Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Plain musoor dal

(This extremely basic recipe is for all those of you who keep coming to Timid Cook via the search for "How to cook dal" and there seems to be many such searches! Hope this helps)!

Last friday, we returned from a short trip to Goa, sun tanned and over stuffed (with goan goodies), extremely happy but to a bare refrigerator. We were too tired to go shopping immediately so I had to make do with what I could find. Rice-musoor dal-begun (brinjal) bhaja! Ah! Comfort food.

There are varities of musoor dal recipes...the difference being the ingredients used for tempering or "chowNk". This recipe uses a small onion, garlic and cumin seeds.

You will need:

Musoor dal: 1 cup
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Bay leaf: 1
Red Chilli: 1
Salt to taste

For tempering
Onion: 1 small
Garlic: 3-4 cloves
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Oil: 1-2 tbsp

How to:

  1. Wash the dal well with several changes of water. Drain.
  2. In a pressure cooker, put the dal, turmeric, the bay leaf and the red chillie and salt to taste.
  3. Add 1 & 3/4 cup water (a little less than double the quantity of dal) and cook for two whistles (might take more in winter). Leave aside for the steam to escape and the lid to open.
  4. Slice the onions into fine rings. Mince the garlic.
  5. In a kadai, heat oil and add the cumin seeds.
  6. When the start to splutter, add the onion and garlic and stir well. Cook till the onions turn pink.
  7. Add the cooked dal to the kadai.
  8. Add water to make the dal thinnish. Sometimes, while cooking the dal in the pressure cooker, all the water evaporates.
  9. Adjust salt and cook the dal in the kadai on high flame for 4-5 minutes.
  10. Remove from fire and serve with rice (along with other veggies ... I prefer this dal - rice combos with fries or "bhajas" - brinjal or parwal or aloo and sometimes, fish!

Bon apetit!

Orange Peel Cake

Saturday was the coldest night that Delhi has had for a very long time. 6.8 degrees. Shiver me timbers. But this also had a happy flipside. R sent me a surprise package, which arrived intact thanks to her fabulous packaging and the weather: An orange peel cake. Scrumptious. I gave a slice to my help J and her comment was that I should get the recipe so that we can eat it more often. So, R obliged.

You will need:

Flour: 2 cups
Baking powder: 1tsp
Sugar: 1 cup
Eggs: 3
Vegetable oil: 3/4 cup
Orange essence: 1 tsp or Orange marmalade: 1 tbsp
Vanilla essence: 1 tsp
Orange peels: 1/2 cup
Warm milk

How to:

  1. Mix 1 & 1/3 cup flour and baking powder and sieve this three times.
  2. In a bowl, add 3/4 cup oil and 1 cup powdered sugar. Mix well.
  3. To this add two tbsp flour followed by one egg and mix well. Then add another 2 tbsp flour and another egg. Repeat this till all the three eggs are in the batter.
  4. Add a bit of warm milk to smoothen the batter.
  5. Add 1 tsp each of orange essence and vanilla essence. If you don't have orange essence just add 1 tbsp marmalade and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and add half a cup of chopped orange peel.
  6. Grease a tin with butter or oil and dust with flour. Pour the batter and bake in an oven (preheated for 5 minutes) at medium for 40-50 minutes or till a inserted knife comes out clean.

Mmmm....just the thing with a hot cup of coffee!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Okra with Panchphoron & Brinjal with spring onions

I was really eager to attend the wedding of a friend's sister today. I had been planning on this for quite some time. The saree, the jewellery, A's clothes (phenomenal for me...since I always start planning with 5 secs left to spare)! And then last night, I got fever with chills and shakes and how. And this is really ominous since chills and shakes usually is a sign of Malaria. Today, thankgod, didnt have another attack but my temperature hovered around 100 deg C. At 7pm, I sadly gave up the idea of attending and called up my friend to explain...it sounded really lame over the phone. But what to do? That done, I had to prepare dinner. Thankgod I had bhindi, spring onions and brinjals. Could whip up two dishes in about half an hour. Another 15 minutes, 5 rotis were ready and we had our simple home cooked dinner (in place of the no-doubt lavish spread at the Sheraton...).

The bhindi recipe is one I learnt from m-i-l. Before this, I had never heard of bhindi being cooked this way and was a bit iffy about it at first. But really, its quite tasty and a regular fare for us.

Bhindi with Panchphoron

You will need
Bhindi / Okra 250 gms
Onion 1 medium sized
Panchphoron 1 tsp (equal parts of black mustard, anise, methi, cumin and kalonji)
Salt to taste
Sugar 1/4 tsp
Oil for frying

How to

  1. Wash and drain the bhindi. Cut them into 1" pieces.
  2. Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a kadai.
  3. Add the panchphoron.
  4. When they start spluttering, add the onions and saute till they turn translucent.
  5. Add the bhindi, the salt and stir well.
  6. Cook over high flame for 5 minutes.
  7. Cover, lower flame and leave for another 5-7 minutes or till the bhindis are done.

Brinjals with spring onions

Strangely, I never liked this dish although this is a popular bengali one, till I got married. A likes all things with brinjals in it. He likes them in pizza too (yes...). But once I made it (and it turned out good and really easy to make) I started liking it too!!

You will need:

Brinjal / Aubergine 1 medium
Spring Onions: 3 - 4
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

How to

  1. Wash the brinjal and dice into small cubes, smear with salt and keep aside.
  2. Cut the spring onions into small pieces about the same size of the brinjals.
  3. Heat oil in a kadai to smoking and add the brinjal.
  4. Stir well and fry till softened.
  5. Add the spring onion and stir well.
  6. Fry for another 3-4 minutes and remove from fire.

Both are very subtle flavored, with minimal or no spices, easy to make and tasty too!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Akbaree pasand

Recently, I have been having a long distance reunion over email with a few old pals. We have been busy getting an update on our lives. I happened to mention I had a food blog. To which, my old pal S now living in Australia, had his own recipe to share. But be warned. This is for the really adventurous!

1. Drive to supermarket , pick up a kg of lamb/beef and Shan ' s kashmiri mutton masala
2. Put on a kadai, throw in the mutton with the masala and cook for 10-15 minutes while you down 3 scotch on the rocks.
3. Garnish as per suggestion on the box . And there was a time when I couldn't fry an egg ... brings tears to my eyes when I see what I have accomplished.

For those not into dare devilry, here is another recipe from R: Akbaree Pasand. She got it from somewhere. The USP of this recipe is that it works for both mutton and chicken! And it makes a change from usual mutton or chicken curry! She swears its easy. It reads easy. (Apparently it's an Aghan recipe).

You will need:

Mutton or chicken 1 kilo
Onions: 4 medium or 3 large ones
Shahjeera: 1& 1/2 tsp
Shahmarich: 1& 1/2 tsp
Jaiphal (nutmeg): 1& 1/2 tsp
Oil for cooking

For the marinade
Fresh curd 350 -400 gm
Red chilli powder 2 tsp
Salt 2tsp or to taste
Garlic paste 3heaped tbsp

Marinade according to the meat: Mutton should be marinated for 3 hours and chciken for 40 minutes or so.

How to

  1. Heat about a cup of white oil in a wok / kadai.
  2. Add 4 medium chopped onions or 3 very large ones as you see fit. Fry for a few minutes.
  3. Now add the marinated meat and fry till the oil separates (12-15 minutes for chicken and about half an hour for mutton).
  4. Then add shaajeraa powder, shaamarich powder and jaipahal powder and toss and turn,(they should be 1 1/2 tsp to 2 but nutmeg 1 1/2 will do).
  5. Lower flame and cover and cook till done.
  6. When serving sprinkle fresh coriander leaves, onion rings or fried onions (beresta ) and whole green chillies.

Note: The dish is cooked without water. If the dish is made using chicken, the bones can be used but for mutton, minimal bones are preferred.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jeera Chicken

R was here. For ten whole days. At first I was a bit nervous about my very basic kitchen. No mixer, juicer, blender. No toaster. No OTG. Very very basic. Turns out, I needn't have worried on that account. I was very eager to show off my house keeping -skills. And to some extent I did. But for some strange reason, whatever I cooked...fell flat and how. I even over boiled the rice to a unholy mess. Yikes. And served it to not only her, but even to two friends of hers, who had dropped in to say hello. I am lucky that one of them gave me a beautiful lapiz lazuli pendent, before he tasted my cooking. Eeps. So much for my bragging. Even A's vouching for my cooking (that is my cooking before R's arrival) seemed false. And to think I had the guts to keep a food blog. Anyhow, I managed to salvage the situation a little bit. I did make couple of passable veggies dishes. (The rice was still over boiled). So I am afraid of posting anymore of my own recipes. Instead, I have here a recipe for Jeera Chicken that R picked up from a programme on TV. And like she is wont to, remembered it properly without bothering to write it down. It was YUMMY. And yes, Shubo Bijoya to everyone.

You will need:
Chicken 1 kg, cut into medium pieces
Onions 2 large, cut into rings
Green Chillies 3, Chopped
Fresh corainder 1 1/2 cups, chopped
Cumin seeds / Jeera 3 tsp
Jeera powder 1 1/4 tsp
Dhania powder 2 1/2 tsp
Mustard oil, Salt and Sugar as required

How to:

  1. Heat 4 tbsp mustard oil in a kadai / wok.
  2. When the oil is hot, throw in 1&1/2 tsp jeera seeds; When the seeds start to pop, add jeera powder followed bythe dhania powder. Stir.
  3. Add 2 tsp salt, sugar 2 tsp and a little water.When the oil floats to the top, throw in the chicken pieces and toss so as to coat the pieces well with the spices.
  4. Let it fry on high for about ten minutes. Sprinkle a little water in between so that the chicken pieces don't stick to the pan.
  5. Then lower the flame. Pour water to make the curry. Cover and cook till the chicken is cooked.
  6. Again increase flame to reduce curry and then adjust sugar and salt. Take off fire.

To garnish

  1. Heat 4 tsp mustard oil in a wok. Add 1&1/2 tsp jeera, chiilies, onionrings and lightly fry for two minutes. Add coriander and remove from fire. Garnish the chicken and serve!

Bon appetit!!!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lemon Dal

Dal is such a must for me. Dal (of the day) along with rice and veggies are always my first course. And since we have dal day in and day out (almost), a variation in the recipe is always welcome. Lemon dal is one such variation. It makes a nice change, once in a while. Like with most recipes on this blog, mine is a variation on the original. The lemon comes from the leaves of the lemon plant and not from actual lemon itself. (Although I have a recipe from a very interesting book Life & Food in Bengal by Chitrita Banerji which uses both the leaves as well as slices of lemon). This is my variation.

You will need:
Masoor dal: 1 small cup
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Lemon leaves: 3-4
Salt: 1-2 tsp
For tempering
Oil: 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin: 1 tsp

How to:

  1. Wash the dal, with several changes of water. Drain.
  2. In a pressure cooker, add the dal and 2 cups of water and the turmeric.
  3. Close the lid and cook for one whistle of the pressure cooker. (Might need two in winters or at higher altitudes).
  4. Remove cover and stir the dal properly.
  5. In a pan, add the oil and the jeera. When the jeera start spluttering, add first the lemon leaves and then dal to the pan.
  6. Keep on high flame.
  7. Adjust salt and also, add water if the dal has become too thick. It should be fairly thin.
  8. Let it boil for 3-4 minutes and remove from fire.
  9. Serve with rice and veggies (of course).

Note: It could possibly be a nice and different soup for non rice eaters!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Chappati Corn Rolls

Today is 2nd October the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and therefore a holiday through the length and breadth of India. Holidays always have this getting-up-late-lazing-around-after-a-huge-breakfast feel. Specially if the holiday comes in between a work week.

The first two are fine...but the huge breakfast is a perennial problem. I have always been a milk and cereal or tea and toast breakfast person. Alas, not hubby dear. He would like oily parathas, eggs and bacon and all sorts of cholesterol laden fatty oily food. And like all such things, incredibly tasty. So the challenge before me was manifold:

  • Make it tasty enough to make him forgo parathas / eggs etc.
  • Make it low cal enough to make it healthy without him realising it.
  • Make it with the odds and end that there are in the fridge / kitchen
  • Go make it myself, curbing the enormous desire to sit in the verandah and enjoy the wonderful teeny tiny nip in the air on this lazy morning
  • Also, I have sacked my irascible maid ...just yesterday.

So I summoned up all my courage and made a hodge podge of ingredients and recipes learnt from m-i-l, my s-i-l (a terrific cook) and ofcourse R (even more terrific a cook if possible).

This is what I found in my fridge / kitchen and therefore used

1/2 a capsicum (bell pepper)

1 cube amul cheese

1 small cup corn

1 small onion

6-7 garlic

A pinch dried Thyme

Olive oil

Atta / Whole wheat flour

A tiny bit of butter

This is what I did of the above

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan.
  2. Add the garlic and stir till the garlic releases its aroms (couple of seconds)
  3. Lightly saute the onions till they turn pink
  4. Add the capsicum, dried thyme, followed by the corn
  5. About 3 or 4 minutes later, add the grated cheese and mix well.
  6. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Remove from flame, cover and keep.
  8. Knead the atta in to a dough and roll out five (size of a quarter plate) thin chapattis.
  9. Add 3-4 pods garlic crushed into a small bit butter (about a tsp full). Melt a dash of butter (I kept the butter in a small bowl on top of the pan with the corn mix).
  10. Put the rolled chappattis in a pan - be careful about not burning the chappatis otherwise they will get hard.
  11. When each chappati has been dry fried (their colour change) on each side, use a spoon to put a bit of the garlic butter on each side.
  12. When done, remove from fire, add the corn mix, roll and serve. Viola!

End result: All rolls gone, a breakfast fit for a holiday, happy hubby and most importantly, low cal.

Low cal, despite the cheese and butter. How?

Butter: I used only one curl of butter. Curl? Well when you run a knife on the surface of the slab of butter, the knife will cut it out in a thin curl. And since I melted it, it was enough for all 5 rolls. And instead of lathering it on the chapattis, I dabbed a bit on each chappati. This is better than putting the butter in the corn mix. You'd or rather I'd need a huge amount to convince hubby that I had indeed used copious amounts of butter.

Now the cheese: I did grate one whole cube of cheese (enough for two sandwiches). However, I used only 1 tsp on the grated cheese, again sprinkled on top of the cooked corn...so that its taste was definitely identifiable!! The rest I put away in the fridge, in a small jar.

Oil: I used only 1 tbsp of olive oil.

And I was actually going to put the corn mix in lightly toasted bread. But we are all out of bread and hubby was feeling a tad lazy. And I, still dressed in my night rags, couldn't venture out.

So, the chappati innovation.

Note for other Timid Cooks like me: Bread, Pita bread are easier options than rolling out chapattis.

Note for Interpid Cooks: You might be right about laughing at this silly recipe if you happened to be anyone other than a Timid Cook. So please be kind to me, when you read this!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ma's Prawn and Sausage Fried Rice

Ma sprung this Prawn and Sausage fried rice on us during a do, long back when we were in the middle-east. Just like she does everything. No fuss, no elaborate planning, no discussion. Just go ahead and do it. I think she only made it just that once. And never afterwards. Like I remember the wafer thin, amazingly tasty sooji biscuits she ahd learnt at a cookery class. I still remember them although she made it only once when I think I must have been 6 or 7 . No matter how much I cajoled her - she never made them again.

I spoke to ma last night and asked her for this fried rice recipe. She absented mindedly said yes. Later, I shot off an email to R as well, just in case. This morning, I find the recipe in my mail box with an accusing note from R: "How cum you don't remember that I had cooked this dish for you when I had come visiting you in Paris? And yet you remember the time long back when ma made it"?
Not deliberately, dear R, first time makes the strongest impression, right?

You will need:
Pre-cooked / left over rice: 2 cups
Onion: 1 medium diced finely
Green chili: 2 sliced finely (optional)
Tinned sausage: 1 cup, cut into roundels
prawns: 1/2 cup small prawns
Mixed vegetables like carrots, beans: 1 cup
Ajinomoto: a pinch
Salt: 1 tsp
Sugar: 1/4 tsp
Vinegar: a dash

How to:

  1. Saute the sausage in oil. Keep aside.
  2. Parboil the carrots, beans. Drain and keep aside.
  3. Lightly fry the prawns. Trick is to heat oil in a pan on high flame. Drop in the prawns, stir and remove immediately. Should not take more than 30 secs.
  4. Heat oil in a pan. Add the onions and fry till they turn pink.
  5. Add the chili, sliced capsicum, the veggies.
  6. Add salt, sugar, a pinch of ajinomoto (optional) and a dash of vinegar.
  7. Add the prawns.
  8. Stir to mix well.
  9. Lower flame, cover and keep for couple of minutes so that the aromas mingle well.
  10. Viola! Its ready to eat.

Note: This is really easy. Left over rice, sausages out of a can and any veggies that you might have in your fridge!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cabbage Khichdi

I have managed, in this heat, to catch a cold. My head feels heavy and my movements lethargic. On top of that, my cook did no a show, but she was kind enough to inform me about that. I was not really feeling up to doing much cooking, so I made a one dish meal. This is a recipe that A taught me and it has been a life saver (mine) on many an ocassion.

You will need:
These are the proportions I used; these can be easily varied

Cabbage: 1/2 of a medium sized cabbage
Rice: 1&1/2 cups
Peas: a handful
Tomato: 1
Onions: 2 - quartered
Potato: 2, halved
Garlic: 4 cloves smashed
Ginger: 1/2 tsp grated
Bay leaf: 1
Cinnamon: 1" stick
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Cloves: 2/3
Green elaichi: 2 pods
Salt: 2 tsp
Sugar: a pinch
Oil: 2 tbsp

How to:

  1. Shred the cabbage, wash well and drain.
  2. Wash the rice and drain.
  3. In a pressure cooker, heat oil. Add the cinnamon, cardamon, bay leaf and elaichi.
  4. After 30 sec (by this time, the spices will have released their aroma), add the cumin seeds.
  5. When the cumin start spluttering, which is almost immediately, add the cabbage, peas, garlic and ginger and turmeric and salt. Stir well.
  6. After a minute, add the tomatoes. Stir well.
  7. After a minute, add the rice. Stir well otherwise, the rice will stick to the pan.
  8. Add the quartered onions and the potatoes.
  9. Add 2&3/4 cups water - the same cup that was used to measure out the rice.
  10. Cover the cooker and cook for one whistle. Remove from flame. Let the cover drop by itself. Don't lift the weight on top of the lid to release the pressure.
  11. Viola! Done. Enjoy. Bon Appetit.


  • The onions can be sauteed right in the begining right after adding the cumin. Any other vegetable can be used too.
  • Since it's a khichdi or Khichudi in bengali, it can be accompanied by fritters - begun /brinjal, parwal /potol, papads.

And it does not take more than 20 minutes start to finish.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Faux Uttapam

A feels very hungry post his evening walk and the temptation to pick up the phone and order some calorie laden take away is enormous. So I am forever on the look out for easy at the same time tasty (enough to keep him away from fatty food) recipes. Also, if I am at work, my maid has to cook it and can't have any thing very complicated nor do I want to spend much time in the evening cooking something which requires a great deal of effort (should I be around). This is one easy and tasty recipe. And fool proof. Always turns out great and does not require exotic ingredients.

You will Need:
Semolina / Sooji: 1 cup
Curd: 2 cups (meaning double the amount of the sooji)
Onion: 1 small finely sliced
Garlic: 3 or 4 minced
Capsicum: 1 small finely sliced
Carrot: 1/2 cup finely sliced
Cabbage: 1/2 cup shredded
Coriander leaves: a few finely shredded
Oil for frying

How to:

  1. In a bowl, add the sooji and double the amount of curd. I used one cup because that's all I had. Sometimes, you might have to add a bit more or less of the curd. It should be thicker, than the dosa batter. (The batter won't spread by itself on the pan. You will have to spread it out using a ladle or spoon).
  2. Add the chopped veggies. These are strictly, optional. It tastes just as good with just onions.
  3. Season with salt (about 3/4 tsp)
  4. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a flat pan over high flame. Spread the batter out - should not be spread thinly; it might break while frying.
  5. Keep on high flame for about a minute or so. Then turn it over carefully and lower the flame. Cover and keep for a few more minutes.
  6. Press lightly with a wooden spatula so that all the batter inside is cooked as well.
  7. The whole thing should take 6 to 7 minutes.
  8. Serve with sauce of your choice!

Note: Its quick, uses less oil, simple to make, tasty. However, you CAN while frying, add a bit of butter to the oil or use only butter, if you are not counting your calories. It tastes terrific when fried in butter. You can fry them out in any shape. Normally they should be round and the size of a quarter plate. But you can make mini pizza size or like today when strangely while spreading the batter, it took a oblong shape. Tasted just as good!!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

R's Noodles for Comfort

I have a biggish collection of cook books. Not for trying out recipes mind you. But to drool over the exotic recipes while I eat my every day fare!! (Ok, weird I know...). A new addition to this collection is one on Noodles. Udon, Soba and what not. I have gone through it cover to cover several times...but somehow, have never tried out any, although I keep meaning to. Instead, I bugged R several times to send me her own personal recipe - this I am going to try out. Perhaps tomorrow. It is really tasty. Try it. And simple. No fancy ingredients.

Poor R has been suffering from a very bad back and despite that (or perhaps I harrassed her a bit too much), she typed out the recipe and sent it to me. So here it is:

You will need:

Noodles: 200 or 250 gms (she hasn't specified what type of noodle - so can I dare to say "ordinary" noodles?)

Green chillies: 3-4

Assorted vegetables (carrots, beans, mushrooms, cauliflower) : 2 cups

Green Capsiscum: 1 medium sized

Garlic chopped: 6-7 cloves

Soy sauce: A dash

White vinegar - 1/2 cup

Maggie Chicken cubes: 2-3

Oil for sauting the vegetables

Salt, Pepper, Sugar

This is How:

  • Boil the noodles and plunge in cold water. Drain, smear some white oil and keep aside.
  • Chop the green chillies and put them in a pan with the vinegar. Add a little bit of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from fire and keep aside.
  • Julienne the beans, slice the carrots and mushrooms.
  • Parboil the beans and carrots (and cauliflower if using)
  • Slice the capsicum finely.
  • Saute the mushrooms in white oil with pepper and salt.
  • Heat some oil in a pan and throw in the chopped garlic.
  • Add somefresh chopped chillies, then add parboiled veggies,
  • Add the sauteed mushrooms and the capsicum
  • Then add two tsp sugar and finally a little soy sauce, vinegar and chicken cubes.
  • Finally, add the noodles. Mix well, taste and adjust seasoning.

Viola! There you have it. The chillies in vinegar is optional. Really. But it does add such a lovely tang to the noodles. The recipe reads so simple and easy...but believe me, its Comfort food.


  • You can add your own combination of veggies. Shredded, sauteed meat / prawns too can be added. A would insist on adding eggs too....
  • Chicken stock cubes are usually salty. So is vinegar and soy sauce. Be careful about the quantities.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Carrot Mushroom Fusilli

Just around 6pm, I feel so hungry. And the temptation to pick up the phone and order a take away is enormous. And that means my carefully planned dinner is put in to the refrigerator for tomorrow. I almost succumbed. And then I remembered a line from Everbody likes Sandwiches:

Just thinking about dinner — let alone getting up the energy to make it happen seemed like too damn much. But being the frugal girl that I am, I didn't want to order in take-out…Instead, I did what most modern cooks do. I went online to
epicurious and typed in a couple things I had in my fridge and out popped a couple super simple recipes.

I did not go onto epicurious. Instead I looked in my fridge and kitchen and cooked up an easy dish with what I found.

Here is what I found:

1 small carrot
half a cube of Amul cheese
Dried mushrooms – a handful
Fusilli – a handful
Garlic – 3 cloves
Salt, pepper and dried rosemary
Olive oil

This is what I did:

Put the dried mushroom in a pan of water and let it simmer for 20 minutes while I watered the plants on my balcony. I also pruned some of them, in case you are wondering that my balcony must either be enormous or I must be having a veritable hanging garden. Neither. B
y the time I had finished with the plants, the mushrooms were tender. I drained them.
Next I put a pan of water to boil for the fusilli.
Then I scraped the carrot and washed it. And then using the peeler, I got really fine strips of carrot.
I chopped the garlic finely.
I grated the half cube of cheese.
I put a little olive oil into the frying pan and added the garlic.
As soon as it started to brown, I added the carrot strips and mushrooms.
Sprinkled some salt, paprika and dried rosemary.
Then I added the drained pasta and mixed well.
Lastly, I sprinked the grated cheese on top, turned off the flame and covered the pan and let it sit for couple of minutes.

The dish really looked good. The beige of the mushroom nicely contrasting with the orange of the carrots. (Alas no photos). And then, I ate it all up.

Upshot of this: The small quantity served as an appetizer and now I am really hungry and not really looking forward to the homely dinner. Eeeps!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My very own Yogurt dessert

Have come up with my very OWN recipe. Yes its quick, its ludicrously easy, and its only yogurt. But I did it myself. Yahoo... Dear readers, you must be wondering at this point that I must be either completely nuts or egotistical. Neither really. I have this idea deep within me, that I am not much of a cook. And have never really tried very hard to overcome that bias deep within me. I make elaborate preparations but lose steam mid way. I have huge compilations of recipes collected from all over. But can never seem to find them. On the rare occasion that I cook for anyone other than A, I get R to make up a simple do-able menu for me. There were three other dishes that I cooked along with this yogurt dessert. Those I leave for another time.

First, as the name suggests, you will need yogurt. Millions do it on a daily basis through out India and elsewhere. But the problem was, that I was not among them. My cook would do that for me. And today, she had left by the time the milk arrived (rather late in the day). I tried to look it up on the web..and the two links I found (both american) mentioned using a thermometer to check the temperature of the milk etc. Now, that is not something I have seen my mother, or mother-in-law or my maid do. I knew the basics, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Without a thermometer that is.

You will need:
Milk 250 ml (I used double toned milk)
Sugar 1tsp
Vanilla essence
Yogurt to seed
Pistachio nuts: 5-6 coarsely chopped

How to

  1. Heat the milk. Add 1 tsp of sugar to the milk. Remove from fire when it boils. Let the milk cool to room temperature.
  2. Add 1/2 to 1 tsp of yogurt to seed, in the pan you are going pour the milk into. I was going to have a guest for dinner. So, I poured the milk into three small terracotta jars (the size of a small teacup).
  3. Add 1-2 drops of vanilla essence in each of the jars. Cover with foil and set aside (inside a microwaver or like I did, on top of the refrigerator).
  4. Once the yogurt sets, put it in the fridge for chilling. The yogurt set in about 4 hours time (It might take longer if the weather is cold).
  5. Just before serving, add the crushed pistachio nuts, and sprinkle honey on top.

PS - There must be a similar recipe for this; But I came up with this myself. And that, has to be an event and a rare one at that.

PS2 - Dear R, Have I made the grade then?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Lau Ghonto: My short cut

Lau or Lauki is a summer staple for us bongs. For others too since the markets and mandis seem to be flooded with it. Tired of making the same old dal-lauki dish, I got a bit adventorous and tried "Lau Ghonto", from my bible to bengali cooking: "Baro mashey tero pod" (Thirteen courses for twelve months" written by some one's great grandmother.

You will need:
Lauki: 1 (The one I had was about a foot long)
Daler bori: 5-6 (Lentil dumplings)
Cumin grains: 1 tsp
Bay leaf: 2
Green Chillie: 2
Coconut flakes: Half a coconut
Kabuli Chana: These are the small dark variety, soaked the night before
Milk: 1/2 cup
Atta: 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar: 1/4 tsp or less

How to or really what I did:

1. Peel the lauki and wash the gourd well.
2. Slice finely
3. Grate the cocounut
4. The kabuli chanas should be soaked the night before, but hey, I already had some
boiled ones left over in the fridge. Boiled channey stay well and are a handy
addition to salads.
5. Heat 1 tbsp oil to smoking in a kadai / wok.
6. Add the boris and stir. They will brown in a few seconds. Take them out and keep.
7. Add the cumin grains and bay leaf to the remaining oil in the kadai.
8. When the cumin grains start popping (which almost immediately), add the sliced
9. Add salt (about 1 tsp)
10. Add the sliced chillie. This is optional, but chillie does give a very nice flavour.
11. Add half cup water.
12. Cover, lower flame.
13. The lauki should be cooked (softened) in about 5 minutes. But it would still
remain watery.
14. Sprinkle some sugar...just a few grains really, add the grated cocounut and the
kabuli chana.
15. The water will dry up in a few more minutes.
16. While waiting for the water to dry up, stir 1 tsp of atta in the milk so that
there are no lumps.
17. Add it to the lauki.
18. Stir well and remove from flame.
19. Keep the lid on for a while, so that the milk is soaked well into the lauki.
20. Use a pestle to lightly grind the boris.
21. Sprinkle them evenly over the lauki and serve!
22. Best eaten with, as all things bengali, rice.

PS - So what was my shortcut? I didnt have coconut. And so I left it out. Tasted quite nice without it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Panicked Paneer

We returned home yesterday to a near empty refrigerator and hungry stomachs. It was simply too hot to go out for dinner, so I asked A to get some paneer. It was almost 8pm when I ventured into the kitchen to find that I was left with a motley bunch of ingredients. I made a mish mash of the various paneer recipes I knew to come up with this:

Ingredients or what I started with
So, at random, I chopped 2 onions.
2 small capsicum / Shimla Mirch cut into sqares (like in chinese dishes)
Eeks. Out of garlic...completely
One potato cubed (that's all that was there)
Paneer 200gms
Panch phoron (bengali 5 spice)
Jeera powder / Cumin 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder 1 & 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Here is how I did it:
1. I heat 2 tbsp oil in a kadai
2. Added panch phoron. Panicked as I was, I forgot the 5 spice combination and made up one of my own (jeera / kalonji / methi / anise / ajwain instead of the mustard).
3. Added powdered jeera, dhania and turmeric to the oil and fried well with a little bit of water. (When the water dries up, repeat the process couple of times so that the masalas are well cooked).
4. Then I added the cubed potato (I had to cube really fine since all I had was one aloo), stirred well. Added a cup of water, salt, covered and lowered flame to cook till potato were softened.
5. Egad. I had to fry the onions in the oil first. Which I didn't. Never mind.
6. In between, I managed to heat some water with a little bit of salt. When it started boiling, I removed it from flame and add the paneer to it, cubed (so that it could soak up the salt).
7. In another pan, I heated 2 tbsp oil, fried the diced onions and capsicum. Then I drained the paneer and added it to the pan. Till it was lightly fried.
8. In the meanwhile, in my other kadai, the potatoes had softened. I put another half cup of water in to make some gravy, adjusted the salt, let it come to a boil. 9.Then I added the onion/capsicum/paneer fry to the gravy.
10.Added half tsp grated ginger. Covered it and let it cook over low flame for a few minutes.
11. Adjusted seasoning and then served with chapatis (which thankfully came out fine).

And what do you know...it was nice. A asked for second helpings and we finished all of it. Phew.

Umm, so, the lesson I learnt was:
It is not the recipe which is important (it is, but not overtly so, atleast when u are cooking at home and in a rush), but keeping a cool head while all about you is hot (the weather -- it was so humid and hot...I had difficulty in keeping the sweat trickling down everywhere, but mostly into my eyes) is equally important while cooking!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bok-Phul Bhaja

After the terrible heat wave when temperatures went up to 47 degrees and continuously for nearly a week, we have had the blessed rains and how. This weekend was so wonderful, waking upto overcast skies. Rain mean kichudi and lots of fries (vegetarian and non vegetarian). This would include: fried parwal, fried brinjal, fried fish and "bok phul bhaja". Oh god, how long has it been since I have eaten some bok phul bhaja. I was about to pen down my recipe (the way it is cooked at home, and infact pretty much the way its cooked, or should I say deep fried!) when I found this nifty recipe already up at Senskitchen. So, do follow the link for the recipe.

Bok phul, looks like this and its scientific name is (had to search for that)is Sesbania grandiflora Leguminosae!

I thought we were alone in eating bok-phul ,(we as in bengalis). But apparanently, not so. Accroding to a FAO , in Vietnam, Sesbania grandiflora (Leguminosae) form a delicious ingredient in the very popular local sour soup called canh chua.

More pictures and description on this page.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mimi's Veg Macaroni

Another recipe from R. The comments too are hers.

Its funny how friendships develop often over recipe swaps or over kitchen news. It was a bit like that with Mimi. Although we had known each other from before, we began talking about food and then friendship simply followed.

I learnt three very basic recipes from her and am writing as I remember them. I first sampled each from mimi's reserve of recipes. Then I tried them out and only then did I write them down in my dog eared very pathetic looking old recipe diary.
I do hope that I have kept it close to what was said by Mimi in the first place---she was good at anything she did and though she had turned vegetarian after joining IISCKON, she always had a non veg recipe, ready on her lips -- as fresh as if she ate them the day before.. As I write this, many memories of her are flashing by--so its really an ode to her, for she left us all in 2003 August 25th. Here is the first of those recipes:-

Mimi's Vegetarian macaroni

You will need:
2 pkts of macaroni boiled with salt water and dried under fan and slightly smeared with oil after cooling
1/2 cup prefried tiny cauliflower florets
1/4 tsp hing or asoefetida
1/2 cup Capsicum cut into small squares
1/2 cup carrot cut into small squares
1/2 cup beans julienned or diced
1/2 cup peas
3 tomatoes cut into very small pieces and pureed

How to:

Put keep 2tsp soyasauce,3 tsp vinegar, 3-4 green chillies cut into small pieces in a pot with a lid.

Add 3-4 tbsp oil to a pan. Throw in carrot, beans, peas and hing.
Add a bit of salt, according to taste. Cover the pan and allow the veggies to soften.
Do remember to stir the veggies a few times, though.
When the veggies are a bit soft, add capsicum. Add the tomato puree.
When puree starts to dry add soya sauce mixture,sugar and finally the prefried cauliflower. Set aside.

In a pan add 2 tbsp oil,add the macaroni and fry. Add the vegetable mixture to the macaroni and stir for three to four minutes. Mix well and remove from fire.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Merguez Meal

Just the other day, we were reminscing about France. What do we miss about it? Food mostly. "Cheese", I said. "Merguez" said A. We first tasted this spicy north african sausage in France. With Couscous Royale.

Later on, I was brave enough to pick up some from the super marche and make my own dish. Rather simple it was (but sometimes, simple is best) and ofcourse, the Merguez did its own trick and the dish was marvellous. Definitely not gourmet, but damn good nevertheless.

You will need:
6 merguez (2 for me, 4 for A)
1 large or 2 small capsicum / green bell pepper
2 large tomatoes (smaller if you prefer less tart)
2 large onions

(That's it). No salt, no oil. Just a frying pan. And remember to keep the windows open and an exhaust fan switched on, if you do have one in your kitchen.

How to:
1. Put a frying pan (large enough to hold 6 long merguez) on high flame.

2. When the pan's heated up, put the merguez in.

3. Within a minute of so, the fat from the merguez will start oozing out.

Roll them over so that they are evenly fried, in thier own fat!!

4. Add the onions, tomatoes and bell pepper (all together, order doesn't matter).

5. Keep rolling the merguez to get them evenly fried (in their own fat).

6. When they are done, put them on the dish and eat!!

The fat from the merguez gives a lovely flavour to the onions / pepper / tomatoes.

Its a wonder that something so simple could taste so GOOD!!

Well, do try it...out, while I go and wipe the drool of my keyboard! (Just kidding).

Oh yes, ofcourse, to be eaten with bread of your choice.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What's Cooking elsewhere

Its been nearly an year since I have posted anything on Timid Cook.

1. I have been extremely busy to put it mildy.

2. Have found one after the other, two good cooks (thankgod) (one replaced the other)

3. Been plain lazy.

Ergo, no posts.

Our PC went down to a virus attack and had to undergo major surgery. As a result, lost all my bookmarks. This is good and bad. Bad, because had a great list of food blogs. Good because I can now look for and discover new blogs.

I was surfing with a plate of plain dal-chawal-ghar-ka-khana balanced precariously on my lap, eating with my right hand and handling the mouse with my left, when I came across Tandoori-Turkey-Kabob.

Mind boggles at the fusion-i-fication.

Mutton, chicken, fish tandoori is normally what we eat. Why not Turkey? Why ever not.

We usually eat anything tandoori with onions, the green mint and yogurt chutney, perhaps some naan / tandoori roti (normal fare at restaurants big and small. I have never been so intrepid as to try a tandoori all by myself. Timid Cook that I am).

But the Tandoori-Turkey-Kabob was served with roasted potatoes and sauteed red cabbage and kale seasoned with garam masala and deglazed with cider vinegar. And looked terrific too!!

Really enlivened my plain dal-chawal lunch.