Recipes: Potato Halwa

Happy Navratri! Today is the first day of the nine days that are spent in prayer, contemplation, and celebrating women.

Last year during Navratri, I wanted to make a different sweet each day as an offering to the Goddess. One of the days, when I didn’t know what to make and had some boiled potatoes and sweet potatoes in the fridge, I made this recipe which I found online. Usually only made from potatoes, I added sweet potatoes to the mix and the result was a super delicious halwa, which nobody could believe was made from potatoes!

This recipe is slightly heavier during the summer months because of the carb and starch content in the potatoes and so is apt for winters. Also, because it is heavy, you can make it if you are fasting as potatoes are the quintessential fasting vegetable.

Potato Halwa

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, boiled, peeled, and mashed
  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato, boiled, peeled, and mashed
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1/3 to ½ cup sugar according to taste
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • A generous pinch of saffron
  • 2 tbsp chopped mixed nuts like cashews, almonds, and pistachios
  • 1 tsp raisins

Method:

  • Take the saffron in a small bowl and add 1 tbsp warm milk to it let the saffron dissolve. You may need to stir it a bit or even cook it in the microwave in 30-second increments.
  • In a small pan, with 1 tsp ghee, fry the mixed nuts and raisins and keep aside. You can also dry roast them as I did to make the recipe slightly healthy. Keep aside.
  • Heat ghee in a pan and when the ghee heats up, add the mashed potatoes.
  • Sauté on low heat for about 5-6 minutes until the potatoes start to change in colour and start becoming golden brown.
  • Add in the milk, sugar, cardamom powder and saffron and mix well to combine. The sugar will start to melt and the mixture becomes watery. Make sure you stir well that there are no lumps in this mixture.
  • Stir continuously until the halwa turns dry again and the ghee starts oozing out.
  • Add half the chopped nuts and raisins and mix well.
  • Cook for another minute and switch off the flame.
  • Serve warm garnished with the remaining nuts and raisins.
  • This dish is best served warm, so if you are planning to make it ahead of time, just warm it in the microwave or the stove and serve.

Recipes: Raw Mango Rice

A dish from the state of Karnataka made on special occasions, my mother has been asking me to make this ever since she tasted it in Bengaluru. My sister also makes a version of this rice and kept telling me to try it as it was very tasty. I finally caved in and made it a couple of weeks back when I found some nice raw unripe mangoes in the market. The rice was very tasty and reminded us of lemon rice which is prepared similarly.

Recipes: Raw Mango Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 raw mango, peeled and grated to get about ½ cup of grated mangoes
  • 1 cup basmati rice, soaked in water for about 30 minutes
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp broken urad dal
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 6-8 cashew nuts
  • 2 dried red chillies, broken
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped to garnish

Method:

  • Cook the rice and let it cool. When cool, gently fluff it with a spoon and spread it on a large plate. Keep aside
  • Heat the oil in a pan and when the oil warms up, add in the mustard seeds and let the seeds pop.
  • Next add the turmeric powder, and the urad dal and stir for a few seconds. After this add in the dried chillies, the peanuts and cashew nuts and stir until the cashew nuts start to become golden brown.
  • At this point, add in the grated mango and the salt and stir. Cook covered until the mangoes become tender and cooked.
  • When the mangoes are cooked, add in the rice and gently mix everything. You can check for seasoning at this point and add what is missing.
  • Add in the grated coconut and stir well.
  • Cook covered for a minute or two and serve hot garnished with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Recipes: Cauliflower and Broccoli Pulao

Since GG started her internship, I have been trying to make more one-pot meals that she can take with her. Some experiments in making one-pot meals are successful or some are a big failure. Today’s recipe is one of those experiments which were successful. Everyone loved it and S who is usually not a big fan of the cauliflower and broccoli combination asked me to make this instead of the usual stir fry I make.

This is a very simple recipe to make and barely took me 10 minutes to prep and put in the rice cooker. If you are making this on the stovetop, it will need a bit more care as you need to keep an eye on the water level.

Cauliflower and Broccoli Pulao

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • ½ a head of cauliflower, cut into medium-sized florets
  • ½ a head of broccoli, cut into medium=-sized florets
  • 1 medium-sized onion, halved and sliced finely
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • inch cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp green chilli paste or 1 green chilli, chopped into big pieces
  • 10 pieces of cashew nuts
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 cups water

Method:

  • Wash the basmati rice well till the water runs clear and then soak it in water for 20 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
  • Heat a pan and add the ghee and when the ghee warms, add the cashew nuts and let the nuts become golden brown.
  • At this point, add the cumin seeds and let the seeds pop.
  • Once the cumin seeds pop, add in the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom pods and saute for a few seconds each.
  • Then add in the green chillies or the chilli paste and saute for a couple of minutes.
  • Now add the chopped and washed cauliflower and broccoli florets and saute for a couple of minutes.
  • Once the florets are cooking for a few minutes, add in the washed and drained rice and season with salt. I usually add about 1 tsp of salt for a cup of rice, but this is a personal preference.
  • Transfer the rice mixture to a rice cooker and add 1.5 cups of water and cook until done. If you are using the stovetop, stir once a while until all the water is completely absorbed by the rice and the rice is cooked.
  • Once the rice is done, switch off the stove or rice cooker and let it sit for a while before opening it and fluffing it with a fork.
  • Serve hot with a raita.

Recipes: Sabudana Khichdi

A recipe that instantly takes me back to Mumbai and to a time when I was younger Sabudana Khichdi is a recipe I always associate with my home state of Maharashtra. This recipe is the quintessential fasting recipe and can be found in all restaurants. Made from soaked tapioca pearls or sabudana, it is typically prepared in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. A popular comfort food, it is often served with crunchy roasted peanuts and sautéed with potatoes using spices with a generous squeeze of lemon. It has a chewy texture and takes on the taste of its accompaniments and is known as Sabudana Usal in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. Sabudana Khichdi is nearly pure carbohydrate and has very little protein, vitamins, or minerals. The addition of peanuts adds to the protein making it a more balanced meal. It has a high caloric content, due to the quantity of starch and fat present. This makes it a great fasting food.

Sabudana Khichdi

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tapioca pearls or Sabudana
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes
  • ½ cup raw peanuts
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp green chilli paste or 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste

Method:

  • Wash the Sabudana and soak it for about 4-5 hours. This will depend on the type of the pearls with some need less soaking time and some more. Make sure there is water just above the pearls, any more and they will oversoak.
  • While the pearls are soaking, dry roast the raw peanuts till they are crunchy. You will know when it’s done when the skin starts to split and becomes brown. Keep aside.
  • When the peanuts are completely cool, blitz them into a coarse powder. You can also keep about a tbsp of peanuts aside and use them in the khichdi.  
  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Make sure they are not too small, but not too large also.
  • Heat the ghee in a wide-bottomed pan and fry the potatoes till they are cooked, but not roasted. Stop when the potatoes start to brown.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, add the salt, sugar and peanut powder to the sabudana and mix gently. Make sure to do the mixing gently and not break the pearls.
  • At this point, add the cumin seeds and let them pop and at this point, add the minced green chillies or chilli paste and cook for a few seconds.
  • Add the soaked sabudana and mix gently. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes until the sabudana pearls start becoming translucent. If you are not planning to eat the Khichdi immediately, then switch off the gas just before the pearls start becoming translucent. If it’s cooked longer, the pearls will start to clump and become lumpy.
  • Sprinkle lemon juice and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot.

Recipes: Paneer Butter Masala

A restaurant favourite, Paneer Butter Masala is a staple in pretty much every Indian restaurant, even those not serving north Indian food. A mild but creamy dish made with lots of butter and ghee with onions, tomatoes and cream and paneer is the star of the show.

I had been thinking about making this for a while and finally made it a couple of weeks back. But please do not stint on the liberal use of ghee and butter, so this is something you can make for a special occasion or when you have guests over. You can also make the gravy ahead of time and freeze it. I also made a double batch of the gravy, froze some and make a mixed veg curry with uit which was equally yummy. Everyone loved the recipe so much I already got requests to make it again.

Paneer Butter Masala

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen paneer, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and then drained
  • 3 medium-sized onions, chopped
  • 5-6 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 200 ml cooking cream
  • 1 bulb of garlic, peeled
  • inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 15-20 pieces of cashew nuts, soaked in hot water for 15-20 minutes and drained
  • 4-5 tbsp ghee
  • 3-4 tbsp butter
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 3-4 cardamom pods
  • 3-4 fresh or dried red chillies
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tbsp kasuri methi
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped to garnish

Method:

  • Heat half the butter and ghee in a pan and when the butter melts add in the cloves and cardamom pods and saute for a few seconds.
  • Then add in the cumin seeds, onions, garlic, red chillies and ginger, sauteing for a few seconds before you add the next ingredient.
  • When the onions start becoming translucent, add in the cashew nuts and let the nuts start to soften.
  • Then add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and let the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are completely cooked and mushy. Remove from the flame and keep aside to cool completely.
  • Once this mixture is completely cool, blend to a fine paste, adding water as needed. Make sure the paste is completely fine and there are no bits of anything left. Use a strainer if needed otherwise, the recipe will not be restaurant quality. Keep aside.
  • In the same pan, heat the balance ghee and butter and pour the tomato paste into the pan. Season with salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder and stir well. This mixture will splutter a lot, so make sure you cover the pan and let the tomato paste, stirring at intervals.
  • When the tomato paste starts leaving oil on the sides, add in the cooking cream and crush the kasuri methi in the palms of your hand and sprinkle over the gravy. Add a bit of water to thin the gravy if needed.
  • Add the paneer cubes and gently stir so the paneer is completely covered by the gravy. Gently mix everything so the paneer pieces do not break.
  • Cook on low to medium heat for 5-7 minutes and then switch off the flame.
  • Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with jeera rice, rotis or any Indian flatbread.