Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stuffed Parval

 I usually cook parwal as a simple stir fry sliced thinly along with potatoes. For a change this time I tried to make stuffed parwal and it was quite successful. The list of ingredients below may seem intimidating but not hard to find in an Indian pantry.  A typical Indian spice box (masala dabba) has anywhere from 6-9 spices - like cumin/coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric, mustard, fennel and cumin seeds, hing etc. Regionally the spices may differ and  one spice may be more dominant from the other. My spice box usually has the above mentioned spices in addition to whole spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, black pepper, star anise and cardamom. I love spicy food and therefore I enjoyed making and eating this dish that has lot of spices from the masala dabba and some more!


 250 gms fresh parval (pointed gourd)

 For the stuffing
1 boiled potato
2 teaspoons red chili powder
2 tablespoons coriander powder
2 tablespoons dry mango powder (amchur)
1/2 teaspoon (good quality) hing
1 teaspoon fennel seed powder (saunf)
2 tablespoons sev bhujia (optional) I used Haldiram's spicy bhujia
2 tablespoons coarsely ground roasted peanut powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon kala namak
1 teaspoon black pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin and fennel seeds
salt to taste

For the dry gravy
a pinch of hing
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 medium sized red onion sliced
1 tomato chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, made into paste
2-3 whole green chilies
5-6 curry patta (leaves)
1 teaspoon coriander powder, pinch of turmeric and red chili powder
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
chopped cilantro leaves for garnishing


Wash the parval. Trim the end and cut into halves. Scoop out the flesh from from both the halves and keep it in a bowl to use for filling. Steam the halved parval for about 5 minutes or till the outer skin is soft.

Mash the boiled potato and mix it with the scooped parval. Add all the spices listed for stuffing. Mix well and fill in the steamed parval halves.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan.  Add the cumin and mustard seeds. Once the seeds splutter add hing, sliced onion, whole green chillies and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes then add the tomatoes, turmeric powder, coriander powder, salt and sugar. Gently place the stuffed parval in the pan. Cover and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes. The onion should caramelize and the parval will get slightly browned. A little water can be sprinkled if needed. Carefully turn them over to cook from the other side. Cover for another 5-7 minutes. Check to see if it has desired softness or let it cook for a little more time. I like to cook with the lid open towards the end just to evaporate some moisture and  get a slight crunch. Before serving garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and sev bhujia. Serve with chapati or rice.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Palak Dal Fry (Lentils with Spinach)

Dal fry is something I like to make often. But the regular-everyday version is made with oil instead of ghee and does not have a tadka (tempering) twice. Dal fry is not really fried or unhealthy. We can make it richer by increasing the amount of oil or ghee used in it.  I like to add vegetables to the dal which makes it  a complete meal. Here I have added chopped spinach along with the usual onion and tomatoes that go in it. Serve it with steaming hot rice and some more ghee on top.


1 cup toor dal
1/4 cup chana dal
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
5-6 curry leaves
1 medium sized onion (sliced)
4-5 garlic cloves (make a paste)
1 tomato (chopped)
3-4 dry red chillies or sliced green chillies
1 cup tightly packed fresh spinach leaves
pinch of garam masala (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon/lime juice
1 tablespoon oil 
salt according to taste

For second tadka
2 teaspoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
a few methi seeds (fenugreek)
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing powder)


Wash and soak both the dals together for half an hour. Boil or pressure cook the dal with enough water, salt and turmeric powder till done. It should not become completely mushy. Keep it aside. Heat a pan with oil and fry the onion till golden. (keep some onions aside if desired for garnish later. Add the curry leaves and and garlic paste. Fry till the raw smell of garlic goes away. Add a pinch of garam masala powder and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Now add the chopped spinach leaves. Mix well and pour the cooked dal over it. Stir well.
To prepare the second tempering (tadka) heat ghee and add methi, mustard and cumin seeds. As soon as the seeds splutter add hing and dry red or green chillies and the red chilli powder. Immediately pour this over the dal and cover. Keep it covered for a while. Just before serving squeeze the juice of a lemon and mix.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Guava and Lady Apple Salad

This salad is pure simple joy for me. There is nothing spectacular or fancy in it but I love it! I love eating guavas sprinkled with some salt and red chili powder. These are often sold on the streets in India when guavas are in season......tucked in an old newspaper sprinkled with salt and some other spices. I paired the guavas with lady apples -  not to be confused with crab apples or lady pink apples. These are very small in size and have a unique flavor which is slightly sweet and tart. Any other tart apple would taste good too. And even if there are no apples it does not matter as the star here is guava.


1 guava (should not be over ripe)
2-3 lady apples
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder


Wash and dry the fruits. Cut the guava in half and scoop out the hard seeds with a spoon. Chop the the guava and apples. Sprinkle with salt and red chili powder. Mix and enjoy!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tandoori Tawa Masala Aloo (Potatoes with Tandoori Spices)

This is a quick and easy potato dish.These potatoes laced with tangy tomato paste, thick yogurt, garlic and spices are delicious and make for a great  side dish. I even make sandwiches  using the leftover vegetable filled inside a crusty bread or fill them up in a pita pocket with hummus for a quick dinner. The marinade can be used for other other tandoori flavored dishes like paneer, cauliflower, and mushrooms. It is simple and (almost) healthy.


5-6 medium sized potatoes boiled and chopped into big chunks or 10-12 red baby potatoes boiled and halved

For the marinade
5-large cloves of garlic grated
1/4 cup thick Greek yogurt
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons coriander cumin powder
2 teaspoons red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons fennel powder
1 teaspoon black pepper powder
2 teaspoons tandoori masala or garam masala
salt to taste

For tempering
1/2 teaspoon each of mustard, cumin and fennel seeds, kalonji pinch of hing, 2 slit green chillies and 5-6 curry leaves

One tablespoon olive oil and one teaspoon ghee for cooking


Mix all the ingredients of the marinade in a large bowl. Add the boiled potatoes in it. Mix well and let it sit for about half and hour. Heat a non stick pan and add oil and a teaspoon of ghee to it. Once it heats up add the mustard, cumin, fennel seeds and kalonji. Cover the pan as the seeds will splutter. Add the green chillies, curry leaves and hing. Now  slide the potatoes in the pan. Let the potatoes get slightly brown on the edges and the raw smell of spices disappear. Just before serving garnish with cilantro.