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Simple girl with not-so-simple thinking.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Italiano Spaghetti gone Chinese!!

I was in the mood to cook something special. So, Garlic and cheese Spaghetti was on the menu. :)
Its way simpler than you may think and for the ones who can't live without white sauce in their Italiano, I will tell you just how to get that as well!

For this particular one, you need;
- Garlic pods
- Green chillies
- Vinegar, soy sauce
- Oregano ( I usually end up collecting the ones that come from Dominoes :D ). Else, nowadays you get them at any super market.
- Spaghetti
- Vegetables of your choice
- Oil, salt, pepper to cook

If you'd like to make it with white sauce ( as Prasad was begging me to do), you additionally need;
- Milk, about 2 cups of milk if you've got 3 cups of finally cooked spaghetti
- Corn Flour

Cooking time: 30 mins ( depending on your chopping speed ;) )

1. First things first. Cut green chillies finely and crush the garlic. Add these to about five tablespoons of vinegar. Let it remain soaked. I threw in the chilly flakes I had cause when I go spicy, I go all the way.

2. Chop these vegetables how you'd like them.

3. You can add mushrooms if you prefer them. We can't live without mushrooms.
4. Get the spaghetti of your choice. This is the one I got. Known and trusted, Delmonte's Gourmet Spaghetti.
5. Take the amount you'd like to cook and add to boiling salted water. Here, the trick is to add as much salt into this water as you'd like in your spaghetti if eaten right out of this.
If the salt remains less here, rarely you can get it spread evenly into it later.
Once boiled (for about 10 mins), check if its cooked. Drain the water and smear about two spoons of oil/butter on them to prevent them from sticking to each other.

Grease a pan with oil/butter and get the veggies roasted.

If you're using mushrooms as well, I'd recommend that you add them only once all the rest of the veggies are cooked. Lest, they may loose their texture.
As these veggies turn crunchy brown, add in salt, pepper, soy sauce. Take this off the flame.

Take a big bowl to mix the Spaghetti and veggies (+mushrooms). Over these, pour in the Vinegar mix that we prepared in the beginning. Garnish with Cheese(Indulge in this for once)!

If you would like this more of the Pasta way with white sauce.

To make the white sauce;
- Boil the milk
- Meanwhile, mix three spoons of corn flour with 5 spoons of water
- Pour the corn flour mix into the milk and let it boil.
- Add salt, pepper to taste. Soon, the White Sauce will take shape. Do not boil for too long, unless you want a big white blob! (The consistency should be that of the Dosa batter when taken off the flame)

Pour this on top of your prepared Spaghetti and run it through the Microwave for 5 minutes. Bon Appetite!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oye Amritsar!!

This was a well-deserved holiday for Ma, Dad after almost two years.
Well, the last two years were spent setting up marital lives for my sister and me respectively. :)

The master plan was for me and Prasad to join them at Delhi and have a blast at Amritsar. Sadly, Prasad's trip didn't materialize and he was sweet enough to ask me to go ahead.

Day 1: The holy reunion :)
I was received with a lot of food (A typical Kharbanda family trait).
All my favorites were lined up smiling back at me, Momos, Dahi Vada, Dal Parantha, Malai and Pepsi, just to settle it all down.

I burped my way through the afternoon and reached Amritsar by night.

Day 2: The action packed one!!

My parents being Satsangis, we were really looking forward to this visit since years. Finally it had materialized.
The scene at Beas was something that can only been seen to be believed. Twenty thousand volunteers work here on a daily basis on their own will and keep the township so clean that you can practically eat your food off the street.
Sadly, they don't allow cameras or mobile phones inside, but luckily I found some pictures on the net to show what The Dera-Beas really is like. Its no less than a European country inside. And the best part, its all self sustained, just by volunteer work.

Even the food is subsidized to the magnitude of few rupees for every item for the visitors and residents. We were privileged to have eaten there and rather hogged for that matter for just Rs.150.

I thought I had viewed the most of the trip. But, the evening was scheduled for the Wagah Border, Retreat Ceremony. I can assure you that the loud cheering insane-going crowd and the aristocratic soldiers from both India and Pakistan will make the hair on your neck stand.
Just to show what I mean; ( Oh yes, I was at the first seat on the first row ;) )

We head back to the city and next destination was the Golden Temple, Amritsar, properly named as Harmandir Sahib. Words can't do justice to this monument of faith.

24/7*365 days a year, this place provides food, water and shelter to the visitors.
What's more, they are all volunteers, working just for belief and peace in return.

How would a Amritsar visit be complete without pigging on the finger-licking, butter-smeared, calorie-bomb Punjabi food!
Thus, we landed at the "Brother's Dhaba" to complete this ritual. The customers here were clearly going savage with a lion's appetite and the drool of a dog. You can't blame them, you can silently merge with them. So did we.
We gobbled down Dal Makhani, Butter Paneer Masala and Laccha Parantha in a flash.

Day 3: Akhri din at Amritsar
It was only by the next morning that the flashbacks of the butter-coated meal haunted us. We skipped our breakfast. :|

We visited Jalianwala baag and A Vaishno-Devi look alike temple in quick successions.

Oh how can I forget, I broke the one rule I have for eating outside. Never touch the water outside. But, here, look at what I had! :S

Of course, we'd not vowed not to eat anymore. So, we dropped in at the (in)famous Kanha Halwai. He just specializes in Puri-Chana-Aloo and Lassi.
Allow me to rephrase, Gigantic Puri-Killer Chana-Chatpata Aloo and a jug full of Lassi.
We battled our way through it and came out kicking alive (perhaps only with a few choked arteries).

By night we were back in Delhi.

Day 4: The final countdown

Today I had decided to shop!
Mom was darling enough to accompany me to the Sarojini Market in that blazing sun.
We shopped for two hours and I had my two bags full. :)
Mission accomplished!

Bidding farewell to me with more of food and even more love, Mom Dad saw me off in the night.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Healthy Snacking? Green roll-ups coming up!

Since me and Prasad have been trying religiously to eat some healthy meals, I decided to make something my mom would make when I was few feet shorter.

Cabbage Rolls.
I agree the name is not the USP here. And thats why I decided to go fancy with the 'Green Roll-ups'. This can be a great evening snack and surprisingly filling! And best part is, the cooking time is just about 20 minutes.


For filling:
- Oil, salt, pepper
- Chopped onions,
- mushrooms / paneer ; depending on what you prefer, these are the two fillings that I would recommend.
Chop the mushrooms / grate the paneer finely.

For wraps:
- A lush green cabbage. Here, the trick is to pick a nice and tender cabbage, unless you want to do some serious rumination for dessert.

- Saute the onions with a spoon of oil
- When golden brown, add salt, pepper and mushroom/ paneer
- Roast this stuffing a little and then set it aside.

- Take out the cabbage leaves as whole.
- Boil some water, add salt to it and add the leaves to it and cover with a lid.

- Depending on how tender the leaves are already, leave them on the flame for upto 10-15 minutes or more. They should be edible by themselves at the end of the boil.
- Drain the water, the leaves are ready for wraps.

- Fill up the stuffing inside each leaf carefully and cut as follows;

- Serve this with a slightly spicy sauce, perhaps tabasco and mustard!

- Bon appetite!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Malayali dosa meets the Punjabi tadka!

Yesterday my closest friend of years, Ayesha came over for lunch. We've been together for donkey's years making through college, tuitions, pigging out sessions, sneaking out , summer jobs, cooking, movies, shopping, gossiping (this makes a huge chunk of our time together_..What not. A typical Girls-Duo.

We have had days where we baked our own cake and ate it too. Till the last morsel.

We have eaten a whole casserole of lasagna or spaghetti without a wink or fear of tomorrow.

Of course, things change with time. Now, we discuss more recipes on lighter side of the calorie chart. We discuss fruits, salads or juices. But, today we decided to have good old Dosa for Sunday brunch.

As I always love, doing things with a twist of Me. I decided to have the regular Masala Dosa-chutney with a ‘tadka’. Here is what smoked up my kitchen today:

The Tadka dosa: There are endless variations to this. I made one that is not too extravagant so that it goes well with the other side dishes. But, the one that is my favorite and pretty much self-sufficient on its own is;

Makes about 8-10 dosas


Dosa batter about 300ml,

Oil, Salt, turmeric, chilli, jeera, dry chilli, garam masala, chutney podi, tamarind paste

1 cup chopped onions, Curry Leaves


Pour few spoons of oil in a pan.

- Add curry leaves and roughly broken dry chillies

- Add jeera (cumin) and 1 whole cup of chopped onions and sauté for a while

- When the onions turn brownish, add turmeric, salt to taste and tad-bit chilli

- Let the seasonings cook for a minute.

- Add a pinch of garam masala, chutney powder and a spoon tamarind paste( Yes! You heard me right, that’s chutney podi).

- Take this mixture off the flame.

- Mix this well with the dosa dough.

- Make dosas out of this dough. You’ll have wonderfully colored, chat-pata Tadka-Dosas ready.

As I said, the possibilities are endless. You can choose to add a paste of mint leaves to this instead of the tamarind. Add some ginger-garlic and Tada! You have lightly-flavored mint dosas for a sumptuous breakfast.

Alas! We finished the tadka dosa before I could shoot a click :( Nevertheless, I did capture the regular ones.

Since it was lunch for my dear friend, I had these additionally; The good old peanut-coconut chutney.And the Potato-stuffing, which I prefer serving on-the-side.