Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tofu makhani

I have been trying to perfect my makhani gravy which is used so often in Indian dishes offered in restuarants. Paneer makhani is one of the most popular vegetarian dishes. I recently went to a restaurant that had great reviews online Their website looked decent and boasted about their first restaurant which became very popular in Europe. I should have listened to my instincts about staying away from the likes of Maharajas and Heritage restaurants (but I did not). So we ended up going to this place. On the recommendation of our server we ordered a wide array of dishes, which included paneer makhani, dal makhani, navratan korma and hyderabadi baingan ka salan. Even though the decor and the look of the place felt decent it was eerily empty during lunch hour. I was expecting to see a buffet as it was a weekend lunch hour, but the server announced that they do not have buffets on a weekend! So then we ordered a la carte.  After waiting for more than twenty minutes the food arrived and it was awful! The baingan ka salan had a thin runny and tastless gravy which tasted of raw turmeric. The eggplant itself was not well cooked and tasted raw. The rest of the food just had a gravy of cream and tomatoes with no other flavor. I left feeling ripped off with a bad taste in my mouth. A few days later I decided to try making restaurant style makhani gravy at home, but without using copious amount of cream in it. Here is the recipe.

1 pack tofu cubed
2 cups chopped tomatoes (preferably roasted)
1/4 cup cashews soaked in water and ground to a paste
2 bay leaves
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp green cardamom powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp pepper
2-3 black cardamom
1 tsp tandoori masala or garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp kasoori methi
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp butter
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking

Heat some oil in a saucepan and add all the ingredients in it except honey and kasoori methi. Cover the saucepan and cook for at least 10 minites. Keep stirring till the gravy becomes thick (anohter 5-10 minutes).
Cool a little and transfer the mixture to a blender and puree it. Transfer the puree back to the saucepan and add the honey,  kasoori methi and butter. Saute the pieces of tofu in a non stick pan and add it to the prepared gravy. Serve with rice or roti

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Black lentil soup

A bowl of home cooked dal or lentils topped with generous amount of ghee or butter and juice of lemon can be so comforting and nourishing after a hard day's work. I love to  to cook all kinds of lentils as soups or dal. It can be eaten just plain boiled with rice or you can make it as elaborate as you like it, by adding whole spices and vegetables or tempering it with onions, garlic etc.. Left overs can be used to make a dough for rotis or paratha. One of my favorite lentils are the whole black lentils or kali masoor.

1 cup whole masoor dal
1 small onion
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 bay leaf
2-3 black cardamom
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 tomato chopped
1 tsp garam masala (optional)
1 Lemon (juiced)
1 tsp cumin seeds
Ghee or butter to cook


Boil the dal with carrots, turmeric powder, half the ginger garlic paste and bay leaf. I pressure cook the dal giving it about three whistles. It should be cooked but not too mushy. In a separate pan heat some ghee and add the cumin seeds and black cardamon. Add the onions and cook for about 3-5 minutes till  the onions turn golden brown. Now mix in the rest of the ginger garlic paste, tomatoes, garam masala, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well and cook for another 5 minutes. Now pour the dal over it and bring it to a boil once again. Taste for seasoning and add the lemon juice. Serve as soup topped with a little butter or it can be eaten the traditional way with rice or roti.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Creamy pasta salad with silken tofu dressing

The past few days have been really hot and humid here, with temperatures reaching  almost 100 degrees. I wanted to make something that would be light and refreshing for this weather. I had been planning to make a pasta salad for a long time and I had lots of vegetables at hand. So I decided to make this salad with lots of crunchy vegetables and a creamy soy dressing.



2 1/2 cups boiled pasta 
1 cup chopped vegetables 
red onions, orange, red, green bell peppers
1/2 cup boiled chickpeas
a few black olives
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup green and red apples (chopped)
1/2 cup sliced grapes
toasted walnuts and cranberries for garnish

For the dressing
3/4 cup plain unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup silken tofu
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp garlic, onion powder
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the pasta according to directions in salted water, drain and keep aside. Cut all the vegetables and mix them with the pasta in a bowl. Mix in the apples and grapes. Top with some toasted and candied walnuts and dry cranberries.
 Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a blender. Puree until it is smooth and creamy. Pour the dressing over the pasta and serve. Sometimes I like to crumble a little feta cheese on top to make it extra special.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pumpkin curry

I love to use pumpkin in soups raitas or even parathas. This curry is mildly sweet, spicy and savory. Topping it with creamy yogurt or coconut milk makes it even more delicious.


Chopped pumpkin (about 3 cups)
cloves 3-4
curry leaves
slit green chillies
dry red chillies
1 tbsp jaggery or sugar
turmeric powder
black salt 
Chopped cilantro for garnishing
coconut milk or whipped yogurt (1/2 cup)

Heat some oil in a pan and add the panch phoran, cloves, slit green chillies, dry red chillies and curry leaves. Once it starts spluttering add the pumpkin salt and turmeric powder. Stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Now add the powdered jaggery, a little black salt and cook till the pumpkin is done but not mushy. Garnish with cilantro. Before serving pour a little coconut milk or whipped yogurt on top. Serve hot with parathas.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grilled tofu with spicy barbecue sauce

I made this spicy barbecue sauce with Indian flavors to go with grilled slabs of tofu.

1 pack firm tofu (drained)
1 large sweet onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 tomatoes
half cup chopped cilantro
a few sprigs of fresh mint
3-4 jalapenos
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp store bought barbecue sauce
2 tsp curry powder or tandoori masala
turmeric powder
salt to taste
oil for cooking

Drain the tofu well and pat dry with a towel. Spray some oil on the slabs of tofu and grill till it gets nice grill marks on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.
For the sauce
Chop the onions, tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos and put them in a blender. Add the mint leaves and make a paste. Take some oil in a pan and add this paste along with the ketchup, barbecue sauce, salt, turmeric and curry powder. Cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes till the oil separates. Pour the sauce over the grilled tofu and serve.