Friday, June 1, 2012

Halwa Poori Choley

For those of you who have never heard of this combination, let me tell you this Pakistani breakfast meal is perfect. And it need not be just breakfast, because I had this today for breakfast, lunch and tea time snack...and I am not tired of it yet :)
Nada loves blog surfing. She has her list of blog faves which she visits regularly. Fauzia's is her latest addition. Fauzia is not really a least not until recently. 2 ladies sharing the same first name, Fauzia, joined hands to create a Facebook page dedicated to their cooking. They add photos of food prepared by their fans too. About a week back, they opened up their blog here so non Facebook users can also visit them.

Nada read about halwa poori choley from Fauzia and has been asking me to prepare them ever since. Today I decided to surprise her. I woke up early in the morning around 6 o clock. Breakfast was ready by 8(yes,I am a very slow cook) and I am so glad I prepared this. I had doubled the recipe and thus had enough for lunch too :)
I think the best way to make this is to first knead the poori dough. While it is resting, prepare the choley. While the choley is cooking, fry the pooris. Lastly, prepare the halwa. Or tell your mother "It is time for breakfast. Can you prepare the halwa for me while I fry these pooris?" :P

For halwa:
recipe from my friend, Shireen

1 cup semolina
1/4 cup ghee
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
pinch of saffron, soaked in 1/4 cup cold milk

  • Roast semolina in a saucepan till you get a nice aroma and they brown slightly. Keep stirring to prevent it from burning
  • Add ghee and sugar. Stir until well mixed.
  • Add the water. It might look like you ave too much of water in there, but there is nothing to worry. The semolina will soak up all he water. You don't want kids around at this point as the water tends to bubble up and can burn.
  • Add cardamom and saffron milk. Mix well. Cover.
  • Once the halwa is cooked, switch off flame and leave it covered for 5 minutes.
For pooris:
recipe adapted from Fauzia
makes 15-18 pooris, depending upon size of pooris

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup atta
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp yoghurt
3 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
pinch of baking powder
warm water for kneading
oil for deep frying
  • Sift all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add the yoghurt and oil. Mix. Add water, little at a time, and knead well. 
  • Cover the kneaded dough and keep it aside for 20 minutes.
  • Make lime sized balls, the smaller the easier to puff. Roll them on a floured, just a little thicker than chapathis.
  • Heat oil. Keep it on medium flame. If the oil is too hot, the outsides might burn will the insides of the poori might remain undercooked. If the oil is not hot, the pooris will soak up too much of oil.
  • Put a pori into the oil and immediately splash hot water on the poori. If it does not puff completely, turn it and press the unpuffed area slightly with a slotted spoon. 
  • Once the poori has become brown on either sides, remove the poori and drain it on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining pooris.
  • If you have someone to help you, one person can roll the poori and the other person can fry the pooris at the same time. Mom helped me out here.
For choley:
Recipe adapted from Fauzia

4 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 spring curry leaves
1/4 tsp garlic paste or 1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp grated raw mango or 1 tsp amchoor powder
1 big tomato, chopped
1 green chilli, cut lengthwise
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 potatoes, cut into cubes
1 tsp roasted cumin seed powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
lemon juice, if required
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1 tbsp chopped mint leaves

  • Heat oil. Add cumin and mustard seeds.
  • When they splutter, add curry leaves, garlic,mango and tomatoes. Sprinkle salt. 
  • When the tomatoes are cooked, add turmeric, cumin and chilli powders, tomato paste and green chilli. Mix well.
  • Add chickpeas and potatoes, along with 1 cup water. Cover and simmer till the potatoes are cooked. 
  • Check the taste and adjust seasoning. Add lemon juice, salt or chilli powder as required.
  • Switch off flame. Add chopped leaves.Serve hot.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ghati Paneer

Woah! Finally exams are over and I can return to blogging with a fresh start. I have so much to blog about. But lets begin with this scrumptious paneer recipe.

I stumbled upon this recipe by Sanjeev Kapoor about 2 years back. It sounded so delicious, I prepared it on the same day. I clearly remember that day. I and Nada had a holiday. As usual she "pleaded" me to prepare something and after a lot of "No, I'm feeling lazy today"s, I decided to prepare this. Though the recipe seemed like a time consuming one, it came together in a jiffy. I quickly finished the photography session and then we decided that we would wait for our younger siblings to return from school before having our lunch. But waiting for two hours was not an easy thing, at least not with this ghati paneer. We ended up finishing up more than half of the curry before the kids came home. I could only be thankful that the elders in my house are not fond of paneer.

This curry is packed with flavors due to the goda masala, a spice mix prepared in Maharashtra. The goda masala recipe that I have included here is not the authentic version(sorry Maharashtrians, I could not find the ingredients) but it worked perfectly for me.

Ghati Paneer:

200 gms paneer, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 large potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
4 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 dried red chillies, broken into half
2 large onions, chopped
2 tsp garlic paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
2 large tomatoes, chopped
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon red chilly powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons goda masala(recipe included)
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  • Heat oil and deep fry patatoes till golden. Keep aside.
  • Heat four tablespoons oil in a kadhai.
  • Add onions. Sauté on medium heat.
  • When onions have browned add ginger and garlic pastes. Sauté for about half a minute.
  • Add tomatoes and salt. Lower the flame and cover the pan. Let the tomatoes cook for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add all the dry powders. Mix well.
  • Cover and cook for about six minutes or till oil separates.
  • Add the potatoes, paneer and coriander leaves. 
  • Mix, being careful not to break the brittle paneer.
  • Serve hot with parathas or chappatis. I had it with some lemon rice. 

Goda Masala:

1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
2 1/2 tsp white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp cloves
a small piece of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon green cardamom
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon oil

  • Heat oil and roast the spices till they turn dark in color. Keep stirring to avoid burning the spices.
  • Cool the spices and then grind them to a fine powder.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Star anise and cinnamon flavoured green tea

Life for a “board student”, a student studying in 12th grade, is like a roller coaster. What with all the running from one class to another, 7 days a week, the loads of assignments, homework, tests, exams and not to forget, the high expectations and pressure from your parents, teachers and loved ones. I hardly get any time to cook or blog, or even come online for 5 minutes in a day.

But I think it is during times like this that you learn to appreciate the small things in life. When you wake up wondering where the book and specs that you had slept on with was and then see it safely on your study table, you know that your mom cares for you. You become happy when you come to know that your test marks are highest among your friends’, not bothering to find out how much the real topper has scored.  The high expectations from your parents make you realize that they trust you and know your capabilities. 

Somehow, this also happens to be the year when we try to do something out of our comfort zone, like how I am trying to be a little naughty now. Enough of the “Miss good who never does anything wrong” image. I have learnt that a little talking and joking during classes  and bunking classes couldn’t hurt. And breaking rules, well, that really don’t sound like a major sin anymore J. So my motto for this academic year is “Enjoy the small moments in life and don’t worry about the consequences”.

We had a “cooking without fire” competition last week. To me at least, the rules sounded crazy. I mean, how can you cook anything without a stove, microwave oven, refrigerator or blender??
I managed to prepare this strawberry and honey salad, hummus sandwiches with tabouleh and chocolate pudding with a mint leaf. They were supposed to represent the green past, barren present and hopeful future. And to top it all, I prepared some truffles.

The results were announced yesterday. When I came to know that I hadn’t won, it hurt. Yes it did. But just for a moment. Coz when I knew that my best friend had won the first place, I was in cloud nine.

I think in all this craziness, it is hot beverages that keep me sane. I seem to have fallen in love with anything hot. And every beverage has its own time. Just before I start studying, I need some green tea. When I need something out of ordinary, I go for hot cocoa. When I am cramming at night, I need huge doses of coffee. And when I need to take a break and just rest with a novel, I go for this special green tea.

I got this idea from a book, Comfort Food. It is one of the best cookbooks I have owned. They have wonderful recipes and all of them shout “Comfort”. Do try to get your hand on a copy of the book.

Star anise and cinnamon flavoured green tea:
1 cup water
1 green tea bag
1 star anise
1 small bark cinnamon

Boil water with a cinnamon stick. Let it cool for 2 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and pour the water into a tea cup. Dip a tea bag and a star anise seed. Steep the tea bag for about a minute. Remove the tea bag and serve the tea with the star anise. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011


For those of you who are new to it, hummus is an Arabic dip which has been gaining popularity worldwide lately for its taste and nutrition. It is basically a paste of chickpeas and Tahini, which is sesame seed paste.

There are some foods that we never eat. We might have never tasted it,but the very sight of it tells you "There is no way you are going to eat it". For me, Humus was one such dish. No, there was nothing wrong with its presentation. Instead it was the way I used to see Nada eat it. Hummus is something that has been a regular on our dining table since my childhood. It was always served with Kubbus(Arabic bread), and sometimes, grilled chicken. And whenever it was served, Nada would plop a large blob of hummus onto her plate, dip her fingers into it and lick it like it were heaven. Ugh!! Disgusting. It was only about 4 years back, when Nada had learnt her table manners, that I decided to give this white paste a try. 
I remember that day very well. It was midnight. All my cousins were at home and we were awfully hungry. A raid in the fridge and Nada emerged with a packet of kubbus and a bowl of cold hummus. And man..was it good!! I couldn't believe what I had missed all those years. Though the dish is usually served at room temperature, I have always preferred it cold, just like how I had it that night.

Growing up in Qatar, Umma never prepared hummus. She never had to, since we get to buy it in every other restaurant there. It is said that we realize the value of something only when we lose it. And that is exactly what happened when we came down to India 11/2 years back. We began to crave for Arabic food, including hummus. Luckily, this recipe that I got from an extremely old Lipton cookbook(yeah..I know..I too am wondering as to why a tea company would publish such a recipe) came to my rescue.


2 cups cooked chickpeas* with 1/4 cup of the water it was cooked in
3-4 garlic cloves
5 tbsp olive oil and more for garnishing
2 tbsp tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
salt to taste

Grind all the ingredients to a thick grainy paste. Add chickpea water if it gets too thick. Check the taste and add lime or tahini if required. Garnish with of a squirt of olive oil and chickpeas. Serve with any flat bread, preferably kubbus.

*To cook chickpeas, soak the chickpeas overnight and pressure cook till you get the smell of cooked chickpeas- usually 3-4 whistles.