Matar Paratha (Indian Flatbread with Green Peas Stuffing)

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This is a winter favourite at home, which is when green peas are in season. I end up making this at least once a week!

There are several different ways that this recipe can be made and each family’s recipe tends to differ as well as each restaurant’s, and this is just my version, not necessarily the most common one.

This is great to have for a late breakfast or brunch along with a cup of masala chai.

The recipe appears long and tedious but actually isn’t and is one of the easier ways of making this paratha. Once you get the hang of it and get your ingredients adjusted to your preference, it is easy-peasy, pun intended!

 

Ingredients:

For the Stuffing:

  • Green Peas – 500g
  • Green chillies – 3-4 / to taste, slit
  • Ginger – 1 tbsp
  • Green coriander stems – 1/2 cup, finely chopped
  • Coriander Leaves – 1.5 cups, finely chopped
  • Ghee/Oil – 2 Tbsp for the Stuffing + as required for cooking the Parathas
  • Garam Masala – 1 Tbsp / to taste
  • Green Cardamom Powder – 1 tsp – optional
  • Jaggery / Sugar -1 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Hing/Asafoetida – 1 tsp
  • Bay Leaves – 2-3
  • Cloves – 3-4
  • Black Pepper – 1 tsp coarsely ground
  • Green Cardamom Pods – 5-6, split open
  • Black Cardamom Pods – 2, split open
  • Cinnamon stick – 5mm, optional
  • Cumin seeds – 2 Tbsp
  • Fennel seeds / Saunf – 2 tsp
  • Coriander seeds – 2 Tbsp, lightly dry roasted and coarsely pounded
  • Coriander powder or Dhania Powder or Dhana-Jeera Powder – 1 Tbsp
  • Besan / Chickpea flour / Bengal gram Flour – 1-2 Tbsp or more, depending upon how moist your Peas paste is.

For the Dough:

  • Wheat flour, some salt and a splash of oil, & water as required for kneading.
  • I use only whole wheat flour to keep it healthy, but you can also use Plain Flour /Maida, or a combination of the two.
  • You may also use either some yoghurt or some milk, along with water for kneading.

 

METHOD:

To prepare the stuffing:

  • Blend the green peas in a mixer along with the green chillies, ginger, salt & sugar into a paste. Take care to use minimal water.  It helps to blend in small portions and then give it a good mix with your hands in the end. Taste and adjust for salt while mixing. Also, we want the paste as dry as possible, which will enable us to use minimum besan or none at all. I find that the besan tends to suppress the taste of the green peas (which I love), so I try to use as less as possible, or none, depending upon how moist the peas are. (In the picture attached, I have used no besan). However, several actually prefer the taste of more besan, so that is personal preference.
  • Heat the ghee/oil in a large pan (preferably non-stick) and add the tempering : cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, bay leaves, cloves, green & black cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon and saute for a few seconds. It will smell divine.
  • Now add the coriander stems and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Now add the hing and coriander powder.
  • Then add the besan and stir continuously on medium flame, till the besan is not raw anymore and changes colour and starts to separate from the oil. Take great care not to burn it. This step may be omitted if you’ve managed to get a thick stocky dry-ish paste that is not runny. The besan is added mainly for the purpose of drying out the consistency of the paste.
  • Now add the garam masala and saute for a few seconds.
  • Now add your peas paste and mix well. This takes a bit of effort and patience.
  • Once well mixed, allow it to slightly roast for a few minutes on a low or medium flame, gently stirring continuously, until the remnant moisture has evaporated and you are left with a paste as seen in the picture and a little browning here and there.
  • Remove from flame and finish with chopped coriander leaves and mix well and keep aside till it cools.

 

To prepare the dough:

  • Knead the flour into a soft pliable dough. Work it nicely till smooth & soft. Finish with a glaze of oil and cover with a moist cloth or cling film or lid and keep aside to rest while your stuffing cools.
  • For kneading, I tend to use the water that I add to the mixer jar right in the end after I’m done making the peas paste, to use up the remaining paste stuck in the jar. Why waste it!

For making the parathas:

  • Separate your dough into smooth balls and flatten slightly.
  • Make balls out of the peas paste. As you do that, you can remove some of the spices used in the tempering like bay leaves or cinnamon which may interfere with rolling out the paratha.
  • I like my parathas to be oozing with the stuffing (as you can see in the picture) so I make the stuffing balls larger than my dough balls. But if you are new to rolling parathas /flatbreads, keep the stuffing ball smaller so you don’t end up with a sticky broken mess of a paratha while rolling, as it needs a gentle hand with just the right amount of pressure.
  • With a rolling pin, partially roll out the dough ball just enough to be able to wrap up the stuffing ball.
  • If you have enough practice rolling, then try to roll in such a way that you put more pressure on the sides and less in the middle to keep the sides thinner and the middle thicker so the stuffing doesn’t crack out of the middle when you roll out the stuffed ball. If you aren’t comfortable doing that no worries, just keep the stuffing smaller and the overall size of the parathas also on the smaller side so there is no difficulty in handling the paratha.
  • Make all your stuffed dough balls and keep aside.
  • Now heat a griddle. I use a cast iron one. You can also use a non-stick one.
  • Gently and carefully, roll out the stuffed dough balls into parathas of your desired size and thickness, using some flour for dusting.
  • When the griddle is hot enough, gently place your paratha onto it and let it roast on a low flame for bit. Then flip over carefully and roast the other side on a medium flame till a couple of light brown spots appear on that side. The time it takes will depend upon the thickness and heat of the griddle as well as the thickness of your paratha. You should get a fair idea a couple of parathas later.
  • Now smear some oil/ghee on the side facing up and flip over. You may turn the flame to high at this point provided your griddle is not smoking hot already.
  • Now lightly press the paratha with a flat spoon as you swivel it around in a slow circle.
  • Now smear oil/ghee onto this side too and flip over and do the same.
  • Keep an eye on the heat. The griddle should never be so hot that you start getting black spots or the paratha starts sticking. Medium-dark reddish brown spots are what we’re looking for (see pic).
  • Keep at it till it is roasted to your preference, adding more oil/ghee if required. Needless to say, more is always yummier in the case of parathas!
  • What I use instead of a flat spoon is what is traditionally used, especially in North India, and is this wooden contraption called a “tikra sekni” which is a small flat thick round disc of wood with a wooden handle sticking out. That makes the shallow frying of parathas much easier and more even. But you can do fine without it too, as most do.
  • Top with a dollop of butter (optional) and serve hot and crisp with some raita, pickle, tangy tomato chutney, coriander & mint chutney or even ketchup and a nice little salad.
  • Many also carry it along for picnics or journeys as it tastes nice cold too, along with some masala chai.

 

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Kohlrabi & French Bean Sabzi

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Kohlrabi & French Beans Sabzi

 

Enjoy the subtle flavours and freshness of kohlrabi and french beans together in a minimally spiced Sabzi.

INGREDIENTS:

Kohlrabi – 200 gms – peeled and cubed (also known as “Oolgobi”)

French Beans – 200 gms – threaded & snapped into halves or quarters

Thin Coriander stems – 2 Tbsp – finely chopped

Coriander leaves – small bunch – chopped, for garnishing

Ghee – 1 Tbsp (or any oil)

Mustard Seeds (Rye) – 1/2 tsp

Cumin seeds (Jeera) – 1/2 tsp

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder (Dhana) – 1 tsp Salt – to taste

Optional additions:

Green Chilli – 1 – split in half

Hing (Asafoetida) – small pinch

Jaggery (Gur) – a pinch

METHOD:

  • In a pressure cooker or non-stick kadai (wok), heat the ghee then add rye and jeera & allow to splutter.
  • Reduce flame to medium. Add hing and then the coriander stems and the green chilli. Saute for 30 secs.
  • Now add turmeric and coriander powder and saute for 30 secs.
  • Throw in the kohlrabi and french beans, sprinkle salt and saute for a minute. The vegetables will start to glisten mildly.
  • Sprinkle half a cup of water.
  • Now add the jaggery if you wish to.
  • Combine everything gently.
  • If cooking in a pressure cooker : Close the pressure cooker, put the weight on, and allow to cook on high till 1 whistle (it should take about 5-7 minutes depending upon the pressure cooker). As soon as the first whistle comes, turn off the flame and leave it as it is for 3-4 minutes. Then release the excess pressure/steam by lifting the edge of the weight so that the steam is released away from you. Alternatively, place cooker in your kitchen sink and run cold water on it till all the steam escapes and the pressure is released. Now open carefully.
  • If there is any excess moisture collected, put it back on the hob and cook on high till evaporated. This sabzi is moist, but not watery.
  • If you are using a non-stick kadai : It may take a little longer than a pressure cooker. You may need about a cup of water, added at intervals, and cook the vegetables with the pan covered so it cooks in the steam.
  • Make sure that you don’t over cook the kohlrabi and french beans. They must have a good bite. They do NOT taste good mushy! So cook accordingly.
  • Check for seasoning. This sabzi tastes best if mildly salted as the flavours are delicate.
  • Lastly, garnish with coriander leaves, mix well and serve hot.
  • The sabzi can be had with dal and rotis/phulkas or stirred into fresh fluffy basmati rice as a light pulao with some yoghurt on the side.

C4 Salad (Chickpea-Corn-Capsicum-Cucumber) on Sliced French Bread with Mayo

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Ingredients:

  • Chickpeas – 2 cups after being boiled
  • Corn kernels – 1 cup, boiled
  • Capsicum – 3/4 cup, chopped
  • Cucumber – 3/4 cup, chopped
  • Coriander leaves – 1/2 cup, finely chopped – optional
  • Tomatoes – 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Onions / Spring Onions – 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Mayonnaise – 1-2 cups or as required according to its consistency
  • Parsley – a few sprigs
  • Coriander leaves – 1/2 cup
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1 Tbsp
  • Vinegar – 2 tsp
  • Caster sugar – a pinch (optional)
  • Salt, Pepper, Lemon juice – to taste
  • Fresh French Baguette – 1, sliced

Method:

  • Combine the chickpeas, corn, capsicum, cucumber, tomatoes , onions and coriander leaves, and if possible refrigerate to cool it slightly if warm.
  • If using raw chickpeas, they will need to be soaked for about 8 hours or overnight and pressure-cooked with water, some salt and a tsp of oil, until soft but not mushy. Should take about 40 minutes in a pressure cooker, and about 20-30 minutes more if boiling in a pot.
  • Prepare the dressing with EVO Oil, vinegar, salt, freshly cracked black pepper, sugar & lemon juice, and mix well in the salad.
  • Slice your french bread and lightly grill in the oven or on a pan. Grilling is optional. You may also use it directly.
  • Slather mayo on each slice.
  • Top with the C4 salad.
  • Garnish with fresh sprigs of parsley & cracked black pepper and serve.

 

Gajar Beet Bean Sabzi (Carrot, Beetroot & French Bean Curry)

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This sabzi has the natural sweetness of the beetroots and carrots offset by the earthiness of the french beans.

INGREDIENTS:

Carrot – 1 cup – diced

French Beans – 1 cup – threaded & chopped to roughly the same size as the carrot

Beetroot – 1 cup – diced (smaller than the carrots and french beans)*

Ginger – 1 tsp – juliennes or grated

Ghee/Oil – 2 tsp

Mustard Seeds (Rye) – 1 tsp

Curry Leaves – 8 to 10

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder (Dhana) – 1 tsp

Cumin powder – 1 tsp

Salt – to taste

Coriander leaves – a handful – chopped – for garnishing

Optional:

Green chilli – 1 tsp – deseed & finely chopped

Hing (Asafoetida) – a pinch

Cocount – 2 tsp – grated – for garnishing

METHOD:

  • Heat ghee/oil in a pressure cooker/non-stick kadai (wok). Add mustard seeds. Once they crackle, reduce flame to medium.
  • Now add hing, turmeric, curry leaves, green chilli and ginger. Saute for a few secs.
  • Now add the beetroot and carrot and saute for a minute.
  • Then add the french beans and saute again for a minute.
  • Now sprinkle the coriander powder and cumin powder, salt and about half a cup of water anc combine well.
  • For pressure cooker: Cover pressure cooker and put the weight on and cook on high till 1 whistle. Then turn off the flame and allow to rest for 5 minutes so it cooks further in its own steam. The gently release pressure and open. If there is moisture collected, put in back on the flame and evaporate till the sabzi is moist but not watery.
  • For non-stick kadai: The water will need to be added at intervals as per requirement and the sabzi must be covered and cooked in steam. Cook till the vegetables are al dente.
  • *If using a pressure cooker, the beetroot is chopped a little smaller than the carrots and french beans as the beetroot takes slightly longer to cook. So chopping it smaller will even out the cooking time. * If cooking in a non-stick kadai, you may also first cook the beetroot for a few minutes before adding the carrots and french beans, in which case, you may chop the beetroot also to the same size as the other vegetables instead of smaller. *Either way, the difference is quite small and no big deal so don’t worry too much!
  • Turn off flame, sprinkle coriander leaves and toss well.
  • Now transfer to serving dish, and sprinkle freshly grated coconut and serve hot with phulka, roti or rice.

Spinach & Beet Dal (Iron-Rich)

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This is a mellow tasting iron-rich dal with a beautifully deep and appetising colour due to the beetroot. The lentil I have used here is Split Masoor Dal or Red Lentil, but it is just as good with another lentil or combination of lentils between Chana Dal, Toor/Arhar Dal and Moong Dal.  Red Lentils are a wonderful source of energy. The flavour is also distinct from the other lentils. Sadly, the red lentils lose their beautiful peachy “red” colour upon being cooked.

Ingredients:

Split Masoor Dal (Red Lentils) : 1 cup (washed and soaked for 30 minutes or more)
Beetroot : 3/4th cup, grated or finely chopped
Spinach : 3 cups, washed and chopped
Tomato : 1 cup, chopped
Garlic : 2-3 Tbsp, slivered or chopped
Green Chilli : 1-2 or to taste, chopped
Ginger : 1 Tbsp, finely chopped
Ghee/Oil : 1 tsp + 1 Tbsp
Cumin Seeds : 1 Tbsp
Turmeric : 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder - 2 tsp / to taste
Whole Cinnamon : a small piece (about half a cm) - optional
Garam masala : a pinch - optional
Salt - to taste

Method:

In a pressure cooker, heat 1 tsp oil and add the cinnamon stick
followed by the beetroot. Sauté for about a minute then add the 
ginger and green chilli followed by the soaked lentils and turmeric.
Sauté everything for another minute then add about 3 cups water and
salt. Shut the pressure cooker and allow it to cook for about 25 mins.
Keep the flame on high till the first whistle, then keep it lowered for
the rest of the time. After about 25 mins, turn off the flame but do not
open the pressure cooker until all the pressure has been naturally released.

(If you don't have a pressure cooker, then you will have to cook this in a
heavy bottomed wok. Keep it covered and keep checking for the water level
from time to time. If you add all the water all at once, it may all bubble
over when kept covered, so add water from time to time. It will probably take
a good 45 mins or more. It would help if you pre-soak the lentils for at least
2-3 hours in this case, that should speed it up a bit.)

While the lentils are cooking, we can prepare our Tadka on the side.
For this, take a kadai/wok, and heat 2 Tbsp of ghee/oil.

Now add in the cumin seeds followed by the garlic and sauté well till the garlic
turns a deeper shade of cream, but don't let it brown. Now throw in the tomatoes, red
chilli powder and some salt. Wait till the tomatoes have started wilting then throw in
all the spinach and mix. The spinach will gradually reduce once its released its moisture
into about half or a third of its quantity. Add another pinch of salt if required. 
Turn off the flame if your lentils are not yet done.

Add your cooked lentils into the spinach mix and mix well. Now add the garam masala, and 
bring it all to a boil. Adjust seasoning and serve with rotis or rice. 

  








 

Banarasi Aloo Kaddu Sabzi (Potato & Pumpkin Curry)

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This sabzi that has its origins in the magical Banaras. It is a traditional sabzi and you would find it on many street stalls and local restaurants, being served along  with puris / kachoris (which are deep fried mini Indian breads (sometimes stuffed) and absolutely delish and worth every calorie!). There are more than one “traditional” ways to make it. I have tinkered around with the recipe as per my preference. 

INGREDIENTS:
Potatoes – 2 cups – pre-boiled firm and diced into cubes
Pumpkin – 2 cups – diced
Tomato – 1 small, finely chopped
Mustard Oil (or any other oil) – 2 Tbsp
Bay Leaf – 1
Cloves – 2-3
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp (Jeera)
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp (Rye)
Nigella Seeds – 1/2 tsp (Kalonji)
Fennel Seeds – 1/2 tsp (Saunf)
Whole Coriander Seeds – 1 tsp (Dry roasted on medium for a minute to release a stronger aroma then roughly pounded into broken seeds (not powdered)
Hing – 1-2 tsp (Asafoetida)
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Coriander Powder – 2-3 Tbsp (Dhana-Jeera will also do)
Amchur Powder (Dried Mango Powder) – 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp / to taste
Red Chilli Powder – 2 tsp / to taste
Salt – to taste
Coriander Stems – 1/2 cup chopped
Green Chilli – 1 finely chopped (optional)
Dried Whole Red Chilli – 1, optional
Jaggery/Sugar – 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves – garnish
Water – 1-2 cups

METHOD:
Heat oil in a nonstick kadai/wok. (If using mustard oil, make sure to first heat the oil till smoking point at which point you may also see a few bubbles depending upon the quality and the degree to which it has been refined, then remove from flame and allow it to cool a little before proceeding with adding the seeds etc. Doing this ensures the rawness of the mustard oil, which many palates find a little offensive, goes away.

Now add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds and fennel seeds. When they splutter, add the bay leaf, cloves, dried red chilli and coriander seeds and saute for a few seconds, followed by the coriander stems and green chilli and sauteed for another 30 seconds. Now saute in the chopped tomatoes until well wilted.

Add the hing and turmeric then stir in the pumpkin and saute well then add a pinch of salt. Now add 2 Tbsp or so of water and you may either cover and cook on medium for a few minutes, checking regularly and adding more water spoon by spoon when required, till the pumpkin is al dente (we don’t want a mash). Or you may cook it uncovered which would take longer. You would need to sprinkle water from time to time depending upon how ripe the pumpkin is – the riper it is, the drier and harder it is and the more water it needs and the longer it takes to cook. But ensure you do not “boil” the pumpkin. Only keep adding enough to create the steam and moisture needed to cook the pumpkin. Boiled pumpkin is quite flavourless!

Now add the potatoes and the coriander powder, red chilli powder, salt, jaggery and amchur powder. Mix gently but well, till all the spices have evenly coated the pumpkin and potato. Then add more water (about 1 cup or so) and cook for a few more minutes till everything is evenly mixed and cooked. The gravy must not be runny. It should be more like a thick mariande. If it gets too watery, you may mash a few potato pieces into the gravy to thicken it. Finish with garam masala and bring to another simmer.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with kachoris, puris, phuklas or rotis.

Quick Dum Aloo (Bengal Style)

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INGREDIENTS:

Potato – 3 large, peeled, boiled and cubed
Tomato – 1 medium, quartered
Mustard Oil – 1 Tbsp
Mustard Seeds (Rye) – 2 tsp
Bay Leaf (Tej Patta) – 1
Hing (Asafoetida) – a pinch
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Coriander Powder – 2 Tbsp
Red Chilli Powder – 2 tsp (or to taste)
Green Chilli – 1, slit (optional)
Salt
Lemon Juice
Rock Salt (optional)
Coriander Leaves – 3 Tbsp, chopped, for garnish

METHOD:

Boil peeled, halved potatoes with a pinch of turmeric and salt. Cool and chop in cubes.

Heat mustard oil in a heavy bottomed kadai or wok. Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the bay leaf and the hing.

Next add the green chilli, turmeric and the tomato chunks. Stir for a few seconds and then add coriander powder and red chilli powder. Mix well. Now add salt.

Once the tomatoes start to soften, throw in the potatoes and stir gently to coat the potatoes in this masala. Take care not to end up mashing the potatoes in the process. Leave them as whole as possible. Don’t stir too much. Preferably toss the potatoes if you can without making a mess!

Reduce flame to medium, cover and let it cook gently in the masala so it absorbs the flavours. About 1 minute should do.

Uncover, evaporate collected moisture if any. Now add a dash of lime, coriander leaves and rock salt and toss once again.

Serve hot with puris, rotis or phulkas (wholewheat Indian flatbreads), or daal and rice.