September 22, 2017

Paneer Makhmali | Easy GF Side Dishes | Party Sides

How can we have a Mains and Sides week for Proteins Mega Blogging Marathon without Paneer featuring as a star ? As with most Indian families, Paneer is a favourite with my kids too. I make a lot of dishes with Paneer, but in this particular dish, Tofu (or any vegan cheese) can be easily substituted. So, adapted from Vaishali's recipe, this was one of the few bookmarks I was happy to make twice over and we loved it a lot. Thank you Vaishali, I made a few twists and the kids were thrilled to see a new variation for the weekend dinner.

More Paneer dishes on the blog:

Nargisi Kofta Curry (Mock Egg Gravy)
Shahi Paneer Masala (Side dish for Roti)
Paneer Pudinawale (Paneer in Mint gravy)
Paneer Tikka Manchurian
Matar - Paneer (Peas - Paneer gravy)
Paneer Potato Curry ~ Cottage cheese and Potato curry
Low fat Palak Paneer
Paneer Kulcha (stuffed flatbread)
Paneer Kebab (appetiser)
Paneer Chilli Bites (Appetiser)
Pista Rasabali (a delicious sweet from orissa)
Mini Paneer & Spinach Tarts (Appetiser)
Paneer Manchurian (indo Chinese starter)
Paneer Bharwa Shimla Mirch (Bell peppers stuffed with scrambled and spiced Paneer)
Paneer Gulab Jamun (Indian Dessert with a twist)
Paneer Aloo Paratha
Low Fat Paneer Makhanwala
Raisin and Paneer Pulav
Palak Paneer Parathas (Flat bread stuffed with spinach and Paneer)
Paneer Pav Bhaji
Methi Chaman

Well, as you can see we are a family of Paneer lovers. Lets get to today's recipe. The prep stages are slightly longer but totally worth the effort :-)

Paneer Makhmali - a GF Paneer based Gravy
Cuisine : Indian, Course : Sides ; Serves : 4
Serving Suggestions :  Flatbreads / Pulav
Prep time : 20 mins, Cook time : 15 mins
Protein Source : Paneer (Cottage Cheese) & Cashewnuts

Oil - 2 tsp
Malai Paneer - 250 gms - cut into medium chunks
Onion Paste - 2/3 cup
Fresh Tomato Puree - 1 cup
Soaked Cashewnut paste - 1/2 cup (can also use sunflower seeds as in the original recipe).
Salt - to taste
Turmeric - a pinch
Coconut milk - 1/4 cup (opt.)
Ginger - 1 inch long
garlic - 3 medium pods
Kasuri methi - 1/2 tsp (crushed)

Dry spices: Garam Masala, red chilli powder.

Prep work:
Soak 3 TBSP cashew nuts in warm water and grind to a paste.
Blanch and puree 3 medium sized tomatoes.
Dry saute 2 medium onions & ginger and garlic till soft, Cool and puree.

 How to make:
In a pan, heat oil, add the onion-garlic-ginger paste, saute well. Add the dry spices. saute till raw smell disappears.
Add the tomato puree and the cashew nuts puree. add a bit of warm water and let it simmer.
Then add the kasuri methi, paneer and let it simmer.
Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for 1-2 mins more.
Serve warm with Chapatis / Phulkas.

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September 21, 2017

Kabuli Channa Pulao - Gluten free and Vegan | One Pot Dish | Easy Lunchbox recipes

I am quite partial to chickpeas and usually have a huge batch of cooked and frozen chickpeas in the refrigerator. My kids are very fond of Chole and I love Chickpea and Sweet potato salad made with chickpeas so these two dishes get made very often. Apart from this, potato chickpeas soup, the Moroccan Harira soup, beetroot hummus ,Tikki and of course Tikki Choley chaats are also very welcome at home.

Today's recipe is something I have adapted from a cooking show and was very filling and enjoyed at home. I am so glad we have another vegan rice dish that can be used as a filling lunch box item too ;))

So let's get cracking on this beautiful one pot meal (and I love these one pot meals : it saves so much time not to mention lesser vessels to scrub and clean, don't you think?)

Here are some more One Pot Meals / Lunchbox Ideas:

Menthye Bataani Bhaath (Fenugreek-peas rice)

Thakkali Saadam (Tomato Rice)
Fada Nu Khichdi 
Achaari Pulav
Thinai Khara Pongal (foxtail Millet One Pot savoury Pongal)
Sambhaar Sadam

Btw, What's your favourite one pot meal ? 

Prep time - 15 mins ; Cooking time - 15 mins 
Serves - 3
Vegan and GF one pot meal
Protein source - chickpeas 

Basmati or any long grain rice - 1 cup
Cooked chickpeas - 1 cup (if using canned, drain and use)
Salt to taste 
Oil - 1 TBSP
Bay leaf - 1 no
Green Cardamom - 2 nos.
Cinnamon - 1 stick 
Black Cardamom- 1
Mint leaves - 2 handful
Dry spices - 
Coriander powder - 1 Tbsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1/2 TBSP

To Grind :
Onion - 1 large 
Soaked Cashew nuts- 1 T (skip for any nut allergy)
Soaked poppy seeds - 1/2 tsp
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic - 3 pods
Coriander leaves - 1 handful
Green chillies - 2 (adjust spice)

Wash rice twice or thrice till water turns clear. Soak for 20 mins.
Soak cashewnuts and poppy seeds in warm water for 10 mins. 
Grind all ingredients under "to grind" using minimal water to a thick paste.
Drain water from rice after 20 mins and keep aside.  

In a pressure cooker or a deep pan, heat oil. Sauté bay leaf, cardamoms, cinnamon. Now add the ground paste and sauté till the raw smell disappears. 
Add the chickpeas & soaked rice and sauté for 1 min. 
Add the spice powders, mint, salt and water and bring to a boil. (I usually add water in the ratio 1:1.5 for pulao). 
Pressure cook for 2 whistles.
Release pressure, fluff up the rice and serve hot with any raita

Notes - 
  • If not using a pressure cooker, cook till rice is done but not mushy. Serve warm 
  • I don't use canned chickpeas but use homemade frozen n cooked chickpeas. If doing so, bring the frozen chickpeas to room temp before adding to the cooker.
  • If using raw chickpeas, soak for 10-12 hours / overnight. Drain the water completely, wash and pressure cook till soft and then use. Adding just pre-soaked chickpeas with the soaked rice may not work well. If it works for you, please share your success here via a comment 
  • You may also add , like I did when I made this dish again, a handful of chopped veggies like beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower along with the chickpeas to make an even more nutritious meal. 
  • For a Jain version, you may skip the onions, garlic and ginger. It will still taste great ! 

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September 20, 2017

Vendakkai Thayir Pachadi | Okra Raita | Easy Side Dishes

Vendakkai thayir pachadi - or okra raita is a nutritious and filling side to sambhar or rasam that can be made in a jiffy. The protein used here is curd or yoghurt which is rich in probiotics and aids in digestion. 

Use fresh curd for this recipe. You can whip this up even at the last minute when you need to add a dish to the dinner table for unexpected guests. My elder one loves bhindi / okra in most forms so obviously she polished it off. We had this once with Keerai sambhar (Greens gravy) and the next time with chinna vengaya kara kuzhambu (shallots in tangy gravy) and loved both combos.

Similar Raita / Curd based Pachadis:

Mooli Raita
Palak Raita (spinach raita)
Doddapatre Tambli (Raita with Karpuravalli / Mexican Mint a.k.a Indian Borage)
Vellarikai Inji Pachadi (Cucumber Ginger Raita)
Pineapple Raita

So for all okra lovers out there, make this quick dish n surprise your guests.

Okra Raita - Vendakkai Thayir Pachadi

Prep time: 10 mins, cook time : 10 mins, serves : 4
Protein Source : Curd (yoghurt)
Gluten Free Side dish , Cuisine : South Indian, can be veganised
Course : Accompaniments

  • Okra - 100 gms (tender) - trimmed and chopped into slightly thin roundels.
  • Thick yoghurt - 100 gms - whisked well (use vegan curd like rice milk curd or soy curd for a vegan version)
  • Oil - 1 tbsp
  • Jeera / cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • Crushed or julienned ginger - 1 tsp
  • Green chilly - 1 no
  • Red chilly broken - 1 or 2
  • Salt - to taste


  1. Heat oil. Splutter mustard and cumin seeds. Add the ginger and chillies and sauté for a minute. Now add the chopped okra and fry well. Don't add any salt or water but keep sautéing on low - medium flame, uncovered for 8-10 mins till the okra shrivels and turns slightly crispy. Add 1/2 tsp additional oil if required in between. The Okra must remain crispy till the yoghurt is added. 
  2. Turn the heat off 
  3. Add the chopped coriander and mix well. Let the veggies cool a bit.
  4. Now whisk the curd well. Add the sautéed okra from the pan and mix well. 
  5. Add salt just before serving, mix well and serve immediately 

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September 19, 2017

Panchkuti Dal Khichdi and Dahi Aloo Combo Meal | Easy GF Dishes

Today, we move to a Main course from Rajasthan adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's Video. Panchkuti Dal Khichdi and Dahi wale Aloo . To most familiar with Khichdi, its a great comfort food, and this combo was well received by the husband, who's a fan of all Khichdis. 

Its also proteinicious with many lentils going into this, and a side dish gravy which is also protein rich - a great option for those living alone or in hostel / dorms (which allow cooking) or even those lazy Sunday brunch or a weekday / weekend brunch or dinner alternative. 

Whatever your reason, do make this one pot meal once and savour it. Am sure you would love it :-) As always, don't skimp on Ghee for your khichdi. 

I have made the entire meal satvik (onion and garlic free), but you may add garlic if you wish. 

More Khichdi and One Pot Meal options:

Zero Oil Dal Khichdi
Fada Nu Khichdi (Broken wheat Khichdi)
Moong Sprouts Khichdi
Menthye Bataani Bhaath (Fenugreek leaves and peas rice)
Tomato Rice (Thakkali Saadam)
Veg Au Gratin (Low fat version)
Achaari Pulav (pickle flavoured rice)
Finger millet (Thinai) Pongal
Dindigul Thalapakatti Veg Biryani
Sambhaar Saadham
Lapsi Veg upma

Prep time :10 mins, Cooking time : 15 mins (slightly more if you are not using Pressure cooker) ; Serves : 2

Protein sources : Mixed lentils

You would Need:

  • Raw rice (I used short grained, you may also use Basmati) - 1 cup
  • Mixed lentils - Masoor, Toor, Moong, Split green (with the skin), Channa - all 3 TBSP each
  • ghee - 1 tsp + 1 tsp
  • turmeric - 1/8 tsp
  • whole spice - Cloves, cardamom, bay leaf - 1 or 2 each
  • Salt - to taste
  • Whole peppercorn - 10 to 12
  • Cumin /jeera seeds - 1/2 TBSP
  • Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp (skip for GF version)
  • slit green chillies - 2 nos

How to make

  1. Wash and Soak the rice and lentils separately for 10 mins. 
  2. Heat the ghee (1 tsp) in a pan, saute the spices, add the turmeric, cumin and hing / asafoetida.
  3. Now add the washed and drained dal and rice and saute for 2 mins.
  4. Add 3 cups of hot water and salt, and cook covered till soft.
  5. Saute the green chillies in the remaining ghee and add to the Khichdi.
  6. Cook for 2-3 mins more and serve hot with Papads , Cucumber Pickle and Dahi Wale Aloo :-)

Dahi Wale Aloo: a GF side dish to serve with the Khichdi - Goes well with Parathas too.

Prep time : 15 mins, Cook time : 10 mins, Serves : 2
Protein sources : Besan (Gramflour) and Yoghurt 

What you need:

  • Boiled Potatoes - 2 nos
  • yoghurt - 1/4 cup
  • Besan /  Gram flour - 2 tsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Oil - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Broken red chillies - 2 nos.


  1. In a pan, add oil, splutter cumin seeds, add potatoes, and red chillies. Saute for 2 mins. Whisk the curd well and add the gram flour. 
  2. Add this mixture to the sautéed potatoes. Let it cook on low- medium heat for 4-5 mins till oil leaves the top. Now add salt.  
  3. Serve hot with Panchkuti Khichdi, Mango pickle and roasted papad


BMLogo Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 80

September 18, 2017

Methi Chole {GF and Vegan} | Easy Side Dish Recipes

Methi Chole was a spin off on the usual Chole and the chickpeas lover in me had to make it the moment i read this on Neha’s blog. Made this with slight changes, and as we love both fenugreek and Chole equally, this was very well received. The little one also had this despite the slightly bitter taste from the methi leaves. See Notes at the end of this recipe for more variations.  

This week we have 3 sides and 3 mains as part of month long Protein Rich Mega Blogging Marathon

So far the journey has been great, and hope you have enjoyed these dishes too! 
Day 1 Beetroot Hummus
Day 2 Vegan Almond Basil Pesto
Day 3 Ram Ladoo (Gulgule)
Day 4 Cream of Peas Soup
Day 5 Morappam
Day 6 Baked Peas Kachori
Day 7 Khatta Dhokla
Day 8 Paneer Tikka Manchurian
Day 9 Cheddar and Burnt Garlic Cauliflower soup
Day 10 Red Rice Idly
Day 11 Kanjeevaram Idli
Day 12 Whole Moong Chaat
Day 13 Vegetarian Shammi Kebabs
Day 14 Baked Onion Pakora

So, lets get to make Methi Chole - a GF , Proteinicious, Vegan side dish to Rotis / Naan / Kulchas or even plain steamed rice. As this recipe is easily scaleable, your parties could get a lot better and healthier with this wonderful dish. Lets get cracking ! 

Prep time : 15 mins (with Cooked Chickpeas) | Cook time : 15 mins | Serves : 4

You would need:
  • Cooked Chickpeas - 2 cups (If using Canned, drain, rinse and use, If using Raw Chickpeas, soak overnight and pressure cook with little salt till soft but not mushy)
  • Chopped Fresh Methi / fenugreek leaves - 1 cup (packed) - you may use frozen too
  • Salt - to taste
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Chole / channa Masala powder - 2 tsp
  • Red chilly powder - 1 tsp
  • Amchur / Dry Mango Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Garam Masala - 1 TBSP
  • Dry coriander powder - 1 tsp 
  • Kasuri Methi (crushed) - 1 tsp
  • Oil - 2 TBSP
Saute and grind to a Paste:
  • Onions - 1 large
  • Tomato - 2 large
  • Cashewnuts (soaked in warm water for 15 mins) - 8 to 10 {can omit for any nut allergy}
  • Ginger - 1 tsp
  • Garlic - 1 tsp (chopped)

  1. Saute the ingredients except cashew nuts for paste first in 1 tsp oil for 2-3 mins. Cool, add cashew nuts, grind and keep aside.
  2. In the same pan, add 1 tsp more oil, saute fenugreek leaves on very low flame for 3-4 mins till they slightly shrivel and keep aside. Do not add any salt. 
  3. In a thick bottomed pan, add the remaining oil, add the paste and saute on low flame till any residual raw smell disappears. Add salt, turmeric, and all the dry spice powders, saute till oil separates.
  4. Now add the chickpeas, 1 cup of water and simmer for 4-5 mins. Finally add the fenugreek leaves and let it thicken a bit. Finish with Crushed Kasuri Methi. 
  5. Serve hot or warm with Rotis / Phulkas or any bread
  • Onions and garlic are optional. so you can make it with just the tomato puree (increase the quantity though)
  • Add a pinch of sugar while sauteeing the methi leaves so they remain green and fresh. For the same reason, the leaves are added at the end of the curry so that the dish doesnt get too bitter or the leaves turn dark and dull.
  • If using frozen fenugreek, thaw the required quantity and saute with a little more oil (1/2 tsp extra).
  • If using Ghee, this dish would taste more delicious ! 
BMLogo Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 80

September 16, 2017

Baked Onion Pakora | Easy GF & Vegan Snacks

Yes, you read that right ! We have been experimenting with Baked (and no fry versions) of Popular snacks like - 

These are apart from Eggless Muffins & Quick Breads that get made.

So, today we have the ever popular Onion Pakora (a.k.a Kanda Bhajiya or the Vengaaya Pakoda) but in an absolutely guilt free version. You don't need any reason to make this and eat it.

Does it taste as crunchy ? Almost (the deep fry makes it crunchy, but we are not frying, right?)

Is it as tasty? yes, definitely. 
Is it healthy ? Absolutely. 

If that tempts you, just keep aside 20 mins to make this quick tea time (actually, anytime snack!)

More pakora varieties:
Baked Onion Pakora | Gluten Free & Vegan Snack | Baked and healthy
Cuisine : indian | Course : Snack / Appetiser
Prep time : 10 mins, Bake time : 18-20 mins

  • Onions - 2 large
  • Besan / Gramflour - 1 cup
  • Rice flour - 2 TBSP
  • Salt - to taste
  • Crushed Ajwain (carrom seeds) + coriander seeds - 1 tsp in all
  • Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Oil - 4 TBSP (divided use)
How to:
  1. Halve the onions and finely slice them lengthwise. Add the salt and leave for 5 mins, then add the spices, salt, besan and rice flour. Rub the onions into the mixed flours and mix the spices thoroughly.
  2. Meanwhile heat the oven to 200 C (375F)
  3. Add half the oil and rub it into the mixture. 
  4. On a baking tray, take small portions of this mixture and place them on the lined tray. Spray the rest of the oil and bake for 15-18 mins, tossing them midway, till crisp.
  5. Serve immediately 
So far in the Protein rich Blogging Marathon, we have :

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