Lohri Special - Til Laddoos

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Til Peanut Laddoos
Lohri and Sankranti season is here, and it’s incomplete without the peanut brittle and these til laddoos. One of the easiest sweets you can ever make at home, these are tasty and healthy as well as we don’t use sugar to make them. Also, peanuts and sesame seeds are said to be warm, and are good for the winter season. So what are you waiting for? This just needs 3 main ingredients and you’re good to go!

Preparation time: 20 mins
Makes 15-20 laddoos

Ingredients
250 gms Groundnuts/peanuts
100 gms Sesame seeds
200 gms grated Jaggery (gur/gul)
Any dry fruit of your choice for garnishing
Ghee for greasing the plate

Method
  • Dry roast the groundnuts in a wok while stirring continuously for about 5-8 minutes till they get light brown spots on them.
  • Remove it in a plate or a paper. Keep aside till they cool a bit.
  • Remove the outer skin by rubbing them in between your palms. Clean all.
  • Similarly dry roast the sesame seeds for 5 mins on low flame.
  • In a mixer jar take the cleaned groundnuts and pulse them 2-3 times just to get them to broken wheat size. Do not grind them.
  • Warm ¼ cup water in a pan. Add the jaggery and let it soften.
  • Add in the softened jaggery and pulse it again till it comes together like dough. Do not do it continuously or the mixer will get overloaded.
  • Remove it in a bowl. Add the sesame seeds.
  • Grease your palms with little ghee and make small balls. Garnish with raisins or any dryfruit of your choice. Keep on a plate greased with ghee.
  • Keep it at room temperature without covering. Jaggery will harden in few mins.
  • Til gul is ready to be enjoyed!

Chicken Veggie Egg salad

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This recipe was created when my cousin was coming over for lunch. He’s a gym enthusiast and he strictly asked me not to make anything fried. Now I being a Punjabi, my first thought was to make crispy lemon chicken, but as it was no fried day, I settled for salad. I had already bought chicken, and had some eggs and lots of veggies in the fridge. Healthiest thing possible? Boiled chicken and vegetables! Bingo! With that thought I started on the recipe. It came out really delicious and is very filling as well. You can have this as a meal in itself. You can also take this in lunch. Just pack the dressing and veggies separately and mix them when you sit down to eat. Simple..So let’s start and make something now.
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Assembling Time: 5 mins
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
1 cup (200 gms ) Boneless Chicken
3 Eggs
1 Carrot
1 Tomato
1 Cucumber
½ Capsicum (preferably red)
Beans 10-12 stalks
1 medium Onion
Dressing
Garlic powder ½ tsp
Black pepper powder ½ tsp
Black pepper coarsely ground ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Mayonnaise 1 tbsp
Mustard 2 tsp
Vinegar 2 tsp
Honey 1 tsp
Lemon Juice/Orange juice 1 tsp
Method
  • Cut the carrot and beans into small bite size pieces.
  • Boil the eggs.
  • Boil the chicken, carrot and beans together in 4-5 cups of water and a pinch of salt for 1 whistle in pressure cooker.
  • Drain the water. Save it as stock. This can be later used in rice, or noodles, or soups.
  • Shred the chicken, Keep the chicken, carrot and beans in a big bowl to cool.
  • Finely chop the capsicum.
  • Thinly slice the onion.
  • Cut the tomato and cucumber in half and spoon out all the seeds as this can add extra water to the salad.
  • Now mix all the chicken, veggies and 2 boiled chopped eggs together.
  • In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the dressing.
  • Combine it with the salad just when about to serve. Toss the salad well, and coat evenly with the dressing.
  • Cut the last boiled egg in half and decorate the salad bowl. Serve cold.

Quick Easy Chicken Fried Rice

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One of the most common street foods we find in India (not china I presume!). I remember me and my cousins getting this parceled from the corner Chinese van as a kid, and devouring the huge plates as we played Mario and Contra on our little master games! In those days, we used to get a huge bowl for just Rs 20. Today we don’t get equally good stuff I believe even for 200 in most restaurants. So why not try it at home? Where you can add all your favorite fresh ingredients and spice it up just the way you like. Once you’ve tried this at home, I promise you’ll think before ordering from outside! (unless of course you’ve no time to cook) I make this with chicken sausages so it’s really quick. You can also choose to add crispy fried chicken or boiled chicken if choosing to cut down some calories.
Ingredients
1 bowl (for 2 people)                 Par-boiled Steamed Rice (95% cooked)
Capsicum                                 1 medium
Onion                                       1 large
Grilled Chicken sausages        2
Tomato                                     1
Cabbage                                   ½ small cabbage
Light Soya sauce                      1 tbsp
Vinegar                                    1/2 tbsp
Sugar                                       ½ tsp
Red Chili powder                     1 tsp
Black pepper                           1 tsp
Garlic cloves                            4-5
Ginger                                     1 inch piece
Tomato sauce                          2 tsp
Salt to taste
Refined Oil                               1 tbsp

Method
  • Finely chop the ginger and garlic.
  • Slice the tomato, onion, capsicum and cabbage.
  • In a deep skillet, heat the oil on high flame.
  • Once hot, add the ginger and garlic. Along with it, add the onions. Stir well.
  • Once onions turn pink, add the capsicum. Stir for 2 mins.
  • Add the cabbage. Keep stirring till the cabbage wilts.
  • Now add the grilled and chopped chicken sausages.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes. All this while, keep the flame on high and keep stirring.
  • After 2 mins, reduce the flame to low.
  • Now add tomato sauce, soya sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices. Mix well.
  • Cover the lid and let it simmer for 2 mins.
  • Add the steamed rice, and mix gently with a spatula (take care not to mash the rice)
  • Coat the rice well and let it cook for 2-3 mins till rice is cooked through.
  • Turn off the heat, and serve hot!

Rava Upma - Healthy South Indian Breakfast

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Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Serves: 2
Ingredients
Rava/semolina               1 cup
Water                              2 & 1/4 cup*
Onion (Big)                     1
Green chillies                 4-5
Curry leaves                   7-8
Coconut Oil                    2 tsp
Salt                                1 tsp + adjust
To temper
Oil                                  1 tbsp
Mustard                         3/4 tsp
Urad dal                         1 tsp
Channa dal                    1 tblsp
Curry leaves                   5-6
Cashews                        Optional

Method
  • Heat a pan and dry roast rava in medium flame until a roasted smell of rava starts coming. Don’t let it change colour, so keep the flame to medium always and keep stirring.
  • The rava will become non sticky and free flowing if roasted correctly. Set aside. 
  • Meanwhile, slit green chillies, slice onion length wise.
  • In the same kadai, add oil and temper with the items given under ‘To temper’ list.
  • Add green chillies, onion and fry till transparent without changing its colour. Add cashews if you like.
  • Add water and salt, bring it to boil. Check for salt.
  • Add the roasted rava in a srinkled way and keep stirring. Will splutter a lot so be careful.
  • Keep stirring well, it will soon become thick on absorbing water.
  • Cook covered bringing the flame to low.
  • After 5-6 minutes the upma should be done.
  • Mix in between if needed. Garnish with coriander and peanuts if you like.
  • You can add finely chopped ginger, carrots along with onions.

Peanut Butter Oats ChocoChippers

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Peanut Butter Oats ChocoChippers
Peanut butter is an American craze slowly catching up in India as well. It usually comes in 2 variants – creamy and chunky. It tastes great with toast, paranthas as well as with bananas and is healthy for growing kids. I first tasted peanut butter only a few years back and loved it instantly, esp. cos I like peanuts. I was going to make these Chocochip cookies but my gaze fell on the peanut butter jar on my kitchen rack.  I thought why not do some mix n match? So just  to make it healthier, I added some oats too so I wont feel too guilty while having these yummy bites.
Please do try this easy cookie recipe and do let me know how they tasted.

Time: 45 mins
Makes 16 medium sized cookies

Ingredients
All purpose Flour           1 cup
Peanut Butter                ½ cup
Rolled quick Oats           2 tbsp
Chocochips                    2 tbsp
Eggs                               1
Baking Powder               ½ tsp
Baking Soda                  a pinch
Salt                                a pinch
Brown Sugar                  ½ cup
Granulated Sugar          ¼ cup
Butter                            ½ cup
Vanilla extract                1 tsp

Making peanut butter oats Chocochip cookies
  • In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and keep aside.
  • In a large bowl, add softened butter, sugar, brown sugar and whisk with a blender/mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and mix again.
  • Add vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Now add the dry mixture slowly into this and keep mixing with a spatula to combine well.
  • Once all mixed well, add the oats and Chocochips. Combine and fold in.
  • Make a cookie tray ready by greasing it with butter or spreading a butter paper on it. You can use the paper around the butter we get form the market as well for emergencies.
  • Using a cookie scoop or spoon, drop 1 large spoonful of batter onto a greased cookie tray, 2 inches apart. You can make patterns on the cookies with fork.
  • Bake one tray at a time for 12-15 mins at 180 degrees Celcius.
  • Cool the cookies on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.


Butter Pepper SweetCorn

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These days, this is the first smell that hits us, after popcorn, as we enter shopping malls or multiplexes. Sweet corn is a healthy snack and really tasty. It’s good for a cool evening as well as on hot summer day cos of its water content. These days we get frozen corn kernels in most grocery stores. Even otherwise, all you need is to take out few grams of kernels from the sweet corn (or usual corn) and there are a lot of variations you can create with this simplest snack of all times. You can also keep a bowl of boiled corn handy. It lasts for atleast a week in the fridge. Every time you have friends over for tea, you can serve this along in a jiffy. It’s the quickest simplest recipe of all. Sharing it for all the beginner foodies out there!

Serves 2
Preparation time 10 mins

Ingredients
Sweet Corn Kernels 200 Gms
Butter 2 tsp
Black Pepper Powder 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 Lemon
Paprika ½ tsp
Chat Masala ½ tsp
Method
  • Boil the corn in 1 cup of water for 7-8 mins till its cooked but not too soft.
  • Drain the water.
  • Take the corn in bowl. Add butter, salt, pepper, chat masala, paprika and lemon juice. Mix well.
  • Its done! Serve in a cute small bowl to your happy guests.


For variations, you can also add chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander and green chilies to it. You can also fruits to this and make it a healthier fruit salad.

Mini Chicken Burgers with Thai dipping sauce

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Simple to make, quick to devour and easy to get accolades for a yummy snack!

Time: 20 mins

Serves 2-3

Ingredients
For the chicken burgers
¼ onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ red chilli, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
4 Burger Buns
1 tbsp Butter
4 cheese slices
1 Tomato
Lettuce leaves
For the Thai-style dipping sauce
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp hot water
¼ red chilli, finely chopped
½ orange, juice only
1 spring onion, finely chopped
½ lime, cut into wedges, to serve

Preparation method
  • For the burgers, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
  • Add the onion and fry until soft.
  • Place the softened onions, chicken breast, garlic, chilli and salt and freshly ground black pepper into a food processor and blend to a coarse paste. You can also do this with a mortar pestle.
  • Remove the chicken mixture from the blender and, with floured hands, roll into small burger shapes.
  • Roll the chicken burgers in sesame seeds to coat.
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
  • Flatten patties slightly, and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and completely cooked through.
  • For the Thai-style dipping sauce, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
  • When the sugar dissolves, add the chilli and orange juice and cook over a high heat for five minutes, until reduced to thick syrup.
  • Add the spring onion and pour into a small dipping bowl.
  • Slit the buns in middle. Heat butter on a skillet and sear the buns on the flat side.
  • Slice the tomato thinly.
  • Place a cheese slice, lettuce, tomato and patty on the bun and secure with a toothpick if needed.
  • To serve, place the burgers onto a small plate with the dipping sauce and lime wedges served alongside.

Sausage-Cheddar Balls

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Sausage-Cheddar Balls
We all wish to serve great starters at our parties without spending a walletfull on ordering from restaurants and they absolutely need to taste yummy! They have to be quick, and simple and tasty and if they may be prepped in advance then its super awesome! Here’s a recipe for the ultimate sausage balls which can be made so easily using the readymade sausages available in all supermarkets these days, your favorite cheese and just some spices. I chanced upon this recipe when I wanted to use the cheese and the frozen sausages in my freezer and couldn’t think of anything else than to just put it all together! A must try! I am showing the recipe here for the baked variety of the dish for other calorie conscious foodies like me, but you can also deep fry these balls in refined oil or peanut oil till golden brown on medium heat.

Yields: 45 small servings
Oven Temp: 400 F
 Ingredients
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour/Maida
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp red chili powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder
200 gms Grated Cheddar Cheese
400 gms Breakfast Chicken Sausage (pulsed in a blender)
½ large onion, grated on large holes of a box grater
3 tbsp Butter, melted

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, pepper, Chili powder, and baking powder.
  • Add cheddar and toss well.
  • Add sausage, onion, and butter.
  • With your hands, mix until well combined and roll mixture into 1-inch balls.
  • Place balls, ½ inch apart, on a parchment/butter paper-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake until balls are golden and cooked through, 25 minutes. Serve warm with mayo or mint chutney.

Profiteroles

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ProfiterolesThe first time I got to know about profiteroles was during Masterchef episodes and the thing I loved the most about them was the chocolate dip part! A profiterole is basically a cream puff or choux à la crème choux pastry ball filled with whipped cream, pastry cream or ice cream. The puffs may be decorated or left plain or garnished with chocolate sauce, caramel, or a dusting of powdered sugar. It’s a little similar to Mal-Puas we make in India. These small yummy dessert bites can be made easily for any get together at home. For variations, you can choose just about any cream filling ranging from expresso cream, fruits, chocolate, or cream cheese. For the dip, you can use chocolate or even any fruit jelly. Just keep innovating!


Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 10-12 pieces
Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/2 stick butter
Pinch salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
Pinch ground cinnamon
Ice cream
Chocolate Sauce
Equipment:  Pastry bag fitted with large straight tip

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • In a small saucepan combine the water, butter and salt and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and add the flour all at once and stir it vigorously with a wooden spoon.
  • Cook until the mixture has formed a ball and has a slightly sweaty sheen to it and it has pulled away from the pan.
  • Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • The mixture does not have to be cold, just cool enough not to cook the eggs when added.
  • Using an electric mixer or lots of good old-fashioned elbow grease, beat in the eggs 1 at a time.
  • Do not add the second egg until the first is fully incorporated. Add in the cinnamon and beat for another second to combine.
  • Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag equipped with a large straight tip and pipe 1-inch balls onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
  • When done dip your finger in water and smooth the top of each ball where the pastry bag released the dough.
  • Be sure to leave at least 1-inch between each of the balls. They grow big!
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through the cooking time to insure even cooking.
  • When done, the puffs should be light, airy and dry inside. Cool on a rack.
  • When ready to serve, cut in half horizontally and fill with ice cream of your choice. Vanilla goes really well.
  • Top with warm chocolate sauce. Easier way to do this is just lift the profiterole and dip in the chocolate sauce on one side, and place on the serving plate!

You can also choose to sprinkle some cake decoration on these while the sauce is not set, for a party. Variations – Sprinkle of desiccated coconut, dash of maple syrup, coffee, or a fruit puree!!

Chocolate Sauce
1 large bar of semi sweet or dark chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar syrup
1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • Bring a saucepan with 1-inch of water to a boil.
  • Put the chocolate in a metal or heatproof glass mixing bowl and place on top of the saucepan with boiling water.
  • Pay careful attention that the mixing bowl does not touch the surface of the boiling water.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until the chocolate has melted and everything is combined.
  • This is a pretty quick process, once the chocolate has melted remove it from the double boiler set up.
  • Spoon over the filled profiteroles. This is best when served warm!

 
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