Palak Paneer-Saag Paneer Simpler version

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This is a simpler quick version unlike the traditional way.

1.In a pan with medium heat, add a Tbsp unsalted  butter. Once melted , add in 1 TSP crushed cumin seeds and 1 TSP crushed coriander seeds.

2. roast a little and  add in 2 split green chillies or 2 chopped serrano chilles.

3.Next add in 1 finely chopped onion and saute it until golden brown. Add in a TSP of Ginger-Garlic paste and saute until the raw smell fades.

4.Next add a whole bag of pre-washed spinach leaves and stir it in until the leaves wilt but still retain the bright green color. Sprinkle salt to taste. Allow this entire mixture to cool.

5.Meanwhile, take a block of store bought paneer and roughly cut into small bite sized pieces using your hands. (I like it to have rough edges than perfect cubes)

6.Place it in a bowl and add water just to cover the pieces. Microwave for 2 minutes. this process makes the paneer pieces soft and tender.(Alternatively , you can also place it in really hot water for a couple of minutes)

7.Come back to the cooled spinach mixture. In a blender, blend the entire mixture into a paste. The texture has to be grassy and not silky smooth. It is key to retain the texture. Also make sure the Cumin and coriander seeds are blended well.

8. FINAL STEP:

Now add a tbsp of butter into the same pan. Once it melts, add the ground spinach    mixture and stir in. Check for salt. Check for the consistency. if too thick, then add a little water to adjust. At this point add all the paneer pieces and mix it thoroughly until it gets coated in the green sauce. Once everything is mixed bring the entire mixture to a quick boil. turn off the heat. Finish with a drizzle of fresh cream.(alternatively, you can use thick smooth yogurt)

Enjoy with warm rotis or garlic naan.

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Mother’s day weekend: with a dish and a dash of love.

Good morning to you all wonderful people on this bright Tuesday morning from the beautiful city of Boston. Cambridge actually.

It was the Mother’s day weekend 2 days ago. A beautiful day to celebrate Moms all over the world.

I do not really believe in Mother’s day. I am not sure if it is really necessary. It was never in our culture back home to dedicate one day to Mothers and celebrate it formally. Back home, the status of a mother is supposed to be so much more higher and larger than just being a mother. Traditionally, culturally and religiously mothers have been described as the “visible God”. Our history and mythological stories have great examples and anecdotes about the greatness and the value of a mother in ones life. It is often quoted that ” Since God cannot be present at every place at the same time, He created Mothers”.

So our regard and respect towards our mothers has to be shown through our actions in everyday life. It has to be a part and our way of life to express love, admiration, respect and regard for her every single day.

But having said that, in reality what we see is that , mothers are humans. they are real. They are emotionally strong and emotionally weak. They make mistakes, they work hard, they work their way out, they have their moments, they laugh, they cry, they give love, they do what is best for their child.

So today, due to global impact, Mother’s day is being celebrated around the globe in much enthusiasm. Which is great. It does feel nice to be acknowledged, one way or the other 🙂

It has been 4 years in my journey as a mother. Been great so far. I cannot talk much experience. As my older one grows everyday I am calibrating myself every step of the way in communicating and interacting with her and trying to show her the best of me. There is no perfection. It is an experiment, an exciting one. It is highly demanding and a daunting task to be a Mother.

So,  to get a break from such task , we decided to celebrate our due of Mother’s day in our beautiful Boston Public Garden. It was less about Mother’s day and more about taking the kids out of the house to enjoy some Sun. I just love this place. The lush green just braces you and soothes your eyes. So refreshing,  so serene.

We had an early lunch,  a simple one, which you will see at the end of this post. We decided to leave home at noon and spend the whole afternoon out there. We took the train from across our street. I like the idea of how easy it is to get to Downtown Boston from our place. So we were there in about 20 minutes. We got off at Park street and just started walking across the Boston Commons and made our way into the Public garden. And wow, this Mother’s day thing was serious. we saw many many families scattered all over the grden and picnicking out there on the green lawns. Young moms, middle aged moms, old moms, grand moms ,all kinds of moms with their kids and husbands were out there celebrating the day  with great vigor.

Family pictures were being taken, with Moms in the center of course. We even saw a mom who was pleading his toddler son to join the family picture, since it was Mother’s day. The kid was running away from his family as far as he could. Guess he could not handle the stress of the day. His only interest was to get in line for the carousel ride 🙂

Every year, on Mother’s day there is a grand celebration held in the Public Garden. The celebrations are done through enacting the popular children’s book, Make way for ducklings, by the artists of the  Wheelock family theatre. Kids dress up in duckling costumes and go on a parade , there are balloon artists, face painting and whole lot of fun activities for the kids. Overall, a very festive air.

We skipped the actual celebration and decided to spend a much quieter and a slow paced afternoon with first a Carousel ride and then a Swan boat ride. Those two are the popular activities here in the summer.And rest of the afternoon we just spent walking around the garden, feeding the ducks in the pond, watching people around us, sat on the grass and just laid there feeling the fresh air and the lush green. All that greenness really calms you down .It is  very refreshing and reenrgizing.

Then we walked over the bridge, past the pond and headed back to the train via Charles street. The streets of Boston have the historical charm. They are peppered with vintage boutiques, icecream shops, gourmet stores, all in the narrow lanes and cobblestoned sidewalks of the streets. We made a quick stop at an Ice cream parlor for some chocolate and coffee almond fudge icrcream for my daughter and myself, the Mom:)

Finally we made it to the Train station and headed our way back home.

What a fresh day!

Now for the dish, A simple Bhindi/ okra stir fry:

What we need:

2 cups of okra cut into 1 inch thick

2 tomatoes chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp roasted cumin powder

1 tsp roasted coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala

2-3 red chillis

5-6 curry leaves

salt

2 -3 tbsp oil

Method:

In a wide pan, heat the oil and add cumin seeds. once the cumin splutters add the red chillis and curry leaves . Once the curry leaves splutters and red chillis become crisp, add the Okra and fry for about 10 minutes, until all the stickiness dissappears and the okra changes in color from bright green to a blackish green.

Next, add tomatoes and fry for few more minutes. Cover the pan with a lid and let the tomatoes cook until soft.

Add salt and rest of the spices one by one and stir the entire dish well with a spoon.

Turn off heat. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro and serve with Chapatis or Rotis.

Missal Masala Puri

Let me begin with a little introduction about Masala puri.

It belongs to the same family as sev puri, pani puri, chaat papdi, dahi puri etc.  it belongs to the “chaat family”.

It is popular and widely available in Bangalore and Mysore and surely  in other parts of Karnataka, in various eat outs, restaurants, chaat centers and at those corner side street carts.
Dimly lit by a lantern and people of all ages thronging around by late evening, the subtle aroma of the peas boiling wafting through the air, the  street side cart at the Vidyaranyapuram circle in Mysore was my favorite hangout spot during my high school / college days. 
         The Masala puri and pani puri combination here was to die for and the number of plates and the number of visits to this place has been countless. I could just drown in the Pani and the Masala here! 
 Our whole family were regulars here. my brothers, parents, cousins everyone.
 When I was engaged to be married, the first place I took my then would -be hubby was here! We also invited the Masala puri guy for our wedding! 
The Masala puri, which is our subject matter here , is a plate of crushed chaat papads, topped with crushed boiled potatoes , finely chopped tomatoes and onions and the very key item, which is the sauce , comprising of boiled green peas / white peas.

It is this sauce , which makes the Masala puri  the star that it is! What goes into this sauce, I have no clue. In Some  places the sauce is green and some places it is red. I have even tried to get the recipe from one of the street vendors for the sauce. He gave me some random names of spices like Garam masala, ginger, chilli powder etc, but he did not reveal the procedure or the exact recipe. He frankly said that if he gives out the recipe he would lose customers.  Ofcourse, there is something as trade secret!

So the recipe remains a mystery even today . Also Masala puri is not available in any of the restaurants here in the Usa. Pani puri and other chaats , yes, but Not M P. This makes us miss and crave for masala  puri like crazy. My husband and I even tried to make the sauce in our very own way, but the end result was nothing like the one available back home. 

Disappointed, we had learnt to live without Masala puri here in the USA, until recently and luckily our dear friends N and S introduced us to this very new (new for us) and authentic Marathi dish called the Missal. 

Its a super hot and super spicy gravy of spices and moth beans to be eaten with chopped onions, tomatoes and spicy mixture with a combination of pav

The very first time I tasted this Missal  I was super excited because  1.It was extremely spicy 2. It was delicious and 3. it was so so close in taste to that of the gravy of the Masala puri.

The moment My husband I tasted the missal at our friend’s place, we exchanged looks , which were the looks of a great discovery , the looks of great achievement ! 

And there we had it, the Missal Masala puri. Now, when ever we miss the Masala puri from back home, we have an immediate solution!
The Missal Masala puri.

What we need:

1 packet of Rasoi  magic Missal mix

1 finely chopped onion

1 finely chopped tomato
1 cup of boiled white peas

1 pack of chaat papad/ flat puris

1 small pack of very spicy mixture of your choice

salt, red chilli powder, lemon juice and cilantro finely chopped.

Method:

First make the Missal rassa according to the package instructions, which is very very simple.

Once the Missal is done you are steps away from enjoying the masala puri…ssslurp….

 1.In a  wide bowl, crush about 6 flat puris
2. Pour on top of the flat puris, the prepared missal gravy
3. top with finely chopped onions, boiled white peas and  tomatoes
4. Top it off  with the very spicy Indian mixture

Just before serving, sprinkle some salt, chilli powder and garnish with Cilantro.

It is so nostalgic. Brings back old memories, the place, the teen years, the laughs, the giggles…….drift away  back in time…..
Notes:
When you cook according to package instructions the sauce turns out very watery. So keep boiling for a few more extra minutes to reduce the water content
OR you can mash some boiled peas to thicken the sauce.
Variations:
If you have regular bread, its a great accompaniment with the sauce.
Add Onions and tomatoes as per your taste.

Cool Couscous salad

 
 
This salad is a result of wanting something very cool, very light, very healthy, very filling , less oily, and not Indian!

Ta daa ! couscous salad it is!
 
Of course,  I am not the founder of this recipe. This is an inspired recipe from various sources like food network, the food blogosphere, the Whole foods store and cooking websites. So many thanks to all these sources.
 
The final recipe and the dressing has been adapted to my taste.
 
 
What we need:

1/4 cup of Couscous

1/2 a cup of finely chopped parsley ( I have used both the flat leaf and the curly parsley)

1 Finely chopped onion
 
1 finely chopped cucumber( this depends on the size of the cucumber)
 
1 Finely chopped tomato
 
 
 
 

For the dressing:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp vinegar. ( I have used white vinegar)
salt to taste

Method:

Wash and cook the couscous and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl combine all the freshly chopped veggies. once the couscous is cooled, give it a nice fluff with a fork. add it to the bowl of veggies. Finally add the dressing and mix. refrigerate and serve chilled.

You will love the juicy, tangy vinaigrette and the fresh aroma of the parsley!