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Cover: Some like it hot

May, 2012

29May 12

Palak Paneer

 

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer is a delightful spinach and cheese dish. In my opinion, there is just nothing that can compare to the combination of spinach and cheese. These two ingredients perfectly complement each other and bring out each other’s best qualities. Paneer cheese is the cheese used in this particular traditional Indian recipe. It can be found at your local Indian speciality foods shop.

I find this Palak Paneer recipe quite rich and creamy. However, the good news is that this dish is very easy to digest. Many people are under the mistaken impression that Indian food is always very rough on the intestines. While it may be true that if you eat spices you are not used to eating, you could possibly have difficulties digesting your meal, you must also keep in mind that many people find vegetables easier on the stomach than meats and fish. And this Palak Paneer recipe, which I learned from my mum, is entirely vegetarian.

Also, it is not very hot or spicy, which makes for light digestion. Palak Paneer is best served with naan bread or with basmati rice, making it a complete and filling meal. I often make this for dinner on chilly days as it is so filling. It will leave you full but not stuffed.

Vegetable Samosas make a tasty accompaniment to this spinach and cheese dish. (And for more spinach options, try this spinach and lentil soup.)

Palak Paneer
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Palak Paneer is a delightful spinach and cheese dish.
Ingredients
  • 1000g Spinach
  • 4 Onions, medium sized
  • 4 cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Green Chilli Peppers
  • 80ml Water
  • 7tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 400g Paneer cheese
  • Pinch of Salt to Taste
Instructions
  1. Bring water to the boil in a pot and add spinach. Cook until soft.
  2. Drain the spinach and put it in the blender. Blend well until it is puréed.
  3. Chop and sauté the onions.
  4. Finely chop the garlic and add it to the pan with the onions and stir.
  5. Chop the chilli peppers and add them to the pan.
  6. Add in the puréed spinach and the water and bring it to the boil.
  7. Lower the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Chop the paneer cheese into small cubes.
  9. Fry the cubes of paneer cheese until they are slightly browned.
  10. Slowly stir the paneer into the purée.

 

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19May 12

Low-fat Mango and Mint Lassi

Low-fat mango and mint lassiThis is a another deliciously refreshing lassi drink. You are probably thinking, “Jay! You have already shared a lassi recipe!” And, of course, you are right. However, this version is my low-fat mango and mint lassi is for those who are already preparing for bikini season.

This recipe is even healthier than the last because I include 2 mangos instead of just a few grams. It is made with low-fat yoghurt so that those of us who are watching our figures can enjoy a nice dessert without having to worry about the number of calories. I also replace the sugar with saccharin or other such sweeteners and the milk for skimmed milk.

I once served my friend a Thai green curry with chicken, and she started sweating. She was about to grab her glass of water, when I stopped her and made her this lassi. It immediately soothed her taste buds. I had to laugh because even though the dish was spicy, she kept digging in, all the while taking swigs of the lassi for a good balance. She learned that day why my family likes to have lassi after a spicy meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large fresh mangos, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 900ml low-fat plain yoghurt
  • 520ml skim milk
  • 4 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 8 teaspoons of saccharin

Preparation Method:

  1. Put the skim milk, low-fat yoghurt and mango into a blender and blend for 1 minute. The mango should already be well chopped so that you don’t have to blend for too long.
  2. Add the saccharin and blend for 1 minute.
  3. Add the mint and blend for 1 minute more.
  4. Add the crushed ice and blend for 30 seconds. You don’t want to blend for too long here because the ice is already crushed, and you don’t want the blender’s motor to end up heating up the ice. After all, this is supposed to be a cold, refreshing drink.
  5. Serve in a tall glass with a straw.

Takes: 15 minutes

Makes: 4 glasses

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14May 12

Sweet Gulab Jamoon

Sweet Gulab JamoonGulab Jamoon is a delicious Indian dessert. It consists of deep fried balls of dough, called jamoons, in a sugary syrup. Gulab Jamoon was served at all my cousins’ weddings. In fact, it is one of the most typical desserts served at traditional Indian weddings, and one of my very favourites of all sweets.

These days, gulab jamoon powder is internationally available, so it’s not difficult to find and pepare; however,  it takes a little more time compared to other desserts as it sometimes requires being dipped in sugar syrup for whole night. The texture resembles the liqueur syrup-saturated French cake Baba au Rhum.

They also remind me a bit of doughnuts. Speaking of, did you know that May 12th through May 19th is national doughnut week? Maybe you should try this recipe to celebrate!

The term gulab jamoon comes from Persia, and it means “rose water”, referring to its rosewater-scented syrup. This very tasty dessert is often eaten at important celebrations, like weddings, but also commonly enjoyed at Diwali (the Indian festival of light) and the Muslim celebrations of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

There are lots of varieties when it comes to gulab jamoon, and each one has its one appearance and special taste. You can eat them cold, but our favourite way to enjoy gulab jamoon is to warm them a bit before serving. It adds another dimension to the dish;  it’s perfect for special occasions when you want something more exotic than cake.

I got this recipe from my aunt, who really knows how to make tasty sweets.

Sweet Gulab Jamoon
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Gulab Jamoon is a delicious Indian dessert.
Ingredients
  • 250ml Water
  • 250g Sugar
  • 500ml Khoya
  • 125g Flour
  • ¼tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 pinch of Saffron, crushed
  • ½tsp. Cardamom Powder
  • 125ml Milk
  • 900ml Vegetable Oil for deep frying
Instructions
  1. To make the syrup, combine the water and sugar in a large pot and let simmer while you are preparing the jamoons.
  2. To make the balls of dough, start by crumbling the khoya into a large bowl.
  3. Add in the flour and baking soda. Mix these ingredients together.
  4. Sprinkle in the pinch of crushed saffron and cardamom powder.
  5. Knead these ingredients to form dough. Slowly add in the milk as you are kneading. Only use as much milk as you need to make the dough soft. You might not need as much as 125ml.
  6. Take a small bit of dough in your hands and roll it into a perfectly round little ball. There should be enough to make 30 balls.
  7. Put these balls on a plate and cover them with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Let them sit for up to 10 minutes.
  8. Heat up the vegetable oil until it is very hot. (You may substitute ghee for vegetable oil). Then lower to the lowest flame.
  9. Slowly drop in the balls of dough. Be careful not to burn yourself. These balls will rise to the top of the oil. Let them fry until they are light brown.
  10. Remove the balls from the hot oil and leave them aside on a paper towel. Let the oil drain off them.
  11. Now add them to the syrup, which should be still simmering in the pot. Cover the pot and let simmer for 1 hour, then turn off the flame. My aunt then lets them soak in the syrup overnight. If you have time for this, it will give the balls a much sweeter flavour.
  12. Serve in a dish with plenty of syrup and perhaps a bit of icing sugar!

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09May 12

Malai Kofta

Malai KoftaMalai Kofta is a traditional dish and is the vegetarian alternative to meatballs. It is most often eaten on special occassions. The koftas are little fried potato dumplings in a rich, heavy gravy. (Sort of like my aloo bonda snacks, except those don’t have the delicious gravy.) Needless to say this is not a low-fat recipe!

An essential ingredient for Mailai Kofta is paneer, a fresh Indian cheese. It tastes a bit like cottage cheese, so you can substitute cottage cheese if you are not able to find paneer in your local Indian grocery store. But if you can find it, I strongly suggest you buy it. It is quite delicious and will give this recipe a more authentic taste.

Malai kofta is a delicious savoury dish of Moghlai origin; it is a north Indian speciality, and they go very well served with tasty Naan bread and/or basmati rice. There are lots of varieties; in fact, in Pakistan and Iran, koftas are usually made of beef and chicken, and in Bengal, a region of eastern India, koftas are made with prawns, fish, green bananas, cabbage, as well as minced goat meat.

Honestly, it’s not a short or easy recipe, but it’s all worth it in the end – trust me.

 

Malai Kofta
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Malai Kofta is a traditional vegetarian dish.
Ingredients
  • 8 medium Potatoes
  • 140g Paneer
  • 50g green peas
  • 6 Green Chilli Peppers, finely chopped
  • 1tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1tsp Coriander Powder
  • ½tsp Cumin Powder
  • Pinch of Salt to taste
  • 2tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 8 Cardamom Seeds
  • 4cm of stick of Cinnamon
  • 8 Cloves
  • 150ml Cream
  • 200ml Whole Milk
  • 2tsp White Pepper Powder
  • 1tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 500 ml Water
Instructions
  1. Peel, boil and mash the potatoes. You can do this last step with a hand blender or with a potato masher.
  2. Mix half the paneer, green chilli peppers, ginger powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Add the mashed potatoes and mix.
  4. Oil your hands slightly. Now take a small ball of the mixture in your hands. Roll the ball so it is nice and round.
  5. Repeat this with the remaining mixture until you have about 12 round balls. Set the balls aside.
  6. Heat up the vegetable oil. Add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to the pan and roast them gently on a low flame.
  7. Remove the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves from the pan. Let them cool down a bit and then grind them with a mortar and pestle.
  8. Mix the cream, green peas, remaining paneer and milk together in a bowl to make a paste.
  9. Heat up the ghee in the same pan.
  10. Add the white pepper powder and turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds.
  11. Now add the paste and fry for 8 minutes.
  12. Add in the water and lower the flame.
  13. Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  14. Fill a pan with vegetable oil and heat it on a high flame until there are bubbles.
  15. Gently add in the koftas and deep fry them until they are golden brown.
  16. Remove them and serve with the gravy.

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07May 12

Simple Sev Snacks

Simple Sev SnacksSev are crispy, deep-fried Indian snacks. I remember coming home from school as a little girl, looking for an afternoon snack, and munching on sev; it is what I would call comfort food. I do have to give a quick warning, though— it is not exactly low on calories! As it is deep fried, be sure to munch on just enough to enjoy, but do not overdo it.

To prepare this recipe, you will need a sev maker, also known as a sev press. This cooking device can be bought at any Indian food store. Sev makers are a bit like pasta makers. However, they are much smaller and can be lifted up and held over a pot or a pan. (For a chocolaty snack, try this chocolate tiffin. It’s not Indian food, but it’s yummy!)

Ingredients:

  • 360g whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. red chilli powder
  • 4 pinches of asafoetida
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Pinch of salt to taste
  • 240ml water
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying the sev

Preparation Method:

  1. Place the whole-wheat flour in a bowl. This is a very distinctive type of flour that will give the sev the flavour you are going for.
  2. Add the red chilli powder to the flour. Blend these ingredients.
  3. Add the asafoetida  and turmeric powder to the mix.
  4. Throw in a pinch of salt.
  5. Remove from the bowl and place it on a board.
  6. Add the vegetable oil and water and slowly knead the dough. I have said this before, but I really do consider kneading dough to be good exercise. It will perhaps offset some of the calories from eating deep-fried snacks!
  7. Now grease the inside of the sev maker with oil.
  8. Put the ball of dough into the sev maker.
  9. Heat up the vegetable oil on medium heat in a deep-bottomed pan. When it is quite hot and you can see little bubbles forming in it, you are ready to deep-fry the sev.
  10. Hold the sev maker over the pan with the hot oil in it. Slowly turn the sev maker’s handle so that thin strings of pasta-like dough come out. They should fall gently into the pan.
  11. Let the sev fry lightly.
  12. Remove the sev from the hot oil and drain it. You do not want to eat all that oil, so let a lot of it drain off.
  13. Allow the sev to cool and become crunchy before snacking on it.

 

Makes: 360g of sev

Takes: 45 minutes

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01May 12

Malai Kulfi (Pistachio and Almond Ice Cream)

Malai KulfiKulfi is a dessert that most of us are familiar with if we’ve eaten out at a few Indian restaurants. I’m sure that you’ll agree, however, once you’ve tried and tested this Malai Kulfi recipe, that nothing beats making it fresh at home – it’s much more aromatic and definitely creamier when home-made!

Lots of Indian desserts combine milk and cardamon, and this recipe is no exception. The play of the sweetness of condensed milk with the fragrance of the cardamon seeds is surprising to some, a taste to acquire for others, and simply delightful to most. Mango and rose Kulfi are also very tasty.

Kulfi is often described as ice cream because this is the closest way to express what the dish looks and tastes like, but in fact Kulfi is denser in texture and takes longer to melt than traditional British ice-creams, which are usually whipped. (Try this homemade strawberry ice-cream.) Kulfi tends to have a richer flavour too.

Ingredients
• 205g evaporated milk
• 150g condensed milk
• 150ml whipping cream
• 2 drops of vanilla essence
• Pinch of ground cardamon
• 12g ground almonds
• 12g ground pistachio nuts and a few left whole for decoration

Preparation Method
1. In a large pan, pour in the 2 types of milk and the cream. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes by which time the consistency of the contents should have thickened and the quantity reduced.
2. Add the vanilla extract and the cardamon powder. Stir, remove from the heat, and allow to cool.
3. Once the mixture is cool, stir in the ground nuts.
4. Pour into 4 x 100ml freezer-proof moulds and freeze for 8 hours. If you don’t have any moulds handy, you can use cleaned-out yoghurt pots which work just as well.

When you are ready to serve the Malai Kulfi, take the moulds out of the freezer and run a little warm water over them to loosen the contents. Serve in a pretty bowl with a few whole pistachio nuts sprinkled on the top.

Takes: 5 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to cook
Makes: 4 servings

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