Category Archives: Jazz Up the Leftovers

A Left-Over Lasagna

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The Mango Season is on it’s way out in the City, but that never stops us at the Vakil household! Each year Ma gets dozens of Pairee Mangoes … sweet with just the right amount of tartness & the pulp not too thick… perfect for the juice & squeezes out batches of Aam Ras (Mango Juice), packs it small boxes & freezes it… to be defrosted & eaten when the craving hits you after the fresh fruit is gone! This Ras, in our Gujju household is eaten as a meal accompanied with either Pooris (small, round, deep fried whole wheat flatbread), Poli (thin, layered whole wheat Roti or flat-bread) or our family favourite Safed / Chokha ni Rotli (cottony soft white flat bread made with rice flour).

Safed / Chokhani Rotli

These Rice Flour “Tortillas” are soft, melt-in-your-mouth, & surprisingly light. You could go through a half dozen of these without even realizing it! And they take on the flavour of Mangoes beautifully.

To make these Rotlis, you basically mix equal parts of rice flour & boiling water to which salt & oil are added, & knead out a soft, firm dough. Then you roll out small, thin rounds & roast them on the tawa or griddle. I’ve never tried making them myself… the process always seemed a little complicated for me! And besides I have to admit, with great embarrassment, that I cannot roll out a perfect round Roti / Rotli / Chapati to save my life!

Yes… this Good Gujarati girl married into a Mighty Maratha family cannot make the traditional, staple, Indian flat-bread 😦

But what I can do is make good use of these beautiful Rotlis on the rare occasion that we have a small batch leftover!

And that’s just what I did… Made a perfect light dinner in this gorgeous cloudy weather, after a long walk through my favourite streets in the City, Hot Chocolate & Contemporary India Art… a lovely evening out & about with my oldest, closest pal! Because guess what? I’m not under house arrest any more!

I made my version of a wholesome, flavourful Lasgna using these beauties!

Note: You could use Whole Wheat or Corn Tortillas instead of the Rice Flour ones.

Ingredients

  • 6 – 9 Safed Rotlis
  • 100 gm Cheese (grated)
  • Salted Cracker Crumbs
  • Olive Oil

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Filling

  • 200 gm Cottage Cheese (crumbled)
  • 100 gm Sweet Corn (boiled)
  • 1 Green Capsicum (finely chopped)
  • 1 small Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

 

 

 

 

 

Sauce

  • 8 – 9 Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 Onions (finely chopped)
  • 8 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 dried Red Chillies (torn to bits)
  • 1 teaspoon Kallonji (Onion or Nigella Seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ajwain (Carom Seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon Kasoori Methi (dried Fenugreek Leaves)
  • Red Chilli Powder / Chilli Flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Haldi / Turmeric Powder
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Mixed Herbs
  • 3 tablespoons Tomato Ketchup or Puree
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Wine

Method

Filling

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl & keep aside.

Sauce

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan & add the cumin, carom & onion seeds.
  2. When they start to crackle, toss in the dried red chillies, onion & garlic. Saute till the latter are a light gold.
  3. Add tomatoes & salt. Cook till the tomatoes are soft & then add the chilli powder, turmeric, herbs & fenugreek leaves.
  4. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water or stock & the ketchup .Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Pour in the red wine & simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the flame, allow to cool & then coarsely process the tomato mixture to make a chunky sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting it Together

  1. Grease a deep baking dish and arrange a layer of the Rotlis.
  2. Pour some of the tomato sauce over it & then spoon in the filling.
  3. Cover with the tomato sauce, followed by another layer of the Rotlis, sauce & filling & continue doing so till you run out.
  4. Top up with a layer of the tomato sauce. Cover with grated cheese, cracker crumbs, chilli flakes & herbs.
  5. Drizzle olive oil over generously & bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 C for about 25 minutes.
  6. Serve hot with a dollop of hung yogurt whisked together with some chilli flavoured cheese spread.

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This Recipe Serves 4

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Bread (Gone-Wrong) Pudding

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To begin with, sorry for the incomplete post you may have received last week… I was trying out the WordPress app on my smart phone, & of course being technologically challenged, I ended up posting my draft instead of saving it!!

Well it has been a couple of those days…

All I’ve wanted to do is lay curled up in bed with a book, a movie or sweet dreams! I can’t seem to get myself out of bed to do anything…I guess I’m in the “Summer Holiday” zone! It’s May! My birthday month! The Mango month! The month you just loll around & do nothing. The month you nap all afternoon & hang out with friends all evening. The month that you sleep in late & stay out all night. The month with near zero responsibility, right?

Ahem… Shivani, you were 18 a long, long time ago! Snap out of it!

It didn’t seem to be a great week for baking either… While at breakfast over at my parents’ on Monday a light bulb went ping in my head while I watched Ma make herself a PBJ sandwich. How about making a Peanut Butter Jam Bread?

So I did…

It looked pretty & all, but the texture wasn’t quite what I imagined or liked too much 😦

Then I decided to bake a batch of these gorgeous Lemon Cookies 

Oh & I left them in the oven too long… Too embarrassed to put up the “after” picture 😦

So there I was stuck with a ”not-so-great” PBJ Loaf & some pretty singed Lemon Cookies & a strong resolve that I couldn’t just throw them all away! 

And once again a light bulb went ping inside my head & I thought…

“Gone wrong? Make right!”

I got together:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 150 ml Cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons Sugar
  • Icing Sugar to dust
  • 3 tablespoons Butter
  • My (not-s0-great) Peanut Butter & Jam Loaf

Then I:

  1. Whisked the eggs till light & frothy.
  2. Added the cream & sugar & combined them well.
  3. Generously buttered a baking tray.
  4. Dipped slices of the PBJ Bread in the Egg-Cream mixture & arranged them on the baking tray.
  5. Poured the remaining mixture over the bread.
  6. Dotted the top of the pudding with butter & sprinkled some sugar over it.
  7. Baked it in the oven at 180 C for 30 minutes.
  8. Dusted it with some icing sugar.
  9. And smiled!

Not too bad at all! A warm, comforting, very “home” dessert… I was happy I made it right!

Now any suggestions what I could do with the Lemon Cookie Crumbs? Do tell!

Roasted Aubergine & Tomato Salad

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This weekend was a true test for my will power & determination! I mean I was a good girl up until Saturday night… followed the breakfast & lunch requirements. And then dinner was at the Khan residence. You see it is almost a crime to be on a diet or a fast when you are eating at the Khans’! My dear husband who usually fasts Mondays, conveniently forgets what day of the week it is if we’re over on a Monday! But still I was very proud of myself. I ate my salad & chick peas, & then just one teeny, tiny helping  (okay… not that tiny!) of their famous Khichda / Haleem (a wheat, barley, lentil & meat dish)… delish!! It’s a weakness… I can’t resist it, ever! And it’s something that I am going to attempt to make one of these days.

Anyway to make up for the little cheat over the weekend, I decided to start the week on a healthy note with this Roasted Aubergine & Tomato Salad. It is my spin on a dish Ma makes which is winner every time she serves it up!

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Baby Aubergines / 1 long Aubergine (sliced into very thin rounds & dunked in cold salt water)
  • 2-3 Tomatoes (quartered)
  • 1/2 Onion (sliced finely)
  • 4-6 cloves Garlic (each clove sliced length-wise into 2)
  • a handful Coriander Leaves (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Olive Oil
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Dressing*

     

  • 1/2 cup Low Fat Yogurt (beaten well)
  • 1 tablespoon Mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Low Fat Cheese Spread
  • a handful Mint Leaves (finely chopped)
  • a small piece Celery (finely chopped)
  • A drop or 2 Honey

Method

  1. Place thinly sliced aubergines in a bowl & toss in 1/2 teaspoon olive oil & the ginger garlic paste. Mix well & keep aside.
  2. Grease a baking tray with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil & arrange the quartered tomatoes on half the tray.
  3. Place 1/2 clove garlic on each tomato.
  4. Arrange the aubergine & onion slices in the remaining space on the tray.
  5. Make sure the vegetables are all laid out in one layer.
  6. Sprinkle the chilli flakes, salt, pepper, cumin powder & sugar over the vegetables.
  7. Top it with the coriander leaves & drizzle the remaining olive oil over it.
  8. Bake in the oven at 200C for an hour.
  9. Meanwhile, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing & keep aside in the ‘fridge.

Putting It Together

  1. Arrange the roasted tomatoes in a single layer on a serving plate.
  2. Make a layer of aubergines over it.
  3. Top with the onions, bits of garlic & coriander scraped out from the baking tray.
  4. Pour the dressing over the roasted veggies.

You could serve the salad at room temperature or cold

This recipe serves 1 person on a diet who is making up for the indulgence over the weekend!

When Ma makes her Aubergine Platter, she makes a gravy with finely chopped tomatoes & onions, seasoned with cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt & chilli powder. She then deep fries the aubergine slices & layers them over the gravy & covers the dish with beaten yogurt, garnished with green coriander, cumin & chilli powder. It makes for a fresh & delicious side dish.

I tried to make it healthier by roasting the aubergines & tomatoes. The coriander leaves, onions, garlic & aubergines crisped beautifully in the oven, in contrast with the soft, sweet, juicy chunks of tomatoes. The mint & honey yogurt balanced out the spicy veggies.

*Jazz up the Leftovers

This recipe will make more dressing than you will need, but that’s fine. Refrigerate it for later & you can use it as a:

  • Marinade for poultry or meat
  • Healthy Spread for a sandwich
  • Topping for Grilled Mushrooms or Roast Potatoes
  • Dip with Cucumbers & Carrots (if you feel healthy) or Chips, Crackers (if you’re not!)
  • Mix-in with Rice for a quick, light summer meal

Kadhai Paneer… Cottage Cheese in a Wok (literally)!

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Ever since I was little, I remember, our house had constant visitors… family, friends, distant relatives, dad’s work colleagues. They’d come over for lunch, dinner or drop by for tea. My grandfather’s oldest friends would come by every Sunday for breakfast. We had Diwali (the Hindu New Year) & Raksha Bandhan (a festival celebrating the bond of brothers & sisters) dinners for the entire family… aunts, uncles, cousins. My grandmother & mother would cook traditional Gujarati delicacies… Ghugras (whole wheat crescents stuffed with green peas or green beans & deep fried)Undhiyu (a mixed winter vegetable dish with green beans, raw banana, purple yam, with a special baby garlic & turmeric chutney) in winter, Puran Polis (flatbread stuffed with a mixture of jaggery & lentil) during the rains, Ras (fresh Alphonso mango juice)  & Dhokla (soft & fluffy steamed triangles made with fermented rice batter) during the mango season, my mother’s famous, fresh & deceptively light Shrikhand (thick sweetened yogurt with saffron & cardamom) all year round… a special Mango version for my birthday in May every year!

It was a different story when my parents’ “gang”, their oldest, dearest friends or people from my dad’s work-place came over. Mum would then make Pizza from scratch (my paternal grandmother taught her to bake bread & pizza base at home… She was quite ahead of her times), Mexican, Chinese, cuisine from other parts of India. It was at these dinners that my sister & I, as a couple of 10-12 year olds were allowed to contribute to the menu.

At first Ma entrusted us with simple stuff, like a yogurt dip or salad or toppings for crackers. Then gradually as her confidence in us grew, we made dessert or a main course once in a while. If there was one thing she was very particular about back then (actually even now!) is, “Please don’t experiment on the guests!” So we had to make something we had made before AND/OR follow the recipe to the T… which worked for me, at times, when I would make a particularly boozy Chocolate Mousse & get very stern looks from Dad! “It’s in the recipe Dad! See there it says TABLE not TEAspoons!

But they would always, very proudly tell their friends, “Nandini (my sister) made the dip!” or “Shivani made the pasta salad!

Of course now that Nandini & I have our own homes, own kitchens, own parties, we experiment away on our guests! This also means that we don’t really cook at too many Vakil dinners anymore.

Last week, though, I had a chance, after a long time, to cook once again in my mother’s kitchen. I happened to be around the day my mum was organizing a dinner party for a friend from France & her Italian friend & a bunch of my dad’s old colleagues. She planned an Indian menu of course, with a mix of our native Gujarati dishes & some North Indian ones, with her signature aubergine dish.

My contribution to the menu was Kadhai Paneer, a Punjabi cottage cheese dish, from Nita Mehta’s recipe book. And yes, I did follow the recipe to the T… almost!

Ingredients

  • 250 gm Paneer (Cottage Cheese, cut lengthwise)
  • 2 Capsicums (cut in strips)
  • 2-3 Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 10-12 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 inch piece Ginger (chopped finely)
  • 1 ½ inch piece Ginger (grated)
  • 2 Green Chillies (finely chopped)
  • 1 ½  tablespoon Dhania Seeds (coriander seeds)
  • 2 dried Red Chillies
  • 1 tablespoon Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • A pinch Methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)
  • 4 tablespoons Oil, plus more for Deep Frying the Paneer
  • Salt

Note:

Since I was cooking for a European palate, I cut down the quantity of the chillies (both green & red) & deseeded them to cut down the heat.

I am not too fond of biting into ginger, so I used 2 inches, grated.

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Method

  1. Dry roast the red chillies till brown & crisp. Coarsely grind the roasted red chillies & dhania seeds together.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of oil & sauté the capsicum for about 5-7 minutes till done. Keep aside.
  3. In another wok, heat the oil & deep fry the Paneer pieces till golden brown. Keep aside.
  4. Heat the rest of the oil & cook the minced garlic till brown.
  5. Add the red chillies-coriander seed powder & stir fry for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes, followed by methi seeds, salt, green chillies & grated ginger. Cook till the oil separates & tomatoes soften.
  7. Add the capsicum, paneer & dried methi leaves. Give it a good mix.
  8. Serve hot with parathas / tortillas

Note:

If you want to go a little healthier, you could skip Step 3. The cottage cheese could be added directly to the tomatoes. Just be careful while stirring it in & don’t over stir as the paneer might crumble.

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This recipe serves 6 people

Jazz Up The Leftovers

The Kadhai Casserole

Grease a small but deep microwave/oven proof bowl generously. Arrange some tomato slices in a neat layer. Season with salt, pepper & any other herbs/spices you might want to use. Cover the tomatoes with buttered rice & top it with some paneer. Continue making the tomato, rice & paneer layers till you run out. Grate some cheese over it & pop in the microwave / oven till the cheese melts or browns.

Prawns with Orange-Mint Sauce

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I grew up in a vegetarian household. Like many Hindus from Gujarat, my parents do not eat meat, poultry or fish. But unlike most, they never forced their views on the subject on my sister and me. The only thing my mother is extremely strict about is “No bringing anything home that is ‘non’-vegetarian!” Eggs are allowed.

So growing up, we could eat what we wanted. It started with a chicken sandwich at a birthday party, and then went on to sharing “dabbas”/“tiffins” or lunch boxes at school, and being invited home for prawn curry rice & stuffed bangda fish (by friends from the Konkan coast) or butter chicken & tikkas (by friends from Punjab, in the North) or Mutton Dhansaak (by Parsi friends). And of course special restaurant dinners or lunches my parents took us to… Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican… Like I said before, I come from a family of foodies (only they are vegetarian)!

My sister subsequently decided to turn vegetarian. I struggled & tried doing that for 2 months when I was 16… Then gave up!

Now while I’ve been eating meat, poultry & fish for over 30 years (please don’t try & figure out how old I am!), I only started cooking “non-veg” 8 years ago… when I got married. Because you see, the husband is from the state of Maharashtra… and they are allowed to eat & bring home anything!

Chicken was the first thing that I learnt to cook (on a tour of a play around the U.K. post my wedding…. but that is another story all together). Sea food, which is a staple with my in-laws, seemed complicated to me.

One day, I decided to rise to the challenge & cooked (for the husband, specially!) Prawns in a Spicy Peanut & Coconut Curry with (wait for it) Ripe Jackfruit!!! Oh how he hated it! I still think it was an experiment that worked (for me)… Spicy, Salty, Tangy & Sweet… What do you think?

So after that I got a bit conservative (but only for a bit ;-)) and avoided using jackfruit (ripe or otherwise!) in anything!

Anyway, here’s a Prawn dish that my “navra” (“husband” in Marathi) actually approved of, which also, by the way, can be made with “Whatever’s in the Fridge”!

Oh & do check out how to “Jazz up the Leftovers” at the end of the recipe!

Ingredients

200 gm Prawns

Marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Honey
  • 2 teaspoon Tomato Paste
  • ½ teaspoon Pepper
  • Garlic Salt (to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder (less or more as per your taste)

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Note: I would suggest spicing up the prawns with more chillies to offset the sweetness of the sauce.

Sauce:

  • 1cup Orange Juice (I used Tropicana)
  • Zest of 1 Orange (didn’t have any so used 2 lemons)
  • 2-3 Star Anise
  • 3-4 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 inch piece Ginger (finely grated)
  • 1 stalk Celery (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup Mint (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon Sugar (less or more depending on taste)
  • 2 tablespoon Cornflour
  • Butter & Olive Oil

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Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade very well.
  2. Coat the Prawns evenly with the marinade mixture, cover & keep it in the fridge while you prepare the sauce.
  3. Heat some butter in a pan & add the star anise.
  4. Once you can smell the spice a bit, add the garlic & ginger & sautee for a few minutes.
  5. Add the zest & celery & cook until soft.
  6. Whisk the sugar, cornflour & orange juice & pour into the pan. Stir well & let it simmer till the sauce thickens.
  7. Take the sauce off the flame & strain it & keep aside.
  8. Heat some more butter in the pan, add a dash of olive oil & toss in the prawns. Stir fry for about 5-6 minutes (depending on the size of the prawns) till they are pink & just about cooked.
  9. Put the sauce back on the flame, add the mint & give it one good boil.

(Option 1 Appetizer) Serve the Prawns with the Orange – Mint Dipping Sauce

(Option 2 Main)  Add the Prawns into the sauce & simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot with noodles or ginger-garlic fried rice.

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This recipe serves 2-4 people.

Jazz Up the Leftovers:

A Quick Prawn Thai Style Salad

Grate a carrot, a cucumber & a white radish. Add slivers of bell peppers. Toss in the prawns coated with some of the orange-mint sauce. Whisk together a little honey, some soy/fish/oyster sauce, tamarind water/paste & red chilli paste. Add a splash of this dressing to the prawns & veggies, toss in some crushed, roasted peanuts & you’re good to go! It makes for a healthy, light meal.