Tawa Cooking – Pav Bhaji ( Spicy Mashed Potatoes with Grilled Buns )

Pav Bhaji must be the most popular recipe cooked on a tawa in India. Google up Pav Bhaji and you will get zillions of Pav Bhaji recipes and also its history on Wikipedia. We still remember the ad of Everest Spices on TV in India with a punch line that conveyed Everest Pav Bhaji Masala is a blend of 13 secret spices. The punch line added so much elusiveness to the recipe that my mom actually used to use it. Though invented in Mumbai, the recipe has made its way to every nook and corner in India and is an extremely popular street food and also served in high-end fast food chains.

Pav Bhaji Stall at Mumbai's Juhu Beach

  The base of the recipe is boiled potatoes mashed up with spices and butter which is what the original recipe was. As time went by creativity made its way with addition of peas, cauliflower, bell peppers etc. We made Pav Bhaji with just potatoes to keep it simple and original; and we did not use any ready-made Pav Bhaji masala. We realize now what a hoax the ad was. The truth is it’s a simple recipe that needs just garam masala (we used MDH brand garam masala) and some red chilies. The taste is all from butter; and we love butter in our food so we used it really generously.

Pav Bhaji with an extra dollop of Butter

Try out this Pav Bhaji recipe at home because this is could not become more simpler than this. Watch the video for the recipe and let us know what you think.
Ingredients Summary:
Serves: 4; Total Time: 40 min
Potatoes – 675 gm or 1 1/2 lb; Ghee – 1/2 cup; Green Chilies – 4; Ginger – 15 gm or 1/2 oz; Tomatoes – 250 gm or 9 oz; Whole Red Chilies – 4; Ginger Paste – 1 tsp; Garlic Paste – 1 tsp; Salt – to taste; Butter – 5 Tbs; Garam Masala – 2 tsp; Coriander Leaves – 1/2 cup; Lemon Juice – 2 Tbs; 

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Handi Cooking – Kumbh Hara Dhania ( Coriander Mushroom )

This is our penultimate post in handi cooking series. A rich vegetarian curry that highlights the importance of fresh coriander in Indian cooking. Use of boiled onion paste in the recipe helped improve the texture and taste. The cashew paste added towards the end made it rich and creamy.

The recipe is simple and easy to cook. Except for making the boiled onion paste and cashew paste, the preparation involves just getting the ingredients together, blanching and cutting the mushrooms. The gravy or curry for this recipe is the basic gravy that can be used for kofta and paneer delicacies as well. Add 3 Tbs of fried onion paste and 1 tsp of garam masala in the end along with the cashew paste if using the gravy for kofta or paneer delicacies.

Watch our video to see us cook this yummy vegetarian curry simmered with button mushrooms and fresh coriander.

Ingredients Summary:

Mushrooms (fresh) –  600 gm or 1 1/3 lb; Ghee – 3/4 cup; Whole Garam Masala [Green Cardamom – 5; Black Cardamom – 1; Cloves – 5; Cinnamon – 1 inch; Bay Leaf – 1; Mace – 1 pinch]; Onion – 150 gm or 1/3 lb; Black cardamom – 1; Bay leaf – 1; Ginger Garlic paste – 8 tsp; Green Chilies – 4 (chopped); Ginger – 30 gm or 1 oz; Red Chili Powder  – 1 tsp; Coriander Powder – 1/2 tsp; Yogurt 1 1/2 cup; Cashews – 45 gm or 1 1/2 oz; Fresh Coriander – 1 cup (chopped); Salt – to taste;

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Handi Cooking – Aloo Chutneywale (Stuffed Potatoes in Tangy Chutney Sauce)

Our next recipe in handi series is an outstanding vegetarian curry called Aloo Chutneywale. This is an original recipe from famous chef Arvind Saraswat where potatoes stuffed with paneer are simmered in a tangy chutney. This dish is certain to leave the palate tingling.

What we liked most about this dish was that it was a refreshing change for a curry flavor. The sourness and tangyness of the chutney in the gravy made it very addictive. The tough part that needed a little patience was scooping out the potatoes and filling them. By the time we finished cooking this recipe we were completely exhausted but the experience was very rewarding nevertheless. An important aspect of cooking this recipe was 100% open pot cooking. At no point, while cooking, should the pot be covered with a lid. Watch our video for the recipe along with enjoying the latest number from Himesh.

Ingredients Summary

Serves – 8; Total Time – 2 hours and 30 minutes

Potatoes – 1.2 Kg or 2.7 lb; Oil for frying; Coriander leaves – 240 gm or 8 oz; Mint leaves – 100 gm or 3.5 oz; Raw Green Mango – 50 gm or 2 oz; Paneer – 200 gm or 7 oz; Green Chili – 15; Ginger – 8 gm or 1/3 oz; Cashewnuts – 16; Ghee – 1 cup; Onion – 250 gm or 8 oz; Black Cardamom – 1; Bay Leaf – 1; Ginger Garlic Paste – 10 tsp; Cumin Seeds – 2 tsp; Red Chili – 1.5 tsp; Yogurt – 300 gm or 10.5 oz; Tomato – 150 gm or 5 oz; Cashewnuts (for paste) – 50 gm or 2 oz; Garam Masala – 4 tsp; Salt – to taste;

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Handi Cooking – “Raspberry” Matar

Our second recipe in Haandi cooking is “Raspberry” Matar (peas). This delicacy is on the menu of very few select restaurants in India. A vegetarian delight of paneer balls – “raspberries” – and green peas, cooked in a mild and rich gravy, which penetrates the “raspberries” or paneer balls to make them juicy like a fruit.

We extremely enjoyed cooking this recipe. The mild saffron flavor with richness of cashew, yogurt and cream made the gravy taste very addictive. Went down very well with naan. The three-time bhunao (sautéing) process in the cooking was a little time-consuming but worth it. If anyone has to try just one recipe from all our posts until now, please try this one. It’s worth the time and effort. Please watch our video for the recipe and hope you will leave us your feedback.

Ingredients Summary

Serves 4; Total time: 2 hours        

For “Raspberries”:

Paneer – 3/4 lb or 350; Green Chilies – 4; Ginger (chopped) – 1 tbs; Saffron – 1 tsp; Milk – 1/4 cup or 60 ml; Red Chili Powder – 1/2 tsp; Salt – 1 tsp; Corn starch (flour) – 1/2 cup; Oil – for deep-frying;

For Gravy:

Green Peas – 3/4 lb or 350 gm; Ghee (clarified butter) – 2/3 cup; Onions – 4 (medium); Black Cardamom – 1; Bay Leaf – 1; Green Chili (chopped) – 4; Ginger (chopped) – 1 tbs; Ginger-Garlic paste – 5 tsp; Fresh Tomato Puree – 1 cup;  Yogurt – 1 cup; Cashew – 50 gm or 2 oz; Red chili powder – 1 tsp; Coriander Powder – 1 tsp; Cream – 60 ml or 1/4 cup; Garam Masala – 1 tsp; Salt – 1 tsp; Fresh Coriander (chopped) – 1/3 cup;

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Indroduction to Handi Cooking with Kale Moti Biryani

 Handi or Haandi (pot), Kadhai (Indian wok) and Tawa (griddle) are three most commonly used utensils in Indian cooking and most of the Indian delicacies can be cooked in one of these vessels. Many recipes just got their name from these utensils like Kadhai Paneer etc. We thought that doing a series of recipes in each of the utensils will be fun and innovative for our blog.        

 So readers, welcome to our Haandi cooking series where we will try to cook and post one to two haandi recipes every week for next few weeks.        


 A Haandi is a deep heavy bottomed and narrow mouthed pot traditionally made with brass or copper. After lots of searching online stores and numerous trips to various Indian stores in New Jersey and New York, we could not find a proper Haandi to our liking for cooking.

Dutch Oven

 So eventually, we decided to buy a deep 6 quart (approx 6 litre) dutch oven because it gave us the feel of a haandi when we picked it up in the store. The dutch oven is so much similar to the Indian haandi. It has thick walls, heavy bottom, it is deep and has a lid that is perfectly safe to put in oven.         

 Two important aspects of haandi cooking are Bhunao and Dum. Bhunao is a combination of stir frying and sauteeing on medium to high heat with slowly adding small quantity of water or yogurt to avoid the ingredients and spices from sticking to the pan till the oil or fat separates indicating that the spices and ingredients (onion, ginger, garlic etc) are cooked and its time to proceed to the next phase of cooking (which is mostly adding the main ingredient). Dum which literally means steam is a method of slow cooking where the haandi is sealed with dough to prevent any steam to escape. In olden days, the whole sealed haandi will be put in smouldering coal covering it from top to bottom for even heating. Today, the electric oven is used for providing the function of even heating. In Dum cooking, the main ingredient is cooked partially and then at the time of sealing the lid with dough some additional accompaniments are added for flavor and aroma and then slow cooked in oven. The food continues to cook in its own steam which condenses back into the food retaining the aroma and flavors of all ingredients in the delicacy.

 Our first Haandi recipe is “Kale Moti Biryani” for which the direct translation that comes to mind would be “Black Pearl Rice Pilaf“. In this recipe black chickpeas (kala chana or bengal gram) simmered in gravy and basmati rice, layer upon layer, make for a royal treat.         

This was the best tasting biryani we cooked till now. This vegetarian biryani beat all the mutton (goat meat) and chicken biryani we have cooked in our lifetime. The aroma of saffron and the spices were intrinsically blended with the biryani and the chickpeas were soft. We did not even realize that we finished our biryani as is without even touching the raita on the side.        

 On the other hand, preparing this delicacy was a little time-consuming though. The list of ingredients is long but then that’s the secret of getting all the exotic flavors and aroma. We were so busy keeping track of things in order that we forgot to switch on the main powerful light in the kitchen that we installed for the purpose of video recording. As a result, the video has poor lighting. If it would have been any other recipe, we would have done it again for the sake of video quality but doing this recipe once again was too overwhelming. So please watch the video for the recipe and pardon the dark video quality.        

Ingredients Summary         

Serves 4; Preparation time: 45 minutes; Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes        

For the rice: Basmati Rice – 2 and 1/4 cup (250 gm); Milk – 3 and 1/3 cup (800 ml); Whole Garam Masala [Green Cardamom – 5; Black Cardamom – 1; Cloves – 5; Cinnamon – 1 inch; Bay Leaf – 1; Mace; 1 Pinch]; Salt – 1 tsp;        

For the chickpeas (black pearls): Black Chickpeas (Kala Chana) – 1 and 1/4 cup (250 gm); Salt – 1 tsp; Ghee (clarified butter) – 1/2 cup (100 gm); Ginger – 1 tbsp (15 gm); Garlic – 5 cloves; Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp; Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp; Yogurt – 3/4 cup (200 gm); Tomato – 1 and 1/2; Potato – 3; Green Chili – 3;        

For the garnish: Cilantro or Coriander leaves – 1/2 cup; Fresh Mint Leaves – 1/4 cup; Ginger – 2 thin slices; Green Chili – 7; Tomato – 1 big; Onion – 3 (small); Yogurt – 1/2 cup; Garam Masala – 1 tsp; Green Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp; Saffron – 2 tsp (1 gm); Milk – 1/4 cup (60 ml)        

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Mushroom in Cashew Curry

This is our favorite recipe that we cook whenever we are hosting vegetarian or vegan guests. We love it because the gravy is rich, silky, creamy & smooth and easily replaces the routine paneer (fresh cheese) as the main vegan entrée in northern India cuisine. Another reason to love this recipe is  that it was our favorite vegetarian entrée while eating out in India. We love it so much that we tried to cook it at home without knowing the recipe. Just by guessing the ingredients from our memory of the tasteful gravy we tried to cook it a few times at home and now we have perfected it over time. We are proud that it’s almost the same as what we used to have at restaurants in India.

Another variation to this recipe is using the additional ingredient of poppy seed paste. In north Indian cuisine, use of poppy seeds in curries and gravies is not very popular but we have experienced that adding poppy seed paste in cashew based gravy greatly enhances the taste of the curry. Our video here however shows it just using cashew based gravy. Please watch to see us cook this wonderful vegetarian curry that goes so well with any kind of Indian bread.

Ingredients Summary

Button Mushroom – 2 lbs; Cashews – 15; Onion – 2 (chopped); Green Chilli – 5 (chopped); Cumin Seed – 1 tsp; Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp; Coriander Powder – 2 tsp; Cumin Powder – 2 tsp; Ground Black Pepper – 1 tsp; Garam Masala – 2 tsp; Kasoori Methi – 1 tbsp; Salt – 1 tsp; Heavy Cream – 1/2 cup; Butter – 2 tbsp;

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Published in: on May 18, 2010 at 10:39 pm  Comments (8)  
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Dum Aloo ( Quick Potato Curry)

This is a quick recipe that we did with the unused marination mix made for the “Tandoori Chicken“. All we did was, cooked the left over marination in some oil to make the curry and then added potatoes in the gravy. We were really surprised by the outcome as it turned out to be a perfect curry to have with chapati or naan.

We did not make a video of it as we had no intentions of posting this recipe on the blog.  It was a quick fix thing with left over stuff but it turned out so well that we had to post it.


Boil 10 to 12 small potatoes. Peel the boiled potatoes and then shallow fry till golden and keep aside. If you have big potatoes just cut them into halves or quarters after boiling them.

Ingredients for the curry (same as our tandoori chicken marination ingredients)
Yogurt – 1 cup
Onion (chopped) – 1 cup
Ginger Garlic paste – 2 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Ground Black Pepper – 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Kasoori Methi (Fenugreek Leaves) – 1 tsp
Lemon Juice of 1/2 lemon
Whole Cumin Seed – 1/2 tsp
Bay Leaf – 1

Mix well all the above ingredients (except Whole Cumin Seeds and Bay Leaf) together ( refer the  video of “Tandoori Chicken Roast” ) . In a skillet heat 2 tbps oil. Add 1 tsp whole cumin. Let it splutter and then add 1 bay leaf. Add in the curry mix in the pan and cook on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes with occasional stirs till oil starts to ooze out from the spices and it is well cooked. Add water as per desired consistency to curry it. Simmer for 5 minutes and then add the fried potatoes. Simmer further with occasional stirs for another 5 to 7 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve hot with chapati or naan.

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Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 8:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Anyone can Cook Eggs

Yes, anyone can cook eggs. Still, cooking eggs takes lots of practice to achieve perfection. Be it boiled eggs, poached eggs or omelette. It takes time and practice to get that perfect softness in your egg. In India, eggs are cooked in a little rough manner. If you are making an omelette the Indian way, then you got to beat it and beat it and continue beating it till you top up your bowl with egg froth. However, the recipe we are posting here does not require too much beating. Just a little whisk to break the yolks is enough. We call it our version of Russian omelette but it has nothing Russian about it (except the butter, we guess).

It's not a Pizza; It's an Omelette

This is an original recipe of cooking eggs that we learned from my Dad and if other people, by any remote chance, have cooked eggs exactly this same way then its purely co-incidental. This is a sinful recipe with lots of butter and full eggs (inclusive of the yolks). If you want to get more adventurous, try adding some sausages or cheese. The thing we like about this omelette is that the egg is fully cooked and yet its is soft, moist and full of buttery flavor with sweetness of caramelized onions and cabbage.

We cooked this twice in past week to get it perfect. The first time around we overcooked it but this time it was just perfect. Watch our video for the recipe and to see us cook this unique omelette.

Please leave us comments and help us improve.

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How to Make Ghoogni – Yellow Peas Curry

Ghoogni is a traditional delicacy popular in the eastern states of India in West Bengal, Orissa, Assam etc. Original ghoogni is made with whole yellow peas ( peela matar in hindi ) . Ghoogni can be eaten just by itself as a snack or they can be relished with luchis (deep-fried flatbread made of all-purpose flour). They go really well for a brunch or an evening snack.

Sometimes people use chickpeas instead of yellow peas but then that’s not ghoogni. Authentic ghoogni is only made with yellow peas. In West Bengal, ghoogni is also made with minced goat meat and gets extremely popular as street food during the Durga Poojas (a festival in India).

One interesting part of this recipe is the use of panch phoron spice in a different way. The panch phoron is dry roasted and then ground into a coarse powder which then gives a very distinct aroma to the delicacy. Please note that you may need to soak the yellow peas overnight in water although in our video we showed four hours only. Also, Lemon juice can be used instead of tamarind. Please watch us make this traditional Indian snack for the recipe. It really tasted very good.

Please leave comments and feedback and let us know if you need help making it.

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Published in: on May 5, 2010 at 8:34 am  Comments (1)  
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A Tale of Two Recipes of Masoor Dal

The best benefit we got after starting our blog is that we started to read other people’s blog. One cool blog that we really liked is called OneLifeToEat. The blog writer, Sabera, recently posted a recipe of masoor dal. Just reading her recipe got me salivating. Masoor dal is the mostly eaten dal since our childhood but we never prepared masoor dal anywhere near to her recipe. I saw my grandma cook it everyday, my mom and aunts used to cook it everyday; they still do. We also cook it but not everyday.

Masoor dal we cooked (Recipe by - http://onelifetoeat.com)

So as we read Sabera’s masoor dal recipe, I just got nostalgic as it was part of my everyday meal. The other thing my mom used to cook using masoor dal, though not everyday, was the Masoor Dal Pakodis (fritters). This mostly used to happen on days when the fridge went out of vegetables. Mom used to cook a dal and at least two sides (one vegetable; one fish-being Bengalis) served with rice and rotis. Thats how a standard Indian balanced diet used to be.

Masoor Dal Pakodas with Basmati and Masoor Dal

Anyways, coming back to the masoor dal, by the time we finished reading Sabera’s recipe I was salivating for not only the Dal but also the Masoor Dal Pakodis as well. So we made both of them yesterday. For the masoor dal recipe, please visit Sabera’s post and for the Masoor Dal Pakodis checkout our video. Serve Masoor dal over hot steamed basmati rice with the pakodis. Add some raita and cucumber on the side and you got yourself another 100% vegetarian yummy meal.

(Whats the difference between pakodas and pakodis?)

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Published in: on April 30, 2010 at 9:56 am  Comments (5)  
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