27 July, 2017

Paneer Bhurji Recipe | Simple and Quick Paneer Recipes

Learn how to make Paneer Bhurji ~ Indian style scrambled Indian cottage cheese flavoured with spices

I should be finishing last minute packing, cleaning and cooking like right now, but here I am sitting and typing this post! I am not really sure why I am doing this amidst all that last minute packing and all that madness that comes with a day before flying! Well, that’s me I guess, wrapping myself in a comfort of words and memories when life gets little crazy and I want to drift back to cozy cocoon to calm my nerves or too much of excitement.

The summer holidays have begun for LD and it feels anything but summery in our neck of woods with pretty bad weather with cloudy skies, non-stop drizzles and even flash floods ruining the holiday mood. It’s no fun if one must spend indoors during summer, so we booked our tickets and travelling thousands of miles to be in a country which is bathed in heavy Monsoon rains! Halleluiah… Two sets of grandparents, half a dozen cousins, aunts and uncles should keep us busy and the fact that we are going to over indulge in Monsoon food specialities are making me too excited! This is going to be a mother and son holiday, at least for first 2 and half weeks until LD’s dad joins us and travelling with over excited, chatty, can’t-sit-still-for-more-than-five-minutes kid for most part of the day is going to be a piece of cake (not)!

20 July, 2017

Tandoori Gobi Recipe with Homade Tandoori Masala | Spicy Indian Whole Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

Learn how to make Tandoori Gobi and homemade Tandoori Masala ~ Roasted whole head of cauliflower marinaded with spicy yogurt flavoured with homemade tandoori masala spice blend

The doors and windows are wide open and thin, soft muslin curtains fluttering in the warm sun kissed breeze. Outside in the garden, the borders are decked with colourful flower beds that attract the buzzing bees and colourful butterflies. The trees are standing tall and proud showing off their beautiful mane of lush green leaves. The heady fragrance of roses, mogra and lilies perfume the air and senses… It is summer... the most wonderful season!

Homemade Tandoori Masala spice blend

My morning walks have become longer as I no longer need to cover myself with layers of clothing and thick coats/jackets weighing me down! My steps are lighter as I walk around in flip flops and shorts enjoying the warm sun on my face and breeze messing my hair! The people I meet on my walking route, and even the strangers, are greeting one another with big smile. That’s what the summer sun does to you… Happy and cheerful…

07 July, 2017

Aloo Tikki-Chole Chaat Recipe | How to Make Aloo Tikki Chole Chaat

Learn how to make Aloo Tikki-Chole Chaat ~ A popular Indian street food of spiced potato patties served with spicy chickpeas curry and assorted sweet date-tamarind chutney and hot mint-coriander chutney and topped with finely chopped onions, tomatoes and sev

Inside a small restaurant with double glazed window you will find several posters of Bollywood stars smiling at you. There are small granite tables with pickle and chutney trays on top and matching red velvet cushioned chairs. Large framed photograph of Guru Nanak is hung just above the cashier’s desk and a small table fan is rotating gently. The aroma of food being cooked inside the kitchen is intoxicating and people are busy savouring plates of Naans, Curries, Chaats, Indian sweets and Kebabs.

Come out of the restaurant you will find women in colourful saris and salwar kameez, men wearing colourful turbans and kurtas, pavement food stalls selling Samosas, Chaats and Jalebi, small shops selling mobile phones and bright fabrics in rainbow colours hanging in shop fronts. Add to this the Bhangra music and sweet smell of incense and spices is in the air. Am I in India?!

22 June, 2017

Aam Panna Recipe | Indian Raw Mango Cooler

Learn how to make Aam ka Panna ~ Sweet and sour Indian raw mango cooler flavoured with spices, black salt and mint

It’s officially summer in my neck of woods and for the last two weeks the heatwaves have swept across the nation. I am not very active on social media these days as it will be considered sin to spend time within the four walls. The windows and doors are wide open, and I spend most of my time pottering around the garden, laying on grass and snoozing under the perfect blue skies. My morning walks have become longer as I enjoy the company of mother nature and her children like tweeting birds and wild life, walking in the woodlands under the protective canopy of giant trees. The kitchen is the last place on my mind as simple salads, quick coconut-yogurt based curries and ice creams have officially become our meals and washing them with gallons of water to quench the thirst and to keep the body cool.

It's time like this when I sift through my handwritten recipe diary in search of recipes that has been tried and tested for centuries. The recipes for scorching summer months to keep the body cool due to excess hear from the sun. One such recipe is a very popular raw mango recipe from the northern part of India called Aam Panna, a very refreshing raw mango cooler flavoured with spices and good helping of fresh mint. It is this Aam ka Panna, with its sweet tangy flavor makes it extremely rejuvenating and its health benefits make it a go to drink and a must try recipes for the summers when the mighty mango season arrives. Aam Panna is consumed in the summers as it acts as a coolant, rehydrates body and provides the essential electrolytes lost during the hot weather. A glass of this drink in a summer afternoon can combat fatigue and energize a person.

08 June, 2017

BasaLe Soppina Koddel | Udupi-Mangalorean Style Vegan Malabar Spinach Curry

Learn how to make BasaLe Soppina Koddel ~ Udupi-Managlorean style Malabar spinach cooked in a freshly roasted spices and coconut gravy tempered with garlic

Do you dream about certain foods? After one long tired day, you close your eyes and then suddenly this delicious thing comes to your mind. All you can do at that moment is sigh and groan loudly matching the rumble of your stomach. You just wish that you could take one teeny-tiny bite of that scrumptious food you have had loooooooong time ago? Food that makes one want to weep as the nostalgia hits like a tonnes of bricks!

Yes… I am talking about such food, something you can’t find in a place where you are currently living. Apart from my family and friends, I miss quite many things that I had taken for granted in all those years I spent time in my country of birth. It is like inhaling the heady aroma of earth after first monsoon rain hits the mother earth, or the tingling taste of first tender mango rubbed with salt and chilli powder in hot summer days, or the feeling of happiness when you rest your head on your mother’s lap, or the satisfaction of hugging someone who loves you more than themselves, or the feeling of content that comes when you taste something specially cooked with lots of love by your loved ones… Yes, there are these few things that can’t be experienced anywhere else. And you miss them dearly, not just when you are feeling low but also when you are bursting with joy and happy thoughts. Because it is these few special people and interesting things that makes one’s life worthwhile.

01 June, 2017

Raw Mango and Bottle Gourd Dal Recipe | Khatta Meetha Lauki-Aam Dal

Learn how to make Raw Mango and Bottle Gourd Dal or Khatta Meetha Lauki-Aam Dal ~ Sweet and sour, creamy raw mango and bottle gourd lentil soup tempered with spices and curry leaves

What is summer without mangoes? Nothing, there is nothing in this world that screams summer to me like looking at the king of fruits. Be it emerald shaded raw mangoes and the rich golden hued mangoes, their sour and sweet flavour is unbeatable. It is and it will always be mangoes that rule my world and my childhood memories. Forget all exotic fruits; pineapple, peach, kiwi, plum, berries; nothing can ever come quite close to magnificent Mangifera Indica in flavour, taste or aroma. It’s a same story every year. Just one look at them and I start reminiscing about the Mango Season, the season of the king of fruits, back home in India.

Come summer and it meant only one thing for me and my siblings, long vacation at paternal and maternal granny’s home. The memories of those sunny, glorious summer days of endless fun, pranks and digging our teeth into succulent mangoes warm my heart even today. Granny’s house was just like many other beautiful tiled-terraced houses (or more like mansion) in my native village in southern India. Surrounded by acres of greenery, the white house with red tiles stood tall and proud with wide porches running around the house. Polished to perfection red oxide floors would gleam with intricately carved thick rosewood pillars supporting the roofs. The trees around the big house served as the compound walls and the beautiful water stream flowing right next to the house was its gate. Magnificent tall jackfruit, tamarind, coconut trees competed against each other for the title in the backyard.

25 May, 2017

Blueberry Yogurt Ice Lolly Recipe | How to Make Simple Frozen Berry Yogurt Ice Lollies (Video Tutorial/Recipe)

Learn how to make Blueberry Yogurt Ice Lolly ~ Simple, low fat, no added sugar berry yogurt ice lolly recipe/Frozen yogurt ice lolly recipe

After what felt like a longest winter, it’s starting to too feel much like summer now. And what better way to celebrate it by making some delicious ice lollies. How about some light, healthy, low-fat, creamy and no added sugar Blueberry Yogurt Ice Lollies?

Frozen yogurt ice lolly is no new recipe or concept for me. Growing up in a South Indian town where summer meant temperature shooting up the roof, the only way to keep the complaining kids quite was to making barrel full of sherbet or smoothies and freezer packed with homemade ice creams and ice lollies. When we kids sneaked out without drinking a glass of milk either mixed with almond-spice mix or Bournvita, she would pop the glass in the freezer and present us with chocolate flavoured or almond flavoured milk lollies! :) The mango lassi was my favourite summer treat and one fine scorching summer day, amma poured the leftover mango lassi into ice lolly moulds and from that day, mango lassi ice lolly became one of the most popular and loved frozen treats in our family.

18 May, 2017

Lauki Aloo Matar Curry Recipe | Simple and Easy Vegan Bottle Gourd Curry Recipes

Learn how to make Lauki Aloo Matar Curry ~ A simple and easy bottle gourd curry with potato and peas cooked in a sweet and tangy tomato gravy

Vegetables, some you love and some you hate. And then there are few which don’t fall under either category and precariously balance in between depending on how it is cooked. Lauki or sorekayi or dudhi or bottle gourd was one such vegetable in my list. Did you notice I spoke about it in past tense? It is because I was not either fond of it or disliked it enough to put firmly under just one category. So, like many other vegetables while growing up bottle gourd and I shared love-hate relationship.

Ingredients for Lauki Aloo Matar Curry

My mother being a terrific cook, all the dishes she made using this unassuming gourd was an instant hit on our dinner table. She knew the ways to trick the fussiest picky eater to go for second helping with her amazing cooking skills. Apart from making her signature boLu kodhel and bottle gourd peel chutney, she also makes fantastic melt-in-mouth sweet halwa and delicious lauki ke kofte which I remember was one of the popular dishes she cooked for special occasions. The bland, pale and unattractive vegetable would get a massive makeover in her hands, making it one of the most desirable things to eat. That’s the power of mother’s cooking, which made me slowly fall in love with this vegetable.

12 May, 2017

Green Chilli Pickle Recipe | How to make Hari Mirch ka Achar (Video Tutorial/Recipe)

Learn how to make Hari Mirch Ka Achar or Green Chilli Pickle

‘What next?'

A question that kept popping in my mind after many years of blogging. If one has been blogging for more than a decade, there comes a time when it all gets, well, little repetitive and boring. And then comes the feeling to either quit or do something which fuels the passion. Both this blog and I have come a long way, from wanting to record family recipes by an amateur cook to the one who is curious about the story of origin of the dish; from blog posts with photographs taken using handy cam to the proud owner of full frame dSLR who, if I may say, has learnt to take a decent photograph; from someone who was uncertain about everything to someone who has found her voice.

I won’t be lying if I say that I have put my heart and soul into growing and maintaining this blog and it’s not that easy for me to quit. Although the web world is over flooded and saturated with food blogs, I appreciate my readers, both new and old, who have been part of the Monsoon Spice. You have been my constant source of inspiration for keeping this blog alive after all these years and I can’t thank you enough. So, instead of quitting, I decided to do something new; video recipes!

03 May, 2017

Falafel-Pita Sandwich with Hummus Recipe | Middle Easten Inspired Buddha/Hippie Bowl

Learn how to make Falafel-Pitta Sandwich with Hummus ~ Middle Eastern chickpea fritters flavoured with fresh herbs and spices and chickpea dip

Food has the power to evoke memory, bring people together and to transport us to other places without travelling! Food not only satiates our hunger, but it also satisfies all five senses. Food has that magical power to bridge gaps, blur the borders that divides the countries and its people and above all, it brings joy. And ultimately, food often unites what geo-politics seeks to divide. Take, for example, the history of Falafel; small bite sized fried balls made of chickpeas, herbs and spices, ubiquitous throughout Middle East, is the national dish of Israel.

Middle Easten inspired Buddha Bowl or Hippie Bowl

Middle Eastern Mezze

Despite its strong connection with Israel, the origin of falafel is unknown and controversial. The common theory is that the Falafel originated in Egypt. The history of falafel goes back to the days of the pharaohs and it is believed that the name falafel to come from ‘mefelfel’, an Arabic word for spicy. The Christian Copts, an Egyptian Christian sect, also claim to have invented the ‘ta’amia’, the fava-bean fritter that is parent to the falafel, as a replacement for meat during Lent. Another theory is that falafel invented in Alexandria in Egypt. Since Alexandria is a port city, sailors from all over the world took these delicious little patties home, and eventually falafel became popular fast food all over the Middle East.

27 April, 2017

Veg Hara Bhara Kabab Recipe | Simple Vegan Kebab Recipes

Learn how to make Hara Bhara Kabab ~ Mildly spiced Indian vegan spinach and potato kebabs flavoured with fresh herbs and aromatic spices

We made these Hara Bhara Kababs exactly a month ago when LD was recovering from another bout of viral infection. When I say we, it means my 6-year-old and I, mom and son team. Cooking with over enthusiastic kid means fun, but it also means mess! I kid you not. The kitchen will end up looking like a bomb sight with flour covered kitchen floor and counter tops, sauce smeared kitchen cabinets, and a child who is covered with every ingredient that went into that pot or pan of food you are making! Then why teach your kids to cook when it means more of a mess than its worth?! Absolutely. Well, there is not just one, but 101 reasons to introduce our kids to the joys of cooking.

Teaching our kids to cook is one of the most basic life skills we can pass on and most importantly, it gives us the opportunity to teach them valuable lessons. I find him curiously touch, smell and taste the ingredients. This natural inquisitiveness of LD turns into total fascination and then surprise when he watches the dramatic transformation the food goes through in terms of colour, texture and size right before his eyes during cooking and baking. The once firm and hard potatoes turn soft and mushy, the delicate, easy to crack eggs become hard when boiled, the crystals of sugar and salt completely gets dissolved, the fruit is turned to juice and how it becomes one of his favourite treat ice lolly when kept in freezer overnight! If this is not magic, then I don’t know what else is?!

21 April, 2017

Bhara Baingan or Stuffed Baby Eggplant Recipe | Simple and Quick Eggplant or Brinjal Recipes

Learn how to make Bhara Baingan or Stuffed Pan Roasted Baby Eggplants ~ Simple and easy spicy pan roasted baby eggplants stuffed with sesame, coconut and spice mix

Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life!
~ Brian Andreas

I am inching back to routine and virtual world after a weeklong holiday with friends and family. Before I feel too comfortable to this routine of digital lethargy and loose myself in my own little world, I decided to bounce back with some recipe posts that will keep my creative juices flowing. I am yet to pick my camera to shoot food or beautiful spring landscapes despite golden spring light bathing every corner of our home and world around us. My eyes and soul have replaced the camera as they capture the magnificent beauty of this world. One thing at a time… Until then, let me share the recipe of this amazing and ridiculously simple to make Bhara Baingan or Spicy Stuffed Baby Eggplant Roast that I cooked and clicked two weeks ago when my camera was constantly clicking and capturing food in every angle and composition!

I am a huge fan of eggplants and keeping my modesty aside, I make some mean eggplant curries which knocks off the feet of my guests whenever I serve them. Unfortunately, husband is allergic to eggplants and LD is not too fond of the texture of them. Which means the only person who must finish the entire pan of eggplant curries is me! How unfortunate (not) for me!!! As much as I love these little beauties, I find it difficult to spend an hour prepping and cooking them, only not to have a company to share the pleasure of devouring them. So, I end up buying some purple beauties only when I lose couple of night’s sleep! ;)

11 April, 2017

Tawa Paneer Recipe | Simple and Quick Paneer Recipes

Learn how to make Tawa Paneer ~ Griddle roasted Indian cottage cheese and veggies marinated in aromatic spices

When last week LD’s spring break began, I was euphoric! No school meant waking up late, no running around the house prepping breakfast, ironing school uniforms, shouting at top of my voice asking LD to finish his breakfast for hundredth time in a minute, watching my hair turn grey as he finishes his morning business at snail’s pace, pulling my hair in anxiety as he asks hundreds of questions while sitting on a potty, and literally dragging him out of the house and all the way to school to make sure we are just in time before the school bell rings! Only to come back home to sink full of dishes, basketful of laundry, high pile of cloths to be ironed, mountain high work load, photography assignments, answering to dozens of emails, and of course, worrying about what to cook for dinner and if time permits, food photo shoot for the blog!

6 hours of back breaking work later, I am ready to rush back to school to take him for after-school activities and bring him back home. Before I know it, it’s time to make dinner, watch him slowly pick small spoonful of food at snail’s pace for over an hour, snatch the spoon from him hand and shovel what is now ice cold dinner that I slaved to cook, watch my hair turn grey and fall as he slowly brushes his teeth before tucking him into bed after reading half a dozen stories! If I am not snoozing or half dead by then, stare at telly with hubby or stare at the blinking curser wishing and even praying for some words to magically pop in my half dead brain and flow into my finger tips to tap dance on the keyboard for a blog post! By the time I hit the sack, it doesn’t take more than couple of moments to fall into dreamless sleep after my head touches the pillow, if not hit by migraine or insomnia! 7 hours later, I am ready for another day of routine! That’s when I desperately look forward to school holidays…

One week into 2 weeks of spring break, I am ‘almost’ looking forward for the schools to re-open!

05 April, 2017

Rama Navami Panakam Recipe | Jaggery Limeade ~ Healthy & Refreshing Summer Drink

How to make Panakam or Panagam ~ Jaggery Limeade flavoured with crushed cardamoms, peppercorns and dry ginger, a refreshing and healthy summer drink

Today is the ninth and last day of Chaitra Navaratri as per Hindu calendar. Today is also Ram Navami, a festival that celebrates the arrival of Vishnu’s 7th avatar, Lord Rama. Growing up in South India, it meant eating kosambari (cucumber and moong bean salad) while guzzling down tall glass of Panakam (sweet and summery health drink of jaggery and lime flavoured with crushed green cardamom, peppercorns and dry ginger), listening to the tales of Ramayana.

I am not a religious person, but that doesn’t stop me from cooking and eating festive foods. As with any other Hindu festival, Ram Navami is also celebrated with special food offered to the deity called neivedyam. Once the food is offered to the god, it is distributed among people as prasad or prasadam, a blessed food. Panakam is one such food that is made during Ram Navami along with other neivedyams such as kosambari, and majjige neeru (spiced butter milk). They are simple and quite refreshing summer recipes, showcasing the wisdom and scientific reason with great health benefits behind every festival food designed by our ancestors. The word Panakam in Sanskrit means ‘sweet drink’ and as the name suggests, it’s a sweet drink of jaggery and lime flavoured with crushed green cardamoms, peppercorns and dry ginger.

31 March, 2017

Sprouted HuruLi Saaru And Usli Recipe | Sprouted Horse Gram Curry and Stir Fry

Learn how to make HuruLi Saaru and Usli ~ Horse gram sprouts cooked in spicy coconut gravy and garlic and Sprouted horse gram stir fry garnished with grated coconut

“Ajji, can I go out and play?” asked little girl pulling her grandma’s soft cotton saree pallu which was carefully tucked around her slim waist.
“Not today, my princess! It’s too hot outside and we don’t want the fever monster to return”, said grandma as she pressed her cool hand against little girl’s forehead to check her temperature.
“But I will play in the shade, Ajji”, said little voice laced with impatience as she longingly looked at her sister and cousins running around, screaming loudly as they chased one another in a large garden in front of ancestral home.
“I know, my darling! But who will help me with cooking then? Who will help me to open the dabba of bella (jaggery)?”, asked grandma smiling showing her trademark enchanting smile with twinkling eyes and red lips stained with the juice from ele-adike (betel leaf and supari).
“Bella?”, asked little girl with excitement oozing from her voice and eyes. “I will help you Ajji”, quickly came the reply.
“Don’t tell this to anyone, but you are my favourite grandchild”, whispered grandma who must have shared the same secret to every other 2 dozen grandchildren of hers! :)

The soft wrinkled hands lead the small chubby hands to the courtyard outside the kitchen door that connected to open kitchen at the end of the house. The family cook was grinding spices and coconut paste in a large stone grinder that made rhythmic music almost like a lullaby that would put the little girl to sleep as she lay down on her grandma’s lap on hot summer afternoons. But she was wide awake at that moment as the excitement of helping her grandma with cooking overpowered any other feeling! The grandma picked one of large brass container that was stacked neatly on the wooden shelf and placed it on the cool red-oxide floor. She then went and picked a large winnowing tray made of bamboo strands woven tightly onto a rattan frame and sat down on the floor stretching her legs in front. She looked up and smiled at the little girl and patted the space next to her suggesting lil girl to sit.

24 March, 2017

Kadai Mushroom (Karahi Mushroom) Recipe | How to Make Restaurant Style Kadai Mushroom or Karahi Mushroom

Learn how to make Kadai Mushroom or Karahi Mushroom ~ Semi dry spicy curry of mushrooms cheese and bell peppers cooked in a spicy tomato gravy flavoured with freshly ground spice mix

Imagine your food without spices. Unimaginable, isn’t it? They are the best ingredients to include in daily cooking as they not only add flavours and colours, but also bring out complex and rich flavours from the food itself. Almost every cuisine of the world has not gone untouched by a sprinkle of spices, but none of them embraces the spices close to its bosom as Indian cuisine which unashamedly uses these flavourful spices to the brim! Everything from curries to chai, our food and drinks brims with spices.

Throughout the past, there has been great wars fought for these spices; some won and some lost leaving path on the map marked with riches, blood and sacrifices. The spice routes were formed, lands were plundered and looted, innocent blood was shed, and a lot was lost in a quest for Indian spices which as the history says was so valuable that it was worth more than a gold in weight! Such was the lure of spices which makes them not just mere ingredients in Indian cuisine, but a way of life…

17 March, 2017

Lasooni Dal Palak Recipe | Quick and Easy Dal or Lentil Soup Recipes

Learn how to make Lasooni Dal Palak ~ Garlic flavoured lentil and spinach soup

As my mother complained about hot weather in India, unusual for this time of the year, I just wished I was at home in India as I gazed at grey skies wearing my winter jacket, snow boots and my hands tucked inside my jacket pocket to keep it warm! Spring in India is much hotter than the summers here in UK and the signals how brutal the summers are going to be. With air conditioning turned on during spring season, especially in the night, I can just imagine the kind of summer India is going to welcome in couple of weeks. I hate hot weather and the only thing that made the heat bearable was the arrival of summer bounty, especially mangoes. But given a choice, I will gladly take the sweaty and hot sunny days over the gloomy cold weather. I thought I was immune to it, and to be frank, I didn’t even care for the weather as I did enjoy the cold winters especially coming from a hot tropical country where the sun shines for 365 days a year! But I guess this is what happens to someone who hasn’t seen the face of sun god for weeks!

This winter by far been worse one during my 10 years of living in the UK. It feels like a big joke when the leader of first world says climate change is a fake news when we are still in the clutches of ruthless winter god even after mid-March! With terrible mood swings and low energy, I can’t wait to get enough of Vitamin D in summer. But if days continue to be this cold and gloomy, we might as well skip spring entirely and welcome summer! ~sigh~ Maybe it’s time to plan a trip to some sunny part of the world, or just cook something that brings the colours of summer in a bowl… Since the first one seems like out of reach as hubby is buried under workload, the latter is the only choice as of now…