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Friday, 25 October 2013

I bet you are going to go scraping the baking dish and fighting for the little bits stuck to the bottom. That's what happens every time I bake this Creamy POTATO MUSHROOM BAKE. Thyme and basil are my two favourite herbs and they are just wonderful. But if you have not got fresh herbs, dried ones are absolutely fine. You can also use any seasoning you like pizza seasoning or Italian seasoning its just goes fine with it. You can serve this as a side or as main itself. 

Serves 3

You Will Need:

200g Mushrooms, Halved or Whole
A Kilo of Potato, Sliced Little Thickly 
Tbsp of Butter
Bread Crumbs to Sprinkle
2 tbsp of Grated Cheese 

For White Sauce:

2 tbsp of Butter
1 Heaped tbsp of Plain Flour
500ml of Whole Milk
2 tbsp Of your favourite Cheese
Salt to Taste
Pepper to Season

For Seasoning:

Dried Basil
Dried Thyme
Chili Flakes

The Cooking:

Preparing the Mushrooms:

Heat a pan with a knob of butter and tumble in the mushrooms. Keep the heat high throughout sautéing. Sprinkle salt, chilli flakes and dried herbs. Toss the mushrooms on high heat for couple of mins till they turn light brown colour. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and let it rest.

Preparing the Potatoes:

Add the sliced potatoes in boiling water and let to cook till half done. Strain the potatoes and tumble them immediately on to the same pan you used to saute the mushrooms. Again keep the heat on high and sprinkle salt, chilli flakes and dried herbs tossing the potatoes till they are slightly browned on both sides. Take off heat and tumble this over the waiting mushrooms.

Preparing White Sauce:

Add oil / butter to a heavy bottom sauce pan and stir in the plain flour. Keep the heat low and saute the flour to form a smooth paste. Change to a whisk and start to pour in the milk gradually. Keep whisking to breakdown any lumps. Let this simmer over low heat and whisk occasionally till the sauce begins to thicken. Now season with salt and pepper. The sauce needs to be little thick and in pouring consistency.  Add the cheese and whisk for a min. If you find its too thick, thin it out with little milk. Or if too runny, add little flour. Once done take off heat and start assembling.

Tumble in the potatoes and mushrooms into a baking dish and then Pour over the white sauce, sprinkle over the bread crumbs and bake in a preheated oven for 30 mins (APPROX.) at 250c till the top is golden brown.


  • Since you are using milk as the base for the sauce AVOID using any citrus ingredients. 

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Happy Baking!


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

MOLTEN CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE...or simply "Half Baked Cake" like how my husband calls it ;) I don't even have to tell you about this sinful dessert. They are just yum eaten hot or at room temperature, with dollop of cream and berries or like how I prefer it just plain on its own with little dusting of powdered sugar. 

There is really nothing much technique in baking these babies. Just "half bake" your cake and its a lava cake.... :p So the baking time actually varies on how gooey you want the center to be. The first cake I attempted was way too gooey for me. I baked it for 15 mins exactly and it was too runny for me. Then the second one went a little longer and it was just perfect. Now coming to the chocolate that's best for this recipe is any chocolate you like to eat. It need not be expensive dark chocolate, any good quality chocolate will do. I used Cadbury Dairy Milk Roasted Almonds for this. So any chocolate you love to eat, but remember the taste, colour and flavour will differ from what chocolate goes in. 

The recipe is for 3 lava cakes and this recipe can be easily doubled or tripled. 

Makes 3 Lava Cakes

You Will Need:

200g of Dark Chocolate, Broken
100g of Unsalted Butter, Cubed
65g of Powdered Sugar
50g of Plain Floura
2 Whole Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
Tsp of Vanilla Extract

The Cooking:

Place the chocolates and butter in a heat proof bowl and melt in a microwave or over a double boiler / water bath. Give it a good whisk once and add the powdered / icing sugar. You don't really need a whisk or a mixer to do this just with a spatula stir the sugar till well incorporated.

Now before adding the eggs let the mixture cool for a few mins, just in case the eggs scramble if the mixture is too hot. Then add the vanilla and one egg at a time whisking well to ensure the eggs get well incorporated. Now fold in the flour and transfer them to a greased ramekin.

Place them in a preheated oven at 180c and bake for 15 - 20 mins, that's depending on how gooey you want them to be. Let the cake rest for few mins before being inverted on to a plate. 


  • For a cheat's version, fill the ramekin halfway and place a chocolate square in the center and top off with batter. The chocolate melts when baking promising a runny center every time. 
  • Check the blog post Tips On Baking for pointers on cake baking.
Happy Baking!

Monday, 21 October 2013

PUDALANGAI KOOTU is a South Indian classic. Its prepared in all households and during weddings. Well the variation in preparation is huge. Everyone has there own way in preparing it. Its easy and quick to prepare with very few ingredients. I use pressure cooker alot in cooker. Its easier and faster that way. But you can also cook this in any heavy bottom vessel.

Serves 3

You Will Need:

2 Snake Gourd / Pudalangai, Little Finely Chopped
1/4 cup of Kadalai Paruppu / Channa Dal
2 tsp of Paasi Paruppu / Mung Dal
1/2 tsp of Turmeric Powder
Salt to Taste 

To Grind:

1/4th cup of Coconut
Couple of Shallots, Chopped
2 - 3 Green Chilies
1/2 tsp of Rice Flour
Tsp of Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp of Fennel Seeds

For Tempering:

Tbsp of Oil (Gingelly / Coconut Oil)
1/2 tsp of Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp of Urad Dal
1/2 tsp of Hing
Few Curry Leaves
2 Dried Red Chilies, Broken

The Cooking:

In a pressure cooker, place the kadalai paruppu, paasi paruppu and chopped pudalangai. Add little water just enough to soak the dals. Add salt and turmeric powder. Pressure cook it (2 or 3 sounds) till the gourd is tender but not mushy.

Meanwhile grind all the ingredients and keep aside. 

Open the lid after the pressure is fully released. Add the ground paste and mix well. Again pressure cook it for one sound and take off heat. Open after the pressure is fully released. 

For tempering, heat a kadai on high and add oil. Once hot crackle mustard seeds, urad dal, hing, curry leaves and dried red chilies. Pour this into the kootu and mix well. 

Serve hot with rice or roti! 


  • Add little water when cooking the gourd, maybe about 1/2 to 3/4 th of a cup will do. Just enough to soak the dal and not the gourd. 
  • If you have added too much of water when cooking the gourd, simply remove the excess water and you can use this water when preparing rasam and dals. 

Happy Cooking!


Thursday, 17 October 2013

KOVAKKAI / TINDORA a very simple dish that goes amazingly well with Sambar rice and Dal. Kovakkai has some real interesting names. Like baby watermelon and "gentleman's toes"??! Ok just forget I even told you that. Anyway I never really liked this vegetable until I actually tasted it. To me it looked wired after all, but its such a delicious veggie. 

Tindora is used in traditional medicines to help cure leprosy, fever, asthma, bronchitis and jaundice and are highly recommended for diabetic patients.  

Serves 2

You Will Need:

500g of Kovakkai, Halved Lengthwise
3 Shallots, Finely Chopped
1/2 Tsp of Turmeric Powder
1 tsp or Red Chilli Powder
Salt to Taste
2 tbsp Oil


1/4 tsp of Mustard Seeds
1/4 tso of Fennel Seeds
Few Curry Leaves

The Cooking:

Heat a wok on high. Once hot add oil and crackle the mustard seeds, fennel seeds and curry leaves. Then add the shallots and saute till pink and translucent.

Now tumble in the kovakkai and toss well. Add turmeric, salt and chilli powder and toss well to evenly coat the spices. There is absolutely NO NEED to add water. The vegetable releases enough water to help it cook completely. If you add extra water, its never going evaporate or be observed by the vegetable.

Keep the heat high for a min, tossing continuously. Then bring the heat down to medium low and cook covered stirring occasionally till the kovakkai is soft.  Take the lid off in the last 5 mins of cooking, so that the vegetable dries up evaporating any excess water. 

  • Kovakkai takes a very loooonnnggg time to cook. So give a head start to this dish when preparing and be patient. 
  • Keep the flame down throughout cooking. 
Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

BUTTER CHICKEN MASALA....the name itself makes me drool! I have already talked about butter chicken in Amritsari Murgh Makhani post. You may wonder then why another butter chicken recipe. Let me tell you, this is purely my version and the difference in taste and flavor of the two are so different. Try both and take your pick ;)

As the name speaks for itself it ''Butter" chicken! And with a 'waistline issue' in my family, this dish a big NO NO. But it's an absolute favorite to my husband and I simply cannot eliminate this altogether from our kitchen. But what I can do is, cut down as much as calorie I can and still satisfy my taste buds. 

So when its just me and my husband I generally substitute butter with oil and fresh cream with milk. And milk also gives creaminess to the gravy. In fact you can find a lot of recipes where I use milk very often. Its still delicious! But if I have a family get-together I use butter and cream generously ;) After all its a special occasion, right? 

So if you have been calorie conscious and avoiding this delicious chicken dish, then am sure you will no more after trying this recipe!

Serves 3

You Will Need:

For Marination:

500g of Boneless Chicken
A tbsp of Ginger garlic Paste
3 tbsp of Hung Curd / yogurt (Not thin)
1/2 tsp of Turmeric Powder
A tsp of Red Chilli Powder
1 tsp of Ground Cumin Powder
Little Salt

For the Gravy:

3 - 4 tbsp of Ghee / Butter / Oil
3 Medium onions
7 Whole Cashew Nuts
3 Cardamom Pods
2 Cinnamon Sticks
5 Cloves
1 Bay leaf
4 Large Tomatoes, Pureed
2 Green Chilies, Finely Chopped
Cup of Luke warm Whole Milk or 3/4th Cup of Heavy cream 
A tbsp of Crushed Kasuri Methi
1/2 tsp of Sugar
1/2 tsp of Garam Masala
Red Chili Powder (If required)
Red Food Colour (Optional, I never use it)
Salt to Taste

The Cooking:

Step 1:

Mix all the ingredients together and let it marinate for at least an hour. 

Step 2:

Heat a non stick kadai on high and add 2 tbsp butter / ghee /oil. Once hot add the chicken and saute on high till it turns a nice golden brown colour. You can add the excess marinade and cook till the chicken is almost done. Transfer the chicken to bowl and keep aside covered. 

Step 3:

On the same kadai saute the onions, cashews and whole garam masala till they go pink and translucent. Remove from heat cool and grind this to a smooth paste. 

For the tomato puree, you can either blanch the tomatoes in boiling water and grind to a smooth paste or do what I do. I learnt this trick from Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi. So what you do is add little oil on the same kadai and saute the quartered tomatoes. Cook covered on medium heat till the tomatoes are all mushy. Let it cool and grind to a smooth puree. What this does is, it gives a nice bright red colour to the puree and thicker texture. Ok now done with the prep work, lets get on with the gravy.

Step 4:

Heat oil / ghee / butter to the same pan. Add green chilies and saute for few seconds. Then add the onion paste and saute on high. Saute till the onion paste starts to lump around and no more sticks to the bottom. Only then the onion paste is fully cooked or else you will get the raw taste of onions. 

Step 5:

Pour in the tomato puree and saute on medium heat for couple of 2 - 3 mins. Always cover and cook the tomato puree, because they will splatter all over. 

Step 6:

Then add required salt (remember salt already added to the chicken marinade), red chilli powder (if you want more heat), sugar, garam masala and kasuri methi. Stir everything together and cook for couple of mins. 

Step 7:

Add the chicken along with the juices from resting the chicken into the gravy and stir. Add the milk and stir well on low heat. Cook cover on low heat till the gravy thickens, it would take around 5 mins. 

If adding cream you don't have to cook that 5 mins. Just stir everything well and take off heat after a min. 

Serve Hot with Naan


There are few points to keep in mind when cooking with milk. 

  • If you are not adding milk to the gravy, you can add juice of half a lime to the chicken marinade. If you are adding milk, skip that lime juice just to be on the safer side of not splitting the gravy. 
  • Keep the heat on low when adding the milk. 

Happy Cooking!


Thursday, 3 October 2013

#2 Amma's Recipe

I know you will kick me if I speak anymore about Biryani. I already said too much in my previous post on Madrasi Chicken Dum Biryani, Dindigul Mutton Biryani & The Royal Biryani! And now my lips are sealed. 

But I want to insist on two things again and again. Use good quality mutton and good quality basmati rice. The flavour to the biryani is basically from the rice and mutton. 

There is also a video demonstration for this recipe, you can find the video on YouTube HERE. It was a casually shot video by me but later I decided to put it up so that you can see exactly at what stages the ingredients go in. 

Serves 7

You Will Need

For Mutton Marination:

1.5 Kg of Mutton, Big Cuts
1/2 Cup of Thick Yogurt
Juice of a Lemon

For The Gravy:

Oil - 150 ml
Ghee - 2 Tbsp (If you wish you can increase or decrease the proportion of both)
6 Cardamom Pods
4 Cinnamon Sticks
3 Bay leaves
6 Cloves
1/2 kg of Onions, Sliced
1/2 Kg of Tomatoes, Chopped
20 Green Chilies, Pricked (You don't want it bursting on your face)
2 tbsp of Ginger Garlic Paste
Handful of Roughly Chopped Coriander Leaves
Handful of Roughly Chopped Mint Leaves
1.5 tsp of Red Chili Powder
1/2 Cup of Thick Yogurt
Salt to Taste

For The Rice:

1 kg Basmati Rice, Soaked for 20 - 25 mins
Ample Water to Cook the Rice
Required Salt for the Rice
A tbsp of Oil
3 Cardamom Pods
2 Bay leaves
2 Cinnamon Sticks
5 Cloves

Other Ingredients:

Few Strands of Saffron Soaked in 1/4 Cup of Warm Milk 
Mix Little Orange Food Color in 1/4 Cup of Milk
Dough to Seal the Dum / Foil

The Cooking:

Step 1:

Mix all the ingredients for marination together and let it rest for atleast an hour or overnight.

Step 2:

Heat a pressure cooker or any heavy bottom vessel, add oil and ghee. Once hot crackle the whole garam masala spices on high heat. Then add the sliced onions and saute till it turns pink and translucent. 

Step 3:

Add the pricked green chillies and saute till the onions turn to a light golden brown. Now add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a min followed by red chilli powder. Mix well and saute for couple of mins.

Step 4:

Add the yogurt and mix to incorporate. Then add the coriander and mint leaves, stirring well for a min. 

Step 5:

Tumble in the chopped tomatoes and saute well on high heat. The tomatoes need to go a little mushy. Add required salt for the gravy and cook covered for 5 - 7 mins.

Step 6:

Now, add the marinated mutton along with the marinade. Make sure you mix reaching all the way to the bottom of the cooker. Cover and cook for 10 mins giving time for the marinade and the gravy to come together and the mutton to soak up all the juices. Add water. Then lid on, and pressure cook it on high till 2 sounds.

Since, the mutton is marinated for a long time and its been cooking for 10 mins with the gravy 2 sounds is actually enough. But if you find if the mutton needs more cooking time then go for another one or two sounds. 

If not cooking in a pressure cooker, then cover and cook till the meat is tender. 

Once the mutton is done, check for salt, spice and sourness. The mutton gravy needs to be salty, spicy and sour enough for the gravy. If not, adjust accordingly and cook on medium heat for few mins. 

Step 7:

Meanwhile, bring ample water to boil. Make sure you really have loads of water, so that the rice do not stick with each other and break. Add required salt and oil to the water along with the whole garam masalas. You can add them directly or tie in a cheese cloth and throw it in. 

Step 8:

Once the water comes to a vigorous boil, carefully spoon in the rice. Once the last of rice goes it stir everything together once and bring the rice to a vigorous boil. 

They usually say the rice must be 70% cooked or 75% cooked. But I have no idea about it and this is how I always remember it. One vigorous boil after adding the rice, and THAT'S IT. 

Step 9:

By this time the mutton will be cooked perfectly. Scoop out the excess oil you see floating above the gravy. My mom usually adds it to the rice in the end or you can discard if you think its too much ;) 
So, anyway you can either use a different heavy bottom vessel to prepare the dum or just a pressure cooker. 

Now divide the gravy in half and add the first half of the gravy to the bottom of a pot or saucepan or vessel or whatever you are going to put the dum in. Then scoop out the rice carefully and layer half of the semi - cooked rice on top of the gravy. 

Then top it off with the remaining gravy and then finally the remaining rice. Sprinkle the saffron milk / food color over the rice evenly and pour the oil which you have scooped out earlier. 

Make sure your rice is evened out and you spread the saffron milk and the oil evenly, not pouring everything in one place. 

Step 10:

Place the dough around the edges  of the cooker and place a flat lid securing it tightly. My mom places a pot of boiling water over the lid it keep the steam in and also to provide source of heat from above. 

When putting on dum, place a heavy bottomed tava so that the heat is distributed evenly and the biryani does not stick to the bottom. 

If using foil, simply wrap the foil tightly around the cooker.

Cook for 25 - 30 mins on Medium low heat.

Step 11:

Carefully break the dum and with a flat metal spatula gently mix the rice from the edges. Be careful not to over mix. 

Serve Hot with Biryani Kathirikai, Onions Raita and Boiled Eggs ;)

  • If using very fatty mutton, go less on the oil. 

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Happy Cooking!



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