Thursday, June 30, 2011

Aloo Matar Paratha (Stuffed Potato and Green Peas pancakes) for Journey Kitchen

I told you there will be quite a few guest posts in the next couple weeks. Posts that were due for a long time. So today I am here with another recipe that I made for Kulsum from Journey Kitchen.
You remember your first friend when you went to school or the first person you shared your lunch with in college or the first person who came up to your cubicle (or a table in the corner of a room in my case) and welcomed you on your first day at work? The person who made you feel that its okay to be nervous when you are new and you will do just fine?

Kulsum was one such person to me when I stepped into the blogging world. I was new and unsure of what I was doing. I think so was she and maybe that was the reason we hit it off the first time we spoke (or chatted? or tweeted? or exchanged emails? Okay! I don’t remember what happened first but it was one of the above!). We both shared the same roots back in the same country, loved to talk and were eager to learn. It has been almost an year (or maybe more) since I know Kulsum and she has come a long way with her blog ever since. Without even seeing each other face to face we have become friends so when she asked me to guest post for her it was exciting for me. Thanks Kulsum for letting me hijack your space for a day!

Kulsum wanted me to cook something Indian. Something very simple and yet comforting. Something that can take a lot of us Indians back home and still be easy for everyone to cook. And she wanted to share a breakfast recipe. What can be more comforting and easy breakfast recipe for Indians than a hot paratha fresh off the griddle? So I decided to make some Aloo Matar Paratha (Potato and green peas stuffed pancakes).

Now parathas are Indian pan fried flat breads and when you stuff them with any stuffing then they are called bharwa paratha (stuffed flatbreads). I am all about making Indian food approachable and sexy. And this recipe asks for some very simple and easily accessible ingredients. Fry onion with some very basic spices like cumin and coriander powder, add some heat with chili and mix it all with potatoes and peas. Even then if you can’t find anything just grab some potatoes and green peas, boil them, salt them and stuff it in your parathas and still your parathas (pancakes) with taste amazing! If you can then please fry them in ghee (clarified butter) because only then you can smell that comfort and feel that warmth that mom’s parathas give. But if you can’t find ghee or want to stay on the healthier side just use olive oil or vegetable oil as you like.

To see a step by step photo of how to make a stuffed paratha please click on the link below. And for a detailed recipe head over to Kulsum's gorgeous blog. While you are there don't forget to check out recipe for Masala Chai. I remember a lot of those emails asking me for one. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Chicken Vindaloo- Guest Post for Steamy Kitchen

You must have noticed there's a little less action on Indian Simmer lately. Not so frequent posts and a little less recipes but trust me a lot is going on behind the scenes. I have been working on some projects and also cooking food requested by some friends from the blogging world. Friends who have been patiently putting up with me for weeks and months. And friends who have honored me by offering a space in their gorgeous websites to guest post. A few weeks back one such email came from someone with the email address jaden at and it said will you “guest post for me?” My first reaction was to check whether that was really written to me. Why?  Because never in my wildest dreams would I expect that JADEN from STEAMY KITCHEN would ask little me to guest post on her blog. And even when I found out that it was actually Jaden, I was in complete disbelief! Just like millions of other bloggers and food lovers, I have always been inspired by Jaden. It is an honor to be featured on Steamy Kitchen!

When asked about what I should be cooking for her, Jaden said she loves Chicken Vindaloo and would love to share its recipe with her readers. So Chicken Vindaloo it is! It is a dish which, if not most popular, must be one of the most popular Indian dishes in the world. Vindaloo is a popular curry that hails from a tiny little state of Goa in India. Portuguese had their colony in Goa for decades and so the state has a great influence from Portuguese culture. It is believed that the name Vindaloo was also derived from Portuguese dish where “vinho” means wine and “alhos” is garlic. Usually the recipe asks for pork and wine along with garlic. In course of time Vindaloo evolved and cooks started making it with chicken or lamb and wine was substituted with vinegar.


I am sure you will always notice that the Chicken Vindaloos served in restaurants have potatoes in them. Aloo in hindi means potatoes and since Vind- aloo has aloo in it, I assumed that potatoes are a must in the dish. But after doing a little bit of a research I found that potatoes are not really an essential ingredient. A traditional Vindaloo just asks for meat, garlic, wine or vinegar and lots of chilies in it. So the potatoes you see in the Vindaloo they serve at your favorite Indian restaurant are probably because they either want to make the gravy thicker or increase the volume but definitely not because the recipe asks for it!

Chilli in a jar

Most important part of a Vindaloo masala (spice mix) is the chilies in it. The dish is mostly fiery hot because Vindaloo masala is a chili based preparation and that is where it gets all its flavors. In my recipe I used the dry whole red chilies found at Indian markets. You can make it milder to your taste and use Kasmiri Mirch (a mild form of red chili). This will help make the curry red and pretty but still not very hot.

Now to check out my recipe for an easy and perfect Chicken Vindaloo please head over to Jaden's Steamy Kitchen

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberry POM Chutney

In the past few weeks a lot of things slipped off my mind. It slipped off my mind that I had to attend parties and respond to invites that were sent my way. It slipped off my mind that there are a few deadlines I need to meet. It slipped off my mind that when people write emails they expect a reply back AND it slipped off my mind that there was a lot of POM juice sitting in the back of my refrigerator! Nice people at POM Wonderful were gracious enough to send me a big box of POM juice to try. Well, my whole family is a huge fan of its sweet and tangy flavor and the fact that its 100% Pomegranate juice with no added sugar makes it perfect for me. So thank you "nice people at POM Wonderful" for being so gracious!

Not before we started packing that we realized how many things were in the house that escaped our eyes. Those bottles of POM juice were one of them! I panicked because I had to use them to their last drop and I did not have enough time. So apart from making some sorbet and pomegranate molasses I made use of a ton of strawberries from the berry picking we went a few days back. I thought I will try this chutney recipe that my mom makes using raw mangoes with jaggery and panch foran (five spice mix). Only I made mine with strawberries and added pomegranate juice for tartness.

I somehow assumed that every Indian cook must know about panch foran. But the more I spoke with people, the more I realized that it was not as common in all parts of India as I thought it to be. Panch foran is a mix of five whole spices in equal parts - black mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, ajwain seeds and nigella. You can use it as a tempering while making stir fried vegetables (eggplants taste best when stir fried with it). You can coarsely crush them and rub it on your meat before grilling or you can make some out of the world chutney with it! So much can be done with these five spices that I think I will do a post on it soon (I promise!).

For this particular mango chutney, my mom uses jaggery which is an unrefined form of sugar cane sugar. Its WAY better for your health than sugar but if you can't find it easily you can use sucanat or dark brown sugar. If nothing, then use just plain old white sugar that you have in your kitchen. My point is don't run to the grocery store if you don't have jaggery. So here's the recipe for my Strawberry POM chutney using panch foran.


1lb hulled strawberries
1/3 cup POM juice
1/2 cup jaggery or packed brown sugar OR 1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp panch foran (spice mix)
2 tsp oil (olive oil or vegetable oil)


Heat oil in a thick bottom saucepan. Add panch foran in it.
Once it starts to pop add strawberries a in it and stir it once. Then add POM juice. Mix it all together and turn the heat to medium and bring the mixture to boil.
As soon as it starts boiling, turn the heat to low and stir in jaggery/brown sugar/sugar.
Keep stirring until the sugar dissolves. Gently boil until the strawberries are clear and thick.
To test if your chutney is done, take some in the back of your spoon and let it stay out in the air for about 10-15 minutes then run a finger through it. If it wrinkles then its done.
Turn off the heat and let it cool.
Although I have never done it before, I am sure you can "can" and store this chutney in your refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
I asked my friends if they can help with their trusted source for canning and one name kept that popping was Food In Jars. And I agree with them! If you want to learn anything about food in jars or canning visit this blog.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Indian Simmer in your kitchen- Part 1

Another promise that I made to you and myself a while back but circumstances didn't allow me to take it forward. Indian Simmer in your kitchen was an idea that came into my mind and I shared it with you in this post when we celebrated its first blog anniversary. Your emails about how you tried the recipes on this blog and how you liked it always brought a smile on my face. Sometimes even better you would take photos of the dish and send it to me, other times would blog about it. So I thought how about I share those photos or blog posts here in this series. But just like a few promises I made to myself and others in the past couple months I was not able to keep it. Although now slowly I am trying to mend that. Hence kick starting Indian Simmer in your kitchen to celebrate you and your love which has always been my biggest inspiration!
Dal Makhani and Homemade Naan by Pat & Shawn Davison

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (sort of!)

Somehow my photography series Wordless Wednesday has been getting neglected for a while now. Rather, as much as I wished, I have not been able to update Indian Simmer too and I am sure many of you have forgotten about it! So today after finally moving into our new place, I thought I would start what had been left behind, all over again. So I am sharing a few photos I took in the last few days. These past few days have been really hectic and filled with some ups and a few more downs!

As if it wasn't crazy enough, the little one fell off the chair and hurt herself. A run to the emergency room and a few more trips to the doctor and she is doing MUCH better than she did a week ago.

We moved into our new place and this was the first time I was seeing it (I know I trust my husband WAY too much!). But the place is nice and has tons of natural light. You know what that means to a food photographer/blogger, right?

We also managed to steal some time and went cherry picking with friends.
Kids loved eating cherries picked straight off the trees and we had our own little picnic in the farm.

And enjoyed some California sun and beauty!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

DMBLGiT May 2011 Winners

Packing, finding a house, working with a mover, throwing stuff you hung on to for years, power connection, internet, water...arghh! Nothing related to a move is pretty. So you can imagine how ugly my life must be right now. We left our old house a week back and have been living with friends until we move into our new place (most likely) today. Its great living here with friends because now there is no cleaning or fixing dinner, rather you get everything served on a platter. But nothing gets better than your own bed, a kitchen where you know what is where and a place you can call home. This is what's keeping us from having a schedule and me from cooking something that I can share with you. All your emails and tweets are helping me survive all this and assure me that its ok not to post for a little while to take care of other important things is life. Thanks so much for that and trust me I am missing you WAY more than you are!

So today I got an excuse to steal some time from my crazy schedule to come here. Today I have the results from last month's DMBLGiT event and I know a lot of you were waiting for this post. But before I announce the winners, can I just complain how difficult you made the lives of all five of us judges! All 73 of you. I was amazed at the emails pouring into my inbox with your photo entries. Every entry was gorgeous than the previous one and was it was indeed difficult to pick one in each category. But finally we agreed with each other and picked the following photographs which we loved the most.

Overall Winners:

 First Place: Fork Spoon Knife by Asha Pagdiwala (Nikon D5000, 50mm lens).

Second Place: U Try it by Amy Tong (Nikon D3, 18-200mm)

Third Place: 6 bittersweets by Xiaolu Hou (Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens)

Individual Category Winners:
These are the photos that scored highest points in the particular individual category:

 Edibility Category Winner: Food and Story by Asri (Nikon D700)

 Originality Category Winner: Just Home Made by Radhika (Nikon D90 / 18-105 mm)

Aesthetics Category Winner: Kathryn Grace Photography by Kathryn (Canon Rebel Xti with 50mm 1.8 lens).

Host's Award:
As the host of this month's contest I can choose one photograph that I loved so much but was not a winner in one of the categories. I have to admit there were two photos that made my job difficult. But I ended up picking this photo by Claude-Olivier Marti mostly because just by looking at the photo, I could immediately connect with the subject and knew what the accompanying story will be. Asparagus was the hero in the photo, light was lovely and I liked the depth of field.

1001 recettes by Claude-Olivier Marti (Nikon D300, Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG Macro).

Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks so much everyone who sent in their gorgeous entries and helped making this contest a success. If you want to participate in this month's contest then you might want to visit Charline Cuisine who is the host this month or contact Andrew if you want to learn more about hosting the contest yourself.
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