Vinegar Onion – Pickle without oil!

Sometimes I wonder what to serve with the main course. It is kinda tedious preparing an elaborate salad or find a new pickle everyday. Most of the time I end up serving only diced onions or cucumbers and sometimes not even that. What do you do when you have only one hour to prepare dinner??? Something that can be stored without the fear of going bad anytime soon is the only answer and the first thing that comes to mind is vinegar onion.

Vinegar onion keep for many days. In fact, the taste betters as they age and as the vinegar is slowly absorbed by the onions. This is clearly evident in their deepening pink color. The rosier, the better.

Bottled Vinegar Onion

Bottled Vinegar Onion

The ingredients are pretty simple. Get some edible vinegar (if possible, fruit vinegar which is of brown color and gives a more delicious taste to the onions) and very small onions. Peel the onions. Mix the two and add a pinch of salt. Store in a glass jar for future use. If you use brown vinegar, you can serve the onions immediately also. Also, if peeling small onions seems a task to you, get some regular ones and cut them into halves or even quarters for serving size.

To make the dish more intersting, you can also add garlic cloves, green chillies and even dices radish. This gives a color to the onions and gives the guests more to choose from.

Churmura

Thinking what to serve for snack? Or just plain hungry and do not want to go to lenghts to prepare dinner? Or just weight conscious and nothing comes to mind that will be tasty yet light on calories? Then you have come to the right place. Churmura is all of this and more. It can be served to kids in paper cones that enhances its charm. The best part is you can keep adding to the quantity and taste by putting in whatever ingredients as you want.

Preparation Time – 15 mins

Servings – 4 people

Ingredients

100 gms laiyya (puffed rice)

1 large onion (chopped finely)

1 large tomato (chopped finely)

1 boiled potato cut into small pieces

A handful of roasted groundnuts

A handful of green peas

A handful of chick peas

2 tblsp aloo bhujia or any other mixture of your choice

A couple of crushed mathri

1 tblsp white salt

1 tblsp black salt

1 tblsp red chilli powder

1 large lemon

Mix all the ingredients together properly and serve. You can vary the ingredients as per your choice.

7 Cups Barfi

This sweet is called seven cups barfi as 7 cups of ingredients go into it. It does not take much effort or preparation time and it is a favorite among children.

Preparation Time – 20 mins

Servings – 8 people

Ingredients

3 cups sugar

1 cup besam

1 cup nariyal powder (dessicated coconut)

1 cup ghee

1 cup milk

Mix all the ingredients together and beat them together for some time. Then put them on the gas ans stir. When the batter starts to leave the side of the pan, take it off the gas. Make sure the batter is not completely dry. Keep stirring for some time after taking off the gas. This will make the barfi soft. Spread in a plate and let it set. It will set in 10-15 mins. Cut into diamond shapes before serving.

Nariyal Barfi

Nariyal Barfi is a traditional sweet served on various festivals. It is specially made for Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna. This sweet can also be eaten when fasting.

Preparation Time – 20 mins

Servings – 10 people

Ingredients

2 dry coconuts (nariyal/gola)

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1 tblsp ground cardamom (ilaichi)

½ cup finely chopped nuts (almonds, cashewnuts, pistachios)

1 tblsp ghee (unsalted butter)

1 silver foil (chandi ki burak)

Grind the coconut and mix ilaichi and the chopped nuts with it. Set aside. Grease a plate with ghee. Set aside. Bring sugar and water to a boil and then let it simmer till the sugar syrup (chashni) becomes 2-strand thick. To test it, take a drop of syrup between your thumb and fore-finger and pull them apart. The syrup should form 2 strands. Add the coconut to the syrup. Take it off the flame and keep stirring. When the mixture begins to thicken, immediately transfer it to the greased plate and spread evenly. Place the silver foil on it. Let the barfi set and once it is cool, cut into diamonds.  

Badam ka Shira

This almond delicacy was one of the first dishes I learnt from my MIL. It is at core of Marwari cooking and adds festivity to any occasion.

Preparation Time – 30 mins

Servings – 4 people

Ingredients

100 gms almonds

½ cup ghee

½ cup sugar

½ cup milk

Soak the almonds in lukewarm water and peel off their skins. Grind them in a mixer and set aside. Heat the ghee in a pan and add the almonds to it. Roast the almond paste on low flame till it turns light brown. Add milk and bring to a boil. Keep the flame on low and add sugar while stirring continuously to prevent any lumps. Simmer for 4-5 minutes. Serve hot.

 

Tip: You can add water also instead of milk.

Pulav

Quick to prepare. Involves little preparation. One dish dinner. Healthy and filling. That is what pulav is. You can make it as rich as you want or serve it without any frills. Pulav can be served with all or any one of these – curd , salad, raita, pickle, gravy, chutney, buttermilk or any other condiment you prefer.

Preparation Time – 30 mins

Servings – 2 people

Ingredients

2 cups basmati rice

Ghee 2 tblsp

Hing one pinch

Zeera 1 tblsp

1 Tejpatta (curry leaves)

1 large potato

1 large onion

A handful of peas

3 cloves

Salt 3 tblsp

Red chilli powder 1 tblsp

Haldi 1 tblsp

Rinse and soak the rice in water for half an hour. Cut potato into 1 inch pieces and soak in water. Dice onion. Heat the cooker and add oil, zeera and hing. When zeera starts to sputter, add tejpatta and cloves. Add the onion, potato, peas, salt, red chilli powder and haldi. Add rice with 2 cups of water. Put the gas on low flame after one whistle for 12-15 minutes.

 

Tips – Cut carrots into thin one inch pieces and add. You can also add cabbage or fried cauliflower. If you want to increase the nutritional value of pulav, you can also add soya beans. To make it rich, nuts can be added.

Carrot Halwa

Carrots used to be seasonal vegetables a decade ago. You could get it only in winters and that added more charm to this dessert. Buying carrots by the truckload used to portend a festive occasion although grating so many carrots was always a chore. But once the halwa was prepared, it was always cherished by everyone in the family. Mom used to keep it in a container on the dining table ready for her ever hungry brood when they come home for holidays. It was always something to be looked forward to. But now that carrots are available round the year, you might think that this dish has lost its charm. No sir you are wrong. Ask anyone if they would like a spoon full of sumptuous carrot halwa and you will never hear a ‘no’. So here is the recipe for this ever green dish.

Preparation time – 1 hour

Servings – 10 people

Ingredients

1 kg Carrots

1 kg Milk

200 gms Sugar

A handful of cashewnuts (kaju)

A handful of almonds (badam)

A handful of raisins (kishmish)

A handful of pistachios (pista)

A handful of chironji

Grate the carrots. Boil the milk and then add the grated carrots to it. Let it simmer while stirring it frequently. One the milk dries up, add sugar and mix well. Chop almonds, cashewnuts and pistachios and mix with the carrot halwa along with raisins and chironji.

Also, you can add 200 gms khoya (mawa) to the carrot halwa when the milk dries up to make it richer. The nuts are optional. You can make the halwa plain and simple without them also.

 

Tip: The carrot halwa keeps good if refrigerated. Heat it before serving for best results.

Bean Salad

A salad adds class to a dinner and brings in something crunchy to eat. It is an easy way to bring in proteins and vegetables in the fare besides adding taste to it. Bean salad is a healthy dish and can be either served along with the main course or as an appetizer. It can also be served as a delicious snack with garlic bread.

Preparation time – 15 mins

Servings – 4 people

Ingredients

100 gms beans (whole moong or sabut moong)

1 large onion

1 large tomato

1 radish

1 carrot

1 lemon

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Vinegar 1 tsp (optional)

Soak the beans in water overnight till they sprout. Chop onion, tomato and radish into fine pieces. Grate carrot. Drain the sprouted beans and add the chopped onion, tomato, radish, grated carrot, salt and pepper. Add lemon juice and vinegar and mix properly. Cool it in the fridge before serving.

Tip: Place a lettuce leaf in the bowl and then pour the bean salad on it to give it a classy look. Decorate with chopped green chillies and coriander leaves and add two lemon halves to complete the look.

Jaljeera

Jaljeera is an excellent appetizer. It is an apt beverage to go along with a traditional meal. Jaljeera can also be served on a hot day. The mint cools the body immediately and gives a soothing effect. Jaljeera can also be served with golgappe for snack.

Preparation Time – 30 mins

Servings – 8 people

Ingredients

1 liter Water

2 tblsp tamarind (imli)

A handful pudina (mint leaves)

Salt to taste

Black Salt to taste

Red chilli powder to taste

Black pepper to taste

Jeera 2 tblsp

Sugar (optional)

jaljeera

Jaljeera decorated with cucumber flower!

Soak tamarind in a little water for half an hour and extract the pulpy mixture while separating the seeds and the hard covering. Grind mint leaves with a little water. Fry jeera on a pan and grind it. Mix water, tamarind pulp, mint leaves paste, salt, black salt, red chilli powder, black pepper, ground jeera. Add a little sugar in case you want to sweeten it. Put it in the fridge or add ice cubes before serving.

Tip: Add a handful of boondi to jaljeera to give it more flavor.

Really Easy Dessert Recipe – Custard Tower

This is my favorite dessert. I have been making it since I was a kid and it has always got great reviews. The best part is it is extremely simple to make and still it is like the perfect dessert after every meal. I realized it when I made it for my bro’s birthday party (as an add-on dish) and the guys asked for more 🙂 I mean it is so simple that I did not even expect it to be liked in the first place. To clarify, I was in school at that time and cooking was not one of my best skills….he he he. Be sure to get compliments every time you make it.

Preparation Time – 20 mins

Servings – 6 people

Ingredients

½ litre milk

2 tblsp custard powder

1 tsp cocoa powder

½ cup sugar

2 packets Marie biscuits

Prepare chocolate custard using milk, custard powder, sugar and cocoa powder. Keep the consistency thickish. Let it cool a little. Now take a Marie biscuit, dip it in custard and place it on a plate. Take another biscuit, dip it and stack it on the previous biscuit. Make stacks of 6 custard dipped biscuits. Pour the remaining custard on top of the stacks. Place the plate in the freezer for 3-4 hours. When serving, cut each stack neatly into four parts. Please each part in the serving bowl so that the inside of the biscuit faces upward.

 

Tip: Custard Tower is best served cold. Replace the remaining stacks in the freezer.