum and so you can also enjoy the inherent flavors of sweet veggies like carrots and cauliflower. I cooked this recipe in the 6-Quart Express Crock model, but depending on your family size, the Express Crock is now available in a 4-Quart and 8-Quart sizes
Pressure Cooker Veg Biryani:
Biryani is traditionally cooked for a prolonged period of under “dum” pressure in a sealed clay pot. With this Pressure Cooker Veg Biryani I have tried to give the traditional recipe a simple, quick and delicious twist. Something you can whip up in less than 30 minutes on a weekday too.
Basmati Rice- 1 cups
Edamame Seeds- 1/2 cup
Carrots- 1/2 cup (cut in 1-2 inch chunks)
Cauliflower florets- 1 cup
Red onion- 1/2 cup (chopped + 1/4 cup (thinly sliced))
Ghee- 1 tablespoon
Canola (or any cooking oil- 2 tablespoon)
Cinnamon Stick- 1 inch
Green Cardamom- 2-3 count
Cloves whole- 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds- 1/4 teaspoon (optional)
Garam Masala- 1 teaspoon
Golden Raisin- 2 tablespoon (optional)
Cashews- 8-10 count (optional)
Cilantro- 1/4 cup (chopped)
Water- 3 cups
Salt to taste
Wash rice 2-3 times in tap water. Set aside for 15-20 minutes.
In the meantime add ghee and canola oil to the Crock-Pot Express Multi-Cooker. Turn the multi-cooker on and set it to brown/sauté setting. As the ghee heats up (2-3 minutes), add golden raisin and cashews. Sauté for approx. 30sec.- 1 min. or until the raisins puff up. Fish the puffed raisins and golden cashews out and set aside for later.
In the same pot add sliced onion. Cook until brown and cryspy, 3-4 minutes. Fish brown onions out leaving the remaining ghee in the pot. Spread them on the paper towel.
Add cinnamon stick, cloves, cumin seeds and green cardamom to the same poy.. As they sputter, add chopped onion. Cook until golden, 8-10 minutes. Add salt and garam masala. Give it a quick stir.
Add veggies, rice and water. Close the lid and place the steam vent on lock position. Turn the pressure cooker to rice setting. The multi-cooker will tell you when the cooking process is over, approx. 12 minutes.
Once the food is cooked, multi-cooker automatically switches to “warm”. At this point, turn the steam vent to open position. Wait till the steam has escaped from the pressure cooker.
Garnish with golden raisins, cashews, brown sliced onion and cilantro. Serve hot with raita.
Disclaimer: This Pressure Cooker Veg Biryani post was a developed in partnership with the Crock-Pot® brand. All opinions in this post are, as always, my own.
This was in the summer of 2013 or 2014, I think it was in Las Vegas for Saveur Best Food Blog Awards when I first met Naz. This beautiful woman, dressed elegantly with her hair let loose, quiet but present. We were both nominated in the same category and that commonality broke the ice between us and then we hung out for the next two days, we were there, at the event and became good friends in the years that followed. Her love and curiosity for food, words and everything around her is so infectious. And I have to tell you, to know Naz is to love her.
Fast forward four years and nothing has changed in her. The same warm and curious person, standing quietly in the corner of a very loud room stuffed with people, 4 years back. Only that person has written a book now. That too a stunning one, just like her.
All the warm tones in the photographs with popping colors here and there, just like Naz’s personality. All the heartfelt stories in the book about her heritage, her history and her present are so gripping, you can very well curl up on a couch with this “cookbook” for a quiet afternoon read. But my two favorites were, her dedication to her lovely daughters in the beginning and the truth she has put in all her recipes. Apart from being proud of the work she has put forward with her book, I was blown away by the quality of it. A job very well done, Naz! You will go places with this one.
It was tough for me to pick one recipe from the book as all of them look stunning and sound so tempting. But since I had to pick one, I went with this Orange Masghati. It sounded (and proved to be delightful) and at the same time, simple enough for someone like me who is not a proficient Persian cook. So beyond this, I will let the author do the talking herself. But you have got to check out Naz’s cookbook, Bottom of the Pot which also happens to be the name of her food blog. This one’s a keeper for sure!
We are giving away a copy of Bottom of the Pot. All you have to do is, drop a comment below and let us know what is your favorite Persian recipe.
Entries open till Oct. 21st. 11:59pm. On Oct. 22nd, a winner will be chosen randomly, who will receive a copy of Naz’s gorgeous memoir style cookbook.
Author’s Notes: Think of Masghati as a cross between Jell-O and panna cotta. It’s infinitely more refined that Jell-O, and it’s not as wobbly as panna cotta. This Orange Masghati is a riff on the more traditional rose- scented one. Play around and use any fruit juice you like (pomegranate juice is also very popular). Masghati is traditionally prepared with wheat starch, commonly used in Persian kitchens as thickener. Here, I’ve used cornstarch which is easier to find than wheat starch, and it works just as well. The amount of sugar you use depends on your taste buds and how sweet the orange juice is. Make Orange Masghati a few hours in advance, and serve chilled out of the fridge with a drizzle of raspberry sauce.
Orange Masghati is a riff on the more traditional rose- scented one. Play around and use any fruit juice you like (pomegranate juice is also very popular). Masghati is traditionally prepared with wheat starch, commonly used in Persian kitchens as thickener.
For the Masghati:
Butter for greasing the dish
3 cups no-pulp orange juice (divided)
6 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons sugar (or to taste; optional)
Chopped raw pistachios (optional)
For the Raspberry Sauce:
6 ounces raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup hot water
Lightly butter a rimmed 1-2 inch deep dish (a regular pie plate works well). Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of the orange juice with the cornstarch. Stir until completely smooth, without any lumps, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the rest of the orange juice (2 cups) and the sugar (if using) over medium- high heat, and bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar.
Give the cornstarch slurry a final stir to combine, and add it to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and start stirring immediately. Continue stirring until it starts to thicken and set, 5 minutes. Don’t go anywhere during this process (the cornstarch sets quickly and can burn(. You’ll know the mixture is ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon. You don;t want it to get too thick as it will keep setting as it cools. Remove from the heat and immediately pour into the prepared dish and smooth over. Set aside to cool at room temperature, and place in the fridge, uncovered, for 6 to 8 hours to fully set and chill.
Meanwhile, to make the sauce, set a few raspberries aside as garnish and place the rest along with the sugar and hot water in a blender. Blitz the raspberries until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, and store in the fridge until ready to use.
To serve, you can either run a butter knife around the rim of the dish and invert the masghati onto a serving platter or serve directly from the dish. Serve cold, topped with pistachios, the reserved raspberries, and a light drizzle of the raspberry sauce.
MAKE AHEAD: Masghati is best prepared up to 1 day in advance. It will keep, covered, in the fridge up to 3 days.
In India where a large group of people are vegetarian, which means not just meat or fish but also no poultry or even eggs, eggless baked goods are very common. So over generations chefs and home cooks have developed a whole range of cookies, tarts, pies and cakes using no eggs at all. One such cake from the childhood that is still etched in my mind is Malai Cake.
Traditionally a Malai cake uses just Malai a hindi name for heavy cream and mixed with sugar and nuts. Whipped until light and baked into a cake. And the flavors are just out of the world! Light, airy, smooth and ever so delicate. But then slowly cooks started building on that recipe which honestly asks for years of practice and finesse. As a result, this cake of my childhood was born!
And then I took THAT childhood cake of mine and played with it a little more. This time using one of my favorite new appliances, the Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi-Cooker. This is a multi-use cooker that doesn’t just slow cook but can also be used as a pressure cooker (behold all my chicken curry recipes!), steams, browns and sautés food. But what caught my eye was the “dessert” button and so I had to put it to test. And what better recipe than my tried and tested Malai Cake recipe?
The texture was definitely different from a typical oven baked cake and understandably so because of the use of steam in the pressure cooker. But the cake was moist and light (lighter than when I bake it in the oven). I tried several methods to cook the cake in the multi-cooker. With the cake pan covered and uncovered. With the steam vent open and shut. Several different settings. But figured the best to make the cake light and airy, was to cook it uncovered, with the steam release vent open until all the water escapes the multi-cooker and making the cake rise properly in the process. Turning the heat off and letting the cake finish off cooking in pressure towards the end, helps the cake through.
I served the cake with a side of Orange Whipped Cream or you can just try a simple vanilla ice cream. I used the 6-Quart version for this recipe, but the Crock-Pot Express Crock-Multi Cookers are now also available in a 4-Quart and 8-Quart model. My favorite part is pressure cooking can cook meals up to 70% faster!
Eggless Pressure Cooker Cake
A play on a traditional Indian recipe called Malai Cake, this eggless pressure cooker cake is vegetarian version of a sponge cake. Other than being completely vegetarian this recipe also uses a pressure cooker to make the cake instead of the traditional use of an oven.
All purpose flour- 1 cup
Granulated Sugar- 1/2 cup
Vanilla Custard Powder- 2 tablespoon
Baking Soda- 1/2 teaspoon
Baking Powder- 1 teaspoon
Salt- 1 pinch
Malai (Heavy Whipping Cream- 1/2 cup)
Milk- 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder- 1/2 teaspoon
Chopped nuts- 1/4 cup (almonds or walnuts go best)
Raisins- 1/4 cup
Oil spray or butter or canola oil to grease the cake pan
Water- 2 1/2 cups
Bring all the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add sugar. Using a whisk or an electric mixer beat liquid until the sugar dissolves.
Sift remaining dry ingredients and add to the bowl with wet ingredients. Whisk it all together well, to combine. Make sure there are not lumps in the batter.
Grease a 9 inch springform pan with either oil spray or butter or canola oil. Transfer cake batter into the springform pan.
Add 2 1/2cups of water to the New Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi-Cooker. Place steaming rack into the pan. Transfer springform pan into the multi-cooker and place it on top of the steaming rack. Put the multicooker lid in place and make sure its locked. Turn the steam vent to OPEN. Select “Dessert” setting and increase the time to 25 minutes. Press START.
Now this stage is crucial because it can also get confusing. Display on the multi-cooker will show HEAT but will not show how much time has passed as the cake is cooking because the steam vent is open. But cook the cake as long as the steam is coming off, which is about 25 minutes +- 1 minute.
Once the steam stops escaping from the vent, press STOP. Replace the vent to sealed position. Leave it that way for 5-8 minutes. This step is equally important because its necessary to finish off the cooking process.
Release pressure from the pressure cooker. Open the lid. Carefully pull the springform pan out of the multi-cooker. Let the cake cool down completely before taking it out of the springform pan. Run a butter knife around the edges and take the cake out of the pan.
It’s that time of the year again. The time to kickstart the celebrations, which for us, will now go till pretty much the end of the year and even to the beginning of next. Can’t believe we are almost so close to the end of the year and the talks of it have begun! Its time to start rounding things up that you have gathered overtime and get into a full on deep cleaning of the house. The calendars have already been booked for weeks and months from now with one celebration scheduled after the other. Garba (a form of dance party people plan around this time of the year) planned for one weekend then Kanya Pooja on the next. Yes, Navratri is here!
Nine days of Maa and nine days of celebrations! One of my favorite times of the year. If you wanna know more about Navratri, I’ve written about it a couple times before too, here and here. I like everything about this festive time apart from the main reason that the little girls, goddesses are celebrated everyday of this nine day period. Its more laid back than other festivals like Diwali or Holi where you just go all out. Its extended over a course of few days which means little something everyday. And also the food, simpler, cleaner and satvik. And that is what I want to stress on today.
Satvik diet is the food based on the philosophies of Ayurveda. According to yoga literature food is divided into three categories based on their guna (quality). Tamasic, the food that have sedative qualities and reduces the energy of the body. Rajsic, food that is more of a stimulant that although increases the energy of the body but is harmful in long run. And the third is Satvik diet or the diet included food that are pure, clean, natural and vital for the enhancement of the body and also effects the mind and soul. And during Navratri this is the diet that is commonly practiced which in return is believed to aid the cleansing of the body and soul.
So today on the first day of Navratri, I’m here to share one such dish called Sabudana Khichdi. This Sabudana Khichdi recipe mainly uses tapioca pearls which is hindi is called sabudana, a few very simple spices and herbs. One thing that many who do not know the dish deeply will find interesting is the use of rock salt, sendha namak in hindi. Use of rock salt instead of table salt is another common practice when cooking in fasting food. In addition to being Satvik dish, Sabudana Khichdi is also a popular street food in North India.
Sabudana Khichdi Recipe
This Sabudana Khichdi recipe mainly uses tapioca pearls which is hindi is called sabudana, a few very simple spices and herbs. In addition to being Satvik dish, Sabudana Khichdi is also a popular street food in North India.
tapioca pearls- 1 cup
Water- 2 cups
Ghee- 1 tablespoon
Cumin seeds- 1/2 teaspoon
Thai Green Chili- 1-2 (minced)
Potato (boiled- 1/2 cup (diced or crushed to small bite size chunks))
Rock Salt (powder- 3/4 teaspoon)
Lime or lemon juice- 1 tablespoon
Cilantro- 1/4 cup (chopped)
Peanuts (roasted and coarsely crushed – 1/4 cup (optional))
Transfer tapioca pearls in a medium sized bowl. Add water to it. Soak tapioca in the water for at least an hour or until the tapioca pearls puff up to double its size.
Heat ghee in a wok or sauté pan. Add cumin seeds and chili. As they sputter and sizzle add potatoes. Give it a quick toss and add salt. Mix well.
Add puffed tapioca pearls to the pan. Turn off the heat. Give it a good toss to mix everything together.
Throw in the rest of the ingredients into the pan. Give everything a gentle toss. Serve warm.
This recipe was long overdue! For weeks, months and even years, to be honest. Because this particular dish holds a special place in our household. You know how there are some things that a particular person does so well that sometimes you don’t even try your hands on it just to keep its purity and sanctity intact. Gulab Jamun hold that place in our house hold. More so in the butterfly’s life.
In her eyes (to be honest in my eyes too), nothing can come close to the gulab jamuns that her grandma makes. And trust me, she is right. Maybe it has something to do with the use of homemade mawa (milk solids) which she makes laboring through hours in order to get the right consistency. Or the trick of kneading the mixture for a certain amount of time to make it smooth or the years of experience making them or just the right dose of plain love. I’m not sure what that is but they sure taste better than any other gulab jamun I’ve ever eaten and I have eaten a LOT of them!
So when it came to sharing a recipe for Gulab Jamun here on the blog, you can imagine the pressure of reciprocating those flavors that mumma bring with hers. The pressure what so huge that I told myself, “never mind… you can’t do it all!”. So I left it to a good opportunity whenever it arises, when I’ll be able to have mumma cook some for me and for Indian Simmer.
The opportunity came when I was in India a couple months back. Like every time she visits, this time as well when the butterfly was visiting her, her grandma decided to make gulab jamuns for her. This time I was ready with my notepad and camera. Jotted down all the minor details and shot everything, step by step. And as a result, there’s a Gulab Jamun recipe on this blog now! I might not be confident enough to say this for many other recipes on my blog but these are the best you’ll ever try!
For Gulab Jamun Balls:
Mawa (milk solids)- 250 gm. (room temperature. preferably fresh otherwise store bought is good enough.)
All Purpose Flour- 25 gm.
Cardamom powder- 1/2 teaspoon
Semolina- 1 tablespoon
Milk- 1-2 tablespoons
Sugar crystals- 12- 15 (optional)
Ghee- 1 1/2 cups (for deep frying)
For Chashni (simple syrup):
Sugar- 1 cup
Water- 1 cup
Cardamom powder- 1 teaspoon
For Gulab Jamun Balls:
In a large mixing bowl bring all the ingredients together. Hold on to the milk for now and use as required.
Using hand mash the mawa and mix the dry ingredients. Now a few teaspoons at a time add milk, just enough to make the kneading smooth. Knead the mix into a smooth dough making sure there are no lumps formed but at the same time the dough is not too loose either. Should be firm just enough to dig your finger in easily but smooth at the same time.
Divide the dough into equal portions, approximately 1 1/2 teaspoon each. Cover with a damp cloth to keep the dough from drying.
Now one portion at a time roll the dough into smooth balls. Flatten between your palms into a disc. Place one sugar crystal in the middle. Bring the corners together to roll into a smooth ball. Repeat the same for the whole dough. Cover with a damp cloth and get the chashni ready.
Bring sugar and water together in a saucepan. Bring it to a rolling boil. Turn down the heat. and let it thicken.
To check if the chashni is ready for gulab jamun, dip a spoon in the chashni. Let it cool to make it easy to touch. Now take couple drops of chashni between your thumb and index finger. Touch the finger and thumb, open and close to see if they a strand. If it makes just one strand then its right for gulab jamuns. If makes two strands then its probably too thick for the gulab jamuns. Note the step in the video above.Once the chashni is thick enough to make one strand then its ready. This is called “ek taar ki chashni” which just means single strand syrup in hindi.
Sprinkle cardamom. Set aside and drop the fried balls while the chashni is still hot to warm.
Bringing it all together:
Heat ghee in a wok. 5-7 balls at a time deep fry the gulab jamun balls until golden brown.
Once golden brown take them out of the wok and straight into the hot/warm chashni. Give them a quick swirl to coat all the gulab jamuns in chashni. Let them sit for at least 15-20 minute before serving warm.