The Family Food Blog

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Category: Indian

Rajma

by mukwritesbooks

Rajma is an Indian curry dish made with dark red kidney beans and simmered in a tomato & onion sauce. Its thicker base makes it a perfect (hearty) winter dish. Combine with rice to get a complete protein!

Ingredients (for approx. 2.5 servings)

  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) dark red kidney beans
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger, minced
  • 4 tbsp. tomato paste
  • garam masala
  • whole cumin
  • turmeric
  • salt

1) In pot, add drained kidney beans and a pinch of turmeric. Add enough water to immerse and cook on low/medium heat (NOT boil) until beans are soft and start to split, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

2) In a separate pot, saute onion and ginger with whole jeera on low/medium heat until onions turn translucent.

3) Add about 4 tablespoons of tomato paste (if opening a can, freeze the rest as a lump in a ziploc bag for next time!). Work the paste with the sauteed mix until they start to combine.

4) Add another pinch of turmeric, pinch of salt, pinch of garam masala, and work together. You may need to lower the heat at this point to avoid burning the paste.

5) Add contents of kidney bean pot, and then add enough water to at least fully immerse everything.

6) Bring to a simmer and keep stirring, checking for the correct consistency and for the tomato paste to lose its “pure tomato” flavor. Let it cook together on low/medium heat for about 15-20 minutes.

Rajma and rice makes a nice one-dish meal that's filling and healthy

Rajma and rice makes a nice one-dish meal that’s filling and healthy

A Family Favorite: Sweet Corn Soup

by thefamilyfoodblog

This weekend, my parents were in town and among other things, we enjoyed a lot of great homemade food – including family recipes that I’ve had many times over the years. One of those was my mom’s sweet corn soup, which we had Sunday night with some herb bread.

As this Google search will tell you, sweet corn coup is a key dish in Indian-Chinese cooking, the adaptation of Chinese seasoning and dishes to the Indian palate. My mom’s version is a little cornier (pun intended – this joke is pretty corny, isn’t it? All right, I’ll stop now) and creamier than the kind you usually get in restaurants.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 2 cans cream-style sweet corn
  • 2 cans whole kernel corn (drained)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • salt and pepper
  • green onions to garnish (optional)

Cream-style corn, whole kernel corn, and milk are key ingredients to this recipe.

Instructions

Start by melting the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is hot and the butter melted, add the onions. Sprinkle with salt. Stir occasionally for about five minutes, till onions become translucent.

Toss the onions in the butter until they become translucent.

Add flour and mix well with the onions and butter for 3-5 minutes, or until the flour starts to turn golden brown, to create a roux, Add the milk and stir briskly, making sure the flour doesn’t clump. Once the white sauce starts to thicken, add the water, a little bit at a time. Once the white sauce has thinned, add the cream-style corn and mix together. Then add the whole kernel corn, turn the heat to medium, and stir well.

Voila! Sweet corn soup. Serve with bread.

Add pepper, salt, and even hot sauce to taste. Make sure you keep stirring the soup so that the corn doesn’t sink to the bottom and burn!

Tip: The consistency of this soup makes it a great pairing with a hearty bread, like a baguette, sourdough, or even garlic bread.

Aubergine and Paneer Subji

by Sanjukta Moorthy

This is a dish totally of my own invention, which I made for dinner earlier this week. I salted some aubergines to make Pasta alla Norma, one of my all-time favourite comfort foods.

Turns out we had no pasta whatsoever. Whoops.

So I thought, why not turn it into a subji?

Just to clarify, subji is the Hindi word for ‘vegetable’, which Indians will use to describe a vegetable dish – what’s basically known commonly as a ‘curry’. Those who know me will know that I hate the word ‘curry’ because of the stereotype of terribly greasy, spicy and unappetising Indian food that goes with it!

I put this dish together using my knowledge of spices and my mother’s special homemade garam masala (thanks for both of those Amma!)

Indian food is really easy and can be fantastic if you know what spices work together, and the various ‘stars’ (vegetables, chicken, lamb, beef, fish etc) which work well with them.

Garam masala is fantastic with everything and my mother’s super special mix is really nice and sweet with a nutty smell, and it’s full of flavour and always reminds me of home. I thought some of that, with a little coriander powder, some coconut milk and maybe a dash of paprika powder would make a simple but really satisfying and comforting dish which would remind me of home. Which it did!

We had some paneer (Indian cottage cheese, you can get it in every supermarket) in the freezer, which after some quick Googling, discovered could be defrosted in the microwave for a few minutes. We defrosted about 200g for about 3 minutes, which brought it to room temperature.

So here it is: my surprisingly fantastic invention! It was a massive ego boost, because now I know I can cobble together a nice Indian meal without fuss and just rely on my own knowledge of tastes!

Serves 2

2 large aubergines, sliced (I cut them widthways into thirds, then cut those individual pieces into sticks about 1cm square)

200g paneer, cubed

1 can coconut milk

2 onions, chopped or sliced

2 tsp ginger-garlic paste (available in all supermarkets and a fantastic storecupboard staple for Asian and Indian food. If you can’t get it, a 1 inch piece of ginger and about 2 cloves of garlic, mashed together or chopped finely will do)

3 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp coriander powder

2 tsp paprika powder or mild chilli powder

Parathas, naans, chappatis or rotis to serve

Chop or slice the onions, and in the mean time bring your wok or large saucepan to a medium heat with some olive oil.

Add the onions and the ginger-garlic paste, and leave them for about 5 minutes to soften – this should be done on a low to medium heat, to get all the sweetness out of the onions.

Once that’s done, turn the heat up and add the garam masala and coriander powder. Indian food relies on the base of either onions or onions and tomatoes to be flavoured first, and strongly, then that flavour then being distributed across the rest of the dish. Adding the spices now will also help them cook a little and release the aromatics.

Now add the cubes of paneer. For the paneer to cook, it needs to brown on as many sides as possible – just like halloumi, basically. When the paneer looks beautifully golden, you can turn it over. The best way to do this is to leave the paneer in the pan for a few minutes on one side, on a medium heat, so that it browns, then to turn it over and shake everything around, let that sit for a few minutes too and then repeat etc.

When the paneer is browned on as many sides as you’d like, add the slices of aubergine.

I had salted the aubergine a few hours before, in the hopes of making the Pasta-That-Never-Was. I’d recommend doing that, because it draws out the moisture, meaning you have to use less oil to cook the aubergines. The easiest way to do this is to add about 2 tsp of salt per aubergine, to a tea towel so you can pat the aubergines dry before cooking. Leave them from anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour, bearing in mind that the longer you leave it, the less it needs to cook, meaning that you can eat that much faster. Always a good thing. Don’t forget to wash the aubergines in a colander or sieve before you cook them – this removes the excess salt but still makes sure they’re really salty so won’t need to add any more to the dish. If you haven’t salted your aubergines before-hand, about 1-2 tsp would do for this dish, and you can add it with the aubergine.

Stir the aubergines around and turn the heat up. In a few minutes you’ll see the skin start to blister and turn a lighter purple, and the paneer will get a little more golden. This is all good, and means your dish is about 15-20 minutes away from completion, hurray!

Keep this mix stirring, you want to coat everything in the yummy spices.

When the aubergine has cooked for about 5 minutes, add the can of coconut milk. Turn the heat up, so it bubbles a little, let it bubble for a few minutes then turn the heat back down again.

At this point, you can add the naans/chappatis/rotis in the oven to warm through. If you’re making parathas,

 Taste it now, and if you think it could use a little more salt or garam masala, add it now. This is also the time to add your paprika, so let that cook for a few more minutes.

When you think the spices have all mixed well and the coconut milk has thickened enough, the dish is probably done.

Garnish with chopped coriander if you have any, then serve with yoghurt and your breads!

Enjoy, let me know if it worked for you!

Mutter Paneer: Homemade Cheese with Peas

by thefamilyfoodblog

About a week ago, I tried making mutter paneer for the first time. Mutter paneer, a popular Indian dish of fresh cheese cubes and peas in a tomato-based sauce, requires many small steps, and the paneer needs to sit overnight for best results. As I rarely plan out meals more than a few hours ahead of time (and that’s only when I get distracted at work and am daydreaming about 5pm), I’d never made it before. But it’s one of my favorites and as I’d learned on a recent trip home, not that hard apart from the planning aspect. So when I got a special birthday request to make it, it ended up being a good chance to try it out. Once I made the paneer, I loosely followed this recipe.

Mutter Paneer

Mutter paneer, ready to serve.

Ingredients

For paneer:

3 cups milk

1 tbsp distilled white vinegar

Cheesecloth and strainer

For sauce:

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp cooking oil

3/4 cup peas, room temperature

1 large white onion, chopped

1 large or 2 small tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped

1/2 green chili, finely chopped (add more if desired)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)

Dash of jeera/cumin powder

Dash of turmeric powder

Dash of salt

Water

Cilantro to garnish (optional)

Instructions

For paneer:

Boil 3 cups of milk on the stove for about 10 minutes, until it begins billowing out and forming a film. Add 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar and stir until the milk starts to form solids and the whey becomes clear, taking care to scrape the solids off the side of the pot. If it is not very clear, add a little more vinegar.

Place two layers of cheesecloth at the bottom of the strainer. Pour the milk mixture into the cheesecloth-lined strainer. Bundle and gather up the cheesecloth, being careful to avoid the heat, and place the bundle on a plate. Push down gently to get the water out. Put a weight on top of the bundle and set aside for 3 hours at room temperature.

Remove the cheesecloth and wrap paneer in one layer of absorbent paper towel, covered by one layer of aluminum foil. Wrap tightly. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

For mutter paneer:

Cube and lightly saute the paneer in butter until it is slightly browned. Set aside.

In a medium pot, heat the cooking oil, and add onions. Sprinkle with salt and saute for about 5 minutes. Mix in ginger, green chili, garlic, cumin and turmeric, and saute for a minute. Add tomatoes and 1 tbsp water and saute for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Use a potato masher to blend the mixture into a coarse sauce.

Add peas and 1 cup of water. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add paneer and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. If necessary, add flour or cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Season with chopped cilantro and serve. I served the mutter paneer with store-bought naan and raita, a yogurt sauce with cumin, salt, pepper, and cilantro.