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Mar 152014
Sweet Potato and Fenugreek - Shakariya Methi Nu Shaak

Sweet Potato with Fenugreek

The sweet potato and fenugreek curry combines the nutritional benefits of two super foods, sweet potato and fenugreek. Add in some fenugreek seeds and you have yourself a delicious, super healthy food. In the ancient medicine systems in India and China, Fenugreek is used to improve metabolism in addition to using it to regulate blood sugar levels.

The Shakariya (sweet potato) Methi (fenugreek) nu shaak is my mother in laws’s favorite dish. She saw a bunch of fresh fenugreek leaves in the refrigerator, the day she landed here from India and was really pleased. The first thing she asked me if I knew how to make this dish. Well! I hadn’t even heard of the dish. So I asked her to teach me how.

And that’s when the trouble started.

Sweet Potato with Fenugreek-2

She was ready to make the dish one fine morning and started the prep. I got hold of my notepad to take notes and started to take notes diligently. The trouble started when she like all mothers started to put in a pinch of this and dash of that! Slow down Lady! I wanted to say. I have to know how much of what you put in so I can tell my blog visitors how to recreate the dish at home. But she was in her zone, stirring now, adding something then and just going on about the business. I should have known better! That is exactly what my mom used to do and I do when I cook. It’s only when I am thinking about a recipe to put on the blog that I measure out things, try the recipe, get a feedback from the ‘Tasting Minions’ and then post.

Long story short, she made the dish. We ate it with some whole wheat rotis and a side of dal. But I had to make the dish one more time, measuring out the spices and noting them down. So I set to work a few days later and made the dish again going by the assumptions of a pinch of this and that. Then I wrote down the recipe and made one more batch to see if it was consistent. Don’t worry. No food was thrown away in this process and no one’s ego was hurt. It was all for a good cause.

In addition to being low carb, nutritionally power-packed, the sweet potato and fenugreek dish is super super easy to make for a weeknight dinner. Got 30 minutes and a pack of frozen fenugreek leaves? Lets get started.


Sweet Potato and Fenugreek – Shakariya Methi Nu Shaak

Serves: Serves 4 as a side dish

Sweet Potato and Fenugreek – Shakariya Methi Nu Shaak


  • 1 pound fenugreek leaves
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds, slightly crushed
  • 1/8th tsp asafetida
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp oil
  • a pinch of sugar (optional)


  1. Peel the sweet potato and cut it in half lengthwise. Then slice it in 1/4th inch thick pcs.
  2. Heat oil in medium pot ( it should have a tight fitting lid).
  3. Add in the mustard seeds, wait for them to crackle.
  4. Add in the asafetida,fenugreek seeds and then add in the sliced potatoes.
  5. Stir to coat and then reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook until potatoes are slightly cooked.
  6. You don't want them cooked through at this point because they will cook more along the fenugreek. You can do a simple test to check for partial doneness - If you insert a fork in the potatoes they will offer a some resistance.
  7. At this point, add in the cayenne, salt and the fenugreek leaves. Stir gently to coat and cover and cook until the fenugreek leaves are sautéed completely and the sweet potatoes are cooked through.
  8. For the authentic Gujarati taste, use a pinch of sugar in the end, mix and serve.


Best eaten soon after cooking for the freshest flavors.

More Sweet Potato Dishes : –

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Soup 

Mar 032014
Chaaman Kaliya-5


Chaaman Kaliya

Chaman Kaliya – Cardamom and fennel scented paneer cooked in a whole milk. Rich, creamy and with the right notes of spice. A dish that is so very easy to put together that you might like to make it more often. And often it is made in Kashmiri homes, especially when there is a Vegetarian feast. Kashmiri Wazwaan cuisine is fabled for it’s meat dishes, but the vegetarian cuisine when done right, is in fact quite amazing as well.


A couple of days ago, it was the festival of Shivratri. This is the most important of festivals for Kashmiri Pandits. Called Herath in the local language, the festival of Shivratri marks the beginning of the spring season in the valley. Kashmiri Pandits have been followers of Shaivism for eons. Back in the days, it used to be a fortnight of celebration starting with ‘Hur okdoh’ which was the day that homes would be cleaned and prepped for the upcoming festivities.

Chaaman Kaliya

On the thirteenth day of the festival, a fast is observed and the “Vatak Pooza” begins. Along with flowers, fruits, milk, yogurt an offering of rice flour bread and food is offered to the ‘Vatuk’.

When I was a kid, the most important part of the festival was the day after after the Puja. It was the day when the morning started with my Grandpa giving us fresh currency notes as a “Herath Kharach” ( Money to spend ) You can compare this to opening the presents on Christmas morning. All elders gave money to kids on this day. All we had to do was go from one elder to the other and say, “Herath Mubarak” ( May your Herath be blessed) The elders would in return give us the money and bless us.

We would count and recount the money and keep a tab on if any of the siblings got more. Then we would sit and play a game with sea shells. We all had our own small bags of “haar” or sea shells and we would sit in a circle and play. When it was time for lunch, we all would quickly gather our winnings and sit for lunch. Food was another highlight for me on Herath. My mom made at least a dozen dishes and on that first meal she served them all. The leftovers were eaten on subsequent days one at a time, but this one meal was when we got to eat it all together – just like in a feast.

This Chaman Kaliya was my mom’s signature dish. I made it for Shivratri this year along with some Dum Aaloo, Nadir Yakhin and few other dishes. Dinner was good. The leftovers were finished the next day. We leave no trace :)

Chaman Kaliya – Cardamom and fennel scented Paneer

Chaman Kaliya – Cardamom and fennel scented Paneer


  • 400 gms Paneer (home made)
  • 2 C Milk
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 Green cardamoms
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbs Ghee
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel powder (saunf)
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 1/8th tsp ginger powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri Garam Masala ( Or use your favorite brand)


  1. If you have freshly made Paneer cut it into squares or rectangles.
  2. If you have store bought paneer, Soak it in hot milk for at least 30 minutes before cooking the dish. (this milk is in addition to the two cups you need to make the dish)
  3. Heat ghee and add the cumin, cloves and the cardamom. It helps if you slightly whack the cardamom with a pestle or a heavy spoon.
  4. Add in the milk, bring it to a boil add in the rest of the spices, except saffron and garam masala.
  5. Simmer this for about 2- 3 minutes , then add the paneer and bring to a rolling boil.
  6. Bring to a simmer again and let it cook undisturbed for 10 - 15 minutes or until the paneer looks creamy, yellow and soft.
  7. Finish off with Garam masala and saffron and let it stand for 30 minutes before serving. Reheat gently and serve with rice.



Feb 272014
Quinoa Biryani

Vegan Quinoa Biryani


You must be thinking it’s raining Biryanis here. Well it’s just that biryani is one of the favorite foods at my home, often requested by the teen and the spice guy. Since I make it so often I just keep cut and prepped vegetables in the freezer so I can make this as and when requested. There are times however Biryani gets requested more than once a week. I do like the fact that the teen enjoys eating vegetables, but I also want her to eat from the entire spectrum of healthy and nutritious food.

Adding a few nutritious seeds here and there, making a smoothie with oats added in and substituting quinoa for grains are things that she enjoys and eats without fuss.

vegan Quinoa Biryani

This  Vegan Quinoa Biryani is my go to Biryani especially when time is of essence. I know I posted an Easy Vegetable Biryani, but this one is just as easy and equally delicious. The best part is, it makes great leftovers for a snack or lunch without being too heavy.

Here are some tips for a successful Quinoa Biryani

1) Cook the Quinoa in a vegetable stock and add in some salt. This enhances the flavor of the quinoa and packs in more nutrition.

2) Different brands and types of Quinoa cook differently. So follow the guidelines on the pack for cooking times and liquid content.

3) Since Quinoa takes in flavors from anything you add into it, you want the Biryani lightly spiced. So a generous hand with spices may not be a good thing here.

4) Chances are that your quinoa is pre rinsed,  but you should rinse it well to avoid getting the bitter taste of the saponins.


Vegan Quinoa Biryani

Vegan Quinoa Biryani


  • Ingredients
  • 2 Cups Quinoa
  • 500 gms vegetables ( Mix of cauliflower florets, peas, sliced carrots, cut green beans)
  • 4 C Veg Stock
  • 1/4 C mint
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp garam masala ( use your favorite brand)
  • 1tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 blade of mace
  • 1 green cardamoms
  • 1/4 stick of cinnamon
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
  • 1 C sliced onions
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tsp coconut oil or any other oil
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1 Indian bay leaf (tejpatta)


    Pre cook the Quinoa
  1. Place quinoa in a mesh strainer, and rigorously rinse it under running water. Allow the water drain for a few minutes.
  2. Meanwhile start to heat up the stock and let it warm up Add in the cloves, mace, green cardamom, cinnamon, pepper corns and let it simmer.
  3. Take a medium pan and add 1 tsp oil, add in the quinoa and roast it until it looks almost dry.
  4. Now add the warmed up stock to the quinoa ( remove the spices) and bring this to a rolling boil.
  5. Cover and reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Then switch off heat and let the quinoa rest for another 10 minutes before opening the lid.
  6. Pre cook the veggies
  7. Heat the oil, add in the cumin and tejpatta, Add in the onion and saute until light in color.
  8. Add in ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant.. about one minute
  9. Add the veggies except peas and add the turmeric, cayenne, garam masala,coriander powder.Mix.
  10. Cook covered for 10 minutes on medium heat .
  11. Add in the salt and peas and cover and cook until veggies are slightly tender. Be sure to not cook them through at this point.
  12. Assemble
  13. Your quinoa should be rested and ready for this step.
  14. Simply add the quinoa as a top layer to the vegetables,layer with mint and cover.
  15. Cook on medium low heat for 10 minutes and allow it to rest for another 10 minutes before serving.
  16. Serve with a side of raita and don't forget the side of onions, lemons and green chillies.

 Posted by on February 27, 2014 at 8:35 AM
Feb 252014
Veg Biryani

Vegetable Biryani


Believed to be of Persian origin and having travelled to India through travelers, merchants and Mughals, the Biryani is a much loved dish across India. Lizzie Collingham in her book , Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, says that the Persian dish pilau was transformed into biryani in India. There is no definite text to authenticate when Biryani came into existence, but it is largely attributed to the Mughal Empire.

Veg Biryani

The present day Biryani essentially is rice and meat/vegetables/sea food/fish cooked in layers with aromatic spices using a process called Dum. The rice is partially cooked separately and the meat/ veg is cooked separately after a marination in the spices. Then the two are layered in a pot and cooked further using dum. The result is a fragrant dish where you can taste the gamut of spices and flavors in each morsel.

Veg Biryani-2

Though it usually involves a lengthy process, the surprising thing about Biryani is that it is highly adaptable. This easy vegetable biryani is one such example.  I first fell in love with a vegetable biryani in Hyderabad and prefer it to the poultry varieties. I do(did) however have a deep connection with the mutton biryanis. They are (were) my favorite kind.


Easy Vegetable Biryani

Easy Vegetable Biryani


    for fried onions
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • oil for frying
  • For Biryani
  • 500 gms rice
  • 500 gms vegetables ( Mix of cauliflower florets, peas, sliced carrots, cut green beans)
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 8- 10 strands of saffron
  • 1/4 C mint
  • 1/4 C yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp garam masala ( use your favorite brand)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 blade of mace
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1/4 stick of cinnamon
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbs ghee
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1 Indian bay leaf (tejpatta)


    Marinate the veggies
  1. Mix the ginger and yogurt. Add the turmeric and cayenne and garam masala.
  2. Fry the onions
  3. You really have to fry the onions for that smoky taste of the onions. And if you simply saute them, they won't be crispy. So throw caution to the wind and fry away.
  4. Fry the onions in oil until lightly browned and crisp. Remove onto a wire mesh, let drain.
  5. Soak the rice
  6. Wash the rice until water runs clean. Then fill a bowl with water, add in rice. let it sit.
  7. Mix the Saffron
  8. warm the milk and add the saffron in
  9. cook the veggies
  10. heat the ghee, add in the cumin and tejpatta, then add the veggies, save the peas till the end.
  11. Cook covered for 10 minutes on medium heat and then add in the rest of the spices after slightly pounding them. (that mortar and pestle you never used? bring it out now)
  12. Add in the salt and peas and cover and cook until veggies are slightly tender. Be sure to not cook them through at this point.
  13. cook rice
  14. Take a big stock pot and bring water to a boil. You can begin this before you start cooking the veggies.
  15. Once the water boils, add in the rice. Stir once and let it come to a boil
  16. Cook the rice al dente. .. about 5 - 7 minutes , then drain.
  17. Assemble the Biryani
  18. To the pot in which you have the vegetables, layer the rice on top. (ensure this pot has a tight fitting lid)
  19. Add the milk and saffron combo to this layered rice and then top it with mint and some fried onions.
  20. Close the lid, and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
  21. Serve with a raita of chopped onions and tomatoes mixed in with yogurt and seasoned with salt and mint. Add the rest of the fried onions while serving to individual plates.

Feb 062014


For February’s Ina Friday, we are all making main course dishes. I had been wanting to try out a saffron risoto with butternut squash for quite some time. On my previous attempts at making a great Risotto, I always ended up with a good Risotto. Very Good – but not great. So the idea had been on the back burner. I wanted to make a really great one and so I waited for the perfect moment to arrive.

While deciding what to make for this month’s Ina Friday, I chanced upon the recipe for saffron risotto with butternut squash  by Ina. It was the aha moment. Since I have turned vegetarian these days (to some people’s disappointment), I had to make a few changes to the original recipe and wasn’t completely sure that leaving out the pancetta from the original recipe was not going to be the greatest mistake. After all everything’s better with bacon. Since the recipe was calling out to me in its vegetarian form that had taken shape in my mind, I decided to go for it. And I’m glad I did.

The end result was a creamy, aromatic saffron butternut squash risotto and it was by far the best risotto I have ever made. Once again Ina’s recipe did not disappoint, even though I made a lot of changes to the original recipe, it still turned out amazing.


Saffrom Rissoto with butternut squash


I am dedicating this post in memory of our Blogger friend Chaya’s daughter. I did not know her personally, but I got to know her through Chaya and her touching post about her daughter’s passing. Our thoughts and Prayers are with you, Chaya. We are here for you.


Stop in and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up today or any day:


Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash #Ina Fridays

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash #Ina Fridays


  • 1 medium butternut squash [peeled and cut into cubes]
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbs melted butter
  • 1/4 C shallots finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the squash on a baking pan and toss it with the olive oil, a pinch of salt, generously sprinkle pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing once, until very tender and caramelized.
  3. Heat the vegetable broth in a small covered saucepan. Once hot, leave it on to simmer.
  4. In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter and sauté the shallots on medium-low heat until the shallots are translucent.
  5. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Now add Add 3/4 C of stock to the rice plus the saffron, salt to taste and generous sprinkling of pepper.
  6. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 1/2 to 3/4 C at a time, stirring every few minutes.
  7. With each addition,cook until the liquid absorbs and the mixture looks a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente. About 30 minutes in all.
  8. Switch off the heat, add the squash and parmesan. Mix to combine and Serve hot.

 Posted by on February 6, 2014 at 11:20 PM
Oct 102013

How to make paneer


Making paneer at home is a bit of a process.  But it is worth all the time you will need to put in.  The resulting paneer is a soft and creamy deliciousness.  Be warned though, you might end up eating this deliciousness before you get to making a dish out of it.

I don’t have memories of making paneer at home. No one in my family did it – Ever.  It was simply bought from the local cheese shop along with milk and yogurt.  If one needed more than a couple of pounds of paneer, the cheese maker had to be notified in advance.  A good cheese maker never sent his regular customers back without cheese, so he wouldn’t sell more than a couple of pounds per customer. And you also had to be prompt. A good paneer never lasted – if you were late, there would be no paneer left to buy.


Making paneer at home, initially, did not yield good results.  It  sure was better than the frozen ice blocks that stores sold, but the dreamy – creamy melt in the mouth paneer was elusive.  Then I saw this post from my favorite chef, Ajoy and I just had to try making paneer this way.  It WORKED!  It was the best paneer I had ever made.  But because quality of whole milk varies, I had to make adjustments based on the kind of milk we get here.  After a few trials  I made  a delicious, creamy, rich, smooth paneer – at home.  Just like the one Grandpa used to buy from the cheese makers back home.  Here is how to make paneer at home:-

How to make Paneer at Home

How to make Paneer at Home


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 3-4 tbs lemon juice
  • Spl Equipment
  • cheesecloth


  1. Mix the milk and cream and pour into a non stick pan.
  2. Heat it up and bring to a boil stirring intermittently so the milk does not stick.
  3. once the milk starts to boil, lower heat and start adding the lemon juice, a tsp at a time. As soon as you see the milk curdle and curds form, stop adding the lemon juice and turn off the heat.
  4. When the curds have separated from the whey, the whey looks a transparent light green color. It should not look white any more.
  5. Place a colander across the sink and spread a cheese cloth across it. Pour the curds along with the whey into this colander and let it drain.
  6. Gather the cheesecloth, making a packet of the curds in the center and tie the ends just above the curds.
  7. Rinse the whole packet under tap water. This step ensures that you erase any traces of lemon flavor from the paneer. Now give it a tight squeeze to coagulate all the curds.
  8. I usually place the end of the packet in a kitchen cabinet ( to give it height) and weigh it down with my small mortar and place an empty bowl to gather any last drops of whey.
  9. In about 5 minutes the whey will stop dripping.
  10. Place the packet on a flat plate and then cover it with another flat plate and then cover the plate with something heavy - like the mortar or a pot filled with water and leave it to form a disc.
  11. In about 30 minutes, your paneer is ready to be used in dishes.